A fragment from Rada’s days with the Adamantine Division Scouts . . .
“Hey, Hairball, what’s ‘at?” Captain Aison Ugawi called, pointing to the strangely shaped case the humanoid carried on her back.
“Loot,” Captain Ni Drako barked.
The insectoid female didn’t take offense at her associate’s curt reply, although she was a little worried. Col. Adamski didn’t have many unbreakable or unbendable rules, but not looting without orders was one of them. Aison waited until the mammal emerged from her bay-bunk to ask, “Authorized?”
“Affirmative. Major Gupta signed it off and it’s logged.” The mammal took a long drink of water and rolled her shoulders.
That was that, then, as far as the other officer was concerned. Her short antennae did curl when Ni Drako continued, “Oh, and Major Keetak is upgrading the supply software at midnight local time.”
“Oh no. No, no, no, please tell me you’re rubbin’ my proboscis t’ get a reaction.”
The mammal shook her head. “Wish I was, Aison. He says he got all the problems worked out and his people developed better forms for us to use. More streamlined, he says.” She drank more water. “Yori, Ak’sloor and I downloaded as much of the old stuff as we can manage. You might want to— ” The iridescent black Noogaro was already on her feet and heading for the computer bank.
Rada went back to her semi-private bay and opened the case she’d carried in. No one else had wanted it once they’d seen what it was, but Rada’s curiosity had gotten the better of her (again). She’d used the trip back from the mission to find out more about the thing and she thought she had a pretty good idea what one did with it, and how. Everything she’d read had been very insistent about one thing in particular and Rada made certain that her nails were just a bit longer than her fingertips. That checked, and so she pulled the wood and metal instrument out of the box and sat on the edge of her bunk, then put the thing in her lap. The hollow box part rested against her shoulder and she reached around the frame awkwardly, then very carefully brushed one of the wires. She both heard and felt the result and even un-tuned the instrument sounded lovely.
The felinoid did not have a good ear for pitches. She also didn’t know how much pressure the sound box could take, or the curved wood where the wires attached at the top of the thing, so she did not try to bring it into tune just then. Instead she ran her nails over the different wires, getting used to the feel. It did not take much pressure on the wires for the little wooden thing to make a lot of noise, Rada discovered. After a few minutes she carefully set it on the floor and checked the other things in the case. There were more wires, some pages with what she assumed was musical notation of some form, a tool that matched the end of the pegs the wires attached to, and a small, flat, carved wooden disk about four centimeters across. It was pretty, but the soldier had no idea what it meant or did and she just put it back into the little slot for it in the side of the carrying box. The instrument went in too, and after making a place for the thing in a corner of her bay, Capt. Ni Drako went back to seeing how much of her squad’s documentation she could salvage, in case Major Keetak’s upgrades crashed the system (again.)
(C) Alma T.C. Boykin 2014. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or re-posting with permission and proper attribution is prohibited.