We’re here at the Enchanted Chocolatery in Puraimura, otherwise known as Prime City, enjoying some magical hot chocolates (and yes, I mean that literally — the owner here enchants all his lattes.) Thanks so much for joining us, Nikta! Are you as excited as we are that The Burning is finally releasing?
Definitely! I’ve been waiting for Ellis to get around to writing my story for ages. So much has been happening here in Chalinex and Prime, it’s time we got started!
Well, why don’t you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I live a pretty simply life carrying mail to the settlements around Prime City. That’s where I’m from. Anyways, like I said — things were pretty simple until I got dragged into a case at my brother’s police precinct. Now I find myself using my magic to get me out of all kinds of crazy situations. Like this drug ring we’re trying to crack now… but, I shouldn’t say to much. Case confidentiality and all, you know the drill. [Laughs]
Yeah, I do. Which reminds me — your family settled the original mining outpost, right?
Oh, You’ve done your research! Yes, there have been Kozan’s on Renga since the beginning.
That explains the cat ears. They’re real, right?
Yes! In order to survive the harsh environment of the planet back then, everyone that came was genetically modified with panther DNA. The gene tweaks helped my ancestors see in the dark and sense any disturbances in the mine. Their enhanced reflexes and agility were key to their survival, especially when that unstable section of mines collapsed in 2487.
And the genetic changes, they led to your having people magic?
Some people think so. Doc Brado back in Prime says it was something in the mines, though. The same energy waves that make it so hard to use tech here, he says it triggered some other changes in our DNA, made us more in tune with the quantum field of this planet. According to Doc, nothing we can do is magic. It’s just physics, masquerading as the unexplained.
Wow, that’s pretty cool.
I think so, too! Not everyone here agrees, though. There’s a lot of discrimination against my people, especially in the newer settlements like Chalinex. My brother can’t stand being one of us, tries to pretend he isn’t every chance he gets. But, I’m trying to rebuild that relationship. After all, he’s the only family I have left.
I’m sorry to hear that.
Yeah. Me, too. But it’s all good! [Smiles a bit too brightly.] I live a good life, really. Which reminds me…I really ought to get going. Neither rain, nor heat, nor interview… the mail never sleeps, you know?
[Laughs] Okay, of course. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Till next time, Nikta!
Anytime! [Nikta tosses the stick she’s been toying with on the table and shoulders her pack.] Maybe I”ll see you around.
I wave to Nikta, watch her walk out the door. Then I lean forward, noticing light markings along the stick. Are those words? I retrieve the thick twig, turning it over in my hands and tracing the writing. Is that… a haiku???
Lyrical gaze burns
Smoke feeding wild shimmers
Quick! Mystery waits