The Human-Joozian Cultural Exchange Program
Chapter Onewritten by Snackysmores - illustrated by Kennymcshamrock and Paramécie
Personal Log of Captain Wendy Testaburger. Year 14 (2030), Month 10, Day 24.
My ship is returning to its mother port at the Earth Remnant Academy of Space Exploration, a satellite station in orbit of Kepler-452b, the most Earth-like planet left in the Milky Way Galaxy; approximately 1,400 light-years away from the planet I was born on. Four years ago, I was named the Commanding Officer of the Streisand; a small, explorer-class space vessel with Faster Than Light technology reverse-engineered from the Academy's flagship, one of many gifts from an intergalactic trust formed to help recently displaced planetary cultures settle new planets.
The demolition of Earth could have been an extinction event, but instead we were preserved and catapulted into a new space age, left to explore the stars and claim uncharted space for ourselves. What should we be feeling? Gratitude? Or hatred? On this matter, mankind remains divided. As busy as we are, darting across space, we've kept to ourselves. The governing authority of Earth Remnant believes this won't last. We need to join the intergalactic community if we want a say in the future. We cannot risk another extinction event.
Returning from our maiden voyage, we were offered leave, but few among my crew took up the offer. High rates of crew retention, no deaths, the amount of space we've charted; all of my numbers are currently exemplary, and I have received many honors from the Academy. I could try to advance my career now, but the urge to wander among the stars has not left me, so I've signed on to remain as captain for the Streisand's second tour. In the last two weeks, while my crew has enjoyed a much deserved vacation, I've been busy reaffirming my network at the Academy- looking for new opportunities to distinguish myself from other captains.
A transparent aluminum view-port covering the entirety of the back wall presented a panoramic view of the planet below the station, one-tenth larger than Earth, with the continents in all the wrong places. At odds with the white panels riveted along the other walls, the office was decorated with wooden chairs, a wooden desk, a full bookcase, and a potted plant. The brass-plated name plaque on the desk read: Phillip Charles, Principal/Head of Xeno-Relations. Earth Remnant Academy of Space Exploration.
Principal Charles was a new administrator at the Academy, one that Wendy hadn't met in person before. His most noticeable features were his gummy smile, his blue visors, and his thin blonde mustache. He wore the drab blue-gray uniform of the faculty, with showy arm muscles popping from short sleeves, and a crew cut that squared off above the ears. She had heard that his views about aliens were very progressive, and there was a great stir when he was hired, but what caught her attention was the exchange program he started. Bridge Crewman Peter Gintz had volunteered to be the human exchange from Wendy's ship, and for the last year he had lived among the Joozians. Now, for the next year, a Joozian exchange crewman would live among the humans on-board the Streisand.
Charles spoke pointedly to wrap up their meeting, maintaining a certain level of intensity constantly, not inviting any interjection. "Captain Testaburger, I just want to say again how thrilled we are to have another ship volunteering for our new cultural integration program. Humans are still just getting their foot in the door in the intergalactic community, and xenophobia isn't helping our cause. We need to show a better side. We need trailblazers like you and your crew. Thank you."
Wendy rose from her seat and shook the principal's hand. He had a soft grip despite his big arms. Her own grip was firm and he adapted to it, as if perceiving that he might have offended her with a weaker handshake. "Crewman Gintz has spoken very positively about his year with the Joozians; he was even adopted by his host family. He's going by the Joozian name his host family gave him."
"It's very touching," Phillip replied sincerely. His beady eyes watered behind his sunglasses.
"It's quite an act to follow, but I will do my best to foster a similarly hospitable environment for our newest crew-member," Wendy assured, releasing the principal's hand.
The gold-plated comm-link on Wendy's wrist vibrated with an incoming message. With the principal turning to pontificate some more while facing the window, Wendy checked the neon blue display of her comm-link to read the message: Last night at port, have a drink with me tonight, stop working!-1st M8 Bebe
Wendy promptly replied. Drinks in my cabin @ 2100 hours? -CO Wendy T.
