I stood up and gave my name. That was all I gave. It was not the name my parents gave me. But after a week, it was the name everyone on this floor knew me by, so that was the name I gave.
The next person in the circle stood up and gave a name. I realized I was supposed to sit back down, and did so.
The self naming continued. As far as I could tell, we all gave pseudonyms. Shan, Dro, Berry, Hard Tack, and Anna Mae were a few of the names I remember. We were all guys. At least we all had beards or evidence of shaving. So even if some thought Anna Mae was a given name, I wasn’t convinced.
That was a long time ago. Twenty years, they tell us. One day kind of blends into another, so it’s hard to tell for sure. Dro and Anna Mae died. Tragic accident they said. Jess and Tanner replaced them.
But today, they came and told us we’re going home. They finished taking our space ship apart and copying it and put it back together.
The thing is, this planet had no visible technology when we arrived. I am pretty sure they couldn’t tell the difference between aluminum and titanium, or even iron for that matter. Heat treating had to be a complete unknown. A torque wrench or a pyrometer were gadgets that were in the mechanic’s crib, but could they distinguish that from the cargo that had been intended for trade? I doubt it. They had let a couple of the people from another floor out of the building to advise them on how to put the pieces back together after the replication. They didn’t comprehend that a pastry chef and a linguist would be useless in assembling a spacecraft.
So here we were. Free to go home. On their copy of our own spacecraft. Which was probably a safer bet than the original, which might actually still have functional take off capability, but surely would never get us home.
They’d listened to our conversations for years. But even now, they did not understand the concept of specialization.
We were free to go home now. Or free to stand up and give our names, and be welcomed into the native population, having finally been deemed harmless.