They are Smol: Chapter 7

So what have we learned so far?

  • redditors are thirsty for xeno pancakes
    • Unreasonably so
      • like damn calm down this is a family series
      • the patreon won’t be tho
  • Bill just wants to do something other than play 5D space invaders
  • Grashak-of-Arhraf did nothing wrong
  • Sgt. Rauleh-of-Nragren is gonna team up with Bill to take back the streets! And… possibly launch some satellites. Mostly that.
  • Good Boye status of Dorarizin: Yes

————————————————————————————————————

Although Technology levels among the Galactic Senate were mostly equal – again, egalitarian societies don’t mind sharing small tweaks to nanite programming or new ways to harvest a moon – how that technology was put into work for the various physiologies of the member races were all wholly unique. The Jornissians preferred to have their workstations laid out in a full circle around them – they’ll just slide under the desk and coil around to their full height to begin work. Notifications can be given as changes in sound, light or even heat – and to a human, it looks like they have some weird form of prescience.

Karnakians, well. No human serves on their ships just yet – for very obvious reasons – so we can’t speak on how theirworkstations are laid out….

But, the Dorarizin are probably one of the more unique races; walking and running can be both bipedal or quadrupedal and at rest they prefer to either be sitting back on their haunches, or on all fours. Socially, sitting back is more for relaxation and time-off, so Dorarizin leadership had to figure out how to keep their people, relaxed, at their stations for hours…. while on all fours.

The answer was staring Bill in the face; all Dorarizin workstations looked like a VR Chamber mixed with a racing motorcycle’s seat. The Operator would straddle his or her workstation, slip her hands into tactile feedback gloves, and every hand movement would be considered a “keystroke” – a 3D keyboard, wrapped around your hands, a hard-light screen giving you 360 degrees of data.

The answer was also about 3 times the most manageable size Bill could physically handle. Dorarizin high command realized this about their human counterparts, so…. adjustments have been made.

“[Ok, but do you need help up?]” Bill narrowed his eyes at Rauleh – well, narrowed and then leaned his head back so he could make eye contact – tightening the clasp on his navigator’s gloves. “No, I’m fine.”

“[I just… want to make sure. We are on a time schedule here-]” Rauleh rumbled, checking her implanted feed.

Bill looked around the command deck, blushing slightly – even though most other Dorarizin were either in their pods or busy doing, yanno, actual work, he still felt self-consious. “Rails, the helmet and harness outfit is already degrading enough – I look like a damn bobblehead. I swear if you bring in those booster stairs I will…”

Rauleh stands, unimpressed – her left ear slowly tilting forward in her species’ answer to a raised eyebrow.

“…I’ll do something. And it’ll be impressive and you-HOSHIT” Bill squirmed as Rauleh suddenly lunged, wrapping her arms around his waist. With surprising speed and delicacy she picked him up, hoisting him over the ‘hump’ and onto the seat.

“[There. Problem solved!]” Rauleh chirped, and Bill felt the headpats through his helmet.

“….m’gonna.” Bill grumbled as he scooted far forward on the seat. Muscle memory kicked in as he squeezed his legs together on a particular pad, the magnetic harness activating to clamp him down and keep his legs stationary. Leaning forward he slides his gloved hands into the cavernous openings, another set of ‘hand harnesses’ clamping around his gloves. With a nod of his head the computer lowers the VR console around him, and suddenly everything disappears.

For a brief nanosecond, Bill’s brain really thinks it’s floating about in space, and he clenches everything.

————————————————————————————————————

Rauleh-of-Nragren should not be staring – hell, none of them should be, and yet, here we are.

She’s taken plenty of Sapient Sensitivity courses, and of course everyone on her station took the mandatory Introduction to [Humans] and [Human] care in space, so, a small part of her brain realized she could rationalize her scrutinizing gaze as ‘making sure [Bill] didn’t fall out of his seat once the camera feeds started and hurt himself, again.’

As [Bill] tensed up, she smiled, before patting his back gently. “{You all set up in there?}”

“[Ah – yeah! Yeah I’m good.]” He responded, Rauleh’s translator matrix editing out the natural echo from him being in the chamber. Although the matrix did a good job of making him sound confident, it damn well couldn’t mask the slight rensecf scent – that tinge of fear that comes with a spiked heart rate. One of the other stationmates – a male named Brera-of-Arhraz let out a little ‘{aww}’ and was rewarded with a silent snap of Rauleh’s jaws in his direction.

“{Ok, if you’re good I’m going to step back now and start directing.}”

“[I’m fine.]”

Rauleh shrugged and made a wave of her hand, and with no indication that the deck had stopped to watch him everyone got back to work.

————————————————————————————————————

Bill sat in a hangar, looking over his spherical, metal body.

“[Check status thrusters.]”

Small conical indentations seemed to pivot on the surface of the sphere in tune with Bill’s motion.