There was not much pausing in between messages exchanged, at least from Bebe's end. Her texts-per-minute couldn't be beat.
We've been doing drinks in your cabin at 21:00 hours for way too long! No offense Wends, but your cabin isn't the club, and I'm getting cabin fever!- 1st M8 Bebe
Wendy glanced up hurriedly. She couldn't get caught typing on the virtual keyboard of her comm-link. She offered some paltry reply to the principal's speech about accepting the past and embracing the future, following with a free-form question about the Academy's other exchange successes for him to answer at greater length, freeing her up to continue texting.
I have to oversee the Joozian crew-member exchange -CO Wendy T.
She had planned a very specific route; down the scenic promenade, taking the mag-shuttle to the docking bay, touring the Streisand- maybe a toast to a new voyage in the crew break-room before turning in for an early night.
Here's an idea: bring him to the club! B^) -1st M8 Bebe
Taking the alien exchange to the club was definitely not what Wendy had in mind.
Bebe NO -CO Wendy T.
You, me, the alien, and an away team rendezvous at the club, immerse them in human culture, and ingratiate them with crew-members in a casual setting. Think about it?-1st M8 Bebe
Wendy would have to call for one of the stewards working pre-takeoff clean-up to take down the decorations in the break-room. No sense in having two parties set up.
If you insist. I want a private welcoming party, at a reputable establishment. Away Team will consist of any willing Chief Officers and 1-2 guests each of their choice. There will be no obscene behavior or drinking in excess -CO Wendy T.
Wendy was ready to be attentive again, even if what the principal was saying was just a bunch of pandering buzzwords that played out like a self-righteous monologue. Then her comm-link went off again.
If I can't behave obscenely or drink in excess at the club then after-party in your cabin xoxo -1st M8 Bebe. Hugs and kisses, followed by multiple unnecessary and unrelated emoticons.
Secure location and send coordinates. Over and out. Xoxo -CO Wendy T.
Wendy switched off alerts and snapped her head up, ready to look alert and attentive for real this time. She'd lost the train of the one-sided conversation entirely.
"Yeah, it's something to ponder, alright," the Principal sniffled before interacting with a control panel on his desk, leaning over it to say, "Linda, you can send them into my office, thank you."
The white door to Wendy's right made a distinct pneumatic whooshing sound, unsealing at the middle to retract toward either side of the door frame, revealing the alien and his newly adopted human brother.
Wendy addressed Peter first upon seeing him enter with the Joozian exchange, but she would be using his adoptive name from here on out. He had grown a little taller perhaps, but he looked like the same egghead with messy black hair that had left a year ago. "Ike, welcome back. This must be your brother, Kyle."
Among Joozians, Kyle looked more humanoid than most- something of a phenomena among Joozians raised on Fognl's orbiting moon as opposed to those raised on the harsh atmosphere and intense gravity of the home-world. Where humans may compare common ancestry with chimps, Joozians compare ancestry with Axolotl-like creatures. Yellow skin, four arms, extrasensory appendages protruding from the shoulders and the sides of the head, horizontal brown stripes on the face and body, soft caudal-facing fins extending from the top of the cheek bone and over the temple. Kyle's various fins and feelers were fighting for space on his head with a cloudy nebula of coiled red hair.
Wendy was expecting Kyle to be in uniform, but he was wearing red shorts, flip-flops, and a white cotton t-shirt with a picture of Earth on it. Ike was wearing green shorts, flip-flops, and a white cotton t-shirt with a picture of Fognl and its moon.
"Did you take a tumble through the gift shop on your way here?" Wendy gawked.
"Ike suggested getting presents," Kyle said, his extra arms lifting up Academy gift shop bags. "The shirt is...I bought him the one he's wearing now a year ago and he's still making fun of me for it. Now I've got one of his planet."
