OldEarth Ishtar Encounter
We Still Have Free Will
In OldEarth Ishtar Encounter, an alien exchange covers romance and family relationships. It takes a personal approach to really understand anyone.
Zuri hated emotional chaos. He clumped to the base of the cave and plunked down on a rock. Propping his head on one hand, he stared at the creek rippling by.
A squirrel hippity-hopped along the water’s edge, then scrambled in the dirt, discovered a half-buried nut, and leaped forward. It dug furiously. A darker squirrel scampered from behind, chuckled, and sent the first squirrel, humpbacked, straight into the air.
Zuri laughed. “So, little quadrupeds, who’s stealing from whom?”
Ark meandered forward, rubbed his bulbous eyes in the bright light, and harrumphed. “Not me. Certainly.”
Zuri peered over his shoulder, one eyebrow rising. “You’d think we were all planning to kill each other the way Sienna acts.” He rubbed his neck. “I wish Sterling would send her back to Lux.”
“He would if Teal would let him. Ungle would love to end her searing glares.”
“She’s only mad because he shot at her.”
“Yeah, but she never actually got shot—whereas Ungle—” Zuri dropped his gaze and sighed.
“You didn’t know.” Ark wrapped his tentacles across his lap. “Ungle justified his actions under the Crestonian rule of law—extreme measures are acceptable in the pursuit of knowledge.” He shrugged. “Hardly Sienna’s chosen creed.”
Zuri shifted and clasped his hands. “Are females on Crestar as…you know—?”
“I was going to say unpredictable. On Ingle, our girls are raised so much like the boys, that we’re almost interchangeable. They’re as strong as we are and have all the same technological advantages. There was a time when our race almost did away with sex types altogether.”
Ark’s eyes rounded. “You don’t say? I never read that.”
“It’s not one of our happier chapters. We almost killed each other.”
He prodded Ark. “Like when Crestar did all that cloning—”
“Miserable affair.” Ark lifted a tentacle as if reciting a pledge. “Mutations are our salvation.” He chuckled. “How could we have been so naive?”
Zuri wiped his face and slipped off his helmet.
Ark nearly fell backward. “Oh, seamuck! I didn’t know you could do that. I thought you were losing your head.”
Zuri ran his fingers over the blond fuzz crowing his cranium. “I’m trying to grow hair.” He looked around. “Don’t tell anyone.”
“Why? For darkness’ sake, your race advanced beyond body hair ages ago.”
His gaze darting to the cave entrance, Zuri practically tiptoed to Ark’s side. He dropped his voice to a whisper. “There’s this Ingot woman—”
Ark frowned. “I thought you said there’s little discernible difference?”
“I said interchangeable—in respect to our professional life.” He sucked in a deep breath. “When it comes to our personal life…there’s a big difference. Trust me.”
Ark nudged him playfully, his smooth eyebrows waggling. “You like her?”
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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