Four Arms had genetic memories. Ones that went beyond instincts, beyond those basic intuitions that most species had that seemed to be encoded in the basic genome. Humans had recorded this very phenomenon with savants; somehow they had knowledge that allowed them do things they couldn’t have possibly learned through experience.
This was something I hadn’t come across before. “How does a trainer release the memories?” Some sort of ceremony?
“I show him once, he knows.” Garjah sliced off another piece of meat. “Doesn’t mean Seedrah is good at it.”
“You weren’t good at your role once upon a time.” Timok raised an eyebrow. “Now look at you.”
“Still stupid, according to you.” Garjah wiggled the fingers on one of his free hands.
Timok’s lips curled up in a smirk. “About many things, yes. Our security? No.”
Watching their interaction was fascinating but their words weren’t reassuring. Timok was very intelligent. I dropped my gaze to my plate, stabbing the food with my fork harder than necessary. A warning? If Garjah was that good at his job, my escape would be much harder.
If it was even possible. Their medical technology I’d glimpsed when I woke up in Timok’s lab was advanced. The weapons definitely were. They looked down on humans. Or our advancement, more specifically our lack of advancement.
They’d found me easily enough in my exosuit once before. I’d come to Ardra to learn about the planet. The Four Arms came here, so they’d know a lot about it. I didn’t even know Bouncer had poison sacks on his claws.
What else could they teach me? Timok said it wasn’t up to him about letting me go. If Garjah was head of security, maybe it was his. Or whoever the overall leader was. Getting away was probably going to be impossible, especially since I couldn’t get off the planet. Somehow I had to convince them to let me go. Garjah was har, so it might take some time.
Time I probably had. The skimmer was far behind us, Sonez even farther. Timok was smart, but I was smart too. Plans change. I wasn’t in danger, and there was new information to learn. I just had to stick with Garjah.
“What are you doing after the meal?” I asked as I pushed the meat cubes around on my plate.
“Me?” Timok asked. He leaned back.
What did I say? No? Yes? I wasn’t asking him, but….
“You will be back in your lab, studying, running tests, doing what you always do,” Garjah said. “The same old boring thing as always.”
“Essell doesn’t know what I do. And he studies animals and plants for a living, so he does plenty of work of the same type.” Timok finished the last of the food on his plate.
“I was going to take him to his Bouncer. Maybe wake him up.”
I gasped. “Really?”
“He will stay in the cage.” Garjah’s stiff posture and firm words left no room for argument.
“Do you do that often?” I wiped off my fork, setting it aside.
“Give orders and expect them to be followed without question?”
Timok’s nose narrowed and he grinned widely, showing off those sharp teeth. “Yes, he does.”
“It is my role.”
“Humans don’t work like that.” Well, the military did. But I was a scientist. For me, knowledge was more important than orders. I’d risk a lot for it. Look where that got me. Still… “Bouncer never hurt me. Give me my exosuit. Let me show you. Besides, he’ll be hungry.”
“Yes, he will. Which is why I said he should be woken up. Stasis, safe as it is, can be damaging to cells. We don’t use it on cerops.”
“You used it on me! If you don’t know if it will hurt him, could it have hurt me? Do you even know?”
“Of course I do. I ran extensive scans when you were in my lab. You’re fine.”
“You’re what he’s studying,” Garjah said.
I blinked. “I’m what?”
“We’ve watched humans, we have knowledge of them. Interactions with them? Not many.” Timok reached out and picked up my fork. “Things like these. Alien. Your need for fluids, chewing. Your single pair of arms. Besides, you’ve been studying us just as carefully.”
“I didn’t take lab tests of you!”
“Only because you couldn’t. You know you would, if you had the chance.”
Humans had done such things, many times. Ethical studies weren’t always the backbone of all scientists. But not me. “I—”
“So if I said you could come to my lab and work with me, you’d say no?”
Garjah just watched our interaction, his face impassive. I wanted to spend time with him. I needed to show them Bouncer was safe. I wanted to wake him up, feed him, ensure he was back to his usual self. But Timok’s offer was a nearly irresistible lure, and the bastard knew it.
Four Arms could definitely pull off a smug look.
I narrowed my eyes, tapped the table, then reached for my fork. “How about you go with us to wake up Bouncer, just in case he isn’t okay, and then after I prove how safe he is to Garjah, we go to your lab? I’ll help you further your studies on humans, and you can help me study Bouncer.” I left off study them, but I wasn’t about to show my whole hand.
Garjah’s silence was broken by what I could only call a laugh. It rumbled in his chest and came out without him even opening his mouth, but he was grinning. “Are all humans as wily as you?” he asked.
“You are getting Timok out of his lab, getting your cerops awakened, your sad little suit returned, and managing to insert yourself into scientific studies later when the timing better suits you.” He spread two hands. “Wily.”
He left off spend time with himself, but maybe I’d kept that aim subtle. I shrugged. “I’m considered pretty smart,” is all I said.Want more flash?