Downtown Galimi was bustling. Humans and aliens alike crowded the cobblestone streets, and the taste of burned food and heat filled the marketplace. In one stall, a scaly snake-like alien yelled at passing people, dingy jewelry hanging from spiderwebs of wire within their stall. A burly winged alien handed greasy meat patties from one hand while flipping others still cooking on a sizzling skillet. The buzzing energy of the place brought a bounce to Chester’s step.
Then his stomach grumbled, reminding him why he was here again. Chester was picking up something for dinner, and Sylvester, Vincent, and Jinghua had decided to tag a long. Chester heard the soft laughter of Syl and Vincent chatting behind him. They occasionally corralled Ji forward when she lingered at a stall for too long, eyeing shiny knick-knacks and ratty scarves.
A melon sized red and black fruit, curling green sprouts, an assortment of nuts, and some green potato-esque vegetables already filled Chester's bag, but he was hoping he could find some chicken or beef- some human ingredients. As much as he loved experimenting with cooking, he also liked knowing what he was actually cooking with.
He smiled as he noticed a stall selling chickens (along with lizard legs, pickled ears, and some goopy, utterly-unidentifiable meat) and quickly bought one. After he told everyone they were good to go, they started weaving their way out of the marketplace.
Syl and Vince were still behind him, but Chester turned around when he heard a hesitant, “Syl…?” from Vincent.
Sylvester was kneeling on the ground, the crowd flowing past him like a river around a stone.
Chester hurried over, and was about to ask if he was okay until he realized Sylvester was staring at something. A dirt colored centipede inched along across the stones, no bigger than a pinky. A couple of its limbs were missing, and one of its antenna was clearly longer than the other, but it still trudged along.
Sylvester had an odd look to his eyes. He reached out a hand and let the centipede crawl into his palm.
All of them jolted.
“oh my god, gross- Syl, what’re you doing,” Ji exclaimed, watching the thing loop around Sylvester’s fingers as he stood back up.
Vincent looked at Sylvester with thinly veiled horror, his mouth open.
Chester stepped forward, almost dropping his bag, “Sylvester, that could be poisonous!”
Sylvester glared at them with much more venom than Chester was prepared for. Something twisted in his chest. He felt like he’d accidentally trampled on something important, but wasn’t sure what.
“It’s only a bug.” He shifted the centipede from hand to hand, not letting it get further than his wrist before transferring it. Sylvester seemed far away as he gently ran a finger down the centipedes back. “It can’t bite me through my gloves anyways.” He said softly.
“Still,” Vincent grimaced, ”dude.”
Sylvester carried the bug in his hands until they made it out of the marketplace. When the streets finally thinned, and the noise of the market was only a distant hum, he let the bug back down.
“You carried it all that way just to let it go?” Jinghua said. “Thought you were going to keep it or something.”
“Keep it on the ship?” Sylvester raised his brows, “Ka’ris would have murdered me.”
They all let out a laugh at that. The thought of Ka’ris- a nearly seven foot tall alien, who cared obsessively about hygiene and their apperance- absolutely losing their shit over a tiny centipede, was hilarious. Not that any of them wouldn’t do the same, but jokes at the expense of Ka’ris were always good.
Sylvester gazed at the centipede as it scurried away, but Chester could tell his mind was somewhere else. “It would have surely died if I hadn’t helped it. All of those people would have stepped on it. Even if I had ignored it, and not stepped on it, the outcome may as well have been the same.”
His eyes grew hard, and in that moment they looked more grey than blue. “People don’t care about insects.”
In case things are unclear (which I bet they are because I doubt this make sense outside the context of my brain lmao. and also I tend to write things as cryptically as possible)
Sylvester relates himself to insects. When he was growing up, Sylvester at times felt like only an insignificant insect. Just a dirty street kid who nobody wanted anything to do with, who would poison and steal from all he met, who was just as easy to step on as to ignore.
Sylvester helps all the bugs he finds because he knows even small kindnessess like that can make all the difference.