The Directory

Qin was happy to be out of the command bridge. But then Qin was happy to do most things. It was one of his quirks and the one which urked Zo the most. Not that Zo needed any more urking right now. He hadn’t taken to Kara all that well. Not because he didn’t realise that it was because of her superior piloting skills that they had evaded the Neuzuan space pirate fleet. Nor was it because her escape pod’s collision with the Zeppulian was coincidental enough to be suspicious, especially considering that no one was sure why the docking gates had opened to allow her escape pod to collide inside the docking bay instead of the outside hull. He was completely aware it was because of Kara’s outstanding piloting that they had escaped the space pirates. And neither he nor Qin were all too concerned about how Kara had got on the Zeppulian since it was better having a ace pilot on board than not and some things don’t need to be answered. Furthermore, when they brought it up, Kara played coy and avoided their questioning with surprising grace. Which was fine by Zo as he had no problem with backstory being teased out slowly over time. No, Zo hadn’t taken to Kara all that well because he liked her and didn’t like it that he liked her. She was a very likable person and he didn’t like her for it. Zo was of the opinion that someone shouldn’t be instantly likable. It just made liking them unbearable. Instant dislike was completely different and perfectly acceptable to him however. Kara in turn hadn’t taken well to Zo not taking to her all that well. She was confused since she wasn’t sure what she had done to make him not like her. True, she had barged into the command bridge and usurped his control of the ship but considering the situation at the time, it seemed the appropriate thing to do. And he hadn’t seemed to have been that bothered by it, if a bit flustered initially. It was only once they had shot past the empty section of space where the Neuzuan space pirate fleet had been momentarily displaced and were safely away that Zo expressed that he hadn’t taken to her that well. And he expressed this by being surly. Zo was particularly gifted at being surly. He had a knack for being crabby when the mood struck him and the mood had definitely struck. He wasn’t outright rude to Kara since he wasn’t ever outright rude to anybody but he didn’t need to be. His curt replies, which sounded more like irritated barks than articulate words, the slight flush of indignant annoyance in his dark caramel skin, and sullen glares were more than enough to express his dislike.

 

So Qin had left the confines of the command bridge for the gelatinous refuge of the elevator. Its high pitched whining muzak was a welcome respite from Zo’s sullen silence. Following a reverberating squish that wobbled up Qin’s legs, the elevator opened to level Zefa, crew quarters and assorted accessories. Qin felt that now was as good a time as any to have a look around and properly explore the Zeppulian. It had been such a whirlwind of events since he and Zo had stolen the ship off the planet Lozth that he hadn’t had a chance to actually explore the ship aside from the command bridge, the docking bay, the maze of corridors leading to the docking bay, and of course the elevator, with which he was well-acquainted. Like the corridors which led to the docking bay, the corridor Qin found himself in was lit by transdimensional lighting. Qin was unsure if the light on this level was filtered from the same unknowable dimension beyond all realm of understanding as the lights on the docking bay level. But then again it was beyond his understanding so he let the thought go with little more than a shrug of the shoulder, the tiny fold-away insectoid wings on his back shrugging along. Qin looked up at the holographic directory on the wall to his left, all thoughts of transdimensional light cast aside as he pushed back the gorgeous dark brown locks which obstructed his view with his hand. Not that it helped much since the directory wasn’t very helpful and more than a little confusing. It started simply enough with “Level Directory” at the top but then descended into a mess of gibberish. What should have been a list of  what could be found on the level was a dense mesh of indiscernible text, shapes, and strange lines going off at wrong angles.

It's almost like squiggles laid on top of each other many times over... Qin thought to himself quizzically. Having thought that thought, he thought another.

“Directory, show me Level Zefa please,” he asked hesitantly, unsure if his thought was on the right track. It was more than just on the right track, it had entered the station ahead of schedule. This was unusual for Qin but everyone has their moments sometimes and he was due a moment. The directory responded with a flicker as the holograph rearranged itself. Text and shapes separated from each other with mild reluctance into more coherent symbols that started to convey some meaning to Qin. Once the holograph settled again, Qin could clearly see that there wasn’t much interesting on this level. There were the quarters for the crew, a kitchen for kitchen things, and a toilet for people to conduct their business. Not all that exciting, although it was all that practical. This disappointed Qin a little bit since he was always keen to discover exciting things. However, flushed with his newfound mastery of the directory, Qin had another thought, since he was really on a roll today.

“Directory...” he started, the thought still forming. “I was wondering...” he continued, the thought solidifying, “what’s your favourite level on the ship?” he finished, the thought concluded.

The holograph flickered again, this time in what could be considered surprise or even  bashfulness at being asked the question, if holographs could be bashful that is. The holograph became indiscernible again for a second as the directory filtered through the numerous levels of the Zeppulian (it was a very grand ship after all). Eventually, the directory revealed its favorite level - Level Vetura. The level with the teleportation chamber, a level or two above the docking bay.

“That’s your favourite?” Qin asked with genuine curiosity. If the directory’s holograph could have flushed in embarrassment, it would have turned a bright red, or green if it was a yellow-skinned Bezbulab from the planet Bezb. Since it couldn’t, being a directory, it just flickered profusely. Qin took the hint and not wanting to prolong the directory’s embarrassment, thanked it before he walked to the elevator. The elevator door opened with a slow swish since it was being temperamental. Qin stepped inside. He pressed the button for Level Vectura and the elevator descended with a decidedly slow pace because it really wasn’t feeling it today. Qin didn’t mind since he didn’t have anywhere pressing to be and was happy to wait. The elevator, noting his happy indifference, suddenly plummeted with the wild abandon of an unruly teenager going through a phase. It came to an abrupt stop that wobbled Qin so severely he fall to its gummy floor. As he shakily picked himself up, the elevator doors opened with moody reluctance to reveal a person standing in the corridor.