Thirty full years had passed. During this time tremendous changes had taken place in the life of the planet Roonya. Additional large space stations were built, and many new medicines had been discovered. Some countries had lost their independence, while other nations had gained theirs. Environmental pollution had increased. In certain countries the living standards had improved significantly, while others had sunk so deep into poverty that parents openly and without shame offered their daughters to sex tourists, for they would otherwise have starved to death.
As far as the human problem was concerned, big changes were taking place there.
Trinci still seemed to be young for a researcher because she was only sixty years old; in fact not only was she a young researcher, but also a young woman, for in the hekir society a thirty year-old woman was barely an adult, who had just grown out of her teens. Trinci’s mother, Brixi, had recently celebrated her hundredth birthday, and even she wasn’t considered old, not at all, just middle-aged, in fact she was only just beginning middle-age. Actually, Trinci’s grandmother was also alive and kicking, who was middle-aged too—albeit among the older of them—and even Trinci’s great-grandmother still lived, who was genuinely elderly, but by no means a helpless old woman. Trinci’s great-great grandmother would still have been living had she not passed on recently, although in hekir terms she was not extremely old. In a sense she died young. As can be seen from this, it was completely natural in the hekir society for many generations to live concurrently in a family.
However only the mothers. The concept of ‘father’ did exist in their society, but only the bloodline of the mother was in the record system, and the father did not live together with the mother after mating. He remained only until she had laid her egg. (Hekirs laid only one egg on each occasion, and twin pregnancies rarely occurred). Until the hekir female had given birth, it was recommended that she did not perform strenuous work. Instead the father did these tasks. But after the birth there was no particular need for the father, because the eggs didn’t have to be incubated; they were able to hatch themselves within a fairly wide temperature range, between ten and forty degrees Celsius, although they could even endure zero degree temperatures for a short time.
So Trinci wasn’t really old at all, but up to this point she had sacrificed a significant part of her life for the human project.
The Human Profit Corporation had a number of successes, but at least as many failures too. For example, the breeding of warrior humans succeeded. Though it turned out they were not only strong, but also aggressive, so much so that it was completely impossible to use them for any purpose other than battle, and they even bit their own caregivers if they could. Moreover, in this human population the females were equally aggressive, even if they were a little weaker.
The breeding of humans with large penises also succeeded. Unfortunately these humans wanted to have sex not only when their owner desired it, but practically all the time. For this reason these men were only good for porn films, but impractical as pets in the house of a hekir woman, because every time they tried this it turned out that the hekir woman could simply not oppose the much stronger human male, and was obliged to constantly have sex with him. And if she strongly resisted then the human would bite her, or even kill her. There was a case in which there was a hekir woman, who ran a kind of pet shop that specialized in the sale of human males. These humans were of course held in strong chains, but somehow one of them managed to break loose, and there in the middle of the shop before everybody’s eyes, he raped the manager and did not cease until they shot him.
The breeding of the short-statured humans succeeded beyond their expectations, in the short run. Then again, it turned out that although they were small—they managed to breed humans as light as ten kilograms in weight—they were also much more stupid than the average human, probably because they had a smaller brain. Consequently, they were great at climbing trees, and hardly wanted to come down once they were up there, but unfortunately it was nearly impossible to train them. For example they were not willing to collect fruit unless they were devouring it themselves; however afterwards they just gamboled on top of the trees, from where the hekirs could barely reach them. At any rate, when they did pick the fruit, it was just thrown down erratically rather than put into the basket, and most of these they had even gnawed into. So in the end they were only useful as pets.
As for the breeding of ornamental humans, this project was the most successful because they had managed to produce females whose hair was incredibly diverse in color and length. These females had hair running not just down to their bottoms, but to the ground, in fact even longer hair had been achieved. Some were also created with blonde, red, green and blue hair… even white hair, although these ones weren’t really marketable, because they were too similar to elderly humans.
They had even managed to breed humans who were totally hairless. These humans were not greatly sought after, but some hekirs with a more peculiar taste had a desire for precisely these kind, and were willing to pay large sums of money for them, probably due to their low maintenance. However their health was much more fragile. It turned out that humans were basically immune to almost every hekir illness, and were very resistant in general, but they were particularly susceptible to the common cold, presumably because they came from a warmer climate. In any case, the Human Profit Corporation soon came out with humans who had a variety of different hair and even eye colors, thanks to Trinci, and from these a great profit was made. Of course Trinci also gained from the profits and became quite wealthy from this, being able to purchase a luxurious house of considerable size.
Unfortunately, a few years ago the Human Breeder Corporation had produced their own ornamental humans, and in addition they somehow managed to not only solve the problem of creating long and multi-colored hair, but also giving their females extraordinarily large eyes. The Human Profit Corporation also attempted this, but for some reason it didn’t succeed. Yet it seemed that customers preferred the humans with big eyes. In fact, human males were also more willing to mate with females who had bigger eyes. And this was not all either. For although the Human Profit Corporation had successfully bred large-headed humans whose skulls ossified belatedly, the Human Breeder Corporation had also achieved this.
It is true however, that neither corporation had yet managed to create intelligent humans. Undoubtedly the larger-brained humans did seem smarter in a vague sense, for example, they were slightly easier to train, but none of them were even able to learn the four fundamental operations, in fact they already had trouble with numbers greater than ten. But this was not surprising, because they couldn’t speak yet either. Then again, the more intelligent the human, the greater their inclination and ability to escape was, so it was necessary to keep a close watch over them.
Essentially because of the larger-eyed human females, the Human Breeder Corporation was one step ahead of Trinci’s company, and the Human Profit Corporation was only able to remain in operation—and they had no idea of the reason for it—due to the fact that their breeding culture somehow formed humans that were slightly more placid and obedient. Well, not so placid that they would dare risk leading their human on the street without a muzzle and handcuffs, but it was a big achievement to even be able to lead them at all, since this was impossible with the humans of the Human Breeder Corporation. Namely for some strange reason they began to kick wildly all of a sudden, and the kick of a human—even if it is small or playful—can break several hekir bones at once. Although if it was a more powerful kick, even a very strong hekir could be killed by it. The humans of the Human Profit Corporation very rarely kicked, and usually did so only if they were deliberately annoyed.
