Every Undertaker’s Friend
by Trek Journeyman © 2016
Chapter Sixteen Start at Chapter 1.1
The pair of ships skirted the inhabited system for a day as they ascertained how safe it was to go deeper. Nate observed several unfamiliar ships types, and that made him wary. The ships were an alien design and not Human. Also, the language spoken over intercepted communications was pig language.
“Another dialect,” Gary said as he listened.
“Yeah, it’s not the same,” Nate said, frowning.
“Well, they know we’re here,” Gary said at the same moment Nate thought it. The AI had informed them both of an incoming message. Nate waved a hand to acknowledge and display the message. It was a pig face, a young boar with short tusks.
“Hello Human,” it said. The translator had two dialects of pig language stored. Nate never knew it had the languages until the first encounter. “Welcome to Boarax.” The young pig spoke differently than the pigs Nate had tangled with. There were many languages stored in the translator programming Nate knew nothing about.
“Umm, yes. Hello. Thank you,” Nate said in return. He noticed this boar was lighter in color than the boars they fought with on the island. More pink than black or brown. Was there something to this? It was a toned down appearance, not as boar like, but more like a Terran farm pig.
“We get few Human visitors. What brings you here?” The boar asked.
“We’re traveling through the region, on our way further outward on the Arm. We’re making our way toward Human space,” Nate said, not wanting to give away too much information. He still wasn’t sure if these pigs were the same as the others. There was a good chance they were, but because of the different dialects, maybe they weren’t. Not only did this pig sound different, he also looked different. More of a toned down appearance, not as boar like, but more like a Terran farm pig.
“It sounds like you have a wonderful story to share with us. We like hearing the tales from travelers that come through. Please join us. You will be our guests.” The pig held a gentle smile.
“Okay, we will. Where would you like us to meet you?” Nate asked.
The tame looking pig sent the location and the AI displayed it for Nate and Gary. It was a station orbiting the closer of two habitable planets. The AI set course. It took two hours to arrive within view of the station. The station was busy as they pulled into the dock. Both ships connected without incident.
“Nate, I prefer for my crew to stay aboard until we know more about these guys,” Joseph commed from his ship.
“I was about to say the same,” Nate said as he stepped up to his main hatch. “Meet me outside, just the two of us. We’ll go meet them. together”
“You think they’re nicer than the last bunch of pigs?
”I do. They look and talk differently.“ Nate’s hatch opened with a whoosh.
”Well, I trust your judgment. You take the lead here.“
Each man walked down a docking tube. At the end, the tubes opened into a large atrium. It was rather spartan to look at. The tubes were the same. So far these pig beings didn’t seem very aesthetic, at least not in their design philosophy.
Two pigs sitting on a bench stood and walked toward Nate. The bench could have been in any Terran park. To his left, Another pair of pigs also stood, but they walked toward what must have been another docking tube. Joseph stepped out of that one.
”I see you Mr. Sanford. I’m to your right.“
Joseph looked and saw Nate, then he turned to face the approaching pigs. Nate was about to reassure Joseph when his pair of pigs stopped before him.
”Hello Human. I am Thar,“ the larger pig bowed and then motioned toward his companion, ”and this is my mate Tlreha.“
”Hello,“ Nate bowed in return. ”I’m Nate Aluissi.“
”Come. Let us join the others.“ With that, the pair of pigs turned and began to walk toward Joseph and his own welcoming committee. Nate followed.
An hour of pleasantries and diplomatic conversations took place before Nate and Joseph were able to return to their ships. The pigs agreed to allow rotations of the crews to visit the station. There would be plenty of things for them to do. Nate and Joseph also accepted an invitation to stay on station for a day or two. It would be a good chance to stretch their legs.
The pigs were friendly. During the meet and greet, Nate learned that the two pig types were closely related. But they were two separate species. Both types of pigs called themselves Grahat. They seemed to like the American word boar, and both species adopted it for the name of their system. They did not have names for their planets though and choose to not adopt any.
It was the other planet that was home to the more aggressive boars. Nate’s cautious delay on entering the system had paid off. Only by luck of the draw did the more friendly pigs contact him. He thought for a moment, a neutral look disguising his thoughts. He had better start thinking of them as Grahat, not pigs.
The other boar species was tribal oriented. They held older customs that the tamer pigs had grown beyond. The splintered society of tribes, though aggressive, was not strong. Not enough to overcome the numbers and technical superiority of the tame species. There was a long history of the other boar tribes raiding the tame Grahat planet, but that was all they could do. to their brethren.
The others also partook in piracy and other criminal enterprises as tribes, often at odds with each other. As a whole, they were not a serious threat to the tame Grahat. Ship to ship they were an even match but lacked the economy of scale to produce as many ships as the tame Grahat. Individually, the aggressive Grahat were stronger and bigger than their tame brothers. But again personal weapon tech was the equalizer.
Later that evening Nate, Gary, Joseph, and Erica met to share a meal with the pig delegates. The station commander was present, as were members of the planetary government. Humans were a rare event in the Boarax system, so the most important of the Grahat people were to show up. Nate’s group shared many stories of human space and life. Toward the end of the evening, Nate shared the story of the circus trip, including the fight with the boar pigs.
