Adreal: a shapeshifting, half adopted, talented, pirate, who gets into minor trouble more often than she should. However despite her mischievous and pranker side, she is loyal and a natural leader at heart. She gets a new job looking after and training a new cabin boy who she slightly dislikes, but deals with him nevertheless. The world, well worlds, she lives in are various planets throughout the galaxy where aliens, humanoids, and hybrids are an everyday sight.
PS: The title, Querencia is a spanish word that means ‘a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn' or ‘A place in which we know exactly who we are. The place from which we speak our deepest beliefs.’”


4. We Meet Again

The last time we visited land was at least a month ago; probably more. My body was not used to the stillness of land and it took me a minute to get my balance right. Rocco, who is always half drunk, was stumbling around to my left. Most of us have been here before. It's a nice little town on the water with an old, but very usable hotel, a bar, market, Dante's blacksmith's shop, and a hardware/sporting store where we stock up on most of our supplies. The west side of the town is ocean draining into a lake, which is surrounded by a forest on the north and east sides. Down south is mainly flat grassland. I walked down to the hotel and grabbed a bunk; sharing rooms with the crew is usual. I extracted my knives from my bag and headed out to the woods. Once there I marked a few trees with circular targets made from the abundant leaves and practiced throwing the knives. I'm fairly good with them, but my preference is definitely a sword or two, although most of the crew prefers firearms. I guess it's just less contact in battle compared to man to man sword fighting. I wondered how Seth fights? What?! Why was I even thinking about him?! I could not let something as irrational as love interfere with my life. I needed to get over my past too, my mind couldn't seem to wrap around the fact that I was in prison with Seth and I escaped and almost died doing it and everything else he's told me. It was just too much. That's it. Apparently my mind turned itself into a dragon because I let out a deafening roar as I slammed another target's center with a blade. I sighed and leaned up against the nearest tree and slid to the ground to sit. A twig snapped. So much for sitting! I stood straight up, guard on.

"Hey," Seth stepped into view and I rolled my eyes, "You ok?"

"Yeah I'm fine, why?" I sighed.

"Oh, just the furious sounding dragonish roar," he remarked.

"Oh, yeah, that. I uh, yeah, I'm fine," too bad all my knives were impaled in trees I could really use one right now. He looked around.

"These all yours?" He gestured to the surrounding blades and I nodded. "Cool," I watched carefully as he walked up to each one, removed them and when finished handed them back to me.

"Thanks," I mumbled.

"No problem!" He sat down across from me.

"What do you want?" I questioned.

"Hmm, I think I want to re-get to know you," he declared.

"Hmm, I think not a good idea."

"Why? What's wrong? And don't tell me nothing because I know it's not nothing," he raised his eyebrows and smirked.

"Nothing," I smirked right back.

"I'm not going to stop asking until you tell me. What's wrong?"

"Tell you what, I'll tell you when you've had your memory wiped only to have someone tell you your incredibly insane, impossible, dangerous past and then because of that past there could be people hunting you trying to kill you every day. Ok?" I snapped. He looked down. Mental face palm, why did I just say that? "Gosh I'm sorry I didn't mean for that to come out that way," I apologized and his head raised again.

"Naw it's fine, I get it," he half smiled, "Oh yeah, forgot. Did you find it?" he changed the subject.

"Find what?"

"Your ring?"

"Oh, Yeah. How do you know about it?" I inquired.

"Your dad gave it to you when you were really little. You wore it on a chain necklace all the time until your fingers grew into it. You left it in the prison-"

"My dad? Is he-?"

"Dead, your mother too," his face turned grim, "I'm sorry."

"It's ok," it's not like I have any memory of them anyways, but my heart sunk a little anyways, "What about your family? Are they still...here?"

"I never knew my parents, but I have a brother who, as far as I know, is still alive."

"Oh, that's good," I started to see how and why he was close to me pre-amnesia.

"Yeah," his voice was soft, "Can I ask you something?"

"Um sure?"

"I know, to you, you've only known me for about a week, but I've known you my whole life and I've noticed something about you. You are never afraid, of anything. How?"

"Ha! Part of it is I don't show it when I'm scared, but the other thing is something I learned from Bates when I first joined. Fear stands for two things. Fear is a choice. 1. Forget Everything And Run, or 2. Face Everything And Rise. I chose to live by number 2." I remembered that great conversation with Bates soon after I had first joined the crew. I had been known as fearless from then on. Seth stared at the ground thinking about my reply, eventually got up, nodded, said, "Nice talk," stuck his hands in his pockets, and walked back in the direction he'd come.