Trinci herself didn’t have the faintest idea why their humans were easygoing; she assumed it was just random luck, simply because long ago they had created their breeding population from a group of gentler individuals. Anyway it didn’t matter why, this was good publicity for them, and due to this trait many hekirs—if they were apprehensive—purchased these humans as pets, even if they didn’t have very big eyes. It was for this reason alone that they didn’t go bankrupt as the Human Breeder Corporation rose up beside them.
Even so, their president was very worried, and more than once urged Trinci to finally produce the HS, because that would be the real sensation. And then the Human Breeder Corporation would no longer stand a chance.
“I don’t know if I can do anything for the time being,” said Trinci, shrugging her shoulders, “because as far as brain size is concerned, the weight of my humans’ brains have already reached the weight of an adult hekir’s brain, in fact, by now they are a good two hundred grams heavier, so it seems that there are no obstacles to them being intelligent, and after sufficient learning they could be geniuses. But for some reason this isn’t working with them. I, as a psychologist, can see that the problem is their inability to communicate. And I’m afraid that without communication there is simply no intelligence. All our evidence points to this. I am not a genetic engineer, Boss. I have some knowledge of genetics, but this is not my specialty, however here everything depends on geneticists. Because if we fail to produce humans who are able to transmit and receive radio waves, then they can never learn our language, and they’ll never become intelligent. Surely the human has a distinct disadvantage in this area, as they don’t have any organ that is capable of this function. My geneticists are trying every day, with a whole host of methods, but so far they’ve completely failed. So please don’t be angry with me Boss, blame them, because I promise you that as soon as I have a human with this organ, then I will generate its intelligence. I am a psychologist, not a geneticist!”
“Well, listen here Trinci, why don’t you try your mother’s invention, writing? After all, that’s also communication.”
“Ah, my dear Boss, this has already occurred to me a long time ago. But it won’t work. Writing is ultimately a secondary form of interpersonal communication, and is necessarily a communication framework compared to the foundation of radio waves. I have tried it, although I didn’t believe it would work, and unfortunately I was right. As long as a human can’t learn to speak, he is also unable to learn to read and write. He cannot even know what we want from him. So far I have got to the point where certain gestures are understood, for example if I place a chair beside me, then the human understands that I want him to sit next to me. He understands that if I hold my palm out towards him, then I want something from him. That if I point into the distance with an outstretched finger, then I want to draw his attention to something. He understands these because humans living in the wild use similar gestures. This sign language has been further developed so that they can be taught many other gestures too. Another thing that worked was that I gave them some plastic tiles of different colors and shapes, that had some symbolic meaning for them, and if I put together simple sentences from these, they could understand them and also put together simple sentences for me.”
“Ah, but they weren’t anything complicated. Just words like ‘open door’ when they want to go out; or ‘more food’ when they want to eat, and other similar things that we might hear when a small child talks to us. Apart from this there are the odd stubborn individuals, who sometimes just won’t accept a certain symbol. For example it was in vain that to my most intelligent human I labeled the fridge a ‘cold-box’, for he insisted again and again that it is called a ‘food-box’. It seemed a lot more important to him that there is food in it than the fact that it’s cold.
“And my job is also made more difficult by the fact that, after about fifteen years of age I can only deal with the females, because the older males just want to constantly mate with me. But it is no better when there is a human female with me as well, because then neither of them pay attention to me, only to each other.
“Yet this isn’t the biggest problem, which is that on each plastic tile there is only an individual word or concept, and it does not consist of a row of letters like writing does. In other words humans have to commit to memory as many different forms as the number of concepts they hold in their brain, and this is very limited, certainly not more than a few hundred. It was no use trying to teach them to actually read though. It was futile making plastic letters for them, for the express purpose of being unchewable. It seems that reading can only be learned with conscious effort, by anyone who wants to do so, but in order to motivate them to learn, it would be necessary to be able to explain that this would be beneficial for them and worth the effort, and this is only possible if the person can already speak.”
So this was the state of things when Trinci decided she would take a few days off in order to rest. The reason for this was that she was preparing to give birth for the first time in her life, that is, to lay an egg. This was rather late for her, as hekir women usually start bearing young at an earlier age, but Trinci was a busy researcher. And the egg inside her was quite sizable already, according to the x-rays. She would have to lay it within a few days. All hekir women retreated at this time for a few days, on paid leave. They had a right to do this, granted by the hekir constitution, at least in the country where Trinci lived. And she believed her absence would not cause any disruption to the work of the Human Profit Corporation. She temporarily settled the present issues at the company, drove home, stopped in front of her house, and got out of the car…
And at that moment, somebody jumped out beside her from the footpath, wrenched the ignition key from her hand, roughly pushed her aside, hopped into the car, started it and drove away with it. Trinci could do nothing to stop this. Due to the sudden blow, she was knocked down onto the stone pavement, but so harshly that she broke her right arm, as she was trying to prevent herself from falling on her stomach. But she had still landed on her stomach anyway, and immediately something cracked inside her. She could hear it, as well as feel it.
“My child!” she screamed. In that moment she felt the commencement of labor…
This was no time to be concerned about a car thief. Others who saw the event also ignored the thief, however called for an ambulance at once.
Afterwards in the hospital, Trinci gave birth to the egg of her child, a few days earlier than she should have, although the bigger problem was that the egg had been significantly cracked by the blow, and part of its contents had leaked out.
Naturally there were special incubators in the hospital to accommodate damaged eggs, and Trinci’s egg was put in there; but the doctor shook his head, and told Trinci that it would be better if she gave up this child and discarded it, because the child may turn out to be a cripple.
With hekirs, the “discarding” of the egg would have taken place by congealing the egg—or the somewhat developed nestling within it—with an infrared oven-like machine, which would be completely painless.
Nevertheless, Trinci was one of those women who believed that the child was alive in the egg too, not only once it had broken out. And it must be said, that in a hekir egg the child is already almost completely formed at the time of laying; only a part of the substance of the egg is still viscous. She reflected on how difficult it had been to carry this massive egg, and that this would be her first child, and therefore asked:
“What are the chances of it having no problems?”
“Perhaps eighty percent.”
“Well, that’s far greater than the other twenty, if it goes well. Do everything you can for it doctor.”
And not long afterwards Trinci’s child was born—a cute little girl. Trinci named her ‘Gigi’. And she was very relieved, because in all respects Gigi seemed to be a healthy little girl.
