“You sure this shit is legit?” a young female voice uttered, clasping a small plastic bag filled with several small crystals.
“Top of the line, straight from the source, wholesale. You’re not gonna find a better deal, kid. Trust me, this shit will send you to the center of a black hole, guaranteed” replied an older, less distinguishable voice. The speaker was tall, and the girl couldn’t really make out the shape of their face as most of it was hidden behind a thick veil of shadows. The two of them were seated in a small room, dimly lit only by a series of candles on various tabletops. A table, draped in red velvet was positioned between the two individuals, they were making a transaction.
“Well…sir? I don’t pay full price for my first buy. Dealers these days can be…shady. So, I like to sample my products before I buy; but trust me, if this shit is as good as you say, me and my people can really help you expand to the outer rim.” Her voice was sly, cunning, she maneuvered her way through sentences like a fox, always one step ahead of a trap.
Half of her head was shaved, and the other half, dyed a deep and heavily fluorescent navy blue, was long enough to cover most of the left half of her face. She was young, certainly, but she wasn’t a child, and the patchwork of scars across her face, forearms, and neck were a testament to her life experience. There were far darker evils in this world, she wasn’t afraid of this dark-dwelling individual.
“Very well. Half price. Only a dozen silver, as a gift to jumpstart a pleasant business arrangement.” The individual seemed anxious to meet the demands of the young woman, but within the voice itself she heard the markers of a smile, he was pleased. It made her uncomfortable. Anyone who smiles while complying with selling discounted product was probably not to be trusted; after all, if you can’t stick up for your own product, why should anyone else? These were the thoughts that raced through her head as she laid the 12 coins out on the table, securing the bag of crystals in a small pouch around her waist.
“Pleasure doing business. I’ll sample this myself and get back to you if I feel so inclined.” She got up from the table and turned toward the door when she heard the voice reply, softly.
“Yes?” She turned back to face the dealer with a smile that gave away how uncomfortable she was.
“Do be careful. This batch may be…more intense…than you’re used to.”
“Well, that’s cryptic. Thanks for that. Listen, if it’s poisoned at all, or anything bad happens to me after taking it, my people can and will burn your entire empire to the ground. No problem. We get off on it.” Her annoyance was palpable, she hated more than anything people with hidden agendas.
“No, no! Just a word of warning, is all.”
“Thanks, but I don’t need your warnings. I’m not some naïve tramp, I can handle it. Good day.” She bowed her head slightly to the people in the room, turned around, and walked through the door. What a fucking weirdo, she thought to herself as she walked briskly through a metal-lined hallway lined with bright blue lights. Renard approached the end of the hallway to find a large teleport module capable of transporting goods (or, if modified properly, people) across an entire galaxy in a split second.
Walking inside the cube-shaped, windowless room, she punched a set of coordinates into a small console that protruded from the left wall, pressed a button, and took a seat on a small purple bench on the opposite side of the room. She looked around, noticing the walls of the module were coated with the same red velvet that lined the table in her dealer’s room. It was tacky, but sometimes people, in order to adjust to the nature of this galaxy, latch on to things that they like. Sometimes, she thought to herself, I guess people just want an anchor, something that keeps them from slipping into the void.
The orange-tinted floodlight positioned in the middle of the ceiling flickered slightly as the machined hummed and whirred, vibrating slightly as it shifted its contents from one end of the galaxy to the other. When the sounds and movements finally subsided, Renard stood up from her bench, a stern look passing over her face, and walked confidently out of the teleport’s door. On the other side was the familiarity of home, her home, safe and secure. She closed the teleport door, locking it by pressing a code into a different console on the outside of the device, causing the interior to revert back to her original settings. Turning to view her room, she removed the small bag from her waist pouch and examined the crystals once again.
They really were quite miraculous. Torgan Diamonds, that was their technical name, but most people called them ‘nebulas’ on account of their alleged property of making reality appear…different…to the user. Supposedly, Renard had heard, these were unlike any other hallucinogen on the market, these brought you to the heart of space, forced your soul to exist at a higher vibration and be privy to secrets known only to those who exist beyond our realm. Hippies really liked this stuff.
She wasn’t incredibly convinced it could do anything it was cracked up to, and she wasn’t particularly fond of hallucinogens but, she trusted herself more than anyone else around her. She knew that she would have to, at the very least, sample them to ensure the validity of the claims. Carefully, she removed one of the small crystals, less than an inch in length and shimmering bright and pink. The moment she placed the crystal in her mouth it almost immediately dissolved, sending shockwaves of stimulation down her throat which permeated her entire body.
She didn’t panic, she had experienced feelings like this before; she merely walked over and lied down on her large bed, covered edge to edge with animal furs from the hunting reserves of Halfter’s system. The stimulation flooded her senses, twinging the ends of every nerve with a tingling sensation that made her smile. Content, she wriggled slightly on her mattress as the drugs effects began to kick in. Shit, she thought, this works fast. Within minutes her room was transformed into the emptiness of open space.
Of course, she knew she hadn’t moved from her bed, and was merely projecting an image onto the blandness of her comfortable bedroom. She felt as though she were floating amidst a sea of stars and beautifully colorful gasses – she moved her fingers up and down in a wave motion on the bed, feeling the softness of a nebula in her hallucination.
In truth, she had never seen a drug work this rapidly. She was completely immersed within the mind-altering substance within moments, having her mind transported completely to a different plane of reality. Feelings, tangibility, reality, it all faded away in an instant and, even as she lied with her eyes open, knowing full well where her physical body was, she felt her soul flow with the movements of solar winds.
She felt the coldness of the void merge with the vast heat of exploding stars and knew in an instant the most supreme euphoria known to humanity. Happiness wasn’t sufficient enough to describe the pure and effervescent elation felt across every cell of her body. Again, she writhed slightly on her bed, soaking in the pleasures of the drug. Fucking hell, she thought, these people weren’t kidding.
She floated listlessly for perhaps an hour, moving in her hallucination through various parts of space, soaking in the sights and feelings of various natural phenomena. Suddenly, however, a sound permeated the void of space. To Renard, it sounded like a tearing, as if someone had ripped a very stiff sheet of paper in half very slowly. Turning around, she noticed a thick, rough line in the middle of the void behind her. She drifted towards it, running her fingers around the outside; it appeared to be a physical tear within the fabric of space, something that someone had ripped open. Sending her spiraling back through the void and regaining a slight grip on the reality of her lying in a bed, a voice shot out from the void. “Who are you?”