A Glitch in Humanity

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Chapter 7

The Universal Justice Consortium was established ten thousand years before Earth and just thirty years after the first interstellar war, the one that spawned the development of intelligent life on hundreds of worlds, including Earth. The UJC’s primary purpose is to protect the galaxy and defend planets that pay for it. Ekon believes Earthlings are a threat to themselves and the rest of the universe, and this is what he is betting on to strengthen his argument. As he marches in the direction of the UJC embassy, an air of confidence infects his stride.

The UJC embassy sits in northern part of Yabisi’s capital. In the midst of tall, glamourous metal, glass and some red clay buildings, the embassy is imposing but squat and unimpressive. It is a relic so flat, it looks like a giant squashed it. Ekon spits every time he lays eyes upon it. He wipes his mouth with the back of his clawed hand, and completes his ritual.

Two enforcers in heavy black and orange armor open the door before him. Khalia never used enforcers. She claimed doing so would separate her from the people, make her seem unapproachable. Ekon had excelled at hand to hand combat and weapons training. Even for a reptilian, he is big. He does not need police enforcers for protection. He needs them for his image.

Inside, the embassy is dull, having just one light globe every fifty feet. The balls of light are poorly placed and too dim to be of any real use. He would rather use his own night vision than have useless globes floating around. He frowns, thinking this place looks more like a cave than the meeting grounds of the galaxy’s most important alliance. He will not miss this place.

“Hello, High Speaker Ekon,” says the woman at the desk in the lobby. She pushes her glasses up on the bridge of her nose with a stubby hand and tosses her greying tresses over her shoulder.

The lobby is empty, aside from pictures of long-dead high speakers and commanders. Ekon sighs at the empty stone chairs that have gone from grey to black with time and no effort to clean them. He breathes through his mouth to avoid the stench in the air.

“Have the other members of the Consortium arrived?” he asks, glancing around once more, taking note of the empty chairs.

Dina nods. “All except the humanoid, Stella,” she adds.

“What a surprise,” he says, baring his teeth.

He is escorted by his guards, on ahead of him, the other behind. Every door they pass is open. Ekon can not help but look inside each one. The rooms are dark and absent any sign of life. They have no furniture or pictures. Nothing but a waste of space.

Ekon and his enforcers turn into the UJC conference room, just as Maoka finishes a joke. She squawks at her own jest, along with the others. The laughter dies when they notice Ekon. He grins, teeth glinting in the globe light.

“Tell me a joke. I want to laugh. I didn’t know this was a place of comedy,” Ekon says.

“We’re just keeping the mood light as we always do,” Maoka says, throwing up her hands innocently. Her lips are shaped like a beak, orange but not as pointy. Her hands are talons, and her arms white and black, just as the rest of the feathers on her body.

“Maoka helps us get through these meetings without boring ourselves to sleep,” Lutow says, slapping a hand on the stone conference table. For a humanoid, his hands are large. He wears a jumpsuit, the typical dress of humanoids throughout the Milky Way, but his is luminescent.

“Yes, indeed. With all the destruction happening in cosmos, we need to unwind,” says a glob of a man named Cimicidae. He nods at the armed enforcers. “No need for them. You’re amongst friends.”

“We’ll see how long that lasts,” Ekon says, forcing himself to look at Cimicidae. Ekon cannot discern Cimicidae’s lineage. He has the dark, beady eyes of an insect but pincers like a crab. “You’re in my seat, though,” he tells Cimicidae.

Cimicidae is indignant, his chins wobbling. “There is no seating order.”

“There is now. The head of the table is hereby reserved for high speaker, as is written in the bylaws.”

The others shift uncomfortably in their seats but remain silent. Ekon feels the joy that had filled this room drain like blood from a body. He smiles on the inside but keeps a serious disposition. Letting his eyes fall on each one, Ekon sense fear, dislike and defiance. The last one is the one that disturbs him.

Before the meeting can get underway, the humanoid, Stella, barges in. She tosses a bag on the table, and does not seem to notice a number her dreadlocks dip into the cup of hot liquid she places beside her bag. She does not seem to notice anything, until Ekon clears his throat.

“Who died and made you all so gloomy?” Stella says sarcastically, her accent amplified by her stilted way of speaking. Everyone except Stella speaks Universal Tongue perfectly. Her way of handling the language irks Ekon.

“You should have been here thirty minutes ago,” Ekon says evenly.

“I didn’t know it was an interstellar crime to get tied up in traffic,” Stella says, sitting down and folding her hands.