Unfortunately this was just an illusion. Very soon it became apparent that while Gigi appeared as fit as a fiddle on the outside, she was still sadly crippled. In fact quite seriously crippled, because although she understood everything the hekirs said perfectly, she herself was almost mute. She was barely able to speak. She could only “whisper”, emitting the radio waves of hekir communication so weakly that it was only able to be understood from a distance of a single meter, and then only if the other hekir listened very carefully. Furthermore, there were to be no other hekirs nearby who were emitting something else. According to the doctors, all this was a result of Trinci’s accident.
The car thief had been later found and captured, but it was in vain that Trinci demanded compensation for Gigi’s condition, because on the one hand the thief didn’t have the money to pay it, and on the other hand the court didn’t even consider the case, saying that although the correlation between Gigi’s muteness and the thief’s action is likely, it was not seen as proof. Moreover, the intent was also excluded, because surely the thief only wanted the car, and didn’t have any intention of harming Trinci’s daughter.
Trinci felt it was a gross injustice that the thief’s punishment wasn’t even heightened because of these circumstances. In any case, she couldn’t do anything about him, and besides, the harm had already been done. She had no idea what she could do for Gigi.
For cases like this, the usual solution was to fix a small radio transceiver somewhere on the child’s body, and when its button was pressed down, the apparatus received the child’s weak radio waves and amplified them. There was no doubt that this helped the “weak-voiced” hekir children to a certain extent, although it was still cumbersome.
Firstly, they always had to press down the button when they wanted to speak. If the device was emitted constantly, the other hekirs would be disturbed, because it would have been similar to if a human had somebody continually yelling in their company. In addition, the device could not transmit the message on the same frequency that was used by the child, because it would have interfered with the radio waves, and therefore emitted sounds higher or lower than the child’s original frequency. For the hekirs however, this was just like an amplifier designed for humans, altering the sound to a higher or lower pitch. They could still understand it, but it was considered unnatural. Furthermore, it was necessary to make sure the battery of the device did not run down, that the apparatus did not break or get wet. Because of this, it was difficult to use in rainy weather and could not at all be used in the bath. It was useless if both hands were occupied by some kind of work, since then the button could not be pressed. And most importantly, this device could only be given to the hekir child from the age of five or six, when they understood little of what was going on.
Naturally Trinci obtained this device for Gigi, actually several of them—in case one broke, though it was not yet given to her because she was still a little young. She was very sad that she couldn’t do more for her daughter, yet she felt it was the right decision to allow her to live, because she loved Gigi very much. Besides, in hekir terms Gigi was a beautiful little girl. She didn’t have any other problems, in fact she was in perfect health.
Around this time, Trinci was visited by a representative of a certain foundation, who belonged to an institution for deaf and/or mute hekir children. Trinci was offered to have Gigi sent over there. This would be like sending her into state care, only it would not be permanent. She could visit her whenever she wanted, but she would no longer be burdened by her. The state provided considerable financial support to this institute, but despite this Trinci would have to pay quite a sum of money for Gigi to attend. Although according to the foundation’s agent, Trinci would think nothing of this sum because she earned a good living at the company, and in addition, this handicapped child would not take away time from her research. And he described with fervor how beneficial this would be for Gigi too. About what a beautiful place she would live in, how much she would be loved there, how she would be among children with the same deficiency, so she would not be ostracized from the community. She would be taught to communicate with sound waves, a method that had been developed specifically for such children…
“What did you say?” Trinci raised her head. The agent repeated it.
“It sounds very interesting. I’ll take a look at this institute tomorrow.” Trinci jumped up, and began pacing about excitedly, although she knew she didn’t have the slightest intention of sending Gigi over there. She didn’t give birth to her so she could abandon her. She wanted to educate Gigi herself.
The next day she visited the institute, and found the handicapped hekir children talking to each other skillfully via sound waves, although she herself understood none of it. And because of this, she decided to do a conclusive experiment.
She didn’t send Gigi to the institute, but instead purchased all the necessary materials in order to teach her this communication method. She even enrolled in a course herself, in fact, not only her but also her mother, Brixi. Every necessary arrangement was made so that Gigi could acquire the ability to speak with sound waves, since her vocal organs were still intact.
But Trinci did not only do this, she also borrowed a six month old human baby from among the Human Profit Corporation’s stock, and began to train him alongside Gigi, as if he were her brother. She spoke to him in the same way, not in the hekir manner of course—not with radio waves, but with sounds.
Nevertheless, Gigi naturally learned to understand the conversation of hekirs with radio waves too, because she acquired it from the other hekirs, but from her mother and her grandmother Brixi she only heard acoustic speech, and because she had learned it from birth, she could use it just as well as the other communication method. Much better in fact, because she could merely understand radio waves, however if she wasn’t using the amplifier then the poor thing could only “whisper” with it.
Trinci’s theory was that if this human child grew up together with Gigi, then if it was at all possible for a human to somehow learn to speak, this would give it the best chance of succeeding. For biological studies had shown that the vocal apparatus of humans was capable of producing a wide variety of sounds, therefore a voice-based communication method could be created for them.
Of course, all this was not going to be an easy task. Brixi had bitterly protested.
“You must be out of your mind! You want to educate a wild predator together with an infant? One of the most dangerous predators alive, who has earned the name bare killer!”
This was of course an allusion to the hairlessness of humans.
“It will be completely different raising him from such a young age…”
“It will make no difference at all. Such an experiment has been attempted more than once, but sooner or later all of them have ended in tragedy. In one case, when the human had reached adult size, he killed his owner, and when he was younger he had dared to kill the owner’s hekir child. In some cases the human even ate the hekir, and naturally after this he was put to death. I don’t intend to leave my grandchild to this fate. She will not be a human delicacy!”
“She will certainly not be, I’m sure of it. I have considered everything very thoroughly. You must know that I would never raise an ordinary human child. I’ll bring home the Human Sapir program’s most promising child, who has the biggest brain—for his age of course—and you’ll soon find out mother, that human children are very helpless. In the first two or three years we have nothing to be afraid of, and neither does my daughter. Our daughters can learn to walk at an earlier age than humans, and they grow up much quicker too. During his first five years, our daughter will be the stronger one and not him. After that of course Gigi will drop behind, but by that time we should be able to see whether or not he has real intelligence. Whether he is capable of speaking. And if he isn’t, then the situation is simple—I will bring him back to the institute before he becomes dangerous. Then again, if by that time he has at least as much intelligence as a moderately feeble-minded hekir, and is still placid—though our humans seem relatively easy to handle anyway—then we haven’t the slightest need to fear him, because as an intelligent being he will regard Gigi as his sister, with whom he grew up.”
