Taking this opportunity in the absolute silence of space to have a meltdown, Lanie screamed and threw whatever her hands had the misfortune to land on.  Using words she didn't even know she knew, she cursed every living thing and some inanimate objects as well.  Grabbing the control panel and leaning over it, with her chest heaving, she gasped for breath.  It was quite a tirade, deafening silence followed.

"Are you quite through?"  An amused male voice spoke to her over the communicator.

Her head snapped to the right, stunned she stared at the still dangling device.

"Hey!  Are you all right?"  The voice spoke again.

Lanie quickly grabbed the device, "Who is this?"

After a short laugh the voice said, "I saw that Faru just threw you out there.  You can't get back through the wormhole.  You aren't equipped for it.  But I can help you..."

"How can we understand each other, did you touch me?"  Lanie asked.

 There was a short pause and then he said, "You have bigger issues to worry about, now listen to me, Cupcake."

 "What did you call me?  Who the hell is this?  Stop calling me CUPCAKE!"  She yelled.

"I spent a little time on your planet, I picked up some lingo.  Just listen!"  He said.

"How?  How could you?  People would wonder about a blue guy walking around."

"It's really not important at the moment, but I was a scout, I had to test DNA and stuff.  When I told the elders Earth women were a match, they sent a team.  I was able to conceal myself, obviously."

This satisfied her for the moment.  "So what do I have to do, how can you help me?"

"First of all forget about going home, not gonna happen.  Listen carefully, and set your navigation to what I tell you."

Lanie listened as he rattled off numbers and she punched them in.

"This will take you to the only planet you have enough fuel to reach.  Now listen, they don't look like us."

"What?"  She immediately imagined the most hideous things.

"Relax, they're friendly.  But they are pretty ugly!"  He laughed softly, seeming to enjoy her discomfort.

"Will they understand me?"

"In your supply closet, hanging on a hook is a necklace.  Go get it."

Lanie acted immediately.  When she opened the closet, it was right in front.  A silver chain, a thicker gauge than she liked, but it had a large red stone in a setting that was beautiful.  She took it back to the control panel with her.  "It's beautiful!"

"It's more than that.  It used to be mine.  If you wear it like a choker, it should fit snug around your throat.  It's a universal translator."

Lanie placed it around her neck and as soon as it was in place, a searing pain came from the back of the red stone setting and she could feel something snaking through the side of her neck to her ears.  She choked as the pain traveled.

"Now wait before you put it on; let me tell you what it does."  He paused and could hear her struggling, "You put it on, didn't you?  Hang in there; it will be done in a minute.  It's modifying your throat and ears so you can speak to anyone and they will understand you and you will be able to understand them."

When she was able to speak again she said, "Why didn't you warn me!"

"I was going to but you jumped the gun!"

She sighed and then asked him, "Will I be able to take it off?"

"Sure, but I suggest you leave it on for now.  If you need it removed, tap it three times, and turn the stone in the setting."  There was silence for a few moments and then he said, "Good luck Lanie."

"Wait, who are you?  Do you have a name?  You know mine."

"My name is Hu'dao.  Just call me Hootie.  Maybe we will meet one day."

"Nice to meet you Hootie.  Do you know Azano?"

"Did you even start your engines yet?  Or are you just floating out there?"

She started the engines and the ship tilted, adjusting its course.  "Yes I'm on my way."  Lanie asked again, "Do you know Azano?"

"Maybe, Azano is kinda like John or Michael back on Earth, we got a lot of 'em."

"Oh."  The disappointment clearly could be heard in her voice.

"What do you hope to find out here, Lanie?"  Hootie said.

"I'm not sure.  I came to look for Azano ... but now I may have a child to look for.  All I know is there is nothing back on Earth for me."

"I'll see what I can find out here, in case you come back this way.  He may not be here, Lanie.  Many of our people chose to live on neighboring planets; some for political reasons, some just because they liked the change of scenery."

"It sounds very unlikely that I will find him."

"We are going to lose contact very soon.  I hope I see you again someday.  I'll buy you a drink!"

Lanie laughed, "Okay.  Trust me; I'm coming back, if nothing else but to make Faru pay for how he treated me!"

There was not another transmission from Hootie.  Her eyes rose to the window and she felt alone again.  Looking at the fuel, she could see it was full.  Hootie told her she had enough to reach the other planet so she figured she would be near empty when she reached it.  With the fuel she had from Earth, it had lasted about four days.  Her stomach growled and she couldn't remember the last time she ate something.  Going to the supply cabinet again, she looked for something to eat.

It wasn't tasty, it didn't even look good, but she ate it.  When she was buying supplies, the man sold her these packages of food that needed to be reconstituted.  They were left over from the early space programs.  It seemed a good idea at the time, it helped her save space, and she was able to stow quite a bit of the awful stuff.  Lanie had to keep telling herself that at least it would keep her alive.  Over the next few days, she actually convinced herself that some tasted better than others did.  By the morning of day four she was disappointed to find she had used the entire bunch of the ones she called her favorites.


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