Kyree (key ree): anthromorph wolf-like race
Kyree (key ree): anthromorph wolf-like race
Kenseng (ken sang): anthromorph tiger-like race
Drala (dra la): anthromorph reptilian-like race
Arastos (a rest tos): alien starship www.sofurry.com/page/298134
Kanolos (ka no loss): male kyree, starship helmsman, mated to Riyla
Riyla (ri la): female kyree, starship captain, mated to Kanolos
Shyla (shy la): female kenseng, starship tactical officer/cook, mated to Yanashi
Yanashi (ya na she): female kyree, starship tactical officer/physician, mated to Shyla
Eriras (ear rass): female kenseng, starship engineer, mated to Taylo
Taylo (tay low): male kenseng, starship engineer, mated to Eriras
Lumina (loo men na): holographic female kyree construct, starship supporting A.I.
Keith (key th): male human, human ambassador/starship operations officer
Territory Map Diagram: www.sofurry.com/page/222716/
Walking a New Path
Written By: Spudz
The silence was deafening, allowing the excitement and anticipation to overwhelm the space and all who found themselves within. Here and now, a month's worth of careful planning and deception had finally come to the moment of truth, and the complete surprise of their victim made the whole endeavor worthwhile for all involved.
Inside the brightly lit confines of the starship's sickbay, no one made a move to speak. Instead, all eyes remained squarely on Lumina, who stood absolutely speechless with her muzzle hanging open in utter shock. Never had any of the seven Arastos crew members seen such a look of astonishment from the construct's white kyree hologram. In fact, the crew rightly assumed that this was the first time they had genuinely surprised her with anything at all.
Standing alongside a large metallic container, Lumina continued to gaze down into the now opened lid, to find a sight she had never expected to see in her wildest dreams.
There, carefully encased in a protective layer of biostatic gel, was a female kyree, retaining the same strikingly white fur coat as Lumina's holographic projection. In fact, the kyree's appearance was nearly identical to that of her own, meaning only one thing...
"This... is me?!" Lumina stammered, trying her best to come to grips with this startling shock to the system.
"Of course it is," Riyla replied from nearby. The captain grinned roguishly, standing with her arms crossed. "Now you see why we went through so much trouble to hide this from you."
Lumina fumbled for words, as her muzzle opened and closed several times before she managed to speak. "What... what exactly is this?"
"You've always wished to experience life as we do," Keith answered from alongside the construct's hologram. "Well... we wanted to give you that very opportunity." He patted his hand against the side of the metal case. "We wanted to give you the opportunity to evolve beyond what you've defined as yourself... to give you the chance to become something more."
Lumina absorbed his words with silence, continuing to stare breathlessly through the transparent gel at the very same face she called her own. Just what did this all mean for her? Her cognitive processes were completely overwhelmed by the question.
The white kyree before her was a stunning sight to behold. Although the biostatic gel somewhat obscured her view, it was easy for Lumina to make out the modest feminine figure of the body, with a slender form that mirrored her hologram to the letter.
"I don't know what to say," the A.I. finally spoke after gathering herself somewhat.
"We know this is a lot for you to take in suddenly," Keith added.
"Is this biomechanical?"
It was Yanashi who answered that question. "Actually, no. This is the genuine article... the same exact physique as Riyla and me." The grey kyree motioned to herself to accentuate the point, causing Lumina to tilt her head in confusion.
"You mean... a true body," the A.I. stuttered, realization abruptly dawning on her. "...flesh and blood, just like a living individual?"
Yanashi smiled sincerely as she spoke. "Not just like a living individual. You would become no different than any ordinary kyree." Her expression became thoughtful. "Well... almost exactly like us." She pointed a finger to the side of her head. "In order to make this work, some biomechanics had to be added here to accommodate an A.I. such as yourself. However, the rest of this body is not unlike my own."
It was comical how Lumina's muzzle hung open in disbelief. Obviously this was news to her, a fact that was not often the case for an A.I. of her electronic prowess. But then again, the crew of Arastos, not to mention a whole slew of other involved individuals, had gone to great lengths to hide this from her prying eyes.
"You really had no idea about this, did you?" Keith spoke.
Lumina shook her head disbelievingly. "I didn't even know such technology existed. How in the hell did you cover this all up?"
"We had some help from one of your colleagues," Taylo chimed in, joining the conversation for the first time. The russet kenseng wore a rather proud grin; after all, the original idea for this had come from him. "When we were back on Sora before the war had even started, I paid a certain ryokian and her associates a visit."
Lumina's wolfish ears perked up at this new bit of information. "You mean Mathlia?" she ventured. The ryokian's involvement would certainly explain the lack of information pertaining to the delivery of the container she now stood before.
During Lumina's inception as a decryption A.I. program, two other constructs had also been brought into existence during the development process. The first, an arrogant kenseng who went by the name Raythymo, now served with the Axis Cryptic Intelligence program as a code breaker. While the second construct was named Mathlia, a rather shy and unassuming ryokian who had remained behind at the testing facility for long term analysis of A.I. development.
Taylo nodded his head to the A.I.'s guess. "Correct. I sat down with her and the scientific team that had originally brought you into existence, and asked if there was any way to make this possible. They agreed to explore the idea further back then."
Before continuing, Taylo padded forward to place a hand on the side of the metal container, looking down to admire the kyree within. "A handful of engineers and technicians were ultimately assigned to the project on an investigational basis. I never really thought anything would come of it. So I decided not to mention it to you, Lumina." The kenseng engineer shrugged with a smirk. "I was proven wrong though."
It was at that point that Captain Rubin decided to make his presence known politely. Up until now, the crew and Keith had been speaking in Federation Basic, leaving the human skipper completely in the dark on what exactly was going on. From his vantage point in the corner of the room, he couldn't see into the opened container. However, Lumina's astonished expression was enough for him to guess at what was contained within.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," Ian spoke up in English, just loud enough to be heard by the others. "But I'm not quite sure what's going on here."
His words caught everyone by surprise as all eyes turned toward him. Judging by their startled expressions, it was obvious they had forgotten he was there.
Riyla's ears splayed back as she realized they still had their guest aboard. "Oh... I'm sorry Captain Rubin," the black kyree spoke, making sure to switch to the human language. "I guess we all got caught up in the moment."
Along with Riyla, the rest of the crew made a note to continue the discussion in English.
Ian waved his hand dismissively. "It's no problem." The skipper moved to join the others near the container. "So... Lumina is going to get a new body, eh?"
"Well, we don't know that for sure," Keith added, glancing at Lumina with a smile. "This is going to be her decision to make. We don't want to force this on her."
