Challenge #02523-F333: Joy in the Season of Dying
He promised his avian friends a sight on Earth of breathtaking beauty. All they'd ever heard of, when it came to his home planet, was the horrible animals, the diseases, the terrors of trying to exist there. Of course, he knew those things were on Earth, but he loved his home planet even if his job kept him away for long periods of time. He got them dressed in warm clothing and took them to the northern hemisphere where autumn was in full swing. He took them to the parks where he loved to explore when he was just a young boy, and the beautiful trails, the summer's green gone, now colored with breathtaking glow of red, yellows, orange, and gold in the soft, dappled afternoon sunlight. -- Anon Guest
They were the highest rated livesuits on the open market - there were higher, but they were strictly for the military or people who mined gas giants for their volatiles or precipitation. These were more than sufficient for keeping a bunch of avian Havenworlders alive during their field trip to Terra. Moreso, since Human Sal had been fine-tuning their filters.
Nevertheless, the Passerid were nervous. "This is a deathworld," fretted Sprag, "We have read of many dangerous things on the surface and under the water."
Human Sal couldn't deny that those things existed. "Yes, there are dangerous things on my homeworld, but the place I'm taking you has the least you should worry about, especially during this time of the year. I've got your suits calibrated to repel any hostile creatures inside of one klik so you're going to be fine. This does not mean that your repellants will drive away everything inside a klik, it'll detect all the dangerous stuff and then make your livesuit smell bad so they want to stay away. Minimum harm all around."
It often perplexed Havenworlders that Humanity shared their terrain with dangerous species and even worked to protect them. These Passerid had been around Human Sal long enough to accept this without further explanation.
"We will not be 'camping'?" worried Flot.
"Not in those livesuits. We're landing close to the viewing platforms and taking a circuit of small hikes. Nothing you aren't used to. Nothing you can't handle."
They were still not certain, but Human Sal was one of those people who were pathologically incapable of not sharing a treat. Since this was part of Human Sal's pack-bonding process, they prepared as best they could and went down with their Human.
What they hadn't expected was the colours. Their suits' HUDs declared the local temperature was in the process of dropping, and all the trees were turning colours. The green leaves were turning red, yellow, and orange. Human Sal explained that this was a natural process and a survival tactic for the trees. They essentially 'died' in the winter then sprang back to life once the cold season was over.
Only a Deathworld would have life on it for which dying was a survival tactic.
"This is my favourite time of year," explained Human Sal, in a cathedral of overhanging branches where the sun shone through the amber leaves. "It's not just the randomness of the leaves, it's the knowledge that, though some things are dying, the whole of life goes on. I used to hike for hours on the hillsides in winter. Watching squirrels, waving the birds good-bye as they flew south for the winter... And when I came back, there was always a hot beverage and getting warm in the comfort of home... Just snuggled up and cosy and everything was wonderful..."
The Passerids would not be partaking of Human Sal's favourite imbibements. They could not handle theobromine like a Human could. However, they could enjoy a 'cozy snuggle' with their alien packmate.
It was all part of the pack-bonding process. One which went both ways, and was highly effective.
 Galactic measurements meet Human slang. One Standard Distance Unit is an SDU or "Sidu," pronounced: sid-oo. One thousand SDU is referred to as a 'klik' for reasons known only to long-deceased Humans. It caught on strictly because nobody wants to say "thousands of SDU" over and over again.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / destillat]
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