Episode 053: Jobs! Gotta Make A Living Somehow
Episode 053: Jobs! Gotta Make A Living Somehow
"Jobs?!" Lina exclaimed, her voice echoing through the interior of the Great Beast.
"Yes, jobs, that is to say work," Zelas explained. "Meaning, to perform tasks that bring a revenue."
"I know what a job is, but why do we need jobs?" Lina complained. She would expect to hunt for relics, of technology rather than magic given that they were in the over-world. She would expect to follow rumors and legends, to train and maybe hunt down some bandits over-world style for the sake of getting the hang of fighting with their new weapons, but the fiery redhead was not expecting Zelas to say she had to get a job.
"The answer to that is simple, we need money. Ship parts cost money and adding weapons and ammunition to this vessel is the fastest and most effective way to increase its power. Since I have a physical form now, I must consider not only my strength of energy, but also my physical defenses," Zelas explained, referring to the lost ship Great Beast. "I got the energy deal covered with your and Filia's bad tempers-"
At that point, both Filia and Lina let out an undignified chorus of, "hey!"
The protests were ignored as Zelas continued. "However, I must make sure that this vessel is strong. The final battle will take place in space, even if all of you have tasks to do, you won't be able to run around freely. Let's not forget what we discussed about the atmosphere of this world, this area called outer space doesn't have any air or gravity. You won't be able to survive without the life support within my vessel, which I must remind you I can turn off at any moment. So to summarize, if you want me to shield you and keep you alive, you better do your part to strengthen my vessel."
"When you put it that way, it does make sense," Amelia accepted.
"I would go around stealing what I need, but then we'll just waste the ammunition fighting off cops and draw unneeded attention that could alert the light weapon lost ships of our location and all of that, especially if it happens at the same time, will be very counterproductive," Zelas frowned. "Unfortunately, this means we must keep a low profile, thus earn money by..." She trailed into silence, searching for the right way to phrase it that didn't sound too repulsive to her. "By means that do not attract unwanted attention."
"In other words," Amelia elaborated with a smile. "We need honest jobs!"
"I wouldn't go that far," Zelas interjected. "You don't have to be honest, just be careful not to get caught."
"We won't need to worry about that if we work honestly!" Amelia insisted cheerfully. "Alright, let's go get some jobs!"
"You're forgetting something," Lina pointed out. She didn't want to ruin Amelia's cheer, but her point was a valid concern that needed to be expressed. "What kind of jobs can we do? When I take a job, it usually involves fighting with magic. We can try to do escorts, bandit hunting and such jobs with the psy-weapons we got from Canal, but will people hire us?"
"Oh yeah... we are kind of out of our element, aren't we?" Amelia admitted.
"From the perspective of the people of this world, we may seem like amateurs," Zelgadis mused. "Plus from what we've studied so far on the Internet, the police and transport systems in most of the planets in this world are pretty advanced and people don't usually have any need for bodyguards. Then those who do hire such services would likely be suspicious of us, since we're not exactly well known in any planets here, or known at all."
"I'm working on that," Zelas explained. "This world still needs individuals known as trouble contractors. That is actually Kain's profession along with the others at the Swordbreaker. They are bounty hunters of sorts, though the job of a trouble contractor isn't limited to hunting rogues, they do escorts, investigations, item recoveries and a variety of odd jobs that require skill precision and power. I think that would be the closest equivalent in this world to the usual jobs your little group would take. I will find a suitable job for us to perform that serves as a source of economical benefits and as training for the upcoming battle."
"A double benefit..." Zelgadis mused, though he wasn't sure that leaving picking the job to Zelas was the best idea. "Wait a minute; did you say us, as in including yourself?"
"I did," Zelas replied simply. "I have already instructed Xellos in what to look for and he is investigating the available jobs in various parts of this vast world."
"Speaking of which," Xellos voiced, "I found something, but it's a bit far. We might have to stop for supplies since we're carrying a crew with biological needs now."
"Is that a round about way to say we're short on food?" Lina demanded to know.
"Yes," Zelas replied full of nonchalance.
With annoyance and concern, Lina demanded, "then we must make a stop and re-supply!"
