Author’s Note: Hopefully, this NaNoWriMo exercise will force me to finish this and the readers that do read it enjoy it. Comment please. Constructive criticism and/or lavish praise is always appreciated. Genuine gratitude if you just hug me tightly and let me cry on your shoulder. Don’t ask….
Waking up, Aeryin looked up at Samanthra who was next to her bedside and she turned her head away quickly. Remembering where she was, she sighed, wondering how long she had been out. The Apis was holding the blue infosphere and fingering through it with her black fuzzy fingers. Aeryin blinked from the light.
“Can I walk?” Aeryin asked, gritting her teeth.
“Your legs were infected with gangrene and so was your left arm. They have been replaced.” Samanthra said.
“I’m not going to ask with what.”
“Your weakness in biology becomes even more evident,” Samanthra stated and pressed a button.
The straps clicked back into place with an electronic hiss. Aeryin sat up and winced in surprise. She looked at her left arm.
“I don’t see anything different.” She said stupidly.
“Try to walk.”
Aeryin looked around and stood up. Smiling, she was amazed at this new discovery. She hadn’t been this happy since she married her wife Lanya.
Aeryin and Lanya were both dressed in kimonos. Their wedding took place on Lanya’s home planet after the Empress gave Lanya permission to marry Aeryin and leave Jitoku. Of course, Aeryin had to agree to honor the Jitokan tradition of a wedding ceremony and she did. They didn’t let the rest of the fleet know so Aeryin and Lanya married in secret with the Empress’s blessing and her overseeing the whole thing with one of her own priests. The group was in a shrine dedicated to the purpose of marriage. A Shinto shrine, or at least that’s what Aeryin considered it. It could have been a wooden pagoda if it was done right. Aeryin shook her head. Respect for other cultures meant accepting diversity without any a posteriori judgments.
‘Guess being a favorite did pay off,’ Aeryin thought and Lanya chuckled.
Aeryin looked at Lanya confused. Lanya shook her head and they both turned to the Empress. The Empress was dressed in a bright red kimono with cherry blossoms depicted all over it. She had long black hair covering her own gills but she was in her underwater form. Aeryin shrugged this off as she had already seen Lanya in this form and the shocks were no longer there.
The priest, dressed in the men’s kimono read their Norito-soujou to announce their marriage to the Jitokan deities and to seek protection from the planet’s kami. Aeryin wondered why religion was so important to anyone but what really mattered to her was the woman standing next to her and the fact that their lives would be joined together.
Once the priest was done, the Empress looked at Lanya. Lanya looked back baffled. Aeryin didn’t know what to expect. The Empress nodded. Lanya looked at Aeryin.
“We’re breaking tradition here, but the Empress wants me to dance for you or you to dance,” Lanya explained.
“Erm, maybe you should,” Aeryin said quickly.
She wasn’t a good dancer at all. Lanya had tried teaching her a couple of moves but Aeryin always faltered. Nevertheless, Lanya understood.
She stepped into a small courtyard next to their makeshift shrine. Being known to perform dances like this for the Empress, if anyone saw them they wouldn’t know what was taking place. Aeryin watched, mesmerized as Lanya performed fluid movements, in a kimono no less. She wasn’t exactly performing ballet but Aeryin was still impressed. Apparently, the Empress was also pleased until she saw the dilation of Aeryin’s pupils towards Lanya, the sign of attraction to another. Aeryin caught the Empress staring at her eye and shrugged. Continuing to watch Lanya perform, she didn’t care what the Empress thought or said as long as Lanya was with her of her own accord.
Once the dance was over, Lanya walked over to Aeryin, sweat rolling down her forehead. Aeryin hugged her close and then let her go. The wedding ceremony continued and the priest poured out three cups of rice wine. Confusion spread across Aeryin’s face. She never saw this tradition before. Lanya took Aeryin’s hand in hers as they stood side by side waiting for the priest to be done.
