This is a continuing blog series about the latest science fiction story I am working on: Shoulder Fairy. The picture is an artist’s interpretation of what protagonist Robert Vasquez looks like.
I got the estimated first half of this first draft finished last Saturday. In this second quarter of the story, trouble and obstacles arise for the protagonist Robert Vasquez. By the end of the first half he prepares to travel to the planet’s National Archives, a fort with the vault full of ancient records. It’s in the middle of a notorious wilderness, out of contact with the rest of the world. There he plans to hide from human ambassador Garth Smith for a while.
Below is a scene near the end of the first half of the story. It shows a confrontation between Robert and the ambassador. Robert came to the planet (Sonik) from Earth with the cause to convert the natives to technology, selling electronic tablets loaded with educational materials on Earth knowledge. The ambassador is opposed to educating the natives because he feels they should be left vulnerable to Earth dominance and be assimilated into the Earth empire.
There are two types of native people on the planet Sonik, “fairies” which are small and can fly, and “tarlocks”, which are human-sized and don’t fly.
With those clues, see if you can figure out what is going on in the scene:
I put on a fresh layer of sunscreen, my hat, and my glasses. As we were heading out through the building’s exit, there came the swoosh of a hover jet landing. That would have to be someone from the human settlement.
The hover jet landed, and its engines were kept idling. Two humans emerged from it, leaving the pilot inside. Copper-san hid in a wizard’s pocket to avoid the turbulence from the jet. The female human—probably the translator—started to talk to some nearby tarlocks but then noticed me. Both of them wore human clothing, which meant that I couldn’t see any of their skin, except for the parts of their glistening faces that the floppy hat brims didn’t obscure. Because of the way he walked, I knew that one of them was Garth.
“I was at a meeting with the Sonik leaders,” Garth said as he approached me. His voice was louder than necessary. “Do you know what they’re so excited about?” He waited for my answer.
“No. They’re excited about your plan to spread education to all of Sonik. Do you even remember what my orders were?!” He was shaking a clenched fist.
Orders? “You suggested that I teach only our language to the natives, and nothing more,” I said.
The hover jet alone was a crowd magnet. His voice, however, was bringing even more attention our way.
“Perhaps I wasn’t clear,” he said, his voice softer, though still harsh. “I said that if you teach modern Earth education to the hicks anywhere on Sonik, I will forcibly deport you back to Earth. And now that you’ve gone against my orders, get into the hover jet now. Right now!”
“No,” I said.
He opened his overcoat and pulled his gun from its holster, keeping it near his waist and hidden from most of the natives. They wouldn’t have recognized such a device anyway. Garth’s translator stepped away from him with a look of surprise on her face.
Another unnatural thought surfaced. Garth is not our friend.
“Wait,” I said. “You said I could teach the Earth Standard language.”
“And you went so far as to mention teaching them to travel to the stars and make machines.”
“It’s true that I manipulated the bureaucrats to get permission to sell my stuff to the younger generation here at the universities. The students are suckers for video games and social media. I didn’t realize the leaders would take me so seriously. You don’t think they’ll find out what I’m really doing, do you?”
Garth thought about that for a minute. He put his gun away.
“Robert, you were dishonest to our allies, which is fine if you remember that what you say to government leaders can cause a backlash. As long as they don’t find out, it should be okay. Just teach a token number of students our language, and we can claim that you fulfilled your promise. What’s that thing on your neck?”
The bulge on my neck had grown beyond any reasonable explanation. I just shrugged.
Garth strode away, and his companion followed, struggling to match his speed. Before he boarded the hover jet, he yelled, “I’ll be checking up on you!”
As I watched the hover jet soar over the rooftops and disappear into the horizon, Copper-san landed on my shoulder. “You lied to your leader,” she said.
“He’s not my leader. He might have some jurisdiction over me, but I’m not his employee. Anyway, I don’t lie. Well, I try not to lie. But I didn’t lie to him today; I just didn’t tell the whole truth.”
How could Copper-san know what I’d said to Garth anyway? My whole conversation with him had taken place in Earth Standard language.
That is a mystery, thought unnatural alternate consciousness.