“Oh my God how did you even get that up here?” Jessica laughed, poking at the rubber mask.
“I know a guy – maybe you heard of him? Mr. Amazon Prime?” Mike said unflinchingly as his new face was smushed into his old one. With an unceremonious tug, Jessica pulled the zombie face off of her coworker’s head, turning it over in her hands.
“The OIH OK’ed this lame piece of shit?”
“Yeah. I mean, the list to pick from was heavily edited – either a celebrity, a robot-of-your-choice – any puns have to be-”
“Well you’re not that clever so-”
“Granted.” Mike said, tugging his mask out of Jessica’s hands. “Anyway. If you’re a pleb like me then you’re basically stuck with zombie, mummy or ghost. At least, with what you can get up here within half a year or make yourself-”
“Mmmm. Honestly, with your pasty-white skin I would’ve gone with ghos-HEY!”
Jessica barely dodged the thrown mask, laughing as it collapsed on one of the lunchroom tables. “Alright, alright. Man, this office party is gonna suck. No alcohol, no MDMA-”
“Look, it was one time-”
“Yeah, yeah” Jessica dismissed. “Mind if I see the catalog?”
With a wordless grunt Mike tossed the rolled-up mail-order catalog to his partner in crime. “Well. Anyway, I’m going to get my shit ready and finish my rounds; those oxygen scrubbers won’t change themselves. I doubt you’re gonna get anything from there for the party tonight-”
Jessica waved him off as she buried herself in the catalog. “Mmm. True, but I need a terrible sweater for the Christmas party next month. Turn off the gravity on your way out.”
There was a click and the sound of an airlock door opening and shutting in response. Jessica waited a few moments before pushing off with her toes – she gained some air and spun around, making sure the momentum would bounce her off the ceiling in a few minutes.
Until then, she flipped through the OIH mail-order catalog, musing on what – if anything – she should buy for Christmas.
Tr’Grakz could quite easily murder you on accident.
Granted, he never would – he was a pacifist – but the threat was there just based off of his biology. Once the dust had settled and Atlanta (and most of the world) calmed down, there was immediate fascination with his species; Not just because they were first contact and accidentally, successfully invaded the planet while apologizing profusely, but mainly because almost every Human alive had seen his kind before. Just, yanno. Boney. And very, very dead.
Tr’Grakz was a raptor. Well. He was a Karnakian, but if you just took one of those raptors from Jurassic Park, gave them four eyes, opposable claws, tripled their size and kept the feathers, well…
Point being, there was a media firestorm around their species, both good and bad. For a brief period some humans even thought his species were “forerunners”, whatever that was, and started a cult around them. It was cute until they started to sacrifice goats.
There was a long, long talk about convergent evolution after that.
Tr’Grakz was also having a good day. He was having a good day every day.
As part of reparations to the Human species the Karnakians (and the rest of the Galactic Senate) pooled some of their vast resources together and built a few space elevators, coupled to the [Zephyr] stations. They were excellent points for the various species of the Senate to intermingle, exchange culture, assist in uplifting/employment and all other sorts of social services. Covertly, it was also a way to… placate the more militant [Humans], as putting an alien embassy on every major continent smack-dab in the center of some of their major metropolitan areas would seem less like ‘ease of access’ and more ‘occupying force’.
Tr’Grakz was selected by representatives of the Sacred Council to help smooth over relations between the two species, and to generally prove to the intergalactic community that yes, while accidents do happen, you can always make things better than they were before if you work hard enough at it. This also means that he got to interact with [Humans] on a daily basis, which is absolutely something his fellow Karnakians would take their own tails off for!
Tr’Grakz sang to himself as he rounded the corner, his tweets and peeping echoing down the hall. His implant indicated that someone accidentally turned off the gravity in one of the station employee lounges, and since he didn’t want any of his [Human] friends to get into trouble he decided to make a little detour to the [Human]-occupied part of the station to clean up the mess.
Opening the offending door he took a quick look around, noticing that it was empty – save for some floating snack wrappers. With a bemused chirp he clicked the indicator panel, turning the relatively weak gravity back on.