"It's mostly your and Gourry's fault we're running low on supplies. You ate most of the food we got from the Swordbreaker," Zelas reminded.
"But I'm the captain, I'm your power source, you have to feed me or I won't be able to feed you!" Lina reminded desperately.
Zelas merely rolled her eyes. "Yes, Lina, I'm aware of that, I'm not going to starve you. Xellos, have you found a suitable planet to stop for supplies?"
"There is one and it's not too far away. According to the information, this planet has many cities built on its surface and a suitable space port. We should be able to re-supply there and get some extra ammunition as well, but we'll have to come up with the money for it while we're there or grab what we need and rush out," Xellos explained.
"I say we do the honest thing and work," Amelia suggested.
"We'll be fine as long as we don't attract too much attention. That stop is far from our destination anyway," Zelas considered their options. "Xellos, are the communications working?"
"Everything is going as planned," Xellos mysteriously informed.
"What communications are those?" Filia inquired with suspicion.
"You'll see," Zelas grinned and a feeling of foreboding swept over the others, though it was not yet immediate. She pointed at a blue and green planet displayed on the map of the screen with swirls of white around its surface. "We'll stop there then. As for what we shall do about the costs, I'll leave that up to you. If you wish to lead an expedition to find jobs, you are all welcome to do so. Xellos, you might as well go with them, I will stay on the ship and oversee things here."
"I guess there's no other choice for now..." Lina agreed.
"Alright!" Amelia cheered, "we'll make an honest living, over-world style!"
As they approached the planet, Lina looked at Gourry. He had grown quieter with the passing of time and she was getting worried. There was obviously something bothering him and this was quite unusual for him. He wasn't one to dwell on things like that. "You've been pretty quiet lately, Gourry. Is something wrong?"
Gourry didn't dance around the issue, he didn't hide it at all and straight out spoke of what was bothering him. "I've been thinking about the sword of light. How it transformed into that... that thing and attacked us."
"Hush back there, we're contacting the space dock authorities to land," Zelas hissed.
Lina pouted but nodded then led Gourry away towards the living quarters of the Great Beast. "Let's talk over here." Gourry followed Lina into her room. The room was identical to all the others, as they haven't had time to personalize their respective rooms yet. Gray walls with violet details and dark colored simple basic furniture was all that was there to be found.
After taking a moment to try to organize his thoughts and emotions, Gourry continued. "The sword of light had been passed down in my family for a long time," he lowered his head in sadness. "I used to hear a lot of stories about it. I don't know if all the stories were true or if they changed every time they were passed down from parent to child, but I never thought that the sword would do this. After we fought Darkstar and the sword of light was returned to this world, I thought of it as being even more special. I let it go because I thought it would be more useful in this world. When I got it back I was confused but happy, I've always thought of the sword of light as a weapon for good and now... I feel like I've been betrayed." Gourry lifted his head to look into Lina's eyes. "It hurts, it hurts a lot and I feel like it's all my fault."
Lina expected to hear some of the things Gourry said, but the last revelation took her by surprise. "It's not your fault," she immediately denied it.
Gourry shook his head and raised his hand to indicate for her to pause. "It is," he insisted. "You saw what the sword of light, what Goro Nuve... Gora..."
"Gorun Nova," Lina supplied.
"Gorun Nova, you saw what it really is," Gourry continued. "It... He... He talked to us; he's not just a sword even if he took that form. He had thoughts and feelings and I didn't acknowledge them. What kind of swordsman am I if I never formed a bond with my best sword? That sword was my companion through so much and I never acknowledged him. It's no wonder Gorun Nova hates me, using him without a word of thanks. I'm terrible. It's not his fault he couldn't talk as a sword, but I should have felt it, I should have felt he was alive. I failed him miserably. I really am terrible as a swordsman and as a friend."
"Gourry, don't say that!" Lina exclaimed. "It broke her heart to see Gourry putting himself down like that. She still loved him, and if she was going to be honest with herself, she always would. "You didn't know, there was no way you could have known. Besides, Gorun Nova is..." she couldn't bring herself to say it. Lina bit her lip and fell silent.
