Floating through the vacuum of space wasn’t Tejeda’s thing. Not knowing which way was up or down made him want to spill his guts out. But he couldn’t. Not in that spacesuit. That would have meant staying in his own puke indefinitely. The image made him want to vomit even harder.
What was the point anyway? Weeks, months, or even years could pass till a spaceship would drop out of hyperspace in that god-forsaken part of the universe. It would have been for the best to take out his helmet and breath in the void. But the cold touch of the spoon he had hung on his neck made him stronger. Tejeda’s resolve was mightier than ever. He wasn’t about to let his poor lovely Carmen float in space forever.
The Nubilae slowed down his breathing to preserve the oxygen and entered a peaceful state of meditation. His plan to pass as a human didn’t work out too well for him and led him into this predicament. Tejeda sighed. He should have known better than that and not mess around with his prey.
The contemplation of previous events was abruptly interrupted by a ragged ship that passed by at impulse speed. A beam of light caught him in its gentle embrace, moving him towards the ship’s hangar bay. When Tejeda got close enough, he could see that the vessel was pretty patched up. It had more stitches than he got after his body was almost torn apart in his fight with the Alpha Pirates.
Once he reached the entrance to the hangar bay, the beam dropped him from two meters above the floor. The newfound feeling of gravity was a delight. Therefore, Tejeda let slide the small back pain caused by the fall. This would not have been an issue if he had been in his normal form, since he didn't have a spine to maintain. Humans were such fragile beings!
The Nubilae took off his helmet and took in the air from the ship. It was better than the one from his spacesuit’s tank, but it had a horrid taste of mold. Was that what glued this ship’s pieces together and kept it running?
When he shifted on his side to get up, Tejeda glimpsed a pair of feet in black boots. As he slowly raised his head, the woman’s figure caught his eye. Her bodily shape was flawless even beneath that ragged grey uniform. There were a number of thoughts racing through Tejeda's mind, most of which revolved around the differences between the bodies of males and females.
‘Maybe next time, I will try to turn into a woman. That would be interesting.’ As this idea got rooted into Tejeda’s brain, a dumb smile appeared on his face.
“Get up, scumbag!” The woman’s voice was rough and showed she was accustomed to giving orders.
Two other men dressed in similar grey uniforms helped him get up and out of his spacesuit. The woman measured Tejeda from top to bottom with a disinterested look. He was tall and a bit muscular, his shoulders broader than those of the men next to him. Was that a good thing? Was he handsome? Tejeda never understood the standards of human females.
“I am Shayla, the second in command on this ship. Who are you?”
His answer was plain and simple. If she wanted more details, she should ask for them.
It was not long before a new question appeared. “What is that?”
The woman vaguely pointed toward his neck. For a second there, Tejeda wavered. Has he started to lose his human form? Moving a hand to his neck, he found his beloved spoon and started laughing. “Oh, this? Shayla, meet Carmen, my trusted companion.”
The second in command raised an eyebrow before asking the next question. “And what exactly is Carmen?”
Tejeda giggled, remembering that almost no one knew what a spoon was since now the air was providing the needed nourishments directly into the body and eating had become obsolete. “Carmen is an ancient tool used to insert food into the body through the mouth. It was called a spoon.”
At the moment he mentioned the mere fact of inserting food through the mouth, Shayla gasped in revulsion. She clicked her tongue and gestured to one of the men to come closer. “Trey, check Tejeda if he is a Nubilae. We can’t have those bastards infiltrate our ship.”
A wide smile appeared on Tejeda’s face before he opened his mouth, letting the man check his mouth’s palate. “He is clean,” the man gave the verdict.
Of course, the Nubilae was grinning. It wasn’t for nothing that he extracted the poisonous fang that was growing on the palate of each member of his species. Tejeda couldn’t properly do his job otherwise. Indeed, he had fewer weapons at his disposal now, but to hear how people cleared him out every time because of this made all the pain worthwhile.
Shayla gestured for him to follow. The inner part of the ship was in an even worse shape than the outside. Maybe Tejeda was better off drifting in space than being crushed inside this vessel when it would fall apart.
The woman stopped when they reached a vast cargo hold which seemed to have been transformed into an arena. More than a hundred people were there, crammed next to the walls leaving the center of the room free for something.
A man even taller than Tejeda came next to him. The man was more of a monster than a human, showing muscles in places where the Nubilae didn’t think he needed them. Shayla pointed to a weapon’s rake. It was full of axes, swords, spears, and other stuff that Tejeda couldn’t name. He smiled, thinking that humans were still using ancient weapons to inflict pain, but they had forgotten what a spoon was. Their sadistic tendencies were interesting indeed.
“You two will fight to the death. The winner will become a member of the crew. The loser will be floated. Pick a weapon.” Shayla gave her speech and then joined the crowd.
The muscle man picked a hammer. Tejeda smiled and liberated Carmen from the chain around his neck.