“But Gecko,” my dear readers might wonder, “What about all those other marines getting ready to shoot the audience?”I asked much the same thing after I got back into a good frame of mind, eventually.
Concussions aren’t good for your ability to think. I tried to hang on at the time, but I got really sleepy all of a sudden. I jerked awake, remembering I had more people to kill, and smacked my head on something. That was easy to do since the room was so dark, even if I seemed to be in some sort of fluid that slowed me down. By my HUD clock, I’d been out long enough that I had brain damage now. I tried to open my mouth to speak, but then I noticed a mask strapped close to head. The portion at the nose provided me breathable air. The tube down my throat better be giving me food. They were even portions sticking into my ears.
“You should be waking, Arthropod. We put you in a medical coma to help heal your brain injury. You will stop feeling sleepy momentarily,” a voice said.
“Where are the people I need to kill?” I tried to ask. I tried to blink through the complete lack of light and realized from the way my eyebrows no longer hugged my eyes that I just didn’t have any eyes. I’m down two arms and two eyes. Even if I didn’t need my medicine, I’d better quit this vacation before I’m a head.
“Do not attempt speaking until we have drained the regeneration chamber. Ordinarily, we would provide a way for you to vocalize, but it lengthens the healing process. Your ship’s physician has incredible data on you. Inter-species relationships are so strange to me. The bestiality element alone… no, don’t try to speak.”
By that point, I was trying to make it clear that Varook and I are not a couple, and I do not know how he got biological data so intimate as to feed into that misconception. The container I was in drained, leaving me feel… goopy. Just goopy, all over. I needed a shower. And maybe a pipe snake for my crotch.
I was yelling as soon as they pulled the mask off but found someone hugging my arms close to myself. Alu was there, whispering in my ear. “Shhh, quiet.”
My first response was to tell the crazy alien woman to get away from me, but I didn’t for some reason. I tried. I went to push her away, but my arms somehow lacked the strength. No matter how much I tried to push he away, my arms shaking from the effort as they fought my will.
“The controller works. Accept it. Do not fight. Hey, let me go!” I guess whatever controller she was using didn’t work off vocal commands, because I actually had trouble letting her go. I managed to, which prevented me from being dragged away with her, kicking and screaming. After a minute, I heard an oddly-familiar swooshing sound and someone pushed me back down.
The doctor from before spoke up. “I apologize. She tampered with you, but we know how to properly remove a Kitonian probe.” I didn’t even feel like I had anything in me, even after they pulled something long and soft out of my nose.
“I could have done that with my pointer finger,” I told them. There was that swooshing sound again.
“Good news, you do not have to,” the doctor said.
Varook’s voice broke in then. “I have more good news. While you were out, the ship’s decker reviewed the navigation data from the vessel we salvaged and found what we believe you are looking for,” he explained.
“What’s up with all those other guys I didn’t kill?” I asked.
“They left. There was a mutiny as they saw the opera and the defeat of the Headman in charge. Station security intervened in spite of the Chief’s orders because of the Headman’s firearm and rounded them up. The Chief is grateful to have his children back as well.”
“I thought the guy said he cut the Chief in half?” I asked.
“That species can survive that. He’s back on his clitellum already.”
“Really? I’m surprised. Humans males have a real tough time finding the clitellum,” I responded.
I felt him take my hand. “Let me help you up. Both of your eyes were beyond repair.”
I let him guide me to my feet off of whatever I was on. “I can get by if I can find my armor. What did you do with it?”
“Alu insisted she get it off you for repairs. She left it here, but I will check it for any more probes first.” I stood there while he gave it a going over, then handed me what felt like my armor.
I checked with my hands. It felt pretty good. The gap where my second arms had come out was indistinguishable from the rest of the side now. I could stand to change the design on the front that looks like Omega’s, but they wouldn’t know anything about that. It didn’t stop at the neck, though. There was some sort of hood there. I felt in there. “You’re sure there’s no goopy things that’ll crawl up my nose?”
“We both checked,” the other doctor said.
