“Presenting Princess Nefriti of the furry planet Magratea!”
A loud voice echoed through the rather large hallways. I straightened the flowing light-green robe. The shawl slipped to the side, and I readjusted it. When I had told them I was willing to wear a dress, this was not what I had in mind. It was hot in here, and I felt like I would sweat out of the outfit.
I took a step forward, and with each step, a pair of alien guards on either side of me bowed. Hundreds of eyes watched me as I marched across the massive antechamber. My hands unconsciously went for my veil before I stopped them and forced them down to my sides. If I continued to fidget, I knew it would appear suspicious, but I couldn’t help myself. I fought every urge I had to reach back and grab Ryan’s hand.
He walked behind me, straight-backed and formal, garbed in a frilly suit that resembled something like a butler’s garb. It looked surprisingly good on him, complementing his youthful appearance in ways I would not have expected. I wanted to look back at him for reassurance, but Allan had lectured that that it would be uncouth.
I finally reached the front of the room. A rather large man sat on a chair that resembled a throne in its flamboyance. He rose gracefully, offering a surprisingly respectful bow to me. He gave a grin that almost seemed polite, extending his hand out. I’d nearly forgotten this part. I pulled out my hand and held it, palm down, in his.
The host, Prince Skyf, lifted it, kissing the back of my hand. His lips were a little greasy, and it caused chills to run up my spine. The fact that he had green skin and two antennae pointing out of his head didn’t do much to ease my discomfort. He glanced back at my face, and when I gave no further response, his antennae twitched.
“It is kind of Magratea to send their princess to the viewing. For this invasion, I could use as many galactic witnesses as possible.”
Ryan moved up next to me. “The princess is satisfied with your welcome. It has been a long journey for her, though. She would like to know if she might be quartered so that she can refresh herself.”
Why did Ryan have to sound so calm and cool when he said everything? He really did seem like the perfect servant. I couldn’t imagine how things would have gone if Andrew or Rune had been the one to accompany me. Ryan seemed like a natural. To hear him tell it, he was built for this; so, I supposed it shouldn’t be that surprising.
I held my breath as the Prince eyed Ryan up and down before the smile returned to his face. We had all decided that I would remain silent for the most part. There wasn’t enough time to teach me how to act like a princess. However, Ryan downloaded the majority of the information. He’d do all the talking; I’d do all the smiling and looking pretty. Allan seemed almost relieved that it wasn’t him who joined me. Relieved! I don’t know why that bothered me so much. I’d became too complacent with guys doing stuff for me.
“Of course, my lady,” The host nodded, gesturing for one of his servants to attend me.
The small girl who ran up had bluish pink skin. She appeared small, like a child, but had a face with more wrinkles than her size suggested. She made a gesture for me to follow.
“Thank you!” Ryan gave an elaborately perfect bow, the cape at his back giving a slight flourish.
I bent my knee slightly and nodded. Allan explained that, as a princess, I should never give a full curtsy. Which worked because I had no clue how to do that. In these frills, I’d be likely to fall flat on my face if I even tried. Fortunately, this seemed like enough to satiate the host.
We walked out of the antechamber into a hallway and as the metal doors closed behind me I took a deep breath, almost hyperventilating. The small girl led us up to a large double set of doors, opened them and gestured for us to enter. We did and my eyes almost burst out of my skull. It was an ornate and beautiful room. There was a full set of living room furniture, a massive bed that dwarfed a king, and windows that gave a breathtaking view of the vast dunes of the moon. The temperature was unfortunately as hot and uncomfortable as the antechamber.
Ryan approached the servant, whispering a few things into her ear. She nodded excitedly, a deep blush on her cheeks. It looks like aliens had the same responses that humans did. Ryan lightly touched her hand, and she practically melted. He didn’t seem to notice, but as he turned away, the girl bowed to the pair of us like a schoolgirl in love and then closed the doors behind us.
“What did you say to her?” I asked incredulously.
Ryan glanced at me. “I provided Magratea etiquette. My downloaded files suggest that servants tend to mingle when they are not bogged by noble duties. She may be able to offer key tactical information to help us complete our mission. I asked to meet her privately, tonight, before the celebration.”
“Ryan? I think you may be leading her on.”
Ryan cocked his head to his side; the absence of his speakers appearing almost odd.
“I do not understand. Leading her to what?”
I sighed. “Well, when you ask a girl to meet you late at night, she might be thinking of things a little more than … mingling.”
“Like … well …” I sighed; I wasn’t ready to have this conversation with him. “Never mind; you’ll be fine.”
Ryan shrugged, moving on. “We must take every precaution we can. Remember, this mission is crucial. We have less than thirty hours to break into the host’s quarters and steal the codes. If we don’t succeed, the Earth is doomed.”
I nodded, moving to the window overlooking the shadowy moon. The sight of the darkened gray surface was so cold and distant. I wasn’t home in Kansas anymore that was for certain. Would that make Ryan my Toto? That wasn’t fair. I already disliked him pretending to be my servant. Something about his eagerness and willingness to do whatever anyone said just irked me. It didn’t seem like the real Ryan. It was a mask he wore. I looked down at my robe. I was one to talk about pretending to be something I’m not.
