Xiyu the Elenian was not a happy camper. For one, the temperature inside the ship was not suited for the bulky, cold-weather gear in which he had been bundled to withstand Slag-9's frosty climes. He would have taken off the coat, at least, but he wasn't sure how to escape it without removing his gloves. And if he took off his gloves, the humans would see that he had six fingers. That wouldn't do.
Secondly, he was scared; so terrified was he, his internal organs seemed to be trying to crawl their way out of him through his mouth. It was not a pleasant sensation.
His human escorts lead him along a curving corridor and into a small room containing a table and two chairs. Wordlessly, they deposited him in one of these seats and left. The door closed smoothly behind them and locked audibly.
Xiyu started to struggle out of his oppressive jacket, realized he was probably under surveillance, and proceeded with more caution. Must not disturb the gloves.
He had nearly succeeded in his quest when he heard the door unlatch and slide open again. Xiyu froze.
The human that had just entered the chamber made Xiyu feel extremely small. It wasn't just a matter of height--Xiyu had already known that the average human was taller than the average Elenian--or the fact that the man was standing and Xiyu was sitting. No, something about him was downright intimidating. What that something was, Xiyu couldn't quite identify.
The man sat down across from him, but did not speak. Instead, he studied Xiyu for a long while, eyes narrowed. Just as Xiyu was beginning to feel as if his skin was dissolving, the man became distracted by a device, which he placed on the table and scowled at.
The extended silence was turning Xiyu's heart into bzeyberry jelly.
Translator, he thought, how do humans start conversations?
His translator chip loaded a list in his brain.
- Ask how the human is doing.
- Mention the weather.
- Compliment the human's attire.
- Compliment the human's possessions.
Xiyu selected one at random. "So...um, nice weather we're having..."
The human looked up at him, stoney-faced. "Yes, the weather's just lovely up here in orbit."