Part 1 and 2

Part 3

Part 4

The entire market place was buzzing with the news. A Fwehahn trading ship was arriving today. As one of the few carnivorous sapient species, no-one was happy to see them here and I had heard that Air Control had made them dock a full mile away from the trading center. Fwehahn were so sneaky, somehow able to use their many limbs to prowl silently through alleys and shadows, and had an affinity for waiting up in rafters and tree limbs before dropping silently onto unsuspecting prey. They were terrifying. And big. An average Fwehahn was a full six umrat tall when they stood on their hindest limbs. I had heard that the only species longer than them was the Shish.

It was expected that the Fwehahn traders would take a full hour to trek the mile’s distance and so business continued in it’s quiet way. Suddenly I heard a wave of distressed shrieks, chitters, and howls coming from the dockway. I slid back behind a stall to safely see what was coming without being spotted myself. I extended an eyestalk around the corner and shuddered when I saw the cause of the screams.

A human. One of the most mysterious and feared species in the universe. Information on them was so conflicting there were actually xenologists who debated if ‘human’ was actually several species that co evolved. The human was running through the street, her teeth bared and her eyes scanning the stalls avidly. The part that made me shudder though, was she was carrying a Fwehahn on her back. It was clinging to her torso with its six hinder limbs while it’s firstest limbs pointed out directions that the human followed instantly. That meant….

That meant the human had run the full mile from the docks while carrying one of the largest sapient species and she didn’t even look winded. I changed my skin to match the dirt and settled in to watch.

The human approached a vendor and made agreeable noises over the salad selection. The Fwehahn on her back flattened it’s ears and slid off of it’s perch to prowl off on it’s own. The human bought a large bowl of salad. Well, large for me. For her it fit into her hand and she chewed it easily and quickly in a few bites. An herbivore then. Probably an easy mark. I quietly began moving through the crowd towards her, a broken blaster in my tentacle. She wouldn’t know it was broken though. I just needed a few units.

The towering being made an interested noise and strode off towards another stall, leaving me to scurry after her as fast as I could. I was slightly out of breath by the time I caught up with her and I arrived just in time to see her purchase a slab of grilled miira meat. A gift for her Fwehahn? My skin darkened in horror as she moved to bite it.

“Wait!” I frantically tried to draw her attention. I probably wouldn’t get to rob her now, but I couldn’t let her hurt her digestive system like that. “Wait! That’s meat!”

She bared her teeth and tilted her head. “Yeah? That’s why I got it.”

“But. But I saw you eat the salad! Herbivores can’t eat meat, it’ll make you sick!”

She made a series of sharp sounds, her teeth still bared. “Ah, yeah man, I’m an omnivore.”

I blinked at her, unsure if she was fluent in common. “An all eater?”

“Yeah, I can eat meats, vegetables, even lactose products.”

“That’s. Not possible!”

She made the sound again and squatted down to get closer to my level. She opened her mouth and pulled a facial muscle to the side to show me her large, flat grazing teeth in the back of her mouth. “’ee? ‘lat I’ ‘e ‘ack.” they released their muscle and pulled their lips back to show me the sharp teeth in the front. “Sharp in the front. I appreciate the concern though.”

I. Was still trying to process having the giant being’s teeth in my face like that as well as the discovery that it could eat everything when their eyes flicked from my face to my blaster and their face wrinkled.

“Were you going to rob me but got worried about me eating meat?”

My skin darkened and I tried to back away, but they just scooted forward after me. “I. Um.” I realized I couldn’t escape her and set the broken blaster on the ground. “I would not have harmed you. I just need some units.”

She picked up the blaster and turned it over a few times. “Yeah, I can see. You need money?”

I bobbed my head in agreement. “Just a little to get through the day. I can’t work with this.” I gestured to my missing grasping tentacle. “No one wants to hire a pilot that can’t reach all the controls.” I was lucky to survive the trauma of losing a limb, but it was even harder to survive when no one would hire you.

She made a rough noise in her throat and dug into her pockets. “Here, take this. You need it more than I do. And.” She tapped on her tablet rapidly and scribbled something onto a scrap of paper. “Here. Maybe think about checking this place out. They are a group of human scientists trying to figure out how to adapt mobility aids to other species. They need volunteers. I mean, they can’t pay you but they can give you a place to sleep and food and maybe eventually a mobility aid that you can use.”

“A mobility aid?”

“Yeah its-” She tapped on her tablet again and pulled up a picture of a human with what appeared to be a metal limb. “See, this is my mom. They lost their arm as a kid and so they got this metal mobility aid to help them out. It’s like a replacement limb. They helped found the research center.”

I felt my skin blue in hope. I reverently touched the tablet to zoom in on the ‘mobility aid’. I had never heard of such a thing. “They would help me get a new tentacle?”

“They would try. Just think about it.” She pressed the paper and a small fabric bag into my tentacle. “You take care.”

She stood and walked off and I stared after her for a long time before looking at the planetary coordinates and hailing frequency on the paper and opening the bag. I had to sit down on the road when I saw what the bag contained: enough units to buy me a meal and maybe a ticket to this human research center. I couldn’t process air for a second. I was going to rob her. She knew I was going to rob her. She could have turned me over to the market security forces and instead she had given me what appeared to be their entire shore leave budget and hope.

Some instinct made me look up in time to see the Fwehahn from earlier leap off of a market stall awning and onto the human, dragging them both to the ground in an impressive display of hunting prowess. The human shrieked and made that repeating sharp noise while playfully dragging the large predator under her bulk and ruffling it’s sensitive ears until it surrendered. They dusted themselves off and the Fwehahn clambered onto her back and began giving directions again. They moved on, towering over the rest of the market place while the average sized sapient species parted to let the feared carnivore and ‘all eater’ through.

Humans were a strange species. I clutched the precious piece of paper to my chest and headed for the travel dock. Strange and wonderful.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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