The Ant That Saved Mankind
Bobbo studied the small structure. It didn’t match anything on the recon report. He turned to his companion, Teerit, who was scanning it with his translator.
“It’s some kind of private enclave. It specifically forbids the females of the species. Perhaps someplace for the males to birth young?” Teerit frowned at the device. “It’s a non-standard spelling, apparently.”
“Should that mean something to me?” Bobbo was losing patience. They came for one thing, and this little shack was not it. Even if the sign was non-standard. “Boyz Club. NO Girlz allowd.”
“Maybe this isn’t’ the place?” Teerit tapped his translator again. “Maybe the recon missed something?”
Bobbo puffed himself up, letting the atmosphere fill the sacs of his limbs. All six of his arms grew larger. “Let’s go in. We will get the scientist and go.”
Teerit paused. “Maybe put a few limbs away? This species only has four. We don’t want to intimidate them.”
“Yes, I do want to intimidate them. I want to get out of this lowly solar system and get back to civilization.” Bobbo walked to the structure, pulled on the door, and walked in.
Two small beings stood frozen, eyes wide and mouth agape. Perhaps Teerit was right. He pulled in four of his arms.
Teerit came in behind him. He tapped on his translator, then uttered something in the Earthen language. One of the boys answered.
Teerit turned to Bobbo. “I asked where the ant Kristen was. He said he didn’t know all their names, but all the ants he had were in that tube in the corner.”
Bobbo floated to the corner and reached down for the striped tube. He looked inside and saw at least a hundred creature moving small grains around. Each creature had at least six limbs. Finally, intelligent life.
He nodded at Teerit and they headed back to the ship.
It took quite a bit of time to find one of the creatures willing to stop moving grains and communicate. Bobbo could see his commander getting impatient, when finally, one stopped. The translator gave the creature a deep, resonate voice.
“Is there something I can help you with? We have to be getting this food to our queen.” The creature tapped its antennae together. “She is probably getting quite hungry.”
“Is she here, in the tube with you?” Commander Aderr asked, glaring at Bobbo. “We are looking for Ant Kristen.”
The creature tapped its antennae again. “That is not a name I am familiar with. We do not share our names with others.”
“The other creatures said Ant Kristen would be in there.” Teerit said. “Maybe you can see if there is a Kristen there. Ant Kristen will be traveling to Mars soon, that is what we heard.”
Another tap of the antennae. “That sounds more like the humans. Trying to find a new planet, since they are trashing ours.” It pushed a purple grain away.
Commander Aderr’s face reddened. “That’s it. We wipe them out, once and for all. Those parasites, they don’t deserve one planet, much less another.”
The creature waved its antennae. “Um, sir?”
“What!” Aderr roared.
“If you wipe out the humans, there will be an end to these Pixie Stix. They are my queen’s favorite, so if it’s all the same to you…”
Aderr punched two of his fists into two of his hands. “Take this, this thing, back to wherever you found it. Bring me the small humans. I want Ant Kristen.”
Bobbo and Teerit grabbed the Pixie Stix and hurried back to their ship. Bobbo hoped Teerit had his act together and could get them to the same spot on this sordid planet. Removing sentient creatures from their home and queen was a galactic offense. He did not need another one of those on his record.
They landed and Bobbo sighed with relief as he climbed out and saw the same little structure. He nodded at Teerit.
Teerit, carrying the purple and white tube, eased the door open. “They are not here.”
“What do you mean they are not here? We just left them.”
A new voice was behind them. “You left forty years ago.”
Bobbo turned. A full-sized human stood before him. His silver hair gleamed in the moonlight.
“You guys aren’t exactly fast, are you?” The human walked over to Teerit and took the tube. “The ants are still alive? Amazing.”
Teerit mashed buttons on his translator. “We are looking for the small humans who gave us that ant device.”
The human smiled. “It’s a pixie stick. And it was me, or rather my brother and me. And as I said, it was forty years ago.”
Teerit’s eyes were wide, all four of them.
Bobbo stepped toward the human. “Forty of your earth years? We are not bound to your time.”
Teerit’s translator hummed.
“Unfortunately, we are. And so, you are stuck with me.” He looked at the pixie stick.
“They must get back to their queen.” Teerit said. “Or we are in trouble — “
“Silence, Teerit!” Bobbo grabbed the translator. “Now, if that really was you, you lied. There was no Ant Kristen in the tube. Where is Ant Kristen?”
The human blinked. “You know, I was six when you asked me last time. You said ant, and this is a tube of ants. If you wanted my aunt, you should have said so.”
“He’s right, it is a translator error.”
“Shut up, Teerit. Ant Aunt, what difference does it make?”
The human shook his head. “An ant is a small insect.” He waved the tube. “My aunt, the one you were looking for, was a NASA scientist. She was killed in an automobile accident ten years ago.”
Teerit tapped the translator. “Automobile? Like a rover? She was exploring another planet?”
The human’s eyes became wet. “Sadly, no. She was heading to store to get my son some Pixie Stix.”