Not Alone Ch. 02byLingerieRobot©
Kayleigh whirled around. Standing behind her was an authoritative-looking man in a suit, clean-shaven and with fading brown hair. He looked like the sort of man who would play the President in a movie. Kayleigh found herself backing up against the window, trying to put distance between her and the sudden arrival.
"This guy just popped up out of the floor," said Richard, as though he was watching TV. "It was pretty crazy."
Tom stepped in front of his girlfriend, trying to look intimidating despite his pantslessness. The man in a suit chuckled. "Don't worry. I mean you no harm. If I did, I would simply drop you into space and be done with it. I have come here to talk."
"Well good, because we need some answers," said Tom.
Kayleigh thought he looked quite adorable when he tried to act tough. She put a hand on his shoulder. "Let's sit down, Tom. Hear what this guy has to say."
The couch was quite comfortable, soft white leather that yielded to their bodies. The man in the suit decided to remain standing. "First off," he said, "I should like to apologize. We have treated you most unfairly, and while that unfairness is necessary and frankly inevitable, you still have every right to be angry at me."
No response. Even Richard was on edge waiting for his next words.
"Approximately ten of your hours ago, a rebel named Gaog sent out an unauthorized transmission to your planet. Currently Ide-3 is under consideration for admission to the League of Worlds, and a strict communications blackout has been applied. Gaog was not the first and will not be the last to violate that blackout, but the damage he has done must be minimized. There is a procedure we follow in these cases. The perpetrator is brought to justice in the Galactic Court, and anyone who knows of their message is quarantined from the rest of the population, so to speak."
Kayleigh was trying to figure out the truth behind the man's official-ese. "And by quarantined, you mean... abducted?"
"That is the word often used in popular accounts, yes. They are removed from their home planet and placed under custody of the League of Worlds."
Richard was up and starting to pace. Kayleigh had noticed this in him before whenever something unusual or interesting would come up in their data. "So what you're saying is that you whisked us up to take us off to space, without so much as a hello, and no matter how we feel about it we can't go back to Earth again?"
"That is a negative way to phrase it, but yes."
Tom had his head in his hands. "Can't you just wipe our memories? Like in that movie..."
"Men in Black?" said the man in the suit.
"Aliens watched that?"
"With great mirth. Memory erasure was the original technique used, but without extensive research requiring human subjects, it was unreliable and tended to cause brain trauma."
"So instead you're just abducting us," said Richard. "Well that's great. You know, I have friends, people at the university... they're going to notice I'm gone."
The man in the suit remained unemotional. "That's being taken care of. At this point I'd recommend you stop thinking about it. You're beginning a new life, in a much vaster and more advanced world than the one you know. This is an opportunity very few people get, and most everyone who does is glad for it in the end. You will meet alien species, travel to new planets, enjoy technology you could never have imagined. You are free to explore the galaxy, go wherever you want -- except back to your home."
Kayleigh thought she should have been more distressed about that, but at the moment it was hard to process any of this as real. She thought it might be a dream -- but in a dream you never think that. Of course she had spent long nights arguing with friends that aliens had to be out there somewhere -- but deep down she had never really believed it, not as more than an intellectual notion. They existed only on paper, not as something you could reach out and touch. She thought she should say something, ask a question, yell at their abductor, but she seemed to have lost the ability to combine words into a sentence.
Richard was perched on the edge of his seat with an eager, almost manic look on his face. Kayleigh recognized it from class -- from the rare moments when a student would seem to genuinely get something and show a glimmer of promise. "So, who are you? Another abductee? A human Uncle Tom?"
"My name is not Tom," said the man in a suit. (In the back of her mind Kayleigh was glad, because two Toms would just confuse things even more.) "I have been called Wings of Iron, Circler of Long Spaces, He Who Lives In Lockstep... you must understand, my race communicates psychically, through concepts, which may be somewhat unwieldy on the human tongue."
"So you're not human?" Richard stared intently at the man's body, as if trying to find an abnormality beneath his clothes.
The man -- Wings of Iron or one of his many long names -- nodded. "I am one of the Erusmi. I have merely taken this form to create something familiar for you -- a voice of authority you would understand."
