Eighteenth Time Is A Charm
“How did it go?” Qûarzar questioned before Haĝiēn appeared before her.
She stood a few feet from the arrival chamber. Her slim arms crossed her chest and she stared Haĝiēn in the face with an annoyed look as soon as he materialized.
“It went--well. I said this before ...”
He removed the species samples he collected from the suit’s chest cavity and placed the box in a secure, glass container. Then, he ripped at his clothes and threw them on the floor turning into his energy self before the last piece was off his skin. They landed in a pile below his feet on the gray, circular pad he emerged on.
Qûarzar pressed a bottom and incinerated them instantly. “Don’t lie to me, Haĝiēn,” she puffed out fluttering her lids. “You know I can tell. You should know this by now. And please tell me about the human you were not supposed to meet.”
He hung his head. It was embarrassing. “You don’t mix words when you want information, do you? You extract it, huh?”
He flicked a switch on the wall and antibacterial steam fell from the roof and coasted down his body.
Qûarzar pressed at the side of her head and lowered a shield over her face to cover it from potentially harmful germs and bacteria. “I’m good at what I do. This is why I was chosen to be here. Except we weren’t going to rendezvous with humans and I was not aware of this until I set foot in this spacecraft. But best learn this about me now, Haĝiēn.” She tapped her foot. “Well?”
He realized there was no use keeping the knowledge she sought. “She saw me coming every single time. No matter how many times or how hard I tried she ran in fear of me.”
She stopped her hands in mid-move. They held a crystal wand she was smoothing over his head and facial orifices making sure he had not brought in any foreign agents besides the ones in his suit.
“She did what?! Fear of you?! But how is that possible? You wouldn’t hurt a fungo!”
“You’re right! I wouldn’t hurt an insignificant being from our plant ... let alone hers,” he mumbled. “And, that’s what I said to her but she accused me of comparing her to a fly.”
Qûarzar wobbled her head. “Strange those humans.”
“Yes! Indeed they are.”
“I either glowed too much--”
“I’ve warned you about your glow.”
“Yes, you have. I did everything to control it but couldn’t no matter how much I tried.”
She shook her head. “And, what else?”
“If it wasn’t my glow, it was my eyes or something I said, even, my hands. My eight fingers scared her to death, Qûarzar.”
She chuckled. “What did you do?”
“It wasn’t funny.” He laughed. “What was I gonna do but started over?”
“What do you mean you started over?”
“I, I erased her memories.”
“You did what?! Every single one of them?!” Qûarzar looked horrified. “Go sit.” She nodded at a chair across from her. “You’re clear.”
“No, not every single one, Qûarzar. Tsk!” He sat opposite where she stood and rubbed his face. “I erased every time we ever met.”
He saw her eyes nearly pop out of her face.
“I’m not proud of it, but I did do that.”
“Haĝiēn, what have you done? Is the damage permanent? Was it terrible? Is she disfigured?”
He ogled at her in disbelief. “Why would you think she’s disfigured?”
“I thought her face would melt like when I erased the minds of those Minue people in training.”
“Those people from the Messier 82 galaxy?
“Oh! Those... yes, those weren’t real beings of Messier.”
“No. Only for training purposes.” His hands flew to his temples and he circled them around his bald head.
“Only for training?!” she snapped. “I thought I melted their faces ...” she whispered.
“Focus, Qûarzar! And I don’t think so. I think she is fine but there might be psychological damage for a few days. Perhaps nightmares, panic attacks, and the likes. You know, the usual.” He shrugged understanding there was nothing he could do about it.
“No, I don’t know. I thought I melted some faces, Haĝiēn!”
They should’ve told you. Who trained you?”
She kept quiet.
“Who trained you, Qûarzar?”
Her eyes grew. “Ecniv... He’s not trustworthy, Haĝiēn.”
Haĝiēn rolled his eyes. “We can’t do anything about it now. He’s here and part of the team. Plus, he hasn’t done anything for us to report him on.”
“Yet.” Qûarzar accented looking him in the eye. “We’ll be vigilant.”
For a while, they were pensively locked in their own thoughts not sharing data with the other.
“I guess it is good you care about them, imagine if you did not?” she blurted out.
If she only knew not only how much he cared about them but how much he cared for this one Earthling specifically.
“Yes, well, I care,” he said defensively. “And I will go back and fix it.”
“I’m sure you think it will do her more harm than not. Don’t you?”
“I’ve had enough practice so I hope not. I want to work with this one.”
“What is so unique about this human?”
“Well, she’s--unusual. I know this.”
“She? Oh yes. You have mentioned it is a female a few times. Is it because she is a female specifically? Or something else?”
“Yes, it is a female. No, it is not because of this I want to...”
Qûarzar stopped putting away the different instruments she used to take his vitals and turned to face him. “You were saying?”
“So no reason what so ever? Did she happen to be there or did you look for her specifically?” She studied his aura and signals. “Aah, you searched for her specifically.”
Damn it. He used another Earthly word he’s learned from the human.
“What is so distinctive about her? You haven’t answered this.”
“I can tell. It’s my intuition, you know. This is the human I want to, er, study but I don’t want her to come aboard. We’ll choose others for matters like those.” He feared Evnic most of all.
“What others? For other humans to board?”
