The Leader of the Tanturian Assembly, official spokesman for the twelve Greater Seas, was not having a very good day.
He had a name, but since Tanturian communication had evolved along lines of scent and posture, it would be pointless to attempt a reproduction of it. We shall call him Furgun. Furgun, or fergun, is the word for ‘shark’ in the common language of the Quin Cities and Corporate Realms. This is an amusing pun, because the Tanturian species is, essentially, a type of sentient shark.
One of the reasons Furgun was having such a bad day was related to this. His people had just made a vast and historical discovery, and it was easy – and very exciting – to focus on that. But along with this discovery came some unwelcome truths. The urverse was a much larger place than the Tanturians had originally suspected, and the majority of alien life out there seemed to be landbound. Marine environments, it seemed, were generally too hostile to give rise to sentient life, although there were several notable exceptions. And the vast gulf in communications was a logistical nightmare.
Moreover, Furgun didn’t like land creatures. He didn’t like land. There could be anything up there. He’d been on a deep-land excursion during his years as a biologist, and he’d hated it. He hated the ferocity of the sun and the thin, yowling wind. He hated the heavy, awkward equipment he’d had to wear and the taste of recycled water in his gills. He hated the way things just crawled around up there, squashed over the surface like barnacles and crabs. He even hated the few things up there that did manage to escape the ground, because they could do it and he couldn’t.
He didn’t like Fliei. He was one of the only people he knew who didn’t keep a single one. His territory didn’t even have a bubble. He hated their bright, shifty little eyes, their loud, discordant way of talking, the way they intentionally misunderstood Tanturian language and intentionally made their own unfathomable. He didn’t like the thought that they were always up there, crawling around, doing things he couldn’t watch them doing. He’d opposed the space program as reasonably and as realistically as he could, for fear that there might be more of them out there.
Well, who was laughing now?