October, 2017

Tap. Tap-tap. Tap. Ta-tap tap tap-tap tap tap tap.

Lypse clenched her fists, and felt her claws digging into the hardened callouses of her palms. It would hurt in a minute, if she wasn't careful. Consciously forcing herself to relax, she tapped the readout for more details on their route, trying to pretend that she hadn't checked their progress less than an hour ago.

Estimated Time of Arrival: 23 sleep-cycles

Sleep. Lypse snorted.

Tap-tap. Tap tap tap. Tap t-tap-tap tap tap.

With a growl, she clenched her fists again and squeezed her eyes shut. Her head ached from lack of sleep, and she would have given everything she owned for one quiet night.

"Calm down," crooned her partner. He was much larger and therefore more patient than she was, even under the most strenuous of circumstances. "The cargo isn't going to stop just because you're mad at it." T'nol extended his long, sinuous neck to nudge her gently with his broad, soft nose, one milky eye tilted toward her in spite of the fact that he could see nothing at all. Maybe that was part of why he was so calm all the time.

"I could make them stop," she grumbled, fantasizing about flooding the cargo bay and drowning the little terrors. The circulation system kicked on and the sleep currents began to sweep calmly through the ship. It wouldn't help. It wouldn't stop the noise. Lypse reached out and turned it off. Another sleepless night ahead, trying to squeeze just a little more speed out of her ship.

T'nol hummed quietly in his throat, and with a casual twitch of his foreleft fluke, he initiated the sleep currents again. "You need to rest."

She felt the movement of his body through the water, interrupting the gentle currents with his bulk as he curled his sleek form about her. T'nol was easily double her size, maybe larger, and his thick hide was smooth and soft to the touch. All four of his flukes wrapped around her, and with a flick of his tail, he propelled them both along the corridor to their shared sleeping quarters.

"I can't do this anymore, T'nol. I can't. I need it to stop. I could just kill them all-"

"No." T'nol's flukes stayed firm, even as she struggled halfheartedly to free herself. "That would kill our profit and make this whole trip pointless. Not to mention we'd have to repay the seller. It's not worth it."

Lypse gave in with a sigh. He was right. She let him carry her to the nest where they were meant to sleep. The nest was a tangle of synthetic weed, soft to the touch and semi-bouyant. Unlike T'nol, who would swim in his sleep to keep water moving through his gills, Lypse would need to wrap herself in kelp and actually relax - assuming that was even possible at this point. The big male released her and nudged her toward the fake sea weed with a soft rumble.


She nearly protested, nearly hysterical and too tired to properly give vent.

"I'll help." He was still nudging her toward the nest.


"I will share a secret with you."

Reluctantly, Lypse grasped a handful of weed and wound it about herself, tethering her body to the spot while she prepared for rest.

Tap tap. Tap-t-tap-tap tap. Tap.


With a grunt of frustration, Lypse started to loose herself, but T'nol was there before she could pull the first strand free.

"Are you tucked in?" He probed her with his nose, testing the weed to see if it was holding her in place.

"Yes," she groaned, releasing the strand she held in one hard fist.

"Good. Now I can share my secret." He was looking unusually smug, smiling all over his broad muzzle. Lypse was beginning to grow suspicious, but at least she wasn't thinking about those stupid critters in the  hold.

Tap tap.

"What's your secret?" Not thinking about them. Not thinking about them.

Rather than answering with words, he flexed his flukes just enough to propel him forward an inch or two. His soft nose pressed against Lypse's forehead and-

Lypse woke to cheerful bluish lights and the brisk, cool "morning" current flowing around the room. She heard nothing, and remembered nothing after T'nol's promise to tell her his "secret." She saw him swimming past the opening to the sleeping chamber, looking very pleased with himself.

Then it clicked.

"You've gotta be JOKING." Lypse tore at the synthetic weed and pulled herself free, clumsy in her haste. "You could have put me to sleep any time, and you never TOLD me?!" She bumped into the wall as she tried to speed after him, and T'nol's laughter was her only answer.

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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