Quasit's nostrils flared, belying constant predilection to desipience, certain tensions rippling beneath his eyelids. Splaying his fingers, ticking off as speaking points.
"There's some fundamental truths. First, apropos negotiated price. Was it low because our benefactor didn't know what the cargo entailed? Or low as to not raise our suspicions? Second, just how will a new price be negotiated? Third, will we raise BQSBot security as cargo may be a flight risk? Fourth, some decision between us regarding price prior to said negotiation. Lastly, are we willing treat Iyauliana and her Mariri as cargo considering their sentience and cannei perspicaciousness?"
Soon as the Yu Qi Queen, her Mariri cleared the bridge, Pearl voiced compulsory commands to the BQSBots, raising nombril scutate round the bridge. She doubted even Yu Qi's Ecitoninae Warships could decipher sequent encryption. Let's just hope this sarding mooncalf Queen's psychic aptitude isn't up to the challenge.
At her gesture, Quasit turned to face her, one thick eyebrow raised in buoyant ataraxis. "Pearl, I can explain." Syllogism in the face of geothermal ion storm.
"We're going to Stlo Nebula," Pearl hissed. "There to find anyone whom might have information on Mantidae class ships. Then to sell our cargo!"
Iyauliana smiled at Quasit's remark, but her eyes turned to Pearl, seeking further superlative encomiums. "I have pleased you?" She asked meekly.
Pearl grimaced dubiously. "Right now, I need Quasit to helm. I'm sure the Mariri can find something else of significance elsewhere to teach you."
Iyauliana rose, allowing Quasit to sit at helm's station. She retreated closer to the Mariri demurely, who stated to Quasit, "Please, we shall continue in your quarters."
Before they left the bridge, Iyauliana entreated Quasit. "I hope you're planning to read a bed time story again to Chattsworth and I before our restorative cycle."
The Mariri turned to Iyauliana, something akin to approving affirmation upon its beatific faces, but refrained from any verbal praise.
Quasit, however, showed no such inhibition. "Quite the opposite. You've impressed, Iyauliana," he pronounced her name as if savouring a discovered treasure on Aathica Centaurii XI. Her gave her a conspirative twinkle, casting an oblong look at Pearl. "And to be fair, I make her much more upset myself most of the time."
Pearl bit her tongue, leaving Quasit's taunt unanswered. And this precious cargo? How do we possibly cash in on our illimitable sovereign now? Who's able to pay?
"Ostensibly," Pearl's mouth disgorged the word like a sungjin acid chasm on Brallus IV.
Both heads of the Mariri nodded in affirmation, out of synch with the wings, as if Phengodidae's AG affected different parts of the Mariri dissimilarly. "Specifically, she is learning under my ordained tutelage, but I am merely a conduit in her infantile enlightenment. I assure you, this is just one of many discourses on her peripatetic discoveries until she becomes Queen of Yu Qi."
In that moment, Iyauliana spoke in faltering MVL, "If I upset my new captain, how can I expect to rule in placidity?"
Iyauliana glanced from Pearl to Quasit to the Mariri, in a circular pattern, her eyes big and bright as Gliese Prime's rings. When no one spoke for a short moment, the shine in her eyes dimmed a fraction.
All four of the Mariri's arms extended demonstratively, but remained silent.
Finally, Pearl found her tongue amid a flood of emotions, not the least of which was a nearly irresistible need to berate Quasit for...something. "Are you telling me, she can fly this ship before she's learned to talk? Or are you flying my ship?"
"Ostensibly, Iyauliana is piloting," Mariri stated calmly.
Phengodidae arced into Klaatubaradanikto Funnel.
Pearl ceased her commands.
In ship's helm, Iyauliana visibly tensed, orange hair tumbling midway down her back. She turned around, burgundy eyes alight with excitement, oval mouth aglow with effervescent smile.
Quasit heaved a sigh, taking step forward with emotion akin to wondering pride. "I'd no idea she was capable of this," he said, breathless. "She seems so childlike when I read her and Chattsworth a bedtime story last night."
