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Worse Guy
Author: Ruby Dixon

 


1

 

 

BEE

 

"Thank you for seeing me, sir." I give First Rank Novis a cheery smile as I stare up (and up and up) at him. The mesakkah guardsman looks very severe. His horns are capped with plain metal, his face is all disapproving blue angles, and his hair is slicked back and tied in a tight knot at the base of his skull. Even his uniform is plain. It's black, with one insignia that I think is Lord va'Rin's personal symbol, but other than that and the squiggles on his shoulder that denote his rank, he could be a janitor. The mesakkah favor plain, functional clothing, and so does this guy. Doesn't matter. I give First Rank Novis my sweetest look. His title's a little weird, but I suspect it's something like a space version of a sergeant. Judging by the stiff demeanor, I think I'm right. I do my best to look darling and helpless and human. "But I was really hoping to speak to Lord va'Rin. Riffin said—"

The starchy-looking officer clasps his hands behind his back and frowns down at me, the horns on his head making him seem downright intimidating. It's been years and I'm still not used to the sheer size of the blue mesakkah. On Earth I was short, at just an inch under five foot, but here I'm positively squat. I'm a footstool. A cute, fluffy little human footstool that no one takes very seriously. Including First Rank Novis. He gazes down at me as if I'm a pesky fly bothering him. "Lord va'Rin is very busy."

"Well, yes, I know. Goodness, aren't we all?" I chuckle at my own joke. "But I really do need to see him. It's about a job." I smooth my hands down my nicest tunic (which really isn't all that nice) and resist the urge to thread my fingers through my curls. "Riffin said that he could get me in to see you, and that you could pass my message on to Lord va'Rin and his lovely wife."

My—boyfriend? Sure, we'll call him boyfriend—Riffin would probably be upset to know I keep reminding his senior officer that it was his idea for me to talk to his superior. Even now, Riffin stands just outside the office and I can only imagine what he's thinking. Silly, soft Bee getting another idea in her head. But I know this is a good one, and that's why I'm here today instead of at the laundry center, washing a jillion sheets for people with loads more credits than me.

So I keep smiling, because I know I'm right, and you can win a lot more people with a smile than a frown. I'm banking on the fact that mesakkah find humans absolutely adorable—like puppies, except uh, some of them want to fuck us, so I guess not exactly like puppies after all. Doesn't matter. I'm banking on being cute. I'd flutter my lashes if I wasn't worried it'd come across as weird.

"Human female, we do not have the time for requests right now," he practically snarls at me. "We have over a hundred new arrivals that must be processed, along with some cases that require special handling. You should go and tend to your farm and be thankful Lord va'Rin cares for humans at all."

Right. The downside of looking adorable and small is that no one takes you seriously. "I don't have a farm, sir. Allergies." I put a finger on the tip of my nose and wiggle it. "There's something in the soil here that makes me break out in hives, but I'm fine if I stay in town. I'm actually a laundress." If my mother knew that all of those years of college debt were going to end up with me doing alien laundry, she'd probably need to lay down. It's not like I chose it. I'm just rolling with the punches. I decide to roll right into my request, since dancing around it isn't going to get me anywhere. "So let me tell you why I think Port needs a social worker for the humans and why I should be that person."

"Not today," First Rank Novis says. He picks up a data pad off his desk, tucks it under his arm, and then heads out of his office as if we weren't right in the middle of a conversation. Rude.

I follow after him, determined to get my say. I pass by my boyfriend—Riffin—who frowns at me as his supervisor sweeps past. He frowns even more when I trot after Novis and begin speaking. "I realize you're a very busy man, er, alien, First Rank Novis. Riffin says that you've been tasked with handling a lot of the initial settling of the humans, and that's where I think you need me."

He snorts, marching down the hall. His tail flicks once and he looks over his shoulder at Riffin, who is following behind with a worried look on his face. "I have only told her the basics, sir. Nothing secret. I would never compromise the security of this place." Riffin grabs my arm, but I jerk free and continue after them. "The human—"

"My name is Bee," I say, because I don't like being referred to as “the human,” especially by a guy that expects me to kiss him later. I worm out of his grip and trot after Novis. "And I point out that you need a social worker because you need a liaison that understands humans and that humans won't be afraid to talk to. Did you know that three farms were attacked last month?"

Novis sighs and keeps on walking, ignoring me.

I keep right on talking. "And did you know that Regina over at farm district thirteen had her farm attacked by poachers? She got married fast so no one could steal her property, but it wasn't a choice she should have had to make. And Lexi—she's in farm district eight, by the way—says she went to the doctor last week for cramps and he refused to treat her because he thought she was making it up to get medication."

Their steps speed up, and with a huff, I walk even faster to keep up.

"Bee," Riffin hisses at me, trying to get my attention.

I ignore him and raise my voice a bit more. "Lexi ended up having a tumor in her uterus that was causing excessive bleeding and she almost died. How do you think Lord va'Rin would have liked that if you had a human die on your watch?"

The mesakkah officer stops so suddenly that I crash into his backside. His tail swivels and smacks me across the shoulder.

"Sorry," I breathe, forgetting to be effervescent for a brief moment.

"You think humans are in danger of dying?" Novis practically snarls at me. "And that you can save them?"

Riffin puts his hands on my shoulders. "Come on, Bee—"

"No, that's not what I'm saying at all," I manage, detangling myself from Riffin's grasp. Seriously, when I need an interfering mesakkah boyfriend to take point for me, I'll ask. I get that Riffin is trying to be helpful, but this isn't the time. "I'm saying that humans are afraid to stand up to aliens because they're big and scary and we're small and fragile." When that gets his attention, I put on my happiest smile. "They need a friend to talk to. A go-between that isn't afraid to speak up on their behalf."

"A friend," he says thoughtfully, and then really, really stares at me hard. "You think this solves all their problems if I hire you?"

I can practically hear the sneer in his voice, but I choose to ignore it. "It certainly can't hurt. Let me prove myself to you."

That elicits a smile from Novis. "Fine. You want to prove yourself to me? You can be the advocate for one particular refugee I have in mind. If this works, I'll hire you as a full-on liaison."

I clasp my hands together with delight. "That's perfect! Thank you so much! You won't regret this!"

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