Kraal circles his ship, looking for breaches in the hull that could be lethal in space. He sees none, apart from a five-foot gash where the ship scraped some pipes. Insolent Earth plumbing.

Katie is sitting in the grass, jaw dropped at the fact that Kraal pulled a saucer the size of a small house out from the chasm in her lawn. Kraal tried to explain that the combination of his training, his genetics, and his armor which is technologically advanced to the point of indecency made the task as easy as lifting a pencil, but she just kept gaping so he placed her on the lawn. Honestly, talking to a human is like talking to a brick wall. He put the fire out an hour ago, so now all he needs to do is repair his ship enough to limp to Flax, and he's in the clear.

You might be thinking, "But isn't he devastated that a fire burned his possessions?" Well, he isn't. True, he's had that ship since he got his pilot's license at age six, and true, he spent more time on his ship then on his home planet until recently, so it does carry his most valuable possessions, but this is Kraal we're talking about. He's an Ice-King even by Chromish standards. He cares about nothing but the Chromish empire, his reputation, and himself, in that order. And even then, that's merely a level above apathy for him.

The reason for this is Chroma's Mental Correction Facility. Four years after hatching, Chromish childrens' brains are implanted with special microprocessors that suppress certain chemicals in the brain in order to eliminate unapproved emotions, and even administer light electric shocks at an incorrect thought. This makes the difference from a scared fifteen-year-old to a cold-blooded killer. And no, it isn't brainwashing; brainwashing has a negative connotation. It's just brain improvement.

The microprocessors aren't strong; since the brain is such a misunderstood organ it would be too risky if they were. Even so, it takes a lot to cause one to malfunction. Something like crashing on a planet in a flaming ship with your helmet put on at an odd angle, for example. And if that, purely hypothetical situation were to happen, the owner probably wouldn't notice until it was too late, and they had already begun having unnatural thoughts, which for most Chromish leads to a raging identity crisis, sometimes a personality disorder and possibly suicide.

So, that will be interesting.

In the meantime, the gash in the hull will definitely be a problem, but nothing Kraal can't handle. Upon an internal inspection, he finds that the storage room is fit for space travel, and he can install the control panel in there. It'll be close, but the engine ought to make it to Mars before it breaks down completely, where Kraal will get a mechanic to fix his ship, pick up Lady Ree and be on his way.

So, without a word of goodbye, he gets in his ship and flies. He doesn't think to look for stowaways. That human girl is so stupid, she probably can't pronounce the word "saucer," much less sneak inside one. That's why he doesn't even think to check the crate a few feet to his left, where Katie and her hastily packed suitcase are becoming more familiar with potatoes then anyone should.

Again, you might be thinking, "Why would she leave her home planet with a stranger?" For one thing, you should stop thinking that critically and just go with it. Honestly, you're reading a story. You should just chill.

And really, consider Katie's life. She has a father and stepmother who leave her for Disneyland on her fifteenth birthday, for their eleventh "honeymoon extension." Said stepmother doesn't believe in conventional education, so Katie is homeschooled. Needless to say, she isn't getting much of an education with her parents' serial honeymooning, so chances of college are slim at best. And since she doesn't have a car or go to school, she has nowhere to meet people and therefore no friends to tell her how awful her "novel" is (you read a passage, you know what I'm talking about). So the question is, why wouldn't she leave her home planet with a complete stranger? There's nothing for her on Earth, so she's going to space.

As Katie gets comfortable among the potatoes, she listens to the saucer's damaged engines sputter to life, and notices a tingling feeling in her stomach as the ship rises. She thinks, since these are her last moments on the planet where she was born, she should say something, or do something to thank it for all it's given her. She considers for a moment, and raises her middle finger. And with that, the ship breaks the atmosphere, and Earth is a pathetic blue marble, that shrinks.

And shrinks.

And shrinks.

Until it's gone.

Hi guys! I know this is rather short, that's because I was a procrastinating llama who did the whole thing today. Next week I will pace myself for a longer chapter, in which we meet Danny, Ree, Theresa, Jack, and Simul, so be excited and I'll see you next Monday!