Starship Traveler Ch. 02


"Are you cold?"

"Revekah, I am not sure what your frame of reference for that question is. The temperature in this chamber is comfortable for me. Do you need the temperature adjusted?"

"No, not that, does your skin feel cold?"

"Oh no, my body temperature is slightly higher than yours. My skin would feel warm or even hot in comparison to yours."

"It looks like it would be cold, like a frog's."

"Beyond semi-permeable skin, my species has very little in common with the amphibians of your planet."

"Your species has very little in common with anything I have ever seen before." Revekah forced her body to relax and lay back. She blinked and looked around. It seemed like she could look down the length of her body almost to her waist. She stared curiously at the small firm breasts on her chest. Her nipples looked small and virginal. She experimentally gave her chest a small shimmy and looked in amazement as her breasts jiggled in response. She had forgotten her breasts ever looked like that. "This is going to take some getting used to. Everything is different. I don't even recognize myself. Is there something like a mirror around here?"

"In the same room with the immersion pool is a reflective surface. I use it to preen my frills."

"Again with the touching, I just can't let you pick me up."

"Revekah, you do not need to be carried. All you need to do is allow me to guide you. It would be nothing more than a gentle touch on the arm or shoulder. The only time I would touch you with any force is if you panic, attempt to escape, and begin to run blindly around the ship."

"How far is this surface from the floor?"

"It is about the distance from your hips to your feet." Revekah slid down to the foot of the table and hung her feet off the edge. "Do not dismount from the table, Revekah. The surface that you will descend upon is not what you expect. It is neither flat nor firm." Xeno loomed out of the mist and she could not help but yelp in surprise and scramble to the far end of the table.

"Don't appear like that, so close to me, without a warning."

"I am sorry. I was fearful you were going to try and get down off the table."

"I get it. Just don't rush at me like that. No sudden movements and do not touch me."

"If you are going to get down off the table, I will need to guide you."

"I know, just, um... okay, let's try this. You come over closer to the foot of the table and just stand there, don't move, okay?"

"I am still standing where I was, Revekah."

"Good." She cautiously slipped down to the foot of the table and looked up at him. "Can you crouch down a little again?"

Once he was lower, she reached out a visibly shaking finger and tentatively touched the skin on one of his larger arms. It was hot to the touch and damp. Her mind spun back to when she touched Geoff's skin in the hospital. He had been running a high fever and his skin was slick with sweat. Curiously she pressed a little, his flesh was firm and there was obviously a bone or something like that, that ran through the limb. "Did that hurt?"

"No, Revekah, it did not hurt. In fact I do not have a large number of pain or other sensory receptors in that portion of my anatomy. I can feel pressure and temperature there, but little else. I have extensive sensory receptors in the hands of my smaller arms, in my tongue, and in my frills."

"So if I hang onto your arm and we walk, you would only need to initiate touch if I fall or try to run away?"


"I think it will be easier if I do the touching and we just walk really slowly."

"The surface you will be walking on is irregular."

"Let's just try standing."

"It will feel yielding and wet."

"Oh nice, I should have figured you for living in a swamp."

"My species did in fact evolve in a very water rich environment."

"Okay, I am going to keep my hands on your, um, bigger arm here and get down off the table now. I am just going to stand still. You just stand really, really still. Remember, no sudden movements."

"I will be still. Revekah, you are being very brave. I am proud of you."

"Not so brave. You still scare the hell out of me." Revekah rolled over onto her stomach and let her legs dangle down, reaching and feeling with her toes. She felt a warm, wet surface. It was very uneven and felt like a pile of hoses or perhaps ropes. "One hell of a shag carpet you have in here." As she let her weight settle onto her feet she felt them sink in and sort of slip through the stuff until she was in over her ankles. A soft shudder ran through her. "This feels kind of gross." Then something moved under her feet and snaked along one ankle. She shrieked and clawed her way back up onto the table, pulling her feet up, and peering over the edge, trying to see through the sparkles. "What the fuck was that!"

"That was just the floor."

"It was moving. I felt something crawling around down there!"

"The ship is a living thing. That was most likely part of the recycling system. I am so used to it that I no longer notice."

Revekah's heart was racing. "I will never get used to that. It's like walking around in a vat of eels." She shuddered and continued to peer apprehensively down. "They won't crawl up here will they?"

"Revekah, it is a single entity. It is the ship. It is not a 'they'."

"Like that makes any fucking difference. Xeno, this is like your tongue times a thousand. That is too freaking weird, too snaky, and way, way too slimy."

"Revekah, the only other alternative is for you to spend a very, very long time sitting on you elevated surface. The nano bots will keep your body from atrophying, but your mind will not tolerate the confinement more than a few decades. I would regret losing your mind."

"Tell me about the ship. You say it is a single entity, a living thing. You say it is not sentient, but then you talk like you talk to me. Exactly what is it?"

"In many ways the ship is about as self aware as the jelly fish on your planet. It even looks like a jelly fish. It feeds on certain wavelengths of radiation, much like a plant does on your planet, but it uses this radiation much like a sail to move across interstellar distances. It is very slow to accelerate and decelerate, but can achieve speeds much greater than light speed. My species could not travel at those speeds until we discovered this interstellar species. We genetically altered them, adding some things, removing others. The matter conversion systems and the raw data storage are from other species. Gravity generation is mostly due to the rotation of the ship. The ship itself is able to travel and steer itself, but it takes a certain amount of encouragement to get it to go where you want it to go. I can encourage it to grow new chambers for our use, but there is a limit to this. It takes a great deal of energy to travel long distances. The ship feeds very infrequently, but has huge energy storage capability. When I speak to the ship, I am communicating with the raw data storage system, or encouraging the ship to alter its normal behavior patterns. The ship instinctively recycles any foreign objects it finds inside of itself. We have taught it to recognize certain living organisms and to ignore them. In exchange we make sure it is safe, and well fed. It is a symbiotic relationship."

