Oct 18, 2019 2:28 AM
jean makes another first contact
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“That’s going to be a problem.”

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"This is among the reasons I wanted to speak with you myself, your Radiance."

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“We can see why.”

They recross their legs — when one calf is about to click against the frame of the chair, Morath puts his hand gently between the two.

“What other reasons did you have?”

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"That one has a number of complications, with which I need not bore you now if you don't like. The other issues are rather more minor -- for instance, the Federation has abolished the use of currency, which has led to a number of issues you may or may not encounter in your dealings with them."

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“How do you even—”

 

Why?

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"It was a politically popular move at the time."

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"You can see why I didn't want to leave it to them to handle first contact."

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The Queen puts their hand out a second before a drone arrives to put a drink in it.

”We do.”

The drone approaches Jean, offers a pale green beverage in a tall gold-flecked glass.

“...what kinds of engineering have they banned? Do they allow postnatal therapies, at least?”

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"Thank you," he says, and sips the drink, because if they want to drug him they're perfectly able.

"Postnatal gene therapy is also considered a serious crime. Some people practice it in secret regardless. In the eyes of the law, their patients become their property."

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The drink is slightly sweet and fizzy and has a faint claylike, herbal taste that lingers on his tongue.

“What — do your surgeons also own their patients?”

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"No. It's only in that case. Genetic engineering is ... not popular."

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The Queen looks distinctly put out.

(Several of the drones are clearly itching to speak. They keep quiet.)

“Why is there a legal change of ownership when someone commits a crime, anyway? That’s ridiculous.”

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"Historical reasons. I don't disagree that it's ridiculous."

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“This is going to delay Our project for ages.”

They drum their fingers on the arm of the chair.

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"It's something I've made a career of working against, though with resources much more limited than your own."

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“How convenient.”

They smile, blink their sparkling eyes at him.

“You’ll be able to tell Us where to start. We are this swarm’s representative for the science of genetic engineering, and We would like to finish the politics quickly.”

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"I'd be honored to help, your Radiance, but I should forewarn you that I may be a political complication in myself. My life's work has not made me popular."

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“We have dealt with worse complications.”

The alien knelt by the Queen’s arm is pressing tiny pieces of gold leaf onto the chitin. Morath has leaned his head up against their knee, and shut his eyes. His expression is deeply peaceful.

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Just then, the Federation ship begins to hail them.

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Oh. Right. Them.

He flicks his hand, and a projection flickers on in midair.

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"Your Radiance," says the admiral, who has at least figured out modes of address. "I'm sorry about the false alarm. Did you get safely back to your ship?"

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They're sitting there, aren't They?

"We did. Despite the best efforts of your crew, who drew their weapons and fired on Us as We were attempting to leave."

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"--I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure there was some kind of misunderstanding. I'll speak to them and make sure it doesn't happen again."

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"...you'll speak to them."

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