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Dark Matters (standard:science fiction, 5612 words)
Author: EutychusAdded: May 25 2005Views/Reads: 2287/1482Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Alien wholesalers, intriguing gadgets, and a few items that seem too good to be true. Would humanity walk down this road a second time? Thoughts welcome. Am I just too obvious with this effort?

It had taken about thirty years for the shock to wear off, but
eventually most residents of Earth became if not comfortable, resigned 
to not being alone in the universe. There had been no government 
conspiracy to cover up the facts of the matter mainly because the Trid, 
an odd assortment of tri-pedal races, had co-opted a few satellite 
signals and broadcast news of their presence simultaneously to the 
entire planet. 

Initial overtures were quite friendly. The salesman who does not know
how to schmooz a new market will go hungry on a regular basis. The Trid 
ended up being interstellar wholesalers, peddling goods from a dozen 
worlds to worlds that had a need for, but not access to, the products. 

They had done a good deal of research into the resources of the planet,
the differing economic systems of Earth, human habits of buying, and 
the most effective ways of marketing their consignments to a population 
unfamiliar with them. That is how I ended up working for them. 

A member of the Senate Oversight Committee on Dangerous Technologies, an
alum of the small private college that I worked for, contacted me. They 
had ongoing concerns about the many new products that were coming down 
the pike. Apparently my background in cultural anthropology made me the 
perfect candidate to serve as cultural liaison, help the visitors 
understand their market better, and gather intelligence on the sly for 
the Committee. Not that I had ever been a person with covert ops 
aspirations, but when enrollment drops to the point that the college 
trustees are enacting twenty-five percent pay cuts, any opportunity 
that presents itself must be considered. 

I arranged for a sabbatical semester. In academia, you never burn a
bridge until you are sure of your footing on the opposite side. Then I 
read up on the culture I would be interacting with. Knowing that 
anatomy might give some understanding of how the culture had developed, 
I began my study by concentrating on this element of the Trid. 

Aside from the eccentricity of the Trid pelvis, an engineering marvel
that gives even die-hard evolutionary thinkers cause to consider the 
intelligent design argument, there are very few differences between 
them and us. Circulatory and pulmonary organs are in much the same 
location,  nutrition is processed and wastes eliminated after similar 
fashion, no more than five senses that we know of, and reproduction 
requires two separate and distinct sexes. 

Family structure is a bit more complicated than the traditional human
nuclear. Within the past dozen generations, a paradigm shift occurred. 
Instead of the traditional Trid father, mother, and offspring 
arrangement, their society had adopted a formula in which two husbands 
and two wives would produce children that would legally have two sets 
of  parents, regardless of the circumstances of birth. I would remember 
somewhere along the line to get an explanation for this seismic shift 
in the basic unit of any society. 

My first face to face came mid-morning two Mondays later. I had waited
patiently in an anteroom of what had become the Trid embassy in 
Columbia, Maryland. I made the terra-centric assumption of a saunter in 
her walk as the receptionist approached with a cup of coffee and then 
realized that this was just the normal rhythm of three-legged 

“Mr. Gren *click* Del * lip buzzing sound* tu  will be with you in a
moment. He is entangled in another matter, but is just about finished.” 

“Engaged?” I offered, thinking she might be confusing an idiom. 

“Yes, that works as well.” 

“Will it be considered an insult if I mispronounce his name?” I asked,
knowing that I was likely to do it serious injustice. 

“We understand that our species do not share the same phonemes and
adjusting for those disparities is expected. The shortened form of his 
first name is Gren and I think that is something your vocal chords can 

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