The giraffe-people (“Cortcheczocko”) and the beetle-people (“Dezzirezz’hezz”) had not been the first of the Federated Planets to visit Earth, but their delegation had come with the formal ribbons and banners, the formal papers and, most importantly, the engraved invitation to visit the Federation (“Foedus Planetarum”) and see if they wished to engage in the paperwork to join.
“Send twenty delegates from each of your five largest countries,” the Cortcheczocko ambassador had said, its (his? Despite the giraffe-like horns and spotted skin, the Cortcheczocko looked decidedly human, and the ambassador both handsome and male.) – or his translator working madly to keep up. “Send your science-people and your entertainment-people, your mechanics-people and your representative-people. Send no more or no less than one hundred, and the shuttle will take them in forty-five days.”
The smirk on the ambassador’s face had suggested he knew that humans did nothing that important that quickly. Behind him, the Dezzirezz’hezz ambassador (female, probably, although hairless, with iridescent blue patterns over much of her skin) smirked as well.
It was thus that Etel found herself on a shuttle between a mechanic from Jersey and a famous rapper, bound for – well, bound for somewhere, at least, and somewhere that promised to be interesting.
The mechanic had introduced herself first. “Amy Colivanni. I fix imported cars. Think the Cortcheczians gonna need their oil changed?”
“Etelvina Escarrà. Friends call me Etel, and we might as well be friends. I’m a biologist from New York – upstate New York,” she added by reflex. “By the lake. I don’t know what they want.” Personally, she thought the translator had mangled “mechanical engineer”, but she wasn’t going to say that. “I think they want to make sure we understand them as best as possible, inside and out – and vice-versa.”
“Hunh. Well, they’re gonna get a fun picture, ain’t they? Hundred people picked in a rush.” She cracked her knuckles. “I already wanna see under the hood of this shuttle. I got a chance to look at Space Ship X once. That was a blast. This is absolutely nothing like this… and yet it’s a lot the same. You know?”
Etal nodded fervently. “Yeah.” She was having the same feeling about the Cortcheczocko and the Dezzirezz’hezz. They looked too human, too similar and too different. “Yeah, I know the feeling.” She wanted to get under their hoods, too.
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