M’Harendar, the only moon of six with an atmosphere that supported lush vegetation and a beautiful resort, orbited the gas giant M’Endar in the M’par system. The system was neutral with an autonomous government that was more like a corporation than a political body. After all, M’Harendar was a resort - a place for total relaxation where any number of species in the Confederation of Planets could have their most hedonistic wishes granted at a spa of galactic renown nestled on the edge of a blue, tropical inland sea. Those with a more adventurous sense of relaxation could choose to rough it at campsites dotted along well-marked trails into the unspoiled wilderness regions of the outback.
In the Chuba Mountains of the outback, the Singing Wind Caves were a favorite stop for hikers. Their peculiar structures hung with exotic, wiry growths of giant, phosphorescent fungus truly did sing and sigh depending on the winds. However, their wonders were not why she, Abadai M’Tschaka of the leonine Mehari species, waited in the shadows growing more impatient by the moment on this particular day. Finally, she heard a particular mixed party of species come tromping in the entrance. She was glad the mineral deposits in the area played havoc with any sensors or spy technology, a key factor to the whole clandestine assembly.
In silence, three humanoids, a small, stocky primate Setmahen covered in brown fur, a tall saurian Selriki, a slightly shorter, long snouted, dark skinned Kkaarif, and one leonine Mehari, all dressed for hiking in rough country, filed into the cave’s main gallery to stop near her. Bathed in a dull, eerie green glow of the phosphorescent fungus, the group unceremoniously unslung and dropped various knapsacks and bed rolls on the rocky floor. The place smelled of dampness and mold some by there expressions obviously found unpleasant. Small creatures could be heard scuttling deeper into the darker recesses of the cavern.
The small Setmahen looked about, curled his lip in distaste, pulled a small, round object from his knapsack, yanked a tab and instantly inflated a cushion. When the Kkaarif looked sideways and clicked its tiny teeth in its mocking tone, the Setmahen said, “I like to be comfortable, Ambassador Akarif of the Kkaarif and this hole is a far cry from the Council Chambers on Pryton.”
A tall, blond humanoid, the Prytani Ambassador T’kal, turned on a small light globe and sat it on a rock as all settled in a rough circle on the cavern floor, the Setmahen on his cushion. T’kal looked around at the gathering, smiled and said, “Now that Ambassador Fahrar has made himself quite comfortable, I call this meeting of the Pro-Contact Faction Delegates to order. It has been decided by our members that it will be Vessel Master Abadai M’Tschaka of the Mehari, here who will carry out our plan of First Contact. She has so kindly agreed to meet us here at the resort under the guise of a shore leave to discuss the details. I give the floor to Vessel Master Abadai.”
Abadai flicked her round ears forward, her many jeweled hoop earrings jingling lightly, a somber expression on her pretty leonine face. Only the slight graying of her tawny fur about her muzzle and streaked through her styled short mane betrayed her age and the jewek colors on her earrings spoke of many voyages and experience. She glanced at the Mehari Ambassador, Dursa M’Tschaka, her sister. Dursa gave her the slightest of nods.
Abadai looked around the circle, her eyes connecting with those of each ambassador in passing. She did not like politicians, but she believed deeply in their cause.
It was their ancestors, especially the Prytani, who had seeded the Tellin humans on the mineral rich seventh planet from the rim of the Sol system for the purpose of working mines. Thus, they were responsible by Karmic Law for their peaceful introduction into the vastly wider galactic family. The whole issue of contact with this quickly maturing human race was a political hot rock that had been tossed around the Council for years. Now a decision was being forced upon them by the Tellin’s leap into space exploration, continued use of dangerous nuclear energy and most of all, their abused and endangered planet. Complicating things further were the Non-Interference Edict that had been in force for several thousand years and the Apacians. The Apacians, she detested. They were the hive minded, melon-headed big-eyed race that had some hives as provisional members while other independent hives had made deals with a few Tellin governments; a trade of technology in return for experimentation rights on the general human population. In essence the Confederation had legislated itself into a hands off position while a provisional member species still unaffected by the Edict was free to slowly assimilate yet another world in a quest to improve its badly damaged DNA.
The Pro-Contact faction had enough of the political rhetoric and independently came up with a plan for an accident that would force a “First Contact”, thus getting around the Non-interference Edict and insidious Apacian hives. Abadai now had to fill in the plan’s holes the best she could. She had to make sure the hive-minded Apacians never got wind of the mission early enough to ruin it. Any contact made had to be done in a manner that would not allow them any cause for a formal complaint in the Council that could ruin the growing support of the Pro-contact platform as well as a lot of political careers.
“I do not need to tell you we are on very thin ice with this plan,” she said and heard a few mumbles and clicks from her audience. Her ears flicked and the earrings jingled. “I will go on yet another survey mission to the Sol system as planned and ordered by the Council for next rotation. However, my long range sensors will fail and I will be forced to send out a scout vessel with disk survey probes that must be launched from orbit. This scout ship will have a failure in its navigational grid that will force it to land. The pilot will have to get crystals for repair and thus must come into contact with natives. The rest will be in the hands of the Goddess.”
“Hah!” Fahrar burst out and rolled back on his haunches almost falling off his pillow. “That is not much of a plan.”
