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|Dark Matters (standard:science fiction, 5612 words)|
|Author: Eutychus||Added: May 25 2005||Views/Reads: 2287/1482||Story 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 locomotion. “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 handle.” Click here to read the rest of this story (571 more lines)
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