The First Feast, Part 21

“How many death threats – how many actual attacks – will be enough to make you see the danger here?” Malerious Hara Scodd demanded with well-intentioned caution.

“I think we both have different understandings of the situation,” Char said as patiently as she could, and threw a full display onto the conference room wall with a flick of her lower left fingers. “This,” she said, gesturing at the scrolling text, “is the standard Fleet protocol in the event of alien sentient contact. This protocol dictates our level of caution. It is a standard and unchanging amount of caution, Malerious. When we encounter alien sentients who are universally welcoming and show no physical or communicational sign of hostility, we are this cautious,” she pointed at the protocol very carefully, as though Scodd might have missed the enormous glowing exhibit, “in case we have misunderstood something fundamental or they are hiding their true intentions. When we encounter alien sentients who are universally hostile in word and deed, we are this cautious,” she pointed at the wall once more, “again, in case we have misunderstood something. For every grade and statistic of friendliness and hostility we encounter in alien sentients in between those two extremes, we are this cautious.”

“I understand, Captain,” Scodd said a little huffily.

“I’m pretty sure you don’t,” Char said, “because I’m pretty sure you’re about to appeal to the logic of scaling our vigilance upwards in response to the manifestation of clear and present threats.”


“As if our starting default position is wide-eyed naïve trustfulness, and each recognised instance of hostility – from our own cultural standpoint – narrows our eyes by some microscopic amount into a distrustful squint? That’s moronic, Scodd.”

“Of course I wouldn’t suggest anything so-”

“But increasing vigilance based on hostility implies decreasing vigilance based on non-hostility. That’s also moronic.”

“Obviously there must be a baseline as per the protocols, but an escalation of security measures in response to known-”

“It also suggests a state of universally-adjusting mistrust, applying a new response model to our approach to the entire alien species – or, worse, to arbitrarily-designated sections of the species – based on the actions of one, or half, or even all but one of them. To do that in a manner even approaching rationality would require massive study of context and causes, backgrounds and psychologies. Which is simply not practically possible, so to even suggest such an approach is – yes – moronic.”

“Would you stop saying everything is moronic?”

“Everything is not moronic, Malerious,” Char said. “Only the things you are saying. If you want me to stop, do us all a favour and stop saying moronic things.”

“Elementary knowledge of the species and application of logic can allow us to make assumptions affecting best-outcome security and diplomatic approaches,” Scodd said stiffly. “Knowing that some of them have attacked and harbour ill intentions of a given nature, we can formulate theories and response scenarios accordingly.”

“If you want to go and assume things, you go ahead,” Char said, “but I will relieve you of command. Wiser heads than mine, and certainly wiser heads than yours, have decided that assumption is the derivation of all fuck-ups.”

“I still think we should let them take their best shot,” Lalliard Left Sock said, as Scodd subsided with a scowl. “Assuming that pack of idiots who shot their own coastal settlement with a nerve toxin weren’t their best shot.”

“You think I should go to Detroit and allow one of these lunatics try to kill me?” Char asked wryly.

“Absoutely,” Lalliard grinned. “Let them see that their weapons can barely even hurt us. Let the would-be assassins start this relationship horrified at the apparently-invincible thousands-of-years-old aliens. Let the non-involved human leaders start this relationship on the back foot as they apologise for almost causing a diplomatic catastrophe. Simple embarrassment for what they let their ignorant cousins do on our very first meeting will do more than months of gifts and platitudes and negotiation.”

“I agree,” Scodd said, although it clearly pained him to be siding with the silver-plated Blaran. “Naturally it would be an unacceptable security risk, but some variant on the approach…”

“A poor way to start,” Char said, “by manipulating them.”

“I confess it’s probably also overestimating their ability to be embarrassed by a failure in diplomacy,” Lalliard admitted blandly.

“Well, there’s not much for it,” Char said. “Lalliard, Malerious – you will accompany Gydanna, Bonton Doal and me to Detroit to meet with Divine President Dolan Cavanaugh. If anyone tries to kill us, I expect the two of you to selflessly throw yourselves into harm’s way.”

“Can I heroically throw Mal into harm’s way instead?” Lalliard Malakaar asked innocently.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
This entry was posted in Astro Tramp 400, IACM, The Book of Pinian and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The First Feast, Part 21

  1. aaronthepatriot says:

    I keep thinking you’re not really writing about what you’re writing about. Not exactly. If you know what I mean.

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