"Well, it was a nice gesture, I guess," said Tom. "So what do you really look like?"
"I am a being of pure energy. I take whatever form I choose." Wings of Iron cast a hand at the floor beneath them. "I am the ship that you are in right now, as well as the humanoid speaking to you, as well as the furniture you are sitting on. My species moved beyond fixed material forms many eons ago."
Tom got off the couch, staring back at it. "You're telling me I was just sitting on you?"
"Don't worry. I'm not offended."
He shivered, looking around, frantic at his inability to not be in contact with this alien creature. Wings of Iron continued. "I can create any kind of item you need."
"Can you make us some clothes?" said Kayleigh, still feeling rather exposed.
"Certainly." The walls shifted again, before spitting out a plain white T-shirt and black sweatpants. Kayleigh tugged them on.
"Um, Kay, you do realize that you're wearing him," said Tom.
Kayleigh shivered, but kept the clothes on. "I'm just not gonna think about that. It's better than wandering around in my birthday suit the whole time."
"You know," said Richard. "I have to wonder what you two were doing when you got abducted..." The other two blushed.
Wings of Iron cleared his throat. "Even with spaceslipping, it will take about two weeks to reach Jian-2, the central planet of the League of Worlds. I understand that this is a lot to take in, but please get comfortable. Make yourselves at home, as you say." And with that the man in the suit stepped into the wall and promptly melted away.
It took everyone a moment to process the conversation's abrupt end. "Like hell he understands," says Kayleigh. She kicked at the nearest wall, but it felt as hard and unfeeling as any wall did. She clutched her feet and cursed. When she finally quieted down, the room was eerily silent. The usual filter of city noise was completely absent. It was only in the silence that the three realized that they were truly alone.
"So," said Richard. "Anyone see any good movies lately?"
The first day was a question of survival. Wings of Iron produced items upon request, but didn't say anything to them. The first thing they requested was a deck of playing cards, which they used to play poker until they were all sick of it and had won and lost imaginary fortunes many times over.
But they had to eat, eventually. At Richard's suggestion, the three began requesting increasingly elaborate meals from the energy being, beginning with high cuisine pasta and ending with a big turkey dinner that could have fed eight. But the ship just silently complied with everything. The food all looked gorgeous, but tasted bland.
Boredom set in quickly. Kayleigh would never think she would get bored so quickly of an alien experience, but there was genuinely nothing to do. Wings of Iron produced a chess set and a go board, but said he couldn't replicate movies or books -- he hadn't spent enough time studying Earth culture. Tom and Richard eventually gave in and asked for clothes, and got the same white shirt and black pants. Whatever Earth culture the alien had imbibed, fashion was obviously not included.
Tom and Kayleigh both slept fitfully, when they could sleep at all. They both tossed and kicked in the hotel bed, trying to shake the feeling of being wrapped up in somebody's skin. (She guessed it would really be more like someone's internal organs, but declined to follow that train of thought to the end.) Sometimes they would turn over simultaneously, bodies colliding with each other, and smile in shared recognition at each other.
But somehow, in the dim hours of the early morning (according to their watches, at least -- out here there was nothing to differentiate day from night, and their Earthly system of time seemed quaint and artificial) Kayleigh drifted off to sleep. When she woke up, she was crying.
Tom, who seemed to have an instinctive sense of these things, put his arms around her and hugged her tight to his chest. "What's the matter?"
She was thinking about people. Melissa, her best friend since high school, she of the short hair and shorter temperament, who got her through every break-up or other personal tragedies with all-night sessions of alternating between video games and shoulder-crying. Dale, the dorkiest of all her dorky friends, with the big horn-rimmed glasses and the infinite well of jokes. Dr. Jameson, the gray-haired professor who had gone to bat for her and got her this grad school spot, all without so much as a you're-welcome. Her parents, aggravating and embarrassing but ultimately loving. Her little sister, just about to start college, with undecided ambitions but brilliant energy.
And she would never see any of them again.
