Just a Guy in Space
EDIT: Guys, I’m really sorry but I got caught up in playing Deus Ex Mankind Divided and I got shitfaced over the weekend. I’ll make it up to you guys.
EDIT 2: I actually thought I hadn’t written a chapter in 7 days instead of just 3. 🙂 tehepero. I already started on the next chapter though, so expect it tonight or tomorrow.
Echina was pacing. She wasn’t prone to doing that anymore but the arrival of the human had… encouraged some of the worse habits she had from childhood. AI had sent her the full report of the first Dintph-Human private interaction and while she couldn’t say with a hundred per cent certainty that the human had deliberately triggered the mating period of Lieutenant Sil Nubo, it did look like he had played a part in it.
Lieutenant Xar’usk was reading through the report, for once quite calmly. His mandibles occasionally clicked as he muttered passing comments. He’s taking all his time, that moshomol! Is it because he’s more interested in what he can learn from the human than fixing this situation? Xar’usk was, unfortunately, a typical scientist. He would lose track of everything around him when he found a tiny tidbit of information he considered interesting.
She glanced at the seated beings on the other side of the white syntark table and immediately averted her eyes. Lieutenant Sil Nubo was jammed tightly into the human’s lap and was refusing to move. Her hands were tightly clutched around the human and she was staring vibroblades at the captain. Her mating instinct is already going into overdrive. It’s only been one cycle, isn’t that too fast? She glanced at Xar’usk but he was still calmly reading the report.
The human Gus was holding Sil and chuckling awkwardly. He seemed to be apologising for Sil’s unreasonable behaviour with his eyes. His hands were constantly stroking Sil’s hair and her back. Her bristling fur would smooth over every time he caressed her. I guess he’s good at managing her behaviour. How surprising. Perhaps a bit too good, I’d even say. She narrowed her eyes as she imagined how a being from a backwater planet could manage to emotionally assuage a species he’d never encountered before.
“AI, can you put something on display on the screens please?”
“Affirmation. What do you require?”
“Can you pull up images of calico cats and cat behaviour from your human database?”
“Affirmation. Pulling up relevant records. Information now available on viewscreens.”
Echina turned to the viewscreens curiously and saw a curious four-legged creature. It looked just like a Dintph but the scale was all wrong. She frowned and looked more closely. Even Xar’usk had stopped reading the report and was analysing the new information provided. Striking similarities. The same general colouring and patterns. Nearly the same physiology. They are not bipedals though, and it looks like they only come up to a human shins. Are they domesticated animals? Why do they resemble Dintphs so much? She looked back at Sil, now gently purring into the human’s chest as he played with the tip of her tail. It can’t be that the Dintphs have visited this planet before. It wouldn’t explain the changes from sentient to domesticated animal. Also the paws. They’re clearly animals. Maybe a close genetic composition but lacking certain key elements? Xar’usk will have a field day. I bet he’ll be wanting dissections again.
Xar’usk clicked his mandibles in exclamation. Echina looked over at him and sat down beside him and made sure not to make eyes contact with the human.
“Captain, based on what I’ve read in this report and what I know of Dintph physiology, I can safely say that while his actions may have caused the lieutenant to enter her mating period, she was already nearly into that period. It is highly probable that the ritual the human employed released a strong surge of pheromones. As you know, some Dintphs are susceptible to high levels of mating pheromones. As for the imprinting, it was hastened by the fact that Lieutenant Nubo already considered the human a suitable mating partner. She certainly wouldn’t shut up about wanting to open him up and see what was inside him.”
Echina leaned back in her uncomfortable syntark chair. Sil Nubo’s purring was increasing in volume and she was busy rubbing her head against the human’s chest. Echina sighed once more and considered her options.
“Human Gustavo Martinez, you have two options; avoid Lieutenant Sil Nubo for the duration of her mating period while she’s confined to her quarters or…” her voice trailed off, not daring to say what she needed.
“Or I stay with her and help her fulfil her urges. I get it. Can you tell me anything about Dintph cross-species breeding? I confess I have no idea what awaits me with this option. Can she get pregnant from the mating? How long does the mating period last? What can I expect? What will happen to Sil during that time? What happens to her after the mating period? Will it affect her? Her reputation among the crew of the Vanatu, I mean. I’ve seen how the rest treat Art’ah and that’s simply because they think of her as deviant. I’m pretty sure cross-species breeding is a taboo given how many looks I’ve been given after my encounter with Art’ah.”
He’s surprisingly astute. Is that genuine concern I can hear in his voice? Sure, AI is translating everything a bit flatly but his words certainly show that he cares for the lieutenant.
“The crew has only been informed that the lieutenant has entered her mating period. There have been several applicants coming forward with mating contracts but so far we’ve told them that the lieutenant prefers to remain in her cabin. If you decide to stay with her, you’ll be confined to her cabin as well to preserve the ruse. As to her reaction after the mating urges subside, I would not presume to know them. You’ll have to personally experience that. Lieutenant Xar’usk or AI can give you a better idea of what to expect during a Dintph mating frenzy.”
