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Vedai's Bath

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What sort of Skrell attempts to drown themselves?

This one, apparently.

Not literally. Only in spirit.

My best thoughts have been had in the water. Submerged in an ice bath seemed the best way to finally have a session to think. I haven’t done it since I came to Tau Ceti. Has it really been a year? Over. By at least a month. Or two.

And I need to think.

My skin needs me to think. A bath may stave off the itching from the dryness, but the cause must be deeper. Thus, freeze-shocking myself into a thought state.

I haven’t done this since I left home.

Home. Is it even that?

Kan’Quilora. Do I miss my biodome? … Yes, in a way. It was nice having space to move about. This apartment is small compared my old house.

(Smaller compared to the one before that.)

And the water was better there. Something does not feel right about ODIN water. Maybe I’m imagining it and it’s just fine. Either way, this bath is satisfying. It was a good choice to buy a few gallons of water and a few pounds of ice and fill the tub by hand. The ceiling isn’t the best view. Maybe I should put up a poster.

No, I need to clear my mind of distractions. I’m cold enough. It’s time.

I close my eyes.

"… Da! Da! Da! I-It’s good—to talk ‘gain!"

"Easy, Little Leaf. You heard the doctor."

"Y-Yes, Da! I will be careful."

"Doctor, how long until her voice recovers from this surgery?"

"Hard to determine. The scabs were quite large along her esophagus. Less than a week until she is speaking as she was before, I’d say. Keep it to important vocalizations. Her telepathic ability is strong enough so long as she gets adequate rest."

"D-Da! Da!"

"Yes, my Little Leaf? You heard the doctor, only say the important words."

"I-It is important!"

"Go on then."

"I love you!"


"You need to stop."

"I’ll do no such thing."

"Vedai, we are not feeding the corpse to a Dionae."

"She loved them. She was going to grow up and research them. You wouldn’t know that. You were never there."

"I'm sensible enough to know how the corpse should be dispos—"

"Shut your mouth! She is not a corpse. She is my daughter."

"Our daughter."

"MY daughter."

"I have already had it cremated!"

"You fucking cow! How dare you."

"It was for the bes—"

"Don’t take another step. Don’t talk to me! I want you out! If I see your face again, I can't promise I won't kill you!"

For once, she listened. Haven’t heard her voice in decades.

Haven’t thought of her voice, either.

Why do I have to think about her now of all times? Is she the cause of my condition? No. That’s long past. I don’t think about her. So don’t think about her.


"Farewell, Vedai! I hope Tau Ceti brings you happiness."

"Go with peace, fellow!"

"Tell our stories!"

I push past all of them. None of them will ever leave this place. They will mine on until the day they die. I should be doing the same. There’s good in doing the same. The Traverse needs us. But I can’t.

One last Skrell stops my path.

"You aren’t returning, are you?"

"… I will. In an urn. Goodbye, Vishkal."

I push past him.


A year and a half since then. What have I accomplished? A small reputation of good ore yields. A bigger reputation of being an insufferable asswipe. Fairly advanced spoken Basic. Passable written Basic (I can spell “right” correctly now). And friends.

I do have friends.

“Are you okay, Viddy?”

"Don't cark it, rano!"

“Hey, Vidya!”

"L-Let's head to the b-b-bar!"

“Vedai, I sswear—”


Perhaps that’s it. Someone like Guwan could never understand what it’s like, when being a sheep is in your DNA. Your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents—all of them, every last one, a quiet life going along with whatever the government might say. Outward resistance, strength against policy you don’t stand for, the ability to fight back… not on Kan’Quilora. Not in the Jargon Empire. It is an Empire, isn't it? How better to keep an empire strong than to keep your people fat and entertained? “Bread and Circuses.”

Having met Guwan, maybe I should have been born an Unathi. My life wouldn’t be simpler, by any means, but—


I can feel my downstairs neighbor moving around their kitchen. I’ve floated too long. But I still lack the source of my stress.

What causes stress? Stressful things. But what do I have to be stressed about? Nothing has changed. My life for a year hasn’t been suddenly shaken. I have food (never enough. Stars, why is it never enough?), I have a house, I have a job I enjoy, and I socially interact (with actual scum of the universe sometimes, but I was warned about Ceti… “hospitality”).

Other times, of course, I have great interactions. Times I’ve felt great peace. It is nice, having a good friend. I’ve not had one like this before. It’s been so long, I almost—


… I know the source of my stress.

I open my eyes.

I don’t know if any Skrell neighbors could hear my telepathic screaming. I hope not. It’s embarrassing in the aftermath.

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