Team, 111

“So what’s the deal with you and Lillian?” Cal asked Mick, sitting in his lap in the cell, tapping on his leg.

“There’s no deal with us,” Mick said. He had an arm idly around Cal’s waist and was fiddling with the tablet Nadya had given Cal. He couldn’t read any of the text on it, but he’d figured out how to find pornography with it and was watching one of Earth’s moving drawings called an anime about some lady whose tits got bigger every time someone fucked her. It had sound, which Cal had been translating for him, but the talking had mostly stopped a while ago.

“Uh-huh,” Cal teased, still tapping. “You guys are always hanging out and conspiring. Which, you know, I’d assume was magic stuff except for the sex.”

Team, 110

The room Nadya had Cal taken to for their interview was warmer than the rest of the prison. She had a metal desk with a few knickknacks on it, and a chair in front of it, but nearer the door was a couch and a low table, which had a spinning orrery on it. There were a few shelves on the walls, and though the lights were the same electric strips as in the other rooms, they were just a little dimmer and just a little less white.

There were no books anywhere, Cal thought. Doctors usually had books. Her furniture was all made of metal, too. “Your world doesn’t have any trees, does it?” Cal asked, hands on his hips as he looked around. He didn’t remember seeing any outside the city.

“We have some, but not many,” Nadya said, turning the small chair in front of her desk to face the room and sitting in it. “Armageddon destroyed most of the world’s plant life. How did you determine that?”

Team, 109

Cal didn’t stop jerking off when the door opened with his food, but he did look up. “Hey,” he said in Nathnjek. “Want to help me out?”

“I think he’s inviting us to join him,” said the darker skinned guard with a snort.

“Pass, he’s not my type,” said the other.

Rude, thought Cal, thinking very hard in Kyn. Over two days he’d figured out that if he worked at it, he could avoid having the beetle translate him automatically. It wasn’t perfect and he still had to be careful how quickly he talked back to the guys now, but he hadn’t fucked up yet. “You’re not my type either,” he promised, in Kyn.

Then he noticed that neither guard was holding any food. “Come with us,” said the lighter skinned guard, coming over and hauling Cal to his feet.

Team, 108

“You know if you brought me some dessert once in a while I wouldn’t complain,” Cal said, when the guards brought his food. He always talked to them because it often got them to talk back, which was what he needed them to do. It had been three days now. He didn’t know how large a sample the beetle needed to translate what they were saying.

The guards hadn’t changed since the first day, and the darker skinned of the two said something back to him. The guards seemed to find it funny to talk to Cal, probably in the way people found it funny to talk to animals in cages.

“So you’ll bring me some cake next time?” Cal asked. “I promise not to use it to break out. Tell me what happened to the people you arrested with me and I’ll even share it with you.”

Others, 44

Juniper focused.

The people here had nicer prisons than the people on Nova, but prisons were still prisons and Juniper was tired of being in jail.

They’d stuck them in individual cells, obviously so they wouldn’t talk to each other, and Juniper’s had a small window that hardly let any light in and didn’t give him a view of anything but a concrete wall. It wasn’t cold in the room, but it also wasn’t warm. Being on Earth had taught Juniper that this sort of inoffensive middle temperature was almost always caused by effective climate control, but he hadn’t found any kind of ventilation. All that was in the room was a sink and toilet and the bed he was laying on, staring at the featureless metal ceiling.

It’ll be okay, June, I promise.