"With Darkstar," Gourry finished for her. "But he didn't have to be. If I had been kinder to him, he could have joined us. He protected my family for so long and I let him down."
"Stop it, please," Lina almost begged. "I can't stand to hear it; I can't stand having you put yourself down like this. I don't know what will happen when we face Gorun Nova again," yet she knew they would have to sooner or later, "but I'll be there to help in any way I can. I can't say we'll fix things for sure; I can't lie and tell you that we'll get Gorun Nova on our side, but we'll try. That's all we can do right now, try our best. Everyone makes mistakes; we just have to keep trying our best to fix them."
"Thank you, Lina," Gourry smiled weakly. He was still very upset about Gorun Nova, but knowing that Lina was there for him filled him with strength and hope, even if she was only willing to be there as a friend as far as he knew.
xoxox xox xoxox
After clearing things with the space port authorities, with the use of some fake ID techniques Zelas learned from Canal; Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos went off to find jobs. The planet they were on was quite similar to their world in that it had the same gravity and almost the same atmospheric composition. The sky presented a nearly identical coloration, though they couldn't be sure about the vegetation as there wasn't a whole lot of it to see. The place was covered in streets of gray stone where pedestrians walked and roads of black stone where strange vehicles moved.
The black stone roads were a maze of tunnels and interceptions that they heard someone call 'highway.' Vehicles of all kinds moved in them at considerable speeds not moved by horses or by wind. Strange metal carriages called 'cars' were the most abundant, with larger ones called 'trucks' driving by, transporting cargo. Smaller vehicles were also seen, those were called 'motorcycles' and Lina was fascinated by them. She wished she could have one of those, but knew she couldn't, given their current situation, although she could at least study them, she saw no harm in that.
While Lina and Gourry entertained themselves asking a multitude of questions to an exceptionally patient young man who worked at a biker shop, Amelia and Zelgadis went off to explore. People were giving them odd looks because of how they were dressed, but they were only passing glances and no one seemed to care too much about their surroundings, instead focusing on small machines that fit in the palm of their hands. Everyone seemed to have one of those; they were all tiny and varied in many colors. Yet even if they had stared, Lina was so fixated on learning about those motorcycle things that she wouldn't even notice or care. Gourry didn't appear to understand anything that was being explained about the peculiar vehicles, but he stood by Lina and listened anyway.
Amelia and Zelgadis walked by a place with many lights and sounds coming from within. It caught her attention and she stopped to look through the glass windows. She found many machines with changing picture windows on them. What were those called? Ah yes, screens. "I wonder if this is part of the digital library, Internet."
Zelgadis observed the jovial behavior of the people inside the structure. All the buildings in the city were packed close together and reached high into the skies in tall rectangular towers. The shape of the structures was nothing grand in itself, since they were built as long boxes, but the glass windows and the lights were a sight to behold, making the buildings look majestic. Zelgadis also couldn't help it but to note that this city was a very noisy and crowded place. "Those people look like they're playing," he observed.
"I know that screens that are connected to the Internet can be used for research, but I didn't know you could play with them." Amelia's eyes shone with curiosity. "It'll be okay if we make a quick stop here and have a look. I want to see this!" She rushed in, pulling Zelgadis by the arm to follow her.
The odd pair walked around the arcade observing the different machines all around. "You must be from the agency!" A blond young man with green eyes, approached Amelia and Zelgadis. "I'm Andrew, the arcade manager. Great costumes, very believable. The agency said they couldn't send anyone, but it looks like they managed after all."
"Agency?" Zelgadis and Amelia voiced in unanimous confusion.
"You're not from the agency?" Andrew realized. "Well, I have to say you're certainly talented cosplayers. Would you like to do a job here at the arcade?"
Amelia's eyes lit up, "yes, we were just looking for jobs!"
Zelgadis was a little more cautious. "What would we need to do?"
"Oh, it's quite simple. We're promoting the new Star Fantasy video game that just came out. As I'm sure you know; the game is all about having science fiction and magical fantasy all in one epic adventure. All you would have to do is hand out the promotional fliers to customers around the city and direct them here. Everyone who buys twenty or more tokens today, will get the chance to pre-order a rare special edition of the game," Andrew explained. "Are you up to it?"
