Owen hated bugs of any kind; he was a doctor, a man of medicine, not an entomologist. He wasn’t like Jack, who’d freak out at the sight of a spider, at least he told himself he wasn’t, but insects were something he preferred to keep well away from.
It was one of the reasons he hated the countryside so much. Out beyond the city limits there were bugs everywhere; ants, mosquitoes, wasps, beetles of all sorts, centipedes, and those ghastly earwigs, as well as spiders of every description. There were insects in the city too, bees and wasps buzzing in the parks, flies buzzing around dumpsters and garbage cans, butterflies fluttering by day and moths by night… He didn’t mind those last two too much, well, he didn’t mind the butterflies; they were pretty. Moths were a nuisance, coming into his flat whenever his window was open, flapping into his face, and the little ones had chewed holes in the only pure wool sweater he’d ever owned. At least he lived high enough up that he’d never had to suffer through an ant invasion.
So, safe to say bugs weren’t his favourite people, and the giant praying mantis types from last year who’d shown up with the intention of snatching humans to sell as slaves hadn’t done anything to make him see them in a more favourable light. Yet here he was, with another giant bug problem.
“What d’you expect me to do with this?” He scowled mulishly at Jack.
“Your job. She’s injured and you’re the medic, so treat your patient.”
“My patient? It’s a bug!”
“Her physical appearance doesn’t make her any less a person, Owen; you should’ve learned that lesson by now. You’ve treated Weevils, giant squid, cat people, living teddy bears, sentient trees, and who knows what else. Xericha is an intelligent being who happens to have damaged her wing when she was dragged through the Rift. She requires medical treatment, so get on with it.”
“But…” Owen looked at his patient, standing on the autopsy table, four feet planted on the metal surface while the other two, which more closely resembled hands, were clasped together at her chest. Her compound eyes stared back at him, unblinking. She looked a bit like an oversized dragonfly except that her wings folded along her back. Three of them did anyway. The fourth hung limply from her shoulder.
“You find me ugly to look upon,” the insect said through the translator headset she wore. “You are not a creature of beauty to my eyes either. I had never seen your like before finding myself on this world, yet the others of your team have treated me with kindness despite my appearance being so alien. Can you not do the same? My wing pains me greatly.”
“Yeah, I just… don’t really know anything about fixing wings.”
“Then perhaps this is a good opportunity for you to learn.”
“Right.” Sighing, Owen reached for a scanner. “Better see what I can do.”