Choosing Theo: Chapter 12

Don’t let there be probes. Don’t let there be probes, Jade chanted in her head as she stared up at the ceiling through a curved piece of glass.

A large portion of the exam room Jade and Asivva had entered was dominated by a bulky glass tube placed horizontally in the center of the room. Mounted on the front of the tube were thin glass screens. The doctor, a beautiful raven-haired woman, had skipped introductions and instead asked Jade to lie down on a gurney. She’d explained that Jade would be pushed into the tube and her body would then be scanned and repaired.

After both Asivva and the doctor convinced Jade she’d be safe, she agreed to enter the tube. Now that she was inside, she started berating herself. How could you allow yourself to be locked in this glass cylinder of death?

The doctor pressed a few things on the glass screens, and a blue light illuminated all around Jade. She stiffened, expecting to feel pain. “This device,” the doctor explained, “scans your body and diagnoses any current, past and, occasionally, future illnesses. It’ll also identify any damage or deterioration. After it’s done scanning you, I’ll relay the findings and then get your permission to program the device to cure or fix anything that needs fixing.”

After a few minutes, the scan was complete. Examining her screen, the doctor began, “First off, our database has concluded that the only items which are poisonous to you are things made from the Ripsli tree. Make sure to stay away from any fabrics, foods, or products that contain any part of that tree.”

“Your husband will be notified of this. Don’t worry. Products from Ripsli trees are not too common,” Asivva said reassuringly.

Clearing her throat, the doctor said, “The cartilage in your right knee is slightly damaged. Also, your thyroid gland is producing less hormone than optimal. Do I have your permission to repair your knee and thyroid gland?”

Jade looked at her nervously and said, “I guess so. Will I need surgery? Will it hurt?”

“No. The machine will fix it in a matter of minutes. I’ll send a small amount of gas into the tube so you don’t feel any pain. You will be conscious though.”

Jade paled.

Not noticing Jade’s unease, the doctor continued, “Now on to cosmetic procedures. There are many scars and other types of skin damage all over your body. I recommend repairing them all.”

Before Jade could respond, the doctor said, “I don’t know what the grooming customs are on your planet, but females from Tremanta usually only have hair on their head, eyebrows, and eyelashes. I can go ahead and remove all the remaining hair permanently if you want.”

“You can remove the hair,” Jade agreed before the doctor could speak again. “I have a question about the skin-damage thing, though. Do you consider tattoos a form of skin damage?” she asked, pointing to a small star tattoo behind her left ear.

“Yes,” the doctor said, confused. “Was that done on purpose?”

“It’s common on Earth.”

“Well, I can program the machine to leave that area of your body alone if you’re sure you want to keep it.”

“I do. Can you please also program it to keep these two scars?” Jade pointed to a small scar on her knee and her arm.

The doctor grimaced but nodded.

Gee, they really don’t like imperfection here.

She typed a few things onto the pad and then said, “The last treatment you should receive is the elixir. The elixir repairs your body at a cellular level. You’re young, so you won’t need much, but if you continue to get elixirs throughout your life, you’ll age much more slowly. We estimate that our citizens will live to be about three hundred on average. Because you’re the first human to receive an elixir, that number could be much higher or much lower. Time will tell.” She paused. “Does all of that sound acceptable to you?”

Three hundred years? Jade was dazed. If she stayed here rather than returning to Earth, she could live for hundreds of years.

“Jade?” Asivva interrupted her thoughts.

Jade was overwhelmed and couldn’t remember everything the doctor said she’d be doing but nodded anyway. Anything to get out of this tube.

“I’m sending the gas in now.”

Red gas floated up from somewhere underneath her head, and a feeling of euphoria swept over her. As she laid there, feeling more relaxed than she had in years, her mind wandered to an image of Theo. “Mmm,” Jade murmured.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she noted her body was tingling all over. It also felt like someone was softly tapping her knee and throat. Curiouser and curiouser, she thought and giggled. All at once, the tingling stopped and her mind started to clear. “Did something go wrong? Why did it stop?” Jade asked, worried.

She found Asivva smiling at her through the glass. “No, the machine is done. You’re all healed.”

Jade couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this good. There were no aches or pains anywhere, and all vestiges of fatigue had vanished.

“Wow,” was all she could think to say as Asivva guided her back toward the door. “Oh, wait!” Jade said, stopping. She turned and saw the doctor typing notes into the pad. “Is there anything different about me? My anatomy, I mean.”

“A few small things are different,” the doctor said absently as she continued to type.

Jade came up short. “How is that possible? We’re completely different species from different galaxies. How can we be so similar?”

