Chuck stood there for a moment, then turned to Chief Peterson. “Brian, leave all your weapons here and come with me, I think we should go meet them.” He turned to Lieutenant Lorraine Albright and said “You too. We need a linguist. You do have your translator, don’t you?” when she nodded, he told her to disarm too, then took off his own weapons and carefully laid them on the ground.
Peterson stared at him a moment. “Captain, are you sure? They are armed, we could be killed without warning.”
“Yes, we could, and then they would be wiped out, wouldn’t they? I feel that they are too intelligent to do anything that stupid. All we have seen of them has indicated that they are peaceful. Let’s give them a chance.”
Brian sighed, and proceeded to divest himself of his weapons, placing them carefully on the ground. By the time he was finished, there was quite a pile. Brian was fond of weapons, and always carried quite an arsenal. “Ok, Captain, I’m ready.” He said. Chuck looked at he pile of weapons and laughed, shaking his head. He looked at Lorraine, saw that she had removed her weapons, and said “Yeah, Brian. Ok, let’s go,” he said, and started walking forward.
They watched the aliens as they went, and saw that three of them were laying down their weapons, too. They did resemble asparagus spears, but amazingly supple ones. The bent at the waist, and could turn from side to side just the same as humans did. Their legs were flexible, but not as much so as human legs. There was some bend at knee and ankle but their gait was stiffer, though no slower. The head area was slightly wider than the body, tapering up to a point at the top, with a crest of growth like the leaves of carrots.
The eyes were longer than they were wide, and a very deep green. There was a loose flap where a nose would be, and a wide, thin lipped mouth. The head could turn from shoulder to shoulder, or where shoulders would be, and when one turned his head, Chuck could see a flap on the side that appeared to be attached at the top and back, possibly ears. By this time, the two small groups had reached each other, stopping with only a couple of feet between them.
Chuck smiled and held up one hand. “Hello, we come in peace,” he said, and winced at the triteness, but couldn’t think of anything else to say. I am Charles Matthews, Captain, and this is Chief Petty Officer Brian Peterson, and Lorraine Albright,” indicating each in turn.
The tallest alien gave a slight bow of its head, held up a hand and said something. The language was tonal, with some birdlike twittering, and some clicking. Actually it was rather pleasant to hear. Chuck knew Lorraine would need more than that, so he turned slightly and pointed to the lander.
“We come from Earth, a planet that is fifty light years away. Our main ship has gone on. We did not know this planet was inhabited when it left us, or we would not have been dropped off. It will be many years before the ship returns and we can’t live in space in the lander that long, so we were forced to land. We will try to interfere with your people as little as possible.”
The tall alien looked to his companions and then answered. He waved his arm and, with the others, sang a harmonic chord, moving his arm in a large sweeping gesture, as though indicating the whole world. Next, he touched himself as he sang he something that sounded like notes of a scale “Somela,”. Then he turned and pointed to the others. Touching the first, he sang “Dofaso”, turned and pointed to the other singing “Raylado” the do this time a higher note. Then he turned to Chuck, and said something, pointing at him and shook his head. Pointing at Brian, he said something more, and sang “Terayso”, looking at Chuck and then Brian, to see if they understood.
“Ah,” Chick said. He turned to Brian “Yes, my name doesn’t fit the scale, but they could take part of Peterson and give you a name.” He turned back to Somela and nodded. Placing a hand on Brian’s shoulder, he sang as well as he could “Terayso”, and they both nodded. Somela smiled, pointed at Lorraine singing “Loray”
Chuck nodded again, and made motions of invitation. “Come into our camp and sit for a while.” He turned to Lorraine. “How goes it, do you have enough to make up translators for everyone?”
“For a limited vocabulary, yes, but I can only make about a dozen right away. I’ll go start that while you get them settled. Once I have one replicated, you can have this one. It won’t take more than half an hour. She scooted off at a run.
Somela beckoned to the rest of his group. They picked up all the weapons, and came down into the camp. Cadet Fredrick Farnsworth gasped and said “Hey, they’re carrying picnic coolers!” Chuck looked, and saw that two pairs were carrying what looked just like big picnic coolers. “Hmmm, wonder what’s in there?” he murmured.