The A.I. elected to remain silent, allowing Ian to venture a question. "So... how exactly does Lumina... for lack of a better term, possess this body?"
This time, Yanashi took up the lead. "There is no interaction between Lumina's electronic self and this body," the grey kyree stated matter-of-factly. "If she chooses to undergo this transformation, she would no longer exist as an entity constrained to an electronic existence." As Yana talked, the physician began running a scanner across the opened container. "Essentially, her awareness will transition completely into this corporal form."
Lumina's ears splayed fully back. "You mean... I wouldn't be able to weave myself across networks and systems anymore?"
"Oh... no, no... that is what some of the artificial augmentations are meant for," Yana replied quickly in her professional tone. "This body would act as an anchor if you will, keeping your awareness contained in one physical location. However, you would still have the capability to branch yourself out into networks and electronic infrastructure as you can now."
"You'd still be the same mischievous kyree we've come to know and love," Taylo added with a smile.
Relief momentarily washed across Lumina's expression at this bit of good news. There was nothing more devastating to the A.I. than to lose her access to the limitless realm of electronic space.
"This body is a work of biotechnical art," Yana went on, keeping to her poise of a doctor addressing a patient while she continued scanning with the medical instrument. "Using molecular growth technology, scientists basically built Lumina's new physique from the ground up."
"Are you talking about artificial organ growth?" Ian inquired curiously.
Yanashi's ears twitched as she looked up from her task. "Correct... since the technology exists to rapidly grow new organs and limbs in an artificial environment, scientists figured they could take that knowledge and apply it to a full body replacement for a construct." The grey kyree entered a few commands into the datapad she held, before resuming her scans of the container with the other hand. "What they needed to make this work was the DNA building blocks to start with."
Captain Rubin listened to the kyree's words with a look of utter fascination. "So... you're telling me you can take a DNA series, and artificially create a body from the ground up?!"
"Yes... and in only a matter of weeks. But, there is a catch." Yana paused with her scans to regard Ian knowingly. "Such a practice is outlawed across the Federation territory, as well as many of the neighboring powers." The physician held up a finger. "Cloning presents a whole mess of ethical problems, as humanity has recently begun to discover. Thus, a full body replacement has never been accomplished for that very reason."
"But an A.I. construct circumvents that rule?" Ian ventured, while looking down at the white kyree that remained within the biostatic gel of the container.
"Exactly." By now, Yanashi had finished with her scans, and was in the process of reading the results on her datapad. "To accomplish this, a DNA sampling of several female kyree was taken. Scientists then took the sampling of sequences and generated a wholly new unique DNA pattern, one that Lumina can now call her own. This unique pattern was consequently used to create her body as you see here, with biotechnical augmentations built in to accommodate her electronic self."
"Simply fascinating," Ian breathed in awe. "What's the catch though?" Judging by the looks of the Arastos crew around him, there was a severe drawback to all of this.
Taylo sighed deeply before speaking. "The catch is that once Lumina undergoes this transformation, there is no going back." His dour words caught Ian by surprise.
"No going back?"
The kenseng engineer shook his head. "Indeed. Once her awareness fully integrates with the mind of this body, she is permanently tethered to it.... effectively making her mortal like the rest of us."
Lumina absorbed all of this startling information in silence, her kyree hologram standing alongside Keith with an unreadable expression. All of this was just too much for the A.I. to handle. What was she supposed to do? What could she say?
Keith took notice of the construct's growing unease. "Lumina, don't worry about what you have to do concerning this," he spoke, regarding her earnestly. "We all understand the gravity of this choice that we've forced on you. This is a decision you don't have to make right away."
For a moment more Lumina remained silent, until her eyes lifted from the deck to look at Keith with an almost pleading gaze. "I don't know what to do," she nearly whispered. "This is all just so much."
"Then don't do anything," Keith added. "This opportunity isn't going anywhere. There is no rush to do anything."
Lumina rubbed a hand anxiously across the side of her muzzle, clearly at a loss. However, the A.I. finally seemed to gather herself, at least somewhat. "I need to think about this for a while... alone." She let her gaze fall on each member of the Arastos crew around her. "Thank you... all of you, for giving me this opportunity... I just... need to be alone for a while."
With those words, the construct's hologram vanished from sight, leaving the crew standing in silence.
For a while no one spoke, as no more words needed to be said on the matter. The decision was now Lumina's to make.
The living quarters stood almost completely dark, with just a faint glow emanating from the ceiling light panels. Only the vague outlines of the room furniture were evident to Keith's eye as he lay in bed wide awake, hoping in vain that sleep would overtake him.
For hours, the human had tossed and turned, fighting against his restlessness unsuccessfully. There was no denying the fact that he was absolutely exhausted, yet sleep was impossible to come by.
The day had been a long one, beginning with a lengthy series of political sessions at the United Nations. After a few mind-numbing hours of useless speeches and general inaction, ultimately resulting in no forward progress, he had moved on to attend several one-on-one meetings with various government figureheads... an equally headache-inducing task that really had served no purpose other than to allow politicians to vent their frustrations on him concerning the Federation's inaction on one issue or another.
At least the evening had been a more enjoyable time for him, beginning with a nice steak dinner provided by Captain Rubin. Enjoyable that is... until matters had taken an abrupt turn with Lumina's surprise.
The A.I.'s reaction had been unexpected, as she had very nearly panicked upon seeing her body for the first time. Keith had hoped she would've been overjoyed with the crew's present to her... but the exact opposite had happened.
It was the construct's reaction that plagued Keith's thoughts now. The more he replayed the scene over in his head, the more he realized that Lumina had been absolutely terrified of what she faced.
She was a being of artificial intelligence, relegated to an existence within the electronic realm of networks and computer cores. It was an existence that Keith could never fully comprehend, and one that was nothing like the life he called his own. In order to understand Lumina's fear, he first had to try placing himself in her position.
To consider the ramifications of abandoning such a continuance, one that for all intents and purposes was essentially an immortal being, and taking on the flesh and blood of a frail and finite body... well it was a choice that Keith could not see himself making so easily. Even though Lumina had expressed a strong desire to experience the world as he did, being given the chance to actually do so was still a frightening proposition.
The idea was no different than Keith casting off his human form to become like Lumina, floating about the seemingly endless domain of electronic space, never having a definable self to call his own beyond a series of code... it was a scary idea to say the least. She had every right to be afraid.
With a sigh, Keith rolled over to eye the nearby clock mounted to the bulkhead. 3:21am... damn it all... he wasn't going to get any rest at this rate. Knowing that lying in bed longer wouldn't do any good to quell his thoughts, he slowly removed himself from the sheets and stood upright alongside the bed, stifling a yawn as he did so.
