Challenge #02509-F319: Berry Small ProblemsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction4 months ago


It's inevitable that one person's treat is another person's hallucinogen, especially when it comes to dealing with various species in the Galactic Alliance. There is a plant that, for most Galactics, it's no worse for them than a human having some chocolate. In fact, it's sweet fruit is quite popular. However, if a human eats some, it's inevitable the human will sit for hours completely blitzed. So while it's a treat for some, for humans, it's a potential medicine to help those with damaged minds. -- DaniAndShali

For every world, there is something that is harmless to the dominant lifeform, that can be considered toxic, dangerous, or hallucinogenic to other species. Sometimes, this happens for multiple species per world. Some species, though they can ingest theobromine, find the variant in terran Coffee to be hallucinogenic.

The same is true for Faraxian Dreamjuice and Humans. It's the Humans who call it Dreamjuice, despite the fact that it is available as a fruit in most ports of call. Blame First Encounter Syndrome[1] for the resultant grammatical landmines. The fruit, and anything imitating the fruit, is tightly controlled in Human spaces.

This, of course, has lead to a healthy black market, smuggling rings, and illegal trade in certain Faraxian saplings. Because if there's one thing in the universe anyone should not do, it's tell a group of Humans what they can't have. When something is valued and forbidden, crime becomes rife. Which is supremely ironic because, as drugs of choice go, Dreamjuice is fairly harmless.

One peach-sized fruit is considered an average dose, regardless of the form it's presented in. Once a Human has taken a standard dose, all voluntary motor function slows to a halt and the Human apparently 'spaces out' for an hour or two. Those who experience it describe a very vivid and harmless dream state and the taker inevitably surfaces from their stupor feeling refreshed and, very often, inspired.

As to why other Humans forbid their fellows from partaking, a number of reasons have been put forth. From a loss of productivity to moral high ground to the crime inspired by its illegality and beyond. The true reason, held by aficionados of Dreamjuice, is that the CEO's never want the employees enjoying themselves in affordable ways. Further, they definitely don't like the idea of the enjoyable thing being something that can be grown in a closet with a bucket of soil substitute, an overhead lamp, and the right mix of nutrients and water.

All this philosophy had done nothing to convince Ax'and'l that what they were doing was right. "These plantlings are illegal in this sector. Do you have any idea what the local laws are like?"

"Laws only count for those stupid enough to get caught." Hwell closed up the Paladin brand biotainment case the seedlings were growing within. Its exterior marked the contents as hazardous material, organic contaminants, and sundry other warnings that, though they looked impressive... weren't.

All it meant was that Hwell was transporting seedlings in natural soil with all the biota that implied. Including fungal mesh, microbiota, and sundry other contaminants. There was even a banana in each case to justify the radioactive materials sticker.

"If they inspect even one of these..."

Hwell snorted. "Yeah. These are Dereggers, my friend. Half of 'em can't even read. They're goin' tae take one look at this lot and tell us to go through quick. Promise."

"Volatile chemicals?" Ax'and'l read.

"Matchstick. And a sealed vial each of glycerine and calcium nitrate. Well taped-down, mind. Well taped-down."

As far as Hwell's idiot plans went, this one was close to genius. Those were precautions that would make any inspector keep clear. "Make sure all those canisters are secure anyway." They did not need a canister falling down and breaking the illusion, after all. Also... "Are you certain these are Dreamjuice seedlings?"


[1] First Encounter Syndrome is what happens when a thing is presented for the first time and word about it rapidly outpaces the actual thing. Thusly, the Faraxian berry loaded with natural lysergic acid diethylamide, amongst other Human hallucinogens has since become known Alliance-wide as 'Dreamjuice Berry' despite all efforts to make the Humans stop doing that.

[AN: Special thanks to "Paladin" who sent me $15 via Ko-fi, Powers bless you for your kind contribution to my life and works]

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Tamara1K]

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I'm pretty sure Hwell thinks most of his plans are genius at least at the time XD

Yup. You nailed it.