Wendy was grappling with internal frustration, and Ike intensified this struggle by asking, "Captain, why are you in uniform on the last day of vacation?"
Tall black boots, a crisp white uniform top crossed by a medal-decorated purple sash, and a pink beret. Long, straight black hair. Brown eyes with a shine like glass. Seeing her in a uniform, Kyle couldn't imagine her out of one.
"A commanding officer has many responsibilities," Wendy said, turning her attention briefly to the principal, "The Broflovskis are in good care, Mr. Charles."
With a gesture of her arm, the brothers fell into step behind the captain, out of the principal's office in the faculty wing, out to the commons promenade. In the center of the walkway was a vast, running garden and artificial waterbed, taking in light through UV-filtering, transparent solar panels on the concave ceiling.
On approach, the station looked like a satellite dish attached to a ball bearing, a cross of segmented rods also attached to the ball bearing, with concentric rings of metal rails that could move segment stations. A closer view revealed docking stations at the ends of each rod.
On their walk back from the academy, Kyle assumed they were to return to a docking station to see the ship, but Wendy stopped in sight of a residential area; white, modular shapes fitted against the walls formed housing for many on campus.
"Kyle," Wendy sifted for words, "would you like to...Meet with the crew, in a dance hall?"
Ike lit up, asking, "Oh, are we going to the club?"
Wendy corrected, "Kyle will be joining us, if he is interested. You are not of age, and will be retiring to the ship."
Ike saw a conflicted look on his brother's face, but encouraged him by saying "You should go!"
Kyle caught Ike's smile and it spread to his own face. "I'll see you later, Ike. To the...Dance hall then, Captain."
In their walk through the residential ward, Wendy noticed Kyle's slower, ambling gait and limited her speed to match. "If we're not on the ship's bridge, or on a mission, and if you're not speaking to me in some official capacity, you may call me Wendy."
If Kyle had come to the station expecting a sample of Old Earth aesthetics and architecture he'd be disappointed at the stacked utilitarian shapes hugging the walls like honeycombs. Illuminated walkways and local light sources emitted a shifting array of cool-temperature colors. Signs of human culture were present, but merely tacked on to alien facade. One of the honeycomb structures bore a line of flags that Kyle recognized from his studies as being American states; ones that had a lot of alien activity even before the Human Relocation Project. He didn't know much about them because Ike mostly talked about Canadian provinces. Wendy moved toward this building, so Kyle asked, "is one of those flags yours?"
Wendy pointed to a flag with three horizontal stripes, white between blues, and a red "C" on a golden disc. "Colorado territory," she said. "Most of the Streisand's crew is from there, from the same snowy mountain town."
Inside the white honeycomb building; posters, photos, and graffiti covered the walls. Against the far right wall, a squat, descending staircase led to a basement floor. Against the far left wall, wood-framed glass cases held various antiques and sports memorabilia. Kyle drifted toward one that held trophies and trappings of hockey, the exciting human sport that Ike had told him all about. Teams of armored athletes skating on blades over a rink of smoothed ice, slapping a heavy puck with sticks. So much of humanity was like this, blending violence and grace. He tried to be a good sport for Ike's sake, who wanted to play all the time, but the game didn't agree with him, not like basketball did anyway. In observing the display case of basketball stuff, Kyle was reminded of how much higher off the ground the hoop was than the one he had set up outside his home. What kind of sports did humans have for people who weren't very tall or fit?
Wendy broke Kyle's train of thought, seemingly apologizing. "I was hoping that my first mate might have picked someplace more suitable."
"No, not at all!" Kyle turned to Wendy. He wasn't just fake-gawking to look interested. "If this is the usual sort of place you go to, then it's just right."
"I'm glad somebody can see what I'm going for here," a sunny voice greeted from across the room at the top of the basement stairs. A woman with bearing similar to Wendy, brimming with strength. She wore similar military dress clothes but with different colors; tall, black boots, tan breeches, and a red uniform top padded at the shoulders. Not as many medals on her sash, but she had her share. Her eyes matched the color of a cloudless, blue sky, and her golden curls were so immaculate that Kyle couldn't help but feel a little jealous. As she walked closer, his nose tingled with the scent of her hair products and perfume.