Typically, when sleep didn't come easy to Keith, the human tried to relax by taking a late night walk, allowing his thoughts to wander in the meantime. He had no idea why such an activity was the best way to overcome his insomnia, but it always helped him unwind enough to sleep.
There was no better place than the quiet corridors of Arastos for Keith to indulge in a late night stroll. With the rest of the crew long since retired to their quarters, including their guest Captain Rubin, who had taken possession of a spare room for the evening, the ship was eerily silent and dark, which didn't really bother him at all. The human rather preferred this peaceful tranquility, accompanied by the barely audible hum of equipment all throughout the hull. The soft consistent noise was always soothing to Keith in an odd sort of way, and always faded out of his perception when he let his mind drift about.
Taking a moment to don a simple shirt and pair of shorts, Keith made his way out of his quarters into the dimly lit main corridor. Just outside the doorway leading back to his room, he paused, wondering where he wanted to go. Looking down the passage one way, he eyed the doorway leading to the ship's bridge.
The prospect of simply enjoying the stellar view of planet Earth from the comforts of the bridge seemed like a good idea to him, and after a moment's pause, he turned and made his way forward toward the bow of the starship.
While he walked, Keith's thoughts raced.
Was there anything he could do for Lumina? Would she want his company at a time like this? Just what was she thinking now? The questions nagged at his awareness, bringing on a sense of helplessness. He really wished there was something he could do to comfort the construct in her time of need. But, since her disappearance in sickbay several hours ago, she had essentially vanished.
Lumina had not spoken to any of the crew. She had not appeared in holographic form. She had even masked her presence within the network systems of Arastos somehow, while also removing her influence completely from the vital systems of the ship, effectively abandoning her duties as the starship's supporting A.I.
Lumina's disappearance had alarmed Keith and the rest of the crew greatly. Obviously, she was more emotionally distraught over the issue than they all had initially thought. But, after a quick discussion, it had been collectively agreed upon to leave her be, in hopes of the construct working through her emotions alone.
Yet Keith wasn't so sure. He perhaps knew Lumina better than any other crew member aboard the ship, and understood that being alone was probably the worst way to deal with her indecision. What she needed was someone to talk to, someone that could help her work through this. What she really needed was a shoulder to lean on.
With his thoughts still racing, Keith arrived at the doorway leading to the bridge, which subsequently swooshed open to reveal the faintly lit space beyond.
Electing to keep the compartment lighting off, Keith moved toward the forward bridge window, intent on taking a seat atop the helm dash. The helm station really was the best place to sit and stargaze on the entire ship, with the panoramic window splayed around the console for a view that was simply unparalleled. On any given day, you could usually find one of the crew reclined fully in the helm seat as they worked on a datapad, or something of the like.
However, whatever Keith had planned was suddenly forgotten as he froze mid-step.
He wasn't alone on the bridge.
Sitting in the helm seat, with her back to him, was Lumina's white kyree hologram. For a moment, Keith had no idea what to do.
The construct had her legs pulled up close to her chest atop the chair, while she sullenly stared out into the expanse of space outside the bridge window in silence. Keith wasn't sure if she knew he had entered the bridge or not. Judging by her utter lack of reaction to his presence, the construct was no doubt deeply consumed by her thoughts.
For what felt like an eternity, Keith stood quietly and watched as Lumina continued to stare out the bridge window, the kyree not moving so much as a single muscle save for her soft breathing. Her statuesque posture unnerved him greatly. Just what was she thinking about?
Keith tried to think of something to say... but kept drawing a blank. Finally, the human awkwardly cleared his throat, just loud enough to be heard over the ambient noise of the ship's equipment humming away beneath the deck.
Lumina's reaction was instant, as she whirled around in her seat to face Keith, her expression a mixture of shock and fear.
"Keith... wha... what are you doing here?" the construct exclaimed, her wolfish ears pinning back fully against her head.
The human gave Lumina his warmest smile. "I couldn't sleep," he replied, moving to stand alongside the helm station where she sat in surprise. "I figured I'd take a walk and do some stargazing... it seems you had the same idea."
Lumina's look became sheepish. "I... erm... I figured maybe the stars would help me... think clearer," she spoke meekly, averting her gaze from his own.
"What are you thinking about?" The answer to that question was painfully obvious. But Keith wanted to open the door to Lumina.
"You know very well what has me so worked up," the construct replied, allowing herself a weak smile in return.
Keith moved to sit atop the side of the helm console, with his body facing out toward the window and the grandeur of planet Earth beyond. However, he kept his regard on Lumina. "Well... if you want to talk about it... I'm here to listen."
Lumina mulled over his words, seemingly wavering between the desperate need to talk with a friend, and the overwhelming desire to be alone. Finally though, the construct sighed heavily as her shoulders sank. "I'm standing on the edge of a great abyss, looking down into a void as I contemplate whether to jump or not... not knowing what awaits me if I do."
Keith studied Lumina's eyes for a brief moment, noting how she looked at him with an imploring gaze, hoping that he had the answers she sought. "I suppose the best place for me to start, is to tell you that you aren't the first construct to be given this opportunity."
His words caused Lumina to tilt her head in confusion. "You mean another A.I. was given a full body replacement?" she asked in amazement.
Keith nodded his head. "She made the leap as you said, and successfully became a truly living individual."
Everything suddenly came together for Lumina, while she filled in the blank that he had left. "Mathlia?"
Keith nodded in reply, causing the kyree's ears to perk up slightly. "The very same," he spoke, placing both his hands behind him on the console dash, so he could lean back. "The transition was relatively smooth. From what I understand, the toughest part for her was learning to walk." His smile widened as he remembered the holo video Taylo had shown him of the ryokian's first attempt at walking. "That tail of hers is a real weapon."
Like the kangaroo species of Earth, the ryokian race retained a rather large and bulky tail, which, when not properly handled, could really cause a lot of destruction. Mathlia had actually succeeded in knocking a technician unconscious when her tail had inadvertently smashed into him, sending the poor kyree cartwheeling into a nearby wall.
Lumina's expression continued to liven up more as Keith spoke. She had not counted on another of her A.I. counterparts being offered the same choice she now faced. But it made perfect sense, since Mathlia was assigned to the research facility to help study long term A.I. development. Of course she would be the first to give the concept a try.
"Once she learned how to walk, the rest was fairly simple," Keith added. "Taylo informed me that when Mathlia merged with her body, her awareness was integrated with a series of subroutines already there." The human pointed to his own head for emphasis, in the same manner Yanashi had done earlier. "You see, what is different about you and me is that I have a subconscious, which is a wholly separate part of my mind that regulates such things as organ function, metabolism, breathing... all without my direct control."
