The Nutmeg Bazaar

It was Zenith, the hour when Estoria’s twin suns glared down like the eyes of Rah. Vicky wiped her brow as she pushed through the bustling afternoon bazaar, a shimmering horizon of burgundy headdresses, thatched baskets and copper skin. The scent of nutmeg and the cacophony of merchants were unlike anything back on Alpha.

“We’re here to find Merle — no side trips.”
“For sure, Vicky,” Leanna acknowledged from behind.

Vicky wondered whether Leanna was always so quiet. She’d barely said a word since she’d agreed to hitch with Vicky on Beta IX. Vicky was happy, though – no matter the species or gender, passing navigators happily accommodated the two girls after one look into Leanna’s mesmerizing azure eyes.

“A spin of the cosmic wheel, dear?” piped a hooded merchant as he grabbed at Vicky’s wrist and leaned in. Vicky yanked away and glowered. A grey elephantine snout peeked gently from under the hood of the mint robe. An octotentil!

“So sorry, my lady, but I was told to look for you – it’s about Merle.”

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