Chapter 11: Frostbite
Destination: Planet Knot-1:25am
Instinctively, Bitter's hand open as if to defend herself. She stiffened in horror when a towering figure detached himself from the shadows of the piles of dead bodies.
"Who are you?" Bitter cried out.
The stranger said nothing. Instead, he walked slowly towards her. Bitter clenched her fists, getting ready to be offensive, but she watched as she saw the features of the stranger become alive and relaxed.
The towering figure was, of course, powerful-looking, and in all of her life has Bitter never seen such a strong, well-built creature. It had a perfect complexion of dark purple skin that clenched around his hard, muscular features and his chest was incredibly broad. Over his chest and shoulders, he had white carapace that formed some sort of breast-plate and the shoulder-pads were hoops that curled over his hard shoulders and attached to his back. His wrists also had the same white carapace, but there was a dark-blue sector on each arm, like crystal that gleamed in the moonlight, and long blades on each wrist-carapace. Bitter could not see his facial features clearly, as there was also a carapace that encased his entire head. Only his eyes were exposed, and they were nothing but blood-red gleams in the darkness of his helmet that seemed to have pierced through her soul. His mouth was covered by some sort of vizier, like a mouth-grille, only made of bone, and four sharp spikes extended from his cranium. The same cobalt crystal was in the middle of his head. She saw a long, thick tail trailing behind him, and she felt her heart flutter lightly to see the white tip of his tail, and realised how much it has killed the frightful appearance. Nonetheless, he was dangerous looking, and Bitter soon fell back into fright to realise how close he was to her.
It was certainly someone she didn't knew, but somehow she felt that she knew this alien all of her life. She had an uneasy sensation about that. "Answer me!" Bitter snarled, not taking any chances to lose her guard. The figure stopped just before her and crouched down beside her, tilting his head slightly as he examined her. Bitter kept still, her eyes not leaving the stranger's eyes. The stranger's eyes locked with her, her light-coloured eyes were luminous in the dark. As he leaned closer to her, he had a faint scent she couldn't place, some sort of herb, maybe, the sort of things girls bought at weird shops that had beaded curtains. It was certainly pleasant, but it did nothing to cover up the heavy cloud of smoke from the dim fire and fresh blood.
"I am not going to hurt you," He admitted slowly, his voice incredibly deep-bass and it wisped around her like a wounded beast. She didn't recognise the voice too, but it was obviously a male. His voice brought out a bitter lump in her throat, and she felt she was losing the train of her thoughts as she looked into his blood-red eyes, and she suddenly jerked herself back to attention.
Then, he lowered his head down and she felt him grab hold of the thick ropes that tangled around her feet and legs and began to untie them. Bitter froze, watching him carefully. After he unravelled the ropes, Bitter stretched her legs freely and turned to the mysterious stranger.
"Thank you…for saving my life," Bitter said, her voice almost inaudible.
He said nothing, but he kept his gaze on her, as if trying to figure out what she was. She realised that she was doing the same. The silence in the deserted planet seemed to press against her, and she jumped onto her feet and stood up. When she stood next to the figure, her head barely came up to his hips, and even whilst he was crouching down, he was massive compared to her. He was much taller than Doore himself. She rubbed the back of her neck. "I'm sorry if I caused any trouble. If there is anything I can do for you, to a degree, please tell me." She said carefully after a moment's pause. "I want to thank you."
His eyes sparked darkly and Bitter was unsure what it meant.
"It is okay," He said in his monstrous tone yet soft-spoken. Bitter sighed a breath of relief. Finally, he responded. It was strange to see such a frightening figure have somewhat a gentle edge to his voice.
Bitter's hand brushed lightly against the stranger's hand. He felt like ice. She had a sudden quell of recognising his species and a smile twisted her dark-blue lips. He seemed to have felt the same reaction too, as she saw him tensed up.
"You're an Icejin too?" Bitter piped up. He glanced down at her, and then he nodded once.
"How did you know?"
"Well, when I touched your hand, I felt this connection. All species of different kinds do it. Because we're Icejins, I recognised your species." Bitter said, a smile bloomed on her face. "Didn't you felt something strange when our hands touched?"
"That's it, then." Bitter brushed her hair back, and realised how closely he was watching her. It was as if he has never seen a female Icejin before. Maybe, she thought deeply, maybe he hasn't. She noticed that she wasn't wearing her Squad-Armour, so all of her curves and feminine features were revealed. She couldn't tell where he was gazing at, but she assumed the obvious.
