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Child of the Stars

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            Arin had been feeling weird the past week .  Not weird in the sick way, not weird in the world seeming to align around him to make everything go wrong way, not even weird in the way that he was pretty sure his friends were all planning a surprise birthday party!  It was all just…  Weird…  He had recurring dreams, but those were nothing new, what was new about them was that his dreams always had some blinding, multi-colored light associated with them and complete silence…  Sometimes, he wasn’t even sure if he was dreaming or he was awake…  Okay, but, this time, Arin was pretty sure he was awake and he was getting his answer about all the weirdness going on.
             Or the weirdness was just deepening, it wasn’t every day he woke up strapped to a hard, metal table under a bright exam light.  With a start out of his sleep, he tried to sit up, but found it impossible, so he struggled.  When struggling didn’t work and his panic mounted he screamed, “Where am I?!”
             “Oh…” A voice answered from…  Seemingly all around.  Arin shivered, this was too much like some awful rape scenario.  He looked down his chest at himself and breathed a secret sigh of relief that he was still perfectly clothed.  He even still had his socks on…  Had he gone to bed in socks?  Well, it was “cold” out, so maybe he had, anyway, now was really not the time to be consider--oh fuck what was that?!
             “What the fuck are you?!” Arin screeched as a waifish, glowing being appeared to levitate over to his bedside.  His eyes shot up and down the insubstantial being, the best way for him to describe it was clear jelly that darkened to an unsettling purple at the center had been poured into a vaguely human-shaped mold.  Vaguely human-shaped was a key descriptor here as the top of what Arin assumed to be the being’s head puffed outward in many placidly waving tendrils.  It was almost like hair, but it didn’t appear any different than the rest of it’s body.  Beneath the waving fan of wigglers were two very big, dark, round features--about as big around as Arin’s fist, he would say--that protruded from the thing’s face.  They shined like the rest of it’s body, but in a different way, they didn’t seem nearly as soft as the rest of it, or, if they were, they ostensibly did more.  Until Arin could figure out otherwise, he was going to hazard a guess that these things were the being’s eyes by the way they were so intently pointed down at him.
             “There isn’t a word for my people on your planet, so it’s not worth trying.  My apologies.” The thing answered without opening a single orifice or even vibrating with its words.  It just kept staring…  Was this the thing that was even talking to him?
             “Are you gonna fuckin’ apologize for tying me to a fucking table?!” Arin shouted back, seeing the way the being recoiled from him and raised its thin, noodle-like arms up over the spots on it’s face.  It didn’t seem to Arin like it really would’ve done anything, with how thin and squishy it’s arms looked.  As a side note, each arm seemed to have about three fingers at the terminating end, but Arin could’ve been wrong, the creature was outside of the exam light.  Nonetheless, it gave off a very faint glow even as the dark, purple center of the being’s body darkened to nearly black.  “Why did you take me?!  Where am I?!”
             “You’re, uhm…  On my ship.” It answered, “And I took you to perform… Um… A study.”
             Oh no, no, no, no, no!  Was he about to get probed?!  Arin wasn’t ready for this!  Was he going to get vivisected?!  Maybe screaming at the creature wasn’t in his best self-preservation interests…  But also the creature seemed very physically weak, maybe, if he could get up, he could overpower it somehow.
             And then do what?  You don’t even know how to fly a plane in a flight simulator, how the fuck would you figure out how to fly a ship that’s not even made on Earth?  Arin logically concluded internally.  He was going to have to find some other way out of this…  The being didn’t seem opposed to talking to him as it had, largely, answered all questions put to it.
              “What kind of study…?” Arin hesitantly questioned.
             “Um…  My people are curious to see whether or not your people are a match for us.”
             “A match?  In…  In what way?”  Arin squinted, trying to see the thing as it moved outside the bright light.  It didn’t have legs, more just like a silently undulating lower half.  He decided that they probably moved a lot like snakes did, just more upright.
