Please Don’t Adopt the Space Velociraptor (pt 6)

Oya everyone!

I will dispense with the intro and give you the chapter. You’re welcome. Enjoy. Or don’t, but I’d rather you did.

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Lydra spun, swinging her sword with all the strength she could muster. The blade thunked against the plastic dummy, bouncing off and throwing her off balance.

She growled, adjusting her grip and ignoring the stinging in her wrists. Another strike, this one more effective as she controlled the momentum.

Four more days until Kree’ar. 

The human had been quiet, almost motionless since last night. It was alert, to be sure, wide eyes following Lydra’s movements with frightening intensity when she went in to feed it. But it didn’t attack anymore, didn’t make noise when they were around. 

Krel was convinced it was dying. Torve was trying to believe it was fine, maybe something they’d done had calmed it down somehow.

Personally, Lydra thought it was planning something.

She didn’t know exactly how sapient humans were, as far as she knew no one had ever interacted with them enough to figure it out. But the strange eyes of the creature were too intelligent, movements too calculated now it wasn’t fighting for its life, odd sharp sounds too varied and enunciated to be anything but words. This thing could think, and it was scheming

The only issue was that Lydra couldn’t figure out what it could be planning. Surely it knew there was no way off the ship? Well the escape pod, sure, but that couldn’t be activated unless Torve flipped the emergency switch and put in the password. But other than that they were literally in the void. Going back to the vents wouldn’t do anything for it, it would just get hungry and sick again. It was a baby, a weakened one at that, it couldn’t kill all of them and take over the ship.

The dummy lurched to the side with the next blow, stand creaking a little. Lydra rumbled disapprovingly. This was her last one, she really didn’t want to break it. Cheap flimsy things. 

Krel’s voice reached her ears, muffled and distorted. She froze, going a bit more material as if that would help her hear. 

Help! Lydra! Help, help! Lydra!”

The sword clanged against the floor tiles as she immaterialized and moved as fast as she could in the direction of his voice, caring nothing for walls and doors. Krel kept screaming, his voice sounding strangled and off-pitch. 

Lydra couldn’t help the high-pitched tone that filled the ship for a few seconds. 

It was coming from the storage room, where the human was, this was so bad. Why was he in there!? He had been terrified to even go near the room this morning. Oh she was going to kill him so hard if he lived.

She materialized enough to slam the door release, phasing through as it opened ready to grab him and pull him to safety.

Krel was not in the room.

Lydra blinked. She couldn’t see the human, either, actually, the room seemed empty. She shifted a little to sniff the air. It definitely smelled like the human in here, but —

Something small darted through her. She shrieked in a pitch that shattered the overhead light. The sudden loss of vision shocked her into complete intangibility for a moment. She could vaguely hear tiny steps running unevenly away.

“Lydra!?” Torve’s voice echoed through the hall, followed closely by a yelp and a thud. 

She shivered, the ends of her cape flaring out, and floated quickly towards Torve. He had apparently been knocked into the wall and was holding his vulnerable midsection, spines raised defensively.

“How did it get out?” he panted.

“It . . . it . . . it ran past me. I was, I heard Krel calling for me but he . . . he wasn’t in the room! I heard him but he wasn’t in there, where is he!?”

Torve blinked slowly, pupils narrowing slightly. “He’s been asleep for the last couple hours. I just checked on him.”

“Then . . . how!?”

“I don’t know.” 

They were both quiet for a moment. Then Torve hissed.

“We didn’t lock the door to the cockpit again.”

Lydra grabbed his arm and hauled him after her down the hallway. His tail whipped so fast she could hear the hum.

The door to the cockpit was wide open, and inside was the human, on top of a seat. Its arm was stretched up as far as it could go, blunt fingertips just brushing the on/off switch for the autopilot.

“No, no, no no no no–” Torve whined, tentatively reaching out to the human. “No. Bad. Don’t touch that.”

The human glanced down to meet his eyes and barked out something, straining itself to reach higher. 

The switch flipped.

The human let out a loud whoop, making Torve flinch back as his ears tucked down, and punched its hand in the air. Lydra watched as it put weight on the bad leg. The leg buckled, it made an even louder sound, and fell backward into the controls.

The ship lurched to the side. Torve got slammed into the wall as the artificial gravity tried to compensate for the sudden movement. Lydra, floating, lunged forward to grab the human before it could do any more damage. It scrambled under the dashboard, injured leg dragging uselessly behind it.

A proximity alarm beeped. Lydra glanced up to see a large chunk of rock coming up fast. And another. 

