Just a Guy in Space
“So Sil, where does that leave us?”
She still wouldn’t talk to Gus, curled up in a ball and half-covered in her blanket. Her tail however was curling along his arm. He kept stroking her head through the thick material.
‘You know, if you’re not going to speak I’ll have to do all the talking.” The bundle didn’t move. “I don’t really know much about Dintphs or even about you. I’m probably not your first choice for a mate and I’ll understand if you don’t want to associate with me anymore.”
Sil still didn’t seem interested in conversing so he decided to go solo.
“You know, I really have no clue what to do right now. I’m not a paragon of social grace and I’ve never had a girlfriend before. Ah, a girlfriend is a companion who’s in a relationship with you. She’s supposed to stick with you through thick and thin and while the arrangement may be temporary, it usually leads to marriage, which is a long-term relationship. I don’t know the Dintph equivalent.”
“As I said, I’m not very good with women.” He paused, organised his thoughts and continued. “I really like you Sil, you’re fun, energetic, interesting and your fur has the most amazing coloration I’ve ever seen. I love the way your eyes light up when you talk about science. I love the way your tail swishes around. I think you look really cute.”
“I know I called you my mate back there but that’s contingent on your approval. I wouldn’t want to force you to do that. I feel bad that this whole mess started because I couldn’t keep in in my pants. They said going into a mating period was an instinctual response to my pheromones so I don’t know that you’d have chosen me to be a mate if you had a choice.”
“I need you to tell me Sil,” he said, voice breaking a little bit. He really wasn’t used to these situations. His palms were increasingly sweatier. “I need to know you’re ok with being my girlfriend or mate or whatever it is you call this. It would really help if you spoke to me as well.”
He kept stroking what he thought was her head but she didn’t respond. After a while he sighed in disappointment and pulled his hand back. Just as he was about to get up and put Sil down, a hand shot out from underneath the blanket and grabbed his wrist. He tensed but she only put his hand back on top of the blanket.
Definitely her head then.
He silently kept caressing the blanket as he waited for Sil to speak up. After a while, the bundle in his arms moved around as Sil curled up against him. Her bottom was sticking out sorely from under the bright orange covering and he could see her tail lazily curling and uncurling as she began to purr.
That’s a good sign, isn’t it? Fuck, let that be a good sign.
On a whim, he decided to grab the tail and fiddle with it. The purring changed in tone but soon returned to its previous iteration. Emboldened, Gus slowly worked his way up the tail, soon reaching her bum. She’d been wearing a strange hospital gown type of thing when he’d come in. It was rather loose and he could easily reach underneath to touch her furred skin. He started scratching the small of her back where tail met coccyx and enjoyed the feel of her luxuriant fur.
The change in Sil’s behaviour was immediate. She squealed and struggled in his arms, trying to get away from his hand. He grinned and held her close with one hand while continuing with the scratching. His strength was more than enough to prevent her from escaping his hands and he kept it up until she spoke up.
He ignored her and kept scratching.
She squealed louder and physically reached out to grab his wrist. “I’m serious, stop that,” she said in a muffled voice.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you that well with that blanket on your head. You’ll have to speak up,” Gus said as he ignored her.
Sil made a weird noise before pulling her hand back and tearing the blanket off her. It landed a few meters away from them. It was a good thing that they were alone in the room; the white gown she was wearing was doing a great job of not covering any of her important bits. There were two slits on the sides that were gapping wide open, giving Gus a very nice view of her sideboobs and taut stomach. He felt something grow in his pants but made no move other than to scratch Sil’s backside.
She somehow got on her knees while still in his lap and turned to him. Her face was flushed crimson. “It’s embarrassing so stop,” She said in a quivering voice.
“Oh? Why is it embarrassing?” He still didn’t let up.
“It’s…” She blushed even more furiously. “It’s something you do in private.”
“Is it? But there’s no one here. I’d say we’re private enough,” Gus said with a grin.
Sil averted her eyes and leaned into his chest. “I’m still not used to close physical contact with my mate, so it’s embarrassing.”
His heart skipped a beat. “What was that? I didn’t hear properly.”
Her head burrowed further into his chest. “I said I’ll be your girlfriend or mate or whatever it is we can call this.” He could tell from her voice she’d started blushing again.
He laughed with a loud booming voice and whooped as he stopped scratching her and hugged her tightly to him. For her part she didn’t say anything but her tail was lashing left and right like crazy. Probably an indicator of happiness in a Dintph.
They’d probably need to have a long talk about what this meant for the both of them but for now they cuddled in silence, content with the knowledge that they had each other.
* * *
Lieutenant Vatta Ren was observing the new couple through a viewscreen and listened to the sappy conversation with no shame. Sil had been right to be embarrassed. Vatta didn’t really have a notion of privacy when she was interested in something and the human was very interesting.
