Ted takes Emily to his favorite place.
I require no sustenance or material objects, for obvious reasons, so there is no exchange of services for currency, as you are used to. I do this work because I believe in the League's mission."
"Which is snapping up innocent scientists from lesser worlds?"
Wing was clearly unfamiliar with human expressions, but she managed an apologetic look. "If you had suffered through the Voralian Wars, you would understand the importance of building a peaceful interspecies community, and of isolating species that are not ready."
"You're a weird energy-being," said Richard. "How much can you suffer?"
Wing got up and looked out the fake window, showing the blank canvas of space. Her human body was tight and tense. "Believe me, the Voralian developed ways... friends of mine died in agony. Make no mistake, the Erusmi can be killed -- and it is the most absolute destruction known to any being."
There was a long pause. Richard whistled. "Damn. Guess I kind of brought the mood down, didn't I?"
"Do not worry. I am here to answer your questions. You should not be afraid of offending me." Wing's face had remained static through the whole exchange, and Richard thought she hadn't got the full suite of human emotions down yet, or rather simply wasn't bothering to emote through her puppet body.
"Okay then." Richard lay on his side, propping his head up with his arm. "So, can you tell me what's keeping Earth from getting into your little club and me from getting a Nobel Prize? I mean, we're not perfect, but I think we humans are a pretty advanced species. You shoulda beamed up my iPhone and I could have really shown you what we were capable of."
Wing sat down on the edge of the bed. "In terms of electronic and military technology, yes, humans are quite advanced -- certainly more advanced than some races we've admitted. But in cultural technology you are quite backwards, and this has proved to be a very dangerous combination in the past."
"Cultural technology?" The two words sounded funny together on Richard's tongue.
He thought he could detect the hint of a smile in Wing's staid face. "The fact that you do not even have a concept for it speaks volumes."
"Hey, quit ragging on my species. Sorry we can't all be mystical energy space-creatures."
"Well you did ask."
Richard decided to ignore that she was right -- ignoring when other people were right was a vital academic skill, and one he had honed to perfection. Instead, he started looking over the human body she had chosen. Maybe it was just the strangeness of the situation, but he couldn't look away from the stone-faced, borderline androgynous girl. Her style was masculine, but there were two distinctly feminine bulges on her chest, and a lithe body under it that he wondered what it would be like to have.
He felt like chiding himself for being so typical. Put in a situation with a literal galaxy's worth of knowledge and discovery at his fingertips, and all he thought about was sex. But Richard supposed that he had plenty of time to learn.
Richard sat up and knelt on the bed behind Wing. He reached out to rub her shoulders. Apparently in space this wasn't as played-out a move as it was on Earth. Wing flinched at first, but didn't move away.
"So, can I ask you a personal question?"
"I have already said I will answer everything."
"Great. Well, I guess this is more of a biological thing, but does your species... you know, have sex? I imagine it is difficult with the energy thing and all."
If Wing was scandalized, it didn't show in her voice. "Not in our natural forms, no. I have had sex in the form of many different species, however. It is an interesting experience, but also a superficial one, and I don't understand why so many species are fixated on it."
Richard chuckled. He remembered some of his more hopelessly dorky colleagues saying the same thing -- for them it was a case of sour grapes if there ever was one. "Have you ever done it as a human?"
Wing looked at him askew. "No. Do you want to have sex with me?"
"Is that a question or a