Fusil (Wednesday, 2012 June 13)

June 13, 2012

[I don’t remember whether I actually talked about genders on Zhen. I’ll have to revisit all the old posts later..]

I was in the teachers’ room, nominally grading papers, but really focusing more on the conversation between Mur Kang and Muh Cham. Kang’s a first-female, and apparently her husband had called her asking her to came home early. The conversation had turned a little ribald, since Cham (who is male) stated his assumption that Kang’s husband was what we humans would euphemistically call "lonely", and being male himself, was urging Mur Kang to go home and "remedy" her husband. "Please, please," he was saying, to hiccuping chuckles and sobs. "Forgive me," he added, and he moved his eyes together in a lascivious manner. That got a guffaw from everyone in the room.

Kang was playing the responsible young naive first-female, although I had seen her brood, so trust me, she’s not virginal. "But if I return now-so-suddenly, who will do all this paperwork? Mustn’t I come back again later? And it is such a far, long journey."

"No, sister, please," Cham said. "Your husband is yet young. It is necessary to take advantage of this youth. His machete will not always be this solid."

"Yet, so?" Kang threw a sly glance in my direction. "And what of Sandiego? He is quite young. Sandiego, are you taking advantage of your machete? Are you using it often?"

Honestly, I think Kang has penis envy, or maybe more precisely envy of the sexual liberation that she didn’t have on her planet. This isn’t the first time she’s straight-up pried into my sex life or implied things about who I’m sleeping with. She’s said some guys like to collect sexual encounters, one of each species, and I don’t know if she was offering or what but I’m the kind to prefer my intimacy a little more seriously. Anyhow, I knew where she was going and I had a response ready. "Well, not that often.. but I sharpen it regularly." They liked that a lot. Some of them were still barking and slapping each other when the men came in.

I didn’t hear any demands or anything besides gunfire. They hit Utkeu first, who went down with only a shrill grunt. Then they got Cham. I think Kang must have dived out a window or something. I never saw her again. I hope she found her way back to her husband and wife. I hit the floor next to Utkeu, who was hit pretty bad, breathing fast and shallow. We’d had a first aid course in training, but it was kind of human-centric. Do you apply pressure on a Zhenae? Does that damage them worse, cut off their breathing? Where was Wheaton or Lara 2 when I needed them? I seized up, completely lost, and trembled next to the dying body of my friend.

Outside I heard sounds of a struggle and the voice of Ahm Simo, the extremely gruff and angry second-female Phys Ed teacher. It sounded like she had found a firearm somewhere, either her own or from our attackers. She was shouting in what had to be an indigenous Zhenae language, a bubbling growl punctuated by shrill cries. Simo was not a pleasant person at the best of times, and I didn’t know her politics, but I was willing to bet she was on the side of the school versus everyone else.

Utkeu’s breathing wasn’t steadying. He made a rippling sound that was probably like a cough. He opened his eyes, locked with mine. His hand travelled upwards along his torso, slipped sideways. I saw control, a stubborn mind-over-matter in his eyes. He was in a lot of pain, but he was a Zhenae with a mission. He tugged a little and from some pouch I hadn’t seen came a small weapon, something like a laser pistol. "Take," he said. I moved to put my hands on it, and he let it go. That seemed like about as much as he could take, and he hissed with pain as his arm slid back to the floor. "Go," he added. "Survive." Then he closed his eyes, and visibly waited to die.

Zhenae machismo dictates that you pretend not to see men at their weakest. Instead we remember them at their best — fighting every injury for one last selfless act. It was in Utkeu’s honor therefore that I turned my back to him and stared at the pistol, tried to figure out how to switch off the safety. I was going to have to try to help Simo — or break out before she was overwhelmed. I tried to sight down the barrel, get my bearings. It had been a while since I’d had my finger on a trigger.

I breathed a quiet "hard-dream-sleep" to Utkeu, and then I left the teacher’s room.

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