At first she’d dismissed the reports of sapiant life on the deathworld they’d departed from but she’d gone through the scout probe data they’d collected and had been fascinated with what she learned. The deep tissue scans she had been able to take during the human’s sleep were a treasure trove. The human’s physiology was remarkable. His body was uniquely adapted to the challenges of growing and thriving on a category thirteen planet. Dense bones and dense, layered muscles coupled with a nervous system capable of very fast responses marked him as a species used to fighting for survival. His immune system was adaptive, a trait rare enough that any research paper about a new species exhibiting something like that would be widely read and debated. His body chemistry was in perfect balance and judging from the way it was righting itself after the debacle with the Coxizu virility serum, didn’t depend on external stimuli to maintain stability.
“Remarkable. I am grateful to the Captain for picking him up. Studying him will advance our field by decades.”
Her assistant scoffed at that and loudly grumbled. “I don’t see what’s so special about it. It’s just a savage from a backwater planet. It has no business being here.”
“She rejected your proposal of a mating contract twice already, Ensign Orithi. Get over it. She didn’t choose you and if you let your animosity over this get in the way of my work, I will get you re-assigned to permanent reactor clean-up duty,” Vatta said testily, staring at the offending ensign until he looked away in sullen silence.
She went back to spying on the new couple but gleaned nothing new. They were chatting quite cutely she thought when suddenly the human slipped his hand inside the gown Lieutenant Sil Nubo was wearing. The ensuing shriek nearly made her ears bleed but didn’t cover the sound of the resounding smack the human received.
* * *
“What am I looking at?”
Lieutenant Vatta Ren jabbed her finger into the holographic brain in front of her. “Right here. See?” she asked as she turned to the Captain expectantly.
Echina squinted and tried to figure out why her Chief Medical Officer was in a tiff but still failed. “I’m not seeing it. Care to explain?”
“Look.” She brought up another rendering of the human’s brain. The projection was pale blue, with red, jagged lines showing neuronal connections. There was a separate section highlighting his complete nervous system. “This is from a scan we randomly did before his mating with the Lieutenant.” She pointed at a section of the brain. “This cluster here is inactive. Now look at the same cluster seven cycles after we pulled him off the stasis bed.”
Echina could now spot the difference. That tiny cluster was now more brightly lit on the second holo. “So what, there’s more activity there, is that it?”
“Yes, more activity. That’s the problem. I’ve compared the pre-mating brain to the data we’ve compiled using the scout probe and figured out that this is the standard brain activity mapping for average humans. Notice that this cluster isn’t activated in any of the scans we’ve had for this particular specimen. Now, only seven cycles after recovering from the side effects of the virility serum, there’s been a noticeable increase in activity in this cluster. A cluster that was hitherto inactive. Do you understand the implications Captain?”
Echina thought long and hard. Lieutenant Vatta Ren wasn’t prone to such displays of exuberance unless she was speaking about her wife. “Let’s see… Was the change induced by introducing that Coxizu monstrosity into his system? I don’t see the big deal. This happens all the time, right?”
Vatta Ren shook her head in frustration. “No, this is different. This scan was taken when no active molecules from the serum were in his system. So now we have a human that’s exhibiting permanent signs of new neuro-cortical stimulation even though the responsible agent is absent from his system. It’s a huge discovery Captain! It’s… it’s…” She seemed to be at a loss for words.
She started pacing in a circle, a habit she’d never gotten rid of since her days at the Academy. “It’s not just the brain activity that’s the issue. I’ve found traces of incomplete Coxizu active molecules in his blood. I’m guessing… I think his body is adapting to the serum. I’ve compared the scans we’ve taken over time during his mating with Sil Nubo.” She tapped a few commands into her datapad and brought up all the scans she was talking about. “As you can see, the brain mapping shows the increasing activity in the highlighted cluster. It also shows how the effectiveness of the serum is dropping each time he uses it. He’s developing more resistance to the serum’s effects the more he uses it. I think the side effects were exacerbated by that resistance.”
She resumed her pacing with her hands behind her back. “What’s more worrying are those incomplete molecules I found. If I’m not wrong I think his body is trying to manufacture more of the serum. It must have somehow recognised the active molecules as a necessary survival tool after the strenuous mating with Sil Nubo. I say strenuous but we both know that if it was another Dinpth in there with Sil, he would most likely have ended up severely injured or traumatised, or even both. I think this kicked his survival mechanism into gear and now he’s simultaneously developing a resistance to Coxizu virility serum and trying to make more in his own body. I think if we change his diet he might be able to have the necessary raw materials to successfully make more functioning molecules on his own. They might even be more effective in his case given that the artificial serum is having diminishing returns.”
Echina was silently contemplating what Lieutenant Vatta had just said. “So where does that leave us? What can we do about this? What should we do? It was his own decision to use the serum and to mate with Sil Nubo. Besides, I fail to see how this is a ship-wide concern.”
“You’re right Captain. It’s not a concern right now. But what happens if he uses Telani psychotropes? What if he starts producing his own?”
“I see… What’s your recommended course of action?”
“We should be very careful about what he puts into his body from now on.”