Lumina nodded her head in understanding. This was all common knowledge to the construct. Yet, she had never tried to fully understand how a subconscious functioned until now.
Keith could see the questions forming from the A.I.'s puzzled look. "These subroutines that are already associated with your body would act as your subconscious. Once the transformation occurs, your awareness will meld seamlessly with the programs already... installed there."
"So it would be no different than me simply installing a program into myself now?" Lumina ventured.
"Well, yes and no." Keith paused for a moment while he mulled over what to say. "The subroutines governing your subconscious would be part of you, but inaccessible to your awareness... for lack of a better way to explain it."
Lumina's expression grew thoughtful. "I don't quite understand."
"The mechanics of it all really aren't important," Keith spoke with a shrug. "What I can tell you though, is that once you make the leap, so to speak, you'll never have to worry about anything... except learning how to eat, use the restroom, and, of course, to walk... simple concepts that Mathlia learned very quickly."
Lumina considered Keith's words with an unreadable gaze, allowing the bridge to descend into silence once more.
Finally though, she looked up into Keith's eyes. "Is it... is it wrong to be afraid of the unknown?"
"Never... it's only natural for someone to be scared of what they don't understand." Keith shrugged helplessly. "This would scare the hell out of me too if I was in your position to be honest."
The white kyree recoiled slightly away from him. "I've always wanted to experience life as you do... and here that very same chance has been given to me and I just can't go through with it." She chuckled weakly. "It's just pitiful."
At that moment, Keith wished more than ever that he could reach out and take her into his arms for comfort. But he couldn't. So he did the next best thing.
Tenderly, the human reached over to place his hand onto the chair armrest, right on top of Lumina's to her surprise.
"Whatever decision you ultimately make," Keith replied sincerely. "...I'll be there to support you no matter what."
For a moment Lumina simply looked at Keith in shock, before she had to fight back tears. "I don't know what I'd do without you," was all the kyree could manage to say.
Keith allowed himself to smile once more, his lack of sleep now all but forgotten. "I'm just helping out a friend in need... and I'll be here as long as I need to be to help you make this decision..."
No matter how many times one entered the sickbay of Arastos, there was just no getting accustomed to how immaculately clean and bright the space was. With bulkheads bleached completely white, the design of the medical facility was intended to give a comforting and hygienic feel for patients that were treated aboard, contrasting drastically with the more utilitarian grey décor that dominated the rest of the vessel outside crew quarters.
Upon entering the space from the corridor outside, Keith had to pause for a moment to let his eyes adjust to the much brighter illumination. The change was practically blinding to the human, as he squinted painfully against the glare. He had to wonder just how much energy output from the core was used to simply light the medical facility, let alone run all the sophisticated medical equipment housed within. Surely, the power requirement was through the roof.
After a few brief moments of visual blindness, Keith's eyes finally adjusted enough to make out the patient beds of the facility, along with the various medical storage cabinets arranged about the bulkheads. Standing alongside one of said beds was the grey kyree figure of Yanashi, her expression a study of concentration.
The physician carefully held a scanner in hand while she swept the small device across the prone figure resting atop the bed, prudently observing the readouts on a datapad clutched in her other hand with a studious eye. Yana made no acknowledgement to Keith's entrance, her attention never wavering from the scanner display... and for good reason. The procedure she now prepared for was unlike anything the physician had performed before, promising to put her medical expertise to the ultimate test if everything didn't go as planned. Her patient was certainly a unique case.
Lumina's kyree body lay motionless atop the medical bed Yana stood alongside, eyes closed, white fur tastefully clad in a pair of underclothing. At the moment, the body remained on life support with the physician carefully monitoring vitals for any abnormal changes. Until the construct made the proverbial leap into her new form, her living kyree body required artificial aid, a fact that had necessitated Yanashi's medical knowledge.
Watching the grey kyree perform her job, Keith let his eyes wander over Lumina's soon to be body. The form was a striking example of feminine beauty, with sensual curves that accented the slender, tasteful physique. The lack of insulating biostatic gel allowed the full splendor to stand out; the silky white fur was truly the most arresting feature by far, almost blending in with the surrounding bulkheads of the medical facility. He was glad that the A.I. had decided to go through with her transformation after all. She was going to be quite a stunning example of the kyree race.
The preceding night had been a long one for Keith. He had managed to catch a few hours of much needed sleep only after the ship's clock read 10 AM, right as the rest of the crew began their day. Nevertheless, his lack of rest had been a price well worth paying, just so he could be there for Lumina in her time of need.
They had stayed up through the long hours of the night, talking about all sorts of matters as Lumina asked Keith questions concerning facets of his life. What was it like to sleep? What did it feel like to be hungry? What was it like to feel pain?
She would ask each query hesitantly, and Keith would respond as best he could, sometimes with a joke, sometimes by trying to compare the experience to something she might've understood easier. As he spoke, Lumina would always listen in rapt silence, her golden eyes full of wonder and curiosity.
Keith had been prepared to remain there with Lumina as long as he needed to be. However, the construct had taken notice of his increasing exhaustion. Abruptly, she had gone silent after several hours of questions, fixing him with a considerate look, before nodding her head slightly, finally making up her mind.
"You've convinced me, Keith," Lumina had said, catching him by surprise at her suddenness. "I'll do it."
And so the human found himself here, waiting fretfully as Yana continued the preparations for the procedure to come. It was probably safe to say he was more nervous than Lumina. At least the others weren't there to see him so worked up.
Save for the kyree physician, the crew was not aboard Arastos at that very moment. A sudden call from Commander Ja'laski had requested the presence of the ship's complement for an impromptu diplomatic conference on the planet surface, to honor a formal request made by the United Nations for an audience with Federation officials.
Undoubtedly, the diplomatic assembly would end up with UN politicians demanding this or that from the Federation, as it normally did, ultimately resulting in nothing but wasted words and time for all involved. But still, the delegation was obligated to attend, whether they wanted to or not.
How Riyla had convinced Ja'laski to let Keith and Yana remain behind was a mystery, considering Keith was Ambassador to Earth after all. He had asked the captain about that very thing before she and the others had departed via the vessel's shuttle. But, the black kyree had simply smiled at him, and winked as the shuttle hatch closed between them, leaving him behind as the smaller vessel quickly departed for the planet surface below. She had certainly enjoyed Keith's look of helplessness.
Perhaps there was more to Riyla's actions than Keith had initially thought. Now that he considered it, this whole procedure was incredibly invasive on Lumina's privacy. The captain had surely figured that out long ago, which would explain why she had insisted on performing the procedure while the rest of the crew was away. Keith had to give the kyree credit. She always had a knack for thinking ahead.
