Shock Follows Shock by David Macfie
The five Taurians were arranged with the tallest in the center. It was this individual that spoke. The voice was deep and gravelly, but the English was fluent and easily understood. The figure spoke quietly but all of the captives heard his words clearly.
“I am Komando-Ka, the commander of this vessel. You have surmised that all the members of my leader group are male and in this you are correct. On Taurus males and females have differing aptitudes and they develop their skills accordingly. In this we are quite different than Earth, but the distinction has not led to a society that has sexist attitudes as you will see. As an example, all our leading government officials are female, as are most of our civil service. Males tend to gravitate towards the sciences, exploration and the branches of the military.
My colleagues on my left are Romalu-Do, the chief navigations officer and Sandaro-Ji, the chief of medicine. On my right are Nunamo-Ge, who is chief of communications and Tipanapo-Zu, who is chief of operations.
Together we run the ship and command all other personnel on board. The ship only has ourselves and nine other Taurians, the rest of our compliment are robots such as Teacher and your personal trainers. Every member of my crew will answer questions that you might want to ask.”
Jamie raised his hand. Komando-Ka acknowledged him graciously.
“Ah, Jamie Calhoun, you have been elected as leader of this group, I have heard. What is your question?”
“I have three, if you will permit,” replied Jamie.
“First, why have you abducted humans for your planet reforming project? Second, why did you abduct us instead of approaching us and asking for our permission? Third, what, exactly, are your expectations of us. After all, I’m sure that your research into our species has shown you that we do not take well to being forced into things.”
“These are good questions, Jamie Calhoun and, yes, we are aware of the reactions that might be expected from you. We hope that by the time we reach Androm, we will have earned your full support in this endeavor. Why humans? I presume you meant instead of Taurians, rather than instead of other lifeforms, since I believe you have already been told that you were the first sentient lifeform we found that met our requirements.”
Jamie just nodded in confirmation and the commander continued.
“Taurians have several weaknesses that make them unfitted for this project. Our science is second to none and the reforming we can do, from a purely mechanical point of view. We will continue to do this work. But we are not good pioneers. We have a very stable culture that encourages conformance and peace. Over the generations that has stifled initiative and independence and fostered a fear of the unknown and a lack of drive. We recognized the qualities that would be needed for colonizing the new Androm and realized that we lacked them. Our plan is for Taurians to arrive on the new planet once the rough edges have been removed, so to speak. A second reason is that our numbers have dwindled due to a slowing reproduction rate, which we have not yet understood, so we dare not risk our own people for the more hazardous parts of the project. We believe humans fit our required profiles exceedingly well. Does that answer your first question?”
Jamie nodded again. “But I might want further clarification of your answer, later,’ he said.
“I’d be surprised if you didn’t,” replied Komando-Ka. “Now to your second question. We chose our approach for two main reasons. First, we didn’t want a drawn out negotiation with each of you. The project has become urgent because of certain threats to our home planet, which you will learn about later. It is possible that Taurus will become uninhabitable within two generations and we need to prepare Androm before the threats become reality. In that instance all Taurians must be migrated to Androm. If the threats do not materialize then we are still better off and we decided we needed to take the threats seriously. Our second reason was that we didn’t want to take the chance that you would refuse to leave Earth for the great unknown.”
“I can understand these reasons,” conceded Jamie. “But, I must say that I don’t believe they justified abduction. I think you would have been better served if the core of your pioneers were willing participants, who had been offered the courtesy of making up their own minds, with no duress. I must also point out that all of us have relatives and friends. We will miss them and they will miss us. They will also be frantically worried at our disappearance.”
“Your points are well made, Jamie Calhoun. We will arrange for you to communicate with these relatives and friends so that you can explain what has happened. We will also undertake to return those of you who wish to go back, after one of your years from the time of your arrival on Androm. Would that suffice?”
“I will discuss this with my team and get back to you with our answer,” offered, Jamie.
“Agreed. Your third question is more difficult. In short, we expect you to tame the planet within our modifications and any additional changes we agree between us. It must be made suitable for human colonization as well as Taurian refuge in the event that Taurus is wasted. Secondly we expect that you will breed as rapidly as you do on earth. That is why we brought you in pairs and why each pair will live together from tonight onwards.”
There was a hissing intake of breath from the humans. Jamie looked at them in turn. Each nodded to him and he understood that they shared his repulsion at this casual reduction of the group to the category of bloodstock.
“Komando-Ka, if you genuinely wish our support, treating us like a farm breeding herd is not a good way to do it. We may, very well, decide to have children but it will not be as a result of a decision by you that we were not consulted on. I only met Jenny a few days ago, so for us, at least, such a decision is vastly premature. Also, you cannot expect us to bring children into a world that may kill us all.”
“We can ensure that children arrive,” replied the commander, in a tone that clearly said he was not pleased. We can use various forms of insemination that do not involve sexual congress.”
This elicited another hissing intake of breath. Jamie could hear the shock and anger engendered by the commander’s words.
“I really wouldn’t attempt that, if I were you,” growled Jamie, in a voice that spoke volumes without the words needing to be uttered.
Komando-Ka looked surprised and a little daunted at the clear threat in Jamie’s words. He made another mistake with his next words.
“You are in no position to make threats,” he replied, in tone that said Jamie should really shut up now. Jamie surprised him again.
“On the contrary,” he said. “It is you who are in no position to make threats of punishment or of forced impregnation. We have little to lose as things stand now. Any chance you may have of gaining our acceptance and support, depends on you treating us as equals who are helping you with a challenge you do not feel capable of handling by yourself. Perhaps you need to remember that when we talk again. I’m done for today and I’m hungry so I am declaring this meeting closed.”
He got to his feet and offered Jenny his arm. She took it without hesitation and the others followed suit. Jamie led them out, leaving the Taurians, standing, open-mouthed behind them.