Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Ficlet: Contact

Last week's b7friday topic was guest characters. These two appeared in Killer, but not in the credits.


Number 472 of level 3 sector 8 was proud that he was chosen for this mission. 263-9-1 had said, rather unnecessarily, 472-3-8 had thought, that it was only because 472-3-8 was bigger and had brighter pigmentation. He didn't care. It took courage to wait for the Collector to notice him and allow himself to be captured and carried into the huge alien hive. It helped that 263-9-1 was watching nearby and was taken too. It was good not to be alone.

They were in a strange smooth form of transparent confinement in a huge cell of the even huger hive. There were holes in the roof so that they could sample the air of this place and the distinctive smells and pheromones of its inhabitants. The Collector, whom 472-3-8 had renamed Oily from the taste of his chemicals, was creating a two-dimensional image of 472-3-8, but the purpose escaped him. If it was meant as a form of communication, then it had failed.

The one he thought of as Crisp came in and 472-3-8 picked up a sense of shared amusement. He transmitted it to the hive-mind that always buzzed comfortingly in the back of his own in the hopes that the Great Mother would be able to get something from his little bits of data. Thinking of the Mother reminded him: did this group of males have one? Neither of them had even had a whiff of her.

After a whole, two creatures 472-3-8 had never seen before came in. Oily did not seem to be happy about them; 472-3-8 picked up distinct traces of fear and hostility. The new aliens, whom he named Sour and Sharp, felt different too. Perhaps they were from another hive. He transmitted that as well.

Sharp noticed them and tapped the wall between him and 472-3-8, who detected a wave of warm friendliness. He wiggled three of his limbs in response, but Sharp had turned away towards Sour. Sour's pheromones tasted like his name, but underneath them was the same warmth that Sharp exuded. Perhaps these two were friends like 472-3-8 and 263-9-1. That was a nice thought. And why shouldn't these huge things have the same feelings as the People?

Then a bad thing happened. The hive became full of fear and death. When everything was quiet, 472-3-8 was worried that they would be left alone in their prison, but the People swarmed in and rolled it onto the floor where it shattered. They were both free to roam the hive with the others and discover what they could.

When they got back, the Great Mother thought about all their findings and said that a disease had gone through the place, passed from one to the next by touch and they'd had no strength to fight it because they had no Mother. She said to leave the hive as a tomb to the poor Motherless things.

472-3-8 did not mourn them because they were strange and unknowable and had not belonged to the World, but he was privately pleased that Sour and Sharp were not found among the dead. Friendship, he told 263-9-1, was the same wherever it was found and somewhere out in the Big Black, he was sure, they still lived.

He kept the picture Oily made though. It looked quite nice on his cell wall. It amused him. It even made him think a New Thought. Perhaps he'd make one of 263-9-1.

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