             “A diplomatic one.” The thing said.  “We are on a trial period right now… I am a researcher, here to collect information on the temperament of your species.”
             Oh shit, really?  These things wanted to be friends with humans?  That didn’t seem right, maybe there was something else going on here.
             “A diplomatic match…  Okay, um…  You’re off to a very bad start by abducting me…  Have there been others?”
             “Yes, I’m aware of that.  I have tried at least twenty humans prior--you’re all so diverse, it’s very interesting!--but…  None of them gave me satisfactory results.” The thing deflated almost, reaching an appendage up to angle the bright, irritating light away from Arin’s face to allow him to adjust his eyes to the rest of the dark atmosphere.  The thing was a slightly lighter shade of its previous purple-black, almost a navy blue, the edges of it’s person almost appearing clear, the only thing differentiating it from the rest of the background being the way light bent through it.
             “Satisfactory…  Results?” Arin swallowed, starting to get nervous again.  “What kind of results were you looking for?”
             “I have been seeking a human to play host to me during my studies on Earth…  None have agreed to the terms so far.”
             “Uh…  Host?  Like… As in a parasite?”  This was some… Yerk, Animorphs shit going on!
             “No, not like that, I meant…  Your people seem to live in domiciles made out of wood and stone and other materials.  I require shelter from the elements just as you do.  Especially because it’s so cold on your planet right now.  My species isn’t meant for such inhospitable weather.”  It very gently explained, gesturing out from itself towards a wide window just out of Arin’s view.
             “Oh…”  That didn’t…  Sound too bad, actually, however…  “You know it’s only winter on one side of the planet right now, right?”
             “Oh, yes, I know, but those other places are also too hot.”  For once, the creature made a noise that wasn’t all-encompassing, it made a light trilling noise that vibrated it’s whole body, “It’s significantly easier to handle colder temperatures than hot ones.”  Wow, the thing almost sounded exactly like a persnickety human.
             “I live in California man, it’s really not that cold…  It’s like… Fifty tops.  And it gets super hot in summer.”  Arin explained.
            “Yes, I understand your winters are mild in your part of your world.  It also has a very diverse collection of your population and seems a good place to begin my fieldwork.”
             “And that would be…?”
             “Integrating myself into your culture and living as you do.  Intermittently I will have to submit reports to my superiors back home about the progress of my research.  If my research goes well, others will come to your planet to study, to make sure my results are correct.”  It rattled off as if it has had to give this spiel at least once a night.  “After our research has concluded, we will all vacate your planet and it will be left up to our leaders on how to proceed then…  They might choose to offer a hand in alliance with your planet, or we might just leave you to your own devices.  You’re very far away from most everyone else in this galaxy.”
             “Uh…  Okay, and…  What kind of research would you be conducting in this person’s house?  You wouldn’t be abducting people would you?  Because that’s kind of against the law…  Basically everywhere.”  Arin informed, getting really uncomfortable on the table.
             “Oh, no, these preliminary studies are the only time individuals will be taken in for study.” It responded, sounding rather bright about this prospect.  “I’ve been studying you, for example, for about…  What you would call a week!”
             “What?!”  Arin tried to sit up again and found it impossible, just as he had before.  As if anything had changed at all.  He was still the captive subject of this…  Extraterrestrial.
             “Oh, yeah, I’m sure that must be upsetting.  Let me explain…  Uh, if it makes you feel somewhat better, my interest in you isn’t personal, you were just a random selection.  You are subject…”  Arin had to squash his love of science fiction very hard as he saw the being pick up some kind of device that projected a screen above itself.  Bright, glowing marks that resembled chicken scratch shone on the screen and the creature read, “Subject thirty-two of the B category.  For research purposes, that’s your designation, although, I understand that members of the dominant Terran race each have individual designations.”
             “So…  I’m Subject Thirty-Two-B…?”  Arin pronounced carefully, he really hated being reduced to a number, however, he already reconciled that that was basically what a social security number in the United States was.  “Why am I not an A?”
