This is a kind of feel-good story I wrote so I could experiment with writing alien species, which is something I've not done much of. Would love any feedback, but hope you enjoy.
If it's not OK to link the song in the description, just please remove the link and don't nuke the whole post. The song is included in the story, so it's actually relevant.
The outpost had been abandoned for a decade or so, but the moon’s sterile airless atmosphere had kept the sign on the side of what was probably meant to be—at some point in time—the main building perfectly legible. ”Kepler’s Quarry”, though the team couldn’t parse that just yet.
Yul’s excited pincers rifled through the drawers and containers she could easily get to, having been doing this for the last half-hour or so waiting for the generator to be hooked up outside and the seal on the large breach in the east wing to get its final checks before they opened the door to the east end of the complex. Atmosphere was already steadily flowing in, so they were allowed to go into the western sections. The techs were competent, but painfully slow, all the more so for an Ulem with a penchant for hacking and slashing through information which was presumably none of her business. The king had pardoned her personally, realising her services could be better put to use outside the Park 4 penal colony. She was lucky the king loved outsiders as much as she did, and even luckier that she received a personalised royal invite to supplicate and demonstrate the fact that she had something to bond with him over.
She had been assigned to this science crew not even remotely expecting that she’d be living on Thrup’s ship and being his main gopher for the next 30-odd years. However, there wasn’t a moment’s tedium in it for Yul, and the thought that she was fortuitous enough to escape crimes against the royal court and land her dream job would have soothed any discontent she felt were it that she had time to feel it. Her chamber was stacked high with data drives, documents made of everything from pressed pulp to leather. In her travels, hard-and-fast rules were elusive, but one thing she’d noticed was that there was absolutely nothing a given species wouldn’t use as a communications medium. She slept on the ceiling, bolting her limbs with webbing.
“Yul!” she jumped at the excited voice behind her, flinging shut the metal drawer out of the desk she was just pulling a small, thin, black box out of trying to hide what she’d been up to. She turned around with a surprised screech to see her scribe-squire, Eman standing there already laughing at her. 30 years in the service of His Majesty hadn’t deadened her “Gotcha’!” reflexes, and she had to almost stifle herself from uttering the excuse she didn’t need to continue doing the job to which she was assigned.
“Show some manners!” she spat at him, starting to laugh herself, having to wipe some mucus away from her mouth.
“Stop stealing!” he shot back with a comically forced expression. “Thum told me they’d finished the basic scans. You don’t need to go see him yet; this one’s fairly obvious.”“Oh?” she inquired, already having an idea herself just from what she’d seen, but knowing Eman needed a bit of ego-stroking and let him explain what he learned.
“Right, so there’s no shuttles in the hangers, but the places is easily big enough for hyper-lane capable ones. Also, there’s not a drop of fluids anywhere, but they did leave all their…coverings behind.”
“You’ve seen garments before! The Billo wear them. I hope you won’t act like that on the joint expedition next week!”
“No! Remember Rule 28! They’re not weird, they’re just not you. Just remember that we all need pressure suits…well unless you’re s space whale. Don’t be culturally dismissive. It’s extremely bad fieldwork”
“I’m sorry; they just…I can’t wrap my head around wearing them inside is all***”***
“Do you have anything else?” she asked, resigned but slightly annoyed.
“Yeah…the translation AI has more or less worked it’s magic,” he handed her a small data disk, which she shoved into her headset. “and this time it only took about 10 minutes.”
She loved this part. She sucked in some excited spittle and turned and picked up a random piece of paper behind her and let the lens focus.
“Samples tested. Didn’t find much a dense enough concentration of tungsten to actually call this a valid lode. Smith-Larson isn’t going to fund this operation if the next one doesn’t check out. This place isn’t so much a quarry as it is a child’s treasure box filled with rocks he liked. All the same to me. Four more weeks and I get back to Vancouver and maybe actually enjoy a decent latte. Unless we get unlucky enough to find something and I actually have a job to do out here.
-Molly Torvalini, 28-01-2263”
Yul always loved a species that still found novelty in using ink and even more loved anyone who kept a diary. The translator had a bit of trouble with some of the larger swoops of their writing, but she made it out more or less just fine. She also made it a minor goal to find out what a “latte” was before day’s end. Just then the light above the desk flickered on, and Edam’s face was illuminated by flickering up and down the hallway to either side of him. Soon after, a voice came through on the open channel, and they both heard it at the same time. “All hands, please report to the control room. Repeat please report. We have full power.”