Brixi still objected to the idea, but Trinci remained adamant. She even put up with her mother accusing her of wanting to sacrifice Gigi for her scientific career.
“I don’t deny that this experiment will be good for my career,” said Trinci, “but that’s not the point. Just imagine, poor Gigi will at some point come to realize that she’s crippled, and she’ll have a chronic inferiority complex. But we can compensate for this, if the first—and for awhile only—HS will be her own. She’ll have a big, strong friend, who she alone will be able to talk to. It’ll be great!”
“Your brain has been infected by too many sci-fi movies!” Brixi stamped her foot angrily.
Nevertheless, the human still arrived at the flat. He was an adorable little baby boy, although Trinci would have preferred a girl. But this baby had the largest brain. She gave him the name ‘Zax’.
For quite a few years nothing in particular happened. Apart from the fact that Zax learned to speak. And it seemed that he was no less intelligent than a hekir child. It is true that it had taken him until the age of five before he acquired the ability to speak perfectly. But this was not due to any deficiency in him. It was because at first even Trinci and Brixi didn’t have much experience in the hekir deaf-mute speech, that is, in sound wave communication. They could only talk to Zax a little, and not yet with correct pronunciation. They blundered many times, and well, if the teacher doesn’t know the material, how is the student supposed to learn it from the teacher?
So essentially Gigi and Zax learned to speak at the same time as Trinci and Brixi. Things would have been easier if they had hired a well-known educator who specialized in this communication method, but Trinci didn’t want to. She thought it would be better if this experiment was kept a secret.
In any case, as a psychologist she had enough sense to surmise that with a better teacher a human child could pick up speech far more quickly, perhaps even by the age of three, so with this methodology it was not at all impossible to produce intelligent humans. In fact according to this, every human with a sufficiently large brain had the potential to be intelligent. They only needed to learn how to speak and they would automatically become intelligent.
When little Zax had learned the multiplication tables, and had also become acquainted with the alphabet to some degree, she no longer had any doubts. Humans were definitely capable of becoming intelligent.
Still, learning to speak was not without its difficulties. Because despite the fact that the human vocal apparatus could produce a wide variety of sounds, the range of sounds varied significantly from that of the hekir. And not only in one way.
First of all, it was capable of producing much deeper sounds. Secondly, a human was completely unable to produce a whole host of high sounds, that could easily be vocalized by hekirs. Since the hekirs had descended from birds, the sounds of their speech greatly resembled the chirping of these animals, for a substantial part of it occurred in a very high range, and moreover it contained barely any consonants, but rather a succession of vowels. However it seemed that the human larynx could produce no more than around twenty to twenty five different vowel sounds in order for the human ear to be able to clearly distinguish them from each other. Though it would be preferable if human speech contained a maximum of ten of these.
In contrast, humans were capable of producing any number of voiced or unvoiced noises with their mouths, which were regarded as consonants, and they could distinguish them very well with their ears. This was not unusual for humans, because these noises were similar to the different kinds of mutterings, growls, rattles and bellows that were often used by wild humans among themselves. Above all, a human appeared simply unable to warble—so to speak—as rapidly as a hekir. To a hekir’s ear human speech was so slow and drawling that to hear somebody out and also interpret it was almost torture, even if the human felt he was jabbering for all his worth.
As far as the hekir deaf-mute language was concerned, Trinci soon realized that it had to be adapted significantly for human usage.
First of all, it was necessary to leave out those sounds that Zax was not able to pronounce. This task was fairly simple, because all she had to do was slide the entire vocal range down by two octaves. This was not a problem yet, because Zax could understand Trinci or Gigi when they said something with high voices, only when he replied to them, his voice sounded to a hekir’s ear like a deep growl. Yet it could still be understood. However in regards to the sounds that were unpronounceable by Zax, there wasn’t really an alternative solution, so she left them out. In place of some of these she taught him the closest pronounceable vowel in each word, or allowed Zax to replace them with something more or less consonant-like.
The consequence of all this, was that although Zax did learn the hekir deaf-mute language, he could only understand it. As for speech, instead of the standard deaf-mute language, he spoke an appallingly distorted version, which was perfectly understandable by Trinci, Gigi, Brixi and a few others who were close to him, as they had learned it alongside him, but could only be understood by another if they listened very carefully. Or rather this pertained to only a portion of the words, because there were plenty of words that Zax could say in their original form without any problems. So when he began to talk, it quickly became apparent that he was trying to communicate something, because a significant portion of his words were recognizable and the meanings of others were discernible from the context. There were however a few words in which the meanings were unclear and needed considerable mental effort to figure out.
This aside, Trinci created a device for Zax that was something like a headset. If it was turned on, it would continuously interpret into sound waves the hekir radio wave communication that was nearby, so it was essentially a special radio receiver. And Zax also had a contraption that, if mumbled into with sound waves, translated these into hekir radio waves. This was a small radio transmitter.
Regarding Zax’s family relationship, he undoubtedly considered Trinci to be his mother and Brixi to be his grandmother. In the early stages when he was still a baby, they had a lot of trouble with him because on more than one occasion he kicked Trinci fiercely, albeit not with malice, but for a hekir with weak bones even these felt remarkably painful, and for weeks afterwards Trinci would wander about covered in severe bruises. It was obvious to her that hekir infants were far less rambunctious than human infants. Brixi did not take on the task of changing this little monster’s nappy either.
But later on, when Zax had become a little more intelligent, she didn’t have the slightest problem with him, even when his first teeth came through, although Brixi was very concerned that Zax was going to bite her grandchild. Zax and Gigi often played together, rolling around on the floor, and more than once it had ended in tears, however it wasn’t Gigi who cried but Zax, because during roughly the first five years Gigi had grown much faster than Zax, so the little girl was the stronger one.
