Janny knocked on the door of the cockpit. He’d have called out, but the journey around the long wide bends of the ship’s corridors had really taken the breath out of him, especially at his patented half-jog with his arms at his sides. The door was made of thick metal, which deadened the sound of his knock, so he found himself focusing hard to try and hear approaching footsteps. But only for a moment, because the door, which really was quite heavy, was soon flung open by a very worried looking Endoleon.
The slight green tinge told Janny that this was Pilot Ret, and he could tell Ret was nervous because her frown was so deep the thin rolls of flesh in his forehead kept popping out and reattaching. The Endoleon body wasn’t quite as flexible as the Daerian, but Janny was endlessly fascinated by their ability to pop out lumps of themselves and control them as if they were still attached by skin and bone.
“They are shouting very loud and I do not like it,” said Ret, who had once told Janny she’d become a pilot for the peace and quiet of the cockpit. She held up a hand as if to push the cockpit away into the distance. “If you can just tell me what they’re shouting then maybe we can make them go away.”
Ret stepped aside and let Janny through the thick sliding door. The door started sliding shut quicker behind Janny than he’d been expecting and when he glanced back he realised Ret wasn’t following him through.
“You don’t mind, do you? I’ll be right out here if you need me, okay? I just… can’t with that. I can’t understand a word and it’s just hammering against my brain and I feel powerless and I hate it.” Ret was starting to babble so Janny nodded and gave her a small smile.
“Alright,” he said, then turned back around to face the dimly lit cockpit. He saw one skinny tall form, little more than an outline in the dark really, leaning against the pilot’s chair. There seemed to be spikes sticking up from the other side of the headrest, but he couldn’t see any more of whoever was sitting there. There wasn’t even much light from the stars outside, since the pilot’s console actually had a low brightness monitor with the view from outside displayed upon it.
“Greetings,” said a voice, the standing up one, Janny thought. It took Janny a moment to register what was wrong with the word but eventually realised it had been spoken in a language different from the one he’d been using for months.
“Hello,” he replied in Fladaerian, his native language. He was fairly certain the voice had spoken in Scentian, but he didn’t feel comfortable enough to try and reply in it.
“Is there a lamp in here? I truly can’t view anything.”
Janny was definitely mistranslating some individual words but he was confident about the gist of the sentence, especially once the figure straightened up and took a step past Janny, patting along the wall.
“There is no switch,” Janny said in Fladaerian.
“Sad,” the Scentian said, though they probably meant ‘shame’ or something like that. “We can travel to ours, if you please?”
Janny nodded, then remembered what the point of the conversation was in the first place. “Yes, alright.”
It turned out "travelling" meant little more than nipping through a rectangular opening on the other side of the cockpit, little more than a few feet away. The figure led the way through to a room filled with much brighter light, which revealed a tall, spindly being of the same species as Janny. He was much brighter red, and had little tufts of brown hair around his head spikes, which was unusual no matter what country you came from on Daer-Ta. There was also a gun strapped to the Scentian’s hip.
The room wasn’t much larger than the one they’d come from, but it had two chairs squeezed in side by side instead of one. The banks were all dark green, which actually provided a rather ugly contrast with the red of Janny’s and the Scentian’s skin. And most importantly, there was a window at the front of the craft. It was only the bottom half of the craft’s sharp pointed prow, but it was better than nothing. On the Endoleon ship they were so averse to light that everything was dim viewscreens and interactive maps. Seeing the outside world felt a little like being at home.
“Here,” said the Scentian. Again, Janny only knew it was something to that effect. The Scentian continued, “I’m Ennet. My colleague is Grescin. We are each from Scentaer; we acknowledge that you are from Fladaer. Understand, our issue is not with you but with Endoleon.”
Janny screwed up his eyes but was pretty sure he was keeping up so far. “Alright. What is it that you want?”
“No violence,” Ennet said, lightly tapping the gun with long, bright red fingers. “We require this ship divert to a differing location.”
Something on the console beeped, but Ennet ignored it, instead continuing to watch Janny.
“Am I to deliver this message?” Janny asked.
“Er, indeed,” said Ennet. “Go through, I suppose.”
Janny nodded and produced his tech pod from his jumpsuit pocket.
Ennet’s eyes widened a little. “You have no additional queries?”
Janny held his finger above the pod’s screen and looked up. “Um. Not really.”
Ennet shrugged, showing very sharp shoulders through the fabric of a thin back shirt. “This is fine. Continue.”
Janny selected the contact for the captain, wondering too late if he was actually supposed to report to Ret, who would then relay the message to the captain. Before he could alter his course, the gruff voice of Captain Firo picked up.
“Ah, Gomm! How goes it?”
Janny held the phone away from his ear. Gods, the captain’s voice boomed even with his pod on low volume. “Good, sir. I have spoken with one of the Scentians. They intend to take the ship to an alternate destination. If we do this there will be no violence.”
There was a pause. “What location?”
Janny covered the speaker and looked over to Ennet, who was fidgeting with the back of one of the chairs. He repeated in Fladaerian, “What location?”
Ennet frowned. “I understood you had no queries. We will travel to a lightly inhabited mass named Kirkondi.”
Janny relayed this back to the captain.
“And if we refuse?” Captain Firo asked.
Janny looked up at Ennet again, who rolled his eyes. Janny repeated the captain’s question.
Ennet stared at Janny and tapped his gun again. “Violence?”
Janny nodded and said to the captain, “They have a gun.”
“And they’ll use it?” Captain Firo asked.
“Indeed, we will operate the gun!” Ennet snapped in Scentian, before Janny had even had a chance to ask him the question.
There was a loud cry from the next room, a Scentian word that Janny didn’t understand, quite possibly a swear word from the sounds of it. A moment later the other Scentian - a shorter, stockier figure with slightly paler skin that was tinted a little purple - barrelled past Janny and threw itself at the console.
“This is Grescin,” Ennet said, frowning and turning to face her. “I am unsure what she is carrying out. Grescin, what do you do?”
“It’s the TIPO saucer!” Grescin snarled, though she said another word Janny didn’t recognise before ‘TIPO’, “It discovered us.”
TIPO, Janny did understand. It stood for Trade Integrity Protection Operations and ensured the smooth processing of all Endoleon trade. It was certainly understandable why an operative would have an interest in the goings on here.
“We must escape!” Ennet shouted.
“Well, indeed!” Grescin yelled back.
Suddenly there was a clicking sound and the doorway was closed by a sheet of metal sliding back up. The craft they were all crammed in juddered, and away they flew.