Captain Rubin had also joined the crew aboard the shuttle for their trip planetside, the skipper reluctantly returning home after his brief trip up into space.
It was Keith's understanding that Riyla planned to offer him a position as a military liaison for the Federation after she could confirm the appointment with Ja'laski. He was happy for Ian, since the man was avidly fond of space, a passion that wasn't best served as a sub driver. Becoming a liaison promised Captain Rubin a new place in history as the second human ever to officially join the Federation, helping to bridge a new relationship between the Federation Axis military and its human equivalents. His added counsel would definitely take some of the burden off Keith's shoulders.
"Well everything is ready to go here," Yana suddenly proclaimed, jarring Keith from his thoughts. The grey kyree made a few quick notes on her datapad. "Once Lumina is ready, we can begin."
Keith eyed the patient bed before him for a second. "Just how complicated will this procedure be?" he asked, his apprehension clearly evident in his tone.
Yana paused with making notes on her datapad, turning her gaze toward him. "The actual procedure is instantaneous as a matter of fact." The grey kyree eyed her notes one final time, before placing the handheld pad down onto the work table beside her. "The whole process is done in much the same manner as that of language dubbing."
As she talked, Yana reached over to fiddle with an unassuming halo type device that had been sitting on the same nearby table surface. To Keith's eye, the mechanism looked no different than the apparatus that had been used to forcefully shove a new language into his head some time ago. Perhaps, he reasoned, it could even be the very same device.
"This is the same apparatus I used to cram our language into your head," Yanashi added, confirming Keith's suspicions. "The halo acts as a sort of gateway for Lumina to pass through from the electronic infrastructure of the ship into her body. Once that process is initiated, the transference is instant... and irreversible." She punctuated her last remark by rapping a balled fist lightly onto the table surface.
"Seems pretty straightforward," Keith reasoned hesitantly.
Yanashi nodded her head. "Actually, for all intents and purposes, it is a very straightforward procedure. The trick is making sure you're ready for anything that might go wrong." Her gaze turned up toward the bulkheads above. "I certainly won't allow anything to happen to our Lumina. You can count on that. So don't worry so much." She smiled and gave him a wink.
Keith's look of confusion at Yana's last statement was rather amusing to the grey kyree. Before he could reply however, motion caught his attention from the corner of his eye.
Both Keith and Yanashi turned toward the sudden pattern of swirling light that materialized alongside the patient bed, which quickly resolved itself into the familiar appearance of Lumina's hologram. The construct wore an uneasy look as she stood before the two crew members, making a point to avoid glancing at the white kyree lying atop the bed's surface.
"Do you still feel up to this?" Keith asked, the construct's expression worrying him.
Lumina's wolfish ears folded flat as she uttered a heavy sigh. "No... but I'm still going to do this no matter what." Her words were anything but certain.
"Don't feel like you have to go through with this, Lumina," Keith added hastily. Nothing would've been worse for him, than to know she had essentially sacrificed her existence as an A.I. for the crew's sake.
Lumina's expression wavered for the briefest instant, before she visibly steeled herself. "No... this is something I must do." The resolve was clear in her eyes. "I may not have the same courage that Mathlia had when she made the leap off the cliff... but that doesn't mean I lack the same determination."
The construct's words were meant to assure Keith that she was making the right choice, as well as to assure herself. Lumina knew now that she was going to go through with this life changing decision, but that didn't mean she was immune to the overwhelming fear that mercilessly gripped her.
Keith regarded Lumina thoughtfully, weighing her expression. He'd seen that look many a time, one that showed her determination to see something through to the very end. She was prepared to go through with this, and thus, so was he.
"Then let's do this," Keith finally proclaimed after a moment's pause. He turned toward Yana, and they both exchanged a look. It was certainly best that this be carried out with just the two of them present.
Wordlessly, Yanashi moved over toward Lumina's body, the neural interface halo now held in her hand. There wasn't much further preparation that needed to be done. All that remained was for the physician to carefully place the device onto the kyree's head, followed by the simple task of powering on the mechanism with a command entered into a datapad. Once done, Yana turned to look at Lumina, who remained silent with an unreadable countenance.
"The transition will be abrupt, and will come without warning," the physician spoke, taking on the professional tone of a doctor. "Once it starts, there is nothing that you can do. However, nothing will happen unless you set the process in motion first." The grey kyree reached over to pick up the scanner she had used earlier. "Remember, I will be here to make sure everything goes smoothly. You do not need to worry at all."
"And I will be here as well," Keith added sincerely. "As long as I need to be... count on it."
Lumina allowed herself a weary smile, before her hologram vanished from sight.
Now all Keith could do was wait anxiously. What happened next was completely outside his realm of understanding.
Lumina reluctantly pulled herself away from the network matrix that governed her holographic projection.
Over the past few months, she had come to call her kyree hologram her definition of self, being the most tangible form that the A.I. could manifest in. It was hard, knowing that she would never be able to project her holographic self again. The feeling was one of losing a part of her individuality.
Lumina was indeed shedding a part of herself, the ability to imitate a living existence through light projections and computer code. Yet, she was also gaining the opportunity to become the very essence of life itself, the very dream she had desired since her inception as an A.I. construct. She was scared, yes... but, there was also a sense of growing excitement.
Carefully the A.I. wormed her way through the network of Arastos, allowing her awareness to branch off into each sub system and databank. This was her home. It had been since the beginning of her life. And now she was going to cast herself out away from the only comforting shelter she had ever known. For several cycles, Lumina simply let herself idle, savoring her last memory of the ship's network. However, she couldn't dwell on the past forever.
It was now or never.
Rethreading her cognitive processes, the A.I. equivalent of shaking her head to clear her thoughts, Lumina once more coursed through the networks and databanks of Arastos... until... there!
There, tied in directly to the systems of the ship, was a single circuit connection, which branched off into an electronic space Lumina could not see. What lay out beyond that simple path was a world that she had absolutely no understanding of, one that terrified her, yet also filled the construct with fascination and curiosity.
It was the bridge into her new body, the circuit that was the point of no return. There was no going back once Lumina accessed that particular path.
She hovered just beyond the threshold of the connection, hesitating... reevaluating her determination over and over again. As she wavered, Yana's words continued to overshadow her awareness: once the process started, there was nothing Lumina could do to stop it. The result would be final, and irreversible. Nevertheless, the A.I. had already made up her mind and promised Keith she was sure in her choice. There was only one thing she could do.