Then barely two years later, Zax greatly surpassed Gigi in strength, though the hekir girl was always at least a few centimeters taller than him. In fact, she seemed even chunkier due to her rich plumage, quite chubby beside Zax. But this didn’t matter because she had almost no muscle in comparison to the human child. Zax did not even come from the warrior human breeding line, nor did he do any exercise to enhance his physique. He was simply just a human, and not a hekir. He would often lift Gigi up above his head just for fun, who at that time barely weighed ten kilos. He even played with her like a ball, and Gigi didn’t mind this if he didn’t grip her too tightly; in fact she would shriek with delight and laugh joyously. And Zax did not abuse his strength.
The usual jealousy among human children did not exist between them, simply because they could not be envious of each other’s food. Trinci gave them completely different diets. Zax did not like the various snails, raw clams, worms and grubs, even if they writhed appetizingly on the plate before him. Instead he preferred raw meat that was chopped finely. However before long it turned out that he liked roast meat even better.
This had been discovered one time when Trinci had taken some meat out of the freezer, and as this couldn’t be eaten frozen, she defrosted it in a pot of water. But for some reason she had forgotten about it on the stove, the water had completely evaporated and part of the meat had become cooked. When Zax had entered the kitchen, it was already visible on his face that he could smell a delicious aroma. Since then he always received his meat roasted or cooked as this was more civilized.
He also loved eating fruit. But there were some fruits that he found inedible, although Gigi absolutely loved them. And in the garden there were a few ornamental plants, whose berries weren’t edible to hekirs, but Zax enjoyed eating them immensely. So they couldn’t quarrel about many foods. And as for the foods they both ate, Trinci made sure that Gigi and Zax received these in abundance. For she feared that Zax might fly into a rage and wring her daughter’s neck.
Over time grandmother Brixi also became acquainted with Zax, and it was precisely then that Zax acquired the skill of reading and writing. After all, it was Brixi that had invented it. Soon afterwards she came to see that Zax was a remarkably affable being—her big, strong grandson. She only felt uneasy when Zax smiled, and a shiver would run down her back when she saw his gleaming teeth. She was rather pleased when Zax’s teeth began to fall out one after the other, but much to her dismay these were soon replaced by new and even bigger teeth.
Although Zax was a fairly placid child and wasn’t the least bit more trouble than a slightly more active hekir child, Trinci didn’t dare allow him to leave the confines of her house and its sizable garden. Conversely she brought home twenty new female humans and four males—all of them babies—to live together with her and Zax, and began to educate them as well, teaching them the language that Zax already knew. She had only been educating them for half a year when sinister clouds began to gather over the human project. Namely, Mr. Arlek demanded more and more vehemently that Trinci come up with some kind of result with the creation of the HS.
Because it must be said that until this point Trinci had not told him anything about her results. She had kept the existence of Zax a secret. The reason for this decision was that she wasn’t sure if the creation of the Human Sapir was such a great idea, or whether she should even be allowed to create it. Because although Zax did exist, and a few other human children were well on the way to becoming intelligent too, this did not mean much because if warranted—with a heavy heart—they could be killed. For she was not convinced that it would be wise to create another intelligent species on the planet Roonya.
It was not as if she was afraid that someday humans would displace hekirs from here. But what if the era of slavery somehow returned, and the hekirs employed the humans as slaves? Trinci’s moral sense bristled at this.
But even allowing for this, it could not be denied that comparatively humans went through puberty and developed sexually later than hekirs. Zax was not yet an adult male, just a child. There was no telling if he would become violent when he turned into a man. When his gonads started producing sex hormones. She could not assert with confidence that the HS was harmless to hekirs. He may be harmless only in childhood, but perhaps not as an adult.
For the moment she preferred to say nothing to her boss about the fact that the Human Sapir was essentially ready. Even though she had not said a word to anybody, Mr. Arlek was very anxious because he had heard news that the other company, the Human Breeder Corporation, was allegedly very close to achieving the breeding of intelligent humans.
Trinci was not bothered by this. She knew that the Human Breeder Corporation couldn’t surpass them. After all, she already had at least one truly intelligent human. But she was not like other scientists. She would not come out with a half-finished discovery, not if she didn’t have to. At this stage it was necessary to have thorough research done. It would be even better if she waited a few more years and paid close attention to Zax’s behavior.
Before long Trinci obtained evidence that a Human Sapir is not at all harmless. This was even true of the revered, gentle Zax.
The thing that occurred was this: Zax of course didn’t attend any kind of school, he wasn’t able to; however Gigi attended school regularly, and not the deaf-mute school but an ordinary common state school, where—because she wasn’t deaf—could hear the information being transmitted by the teachers and students, only when she spoke she had to use the amplifier device. Because of this she received a lot of ridicule, and her mother, Trinci, consoled her by reminding Gigi to ignore these insults because she was the owner of the one and only true HS in the world.
Gigi thought this was great, because humans were still quite fashionable in those days. Movies about humans could be seen everywhere, and in most of these the humans were HS’s. A hekir child was not really seen as normal if their room wasn’t filled with posters of humans, if they didn’t collect images of humans on their computer, if their pencil cases weren’t covered in stickers of these beings, and they didn’t have a human-shaped figure dangling from their key ring.
And Gigi had a real HS at home.
She really liked this fact, but would have gained great satisfaction if she could boast about it, although her mother strictly forbade it. She told her that if the existence of Zax was revealed, then Gigi would most certainly lose him, because Zax wasn’t officially the property of Trinci but of the Human Profit Corporation, and then they would take him away to the institute to be experimented on.
This thoroughly frightened Gigi, and at school she didn’t say a word about Zax, who was at that time already twelve years old. However one day she came home in tears. She recounted that a few tough kids had accosted her on the way home from school, and began pushing her. They stole her pocket money and her amplification device, so she wasn’t able to call out for help, and even molested her. Fortunately however, a few adults had passed by and the hooligans bolted.
The stolen pocket money was not much, but Trinci was distressed by the assault. It is true that a young hekir girl like Gigi couldn’t yet become pregnant from being raped, not for many more years, but she certainly didn’t wish for her daughter to ever again be exposed to such atrocities. She was sure the hooligans chose Gigi specifically for their attempted assault, because they knew that if they deprived her of her emitter device, then she could not call the police for help. Gigi had recognized a few of the boys as her classmates, but there was nothing she could do. Even the accusation would have been useless, for she lacked any evidence. Gigi had also thought about this, and she was adamant that she no longer wanted to go to this school; she would rather be home-schooled.