"So we are like inside its guts?"

"No, it does not have a gut. It does not consume food and excrete. It absorbs radiation through its sails and converts it to a compound it can use to maintain its metabolism, an earth analog to sugar perhaps. We are more accurately in a type of cyst that we have encouraged it to grow inside itself. What you will be walking on is just the tissues of the ship. It has circulatory tubes and fibrous connections like you do. If you felt movement, it was most likely a contraction of a muscle to promote circulation."

"Like I said, guts."

"Are you using humor again, Revekah?"

She shuddered and tried to laugh, but it fell flat. "Oh Xeno, I wish I was trying to be funny. You are so right when you said too much novelty is not a good thing. This is just too weird. But you are right. I can't stay sitting up here forever. I am suspecting that forever is going to be a very, very long time."

"Do only what you are comfortable with. I do not want you to injure your mind by trying to do too much at once."

"Yeah, I get it. Too much, I freak out and go crazy. Too little, I get bored and go crazy. And a beautiful mind is shame to waste."

"You do have a beautiful mind, Revekah. You see, hear, taste, smell, and feel things in a manner very different than I do. It is very stimulating to connect with you."

"Just don't get too over stimulated, big boy. Remember, we are taking our time." As far as she was concerned it was going to be forever.

"I understand. I can see you trying to use your humor to deal with this stress. Again I am proud of your courage."

"Okay, courage, yeah right. I am going to try and put my feet into that stuff again. Again, please do not move. The floor moving is as much excitement as I can handle at the moment." Again she slid down and let her feet slide into the 'guts'. 'Guts' was the only word in her head for this and it was not a pretty visualization, but it was worlds better than snakes. "Okay, I am going to crouch down a little and take a closer look at this 'floor' as you call it." She kept her hand tightly gripped on his warm, strong arm, completely unaware of how she needed to hold on for security more than balance. Looking closer revealed a tangle of what looked way too much like a vat of eels. They seemed to be slowly pulsing and quivering, and as she was looking one made a slow writhing contraction. Revekah forced herself to stand very still and keep looking, "Fucking A. And I am supposed to just walk around in this? Won't it hurt the ship for me to step on these tube things?"

"It does not damage the ship for us to move about. We are very small in comparison to it."

Revekah looked at Xeno's sturdy legs that looked painfully bent as he kept his crouched position perfectly still. Surreptitiously she looked at the juncture of his legs and was somewhat relieved to see no genitalia, just a smooth juncture of gray skin. "Are you uncomfortable?"

"It is an unfamiliar position. I feel fatigue, but I can remain in this position indefinitely."

"Go ahead and stand up. Let's take a very slow walk, one step at a time. If I fall down in this stuff, I will have a screaming fit."

Slowly he stood to his full height and Revekah stood up as well, hanging onto his arm with both hands, completely oblivious to the contact of their skins. The floor was ten times creepier than he was. When they were upright, Revekah could no longer see her feet. The only solid thing within her vision was Xeno. She stared at the hands on his stronger set of arms. They were massive and had only three digits. Somehow too few fingers seemed less alarming than too many. His voice in her head was soft. "Do you want me to just start walking or do you want to set the pace? You will need to let me guide you to the portals between chambers."

"You walk, but go really slow. I will hold on and try not to freak out." Xeno took a small step and Revekah lifted her feet high and matched his stride. "That wasn't so bad. I can do this." Her voice cracked as she felt something sliding along her ankle again. "Can you tell it to stop doing that moving thing?"

"That is an involuntary muscular action, much like the beating of your heart."


Xeno took another step, "You will need to be aware that the dimensions of this room are more circular than square. At the edges of the room, the ceiling is lower and the surface of the ceiling is much the same as that of the floor. The irregular surface does hang down and will be low enough to touch your head and shoulders. You may wish to lean over to avoid that contact."

"Oh really fucking great, snakes dangling from the ceiling."

"If you would transfer your grasp to one of my smaller inner arms, I could use my stronger arms to shield you from the contact from the dangling pieces."

His inner arm was just as firm but there did not seem to be any rigidity to it. Revekah suspected they were just as flexible and snaky as his tongue, but he held them very still. He raised his big arms up and held them like a protective barrier over her head and shoulders. She was so aware of her relief that the low hanging loops and tendrils were being held away from her head and face that she did not notice she was almost completely encircled in a careful embrace. The arms sheltering her were very careful not to touch her skin, and she found herself shrinking closer to his side as she looked apprehensively at the foggy air, half afraid that some crazy squid tentacle would snake around her. All her life she had had a dread of snakes, especially constrictors. Now she found herself practically surrounded by snaky, crawly things.

She strangled down a giggle when she thought of a line out of an old movie from her childhood, "Snakes, why does it always have to be snakes?"


Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Please do me the kindness of rating and leaving me feedback. Constructive and/or critical, public or private, raving or troll; I love to hear from you.

To those who leave anonymous feedback, I regret I cannot respond to you individually. Please accept my appreciation in advance.

I would like to acknowledge and thank my editor Dani for all her help. She is a treasure.


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