“Hello Miss Lisa Giovanni.” The voice wasn’t one she recognized. She blinked a few times, at first just seeing darkness. Her surroundings lightened up a little with each blink. She sat up and looked around, she was surrounded by pastel blue, like she was a balloon floating in the sky.
“Hello?” She tentatively spoke back.
“Cognitive functions are operational, bodily systems are stable.”
“Yes Miss Giovanni.”
She stood up and spun around in circles. “Who are you? Where are you? Where am I?”
“I am the AI within the pocket capture vessel number 77426. If it is easier, I can have a corporeal form.” Lisa nodded. A swirl of white appeared condensing into a vaguely humanoid shape, the outline wavy. “You are in holding in pocket capture vessel 77426.”
“According to my records you have been identified as being one of a group holding a Qwortarian against their will.”
“A Quarter what?”
“On your planet they would be considered an extra terrestrial.”
“Oh!” Lisa snapped her fingers. “You mean the shapeshifting alien!”
“Yes. Qwortarians are known for their rare ability to change their phenotype and related abilities at will.”
“So… how long am I going to be in here?” Lisa leaned back, sitting though there wasn’t any sign of anything actually holding them up.
“There is no set date. Just until the Qwortarian has been rescued.”
“But for now I’m stuck here!” Lisa crossed her arms and leaned back. “Talking to… what do I call you?”
“For the length of your stay, you may call me anything which is not derogatory in any of your planetary languages.” Their white puffy body moved slightly with each of their words.
“Okay… How about…” Lisa rubbed her chin, glanced around at the blue space so stark against the AI’s body, and then grinned. “Cumulus?” Their body blinked yellow a few times.
“Cumulus is an acceptable name.”
“Great.” Lisa swung her legs. “So… what now?”
“As per the regulations of the Lux Galaxy use of pocket capture vessels, any sentient being captured inside for non lethal offenses will be able to access their planet’s entertainment options during their stay.”
“Like… movies and shows?”
“And literature… and your planet has a world wide web I can connect you too. The only exception is you cannot access any personal files, communication, or news regarding your offense.”
“Awesome!” Lisa giggled. “Que up…” Lisa started counting on her fingers and mumbling to herself. “The third season episode four of Homicide Hunter.”
“All right. Would you like it movie sized, personal home TV sized, or small device sized.”
“Bring on that movie screen.” Lisa pointed in front of her. Cumulus copied the point, and a giant screen appeared, showing the title of the show in gigantic letters. “Thanks Cumulus.”
“If you need anything else, just ask.” And then the show started playing and Lisa hung on every word of the true crime show she had started to watch with her college roommate before they parted ways.
Word count: 499