|A Human Perspective - Episode 2|
|Series||A Human Perspective|
|Source||A Human Perspective - Episode 2|
|In the series|
“Sorry!” Charl apologized, then quickly translated as he ran further down the corridor. “Hee-naa!”
Charl hurried back to the orbital docking admin office, dodging among the many Banu spacefarers along the way. The admin clerks had been nice enough to let him dock the Reacher without paying the fee, accepting his promise to come right back after getting some funds into his account. He figured the least he could do was hurry up about it. That was something about Banu that he liked. Humans tend to distrust all other Humans as a matter of course. Banu at least give you the benefit of the doubt.
Once there, the Banu clerk pointed to her display and tapped a thick finger against the total he owed. Charl grinned broadly and flipped up his MobiGlas so she could see his suddenly flush bank account.
Charl was glad to pay his docking fee and eager to get some other things taken care of, too. He had gotten confirmation that Lyshtuu received his acceptance message and minutes later the balance in his account went from red to green. Not a fortune, but more than enough to get him out of debt and on his way. And this was only the advance. He reminded himself to send a ‘thank you’ message along to Torreele, since they paid so well.
“Nothing like a few Credits in your hands to put a spring in your step,” he said to the clerk. He didn’t bother to translate, but he was pretty sure she caught his meaning. Banu weren’t Human, but they understood money just as well.
“Yawr-woa-yee!” he thanked the clerk in her native language, and she opened her eyes wide in surprise. Most Humans wouldn’t bother. Most Humans wouldn’t recognize her as a female.
Within minutes Charl had alerted agencies all over Geddon’s orbital as to his needs and newfound means to pay for services rendered. He put in a refueling order, called for expedited repairs, and asked for security clearances along his proposed flight path. For a guy who normally liked to thrust along quietly beneath the radar, Charl couldn’t help himself. He was too excited to get underway and back into meaningful action.
At one point he slipped out to an after-market parts vendor to get a new re-circulator pump (something he could replace himself while experts handled the more difficult, precision repairs) and on his return found a Banu waiting at his docking airlock. By his uniform he was some kind of Protectorate muckety-muck, and Charl was instantly apprehensive.
“Wewl-whoa,” he greeted his guest formally, raising an expectant eyebrow. But it turned out to be nothing. The Banu held out a MobiGlas with all his ID — a junior admin with Protectorate Alien Affairs — and a few screens of forms all ready to be signed and notarized.
Wow, Charl thought. As with any bureaucracy, he fully expected to go down to the Alien Affairs office himself and wait hours to get all this taken care of. In that regard, Banu red tape was no different than what Humans tangled themselves up in. But Lyshtuu must have greased some palms to get this kind of immediate service. And a house call, no less. Charl sat with the official in the Reacher’s tiny galley and clicked through a dozen forms, got neural- and retina-scanned, signed here and there, and got all his clearances immediately. No fuss. No muss.
Charl had been too excited until now to notice that his destination was Bacchus, the Banu homeworld. That’s a bit odd, he thought. He had never met Lyshtuu on Bacchus before. On first glance it seemed a high profile spot to meet over what seemed like a fairly mundane mission. Oh well, whatever they wanted was okay with him. Maybe that was Torreele’s Banu headquarters. No matter. His recently enriched MobiGlas felt warm in his pocket.
With the Alien Affairs business so conveniently out of the way, Charl quickly installed the re-circulator pump and then changed into clean clothes. He had several hours on his hands — the refit guys would be that long finishing up on the Reacher. He decided to take a long-overdue shopping trip through the market. Every orbital had one, Human or otherwise. A few inquiries later he was on the aft decks among exotic stalls and vendors. He’d never set foot there before in his life, but he instantly felt right at home.
Ordering provisions in bulk through Geddon’s orbital was definitely the way to go, since it was always inexpensive and of good quality. Charl enjoyed most Banu food, so that was no problem for him in their space. Meat was meat, and vegetables were vegetables, he figured; it’s all in the preparation. Still, there were some Banu delicacies that even Charl couldn’t stomach. Regardless, if you wanted to pick up anything special, you had to go to the market.
“Human! Beer!” A huckster called out to him in fair ‘Human’ from a dark stall packed with clear bulbs of Banu ale. It was greener than he cared for, but what the heck, he thought, and haggled to an acceptable price on two bulbs.
“Yawr-woa-yoo,” he thanked the male seller and continued wandering the stalls. Other merchants tried to flag him down as well, selling all sorts of things from textiles to pleasure pills, quick meals to who-knew-what hanging dead on hooks. Spicy odors mixed with grease and fuel, and Charl drank it in. He wandered aimlessly, picking up a few things here and there, but couldn’t find any cigars — a particular favorite — for love or money. He wasn’t surprised, but he could always hope. They were one of the few things he missed from Human space.
Torreele! he suddenly exclaimed to himself, remembering that they carried a few lines of cigars. Maybe they imported them into the Protectorate, and someone could fix him up with a box or two at the Bacchus meeting.
The last time he worked for Torreele had been through Lyshtuu, as well, and that gig was great. They imported exotic cuisine into the UEE, packaged it for Human consumption and sold it on their worlds. It was an enormous business. Torreele Foodstuffs was always on the lookout for new product, and for that job they hired Charl to essentially tour a couple of Banu districts, sample the local cuisine, and flag anything that seemed especially tasty to the Human palate. On reflection it was the best job he had ever had. They left him alone to do the job, with no other supervision. Eight standard months on a hefty expense account. Fine meals. Fine accommodations. No Humans. Only his waistline had suffered.
Charl hoped this new job was along those lines. Maybe they had another planet they wanted him to check out. He quickened his pace, hoping the refit crew was finished so he could undock and get going.
Basically, that’s how Charl had made a living for the last several standard years. He hired himself out to different Banu traders who were always looking for a better way to make a profit in the UEE. He gave them insight into the Human psyche, something they could not easily gain themselves. An alien species is difficult to understand. What do they desire? How do they negotiate? Charl lifted that veil from the Banu traders’ eyes.
Take the previous Torreele job, for example. Charl could tell in one sitting if a Banu meal might appeal to the broader Human marketplace. And it wasn’t just a matter of flavor. A Banu chemist could probably figure out what a Human would find tasty. Charl could evaluate it on all its facets — flavor, color, smell … was it too squirmy, too chalky, and so on.
And his services didn’t stop at food, though that was a particular favorite. He evaluated electronic devices, clothing, music … consumer goods of all stripe. Even though he was an ‘outsider,’ and probably unaware of the latest Human consumer trends, he retained his inherent Human sensibilities, and that’s what his employers needed. His circle of Banu employers called upon him often, though there were uncomfortable gaps sometimes between paying gigs, like the money drought from which he had just emerged.
Most importantly, his services kept him out of Human space, away from his native species. Not that he couldn’t work for Humans, but they really bugged him, especially corporate types. Charl found Banu easier to work with.
Charl hoped he was becoming one of that Banu trader’s ‘go to’ guys. That might mean more steady employment. He had worked for Lyshtuu twice before, done his job well and kept his word. That was what it took with the Banu. Do what you say you’re going to do and they respect that. Sticklers for contract details, though. Deceptively simple. Too simple for most Humans, Charl noted.
Back at the Reacher, he stowed his purchases and checked with the refit foreman. One more hour and they would be done and he could depart the Geddon system. He spent that time checking the navcomp and presetting his flight plan. His entire travel plan was already completely updated, showing his high-priority clearance through every system along the way.
“Thanks Lyshtuu!” he said aloud. His trip to Bacchus should take just a few hours. It would be nice to thank his Banu friend in person.
To Be Continued …