The thing Kath had always hated the most about living on spaceships was the lack of real light. Of course, there were the lights that were supposed to simulate sunlight, but Kath always missed the sun.
As she trekked through the dank, pitch black corridors of the underground ruins, the only light coming from them planting occasional beacons, she actually started to miss the artificial lights, cursing herself for being so ungrateful for them.
The biggest annoyance that the lack of light caused was that Kath had no indication of what time it was, beyond glancing to her upper eyelids, prompting her info bar to lower in front of her eyes through her contacts. They were still running on ship time, however, so it telling her that it was evening told her nothing about the world outside. Of course, she could continue to keep ship time, but she felt unsettled at the prospect of doing so. She was on a planet, so she should keep planet time.
The fact that her brain couldn't reason with keeping ship time led to a slowly building frustration as they silently walked through the ruins, which she had nothing to distract herself from. She somehow managed to feel even more alone than when she was alone, despite having someone with her.
She wished Rosa was with her.
She stalked forward, trying to put some distance between her and Arux as she realised why she felt so out of it. Every last one of her muscles was slightly tensed and she was constantly policing herself.
Don't be weird
Don't be weird
Don't be weird
It was automatic, like breathing, but it was still draining. She would only stop and let herself breathe once she was either alone, or once she trusted Arux. She figured that the first choice was far more likely to happen, but she didn't want to ask him if they could split up. There was no way she could figure out how to phrase it without it sounding like she was telling him to fuck off, and she didn't want to strain things between them any more than necessary. Not least because she didn't want him to change his mind about not shooting her.
Thankfully, Arux seemed to take the hint, allowing her to get far enough ahead that they were barely in each others' eye sight.
She started humming gently as she set the next beacon, finally letting some of her barriers fall. She liked the way her throat felt as it vibrated with the sound, and the break in the silence helped to calm her.
She let her focus narrow in on her task, temporarily forgetting where she was and the potentially fatal nature of her situation.
She wasn't sure how long she had been focused in on her task when she finally realised that her humming had evolved into full-blown singing. She stopped herself dead, her face flushing with embarrassment.
This is what happened when she let her guard down, she thought to herself, just as she heard Arux rush back around the corner. As she looked to her map, she saw that he must have been setting up beacons down an adjacent path.
"Are you okay?" he asked as he approached, looking her over with a frown.
"Huh? Yeah, I am. Why?"
"Just... You stopped singing. I thought something might be wrong."
Her face flushed even hotter as she shifted her weight back and forth between each foot, unable to feel comfortable. She had hoped that he hadn't heard.
"I'm sorry," she told him. "I got distracted and didn't realise I was singing. I'll stop."
"No, I mean... You don't have to..." He let out a growl that surprised Kath. "I'm sorry," he eventually said as he shook his head, his right hand clicking a part of his armour in and out of place at his waist. "I'm not used to speaking to species without subharmonics."
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Heart of a Moon - A Phoenix Saga Prequel NovellaScience Fiction
Lieutenant Katherine Fisher had never wanted to be a soldier, and she was quite sure that the IGN hadn't wanted an autistic, shy programmer among their ranks anyway. But mutants didn't have a choice. Medic Arux Vankel wanted to save lives, not take...