             “Oh, because Subject One-A had a different physical make up than you did.  Subject One-A did not have your distinctive lower protrusion.  Subject Two was of the B class.  It is merely the order in which I distinguish--”
             “You took my clothes off?!” Arin shrieked, the alien recoiling again.  His face burned hot and red, had this thing touched him as well?!
             “Uh, yes… Uh… It was only for study purposes…  I understand it was… Uhm…  You were in stasis, you see and--”
             “That doesn’t make it okay!”  Arin continued yelling, completely forgetting that he was supposed to be diplomatic here.
             “I understand…  My people, euh, don’t often engage in the wearing of garments, so it…”  The alien seemed to give up on explaining itself and let out another noise that was similar to the trill earlier, only this one sounded--what Arin could guess--more irritated.  “My intentions are objective study of your species, nothing else.  I am not here to alter the way you live or perceive your world, I am here to watch and learn.  It’s not good policy for our people to just come plop ourselves onto your world with no idea of how your people function.  It would be a disaster for us to go in blind.”
             “What have you been doing to me…?” Arin angrily ground out from between his teeth.  He wanted to say more, but bit his tongue.
             “Taking notes of your anatomy and physiological processes.  Your patterns of activity and stasis are not unlike ours, following the cycles of your chief star.  You are carbon-based, unlike us, and, also unlike us, have digestive chambers inside your being that eventually excretes.”  The alien went on and on about how they were quite similar while being very different at the same time and it was starting to bore Arin.
             “Why do you have me up here… Not asleep for once?” he grumbled, cutting off the expositing being.
             “Oh…  Actually, you woke up early.  I still need to remove the implant.”
             “Implant?!  What does it do?!”
             “Nothing adverse.  It merely transmits to me your location at all times, taking notes of things like…  Your change in body temperature throughout the day… Uhm…  It records social interactions where there is a significant change in biochemistry, I have found with your species that those generally occur during the presence of others.  Those you find it pleasurable to be around; confirming to us that you are social beings that prefer pleasant, non-threatening interactions.  It’s very promising for a future alliance.”  As Arin glared at the creature who was, yet again, rambling on, having completely forgotten the original reason for addressing this issue, the being trailed off, “Ehm, given how your body produces skin, it would’ve fallen out on its own in a few days time, but, it’s not recommended that we leave any trace of our technology on your planet.  So, I need it back.”
             Arin flinched as the thing came forward and picked up an instrument that looked very much like a hypodermic needle, “H-How…?”
             “Do not worry, this will only hurt for a moment, and if you remain still, it will go much faster.”  The thing bent over Arin’s arm--which, now that Arin really paid attention--was strapped down in a very specific position with his wrist facing upwards.  One of the being’s fingers touched his skin and Arin had to marvel at the odd texture it had.  It was warm instead of cold as the crystalline-appearing body suggested, soft and very gentle as it palpated his wrist.  “If you will relax, please.”
             Arin squeezed his eyes shut and looked away, trying to, nonetheless, do as his captor suggested.
            “Do medical procedures upset you?”  It asked.
            “No, not usually but needles--Ah!” Arin tried his hardest not to squirm as the needle was in his arm for less than a second before retracting. “You jerk!”
             “That wasn’t so bad though, was it?” It held the needle up, a very tiny dot of red on the end of it.
             Arin just grumbled to himself, wanting to reach over to rub his arm, “Okay, the things out, can you let me up now?”
             “Uhm… I can’t do that.  I’m sorry.” The alien sat the needle down in a tray and set it aside for later, “I am alone on this ship and your species are more substantial than we are.  It’s for my safety.”
             The thing was afraid of him?  Inside, Arin wondered if it was maybe saying more than it was supposed to.  What species wanted to make its own physical weaknesses apparent?
             Unless they really are just peaceful…
             “Psh, afraid of these guns?” Arin tried to indicate his arms and for a second, he saw the creature flash an array of bright hues of yellow and orange before darkening to a gloomy, purple.
