On the walk back to Teyata, Brad noticed a lone basp, buzzing still trapped in the one of the many openings of the hive. His free hand slapped to the hilt of his dagger and ripped it free of the sheath. Its point blurred into the body of the insect, and for a moment he studied the skewered basp. Its wings feebly fluttered as its legs flailed on the weapon’s tip. Snapping his wrist, he sent the insect from the dagger before re-sheathing.
He neared Teyata.
“For you,” he said.
He dropped to one knee and held the hive above his head in both hands.
Teyata slapped the hive from him.
“I told you I didn’t want it! Manines have died from doing this!”
“Not all of them. Rorbin didn’t die.”
“Rorbin is one of the toughest manines in the new world. None of us didn’t believe he wouldn’t make it.”
“But there wasn’t any risk, Teyata. I’ve made these…”
“… it was dangerous!”
“You make me do dangerous things all the time.”
“This was an unnecessary risk!”
She screeched the words as Lisa watched, feeling for both of them. Sometimes when two people are very close, they fail to read the true meaning behind the other’s words. On this occasion, she listened to the conversation, able to understand both parties objectively. Brad stared aghast, suggesting Teyata spoke in anger. In truth, she feared for him.
“Why did you do it?!” she shouted in his face.
Brad stared at the trembling manine for a time; his eyes turning glassy.
“Tell her,” Lisa whispered.
He loved her; she could see that in his smile and the occasional stolen glance at Teyata. Every young man had a single window of opportunity; a chance the potential love of his life would give him to make his feelings known. If he didn’t seize the chance when given, the window would close forever.
“I…” he began.
Teyata’s glare intensified, awaiting his explanation.
“… thought you might like it,” he ended meekly.
Lisa covered her nose and mouth in her hands.
“Oh Brad,” she muttered in sympathy.
He had missed his chance. At that moment, Lisa became more afraid for him than ever. Brad had turned 17 since he left the bunker; so young. In his present state of development, he might survive the new world… might, but to do so alone, without love; could any man bear such a burden?
Teyata cast her eyes aside, softening her expression. Lisa wondered if she detected disappointment.
“You have to get new skins,” said Teyata. “Come with me.”
She loped ahead at full speed for the shopping centre; Brad not far behind her. He stopped a split second later as she entered the entrance doors and halted before the automated directory stand. Her fingers dabbed too rapidly for Brad to read what she keyed.
“Come on,” she said.
She turned and ran up the escalator for the second level. Leaning over the rails, she pointed.
“Over there,” she said.
The opposite side of the second level had a series of shops devoted to clothing needs.