Monthly Archives: December 2012

Strange, Blue Neighbors, Part 5

Next day, he went out with Al, and Jin to gather food for processing. One of the other security, Collin, went with them. All of them went the opposite of the ravine, and away from the forest, in a more plains area. Al was singing as they walked. Collin kept glaring at him, but apparently wasn’t bothered enough by the singing to say anything.

Girgis always enjoyed Al’s singing, and he felt pretty safe on this planet. There was still wildlife, but for the most part animals don’t attack things they don’t find familiar.

Jin cut off Al. “Here, these plants have a lot of essential vitamins. Plus, they should hold up well to dehydration.” He waved at stand of deep red grass like plants swaying back and forth in the light breeze.

Girgis pulled out his knife. “Roots, or just stalks?”

Jin and Al pulled out some data pads and consulted for a minute. Jin answered him, “Stalks.”

Girgis began to carefully cut as close the ground as possible laying them in a neat pile. The other two wandered around looking for more plants to gather. After, he had finished cutting down the patch of rough stalks, he pulled an foldable pack off his back, and set it down. He filled it up about one fourth the way. He turned around looking for more.

“Anything else?” He asked, sweat dripping from his forehead.

“I found some, but I got them. Jin followed the stream, he thinks there is some water plants that might work.” Al responded cutting his own patch of plants.

Collin stalked around the area, doing a pattern of patrolling. “Jin’s at a small pond, just around the boulder over there.”

With a hop, Girgis was on his feet, and followed the steam, and around the boulder to see Jin running a thin, mesh net in the water. He appeared to be gathering an orange floating material.

“What’s all that?” Girgis knelt beside him.

Jin dumped his haul into a basket beside him. “Kind of like an algae. If we dry it, we use it as broth stock, very healthy. There are some more red plants over there.”

“Are all we going to eat is just red plants?” Girgis asked seeing the plants nearby he started to cut them down.

Jin let out a drawn out sigh. “No. But, we might as well gather up what is nearby. Tomorrow, we’ll hit the forest.”

“What about animals?”

“I don’t want to mess with the natural order of things. Right now, I’m just having us gather up things that renew themselves quickly, because I don’t know exactly what the growing or breeding seasons are here. We are probably going to be here for at least three months, we have plenty of time to get lots of food, and meat. We only established base camp three days ago. And, me and Al already gathered thirty kilos of food, Mr. Impatient.”

Girgis chuckled. “I’m the boss, I’m supposed to ride you enough, that you’ll consider leaving me planet side.”

Then, they got to work in silence for an hour or two. Girgis pack was now full, and stood up. “Probably, should head back to base camp and unload. We got to process some of this for storage, and maybe process some for eating.”

Jin got up, and they wrangled Al, and walked back with Collin watching their flank. When, they arrived at base camp, there was a problem.

About forty of so the aliens were standing outside base camp, which had made Faar face pale, and her gun at the ready. Girgis sprinted forward, standing next to his people. “What is going on?”

“Nothing, I’m just nervous about having this many here.” Faar wouldn’t even look at Girgis.

“They aren’t even carrying weapons, Faar. I know you want to be careful, but threatening them might make them more violent. Just lower the weapon, and we’ll see what they want.” Girgis kept an eye his people and the aliens.

Faar chewed on her lip, then dropped the barrel down.

The same alien woman approached. This time, she spoke. “You are, Girgis?”

The whole camp went hushed. Okay, he thought, way more advanced. “Yep, you are, my dear?”

She grinned. “My name would be hard. You may call me Qwel. You are here for ore?”

He stopped himself from frowning. They might be friendly, but who knows how they would interrupt a frown. “We need raw materials for back on the home world.”

“I have no objection. You are not going to colonize, are you?” She fixed him with penetrating stare.

He shook his head. “We don’t have enough population for the home world, much less to colonize another planet.”

“Then, let me offer you rights to all the ores here. We don’t need the ones you have been mining. Please leave, any copper you find.” She made a sweeping gesture with both arms.

“Thanks.” He rubbed his chin. “You are using a translator, right?”

“Of course.”

“You aren’t natives, where are you from?” He had never heard of any alien race that matched their description. But, then again, he hardly studied alien races.

She tilted her head. “You are wondering if we are an older established race. We are. But, we do not generally interact with other races. We are from Knilt-on. We are the Woellian. In friendship, we bring you some dried meat that we gathered. Perhaps, we can talk more.” Her brow wrinkled. “What is your race called?”

