The 5th Gender

By: G. L. Carriger

A TINKERED STARS MYSTERY




Wait, what am I reading?

NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, brings you a light-hearted romantic cozy mystery featuring an adorable lavender alien and his human crush.

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THE 1st CHAPTER

What’s with the pet thing anyway?

There is no doubt about it. Humans are weird.

Surely all the other aliens would agree with Tristol on this subject – especially at the pub (which was run by humans) on the space station (also run by humans). But humans could be efficient in their weirdness and often quite fun. And no one argued with the fact that they were awfully prolific in all things, breeding faster than any other space-faring species ever encountered in the charted galaxy. They spread. Like fungus. They also spread their legs. A lot.

They were cute, though. Tristol admitted that. Fertile sexy brown-toned creatures, humans, with those adorable round little ears and petal shaped eyes.

But they were also weird.

Take the whole keeping of pets thing. Who would have dreamed up such an eccentricity? Keep an animal in one’s abode intended for neither work nor food but just companionship? Very weird.

Tristol, however, was a galoi, the notoriously easygoing loga variant, too. Which meant that once he met one of these so-called pets, he was rather taken with the concept. Or at least, this particular sample thereof.

*Cat*neuter*pet* Mister Montiguous was currently under Tristol’s care. And Tristol was utterly enamored of the funny hairy four-footed beastie. To have charge of a cat, particularly this cat, was a truly sacred responsibility.

Mister Montiguous’s humans were away on their second honeymoon. Tris had been chosen to feed the cat, and to pet the cat, and to call the cat a wonderful feline creature.

Tristol had no idea what a second honeymoon meant. To start with, the word honeymoon was mysterious. What did the excrement of bees and a satellite astral body have to do with spousal contracts? And then, why did one need two of them?

*Human*female*friend* Elle spoke eloquently about wanting to sit on sand and drink fruity drinks with umbrellas in them for her second honeymoon.

Tristol’s hair quivered in confusion. Why sand? Would not sand get into certain intimate places? Most uncomfortable. Then, after looking up the word umbrella because it was new to him, there being no weather on a space station, Tris was also left wondering, Why stick a large accessory meant for rain into one’s drink? Would this not damage both the accessory and the drink? Seemed a soggy bit of business.

But Elle and *human*male*friend* Olav (Elle’s spousal contract) were excited about the whole endeavor. Since Tris spent most of his life excited about something, he was always delighted to facilitate the sensation in others. So he sent his *human*heterosexual*spousal-unit*friends* off on their weird *soggy*sandy*honeymoon* thingy and undertook the task of looking after their cat.

Mister Montiguous was a diminutive furry creature who happened to miraculously weigh the same as a small asteroid when standing on one’s chest. Tris thought dark matter might be involved. The cat had the general attitude that if given due worship, devotees would be rewarded with a loud rumbling sub-vocalization (called a purr) and the occasional tiny tongue lick.

Tris thought both purr and licks were the most wonderful things. He was a particular fan of all sub-vocal rumblings. The isoga of his own species made a similar noise when calming their young.

Elle had actually been hesitant when asking Tris to help with the cat. Not because she did not trust Tris, but because she thought Mister Montiguous might require too much effort.

“He can be such a bother, Tris love.”

Tris had bounced on his heels, hair trembling in excitement. “It is a profound honor. You will show me everything to do with Mister Montiguous’s maintenance and I shall be most diligent in his alimentation.”

Elle had looked at him as if he were daft.

Tris was accustomed to that, from humans. His boss gave him that look nearly half a dozen times a day. But Tris was genuinely thrilled. After all, wasn’t this the reason to live among aliens? To experience their foibles. Like tiny predators as pets. And honeymoons. Perhaps when Elle and Olav took their third honeymoon, they would let him join them and observe.