The human was absent-mindedly playing with Sil’s ears then nodded once, as if coming to a decision. “Alright, I started this mess, I’ll finish it. I have a request. Can you put Sil in my cabin? It’s a diplomatic cabin and it has a dispenser and sonic shower so we can stay there with little inconvenience. AI can help me with whatever information I require. And it will probably keep you updated on the situation.”
She chewed on her lower lip for a second. The human was right. She just didn’t expect him to volunteer his quarters though. Does he genuinely care for Lieutenant Nubo? She observed him more closely. Sil was currently purring softly and had closed her eyes. Her posture was truly one of contentment and thoughtlessness. She’d rarely seen the lieutenant so unguarded; her bubbly energy was usually empowering her to do a myriad activities, quite vocally in some cases.
“Very well. AI, make the arrangements to have some of the lieutenants utilities carried over to human Gustavo Martinez’ cabin. Ensure that it is carried out with the required privacy. We shall be maintaining the ruse that Lieutenant Nubo has chosen confinement to her cabin. We will also be letting the crew know that the human has developed the Afaxan sickness and will be unable to leave his cabin too.”
The human raised his hand at that. Echian stared. “Yes? What does that mean, raising your hand?”
“It means I have a question. What’s the Afaxan sickness?”
“It refers to a period of adjustment that some species go through when first getting on board a space-faring ship. The duration and effects vary according to species. It is not unheard of to suffer from this debility and will not arouse suspsicions.”
“Ok. If everything’s been thought out, then I guess we should get back to my cabin.” The human gingerly urged lieutenant Nubo off his lap, which took a few minutes. She still had her face in his chest and her arms wrapped around him when they were standing. “Captain, on behalf of Sil, I would like to extend my apologies for this situation and my gratitude at your broad-mindedness. I shall endeavour to keep the impact on the crew of the Pride of Vanatu to a minimum. I realise that my thoughtless actions have triggered this and I will be focusing on studying the different species on the Vanatu to ensure that I do not repeat this. However, concerning Sil, humans have different views when it comes to mating partners. If we copulate, it will mean that we are… together. As in, uh, I will be her exclusive partner and she will be mine, along any others who might join us.”
Echina’s eye twitched and a headache splendidly bloomed between her eyebrows despite the heartfelt apology. “Join you?”
The human smiled. “Yes, others. AI, could you bring up from your database mentions of the Genghis Khan harem and Imperial Dynasty Harems please? You see captain, humans can choose at any time to have a single mating partner or maintain a group of suitable mates indefinitely. This increases the chances of producing progeny. Of course, maintaining a harem isn’t easy and it all depends on the calibre of the man and his skills.”
AI put up several 2D pictures of several human women surrounding someone who was clearly a ruler. It seemed to match what the human had just said. She shrugged. She wasn’t one to look too deeply into other species’ mating habits and rituals. If Lieutenant Sil Nubo accepted this arrangement then it was out of her hands. She would have to wait until her mating urges had subsided before bringing up the subject though. Mentioning other females around a Dintph during that time period was not a good idea.
“I’m not one to interfere in her crew’s lives unless I absolutely have to. I trust that you’ll properly discuss this with the Lieutenant?” He nodded. “Good. Then we’re done here. Lieutenant Xar’usk, a word if you please?”
The human took Lieutenant Nubo in his arms and awkwardly walked out of the room with her still wrapped around him. Echina turned to her chief science officer.
“What do you think?”
“He raised several good points and while he was purposefully vague concerning this multiple mate maintenance system, he seemed truthful. Lieutenant Sil Nubo has firmly imprinted on him and will not change her behaviour. Coming between them might cause more harm than the alternative. I am more worried about cross-species pathogenesis than cross-species breeding at this juncture. I will have to closely observe the situation. I am hereby requesting the use of deeper scans during the mating period to gather the necessary data.”
She raised an eyebrow at that. “Are you sure that you’re not just interested in the interactions between Dintphs and that human? That would be fascinating data, wouldn’t it?”
Xar’usk clicked his mandibles in abject shock. “Captain! I would never! How can you even think of something like that?! That I, a respected Lieutenant and Chief Science Officer would even use his subordinates as experimental subjects for my own gains? How preposterous!”
Her headache was approaching unbearable levels. “Lieutenant. If the next words out of your mandibles aren’t the truth, the clean-up crew will be scrapping your exoskeleton from the ceiling,” she muttered from between clenched teeth.
“Uh… I mean… I was going to suggest dissecting them both and checking their insides, but you keep stopping me. The only option I have is deep scans. Besides, the human doesn’t look like he’ll stop being her mating partner. Such data will be valuable if he ever interacts with other species. Yes, it’s all for the greater good. Yes, yes, of course,” Xar’usk clicked his mandibles excitedly.
Echina had time for one last thought before she left the room.
I am surrounded by madbeings.