Penny picked up a tray and stood behind a pair of Vylid; she had six meal allowances for a trip of three days and she was already starving. At least the food up here would be better than whatever they were eating down on the lower decks.
"You," said a voice from behind her, "are human."
She turned, looked up, met the eyes of the being towering over her: a Ryi, and at nine-feet tall, clearly an elderly one. "Yes."
"This facility is for Class C and above; humans are class D. You should depart." The Ryi nodded its elongated head towards the lift.
The Association worked on a rigidly-enforced class system delineated by race. The mysterious Class A races ruled; Class B races like the Vylid or the Grodon served as middle management or military; Class C races worked; Class D, like humans since the invasion, were little better than indentured servants to be used where needed and ignored when not; Class E were slaves, prisoners, or the barely-sapient.
"I'm Class C."
"Show me your identity card."
"You," Penny answered, before turning away, "are not Security."
One of the Vylid in front of her glanced back, but said nothing; most beings living under Association rule knew to mind their own business. The line moved forward half a step.
There was a light tap on her shoulder.
"Forgive me," the Ryi began as she turned again. "I am only curious. All Ryi are Class C, or lower if they commit a crime. I have always been told that promotion to Class B is impossible."
"It might be impossible," she shrugged, "to class B."
"How did you manage to be promoted?"
"I managed a Vylid hatchery on Whynn for ten years." Penny looked behind her, to see if the Vylid pair were listening in, which they were. "It burned. Whynn is hot, and dry, and the oxygen content of the atmosphere is high. Had to run back into the building three times, but I saved all the hatchlings. By the time the Oblogo fire brigade got there, the hatchery had burned to the frame."
"The local governor promoted me to Class C; good public relations. The Vylid didn't object, they were just glad to have all their hatchlings safe."
"I can imagine."
Two Grodon officers sauntered in, clad in their omnipresent power armor. They seemed casual, off-duty, until they spied her in the line. They walked towards her, hands on shock-sticks.
When they were close enough, the two Vylid in line ahead of her whistled something at the officers, and waved them off. The Grodon looked confused, but stopped just before they hauled her out of line. The Ryi she'd been speaking to sputtered, trying to speak but clearly intimidated.
Penny turned, fished the lanyard out of her blouse, and held up the attached ID card so they could see it clearly. "Class C."
The Grodon lost interest and moved on. She whispered to the Ryi: "I love doing that."