Humans are Weird – Cost Benefit
“Human Friend Cedric!” Quilx’tch called out as he disembarked from the crowded Silverwing onto the wide plain of the humans’ main agricultural world.
Cedric, massive even by human standards looked up at the platform and waved one trunk-like arm vigorously. Quilx’tch saw the thickened pads on his friend’s shoulders with relief. A nice, soft surface that he could really sink his claws into and flex his paws on was going to be heavenly after being cramped in a Winged transport. Quilx’tch positively skittered down the ramp to the loading dock set at the height of an adult human’s shoulders. Human Friend Cedric’s shoulders were so high above it that Quilx’tch took a flying leap to mount the shoulder pads he wore.
“I would have lifted you up little bud!” Human Friend Cedric said with a laugh as the massive mammal swung his body around and began swaying through the crowd towards the place where the transports were stored.
“I am aware,” Quilx’tch assured him, reaching up to pat the section of Human Friend Cedric’s face that was free of the bristly orange guard hairs that made him look so young and innocent. “I have been cramped on a leg killing Silverwing couch for the past several hours and desperately needed a good jump.”
“Nothing like alien furniture,” Human Friend Cedric said with a grimace. “Got stuck on a Shatar couch for a long haul once. My gultius had the maximus pain for weeks.”
Quilx’tch idly wondered if his knowledge of human medical terms was failing him, or if Human Friend Cedric was simply lapsing into bad grammar.
“So where is the fire?” Quilx’tch asked, feeling a touch of pride at using the figure of speech, even as he flexed his paws in glorious luxury on Human Friend Cedric’s shoulder.
“Right!” Human Friend Cedric suddenly exclaimed as he flung one massive leg over his two wheeled transport. “The new meat!”
Quixl’tch felt his mandibles twitch with amusement as Human Friend Cedric’s energy changed under his paws. The giant mammal was practically vibrating with excitement, entirely different from how he usually felt when piloting the cycle.
“Yes,” Quilx’tch said directly into the pocket of space under the human speak above the wind. “You mentioned you successfully harvested protein from a new species. I am quite curious-”
Quilx’tch broke off as the wheels went over a few bumps too large for the mechanisms to absorb entirely. However before he could finish his question Human Friend Cedric’s rumbling voice cut in eagerly and Quilx’tch crouched down with a sigh of bemused annoyance.
“You spotted that we hadn’t got any new species in on the last long haulers?” the human said laughing. “So you were wondering how we did it?”
Of course he was, Quilx’tch mused silently. He really was perplexed at the delight humans seemed to take in telling you what they thought your own thoughts were. Surely it was embarrassing when they inevitably revealed wrong guesses? However as much as it confused him Human Friend Cedric seemed to enjoy the process.
“So Cousin Bob was out exploring that old lake bed up north.” Human Friend Cedric said. “I think I told you about it. He found nearly a full body of one of those extinct lizard things that used to roam round these parts.”
Quilx’tch did remember that bit of information, but the human went on far too quickly for him to respond in the affirmative.
“So he brought the body, well, most of the body. It was a big old lizard. He brought it back to the University branch in the main city and they were able to harvest more than a few cells of the thing and culture it. We don’t have a host species to regrow the whole thing yet, but they managed to patch together the whole genecode and run some environmental simulations. Cousin Bob snagged me some of the muscular cell line and brought them down to the farm.”
They were approaching Human Friend Cedric’s primary habitation now and the ride got bumpier as they left the public road and proceeded down a private lane. Various domesticated avians lifted their heads watched the vehicle pass. The speed and the roughness of the road. made it difficult for Quilx’tch to follow the continual flow of words coming from the human. The massive, cliff like structures of human dwellings, artificial mountains, seemingly built of local stone and human willpower rose against gravity and reason. Vines had been trained to grow from one building to the next, providing shady paths for any visiting Shatar, and these as well as the monumental buildings had been laced through with walkways for Trisk and Winged. However it was to a more distant structure, a mere shell of metal that they were headed.
The cycle slid to a stop and Human Friend Cedric resumed speaking.
“Just wait till you see it little bud!” he enthused. “It’ll make your mouth water! I’ve had the electric flow tuned low for harvest.”
Quilx’tch idly wondered when the monologue had turned from food to power as they swept into Human Friend Cedric’s lab and out of the direct sun. Human Friend Cedric kept moving while Quilx’tch eyes adjusted and within moments they were looking down at a large clear cylinder. Both ends were opaque, and labeled and nutrient and electricity dispensers, and extended various tubes and prods into the cylinder. Between them, in a soft, warm light, stretched what Quilx’tch instantly identified as a live muscle bundle.
Human Friend Cedric had ceased talking and was staring at him with an expectant smile showing under the helmet he had forgotten to take off. Quilx’tch carefully processed what he had been told.
“You deliberately revivified, at no small expense in energy and resources, only the edible meat, of a giant extinct reptilian species,” Quilx’tch slowly stated.
Human Friend Cedric laughed with delight.
“A’yep!” he declared.
He reached out and opened the machine with one hand and picked up a handy knife with the other.
“The biochemistry boys back at the University Branch say it’ll taste like turkey, but the geneticists insist it’ll taste like pork, you want to be the impartial observer?” he asked as he pulled the meat out and set in on a preparation plate.
Quilx’tch mulled over the effort required to produce this meal, compared with the yearly harvest of the local domestic avian population, and gave a small shrug. If the humans determined that the goal was worth the cost he was not going to say no to free food.
“Dish it up please,” Quilx’tch said.
“One alien dinosaur sirloin coming up!” Human Friend Cedric announced.
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Volume 1 – Chapter 2
The Memorial Garden
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