She sneezed, the little white feather that had found it's way up her nose flying into the air in front of her face, before falling back down. Lying on her back in a 'bath' of feathers from a bird that looked like a confused pigeon definitely wasn't anything she had done before.
Not even close.
She knew that nearby, the others were in a similar position, and she was glad for that because then it wasn't just her. If she had to suffer something like this, then so did everyone else.
It was when it was painful that she didn't want the rest of her team to suffer. When there was pain and torture and trying not to cry, she hung onto the fact that it was just her. That no one else was suffering along with her.
She wasn't really suffering right now. Except for the white feathers getting into her nose, it was quite comfortable and peaceful, and the people of this planet had been right, a tub full of soft feathers would help her relax. She didn't want to relax, she wanted to be on guard, on alert, just in case, but it was hard, because she was sinking fast to the bottom of the pile of feathers from the bird they called a Flute. At least it sounded like Flute.
It sounded nice.
It could've been a lot worse. It could've been tar and feathers, or treacle. Which she'd been subjected to before. There wasn't a member of her graduating class at the academy who had been subjected to a treacle and feather trick. She'd been got by a bucket over a door and seven of her classmates, even though she'd been so careful all week to avoid the traps they'd laid out for her.
It had taken her another week to fully clean and rid herself of feathers.
She closed her eyes and sunk deeper into the feathers, blowing a few from her face, letting a few more stay on her eyes and forehead. She could hear people talking, and feel her knife sheathed inside her boot. She could be ready in a moment if need be, but the voices remained steady, fading in and out as different people spoke. She thought she recognised a few, but she barely knew these people, let alone their voices. They seemed friendly enough, despite their weird obsession with feathers.
She sneezed again, and she heard a faint "bless you" from across the barn-like structure.
She wanted to relax and roll around in the feathers, though she knew she wouldn't be able to stand the sensation of tickling for long. She wanted to get out too, say thank you and carry on exploring this little town and the people, with their strange ideas and new little gadgets, that were made of wood but no less fascinating to her. One of the things she had always enjoyed about this job was the little bits of technology, no matter how primitive it was to her own level of understanding, that different worlds come up with. These were the things she'd be working with if she were one of these people, if she was the smartest person on this planet. It was a fun little thing to learn about.
She sneezed again.
Okay, time to get out, she thought.
She grabbed the sides of the large wooden tub and pulled herself upright, taking white feathers with her. When she emerged from her soft sea, a few of the locals were waiting for her, silently, smiling. There were feathers in her hair, but the rest began to fall slowly back to join the rest. Not so bad, she decided.
The bucket of yellow sticky goo caught her eye and she had enough time to jump to the left, before they threw it at her, most of it missing as she quickly jumped out of the tub. Her right arm was coated yellow and smelt unpleasant, a few feathers sticking to her uniform, but it could've been worse, she decided as she tried to explain to their new friends that she wasn't interested in the other half of this process, and that they really should explained the whole thing to her.
To them all.
She walked out of the barn, shaking off as much goo as she could and tried not to laugh at the sight of her team mates standing in the dust, covered in go, feathers sticking to them. She knew she should be feeling worse for being the only one not to be suffering under the goo, but they just should have been quicker.
She smiled at them, a small smile, forcing down some laughter, and walked away, breathing hard when she heard their squelching foot steps behind her.