Author : Ian Rennie

The trader frowned. The translation device, never superbly reliable, had been acting up ever since he had arrived on Cygnus 1.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “What did you say?”

“I said, what are you selling?”

Veloth, the trader, relaxed. For just a moment, he thought the pink figure in front of him has said something inappropriate and biologically impossible about one of his mothers. To be frank, he wasn’t expecting much from a colony this small, but sometimes colonies from newly spacefaring races made for good markets.

“Medicines,” Veloth said, “the majority are for silicate life forms, but we have a few appropriate to your species.”

“What kind of medicines?”

“Mostly remedies. We have headache pills, cancer pills, asthma pills, immortality pills, athritis-”

“Hold on a second, did you say immortality pills?”

“Yes, and arthritis, senility, scale rot-”

“Are we meaning the same thing by immortality? Like, not being able to die, not getting older, that kind of thing?”

“Oh yes, immortality, living forever, I sell a pill for that.”

For some reason the colony leader started to get excited, and then did a dreadful pantomime of hiding it. The trader had dealt with carbonates before. None of them were particularly good at disguising emotions.

“We, uh,” the colony leader started, “We might have a use for that. How many do you have?”

“Not many, a few hundred. There’s not much demand for them, really.”

“Not much demand for-” the colony leader started in shock, then checked himself, “Well, if they’re just taking up space in your inventory, we’d be happy to take them off your hands.”

Veloth shrugged. it was a complex gesture on one with as many limbs as he had, but it got the point across.

They haggled for a while. The pink colonists were moderately skilled miners, and the trader soon arranged a vaguely extortionate price for the pills. The colony leader was almost salivating when they struck the deal, and stuck out a limb to shake. Veloth took it, making a mental note to sanitize that particular appendage.

The deal struck, Veloth prepared his ship for takeoff. If he could get a price like that for what he was selling, he’d definitely add this colony to his rounds, despite their odd tastes.

If they’d pay that much for a cure for immortality, who knew what else they’d buy?


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