It hadn't hit her until that moment, in the haze between wakefulness and sleep. "I want to go home," she pleaded into Tom's shirt. "I want to see them again. Just one last time, please?" She wasn't sure who she was pleading with -- her powerless boyfriend, or the seemingly emotionless alien who surrounded them all, whose skin she was truly crying into right now.
She looked up at the ceiling, wondering if and how Wings of Iron would respond. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm just an astronomy geek. I didn't mean to eavesdrop on your intergalactic business or anything. Can you just bring me back home? I promise I won't tell anyone about the message. No one would believe me if I did. So won't you please just bring us back to Earth?"
No response from the ship-alien. Kayleigh banged on the walls, but they were as hard as before. Tom was behind her, holding on as if not to let her drift away, but all she could feel right now was rage and grief.
Richard wasn't really mourning anyone that night. Truth be told, he had long since grown sick of dealing with all the sycophants and careerists in his department, and every one of his relationships -- family, friends, lovers -- he had ruined years ago. So why not accept a new life on an alien world? Wasn't that what he had always wanted, tucked away in library stacks throughout his childhood, staring at golden age sci-fi until his eyes strained?
Instead that night he couldn't sleep for the energy, the raw curiosity of it all. Richard suddenly had a need to know absolutely everything about this new world he was entering into, especially all the strange things that Wings of Iron had made reference to casually, as one might mention bread or a mailbox without explaining it.
"Ship guy," he said, tapping on a wall. "Can I ask you some questions?"
A moment later, the wall started bulging before spitting out the same man in a suit that had talked to them earlier. "I don't see why not," said Wings of Iron. "I'll answer them to the best of my ability."
Richard patted the side of the queen-sized bed the ship-alien had provided for him. "Come on up here. Um, can I call you Wing? I need something a little more human-sounding."
"You can call me whatever you want. I'm not going to stop you." The main removed his shoes, which promptly melted into the carpet, and climbed into bed with Richard.
Richard drummed his finger against the sheets. He felt uncomfortable in the extreme. "Sorry, this may sound like a weird request, but... could you be a girl?" He had always felt more comfortable teaching and talking to women. With men he always thought they were staring at him like a challenge, as if even in a classroom they were in some way an adversary or opponent. It was stupid and sexist, he knew, but that was just the way things seemed to him.
Wing blinked and, without so much as a word, began to change (or at least his human extension did.) His body began to narrow and shrink visibly, with his clothes quickly shrinking in time to his new body. Two small breasts emerged from his chest, while he (if he was even the right word) swallowed his Adam's apple with a gulp. The geometry of Wing's face was rearranged, lines and angles shifting, and then suddenly he was a she. A masculine woman, perhaps -- Wing hadn't changed her short hair or officious black suit -- but definitely a woman. Richard realized that his mouth had been hanging open in awe for at least a minute.
"Is this sufficient?" she asked, in a lighter and silkier voice than before.
"Um... yeah. Definitely." Richard cleared his throat. What had he wanted to know again? All he could think of now was whether or not Wing had changed his/her/its/their genitals under that suit, or whether she had even had private parts to begin with. But asking about that wouldn't be gentlemanly. "So, you've been talking about like a League of Worlds or whatever. Is that who you work for?"
"In essence, yes," said Wing. "Although I should note that 'work' is not how your species describes it. I require no sustenance or material objects, for obvious reasons, so there is no exchange of services for currency, as you are used to. I do this work because I believe in the League's mission."
"Which is snapping up innocent scientists from lesser worlds?"
Wing was clearly unfamiliar with human expressions, but she managed an apologetic look. "If you had suffered through the Voralian Wars, you would understand the importance of building a peaceful interspecies community, and of isolating species that are not ready."
"You're a weird energy-being," said Richard. "How much can you suffer?"
Wing got up and looked out the fake window, showing the blank canvas of space. Her human body was tight and tense. "Believe me, the Voralian developed ways... friends of mine died in agony. Make no mistake, the Erusmi can be killed -- and it is the most absolute destruction known to any being."
There was a long pause. Richard whistled. "Damn. Guess I kind of brought the mood down, didn't I?"
