OUT OF DEEP SPACE
"They're not pets, so don't get too attached to them."
Commander 701 hissed the words gently for he
remembered his own first spin around Earth orbit.
And the second, and the third, and what it means to
be posted here for a lifetime studying the humans as
they messed it all up.
With no warning, he took his hands clear off the
controls. It was just enough to start a little high speed
wobble for the auto-assist to correct. A sideways
glance at the co-pilot seat showed the younger
reptilian was now fully focused on the re-entry
protocols. He could relax as he said, "You take the
Cadet 13,012 replied briskly and correctly, "Sir-yes-
Sir. Humans are not pets. No Sir. What we think
about them is in no way mission critical and anyway,
everything will be changing soon if the invasion
force keeps to schedule. Taking us down now."
Just for a moment, Commander 701 reached over and
gently touched the firm young scales where the cut of
the uniform revealed a tempting glimpse of glistening
upper body. They had been together, alone out in
deep space for a very long time.
"Just listen to you now," he said. "No more problems
with your English. You sound just like these old
movies you watched over and over again, until you
got it right."
"OK boss." She spoke without taking her eyes off the
controls. "I know it's not completely natural but it
doesn't need to be. We're not here to negotiate."
"Remember your cultural orientation." The
Commander smiled as he spoke. "It's not only about
knowing how to speak. It's what you say that counts."
"Yes, perhaps we could let them know the main
invasion fleet is on its way by saying we might have
a few friends dropping in. It's a silly language
anyway," said the Cadet.
"But it was you who volunteered for the mission and
for the language." There was a hint of disapproval in
his voice so the Cadet leaned over to touch him ever-
so-gently on the knee. She knew that always worked.
Rising to the cultural challenge she said, "So, can you
name me an Earth politician you would buy a used
"Oh any of them," said Commander 701."The few
that think they know us, do what they're told. The
ones who don't know, don't matter."
Then they were setting down on the surface of the
deep blue ocean. She was pleased they were perfectly
positioned above the under-sea base. It was getting
dark. The Cadet thought that later she might ask to
come up topside to enjoy the fresh breeze. Something
real and natural after being in deep space for so long.
Just as they were slipping beneath the waves the
Commander turned to her and said, "And there is
something I need to tell you. My wife is stationed
here. So we'll need to forget about what went on in
deep space especially as I'm getting the old Admiral's
job. I'm sorry I should have told you before, but you
know what it's like out there."
"How could you," said Cadet 13,012. She spoke with
a chill hiss. She had a new forceful look in her eyes.
It was a look she had kept hidden as they traveled
through deep space. Like she had hidden the fact that
she had known all along about the wife waiting on
Earth. Most of all, she had kept very quiet about her
ambition to rise rapidly through the ranks and the
knowledge that she had been getting herself the
leverage to do just that.
Out of Deep Space was published in
both the online and PDF versions in
The Fringe Magazine, Jan 2011.