A flashing light signalled that the surgeons had finished their initial examination and it was time to go over their notes. Despite knowing it was useless, I pushed my mind forward and past the wall separating me from the laboratory. First there was merely the reverberation of the ship’s metal, its atomic structure refusing my meddling. I continued to nudge and prod until finally my consciousness slipped through. The professionals clustered around with their assistants, presumably debating their notes while the test subject was showered and clothed. I could only guess. As much as I struggled I still found it impossible to drag out any substantial information. Where I should have been able to link into the surface conversation like a normal individual, I was instead assaulted by jagged lines and heavy static. It did not take long for the sharp pain of exertion to set in. I gave up. It had been pointless from the beginning.
This is my disability, what sets me apart from the majority of my species. I suffer from Group Mind Detachment Disorder: it is not easy to detect simple directed thoughts and impossible to engage with others without the use of sign language. It is usual for those with my disability to remain on our home world and in our colonies as servants to the elite. We are considered to lack intelligence. I managed to gain admission to interstellar employment by surpassing the expectation. On showing my competence in advanced signing and capacity to puzzle out certain patterns, the Scientific Academy agreed to my request for a position on a starship. All my life the desire to study with my fellows out in the fields of stars followed me and I was determined to overcome my disease. That was sheer idealism. I will never connect with the Group Mind. This was–until recently–the main reason why I can never advance. It would hamper proceedings if my colleagues had to lower themselves to baser manners of communication. What once frustrated me has become a welcome barrier to career advancement. I could never be like them, not after my revelation.
I was to escort Female AX-309 back to its cell so it could recuperate in preparation for the next round of procedures. This sent a thrill through my skin and aura both. Human creatures fascinated me and in brief glimpses of the Group Mind I worked out there were two separate types: male and female. I had only ever received males as escort details. Their minds were blank to me although I could see their optical organs, their ‘eyes’, zapping around or fixated in front. At times these males had to be subdued. Their physicality was a danger to us custodians and many had been killed in struggles. Security has tightened significantly since Male AD-001 crushed three heads before being neutralised.
I could sense a glow around this human the moment the surgery’s door slid up to reveal my charge, a sign its mind might be readable. With its firm hand around the human’s arm, the head surgeon waved its other in a frustrated instruction. I noted the cell number as well as the way the surgeon’s ultramarine digits were pushing deep into the human’s pale flesh. When I focused on the human creature’s eyes flashes of images filled my mind. Pink skin turning to yellow and to blue and to black. There was the odd liquid which sometimes leaked from their faces in its eyes. While I did not understand the process in the past, this human’s thought-images linked the liquid to the surgeon’s hand. The human was… in pain. Its body was as fragile as our own and it was suffering. I did not know why I felt calmer when the surgeon thrust the human toward me but either way, I made certain to form a softer hold on its arm. Despite this, its aura vibrations remained erratic and noisy.
We walked together through the laboratory corridors. With each step its psychic connection unfolded further. First barely perceptible colours, then blurred images, then solidified views of other humans with wide mouths, baring their teeth. Although these teeth can tear into meat, the creature was associating those it pictured with safety. It was in fact forcing this view whenever its mind came back to the surgeons. In the seconds between the waning and strengthening of control, there were flashes of metal and lights. An unbearable buzzing noise pierced my consciousness and several entities loomed tall on each side. These memories unsettled my mind. Soon I was not sure whether I would be able to block them out if I needed.
More sounds came to me, language noises: “She– if I don’t– will they know– of course he’s–“. It was applying these to its dreams. I realised certain words connected to the male types and others to the female types. This human next to me was a female and so it was a ‘she’. Upon reaching the cell blocks I was overflowing with ‘her’ energy. I do not know how but my connection to her–yes, her–aura was transforming into a forcefully constant stream. My energies were behaving in ways I had never felt before. I swung her around to face me.
Wet, reddened eyes locked onto me. I saw myself exactly as she did; a featureless monster towering over her. I felt the sensation of ‘terror’ for the first time, the feeling humans have when they are dragged back and forth through these halls. If I had eyes I may have leaked liquid too. This short creature with golden fabric growing from her skull was special. I sensed her without trying. She would realise I was not going to harm her. All I had to do was send forth my intentions.
I carefully constructed a scene for her. In the sequence I was taking her to my quarters and hiding her in my spare room. I thought if I showed her this then I could calm her enough to evade the nearby guards. I was positive she would comprehend me. She was the only one to connect with me in such a way. I emphasised the quietness of my room. I made sure to dim the lights. I proceeded to form the impression of my pet gnarl with its miniature tusks and snout. Snoff is a placid creature and I thought the human would be sufficiently curious. Instead, she shrank away.
We would not have much time before a patrol. I needed to approach this in a different manner. It did not come naturally, this psychic communication. Not at this level. But then she began to shape her human pictures again and I worked out a plan. I studied the faces as closely as I could then quickly set to the task of creating a new scenario. Soon I was able to send forth a new scene.
This time the human could see herself showing her teeth and standing beside Snoff. In the thought her movements were clumsy as I attempted to mimic relaxation. I proceeded to place gnarl feed into her hands and had her bend down to my pet. Snoff waddled over, sniffed once or twice, and began to nibble. The human female blinked after this passed through her brain. She opened her mouth and produce some noises which were soft, low, and completely incomprehensible. I shifted on my feet. I was not sure how to express my confusion.
A moment later she tilted her head to the side. The human was now creating a picture for me. In it she was holding a furry creature with what I assumed were thin antennae protruding from around its face. A sensation of warmth along with the sound of a small motor came to me and I knew this was what she enjoyed about that creature. I again sculpted a view of her, this time with Snoff in her arms. I do not handle Snoff unless it is cleaning time but the experience has tactile similarities and gnarls tend to be receptive to being held.
I could tell the female was settling down so I returned to my original point of escorting her to my quarters instead of a cell. I became aware of memories of knives returning and I managed to block them for her myself. She could tell what I had done and seemed to be amazed. Liquid returned to her eyes however this time her mouth formed into a shape similar to those humans she had imagined. With a small yelp, she came towards me, arms extended. I knew she meant to show gratitude. In her mind I could see humans with their arms around each other. This was an expression of gratitude. I began to extend my own arms.
Shots were fired. One, two, three. Plasma slammed into the side of her face, across her abdomen, and into her leg. Her internal fluids were crimson, bursting from each impact. I was soaked. She made no sound. Her eyes registered shock for a moment before she collapsed onto the ground in front of me. The red fluid pooled around her as a last gasp passed from her mouth and her energy dissipated completely. Forever.
I turned to see the shooter and realised it was one of the security guards I knew best. It flashed an accomplished sign at me. I was not to worry, I was safe now. The guard would make sure to cover my error, none of the others need know I let my guard down. The creature clearly had the advantage. That is what it would report.
It does not realise the magnitude of my mistake.
I no longer wish to become a surgeon. I want to return to my home planet, apply as a servant, and forget this vessel. I will clear myself of what I have experienced through physical chores. These new sensations inside of my mind are agony. I know I cannot escape them while continuing my work as a custodian. I have been given time to recover from ‘the attack’ but soon they will wish me to shuffle around other humans. I must leave soon, before they return me to duty.
I cannot bear to meet another such as her.
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