Here is the first of our trio of sci-fi stories! Gwen Cosmos contributes a story inspired by “Taste” by Sleeping at Last. Look out for another short story next week by guest writer Avery Grey.
Leandra and Gwen
Finding a Beginning
All around her was panic. The reptilian Sslen’dan pushed and shoved their way onto the space ships, slaves in tow. A couple of the ships blasted off, their cryo-tanks full. The number of ships on the ground was getting smaller. Not everyone could make it off the planet.
Sirens blared as she made her way onto the ramp. Large scaled arms tried to push her out of the way, but she didn’t let herself be moved. She was almost to the door when a rough, strong hand grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
“Thought you could get away so easily?” Her master snarled.
She was yanked to her feet and she cringed. The grip of his hand was crushing her arm. She resisted as he began to drag her away. No one stopped them. She needed to get free or else she would never escape him.
Diane relaxed her arm and then swung with her free hand into the side of his neck, hitting a pressure point. He released her and she turned and ran. She didn’t slow when she reached the ramp, but ran like a bullet to the doors.
The door began closing as she stepped inside. She let out a sigh of relief and she turned away to find the Cryo-tank that would allow her to escape this place.
She felt so rested, but her body felt a little stiff. She touched her face, and she shivered. Cold. She opened her eyes and panic started in her gut as she realized she was not where she was supposed to be. This was not the ship she had gotten on, nor the ship she had seen in the pamphlet.
Diane sat up and looked around, the lid of her Cryo-tank was off. She realized she was in some sort of storage unit. Her Cryo-tank was self-functioning, and it seemed to have withstood the wear and tear of space travel. She looked around, searching for others, and saw other Cryo-tanks. What had happened?
A door slid open behind her and she turned to see two figures walking towards her. One was a humanoid male. He looked similar to her except for some scales around his eyes that were blue. She knew his kind. A Cheoch, the rarest slave a slaver could get his hands on. They were valued due to the fact that they could change their skin to match their surroundings, keeping them out of sight and out of mind.
Diane bristled as she saw the Sslen’dan female beside him. She looked similar to Diane’s former master, except her scales were green and her body was smaller. She balled her hands into fists as she took them in. The pod must have been intercepted by slavers, but she wouldn’t allow herself to be taken again.
The Cheoch and the Sslen’dan stopped a few feet away from her.
The Cheoch spoke first, “Good to see you’re awake.” The grin on his face made her apprehension rise, and she coiled to run. She was lucky she spoke Sslen’danian (of course he was speaking that; damn culture-stealing Sslen’dan) so well; at least she would know what they were planning.
“Yes,” The Sslen’dan said, her voice gravelly, “We were you afraid you would never wake up. I am Korossa and this is Chelter.”
“I will not be enslaved again.” Diane hissed.
The two seemed taken aback by this
“We are not here to enslave you.” Chelter said.
Diane didn’t relax. “I don’t believe you.”
Korossa chuckled, “We truly aren’t. It’s frowned upon, what with the captain being human and all.”
That made Diane pause. She took in their expressions, but she was still conflicted. Korossa was still a Sslen’dan, and they loved human slaves. Diane couldn’t trust her, but the Cheoch? None of it made sense.
“We’ll take you to see her, if you don’t believe us.” Chelter said, his arms loose at his sides.
Korossa gave him a look, and then shrugged, “Follow us.”
They walked out into a brightly lit hallway. Humanoids of various species clogged the hall with chatter and laughter.
They passed many corridors until they reached a circular hallway lined with doors. It was obviously the apex of the ship. Korossa walked up to the door and punched the code in the keypad. The door slid open, and Chelter escorted Diane into the large circular room.
The room was a dome with a glass ceiling revealing space in all directions. Leading down was a line of pilots at a large control panel that circled the whole room. They all sat calculating, turning dial, and pressing buttons.
Ahead of her, standing on a platform overlooking the pilots, was the captain, a human woman with long black hair held high in a ponytail. Diane was surprised that her two escorts had told her the truth.
Korossa approached and spoke quietly into the captain’s ear, and the human woman turned briskly around, facing her new charge. Her posture was immaculate. Diane almost felt inferior, but she didn’t shy away from the captain’s stare.
“I see you’re awake,” said the captain. “I am Captain Laura Wreathe, and, from what I understand, you desire proof that we don’t enslave people on this ship.” She raised her eyebrows as she said, “Is this proof enough?”
“I am definitely surprised a Sslen’dan would tell the truth, especially to a human.”
“Community and trust is the oil that makes the gears turn on my ship.” Captain Wreathe said sternly, taking a step down from her perch. She paused. “Slavery is not an option here.”
“We’re like family really. Everyone knows everyone and we work together to get things done.” Chelter broke in.
The captain eyed Chelter for a moment and nodded, “Yes, like a family. You’re welcome to stay until we find a place suitable for you.”
“If I go off the ship, I will be a slave once again. Keep me on.”
Captain Wreathe paused, assessing the situation. “What skill can you offer?”
“I’m good at translating different languages.”
Captain Wreathe cocked an eyebrow, “A slave who has the ability to speak and translate languages not to mention fluent in these languages? How did that ever happen?”
“I was taught by my former master” Diane replied.
The captain smiled slightly, “You’ll have a probationary period that will determine whether you stay, but I’ll allow you a chance.”
“What’s your name?”
Captain Wreathe nodded and turned back to watching the stars outside.
A light hand touched Diane’s shoulder and Chelter was there a grin on his face, “Welcome to your new home.”