“Pardon me for asking. Everything is wrapping up too neat. I’m used to things going horribly wrong, usually because of my actions.” I slid on the armor and closed up the back, then slipped on the hood, more like a mask. It didn’t feel as rigid as the rest of the armor, nor did it have eye lasers. Linking up, I could tell it had plenty of compatible cameras and projectors. There was really only one program, in a very simple language that left me with a binary choice. It was off. I turned it on. The mask adhered more closely to my skin and the opening on it sealed. I could still breathe. Nothing fancy, but hopefully something that’ll take a bullet.
I flashed through a few holographic disguises, as well as projecting the environment around me to hide myself as invisible. Seemed to work. “Seems to be pretty good,” I said, then projected myself as a tanned woman with blonde hair, modeled on a thief from back on Earth. I suppose Dame might object to me appropriating her image. My armor adjusted to look like some sort of generic jumpsuit. There’s always a jumpsuit in space.
With my sight restored through the armor’s cameras, I finally checked around to see Varook eyeing me with a smile, and a doctor who looked pale white, with a large, bulbous head. He wore a crinkly, see-through mask over his face, and a robe that could have been made from a plastic sheet. I nodded to him. “Nice to meet you, doctor. Thanks for fixing me up.”’
“It is what I do,” the alien said.
Varook pointed up and down along me. “A disguise?”
“I’ve done good deeds before. I’m going to bet that there are a lot of people pissed off at me and thinking I caused the entire thing.” Varook nodded once at that. “And that the Security Chief still hates me even knowing that what I did was right and knowing I fixed his mistake.” Another nod. “And that people want me gone.”
Varook nodded one last time and said, “Affirmative. I must inform you, because of your mistaken classification in the system as an arthropod foodstuff and the beings you have killed, interstellar livestock regulations require you to be cryogenically frozen for transit.”
I shook my head, muttering, “Only damn one of you aliens that got anywhere near the right taxonomy, I went and killed.”
Varook put a hand on my shoulder. “Chimelda said she would help you with transport.”
As I found out more than an hour later after a last wellness examination and being led to where she was prepping a vessel, Chimelda’s idea of transport turned out to be a rectangular ship with a front that narrowed to a small living quarters. The living section was painted with flames spreading back from it. It was a space semi.
“What do you think?” Chimelda asked.
“I didn’t realize you held that much of a grudge against me,” I said.
She trilled. “No, it is perfect. I am setting out on my own. Tell me what Earth likes!”
I started holding up fingers as I listed stuff off. “Guns, sex toys, alcoholic beverages.” That sounded cynical as fuck. I thought for a moment. “Safety and security. Food. Clean water. Shelter. The feeling that someone gives a damn about them. That’s what regular people want, but they don’t have anything you want in return.” I shook my head. “If you want to make money, what you want is gold, titanium, plutonium, heavy metals like that. They probably don’t have anything you’d want.”
“I should evaluate it for myself. You may be surprised,” she said. “Even if I find nothing, I owe you for what you did for me and my people.” She walked over to me and hugged my head to her chest. “I regret we can not afford to get you new eyes.”
“What? Why?” I instinctively looked down as she pressed something into my hand and stepped back. It was some sort of device that-
I looked around suddenly at the changed landscape and the sudden onrush of digital noise. I stood in a pasture, a pair of curious cows watching me from afar. I looked up through the suit’s sensors and saw nothing but a bight light growing dimmer as it retreated into the night sky. I squeezed the hand that held the device and felt little resistance. I opened it to see a note. “I apologize for this treatment, but it was believed you would not leave the station so readily and the authorities viewed you as a potentially hostile invasive species. P.S., they will love this beef substance. Anything is better than recycled ration bars made from feces.”
I snorted and tossed the note aside, then began to tromp off. Thinking about it, though, I had to laugh.
No way is anyone going to believe the story of being probed in my orifices by aliens who stole cattle. But, damn, I could really go for a burger. I hope I don’t get pink eye from all the alien food rations. Or some other weird disease like boneitus.