On Taakhe’s two-hundredth moonday, I gift her another alien companion.
The straight, medium-sized thing is delivered in a carefully cryonized transparent enclosure, with instructions not to open until specific gravity, pressure and oxygen conditions have been recreated within. I attach an EXTREMELY FRAGILE warning before I send it via manual flash delivery. The last one I’d tried to teleport across ended up, well, particulated.
A number of moments later, I’m hibernating in my sector of the hab when Taakhe pings me on the two-way.
Enjoying yer new thing? I ask.
No! She’s hysterical at the other end. Once I de-cryonized it, it started to make this horrible, loud noise through a hole in its face, and it won’t stop. My eardrums are almost ruptured, and I still don’t know what it wants.
Oh, apologies. I scan for HUMAN on the grid, within the database INTERGALACTIC SPECIES – EARTH. I find the information nestled in a protected domain. That’s because it’s high-level information: Gaq’urk scouts like me compile specie behaviours just before the intergalactic fleet wipes the planet clean and commences resource mining.
I enter my biocode and download into my cerebrum.
That’s called a mouth, Taakhe. It’s their primary communication device. They use sound, not telepathy like us.
Maybe it’s uncomfortable, I say. Did you get the atmospheric settings right? Gravity 9.81m/s, Oxygen 21%, Nitrogen 78%–
I got it. She harrumphs. She’s determined to prove she will make no mistakes like, say, flame-sterilizing it, as with the last one.
Fine, I say. Check the packaging, there’s a universal decoder. You will not understand what it says, but you should perceive its emotions.
There’s silence a few moments, then Taakhe comes back on.
I’ve got it, she says. I think it’s afraid.
But its fear wanes by the moment, Taakhe says. It gets more comfortable. She pauses. I think it’s starting to study me now. I perceive an overpowering dose of curiosity.
That’s not good news. Be careful. They’re quite unpredictable. Especially the female species.
There’s a pause, then: Quexizenaar, it’s trying to communicate with me. Is this an intelligent species?
Yes, I say with pride. Humans possess a high level of intelligence and a complex, expressive language.
Agck. It makes an expression I cannot decode.
It crooks an appendage on its forelimb and wags it back and forth.
I scan the database and get a translation for the gesture.
It means “Come here”.
Oh. There is a long pause.
Wait! Does it have long strands on its head, or two particularly pronounced muscles on its torso?
Are its emotions mixed in a mush, or can you perceive them clearly?
Okay, okay. I say. That’s not female. You may approach.
Silence, Then: It makes another gesture I cannot decode.
It presses all five forelimb appendages together and jabs into the mouth.
I scan. That means, “Food”.
It wants to eat?
Yes. I realize I didn’t send her any food. A moment.
I gallop on all six bionic limbs towards storage, where the remaining souvenirs from the Earth mission are kept. I scan for EDIBLE, and round up the processed foliage and fauna that come up as results. I bundle and send via the teleport system.
Do not let it out, I tell Taakhe. Just place the bundle via the quantum tunnel.
She affirms, then, silence again.
It’s not eating, she says. It just pokes through the food and shakes its head.
It’s making a sound to me now. It’s trying to commu–wait. It makes another gesture.
She describes, I scan. That means “Write”, I say.
Scribe? Like, visual symbols?
Oh, why didn’t you tell me they can do that! She sounds excited. I studied intergalactic visual symbols until I was forty moons. I still have my scribing tools and print screen. We can communicate!
She goes off. She comes on again.
Quexizenaar, it’s scribing. Agck! It’s surprisingly good!
There’s a long pause.
Taakhe? Can you translate the visual symbols?
Yes. It asks for…JOLLOF.
What’s that? I thought you would know.
I scan. No records. Maybe it’s a kind of food, but I find nothing on the grid. May it ask for something else?
Pause. Then: It asks for SMALL CHOPS now.
I scan. Nothing.
Taakhe comes on again: It asks: “What of DODO?”
Agck! What sort of human is this? I find nothing it speaks of.
