] Borlian Aligned Tribes - Homeworld
“So what am I to expect?” Hiram asked as he and Munin climbed into the jumpcar.
“I should think it would be similar to ‘meeting the family’ among your own culture,” Munin said tapping on the controls to set the vehicle into motion.
Hiram considered this. It was very much true that in older Terran culture that prospective suitors of both sexes would be brought to meet the family, but such ‘traditions’ largely died with the Nuclear War and the re-establishment of humanity from Luna, and eventually Mars. Suitors in human culture were, during those times, subjected more to genetic scrutiny so as to ensure greater population growth without genomic issues. Not so much anymore, what with the re-establishment of Terra and the multitude of colonies, such that humanity was sufficiently numerous that genetic diversity was a minimal enough problem.
“Where did you happen to determine that practice?” Hiram asked.
“An old documentary I believe, by the name of ‘Gentlebeings Prefer Females of Light-Colored Hair’,” Munin said, sitting back as the car began to pilot through the local city streets and headed for the countryside.
“I shouldn’t think that’s especially accurate these days. A more accurate equivalent would be an introduction to a human’s regular social group and the resulting integration,” Hiram said, sitting back a bit.
“That would make sense, I suppose. Although, I should think you were integrated into our social group before we became strengthmates,” Munin said, before taking a sort of long inhalation.
“True, but I would not have particularly predicted our strengthmateship when we were first introduced either,” Hiram said, watching people and surroundings outside the jumpcar with some interest.
“We have about 30 minutes before we’ll arrive and you still smell of Tyk-Tak fruit,” Munin said, reaching over and grasping Hiram’s clothing.
The Borlian gestator saw on the monitor to their territory the approaching jumpcar with Munin’s credentials. She was surprised that her littermate was arriving so soon after the trials, but supposed that this may be one of the few times within their time table for her and her human strengthmate to commune with others of the bloodline. The visual ports of the jumpcar appeared to be blocked however and the jumpcar moving on automatic.
She and the rest of the group, including the elder, had watched the trials, as had many other Borlians. It was only right to be witness to the humans’ success or failure. Apparently, many had anticipated the humans to fail to reach trial of wisdom, so the broadcasts were filled with speculation and after-action reviews of the humans’ performances, going into great detail about each of the trials and exactly what it was believed it meant in how the humans were able to conquer each challenge with apparent ease.
There were of course great criticisms being spun by different Borlians, most especially on the trial of wisdom, and especially within the household group as well, but the humans had been admitted to present their petition, whatever it happened to be, to the Council and if the Council had accepted the humans as having demonstrated wisdom, then it seemed that these humans might have something to them after all, to say nothing of their apparent durability and strength.
The elder remained highly skeptical throughout the trials, going so far as to mumble that the Council must have weakened the trials for the humans, only to be almost immediately shouted down by the geneseed carriers that such an accusation and such an act would only serve to demean the petitioner process and even if the elder wanted to believe otherwise, the humans had completed one of the most severe set of trials witnessed in recent history. The elder had been clearly put off by this, but had kept any further related comments strictly to themselves. The gestator had considered all of this as well as what she knew of her littermate and their strengthmate.
The human who had stood back during the trial of wisdom must be the indicated strengthmate, since, according to her littermate, he was a junior to the other human. Upon inspection, such as could be done only in a limited fashion via the broadcast, the strengthmate did not seem to be especially notable, so their performance in the trials did most of the speaking. In the trial of strength, the humans’ apparent lack of effort involved in supporting themselves under the increased gravity was almost astounding. And even though the other human had consumed three whole Tyk-Tak fruits, the strengthmate had at least consumed an entire one without apparent effort.
And the humans didn’t even really seem fazed by the trial of Dewbra, which struck the gestator as perhaps a sort of indicator. Normally, a Borlian might go into the early stages of heat exhaustion in the hot chamber, semi-hibernative in the cold chamber, lose consciousness in the low oxygen chamber, be battered around the chamber in high winds, or feel their skin start to discolor under the intense light. But these humans seemed to simply move from chamber to chamber, apparently noting the effects, but seemingly unchallenged by it. It made the gestator question just what manner of homeworld these humans came from such that they could easily and readily tolerate such effects as though they were of no concern.
The jumpcar could be heard arriving outside the residence, its engine rather distinct. The gestator looked out of the nearest window and noted that the viewports were still dark, preventing visibility inside. Moving through the house to the primary portal, the gestator stepped out, accompanied by the younger, more curious, geneseed carrier. Together, they approached the vehicle, which was still darkened.
“Who has come to see us?” the younger geneseed carrier asked.
“The credentials on the roadway indicated that it was my littermate,” the gestator said before tapping on the viewing port with a digit.
Some muffled noise could be heard from within the car, including what sounded like a strange, clearly non-Borlian voice talking an equally strange speech. The jumpcar’s doors opened a moment later and Munin and Hiram exited the vehicle. It didn’t take much examination by the gestator to realize that Munin and Hiram appeared rather… rumpled and perhaps not as ready to have arrived as perhaps they might otherwise have been. Being fair, the gestator couldn’t fault Munin wholly. A strengthmate who had just consumed an entire Tyk-Tak fruit would be very hard to resist.
“Greetings, littermate, I have arrived with my strengthmate,” Munin rumbled in Borlian Standard.
“Welcome to my group’s residence. We are honored by your presence,” the gestator rumbled back.
“You might have given us some warning,” the younger geneseed carrier rumbled, rather impolitely.
“I do apologize for our intrusion, but I did not know when else my strengthmate and I would have the opportunity to visit, pending the disposition of our petition,” Munin said, still speaking in Borlian Standard.
