Kirashi finds E5 in Engineering
She awoke, surprised to find herself on the sofa. Then, she remembered. Sitting up, she looked around the small office. He wasn’t here. She looked through the open door to her quarters. Not there either.
Where could he be? Closing her eyes, she thought of his face, his voice, and slowly, she felt him. She sensed him, felt his energy. But where? She thought of his eyes, the touch of his hands.
She felt him somewhere beneath her, on decks below. Standing, she walked out onto the bridge. It was early. Consoles were deserted. She followed her intuition, taking a transport to Engineering, surprised she was led there. Why would he be here? Through transparent grating she saw him bent over a silver case, his eyes closed. She heard him murmuring, praying, performing a ritual. Two Tayamni engineers stood near him, eyes closed, heads bowed. He straightened, ceremoniously passing the case to an engineer. Sensing her presence, he turned around to face her.
The night before, after taking him on a brief tour of the vessel, she invited him to her quarters. Normally reserved for the Captain, Kirashi’s quarters were luxurious by the vessel’s standards. She had an office with a large window, several potted plants, a desk and other furniture. In the adjoining chamber was a traditional bedroom, complete with a chest for clothing. She invited E5 to join her. They sat on a sofa that would not have seemed out of place in 20th century America. They had more wine. He held his glass up to her, and in perfect human practice, continued, “I toast your culture for adherence to the moral code and to an efficient use of space on this ship,” he clinked his glass against hers.
“Thank you,” she responded. Then, examining the stubble on his chin, wondering about his human face, she continued, “In this time of extreme danger,” she paused, taking a sip of wine. “We are afraid for the success of the entire human project.” She found herself worrying he would disapprove. She looked at the wall behind him, questioning her own un-ambassadorial fears. She knew she should be honest with him, so she continued, “We have given our Admiral exemptions from certain provisions of the moral code.” She took a sip of the wine, afraid to look in his eyes, not knowing how he would respond.
“Of course,” he began, “In times of war, when innocent lives are at stake, one must make exceptions.” Sensing her discomfort at admitting what some would consider a failure, he reached out and took her hand. “I hope to find enough allies so that your suspension of the code will be brief.”
Uncharacteristically, she sighed with relief, understanding he would help them.
She looked into his eyes openly, feeling a telepathic message from him, “I see you. I know you.”
They relaxed against the back of the sofa. He placed his goblet on the small table in front of them, and put his right hand behind her head. Immediately, she felt herself relax. Her worries, the fear she felt at what lay ahead diminished. She could feel him, his presence, his energy, at the door to her mind, not entering her consciousness, but remaining at its entrance, at the door, respectfully waiting. She turned her head, looking into his eyes, wondering what he was doing and how he was able to do it. The left side of her face now rested against the open palm of his hand.
She made no effort, but she felt herself being gently pulled into his consciousness, into his mind. He closed his eyes, and she was with him. She felt his feelings, she knew what he knew. The communication was deep, gentle, and effortless. He downloaded information from his cyborg cranial apparatus, into her organic mind. But, it did not feel like downloads. She didn’t feel as if information was being pushed into her mind, but rather, as if she had been invited to enter his, and find the information he wished to show her. She found herself both within his consciousness, and fully aware of her surroundings in the room.
She saw his face, his tender smile. She felt his strength and his powerful impulse to give and protect. Her breathing became even, slow, relaxed.
She awoke, hours later, still on the sofa, but E5 was gone. When she found him in Engineering, he turned his palms upwards and walked towards her. Taking her hands in his, she understood. While helping engineers configure organic components, they discovered that one organism had not survived. As a consequence of poor configurations it had been without sustenance. When they found the component, it was shrunken and dried, covered with a white powder. She could see the image in his mind. He performed a ritual the Amelu conduct for every organic life form that perishes.
She looked down at her hands in his, remembering the unexpected connection, the respect he showed her. She looked into his face and felt his affection, his sexual attraction. He smiled and she knew he felt she was equally attracted to him.
“We should reach Kataru in three days,” he offered. “The remaining organic components will increase the efficiency of your engines by a factor of two.”