The alien is back, looking at me with those magical, judgmental eyes. I’m used to getting stared at like this by men, that fuck you, I want to fuck you sort of look. Never had an alien do it, but I guess dudes are the same across all possible realms of existence. He’s like an ex-boyfriend I haven’t slept with yet.
“What’s your actual problem anyway?”
“My actual problem is your behavior. It is terrible. You are disrespectful…”
“What reason have you given me to respect you, exactly?”
He smiles, but it’s not a nice smile. It flashes sharply at me, and disappears as quickly as it came.
“That is true, I suppose. I forget your species always needs some kind of threat in order to behave remotely appropriately.”
I laugh. He really doesn't know me at all. Threats have never worked. Bribes are a bit more likely to succeed, but my defining quality through life so far has not been giving a fuck about consequences.
“When you disobey, or when you speak with anything less than the utmost respect, you will be punished. Painfully.”
“I don’t agree to that.”
“Ah, I understand the confusion. You think what you agree to matters. It doesn’t. The only thing that matters on this ship is my word - and that of the king.”
“Which you’re not.”
“I’m not what?”
“The king. You’re not the king. You like to be in charge, but you’re not really in charge.”
She unerringly finds what might perhaps be my only button. I would be impressed, if I had the interest in being impressed by such a creature.
“Royalty is decided by blood. My position is decided by valor.”
“Uh huh.” She rolls her eyes and sucks on the infernal thing again. I am done entertaining or allowing this human’s disrespect and filthy habits. I grab the vaporizer out of her hand and render it non-existent with a little vaporizing technique of my own.
She’s shocked by my ability to destroy matter in an instant, but she seems to lack the foresight to consider what that might mean for her if she continues to displease me. Humans are very much a learn by having terrible things happen to them, species.
“Listen, Lucky. You are aboard King Tyrant’s vessel, and you are under my command. You will be expected to learn your duties, and to obey me in all things. If you do not, you will be punished in a manner I can assure you, you will find deeply unpleasant.”
Her eyes narrow at me, and she makes one of those human utterances designed to do nothing but hurt another’s feelings. “You’re awful.”
“No. Awful is the navigator. I am Terrible.”
“Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?”
I give her the blankest of all possible stares.
“Guess not. Anyway, give me the goddamn vape back. That wasn’t cheap. I stole that off Emmet, and he paid almost a thousand bucks for it.”
“That disgusting device has been decomposed into its composite elements, all many trillion of which will find more productive things to do with themselves.”
“God, you’re a real dick. I thought Emmet was a dick.”
“Emmet is the one you were screaming at when I removed you from your world.”
“Yes. He was throwing me out of my house because…”
“He’s a dick,” I finish the predictable sentence.
“Yes! You’re starting to get it.” Her expression brightens as she imagines we have reached some place of accord.
I have already decided that I am going to punish her. She needs it. If I am stuck with my human choice - and the many light years between us and the plant Earth, not to mention her having seen more than she should ever have seen of us and our vessel make that necessary, then I may as well come to an understanding of her.
“How old are you?”
“Twenty seven. Magic number.”
“In what way is that a magic number?”
“Twenty seven is where all the good ones burn out. I reckon I’ve burned out. Hey. Do you have Elvis on this ship?”
“I have no idea who Elvis is.”
“Poor fucking you. What about Tupac?”
“Well, maybe they're on other ships?”
“Anything is possible.”
“Yes,” I agree. “Almost anything.”
“Am I ever going to go home?”
That’s a question I would have expected to hear earlier. Her priorities aren’t exactly what I would have expected them to be. She cares more about the plastic poison device than she does her own life and what is to become of it.
“No. It is not safe for humans who have experienced life off-Earth to return. The knowledge you have gained already puts you in grave danger.”
I brace for hysterics, which humans are so fond of. The oh no’s, the you can’t do this’s, the how very dare you’s.
“You are not going to panic and writhe and complain in human fashion about that?”
“No. Never liked Earth anyway. We’ve kind of fucked it up. You can’t go anywhere without getting sick, you can’t buy a house, and if you do buy a house they tax you on it until…”
I make an involuntary growling sound at the mention of taxation. We have had unpleasant dealings with agents of taxation, indeed, we sacrificed almost our entire fleet in the war against DICK.
“You need say no more. You and I agree on a surprising amount, it would seem. Though, to give your people their due, it is not uncommon for an advanced species to defile their cradle before they break free of it.”
“You reckon we’re going to get off Earth?”
“Probably not. Your species is just a fraction too…” I search for words.
“That’s not the word I would have chosen, but it is apt.”
She shrugs, and changes the topic of conversation. “Am I going to be able to get hair dye here? This blue is going to rinse out and then I’m just going to have boring brown hair.”
“The color of your hair is the least of your worries. The metal in your face will be removed.”
“Uh, no it fucking won’t be.”
“Metal and faces do not mix, human. You look as though you have been attacked by a small and inefficient metal porcupine.”
“I don’t care about what you think about what I look like. I look like this for me. I like my hair blue because it matches my eyes and I like my piercings because they match my soul.”
“In what way does cheap metal running through your flesh conducting bacteria represent your soul, if such a thing were to exist?” The nonsense which she babbles is almost completely unbearable, but I need to comprehend her point of view. You cannot control that which you do not understand.
“It’s like, I want people to know they can’t fuck with me, you know?”
“So these metal pieces are intended to communicate that you will be aggressive if confronted.”
“You guess. You do not know why you had cheap steel driven through sensitive parts of your anatomy?
“Does everything have to have a reason?”
“When it comes to your species, the reason tends to follow the action. But I wanted to see if you had perhaps thought about it after all.”
She curses beneath her breath, though not quietly enough to avoid me hearing it - which I do not believe was an oversight. She wants me to hear, and yet she wants me to think she doesn’t want me to hear, and yet she says it in such a way as to ensure I hear. This is humanity all over. It would give me a headache, if I had the physiology for such a thing.
What I do know is that she is being both disrespectful, and declining to provide me any useful information whatsoever. It is time for my agenda to begin.
“What the fuck is happening?”
She may well ask the question. Her limbs have suddenly been grasped by extensions coming from the walls and floor, generated at my behest.
“How the hell did you do that?”
“The matter in this room complies with my will. Unlike you.”
“Dude. You have got to let me go. Being tied up freaks me out. Emmet…”
I get in her face. Very, very close to her nose. “You need to learn one thing today, human. Just one thing. Everything that happens from here on out is because I want it to happen. What you want, could not be less relevant. The world you knew and understood is gone. It has been replaced with one where my will is law. The only law.”
She stares at me with those human eyes, two big, watery orbs of fright and offense. I know she wants to swear and curse and tell me to go fuck myself or some other delightful human terminology.
I don’t want to hear it.
So I gag her.