Loving Deviant Page 33

his head. “I must go on shift. Have a good evening.” He left.

Deviant removed his boots and crossed the room, taking a seat near her. The tray of food sat between them. Venice picked up the fork and offered the first bite to him. He leaned in and opened his mouth for her, taking the meat. She tested the protein herself, liking the flavor.

“I enjoy when you feed me.”

She smiled. “I’m glad. I like to do it.”

“I thought about you all shift. How did you get along with my father?”

“He’s worried about me hurting you in some way.”

He chuckled, surprising her.

“What’s funny?”

“You’re so threatening.”

She got his joke. “You outweigh me by over a hundred pounds and I’ve never been in a physical fight in my life.”

“What did you do on Earth?”

“I worked at a food manufacturing plant in quality control.”

“You stated they did thorough scans, to make certain you didn’t steal. Is the theft of food an issue on Earth?”

“Yes. I worked where they produced vegetables and fruits.” She paused. “It wasn’t my job to actually grow them, but I examined the finished products before they were sealed into containers to be sold to the ones who could afford the real stuff. Android sense of smell isn’t as reliable as a human’s. That was my job. I was quality control, along with a handful of other people. It’s always tempting to pocket a few things, since we couldn’t afford to buy what was sold. We got the artificial stuff on our salaries.”

He glanced down at the tray between them. “We grow our own food on Garden.”

“I hope I’m not causing you financial distress. You don’t have to feed me fresh stuff. I’m used to paste and cubed substances.”

“All cyborgs are given access to fresh foods. Garden is nothing like Earth.”

“What about the meat? That’s got to cost you a lot of hours.”

He smiled. “The red substance isn’t meat.”

“It tastes like it.”

“That’s queltis. It’s a fleshy plant that grows on Garden. You might find this amusing since your tasks on Earth involved agriculture. We assumed it was a sentient life form at first because of its appearance. We scanned it extensively and ran tests on it, not wishing to cause it any harm. It turned out to be a plant. It tastes a bit like pork, doesn’t it? It can be flavored to also taste exactly like beef. Stag, the commander of this shuttle, prefers pork though.”

She took another bite, chewing it slowly and enjoying the taste. “Amazing.”

“It grows quickly so we have an abundance of it on Garden. We don’t hunt the animals on the planet. They are sentient. We avoid taking life whenever possible.”

“I can’t wait to see this place.”

“I did two years of duty in our agriculture gardens in my youth. My father felt it would give me an appreciation for our planet, and it was peaceful work. I’d be happy to give you a tour.”

“I’d like that.”

“I’ll make arrangements when we arrive home.”

“Tell me about this planet. I admit I’m curious.”

“I would be as well. I’ve never been to Earth since I was born on Garden. My father assures me it’s vastly different. There’s only one established city, as you would know it. The rest of the planet is lush with vegetation and a lot of ocean. The natural inhabitants of the planet are amphibian. They only dwell in the water, or the land surfaces near it in caves. We don’t know that much about them since they don’t seem eager to interact with us. We built our city farther inland, where they don’t seem to visit often or wish to live.”

“An amphibian race? That’s so cool. What do they look like?”

“Humanoid with some aquatic qualities.”

“You said they don’t interact with you? Why not?”

“It could be a culture thing, or perhaps we frighten them. We built walls to enclose our city to avoid conflicts. Some have approached our walls in the past, but took off quickly when we tried to peacefully greet them. We’re hoping in time they might wish to communicate with us and form a friendly alliance. We study them from afar and are always learning more about them. Our main goal at the moment is to show them we mean no harm, and wish to share the planet in peace with them. It takes time to establish trust.”

“Your people are so not like Earth Government.”

“No. We are not.”

“Earth Government found a planet several years ago that could support life. It was all over the

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