Tr’Grakz looked up and saw a [Human] fall from the ceiling. What a human was doing on the ceiling would be a question answered later – in a blink of an eye he plowed through a steel table and a couple bolted seats, scattering them about as he stood directly under the [Human]
“|I’ve got you, little one!|” Tr’Grakz said, smiling wide
“[AAAAHHHCLOSEYOURMOUTHPLEAASS-]” the [Human] screamed, before falling onto Tr’Grakz with a heavy thud. With a subconsious reflex Tr’Grakz pulled the [Human] against his chest tightly, his feathers expanding under his vest to provide warmpth. The reflex lasted only a moment before he remembered himself and recovered, gently dropping the [Human] down on it’s feet. Her feet.
“|Are you alright? The ceiling is no place for you.|” Tr’Grakz chided gently, nosing the [Human] about to fuss with her clothing.
“[F-fine! I’m fine, I just – I uh, ah.]” The [Human] gently pushed Tr’Grakz’s muzzle away from her chest. “[S-sorry, I didn’t ah. I wasn’t expecting anyone…]”
Tr’Grakz nodded to himself. “|Understandable. I wasn’t expecting anyone on the ceiling either.|”
The two of them shared a look with each other, before Jessica began walking backwards. “[Well, I see that you’ve got some metal to clean up so I’ll just be going now, ok?]”
Tr’Grakz smiled again – not noticing Jessica flinch – and waved goodbye. “|Ok! I’ll clean this up in a few hours! Please don’t tell your [Human] friends to come in. Oh! And also not to rest on the ceilings. Please.|”
He stood there, smiling, as the [Human] backed out of the room, murmuring half-agreements and apologies.
Tr’Grakz was still having a very good day. He saved a [Human] who was stuck on the ceiling, further healing the rift that stood between proper [Human]-Karnakian relations. He was also – with the help of a swarm of microfabricators – rebuilding [Human-only] cafeteria 11-B.
He continued to sing and hum to himself, making sure the chairs were disassembled, repaired and re-fabricated properly. As the sweeper-drones made their second round (as metal filings are absolutely not what you want to step on, booted or not) he heard a mournful beep. Turning, he noticed a sweeper-drone had come across a booklet of some sort.
Idly, he bent down and picked it up.
With extreme self-control he folded the catalog in half, tucked it under his vest, and set the drones to complete the repair on auto-fabricate.
The door slid closed behind him, and Tr’Grakz began to walk back to the Galactic General section of Zephyr Station 8.
As he rounded the corner, he began to pick up his pace; a brisk walk to his species was a decent run for us, and by the time he was out of the [Human]-only area he was in a full-blown sprint. Dorarizin sidestepped him, Jornissians dipped to let him pass, and his fellow Karnakians just rolled their eyes and made way.
Shpressnrek murmured to herself and moved her pawn forward. She tasted the air for a brief moment before letting go of the piece, settling her hands back down infront of her.
Rgrezneh-of-Hrzgaren remained on her haunches, staring at the board. The [Human] game of chess was new to everyone – of course it was – but it was simple in it’s rules and species agnostic, so it along with a few other human games had started to make their way into the Galactic community at large.
The Dorarizin picked a bishop – before letting it go and instead picking a rook – and moved it forward, blocking Shpressnrek’s pawn.
“[Hm. There, I thi-]”
The door to their private lounge didn’t so much as open as it evaporated, bits of it flying around the inside of the room to the consternation of the duo and the rest of the patrons.
Tr’Grakz had appeared, and he had news.
“[Bretheren!]” he chirped, happily taking the blows of various snacks, drinks, spicy insults and scraps of door as he skipped his way into the room.
“[By Sotek-who-circles-the-world, can’t you just be normal?]” groused Shpressnrek, working in tandem with Rgrezneh to place pieces back in the proper positions. “[What could possib-and you just dropped this on our game board. Seriously.]”
Rgrezneh-of-Hrzgaren growled at Tr’Grakz. “[I’m going to be talking to your Counselor about this-]”
“[Bretheren, look first! I came here as soon as I found it!]”