Yul reached out two arms and deftly lifted herself up then scattered over Edam. “Race ya’!” she shouted as she quickly took a one-meter lead down the hallway
“That’s sac shit! Get back here!” he laughed as he scampered after her. He tried to go over her head forgetting that there were no grips in the ceiling of an outpost for a bipedal species, quickly and hilarious splaying himself on his back before he flipped.“That’s what you get for thinking everybody should look like you!” she fake-laughed evilly as she bounded left and into the control room. He joined her about 30 seconds later sucking in phlegm and sweat through his mouth.
“You kids done playing around yet?” Thrup asked them…all six limbs postured as though he were on the royal guard.
“Yes sir Science Division Lieutenant Thrup Sir!” Yul said, lifting her body and standing at mock attention.
“That’s good. Real good, now pay attention.” He turned towards the view screen. “So…as we thought, we’ve got a bipedal mammal, little to no fur, standing about 3 rods high on average. Seems that they were prospecting for tungsten, maybe also platinum, but weren’t having much luck. We only know this from logs and photos though, because there’s no corpses, and-”
“Yeah, and the shuttles were gone!” Edam said in a dumb childlike tone of triumph.
“Yes. I know. I was in the hangar as well. May your superior officer finish?”
“Thanks, now, as I was saying the shuttles were gone, and we found a log that stated that the hull breach we packed up when we got here was an accident. We don’t know what caused it because they don’t either, because they turned and ran faster than whipped chipwets. Very efficient evac apparently”
“They didn’t even try to figure it out?” Yul asked, a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a bit more, but curious about the why as well.
“They…didn’t really have time. We’re thinking they’re rather squishy. Kind of like the Billo but not quite as much muscle mass. They had a pretty strict evacuation protocol, and keep in mind the exploration wasn’t going too well so it’s not like they had much incentive to stay anyway”
Edam waited a few seconds before daring another question. “So…where do they live?”
Thrup coughed and spat to the side. “We’re not really sure…it looks like they were fairly protective of their homeworld or colonies, so it’s going to take some time. We’ll have to be on our guard whenever we go try to greet them. Hopefully they’re not trigger happy.Q
“I don’t think they are.” said Yul
“How’s that?” he asked raising a sceptical mandible.“I don’t know. Gut feeling. They just don’t come across as that aggressive”
“Do you recall your training regarding first impressions.”
She slightly recoiled. “Yeah…but they’re not here, so…”
Thrup looked at her sternly for a solid three seconds then went on. “Right, everybody go and bag and tag anything that looks relevant, then get back to the ship. We’re going to do a few scans of that hot gas giant then move on. I don’t think it has Helium-3, but you never know.”
“Exactly…” Yul said under her breath
A few hours later, Yul was attached to her cabin ceiling, resting comfortably, then heard a tapping on the door. She reached out and flicked it open. Of course it was Edam with that pleading cute mysterious look on his face. She paused her music.“It’s so weird coming in here! You always listen to all the music but ours!”
She laughed. “I listen to everything. Our music gets old after awhile. You should try some of this sometimes! You know the king likes that fast Billo string stuff that you said was neat”He rolled his body nonchalantly “I like the vidsims more anyway. Look, Thrup said we haven’t done a cooking competition in awhile, and he wanted to see if you-”“Oh please! Like it’s an option! I’ll be down there in a second. By Grenyl, that man will never pass up an opportunity to humiliate his crew!”
“You’re not that bad! I thought those pancakes you made last month were super suckable!”
“Ugh. You’re sweet y’know, but you need to give the flattery a rest.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”“It means keep trying and maybe somebody I might actually consider going out with somebody 8 years my junior.”
He smiled and skittered away. “My god he can be such a ‘ling sometimes!” she stated out loud to nobody and snickered. She put her music back on tapping the little screen of the small box she’d found in Molly’s bunk. She wasn’t supposed to take things for personal use, strictly speaking, but there again it was the one and only thing that Thrup never bothered being a stickler about, so it couldn’t be that awful. Even if he didn’t want to admit it, Thrup loved everyone they found traces of just as much as she did. She just wanted to spend a bit more time with the people they’d almost met. She sighed…five more surveys to go.
The music droned into her ears and she closed her six eyes gracefully and let the music carry her imagination to the home planet of the fleshy beasts “…for they knew that we had to part…alone and I…on the river pathhhh…the river path that led to your heart…”
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