The incident with myr…hm, whoever they were as she could not spell that name by hearing it once through the loud speakers, was perfect to play damsel in distress, Dakota decided as he quickly fixed her makeup and made her way to the great hall. There was no reason to believe the man was even there, but she guessed that being the man, who needed to show himself off, he would be there anyway. If anything else, then to show off his support, or trust towards his hosts. He trusted them with his well-being.
The thought itself made Dakota’s skin crawl, for the last thing he wanted was the man to feel safe when thousands were scrambling in back allies in hope no one would touch them or they could get home safe before his bullies came to patrol on the streets in his name. His name. Icer Grof. The ultimate savior, the ideal man to make contact with Knudhy. Or a tyrant with narrow minded world view with nothing but his own voice to guide him. And he loved listening his voice, booming it over the main hall as if he was the only one there.
Dakota flinched, when she heard Grof’s voice laughing over the hall, startling most of them to silence. The knudhy were sending him concerned looks, but didn’t intervene. Still, what would she give to see his sorry ass taken in for disturbing the peace!
Yet here she was, heading straight to him, her face plastered up with a bit too light foundation to stress her paleness in the scare of the situation. She was scared, there was no denying that, but she never doubted the knudhy’s team couldn’t handle it.
She kept on the edge of the hall for a minute, observing their body language for ill timing. The man had been openly showing his affections, but she hardly thought of herself as anything more than casual fling which couldn’t be discarded with wave of a hand. Not like she wanted to overhear their conversations, no need for that when the shouts could be heard to the other end of the hall, and she wasn’t a spy. No, she just needed to get close to them.
But instead of him, she found her eyes scanning her surroundings for another appearance. She frowned, not seeing him among the people in the hall. Tige wouldn’t be here anyway, the place was simply too big to run into the alien like this, but still her eyes searched. Maybe he was with Belyer? That thought tore into her with chills running down her spine.
Can’t think like that, she reminded herself. Not yours to think like that.
Her eyes focused back on Grof and his team of misfits. They could look like perfect human examples, but they were nothing but puffed up hot air with bleached hair roots and, her eyes snaked to one pushing out his groin, oh, was that a sock?
That gave her the confidence she needed to get her bum moving and through the aliens, who had quieted down after yet another screaming laughter. Half way through, she felt their attitude change and instead of him, all their eyes focused on her instead.
“Damn Belyer!” She whispered under her breath. Why did he have to show interest in her? She didn’t mind others staring and whispering, but she couldn’t rule out that Icer Grof would pull back completely if he thought their little fling, and that’s how she decided to call it, threatened their treaties.
She squared her shoulders and kept going, humiliation coloring the cheeks hidden under foundation and imagining the conversations behind her back. Was it always this hot here? Or had they turned off the ventilations until the situation downstairs was solved?
“Ah, miss Dakota!” Grof wiped his palms into the napkin and extended it to offer her a squeeze. If all the men acted so cheesy, she wondered what had she ever seen in one to be interested in them in the first place.
She offered a quick smile for a hello before nodding to the men around him and let herself be led into the hug under his arm, where she could already imagine where the hand traveled after getting free from her fingers. Moment later she squinted and couldn’t help the squeamish wince when the hand firmly squeezed down on her bum. She ignored it. She had a job to do and for that she needed to get alone with him. The only way to get alone on this space hole was if someone wanted to hump another. Good people did it privately, not so good… She shivered slightly, but busied her hands with the notebook she religiously carried after Belyer pointed out her being out.
“What’s going on?” She wrote, keeping the notebook on the table so they could all see.
Look ignorantly trusting, she reminded herself. Her insides heated as she realized how unnatural that was to her. For most of her adult life she’d had night and day lives. It was safer that way, selfish, but safer. At least she didn’t have to fear for people like Grof to find out. And yet here she was, bating the high mongrel with the damsel.
“Some attack, dear.” He answered and kneaded her right cheek.
Is that’s how it will be now? Answer and a squeeze?
“Any danger to us? I hate being stuck here if -”
“Don’t you worry, bumpkin, I’ll hide you in my cabin if something goes wrong – our section is cut off from the rest of the place and we have our own life supports!”
The trio grinned to that and she answered with a smile that was supposed to show how much she appreciated the offer. Even if she knew there were no extra facilities with extras here. Everybody had the same system, had to maintain the same place so they would take extra care not to expose themselves nor their loved ones to outside gases. They were sitting on the edge of natural gas cloud where ESNN-10 got its energy from.
Grof moved a bit, giving her half a seat to press herself on while they waited. His hand was forgotten on her shoulders, his palm grinding down her ass muscles. He kept talking loudly to his companions, mostly having a monologue in such volume Dakota feared she’d gone deaf during the next two hours she spent stuck under his arm. The notebook and the pen stood on the table, with the “if” as the last word and her eyes kept wondering on it.
She tried not to look around and drain her eyes on Grof while he shouted, wincing every now and then, but the man seemed to confuse her discomfort with smile, or he simply didn’t care. Sitting, her side pressed tightly against the hot thigh of his leg did nothing to her libido. She couldn’t imagine it being any more grouse than this, unable to imagine it even as a stake. There was just something, and she suspected it was the smell, that made her want to run, take up and put miles between them. There simply wasn’t any purpose for this flesh to accompany that soul.
