The movies got it wrong. This boring mid-level thought kept coming back over and over as Jeff scanned the seats full of concern and worry. Theirs and his. Being in a bar full of aliens was not a fantastic experience. It sucked.
The Universe wasn't doing well. At least, that's how he interpreted the news stories. He'd catch glimpses of news as he pounded the pavement looking for work. It's like they don't understand that people don't have time to listen to your narrative when you've messed up their life. They are busy dealing with what you did to them. A planet facing its very first resource depletion, already in peril due to the incompetence of its leaders, wasn't even paying attention to the stories about
the holes in the sky.
His habit of looking at his feet while walking did him huge disservice. Just, this time instead walking into a thirty-nine year old CPA from Greensborough, it was a forming puddle of entangled condensate. The "holes" on TV that they theorized "might show up in our solar system" were here. "Wormholes are something else they got wrong." he thought out loud. This made his "company" more irritable. Humans weren't avoided only because humans couldn't handle it.
Nearby races of beings simply couldn't deal with humans at all. The human tendency toward selfishness was feared and respected. That a race of beings would develop with such evolved psychological and emotional attack abilities was terrifying, thought Rel. He quietly re-positioned himself on his own stool, several feet from Jeff.
Rel's race had experimented on a captured child. Ten of his kind were killed when put into a despondent state when the child cried. The child killing them without caring. Crying harder, threatening to kill more. When humans got older and got control of their emotions, they were much less deadly, but even the eldest might prove deadly if provoked. Some races could be killed if humans simply spoke loudly. This human did not. You could tell he was one of their downtrodden. Probably harmless.
But never totally.
In his own culture's human fiction, the key aspect of them highlighted was their high gravity adaptation. In their version of horror, it was the humans finding them. Somehow achieving the travel technology without his people noticing. Waves of humans with their insane kinetic weapons, thrusting their arms straight through his kind and slicing them. Eating them like savages. Lennur faces on shiny human packaging. Then the human just start fucking everywhere, making billions of themselves in moments. Showing off their mating rituals with pride while taking selfies. The stories end with the humans winning.
Sure, they were fans of the high gravity animals. The birds were all very popular as were the dolphins and tigers. But every Lennur child grew up with some sort of "human action playset". The crazy humans. When would they blow themselves up? No agreement had to be made, and no treaty signed when outside races slowly started making their own zoos full of the Earth animals they'd miss.
Thankfully, Len was finally on shift. She had used her time off to work on her garden module. She loved growing fresh vegetables. She was an "accepted human", and displayed the final aspect of humans that was intriguing. Some of them were very good people.
Len noticed that the skyboy was finally down from the ceiling and rushed to where he was. Jeff noticed an attractive woman coming toward him rapidly, all excited and mentally prepared himself for some "wow another human!" encounter. Instead she pushed something under the bar, and he and the area behind the bar were bathed in a blue light.
Rel watched it all. Somehow in the vast ocean of them, were examples that displayed a total lack of selfish nature. The most exemplary, not even feigning ignorance to avoid responsibility. Amongst his own people, a human was allowed to be a scientist. He wondered what it would be like with Len. If he could even interest a human woman. Some of them were also very pretty.
"My name is Len. The blue light is two overlapping fields of blue lasers that disrupt kinetic energy in the air. That's why I'm leaning in to talk. If I back up just a foot....." her voice trailed out as she leaned back. She leaned back in and smiled.
"You are a miracle. We had to bug Jasher to ask what to do." said Len. "We got one of the condensate puddles on the ceiling. You started dripping out of it about a week ago. Jasher set you to auto-orient on that stool and said to wait and time would catch back up to you."
"Where am I?" asked Jeff. Len leaned in "come again?". This time he really looked at her. Jeff had problems looking at intimidatingly pretty women. She picked up on this and smiled. "You think I'm pretty. I'm hard to look at?" she asked. He nodded. Her smile beamed huge. "I forgot how this feels. Well, hang out and talk with me and get used to being around me." said Len. "You look like a guinness man." she said and put one in front of him. He hadn't noticed her pour it. He was a guinness man.
"So, where you are is a moment off from the rest of the Universe, in orbit around your planet. This is a restaurant owned by what you'd think of as a higher being."
Turns out that great food is loved by every race of beings.
"Humans are important in every sector they form because they are huge process generators, and typically massive negative energy centers. Because of that a torus of dark matter always forms around places like your Earth for example. Because it's almost artificial in nature, an effect happens where a certain distance from you, the exact opposite effect can be taken advantage of. So a ring of advanced races start taking up space around the populations of humans in each Universe, a certain distance away and experience tremendous luck and growth. They take advantage of your ignorance of the Universal intent system basically. That's a lot. Take that in and I'll get you a menu."
Jeff took it in. It wasn't too hard to understand but still surprising. The part he had a question about was all the plurals in relation to humans. "Humans?" was all he had to say. He was about to ask more but she cut him off.
"Humans happen a lot. The Universe repeats itself a lot. It would be a lot less efficient otherwise. I happened tens of thousands of years ago about three hundred light years from here. It's weird how quickly you get the local systems in your head when you work with people from them every day. Something similar to what happened to you, happened to me. I didn't end up in orbit though. I ended up a place called Parthagon. But it doesn't exist in this Universe yet apparently. Which sucks. Awesome place." said Len and produced another guinness from thin air with no pour, and sat it in front of Jeff. There's so much he needed to know. She picked up on this.
"We still have time to talk. The world isn't ending for a little bit. We can watch it safe from up here. Jasher says you've been here long enough that you won't get taken when it goes. That's why you are a miracle. He'll be back to figure out why you are."
"Are what?" asked Jeff.
"At all". said Len and smiled. Jeff gave up. She liked his eyes. She liked his honest awkward facial expressions. She liked that he was a man and not a sophisticated sex robot from Zeta4. She was trying not to dwell on this as that was selfish. She liked that he didn't keep back and forth's going. He let her win instantly. Very mature. Being around Jasher and his friends had definitely rubbed off on her. It involved picking apart every new encounter, but was balanced by deep appreciation.
But not for humans. Not usually. You could become very critical of your own kind after seeing many examples. The restaurant would move, galaxy to galaxy, Universe to Universe at times. She had seen enough.
"How old are you?" asked Jeff.
"It doesn't work that way when there's nothing to age you." said Len. I have no idea how "old" I am now. I'll ask Jasher. He'll be here soon." said Len.
(no, I haven't forgotten about the other story. I had a great idea and I've been rewriting the next part over and over like some lunatic. I swear I'm not drinking or moving to the keys. Just having an old man and the sea moment. This one popped in my head last night. I have the whole thing but halfway through, decided to double it. Here's part 1. Part 2 will tie it up neatly. Yes it's a little bit of a love story. Blame the pixies. They've been in my playlists a lot.)