Taakhe harrumphs. Could it be your records don’t capture all forms of human existent?
I consider it. I should check, but it will take a number of moments. Until then, do nothing, and stay away from it.
She affirms, but I know it’s only a matter of moments before she goes back. I quickly open a link to the grid and scan for HUMAN again. The result is the same. I run the scan three times. Same.
I opt for a change in direction, and search for EARTH instead. It lists all sorts of species. I filter ANIMALIA and MAMMALIA for kingdom and class. Then I filter order and genus to PRIMATES and HOMO. The species filter for SAPIENS gives me two results.
HOMO SAPIENS – Human.
HOMO SAPIENS – Nigerian.
I used the wrong database, I realise. I quickly download the Nigerian database, but I can make no sense of the jumble, nor is there any order to even attempt a filter. In fact, its presence in my cerebrum alone causes it to start to throb. So, I sort directly for what interests me, using the query: DANGER. On second thought, I add: TO SELF AND OTHERS.
The information quickly groups into geo-political regions, thick barriers separating them. Five results stand out as top threats.
- BOKO HARAM
- FULANI HERDSMAN
- NIGER-DELTAN AVENGER
I query: DANGER AS INDIVIDUAL. One result remains.
It is with high urgency that I gallop to storage and rummage until I find the biodata for the human. I scan under LOCATION OF EXTRACTION, and find one simple word there.
I ping Taakhe three times without answer. By the fourth try, my anxiety sensors have been tripped. I strap into the teleport system and fire to her hab.
Taakhe is immobilized in a corner of her sector, all her communication inputs gone. Extracted by an untrained hand, from the looks of it. The same hand has also unjoined and cleared out all bionic enhancements on her limbs, hence her inability to move. I scamper over and crouch.
The human, she says, weakly.
You were right, I say. It’s a different kind of human. I pause. Wait. Did you let it out?
Shame oozes off her. It convinced me to do it.
Unpredictable and dangerous! How did it do that?
It called me three names in a sequence, she says. Unlock codes. They broke all my defenses.
She opens her scribe screen and prints them.
SISI-EKO. OMALICHA. BAE.
I feel nothing, I say after transcoding the words.
It seems to work only on female species.
My fury sensors trigger hard. I rise.
That thing is dangerous. I must find and destroy it immediately.
She declines vehemently. There is no point. It struggled with our atmospheric conditions when it came out the quantum tunnel. Though it commandeered my StarCraft and recreated the conditions before taking the vessel out to the galaxy, I’m not sure it will survive long. Let it go.
We stay there in silence. I wonder how the Gaq’urk fleet conquered Earth with these Nigerians in it.
Amusement starts to ooze off Taakhe in heavy waves. I’m bemused.
Those species are wonderful, she says. Did you know it scribed a sign on the StarCraft before it left?
I see, I reply, though I fail to sense the positive in that. What did the sign say?
She prints it on her screen and continues to ooze amusement. I download into my cerebrum, decode and read.
ORIGINAL SECOND-HAND SPARE PARTS FOR SALE.
JOLLOF: Colloquial term for Jollof Rice, a popular spicy Nigerian rice dish.
SMALL CHOPS: Nigerian fast food bundle comprising of deep-fried flour buns, plantain balls, chicken drumsticks, etc.
DODO: Nigerian colloquial name for fried plantains.
SISI-EKO: Yoruba expression, literally translating to Lagos Girl. Usually used in the sweet-tongued courting of a woman.
OMALICHA: Igbo word for Beautiful. Used as in Sisi-Eko above.
BAE: English colloquial word for Loved/lovable partner/other. Sometimes used as in Sisi-Eko above.
LAGOSIAN: Colloquial term for a Lagos dweller.
FULANI HERDSMAN: Cattle-rearing nomad from North Nigeria.
NIGER-DELTAN AVENGER: Colloquial term for rebel militant from the Niger-Delta creeks.
BIAFRAN: Colloquial term usually used for advocates of Biafra, former secessionist state from Eastern Nigeria
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