"A promotional job, it sounds like it would be easy," Zelgadis admitted. He imagined the pay wouldn't be too high for such an easy job, but they had to start somewhere. "Alright, we'll take the job."
"Leave it to us, Mr. Andrew, we won't let you down!" Amelia cheered.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Filia and Xellos were conducting their own exploration of the city. Filia had mastered the ability to retract her jetpack so she didn't have to worry about having that sticking out of her back all the time. She did want to find something more comfortable to wear. Bareback dresses were not her usual choice of attire, but it was a matter of functionality in this case, so she thought she should make an effort to let it pass. She knew their finances were tight, but this was a necessity. She stopped to look at the displays in a clothing store. Male and female mannequins showed off the latest trends, at which Filia wrinkled her nose in disproval, "tasteless."
"You've said that about all the outfits you've seen," Xellos reminded. "Why don't you try on that one," he pointed at the female figure behind the glass. "It's pink and you have an obsession with pink, so you should like it, though personally I think it would look better in purple."
"Absolutely not!" Filia nearly shouted. "That shirt only covers the front and it leaves the shoulders and back bare. For the top of an evening gown I suppose wearing something like that tied around the neck would be okay, but not for something to wear for normal daily tasks, very much less paired with a skirt that would only be the proper length for someone who is three feet tall."
"So you think Lina should wear it?" Xellos joked, though his face always was cheerful, so it was all the same as if he had said it with a straight face.
Filia tried to stifle a fit of giggles, "she'd kill you for that one."
"I know, I'm awesome," Xellos grinned. "So back to the topic on hand, I have a little money that Beast Master snagged from Millie's wallet. I can get you that outfit if you'll wear it. Weren't you looking for a shirt that didn't get in the way of your bazooka, I mean jetpack, anyway?"
"I suppose..." Filia sighed in defeat. "But I'm not wearing it with that skirt and I'm getting a nice jacket to wear over it when I'm not using the jetpack. Let's go into this shop and take a look around. You need to get some clothes too."
"I can just change my projection, you know. I am a hologram after all," Xellos demonstrated by appearing in a modern attire, coming up with it based on what he had seen.
"Xellos! What if someone saw you changing like that? They might be suspicious of us, more so than they must already be!" Filia looked around but to her surprise, no one was paying him any mind beyond passing odd glances that didn't last more than a split second. "Or maybe they don't care... What are those machines they keep staring at in their hands anyway?"
"I'm not sure, but my guess is that they are connected to the Internet. It's not just a place for information, but from what I've learned, it also can be use to communicate with others even at a very long distance. It's like a network of knowledge and instantly transmitted messages that reach all over the over-world. There's also more entertainment than anyone could look through in a life time," Xellos explained. "I'm glad I'm a digital being, exploring the Internet is even faster and easier for me than for those who need to use mechanical interfaces like that."
"It's really that great, huh? Well I want to have a good look at it later, not just for research for our mission, but also to look at the culture of the over-world in general and see what people around here do for fun. It's a great opportunity to learn so much." Filia was getting all excited just thinking about it. She looked at Xellos new appearance, really taking the time to examine him.
"Yes I know, I'm very hot," he grinned mischievously, opening one eye as if to wink, or reverse wink.
"Oh shut up," Filia tried to look annoyed, though it came out more amused than she intended. "You do look like you could blend in around here, except for the purple hair and..." She tugged on the fabric of his jacket, the hologram making it feel as if it was real fabric, though it would shortly disappear if he took it off. "This... Must you wear this with the purple fur on the ends?"
"It's stylish!" Xellos insisted.
"Right..." Filia knew there was no arguing with him. "Let's just check out this store. I want to find something to wear and get a job quick. I wouldn't want to give Zelas a reason to start being overly critical of me like she always is. Well, she's going to do it anyway, but like I said, I don't want her to have the satisfaction of a reason. I must earn enough money to cover my expenses and do my part in the maintenance of the vessel."
"You're certainly determined," Xellos grinned in amusement. This would be so much fun.
To be Continued
Andrew is from Sailor Moon. Star Fantasy is a reference to Star Wars and Final Fantasy.