~ Zef ~

They let the thing that used to be Ted Shafer out of his cage the next morning. The clouds weren’t a complete shroud over the camp, but it didn’t really help the light; the sky was the wrong color to begin with.
There weren’t any helpers to clear away muck and detritus from the body — it wasn’t necessary anyway — the last batch of muck (Steven understood that the meant the third batch), was left on until it was absorbed almost completely. The camp then waited to see if the captive lived or died. In Steve’s opinion, Shafer had been unlucky. There weren’t even any needles left to remove.
The tall creature stood before the Shafer creature in the center of the gathering and spoke in its gurgling hiss “You have lived.”
The Shafer-thing wobbled its head.
”You are part of us now. We are part of you. I am Churkk. You are Zef.”
The thing paused, cocking its head as though listening to a distance sound, then nodded. “Zef.” It swayed slightly, and several of the creatures came forward to help it to a hut.
The thing called Churkk turned towards Steven’s cage. “It is the third day.” It gurgle/growled, and its smile returned.
This time, Steven fought.