III. The Opposite of Dead

BEEEEEEP bip…bip…bip…BEEEEEEP bip…bip…bip….

Preed's eyelids fluttered and slid open so his eyes rested on the gray metal ceiling over him.  He stared up at it, unable to move his head.  The pain in his neck was not as bad as it had been, but was still excruciating.  In the room nearby he could hear movement.  Preed's tongue moved a little in his mouth with the feeling of sandpaper: he must have been unconscious with his mouth open.  How undignified.

There was a clink, a continuation of the beeping sound and a small trill of pleasure.  Ah.  Then it was Gune who shared his solitude.  Probably fussing over one of his silly little inventions.  Preed couldn't move his body and his throat hurt too much to make a sound, but he could blink.  So that was what he started doing.  It was as he was beginning to tire from performing just this little action alone that he was rewarded by a sudden exclamation: "Preed, you awake!"

:You're perceptive.:

A head appeared over him, not Gune's.  Akima's delicately slanted eyes looked down at his own.  Gune was laughing in the background, evidently happy that Preed was alive.  In contrast, Akima's face was unreadable.  "Hold still," was all she said.

Like he could move if he wanted to.  There was a sharp sticking sensation as he felt the probe press into his neck.  His eyes widened and one twitched uncontrollably as he felt the instrument at work, alleviating a fraction of the pain.

Akima held it there a moment, then slid it out of his neck.  "If you were human you'd be dead," she said quietly.  "I'll have to do that a couple more times before you can get any movement.  Gune tells me an Akrennian's natural regeneration of the cartilage will do the rest."

:Oh goody.:

"There's going to be a simple system.  One blink for yes, two for no."

:Three for maybe, and four to go.:  His thoughts were silly in self-defense.  Akima's tone of voice had him somewhat unnerved.

"You're probably wondering where you stand right now.  I'm wondering that myself.  Once you're up and about a little, we're going to talk about what to do with you.  For what it's worth, we're also going to want you to talk to us.  So use this time to think over what you're going to say.  Understand?"

He blinked once.

"Stith wants to kill you.  Just antagonize her if you want that as well."  She suddenly leaned in close, her purple forelocks dangling a few inches from his face.  "And don't bug me either."

As abruptly as that, she vanished.  Preed continued to lie there, wondering how the heck he managed to get himself into these kind of situations.  Perhaps by being such a foul-smelling back-stabbing creep? 

:Nah.:

Gun's face suddenly appeared over him, enormous round eyes bulbous in the dim light—the twisted hybrid of a sightless cave fish and a periscope, big and bright and glassy.  "Preed alive."

A glib statement of the obvious.  Or was it?  In the back of his head, Preed sighed, resigning himself to the scientist's tender administrations as Gune fluttered and burbled about him.  :Not really alive: he thought to himself.  :Just the opposite of dead.:

***

Disclaimer: Titan A. E. and related concepts, characters and events are copyright 20th Century Fox, with special credit and respect to Don Bluth. The story Loose Ends and the third installment "The Opposite of Dead" are copyright The Lauderdale (cartoon6@hotmail.com), as are all installments, concepts, characters and events save where otherwise indicated. "Hell" first published on fanfiction.net, April 5, 2003.

(*wince*) Short, I know, but it didn't really go with the other stuff I've written so I thought it should go by itself.

Cat: Thanks!  Hope this was quick enough for you. 8)

Aurora: Eeh, Aurora, you reviewed me!  And you reviewed "Megavolt Meets Someone

Cool" as well!  I'm so pleased!  Warning on the Akima/Cale front: they're actually gonna feature a fair amount in the story.  Yeah, I know, I sure didn't like them in the movie but for some reason when I was writing with them they started trying to take over.  Especially Akima eventually, although Cale dominates the first part with his general broodiness.  (Um.  I write them a little differently than they are in the movie—I'm hoping they'll come across as just "further developed" rather than actively OOC.)  But it's still going to be mostly Preed-centric.  Um.  I didn't see the flame whereof you speak.  Did you delete it or something?  Man, if I got a flame I'd wanna show it off to everyone.  Unless it was one of those nasty deals where they spam you with the same flame over and over again.  That would suck.

April: Ooh! (*preens*) Well, I don't really think of myself as a "super great author," but you can certainly call me one if you want to.  Flattery will get you everywhere.