             “You have firearms on you?!” It asked, seemingly in panic.
            “Uh…  N-No… Man…”  Was that right?  “It’s a joke.  Um…  We… Uhm… That is, us that live in our part of the world, sometimes call our arms, if we have really large muscles, ‘guns’.  Sayin that they’re, big and dangerous or… Yeah, I don’t know where it comes from.”
             “Your muscles are large?  But your fat-to-muscle-ratio is--”
             “It was a joke, man…  Does your species have those?” Arin prodded, seeing the tendrils above the thing’s eyes waggle as its body pulsed a shade of pastel green.
             “Yes we do…  I was considered the funniest researcher in our pod back home.”  Then, it’s tendrils seemed to deflate, going back to their sluggish waving, “Though, I’ve been alone for awhile, it was a long trip out here.  I wonder if someone else has replaced me as the funniest…?”
             Arin watch its body downshift in color again, radiating less light and turning a particularly nasty shade of greenish-yellow.  As it also appeared to slouch, Arin banked that these things probably experienced emotions very similar to what humans did as it somewhat already exhibited surprise and fear.  Likely, what the creature was trying to express through its color, light and physical display was loneliness.
              “Did you have a lot of friends back home?” he figured he’d ask.
             “Oh, yes.  We create social circles like you. Those that make us happy.  Mine was larger than most…  Alas, I didn’t have a choice when I was sent here.”  It sat up straighter, “I have contact with home, but it’s not the same.  Most all of my time is spent studying terrans--which isn’t all that bad, you’re new, fascinating and unique subjects--but I was considered a singer and a performer outside of my profession.”
             “Ah…  Stuck doing a job you don’t really love as much as other things?”
            “Is this a common feeling among terrans?”
             “So common it’s considered out of the ordinary if you enjoy your job.”  Arin was one of those lucky few that made his living doing something he genuinely loved doing.  However, so much of his job was dependant upon the people he worked with and his fanbase.  It was as uplifting as it was humbling.
             “That’s…  A concerning statistic.  I am considered odd for not enjoying my job as much as others.”
             “Ah, different planets, different norms, right?”  Wow, Arin was actually holding a conversation with a real alien!  Now that the initial terror had died off and he was pretty certain this thing meant him no harm, this was, actually, pretty cool!
             “That much is certain.”
             “Am I the only human you’ve studied tonight?” Arin wondered aloud.
             “It’s a very slow process, yes, you are.  I get distracted easily and forget to log my findings if I don’t focus on one thing…  You’re the only human I’ve examined for the past…”  It seemed to have to search for a word… “Week…  Around… Seven of your days.  Yes.”
             “Okay…  Um, can I ask how you talk?  I mean… You don’t have a mouth.  Also, your grasp of English is very impressive.”
             “My species produces our language by vibrating the surface of our body.  However, that is not the only way we communicate, much of our conversations are covered without sound.  I am not verbally communicating at all.  I have tapped remotely into the language center of your brain and am searching for words that carry around the same meanings as the words of my language…”  It seemed to wait…  As if wondering if Arin was going to scream again.  When all Arin did was stare at it with his mouth hanging open in wordless “That’s so fucking cool!”, it continued.  “The way I speak changes from person to person.  I have conversed with those with larger vocabularies than yours and those who have had smaller.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to access a word I need, or you just completely don’t have it available and it makes connecting very difficult.”
             “You trying to say I’m dumb, bro?” Arin joked, very comfortable in his intellectual level in actuality.
             Arin’s interlocutor flashed a bright yellow, “No!  I did not mean to offend!  I was…”  The creature vibrated, sounding almost frustrated, “I am not doing the best at expressing myself…”
             “It’s cool man.”  Arin giggled, watching the alien’s body bleed a hue of powder blue.
             “What was that noise you just made?”  It wondered.
             “It was a laugh…  I thought you had been recording social interactions.  Haven’t you figured out what it is?”