Pearl stood up in amazed speechlessness, at both mention of bedtime story and Iyauliana's prowess.
Mariri stated magisterially, "Nascent learning to rule entire Yu Qi."
"What I want to know," countered Pearl, voice paragon of invariance amid cacophony of howling Phengodidae, "is who's actually flying the ship?"
At ship's helm, Iyauliana the Yu Qi Queen sedulously articulated Pearl's every command. The Phengodidae obeyed each nuanced direction under inchoate conduct. Iyauliana's slender fingers gracefully coaxed instrumentation. Though far from perfect, the manoeuvres carried out ably, even the more advanced.
Beside Iyauliana, the Mariri quavered, oscillating in mid air, wings nearly becalm in the ship's AG. Eyes still closed, lost in pithy sagacity, tail between the two bodies pulsing with engorgement, the Mariri's chubby fingers twitching hegemonically.
Pearl watched Quasit steady himself, the ship pitching upwards into a Thach Weave, his face a rictus of foul taste, unsaid doubts trapped inside his clenched teeth.
Some of the manoeuvres Pearl designated, Quasit remembered from UPPMS days on Kaelnor VI. Some illegalized under JLP 3.009, not that that deterred Pearl in the slightest.
"Iyauliana," Quasit shouted over the sounds of the ship's thundering thrusters as the Phengodidae dove into Kolvoord Starburst.
Pearl glanced questioningly, face alight with excitement, beguiled smile dancing along curving lips.
"I just thought you might want to know her name before you kill us all."
Dark thoughts stormed Pearl's mind like antimatter lamashtu storm on Raum Prime. This is a custom Phengodidae class Ragusea made by the finest craftsmen on Denta IV infused with the most technologically advanced biomechanical quantum supramolecular bots in existence. Not just anyone can fly this ship!
Pearl glanced to Quasit, then to the Mariri. Rakishly, she began giving a series of verbal flight manoeuvres. At once, the Phengodidae jolted expansively at a vertical pitch.
Quasit's eyes grew wide as the Yu Qi sequenced Pearl's commands.
The Mariri's four eyes closed, appearing to go into a fugue.
Pearl felt anger surging like a systemic acetylhydrolase actinism breach as she clamped her mouth shut in an herculean effort to remain calm. Million derogatory thoughts flooded her mind as she fought control over her fury, tensely locking hands into her console.
The Phengodidae left Olis V with near flawless nautics under the Yu Qi Queen's deft control. Pearl watched spuriously aplomb, eyes darting from the Yu Qi, to the Mariri, to the instrumentation showing no aberrations.
The Mariri's rotund faces turned placidly towards Pearl. "Her capacities will increase over time. Before long she will learn verbal communications."
Pearl embarked the Phengodidae, strode towards the bridge. She'd had no communiqué with Quasit, save to announce her return, to avoid any possible disruption in the ruse.
She entered the bridge to find Quasit in her Captain's Chair. He rose and greeted her as she said, "Set heading toward the Cepheid Celest." An innocuous enough destination.
As she sat, to her utter amazement, she found the Yu Qi Queen occupying Quasit's ship's helm, inputting her course. Off to the side, the Mariri nodded subtle approval.
Quasit's smile, quick, nervous. "I've been showing her a few things. She's a quick study."
Almost motionless, the Mariri's colubrine tail pulsed nearly auricular rhythm to the Yu Qi Queen's breathing. Quasit watched, speculating as to their communication, telepathy or something else entirely.
Soon, however, he turned the orbiting Phengodidae over to the BQSBots, turned down lighting in his quarters. Ready for sleep, he called Chattsworth over to him. The docile familiar climbed into bed, nestled against one of Quasit's legs, sprawling comfortably.
Just before Quasit closed his eyes, he saw movement. To his surprise, the Yu Qi Queen settled on the bed, snuggling against his shoulder, closing her eyes.
The Mariri still floated. Motionless.