“TORVE!” she screamed. The human covered its ears and yelled back. Torve shoved himself into the pilot seat and took the controls, whipping them around the sudden cloud of debris. More things were beeping, warning them of things that could hit them, warning them that they were going off course. The human curled into a ball under the dashboard with its hands pressed over its ears, eyes squeezed shut.

Eventually they straightened out, the beeps fading one by one as the ship realized they weren’t in danger anymore.

Torve flopped back in the seat, churring quietly to himself as his tail bapped against the floor.

“We were going through an asteroid field,” he said blankly. “On a safe path. Because of the autopilot.”

Lydra shivered. “It almost killed us.”

“It almost killed us. Trying to drive the ship.”

“How did it know which one was the autopilot!?”

Torve’s spines flared. “Oh. Oh no. Lydra it crashed the last ship it was on, on purpose. It definitely knows how the controls work.

The human chattered softly to itself, opening one eye and looking up at Lydra. 

She steadied herself. “Okay. I’m gonna try to catch it again.”

“Okay . . .”

Lydra moved towards the human, arms outstretched.

Its eyes widened, it smushed itself further under the dashboard, and it yelled “LYDRA!”

Lydra froze.

Torve slowly turned. “Did it just . . .”

“Lydra?” it said again, glancing quickly between the two of them. It pointed to her. “Lydra? Help? Lydra?”

Lydra blinked, once. Then . . . “Lydra.” She nodded.

“Lydra.”

“Lydra.”

“How does it know your name?” Torve rumbled, edging away.

She didn’t take her eyes off the human. “I don’t know, but I think it heard Krel yelling it yesterday and . . . figured it out.”

“ . . . it’s that smart?” 

“Apparently.”

“That’s terrifying.”

The human started chewing on its bottom lip, still curled up protectively. Behind them the door slid open and Krel tumbled in, chirping madly.

“What happened!? Did we hit something!? Why are the lights being weird!?” He cut off mid-squawk when he saw the creature huddled under the control panel.

This happened.” 

.

It had seemed like a good plan at the time. It had been a good plan, really, probably the best he’d come up with this entire time. He’d always been pretty good at voices, so mimicking Birdy One hadn’t been super hard. 

Remembering where the bridge was, he was pretty proud of that. Knowing how to get there was a stroke of genius on his part, seeing as how he’d never been in the hallways of the ship. Recognizing the autopilot/manual switch was probably his brightest moment.

Continuing the plan after getting caught, that’s probably where he went wrong. Yeah. That might be it. 

Benji flinched as the aliens yelled at each other, curling a little tighter. Well, maybe they weren’t yelling. It was hard to tell, the language always sounded loud. He considered saying Cape Thing’s name again, but he really just didn’t want to draw attention to himself. 

Then Cape Thing said it, so he repeated it. Lydra. It was kind of a pretty name, if he was honest. Kind of sounded like Lydia. He used to know a Lydia, back home. She was kind of a jerk though.

Birdy One fluffed his feathers and crouched down to be closer to Benji’s level. It squawked softly, somehow. Then again. It kept repeating the little squawk.

It clicked. Birdy One was saying its name. It wanted Benji to repeat it, like it had for Cape Thing. Okay, progress. 

A couple tries later, he managed to mimic the sound. It was honestly more of a croak than a squawk, a little tiny trill near the beginning. Krel. 

When he repeated it correctly, Birdy One–Krel’s wings flared and he made a loud noise, clutching at Tall Idiot’s limb. It seemed . . . happy? That was good, maybe?

Then it reached for him.

“NO!” he yelled, crushing himself further under the control desk. Krel shrank back, cooing softly. Placatingly.

Tall Idiot made a weird sound, tail whipping around. Krel backed off more, giving Benji ample space to get out of the cubbyhole if he wanted to. 

He didn’t want to.  But he felt kind of bad for yelling at the alien. It had just gotten excited. Benji wondered what it wanted out of him, because by all rights it should hate him. He attacked it for pretty much no reason yesterday. But it still seemed to like him, somehow.

“Krel,” he said. The next words were useless but he said them anyway. “I’m sorry for kicking you and pulling out your feathers. You didn’t hurt me, I didn’t need to.”

“Krel!” the bird being repeated enthusiastically. 

Benji sighed. He still wasn’t completely sure these aliens were good guys. He didn’t trust them, at all, and they were kinda stupid. But . . . well, you know. He was lonely. And they seemed more scared and curious than cruel.

He hesitantly scooted out of the space under the control board.