"Hmm, I thought I was the only Icejin left. Well, of course expect for Lord Cooler and his family…where ever they are…" The figure looked up to her eyes again.
"So, you work for Cooler?" He asked. Bitter nodded happily.
"Do you know him?"
"I know him alright," The figure replied. He paused and then: "Wait. Only Icejin left? If you work with Cooler, where is your family?"
"I have none," Bitter said slowly.
She felt a painful constriction over her breastbone and her hips ached. Until her parents died she has never realised how intensely private grief was. In fact, she had never thought about grief at all before. Now it was practically all she did think about. Yet anytime anybody tried to be sympathetic, they always sounded stupid and out of touch, as if they had stepped off a pastel greeting card.
"My parents are dead," Bitter added without realising. "They died when I was a kid about seven years ago after the invasion of our home planet."
"I am sorry," he said gruffly. "What happened to you after that?"
"I lived in the wilds," Bitter replied gently, bending down and picking up a few blueberries from the Yuuki bushes. "I became some sort of wild child, let's just say, and then one day, I got accepted to Lord Cooler's army."
"Right," He said at a length. "Doesn't Cooler know that you are an Icejin?"
"No, he has no idea."
"Why is that?" His voice had an edge that made Bitter pause.
"Well, as much as respectful I am to him, I can't help but not admit to him that I am an Icejin AND a female." Bitter bit her lip, looking at the bushes' thorns. "I respect him. He is a great leader, and he is amazing to us all. I am grateful that he accepted me in his team and saved me from a fruitless life. He's some sort of hero to me, let's just say. It's just…" She sighed heavily. "…I'm just simply too shy to tell him in person. Sure, I've worked with him for years, but I can't gather enough courage to tell him who I really am. I'm fed up of pretending to be some sort of male Mutant alien. Only my close friends know who I really am. But no matter how hard I try, the words won't come out." Bitter turned to him, slipping a blueberry through her plump lips, slowly eating it, and then she swallowed it. "Wait…if you're an Icejin, how come you didn't know any about home's destruction?" Bitter asked.
"I worked away from home,"
"With who?" Bitter asked, hoping that there were more Icejins left.
Bitter was stunned.
"No one? You're alone?"
The figure nodded, walking towards the bushes and picked a few berries himself, but he just squashed them between his lean fingers, watching the blue liquid slid down his fingers. He then turned to Bitter, seeing the disappointment in her wide eyes.
"What happened to our home-planet?" He said gently, rubbing the blueberry juice off his fingers.
Bitter opened her mouth, and she saw the same flashbacks rushing through her mind, and she couldn't make herself say the words.
"I'd rather not talk about it," she said in a small voice, feeling tears burning behind her eyes. She didn't want to cry in front of a stranger. The figure nodded.
He watched as she gathered her black cloak, putting it all. Once she was happy with her appearance, she turned to him.
"What's your name?" Bitter asked at last. "My name's Bitter,"
The figure paused, as if deciding whether to tell her or not. Bitter waited in silence.
"Frostbite?" Bitter repeated. "That's a nice name."
"Yours too," Frostbite replied. He seemed pleased.
"Um…Frostbite, you look very much too…Prince Cooler…" Bitter commented slowly, seeing that Frostbite had similar features and she slowly thought it could really be Cooler himself. She watched his eyes frown at her.
"No. I am not Cooler. Just because I look similar to him, does not mean I am Cooler himself, Bitter. Not all Icejin look unique." Bitter froze to hear the tone of his voice. Now, he sounded offended and Bitter' eyes dropped. "Wherever you came from, I'll walk you there."
Bitter giggled weakly, turning away from the bush and began to walk.
"I can take care of myself," She smiled softly, and then screamed. Frostbite spun around to see Bitter fly in mid-air, toppling upside-down and the rope from the Wooding Tree dangled as her foot got caught in another trap. He watched as she hung upside-down from the tree in yet another trap she failed to avoid. She heard him utter a dark, deep chuckle from behind his mouth-grille. Embarrassed, she folded her arm across her chest and looked away. "I was meant to do that."
"Really?" He murmured, walking towards her. She glared hotly at the upside-down face of Frostbite and she whipped her tail across his head, smacking him playfully. He shook his head at the playful gesture, and helped her down. Although she was ashamed of her foolish action, she was happy, and Frostbite felt his chest go warm at the smile.
"Okay, okay, you win that round." Bitter giggled. "Sure, you can walk along with me."
