Glimpo was very pleased with himself. He had passed all the tests and had been selected for a delegation to meet with the first alien race that his had ever encountered. It had been generations since first contact, and discussions had been dragging out.
Glimpo’s greatest wish was to finally close the negotiations his forefathers had started. Entering the room where the meeting was meant to take place, he pressed the keypad by the door to announce his arrival.
“I remember when we had to knock,” an older member of the delegation grumbled. First contact and the initial stages of discussions had been done planet side. This was the first to be done on a Human ship fitted to accommodate their race.
“To think these slow beings took eight ploks to alter a vessel!” the old member continued to grumble.
“All due respect sir, their machinery may be more complex than ours.”
It was the case that the few pieces of technology that had been gifted had been reverse-engineered. They weren’t any marvels of function, but they were beyond complex by their race’s standards from the reports Glimpo had read.
“Ah, welcome delegates,” a Human said, standing up as the group entered the room. The delegates felt their breath freeze in their throats. They had only seen holoimages of the race identified as Humans.
“I see the halls were not to impress power upon visitors,” the old member of the group whispered. Looking up at the Human who stood a good twice their height. They had naturally assumed the race they were meeting was the same height as them. A failure the data team would no doubt be reprimanded for.
“I hope we can finish these negotiations today. It has been a little while since we started, and the people back home are eager to start trade.”
“Yes!” the old member barked. “We would’ve finished these discussions ploks ago had you not delayed so much.”
“I apologise for the delays. It took us a little while to retrofit parts of the ship to suit your people better.”
“I was but a newborn pup when you landed, and now I can finally see my race upon the greater stage of the universe.”
“Indeed. We have prepared all the documents you requested,” with a flick of his finger on a dataslate he was holding, the group felt a buzz from their devices. Appearing on the screen were all the agreed-upon provisions.
“It is good to be here,” Glimpo grinned as he read over the document before spotting something. “Apologies Human, but what are these numbers here?”
“Numbers?” the Human repeated, arching a brow. “Oh, those are the dates.”
“Ah… I thank you.”
“The date?!” the old delegate barked. “The progression seems off. Do you measure time differently from us?”
“It never came up. But it is likely as we are from different worlds.”
“I see… I suppose that does make sense.” The old member marked the document with a digital stamp to indicate his agreement, as did the others in the group.
“Perfect, with that, we can now proceed with a celebration.” Walking over to a wall, the Human pressed a wall-mounted device, and machines immediately began bringing out plates with cuisine from their home world.
As the other members of the delegation helped themselves to the food and drink, Glimpo couldn’t help but gaze out the window. Looking down at the crimson orb that was his homeworld. A view afforded to so very few. But would soon become commonplace.
“Beautiful view, isn’t it,” the Human diplomat said, walking up to stand beside Glimpo.
“Yes, it is amazing.”
“I still remember when we first arrived here. It was a sight to behold, seeing all the cities light up the world at night.”
“You mean your ancestors.”
“Hmm? Oh no, I was part of the crew when we first surveyed this world.”
“But that was close to one hundred ploks ago?!”
Glimpo’s outburst had paused the celebrations as all his fellows now looked at him with shock for his outburst. Something no diplomat worth his fur should do.
“I must apologise for my outburst.”
“No need… one moment the AI is still deciphering ploks…. It seems to be a new word the auto translator units we are using hasn’t identified.”
The Human looked at his dataslate as the AI worked out the meaning. But to Glimpo, it was odd. A plok was a plok. Every newborn cub learned its meaning by the end of their very first.
“Ah!” the Human exclaimed excitedly. “I see the meaning now…. Glimpo was it?” Glimpo nodded.
“A plok is what my race calls a month.”
“Month,” Glimpo echoed as he realised the Humans had another word for their unit of time.
“So your race arrived here some hundred months ago?” the Human nodded.
“Yes, we had to take things slowly so as not to cause chaos. We slowly contacted your governments and created vaccines so we didn’t cause plagues. It is why we took so long.”
“So you must be old then?” Glimpo asked, looking up at the Human with awe. There were only stories and fairy tales of races living as long as the Human was saying.
“Oh boy, I do feel old. I turned thirty only last month.”
“Thirty?” Glimpo tilted his head, letting his ears flop in confusion. “But you said you were amongst those who first found us?”
“Hmm… OH! I’m sorry, I meant years.”
“Years?” Glimpo heard a ping from his dataslate, revealing it meant roughly twelve ploks. Glimpo felt his heart rate quicken as he did the maths. So you are three hundred sixty-one ploks!!” The entire party of diplomats froze in shock, looking at the Human- a being older than many of the nations they called home.
“You mean this youngster is actually older than I am?” the old member of the group asked, trembling. It was a common point amongst their race that with age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes the right to rule.
“Well… I mean, when you put it like that, I guess so. How old are you, Glimpo? You must be a few years old.”
“I would be roughly two of your Human years.”
“Two… so the eldest of your number is?”
“Roughly seven by your years,” the old member declared.
“Wow… no wonder your race kept changing the diplomats we were talking with. We kept thinking we were doing something wrong. I will need to have a word with our data team about this one. But to think your race ages at this rate… though it would explain your broadcasts.”
“Yes. The first thing we detected about your world was broadcasts. We thought it was a translation error, a malfunction, or even interference that made it run at a faster rate. But to think you live your lives faster than imaginable.”
“Human… are you an old member of your race?” Glimpo asked, hoping the Human was just a very old member.
“Me? Oh no… I still have my grandparents. Grandma, though, is more machine than nan these days. But she celebrated her ninetieth.”
“O-over a thousand ploks. So many generations with one being.”
“Heh,” the Human began before pausing, feeling the awkward atmosphere descending. “Guess we are your equivalent of elves, then.”
“Elves?” Glimpo repeated, hoping for a reprieve.
“Yeah, back on our world, we have a story about a race of beings called elves. They looked just like us but had pointed ears and lived millennia.”
The dataslates all pinged, and the delegates all paled. Seeing the word meant a thousand iterations of a year.
“But you don’t need to worry. They are all just fairy tales and stories.”
“All due respect Human. A being living as long as you do to us would be from stories and myths for us. How confident are you they aren’t out there.”
“Well… bugger guess we will need to look into the possibility of space elves. Just hope they aren’t the Warhammer kind.”
Republished with permission from the author, Random3x. Image created using Stable Diffusion.