The doctor tilted her head thoughtfully. “It’s true that you’re very similar to us but it isn’t something I haven’t seen before. Have you ever heard of convergent evolution?” Jade wanted to smile at the woman’s excited tone. This was obviously a topic she had great interest in, and for a moment, the proper doctor was letting her nerd show.

“No.” Jade said.

“Convergent evolution is phenomena that occurs when completely different organisms evolve with similar traits, independently. If both of our planets’ landscapes were close enough, it isn’t impossible we would’ve evolved in similar ways.” The pretty doctor crossed her arms as though she’d just made her point. “To be fair, there are many races of Clecanians that you have less in common with. There are no humans with wings, correct?”

“Not that I’m aware of, but hey, I only learned that aliens exist a few days ago, so I’m not one to talk.” The past week had been an eye-opening and humbling experience to say the least. When Jade thought about the vastness of the universe and how many things were happening in it that humans had no idea about, she couldn’t help but feel like she had to relearn everything she thought she knew. Who was she to say paranormal creatures didn’t exist on Earth?

Still curious about how reproductive anatomy might be different here, Jade asked, “Doctor, you’re sure there isn’t anything significantly different about my female anatomy?”

The woman shot her a perplexed and slightly annoyed look. “I already told you there isn’t. Is there something else you need from me?”

“Um. Is there… I mean, will there be…uh…” Jade was unsure how to phrase her question in the least embarrassing way.

“She wants to know whether anything unexpected will happen during intercourse. Is her anatomy the same as ours in that way?” Asivva asked bluntly.

Jade felt heat rising on her cheeks but waited for an answer.

The doctor laughed as she returned her attention to Jade. “There are a few differences, but I believe they’ll all cause sex to be more pleasurable, not less.”

“Oh?” You have my attention now, doctor.

“Clecanian females have one main center for pleasure located deep within our core and then a great many other nerve endings on both the inside and outside of our sex. You’re different to us in that you have two pleasure centers. One is deep within like ours, but you also have a secondary, very sensitive pleasure center outside your body. I believe it’s called a clitoris?”

Jade nodded absently.

“Overall, you should be much more sensitive than we are.” Smiling, the doctor continued, “Whoever you marry will be very lucky. You’ll be much easier to please because of this. As for the males, they are, on average, a little larger than Earth males, but you should be able to accommodate their size. Everything else is the same.” She chuckled. “I think the way in which you have sex may be different, but sexual predilections aren’t something I can scan for.”

Thoroughly embarrassed, Jade muttered a quick, “Thanks,” then retreated through the door.

***

After leaving the doctor’s office, Jade marveled at how advanced Clecanian science was. Asivva had explained that, after the plague had hit, Clecanians had made medical research a priority. Today, Clecanian medical technology was superior to many others in a lot of ways but hadn’t yet advanced enough to save their people.

“We’ve made some incredible discoveries out of necessity but we still haven’t discovered why we’re not always fertile and why we continue to have a greater number of male babies than female,” Asivva said with a forced smile.

“How did that doctor know so much about my anatomy?” Jade asked, wondering how an alien doctor could possibly know what a clitoris was called.

Asivva shrugged. “The same records that contained your language program had information about your anatomy as well. One or more species that are members of The Intergalactic Alliance must’ve come in contact with humans at some point and documented their findings.”

Jade felt a chill run through her as she thought of how the human might’ve been observed in order to learn about their anatomy.

Seeing Jade’s distress, Asivva added, “It wouldn’t have been against their will. For example, we’ve already updated the records on humankind based on what we learned from speaking with you, along with your medical scans.”

This made Jade feel a bit better, but she knew there’d be no way for Asivva to know for certain that the human had given their consent to be studied.

“I haven’t known you very long, but I’m surprised to learn you are so uncomfortable talking about sex,” teased Asivva on their way back to her room.

Jade just grumbled in response. Jade wasn’t a shy woman when it came to sex. On Earth she’d even be considered very free with her sexuality. Jade had realized in college that sex didn’t always have to be tied to feelings. As long as both parties were consenting and of age, there was no wrong way or time to have sex.

Talking about sex on this planet made her uncomfortable, though. If she talked openly about sex, she was afraid the Clecanians would assume she was comfortable with interspecies sex. While her lady parts liked the look of these men a lot, her brain hadn’t given her the all-clear to jump on board the alien sex train just yet.

“So, what’s next?” Jade asked, trying to change the subject.

Asivva smirked and then said, “Bath. We also need to run a scan to see what your scent and food tastes are.”

“Another scan? What does this one do?” Jade sighed, her mental exhaustion returning. She’d only been on this planet for a few days but it seemed like weeks. Everything she learned was new and terrifying and exciting, but her brain was too overwhelmed to take in any more new experiences.

“Not every bride has to do it, but I think it’s especially important for you to do it.” They reached the room, and Asivva continued to talk while retrieving something bulky from the far wall.