Tall Idiot leaned back in the chair, rumbling quietly. Benji hunched his shoulders, trying to figure out if that was a warning growl. “Lydra?” he tried, glancing at Cape Thing.

Cape Thing-Lydra smacked Tall Idiot in the face, and the rumbling broke off with a surprised hiccup noise. Lydra hissed and went off in a little rant, gesturing with shadowy limbs at Tall Idiot and Benji and the ceiling. It was kind of funny, especially since he could pretty much imagine the conversation.

Tall Idiot didn’t rumble again, but it hesitantly got out of the pilot chair and sat on the floor, tail thumping slowly against the tiles, spines along its back flattening. It kept its mouth closed and kept looking between Benji and the other aliens.

Oh. It was showing him that it wasn’t a threat. Birdy One did almost the same, sitting down on the floor and tucking its wings behind it, feathers smoothed and eyes down. Cape Thing got less shadowy and settled on the floor with its cape fluttering around like it was caught in the wind.

Then Lydra pointed to Tall Idiot, saying something. It repeated it, so that must be its name. Torve. The r sound was almost a whole growl. This one was the easiest to mimic, so Benji said it probably a few more times than he needed to. The alien’s tail went slightly faster with every repetition.

Then Lydra pointed to him.

He blinked. “Oh, oh you want mine . . . um . . .” He pointed to his chest. “Benji.”    

Krel perked up and tried to say it back but . . . it didn’t really work. Benji giggled at the odd mangled noise.

All three of them drew back a little. Which probably made sense, laughing probably wasn’t something they’d ever heard a human do before. Krel seemed to realize it wasn’t a bad thing first, scooting a little bit closer and trying again. Nothing even remotely recognizable as his name.

“Benji.” Maybe it hadn’t heard right the first time.

Krel fluffed his feathers, face wrinkling a little. There were a few more warbled tries before he gave up.

“Guess you guys can’t mimic, huh?” Benji tucked his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them tightly. Man, he was tired. And cold, it was so cold in here. It was nice not being hungry or thirsty, though. They had fed him plenty earlier in the day. 

Torve, the tall one with the mouth, opened it just slightly to say something to Lydra. It hummed back and floated up from the ground, backing towards the door. Benji watched it go, surprised to find that he wasn’t even scared. In just a few minutes, his perception of these aliens had completely changed.

Lydra held out its vaguely paw-like hand, wiggling the fingers, or whatever they were. It made a quiet clicking-shushing sound, waited, made it again.

Benji tilted his head. What was that supposed to mean? Lydra backed up a little more. With a little huff, Benji stood up and stepped towards it, wincing at the pain in his leg. Was it trying to get him to follow . . .? That would make sense, they probably really didn’t want him in their pilot area anymore after he’d almost crashed them into a space rock. Oops. 

Lydra made what Benji was going to assume was a happy sound, then repeated the clicky shush noise, continuing to back up. He followed after, looking over his shoulder to see Torve instantly bolt up and start pushing buttons, probably in an effort to fix whatever damage he’d caused a minute ago. Krel chirped at it and fluffed. Benji looked back, struck with the sudden realization that he was getting pspspsed by an alien. And it was working

Of course, he found himself back at the little room. He did expect that. But before he could be lured inside, he planted his feet and folded his arms. He wasn’t just going to let them lock him up again.

Lydra made the clicky sound a little more urgently, floating inside the room. Benji shook his head. Without a second of hesitation between the idea and the action he slammed the button next to the door. It slid shut, muffling the tail end of Lydra’s loud screech.

That . . . that had been a bad idea. 

After a moment of quiet, Lydra slowly phased through the door. Like a ghost, or a hologram. The perfectly round, glowing white eyes in the emptiness under the hood just looked at him.

Then, the eyes narrowed upwards, becoming luminous half-moons, and the only thing Benji could think of was a happy little robot. It made a chirpy sound, turned to open the door again, and pointed inside. Benji shook his head again. Lydra bobbed up and down for a moment before pointing to the button and shaking its head, in a jerky sort of way that made Benji think it was imitating him and maybe aliens didn’t use that as a signal for no.

“You’re not gonna lock the door?” he asked, though he knew it wouldn’t understand.

Lydra pushed the button a few times, the door opening and closing with ease.

“You’re not gonna lock the door.”

It clicked again.

Might as well. He stepped inside. Lydra didn’t shut the door behind him. It did spread out its hands at him, probably telling him to stay. 

“Lydra?” he said.

“Lydra,” it repeated, eyes doing the squinty thing again. 

He hesitated for a second. He smiled back. 

The door stayed open. 

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See you next week!

~Ace

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