The memorial ceremony was solemn. As their crewmate was laid to rest, the family given the posthumus honors the crewperson had earned for their heroism, their crewmates and captain were stunned by what had happened. The human marines that had been invited to attend stood at attention and saluted the grave of this small, fluffy, Havenworlder one last time with all the respect a human could give for someone who'd shown such courage.
The crew had razzed their crewmate calling them human because they so very much liked to imitate that insane species. Too much exposure to their insanity, some crew would say. But that horrific night, that terrible storm, their crewmate had done a very Human thing. Something no Havenworlder had done before, at least that they knew of. This crewmate told the Last Lie.... and paid for the lives of their crew, by fearlessly sacrificing their own. -- Anon Guest
Human insanity is infectious. Somewhere, somehow, a nonhuman cogniscent starts to think that their Deathworlder illogic makes sense. After that, all might as well be lost. It was certainly lost for Gryx, honorary space marine. Ze had come to study Humans in something approaching a native environment, and the pack-bonders had done what they do best. Without even thinking about it. Without pause for due consideration. They bonded. Intensely.
So, when the storm came, and they crashed in a cliffside and the only shelter was the cavern beyond their scout ship... but not for very long... When there was a way to fix it so the storm would not come in, but the only opening was just wide enough for Gryx... ze acted without a thought. Ze said, "You go ahead, I will catch up." Ze patched the crack that would have let in toxic atmospheric particles.
They found hir later, halfway through the narrow gap that had allowed the little fluffy Havenworlder egress to save them all. Well. Almost all. They had made the repairs and saved the crew... finally perishing mere inches away from safety. Ze had given all they had for hir pack.
Human Sam - who had initially been knocked unconscious in the crash, causing the other Humans to be distracted - was the one to find the small body. "Aw, fluffy," they said, "Oh, fluffy... no..."
"Did you find where the fuzz was hiding?" said Human Lea.
"Not hiding," with exaggerated care, Human Sam carefully extracted Gryx from hir final destination. "Ze's... ze didn't make it."
"Oh shit," said Human Par, hir own face dropping from their habitual smile. "Oh shit, ze told us the Last Lie."
"We didn't catch it," said Lea. They were stressing out. "Ze was one of us and we didn't catch it..."
The air filled with woulda-coulda-shoulda's, and for two hours, all three Humans were thinking of things they would have done, could have done, and should have done to save their little fluffy friend's far more fragile life.
Human Sam stopped it all with a very quiet, almost emotionless statement. "We have to get hir home." That was when the Humans bounded into action. Setting up a camp. Setting up a distress beacon. Setting up power for a small, bodged-together stasis pod so that Gryx's remains would stay as they were until such time as civilisation was reached once more. Rebuilding the ship they crashed, out of whatever they could find.
The Humans spent every waking moment not dedicated to their survival working on getting themselves and one very special item of technically-cargo back to the stars. They succeeded, of course. Once a Human sets their mind on a goal, there is very little that would actually stop them. This was three Humans already used to working as a team, with access to some of the best how-to instructions that the Galactic info-nets could supply.
They made it to Gryx's homeworld in less than a month. Returned hir to hir family and place in hir home soil.
Human Par, one of the few who could speak about it and still have a voice, gave the eulogy. "We'd tease hir, and call hir an honorary Human," they said. "We didn't know then... the joke was the truth. Of all of us. Rough. Tough. Come-at-me space marines... Gryx laid down hir life for people ze should have steered clear of. Of all of us... that makes hir the most... Human."
The Humans who knew Gryx agreed. Even Gryx's own people agreed.
Humanity is infectious. Be cautious.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / rtyt01]
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