Flirting Part 1
Haĝiēn casually looked to his side to make sure Qûarzar was busied with work at her station. She sat on a chair similar to his made out of Rhodium. Although precious on Earth, it was an abundant metal on their planet. The table facing her was also built out of the silver-white, metallic material. Its surface so polished it could be used as a reflector.
Psychokinetically, he pressed the few keys needed for the ship’s external light to illuminate and go from dim to vivid bright for several long and short intervals. Instead of the usual hologram, Haĝiēn watched a large, smooth monitor thinly carved out of rock crystal quartz. It conducted energy as everything else in the ship and it was powered by starlight.
He grinned at the Earthling’s reaction. He’d arrange it so he could view a close-up of her face. She narrowed her brows, scratched her head, and laughed. Her eyes were round and her hand flew to her mouth and covered it. Haĝiēn wasn’t sure why she did that but it fascinated him.
He flickered the lights a few more times and fearlessly, she waved back.
“Do it again,” she mouthed while gripping both hands in front of her chest. And, so he did.
However small the interaction, it filled him with pleasure to be able to communicate in some minuscule way with her. He observed the human laugh and stare. For a while, she stood frozen looking at their craft unblinking.
Grinning up at the skies she uttered Once more.
Qûarzar moved about the cabin and grabbed Haĝiēn attention at the exact moment he was about to flicker the lights again.
“What are you doing?” She’d stopped what she’d been working on and stood facing him, all four of her arms crossed at her chest while massive bug-eyes looked at him in an accusatory manner.
Haĝiēn’s jolted in surprise then slightly stiffened at her words. “Nothing. What do you mean?” The light of his body wavered.
I need to control this, he thought, realizing he hadn’t considered his aura would be difficult to conceal before the human was in his life and now it was all he was acutely aware of.
He dimmed the ship to be unseen by the naked eye then turned to the monitor one last time. He watched the female gazed beyond the stars in search of it. She lifted a long lens hanging from her neck to her sights and looked through moving about from left to right. After bouncing her eyes from side to side, the Earthing lowered her vision and gradually walked back towards her shelter.
It was unlikely he would see her again that evening, not until the next day. This fact considerably dampened his mood.
“Now, before you shut down our luminescence. What did you do?” Qûarzar insisted.
“Uhm, I augmented and decreased our exterior lights a few times,” Haĝiēn admitted.
“Why?” Disapproval was evident on her face and her voice.
His shoulders shrugged. “I was adjusting the radiance of our ship.”
“To make us appear brighter?”
Her mandible crunched at her teeth in objection. Deep, red eyes zeroed in on his face and her always straight mouth curved into a small, knowing smirk.
“Do you want them to see us?” The pointed fingertips of three of her hands tapped gradually, one at a time, at the alloy surface while the other, she used to rest her oval head. “Why would you?”
“Uh, no.” The shine on his golden skin flickered and he knew she could tell he was lying. “I don’t, Qûarzar.” He wasn’t used to lying. Never before did he have a reason to lie.
“Be careful of your thoughts, Haĝiēn. I can tell when you are not being honest. If you attract attention to our spaceship and Earth beings’ notice, we won’t be allowed to come closer. Our mission could terminate due to your carelessness and I know that is not what you desire. You’ve been pretty blatant about your opinions of getting closer to the planet,” she said matter-of-factly.
There was no judgment in her tone. What she said was factual.
That is true, he agreed to himself. “There weren’t any around that I could see.” That time, he’d controlled the way his light vibrated flawlessly.
Qûarzar stared him down unblinking and Haĝiēn knew he hadn’t fooled her, regardless.
“Fine,” he breathed. “I was attempting a sort of experiment. But even if there were any people around, they wouldn’t know what we are, Qûarzar.” He brushed off her concern. “We are too far for their devices that can record us clearly, and we are immobile. They think we’re a large, twinkling star. Perhaps even a planet in their solar system. Not a mother ship. Their governments will confirm us as such.”
She examined him for a while longer then turned her attention to the samples she was testing. “That’s extremely probable,” she concluded before both of them erupted with laughter.
