Sam could hear Yik muttering in the background as Hedgy answered his call.

“What’s your status?” He asked. Hedgy was sitting in front of the monitor and Yik was clearly visible pacing behind him.

“Making good progress, should be to the station in four days. Officer Levins seems to have left his cards on your ship though, and Mr. Yikikik is very bored. Mr. Sutro is still largely unresponsive other than the occasional hand movement. How are you guys?”

“Jessie’s mostly back to normal, she’s getting bored too. Vortran’s been asleep since we left but judging from the snoring still alive.”

“And how are you holding up?”

Sam didn’t like the concerned look from Hedgy, “I’m… fine. Better now that the worst of it is over.”

“Alright, check in again tomorrow?”

“Yeah. Talk to you then.” He hung up as Jessie bounced into the room again. She pressed her forehead against his arm and he put his arm round her.

“Misa do we have any games?”

“I’m sure I could find something, hop up.” He patted his knee and winced a little as she hopped onto his knee. That was another thing she’d be too big for soon. He pulled up a simple puzzle game and leaned back to watch her match colored squares on the screen. The last poker game drifted back into his mind. The shifter had said he was mostly colorblind, “You can see colors just fine, right Jess?”

Jessie turned and gave him a confused look, “Of course, why?”

“The other shifter guy, Jerry-”

“Mr. Jerret.” Jessie corrected, going back to her game.

“He said he was colorblind.”

“Yeah, I had to help him with colors so we could make Mr. Calvin better. Why?”

“Just wondering. I’ll have to find out what species he is when your grandmother sends for him.”

Jessie hesitated and lost a level in her game. He recognized the guilty slump in her shoulders that usually meant she hadn’t done something important.

“He didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what, Jessie?”

“Don’t be mad I just forgot to tell you.” She looked over her shoulder at him nervously, “Mr. Jerret told me back on the ship that found me we’re the same species… well half-species. We can smell each other.”

Sam took  deep breath, “Okay explain that again, half-species what?”

“Mr. Jerret said we’re something called Enesthi… or half-human, half-Enesthi, and that’s why he smelled familiar when I met him. I’m sorry I forgot to tell you a lot happened.” She cringed as she rambled a bit and he held her close until she stopped.

“I’m not mad, this is good news. We’ve been trying to figure out what species you are since we found out you’re a shifter. We can get some tests done to confirm and then we’ll finally know. And with your pendant fixed we can find out what happened to your parents.”

“Yeah.” Jessie pushed away a little and turned back to the computer, starting her game again. Sam settled back in the chair again, dwelling on the sudden influx of new information.


Hedgy had finally found a small puzzle box laying around to keep Yik entertained and called Sam again. Sam’s mother had insisted he keep in contact the whole trip back to the station. The man looked exhausted but relatively sane as he picked up. His daughter appeared briefly in the background before disappearing again.

“Three days left, how you holding up?”

“Just fine, still having trouble falling asleep is all. Jessie’s bouncing off the walls and Vortran woke up long enough to eat a little and drink something before going back to sleep.”

“Well Mr. Yikikik is preoccupied finally, and Mr. Levins has kept to himself. Mr. Sutro is showing more responsiveness to stimuli today, but nothing dramatic.”

“How about you?” The question caught him off guard and Hedgy had to think for a moment.

“I am not looking forward to the paperwork from this mess, but otherwise I’m fine.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to drag you into this mess but you were the nearest person I could trust on this.”

“I’m glad you did, Sam. We haven’t talked in a while and I could use a little excitement.”

“I owe you lunch, seriously.”

“I’ll take it. Check in tomorrow?” Hedgy asked, sensing the conversation was petering out.

“Tomorrow, yeah.” Sam hung up first and Hedgy twirled around in his chair, jumping a little as he realized Yik was seated behind him.

“How close are you to the accursed one?”

“We’re sort of friends, why?”

“Not close friends?”

“Not that it matters but I don’t think he has a ton of close friends. Sam is a bit… private.”

“He is as open as an airlock in deep space.”

“That is a surprisingly apt way of putting it. Did you solve that puzzle?”

“I did… but I cannot see how to put it back together.” Yik held up the individual pieces in both hands.

“Well, keep at it.” Hedgy got up and headed for the kitchen.

Yik glared at the pieces in his hands and returned to trying to piece them back into a box.



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