Another six hours or so passed while she waited for Ansel Munroe to act, or at least to decide that she’d gotten the point about who was in charge of her life and death. It seemed pointless to hypothesise or worry, so she concentrated on letting her body continue healing.
At least Gyden was alive and talking, she reassured herself. Talking before Predericon had been, no less. The crash had apparently ended up being safer for her, packed into the Speed with the remains of their supplies and equipment, than it had been for the two who had jumped out. She hoped they’d have an opportunity to laugh about that later.
Finally, the door on her left opened and a frightened-looking human in what she took to be a military uniform came sidling cautiously inside.
It – he; she was fairly certain this was a male – was brandishing a primitive but undoubtedly fully-functional firearm in his broad hands, so she made sure to lie still and make no threatening eye-contact or call attention to her teeth. It was unlikely human weapons technology had developed much beyond the crude projectile instruments they’d noted in use during the recent planetary war, but it wasn’t impossible that he was holding a nuclear cutter of some sort.
“Don’t move,” he said in a voice that quavered with fear. “Stay […], no sudden moves.”
His dark brown skin was beaded with liquid. Predericon remembered that this was the standard human method of cooling the body – as well as apparently dealing with panic, since he was perspiring despite the moderate temperature in the ward. She took note of the word LAGOS printed on the breast of his uniform, as well as some other letters and markings that might indicate rank. She tried not to pay too much attention to him as he approached the bed, though.
The term, Lagos, was familiar. She thought it might be one of the new Earth nations. It meant lake or lakes in one of the emergent Earth languages. Portuguese? It was one of the languages with a Latin basis but had diverged shockingly in the past nineteen and a half centuries. And in any case, he was speaking English so it probably didn’t pay to overthink.
“Hello,” she said, keeping her voice low and even. Lagos still twitched, and Predericon got the strong impression that he’d only barely prevented himself from firing.
“H – hello,” he said shakily. “I – I’m sorry but – don’t move – I’m not […] to talk to you.”
This last comment came out in a rushed whisper, and Predericon nodded and shut her mouth. She didn’t want to get Lagos in trouble, and his response to her greeting led her to believe that he might be an ally under different circumstances. She lay still and tried not to flinch as the human arrived at the bedside and had a clear internal crisis about how to unwind her bandages without taking both hands off his gun.
For a moment it looked as though he was going to shoot the bandages off, but Lagos eventually backed up, rested the gun cautiously against the wall under the big one-way mirror, and crept back in to gingerly begin unfastening her from a trembling crouch. She cast a surreptitious glance to her left and confirmed what her ears had already told her: another pair of quivering humans were standing in the open door to her secure ward, pointing guns in her direction.
Depending on the ordnance involved, any wild shooting from the pair in the doorway was just as likely to cut Lagos in half as it was to injure her, so Predericon lay extra still for the sake of her friend-in-potentia.
Lagos opened the broad bindings, slowly at first and then with more confidence. Predericon tightened her nostrils and wondered if she should apologise for the smell – a day of bleeding and associated discomfort while heavily bound, not to mention six years in a space capsule with the bare necessities of hygiene consideration, had left her a little ripe – but Lagos didn’t seem to notice. For that matter, the human’s perspiration and breath and some sort of artificial scent on his skin were all far more overpowering than her own miasma. That was primates for you.
Finally she was free, and Lagos scampered back to pick up his gun and back away towards the door.
“Remain still,” he instructed with clear relief in his voice. “Don’t make […] until the door is closed.”
“Thank you,” she said quietly, without moving from the bed.
“Did you touch it?” Predericon heard one of the other humans whisper as the door swung closed. “What did it feel like?” even after the door locked behind him, she heard the voices fade away along what she assumed was a corridor. “Is it really real? Are they really […] it has? What did it say…”
Once silence returned, Predericon waited to see if permission would be granted from the comm system. Then she decided to sit up before the humans had a chance to let her.
Oppression is as often self-inflicted as it is imposed from without, she remembered the words of Hastan Müllick.
Suppressing a groan she sat, then stretched, then climbed to her feet.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the bus.