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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Ancalagon - 54. Chapter 54

“This is in English.” I glanced at Mereval. “You can read it.”

“Yes,” she said. “But we don’t understand it.” She pointed at the screen. “Why would you cut off your nose to spite your face?” She grimaced. “We weren’t aware that humans took part in body mutilation.”

“We don’t,” I said automatically. Then I backtracked, thinking of all the genetic modifications made in the womb that produced what seemed like, to me, some pretty freaky looking people. Not to mention what modern cosmetic surgery could do in a single afternoon. “Not in that fashion at least or for no reason. It’s an idiom.”

“Oh?” She sat back, fiddling with the ties of her tunic and then and settling its draped folds better over her lap. “And what does it mean?”

I blinked. I had to think about it for a moment. It was hard to translate idioms; they really didn’t make any sense when you thought about them outside of your own language, but the concepts remained the same. “It means knowingly harming yourself when you seek to harm someone else.”

“Hmm, interesting. It seems humans were more complex than we gave them credit for.”

My mouth dropped open, and I goggled at her. “We reached space. Colonized several planets. Joined the Galactic Council. And the use of an idiom is what makes you think we’re complex?”

She reached out and patted my thigh with the one hand not still restlessly smoothing her tunic or holding the screen. “It’s not the idiom itself, but what it represents. The acknowledgement of self-harm, understanding it on a conceptual level so widespread that it’s become an idiom, means you must also try to avoid it. Avoiding harm to one’s self by avoiding to harm others is logical. Logic is vital in such a short-lived species like humans.”

“People do hurt themselves in order to hurt others.” Look at what happened to me when I tried to sneak away from my ship and punish Sonez for being a crappy captain. I wasn’t about to mention that though.

“Ah, but if it’s an idiom, it’s ingrained in your culture to be an object lesson. Object lessons are there to teach realities so mistakes don’t continue.”

There was an undertone to the conversation I thought I was picking up on, but people weren’t my thing. Aliens really weren’t my thing. “What sort of idioms do Four Arms have?” I asked slowly.

She smiled. “Funny, how humans rename or judge due to outside characteristics.” Mereval folded a pair of her hands together, leaning back in her chair. “Perhaps a fitting one might be to beware the beguiling heshwa.”

I frowned. “I don’t get it.”

“A heshwa is… well, perhaps better to show you.” She tapped the screen several times, then a picture appeared in front of us.

“That’s so cute.” I couldn’t help but smile; it was almost involuntary.

She huffed. “So many say, before they lose a limb or an eye.” Mereval tapped the screen again and the image turned into a video. What had appeared to be a cute, baby animal with oversized eyes, long floppy ears, and short limbs covered in a thick, shiny pink fluff turned horrific in an instant.

When the whirling dervish of claws and fangs that couldn’t possibly fit in the shiny pink bow that was its mouth were done, nothing was left of the creature four times its size that had tried to creep up on its back.

“Okay,” I said breathlessly. “Lethal pink fluffsters called heshwas a no go for petting. Got it.” I laughed shakily but Mereval didn’t join in. I took a deep breath in and let it out. “Yes, I get the message. Don’t judge anything until I learn more. We have sayings about this too.”

Mereval smiled. “Good, good. Well! Let’s go eat.” She abruptly stood, and I stared up at her.

“I just got here a little while ago.”

“I’m sure you’re hungry.” She held out a lower hand and I grasped it, letting her pulling me out of the chair.

“I guess.” How did they always know when I was hungry? Why was I always hungry?

Garjah joined us when we were about halfway through, Seedrah with him. “Hi!” I said around a mouthful of crispy orange stalks with red spotted tops covered in a gray sauce. It was a good thing I didn’t judge the food by its appearance because it looked poisonous or horrific tasting, but everything I’d tried tasted great.

“Is your meeting already over?”

He shook his head. “No, but I wanted to join you and Seedrah wanted to share his greetings.”

“Looks like Bouncer already is.” The cerops was stalking Seedrah, ready to pounce on the nervous young security officer who hadn’t realized it was a game Bouncer had started playing with him a while back. He always sheathed his claws and never came close to breaking skin. It didn’t reassure Seedrah.

Then again, the idea that a deadly predator wanted to pin you down and mock kill you would probably frighten anyone.

I knew I wouldn’t like it.

Before they could sit down a young aide dressed in a communications uniform—and I was proud I was able to tell the difference after such a crazy time on board—came in with a carefully blank expression on his face. His hands told another story.

He bent to whisper to Mereval, his eyes roving over each one of us until they hit me and nearly bugged out of his head. Well, not me, Bouncer. Still, I didn’t like the looks of things, and that only ramped up when they both turned to face Garjah when he finished speaking.

“What is it?” Apparently not even super hearing could break into that conversation.

“The block you put around the planet has been breached. By humans. Looking for him.” All their eyes turned toward me.

Copyright © 2020 Cia; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

Reading science fiction stories always requires that I suspend my disbelief with respect to the technology required for FTL travel. If humans can do that (wormholes, warp drive, higher dimensions, etc.), then certainly they can place a biological (and therefore not picked up by a scan) tracker in Essell that uses quantum entanglement to somehow give searchers a direction to go.

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The only way they could know the humans are looking for Essell is if they are either calling for him or inquiring about him by radio.

Any contact by Essell will need to be handled very cautiously to avoid misunderstandings. If he suddenly appeared waving four hands, the immediate assumption would be he has been subjected to experiments.

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....ummm...Garjah put a block on the original planet where Essell was found, not their homeworld.  As for how they're searching for him? He stole a ship that has identifiable signatures and possibly tracking devices. 

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  • Site Administrator

Wow, you guys have gotten REALLY good at dissecting 1k chapters and picking up on some of the "subtle" cues. Or I'm losing my touch! :P I won't say who is right or wrong, though. You'll have to wait till the next few chapters come out! 😈

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Posted (edited)

Intriguing chapter. I liked how Mereval was able to extrapolate a lot about humans by her analysis of the idiom.  The expected search party for Essell seems to have arrived on Ardra. The only shocking thing yet is Garjah's block on the planet has been penetrated.  I don't think that the human technology could achieve this without some outside help.  My question is who or what has aided the humans in breeching Garjah's block? I am enjoying the speculative comments of the other readers very much.  Thanks for another fun chapter, Cia!

Edited by raven1
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