Testicleeze froze. In a stage whisper, he asked, “What. Did. You. Do?”
Damitol looked at the tiny, conical rock in her arms. She felt it vibrate.
“I couldn’t let it roll off the cliff. That’s a long drop.”
“It’s a rock.”
“No. It’s a sentient being. And if I’m right, it’s a baby. Even if it looks like a rock, that fall might’ve broken it into pieces.”
A tiny mouth orifice opened and a quiet thrumming sound emerged.
“A baby?” Testicleeze edged toward her and touched it with one of his tentacles. His aura mixed with hers in a cerulean hue around the baby.
An echo of the thrumming came from the part of the circle the baby rock had rolled through. Three of the larger rocks had opened small mouth orifices. They echoed the baby’s sounds. Each one extruded several thick leg appendages and took slow steps forward. The rest of the semicircle of rocks sat still, all appendages withdrawn inside their conical bodies.
“A silicon-based life form,” Testicleeze murmured. He pulled his pack around to extract some sensors, but Damitol hissed at him.
“Now’s not the time,” she said.
The three rocks continued a slow progress toward them. The smallest of the three, almost fifty tentips tall, extended an arm and three fingers grew from it. It raised the arm and fingers into the air. The other two beings, both sixty-five to seventy tentips high, repeated the action.
“Do you think they can hurt us?” Testicleeze asked.
“If they all rolled into us, that would hurt. They could push us over the cliff. I don’t know whether they have weapons. They seem to be able to grow things at will.”
“I don’t have anything that would protect us. In fact, all they need to do is get our portaconts off. We’d last a few minutes in this atmosphere. I think you should hit your gloxflit and plart back up.”
Damitol’s aura blinked colors. “And leave you alone in a crowd of angry rocks? Think of what they can do to you in a minute and a half.”
“At least you’d be safe.”
“We’ll see this through. Both of us or neither.”
“Well, OK. But if they start trouble, you hit that button. Don’t wait for me.”
She squeezed his tentacle. “OK. But not until.”
The smallest of the three adult rocks reached Damitol’s aura. It became startled when it touched her aura. Damitol withdrew her tendrils a bit, motioning with her nearest tentacle for the rock to come forward. It edged closer, and Damitol pulled her aura away from that side of her body. She also removed it from around the baby.
“What are you doing?”
“Letting it get close. I think it wants the baby.”
The rock extruded two more appendages and formed the three into an arc in front of it. Damitol extended her tentacles and lowered the baby into the arm-cradle. It quit thrumming and began cooing, as did the bigger rock. Without turning around, it stepped back to the other two adults. They dropped their raised arms, touched the fingers to the ground, then pointed to the baby. Then they pointed at Damitol.
Testicleeze looked away from the closest rocks and saw all the rocks around them repeating the gesture after each grew a three-fingered arm.
“Damitol, look. I think you saved us.”
“Make a speech.”
“You’re the hero. Talk to them.”
“They won’t understand.”
“Doesn’t matter. Do it.”
She scanned the hillside. The three adults with the baby had withdrawn almost to the circle and stopped. All the rocks continued the odd gesture. Fingers to sky, ground, baby, Damitol, and back to sky.
She raised her voice. “I don’t have a grinzat to tell me what to say. I’ve never talked to a new species before.”
All the rocks ceased gesturing and withdrew the arms. They sat still.
“OK. I guess I have your attention. We’re just a couple of kids, out on a joy ride. We stumbled on your planet, and well, Testicleeze had to check you out.” She wrapped a tentacle around him and mixed an aura tendril into one of his.
“I’m afraid it’s our fault your baby almost got hurt, but I’m glad I could save her—him . . . OK, it. Uh. I guess I should say that we came in peace. We’ll probably have to tell the grinzats about you when we get back. I don’t know what they’ll do. They don’t teach that in school. They might leave you alone. We didn’t see any sign of technology here, so maybe they’ll wait a few millennia. I hope they keep others away, but you’re awful unusual. I don’t know of any other silicon-based life. Well, I’m just babbling, now. I think we’ll be going.”
“Are you ready to hit your button?” Testicleeze asked.
She pulled out the gloxflit, but before she could hit the button, one of the larger rocks started making noise. It looked like the first one that had approached them, but she couldn’t be sure. The vocalizations sounded like a speech. It lasted about as long as hers had.
Testicleeze whispered to her. “Still no fix on the language. The translator can’t figure it out. It does say that the intent seems friendly. I guess it’s at least got their tone down.”
When the spokesrock finished, Damitol waved several tentacles, then pushed the button and disappeared.
Testicleeze heard what sounded like surprised gasps from many of the rocks, and many clustered closer together. He watched the timer, and when it indicated he could plart, he waved several tentacles.
“Good bye, rocks.”
As soon as he slipped back into the hop-junger, Damitol hugged him tightly and screamed with delight.
Stay tuned for the next stop in the joy rides of Damitol and Testicleeze. Tell me what you think of Damitol and Testicleeze. Be sure to read the earlier posts, starting here.
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