“From now on, any party late to a meeting will be allowed to remain but will be restricted from voting or speaking during said meeting, something that is also written in the bylaws, but I’m sure you all have not practiced.”

Ekon searches every face, looking for signs or aggression or, at the least, disagreement. This is his first meeting, so he observes. The others speak of crimes other worlds have committed to their own people and how those crimes are offenses against the galaxy. He notes how some members speak confidently while others sit quietly and go with the flow. The latter will be his biggest asset.

After the other members finish, Ekon spreads a blueprint on the stone table. It is massive, and the development it mirrors will be even grander. He remains sitting while the others fawn over the sketch. They are puzzled, and Ekon curbs his excitement before giving more information.

“What is this supposed to be?” asks Rattus, his whiskered mouth twitching. He adjusts his red formal tunic and sits.

“It is a blueprint of the new UJC embassy that will replace this one,” Ekon says, nodding in agreement with himself.

“The UFC’s venue cannot be changed without a motion being supported by a majority vote. From the looks of it, you don’t have it,” Stella says, taking in the others.

Ekon shows every tooth in his mouth, somewhere between grin and grimace. He unfolds another sheet of leathered skin. “You are right. And wrong. I only need a majority vote if the change of venue is for cosmetic purposes. This place is hideous, but it is also dangerous. Listed there is the official ruling declaring this building condemned. As high speaker, I assert my right to put the safety of the Consortium first in this matter.”

While the others look over the paperwork, Ekon privately congratulates himself. The months he has spent memorizing and interpreting the bylaws are paying off. He lets the others discuss the new embassy, waiting to drop his next bomb. When he has their undivided attention, he continues.

“Experiment G-Three has proven Earthlings are incapable of living in peace,” Ekon says, as if this is the only truth in the galaxy.

Maoka purses her beak and twirls her chair to face him. “How?” she asks.

“Right now, there is open war on Earth. Though their weapons carry no power similar to those we have, they are using nuclear warheads capable of pouring radiation into the cosmos. Also, I have witnessed firsthand how violent they are.”

“As much as I would like to believe your experience with humans should be the deciding factor in how we interact with Earth, I have to say it can’t be,” Stella says testily.

Ekon tilts his head. “I understand that you as a humanoid feel you must protect others like you, but Earthlings are no more like you than alligators are to me.”

“Earthlings are intelligent beings, unlike alligators.”

“Hence, they are a threat and must be dealt with accordingly. They are committing genocide, war crimes and other monstrosities. There is only a matter of time before their destruction pours over into the rest of the galaxy.”

Stella looks around, and Ekon feels her desperation as she searches for support. The others have gone silent, seeming to understand Ekon’s position. All of them except Stella, Lutow and Maoka. He doesn’t need them, if the rest are on his side.

“If their actions threaten the galaxy, that gives us reason to go in there and wipe them out,” Cimicidae says, scratching his chin with his pincers. “That way, we can put an end to them and the costs of running Experiment G-Three.”

“It would not be a great idea to wipe out a whole planet,” Stella says, her accent thicker with her anger.

Ekon feigns sympathy. “I agree with Stella. Instead of ending Experiment G-Three, I was thinking we expand it. We can fund it by selling Earthlings to other planets as servants.”

They are quiet, as the idea sinks in. In its current isolated state, Experiment G-Three is happening just on Yabisi. In his mind, Ekon counts the potential profits and flicks his tongue across his lips.

“Wait,” Stella says, panic in her voice as she continues to lose ground in the argument. “Last year, we set a date to vote on the continuation or discontinuation of Experiment G-Three. From my count, that date is still ninety days from now.”

“We can vote now. Before her death, my mother completely agreed with extending Experiment G-Three. I got the idea from her. This is why I don’t see the point in waiting,” Ekon says hurriedly.

“Dates for votes can’t be changed,” Maoka says, and the others agree.

“Also, Khalia once told me she kept a journal. If you can find it, I’m sure she would have put in there somewhere how she felt about the experiment,” says Stella suspiciously.

Stella smiles when Ekon meets her gaze. Anger flares in him, as he guesses her game plan. She will use the time in between now and the voting date to change the mind of the others. Having known them for years, she has the advantage.

Ekon wipes away blood that bleeding from a puncture in his palm caused while balling his hands. He ponders about the alleged journal, something he has heard nothing of previously. Stella could be lying. If she isn’t and the journal falls into the wrong hands, the information in it could undo him.

“I’m a fair person,” Ekon says, standing. “Ninety days it is.” He looks at Stella. “I hope to see you there.”

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