“The air itself tasted of the eternal.
The sky split and opened.
Fire lanced across space itself.
The immortal touched the child, and both cried out for the beauty.”
Prince Triclick rubbed his sensory horns ruefully as he finished chanting the poem and cast a final glance over where the silverwings were stored. The graceful long distance transports normally sat in the open field in tastefully arranged clusters around their maintenance sheds. Each one would be anchored with a graviton tether more than strong enough to keep it on the ground even in its passive mode. That is how he had always arranged his wings on his home colony, and that is how he had lost the majority of this colony’s silverwings. A shame that had nearly cost his family the rights to develop this world.
Now the graceful curve of each leading edge of the beautiful craft was shoved under the trailing edge of the one in front of it. Thick cables that couldn’t help but bite into and damage the sensitive sensors that impregnated the flight surfaces crossed over and extended wing surfaces. Over all this, to protect everything from the chaos approaching from the north, northeast the human had thrown a hyper-insulating tarp. The dullest grey surface you could imagined covered the whole in a tight wrap. Each graviton tether was fully activated and the whole thing resembled some humming isopod that had escaped from a world with far less gravity and peace of mind. Seven such monstrosities were lined up at a respectful distance from the next so that if one line of protection failed the rest wouldn’t be damaged.
“That was beautiful,” Ranger Smith said, the admiration vibrating up through Prince Triclick’s feet and drawing his attention back to the present moment.
At least the power of the human’s voice made his sensory horns stop tingling, Prince Triclick thought with a rueful grimace.
“Who wrote it again?” the human asked.
“When she wrote it her name was Thrity-Five Flaps,” Prince Triclick explained. “The entire poem cycle earned her the right to a smaller name and she recorded her next names as Fifteen Trills.”
The human nodded and grunted as he bent down and with an almost terrifying display of force lifted the remaining tarp and began striding back to the main tent that was sheltered in among the trees.
“So you do get thunderstorms on your homeworld?” Private Smith asked.
“None like that,” Prince Triclick stated, glaring back over his shoulder at the black bank of clouds that was gradually surging towards them from the north.
“But you do have some, or how could What’s her Flap have written that poem cycle,” the human pressed eagerly.
Prince Triclick gave a little sigh of relief as they passed under the dense canopy of the forest proper and the potent electrostatic energy began to dissipate in the movement of the branches. .
“We do,” he agreed, “but they are vanishingly rare. The one that inspired that particular poetry was the result of a meteor shower of heavily ionizing fragments.”
The human bobbed his head eagerly as he listened. Private Smith was clearly enjoying this story immensely and Prince Triclick sound himself getting into it as well despite the ominous feeling caused by the approaching storm. They reached the main tent, the one used as a cafeteria and general meeting place just as he was describing how the meteor shower had disrupted power over half a continent.
“Yo!” a rough voice called out. “Stow the tarps and help us secure the edges! The auto cinch failed!”
“Sorry sir!” Ranger Smith said, carefully but quickly boosting the prince from his shoulder. “I gotta get this!”
Prince Triclick mentally licked down his irritation, he really had been at the best part of the story and it rubbed his fur all wrong to end it there, but duty was duty no matter what your species was, and he flapped up to a handy perch. He considered going back to his office, but it shouldn’t take the humans very long to finish cinching down the edges of the tent manually and perhaps Ranger Smith would like to hear the rest of the story while the current storm raged among the uppermost branches of the forest. Prince Triclick pulled out a portable data pad and began working on a few low priority tasks while keeping one ear perked for the sound of Ranger Smith’s footsteps. However he had finished several tasks by the time Sargent Holt strode in announcing that all the hatches were battened, whatever that meant, and he was getting a drink and starting a fire.
Prince Triclick did not like the sound of any of that, from the metaphor he clearly didn’t know, to the concept of a human mixing alcohol and fire, even if they were each in their proper place, but he knew better by now than to attempt to interfere with a determined Holt. Just then the first flash of lightening came through the transparent sections of the tent and Prince Triclick clenched his jaw to keep from shuddering as the massive rolling boom of the thunder followed it. He almost succeeded. The first crack was louder than the team had calculated and overwhelmed the sound dampening layers in the tent.
There was a general start as the majority of the Winged in the tent took to the air and sought out their particular human friend. A general and gentle murmur followed as the humans opened their outermost layer at the chest to let their particular Winged friends find that extra layer of insulation provided by their bodies and their coats. Holt glanced over at Prince Triclick and lifted a great flap invitingly. Prince Triclick eyed the place uncertainly for a moment, he would rather wait for Ranger Smith. However the lightening flashed again, closer now, and Prince Triclick darted for the protective space before the following sound wave could hit.
The insulation on the tent meant that he couldn’t hear the first drops of precipitation strike the roof and for that he was grateful as he snuggled into the soft material of Sargent Holt’s coat. The engineers insisted that shoving your sensory horns into a natural material to mute the sound of thunders storms was a far inferior method to the sound cancelers they developed, but then engineers were rather thick in the skull in Prince Triclick’s opinion. As soon as the sound rolled away he peeled his still stinging sensory horns away from Holt’s coat and blinked up at him.
“Have you seen Ranger Smith?” Prince Triclick asked. “He wished me to finish a story for him.”
“Doubt you’ll be able to finish it before the end of the storm,” Holt said.
“And why is that?” Prince Triclick asked.
“Smith is out in the sheds with the rest of the storm watchers,” Holt said jerking his chin towards the rear of the tent.
Prince Triclick blinked up at him in shock. He almost missed the next lightening flash.
“The sheds are nearly uninsulated!” Prince Triclick burst out. “The noise level-”
“That’s just why they like it,” Holt interrupted, bringing his jar of frothy fermented liquid to his lips before expanding on that nonsense.
“Remember humans aren’t as noise sensitive as you wingy folk,” Holt continued, “and lots of humans like the sound of rain. Can’t hear that at all in the insulated bits.”
Prince Triclick pondered this as he ducked his head once more to press his sensory horns into the material of Holt’s coat. When the wave of sound passed, he thought it took longer this time, he looked up at Holt again.
“You are claiming,” he began, “that more than one human would rather spend a storm in an unheated, uninsulated storage shed having their eardrums blasted and there electroreceptors tingled rather than spend it by the-” he glanced over at the fireplace and the primitive nature of that stopped him.
Perhaps there was a bit of inconsistency in being shocked at the one behavior, and passing over the madness of insisting on having a fire in a forest in a storm. Holt gave a chuckle and gestured with his fermented drink at the fire that cracked and sent out a wave of sparks.
“Hey,” he said, “we ain’t all nuts like that.”
He raised the drink to his lips and took a long drought. Prince Triclick stared up at him and felt his astonishment bleed out into a sigh.
“No,” he agreed. “Not like that.”
Another flash came and he tucked his sensory horns back into the coat.
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What does it mean when your human friend says “Watch This?”? Why does this simple phrase seem to terrify any alien that has first appendage experience with humans? #HFY #HumansAreWeird #HumansAreSpaceOrcs #EarthIsADeathWorld #EarthIsSpaceAustralia
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Of course if you want a signed first edition you can email me at the email on my website and I can ship you a signed Author copy of the first edition for the same price as the crowdfunding campaign $35 domestic and $60 overseas. I'll do that until I run out of extra books.