by H. A. Titus -
"Hey Cara, where ya been lately?"
Cara trotted faster. "Buzz off, Denton!"
A foot slid between her shins, nearly making her do a faceplant into the metal floor. Cara caught herself against the wall and spun to get her back to it.
Denton and Strand crowded in close, while Robynn hovered behind them. Cara crossed her arms over her chest and gave them her best glare.
"Been missin' ya around the market," Strand said. "Where ya been?"
"Busy," Cara said.
She noticed that several other orphans had stopped, listening to the conversation. A couple of them were old friends, but they didn't look too inclined to stand up against Strand and Denton.
"Busy doin' what? Someone said you made friends with a rich kid," Strand said.
Denton frowned. "You turnin' your back on us, Cara? For what, expensive toys and pretty things?"
Someone else snickered. "Little young to have a boyfriend, aren't you, Cara?"
"He's going to teach me how to fly!" she said.
They all stared at her. For a moment, Cara thought they believed her. Then Strand snorted and rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, right," Denton said.
"No one's going to trust an orphan with the controls of a ship," Strand said. "The best we can hope for is bug hunting when we get older."
"But logically, she could be telling the truth," a boy with welding goggles pushed into his mop of red hair said.
Denton glared at him. "No one asked for your logic, Cog."
"I guess you've cleaned the earwax out since we last talked, since you can obviously hear me this time," Cog said, a smile curling the left corner of his mouth.
Cara noticed that despite Denton's angry glare, he looked hesitant to even get close to Cog. Then she noticed Cog's right hand was metal. That explained it—Denton had probably tasted that metal hand once or twice before.
"Explain your logic, Cog," she challenged. "Why don't you think I'm lying?"
"Flying is so far above our status. Why would you use that for a lie if you wanted to be believed? It's like a boy with blocks claiming he's God just because he can build a tower and knock it down—outrageous. It's so outrageous that if you were lying, no one would believe you. So I think you're telling the truth."
Most of the kids had moved on by now with exaggerated sighs about the weird ways Cog's mind worked.
Denton still looked unconvinced. "I still think she's lying."
Cara shrugged. "You can think that all you want. I wasn't interested in your opinion anyway."
"Little—" Strand started.
Cog slipped in beside Cara and put his hand on her shoulder. "Since you're not interested, Denton, then why don't you move on?"
Strand and Denton both shot glares, but Robynn whispered in Denton’s ear and he slowly turned away. Cara watched the threesome disappear into the marketplace, then she looked up at Cog.
He grinned. "You were telling the truth, right? So far my logic has been right, and I don't want Denton and Strand to hear you were lying after all."
She jutted her chin. "I don't lie."
"That I believe. So is there any way I can get in on these flight lessons?"
She paused. She liked working alone with Pieter—they were a good team. But Pieter had told her to keep an eye out for any other orphans who wanted to learn to fly. And if there were other orphans around, it would cut those stupid stories flying around about Pieter being her boyfriend.
Cara jabbed her thumb over her shoulder at the hangars. "Dock Seventy-three. Tomorrow morning at eight."
"Can I bring my sister, Clock?"
Cog and Clock. Cara had heard some weird names around Avenir, but these two probably took the cake. "Sure. Just be there at eight sharp."
Cog's grin curled around to the other side of his mouth. "Got it."