"Do not worry. I am here to answer your questions. You should not be afraid of offending me." Wing's face had remained static through the whole exchange, and Richard thought she hadn't got the full suite of human emotions down yet, or rather simply wasn't bothering to emote through her puppet body.
"Okay then." Richard lay on his side, propping his head up with his arm. "So, can you tell me what's keeping Earth from getting into your little club and me from getting a Nobel Prize? I mean, we're not perfect, but I think we humans are a pretty advanced species. You shoulda beamed up my iPhone and I could have really shown you what we were capable of."
Wing sat down on the edge of the bed. "In terms of electronic and military technology, yes, humans are quite advanced -- certainly more advanced than some races we've admitted. But in cultural technology you are quite backwards, and this has proved to be a very dangerous combination in the past."
"Cultural technology?" The two words sounded funny together on Richard's tongue.
He thought he could detect the hint of a smile in Wing's staid face. "The fact that you do not even have a concept for it speaks volumes."
"Hey, quit ragging on my species. Sorry we can't all be mystical energy space-creatures."
"Well you did ask."
Richard decided to ignore that she was right -- ignoring when other people were right was a vital academic skill, and one he had honed to perfection. Instead, he started looking over the human body she had chosen. Maybe it was just the strangeness of the situation, but he couldn't look away from the stone-faced, borderline androgynous girl. Her style was masculine, but there were two distinctly feminine bulges on her chest, and a lithe body under it that he wondered what it would be like to have.
He felt like chiding himself for being so typical. Put in a situation with a literal galaxy's worth of knowledge and discovery at his fingertips, and all he thought about was sex. But Richard supposed that he had plenty of time to learn.
Richard sat up and knelt on the bed behind Wing. He reached out to rub her shoulders. Apparently in space this wasn't as played-out a move as it was on Earth. Wing flinched at first, but didn't move away.
"So, can I ask you a personal question?"
"I have already said I will answer everything."
"Great. Well, I guess this is more of a biological thing, but does your species... you know, have sex? I imagine it is difficult with the energy thing and all."
If Wing was scandalized, it didn't show in her voice. "Not in our natural forms, no. I have had sex in the form of many different species, however. It is an interesting experience, but also a superficial one, and I don't understand why so many species are fixated on it."
Richard chuckled. He remembered some of his more hopelessly dorky colleagues saying the same thing -- for them it was a case of sour grapes if there ever was one. "Have you ever done it as a human?"
Wing looked at him askew. "No. Do you want to have sex with me?"
"Is that a question or a proposition?" said Richard, putting on his best lady-killer growl.
Wing stood up and changed again. The suit she was wearing seemed to melt into her body, and then disappear, leaving her shamelessly naked before him. Even for Richard this was a bit more forward than he was used to. "You know," said Wing. "You will find that seduction is a peculiarly human game, one that you don't have to go through with me or many others. Most species are not as prurient as humans when it comes to sex. Well, except for the Gargaxians, but that is quite understandable given all the spikes."
Richard smiled and began unbuttoning the shirt Wing had provided for him. "You sure know how to talk dirty, baby."
Wing walked up and put her arms around him. Even in space, Richard felt at home with the heat of a female body pressed up against him, flesh touching against flesh. Wing's body was lithe and utilitarianism, clean of all body hair or fat, two pert but small breasts mounted on her chest and staring proudly out. Her bare sex was puffy and already a bit moist as she pressed it against his legs. "Sarcasm is the lowest form of humour, you know."
And then she pushed him back and was on top of him on the bed, kissing him. Wing's lips pried his open and her tongue slipped tentatively inside. She had a virgin's curiosity, but none of the accompanying shame and uncertainty. It was a curious mix between experience and innocence, and one that made Richard hard as a steel bar as he taught her to French properly.
He felt his pants melting away, rejoining Wing's mass of matter. Only his boxers, his last real possession, remained. Wing was grinding herself up and down on his hardness, staining his underwear with a combination of their eager juices.
Richard reached up and grabbed a hold of one of her breasts, rolling the nipple roughly between his fingers. Wing gasped. "That feels good," she said. "Do it again." And so he did.