He thought they may be lying, but he decided to say the truth. “Alaget.”

“On behalf of Knilt-on, and Leader Females, I greet you, Alaget.” Her voice was grave, and serious.  After she finished speaking she gave a deep, kneeling bow.

Girgis dancing back and forth on his feet. “I can’t speak for our government. But, the crew of the Merry Courtsean, I greet you in peace, Woellian.” He finished with a bow.

He stepped back and they walked into the camp. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt good. He laughed, his report was going to be a lot more interesting, than a list of what ores they mined.

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Strange, Blue Neighbors, Part 4

He woke up the next morning to great news. The food was definitely consumable. Which meant, of course, they could stay on the planet for a prolonged period, and not have to pick up supplies on the way home. He had Al set up the machine that would convert any food into dehydrated form, and got ready for his first day exploring.

He went out with the mining crew. None of them were from his previous trips, so he didn’t know them real well, but they came recommended. Faar went out with him, even though he was more than capable of defending himself. “Faar, I can fire a gun just as well as you.”

“Girgis. I am the security officer. You hired me for my ability to keep the crew and you safe. Let me do my ko job.” She answered in her usual calm, no nonsense fashion.

He grunted in return. They headed out going a ravine nearby, which had a ton of exposed ores. Jin had proposed it was due to recent earthquake had cracked open the ground. It was good news, because it meant it was unlikely to be any more earthquakes here for a while.

The crew members joked back in forth as they hauled all the equipment, and additional rigging. Girgis, instead, was looking at the forest. The trees were old, and very lush. He could see small, timid animals run away from all the noise they were making. He could smell the moss, and damp. It was wonderful. He spent most of his days aboard of ships, but he always missed the smell of real dirt, plants, and animals.

“Are you paying attention at all?” Faar’s voice broke into his thoughts.

Girgis shook his head. “I thought that was why you were here. I’m just soaking in the atmosphere.”

Faar laughed. “You are one weird spacer. And there’s the ravine.”

Girgis peered over the side, it wasn’t really tall, maybe two or three people lengths high. The crew had already attached a bunch of rigging, pulleys, and other assorted gear yesterday. They had not started mining, yet.

“You aren’t going to help are you, Captain?” The head of mine crew asked.

He could tell right away, the man was hoping the answer was a no.

“Nope. I wouldn’t let you fly my sweetheart, I won’t get in your way, Halkin. I’m just here to observe.”

Halkin nodded, working very hard to keep a smile off his face. “You wouldn’t be in the way, sir. You just shouldn’t risk yourself unnecessarily.”

“You hear that, Faar, I’m valuable.” He nudged the security officer with his elbow.

“That all depends on who you ask.” She responded with an impish grin.

Girgis sat next to the ravine watching them work. He noticed the alien lady from yesterday approaching them. She bowed.

“Settle down, Faar, she’s no threat.” Girgis said, sensing Faar’s tension already. He nodded toward the alien woman.

She came over and sat beside him. And the whole eight hours they were there, she watched them.

When, they got up to leave, she bowed to each of them, before disappearing into the forest.

Girgis was starting to get very curious, as to what she was up to.

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Strange, Blue Neighbors, Part 3

 

After about a week Jin, the science officer, had established the environment contained no toxins, and was safe. They set up a base camp outside, with private tents, and a real outdoor shower.  Girgis was sitting on a portable chair drinking tea, wishing it was fine beer. Jin was wandering around the camp trying to find out if the food was safe to eat. “Jin, how soon on the food?”

Jin didn’t turn around. “I don’t know. It is typically just fine, but I should check. Why don’t you ever harass Al?”

“Al is my doctor. He could skip giving me pain meds’ if I piss him off. You, however, work for me.” Girgis said with a big stupid grin on his face.

Jin shook his head before heading out of camp. Right away one of the combat trained crew members detached themselves and followed him.

With a big swallow of tea, Girgis smiled. He spent some time watching his crew work as a well oiled machine. A crew of five workers, and Faar were going out for one the caves to mine. The rest was establishing better lines of getting water to the base camp, and organizing the ore bins, along with  other various equipment.

He noticed lurking around the edges were the aliens. Faar had been right, they had not once offered any kind of violence. They looked strange to Girgis. He knew once, his world, Amon, had welcomed aliens of many worlds, but not since The Fall. These ones looked mostly like Alaget, but they were tiny. Their heads barely reaching his chest. Their features were sharp, and high.  And what stood out the most was their skin in various shades of blue. They also wore very bright colored clothing, had lots of tattoos, and decorations in their hair.