             “None of your people have laughed in my presence before.  It’s a different experience getting to see it happen than merely hearing a recording.”
             “Oh, uh…  They are… Um… Expressions of happiness, I guess?  I mean, we don’t always laugh when we’re happy, we laugh mostly when some shit’s funny, or…  There are a lot of reasons we laugh, but, most of the time, it’s a good thing.”  Arin couldn’t help his smile seeing the alien’s powder blue body glow in the darkness of the ship.  “I could ask you if you guys only glow when you’re happy or something?”
             “Our…”  It was silent for a few seconds, apparently seeking very hard in Arin’s vocabulary for something useful…  “Our glowing” It must’ve given up, “is caused by small chemical reactions inside of us, most of the time caused by our digestion, but the brightness is somewhat dependant upon our mood.  When we are scared, our digestive systems stop so energy can be directed elsewhere, so we don’t glow during those periods.  Or when we haven’t consumed for quite some time.”
             “Ah, cool.”  Silence followed for a short period, Arin looking around the room his eyes had finally adjusted to.  “So…  Am I in space?”
             “Yes, we are in orbit around your planet.”
             “Do you have any windows I could see out of?” Arin wasn’t even going to bother hiding his excitement.
             “Yes… Over here.” It waved one of its skinny arms hesitantly.
            “Can I see?”
            “I am…  Unsure about letting you stand…” It logically answered.
            “I’ll let you live at my place if you let me see!” Arin offered, this really didn’t seem like a bad idea.
             “You cannot take your offer back when I let you up, you know…”
             “I didn’t intend to…  But, uh…  What would you do if I said ‘no’ anyway?  Not that I’m taking back what I just said, the offer still stands…”
             “I would erase your memory of ever having spoken to me and I would move on to the next subject.”
             “Wow, you drop a girl cold turkey, eh?”
             “I have access to your language centers and understand your words at face value…  Some things I can tell what they mean, but…  I’m going to assume that’s another euphemism or a saying?”  The alien puzzled, the powder blue of curiosity returning from earlier.
             “Uh, yeah, kinda… I don’t know how to explain it.  It was just a joke anyway.”
            “So, you are a ‘girl’?” It inquisitively pressed.
            “No, no.  I’m a guy.  Uh, boy…  Or dude--wait, everyone’s ‘dude’ these days--a bro.  Yeah, not a girl.”  Arin cleared up, he was going to have to be very careful with what he said for awhile, he figured.  He couldn’t give the alien any wrong impressions, “But, uh…  What would you be?”  Although Arin had accepted that some people weren’t men or women, he refused to keep referring to the mystical being as “it” in his head like some object.
             “Hm, that’s a difficult question for me to answer as we don’t differentiate like your people do.  We only have one physical set-up, each of us with the possibility to procreate.”
             Great, so it’s like a giant, uh…  What are those wiggly things underwater?  Anemones?  Looking up to the beings gently swaying head things, he decided that was actually quite accurate.  “So…  Do you guys like… Not pair up?  Or…”  Wow, he was seriously asking an alien about how they made little aliens.
            “It is recommended that we keep bloodlines ever moving forward.  Self-procreation is very frowned upon and has been for quite some time back home.”  By the way the alien spoke of this process, Arin determined that this sort of thing must’ve not been private information.  He determined that, anyway...
            “Whoa…  So, you don’t even need someone else to get pregnant?”
            “No, but there are…  Things we must go through…  Legal, um…  Hoops to navigate for us gain permission.  As you can guess, the offspring of self-fertilization is an exact copy of it’s progenitor.  We have methods of population monitoring as well, a penal system and having copies of yourself running about would be very… Inconvenient.”
             Arin had to laugh at the implications of that.  It was such a completely ridiculous concept!  However, the man could guess that he probably was being insensitive or something by laughing at this.  The alien’s body turned an unsettling shade of purple.
             “Do our societal regulations amuse you?”
