Welcome to Vega IV! by Simon Kewin

Now that the war between Earth and Vega is over, more and more Terrans are choosing to visit Vega IV to savour its distinctive culture. Keep the following guidelines in mind as you explore this fascinating planet:

  1. Don’t eat the food

More than one human has made the mistake of assuming the Vegans are vegans. The truth is quite the opposite, as their impressive array of razor-sharp teeth, body-spikes and chitinous claws perhaps make obvious. Vegans are top predators. Their diet consists almost exclusively of the fast-moving, soft-bodied madrats so numerous on Vega IV.

In a desperate attempt to avoid being eaten, madrats have evolved a highly toxic body-chemistry. Unfortunately for the madrats, the Vegans have evolved a digestive system that doesn’t care. Humans have not. Eat any local dish and you will die.

  1. Don’t drink the water

Vegan biology isn’t based on H2O like ours: Vega IV’s skies rain sulfuric acid and consequently that’s what Vegans drink. Don’t make the mistake of trying it. Their alcoholic drinks are especially unsafe. These are acid mixed with concentrations of alcohol likely to slay any human within moments.

  1. Don’t breathe the air

Vega IV’s atmosphere does contain oxygen and nitrogen. But it also contains very high concentrations of sulfur dioxide. Vegans consider this combination healthy and bracing. You shouldn’t.

  1. Avoid social interaction

Vegan hive culture is complex, hierarchical, and bound by social norms that few humans can hope to understand. An individual contravening any of a long series of frequently bizarre social conventions will be immediately killed, for fear of upsetting the social order. Don’t be that individual!

  1. Don’t attempt to communicate

Vegan language consists of a rapid series of clicks, thrums and pincer-gesticulations. Any human attempting to converse in this fashion will inevitably make mistakes. It has been calculated by xenolinguists that around 80% of the Vegan language is devoted to dire threats. You are very likely to end up in an unfortunate position if you do attempt to communicate.

  1. Don’t even look at anyone

Direct eye-to-eye contact is considered threatening to the Vegan mindset. Unfortunately, the sight of a human face is very likely to trigger the Vegans’ strong predation instinct, and they may well attack mercilessly and without warning. Remember, this is perfectly normal in Vegan culture and shouldn’t be taken as a personal slight.

The similarity of human facial features to those of the madrat is perhaps an unfortunate coincidence in this regard.

  1. Do admire the meadows

Perhaps surprisingly, Vega IV is blessed with many stunning flower meadows. These are a must for off-world visitors. Don’t touch any of the flowers, though.

  1. Keep moving

You may well be tempted to linger as you admire the flower meadows or the Vegan’s soaring hive architecture. Don’t. Stationary individuals are generally assumed to be dead and therefore food in Vegan culture.

Follow these simple rules and your visit should be enjoyable and may even last as long as intended. Enjoy your stay!

Simon Kewin is the author of over 100 published short or flash stories. His works have appeared in Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex and many more. He lives in England with his wife and their daughters. His cyberpunk novel The Genehunter and his fantasy novels Engn and Hedge Witch were recently published. Find him at simonkewin.co.uk.

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