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The Survivors

The Survivors

“How did your people survive your first contact with the humans?” Slaver Lord Abrax catches up with Guild Master Felbin right after the official part of the conference was over.

“Hm?” the fat albino wombat wonders while munching fried roaches, looking puzzled into the face of the mighty reptilian warrior. “What do you mean? Survive?”

“You said you made first contact recently with the humans, didn’t you?”

“Oh yes. Weird people. Crossed into an exclusive trade zone inside our border, nibbled at some asteroids without asking. I send a scout ships, delivered an angry message to them. They were all ‘Oh, did we something wrong? You claim these? We need fuel, can we make a deal?’”

Felbin shovels another hand full of roasted bugs into his mouth, munching happily.

“So they were in a weak position? And you did press your advantage?”

Between munching the wombat mumbles “Oh No. Their fleet was quite impressive. Two medium support carriers, around a dozen smaller escort ships, two dozen industrial ships. A lot more than we had at hand at that moment. We were quite surprised when they offered compensation for trespassing our territory and a pretty fair deal on keeping the resources. And they immediately entered trade talks with us.”

“Stop bullshitting me old usurer!” the reptilian growls “How in the world did you force the humans into submission? When we learned of the humans we send a slaver fleet to their world, numbering hundreds of mighty warships, demanding 0,2% of their population per year as tribute. A very fair deal as you will agree!”

The wombat did the equivalent of shrugging his shoulders “Well if you say so. How did it end?”

“It ended terrible for them! We killed millions of them by our penal operation when they rejected our generous offer!”

“Well, that is partially true but not the whole story.” Princess Shem, her large belly swollen by hundreds of eggs interrupts the discussion. Outranked, the Slaver Lord hissed in annoyance and fell silent.

“They fought your fleet back with monstrous weapons, vaporising your mighty flagship with a single one of their ungodly ‘Nukes’, even ships dozens of miles away had their outer hulls molten by this single attack. After less than an hour your fleet had scattered. The biggest damage your fleet did was raining debris on their world, killing a couple of million unprepared civilians.”

“How do you know…” the Slaver Lord gasps “Not a single Slaver made it back alive!”

The princess bows down her antennas in shame “Because my father, the rightful ruler of my people, is currently prisoner of war in the hands of the humans. He watched your foolish posturing on television in his prison cell and was allowed to report the incident back to his home world as a deterrent against future aggression.”

“Your people surrendered to the humans? How pitiful!” laughs the Slaver Lord.

“Surrendered? No, we were simply overrun. And we most likely only got off easy because the humans decided you were a bigger threat.”

The wombat looks at the princess in surprise “Oh, your people went at war with the humans too? But why?”

“Territorial dispute. They settled a barren world in a remote system, we had a claim on it for centuries. In return we annexed one of their border colonies, arrested their officials and put them on trial.”

Master Felbin put his empty bowl aside and reached for the wine. “Oh. I guess they send you an angry letter, did they?”

“The letter was lacking all rules of court.” boasted the princess with her antennae twitching angrily “It made demands were praise was required and disputed the obvious. It was literally an insult. Can you imagine? They demanded ‘a diplomatic talk’ and ‘compensation’.”

While grooming his fur Master Felbin dryly stated “Well, I know myself human diplomats and lawyers are a very special pest. The trade agreement we worked out with them is literally an epic in itself, surpassing absolutely any work of literature of my people in length and complexity. The chapter on the shape of bananas alone is over 1400 pages long. Thanks but no thanks."

Felbin licked some wine before continuing "So you found their diplomats lacking and tried if their warriors were more amicable and found them lacking too?”

The princess grumbles ashamed “We never met their warriors. They send a police assault unit and subdued our occupation force while we were hibernating…”

Slave Lord Abrax laughed aloud “Oh yes, we also found out the hard way that humans do not hibernate like most others do. In fact they only need a light sleep to recover and not much of it anyway. Also they can go for days without sleep. Freck. To keep up with them we needed to outnumber them 10 to one, taking turns in sleeping 18 hours and fighting one hour. And then they still manage to outdo us most of the time.”

Guild Master Felbin stopped licking at his expensive gobble of wine. “Aha, so you were pretty lucky when they offered you a somewhat fair peace deal?”

“Ending slavery was not a ‘somewhat fair peace deal’” Abrax railed “Our whole society was based on exploitation of the weak and now even high warriors have to clean their houses themselves and pay for mere services like food preparation. This is utterly unacceptable!”

“Oh dear, how pitiful you look.” Felbin giggled “And still both of you can be happy you survived your first contact with the humans almost intact.”

“Like there is any bigger disgrace than having ones father being prisoner of war.” Princess Shem grumbled.

“Or having to change your entire way of living.” Slaver Lord Abrax muttered.

“Yes, I think I am the lucky one of us three” smirked Felbin “although I have regular nightmares about human paper work recently. But trust me, compared to the devourers, we all got off easy.”

