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Chapter 17

      Jeremy buzzed the door, and looked inside, timidly once it opened. The room was large, walls in a comforting earth brown, and floor carpeted in dark green. There was a desk toward the back, two chairs in front of it, and one behind. In that chair was seated a female kelsirian, with light gray fur. Her face looked like that of a house cat, with small triangular ears

      "Please come in," she said, her English accented with a purr.

      "Hi," he said, softly, stepping inside the office. "I'm Jeremy."

      Her lips tightened and her eyes brighten. "I'm Leiha," she replied, standing and stepping around the desk to hug him. Jeremy froze for a moment, surprised. "What can I do for you?"

      "A friend of mine, one of the tech, said that you helped him learn English. I was wondering if you could help me learn Kelsirian."

      "I can." She smiled. "I don't know if you'll be able to speak it. You're voice box is different then ours. It's simple for us to speak English, we mostly tend to over pronounce the 'R', but I don't know if your voice box will be able to produce some of the sounds we use."

      "I know, I won't be able to. I've already tried to pronounce some, it feels like I'm trying to rip out my vocal cords. I just want to be able to understand it. It isn't fair for me to force the kelsirians I'm working with to have to speak English, they tell me it isn't exactly comfortable for them to speak it."

      "I don't think it isn't as bad as you've been told."

      "Still, it would be nice to not have to rely of the few who speak English to have to translate for me."

      "Alright," she said. "Take a seat then."

      "How is this going to work?"

      "Just close your eyes."

      She moved behind him, and after a moment, he felt something familiar. He opened his mouth to say something, but found his voice didn't want to work.

      "You won't be able to speak while I do this, just relax. It's normal while I'm interacting with your speech centers."

      He felt himself panicking slightly, so he called on his box, and calmed down. He couldn't do much, so he let his mind wonder.

      After some time, he felt her move away. He checked his chrono, and saw it had been thirty minutes. "You're a mentalist?"

      She replied, but his mind couldn't make out what she'd said.

      "I don't think it worked, I can't understand what you're saying."

      She said something else, which he also didn't understand, except for one word, English. He frown, and when she spoke again, he realized she was speaking English "It might take a few moments for your mind to be able to tell them apart."

      "What just happened? You were speaking English, and I couldn't understand."

      "Because I inserted some Kelsirian into your mind, it was expecting me to speak it. When I didn't it didn't know how to process the input. It happens with a lot of people who learn a language this way."

      "So now I'll be able to understand Kelsirian?"

      "Only a little. It could take up to five sessions for you to become fully fluent, and we should let you mind rest. We can do the next session tomorrow."

      "Okay. Thank you." He stood and offered his hand.

      She stood also, and looked at it. "Do you prefer this over a hug?" she asked.

      He looked at his hand. "That's how we greet and say goodbye. We're not as physical as you seem to be."

      She tilted her head. "You never hug?"

      "Just family, really. Maybe a very close friend."

      "Then I hope I didn't cause any awkwardness."

      "You surprised me, that's all." He blushed. "I didn't mind it, not really."

      She smiled and hugged him again.


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