“Kind of gullible those humans, aren’t they?” Qûarzar slapped two of her thin arms together in laughter. “To think they are alone in the universe is so archaic. I—”
Haĝiēn’s light dimmed.0
She eyed him warily, “By the hue of your light, I know you are not being straightforward with me, Haĝiēn. You forget not only my mother is from Ilum, but that it has been my planet of origin since I was a larva.”
He chuckled. “What?! Me?” He shook his head.
Qûarzar stared at his ever-changing face and swayed her neck from side to side. “You want me to believe you?”
For a minute longer, she studied his body language looking him up and down.
“Oh! I see ... You like them?” Qûarzar’s tone was one of confusion.
For a moment there was silence and he considered what to say. “I’ve always been curious. That’s why I’m here. That’s why we’re all here. And yes, after two years of research, I am starting to feel a closeness towards them,” he admitted. “There’s more than we perceive.”
She shrugged, “Suit yourself. I solely care to study them for our survival. That is my only interest in humans.”
Haĝiēn’s light turned a shade of burnt-orange. Qûarzar retracted. They didn’t know each other well enough yet but as she had stated, she understood what the colors in an Ilum’s aura meant.
“Fine. I see you’re unsettled by my words. I won’t say more. And regardless of how frequently we come, or how prolonged the studies are, I’m surprised you care so much. They’re hardly evolved.”
Qûarzar rose from the chair before him and inched towards her work station to continue working. Based on her demeanor Haĝiēn discerned she was done with their conversation. It was clear and unlikely she would bring up a discussion regarding humans unless necessary.
He needed to not overreact however, he was confused by her reaction. Wasn’t she a creation based on two different species mating? If anyone should understand his fascination with something opposite to who he is, it should be her.
Captin Makkio wafted into the room wearing a purple-full length coat and the pair observed how he relished in his human-like uniforms.
A peculiar stench filled the room and Haĝiēn felt the acids in his stomach crawl up his mouth. He gave a large, uncharacteristic gulp to get rid of the rancid taste left in his mouth. He identified it as a scent most humans would find pleasant. A type of citrus fruit, perhaps grapefruit or orange, infused with some kind of earthly flowery bulb and timber.
Makkio’s human impersonations were worsening. It was undeniable he liked people but he did not have to duplicate their rituals by covering his body with fabrics or dosing himself with artificial aromas unused by beings of their planet.
As they watched, Haĝiēn and Qûarzar looked at him quietly float in and smiled at one another forgetting the small disparity they had.
“Evening, Captain,” they responded in unison.
I’m surprised you’re not more openminded, Haĝiēn telepathically communicated.
“Why would you think that?” she asked aloud in her usual monotone voice.
“Why would I think what, Qûarzar?” interjected the Captain.
“That it’s evening, Captain,” Qûarzar quickly responded before briefly eyeing Haĝiēn. My apologies, she communicated to him.
“I suggest you both go into a chamber with access to our surroundings once in a while. Or look at your monitors. It is nighttime. You may need to take a lapse from your work and roam around. I need you both at full capacity and for that to be acquired, the pair of you must get enough sustenance, rest, and recreation.”
“Yes, Captain. We’ll do that right away,” Haĝiēn interjected. It was difficult for him to communicate with such a pungent smell.
“Very well. I suggest meditation to feed both body and mind.” The captain smiled at them.
“Great suggestion, Captain,” Qûarzar replied.
Captain Makkio’s light shone vividly in response. “Carry on then.”
Immediately, Qûarzar stood to leave her work station. “Surely. Haĝiēn? Are you coming?” her body slightly wobbled side to side. The rounded, smooth hips moved as quickly as her small feet could carry the long, insect-like legs. Her scarlet eyes protruded more than usual as she motioned with both her right hands for Haĝiēn to follow.
“I’m right behind you,” he voiced.
Reaching the narrow hallway, warm, white lights lined the corridor. Haĝiēn adjusted his temperature and changed the photon particles of his body to a more solid matter, turning his frame from spectral form to material. The tone of it dimmed from a bright yellow to golden and his naked figure shimmered under the sterile passageway luster.
“Could you smell the captain?” Haĝiēn asked.
“Yes. I quite like the aroma. You on the other hand ...” she looked him up and down.
Haĝiēn’s luster dimmed. “It made me sick.”
“It is unlike any smell on Ilum or any other planet I’ve visited due to its sweetness but it makes me ravenous, not ill.”
“How do you think he acquired it?”