Well, unfortunately this was not as simple as a small girl imagined it to be. There were strict rules controlling who may or may not be home-schooled. It was certainly impossible to arrange this overnight, so Trinci asked her:
“Are you scared of those bullies, darling?”
“Of course, I’m terrified. I’d be stupid if I wasn’t!”
“And how would you feel if you had a trustworthy bodyguard?”
“Is that possible?”
“Yes, I will allow it. This won’t even be seen as strange, as plenty of hekirs walk around with their pets. Even with humans. But be very careful—you must not tell anyone that Zax is a HS. It is not prohibited to own a human. But nobody can become aware that your human is intelligent. So it is necessary for him to wear a muzzle and handcuffs, like every ordinary human.”
“But mom, then the bullies won’t be afraid of him!”
“We will hope they won’t return again, but even if they do you’ll be fine, because we’ll give Zax special handcuffs that only appear to be ordinary ones, but these will be easy to open and then he will also be able to take off his muzzle. But I’ll tell him that he must only do it as a last resort, and you should tell him the same, alright?”
“With pleasure, mom!” Gigi rejoiced.
Seeing her happiness her mother began to worry whether or not this proposal was a good idea, to permit her maternal concern and desire for revenge, because it was clear that not only did Gigi no longer have a fear of going back to school, she could hardly wait for the gang to return. Because she did not doubt that Zax could single-handedly beat up all six of them. And Trinci was also convinced that although Zax wasn’t yet an adult and only weighed around fifty kilos, he could instantly kill at least ten cantankerous hooligans, even if they had knives. By now Zax could easily lift Trinci above his head. It would not have been possible to keep him at home for such a long time if he wasn’t so gentle.
But it seemed that Zax really liked Gigi, and if he noticed that somebody wanted to hurt her then he would certainly no longer remain gentle. Therefore Trinci spoke to Zax, saying that it was enough if he just frightened them when the need arose, he didn’t have to kill them. Zax promised he would restrain himself, but Trinci worried about what would happen if the human lost his temper. In any case, even this adventure could be considered an experiment.
So the following morning they dressed Zax and he escorted Gigi to the school. It was necessary for him to put clothes on. Soon the hekirs had realized that if a human spent an extended period of time outdoors, then they must wear clothes, even in summer, otherwise they would catch a chill. Generally humans hated clothes, but in this climate it was necessary. Zax of course did not object, he had been accustomed to clothes since his early childhood. In fact he even felt ashamed without clothes on, as a hekir would be if all their feathers were shaved off.
There were also no worries about knowing where he should wait for Gigi. It was common for students at the school to sometimes bring their pets with them, animals that were equivalent to dogs and cats. For these animals the school had a separate secured area at the back, where they were locked in until the end of the lessons.
They got to the school without any problems, and Zax was put into the cage, although up till now there had been no instances of anyone coming to school with a human. Because of this Gigi was admired by everybody, and respect for her had grown significantly because she dared to walk together with such a big, strong and visibly male human, and she was unafraid of his powerful kicks.
For it must be said that after the great initial success of these human pets, fewer and fewer hekirs dared to lead a human on the street. This still occurred quite often, but far less than in the beginning, and even these hekirs preferred to tie their human’s ankles together with a long chain so they couldn’t raise their feet too high. The kick could still be dangerous, but at least it was rarely fatal. Gigi of course didn’t chain Zax’s ankles. This wasn’t illegal, as the law only made the use of handcuffs and a muzzle mandatory. But now she appeared a brave girl in the eyes of others.
The animal holding cage was naturally in the farthest corner of the schoolyard where the children rarely retreated to, even in their breaks. However now the situation was completely different—not a single hour passed without at the beginning of each break both the young and older students rushing to the cage. And even after the bell had rung they would return reluctantly, slowly dragging their feet as they walked. Some of them were thoroughly late for class, sometimes by more than an hour. This was purely thanks to Zax. It was not as if he did anything extraordinary, but the children found it fascinating to be able to observe a human at such close range as this was virtually equivalent to a zoo. Namely, although it was fashionable among the hekirs to own humans, do not think that every hekir could afford this luxury, only the richest ones. It was a very expensive pastime, just like owning a monkey was later on Earth in European culture. So most students were extremely envious of Gigi for having a human; in fact not only most, but practically everybody.
The trouble had occurred in the lunch break. A number of children were running to the cage with their lunches, and naturally they flung all sorts of things at Zax, feeding him, or rather attempting to feed him. But this did not proceed smoothly, because Zax was certainly no animal. He had the intelligence of a hekir, and he began to find the whole situation positively humiliating. Largely because he was listening to the conversation of some hekir children—his receiver relayed these conversations to him—with such phrases as, “Ah, I’m a complete loser at maths”, “Hey you, how do you do that thing with solving the formula of the quadratic equation?” and other such things. It is certainly true that Zax felt deep contempt towards these students. Because he was not at all a “complete loser” at maths, not even slightly dumb; in fact he knew far more about it than Gigi. For as far as his home education was concerned, Trinci did not limit it to the school curriculum; she strove to cram as much as possible into Zax’s head. The sole reason for this was that she knew sooner or later she would have to introduce Zax as a HS, and her repute would be all the greater if her Human Sapir presented with higher intelligence.
Thus it was in vain that the children threw delicious morsels on the ground before Zax. He did not even pick them up, but made an exception when Gigi passed him some fruit through the bars of the cage. It was a nice, round fruit, which might as well be called an ‘apple’, although it was the fruit of an entirely different plant—it just had a roughly similar shape. This was of course accepted from Gigi, and he ate it because his stomach was growling. Naturally his muzzle needed to be taken off, which Gigi did through the bars. Zax could have pulled it off himself, but he did not want to let on that he was able to. While he ate he stood beside the bars of the cage and allowed Gigi to caress him affectionately. He even allowed his face to be stroked during this. No hekir had ever dared do this before. To place one’s hands near the teeth of a human while he was eating—as he might think that we want to take away his food—well, this would require an enormous amount of courage, or just be absolute lunacy. But this was not all, because now Gigi smiled.