Wendy introduced them, saying, "this is my First Mate and Chief of Security, Bebe Stevens. Bebe, this is Kyle Broflovski. His official posting is undecided, but his field of expertise includes xenobiology and theoretical physics."
Kyle shook Bebe's hand, noting the meticulous care of her nails and the smoothness of her skin.
Bebe noted that Kyle's palm was a bit damp to the touch, commenting, "It's no wonder that you adopted Peter as your brother. Ike, I mean. You must have gotten along so well. It's nice to meet you."
The introduction came to a standstill, with Kyle looking down at his flip-flops and their boots.
Bebe asked, "are you nervous?"
Kyle's head came back up, admitting with a sigh, "I guess I am." Internally, he couldn't help but compare himself to Ike- so willing to engage with an alien culture. Kyle possessed the same willingness, but he found himself tongue-tied.
Wendy advised, "Just take a few deep breaths."
Kyle followed her advice, stepping aside and taking a moment to breathe deeply- two hands resting at his sides, the extra pair rising to knead his shoulders.
Bebe's eyes followed the pacing alien, her body leaning toward Wendy to whisper, "he's got a nice ass in those little shorts," which earned her a reprimanding hiss from the Captain. She had been warned about obscene behavior.
Kyle sighed his last and said, "I'm ready."
Wendy took the lead down the basement stairs, with Kyle following, and Bebe bringing up the rear.
The bottom of the stairs terminated in one of the standard pneumatic doors, but beyond that was a small hallway terminating at a slotted wood saloon-styled door. Rocking open the saloon doors, there came a smell of herbal vapor and libation. The bar was sparsely lit with lights that gave the room an amber glow and cast obscuring shadows over the people occupying leather-seated brass-legged barstools. Loud speech and laughter echoed off of wood panels and brick walls, babbling together over the sound of a live band in the corner. These people rose from their seats to greet Kyle. Wendy tried to lead with another formal introduction, but stampeding feet corralled them at the entrance, Kyle's four hands engaged at once for simultaneous hand-shaking. He might not have heard all of their names, but his personal digital assistant did for later reference.
"Gregory," leapt above other voices to introduce himself first; all pomp in presentation, with blonde, slicked-back hair. "I was just a transfer myself once, from Yardale. Now I'm the 2nd Officer. All you need to belong here is merit."
A girl with red hair cut into the line to introduce herself. "Call me Red, I'm the Executive Administrative Assistant."
Waiting patiently behind Red, who had just cut in front of her, a girl with black hair and a yellow-topped uniform offered a flat smile and stare, but no offer for a handshake. "Hello, Kyle. My name is Leslie. I am the 3rd Officer and Chief Engineer."
Kyle bleated, "Hi, Leslie."
Bebe saw Wendy's furrowed brow and took her by the arm, pulling her toward the bar. "The alien exchange was safely escorted to the welcoming crew. Let's get something to drink!"
Wendy scanned the room in a hurry. "Stan isn't drinking, right?"
Bebe reported, "he's stayed sober all throughout break. That's what Kenny tells me, and he's a very honest person. Stan's there in the corner playing music with Kenny and Cartman right now."
Wendy whisper-shouted with alarm. "Who invited Cartman?"
Bebe held up her hands and said, "I didn't! Leslie asked for him as one of her guests."
This revelation left Wendy puzzled. "Leslie did? I've never seen them exchange as much as one word, why would she invite him?"
Bebe guessed at Leslie's motivation, saying, "The sooner he accepts that there's an alien on his crew, the better."
That didn't sit well with Wendy. "Is she trying to stir up the pot?" Her imagination took off running. "I have to make sure Cartman doesn't touch a drop of liquor either."