“We welcome the opportunity to commune with your strengthmate and find his measure,” the gestator said, giving the younger geneseed carrier a small slap with a lower arm. “Can your strengthmate speak Borlian Standard?”
“He cannot, not as we do, but if we may converse in Collective Standard, it should be adequate,” Munin said.
The gestator frowned.
“The elder of our group does not enjoy the sounds of Collective Standard,” the gestator warned.
“Would their wisdom prevent them from communing with a strengthmate simply because of a matter of speech?” Munin pushed back.
The gestator was a bit surprised. Her littermate was not normally so… aggressive. It was simply not a standard part of their joint bloodline. She took a long inhalation. Ah, there it is. The strengthmate smelled heavily still of Tyk-Tak fruit and her littermate smelled heavily of exertion pheromones. It was quite clear to the gestator (and any Borlian with an adequate sense of smell) that her littermate was rather… buoyed by their encounter with their strengthmate. The strengthmate on the other hand looked… not confused, but perhaps ill-at-ease was the right estimation the gestator could make of that expression. The gestator turned to the strengthmate.
“We welcome you to our residence,” the gestator rumbled in Collective Standard.
“I appreciate your welcome and your company,” Hiram replied.
“Do you bear a name?” the gestator asked.
“I am Hiram Rickover, but it should simply be stated as Hiram,” Hiram said, since he’d never quite gotten the hang of Borlian naming convention.
“We do not bear names in Collective speech equivalents,” the younger geneseed carrier stated, eyeing Hiram.
Munin looked between her littermate, the geneseed carrier, and Hiram. It wouldn’t do for Hiram to be unable to adequately address them, but at the same time, for no longer than they would be present, it did not serve for Hiram to provide them with Collective or human equivalent names.
“Will they be offended if I do not refer to them by name?” Hiram asked Munin in Terran Standard.
“Normally, it might be a problem, but at the same time, this is something of a… unique situation,” Munin admitted.
“Well, we’ll just have to fumble our way through then,” Hiram said, smiling and moving to stand beside Munin and taking one of her lower hands in his own.
Munin smiled. It wasn’t the carefree way that Mac tended to operate, relative to Borlian culture, nor was it the stuffy, procedure laden methods of Borlian purist culture. It was simply a kind of adaptability that made Hiram so fitted to being a good strengthmate. He clearly favored procedure when he was able to rely upon it, but did not fail to bypass it when it became a clear and unwarranted obstacle.
Munin did have to admit to herself, if only for a moment, that her feelings for Hiram were a bit clouded at the moment, but those clouds only seemed to intensify her feelings for him, rather than to dull her perceptions.
The gestator looked at the pair. If nothing else, they appeared to be quite happy and at the very least, this Hiram looked rather stronger than they had appeared on the broadcast. And some parts of the gestator were noticing the presence of the Tyk-Tak smell. The geneseed carrier didn’t seem to notice though, their face still wrinkled with a sort of concentration.
“We should be having a meal shortly, but there should be adequate time to allow you to commune with the elder and others of our group,” the gestator suggested, gesturing towards the residence.
“We most graciously accept,” Munin replied. So far, this was going smoother than anticipated.
The introductions with the elder and the older geneseed carrier was relatively smooth, despite the elder’s apparent dislike for the use of Collective Standard. The elder had a few questions for Hiram about humans, but nothing that Munin found to be especially noteworthy. There was a question by the older geneseed carrier as to Munin’s and Hiram’s group future, as Hiram was just a strengthmate by Borlian culture, and a successful bloodline needed to be continued. Munin didn’t appear to have an answer for this and looked supremely uncomfortable.
“It is not strictly by the strength of our bloodlines that we continue, but also in the wisdom that we are able to provide to others that we live beyond the end of our days,” Hiram said. He’d been working on it, anticipating this sort of question, but still not quite satisfied that he understood Borlian culture enough for the meaning to translate properly.
This seemed to satisfy the elder though. The older geneseed carrier appeared a bit displeased at this response, but did not state any open complaint. Munin expected as much from a geneseed carrier. They tended to be very… opinionated on the subject of bloodline continuation, especially their own. Munin, like most gestators, considered it to be an important part of society, but not as a sole means of contribution. Unfortunately, this was still something of a radical position to take, so it was typically kept quiet unless directly addressed.
Munin’s littermate had returned to them at that point with the younger geneseed carrier and announced the meal period.
Some distance away, at the temporary residence where the group was staying, Mac and Oorak lounged in a hot tub.
“How do you think Hiram is doing?” Oorak asked.
“He’s better with Borlian culture than I am, so he’s probably fine,” Mac said, his eyes shut and simply soaking up the warmth of the water.
“He is doing the equivalent of pulling her out of the Borlian bloodline pool with her coming with him,” Oorak cautioned.
“I know, and I know he knows. He and Munin have had several discussions on the subject. It’s not exactly an easy consideration for either of them,” Mac said, opening one of his eyes just enough to look over at Oorak, who was only half-way in the tub, lest she become heat-drunk.
“And?” Oorak asked, sipping on the equivalent of a virgin margarita.
“And a lot of it depends on how our alliance pans out. If there’s an alliance, maybe after he rotates out of this role, they can see about a familial grouping. Otherwise, it might just be our grouping. Would that be so bad?” Mac commented.
“I suppose not. As long as they keep their smelly fruits to themselves,” Oorak said with a small pause between sentences.
“I wouldn't be sure it’s them you need to worry about with the smelly fruits,” Mac said, grinning.
Oorak rolled her eyes and took another sip of her margarita.