Sunday, July 4, 2010


Misstallica, originally uploaded by Jenn Platt.
This week's picture isn't a picture at all. It's a clip of Misstallica. Before I went to their show I wouldn't have been able to tell you what a woman doing a credible James Hetfield impression looked like. Now I know better.

I also saw a Black Sabbath tribute band. Their lead singer was... interesting. And by that I mean that he jumped around onstage like a twelve year old girl lip-syncing metal tunes in front of a mirror.

I in no way no what that looks like from experience.

This week's story doesn't have anything to do with metal. Or bands of any kind. But there are some lovely aliens and an encounter on a monorail.

Adrienne only released the handrail for a moment, letting a little Greean woman with an armload of bags pass. Then the train lurched forward with no warning bell and she felt her feet slide and the world tilt as she grabbed for the rail.
She hit a body behind her and then the floor.  She got instantly to her knees and found a Droraan in a similar position, its fur raised everywhere clothes didn’t cover, cursing in fluent French as it grabbed at the oranges rolling away in every direction.
Adrienne caught up an orange that had stopped at the boot of a huge Human that was studiously ignoring them and put it in the basket where the Droraan was dumping the rest. “I’m really sorry,” she said, hoping it spoke some English.
It gave her a brief smile that showed both sets of teeth and scrambled for another orange that had rolled behind a stroller.
Adrienne shifted into a crouch and gathered up the other oranges she could see. She was tipping four of them into the basket, ready to apologize again and get back to reading her newsfeed, when their fingers touched.
The shock flashed up her arm and almost sent her back to the floor. She looked up; their hands were still in the basket, the backs of their fingers touching now. She could tell the Droraan felt something too; all three eyes had gone wide as it looked back at her.
“Thanks,” it said in heavily accented English, its voice a low rumble that made Adrienne’s tail twitch.
She nodded slowly and stood as it did. Her hearts were fluttering against her sides, her hand still stung where they had touched and she had the dizzying sensation of looking at herself from a strange angle, the striped blue of her scalp gleaming in the train’s florescent light. “That’s a lot of oranges,” she said when the Droraan nudged the basket to one side with its foot and turned toward the window.
It faced her again, one three fingered hand tucked in a pocket and the other holding the rail over their heads. The sway of the train brought it close enough that she thought their shoulders would brush. “The Spring Feast,” it said with a shrug, the dark gray fur on its bare shoulders beginning to fall back into place.
Adrienne took a deep breath, trying to focus. Already the other passengers, the walls of the train car and the trees whipping by outside were a blur as she felt her mind opening. “I thought it was eleven fruits, do you have that many different oranges?” she asked; ready to talk about anything until she settled, until she had decided how to explain. She hardly knew what to tell herself. She had never bonded so quickly to anyone.
The Droraan made a low rasping sound and the fur on its neck rose in amusement. “There are eleven of us. We all bring a fruit.” There was a speculative look in its eyes when the bell announced the next stop. “This is mine,” it said, shifting closer to her, but also toward the door.
“Mine too,” she lied, a thrill of panic making her shiver. She couldn’t let it go without even a name. “Let me help you with this,” she said, grasping one handle of the basket.
It regarded her with narrowed eyes for a moment but nodded when the doors opened, taking the other handle. “Thanks,” it said softly as they stepped into the bright sun on the platform.
Adrienne took a casual glance around seeing that they were still in the city; the trees were one of those green space initiatives that had taken over half of the platform space on the monorails. She followed the Droraan to the escalators, looking around in vain for a clock. She wondered how late she would be for work and decided it didn’t matter.
“You celebrate the Spring Feast?” it asked, eyes still narrowed curiously as it regarded her.
Adrienne jumped a little, surprised out of her thoughts, and the side of the basket balanced on her knee swayed. She got a firmer hold and nodded. “I have, it’s close enough to my holiday and I have a lot of Droraan friends at work.”
The Droraan nodded and smiled in understanding. “There aren’t many temples for Median feasts in the city.”
She drew a breath of relief; at least it knew what she was. Explaining could be easier than she’d anticipated. “You’re not wrong,” she said, shifting the weight of the basket and getting a good grip on the handle before they stepped off the escalator. “It seems a little late now, but I’m Adrienne.”
Its fur rose slightly and though they hadn’t touched she felt a surge of something that didn’t belong to her and a second view of the station swam in her eyes. “Here,” it said, leading them to a bench near the ticket machines.
She forced the connection down and followed, releasing the basket when it did.
The Droraan offered both thin hands, the fur on the palm side was short and dark. “I am Teren Jones,” it said formally.
Adrienne didn’t feel ready for another contact but her arms moved and she clasped Teren’s hands, the fur tickling her palms. “Adrienne Smit. Your parents had their names changed too?” she asked, trying to keep herself in the present. She could already see the next time they would meet, her in green, Teren offering her a mango.
Teren laughed again, the smooth fur on its shoulders rising along with the thicker fur at its throat. “Many generations ago, yes,” it said releasing her hands.
They looked at each other for a moment then bent, lifted the basket together, and walked out of the station. The street was cool and dark, shaded by the monorail. They passed a butcher, a handful of computer shops and a hairdresser whose sign advertized full fur coloring. Teren turned down a side street that surprised Adrienne by having almost as many trees as the monorail platform.
Now that she was firmly in her own mind she snuck glances at Teren, its sleeveless shirt showed toned arms and there was a pleasant sway to its walk, something that was not quite a swagger. She curled her tail around the strap of her purse to keep it from twitching visibly.
Teren slowed and stopped at the steps of a gray brick building that rose several stories over them. It motioned for her to set the basket down and they settled it on the third step. “Adrienne Smit, would you join us for the Spring Feast?” it asked, extending its hands again.
The feast was the next day, and green was the traditional color worn at the feast. She wondered who would bring the mangos. “I’d love to,” she said, placing her hands in Teren’s again. The Droraan’s grip was firmer this time and she felt its hands shake as the visions flew past, the green dress, the mango, a kiss in the heat of a spring night. Maybe tomorrow night. She pulled gently away. “What can I bring?” she asked, clearing her throat.
Teren’s eyes were narrowed to thin slits and its chest expanded deeply before it answered. “Is there a traditional bonding gift?”
She heard the tremor in its voice with a surge of relief and affection. “Median star fruit, but that would make twelve fruits,” she said, her tail curling more tightly around her bag.
It waved a gray hand. “I’m not superstitious,” Teren paused and all three eyes blinked shyly, “you could bring it before the feast and explain more of this.” It nodded between them.
Adrienne wanted to explain now, to tell Teren she was just as overwhelmed by the suddenness of it, but she understood the implied request for time. She stepped carefully forward and lifted onto her toes to kiss Teren’s cheek, careful that they didn’t touch anywhere else. She only felt the briefest welling of surprise and something that might have been regret as she withdrew. “I can explain everything,” she said taking a step back.
Teren nodded and retrieved the basket, holding it against its chest almost protectively. “You can come at seven, to 5D.”
“I’ll be there,” she agreed, not offering to help.
Teren nodded again and turned, passing through the sliding doors and into a tiled hall. Its head turned just as the doors were closing and Adrienne thought she saw it look back at her.
She stood there for several minutes, eyes on the spot where Teren had disappeared, still feeling the tickle of fur against her lips. She turned from the building and started back toward the station, the trees above her looking greener than any she’d ever seen, the breeze the coolest, the sun the brightest. She was humming to herself on the train platform, the bonding endorphins making her rock jauntily on her heels, when she froze.
Droranns didn’t bond amongst themselves. They didn’t even mate like Humans or Greeans. They had a ceremonial gene fusing then budded off little copies of themselves.
Was it even possible for a Droraan and a Median to mate?


