The Engine Room

The elevator hummed. A high-pitched humming closer to screeching that only seemed to get higher as the elevator ascended up the Zeppulian. Qin was on his way to the teleporter room from the engine room. He received a call from Zo that he and Kara were ready to be transpirated up with one more. Zo hadn’t said who the third person was or why they were joining them on board. Which was just so like him, Qin observed with fond annoyance. He was making his way up since he had found out that he could download an extension for the teleporter app on his fon which meant he was no longer tied to command bridge and decided to check in on Bor, who he found in the engine room. Or it could be said that the engine room was found around Bor but few would say that. Bor was the subject in that scenario, not the object, although he had been treated like one while on Gorloth. Due to Bor’s apparent lack of agency, most Gorlothins didn’t think he actually had feelings and so didn’t consider how he felt about their shared opinion of him. For his part, Bor held the same opinion of himself with the same lack of consideration since their opinion was his. Not that Qin was aware of any of this. He watched as Bor moved with a delayed smoothness tinkering here and there, seemingly waiting every split second for something to tell him what to do.

“I thought you had never been on a ship or seen an engine before?” Qin had asked him with interest.

Mechanics on Gorloth know how to optimise the performance of most spaceship engines

“Oh, so you were a mechanic on Gorloth? That’s handy,” Qin had beamed at him.

I wasn't a mechaninc

Bor’s lapsed reply came to a confused Qin. The violet skinned Gorlothin sure seemed to know what he was doing and to be at home in the engine room. Maybe he was never certified, Qin had rationalised. He was quite skilled at rationalising things which didn’t make sense to him. Mostly by ignoring the parts that were confusing and elaborating on the small bits that he understood. So far it seemed to work for him. Discarding the contradiction in Bor’s replies, he continued to engage him in light-hearted conversation.

“So, what are you doing?”

A moment’s pause.

I am re-calibrating the thermal optical drive that moderates and circulates the infrared electromagnetic radiation created from the light waves which constantly bombard the ship

“Uh, right,” Qin had replied, going quiet for a second. “Wait, infrared… that’s heat, isn’t it?”

Yes. It comes off as heat

“Bor, are you fixing the heater?”

Qin could have sworn that Bor had looked abashed but in a blink of an eye his face was as inscrutable and dispassionate as ever. His reply came out of sync with his mouth, something that Qin was still having trouble getting used to.

I am fixing the heating system

“I thought it had been a bit nippy in the docking bay. So, this will transfer the heat more equally throughout the ship?”

Once done, that is the hope

“Fantastic. You know I could tell you about the time Zo and I nearly froze on the way to Gabreel, that was-” Qin stopped short as he realised that his fon was vibrating madly at him.


It was then that he received the call from Zo. He had fumbled with his fon, trying to minimize the call while simultaneously bringing up the teleporter app. He locked on to their coordinates and transpirated them aboard - Zo, Kara, and the unknown third person. He had asked Bor if he would like to come with him to the teleporter room but the Gorlothin had opted to continue fixing the heating system. It seemed that once set to a task he like to see it to completion, which was something Qin admired even if he didn’t share the same philosophy. The elevator squelched to a stop. Qin moved to step out but the doors didn’t open. He raised an eyebrow and pushed the open button. The doors remained stubbornly closed. He folded his arms, his eyebrow raised higher.

“You’re not doing yourself any favours, you know,” he addressed the elevator. With sullen reluctance the doors started to open. Qin stepped through with a skip in his step. “See that wasn’t so hard.”

He walked down the corridor until he came to the teleportation chamber. The doors opened and Zo catapulted out, colliding with him. They fell into a tumble of limbs on the floor. After a second as the shock wore off, Qin became acutely aware that Zo’s hand was on a part of his body which it shouldn’t be on in polite company. Zo seemed to have realised this as his hand withdrew with the speed of mortification, a force still not fully understood by modern science. Qin shook his head and looked up to see Kara offering him a hand to help him up and someone he didn’t know just behind her staring at him with coal black eyes. He clasped Kara’s hand and with her help got back on his feet. He noted that Zo had got up by himself of course. He still felt a little dazed from the collision but couldn’t stifle a smile as he looked at them.

“Nice to bump into you guys again,” he joked warmly.

“We don’t do it nearly enough,” smirked Zo, who seemed to sporting a bruise on his hip which he was touching gingerly.

Qin continued to smile his bright happy smile that lit up a room as his attention turned  to the stranger, who was neither tall nor short, in his midst.

“Hi there, I’m Qin,” he introduced himself.

The stranger blinked before replying, “Hi Qin. I’m Midalyn and I think we’re going to be good friends.” Her whiskers twitched in a cutesy manner which just melted Qin’s heart.

“I’m sure we will,” Qin beamed. “You’re quite adorable, do you know that?” He thought he heard Zo groan in embarrassment but Midayln just smiled back at him.

“I’ve been told that before, yes. Mostly by off-worlders. I think it’s the whiskers, they’re my most dangerous feature,” she explained with a wink.

“That they are. But hey, you’re off-world now too!”

“That I am.”

Kara joined in the conversation. “Middy decided to join us and of course we said yes, although flyboy over there had his reservations,” she rolled her eyes at Zo who shot her an annoyed look in kind. “Should we get going?” Kara suggested ignoring him.

Qin shrugged, “Sure, where?”

“Before we were infected by the holo-brochure, I saw there’s a space station not that far from here which we could refresh our supplies,” Zo offered.

“Oooh, I’ve never been to a space station before,” Midayln declared.

“I think you might like this one,” Zo replied coyly.

“So, that’s next?” Qin asked.

They both looked at Kara. She was their pilot after all. Midalyn noticed them looking and followed suit. Kara blinked in surprise and then shrugged.