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I'd read a short story online a few years ago where an astronaut is woken from cryogenic sleep when her ship encounters an alien vessel. It is implied that the aliens look like sharks, and they eat smaller sentient beings with whom they co-evolved and with whom they can communicate. The smaller aliens are raised as servants and are aware they'll eventually be killed and eaten. They express fear before they're killed, but the larger species doesn't consider them sentient. The predator aliens want to find the astronaut's home planet so they can eat humans. The astronaut befriends one of the servants and the predator aliens threaten to kill him if she doesn't lead them back to Earth. She pretends that she's willing to go along with them to save her friend but, shockingly, isn't willing to sacrifice the entire human race to save a single alien or to satisfy a trope.

The point of the story is that sentient species are unlikely to acknowledge signs of sentience in their prey, no matter how obvious those signs are.

I'd read it sometime between 2014 and 2016. I really liked the story and have searched for it online a couple of times since, but haven't been able to find it even though I remember many of the details :( Does it ring a bell for anyone here?

  • Sounds good. About how long ago was "a few years ago"? Two years? Twenty? – Vanguard3000 Nov 13 '18 at 3:22
  • @Vanguard3000: I'd read it sometime between 2014 and 2016. (Replying instead of commenting because StackExchange doesn't want to let me log in with the account I'd posted the question from, and the new account doesn't have enough reputation to post comments :) – Sameer Nov 13 '18 at 7:46
  • I hope somebody can identify this cos I wanna read it as well – DannyMcG Nov 13 '18 at 9:26
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    @Danny3414 It's now been successfully identified. – Rand al'Thor Jan 4 at 20:14
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The story is "The Hunter Captain" by David John Baker and you can find the full text of it here: http://escapepod.org/2016/03/29/ep526-the-hunter-captain/

Also you failed to mention that it's from the predator alien's perspective which I think is particularly important to the story's message.

  • Thanks so much, @dspyz, this is indeed what I was looking for!! I'd completely forgotten that the story was from the predator alien's perspective :) – sameer Jan 4 at 1:29

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