Bebe shrugged and drank from the blue bottle of beer that had been placed on the bar before her. "Cartman hasn't been so bad lately."
Wendy stressed her objection, saying, "Having an alien on-board the ship could bring out the worst in him. I was hoping to introduce them to each other in a more controlled environment."
Bebe took another drink and relayed the alcohol's words of wisdom. "We need to stop talking about work shit! Have a drink with me. Is there someone we can appoint to personnel relations?"
Wendy shook her head and ordered a Gin Rickey. "Those positions are pointless, no one respects them."
"Those are some harsh words."
"Managing interpersonal relations is integral to my role as captain," Wendy asserted. "I have to inspire loyalty by mediating conflict." With the first and last drink of her two-weeks vacation served to her, she took a good look at the ice clicking together in the highball glass. Her crew was a microcosm of human civilization. The Eric Cartmans of the world would have to tolerate the presence of aliens for humans to stand on the intergalactic stage. Wendy took a drink and savored the flavors; juniper berries, orange peels, lime juice, and alcohol. She looked over her shoulder. Kyle was still on the opposite corner of the room from where Cartman was playing the piano. "I was just hoping to introduce them to each other in a more controlled environment," she repeated.
Bebe lashed an arm over Wendy's shoulder and clutched against her tightly. Wendy, for her part, just tried to keep her full drink from splashing the bar as she was jostled."We're loyal to you, Wendy," Bebe hailed. "No one could replace you."
"You could," Wendy offered.
Bebe gave an exaggerated look up at the ceiling as if she was considering the offer, looking back down to ask, "What would you be doing?"
Wendy guessed with a sly grin: "Co-Captain?"
Bebe dropped her arm from around Wendy's shoulders, challenging, "You want Co-Captain, and I'm only the 1st Mate?"
Wendy hid her laughing smile behind her drink. "I'm joking." She paused a while, swirling her drink in hand, watching lime pulp settle at the bottom. The bartender had been too careless muddling the citrus, it was bringing out the lime's more bitter notes, skewing the balance of the cocktail. There was something Wendy had been hoping to talk to Bebe about, and the liquor told her to let it out. She took a preparatory breath and sat up straight on her barstool.
"In all seriousness, I'm considering a career change in a year or so."
Bebe took in the information, let it steep in her thoughts, but this wasn't wholly unexpected."There's a whole lot you want to accomplish, isn't there?" She finished her beer and tucked a tip under the empty bottle. "What would I be doing?" Bebe asked.
"I don't know," Wendy said, continuing in a slightly embittered tone, "we might have gotten a handle on that if you had been here at the Academy with me the past two weeks, networking for some gainful future employment."
Bebe rolled her eyes. "It's a short distance from lip service to ass kissing. Where's mine, huh?" Bebe nudged Wendy. "Where's my lip service and ass kissing?"
Wendy tutted at her phrasing, turning her face away to smile covertly. "Don't say vulgar things in public."
Bebe nudged again, more insistently, directing Wendy to look over at Kyle. "You notice the alien's been mingling this whole time? No meltdowns?"
Wendy scoffed and finished her drink, observing Kyle's approach toward Stan, Kenny, and Cartman in the corner. "Give it time."
"You are such a grump, I love you," Bebe laughed. "Let's get another drink."
Kyle treaded lightly across the bar floor in his squeaky flip-flops. He'd been held hostage for one introduction after another, and there were still many more crew-members to meet. Friendly faces everywhere. He followed along with their customs; make eye contact, smile, shake hands, exchange names and assigned utility on the ship, offer future opportunities for cultural exchanges; but his eyes sometimes darted away, elsewhere, toward someone else. When he looked at this person his smile pursed, his teeth bit into his bottom lip. His hands shook, clasped together for support, and shook some more, wringing together with anguish. What was his name? Should he ask? No, don't spoil it. Experience it first-hand.
After each distracted introduction he would strategically go to the next closest person in the direction he meant to go. Sometimes he positioned himself so that he could look at this person over the shoulder of the other person he was introducing himself to.
