She paced the room, more to accelerate her healing and improve her muscle tone than out of impatience, and performed a few very basic stretching and coordination exercises. They’d had gravity plating and had conducted similar exercises on the Speed, but in the last couple of months had shed the unnecessary materials and potentially detrimental technology into space before final approach. As a result, they’d all experienced some deterioration of muscle and bone density. It would be some days before she recovered – and that, of course, depended on how accommodating her diet was.
In the meantime, she decided the exercises were to her advantage even if they were giving the probably-watching humans a certain amount of free information about her physiology and recovery. They would, she assumed, also be seeing the same sorts of actions from Gyden and Lelhmak unless they were foolish enough to be downplaying their physical attributes. She was also, she became aware, naked aside from the bandages she still had wrapped around head, a couple of limbs and her damaged lower left hand … but it was a comfortable and steady temperature in the cell.
There were no immediate communications through the speaker system, so Predericon concluded that she was being given a little time to recover and become accustomed to captivity. She determined to do the former, at least.
“Please move to the far end of the […] from the door,” the voice – not Ansel’s, she thought – eventually crackled from the comm system another couple of hours after her release from the bed. She obeyed it, promptly but not hastily.
Food duly arrived. Lagos was once again in charge of the task, but at least this time ventured into the cell with the tray in both hands and no weapon to juggle. His fellow soldiers, of course, hovered in the shadows of the doorway and kept their weapons trained on her – or, since she was standing at the far end of the long cell with both the bed and Lagos between her and them, perhaps it was more accurate to say they kept their weapons trained on their friend’s back.
Lagos put the tray on the bed and backed off a couple of steps, but was clearly waiting for her to approach. She did so, stepping carefully up to the far side of the bed and examining the tray. It was covered in metal compartments, but as she looked at them Lagos stepped up and quickly lifted them off. Steam rose and Predericon identified a bowl of some sort of watery soup; a plate of assorted vegetables and a greyish slab of animal matter that had been roasted or boiled or possibly both; and a plate of some kind of fruit. There was also a cup of water. All of it was resting on or in a set of paper crockery, and the eating utensils were made of … wood, she thought. Very light and soft wood, but probably still something she could use as a weapon. If she were so inclined.
“Thank you,” she said just loudly enough for Lagos to hear. She suspected the surveillance equipment the humans had wasn’t sensitive enough to pick up her voice.
“Welcome to Earth,” Lagos said in the same undertone, then flinched slightly when she grinned. “[…],” he added. Predericon hid her teeth again, as much as she could. “Leave the […] and […] on the tray when you finish,” he instructed, shifting back to the official script. “Do not attempt to […] the […].”
Predericon nodded cautiously. Lagos vanished back into the corridor outside, taking the metal food-covers with him, and the door closed once again.
She sat on the bed, crossed her legs and put the tray in her lap. Then she began to sample the food.
It was all about as tasteless as the water. Or, to put it more accurately, it was devoid of actual flavor but nonetheless mildly metallic and tainted to her palate. Even so, she judged that it was nutritious enough and would not immediately poison her. Nothing that humans could eat – and she admitted it was an assumption, but she felt it was a safe one that this was the same fare the soldiers received – could do her much harm, after all. Except for toxins to which they may have been building up a hereditary resistance over the past two thousand years, of course. But that seemed like a problem she couldn’t really hope to address.
And it didn’t taste terrible. In fact, she reflected, Old Man Lelhmak would probably have quite liked it, in the unlikely event it passed a single one of his dietary standards.
On the heels of this thought, she wondered how long he would go without food before finally giving in and contaminating himself.
She finished the soup, downed the mushy vegetables and chewed her way stoically through the leathery meat with the teeth remaining on one side of her skull, then tackled the fruit. That, at least, had a respectable deal of sugars and accompanying flavour … although she abruptly found herself pining for the sweet cakes of the Bookwyrm.
Reminding herself that they had definitely been anything but sweet and that she was fortunate to have been reassembled into this clean grey phobe’s body, she finished the fruit and washed the last mouthful down with her water.
Then she set the tray and all its remaining contents on the floor close to the door, returned to the far end of the cell, and resumed her pacing and toning exercises.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.