In the whole galaxy, there was no one like her. -Mik Rile
Comforted by Dr. Krix, I went to my cabin to stew. He sent along the antiemetic for the time exchange, which I stashed in the locker with the food Mik had supplied. Krix should have been a sensitives counselor. He was good at it, and Mik was not.
The excess biolectric was not that unusual, Krix said, and nothing to do with the sensitive gene. I just happened to be twice a mutant; not particularly appealing. Growing up, I’d released the high potentials as wasted sparks, fuzz, or contained the charge so no harm was done. My caution had been an asset on my job, where conformity was a plus. All that time that I’d thought I was clumsy, turned out I was, though not for the reason I’d believed.
Summoning a stool from the paneled wall, I altered the colors of the light rings buoying the seat, which, in ignorance, I’d been unable to do before. The application of biolectric in this case was the difference between playing one note and a chord. If I’d not come here, if the medic hadn’t been kind and explained, I’d never have known. No standardized tests on Visily would have revealed this ability.
In my next experiment, I dismissed the optical band from the spectrum. The carboflex seat appeared to float on air. Permitting the visible made sense, but wasn’t this what engineers did? I didn’t know because I’d only dreamed, never been trained.
When I failed the engineering aptitude test, my parents never made me feel bad. They supported me at the VIT. Mum cried when my scanning tech certificate was awarded. Dad presented me with flowers, and we ate cake after the graduation ceremony. We didn’t talk about my dreams to work on spaceships or travel to other planets. Those were a girl’s dream. Adults got a job and their own flat. Eventually, I’d meet someone nice, get married, and have a kid of my own. He’d probably go to the tech institute, too, just a little dim-witted like his Mum, who couldn’t get into engineering school because her scores were too low.
Could I dream again? Dad and Mum would be so proud of me.
She was always scaring the hell out of me. -Mik Rile
Of all the unpleasant experiences since Mik and Ytar Umar Rodin kidnapped me from Visily, none were as unpleasant as the time exchange K’seng executed at midnight. Not even the flux of biochemistry that plunged me into shock and racing toward death was as ugly as being inverted at the atomic level.
I stormed the locker with charge to reach the antiemetic and burned the code off the switch, sealing the compartment. Not the first time I’d burned out switches and now I knew why. I vomited lunch and dinner on the floor then remembered the basin that folded down from the wall. Could be why I’d failed my engineering exam. Sure I was really dying this time, I shouted over the emergency comm for help.
Mik was first to my door. He hauled me off the floor and dragged me from the stinking room into the corridor. Moaning in agony, tears streaming, my body seemed boneless. Mik sealed the door, commanded a level one purge of the cabin while I hoped the procedure wouldn’t destroy my coverall. That ugly work uniform of gray-blue was all I had of home.
“Jubilee, what’s going on with you?”
“Mik…,” I whimpered. Not very helpful.
“Is is just the exchange?”
Just? This was the exchange? This gravity inversion inside my gut? I was the eye of the galaxy! Spawning fucking singularities! Reborn inside a black hole, swapping out tired atoms for new ones. Infinite, time stopped for me, reversed, and sped in the opposite direction with me inside, contracting and pulsing as if organically alive. Bang! New universe.
“How is she?”
Krix was three minutes after Mik, who’d come from bed dressed only in black briefs and a tee. How had he gotten to me before the infirmary? Besides fluid leaking from my eyes, I was drooling. My nose may have been running, but it was difficult to know because my face was numb.
“You tell me. You’re the medic.”
“Jubilee, did you take the antiemetic prescribed?”
Kneeling beside us on the floor, Krix ran the medspen and must have given me a dose of the same med sealed in the food locker because the nausea eased.
I whined. “Is it over?”
“Does it feel over?”
“Stay calm. It doesn’t last more than a few minutes.”
While waiting in Mik’s lap for the universe to return to normal, his muscular arms enclosed me in a shell of strength, and his heat warmed me against the absolute cold threatening through K’seng’s hull as she exchanged time with space. He was, at that moment, the safest place to be.
Krix again. “Jubilee?”
“I feel better. The singularity flip-flopped, and it’s stable again. The galactic wind is soft as a bunny.”
Mik and Krix shared a secret in silence over my head. She’s lost it. Bat-shit crazy. Mik shrugged me in his arms to carry me, his alternative to watching his ward wobble into the cabin on cellogel legs.
“If she’s clear, I’ll see if she can sleep.”
“She’s clear. Give her water.”
Mik handed me the water and sat beside me in his black skivvies and with bare feet. The vomit was gone, purged. My stool was still out, and Mik raised one eyebrow at the seat, which appeared to float on air because the optical band was missing from the spectrum.
“You did that?” he asked, flicking his finger.
“How will I hook my heel on the rungs now?”
I grinned at Mik’s effort at levity, and he ducked his head with a smile, abashed with himself for the attempt. The gesture was charming though charming wasn’t his habit because, somewhere or some time, he must have learned charm did him no good, so hid it. Like I hid my dream to be an engineer.
“I’ll switch the light back on when you visit,” I offered.
“Thanks. And I’ll remember to ask first.”