“I made it for him. I extracted the oils from different fruits and timber gathered from your first mission to earth a few years ago. He had them preserved in the controlled storage chamber.”
“I did not know you could do this and with such materials.” He looked impressed.
“My keen sense of smell helps, thanks to the insectoid side in me,” she said matter of factly. “My work with depolluting the environment with elements of nature in Ilum gives me the experience to work with plants from Earth. Extracting oil from plantae and erat herba is one of them. Did you know they are quite similar in composition?”
“I didn't—vegetation and plant oil extraction then? Interesting.” In silence, they pondered for a while.
"Walk with me, Haĝiēn.”
“I don’t know you well but you are pleasant. In the time we have known each other it’s been good to work with you and have you as a teammate. You are not only an able, highly intelligent being in your field, you are also composed of strong benevolent emotions.”
“Thank you,” he replied curtly.
“Sometimes, you are clever—"
She smirked. "—and it makes me smile. I don’t smile often, Haĝiēn,” she said in a serious tone.
“It’s been my pleasure.”
“However, why are you compromising the mission. I don’t know exactly what you feel but,” she took a deep, dragged-out-breath, “you need to control the sensations you are experiencing towards Earth and its humans. It is unlike most scientists I know to jeopardize their efforts.”
He stood looking at her stunned. The tiny dots she had for a nose subtly flared.
“My apologies. I—”
“No need but as colleagues, we must trust one another. Work together. Do you agree?”
He nodded, “Agreed.”
Her small mouth spread into a simper. “Good. Let’s say we go back in time and you answer my earlier question.”
“Why, would you think that I would think differently about humans?”
He adjusted his shoulders walking tall, “Oh, well, firstly, your background. I presume someone with your history understands the pull felt between myself and a being different than me.”
Silently she eyed him. “They are not completely different from Ilums. They too are made of energy and therefore have souls. I know you know that.”
“Correct, I do. Even more, a reason to like them, no? In addition, I think they’re misguided. I believe they show potential”
“If you believe so.”
“I do. Some do,” he corrected himself.
They stopped to face a large, curbed, one-way window. Bright stars peppered the obscurity of the night and the beauty of artificial lights traced the continents of Earth below them.
“My makers are superior beings. Both my mother and father are evolved beyond one thousand years of the likes of humans. Much like your makers,” she continued.
“I know. That is what surprised me with your comments.”
She looked to the stars and didn’t turn to face him. Two of her hands rested against the window, the other two relaxed at her sides.
“Haĝiēn, you can be one-hundred percent light being. You can materialize as such or with skin as you are now. Even something in between. Ilum's composition is a marvel. You run off energy and can expel energy. If you allow it, others can see how you feel or think based on the colors and brightness you display.”
She opened her arm making a semicircle in the air, from his head down to his feet.
"You are equal parts intelligence and emotion,” she paused. “You are balanced. I am a quarter of emotion. I have more characteristics from my father than my mother including my appearance. I glow but as any insectoid, I evolve quickly. I am strong and I am intelligent. I will work my entire life until I perish hundreds of years from now because of it. My commitment to analyze Earth’s weather and air quality is extremely important to me because it helps explain the weather and air quality of our planet and extend our survival. That's why we are here.”
She turned to face him.
“Everything in my life makes sense. I follow a hive ethic and work well with others, I build. I create. Everything must have a purpose and I cannot relate to others as well as you unless they make sense to me.”
Haĝiēn looked at her fascinated. He did not know much about the Draco system nor its beings but in one conversation, he knew exactly who she was. At that moment he wanted to speak with honesty and confess what he was doing earlier ... Communicating with someone he thought to be an intelligent human, trifling as it may be, and that it had been a week since they saw each other for the first time and he felt an attraction to her.
“Humans don’t make sense to me. Insectoids and humans are practically opposites,” she concluded.
But based on her last remark, he didn’t.
He couldn’t trust her one-hundred percent yet. Haĝiēn needed the General’s confirmation on two items before he did. Number one, that they would drop closer to earth’s troposphere and two, that he would be the one foreseeing the operation and test some of the subjects himself or be one of the few to disembark the spacecraft.
That would be the next proposal he would bring up to the council. And to get such a project approved, Haĝiēn recognized he needed Qûarzar’s support.