[ed note: In this chapter, the Yul we know is Aly.]

The jumper pulled up to the crowded dock and four doors opened in a gale of storm and emotion alike. In every direction ships of all shapes and sizes swayed at anchor, creaking like old men, as families were torn in goodbyes like leaves from autumn trees in a blustery gust.

“Father, may I have a minute with Aly?” asked Yul.

Their father looked vacantly annoyed, divided between honoring Yul’s request while doubting Aly’s merit. He was a large Hynerian, domineering most would say, imposing, no one would deny. Still, what Yul wanted, Yul got. “Make it quick Yul. Schedules must be obeyed.” The look he gave Aly would have frozen a battle hardened soldier.

Yul grabbed Aly by the arm and pulled her around the corner. “Look, we don’t have much time—“

“Hey, let’s cut the crap. I’m not pissed you’re leaving and I’m not. Never expected otherwise. But what the frail! Did you have to wear the same outfit. How bout I just cut my wrist so you can throw a little salt my way, for old times sake, you know, just for fun, one last time.”

“Are you through? Cause if you are, I want your scarf. Here, take mine and give me yours.”

Aly’s jaw dropped. “Are you shiotting me? Holy mother of Janus, I never imagined you . . . . Wait, no frailing sense in . . . Frail it. You want my frailing scarf. Here, take the damn thing.”

“Aly, it’s not what you think.”

“Frailing easy for you to say. You’re not the one with a death sentence, one you didn’t choose, one assigned to you by others. Ever wonder what it’s like to be judged?”

Yul’s face changed and in one fluid motion she slapped the living shiott out of Aly. “Listen up. I’m only going to say this one time and I’m going to say it real slow so that thick head of yours doesn’t frail this up. I’m dying. Got maybe six months to live, perhaps a year with luck, which certainly is longer than this planet’s got.”

Aly wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth. “So why are you telling me this? You think it gonna make me feel any better?”

Yul just shook her head. “You don’t get it do you?”

“Get what?”

“You think I would dress like you on purpose? My Janus, it about killed my soul to put these clothes on. Look, here’s the deal. Your name is Yul and you are getting on that ship. You understand?”

Aly stood with a deer in the highlights look. “What are you talking about?”

“The whole purpose of getting people off-world is to save them from certain death, to give them a chance to start over. I’m dying Aly. Makes no sense for me to get on that ship when I know you could go in my place.”

“So why—“

“Father. You think he would let you go if he knew?”

“Nope.”

“So, I’m giving you your chance. Now take my scarf. When we walk back around, your name is Yul. You hug Father. Kiss Mother. Ignore me and walk your arse up that plank as quickly as you can. And Aly?

“What?”

“Don’t look back.”

Categories: Story, Yul, Hyneria

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