“Look at this, everyone!” and she abruptly took the half-eaten apple out of Zax’s hand. And Zax did not bite her in return. In fact after this she placed her hand into Zax’s gaping mouth, who bit down gently on it with his teeth, and everyone watched in horror. The bones of hekirs were so fragile, even in their hands, that they knew if Zax bit into Gigi’s hand with just a small amount of force, then Gigi’s bones would not only break, but she would lose her hand entirely. However this did not happen, for when Gigi pulled out her hand from his teeth it was unharmed.
When Zax saw their alarm he grinned from ear to ear. Good, let them be horrified. He enjoyed seeing Gigi’s happiness, for now everybody was admiring the courage of the little girl. At the sight of his grin everybody recoiled, because his teeth appalled the hekirs.
“Surely you wouldn’t dare to stick your hand in his mouth now!” someone provoked Gigi.
“Why not?” and Gigi did it again, then pulled it out. “I can do this at any time. He is my human that my mom bought for me, and he loves me.”
“That’s not true, all humans are stupid!”
“What about HS’s?”
“They only exist in the movies, you fool!”
“Even so, I’m still not afraid of him. We’re friends.”
At that moment Zax felt a sharp prick on his bottom. A boy stood in front of the cage, and was jabbing Zax with a broom handle, which had some kind of spike attached to its end. And he took delight in hearing Zax cry out.
“What are you doing!” Gigi exclaimed. Of course her words had to be amplified with her transmitter device.
“Relax, I’m not going to kill him, just rile him up a bit. Then you can brag about daring to put your hand in his mouth!”
“Don’t torment him, animal cruelty is against the law!”
“Shut up, you little brat! Anyway, you deserved it.”
“Have you already forgotten that you told on my brother and my mates to the headmistress, otherwise they wouldn’t have wanted to hurt you yesterday. They were just playing with you a bit,” and again he poked into the cage with the stick, but this time Zax ducked out of the way. However his thigh still hurt from where the first unexpected prick had landed.
“If you poke in there once more, I’ll let my human out, and then we’ll see how brave you are!”
“So you’re still being a smart alec, you mute little runt! You don’t belong in this school—you should be in a special school for mentally retarded children… Would you prefer it if I pricked you?”
Zax also heard this conversation and understood it. And now he shouted, “If you prick Gigi, I will disembowel you!”
But he said this with sound waves and the boy could not understand it. Even so, everybody recoiled as it sounded like a frightening roar to the hekirs.
At that moment Gigi felt someone grab her shoulders from behind.
“That’s it! Alright boys… You can’t escape now, so listen carefully. Today after school you will go to the big park, beside the fountain. I will be there with my mates. Then you’ll come with us to my flat, and after this you’ll come whenever we tell you to. You will leave your human here. Is that clear? And if you don’t turn up, or if you tell anyone about our arrangement—either at home or here at school—then you may get hurt.” And with that one of the boys stepped towards Gigi, while once more thrusting the pointed stick into the cage…
But he didn’t quite manage to hit Zax. Because now it was going to be witnessed that the hekirs had not evolved from predators. Although he thought he had thrust quickly, for Zax it wasn’t really that quick at all. He grabbed the stick near the middle, then shoved it back at full strength. And although there wasn’t a nail on the other end of the broom handle, it still dug into the boy’s stomach and pierced right through the middle of his back, taking a piece of intestine with it. Blood was spurting out of both holes.
But the scream had not even begun when Zax abruptly leaned his weight against the bars. He grabbed onto them with both hands, not even taking off his handcuffs, then pressed his feet against a nearby bar, gathering all his strength… and behold—the two bars began to bend, moving away from each other. Well, they were designed to detain small pets, not humans.
Not ten seconds had passed, and Zax was already out of the cage. He began to run after the boy who had been clutching Gigi’s shoulders. Though he certainly was no longer clutching them, as he had fled without having to think twice. But Zax caught up with him in seconds.
Zax of course did not have webbed feet and did not toddle on the ground but ran normally, in fact he could even jump if necessary. The hekir child ran as fast as he could, yet he had as much of a chance against Zax as a flightless duck had against a fox.
Once Zax had reached him he shoved him harshly, causing him to fly at least five meters through the air, and as the child crashed to the ground, one of his legs broke.
“Don’t kill him!” cried Gigi behind him.
On hearing this, Zax calmed down a little. He seized the child’s feathers in an area of his chest to lift him up, but in no time the feathers had ripped out, causing him a great deal of pain. Now Zax took hold of the hekir child’s beak, just with one hand, and squeezed it firmly. This was enough to hold the weight of the child, but at the place of his grip arose numerous cracks, and it deformed as if it was a straw being squeezed. The chips of bone cut into his long tongue in many places and blood bubbled out from under Zax’s palm. The boy squealed in distress, in the hekir manner of radio waves. But the other children didn’t come to help him; they had fled for their life and were also squealing.
Zax dragged the child to face Gigi, grasping his beak.
“Tell him, Gigi,” he said, “that he must pass on this message to his friends: They should not only leave you alone, but mustn’t come anywhere near you, otherwise you will send me to their flat, and they can try playing around with me… Then I will not be quite so gentle!”
And this pleased Gigi very much.
“Apologize to me, otherwise I will feed you to my human!” she ordered the boy.
“I am so, so sorry… I beg for your mercy!” he wailed.
“I will gladly go to the fountain or to any of your flats. But only together with my human. Do you still want me to?”
“No, no, not at all, I’m sorry… please, have mercy!”
“Let him go, Zax,” said Gigi.
And with this Zax lifted up the troublemaker, hauled him over to a garbage bin, stuffed him into it, then raised up a big stone—which four adult hekirs would have had difficulty rolling—and with barely any effort at all placed it on top of the garbage bin to make sure the child couldn’t get out. To do this required him to remove his handcuffs, but this was not visible to the child in the bin, nor to anyone else—only Gigi.
“I think it’s time we went home,” he said. And Gigi heartily agreed.
The incident became a huge scandal. Nevertheless, the impaled child didn’t end up dying, although he did need surgery and was put in the intensive care unit, as well as spending several months recuperating. The other child did not die either, but it was true that in a sense he came off worse than the impaled one, because although this child had needed a long time to recover, afterwards there were no visible signs of damage on his body. The second child however, whom they had retrieved from the garbage bin, had acquired irreversible injuries; the operation on his beak was in vain as it was obvious that his beak had been severely shattered.