Carefully, Lumina allowed herself to touch the bridging circuit, permitting her to feel the outer most layer of the intricate network beyond, waiting anxiously for something terrible to happen.
For an infinitesimal moment, Lumina's awareness spanned the arbitrary gap between her electronic world and the strange sensation of her body. The network beyond the circuit was strange, yet inviting. She tested the feel by weaving more of her awareness across the bridge, astonished at what she found.
This new network was unlike anything she had ever felt before. While the ship's systems were linear and finite, the world she now found herself in flowed chaotically with no systematic order or cohesiveness. There was a feeling of warmth... acceptance; she integrated effortlessly into each intricate path she accessed.
But then... chaos.
The construct's connection back to the ship was abruptly severed. Panicking, Lumina tried to forcefully pull herself away, only to be drawn further into the unknown.
Her world suddenly closed in on itself forcefully, threatening to smother her out of existence.
Confused, frightened, she fought desperately to stave off the darkness that swiftly inundated her from all sides.
There was a feeling of utter regret... and then... nothing.
A voice called out.
Again the construct heard her name. What was going on? Where was she? What had happened to her? Darkness enveloped her perception. Her thoughts were clouded and bewildered.
"Lumina, can you hear me?" the voice called out again. There was a familiarity to it... but she couldn't remember who it belonged to. "Is she alright?"
Another voice answered the first. "Yes, it just takes a while for her subroutines to integrate and reboot."
Suddenly, the darkness peeled back from Lumina's awareness, giving way to a painfully blinding white light that overwhelmed her. What the hell was going on?
Slowly the brightness faded away, allowing vague outlines to form across her perception.
Something was wrong. Lumina no longer retained the all-encompassing sight she had become accustomed to as the supporting A.I. of Arastos, able to see every corner of the ship simultaneously via integrated sensor grids positioned throughout the vessel's interior and exterior. Her vision was restricted, perhaps best described as focused on a singular point, as she normally experienced when the construct pulled herself fully into her holographic form... but no... this was different.
Even as her blurry vision began to clear, realization jolted Lumina's awareness into focus sharply... she wasn't in her holographic body, nor was she integrated with the starship's systems. That only meant one thing...
A startled feminine gasp greeted Lumina's hearing... her startled gasp of shock.
Her vision now came into sharp focus, presenting the construct with a remarkably clear view of the drab white ceiling bulkheads and light strips of sickbay. The point of view was disorientating to her awareness, giving rise to a dizzying bout of bewilderment. The sensation was unfamiliar and intensely unpleasant.
Unexpectedly, Keith appeared above her, his expression twisted in concern. "Relax, Lumina... it's ok."
In that moment terror gripped her, finally realizing what had just happened... until she experienced something that pushed away all of her fear and anxiety instantly, leaving her stunned in amazement.
For the first time in her life, Lumina felt the caring touch of another upon her. The sensation was utterly breathtaking.
Keith's skin was strikingly smooth, as he rested his hand caringly against the soft silky fur of her arm. Never before had Lumina experienced such an extraordinary feeling, a feeling that was simple and unremarkable to any living creature, yet absolutely spellbinding to one who found herself facing the majesty of life for the first time. There were just no words.
"Relax," Keith spoke softly. "Relax and take your time. Take it slow."
Lumina gradually became aware of her body. There was the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest with each careful breath of the crisp air, a motion that she previously had not been aware of, yet now controlled consciously. There was also the distinct heaviness of the artificial gravity that seemingly pressed down upon her, a sensation she had never experienced in holographic form.
Lumina's awareness quickly shifted to her limbs, which had formerly remained motionless at her sides. She sensed her arms move, the various muscle groups responding to her will as she splayed her hands across the soft fabric of the bed, reveling in the unique feel of the texture against each roaming digit.
Legs tensing, Lumina felt her toes curl. Euphoria clouded her thoughts; it was all just too much to take in at once. The sensory overload... she had never expected to be so overwhelmed by the sheer vivacity of the life she had so desperately sought.
Though overcome by the onrush of sensations, Lumina's attention suddenly fell back on Keith, who was still standing over her prone form. His look of concern had melted into a goofy smile.
"I can't tell you just how funny you look right now," he laughed, his grin growing wider.
It was then that Lumina realized her muzzle was hanging ajar, with her tongue lolled out to the side as she squirmed shamelessly atop the cushion of the patient bed. His words jarred her completely out of her euphoria.
Keith continued to smile. "The transfer went flawlessly, and I see that you are enjoying your new form."
It took a moment of concentration for Lumina to consciously pull her tongue back into her mouth and close her muzzle. How she managed to do so was beyond her understanding. It wasn't so much that she commanded her new body to react, but rather mind and body worked cohesively together, functioning as a single entity in a way that surprised her. There was no effort involved. However, talking was an entirely different story altogether.
Lumina opened her muzzle to speak. "Haaa wong awwws I oww?"
The white kyree's brow furrowed as her ears splayed back sheepishly. Obviously those were not the words she had intended to say. What had happened?
Keith at least understood what she had meant. "You were out for roughly 30 minutes," he replied without missing a beat. "Don't worry about your speech. Yana told me it would take a little while for your speech subroutines to properly sync up."
Lumina's look of concern didn't disappear right away. However, the construct managed to nod her head slightly and closed her muzzle once more. The simple fact that he continued to rest his hand against her arm gently was all the assurance she needed. She trusted Keith and Yanashi completely; her life was in their capable hands.
As if on cue, Yana's wolfish appearance came into view alongside Keith. It was odd to Lumina how both of them were looking down toward her perspective, since she was still lying prone atop the patient bed.
"I'm glad to say that the procedure went flawlessly," Yanashi reported in her professional tone. The grey kyree then mirrored Keith's warm countenance. "I'm so happy for you Lumina. You were very brave."
The construct felt a smile grace her own muzzle, accompanied by a distinctive, comforting warmth, which radiated throughout her awareness. It was such a wonderful feeling to experience.
"Seeing as you're awake and alert now," Yana continued. "How about we sit you up?" As she talked, the physician moved to raise the upper portion of the bed via a small command console affixed to the side of the patient table.
Slowly, Lumina's view of the drab ceiling bulkheads shifted downward while the bed folded up into a sitting position. The featureless ceiling bulkheads were soon replaced by a view of the surrounding sickbay compartment, with Keith and Yanashi standing by the bed on either side of her, grins spread across both their expressions.
Lumina now took in the sight of her own legs and paws for the first time. The fur was strikingly white, flowing down across her elegant form in a way that truly captivated the construct. Sure, she had retained the same appearance as a hologram... but this... it was different. Now she had a unique appearance that she could sincerely call herself, and this was the genuine article.