I’d need to continue this act a little better in the future. It looked like there would be a chance for more interactions with the aliens here. Prince Skyf himself made my skin crawl, but there were a couple of aliens that I would consider attractive. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad getting to chat with a couple of alien men about their sexual customs. As Samantha would say, I could give them the old James T. Kirk.
“Their male phalluses are typically barbed,” Ryan spoke up.
“I’m not following you,” I responded, hiding a blush on my face.
“I scanned your body. The areas to where your blood is flowing suggest you may be thinking about sexual relations with an alien.”
“You can tell that?”
Ryan ignored the question. “I merely am pointing out that the information Allan downloaded into my brain includes extensive mating knowledge on a large variety of species. The Riptari are known for having barbed genitalia which catches the inside the females to ensure fertilization.”
“That doesn’t sound hot at all.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“More like a face hugger that burst out of your stomach.”
“You know, the movie… that is really just a metaphor for man’s fear of vaginas…” Suddenly, the energy left me again and I barely caught myself as I sat hard on the bed.
Ryan had taken a step forward with his hand out to support me. “Ma’am, you do not seem yourself as of late. I noticed it on the ship but didn’t think I had sufficient reference to make that call. At first, I believed my measurements were faulty, but my sensors read that your temperature is abnormally high for a human. Excuse me for a moment.”
Ryan pressed his cool forehead against mine. It was kind of nice. My skin was hot to the touch now that he mentioned it. He had a pleasant citrus smell that emanated from his body. It was sexy.
“You currently have a fever of a hundred and two degrees. I am ashamed of not realizing it sooner. You need to be in bed, immediately.”
“Bed, huh? Why don’t you join me, you sexy robot man?” His skin was cool. I just wanted to snuggle with him. Why was he frowning?
“You appear to be delirious, Jane, and you seem to have been for quite some time. I’m surprised you made it this far.”
Ryan kneeled down and then lifted me with relative ease. I giggled at the feeling of weightlessness in his arms. He was holding me like a knight in shining armor would. I was a princess after all. Then the thought occurred to me; if we were going to be together in bed, he’d need the right equipment.
“I meant to ask one of these days. Do you have ‘male genitalia’, Ryan?”
Ryan put me into the bed, placing the cover over me. “My Mistress designed me to serve her in all respects. I have adequate equipment for any situation. Now please, Miss Jane, rest.”
Ryan sat at the edge of the bed, then stared off into the distance for several moments. There was a buzzing and crackling sound. I merely stared at him, confused, wondering why we weren’t making out yet.
“Yes, Ryan? This is Allan. Are the plans moving forward accordingly?” The sound emitted from Ryan’s gut as if he had swallowed some speakers.
“Unfortunately, there are some issues here. It would appear the Jane has contracted an illness.” Ryan spoke up, seemingly to thin air.
“Stop!” there was the sound of wrestling for a second and then a new voice came on the line.
“Jane is sick?” The voice sounded like Rune’s. “How is she doing right now?”
“If I had to describe her,” Ryan looked over at me, “her condition would be described as promiscuous.”
“Is it contagious? Ow, stop …” there were more wrestling noises over the microphone.
“Be advised that I will work on sending you some medicine.” Allan’s voice came up. “It’s a risk, but we may have to send Andrew and Rune in disguise as ambassadors from another planet. Perhaps the Dredraty. They keep their faces covered 24/7 and always speak gibberish. I … I will contact you soon.”
“I sense hesitation in your voice. There is something you are not telling me.”
A muffled voice sounded over the static. “Ridiculous.”
The sound fizzled for a second and then Andrew’s voice spoke up. “There is some kind of cult. One that seeks to put Angels and Demons at war with each other. Jane has dealt with them before. We have some reason to believe they may be trying to get a hold of the satellite grid for their own purposes.”
“Understood. I will keep a wary eye and standby until further notice.” There was a click of the phone hanging up, then Ryan stood, moving over to the room’s entrance.
He opened the door a crack and then whispered some things to someone who appeared to be waiting out in the hall. When he came back, he had a cloth and a pitcher of water. He wetted the towel and placed it on my forehead. The cool towel felt good against my skin.
“You know what would feel better?” I told him sheepishly, “you… and me.”
“You don’t mean that, Jane.” Ryan smiled gently as he washed away my sweat.
“I’m sorry …” I suddenly burst into tears, unable to control myself. “I’m messing up, aren’t I?”
“It is okay, Jane. We still have time to resolve this. They do not plan the banquet until tomorrow night. That gives us about twenty-four hours. At the banquet, I’ll make my move. With Andrew and Rune here, it should be easier for you to keep their attention focused on the dinner.”
“Is … all of this okay with you? I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t have to help if you … don’t want to.”
Ryan gave me a tight smile. “Earth’s survival is dependent on my assistance. I am highly motivated to assist you in this matter.”
“Ryan, do you think I’m pretty?”
Ryan glanced down at me with a smile. “My Mistress used to ask that question a lot herself.”
“What did you tell her?”
“I told her she was the most beautiful woman I ever saw.”
“And what about me?”
Ryan smiled again, turning to peer out the windows while his hand pressed the cold towel on my head. I kept seeing that look on his face. On the surface, it appeared emotionless and cold, a robot’s face. I could swear though, the edges of the mouth and the eyes were just a little too downturned in sadness; a great deal of sadness.
“Prettier.” I didn’t know if I heard those words or imagined them as my eyes closed and I fell to sleep.