Three kind-looking women were now milling around the room, tidying and gathering objects from small trunks.

Asivva propped the clunky object on her hip and gestured to the women. “This is Rena, Cefy, and Shey. They’ll be helping you get ready after your bath. They haven’t updated their translators yet, so they won’t be able to speak with you.”

The women nodded politely at Jade before returning to their work.

Asivva lifted the large, round metal object for Jade to see. It resembled an early space helmet. “You put this on and then put this mouth piece in.” Asivva showed her something similar to an overlarge mouth guard. ‘Then one by one, images will appear on a screen inside. As each image is displayed, the part of the helmet that’s touching your head will scan your brain activity to see how you respond to that image, and the mouth piece will detect whether your salivary glands react or not. After you’ve viewed all of the pictures, the front of the scanner will spray different smells into the air to see how you react to those. It takes all the information it collected and supplies you with a list of foods, drinks, and scents you’ll probably prefer. The list goes into your file and is supposed to be given to your husband so he knows what your preferences are.

“I think the list will be very helpful to you, as well as your husband, though. Not every suggestion will end up being correct, but since you’re not from here, it’ll be very hard for you to know what you like and don’t like. This helps you figure that out.”

“Clever,” Jade admitted.

“Why don’t you go bathe? When you’re done, you can get scanned while you get your nails shaped.”

“Bathe. In front of all of you?” Jade said, eyeing the three women, who were now sitting on the low couch.

“Is there a problem?”

“Most people on Earth aren’t that comfortable being naked in front of others.”

“Ugh! Shy about this too?” Asivva said, shooing Jade toward the pool. “We don’t have time to waste being timid. Get in.”

Jade stood by the pool but didn’t move to take her clothes off. Asivva let out an annoyed huff and walked over to Jade, clearly intending on removing her clothes herself.

“Okay, okay!” Jade cried. “Calm down. I’m going.”

She removed her clothing and ducked into the sunken tub. Once Jade was in the water, Asivva sauntered toward the other women and started talking. Jade turned her back on the women and began allowing the warm water to relax her.

Looking down at her arms, Jade noticed they were smooth and her skin was buttery soft. All of the small wrinkles from her hands were gone as well. These people really know what they’re doing. Glancing over her shoulder to make sure the women weren’t watching her, Jade rose out of the water a few inches to inspect her body.

Women would kill for a boob lift like this! Her breasts, which were a full B cup, had started to sag slightly over the past few years. Now it looked like all the elasticity they’d lost had come back. Jade shook her head, amazed as she ran her hands over her skin, I have the skin of a baby and the boobs of a college freshman. I may have to figure out how to steal that magic tube before I leave.

“Yes! They’re very nice breasts!” Asivva called from the couch. Jade immediately ducked under the water and shot her an angry look. Asivva laughed and said, “Can you please finish washing them so we can do your scan?”

“You haven’t given me any soap to wash myself with,” Jade said, annoyed at her lack of privacy.

“The water contains everything you need. It’s been mixed with our cleansing foam as well as hydrating oils. Just submerge any part of you that you wish to be cleaned.”

Jade finished bathing and then quickly wrapped herself in a towel Asivva held out to her. Suddenly the parts of her body that touched the towel felt dry, she peeked under the fabric and saw the skin there was, in fact, dry.

Jade realized this towel must be one of those archaic but modernized items still used here. As she ran the soft fabric over her wet skin and hair, the towel warmed and seemed to suck the moisture from the surface of her body. In a matter of minutes, she was completely dry, as was the alien towel.

Not addressing anyone in particular, Jade examined the fibers of the towel closely and said, “How does this work? It feels dry.”

“It was evaporated within the cloth.” Asivva handed her a loose-flowing dress and motioned for her to sit on the couch.

“That’s really cool,” Jade said, dutifully setting the towel aside and donning the soft dress as she sat down.

“After we get ready, you’ll go to The Testing, and then, whoever you choose will be notified. You’ll be taken to the entry hall, where he’ll see you for the first time.”

“Then I just…leave with him?” The momentary wonder she’d felt when examining the towel turned to apprehension. She was just starting to become comfortable in this new environment with these people. The thought that she’d have to start adjusting all over again made anxiety spear through her.

“What? The ceremony isn’t long enough? You want to do more?” Asivva asked with fake exasperation in her voice.

The ceremony had taken almost an entire day already. She did not want or need to do more of this, but the time now seemed to be moving much more quickly. Soon she’d be alone with a stranger. A handsome, deadly-looking stranger.

Instead of voicing her concerns, Jade decided that being preoccupied was the best course of action. “What happens in The Testing? Do we watch them do husband-esque things?”

“Not quite.” Asivva chuckled ominously.

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