Recently edited. Space Rugs is one of my rare sci-fi based stories. Also written in 2003.
| Katriona walked down the narrow, bland hall of the star cruiser Vellemos toward the aft observation deck. In all her life she never thought she would end up being the cultural liaison for a class-A exploration ship.
“These ships are so venu conspicuous.” She mumbles under her breath. Turning to her right, the dematerialized door exposes the observation deck’s glowing walls. There are a few couches and chairs scattered on the different levels all facing the transparent outer wall. Katriona takes a deep breath and stares out at the stars of an unfamiliar galaxy. She misses seeing certain stars and the smaller ships that each had their own personality. For a few minutes she tries to relax by looking at the tiny pricks of light floating through the void, but something is buzzing in her brain tonight and soon she is walking back to her room.
“Katriona!” Someone calls from behind and she slows her steps, but doesn’t turn. Only when the footsteps are a few yards away does she step, putting her back against the corridor’s uninviting wall.
“Yes Onan.” She tries to hide the irritation in her voice, but he brushes right through any mood he senses and gets straight to business. The stance he has taken with his hands out in front of him and his eyes focused from beneath his lids tells her she has better snap into reality.
“We have got some heavy officials from Dulturan coming in two days.” He uses his hands to emphasize the time left until their arrival. “The Captain wants you to pay particular attention to the Klypto files they have sent along for our... enjoyment.”
“Poor Onan, have you had a rough day?” Katriona teases, but dismay rises in her throat. Onan doesn’t use sarcasm, she thinks to herself. But then, she has only known him for a few inter-stellar seasons.
“Well, well, well,” he says nervously, “that doesn’t really matter now.” She looks over and studies the assistant who has grown so familiar since she first boarded the Vellemos. His back is hunched a little and his eyes are rather dim. Lately he has been rather fidgety and overcautious when they meet with the many species visiting on diplomatic assignments. Maybe the stress and restless feelings she has had are mixing up his life. He is a highly trained empathic Suoneri, but even they cannot protect themselves in all situations.
“How about in the morning you just bring the K-files to my office at six, and take the rest of the day off.” She is willing to give him a break, if it helps him recuperate for the meeting with the Dulturans. No one should work in such a harried condition.
“Thank you.” He says visibly grateful, “Do not worry, the Klypto files will be there at six.”
“Go on now.” She says shooing him off like some Yessjol slave. He scampers down the hall and out of sight giving Katriona an odd feeling of release. When did she start acting so two-dimensional? Looking down the hall she realizes that the emptiness of the walkway almost glows with gloom. She sighs and begins to walk back to her chamber with a laggard stride. Several people pass by her on their way to their differing tasks, but because of the enormity of the class-A ship, none know her enough to smile. Again Katriona feels heaviness in her stomach, almost a nausea that, if she were more self aware, would tell her something is wrong.
The next morning Katriona is drinking her terkpeir and breaking her fast when the computer signals that the K-file information has been successfully downloaded. She wanders over to her desk and skims the information for pertinent clues. She can always go back to read the details later. She gets the gist of their culture, environmental problems and recent galactic confrontations in no time flat. She smiles to herself thinking of how fast she always processed information in primary school. Right now she is bored with the functions of her job and decides she needs a break.
“Let’s see.” She clicks on a few keys and is taken to the game section of a well-known site. But that does not seem to catch her fancy, so she is off to other sites that are so traveled they would be we worn if they were carpeting. She is reading the news about Bonsifad spiders invading shipping lines in the Fidax quadrant, when a box near the bottom of the screen grabs her attention. It is flashing on each surface; semi-transparent red, blue and green with basic black symbols for the advertisement floating inside.
“Well that’s new.” Impressed she opens the box revealing a three-dimensional layout of a traveling rug showroom. The company is called “Luvian Space Rugs” and a holographic man, who introduces himself as Lem Guvtrai Luvian, appears, the better to answer all Katriona’s questions. The little eight-inch holograph is dressed in bright red and yellow clothing with a floppy hat and sparkling shoes. Katriona proceeds to spend half the day talking to the holographic Lem and feels more rejuvenated by the hour.
On a higher area of the exploration class-A cruiser known as the Vellemos, Captain Helopa Zymges is enjoying a recording of the Ruffon concert that her bright son Jepten preformed two inter-stellar seasons ago. She is markedly a little ruffled but forever courteous when she is interrupted by a person wishing to see her.
“Come in please.” She chimes, and the door vanishes to reveal the maroon colored female at her threshold. Though she has always prided herself at knowing many of the crew members aboard she only faintly recognizes the woman before her. Right now she seems agitated and ready to burst forth with whatever it is she has come to say. Helopa nods to her and the woman enters.
“I have come to resign from my position as cultural liaison.” She looks at the Captain with determination and confidence. The Captain knows that she could ask this woman many questions before she makes her final decision, but instead turns to her computer console. When she is done with her search, she returns her gaze to Katriona.
“Ms. Estipeen, you have been filling the position of cultural liaison for three inter-stellar seasons. Your record has been infallible and your service quite exemplary. Was it not a friend of yours, at your last assignment, who recommended you for this job?”
“Yes Captain,” Katriona feels her will falter for a moment, but stands up tall at the thought of her future. “But I now believe that my skills will be better used in another area.” Helopa looks at her thoughtfully.
“I will tell you of my decision in a few days. Until then attend to your duties, you are by no means allowed to slack off.”
“Yes Captain.” Inside she smiles and jumps for joy.
“You may leave.”
“Thank you Captain.” Katriona turns and smiles while the door dematerializes. Captain Zymges goes back to her music, which is now a Selopian opera and endeavors to push official thoughts out of her mind.
Katriona cannot sleep that night but it does not have a chance at ruining her diplomatic business the next day. When the Dulturans arrive she is well and able to deal with all the bickering she encounters. She finds safe and economic ways to send relief to their colonies in other solar systems. She mediates between threatening opponents and transfers their anger to cooperation. Onan is much more grounded today and she complements herself on knowing when to give her assistant a break. Thankfully, the meeting with the Dulturan party goes by in no time.
The night comes and goes, and even though she sees no change in light to tell her it is day, her second sleepless night ends with a different outcome. She goes through her morning routine in slow motion, treading her feet and falling over a box she has packed. Luckily it only contained clothing and nothing breakable.
“Venu thing.” She kicks the box anyway, but it doesn’t move any satisfying distance. Around mid-day while she is still a few hours behind schedule and trying to get her hair to behave, a small ding resounds in her chamber.
“Yes?” She calls out to the living room, where the Vid-screen has turned itself on, displaying the Captain’s face. She shuffles over to stand before it with a hand in her hair and the other raised near her ear.
“I have made my decision to accept your resignation. I was hesitant seeing that your record is so remarkable. I had hoped you might change your mind, but you do seem rather determined.”
“How long do I have to pack?” Katriona looks around at her room; she hadn’t brought much with her.
“You may leave as soon as you are able, a day or two should be enough.”
“Thank you again Captain.” She let the lady see her smile.
“May I ask?” Helopa starts slowly, “What have you decided to do?” Katriona thinks she is being rather personal, but decides it does not make much difference.
“To the merchant ship Jarklief. Right now it’s in the Gerrgred quadrant.”
“Best of luck to you then. I will send along recommendations for your next employment.” Captain Zymges keeps her personal thoughts to herself. A cultural liaison of Ms. Estipeen’s caliber is wasted as a merchant.
“Oh I am not going there to work.” Katriona says, smiling deeper now, knowing she has shocked the Captain.
“Oh?” Helopa tries to ask casually.
“Yes.” Katriona Estipeen declares proudly, “I am going to get married.”