Challenge #01742-D281: Certain Signs of DoomsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  2 years ago

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When a human is running scared, drop everything and run away with them. -- Anon Guest

Humans get many jobs, all across the outskirts of the Galactic Alliance. In the Fringe Territories, laws are enforced based entirely on how useful they are to follow. As civilisation creeps in, the humans creep out before they become the tolerated exception. That's the thing about fringes and frontiers. There's always more of them.

Here on the edge, overlooking a large and ancient Sargasso, is Bodgy Kludge Station. And the humans have lots of jobs there. Not just in disarming the more dangerous wrecks, or making peace treaties with the unbelievably huge spiders[1] that lived in assorted wreck-conglomerates through the system.

Humans also served as 'canaries'.

The term came from their lengthy and barbaric past. Or their lengthily barbaric past. Depending on how you view it. During their fossil fuel era, they lacked the technology to test for deadly gas pockets. And since the largest cause of death was explosions caused by naked flames near the gas, this was a problem. Their solution was a small, frail bird called a canary, who would die instantly on exposure to the gas.

Humans were much tougher than canaries, but they were still a reliable indicator of how dangerous any newly-opened portion of the kludged station or a towed-in hulk was. The scale worked on known default human reactions over the comms. And a trained ear listening on the other end.

Normal-voiced cataloguing meant that the area was perfectly safe.

Jovial laughter meant that the area in question had an abundance of dangerous-looking things that humans could blow up things with. Or the aesthetics were amusing. Video feed was used to verify.

Nervous laughter meant that the human found the area 'spooky'. Any other species following them in is advised to approach the area with all cautions and weapons hot.

Brief yelps mean that the human expected danger and failed to find any. Extended screaming is always a sign of imminent threat.

But if a human runs... the only course of action is to eject the area directly into space and then, once it's a safe distance away, atomise it with all the weaponry one has to command. It's the only way to be certain.

[1]: The H'nuff'ruff's passage to becoming recognised cogniscents amongst the Galactic Alliance was long and rocky. And not at all assisted by humanity's inherent arachnophobia.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / dusan964]

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