Trinci was tormented by conflicting feelings. On the one hand she was very glad that Zax had defended her daughter so effectively. On the other hand she had naturally seen the two victims he had crippled, and this horrified her. It was no use Zax telling her that he deliberately took pains to be considerate to at least the second bully, as this only terrified her further. Because if Zax felt this behavior was considerate, what might happen if he really lost his temper?
Of course, it also raised the question of liability. A great many people demanded that the madman be shot. On hearing this, Gigi stated frankly to her mother that if Zax were to die then she would immediately commit suicide.
“Don’t talk such nonsense darling, nothing is going to happen to him. I would never allow him to be murdered. Don’t worry, it won’t come to that, because in the worst case I’ll just confess that he’s a HS. We’ll prove that he even knows the principles of complex analysis, and then it would be out of the question to kill him because of his extraordinary scientific value. But I wouldn’t like to go that far just yet, so now you need to be very clever, my dear. We’ll admit to a small part of the truth. You are to say that Zax is a very well-trained human, who of course also has a command—delivered through sound—to protect you. You taught him this command primarily so that he knows he is allowed to kill and attack when he hears this. In doing so, it was much easier for him to learn that in all other cases he is required to be gentle. So please say that when the boys taunted you, you became very frightened and commanded Zax to protect you. Then Zax will surely not be punished, because he was just obeying you. You might receive some kind of reprimand from the director, but that doesn’t matter.”
Well, the consequence of this event was not a reprimand from the director, but a police investigation. The two victims hadn’t dared to lie; they confessed everything, even the fact that they had goaded him beforehand, and this was a significant mitigating circumstance for Zax. It was entirely natural for a wild animal to see red if he was prodded with a sharp stick.
Still, it was said by some that it would be a lot safer if Zax was destroyed. But Gigi really stood up for him, and eventually the case ended with a regular judicial proceeding. There the judge urged not only Gigi, but also Trinci, to demonstrate in front of everyone Zax’s blind obedience.
“How?” asked Trinci.
And now the judge, who didn’t really like humans, said, “Look madam, it is not going to satisfy me to display things that this ‘Zax’ can do on command, like walking here and there, sitting down and turning around. This is not a circus. It’s not a clown parade. We’re talking here about hekir lives! If you and your daughter are indeed certain that this human will kill solely on command, then stick your head in his mouth.”
“It doesn’t fit in there.”
“Your neck then, that would certainly fit.”
This was true—a hekir’s neck was fairly thin. Trinci paled.
“There should be no need for this. You have heard the testimonies, your honor. At school my daughter Gigi placed her hand into Zax’s mouth several times.”
“That was then, not now. And it wasn’t in front of me. And that was just a hand, the loss of which would not cause death. Anyway, it’s possible that it was only a clever trick. And it was only seen by children, whose words don’t really stand up in court. It is not mandatory for you to do this madam, but if you don’t do it, then I will order the execution of your human, because if you can’t even trust him, then why should I?”
Trinci’s hands began to visibly tremble.
“Don’t worry mom, it’s safe,” Gigi called out to her from the bench.
“Well… okay… although I’ve never done anything like this before…”
“Now I am offended mom, because you don’t trust me,” uttered Zax, who was being guarded by three hekirs with loaded guns. Zax had of course called this out using sound waves.
“I would rather you didn’t do it, madam,” said the judge quickly. “I withdraw my proposal, since this is a true wild animal, why, he is even growling!”
“You cannot withdraw what you have said.” Trinci stood up. “I will do it. But please pay careful attention to the TV cameras, because everybody must see clearly that a well-trained human—at least if I have trained it—is not dangerous in the slightest.” With that she stepped up beside Zax.
“Release his chains,” she said to the guards. “And take off his handcuffs too.”
“But you must, because I don’t want him to become irritable because of this. It will be much safer if he doesn’t have any handcuffs on.”
They complied, but continually held their weapons aimed at Zax.
“Now pay attention,” said Trinci. “Zax, lie down.”
And now the miracle occurred: Zax obediently lay down on the floor on his back and opened his mouth as wide as he could. Trinci also lay down with her body perpendicular to Zax, and put her neck into Zax’s mouth. She did not even pull it out immediately, but left it there for a considerable length of time.
“Is the evidence convincing?” she asked the reporters, still lying in this position. And she was blinded by the gleam of the guns. Then she sat up, lay on her stomach and put her throat into Zax’s mouth. She sat up again, and feeling a much greater sense of internal security put her hand into Zax’s mouth, answering any questions that were asked of her.
After a while Zax became uncomfortable and felt the urge to sneeze, but first he raised his hand, took Trinci’s hand out of his mouth and only then sneezed. Sneezing was known to hekirs too, and now Trinci pointed to Zax triumphantly.
“You see, he won’t even cause me harm accidentally. This is a perfectly well-trained human, and there wouldn’t have been any trouble with him if he hadn’t been prodded. But you know what—if somebody mistreats him without any reason and he in turn kills them, then I won’t feel any sympathy for the hekir in question. And neither would there have been any problem if my daughter hadn’t called out to him for help. After all, other guard animals exist, so I don’t know why it is so bewildering for humans to be trained in the task of guarding lives. They wouldn’t have wanted to rape my daughter and all this wouldn’t be happening.”
Finally when the thing had come to an end, Zax was basically declared innocent. Gigi received a reprimand from the judge, asserting that the situation was not serious enough to set her human loose on the bully, but at the same time Gigi was given no punishment as she was still underage. Even the two injured children received no punishment, because they had been punished by Zax quite enough, and it was certain that after this they would not dare come close to a human ever again, nor Gigi. However they confessed the names of their friends, who had previously attacked Gigi on her way home from school, and these boys were sent to a juvenile detention center.
So this was the outcome of the adventure, and after this Gigi could walk everywhere with her human, Zax. It was not even necessary for Zax to wear handcuffs and a muzzle, because the whole country knew him from the trial, and was aware that this was an astonishingly well-trained human. Trinci and Gigi even received offers from a few circuses, to do performances where they would put their necks into Zax’s mouth, but Trinci rejected these because she earned enough money already. And Gigi was overjoyed, because she had become incredibly famous, and she valued Zax very much. She was constantly talking and chattering to him, and was very garrulous considering the fact that she was born mute. She had no interest in boys either, in fact she didn’t even have any female friends.