When full consciousness returned, Predericon was relieved to find that she’d regained more or less full eyesight and hearing, and could tell that a few more days would complete the healing process. She estimated she had been semi-conscious for about eight hours, although her senses were a bit jumbled and undependable. Her adventures in the Destarion, furthermore, had done irreparable damage to her faith in her own ability to tell how much time was passing.
She was still bruised and battered, her limbs stiff with swelling and her ears tender with barely-begun healing, but everything seemed to work. The slightly damaged, muffled feel of her hearing that she experienced on awakening, in fact, was immediately attributable to some bandages that she was faintly relieved to find the humans had placed on her head.
Her jaw ached, the missing teeth a throbbing absence on one side. She’d thought there might have been some broken roots left but they had been extracted, presumably by the same people who had bandaged her ears so thoughtfully. The fingers of her lower left hand felt as though they were broken more severely than any other bones she could take easy stock of; she suspected that had happened when the plating had ripped from her hands on final descent. Her hand, too, was bandaged. Indeed, a considerable amount of her body was bandaged. Bandages seemed to be the go-to medical tool for humans. Probably because they bled so much and healed so slowly, if her courses and Lelhmak’s stories could be believed.
Some of the bandages revealed themselves to be wrapped around not just her, but the bed on which she was lying. She was strapped quite securely, although arguably this could have been to keep her from moving and exacerbating her injuries, or falling off the bed during what they had clearly assumed was slumber.
Arguably. If you were in the mood for a tragically over-optimistic argument.
Predericon raised her head as much as the bonds and her own tender muscles would allow. This was sufficient to establish that she was alone in a featureless cubicle of a room that was slightly longer than it was wide – or, from her perspective lying perpendicular in the centre of the chamber, wider than it was long. Bright lamps were inset in the ceiling, filling the room with harsh light. There was a door on the wall to her left, and the longer wall a couple of metres from her feet was dominated by a large mirror that she was certain was one-way. There was a sound of ventilation, monotonous and slightly haggard, and a high electric whine from the glowbulbs – or whatever the fixtures were.
She resisted the urge to call out hello? in English, even though it was the language she was certain she’d heard when she’d been picked up. Best to wait, see what the situation was. She’d used up all her optimism with the assumption about her medical strapping’s noble intent, so decided that she wouldn’t immediately give away that she could understand the language the humans were speaking these days.
Instead, she worked her jaw slowly and readied herself, then called out “hello?” in Xidh.
There was no immediate response, although she imagined there was a sudden increase in the activity and discussion taking place behind the mirror. She wondered if she was in a military base, a medical facility, or some sort of lab – perhaps even a private residence. She was unlikely to find out until-
The voice, when it came, was tinny and underlaid with scratches of interference. An extremely primitive comm system, then – but impressive, she supposed, considering the fact that these humans had apparently been forced to restart their technological development from practically nothing.
“Greetings,” it said. “I am […] Ansel Munroe of […] we wish to […] peaceful dialogue. Can you […] indicate understanding […].”
Predericon didn’t feel it was too much of a deception to claim she didn’t understand this, although she did get the gist of it. Even so, she responded in Xidh for the moment.
“Hello? I’m sorry, I do not understand … my name is Predericon Ti Akmet, I-”
“You do not speak English?” the voice crackled over the top of hers. “That is strange. Your […] Gyden told us that your English is even better than hers.”
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.