“Thruster check. Gre- eer. Orange.”

“[Copy. Check status Quantum Clock?]”

“Quantum check. Orange.” Bill replied, twitching his ring finger in to send the acceptance code.

“[Copy. Check status Pneumatics?]”

“Orange.” Bill replied, pinching his thumb and index together to dismiss that particular control panel.

“[Ok. Ready for ejection from station?]”

“Aww, Rails, I thought you liked me.” Bill smirked, shifting in his seat.

“[Bill, I do, which is why I don’t want you to fail this.]” Rauleh replied, slight – what was that, apprehension? irritation? – in her voice.

Bill sobered up. “Copy that, Director. Pilot is Orange for ejection.”

A countdown timer started on his screen – a simple decreasing bar, due to the differences in written language – and once it depleted Bill was forcefully ejected from the station.

Well.

Another quirk of Dorarizin physiology is that they’re more apt to enter what Human athletes call “the zone” if you can trigger their chase or hunt instincts. This is another widely known reason for the VR pods – if you can trigger peak performance when you’re doing something relatively boring, such as launching and positioning a satellite, or docking a mining drone, then you’re more likely to get it done quicker and at a higher standard with less problems.

Bill ‘knew’ this. He also ‘knew’ that he was magnetically straddling a padded seat, a good 200m from the outer shielding of the station, surrounded by his personal friends and Humanity’s allies. He ‘knew’ his body was not the one being ejected, nor that the sudden view of the station growing rapidly smaller wasn’t truly his – neither was the inertia, nor the sudden lack of warmpth and safety.

Still. Bill was not a Dorarizin, and his little monkey brain screeched in terror at the sudden change of perspective, the perceived lack of speed and the terrifying realization of danger and clenched everything.

————————————————————————————————————

“{Aww.}”

Sgt. Rauleh-of-Nragren looked up at Brera-of-Arhraz with a slight scowl. “{Technician, I assume you have something to do?}”

“{No. I made sure to clear my schedule for this, Rauleh – you know that.}” Brera smiled down, leaning on the rail. “{Besides, we all want to support him as best we can.}”

“{And that support somehow means launching his drone with a sp-}” an indicator flashed on Rauleh’s implant computer, and she thumbed her commbead. “{[Bill], I need you to relax, ok? Orient yourself to the galactic median.}”

“[Aah – ah, alright! Alright. Uh. Thru- ah, engaging thrusters.]” [Bill] responded, shakily. More importantly, through her incoming sensor data Rauleh was able to establish that he was slowing his drone’s spin, leveling himself out onto the proper trajectory.

“{Ok. Well done. 15 degrees planetward on the mark I’m placing on your HUD. Do you see it now?}”

She could hear [Bill] swallow. “[Ah… yeah. Yeah. What’s that, about [two minutes] out?]”

“{Correct. Your sensor data is coming in very clear – very well done on that part. Enjoy the slow descent, look around. Just remember, you’re safe.}”

“[I knew that.]”

Rauleh turns off her comm, looking over [Bill]’s data. “{Technician, maybe you can explain to me why his drone launched with a 50m/s anteward spin?}”

Brera sighs. “{Long story short, mainly because his right hand was tilting too hard to the left-down. I don’t think we should – well. Not to assume your position, Ma’am, but. We should let him know why, but we shouldn’t let him know that he also damaged a launcher on his way out because of it.}”

“{……hm.}”

“{Getting a little protective of him, Sarge?}”

Rauleh looks up, meeting Brera’s gaze flatly. “{And you think that’s a problem?}”

With a gentle grin, Brera tilts his head up and back, making a show of nonchalance. “{By no means – I think we all are. Why else would Egrezre-of-Frgan and I be smoothing out his telemetry data in the background?}”

Rauleh blinks, looking at [Bill]’s data again. “{…I was wondering about that; his telemetrics were unusually clear coming from the training programs. You realize we can’t clear him for solo launches unless he does it himself, right?}”

“{And you realize we’re overstaffed as it is. Come on, Rauleh! What’s the harm of letting us help him?! Besides, he gets to stay on-deck, and that’s gotta be more fun than the training closet you’ve hooked him up into.}”

“{Mmmm…..I don’t see why not, as long as we rema-}”

“{AWW YEAH! Egrezre we got us a-}”

[Bill] tensed at the sudden yelling. “[What – what did I do?! I’m, uh – it’s, [15 seconds] until-]”

With pursed lips Rauleh looked directly at Brera (who sheepishly turned away), turning her commbead back on. “{It’s nothing, [Bill]. You’re doing just fine – make sure to hit your thrusters on mark.}”

“[Ok! I’m gonna do it – you just watch me, ok?]”

“{Sure thing.}” Rauleh replied, and the deck fell silent once more – save for the rythmic thudding of a few tails against metal.

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