Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Randolph Beaucoup of the Terran Diplomacy Wing had been selected from fifty candidates for this particular First Contact mission. Little was known about the Marenko other than they were anamorphic pseudopods without discernible features. Smooth gelatinous bags that had the ability to form as many multi-fingered tentacles as needed to build or manipulate technology. The Terrans were still trying to figure out how they saw without eyes and thought without detectable brains.

There were large ones and small ones although that seemed to have no bearing on age. There was talk of one the size of an ocean but it may have been a god myth of some kind. All was unclear at this stage other than the fact that they had space-travel capability and were, by and large, peaceful.
The math constructs had been sent and received as proof of intelligence and no weaponry was detected at the landing site.

Randolph stood on the plateau a few steps away from the Terran landing plank beneath his ship, clad in a fishbowl helmet to clearly display his face and wearing a tight spacesuit that showed his musculature to curious species. It was known as the ‘nothing-to-hide’ approach. The stars twinkled above him. The Marenko balanced in front of him like a transparent slug rearing to impersonate a capital S. Unlike slugs, however, the Marenko were unnervingly quick and this one was the size of an elephant seal.

The Marenko extended a glittering flower-tipped pseudopod towards Randoplh and paused. Randolph extended his own hand and grasped the pod tip in what, in his experience, was a universal sign of greeting. A sharp pinprick zeroed in on his palm. His suit easily patched the tiny rupture as Randolph withdrew his stinging hand with an involuntary hiss of shock.

Before he could move, the Marenko extended another tentacled pad that slapped wetly up against Randolph’s helmet and stuck there.

“Hello Randolph. The earth-name I have chosen for myself is Mary.” said a pleasantly-modulated voice. The tentacle was vibrating against Randolph’s helmet to produce the sound. “It is a pleasure to meet you. This has been a delightful first contact and I am honored to be the first to produce our communication.”

Randolph thought that was an odd choice of words.

“The pleasure is mine, Mary.” he replied. “I’m happy to meet you too. I’m curious, what was the purpose of poking me like that?” he asked, tentatively hopeful that the answer would be benign.

“I needed a small tissue sample to produce our communication. You are in me now, growing. Soon you will be large enough to leave yourself here and then we can talk after you leave.”

Randolph couldn’t understand the words. The sentence must been parsed wrong in the alien’s nascent attempt at translation. “I’m afraid I don’t understand, Mary.” he said.

“Look closely at my center, Randolph.” said Mary.

Randolph looked closer at the core of the huge alien’s wavering, smooth body. There, in the center, curled up and twitching, was what looked like a tiny human baby.

A tiny baby with transparent skin and gelatinous bones. A tiny baby with dark hair and dark eyes, just like Randolph. It grew as he looked at it. A Meranko-Human hybrid of some kind.

“This version of you will stay here. We will converse. It will have your memories but it will be of my race as well. After a short amount of time, you may come to collect him and talk to him as well to gather your own information.”

“Uh…..what?”responded Randolph eloquently.

“I am, as you say, pregnant.” said Mary.


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