Author: David Barber

Honoured ones, welcome to my collection of curiosities.

These rare and intriguing items have been my hobby, no, my passion, for a lifetime.

This chamber is dedicated to a world called Earth.

These are pre-conquest curios: An embossed plastic rectangle, mechanical wrist clocks and a set of X-ray plates, each with its own provenance, but since your time is limited, consider this disc.

Yes, the interference patterns on its surface are beautiful, but they are incidental to its purpose. This is an example of a native art form based entirely on sound waves!

Indeed! You are not the first to sat that.

Here though is my personal favourite. His name is Huang, a scientist and explorer from an Earth hive called China.

He has been in stasis here since the rule of our Queen began. Coincidentally, he arrived on the same Hiveship as her when she was still a Princess.

Before we break his stasis, let me admit that other collections display Earthlings, and while they offer entertainment, their behaviour has been spoiled by knowledge. Most can only be roused from apathy by chemicals or electricity.

Huang is preferred by the discerning not simply for his appearance and demeanour, but because of his innocence. He is an authentic example of a human scholar, his behaviour still naive and curious.

See, he makes notes even as we speak. He thinks he studies us.

Yes, male, a drone of some sort. Their caste system is obscure.

Indeed. Many find his softness repulsive, but it is helpful to think of newly hatched grubs. And note, even when alone, he attempts to hide his pulpy body by draping it in an integument. I like to think he recognises the superiority of the exoskeleton.
Others have said that he simply imitates us, but Huang has spoken of a past when his ancestors encased themselves in iron.

Yes, you may converse with him, though he believes almost no time has passed since his arrival. Can I ask you not to mention this? To avoid spoiling his pristine condition, I mean.

Ah, this is a topic he pursued when he was last out of stasis. He continues his train of thought as though there was no interruption.

He notes that the species we conquer become useful to us. He cites the translator bug as an example, and wonders what role his own kind might fill.

I have already furnished a safe answer to this. The translator is explaining that time has been too short to decide.

What a droll suggestion! Yes! We shall ask him what talents he thinks he has to offer.

Ah, that cannot be right. He says his kind have thinkers we might learn from. The translator must have made a mistake. Huang mentions Confucius, which is possibly linked to their word, confusion. I apologise. I shall return him to stasis.

You understand he is not aware that an attempted nuclear strike on a Hiveship caused his planet to be dismantled some time ago.

Now moving on.

Sentient herbivores are another rarity. This species is harmless, long-lived and philosophical. The individual on display will cogently argue it is trapped in a simulation of some sort.

Feel free to try and convince it otherwise.