Eventually, after a few more practice rounds, I too headed back to the hotel. I got to my room, changed out of my gray tank and cargo shorts, and into a white t-shirt, black zip-up jacket, jeans with a belt strapped to a small pouch on the side, and combat boots. Of course I strapped on a few knife holsters and added my left shoulder guard for show, but also in case some serious ass-kicking needs to happen. Other pirates roam these waters, you never know who or what could be out there. As I headed out along a dirt walkway towards the local bar, water droplets began to fall and I pulled up my hood. Thunder roared and rain turned the narrow path into a steam of mud and leaves. I love the rain! It's one of my favorite things and when I came to the softly lit, glowing, building I almost did not want to go in and just keep walking. However, the crew traditionally comes here most nights of the stay, so I feel obliged to do so.

As soon as I walked in, I was greeted with a big, "Ah! There she is!" by Rocco and an enormous slam on the back. It was rather unpleasant if I might add, but I simply tried to smile and kept walking. Bates was over in the corner. He turned his head in the direction of the noise, rolled his eyes, and returned back to his drink and the soft conversation he was having with Ace.

I made my way over to where Mace was sitting. He was alone at a table near a window. His eyes were restless.

"What's wrong?" I softly inquired.

"Far, back, right, corner. Man in the black hood. He's not here for the drinks," his tone was cautioning. I sat down, making sure I never got too comfortable. After about ten minutes, Seth walked in and toward us. He pulled up a chair and sat in it backwards, leaning on the back. 

"So, how's it going?" he questioned happily.

"Fine," it came out grim, but I couldn't help it. My attention was focused on the man, or whatever it was, in the corner. It hadn't touched it's beverage. It sat there just staring in our direction. I tried to keep my focus down.

"Okay then. Mace?" Mace simply glared at him.

"Seth, shut up," I command.

"What? I-"

"Shut up. Now," I threw him a look saying I was serious and he put his hands up in surrender. We sat in silence for a few more minutes until I decided to see what would happen if I got up and walked around. Unfortunately, it was a bad idea. After making eye contact with Mace I stood up from the table. Before I could take one single step Mace grabbed my arm and pulled me back to my seat. Mystery man had one gray hand on the grip of an electron pistol. Not good. Seth finally caught on to what was going on and stayed with his back turned to the man. The entire night was tense, like that, but eventually he got up and left. 

"What was that?" Seth's voice was shaky.

"No idea," I replied. Mace suggested it could just be another pirate wandering the waters, but I wasn't convinced. The crew filtered out back to the motel, last to return was Rocco of course. I slept with a few more knives by my bed than usual that night.

The next day, in the morning, I found my way to the blacksmith, Dante. He's and Oetrac, a strong humanoid species. They tend to have some sort of horns, sharper canine teeth, four arms, and some sort of pattern on their body. His skin is a denim blue with a white outlined black design covering his body. Usually when we visit he fashions me a new knife or some sort of small trinket. The warmth of the shop was comforting as I walked in. Dante approached me from the back of his shop and I was greeted with a four armed hug. 

"Ay, Adreal! I've som'sing spezial for you zis time. Come, come!" He led me deep into the back of the shop to where the actual forge is, "Now closse your eyess," of course, a surprise. I hear shuffling and the clinking of metal in front of me, "Open!" He held out a beautiful black bladed, Spartan style sword. The kind the ancient Romans used on the planet called Earth before it's downfall. It's handle was wrapped in dark leather and the sharpened side of the blade was silver.

"Dante, I-I don't know what to say. It's brilliant, it's flawless! Thank you," I was astounded, did not expect anything like this. He smiled handed it to me and I held it on my finger where the guard and the blade meet. Perfectly balanced. Additionally, he handed me a black leather scabbard to strap onto my belt.

"Ze blade is cárbón steel, strrong an' light, it is."

"How can I possibly repay you?" I was still bewildered.

"No! No need for zat. Iz a gift!"

"It's beautiful, beyond words! thank you a million times," I praised.

"You're velcome, velcome," Dante laughed, "You must ve ón your vay, now, ay?"

I did have to get back to the crew soon, "Sadly, yeah."

"'As lovely seeing you, Ashreal! 'Zill nex time!" He exclaimed and I received another warm, four-armed hug and a handshake. After another exchange of thanks, I left. 