             “No man, it’s not like that.”  Arin quickly amended, “More, um…  Well, I guess, on Earth, we have jokes about people having doubles and stuff and…”  Seeing that the creature’s colors didn’t change in the slightest with this explanation, he decided that maybe an apology would be the better option here, “Sorry man…”
             “It’s okay…  Different cultures…”
             Another short silence filled the space.
             “So, about that window?” Arin cleared his throat.
             “Are you still offering to host me?”
             “Yeah, of course.” Arin swallowed when his new “friend” came close to the bed he was on and loomed over him.  As he was unable to see anything beneath the bed, he could only wonder at what the being was doing to the mechanism that created such an awful screeching noise.
             “It is a deal.” Arin heard it respond, it’s deep, rather melodious voice unhindered by the loud sound.  To accompany the loud sound, the restraints on Arin’s arms fell away limply and retracted into the surface he was laying upon.  “Do you need help standing?” it asked.
             “No… I should be fine…  Have you figured out some kind of artificial gravity for your ship?” Arin sat up, obviously finding that even without the restraints he wasn’t floating everywhere.
             “Something like that.” The creature made some sort of episodic trilling noise.
             “So, what was that noise?”
             “Similar to your laughter.” It shortly explained, offering it’s boneless, three-fingered hand out to help Arin down.
             Not that he figured he actually needed help, but Arin was just looking for an excuse to touch the alien again after his brief experience earlier.  Carefully reaching out, he grasped the hand-like structure, marveling at it’s warmth and texture.  Arin considered for a moment that it’s skin was a lot like silicone gel and thus he determined it to be rather insubstantial until his momentary host pulled him from the bed by his arm.
             “Whoa!” Arin yelped, feeling himself suddenly suspended from the being’s single hand, his toes only barely brushing the chilly ground.  With such strength, why was this thing worried about Arin attacking it earlier?  If he’s from a peaceful race, maybe he just doesn’t have the stomach to fight back… He reasoned and it seemed a pretty sound conclusion.  On another note, as the alien set him down on his feet, Arin noticed it was taller than most humans!
             “I did not mean to surprise you.”  By the greeny color that bled into the crystalline body, Arin banked that the creature was not being completely truthful.  He was known as a jokester on his planet right?
             “Yeah, yeah, I’ll get you back later.” Arin cordially joked back, seeing a desired pastel green pulse move throughout its body.  As he then chuckled, the creature waved its arm towards the aforementioned window and Arin went still.  He turned his head and carefully crept over the cold, hard floor to the window.  His mouth gaped as he stared down at the blue planet he called his home.  “Fuck…” he whispered appreciatively, a fog forming on the glass before him.  Ostensibly, the alien wanted to keep Arin at least in the same side of the globe he was from during these study sessions, so the world Arin saw was blanketed in peaceful night time.  He saw the lights from major cities shimmering from between clouds and saw the ominous emptiness beyond his home…  “Dude…  You said that…  That we’re really out of the way here?”
             “Yes, in this galaxy, you’re far away from the main clusters of inhabitable worlds.  You’re not alone, but it’s a trip to get out here.”  The alien explained, looking down at him curiously, “Is it somehow comforting to know you’re not the only ones here?”
             “It’s…  Kind of scary, actually.” Arin was still in awe of the view before him.  He wondered what sunrise would look like from this perspective.
             “I can imagine…  Your planet has made attempts to be very loud, indiscriminate in who may pick up your signals.” It commented, raising a hand, but pausing, “Your people offer gestures of comfort by touching, correct?”
             “Uh… Yes, we do?” Arin raised an eyebrow, but quickly found why the being asked as the wide, spidery hand rested itself between his shoulders.  He smiled, the thing was trying so hard.  Which… Again…  Back to the earlier topic…  “So, I know you said uh, your race’s name can’t be pronounced by us--”
             “That was, um, actually a lie.” The being let out a short, unsure trill.  “I am merely not permitted to speak verbally around your people…  It’s to avoid leaving evidence of my presence.  No recordings of my voice are allowed to be kept.” He carefully expounded.  “You just don’t have a word for it in your memory.”