Once he finished, Lanya picked up a cup and linked her arm with Aeryin’s. Following the same cue, Aeryin picked up the other cup. It started to make a little bit of sense to her now. Lanya held her cup to Aeryin’s mouth and Aeryin followed suit with her own cup to Lanya’s mouth. They each took three sips. This repeated another two times totaling three sips from three cups for a total of nine sips from three cups. Aeryin looked at Lanya and she unlinked her arm from hers.
“Our wedding is complete now,” Lanya whispered to Aeryin and smiled.
A wide smile was plastered to Aeryin’s face as she held Lanya’s hand in hers.
Their happiness got cut short. Since Lanya was an alien and Aeryin was human, she got slapped with a section eight discharge and sentenced to live on Rikers prison colony. The day she was escorted there, Lanya broke her out and they commandeered a ship to become the most wanted space pirates.
To this day, Aeryin still had no idea how Lanya pulled any of it off. ‘Lanya…’ Samanthra snapped her out of her reverie.
“Are you going to walk or not?” The Apis asked impatiently.
Aeryin took her first hesitant step. She lost her balance and reached out to hold onto the table, followed by falling to the floor with a thud.
“Do you not believe in physical therapy?” Aeryin inquired.
Aeryin got up slowly. Using the table for support she stood still for a moment. Taking a breath, she took her next hesitant step. Slowly, she progressed three steps before losing her balance and falling to the floor again.
“Really?” Samanthra sighed and pocketed her blue infosphere.
Samanthra helped Aeryin stand back up. Aeryin held onto the Apis and took a few more slow steps. Getting comfortable, Aeryin decided to walk on her own. To her surprise, she didn’t fall a third time.
“This is unusual,” Samanthra said.
“Normally it takes at least a year for humans to be able to walk properly. You have done it in a matter of minutes.”
“Tell me about your ship.”
Samanthra sighed. “Truthfully, this is my ship.”
“Wait. What? You mean to tell me, you’re imprisoned on your own ship?”
“We can discuss an escape plan.”
“How the hell are you even still alive, after having your ship stolen,” Aeryin replied, waving her arms theatrically. “Surely, you should be dead by now!”
“There are clothes in that locker over there,” Samanthra said and pointed.
“You really have to stop avoiding questions. First you don’t answer me about the reptilians and now you won’t tell me how you got imprisoned on your own ship. Aside from you fixing my legs, which I’m grateful for, how the suka am I supposed to trust you when you can’t even answer questions?”
Aeryin took a breath and walked over to the locker. She pulled out undergarments, a black and blue form fitting space suit, gray shin high battle boots, and black and blue wrist cuffs. Stripping her shift, Aeryin quickly changed, ignoring Samanthra’s quick wince and one hundred and eighty degree turn away from her.
Samanthra sighed and turned back around to face Aeryin.
“Suffice it to say, that I had a traitor on board.”
“How did you not see the signs?”
“Although I’m a scientist first, I like the drink a little too much. At the time I cared more for Naked Cowboy Mead than anything else, aside from my science projects.”
“A ship full of human haters and an alcoholic Apis. Wonderful,” Aeryin said. “That still doesn’t exactly answer why I’m not dead and why Bravra wants me to be a slave.”
“She’s a sadistic one. She’ll bring her captives to the brink of death and then have them rehabilitated to be a gladiator or whatever is her current whim. Before you ask, I have set up scramblers in effective places.”
“What do you know so far?” Aeryin asked and stretched.
“Bravra plans to refuel on planet Neyo in a few days time. Once the ship lands we can make an escape. Some of the crew we can trust to help us, but you let me do the talking for that.”
Aeryin moved her arms forwards and backwards in circles doing crucial stretches. She smirked. Enjoying her newfound dexterity she practiced a somersault and was amazed she could still do it.
“I want to say this is coercion, but I would die even if I didn’t help you. I like the odds of escaping with you better than being a slave to the Platerran hater.”