I surreptitiously glanced at the people with Ss’merit. They were all aliens, not a human among them. I didn’t recognize all of them, but there were a few species I knew. Were they like me? I saw ports on one short alien with no hair, just a rigid crest running from his forehead and down his spine.
I was so fixated on the ports that I didn’t hear what Lakshou and Ss’merit were saying until Ss’merit abruptly turned and led the others off. I took a quick breath in and let it out slowly.
“Who was that?”
“Ss’merit.” Lakshou shifted in his seat. “He is the passenger facilitator aboard. He escorts guests usually, but he’s also in charge of the rescues we bring on board.”
“Why haven’t I met him before?”
“A sub-faction of his species are among the inner circles of the Brox Consortium. Not everyone trusts them because of that. Ss’merit is defensive, which I can feel, but I don’t know if it’s because he’s trying to hide things or if he’s just trying to overcome the perception the Ss’eenui are all willing to harm other species to gain power.” Lakshou shook his head. “He usually avoids me.”
“He looked creepy,” I admitted.
“Yeah. That doesn’t help their cause much either. Some species just don’t get along with them, humans included. But the captain doesn’t always get a choice in his crew.” Lakshou’s ears flicked sideways, and then he clapped his hands together once, as if to close that discussion. “Okay, what would you like? We still have some time before your order is ready.”
The rest of our trip went smoothly, and I was back in my room before I realized how tense I was. I wasn’t sure what I’d expected to happen, but I was glad to be alone. I took a sonic shower and then put on some of my new clothes, relishing the softness and warmth. We’d eaten, and I wasn’t thirsty, so I curled up in the bed and turned on the vid to catch up on more that I’d missed over the years.
Time had always gone in fits and spurts. Sometimes it felt like the same day went on endlessly and other times the days blurred together so seamlessly it felt like they were speeding by before I even realized it. Aparoe and Lakshou visited, and I made short trips outside of my room, but without answers about the mess in my head, I was scared of befriending more of the crew, even if they encouraged me to.
It’s hard to get to know someone when you’re afraid you’ll have sex with them and then slit their throat, or air chamber, or speech sac. There were several kinds of aliens I’d seen before and knew, but more I didn’t. When I surreptitiously studied them I would later wonder if I was looking because I was curious or if I was searching for ways to use them the way I’d been trained.
Breathing exercises and meditation with Lakshou helped, but I kept feeling this sense of impending doom.
It made me happy Captain had been keeping his distance, though I saw him occasionally in the hall considering his doors were just a short distance down the call from mine.
I was waiting for Lakshou, since Aparoe had already been by to run some tests and check my health, making their noncommittal noises. I’d already figured out they were coordinating their visits.
The door chimed, and I slowly walked over to it. “Oh.” Instead of Lakshou, Ss’merit was standing outside my door. “Hello.”
He dipped his head once, his single eye unblinking as he stared up at me. “Hello. My name is Ss’merit. I wanted to speak with you in regards to your adjustment to your new life.”
The alien was shorter than me, which I hadn’t realized before because I’d been sitting. He was very… intense though. “I’m fine, thank you.”
“There is much to learn that I can help you with,” he insisted. “We can speak inside your room, or go elsewhere.” He glanced up and down the hall. “Your choice.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “I’m already talking to Lakshou, and Captain has assured me I’m safe here. I have no intentions to leave this ship anytime soon.” I barely resisted touching the ports on my head. I wouldn’t be safe to be around anyone.
“My interests are solely for your well-being.” Ss’merit didn’t move, and I didn’t either. I was reluctant to let him into my space, and I wasn’t going to go anywhere with him either.
“Easy for you to say. I’m being taken care of by a medic and counselor. I am fine, thank you.” I tried to end the conversation politely.
“Don’t you want to speak with your fellow survivors?”
I hesitated. He had me there. Especially the one with the ports like mine. “No.” I shook my head. “I don’t want to think about that hell or talk about it either. It’s time to move on.” I put my hand on the door sensor. “I don’t need your help.”
The door slid shut on his objections and his oddly intense stare. I wrapped my arms around my chest and moved over to the table. I curled into the chair and studied the flat surface, rubbing my finger along the smooth surface just to feel it. I had no idea what I was going to do for my future, regardless of what I told Ss’merit.
Maybe it was time to find the Captain and ask what I could be use with my limited skill set. There had to be something I could do that would be helpful.
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