Zalu hands me a bowl of what looks like different fruits, and I stare down at the bright mixture curiously. 

"You brought up that Earth has starving people...Do other planets in the universe not have starving people? I mean, do you not have money or any type of economy," I ask as I pick up a squishy green piece of food. 

"We have something similar to your exchange policy, but unlike Earth, basic necessities are never something you have to pay for. Water and food are not owned. Food grows everywhere. We pick it, and if we want meat, we hunt. Our stores contain products, not needs," Zalu explains as she takes a seat in front of me. 

"Are you not afraid of over hunting," I ask as I bite into the piece of food. 

The green plant explodes with juice, and a tangy flavor fills my mouth. I hum as I chew. Whatever it is, it is way better than hospital food. 

"What do you mean," Zalu asks, and a few more people walk into the communal cafeteria Zalu brought me to. 

"Well, I mean, on Earth, we have rules about how many animals a person can shoot. It's to make sure we aren't bringing down the population so much," I explain, and she grins a little. 

"We do not use weapons when hunting. We only use weapons against beings of equal intelligence, but even the war is fought at mostly hand-to-hand combat level. The animals have just as much a chance of killing us as we do them," Zalu says, and my jaw drops open. 

"So you go out into the forest with your hands and teeth? That's it," I ask, and Zalu nods as she eats an orange grape. 

"That's how it is all over the Galaxy. The humans aren't one with their planet. You believe yourselves to be above your wildlife. We hunt and are hunted. I rarely go out to hunt for meat, but my mate provides plenty of meat. The different planets have different terrains, but many follow similar customs to ours. We have blended so much that the Galaxy is becoming almost whole. Coks world is mostly sand they have few forests. It is always hot, but there are massive underground bodies of water that keep the animals thriving. The Coks' bodies are colored to match their planet. They have long fingers and arms for reaching into sand burrows. But their bodies are packed with muscle so they can fight against the top predator on their planet, the grotesque Mangog. They are reddish-brown and massive. They have horns and big fangs. Let's see...The Peulo people come from a planet of mostly water. Their skin ranges in the blue-green scope of color. They eat mostly aquatic life and are amazing swimmers. They are lean and tall. Large hands and big feet. But like the Keas, none of their warriors made it this Harvest," Zalu explains nonchalantly as she eats her food. 

I watch her face curiously, and she smiles when she sees my expression. 

"What," she asks, and I shake my head. 

"Is that why you have pointy teeth," I ask, and she nods. 

"Most females have smaller fangs than males, but pointy teeth are common. We need them for hunting," she says, and I look down at my food. 

I grab a slice of something purple and smell it. It has a sweet scent that tickles my nose, so I pop it into my mouth. A taste similar to mango fills my mouth, and I grab another slice. 

"So, where are the other human girls," I ask while chewing slowly. 

"It takes the agency that handles the harvest a while to gather the girls. Earth chose the US to handle gathering the women, but an individual from the US must travel the whole world. It takes time. But the Earth begins sending women two weeks ahead of the tournament. The other planets teleport their harvested women the day the tournament begins," Zalu replies, and I look up at her. 

"How long is the tournament," I ask, and she smiles. 

"One week. Day one is for celebration. The candidates dine and dance together. You meet with your potential mates, and they meet you. Day two is presenting. Audiences from all the other planets come, and the fights are planned. Day three, the battle between only the fighters begins. It lasts until the end of day four. On day five, the winners from days three and four draw numbers. They then fight beasts from all over the Galaxy. Beasts like the Mangog. It is rare for champions to lose in these fights, but it happens. If they lose, they go to the bottom of the pile for choosing a mate. Finally, after the last beast is dead, the champions issue challenges. It normally becomes a massive brawl, and the last male standing chooses his mate first. If a female does not want the champion who chooses her, she must speak up when the offer is made for her hand. You must then announce who you would like as a mate. Your choice of male then decides if he wants you. If he does, then he and the male that wants you battle. So the females do get some say," Zalu says, and I swallow my last piece of food. 

"And if the male I don't want wins," I ask, and Zalu shrugs.

"Then the male who wanted you, to begin with, is the better provider, and the male you wanted doesn't really want you. Because if he wanted you, he wouldn't stop fighting until he was dead. Mates are precious. Once you bond, there is no breaking the bond. A male who doesn't fight to his last breath isn't someone I would bond myself to," Zalu says, and again, my mouth falls open. 

"Bond? What do you mean," I ask, and Zalu gets a misty look in her eyes. 

"On each planet, they do it differently, but the process is very similar everywhere. Basically, your systems are linked together. When your heart beats, their heart beats, it's magical," Zalu says, and I stand up. 

I place my hands on the table and lean towards the tall purple being. 

"So if my mate dies, I die? Suddenly without warning," I ask in utter terror. 

Zalu shakes her head sadly as she collects our bowls and stands up too. 

"No, but it is painful. Many widowed mates live very short lives after their loved one dies," Zalu says, and I watch as she walks towards what looks like a garbage shoot on the wall. 

She opens it and slides our bowls in before heading back in my direction. 

"Come. I will show you to your room. This building is where all the harvested women stay. It is beautiful and very luxurious. When we get to your room, you need to shower and slip into some real clothes," Zalu says, and I glance down at the hospital gown I forgot I was wearing. 

As I do, dark brown hair falls forward, and I grab it. I run my fingers through the thick locks that remind me of my mother, and I smile. I forgot I had hair again. I was so mesmerized by my surroundings I completely forgot about my appearance. I must have an excited expression on my face because Zalu laughs. 

"Come on. I cannot wait for you to see yourself," she says, and I follow instantly. 

She leads me down a maroon hallway silently, and I play with my shoulder length hair. I can't believe I didn't feel this weight before. My hair is heavy and thick. I should have noticed it right away. 

"This is it," Zalu says, and I look up at a yellow door with a black one on it. 

"I get room one," I ask, and she nods while turning the knob. 

"You were the first to arrive," Zalu says, and the door swings open. 

She leads me into a room fit for a grand hotel, and my eyes widen as I look around. Unlike the other rooms we have been in, this one is white with splashes of grey. No bright colors clashing with one another in sight. Just white and grey walls with lavish furniture just begging to be laid on. 

"This room is decorated to reflect a high-end human home. The other four rooms in this hall are decorated similarly. When I first saw these rooms, I was shocked, but they have grown on me. They seem calming. What do you think," Zalu asks, and I open my arms wide before spinning around? 

I laugh loudly as I behave like a princess, and Zalu joins me. 

"See...humans are appreciative. I enjoy it," she says after a moment, and I stop spinning. 

"Where's the bathroom, " I ask, and she points to the second door on the right. 

I run towards the door and throw it open. The bathroom is gorgeous, but my focus isn't on the high-end sinks or massive soaker tub. No, my eyes are locked on a girl I never thought I would see again. I walk closer to the mirror before pressing my hands to my now full cheeks. My blue-green eyes fill with tears, and I smile at myself before they begin to fall. 

"Hello," I whisper to myself. 

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