It’s hot. Ata’s environmental controls are shot. Until we reach another backwater planet, our only way to prevent freezing in space is to vent the exhaust heat through the air duct filters manually. I didn’t realize just how hot these engines can get. Lucy warned them that my human physiology would only permit certain temperatures, but this is our only option. I never thought I could go through this much water in one day. It’s like the more I drink, the faster it comes out.
“How much longer ‘til we reach a repair dock?” I asked for the ninetieth time.
“Soon!” Mel answered, the frustration of my feeble humanity finally getting to him. “Just be patient. What is wrong with you? It can’t be that bad. Is there no warm terrain on your entire planet?!”
“Actually we have plenty of deserts. We also have something called AIR CONDITIONING!” I shouted back.
I had to leave the control room then. My water was running low and Mel looked like he might strangle me to put us all out of our misery. What did he expect? My little human body was clearly not designed for extreme circumstances. This heat barely seemed to affect him. I didn’t see a single bead of sweat on his entire body.
His body. The heat was making me a little crazy so I’d been paying more attention to his physique than I’d normally permitted myself. He was gorgeous. Something about the deep color over every contour made it feel like the heat was radiating from him instead of the vents. I knew it was the hot air, but I really couldn’t help my imagination. I had never asked Lucy about it before, so when I questioned her data-base on his reproductive system she didn’t realize it was supposed to be a secret. The auto-link between her and Ata activated to give me the quickest response. I couldn’t shut it off fast enough. Ata flagged the inquiry and notified Mel.
I was unaware of him sitting on the back of my fuselage while I searched Lucy’s memory for his physiological description. A few minutes passed and I realized I hadn’t heard any banging or crashing from the engine bay where Mel had been constantly rerouting the air ducts to prevent heat damage to the system. I decided to unlock the data-link and check on him.
“Lucy, are we nearing the repair dock? I don’t hear any mods or screaming.”
“We’re still a few days out. And if you’d left me linked I could’ve used the internal sensors to tell you that he’s been reading over your shoulder for ten minutes.” Lucy replied snidely.
“What?!” I gasped, spinning to see him eyeing my screen with a pensive curiosity. “What are you doing in here?”
“Shoatahr said you had a peculiar question” he said in a strangely calm tone, still eyeing the screen from over my shoulder. “You didn’t hear when I came in, so I just looked to see what you were doing. Honestly, I thought maybe you were going to poison me.” His eyes tightened in mock suspicion before he smirked. It was obvious now that his curiosity had gotten the better of him. “What are you looking for?” he finally asked outright.
“Don’t worry, I promise I won’t kill you in your sleep.” I commented with dry sarcasm.
Not that trying to make one of those hearts explode wouldn’t be fun…I thought before I caught myself again. His brow furrowed for a second, then he slid sinuously off my jet without making a sound. As soon as he was out of the room, I wiped my search history from Lucy. On the off chance that he missed something, I didn’t want him to know what I was really looking for.
We hadn’t spoken for two days. I assumed he’d forgotten all about it. I entered the dinning area in search of snack food. Not expecting it, I screamed when he tapped my shoulder as I bent into a large bin to grab one of my last packs of crackers from the bottom. He had to grab my left thigh and right upper arm to stop me from flipping into the bin head first. When he set me back upright I was furious.
“Why must you do that?! Can’t you make noise when you walk?” I yelled.
“Calm down,” he scowled, “I was just curious if you’d come up with any good murder strategies yet. You didn’t have to freak out on me.”
It was then that I’d realized he’d made the effort at some point to study Earth speech patterns from Lucy. He was pretty good with slang now, and I hadn’t even noticed. My eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“Why so cordial if you think I want you dead?” I asked quietly.
“You don’t want me dead.” he stated, matter-of-factly. “But I am still curious what you were looking for.”
If I didn’t make something up fast, he was going to figure it out soon so I said the first idiot thing that came to mind.
“This heat doesn’t affect you at all?” I asked incredulously.
“No” he shrugged disappointed. Apparently he’d hoped for a more scandalous response to his questioning. I was proud of myself for deceiving him so easily.
“How is that even possible?” I continued, to flesh out my story. “It’s making me nuts. And if I don’t get a decent bath soon, I may just melt into a dirty pile of salt.”
“You can do that?!” his face suddenly distorted in concern. “Shoatar didn’t tell me that. We may be able to push the engines for more speed…” he started to panic before I cut him off.
“No, no, no. I didn’t mean literally. It was sarcasm. I just meant that I feel like I’m melting.”
He breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh”.
“Anyway, I have a hard time believing that this temperature does nothing to you if you choose to live in a comfortably cool atmo on a normal basis.”
He raised an eye brow, “Atmo?”
“Atmosphere,” I corrected, “and don’t lie.”
I was now leaning toward him in full interrogation mode. He closed the distance between us so I had to tilt my head back to look up at him. A strange expression crossed his face. It was some combination of anger, frustration, and confusion. Then he composed himself to glare through me, there was no other was to put it, so he could say “If your lucky, you’ll never find out what extreme heat can do to my people” before he ghosted angrily from the room.
That worked. My curiosity was somewhat curbed in lieu of self preservation. After all, with my luck, he’d probably turn into some kind of flesh eating beast if it got much hotter. The next few days were quiet. I just avoided him altogether until we reached the repair station.