The Beyonder wasn’t a big ship, it was rather small even, but it was a confusing place to be if you didn’t know the way and considering that the gravity in the ship was a lot lower than it was on Earth it became even more disorientating. Quinn had trouble keeping up with the strange man as she fired questions at him, of which he ignored every single one. All she wanted was to understand what was going on, where she was, and what she had eaten that she could dream something like this. Because that was what Quinn still hoped, that it was all a dream.
Nava opened another door. “Get used to it cutie, you’ll be here for a little while.” A strong push between her shoulders shoved her inside, the door closed behind her. The metal on metal sound resonated in her ears, Quinn knew in a second that this must be the sound that you would hear when you were locked in a dungeon somewhere. She turned on her heels and started banging on the door, which again was completely made from metal.
“Hey! You can’t keep me here! Let me out!” The door, however, wouldn’t budge and the strange man did not return.
“It’s no use.” The voice startled her, once again, and Quinn turned. Turned too quickly again, as she felt the room spinning around her while she tried to gain her footing. Someone grabbed her, pulled her down.
“Easy there, deep breaths. Try to focus on the wall.” The voice was soft, calm, it talked her through the faintness, grounded her in one way or another. As Quinn gained her footing, metaphorically, she noticed more faces in the room. About six people were sitting on boxes, crates, and amongst rubble. Some looked like her, human-like that would be, and others came in all shapes and sizes. One of the guys, at least she assumed he was male, had a skin that was almost see-through, and his insides seemed to glow. They all looked at the new girl in the room for a second and then resumed their earlier conversation. Their voices resonated against the walls, resulting in a murmur made up by different tones and volumes. A sudden realization hit Quinn as she looked to the other people in the room.
“How… How can I…?” she stuttered. The girl who had pulled her to the floor, one of the more human-like creatures in the room, noticed the shock on Quinn’s face she smiled softly at her.
“Translator,” she simply said as she moved her hand towards Quinn’s face. The Earthling flinched, practically jumped away from the stranger’s touch, but the girl kept smiling at her.
“I’m not going to hurt you, don’t worry,” she said while stopping her motion. Retracting her hand from Quinn’s face, she reached towards her own ear where she tapped on a spot right behind the body part before moving her hair to the side to show Quinn a little metal knob the size of a seed of grain. “They must have implanted yours right before you woke up. It translates all known languages automatically into your own. It’s why you can understand us, and we you.” The shock on Quinn’s face didn’t fade for a single second, but her hand flew towards her own face and she felt the cold touch of metal against her fingers.
“How… Why…?” Stuttering once again the questions that formed in her head didn’t make their way out of her mouth, blocked by shock and fear.
The girl kept her friendly face. “I’m Ciyoa, from Nira. They picked you up from Earth, right?” Quinn nodded as a sign of recognition of what was supposed to be the girl’s name and possibly her home, the only movement she was able to make at this moment. Ciyoa saw that as encouragement for her to continue.
“I know this must all seem very strange to you. Earth isn’t aware of alien lifeforms yet, is it? On my planet, we know that there is more than just us in the universe, but we haven’t developed long distance space travel yet. I was picked up by The Beyonder a year ago.” Quinn felt her stomach twinge, felt her hands becoming sweaty, and she was pretty sure she was about to faint. She wasn’t usually the type to do something dramatic like that, but she couldn’t help herself anymore. This was all just too much. First, she saw her home – or what they claimed to be her home – from whatever it was they called space. Then they told her that she wasn’t dead, she just went beyond the blue sky that was supposed to be the edge of the world of mortal men, and now here was a girl that looked a bit like girls she had met before that told her she was from another planet. It felt like her brain was going to melt. Ciyoa ordered someone to get something to drink, as she tried to keep the Earthling from hyperventilating. The Niranian sighed. She had seen this reaction before. She was the first one of this load to be picked up, and therefore it fell on her to make sure the rest of the people picked up by The Beyonder adjusted. At least, she had decided to make that her task. No one had assigned it to her, and most people kept to themselves, knowing it was never a good thing to be kidnapped from your home planet by a merchant ship.
“Drink this,” she said while she pushed a glass of water in Quinn’s hands. Quinn simply nodded, as she tried to get the glass to her mouth, but here hands were shaking too badly while she mumbled a silent prayer. Ciyoa recognized it, recognized the behaviour in which to mumble words not directed at anyone in particular as they were to be heard by an invisible being. Quinn was not the first girl picked up from a planet that still believed to be the only one in the universe, or the first one picked up from a planet that didn’t even know that there was such a thing as the universe. A planet where religion ruled through fear and wishful thinking.
The Niranian sat down in front of Quinn, which the others saw as I sign to truly start minding their own business. “Hey, it’s going to be okay, okay? As long as we’re on this ship nothing will happen to us.”
Quinn, pale as a sheet, stared at the girl. She looked so human, and yet there was something odd about her. Her eyes and ears, they were unlike any the peasant girl had ever seen.
“When… when can I go home?” she asked, her voice faint and shaking. Ciyoa’s face froze for half a second, long enough for Quinn to notice. “Am I ever going home?”
She feared to ask the question, terribly afraid of the answer. They were told stories as kids about bandits that kidnapped children who stayed outside after dark, about pirates that plundered ships on the seas and that burned ports to the ground. Even though she barely had a clue what was going on, Quinn realised that the people who ruled this ship were like those pirates, that the ship might be different but the people were not. She was sure her parents never thought of space-pirates kidnapping their children. Her parents… A new wave of fear hit the poor girl. What would her parents think if she didn’t show up for the rest of the reeking, didn’t show up for dinner, didn’t show up ever again anymore? Tears started filling her eyes, spilling over her cheeks. Ciyoa placed one of her hands on the girl’s shoulder, a gentle gesture meant to comfort Quinn but all it did was make the crying more intense.
“It’s going to be okay,” Ciyoa repeated in a soft whisper. “It’s not that bad up here, we can explain you all that’s going on and before you know it we’ll dock at a port.” Quinn looked up in surprise.
“A port?” What did they want to do there? Ciyoa’s eyes became a slight bit darker, literally. Her eyes visibly shifted from blue to storm cloud grey, it was unsettling to see.
“Yeah, these traders collect people all over the galaxy. To sell them off.” To sell them? Quinn’s face went back to shock. She would be sold? As a… She couldn’t even finish that thought. Ciyoa saw the fear on Quinn’s face and smiled.
“Don’t worry, we’re working on a plan to get away before they can do that.” Her voice would have been reassuring, if her eyes hadn’t stayed grey…