And with that, Bitter made friends with Frostbite. She judged that he was a lonely figure, some sort of outcast. As they walked, Bitter realised how friendless he seemed, but she was grateful to be friends with him. She was hoping that he could join her team. They would need someone like him. Once they found Cooler's spaceship, Bitter turned to Frostbite. For some reason, he was hiding behind a large tree, as if stopping himself from going any further. Bitter didn't ask why. "Would you like to come inside for a minute?" She asked.
"You cannot afford to ask strange men in like that," Frostbite said sternly, and he blinked when Bitter giggled.
"You're not a strange guy. I know you."
"Not that well," grumbled Frostbite. Bitter's shoulders dropped. She was obviously disappointed. Lonely probably.
"It feels like, somehow, I've met you years ago. I don't know what it is, but it feels as if I've known you before," Seeing Frostbite tilting his head, Bitter shook her head, her dark-blue locks fluttered in the soft breeze. "Never mind, I'm just being stupid."
"It is not stupid," he muttered. "I understand," He reached out and patted her on the back. "You better head back inside,"
"But what about you, Frostbite?" Bitter whispered automatically. "I don't want to leave you. I want you to stay with me."
"I shall be back, I promise." He was whispering too. "I shall see you tomorrow night,"
"Why tomorrow night?"
"Because night is my favourite time,"
Bitter smiled softly.
"You and me have a lot of things in common," She beamed, but then her smile dropped. "But, we're getting off this planet and leaving in the morning. How can you see me again?"
Frostbite heard the desperation in her sweet voice. She really likes him, he realised. He chuckled and Bitter frowned gently.
"You will be surprised," He twiddled with her dark blue hair in his lean hand. "Now come on, Bitter," He added so softly, Bitter swore she felt her bones melt. He bent down to her height, his face close to hers. "I want to make sure you get back safely," Bitter realised with horror that he was sounding just like a father or big brother, but she couldn't help but adore having such a gentleman to keep an eye on her. "Now go,"
Obeying him, she nodded.
"Okay. Goodnight, and thank you," She whispered shyly, feeling the heat in her cheeks burn and she hurried along. Frostbite watched the thick, silky lock of her blue hair slip gently past his relaxed fingers like sand and he watched her hurry towards the spaceship and folded his arms, hiding behind the tree.
When Bitter entered the code, the door slowly fell open before her and she turned around. Her happiness dropped to see that Frostbite has vanished mysteriously. She blinked, a chill breeze raised goose bumps on her bare skin, but having a slight sense that he was still watching her, she reluctantly headed back into the spaceship, pulling her hood back over her head, concealing her features.
Then, she was alone as she slowly made her way down the long, curving hallways, occasionally meeting some workers and giving them a brief wave or a small 'goodnight' greeting.
She cringed at the thought of being alone. She often couldn't help but think what would have happened if Cooler really did found out about her. He could have thrown her off, abandoning her just like everything else. Cooler was always quiet, and never really spoke to anyone personally like a friend. It was always short commands, as if he was in a play and he had to be line-perfect in his part, or somebody would take him out back and shoot him. It felt awkward, Bitter admits that, and she always wanted to sit down and talk to him like a friend drinking Space-Cocoa or something. But Cooler was a busy man, and wasting time on something pitiful thing like Bitter was not on his list. She couldn't remember the last time Cooler ever smiled or even laughed.
Bitter heard footsteps behind as she passed a few doors down the metallic corridor to her room and spun around. "Frostbite!" She exclaimed involuntarily. Then she was overcome by a feeling that she was such a fool as she met eyes with the henchman Appule, recently renamed as 'Bennet' by Bitter, Salza, Doore and Neiz. Her eyes widened to see him staring at her as if she was mental.
Embarrassed, she hurried away to her room.
Frostbite didn't even say goodbye that night, and she felt awkward to see how closed up he was with her. But she couldn't really blame him. She was a stranger to him. He was threatening-looking, and after the way he killed those Macaans told her not to piss him off, but his voice was so soft, despite how monstrously deep it was. There was some sort of big heart in that guy. For once, Bitter couldn't read a male.
Now, the mention of her past made her eye muscles tighten, but no more, and she was angry to feel that everyone was stolen from her and put space-dust in their places. She wished she would dig up their wasted bodies with her bare hands and try to breathe her own life into it. Nobody here had any idea what she was feeling. It was too sick to talk about.
If only Cooler knew the truth about their home-planet, or perhaps he already does.