Arya walked down the corridor leading to the mess hall. As she rounded the bend, she heard Karg and Nick talking to one another over their morning meal.
“Your calendar is made up of twelve munse, your clock is divided by twelve, but your math and currency is based on ten? That’s the most backward thing I have ever heard,” Karg announced in his deep voice.
Nick scratched an itch on the back of his neck. “To start with, it’s months, not munse. And what else would math be based on? Math is math.”
“Yes, one plus one equals two, but basing it on ten is inefficient. We base it on twelve.”
Nick was still perplexed.
Karg looked at him across the table. “Look, ten can only be divided by one, two, five and itself. Twelve is divisible by one, two, three, four, six and itself.”
Karg cut him off. “What’s three quarters of ten? Seven and a half. A fraction. What’s three quarters of twelve? Nine.”
“How much is that currency you carry?”
“It’s a quarter.” Nick pulled the coin out of his pocket and flipped it over in his hand. “This is an old one, from back when they still had some silver in them. It equals twenty-five cents,” Nick replied.
“Is that a lot?” Karg queried.
Nick laughed. “No, it’s not much. A penny is the smallest currency on my planet. This only equals twenty-five pennies. Why?”
“What is half of that? Twelve and a half. A fraction! See, your system is very inefficient,” Karg boasted.
Nick glanced up to see Arya standing there grinning. She had been watching their discussion from the side of the room. Arya raised her eyebrows and cocked her head as if to say well, he’s right you know. Nick just shook his head, trying to grasp the strange alien concepts.
“So, instead of a dollar being one hundred pennies, it should be ninety-six? And a quarter would be twenty-four?” Nick said, narrowing his eyes in thought.
Karg laughed and banged the table hard with his hand, causing Nick to jerk so abruptly that he almost fell out of his chair. “Now you’re getting it,” Karg said. “There’s hope for you, after all.” Karg gulped down the purple gorbin juice from his cup and stood up to go get some more, letting out a deep burp as he went.
“Well, Karg seems to be warming up to you,” Arya remarked, as she approached the table. “I came to tell you that Captain Argos wants you to answer some questions later.”
Nick nodded as he stared off into space. He’d known it would only be a matter of time before Argos would want answers.
Arya glanced down at Nick’s plate of uneaten food. “You okay there? Don’t like the karesh meat?”
Nick’s gaze panned over to Arya. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine, just didn’t sleep much.” He looked down at the not quite identifiable food in front of him. “The food is pretty good actually. What is Karesh anyway? No, wait…maybe it’s better you don’t tell me.”
Arya sipped some juice from her cup. “Have you tried the gorbin juice? That will make you feel better. You should get some before it’s gone. It’s not often that we have it.”
“Thanks, I will.” Nick poked around on his plate with the two-prong fork that came with his tray of food. “Can you tell me where I am?”
“You’re in a star system called Garanta Orionis. Some still call it by its ancient Arisian name, Back Of The Giant,” Arya answered. “Which, by the looks of it, is very far from your home.”
Nick stared at her for a long moment. “That doesn’t really help me a bit.” He sighed and scrubbed a hand across the back of his aching neck. “It sucks being lost and not knowing where the hell I am. I mean, I didn’t plan on being here. I’m really not supposed to be here at all. Wherever here is. Don’t get me wrong. If your ship hadn’t picked me up, I’d be dead. So, I am very grateful you brought me aboard. And you have been very kind to me, but my coming here was just an accident. I don’t even know how I got here.”
Arya set her cup down on the table. “I can see you are missing your home…. I too miss mine. It has been such a long time since I have been to my home-world.” Arya looked almost wistful as she thought about her planet. “I really miss the Sarlansis trees. There are huge forests of them. At least there used to be, before the war.” Arya lifted her gaze back to Nick. “Your home must be awfully far away for us not to have some record of your species in our databanks. You really don’t have any idea how to get home?”
Nick shook his head no as he toyed with his food.
“Well, Captain Argos will have the final say, but maybe we can help you find your home planet.”
Nick stared down at his plate.
Arya leaned down to get his attention. “You should eat. You’ll need your strength. I’ll get you some juice. It’ll help your energy.” Arya left the table to round up a cup of juice, leaving Nick still staring at his plate, lost in his thoughts.
Moments later, she returned and plopped a cup down on the table. “Here you go. Taste it.”
Nick agreeably lifted the cup to take a sip. “Wow. That is really good. Kind of like fruit punch, only better. Thanks.”
Arya sat down and shoved some karesh into her mouth.
Nick glanced around at the almost empty room. In one corner, a couple of aliens were gathering some food containers. The two creatures were completely covered with what appeared to be spacesuits. He only caught a hint of their creepy faces through their masks as they turned to leave. They appeared to be four-legged with two arms and a bizarrely shaped head. The aliens were definitely odd, and it was even odder that they were wearing spacesuits inside the ship. It made him realize that overall he hadn’t actually seen many crewmembers. Only a handful since being brought on board.
“I’ve noticed that there seems to be a very small crew for a ship this size,” he said, still watching the two spacesuit-clad aliens exiting the room.
“What?” Nick turned to Arya with a befuddled look.
“We call them Meths. The two Coranii you were looking at over there. They’re methane breathers. Whatever you do, steer clear of areas marked with red and yellow ‘METH’ signs.”
“Oh, um, right. I’ll do that.” Nick’s brain was still stuck on the whole methane breather thing as Arya continued.
“The Resistance is spread pretty thin. We only have enough crew to run the ship. That way we reduce our losses if one ship falls to the enemy,” Arya explained through her mouthful of food.
“The Resistance is formed out of all the indigenous races in this sector. We have banded together against our common enemies. We are the ones that were lucky enough to escape the war between the Mok’tu and the Dragoran Empire. We were just in the right place at the right time to be spared. But we are few. The Resistance tries to rescue any survivors that it can. We stay in the shadows, attempting to fight the enemy any way possible. I feared our fight was a hopeless cause. But then you showed up with that ship of yours. You destroyed a Planet-Killer and a Dreadnought in one swoop. I knew then that the Divine One had answered our pleas. You are our salvation.”