I soon found myself wandering the village and eventually came to a large long building I didn't recall visiting before. Upon opening the heavy wooden door, I was faced with what seemed like an enormous physical training center. There were rows of punching bags on the far right of the room at which a few hefty guys were slamming. To my far left were long wooden allies ending with targets. Elves were shooting them with bows and a few rouge-like people were knife throwing. Towards the back there were black-tinted glass rooms, which I assumed were for simulations hence the red laser flashes. Centered were rows of exercise equipment: weights, power racks, pull up bars, cable machines, ab benches, medicine balls, sprint tracks, and who knows what else. I immediately went to the punching bags, found some tape, covered my knuckles, and began a kickboxing routine.

POV: Seth C.

June 29, 2355

I wish she would remember me. Everything we've been through, ever since we were kids, and now to her I was simply an intern. Although I believed she considered me a friend by then, she did not wholly trust me. Then again, why should she? Our past is almost unbelievable, like something you would read in a storybook. Maybe she would come to remember eventually, who knows? I could only hope.

I made my way to the through the village to a weapons shop Adreal recommended. They've got just about any weapon you could possibly think of. Firearms galore, knives by the numbers, swords and other blades (I was informed by A that some were crafted by the local blacksmith, Dante) lined the walls of the shop. I myself am a twin pistol kinda guy and after a bit of looking, I found a deadly pair of plasma pulse pistols. Both are a metallic charcoal gray and the auto-replenishing plasma glows pearl white. After paying, I decided to try them out at the training facility Mace told me about. He'd said I needed to, "toughen and harden up if you want the girl to even notice you," maybe I'd go work out for a bit after some target practice. A female wood elf carrying a long bow exited the warehouse as I walked in. It was one awesome warehouse. It was filled with distance targets, simulation rooms, punching bags, speed bags, and tons of workout equipment. After a few smooth shots at the targets, I decided to see what the simulation rooms were like. I've seen some before, but never have I actually used one. This should be interesting. Luckily, I didn't have to wait for anyone to finish; only one room is occupied and a dark, sweaty, elf just exited another. The black glass doors were heavy. As I entered, a light turned on overhead and a hologram screen poped up in front of me. Three questions with numerous answer choices appeared. 

1. Weapon of choice? I answered pistol.

2. Setting? I answered (surprised it was an option) shipyard.

3. Difficulty level? I answered medium.

After submitting my answers, the screen disappeared and a sound like a scanner came for a moment. A female computerized voice stated, "Simulation will begin in 10 seconds, prepare now. 10, 9, 8..." The room's black walls changed into the view of a ship docking station. I readied my pistols as the voice echoed, "3, 2, 1."  Immediately, a body made of red light, lasers precisely, ran towards me with a pistol of its own and proceeded to cock it and pull the trigger. I ducked behind a barrel of some-sort and rose to shoot the first enemy. After the first had exploded into millions of light particles, two more came from my left and right sides. My arms crossed for stabilization and I proceeded to destroy them both. I ran and grabbed ahold of a dangling rope from a near by ship in the yard and climbed up. Another laser person came hustling towards me, but was soon blown to bits. The same occurred for two additional predators and the shipyard vanished. I felt a bead of sweat run down the back of my neck. The lights brightened and I exited the room. I headed over to an ab bench and decided to tone-up. After about 30 minutes of sit-ups, planks, leg lifts, crunches, and various other exercises I toweled off the sweat and started to make my way to the door. Taking my time, I pulled out one of my pistols to have a better look at its design. However, by not paying attention to where I was heading, I collided with someone and was about to apologize. Her shoulder hit my collar bone, her head whipped around, and her eyes flashed bright green. 

"Oh, Adreal! I'm so sorry!" I apologized.

"Seth? What are you doing here?" 

"Same as you I assume."

"Yeah, I guess so."

I saw her hands were taped up. Nevertheless, despite the protection, blood seeped through at her knuckles.

"I see you were beating that bag pretty damn hard, yeah? We need to get that cleaned and bandaged up," I commented. She looked down at her hands and held them behind her back.

"It's fine." her face was emotionless, as it was most of the time.

"Whatever you say," I grinned, "Were you on your way out?"

"Yeah, I was until someone got in the way," she sarcastically added. I grinned even more, but then it faded. She was so beautiful. I wish she remembered everything. "Well, we'd better get going, yeah?" she stated. 

"Yes, I suppose so. Adreal?"

"Yeah?" she looked up.

"Care for a walk? Just for a bit," this was sure as hell risky, but whatever. Worth a shot.

"A walk? What for?"

"Yeah, just to relax I don't know. Maybe it'll be a bit fun," yeah, there's no way she'd accept.

"Uh, sure," she agreed, "Why not. Let's do it."

"Really?" I was shocked, I thought I'd just get blown off.
"Yeah, really." 

"Well okay then!" We left the building and headed out towards the forest.


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