Author : S T Xavier

This whole “first contact” thing is such a hassle. Neither of us can understand each other. You’d think we’d have spent more time learning their language before coming down to talk, but of course we didn’t. Management knows best, after all. “Don’t worry, Sporlek,” they told me in the pre-contact meeting, “you’re the right Antari for the job! That’s why we hired you! We trust you to go down there and do what you need to do to get those creatures on our side!”

Lousy managers think they know everything. Not one of them has ever been the Antari-on-the-spot for making first contact! They don’t know what it takes! All they know is their numbers and their reports and that they have to make it look good for the higher levels of managers. Their numbers look better if we don’t waste time on what they referred to as “that ridiculous verbal nonsense”.

As such, the only research I’ve been allowed to do was in their symbology. Thankfully, with their picture screens and symbol markers all over the place, it hasn’t been that difficult. I don’t understand all of them, of course, but most of them are obvious. For example, the green sign with the arrow pointing to the white square is showing the creatures how to escape their captivity boxes. Or the four-cornered yellow one showing the creatures how to walk between the white lines on their black speed pitches. I think I know enough to be able to perform my function.

My craft drops me off in the center of a large area full of the creatures. It’s easy for them to notice me, of course, since I’m two grablecks larger than they are, not to mention the shape of my cranial membrane. A few of them start screeching and running away, while a few others start using equipment from their storage pouches to flash lights at me. Eventually, some creatures in blue with authority symbols show up and point their authority sticks at me. These are the ones I want to talk to.

The first thing I need to explain is that I come in peace, which starts by giving my name. I pull a large laser etcher from my storage pouch and point it at the ground. I’ll etch my name in the green ground plants using a symbol so they can understand. A round portion on the left, leading to a large upward arc, which comes back down to another round portion on the right. A dot right below the top of the arc, then a wavy line above it. Perfect.

I point to the symbol, then to myself as I say my name. “Sporlek!” They look at me, then at the image, then back at me. I point at the symbol and speak again, louder this time. “Sporlek!” Then I point to myself and speak. “Sporlek!”

The creatures look back and forth a couple times before they all start bouncing weirdly. They seem to be in some kind of pain. A few of them fall down and hold their middles, unable to do anything else. The authority creatures put their authority sticks down and make the same sounds as the rest of them.

A few of the creatures come up to me and hit me hard on the back, while still making that sound. Their faces seem to be covered in joy instead of fear. Maybe that sound is their version of laughter? I wonder why they’re laughing at my name. Maybe it was too soon for first contact on this world after all. The managers are going to be mad that their reports are messed up.

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