Authors: Erin Tate
Tags: #scifi romance
Not Quite Terran is in the short story serial format. Each part can be purchased, and/or borrowed with the Kindle Unlimited/Kindle Select programs individually as they each become available for sale. If you’d like to wait until the serial is finished, it will be available as a boxed set to purchase when the serial has run its course. The boxed set will
be included in the Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited programs to borrow.
It was amazing how much pacing could occur in an eight by eight hospital room when half the space was taken by a massive bed. Rebecca should know, since that’s exactly what she’d been doing since code enforcement hauled her in. Though “haul” was a bit of an exaggeration. The truth was she’d been prodded and nudged toward medical, none of the officers willing to lay a finger on her for fear of contracting whatever skin disease she’d picked up.
If she hadn’t been locked up for going on ten wentics, she would have laughed at the absurdity of those events. She’d been dressed, half-dressed since her zip seal was being an asshole, and lurching down the pathway, the occasional poke making her trip. And she’d still had a limp at that point. So, there she was, limping, stumbling, tripping… and all the while attempting to keep herself from flashing her tits to everyone. Nice.
One good thing was the presence of the code enforcers kept the shouts and insinuations from the crowd to a minimum. It didn’t stop the stares and leers though. Whatever. She could handle a guy looking at her like a piece of meat better than she could accept that same male asking her what she charged for a blowjob.
It hadn’t taken too long to reach medical and then everyone was rushing around. The officers were shoved into decon tanks while heavily suited doctors and nurses shoved her toward a sealed room. Now her only interaction was restricted to those same doctors and nurses coming in to inspect her and draw blood. She would almost consider it over the top, but after the incident last year… Stationmaster Poxu never underestimated a health threat.
Rebecca looked at the markings on her hand. The ones that originally started on her palm and had slowly wrapped around her fingers and now coated the back of her hand as well. A few tendrils even went so far as to decorate her wrist. Decorate. Yes, that’s kind of what she thought of them. The twining marks didn’t itch or flake nor were they dry or painful. They were just pretty. No one else saw them as pretty. Their loss. And hey, if having this weird rash-type thing kept her from having to answer questions about the Duggises, all the better. She wasn’t sure what they had on her—if anything, but she wasn’t anxious to discuss the original reason code enforcement appeared on her doorstep.
She had eavesdropped often enough to discover the Duggises’ ship still remained in its berth at the station waiting for an Olsara ambassador to arrive and make a judgment regarding the situation. By all accounts, they should appear any time.
The soft beep and subsequent whoosh filling the air announced a visitor. With a sigh, she padded to the bed and took up her normal position. The first time someone entered, she’d made the mistake of rushing toward them to shout her questions. That had been a one-way ticket to Tranquilizer City. Now, she somewhat patiently waited, legs hanging over the edge of the mattress and heels lightly thumping against the bed frame.
She immediately recognized one of the usual medical techs. A lowly gopher for the docs and nurses; they’d established a sort of friendship after she’d decked him for asking what she charged for a blowjob. But that was just a tiny hiccup in their relationship. It also resulted in her eating really,
shitty reprations for two wentics. As punishments went, it was effective.
“Hey, how goes it out in the real world?” Same question, different wentic. She really didn’t expect much of an answer. In medical, her status wavered between prisoner and patient so not everyone knew how to react to her.
“Oh, shit.” His eyes grew wide, exposing bright blue and midnight as his irises grew larger. Even his skin blushed a darker blue with excitement. “You haven’t heard, have you?”
“Of course I have. I’m so in touch with universal news here,” she drawled.
That had him narrowing those dark eyes. “Sarcasm does not become you.”
Rebecca huffed. “Okay, no, I haven’t heard. What’s going on?”
He grinned and rushed forward. He immediately placed his tray on the mattress, relieving himself of the small burden. She recognized the tools laid there. They were going to take more samples from her, the doctors and scientists still attempting to identify what was wrong, apparently.
Nothing. Nothing is wrong with me.
“Out of nowhere a male alien showed up. But he doesn’t look like any species we know. His kind isn’t even in the database of known species.” His excitement was unmistakable. “And we checked. He gave us a sample of his genetic code to validate his claims, and he’s
Her first thought was for Karru. A male alien. Unknown. Untrusted? Absolutely.
they’ve called in the
because this male wants to negotiate with them.”
Karru. Had to be. And the unease she’d held about his intentions slowly drifted away. Yes, he told her he wasn’t going to kidnap women, but now he’d proved himself.
“Do you know how exciting this is? A new species hasn’t join the federation in my lifetime.”
Considering the tech was a Bantonian and had at least four hundred Terran years on him… that was a long time. “So, when is this happening?”
“When he comes back. He had to take the proposed plans for negotiation back to his people.” The tech waved his hand. “You know how these types of negotiations are handled. They send a representative to get the ball rolling—did you hear that? I have been exploring old Terran language and idioms.”
She leveled him a flat glare and he swallowed hard then cleared his throat. “Sorry. He came, established his race and made a request through official channels and now he’s gone back to his home planet.” He leaned close and lowered his voice. “I heard some of the scavengers tried to follow and lost him at the edge of yelian space. No one has ever seen a ship so big or so fast. You just know the federation will want those specifications as part of the deal.”
If it truly was Karru, she imagined he would have a few of his own demands of the
persuasion. It depended on who wanted what more.
