Challenge #01992-E168: Show Me the Way...
Pre-human contact, a single human accidentally finds themselves in space, and the single most powerful being there to boot. They don’t use their powers for good or evil though, they just really enjoy messing with the other sentients, good and bad alike.
Please write a story about how this human deals with the various attempts to get rid of them. (Diplomatic or through force) -- Anon Guest
I had to come to term with a few things. One: Alien abduction is real, and not for the reasons you might think. The whole cow mutilation thing is just people unfamiliar with how coyotes and wolves operate, or what happens when cattle get sick some miles from the nearest human. Animals, people, and plants go missing all the time. With people, it's most often a case of Terminal Stupid, and the wilderness swallows them without even having to pick its teeth.
This time... it wasn't that.
Two: Guns are the worst thing to have in space. Think about it. A projectile weapon inside of a tin can designed to keep you alive? The only way to be sure of your shot is to not fire it. Because through-and-through can ruin everyone's lives. That thing you have to keep the coyotes off your hide is only useful as a bludgeon once you're up above the stratosphere and that's that.
Three: We have, indeed, been being observed by intelligences far greater than our own. What? A farmhand can't be a nerd too? Let me tell you. When you're out in the back sticks looking for traces of lost cattle, you want another human voice with you. Podcasts and audiobooks are a thing, dingus. Anyway, they're more or less studying Deathworld biology and my abduction was a complete accident. They actually wanted a sample of the hillside biomass and I happened to be standing on it at the time.
Those mystery holes in Russia? Actual bio-geo-samples taken by aliens. They pick places far away from human civilisation because they really don't want to interfere with the progress of our civilisation, and it's less likely to be messed with by our civilisation. It's really nobody's fault that I got dragged along. But I didn't get around to realising that for a time because...
Four: Automation can be a son of a bitch. I'd learn all of this later, but any living organism that gets "beamed up" on one of their "Shoot, Loot, and Scoot" missions, they get separated by species and placed in an environment based entirely on the sample. Which meant that I was stuck in a bunch of grassy hills with little that was edible and invisible walls.
They figured out I was there some five jumps away from my point of origin. And by then? I was not a happy camper. Guns are also a bad idea in artificial, enclosed environments meant to hold animals. Just saying. God alone knows how I managed to dodge the ricochets, but I did. And it did nothing to improve my overall temperament at the time. I had enough time to get real hangry before the zookeepers turned up and had a conniption. Or at least, I guessed it was a conniption.
Five: Aliens don't speak English. Or gesture like everyone you might know. You know how there's this one country where everyone nods for 'no' and shakes their heads for 'yes'? Like that, except everything you know is wrong. Everything you assume is wrong. And sometimes, those gestures are straight out of the uncanny valley because guess what?
Six: Aliens aren't always built on the human model. All those science fiction movies where the alien looks like a human in a rubber suit? Or they follow the same head-shoulders-knees-and-toes format we do? Horseshit. You get birds, bugs, lizards, dinosaurs, you name it, they got it. I haven't met any hyper-intelligent shades of blue, yet, but there's definitely a few beings out there I can't classify.
So here's the situation. Can't talk the language. Traditional methods of mime and talking slowly aren't always parsed the same way as I might think. My only weapon is effectively useless. So far from home that my brain just can not comprehend it. And my hosts shot through several stops before realising that I was there. And by 'several', I mean 'hundreds'. Their logging and cataloguing system tried to put me back onto a planet with no oxygen.
So... me and the small fuzzy creatures from Proxima Seventeen -I'm guessing- were kind of stuck with each other. They're five-foot naught, covered in fur, and have an interesting definition of 'clothing'. It's a bunch of elasticised bands that make their fur stick up in interesting patterns. As far as I can tell, they're quite baffled by my need to be wrapped up in layers. But then... they don't really understand my species' baldness.
Let's just say that communication is still a learning curve.
And since I've run through all my audio and entertainment library several times, I've... kind'a taken to pranking beings for fun. Harmless stuff. Shifting the furniture around, kind of harmless. Not strapping knives to the vacuum bots or anything actually dangerous. In the time it took for me to start doing all of that, they took me around to their head cheese. In this case, it probably boiled down to their CEO rather than the leader of their planet.
I was following When-in-Rome rules of conduct and at the me-Tarzan level of talking to people, so it's no shock that everyone thought I was dumber than a bag of rocks. I understood that they classed me as a Deathworlder, and therefore dangerous. It was anyone's guess why I hadn't rampaged, already, to be honest. They were rather shocked that I was adapting to their tech and therefore too polluted to be returned to my home. Even if they could successfully figure out where that was.
But I was intelligent life and I was beginning to get Baby's First Grasp of GalStand - their lingo. Earth and Earth colonies were considered too dangerous to get near, and I was barely tolerated as part of the crew. I mean, sure, I could come in handy sometimes. Like, if some other mean motherfuckers came to mess with the crew. I could fight off anyone who threatened them. Which was nice, I guess.
But I made a pain of myself enough to be shipped off to another crew. Hot potato style. I guess I subconsciously figured that someone, sooner or later, would figure that the fines from going too close to Earth were worth getting rid of the annoying Human, but... that hasn't worked yet.
I've been bought, sold, left behind, threatened (that didn't end well for them), and bribed to leave assorted crews alone. And at one point, shoved out of an airlock with a livesuit and all of my shit in a travel case. I used my gun to propel me to an interesting asteroid and waited for someone else's Hungry Caterpillar to nom on that thing. That's what they get for leaving me in a Scavenger Thoroughfare. Or maybe they did that to be sure they weren't murdering me.
Plenty of folks out here think I'm unkillable and put that to the test. I generally kill 'em right back. Serves them right.
It's not a fun life, when you get down to it. I want to go home. I want them to take me home. And they keep... not doing that.
In the meantime, there's messing with aliens. Fair's fair. Enough of us think they've been messing with Earth for millennia.
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