Real Estate

The couple broke fast in the mountain retreat, dining on fresh red melons and purple berries. Marta, their robotic guide, served them with diamond plates on the giant stone balcony overlooking the forest. In between delicate bites, Rae remarked that the whole residence was rather ostentatious. Bello didn’t notice her ire, he was wrapped up enjoying deep breaths of the cool morning air. Afterwards, they took the skimmer and flew over the extensive forest country.

Marta gave a running dialogue on the features of the landscape, the climate of the poles and the wildlife, her features always pleasant, operating the skimmer without looking at the controls. Rae stared ahead at the horizon while Bello hopped from one side of the skimmer to the other, pointing out features to his wife.

“Is that a wooden bridge?” he asked.

“Oh yes!” said the impeccably quaffed Marta. “Built by the native people.”

Rae afforded the bridge a glance. “Looks like real wood.”

“Oh, it is! All the sentient made structures on this world are made by natural products grown right here, and all the structures, with the exception of the residences, are made by the native peoples.”

“Ah yes, the natives. We are scheduled to see them today, aren’t we?”

“Yes. Our team worked carefully over their design, combining artistry and technical excellence to complete these charming natives. They are engineered to enjoy aboriginal environment and build their homes in the large Nobo trees that are common in this region.” Marta tapped a screen and rotating holograms popped up in the middle of the skimmer. Bellos face glowed.

“Oh! They are lovely!” he said, smiling at the pictures. Rae shrugged.

“Are they all that same color?”

Marta tilted her head to the side in an acceptable parody of human movement. “All of the native people range from a light pale blue to an aqua marine. When they reach the sea one day, they will find they are the same color as the water. We anticipate this will generate some delightful creation stories. If you like though, genetic strands can be introduced to-“

Rae waved her hand. “No, no. Blue is fine.”

Bello reached out toward the flashing holographs. “These primitive peoples are friendly, yes?”

The screen flashed to corresponding images as Marta spoke. “The primitives are very peaceful. Their religion focuses on finding inner enlightenment through nature. Tribal elders devote themselves to contemplation and teaching traditions to the young. They have yearly festivals and lovely rituals that reflect their reverence for nature. Because these are a peaceful species, we have imbedded a few defensive skills that you might find of use, should it become necessary. For example, they have a great capacity for the quick computation of numbers that would make them useful on space fairing vessels.”

Rae frowned at the holograms. “They appear rather fragile, don’t they?”

Bello scooped up Rae’s limp hand. “I think they are charming.” He said. Rae shook her head.

“I don’t know, they don’t have any hair. Don’t you think it’s odd that they don’t have any hair?”

“Rae, we can’t replace the Arrgio, even if we wanted to.” Bello put his arm around her shoulders and squeezed. “I loved them as much as you did.” He looked out onto the landscape.“It’s time for us to move forward.”

Rae’s face cracked and she leaned her head onto Bello’s shoulder. Marta ignored them for a few minutes, suddenly entranced in landscape navigation. Bello wiped Rae’s eyes with his sleeve, the fabric absorbing and evaporating the droplets into mist.

“Look,” he said, pointing. Rae peered over the edge of the skimmer and below the green and red leaves of the canopy she could see tall lithe runners moving swiftly on the soft earth. They wore no clothes, their willowy bodies smooth and graceful. They were ululating in dark, sweet tones. Rae closed her eyes and listened to their echoing voices.

“I think I could guide these people.” She said “I really do.”

“We’ll take it.” Said Bello.

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