The dynamic entry, combined with the reactions of the chess players, caught everyone’s attention. A circle of interested species formed as the Jornissian flipped through the OIH Handbook catalog.
“[Mmm, let’s see here. Approved food, approved snacks, approved- huh.]”
“[Well! I didn’t read it before coming here – what’s the deal?!]” Tr’Grakz peeped, dancing in place.
“[It’s a list of costumes-]”
“[Oh! Look! The date – they’re going to be doing costumes tonight?! Was anyone invited?!]”
“[Awww]” Rgrezneh murmured, tilting her head. “When I talked to my [Human] he was saying that’s what their young do. I guess the adults to it as well sometimes?]”
“[Maybe it varies by culture? Or by person?]” someone else piped up, the table now thick with faces.
“[Let’s see here. Approved and unapproved costumes.]”
Rgrezneh-of-Hrzgaren laughed as she saw a human in what looked like a Dorarizin costume – A very bad one at that. “[Aww, No! No way, no scentless way!]”
“[They’re trying! Let’s see. [Werewolf]. Anyone got anything cultural from that?]” Shpressnrek called out, loud enough for the whole room to hear.
“[Ah!]” someone piped up from the back. “[Old story, basically a hybrid of their [wolf] predator, a pack hunter, and a [Human]. So possibly a cursed [Human]?]”
“[Makes sense. Next, a Zombie. Well, we all know that one – dead [Human] brought back to life, very scary.]” Shpressnrek grinned to some sarcastic agreements. “[[Ghost]? Is that a Spirit?]”
“[Let’s just roll with the whole curse theme – a cursed spirit could be a ghost. If I recall, this holiday was supposed to be about scaring each other, right?]” another Karnakian ventured, taking notes.
“[Ok. A [Mummified]-[Human].”
“[Isn’t that one of their cultural artifacts?]” a Dorarizin piped up, and there was a slight debate.
“[Okaaay…so a cursed, preserved human. Next on the list, in no particular order…[Vampire].”
Rgrezneh-of-Hrzgaren hummed to herself as she studied the attached picture. “[…blood on the mouth, so eats… probably other [Humans]. Probably another curse of some sort.”
“[Hey, uh. Bretheren?]”
Most everyone turned to Tr’Grakz, a concerned look on his face.
“[Has anyone else noticed that most of their fears are of other [Human]s?]”
The group silently studied the list and attached photos with a little more scrutiny.
“[…are they ok?]”
Director Glenn “Silk” Abramson smiled as he raised a glass of non-alcoholic punch. “Ladies and Gentlemen, first, a Happy Halloween to everyone-”
“Happy Halloween!” cheered the motley crew of people before him, some raising up drinks and others, snacks, as they gleefully interrupted their boss.
“Yeah, yeah. Anyway. Happy Halloween. Second, thank you all very much for only wearing the approved costumes. I noticed some of our allies out there noticing you-”
“Notice me, senpai~” Someone in the back yelled out, and received a flat stare in response over the laughter of the crew.
“Right, well. Anyway, it’s good to keep things professional and not step on any toes. On that note, Officially I have to explicitly inform everyone that there is to be no heavy drinking, no drugs – regardless of what country you’re from – and that we still have work tomorrow-”
The doors to Ballroom/Meeting Area 5C opened up to a menagerie of Galactic species; everyone was represented in varying amounts, and in varying degrees they all looked…worried.
They should. Director Abramson was getting tired of being interrupted.
“…Well. Welcome to the Human-only Halloween party, impromptu guests. Is something the matter?”
A Jornissian made it’s – no, her? – way up to the stage as the rest of the xenos crew mingled with – and singled out – a human.
“[I don’t know, Director. Is something the matter?]”
Director Glenn “Silk” Abramson, Manager of 200 Humans and the countless thousands that went through his docks every day, sucked on his cheek as he was pulled into a full-body hug.
“Am…am I missing something?” He said to the room in general, watching his other crewmates being gently held, or passed from one xeno to another.
“[Ssh. If you are, we’ll take care of it from now on.]” The Jornissian said, gently rubbing Glenn’s back.
Turns out, it was an OK Halloween office party after all.