Shin'rok Gateway

"Incoming traveler. Warning incoming traveler," the Response System warned, causing the personnel to rush to their stations as the traveler landed on the Arrival Deck. "One traveler coming from Meiru VI. A female with one bag," the Scanner confirmed. "Human?" the official translator asked. "According to the scans…yes. Here she comes," the Scanner answered and watched as the passenger arrived.

Through the wall a mass of light rocketed into the large room, quickly stopping in the middle of the Deck as the Gravitational Amplifiers caught it as though it were a fly in a huge invisible web. "Energy secure. Initiating reformation sequence now," the Scanner announced out loud.

With a slight whirling sound the DNA Duplication and Reanimation stage started. This would ensure that the mass of pure energy would reconstruct itself back into the creature it once was. This was the method that most species preferred to travel the galaxy.

A traveler would step onto the Departure Deck, would be broken down into its main elements and converted to pure energy and light to be sent through the unspace stream to their destination where they would be reconstructed at the Arrival Deck totally unharmed. Not only totally unharmed but totally unaware of the trip through unspace, the trans-dimension where it is possible to travel faster than light and arrive at a planet on the other side of the galaxy in a matter of seconds.

It was nicknamed the Lightway System by its creator and has been the fastest and most reliable way to travel for 150 years. Of course, it is still the more expensive way to travel so it can only be found on the richest planets and of course, there can be only one terminal per continent. All other travel on the planet must be done by ship or hovercraft just because it's too expensive to build hundreds of Lightway Systems on a planet. But eventually, when the technology arises and the payment is cheap enough, they hope to build mini-Lightways on every corner of a city, making travel only a hop, skip, and a jump away.

"Five minutes 'til completion of reformation sequence," the Scanner announced, reading the data right off the board. The process was going right on schedule. The woman was now more than a glowing mass of light; she was a semi-glowing naked woman, only her body, hair, and eyes outlined.

"Clothing addition activated," the Scanner said, glancing at the data. A brilliant array of light swirled around the woman's body and soon took on the shape of a trench coat, tight pants, tight shirt, and boots as her body started to develop texture and detail. "T-minus one minute and counting," the Scanner reminded the people. Soon the traveler would be completely reanimated.

The finishing touches were added to her body and there, floating in front of them, was a beautiful lady.

She had long, black hair that she had up in a bun at the base of her head. Her black leather pants clung tightly to her hips as her tight, black top clung to her breasts. Her black boots quietly clicked on the metallic floor as the System lightly floated her to the ground. The translator stepped up, ready to help her off.

"Welcome to Shin'rok, Ma'am," he said, grinning friendly at the gothic passenger. She stood there for a moment her eyes still closed. She seemed to ignore him and then she opened her eyes. They were gold, completely intense, a dragon's eyes.

The translator gasped. He felt like he couldn't move - they were so electrifyingly dangerous. It was like looking into the eyes of a lion when he's only a millimeter from your face. She simply stared at him and then she reached into her pocket and retrieved a pair of black sunglasses. She promptly put them on her face, breaking the man's trance and left, her black bag in hand.

"Wa…wait!" the personnel protested but she just left them there, hanging on their own words. She had no time for idle chitchat, especially with those of no concern to her. She was on a mission; she had to find the one she was looking for.

She entered the rotunda of the port where travelers could find countless stores and shops to find anything they wanted. From food, to spells, to souvenirs, there were countless storekeepers of hundreds of species trying to sell the travelers things. They didn't care who or what you were, just so long as you bought something from them: anything.

"A cross for the lady? I wouldn't want the vampires to take such a beautiful child," an old women with a basket full of potions, amulets, ward spells, stakes, and crosses asked politely, holding up a beautifully carved cross up to her. "I don't need one," the woman said coldly, stopping only to say that. "Oh, but there is such a problem with vampires here. The coming night will be swarming with them. You cannot go out there defenseless," the old lady said, her wrinkled hand shaking, still offering the cross.

The woman just smiled. "I'm not defenseless," she smirked, then saw the hag's true distress and took her hands in her own, "I know a few tricks and a few spells. Thank you very much though." The old one seemed only slightly reassured but smiled kindly at the stranger. "Well, I suppose a young thing like you can take care of herself. But, if I were you I'd hurry and get to shelter after watching the sunset. We have the most beautiful sunsets here. I would hurry or I'd miss it," she said cheerfully.

"I'm not one for scenery. Besides I'll catch the next one," the black-clad stranger said. The old lady seemed shocked. :"You're planning to stay here that long? I hope you have family here if you are," she said. "What do you mean?" the woman asked, her sunglasses slipping from her face a bit. She pushed them up immediately with her finger. "Didn't you know? The nights here last for five months, seven months in the winter. That's why vampires are such a problem. They naturally flock to dark planets and Shin'rok is one of the darkest. They're naturally solitary creatures but here they gang up together since all the citizens are armed. Are you sure you won't take a cross?" she informed the younger girl.

