EP333: Asteroid Monte Feb. 23, 2012

from Escape Pod· · · 1 listeners

By Craig DeLancey Read by Rajan Khanna Discuss on our forums. Originally appeared in Analog All stories by Craig DeLancey All stories read by Rajan Khanna Rated 15 and up for language, drug abuse Asteroid Monte by Craig DeLancey "You don't look like an omnivore." I was supposed to spend the next several years working [...]



By Craig DeLancey Read by Rajan Khanna Discuss on our forums. Originally appeared in Analog All stories by Craig DeLancey All stories read by Rajan Khanna Rated 15 and up for language, drug abuse Asteroid Monte by Craig DeLancey “You don’t look like an omnivore.” I was supposed to spend the next several years working side-by-side with this bear monster thing from an unpronounceable planet, and the first words she speaks to me are these. “Excuse me?” “Your teeth are flat,” she hissed. “Like a herbivore’s.” I had been waiting in the tiered square outside the Hall of Harmony, main office of the Galactic police force officially called the Harmonizers, but which everyone really called the Predators. Neelee-ornor is one of those planets that makes me a believer. Cities crowd right into forests as thick as the Amazon, and both somehow thrive with riotous abandon. It proves the Galactic creed really means something. Something worth fighting for. Something that could get me to take this thankless job. So I waited to meet my partner, as I sat on a cool stone bench under a huge branch dripping green saprophytes. The air was damp but smelled, strangely, like California after the rain, when I would leave CalTech and hike into the hills. I almost didn’t want her to show, so I could sit and enjoy it. I really knew only three things about her. She had about two e-years under her belt as a Predator. She was a Sussuratian, a race of fierce bearlike carnivores evolved from predatory pack animals, only a century ahead of humanity in entering Galactic Culture. And she was named Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess. God help me. I rose awkwardly every time a Sussuratian passed, only to sit again after it walked on. Finally I gave up, and then a moment later a Sussuratian bounded out of the passing crowds, and addressed me with this comment about my eating habits. I sprung off the bench and bowed slightly. “I am Tarkos.” We were talking Galactic. But my Galactic is pretty good, really. Better than hers, I was betting. Her name, however, was a Sussuratian name, and in that language a human larynx was hopeless. Well, here goes. “I am honored to meet you Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess.” She was about six feet long, with short dark fur that had black and green and gold patterns in it reminiscent of a boa. She was a quadraped, and walked on all fours, her claws clicking. Now she sat back on her haunches and put her front hands together, threading the seven claws on one hand through the seven on the other. The effect was a Kodiak holding a bouquet of knives. Her four eyes — two large green ones set below two small black ones — fixed on me. “I am called Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess,” she said. I bowed slightly again. “Yes. I apologize for my pronunciation.” I took a deep breath and tried again. “Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess.” “No,” she said, speaking now very slowly. “It’s Briaathursiasaliantiormethessess.” For the life of me her pronunciation sounded exactly like mine. Except with a bunch of hissing involved in all the S’s. “Can I just call you Bria?” Her small black eyes closed. I knew that expressed something – impatience? Disgust? Chagrin? I couldn’t remember. It’s hard to learn emotional expressions from a crash video course. “This assignment is of great importance and could be perilous,” she said. “I told them I didn’t want to work with a human.” “Well, thanks for your honesty.” She ran her long, dark-red tongue over fangs longer than my fingers. Maybe she understood human sarcasm, because this 300-kilo carnivore then offered an explanation: “You’re dangerous. I fear you.” I nodded. “Yeah. I hear that a lot.” _ I didn’t[...]