“Tisk ... tik ...tik ...tisk! Poor plan. Too much room for chance. Too much room for disaster,” Ambassador Akarif agreed.
“Then you will like even less what I am about to say,” Abadai said, looking at them through a squint with her ears back. “One of my nephews, Kedi M’Tschaka, will be the pilot. He is very experienced, a scientist and being male will not allow the Apacian hives to think it was anything else but an accident.”
“This is madness!” bellowed the stocky, humanoid Tarakian Ambassodor Thurin.
“The males of your species are notoriously bad tempered, violent . . . “
”No worse than your whole species,” Abadai shot back, meeting his glowering, red-faced stare with blazing eyes and flattened ears. “You were once on the same path to extinction as the Tellins. Or have you conveniently forgotten your own bloody history?”
Thurin backed down. “All right. Explain your logic in this insane idea.”
“I thought I just did. But, I will elaborate for the Tarakian ambassador. Kedi will have plenty of the herbal drug behouri to keep his temper under control. Males of our species are also stronger and better physically equipped for survival in harsh environments. And he will not know he is on a first contact mission, which will keep us safe if anything goes wrong. Should he survive the mission, and I pray he does, and should he be questioned by the Council he will only tell what he believes is the truth and no mind probe from a Council Redactor will reveal otherwise.”
“This is crazy,” the dark-haired humanoid Lycanthian ambassador, Kosan broke in. “Even by Lycanthian standards.”
“And we all know how crazy Lycanthians can be, Ambassador Kosan,” Fahrar cracked in an effort to break the growing tension. A huge grin of sharp teeth split his round primate face, the light of the glow globe glinting off a few silver crowns.
“Ambassador Kosan, you have little choice at this point in time if you want this incident to take place before the next Council meeting,” Abadai said, her ears still held back betraying her annoyance. She was going out of her way for these politicians and so far no one seemed to appreciate her position. “It is a simple plan . . .”
“Such a plan can work, the Gods willing,” T’Kal said.
“I see nothing wrong in the plan, but the execution could be tricky. However, there are always variables in any endeavor,” the saurian Selriki ambassador, Sh’Shek, finally spoke. “But, how are you going to deal with the language barrier? Tellus is not a unified world and so many languages are spoken.”
“There will be a pocket Universal Translator unit on the scout ship, Ambassador Sh’Shek, and Kedi does speak and understand English, one of the major languages of that world. He has been fascinated with Tellus since he heard of it in his first exobiology class,” Abadai said, erecting her ears in a friendlier manner.
“I repeat, what about the Tellin propensity for violence?” Turin insisted, folding his stout arms over his broad chest, a scowl on his fleshy face. “You know very well the Dust Eaters destroy what they don’t understand.”
Abadai’s ears flattened slightly at the derogatory term for Tellins that came out of their initial purpose as slaves who worked the mines on Tellus in the very early days of their history as a genetically engineered species. It was a painful time and an embarrassment best forgotten. “My, aren’t we rather stereotyping a multi-cultured technological species?”
“There is truth in his words . . . tik . . . tik . . . kith,” Akarif said, working the long jaws in his drooping snout clicking his tiny teeth. “My people understand well that part of Tellin ways . . . tik . . .tik.”
Abadai saw the ceremonial dagger of one of high social rank in Akarif’s belt that was as much an offensive weapon for use against clan rivals and caught the glint in his beady red eyes under the hood of his jacket. “Yes, I suppose you do, but the potential for violence will just have to be added to the variables of this mission. We will just have to hope he lands among people who will think first. They do exist. Our species does have the advantage of an appearance similar to cats and lions, creatures the Tellins are quite fond of to the point of making them gods in the ancient times.”
“True, pretty Mehari, very true,” Fahrar said. The look he gave her bordered on lasciviousness.
“Flattery will get you no where, Ambassador Fahrar. Lets get back to the business at hand. I will go with the plan I have just outlined unless any of you have a better suggestion. I will add that I will provide a rescue should a crisis develop. However, the important elements that I see that must be stressed in this mission are that the Tellins learn there are other species out here besides the Goddess-be-damned Apacians. They have been searching for exoplanets with new, more powerful telescopes over the last few years not to mention the Curiosity land drone on Ares. They certainly know that there is the prospect of a First Contact. They must learn of the official First Contact with the political body of the Confederation of Planets at a later date. And maybe along the way their attitudes will change and they will make a bigger effort to save their world. As to those who still insist Tellus stay under interdiction, it may wake them up to their responsibility for the race they spawned upon that world. Their child is ready to leave the nest and is in need of guidance. Otherwise they, in their own kind of arrogance, are breaking the sacred edict ‘Do as ye will, but harm none.’ This ends my presentation.”
“Thank you, Vessel Master Abadai. Now, does anyone wish to open further discussion of this issue?” T’kal asked and looked from one to another.
Abadai hoped not. The Prytani had a reputation for negotiating and discussing issues to thepoint it put everyone else either to sleep or drove them to the point of exasperation so that they walked out.
Only the distant dripping of water into a subterranean pool broke the silence. Then, they all felt a shift in the breeze and the whole cavern began to hum as if invisible hands were gently brushing past the strings of a Lycanthian harp.