The heat signatures of the ship had begun to fade in his sense, and Quil had to go by scent and dumb luck the last few meters. He managed to open the door into the Circumbridge through brute force, and found that there were folks working away, trying to replace the blown fuses and resetting the breakers on the critical systems. None of them were mechanics, as far as he could tell, which meant that the damage had affected the whole of the ship. They were all too busy to even notice that he’d arrived, and he made no effort to draw their attentions. He made his way through the corridors, much as he’d done in some parts of the hive ships he’d travelled on, judging by feel and the sound of those around him.
He felt some minor relief as he felt the finer designs of the door jamb marking the transition from the Circumbridge into the Bridge proper, and he paused for a moment, listening to the movement of the crew, and listened for the Captain. In that moment, he felt that his senses as a Queliqot were expanding, as if some part of the hybridized DNA had become active in his system. Where before he could smell the pheromones that each member of the crew emitted, he could now taste the differences, and could sense that flavor of supremacy emanating from the Captain, who was near to the wheel well, her favorite position.
He recalled that they didn’t have his sense as he started to move onto the Bridge, and he called out. “Captain?”
“Quil – why are you, how are you here on the bridge?” Her voice carried a strong tone of surprise – enough that he even caught a sense of it in her pheromones as he drifted closer to the wheel well.
“Captain – I need to speak with you privately for a moment.” In the back of his mind, he began to hear the Queliqot scale, like a piano playing in another room, and he knew that the Locus was actively listening in on the situation, and he fought for the calm he knew he needed to carry, to be a clear window for the Locus.
He heard Captain Spitzer’s sigh and felt her breath waft across the intervening space, but the initially overwhelming change of smell had faded in the few minutes since he’d noticed it. It seemed as natural to him at that moment as reading the quirk of eyebrows, the turn of the mouth. “I can’t really see much with the dim lighting we’ve got here – we’re using all the handheld lights to help speed repairs on the Circumbridge.”
He reached toward her arm, and gripped it. “If you’ll hold my hand, Captain, I think I can lead us.”
He felt her arm move free of his grasp and a moment later, clasp his hand with hers. “Lead away.”
He pushed off, swinging himself to brace his other hand on her upper arm. He felt the distance closing to the far wall and to the alcove where her chair and readouts sat. He bent his knees to absorb the impact and he helped the Captain to rest herself carefully toward the floor. As he did so, the emergency lights and air circulation system cut in. He was surprised at what a relief that mechanical noise was to him. He looked at the Captain, who smiled. “Well, put a check mark in that box and move to the next on the list. What is it, Quil? How can I help you?”
Quil looked at her, and where he would’ve felt a bit timid before, he felt nothing but confidence. “I am here to inform you that I’m no longer a simple envoy of the Queliqot.”
“Ah? And how’s that?” Spitzer crossed her arms but the effect was marred by her slight list off of the normal sense of down.
Quil couldn’t help but show the Queliqot stance of strength, denoting his position in the hive. “Through my recent conversation with the Locus of the Queliqot, there has been a change. I am now promoted and second only to the Locus – a viceroy among the species – a sort of King, making the leadership of the Queliqot a triumvirate.”
Spitzer adjusted her lapels and pulled her hair down toward a normal position, “Would you care to elaborate?”
Quil smiled. “It would seem that the Queliqot have noticed through my travels with you that we have not lost connection, that even delayed across transit, it sensed my position. In short, Captain, I’m a living Transitional Radio, and the Queliqot are updating their ships now with the changes for Crenixian Transit. They’re coming to our aid.”
Captain Spitzer couldn’t hold back the wry smile that quirked the corner of her mouth. “That’s what I like to hear.” She nodded. “Excellent. Most excellent.”
Quil frowned. “Yes, and no, Captain. It means that I won’t be able to remain aboard your ship after this threat is over – I’ll be recalled to the Queliqot. I don’t know how Birgit will take that, losing me again.”
Captain Spitzer smiled. “When this is all over, I don’t think your sister will mind receiving letters from you and sometimes seeing you.” Quil started to shake his head, and Spitzer grabbed his shoulder. “Quil, with this change in events for the Queliqot, I think they may even begin trading with our stations. It will open new markets, and allow you and the other suk-caste humans to travel through human space on Queliqot ships, trading with the humans. If you are of such a position, I don’t see why you couldn’t explain the benefits to your Locus.”
In the back of his brain, Quil could hear the Locus digesting the situation, even with his poorly filtered emotions. He could feel the thoughts of the Locus shifting to the future, to trade with the humans and to a closer knit synthesis between the two species. Among the planets claimed by the Queliqot were many that held complex biologicals that could certainly be of use to the medical and xenobiological sciences of the humans. Careful trade would allow the Queliqot to expand back to their prior claimed range of stars, back toward the Galactic Core.
He felt the thoughts expanding in his head, a grand vision of the future as the Locus saw it – a bright future where the Queliqot were at last in peace with the rest of their galactic neighbors and able to grow, expand and explore. Quil knew that the last emotion had seeped through from himself and the other humans. The Queliqot had not been explorers, but rather foragers. With the human spirit coloring the Locus now, the Queliqot were changing, for good or ill. He was broken from his trance as Captain Spitzer tapped lightly at his arms. “Quil? Are you still with me?”
He paused and forced a smile. “Yes, Captain – sorry. The Locus is much more present with me now. Our whole conversation has sparked grandiose plans and ideas – I need to be much more careful in the future, but I think that your thoughts haven’t hurt anything.” He reached to her hands with his own, holding her hands to his arms. “Thank you for suggesting it, Captain. I think I can live with this solution now.”
Captain Spitzer shook her head. “You have to live to implement the solution first.” She stumbled a bit as the Higgs generators kicked into use and then failed twice, coming on for the third and final time, for good. “What information can you give me about the Plasmoids – how can we defend against them?”
Quil smiled. “There are a number of ways, Captain, but I’m afraid that the more complex ones are going to need your computers active.”