             “It’s not like I’m wired or anything.” Arin shrugged, looking up at his host’s big, black eyes. “I can’t just keep calling you ‘thing’ or ‘that alien’ all the time…  I dunno, it just seems rude.”
             “You’re concerned about being rude, suddenly?”  More green pulses of amusement rippled over the jelly frame.  “How unexpected.”
             “C’mon man, I’m gonna be living with you for…  I dunno, however long, shouldn’t I at least have something to call you?”  Arin kept his tone joking, not wanting the being to accidentally misinterpret his words as aggression.
             “Um…  Okay…  I guess…  I guess I should trust you… Um…  Okay…  So, we’re called,” And the mental dialog died as the extraterrestrial’s body began to vibrate, “Zilbyrgh,” it alternated back to it’s mental voice “for singular, and plural would be” and it’s body vibrated once more “Zilbyrghr.”  Well…  Arin wasn’t exactly sure what he had been expecting, but he needed to be careful not to accidentally trip over the syllables.  Separate from the difficulty of the name, Arin rather enjoyed the sound of the Zilbyrgh’s voice, it wasn’t unlike the voice he heard in his head, just a different language.
             “Zil…  Beer-g?” He tried his hardest to replicate.
             “Close enough.” The Zilbyrgh rippled with amused colors, the tendrils on top of it’s head wiggling with a bit of excitement.
              “And, uh…  I would appreciate it if you didn’t call me Thirty-Two-B or something…  I mean, if you have to refer to me in your reports that way, it’s fine, but my name’s Arin.”
             “Arin.” It answered easily, its body vibrating, apparently those syllables being rather common in it’s language.  “And… Uh,” it switched back to mental speak momentarily, “you’re free to shorten this… If you’d like…  But my name’s…”
             Arin leaned towards his new friend, trying his hardest to decipher syllables as soon as he heard them.
             “Lyrdaanaavydaa.”  As far as pronunciations went, Arin relaxed, that was significantly easier than the word for its species.  Though… That was pretty long…
             “Leer-dahn-ah-vee-dah?” Arin nodded, “Can I just call you Dan?”
             “Dan?” Lyrdaanaavydaa vibrated back, the tell-tale blue of curiosity painting its glittering body.
             “Yeah, it’s short for Daniel…  A common name.” Arin shrugged, “Um, another word is, like, Danny?  We give each other nicknames if we like each other…  Most of the time…  Um, it is a male name though…  If you’re okay with that.”
             “I do not understand the difference between one sex or the other beyond physical makeup, it does not matter to me.” Dan assured him, “I am Dan…”  Dan then flushed a deep shade of hunter green, “Thank you for the name, Arin.”
             “No problem man, uh, welcome to Earth!”  There was just one thing bothering Arin, however…  “Question, uh, why didn’t you, like, try to contact, like, a space scientist or something?  Wouldn’t you learn more about us that way?”
             “It was a thought, but I figured that it would skew my results and observations too much.  I would rather be with humans who aren’t so analytical over everything they do.” Dan giggled…  If Arin could call it a giggle, it was pretty close to one, actually.
              “Ah… Uh, so…  Are you going to take me back and come with me?  Or…?  How’s this going to work out?” Arin moved on to more practical questions, hiding an alien was going to come with some challenges, obviously.
             “I can send you back, you’ve not had enough time in stasis.” Dan responded, moving over to a control panel.  Arin couldn’t quite describe the Zilbyrgh version of locomotion as slithering as only the lower half of the body was involved, but it was close enough.  “I will not be joining you for a few more days, however.” Dan continued, “I have preparations to make.  And it should give you time to also make preparations for a houseguest.”
             “Um, okay.  Cool…  Will you just like, knock on my door?  Or appear in my kitchen?”