“I’m sure.” She added a couple of words for her part. “When did all this happen?”
When did Karru come to the station and not look for her? Not that he should. They hadn’t made promises to each other or anything. Other than that massively explosive orgasm… She shouldn’t feel hurt or have any expectations when it came to him, should she? It didn’t matter if it was a dumb idea, she had them nonetheless.
“He left a zentic ago, but he was here for four. But I heard he’s supposed to be back soon so they can coordinate how to have their leader present for negotiations and still keep him safe.”
She didn’t give a damn about Karru’s leader. She only cared about Karru.
“You didn’t tell me the name of the species.”
“Oooh… That’s what makes it even better. He’s from
. Can you believe it?”
Yes, she could, but she wouldn’t have ten wentics ago. One wentic ago. “No, that’s amazing. I always heard the planet and its people were myth.”
“Right? Their technology… Their power… The things they can do…” He leaned closer to her and dropped his voice. “And just wait until you hear one of them speak. Rawr.”
She knew what they sounded like when they spoke—when Karru spoke. Smoky sex and delicious growls.
“I can imagine.”
“I’ll—” His data pad let out a low chirp and the tech rolled his eyes. “Give me one tic.” He focused on the tray he’d brought into the room, and lifted the device. As he tapped the screen and read the words, a frown marred his face. But that frown quickly transformed into shock with all the blood draining from his face. He flicked his attention to her and then back to the pad. “I…” He swallowed hard. “I’ll be right back.” He took a step away from her, his attention split between the message he’d received and her. “They’re going to… They ordered you to be released, but first they want to…”
Sweat dotted his brow and panic was plain on his features. He glanced around the room; his attention darting to the camera perched in the corner and then back to the device in hand. A few key punches and then the red light indicating the camera was recording blinked out.
“I have less than three tics. Poxu ordered your release, but the medical director doesn’t want to lose out on studying your hand. He’s an opportunistic bastard. And the orders aren’t very specific.” True fear and regret filled his gaze. “You’ll walk out of here, Rebecca, but it might not be all of you.” He glanced at her hand. “You understand what I’m saying?”
Her initial excitement and anticipation at hearing she’d be released was immediately banished by a gut clenching fear. She’d heard of males like the medical director, those in power who, when it suited them, adhered to the literal word of an order rather than interpreting the spirit. Hell, most males in charge were the same way when it came to accomplishing their own goals.
A ship carrying six million Terran tons of jittanian ore needs to be returned to its home world and the federation is tasked with completing the job. Well, that world would receive the ship. Not necessarily the tons of ore.
“No, I’m not.”
“Fuck.” She glanced at her hand. She was pretty damned attached to that part of her and not just in a literal sense. The twining vines—that’s what they were, vines—meant something to her even if she didn’t quite understand why. She just knew she
lose them. “When am I slotted for release?”
He licked his lips, panic filling his expression. “This afternoon. Two zentics.”
“So they’ll take it soon?”
He nodded, regret now banishing the panic. “Just as soon as I go to the wall and request a hypo of sedative to make you compliant.”
“I don’t suppose I can convince you not to sedate me?” He remained silent and skeptical. “Come on, give me a fighting chance here. If I can make it out the structure, he’ll be stuck. I’ll be out of his reach.” Two tics slipped past and he remained silent. “
He sighed, shoulders slumped, and the flicker of the red light on the camera caught her attention.
That was immediately followed by a crackling voice filling the air. “Technician Atan, is all well?”
She recognized that voice, the director himself.
“Yes, Director. I shall complete my task shortly.”
“As you should.” The man sounded like an asshole.
No other words filled the room and the technician rose from the bed, still shooting her a look of regret. Hope withered in her chest and she stared at the vines that even now gradually slithered up her forearm. It was as if recent thoughts of Karru and his nearness encouraged the change to spread. She ignored the sounds the tech made as he prepared the hypo. She didn’t meet his gaze when he turned toward her, device in hand, and she focused on the far wall when he pressed it to her neck to deliver the sedative.
She suppressed the need to fight her way out, to kick and punch and… Do all the things she’d done for the past wentics which had ended in beatings and unconsciousness.
His voice was hardly a whisper. “Good luck and may the God of All bless you.”
No burn from a sedative filled her veins, and she realized he was giving her a chance. Her shock fell away, and she had the presence of mind to pretend to succumb to the drug. She lowered her eyelids and let her body flop onto the bed.
The technician leaned over her, fingers going to her wrist and then her neck before he finally retreated. “All is as it should be, Director.”
“Very good, attendants will be there shortly.”
He gave her one last, long look, a silent “good luck” and then he disappeared through the door. It slid closed behind him and she strained to hear other sounds in the space. She sought any hint or warning that others approached her room. She itched to roll to her feet and wait beside the door, but knew she was still being observed by someone through the camera. Instead, she remained in place, loose and body relaxed.
Was that the squeak of the shoe? The hum of a hover bed? The annoying laugh from one of her most hated nurses?
The answer to all three was yes.
The familiar whoosh announced the entry of two medical staff, and still she remained immobile. She had to wait, bide her time until they were close and reaching for her before she could burst into action. She had to remember she was larger than most, stronger than most, and could put them down before they could strap her in. She let their chatter roll over her, ignoring their words and instead focusing on counting the feet between them. Four… Three… Two…