Closer and closer to him now. He hadn't looked up once. He was absorbed into his music, playing the upright double-bass in an ad-hoc jazz trio. This allowed Kyle some freedom to stare as he liked, liking what he was staring at. Short, black hair. A bit messy at the fringes, just begging to be futzed with. The sleeves of his white uniform were rolled up, toned arms cradling his instrument. He did not look wholly familiar with the double-bass in playing it, but he had the theory down. Kyle reasoned that he played a similar instrument and had just picked up a new one for fun. His hands looked coarse and dexterous, with fine motor muscles that looked well-trained. He closed his eyes at times and tapped his foot on the floor when the beat of the dramatic piano-player got away from him. It didn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but Kyle was desperate to know what the color of his eyes were. This human met all of the qualifications to be 'classically handsome' with his conservative style, defined jaw, and air of mystery. Why was this gorgeous specimen hiding in the corner? When no one was looking, what made him frown and cast his eyes at the floor?
His gravity pulled Kyle closer, unable to retreat. Kyle couldn't have been approaching anyone else moving toward the corner like this. Reaching atmospheric entry, past the point of no return, it dawned on him all too abruptly: 'what am I going to say to him?'
The human that Kyle had been admiring finally looked up at him, too close now to escape even his oblivious notice. His eyes were blue, reflecting off of Kyle's green. Kyle spoke his mind.
"I find you very attractive."
The bass-player's fingers fumbled over his strings and his words, his mouth gaped and his eyes opened wider. "Say what now?"
Kyle re-iterated his intentions, doubling down on his bold approach."I find you very attractive. I'd like to pursue you romantically."
The human put aside the double-bass and rose from his seat, paying the other members of the jazz trio a brief glance of disbelief. The heavy-set piano-player shook his head profusely, while the reedy blonde sax-player nodded with gusto. Weighing their input, the human re-engaged with First Contact. "It's 'Kyle', right? Is being this up-front normal for..." he trailed off.
"No! I just didn't want there to be any ambiguity," Kyle said. All the same, the human's reaction to him was full of ambiguity. Kyle asked, "do you find me attractive?"
"I don't really know you," he admitted.
Kyle realized his misstep. He needed to observe protocol and ritual. "A date!" he declared, his inferior set of hands clasped on to one of the humans', asking, "would you go on a date with me?"
This was met with another point of contention. "We're starting a year-long voyage into uncharted space tomorrow."
"Right," Kyle acknowledged. There would not be much opportunity to go out. "Could tonight be our date then?"
The human continued to dodge Kyle's advances, but the pulse of his hand rose, his eyes roamed all around the room, and a smile flickered under the veneer of his formal speech. "You're not in the medical crew, are you? We couldn't if I was your superior."
Kyle was unsure. "The captain said I could be working with multiple crews."
The human shrugged; an awkward gesture of pitched shoulders, expressing or perhaps merely feinting doubt, ignorance, or indifference. "We would need to get approval."
"Okay, let's ask now!" Kyle, at once pulled them toward Wendy, who was seated at the bar.
"Uh, wait a sec!" Kyle's date-to-be tugged on the line, in a state of shock as he was abducted by the smitten alien and dragged toward Wendy. Kyle seemed nice, sure, and honest with his feelings too, but the human had yet more reservations about dating that he hadn't been able to voice yet. He'd resist more if he wasn't curious how Wendy would react.
"Captain," Kyle greeted Wendy. He realized at this late juncture that he didn't know the name of this handsome superior officer. He tried, as casually as possible, to look at his potential date's name-tag before he spoke. "I want to go on a date with the...Chief Medical Officer, Stan Marsh. Would that be alright?"
Wendy paused to process the request, looking between the two of them before conceding, "yes, of course."
Kyle smiled and squeezed Stan's hand. "Thank you, Captain."
"Enjoy yourselves." Wendy's eyes imparted some severity toward Stan with but a glance.
