Challenge #02196-F006: Mutually Assured Social DestructionsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  2 months ago


A Havenworlder calls their human companion annoying and embarrassing pet names in front of other humans. -- Anon Guest

In every spaceport, there is a minimum of one place where the Spacers go to bend an elbow, tell tall tales, and possibly gain a bedmate or two for some haptic rewards. Such as it was with The Greasy Dive Eat Drink, where a Human calling themself Jeg was holding court to a bevy of attractive and interested fellow Humans.

"So there I was, Pibbs under my left arm. Vorax to the right of me, Vorax to the left of me, explosions rigged to go off behind and half a click to the escape pod, my only weapon was a ball-pein hammer..."


The general mood of suspense crashed into the rugged rocks of laughter. Jeg leaned on the bar and found the interruption. "Pibbs, you have the worst timing."

A relatively small avian hopped up via decorative and functional struts until their eyes were level. "Fluffybuns best human," Pibbs cooed. "Has enjoyment time ending?"

"Might as well have," Jeg rolled their eyes. Gesturing towards the avian Havenworlder to any remaining and giggling audience members. "Folks, this is Pibbs, who once saw the hair on my bare bum and gave me a funny name as a result."

More hilarity from the audience. Jeg grinned. If they couldn't get companionship through bravery, making someone laugh could work just as well.

"Human naming self Pibbs," said Pibbs in a broken version of Jeg's Terran dialect. "Full name Rriit'oq'ei'pib-pib'ei'ei. Much humiliation for short form."

"Much incapable throat," counter-argued Jeg. "Spacers needing short names for urgency. We talked on this."

Thus began the comedy act. Pibbs was a very clever avian, having picked up at least one Terran tongue by osmosis as well as picking up several Human habits, such as nicknames. They also, apparently, worked out how to embarass a Human whilst seeming like an innocent and cute little birdie.

Jeg knew this, and chose not to attempt to make a legal case about it all. Pibbs was clever enough to have plausible deniability despite being smart enough to play the fool at virtuoso levels. More so, being able to do it at a major detriment to Jeg's social life. At least this day.

As the last of Jeg's potential bed-buddies wandered off, the Human sighed and said, "I can't pronounce your full name. Do you have a one-syllable call-sign you'd prefer?"

Pibbs preened as they thought. "Would 'Reet' be pronounceable?"

"Reet, I can do," said Jeg. "No more 'Fluffybuns'?"

The freshly-renamed Reet bowed. "No more. Self be using 'Jeg' for all greetings."

Negotiations can be tricky across cultures. Some more than others.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / rolffimages]

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