  1. Okay, the Droraan is cursing in fluent French! Intriguing world, I want to know more as I read. The tail, the feast, the oranges, the bonding.

    I love that there are a handful of computer shops. Of course there are.

    A very sweet kiss. I'm charmed.

    Do they have to mate? Can they just bond? Ceremonial gene fusing. Love. Also, parents? Does Teren have more than one? (If not -- if I've understood this correctly -- I *love* it when a POV character thinks or observes something not-quite-accurately. If so, I want to know more. Either way I want to know more!)

    Very nice story!

  2. Oh wait, read that last part again. I think I understand now that two parents would be expected. I am still very intrigued by all of this!

  3. Glad you liked it.

    As for the Medians, they bond to mate, though it doesn't always work out that way. Droraans do have two parents but the species has no males or females.

    Boy did I have a time writing all those 'its'. It felt vaguely disrespectful.

  4. "cursing in fluent French as it grabbed at the oranges rolling away in every direction."

    - I would have loved to read and consequently not understand some French cuss words.

    It made me giggle inside to think of a furry alien creature budding. Definitely a cute story.

  5. a very cute tail, ahem, tale. You did a good job with the pronouns. I tried that with a story once and, well, you haven't seen it have you? Yeah, it didn't work out well.

    Great job!

  6. I'm going to have to get on board here with the cute tale comments. This was great, and I like your shorts about people meeting one another. They feel so very human. I caught a typo: "florescent" for "fluorescent". There might have been another but I was too engrossed to catch it when I went back to find it.

    The Droraan seems much more alien than the Median, but I like that. It gave me something to imagine. Well done!


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