It was a relief to learn how unlikely anyone on the other planet knew of the scrape between Humans and boars back on the island. No boar ships had arrived from the same direction Nate’s group came from. At least not in the days leading up to their arrival. He also learned about earlier contacts both pig species had with Humans. Few as they were, the contacts were split pretty much evenly. Friendly human parties visited the tame pigs, while human pirates and other nefarious groups visited the others. That was how the boars had acquired Human beam weapons. They traded with the same slavers Esparza dealt with. They also raided a few Human ships and colonies in the region.
Friendly humans traded with the tame Grahat, but not in weapons. Their advantage in tech disappeared due to the presence of recently introduced human beam weapons. Though the beam tech was rather old by Nate’s standards, it was still effective. Doubly so for this species. This was not a good thing in the long run.
As developed as they were, as space-faring beings, neither species could manufacture beam weapons. And they had yet to develop plasma weapons. The pigs had kinetic weapons, including ship-based cannon. But the boar species also started to acquire human laser batteries for their ships.
Nate made a snap decision. His AI had a database for manufacturing plasma weaponry. His own printer in the armory could make any human weapon with the right ingredients. Staring into the face of the planetary governor, he drew his plasma blaster and sat it on the table.
The governor stared at it with a curious look.
”This weapon represents the pinnacle of Human weapon tech,“ Nate pointed out. He looked the governor in the eye. ”If you were to gain possession of this technology…“
”We would be grateful,“ the governor said, his eyes gleaming with anticipation.
Let’s go somewhere spacious for a few minutes, I want to show you what this gun can do.” Nate holstered his blaster, then stood. “I need a few people to bring along their drinking cups.” Five others responded, including Joseph and Erica, as everyone else present stood. Nate followed the governor out of the antiseptic communal room. They strolled down a featureless hallway and out a windowless door. The door opened to a rather drab looking garden atrium with a centerpiece fountain. Nate reflected within himself how these beings were badly lacking in decorative appeal.
By its looks, the atrium was large enough to offer a sort of park environment. Other than the garden, it looked like a grass field with four walls and a roof. On Terra, it would have rivaled any abandoned field within a city, brown and sparsely grassed. It was still impressive that the pigs had built a station large enough to hold such a facility.
Nate took the lead and followed a path to the nearest part of the open grass bordering the garden, passing a mud hole. The mud steamed as recreating Grahat relaxed within. As the party of humans and Grahat gathered around him, Nate placed his hand on his blaster.
“Mr. Sanford, please throw the cup as high as you can.”
Joseph did so. Before the cup reached the peak of its arc, a streak of white-hot plasma flew up and disintegrated it. Nate replaced his blaster in its holster. and made ready to draw again.
“Everyone else, please throw your cups, just like Mr. Sanford did.” Erica and three of the Grahat threw their cups in the same direction and roughly the same angle as the first cup. Each cup flew away at a different speed, depending on how hard the person threw it. Just as suddenly as before, Nate slapped his hand to his blaster. Four streaks of plasma atomized the cups in less than two seconds. The Grahat all grunted their surprise.
“These plasma guns of yours are very potent and accurate,” the governor commented in awe.
“I don’t know why your siblings haven’t been given plasma weapons yet,” Nate said. “Eventually they will. But for now, how you would react with such an edge the plasma weapons will give you? For as long that edge would last that is.”
The governor gave Nate what must have been for them a rather deadpan look. “If you have a concern we will become the local bully, we will not.” He smiled, lips shifting around his small tusks giving him a bit of an aggressive appearance. “Unlike our brethren, we are peaceful. Until recently, we have always been able to keep them in check. Ever since exiling them to the other plant one of your centuries ago.”
“I believe you, though I don’t know why.” Nate shrugged his shoulders. “I have a feeling I can trust you. I wouldn’t have made this offer to the other Grahat.” A look from Joseph confirmed he was making the right choice.
He offered the governor a deal. The governor would provide Nate and Joseph a third ship with a crew. He would also provision the ships. In return, Nate would give the Grahat his printer. He would also give them the information to build additional printers. As a last treat, Nate would throw in the data on how to manufacture plasma weapons. The governor readily agreed.
In return, they added a bonus. They promised exclusive trade rights with Nate and Joseph. Nate smiled as he left the gathering with Joseph and Erica following. He could trust this friendly branch of the Grahat to use the new tech wisely and responsibly. Even better, now he might have a means of providing a good living for Erica and his future family. Ideas of trade routes popped into Nate’s mind.
The governor promised Nate and Joseph another favor. He would send a detachment of ships to the planet where the circus had encountered the boar pigs. And, in the event they came across Esparza, the Grahat would apprehend him and Marco. The pair would be held until they could be turned over to the nearest Human authorities. Of course these authorities would have to wait until they learned where to contact the pigs. After all, the Grahat are still a rumor. Esparza would be their guest for a very long time.