2013.05.10 "What are you saying?"

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"What are you saying?"

Instead of just repeating myself, I try to re-create the thought from scratch. Because when people ask stupid questions like that, they usually need it said in a different way. But then I discover that I wasn't trying to say anything. I was just grunting simple responses to questions directed at me, while I was mostly busy glowering at everything in a paranoid manner. "Which part?"

The Orbodun leans back against the far side of the spartan crew compartment, the scary rifle resting across its furry knees. "The part where you think I'm stupid and you don't want me around."

Oh. That. "It's possible that you are extrapolating two separate comments as being facets of the same kernel - but they're not. They're more like mirror images of each other."

"That's just zarking stupid." He looks angry. Usually he's pretty patient, and translates all my uttered venom into some jolly best-case assumption.

I un-slouch from my resting spot, nestled in connection with the ship's controls, and give the Orbodun a more-respectful appearance of full attention. Is he freaking out from the cumulative stress? Or is this a hitherto un-encountered quirk of his personality? "We were vaguely discussing aspects of what to do when we make planetfall."

"Right. And you said I was stupid, and clarified by saying that you didn't want me around."

"No, you asked two broad questions. The first was whether I thought we should continue the outward pretense of me being your servant. And I answered that, from an objective point of view, you working with me at all was kind of stupid."

His fur is bristling, and it looks like he wants to snark at me. Not yet - I hold up a talon in a "give me another moment" gesture. "The second question you asked was whether I wanted you to leave me alone. And I admitted that it would be something of a relief."

The big idiot is a quivering mass of indignant emotion. I cut him off before he can reply. "The reason for both is because i think I'm the focus of all the stupid trouble we're in. I think that Missionary was lured in by me, like I'm a trophy. So by staying near me, you're pointlessly at risk."

He's smart, the Orbodun. He un-poofs immediately. "So. It's dangerous to have me working with you, and you would be relieved if I wasn't in said danger."

I tap a talon on my snout in assent.

"But you'd LIKE my help, and wouldn't object to us continuing to be partners?"

I wince. "Don't make me say it."

The Orbodun's ears get all perky. "Come on, we both know I'm your favourite partner."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where the zark did you get THAT idea?"

He shrugs, smugly. "How many other partners have you trusted enough to tell your story to?"

I'm summoning a rebuttal, based on circumstances, but he continues before I can get it out. "BZZZT! NONE OF THEM. It wasn't until me that you felt a strong enough bond to spill your sad little guts."

It occurs to me that the Orbudun might have been playing me during this whole conversation to lure me into this trap. "That's like a single helium atom claiming responsibility for a supernova because it happened to be the last hydrogen fused before the whole pile popped."

"Your crude grasp of nuclear physics aside... Hey! Are you suggesting that you transformed me into a heavier element?"

Now I'm sure he's been playing me. How does non-verbal acting align with Dal Fona rules about honesty? "Well, slaverium is kind of lightweight. And overly reactive."

A wince. "Bad pun."

"Now you're dense Sidekickium."

It's hard to make little beady black fur-obscured eyes go all squinty, but the Orbodun manages it. "You're a mean Massetin. Meeeeean."

I resume my slouching posture to address the ship's controls. "You want to hear something actually mean?"

"Sure, pincushion."

"Think about how I'll remember you when you're dead."

Awww. I think maybe I went too far with that one.