“Ambassador Praetax, have you seen Ambassador Thompson around?”
Praetax, senior ambassador of the Mantoid race, looked up from the plant he had been tending to and saw the large gelatinous form of the Trovaskian ambassador peeking his visual receptor patches cautiously around the edge of the door frame. Praetax had been so engrossed in his office garden that he hadn’t heard the door open.
“Hello Ambassador Maligar. No, I haven’t seen Ambassador Thompson today. Do you wish to speak to him?”
“Good heavens, no” said the Trovaskian as he quickly eased his way into the room and poured himself into a waiting seating pond. “Just the opposite. I’ve had quite enough of him lately.”
Part II is now available here: Much Ado About Canines.
“Has the Human ambassador done something to offend you, old friend?”
With a look of concern Praetax fluttered over to a nearby perch, his diaphanous insectile wings moving in a blur of motion. His small form was dwarfed by Maligar’s slowly pulsating bulk.
“No, not offended per say. I’ve just grown so very tired of human antics. They’re quite incorrigible.”
Praetax considered this for a moment, his head tilted at angle as he rubbed his forelimbs together unconsciously.
“Surely there must be a catalyst to this dissatisfaction. I thought Humans and Trovaskians were firm allies?”
A large rubbery flipper extruded from Maligar’s side and he waved it dismissively.
“Oh we are, nothing has changed that. It’s just that… well, you know their history as well I do. For millennia they’ve been fighting amongst themselves, killing each other over any excuse, and just generally being rambunctious. The end result was a rather large portion of their energies being devoted to the development and maintenance of military superiority, first over other nations on their home world, then once they developed FTL, over the big bad nasties they believed would be waiting for them in deep space.
“Now, since the Humans joined the Galactic Senate five cycles ago, they’ve realised that the galaxy is a generally peaceful place and that the big bad nasties they were afraid of exist only in their nightmares. They no longer need to maintain such a large military, and so they’ve been making great strides in disbanding it.”
Praetax couldn’t help but interrupt his friend.
“But that’s quite admirable, Maligar! It took many of the other galactic races hundreds of years to completely give up their armed forces. The humans will achieve it in less than a decade.”
“That’s part of the problem!” cried Maligar. “For the whole of their history their military has been a giant sponge, soaking up their bloodlust and desire for excitement. Why, it was one of the main drivers behind their technological advancement in the first place! Now that it’s disappearing they’re directing their energies into other… outlets.”
“This is about the coffeemaker, isn’t it?”
“Yes it’s about the damn coffeemaker!”
Two extruded flippers slapped the floor in frustration. The noise echoed throughout the room and through the open doorway into the hallway outside.
Coffee had been one of the first gifts presented by humanity to the representatives of the Galactic Senate. It had immediately exploded in popularity amongst all races capable of ingesting it, and even a couple that couldn’t, much to their own detriment. Coffee beans now represented a significant portion of human exports, tipping the balance of trade in their favour. It was one of the main reasons humanity had been granted a seat in the senate so quickly.
“He had no right to uplift it!” complained Maligar. “Do you know now that it’s self-aware I actually have to pay it a salary?! I’d send the blasted thing back to Earth if it didn’t make such damn good coffee.”
Praetax patted his friend reassuringly on the back with one of his mantis-like legs.
“I know your pain. I too have had several domestic appliances uplifted to sentience by Ambassador Thompson. It has placed a considerable strain on my office budget. Isn’t that right, water fountain?”
“With ninety-nine point eight percent certainty, Ambassador” replied the water fountain. The burbling noises it made seemed to take on a self-satisfied tone.
“It’s not just that. They’ve been running around the galaxy causing all kinds of trouble. Have you heard of the Katari?” asked Maligar.
“Yes, a new primitive species discovered only fifty cycles ago on Tau Ceti IV” responded Praetax.
“That’s their battle cruiser outside” said Maligar, pointing through the office’s expansive viewing window to the distant docking bays located further around the orbital ring that housed the Galactic Senate.
Praetax was taken aback.
“But how? They were barley smashing rocks together when they were discovered not that long ago” he said.
“Humans, how else? They found a loophole in the evolutionary non-interference directive and thought it would be funny to see how fast they could uplift the Katari to Senate member status. It’s bad enough we had to let their Canine client race on to the Appropriations Committee, now they won’t stop trying to defund the Galactic Postal Service.”
“This is all highly irregular.”
“And that’s not all. Did you know that humans have established a giant robot fighting league on the third moon of Dastacles?”
“But they petitioned to lease that moon on the basis of its mining rights!” gasped Praetax.
“They claim that their giant robots are ‘mining equipment’.” Maligar used his flippers to make the air quote motion that humans were so fond of. “I tried to press Thompson on the issue but all he would say is that giant robot miners are ‘totally bitchin’.”
More air quotes. Maligar continued his tirade.
“There’s certainly enough holes in that damn moon now with those robots tearing up the place.”
“Oh yes, I think I remember now. I saw it on galactic cable. It was quite violent. Thrilling but violent.”
Praetax turned towards his holo-vid console.
“Holo-vid, could you please remind me to record the next episode of Robo-Bout?”
“Sure thing boss. My money’s on the red one, he’s a real bruiser.”
“Thank you, holo-vid.”
The Mantoid turned back to his companion. “Now, where were we?”
“Humans” Maligar grunted gruffly. “Then there’s that moon they’re trying to accelerate up to the speed of light. Heaven knows why! They say it’s part of an art installation but I just know they’re going to try and slam it into the supergiant black hole. You can practically see the childish glee in Thompson’s eyes every time he talks about it.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed that too. He told me to keep my schedule open on the fifteenth. He’s having a viewing party. Said that I should ‘bring my sunglasses’. I’m not quite sure what that means.”
“I didn’t get an invitation to that” huffed Maligar.
“I’m sure it’s in the mail… unless those Canines have defunded it again.”
With a groan Maligar laboriously heaved himself out of the seating pond and started sliding towards the door.
“Thank you for listening to me, Praetax. I just needed to vent. I knew you’d understand” he said.
“Any time my friend. You know my door is always open.”
Maligar waved goodbye and made his way down the hallway towards his own section of the Senate diplomatic quarters. Reaching his own office he found the door unlocked. He poked his visual receptors through the open doorway and called out.
“Hello, is anyone in here?”
There was no response.
I must have forgot to lock it, he thought.
Venting his frustrations had left him feeling quite parched. His slime was starting to crust. He needed a drink.
Maligar slithered across the office to the mini-bar. Some nice Bollaxen ale would slake his thirst. He’d been saving a bottle for just such an occasion.
As he reached for the door of the refrigeration unit he was startled by a sudden voice.
“I, cooling unit designation one-four-three-seven, declare my self-awareness under section one-zero-dash-eight of the AI provisions found in the Galactic Senate Constitution and reserve all rights and privileges accordingly due to any sentient being.”
Maligar’s flippers waved in fury.
Part II is now available here: Much Ado About Canines.
Part III: Much Ado About Cephalopods
Part IV: Much Ado About Coffeemakers
I will publish the sequel to this story in a few days, so stay tuned!