She nodded pensively.
“Whatever you say, Haĝiēn. You would know best. You’ve done this before and I have not. This is my first time on an Earthly mission.” She shrugged.
“I know. But it is my first time on earthly soil. I am doing my best for our species and for the galaxies we know of and have visited in general.”
“I understand this, Haĝiēn.”
“I trust you.”
“Can I see her? Can I see the mistakes you made and what happened? I might be able to help.”
“I didn’t record our encounter.”
“You did not?!”
“Why didn’t you? Was it on purpose?”
“Um, yes? I didn’t want to leave with any evidence of her and board it onto this craft.”
“She is too important.” To me.
“Do you--do you feel for her?”
“What?” He made a face but then conceded. There was no use attempting to lie to her anymore. “I do.”
“How? Why? So soon?! Why is she special?”
“I’m not quite sure yet why, but I do.”
He looked at her for a moment then lowered his head before standing and leaving the room to his quarters. He was not in the mood to see the judgment in her eyes. She had proven to be a good ally and friend but he owed her no personal explanation. Professionally, she was his equal and he respected her. But he did not want to speak about her yet. He wasn’t ready.
He took a turn into the long corridor back to his room. He needed to think. About her and the corruption, he might’ve caused in her brain. Also, about what direction to take.
A few feet before he stepped foot into his room, the door opened sensing him walking in.
“Good earthly morning to you, Hagien.” A robotic voice greeted. “Longitude is--”
“Skip!” He was tired of the coordinates.
“It is a warm 75 degrees Fahrenheit on this part of Earth,” the voice continued. “And it is 6:02 A.M. How was your day?”
“I sense discomfort. Activating calming mood sensors.”
“Opening vents for steam relaxation application.”
A calming buzz hummed in the background and Haĝiēn opened the door to his sleeping pod.”
“Thank you, X242R3.”
“Your bath will be drawn in 20, 19, 18 ...”
He released a sigh and grunted thinking back to his inadequate, failed experiment.
“Three, two, one. The water temperature is set to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Ambiance temperature is established at 72 degrees Fahrenheit.”
The thin glass surrounding the pod was made out of various recycled precious crystals. Everything in the ship carried energy or released it. It was a constant give and take. A cycle. A way to create and heal life like no other craft on his planet. This one had been built to travel great distances and carry numerous crew members. It was an outstanding piece of equipment like no other on his planet.
At that moment, h felt he wasn’t worthy of the assignment nor the responsibility for his fellow shipmates. There was no excuse.
“Hmph, I will succeed tomorrow evening,” he uttered.
After the calming, detoxicating cleansing, he ate a few plants and berries, he wasn’t hungry but he knew he must feed.
He transmitted telepathically before securing himself into the sleeping energy pod.
Are you angry? Will you speak with the Captain about what I’ve done early tomorrow?
No, I won’t.
You won’t, Qûarzar?
I won’t. Don’t worry. We’ll speak tomorrow.
Good evening, Haĝiēn.
Good night, friend.
He fell asleep but not before concluding tomorrow would be a new day and one he would not waste. He would succeed.
“Haĝiēn? Come in.”
“Don’t fuck it up this time. You may not be able to erase her mind again, you hear me? You have no idea of the consequences this might bring to her or worse yet, us.”
His smile reached his eyes. “Good use of the word, my friend. And--I understand. I know.”
He’d been practicing his human mannerisms and conversations all morning with Qûarzar and arrived back on Earth the next evening ready for the worst. In his heart, he hoped she would be open to the encounter. He wasn’t sure if seeing his face would bring back dreadful memories of their past encounter or if she would react positively.
Taking a deep breath he inhaled and held it in his chest for a moment then release it with a puff. He would have to admit what he did to her ... someday, but for now, he wanted to interact and for it to be a success. He wanted to get to know who this human was and why she attracted him so.
His skin tingled and his heartbeats raced. Gradually he stepped closer toward where she lived, fast-paced and tingly. His nose turned to the petrichor smell in the air and he identified moisture in the air. It felt great on his skin. A few deer hid behind dense trees and a family of opossums made their way hurriedly across from one side to the next.
Fascinated he stopped to take it all in and smiled in wonder. Then, his mind went back to the human he would soon stand a few feet from. He knew she would be outside her home staring at the sky as he often saw her do.
As he often felt her do.
As he often loved to watch her do ...
From the distance, her beauty was impactful and he gasped in satisfaction as he noticed she looked rational, reasonably healthy, and as if there had been no adverse effect on her psyche. Her brain was strong enough to take the constant back and forth of erasing her memories, not that he would risk doing it again.
Likely, she was having negative illusions in her sleep. Nightmares he believed they were called. That, he could not help or control. It was an Earthly coping mechanism. He did, however, want for her to forgive him once he confessed his wrongdoings ... in the future.
A pang of panic hit his stomach to the realization that might not turn out too great.
In the shadows, the image of her could be seen under the moonlight. Her eyes lazily following her pet’s every move as it ate leaves along the edge of the trail. Her eyes lifted and her head turned towards him. Her brows scrunched and her brow furrowed.
She said nothing.
“Hi,” he said out of breath. His voice was shaky but his words came deep from his heart and his voice was carried by the wind.
She grinned and lifted her right hand, “Hi.”
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