             “I will approach you somewhere, don’t worry.  I will try to make this as painless as possible.”  Arin heard some beeping beneath the ministrations of Dan’s fingers and he inquisitively stepped over to the smooth, glass-like screen it was manipulating.  “Curious?”
             “Yeah,” Arin chuckled, “we’re known for that.”
             “It’s a sign of intelligence.  Not an insult.” Dan giggled, carrying on with dragging it’s fingers over the black piece of glass-like material.  There were lights and sounds and what Arin assumed to be letters.  This was all so fucking cool!  And he got to see all of it!  Like, fucking hell!  Who the hell could ever pass up a chance like this?!
             “So, what does this do?”
             “Things.”
             “You…”  Arin grumbled, watching pastel greens take over Dan’s body.  By now, Arin was starting to connect this with the idea of a Zilbyrgh smile.  “Can you be more descriptive?”
             “Not really.  You don’t have words for it.”  Dan explained, finally tapping the center of a round, glowing button that appeared in the center of the glass.  “I can tell you, this will send you home, though.  You need to lay back on that pad.” Dan pointed back to the bed Arin woke up on.
             Shuffling back over to the bed, Arin looked over his shoulder to Dan again, the ethereal being glowed green in the darkness, the Earth below providing a stunning backdrop.  He had really met an alien…  And it was going to be living with him!  He let out a breath and climbed onto the table, laying back.
             “Is this right?”
             “Yes.  Sweet dreams.”  Arin registered Dan pressing the button, but he fell back into the darkness of sleep not a moment later.

             Arin rolled over in bed, the piercing rays of the sun rousing him from sleep.  Groaning, he let his eyes crack open, squinting at the far wall his shadow was cast on.  What in the ever-sweet-living name of fuck was that dream?  Deciding he could think about it later, he reached out for his phone on his bedside, reading the time as “You’re fucking late” before groaning again and sitting up.  He was fully clothed still, sweatshirt and sweatpants, but his toes were bare, unlike in his dream.
             He sighed, it was a pretty cool dream, seriously.  He would love to meet aliens, especially ones that looked as weird as that one.  It was actually really pretty…  Maybe he had been watching too many animes or had hentai on the brain or something.  Anyway, he was going to be late for recording if he didn’t get his ass in gear.
             Shuffling to the bathroom, he trimmed his facial hair and decided whether or not he needed to wash his hair.  Figuring he could go another day or two without it and he was also running late, he skipped the shower, grabbing for his toothbrush, paste and deodorant.  As he reached for these objects, however, he noticed a raised, red bump on his right arm.  He raised his arm up to his face to examine the divot in his skin, wondering what it could’ve been.  In his dream it was where Dan had inserted the needle to remove an implant from his arm, but…  That couldn’t possibly have really happened.  No way.  He was so not that important.
              He just decided it was a spider bite in the end, ignoring it as he went the rest of the way through his morning routine.  In the middle of changing his clothes, he pulled his cellphone to his ear, “Hey, Ross, sorry I’m running behind.”
              “No big deal, no one else is here yet.  They were all up late looking for another of those UFO sightings.”  Arin could hear the eye-roll in his voice.  “I think they’re all hungover, actually.” Ross chuckled.
              Silent at first, Arin asked in the middle of buckling his pants, “Was there one?”
             “Not last night, it was closer to this morning.  Some people got footage of something flying around on their way to work this morning.  It was like at five or something.” By Ross’ tone, Arin could tell he didn’t put any stock into this sort of thing.  “Videos look pretty convincing, but stuff’s flying around here all the time.  I don’t buy it.”
              “It’s been going on for like a week anyway, aren’t those kinds of sightings supposed to be few and far between?”  Arin muttered, this did explain his dream pretty well.
              “Everyone else seems to be having fun with it.  Just get here so we can get to work.  You sound like you were up late, don’t skip the coffee.”
             “Yeah, see you in a few minutes.” Arin answered, ending the call and pocketing his phone before reaching for his shirt.  Time for another day in the life.  Not that his life was exactly boring or annoying, but it was just another day.