Kyle rushed Stan to the saloon-style doors of the bar to leave. "Let's hurry!"
The remaining members of the jazz trio, now the jazz duo, moved toward the bar in a hurry. The sax-player, combat pilot Kenny McCormick, ordered a round of shots now that Stan was absent. The piano-player, security officer Eric Cartman, approached Wendy, asking her, as if she knew, "What the fuck was that?"
Wendy ignored him outright, so Kenny answered, "Stan's gonna get laid."
Eric bristled and fake-heaved. "Kenny, he's an alien! That's fucking gross!"
Kenny rolled his eyes and put a skinny shotglass of tequila in Cartman's pudgy fingers. "You're jealous, dude. I can't tell which one of them you're jealous of, but you're definitely jealous."
Cartman jabbed a finger at his friend's chest. "Fuck you!," he declared, before downing the shot and slamming it on the bar-top, wiping a drip on his chin across his sleeve, directing his impotent rage back at the captain. "This is wrong." He paused. No one agreed with him, so he declared again to agree with himself, "It's wrong!"
"It's just two people going on a date," Wendy said.
"Wrong," Cartman said gravely, accepting another shot from Kenny, only speaking after he'd drank it and let out a deep breath. "One person and one Joozian. The Joozians cannot be trusted. They manipulated our history, they demolished our planet to steal our resources, they control all the media in the universe, and they're eroding our moral fabric- they want us to be tolerant of sex with aliens so that they can breed us into a hybrid slave race, until there are too few of us pure humans left to fight back when they decide to finish us off."
Wendy asked, "Have you got an argument against Stan going on a date with Kyle that doesn't make you sound like a fanatical bigot or a conspiracy dipshit?"
"Alright," Cartman leveled and sat down on a barstool that creaked under his weight. "I'm afraid that Stan is going to get hurt."
Wendy faltered at that because she was afraid too. "Either of them could get hurt, that's just the chance you have to take getting involved with someone. If you would like a reference to Kyle's character, ask his newly-adopted brother."
That did not assuage Cartman. "He's got one of their names now. How do we know that he's still Peter? How do we know that Stan will still be Stan once Kyle's done with him?"
"I can only hope that you're not referring to some insane invasion of the body-snatchers scenario-"
"I am-," Cartman clarified.
"-because that would make you a complete idiot. You'll see Ike and Stan tomorrow. Scan them, interview them, ask them about what sort of person Kyle is if it will help your anxiety."
"My anxiety..." Cartman grumbled, "what about the alien? Are we scanning and interviewing the alien?"
"You will not be involved in that process," Wendy assured, "I can just imagine the sort of invasive searches you'd want to perform."
"I bet Stan's gonna perform some invasive searches, with his penis," Kenny snickered, accepting the full brunt of Cartman exploding at him, slapping him about the shoulders.
"I'm going back to the ship," Wendy announced wearily. "Tomorrow, and for the next year forward, Kyle is a member of this crew, and he is to be treated as such. Understood?"
"Understood." Cartman waited for Wendy to leave the bar, escorted by Bebe. "She's going to regret bringing that alien on board, mark my words."
"Yeah, that's great," Kenny commented, not at all paying attention, trying to tug Cartman out of his seat. "Let's go back to the corner. I want to lay on the piano for a while, sing a couple songs. You know the ones."
Cartman wheezed and nearly lost his balance, sliding off the high stool and into a standing position, slumping against Kenny on the way to the corner, parked on the grand piano's black bench. He swayed in his seat, but he was still able to slap his fingers on the keys and run through scales. Grimacing as he rolled his head on his shoulders, he popped the stressed joints to the vertebrae in his neck, regaining his composure.
Laying down the piano top and spreading himself over it, Kenny hummed a bit and cleared his throat. He kicked his feet straight up in the air and rolled away from Cartman to face the rest of the bar. "Here's a song for all the lovers out there," he crooned.