2011.05.13 "You Know What I Don't Understand?"

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"You know what I don't understand?"

"Trans-reality portals." That's sounded pleasantly matter-of-fact of me.

"What makes you assume that?" The Orbodun's throat has been sufficiently repaired that I can detect the inflection of amusement in its voice.

Opening my eyes, overlaying the view from the external ship sensors with my personal perspective, I cast what I like to think is a level gaze at the bear-like mammal. "Because if you did, I doubt you'd waste your time with a slaver operation."

It's furry face crinkles in an expression of benevolence I could never duplicate, and shakes a long claw at me. "We're a little too similar, you and I."

I say nothing, but fail to repress a grin. The Orbodun probably thinks I find its comment amusing, but really I just realized that I myself was wasting time with a slaver operation and familiarity with trans-reality portals is the hub of my drama. Whatever; is ironic.

"You know, to most species, we probably appear physically quite similar as well."

That takes me aback somewhat. "You're shitting me."

Again with the radiant aura of benevolence. "Largish. Snouted. Hunched, and semi-quadruped. Pointy ears. Tiny eyes. Claws on our appendages. Vestigial tails. Furry."

"Furry? Dude, I am not furry."

It shrugs. "Well, you're not exactly bald-skinned either. It could appear similar to some."

"Yeah - I don't think so. Beings that consider soft fluffy fur somewhat similar to razor-sharp spines are not ones whose perspective I care about." The Orbodun is about to counter with another comment that it clearly has already prepared, but I forestall it by continuing. "And I don't merely have claws; I have talons. Your ears wobble amusingly, but mine articulate. Your eyes are small due to being secondary senses, while mine only appear small due to being well-protected. And all this adds up to something significant: you're fundamentally cuddly and most beings instinctively want to trust you. I'm the opposite."

The Orbodun gingerly strokes two claws down its snout, clearly enjoying our exchange. "OK, then. That actually still fits in with my earlier thesis: we're similar. I'm somewhat cuddly, as you suggest, but it conceals the fact that I'm capable of being a dangerous slaver. Just like you're prickly, but that conceals the fact that you're essentially trustworthy. We both use the cloak of our appearance, even though it may be for opposite purposes, and ultimately we exist very proximate to each other in philosophical space."

I take a deep breath. "I can agree with that, mostly. And I think it probably answers your question."

"It does?" It's nostrils flare. "You were hiding! That's why a combatant as powerful as you was slumming as a mere goon for a half-hearted slaver - because it's perfect camouflage for you."

Now I unleash a cruel smile while I wait for the Orbodun's considerable intellect to crash into the obvious question: what sort of horror was I hiding from? It's funny to watch. And suggests that I should try to lure it into a poker game or something.