The woman thought about it. She had not expected this. She had heard the nights were long on this planet but she didn't feel the need to find out how long. Night and day never meant much to her and vampires never caused her many problems. If they did, she would simply stake them and that was that. But she wasn't sure what she would do with whole flocks of them ganging up on her. If they fought as a group she might be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers if nothing else.

"Please dear. Take a cross. There's an incantation inscribed in this one already so you need not chant or cast a spell. All you need to do is hold it up and it will naturally repel them at least seven feet away. And once the magic is activated it will last for 24 hours, so you'll have plenty of time to get indoors and into the shields. After that it just needs to be recharged," the old lady persisted.

The woman sighed. "Very well. How much?" she asked. The old lady just smiled. "For you dear, I'll give it to you for only 20 credits. You're such a nice lady and I would feel guilty if I just let you go without one," she said and handed the cross over. "Only 20? Oh, I must give you more than that for such a masterpiece," the lady insisted. "No, no. Just take it girl. You remind me so much of my granddaughter…just take it and go with good fortune," the old woman said and took the credits presented to her.

"And with you Madam. I pray for your safety," the lady bowed and left, putting the cross in her pocket. Vampires…she hated just thinking of them. They were loners, nomads that lived on every planet known to man. They were scavengers, powerful but unable to come together and overrun the humans who had populated the galaxy. You could find at least one in every city. They only came together to mate. Unlike the myths, they could not create a new vampire by just biting them and sharing their blood. They were a race of long-lived and powerful nocturnal beings, with vast knowledge of magic but they still needed to breed with each other. Luckily, it took them at least a thousand years to mature enough to reproduce and when they did, they only bred one child for every 500 years thereafter.

The point was that they were vermin, like mice, but even mice can gain power over others when they group together. That's what concerned the lady. Even if she could fight off one vampire, three vampires, five vampires, could she fight off 20 or 30? Fifty? She doubted it but she wasn't sure, not at all.

Hopefully I won't need to find out…

She gasped as she saw the sight in front of her. She had just stepped out of the Skyway port and now was gazing at the skyline of the city. Already about 315 stories up, she was amazed at the awesome view this gave of the setting sun and the beautiful buildings of the city.

There were a thousand walkways from one building level to another, some open with trees and flowers planted for an almost park-like feel and some enclosed with glass. And there were many hover-ships zooming past at almost every level, but despite the multitude of people and ships, it seems so free and open, like they were in the country. She wasn't sure how the people of this planet had pulled it off but she had the sense it was in the design of the buildings whose architecture were unexplainable, but very beautiful non the less.

"Hey lady! Where to?" the taxi driver yelled out to her, predicting that she was a traveler and would eventually call him over anyway. "Take me to the nearest bar," she yelled to him, shaking herself out of her trance. "Do you have enough?" he asked, skeptical of her financial success as she came over. "How much will it cost me?" she asked, not getting it quite yet. "Well, the nearest bar is about three miles from here, nearer to the middle of the city. It'll probably cost you 30 credits, at the least. Depends of traffic, of course, and whether we get there before night sets," he explained. She nodded. "I'll have enough," she stated and got in.

They arrived two minutes before true nightfall, a sliver of sun still peaked above the horizon, still enough to keep the vampires away. "Well, what do you know. 31 credits please," the taxi driver demanded, sticking his hand out for the money. She gave him her card and he swept it threw the scanner. "You have 1,000 credits left…uh, how do you pronounce that?" the taxi driver asked, seeing her unusual name.

Her right eyebrow twitched up. "Don't you know it's dangerous to tell someone your name? They could cast a spell on you," she said, suspicious of him despite his friendly attitude. "Oh, come on. I'm no wizard. I have no magical abilities whatsoever. And I won't sell you out either. Here, we'll make a trade. I'm Render Mye. You can check my ID if you don't believe me," he said, showing her the Identi-print card with his picture, name, and fingerprints.

Satisfied but still skeptical she told him her name, "I have no true name but I call myself Shino Namida." The driver shook his head. "See? You have nothing to fear if you have no real name. So, what kind of name is Shee-no Nah-mee-dah? I've never heard a name like that before," he said, too curious for her tastes. "It's from ancient Japanese. It was a language on Earth. It means 'tear of death'," she explained and departed without another word.

"Tear of Death? Scaay-ree! You have a real gothic thing going on, don't you? Hey! Wait, you're card!" he yelled, holding up her money card. She stopped and turned. He threw it to her and she caught it without a hitch, then she went into the bar that had cost her 31 credits to get to.