When Quasit entered his quarters, he found Chattsworth huddled round the Aelgoria Platonic, the pieces delicately arranged in symmetrical order. Quasit'd never lost a game to him yet, though Chattsworth spent more time studiously poring over the stratagems.
When it was only two of them contained in his quarters, he never realized how the acervate foliage obscured much. The invasive archaepastita edged too close to the placid rhynchonellia, resulting in further encroachment upon any free space.
Quasit found the Mariri in close proximity with the Yu Qi, either in silence, face to face, the Mariri floating before the sedent Queen.
Quasit moved about the ship while an eerie sense of calm shrouded him. Whenever Pearl disembarked the Phengodidae, leaving him to his own devices, he'd feel surreal. Melancholic. As if he'd wink out of existence.
She'd been the one to bring him in. Give him a second chance when society'd given up on him. Without her, voices inside told him he'd spiral out of control again. Even her gift of Chattsworth would do little to anchor.
This time, though, he wasn't truly alone. The Mariri and the Yu Qi Queen were aboard. Inveterated in his living quarters.
Quasit headed there.
Listening to Odwaell like passing Aeons. I wonder how many Yu Qi Queens hatched and perished while I've been listening to this smeerlap sputter?
Genuine grief, Pearl regretted Quasit's absence. He'd be much more interested in a Quantum reverting delay drive. On second thought, he'd be sidetracked for days from the objective.
Disdain was apparent to Odwaell, mistook for weariness. "Perhaps you've had a long day," he intoned in naris resonance, "I can call for your accommodations." His myrmidons jostled.
"Before I do, my father had a Mantidae class ship. Do you have any for show?"
Odwaell's face lit up.
Kallis Odwaell, a rotund Bolluite with concupiscent eyes, composite epidermis, greeted Pearl lavishly, triad of myrmidons circling his head like unfettered satellites. Pearl played role exquisitely, rolling platitudes as the lightning crashed deeply across the azure Olis V sky.
Odwaell showed her into an immense complex of indeterminate morphometry, gleaming utter pristine antiseptic panache. Assemblage of both peirastic and premium ships aligned in design attractive for clientèle like pebbles on a virginal plage.
Pearl acquiesced to Odwaell's pitches, letting them buffet off her like a sentinel in a storm, patiently waiting to steer the conversation towards a Mantidae class ship.
Pearl sat inwardly uncomfortable inside the plush ATP amid other sojourners to Olis V. Outwardly, her fingers steepled in front of her, exuding confident demeanour. She'd had the BQSBots fashion regal raiment befitting a wealthy captain seeking upgrades to current ship, perhaps a new ship itself.
Only reason to come to Olis V.
One of the most advanced shipbuilding facilities, Olis V employed various species, from scarce Humans to plentiful Vaeluites. But all of them indentured, culled from baleful mines to beautiful pleasure palaces, grafted and fitted.
To come to Olis V meant the best in design, discretion, price notwithstanding.
"That'd be an understatement," Pearl snarled, exhaling aorist tension. "Have Chattsworth keep them busy. You'll have COM as soon as we reach Olis IV, I'll disembark to recon the source of the Mantidae if such records exist."
"I understand why you've set heading to the Olis System, but wouldn't my expertise be better suited accompanying you planetside?"
"No," Pearl sat back on COM, visibly malacissant, "especially of what you told me. We can't just rely on the BQSBots to keep the Mariri in line if returning to the Yu Qi Homeworld becomes tantamount."
Quasit's eyes shimmered disappointment, though he understood.
Pearl bounded out of her chair. Mere hairsbreadth from Quasit, unleashed torrential fury. "Did you tell your titless Mariri the Yu QI Warship that throttled us from one end of blackest night to the other?! Did you tell your execrate Mariri the sarcocele Mantidae blew that Warship into oblivion, nearly taking us with them?!"
Quasit nodded placid succinctness, kinky curled hair bobbing slightly with the motion. "The Mariri believes the entire episode is a misunderstanding." Pearl's scarlet eyes blazed like ion cannons, but her mouth remained blessedly closed. "I told the Mariri that you and I disagree with that assessment."