But she had to stay, force herself to be tight and nice and cute and flash her big eyes to seduce that flabby neck and sweating armpits. Get him into as messy situation as she could fathom and then take the pictures and send them around after he returned home and she remained here. Or maybe moved into another space ship like this? After this she could use her voice and she knew she could sing loud and clear for the other space stations to allow her on legally.
She wondered if the aliens sweat? No, concentrate, girl!
“Now these are the real men!” Grof praised and Dakote turned to look at the elevator, where Tige and few of his regular teammates were coming out of the elevator. Her heart jumped and she dug her toes into the sole of her shoes to keep herself from budging from her seat.
Tige was hurt! His jacket rested folded on his left arm, which still reminded her of military etiquette one would learn to follow automatically, while there were visible lighter lines under his thin shirt running over his chest and around his right arm. He walked a bit wearily, like confused by all the people here, but his two companions offered him their support as they too sported visible cuts and bruises over their faces. Aside tiredness, there seemed to be no other real injuries to restrain his movement, so Dakota felt her heart calm a bit.
Dakota felt the arm on her back disappear and saw a shadow of it as it waved for the heroes, who the aliens seemed to avoid. Dakota understood it was to offer the men time to rest after what looked like a serious fight, but Grof didn’t miss the beat to bask in their glory.
If the aliens could frown, she thought, seeing the battle in the knudhy’s eyes as he studied the odd group in the middle table. He was debating in his mind if to come over and accompany the human need for hero worshiping, or ignore the wave and move on. Apparently, whatever Meredith had taught the knudhy about humans, kicked in, because he came over like a reluctant puppy. A very big, gonna-bite-your-head-off puppy, but still not quite owner of his own leash.
But instead of Grof, his eyes stopped on her while he walked. He took in the situation, and her cramped against Grof. The muscles in his jaw twitched, disapproving of her. She made a mental note to chat him up a bit later and see if he could at least pretend in front of Icer as if Belyer wasn’t after her or as if he wasn’t around to remind –
Aw, what was she thinking? How on earth would one ask a knudhy of all people to lie for her? To play behind their chief’s back? Their commitments were for life and here she was. Shit – she was lucky if Tige didn’t go running right now to tell him of her discretions. Or any of his companions!
“Good evening, chief!” Grof shouted when the knudhy decided it wasn’t worth some political shamble to avoid the man.
Icer’s hand slid down on Dakota’s shoulders. Tige’s eyes widened for a second before his glare went from her to Icer. For a moment she hoped he’d do something, but instead by the time she gave a quick glance up, it was void of any emotion and his stance had eased up, impossible to read. Her eyes fell back on the table, her stomach acting up. If he would be that cheesy, that would actually be wonderful…
She saw movement from the corner of her eyes and turned in time to see Tige’s hand twitch and disappear behind his back.
“Did we get attacked?” Grof skipped politeness immediately and Tige’s jaw tightened.
“Yes, but that’s already dealt with.” He dismissed his try to get him talk about it. Instead, his eyes returned on Dakota and her white cheeks.
“Miss Warren.” He began slowly, drawling the name on his tongue as if it were hard to pronounce, although he’d had plenty of practice with Meredith’s. He leaned closer, slowly taking the notebook and the pen and wrote down on it before setting it back down, turning it so she could read it. “I heard you are quite good solving puzzles. I was wondering if you could help me translate this?”
It was scramble of symbols she wasn’t familiar with, but she could see few of them popping up in his head like letters. She frowned, confused. She shrugged. Maybe?
“It’s the language myrroth use.” He explained, his eyes never leaving her. “During the fight, they tried to enter our system using this language. I know you rather work with math, but I was wondering if you could take a look on the data for me and see if anything pops up that could help us read it.” There was an odd pause, during which his eyes darted back on the group of men she was with. “Their script has self destruction code in it, so if you could do it now? I’m sorry, if it is inconvenient.”
There was nothing in his voice to indicate it was a request.
Instead, Dakota took it as a blessing in disguise and although the knudhy often taunted her for being with others aside his master, she took the way out. Enough smooching for today, the two hours had weighted her out.
She grabbed the notebook and rose, quickly catching Grof’s chin and giving it a quick peck as a thank you. For nothing.
Tige offered the men a good wish for the night and waited for her few steps away. His two companions kept silently following them as they made their way through the crowds.
“Did you really need my help with this? I’m a chemist, you know that, not math teacher.” She quickly wrote on the pad, confused.
“No, miss Warren, but it looked as if you weren’t enjoying your company much.” He lifted the jacket from his arm and Dakota’s eyes widened on the bandages around the arm.
She tried not to stare and turned her attention back on the puzzle he’d written there.
“This is a real language?” She wrote and held it up, curious.
“Yes. We haven’t had much success with it though.”
“Can I look at it still?”
Tige turned slightly, ignoring the pain in his shoulder and Dakota thought she felt his demeanor ease a bit.
“If you’d like.”
He dismissed the men and nodded towards an office with plastic see-through walls which was piled from floor to sealing with documents, dictionary-thick books and few computers.
Sure beat the bar work and Grof at the moment, she thought, looking at the mess while he opened the door for them.