Part 2

Engrem climbed out of the landing craft after the other two.  The fresh air was a welcome respite to the canned atmosphere of the ship.  Even the acrid smell of manure on the nearby fields was preferable to sweaty bodies.

“I see one of the locals over there,” said the commander.  “You say you’re good with languages, Barinium. Go to it. We wanna mine that mountain.”

“Are we sure they’re friendly?” asked Engrem.  “We did just tear up this field!”

“Computer says they’re farmers.  Just watch out for the pitchforks.” he laughed. “Don’t worry. They look like cute doggies.”

Engrem looked at the individual who had been approaching and now stood some distance away.  It was somewhat dog size, but a large dog. It had four legs, but where the head should be, there was a torso with two arms.  The bald head had only one large eye. Alien doggies with pitchforks, Engrem thought to himself.

“It’s going to take time to even get my question across,” he said to his shipmates.

“Take as long as it takes,” said the commander.  “Koplushia needs resources wherever we can get them.  That’s what the company says.”

Engrem shrugged and fingered his small computer in his shirt pocket.  It would record any communications with the native and correlate them as a help to him.  The device could not yet take the place of good old fashioned linguists. Linguist! Why did he tell them he could do this?  Sure he had studied and become confident in several languages, but to figure out a non-human language on his own? Askar!  He felt failure creeping along with each step toward the native.

Gweeth!” he called.  “We’re from Koplushia.  Have you heard of Koplushia?”  No reaction, but at least it wasn’t raising a weapon of any sort.

“Koplushia.  It’s not that far from here, really.  we came here from Koplushia… um…”

At this point he was near the native.  He stopped, not sure what to do. The native took a four footed step forward and said simply, “Gureefur.”

Engrem wasn’t certain what to do.  He remembered in fiction books he had read that they always began with names.  Could it be that simple? Why not? He quietly cleared his throat and pointed to the native, repeating what he said.  Then he pointed to himself and said, “Engrem.”

“En-rem”, said the native.  It then pulled out a small package from the pouch slung over his shoulder and held it out.  Engrem quickly produced a food pack. They traded offerings, each tasting what they received.  The flat, brown, blob he was given tasted sweet and had a coarse texture. There were something like nuts in it.  Not bad, really.

Greefr managed to open the plastic wrapper and took a bite of the food pack.  It quickly turned its back and spit it out. It said something in its high voice and pointed to a building in the distance.  Turning part way, Greefr looked at Engrem, completed its turn, and began slowly walking toward the building.

“Wait!” said Engrem.  Then he turned back towards the ship.  “I’ll contact you when I have an answer,” he called.

The commander called back, “We’ll move the ship to the lake we saw to the west.  Convince them, Brainium.”

He turned and followed the now distant native.  Convince them. Sure. Greefr doesn’t seem very talkative.

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