Welcome to the Dome

Midalyn stepped out onto the dock, her whiskers vibrating with excitement. A real life space station, she thought to herself. I'm here. Her eyes stared out brightly at the buzz of activity around her. Even though Qwark had been a popular tourist destination, she had never seen such a smorgasbord of alien species in one place before. She saw Turians like Zo, some of whom needed to moisturise their gills as she noticed scaly flakes on their shoulders, and even one or two Bezbulabs, their skin yellow and horns for hair. The crowd was mostly populated by humanoid species but definitely not limited to bipeds by any stretch of the imagination. She had had to step back to avoid being stepped on by an absent-minded walking mountain she learnt later was an Onyx and watched as three Guutnors slid around it, their glutinous bodies constantly shifting shape as they made their way. There were numerous data clouds floating about and several Kerrlu using their sole limbs to hop to where they needed to be. It was such a flurry of motion and bustle she felt a little intimidated. Where do recent arrivals go? Do we just join the throng? That hardly seems practical. I’ve already nearly been stepped on Her inner monologue was stopped by the touch of Kara’s hand on her shoulder. She turned to her left and looked up at the tawny beige girl smiling at her.

“Let’s get going Middy,” she said warmly.

At first, Midalyn wasn’t sure about the nickname Kara had unceremoniously given her without warning. No one had ever called her Middy before and, while she didn’t want it to catch on, she somehow felt willing to give the Zeppulian’s pilot a pass.
“Yes, let’s,” Midayln agreed, her smile matching Kara’s. She noticed a grinning Qin had joined them. She had quickly found that Qin’s default setting was to have a smile on his face so doubted he was smiling with them but just smiling in general.

“Are we off?” he asked boyantly.

“We’re off,” Kara answered before starting into the crowd. Midalyn followed her with Qin in tow.

 

Midalyn found that she had to be careful to avoid being either stepped on or swept up in the current of the crowd. Kara had bounced on ahead and she struggled somewhat to keep up with the rambunctious pilot. However, Qin noticed she was having a little trouble navigating the flow of the racing sea of people and stepped in time right next to her, his taller frame allowing them to more easily part through the rush. He also seemed to have an intuitive sense of how to move with the bustle, leading Midalyn seamlessly between people and under floating data clouds. Together, they managed to exit the crowd and found themselves outside a store of some kind and Kara waiting patiently for them, an apologetic look on her face.
“Sorry, I turned around to see where you guys were and realised you weren’t there,” she apologised with a shrug. “But then I saw you weaving through the herd and decided to chill until you caught up,” she explained.

“That’s alright, we just had a little trouble getting through,” Qin replied.

Midalyn noticed he gave no indication it was because of her that they had been delayed, an omission she appreciated.

“The mass of people reminds me of home,” Qin remarked with a near wistful sigh.

“Oh, do you go home often?” Midalyn asked with curiosity.

“All the time before it was blown up,” Qin answered with a gentle chuckle.

“What?! It was blown up?”
“Well, yeah. What happened was-” Qin started but Kara interrupted him.
“I’m real sorry to cut you off but we’re just standing outside this shop, so, um, maybe it’s not the  best place. Let’s get you a coffee and you can tell us about it, okay?” she suggested.

“Okay, but tea would be fine for me,” Qin agreed.
“Tea, it is,” Kara replied with a sympathetic smile.

Midalyn looked around them. A little way down from the shop they had found themselves outside was a cafe. She pointed with her flipper hand and said, “There’s one. Come on.”

The group shuffled down towards the cafe taking care not to get swept back up into the crowd. An elaborate sign outside declared it to be The Galactic Muffin. Midalyn gave a snort, it wasn’t the most original name for a cafe. There were at least two 0r three Galactic Muffins on Qwark, not to mention all the Galactic Bakeries, Galactic Coffees, and Galactic Waffles which populated the planet. As soon as we discovered intergalactic travel everything had to remind us of it in case we forgot somehow, she snarked to herself. They step through the automated doors as the aroma of freshly ground beans enveloped them. Midalyn was slightly surprised that despite its lacklustre name, inside The Galactic Muffin was quite cosy, even if it did have a ‘trying-too-hard’ feel. Luxurious bean bags of various warm colours surrounded round dark wood tables, although there were a couple of overly comfortable chairs scattered here and there. It was rather homely and yet too much so since no home would ever have such luxurious bean bags and definitely not arranged round the coffee table like that. However, for her first cafe offworld Midalyn noted to herself they could have done worse. They found a table which was somewhat secluded in the corner and made their order. Kara got an Astronomical Affogato, Midalyn settled on a simple black tea after much umming and ahhing, while Qin chose a drink Midalyn had never heard of called a Virtual Orange Refresher. Sitting down, they waited for their drinks. Kara and Midalyn looked expectantly at Qin. Feeling their gaze, he gave that infectious grin of his and began with a slight melancholic sigh.

“Home, or what used to be home, was a planet named Lof…”