OUT OF DEEP SPACE"They're not pets, so don't get too attached to them." Commander 701 hissed the words gently for he remembered his own first spin around Earth orbit. And the second, and the third, and what it means to be posted here for a lifetime studying the humans as they messed it all up.With no warning, he took his hands clear off the controls. It was just enough to start a little high speed wobble for the auto-assist to correct. A sideways glance at the co-pilot seat showed the younger reptilian was now fully focused on the re-entry protocols. He could relax as he said, "You take the ship down."Cadet 13,012 replied briskly and correctly, "Sir-yes-Sir. Humans are not pets. No Sir. What we think about them is in no way mission critical and anyway, everything will be changing soon if the invasion force keeps to schedule. Taking us down now."Just for a moment, Commander 701 reached over and gently touched the firm young scales where the cut of the uniform revealed a tempting glimpse of glistening upper body. They had been together, alone out in deep space for a very long time."Just listen to you now," he said. "No more problems with your English. You sound just like these old movies you watched over and over again, until you got it right.""OK boss." She spoke without taking her eyes off the controls. "I know it's not completely natural but it doesn't need to be. We're not here to negotiate.""Remember your cultural orientation." The Commander smiled as he spoke. "It's not only about knowing how to speak. It's what you say that counts.""Yes, perhaps we could let them know the main invasion fleet is on its way by saying we might have a few friends dropping in. It's a silly language anyway," said the Cadet."But it was you who volunteered for the mission and for the language." There was a hint of disapproval in his voice so the Cadet leaned over to touch him ever-so-gently on the knee. She knew that always worked.Rising to the cultural challenge she said, "So, can you name me an Earth politician you would buy a used car from?""Oh any of them," said Commander 701."The few that think they know us, do what they're told. The ones who don't know, don't matter."Then they were setting down on the surface of the deep blue ocean. She was pleased they were perfectly positioned above the under-sea base. It was getting dark. The Cadet thought that later she might ask to come up topside to enjoy the fresh breeze. Something real and natural after being in deep space for so long.Just as they were slipping beneath the waves the Commander turned to her and said, "And there is something I need to tell you. My wife is stationed here. So we'll need to forget about what went on in deep space especially as I'm getting the old Admiral's job. I'm sorry I should have told you before, but you know what it's like out there.""How could you," said Cadet 13,012. She spoke with a chill hiss. She had a new forceful look in her eyes. It was a look she had kept hidden as they traveled through deep space. Like she had hidden the fact that she had known all along about the wife waiting on Earth. Most of all, she had kept very quiet about her ambition to rise rapidly through the ranks and the knowledge that she had been getting herself the leverage to do just that.endOut of Deep Space was published in both the online and PDF versions in The Fringe Magazine, Jan 2011.