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    Cia
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Ancalagon - 30. Chapter 30

“Did you tell Garjah this?”

“Of course.” Timok sat back in the chair beside the bed, for all the universe like he hadn’t just dropped news deep enough to mimic a black hole. It consumed all logic, all thought, and sent my emotions into a tumble. I sat up, swinging my legs over the edge of the bunk. I couldn’t just lay there.

Gripping the edge of the bunk’s mattress, I asked, “Does he hate me? It’s not my fault. I didn’t do this on purpose. I didn’t ask for you guys to pick me up. He chased me down, stunned me, and brought me on board.”

“Garjah knows this. We are assigned to a vessel that goes on missions that can be considered unsafe, to say the least. It is an honor and a risk. Only the best may go, and only the strongest survive their tour of duty.”

“What? I thought you guys were miners or something. How dangerous is that?”

Timok chuckled, and I winced at the sound. “It can be very dangerous. But this side mission is not the whole of our directive. And even returning to planets we have explored before can be risky—you never know what species might turn up.” He considered me, narrowing his eyes. “Or how that might impact the entire ecosystem.”

“So my being human is somehow to blame? That sounds like an excuse to make this all my fault.” I glared at him.

“I did not say that, you did.”

“You said what species might turn up and how it impacts the entire ecosystem. An ecosystem you interacted with before without this happening, right? No other crew people formed bonds? What about any of the others who’ve been on the planet?”

“No one else as far as I can tell. I’ve asked for any who’ve had any sudden urges and tested all those who might have come in contact with the organism, just to be safe.”

I drew myself up at the word urges. “What do you mean? What urges?” It echoed in my head repeatedly.

“The bonds between you and the animal intrigued me. The cerops are not known for anything but hostility for those outside their own species, especially if the being might be competition for food. Garjah is even less social. Yet with you, he’d drag you out for meals, take you to the hold. Talk to you.”

“He felt responsible.”

“He is drawn to you.”

That should have scared me. An intellectual, I’d run in circles among the scientist families my parents had known and then the students at the university. The ship, where’d I’d been so clearly resented by Captain Sonez had ostracized me from my peers and I’d steered clear from the crew.

No one like Garjah had ever been attracted to me before. Wait. “What do you mean, he’s drawn to me? Like a protector?”

“Do many protectors among your people sleep in the same bed? Tend to the other’s bodies?”

He tended to my body? Heat flushed my cheeks.

The door slid open right then of course revealing Garjah. He held a tray in his lower hands. He shot a glance at me and then Timok, raising his brows. “Food,” he offered, hefting the tray. “And a stimulant brew for you, Timok.”

Timok eagerly took the clear glass, wrapping a hand around the narrowed center. The mixture was smoking. My nose wrinkled. I’d smelled that before; it had a peppery, acrid odor that wasn’t appealing at all.

“Here, Essell.” The light orange drink he handed me was much better. Fruity with a sweet note, the liquid swirled with thinner yellow ripples as I twirled the glass. Standing, I moved to the table, pulling out the chair. I sat and waited.

“Actually, I think I’ll go. I ate when I got up.” Timok drained his glass, plopping it down on the tray Garja sat on the table. “Message me with any other questions you have.” He paused in the doorway. “Or just ask Garjah.” This was a set up. He’d asked Garjah to leave so he could explain things to me, gave me the shock of the news, then leaves? Tells me just to ask the male whose life I’d upended?

Could I do that? I fixed my gaze on the table, considering. Sighing, I slumped. This was the path I expected my life to take, and I really doubted it was what Garjah expected either. At least I had some flexibility. His kind was probably rather rigid.

“Do you need your fork?”

I hadn’t even noticed the food Garjah had slid in front of me. I wasn’t hungry, but I picked up the fork anyway. I chewed a bite slowly. Garjah sliced off a strip of meat and swallowed it down.

“Ah, Timok said he told you about the thing.” I pointed with my fork at my chest then his. The mouthful I’d swallowed sat in my stomach like a lump. I licked my lips.

Garjah paused in slicing off another bite. “Yes.”

Nonplussed, I put my fork down. “That’s all you have to say? Yes?”

“What else should I say? He told me. I understand it.”

“What about how you feel?”

“This is not what I expected, but it will be fine. I’ll take care of you.”

I rubbed my hands along the edge of the table, starting when I realized I was using the new ones. Screwing up all my courage, I finally looked up. “But do you want to?”

“Yes. You’ve fascinated me since I brought you on the ship.” Garjah inhaled his next bite and I stared at him while he eat, seemingly unconcerned.

“That it might just be the symbiont doesn’t bother you?”

“I don’t know. I can’t tell the difference. All I know is I want to take care of you.”

Copyright © 2020 Cia; All Rights Reserved.
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Garjah, you are an interesting being. To feel the need to take care of Essell without displaying such emotion. From the last few spoken sentences, I'm getting a vibe from Garjah that Essell is almost like a pet versus a partner. I'm interested to see how the conversation will continue to play out.

Timok is still concerning me. It seems the ability to be sassy is not just found in humanity. Either he doesn't want the human on board, he intends on further experimentation, or some other dastardly plot. He's a problem, but I don't know whether Garjah or Essell will figure that out. 

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We humans rely so much on emotions and nonverbal communication.  It must be difficult for Essell to communicate on an even level with the Spock-like (thanks Dr.) Garjah.  

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I agree it does seem Timok is a bit too clinical in his assessments as to how Essell responded. Maybe he is jealous of Garjah and Essell. Maybe he is searching for something more deadly in Essell's amalgamation and adoption of odd gene strains. These ETs have certainly avoided humans up until now.

Keep writing, Cia.

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This symbiotic element is so cool!  Was not expecting the story to go in this direction.  Also really enjoying the relationship with Garjah.  So fun.

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The idea of a symbiotic organism in their bodies is fascinating.  Timok probably doesn't say much, because speculation at the point seem senseless.  Timok is probably focused on what might develop later on.  They think the symbiote is at the molecular level, but will it stay that way? This opens up a lot of possibilities.  I am anxious to see where this leads.:yes:

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