It was fascinating, how just a simple thought allowed Lumina to wiggle her toes. The more she experimented, the more she became accustomed to the subtle motions of her body, particularly how certain movements of leg muscles caused her paws to shift against the yielding fabric of the bed.
"You've been missing out it seems," Keith remarked from beside her, delighting in Lumina's complete wonder and amazement. He watched as she brought an arm up to study the white fur of her hand, before flexing each digit, marveling at the intricate movement of her fingers.
Suddenly, Lumina's wolfish ears perked up as Keith's grin grew wider. "Seems that those pesky subroutines finally worked themselves out," he spoke with mirth. The surprise evident across her face was rather amusing to the human.
"This is amazing," Lumina finally replied, after opening and closing her muzzle a few times. It was astonishing how she suddenly could speak without any effort whatsoever.
"Seems you've overcome the rubber tongue," Yanashi chimed in, now holding a scanner in hand. "Mathlia had the same problem as well. But it is only a temporary thing."
Lumina watched with interest while the grey kyree passed the small handheld device across her body, giving the construct one final examination now that the integration process was fully complete. This in turn brought her attention to the startling fact that she was naked, or rather, was very nearly so.
She was only wearing a simple pair of underclothing, which served to merely cover up her modesty, not leaving much else to the imagination. It was one thing to see her kyree body scantily clad, lying atop the table; it was a whole other matter to find herself nearly naked.
Lumina grimaced with embarrassment, her gaze abruptly falling to the deck to avoid Keith's eyes. Thankfully, the rest of the crew wasn't here to see her like this.
After a few passes, Yanashi replaced the scanner back onto the nearby table, and turned to Lumina with a cheeky grin. "You are a perfectly healthy kyree," the physician proclaimed. "All that is left for you to overcome now is how to walk and perform daily tasks such as eating."
Yana's words provoked a curious look from Lumina, who was trying her best to forget the fact she was almost nude. "How hard will it be for me to learn how to walk?"
"Honestly, it is the hardest undertaking you will have to do," Keith responded. "It took Mathlia about a day for her to walk on her own."
Lumina's ears folded flat. "I didn't realize it was such a difficult thing to learn."
"It took me quite a bit longer when I was just an infant." Keith crossed his arms across the chest in mock contempt as he spoke, smirking all the while. "But, don't worry. I'm here to help you."
Without realizing it, Lumina tilted her head to the side curiously. "What do you mean?"
"Well... I can't very well leave you to figure everything out on your own," Keith replied. The human uncrossed his arms and placed both hands onto the patient bed alongside Lumina, allowing him to lean over toward her slightly. "That's why I'm here. To help you get on your paws, both figuratively and literally."
Lumina stole a quick glance at Yanashi, only to have the grey kyree give her a subtle wink behind Keith's back.
Yana's sudden mischievous look was perplexing to Lumina, given that she was normally quiet and subdued around the crew or in any public situation for that matter. To see her smirking wickedly was odd to say the least. What was that all about?
Lumina shook off her thoughts and looked to Keith once more. "I think I'm ready to try walking then," she spoke confidently, belying her anxiety on attempting the endeavor for the first time.
Keith simply nodded his head in response, before standing upright once more to move back away from the patient bed. Seeing what he wanted her to do, Lumina sighed heavily to steady her nerves.
The act of rotating her body around sideways on the bed proved more difficult than she had initially thought. This was due in large part to her tail, which she had not taken notice of until the appendage was suddenly pinched painfully beneath her rump.
After some trial and error, Lumina finally managed to swing her fluffy wolfish tail out behind her seated figure, simultaneously succeeding in draping her paws over the side of the bed while she held herself upright with hands panted on her either side. The whole endeavor left the white kyree panting out of breath.
"I had always thought... gravity was insignificant," Lumina breathed. "I was certainly wrong on that account."
"Don't worry about it," Yana spoke, her expression full of sympathy. "Your body hasn't gotten used to moving about yet. Just give it time."
"I sure hope so. At this rate, I'll pass out... just trying to stand up."
There was a moment of indecision, with Lumina trying to figure out how she was going to move to stand upright without killing herself. She certainly didn't trust her balance yet in that respect. Thankfully, Keith's two outstretched arms toward her, accompanied by his encouraging look, provided her with the answer.
Still, Lumina hesitated, unsure of what would happen when she tried to stand for the first time.
"Don't worry," Keith reassured. "I'll be here to make sure you don't hurt your furry little butt."
Lumina elected to remain silent as she slowly reached out toward his outstretched arms, her appearance a study of uncertainty. For a brief moment she paused just out of his reach, and then, finally, grasped his offered hands with her own.
Again she relished how Keith's skin was remarkably smooth to the touch. Lumina could feel his distinctive warmth radiating through the downy fur of her hand, provoking a confusing array of emotions deep within her. There was this strange sense of heat that flared up across her face and wolfish muzzle, rapidly spreading throughout her body like an unrelenting torrent. She couldn't help but inhale sharply as the white kyree was momentarily overcome.
Keith, too, was rendered speechless, feeling Lumina's soft furry hands held perfectly in his own for the first time. There was no doubt he had grown especially close to her over the past few months. Her existence as an A.I. construct had certainly not hindered their friendship in any way. And now here she was, a stunningly beautiful kyree who had broken away from her limited holographic self into an existence he had taken for granted. Just simply holding her hand was enough to send a chill down his spine.
Keith was so preoccupied with his own thoughts, that he didn't notice Lumina's faintly visible blush beneath the fur. Instead he mentally jarred himself back into focus; now wasn't the time to let his mind wander.
"When you're ready, I'll help you off the bed," He spoke, moving his feet further apart slightly to get a better footing. "Don't worry about falling. I'll be here to catch you."
Lumina regarded him anxiously for a second, licking her lips nervously without even realizing it. Then, with a heavy breath, she gave him just the smallest nod of the head.
Keith's grip was strong, yet gentle as he slowly pulled Lumina forward with his arms, allowing her paws to slide further off the side of the patient table. A moment of panic overtook the kyree as she felt herself slipping completely off the bed surface... there was no going back now.
Paws swiftly found the heated deck plating of sickbay, and for the briefest of instants, Lumina found herself standing up, surprised at how quick the transition had been. Yet, the elation immediately evaporated into outright terror, as her legs suddenly crumpled beneath her.
Lumina yelped helplessly, feeling herself falling... until... everything stopped...
Without realizing it, the kyree had shut her eyes. Her face twisted in shock, Lumina slowly opened one eye, to find herself still standing upright... sort of.
