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Michael didn’t know what he expected (that’s a total lie he was expecting shrieking and weird dances like the nature documentaries about earth birds which was probably racist or something) but the calm lines in front of a massive building was not it. At the door Mikel signed in and received a color coded arm band that apparently meant she was willing to raise a clutch by herself.

Mikel was wearing a flower crown Michael had made her from the horns of the Raging Death Beast and some plastic flowers from home and she looked amazing, practically strutting around in her bright plumage and wearable trophy.

Inside the building there was music and a massive dance floor and tables of food around the edges. There weren’t too many yellow arm bands but there were a lot of red, which apparently meant “down to fuck but not to raise a kid”. A black and white feathered Murania with a red arm band hopped by and Mikel’s eyes followed them until they disappeared into the crowd.

She made a quiet cooing noise, her wings angled up. “That is the prettiest goddamn being I’ve ever seen.”

Michael laughed and shooed her towards the dance floor, “Well, go find them!” He leaned against a wall and watched the crowd, feeling incredibly out of place. Well, it is kinda hard to fit in with a couple thousand bird aliens that only come up to your knees and are all here to get laid.

The black feathered Murania from earlier appeared. They were pretty, if you were into birds, with white barred flight feathers, a bright purple throat and crest, and iridescent black body feathers. The tiny alien stood to their hind legs and tilted their head curiously.

“Are you the human who travels with The Last of the Lost Clutch?”

“Um. I travel with MIkel, yeah. I don’t know about the last of the lost clutch thing.”

The Murania flapped up onto a perch so their faces were level. “A long time ago a large clutch was stolen by pirates. We called them the Lost Clutch, built a memorial, thought them dead. Then we found out that one survived, was travelling and exploring with a human. The news calls her the Last of the Lost Clutch, Fahfahshemen. Said she was on planet.”

“Oh. Yeah, that’s her.”

They raised their crest curiously. “Is it true you rescued her?”

“Well, she kinda rescued me first.”

They blinked and looked up and down Michael’s height. “Truly?”

“Yeah! She brought me tools and weapons, taught me Common, gave me everything I needed to get us out of there. Did you see those horns she was wearing?”

“Yes, I was wondering about those.”

“We were exploring planet side, came across a beast tearing apart a native village. Big thing to you guys, horns, carnivore, the natives call it a-” Michael made a few sharp barks that obviously startled the smaller being. “It’s their word for it. As far as I can tell it means ‘raging death beast’. They come in, trample everything they can see, then take their time eating it. Anyway, this animal was headed straight for a kid and Mikel swooped down and grabbed them and pulled them out of the way. Pulled a tendon cuz the kid was so big, but she saved them. We got the beast stopped and the natives gave us the horns to keep.”

The Murania made an impressed noise. “She must be very strong to keep up with you.”

Michael grinned at them. “Yeah, she is one tough cookie. So what did you really want to ask me?”

“Is it true humans eat eggs?”

“What!? Oh my god.” Michael really should have expected that to be honest. “Yeah, humans do eat unfertilized eggs from non sapient birds. I stopped eating eggs when Mikel and I started travelling together though. Felt wrong.” He shrugged.

“Ah. And will you… be helping if she gets a clutch?”

“Yeah. I got an incubator in case she needs a break and we built the brooding nest together. She hasn’t decided if she wants to travel or not yet but I figure I can just get a parking license if she wants to stay.” He pulled out his tablet and showed the being pictures of the incubator and brooding nest. “I also got this pouch thing for carrying fledglings in and modified the straps to fit me. I can’t help too much with the eggs but after they hatch I can help feed them and keep them warm.”

They tilted their head curiously. “That is a lot of work for a clutch that isn’t your own.”

Michael laughed. “Human pack bonding. Also Mikel is my Mashpeerah.”

“Do you mean-”

“No! I don’t mean Rashpeeroh. We’re nest friends, not ‘friends who nest’, “ Michael put finger quotes around the last phrase.

“Hash Muria?” The tiny alien’s purple crest feather flared.

“Hash pinpin.” Michael held his forefinger and thumb slightly apart. “Mikel has been teaching me. I’m trying to learn enough that I can talk to her fledglings in Muria. She wants Muria to be their first language.”

“Most species find Muria difficult to learn.”

“It’s complicated, but it’s not impossible. You have words for entire phrases and ideas. Most languages put little ideas into little words and then use a lot of words for a big idea. You just make another word for the big idea.”


“yeah, exactly. ‘new ideas need new words in order to truly understand them’.”

The being bobbed their head. “Mikel’s clutch will be very lucky to have you and her to protect and provide for them.”

“I hope so.”

The Murania fluffed their feathers nervously. “Do you…”

“Yes, I think they would be very happy to talk with you.”

They clicked. “You could not know that was what I was going to ask!”

“But it was, wasn’t it?” Michael grinned and the being chittered in amusement. “She saw you when we walked in, said that you were ‘the prettiest goddamn being’ she’d ever seen.”

They ruffled nervously but bobbed their head. “I will go search for her.”

“She’s over by the potted plants.”

They spread their wings and flew to the ground and hopped off. Michael watched them make their way over to Mikel. They spoke for a bit before heading to the dance floor together to chat while dancing a (quite frankly adorable) weaving dance with their wings up and out. Mikel caught his eye and held up a fore claw in an approximation of a thumbs up. Michael grinned and gave a double thumbs up back.

Michael picked a drink from a table and sipped at it, watching the crowd pair off, some dancing and some talking and some flying off together. It reminded him of earth clubs. Time passed rather quickly, the music was nice, the drinks were sweet, and a lot of the little aliens came up to him to chat and ask questions about Mikel and their travels. By the time Mikel hopped over with her new friend, Michael has an entire list of contact numbers from murania who wanted a green bean plant of their very own. (He’d have to send a message to Jayne later and let her know about the possibility of a novelty green bean plant business.)

Mikel let him know that she’d be staying with Mash’ess for a few days and that she’d meet up with him at the ship.

It was a long few days, but at last he was waiting by the Mike’n’Mike, feeling oddly anxious but excited. Finally, Finally! An open topped vehicle rolled up and Mikel gingerly stepped out with Mash’ess’ help. She was wearing a harness that held a pouch close to her chest and she walked on her hind legs so she could protect the pouch with her arms, her wings out to help her balance.

Once at the ship Mash’ess and Mikel pressed the sides of their faces together and trilled softly. Mash’ess bowed to Michael and then they were gone.

He knelt to see the egg harness closer. “Oh my god, is that them!”

“Yes, now help me get to the nest before you start spreading your pack bonding all over.” Mikel clicked and headed into the ship. Michael helped her get the nest arranged how she wanted and then watched with bated breath as she unstrapped the harness and slowly, carefully lowered the eggs into it.

There were two of them, the size of Michael’s fist and both a deep green with black speckles.

“Oh my god, look at them!” He gently, so gently touched one, marveling at the warm, smooth shell.

Mikel chittered and settled down on top of them, shooing his hand away. “They’re not even peeping yet.”

“They’re still beautiful.” Michael smiled and set some water within her reach.

She sighed and closed her eyes, her feathers poofed out in contentment. “Yeah. They are.”

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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