Challenge #02626-G069: Patient Persistence

in #fiction2 months ago

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Elephants can paint. It is adorable. They also enjoy music. Also: good at snuggles. -- Anon Guest

Humanity has doubted the intelligence of Elephants in the same way that they doubted the intelligence of Cetaceans. The same is true for the Elephants doubting the Humans for similar reasons to the Cetaceans. However, when the communication barrier was finally surmounted, Humanity was unimpressed.

Some of them had been literally talking to dolphins for subjective centuries[1], and in the dolphins' own language. Getting Elephants to communicate with Humans in the local Terran dialect wasn't all that special. Nevertheless, Elephants were recognised, like Pigs, as another Deathworlder cogniscent species.

The fact that one used to farm another for nutrition is something many Humans prefer to sweep under the rug. The Pigs, for the record, are willing to declare that all things being equal, their ancestors were perfectly willing to eat Humans at every given opportunity. Both species have acknowledged the other as being very tasty indeed and strains of culture-grown flesh are available for interested parties[2]. The fact that there is one obligatory herbivore among the number of Terra's intelligent species has been something of a relief amongst many Havenworlders.

The biggest relief among Terrans, though, is how generally forgiving Elephants have been to Humans. The former, after all, could have easily pounded the latter into paste. The big surprise was Elephants' understanding of Deep Time. They passed memories along, Aunty to tribespersons, as the eldest taught, the youngest learned. Their oral history went back to the memories of Mammoths, and the different species of Elephants throughout evolution.

"Centuries pass like waves," said one Matriarch. "Species come and go. Memory lasts only so long as we keep it living. We... choose... to endure."

That seemed to be the motto of Elephants all over Terra, and the few places that managed to take Elephants with them. They chose to endure. They endured being hunted for their ivory. They endured being used as battle weapons. They endured being used as beasts of burden. To them, the Humans were as fleeting as the sabre-toothed tigers, if more annoying for their pernicious presence.

Those who endured space flight to new worlds kept the deep time of their forebears and so measured the centuries of their bloodline in hundreds of years above the common era. They didn't think that this band of megalomaniacal balding monkeys would make it to the point where they were worth communicating with. In fact, they were surprised enough by the monkeys' efforts to communicate that they figured it might be worth it for the laughs.

They were even more shocked when the monkeys apologised for past wrongs and offered them a planet or two to make in their own image. As far as peace offerings go, this was a pretty big deal.

Elephants, once repatriated to the planet called Savanna, have kept largely to themselves. Much like the Pigs who settled in Forest. They have the ability to communicate but, as evidenced by their subsequent isolation, the inability to care for doing so.

[1] Thanks to one-way wormholes catapulting colonies across space and backwards in time, there are two ways to measure history. Subjective, and Common Era, or Historic Actual. For example, the Egyptian Pyramids were built whilst Mammoth were being hunted on the European steppes.

[2] In certain areas of the Alliance, it is very important to understand the difference between hummus and homoss (pronounced with a soft S). The former is made out of chickpeas. The latter is cultured Human flesh prepared for consumption.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / PeterBaier]

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Wonder what would have happened if the elephants and pigs had decided they'd had enough of humans because both of those things can be scary when they want to be.

It's indeed fortunate that the Humans bred domestic pigs for their ability to grow and not their brains, TBH. I get the feeling that Pigs could be mass murderers if they set their hearts to it.

Elephants, methinks, stopped giving a flip some significant number of millennia ago. Like: "These monkeys won't last long, let's just put up with it until they go away."