“The Devourers?” Abrax laughed “They are a myth. Parents tell their children about the Devourers when they don’t behave and need a good scare.” and with a mocking tone he continued “Head your parents words or the Devourers eat you!”

Even Princess Shem proclaimed with fervour: "As if nature would even allow such horrors! Beasts the size of a house, attacking entire worlds in apocalyptic numbers and devouring everything in their path."

“Oh, nonono. Devourers are not a myth.” the guild master explained “Yes, they haven’t swarmed in two centuries but my people still remember them from the old times when they crushed even the best defended worlds into dust during their reproduction cycle.”

Looking for something, Felbin continued “Actually, have you seen the Human Ambassador? Or, to be more precise, his young daughter?”

Shem turned her antennae towards the girl on the other side of the conference room: “She doesn't look anything special. For a human.”

“Nonono, also not the daughter. Her pet. The six legged creature sitting on her shoulder?”

Abrax and Shem looked puzzled at Guildmaster Felbin, then at the creature on the young girl's shoulder. The creature purred and played with the scraps of food the daughter offered to it.

“That is what is left of the devourers after the humans have tamed them.”

  • Oh hey! I saw this one on Reddit first, pleased to see it here too. I remember you provided original content to this community, thanks for coming back!


    Haven't seen that word in a long time, props for using it! I have no idea how to say that without seeming like a condescending fourth grade teacher, but I just honestly think it's cool I stumbled across that word in the wild again today thanks to your story.

    I do often see alien POVs talking about humans, but usually just from the viewpoint of one species or one alien. Several alien species conversing about humans as the main way we are exposed to humans, in a one-shot, is more unique and I appreciate it.

    Kind of sad that HFY is mostly congregated on Reddit. I posted several months back in r/HFY about getting everyone over to HFY on the Fediverse, and I think my post was removed by mods. I can upvote my own r/HFY posts that are older than it, but the voting buttons are greyed out and stuck at 1 upvote for that post.

    • Yeah, the usurer was a lucky find. When I wrote "profiteer" at first it felt... not good. I wanted a word which was closer to "Wucherer" which is a mild form of "loan shark". In my native language and after a quick visit to the Thesaurus the Usurer stuck around. I was surprised how different the wording for unjust high interest rates is between German and English. While a "loan shark" actually has a strong, dangerous, almost respectful, connotation, a "Wucherer" is a straight forward insult in an almost biblical sense. I think the usurer comes a lot closer to that. In hindsight, is usurer maybe even used in the bible? I don't know, I only read the Latin and German editions during school.

      Isaac Asimov, also not a native speaker, once said that thinking in different languages can give weird insights into wording which is incredible useful for constructing an environment which feels "a little bit off" or in other words, the uncanny valley you wish for.

      While I find it mildly disturbing that HFY is so focused around r/HFY I am not totally unhappy about it.

      See, before r/HFY we only had 4chan where good stories vanished within days forever. Only a couple of lousy screenshots are left from a couple of early stories. And Royal Road and AO3 never really accepted HFY as a peer among equals.

      At least the r/HFY mods are mostly relaxed. I tried posting other stories on other Reddits - and you can simply forget about it.

      About shadowbanning: Reddit itself shadowbans every comment containing "". lemmy(dot)world though is fine. I myself ran into that problem once while discussing stuff in the comments. Best way to check: Start a private browser windows by Ctrl-Shift-P and copy the URL of you post there. If it is invisible it has most likely been shadow-banned.

      • "Loan shark" definitely has dangerous connotations for me, but it also has predatory-trashy-seedy-run-down connotations to me, not respectful ones. No idea why. "Usury" is totally Biblical, by the way:

        But if he begets a son who is violent and commits murder, or does any of these things, even though the father does none of them—a son who eats on the mountains, defiles the wife of his neighbor, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not give back a pledge, raises his eyes to idols, does abominable things, lends at interest and exacts usury—this son certainly shall not live.

        —Ezekiel 18:10–13

        As a person who used to spend a lot of time on AO3, it was always used more for fanworks than original works. I'll be honest, I never seek out originals on AO3. I only ever used it for fanfic and it'll probably continue to be that way for me. Although I have no idea why it is not picking up on RoyalRoad. I also use that site, but not as often or as heavily as I used to use AO3.

        Also, thanks for the tip. I never even considered that I might be getting shadow banned. Lucky for me, I explicitly mentioned Lemmy and saw upvotes and a reply—probably because I only said "lemmy" and not a specific site, and well… is not the only kind of Lemmy around (I think it's the name of some famous person? My mind immediately jumps to "lemmings" though). I also just checked my old post advertising here and what actually happened is that a mod also replied saying I violated a rule against standalone advertising. But the shadow ban tip is good, especially because I wasn't aware it would happen. I'll be careful to not drop the URL.

      • Nice story! And very nice to have someone posting here directly to Lemmy. I must admit that HFY is one of the communities I miss the most from Reddit.