With one arm hooked under each of her own, Keith stood rigidly still as he held Lumina up, her own legs folded up uselessly beneath the white kyree. His body was pressed up closely against her own, causing her to blush furiously.
Lumina's modest breasts, which she had only just become aware of at that awkward instant, were practically mashed up against his form while he held her. She could feel his slow steady breathing with each rise and fall of his chest, a sensation that the kyree found soothing. Simply standing there, relishing in Keith's caring embrace ... it just felt... right. The panic vanished as quickly as it had come, while Lumina couldn't help but rest the side of her muzzle against his body, uttering a soft murr of delight.
She didn't know how long she remained there supported by Keith, before his polite cough from above snapped her out of her daze. "Are you alright, Lumina?"
Startled, the white kyree pulled her muzzle away from him, trying to regain her footing. After a moment's fumbling about, she managed to succeed partially, as Keith continued to hold the majority of her weight, and looked up into his eyes with a disheveled expression.
"I'm sorry," Lumina finally managed to stammer. "I was overcome for a moment."
The kyree steadied her paws, feeling her legs locking rigidly into place in a manner that felt right. With caution, Lumina moved her body slightly away from Keith, making sure to keep his arms tucked firmly under her own as she did so. The concentration required was enormous, yet the construct soon felt herself upright on her paws without any assistance from him, much to her surprise.
Carefully, Lumina shuffled her paws, slowly drawing away from Keith. She caught his beaming smile as his arms slipped away from her, and just that suddenly, Lumina was standing completely on her own.
"Look at you," Keith chuckled, his grin growing larger. "Only took you a minute to find your legs. You sure showed Mathlia how it is done."
Lumina couldn't help but utter a giddy laugh of delight, her own grin spreading from furry cheek to cheek. For the first time in her new life, she was actually standing up on her own two paws!
"I'm truly impressed," Yanashi exclaimed with excitement. "I thought it would take hours for you to get to your paws."
Lumina's legs wobbled slightly, but she managed to hold her balance, and even ventured to take a step forward daringly. "This... is amazing," the white kyree managed to say, her focus mainly centered on preserving her balance.
The subtle, intricate motions of walking came more naturally to her with each additional step she took. Her movement became more refined, smooth... her stride more confident. In no time, the construct reached the far end of sickbay, and managed to turn with a flourish of her voluptuous tail.
"Simply amazing," Lumina exclaimed, nearly beside herself with glee.
"I'm amazed myself," Keith proclaimed. He shook his head disbelievingly. "I never expected to see you walk across the room so soon. You're already a natural."
Lumina felt another slight blush well up beneath her fur. "I don't know how I did it. It just sort of... came naturally I guess."
Steadying herself, she padded cautiously across sickbay once more, this time without stumbling once, soon reaching the bulkhead wall opposite from where she had started.
"It's weird," Lumina remarked. "One minute I have to focus all of my concentration on simply remaining upright. And now I can walk across the room with hardly any effort whatsoever."
"That is the beauty of your former existence," Yana replied. "The knowledge and motor skills required to walk were already..." Her words trailed off for a moment. "Well... for lack of a better term, the subroutines were already installed prior to you moving in." The grey kyree motioned with an outstretched hand toward Lumina. "The learning process only entails you fully accessing these stored memory patterns, and incorporating the knowledge into your awareness on the subliminal and conscious levels."
Lumina chewed on Yanashi's words for a second. "If that is so. Why did it take Mathlia a whole day to learn what only took me a matter of minutes?"
Yana's expression became contemplative. "That, I'm not entirely sure why." Her broad tongue poked out the side of her muzzle thoughtfully as she considered the facts. "I would probably say that she had quite a disadvantage, being a ryokian and all."
Yanashi motioned to Lumina's wolfish tail. "Bear in mind, Mathlia has a much larger one of those to deal with... one that could be used as a bludgeon if need be."
Lumina grimaced at the thought, reaching around with a hand to run her fingers through the soft white fur of her tail. "I forgot about that fact," the construct replied meekly.
"Don't worry about it," Keith spoke up. "It doesn't downplay just how spectacular your adaption has been to this new body."
Still holding her tail awkwardly, Lumina remained silent with a pensive look, allowing Yanashi to take up the lead.
"Well, seeing as you've already mastered the art of walking," the grey kyree suddenly proclaimed, turning to Keith as she spoke. "How about we get Lumina something to eat? I figure she should be hungry soon."
Yana's words provoked a startled look from Lumina, with her ears perking up noticeably to the physician's suggestion. "Food?" Her question was accompanied by the distinctive canine head-tilt of curiosity, a motion that Keith found rather humorous.
"Yes, silly," the human replied with a chuckle. He made a show of patting his stomach. "There is arguably nothing more satisfying than a full belly." A smile suddenly crossed Keith's lips. "And... if I remember right, we still have a leftover steak from Captain Rubin's dinner last night. If there was ever a meal to start you off with... that is it."
Lumina couldn't help but let herself get excited at the mouthwatering prospect of sinking her fangs into a juicy T-bone steak. Watching the crew devour their meals the night prior had been excruciating for her to watch. As long as she could remember, she had always longed to just experience the taste of food once, even if only for a moment. Now though, the construct would finally be able to indulge in one of her greatest desires.
Keith could see the excitement growing in her golden eyes. Obviously Lumina was more than ready to try out her newly acquired fangs on her first unsuspecting meal.
"I'll take your hungry glare as a yes," the human spoke, laughing mirthfully. "Do you think you can make it down to the mess hall?"
Lumina fixed Keith with a ravenous look, licking her chops expectantly. "I'll crawl there if I have to."
"Alright," Keith continued, still wearing his playful grin. "But... perhaps before we head there, we should get you some proper clothing first."
Lumina's predatory air evaporated in a flash, replaced instead by a look of outright mortification. This time, he did notice the blush that formed beneath her fur.
"Don't worry yourself," Keith reassured her. "You are a beautiful representation of the kyree race. Don't feel ashamed of your gorgeous body."
His words only made Lumina flush harder beneath the fur. However, she managed to recover her composure. "You are always too kind to me."
Keith couldn't help but smile. "Oh... shush. I'm just helping a friend." He turned to look at Yanashi. "Care to join us?"
The grey kyree shook her head. "Not yet. I need to tidy up here first. I'll join you once I put sickbay back together again."
"Ok, we'll see you down there then," Keith spoke. His gaze quickly shifted back to Lumina, who waited anxiously next to him. "Shall we?" He extended an arm as an invitation for her to proceed by him toward the nearby door.
Lumina gave a slight nod of the head. "But of course, monsieur."
The two made their way out into the corridor, Lumina leading the way.
Nothing was going to keep the kyree from her first glorious meal.