As he watched, one approached the camp. It had a nice rack, so he was guessing it was female. It’s white hair had a variety of dark purple, and red beads in it. Its outfit was a red and purple swirled leather dress.

One guard shifted to intercept it.

“Hey now, leave her be. Perhaps, she wants to check us out. Fine with me. Let’s not assume their violent. Just keep an eye on her.” Girgis voice was sharp, making sure his message got across.

She stepped into camp and moved toward him. She got close enough that she stood about three arm lengths away. At this distance he realized she had tattoos lining her eyes in small dots of red and purple. She inclined her head toward him.

He copied the gesture.

She held her palms out, showing she had no weapons, but a small pouch in one hand.

“What’s that, my dear?” He asked in a mild tone.

She smiled at him and held it out to him.

Girgis shrugged and took it.

She bowed to him, and took swift, fast strides out of the camp.

He untied the knot and shook the contents onto his lap. It was a small metal disc incised with symbols he did not recognize. “He tapped the communicator attached to his chair. “Let Jin know, they aliens have their own language, and can probably do metallurgy. More advanced than we originally thought.”

He stood up and surveyed the planet. He was lush with deep greens, and forest nearby. A stream ran not far away from base camp. He wondered where their village was. He asked the crew if they had seen any dwelling they hadn’t. He yawned. At least, they were friendly, and didn’t seem to mind them trampling around their planet.

Tomorrow, he thought, I’ll head out and explore.

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Strange, Blue Neighbors, Part 2

The rocking of the ship, caused Girgis to open one eye. He lifted his head a bit, but there were no alarms going off. “Of course you landed smoothly, my love.” He shoved his blanket onto the floor. He turned on the faucet rubbing some water on his face. He scratched his arm on his way out the door.

Ten of his crew members, half, were waiting in the cargo bay getting on environmental suits. “The environment is dangerous?”

The red haired woman from earlier, shook her head. “Most likely no, but I’m having Wein run more tests before we risk it.”

“Nothing wrong with being careful, Faar. Do want me to go out on the first expedition, or should I get some breakfast?” Girgis asked, his eyes dancing with excitement.

“If you want, but we are about to go now. We are only surveying the landing zone, looking for basic dangers. We haven’t even established base camp.” Faar responded, strapping some weapons to her suit.

Girgis nodded. “You are the security officer, I’ll hit the mess.”

He turned and ambled into the crew quarters, through a side door into a small hall that could barely hold twenty-one people assigned to this ship. Only one person was in the mess. “Al, how’s the food reserves looking?”

A short, dark the man was leaning against the counters. “Not the best, boss. We have maybe a month of dried goods before we need to hit a port to restock. I’m hoping there will be food we can eat on this planet. From the initial scans, it is pretty close to the Jirth homeworld in composition, and we can eat Jirth food.”

Girgis grunted. He grabbed a food pack, and dumping it into a mug. “Let’s hope, the ore scans here are impressive. We need the materials. We must rebuild.”

Al’s dark eyes filled with sorrow. “I know. We all know, Boss. It wasn’t long enough ago, that anyone would have forgotten.”

Girgis moved over the heated water dispenser, dumping some it on the dehydrated food. “I hope for another reason. I’m really tired of eating this crap.”

Al laughed, and took another drink out his mug. “What I wouldn’t do for a shot of good liquor, right now.”

“Hail to the Jirth, friend. I would give my right pinky for it.” He took a big drink of his mug, and made a scrunched up face at it.

“Captain?” Faar’s voice came in through the intercom.

He set down his mug. “What is it, Faar?”

“There is some native alien life here, appears to be nonviolent, orders?” Her voice sounded a bit stranded, and with a steady hum of interference in the background.

Girgis bounced back and forth on the balls of his feet. “You are the security officer, do they seem like a threat to you?”

Several minutes went by, before the intercom crackled again. “I don’t believe so. I’ll keep an eye on them, with a probe, and once we make camp I’ll leave a guard up. Just as a precaution, I don’t see them posing a real threat.”

“I’ll trust your judgement. I know you are paranoid and hostile, so if your fine with them, I’m sure their fuzzy children’s toys.” He responded with a smile on his lips.

Al laughed into his hand.

“Judgmental vin. See you in a bit, boss. Try to keep your enthusiasm down until tomorrow.”

“Aye Aye, madam.”

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