Oct 24, 2020 4:27 PM
genocide aliens versus the terrible planet
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It's been nearly a year since the end of the world.

The exploratory vessel Rain in Starlight is searching for habitable planets. It finds one.

There are... people... on it.

 

They dutifully compile an extensive report and then flee back to Goskal-2, where the academics pore over the recorded radio transmissions and then forward their results to Tseiza-3, where the diplomats and assorted specialists read through everything and then send a copy to Suranse, where the Ceirene governing council reads through it carefully and then hosts an open session to discuss the appropriate response, and the King of Aluvanna reads the first three paragraphs and then schedules a meeting with Assistant Coordinator Sikyal Tegati on Ityen-6.

Two weeks later, Rain in Starlight jumps back to the newly named Kadrixi system and approaches the inhabited fourth planet. The King, the Assistant Coordinator, three linguists and two xenosociologists, and one-third of the original crew are all on board. (None of the diplomats wanted to come.)

They park in orbit and eavesdrop on radio transmissions. The linguists argue with one another over how to translate the ones they can decipher, and the xenosociologists argue with one another over the implications of the translations, and Dalvor sits at the back of the conference room and murmurs to Sikyal, who rephrases his comments for the group.

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Radio transmissions: wireless internet, audio and video comms. The two biggest countries are at war. They are arguing with each other about who is responsible for the apparently alien ship (one country or the other one or aliens). It is the last installment of the international green-caste singing competition hit show Garden of Song and a lot of people are talking about that too.

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"Oh, a war. That's annoying," says Dalvor.

Sikyal decides not to pass that one along.

The linguists, in consultation with a communications engineer from Rain in Starlight's original crew, figure out how to transmit an announcement, in text since they don't feel confident in their verbal delivery. They leave the content of the message up to Sikyal and Dalvor. Dalvor quietly curses the fact that the two languages the linguists have cracked so far belong to the two countries that are at war; the message, when they settle on one, goes out in both Tapap and Vo.

This is the interstellar exploratory vessel Rain in Starlight, co-advised by Assistant Coordinator Sikyal Tegati of Ityen-6 and King Dalvor Iserra of Aluvanna. We would like to establish diplomatic contact with your planet.
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Tapa replies first; Voa is having some radio problems. Where are those places? How many planets are already networked together? Do they have an opinion on the war? Do they want to land? Are they clean?

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The linguists and the navigator take five minutes to translate their system of galactic coordinates into local terms; then they compose a list of the names and locations of all twenty-nine inhabited systems, and argue over how to explain the location of Aluvanna and how to translate the names of the respective species involved. Eventually they decide to just leave 'ruikni' ('people') untranslated for this purpose.

The inhabited systems are thus-and-such. Ityen-6 is the interstellar center of government for the ruikni, who inhabit all the twenty-nine systems; the humans live in two neighbouring polities, Ceir and Aluvanna, in a... place... called Suranse, which is... attached... to Tseiza-3. Here is a picture of Sikyal, a ruix, standing next to Dalvor, a human. He has his wings out and looks mildly exasperated. Sikyal is much perkier. They do not currently have an opinion on the war. They are willing to land if given appropriate assurances about their safety. Rain in Starlight, like all ruikni ships in active service, bears an up-to-date certification from the Interstellar Hygiene and Safety Commission, but perhaps the locals mean something else by 'clean'...?

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They are probably okay. Tapa thinks they should land over there.

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Sikyal and Dalvor and the braver xenosociologist and the linguist with the best command of Tapap all pile into a shuttle and land over there.

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Some people are there to meet them! They look almost human - Ceirene, specifically - but none of them have wings and they have very interesting hair colors, all shades of blue and a few green and yellow.

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"Hello!" says Sikyal. The linguist translates. The xenosociologist looks fascinated. Dalvor looks inscrutable.

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"Hello," replies a blue. "Welcome to Tapa. Is there anything we can do for you to make your stay more comfortable?"

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"I think we will be all right but I will let you know if anything comes up!" says Sikyal. "I am Assistant Coordinator Sikyal Tegati, and this is King Dalvor Iserra, and these are Specialist Tebrel and Specialist Miuka." (Tebrel, the linguist, translates the introductions appropriately.)

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The blues introduce themselves - senators, mostly - and the greens, who include a linguist and a theoretical xenobiologist. They don't bother introducing the yellows.

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Sikyal is pleased to meet everyone!! Are they interested in cultural and technological exchange?

"Of course," says Dalvor, "having landed in the middle of a war, we're obliged to make a fair assessment of the situation before we go advantaging one side over the other."

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They are! They are interested in that!

"It's not one of those complicated wars," says a blue. "They poisoned their food exports; we don't have independent food security so we're annexing some farmland."

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"And yet," says Dalvor. "All things considered, I won't feel comfortable meddling until I've heard both sides of the story."

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Well, would they like to come back to the city anyway? They can look at things and talk to engineers and anthropologists.

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"Of course!" says Sikyal. Dalvor nods.

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Off they go to the city! It's a city. It is less advanced than the ruikni.

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And everything's too bright, but that's a hazard of being on spherical planets.

Sikyal is tremendously excited and compliments their architecture and asks friendly questions about their governmental structure that are reasonably well-informed for an alien who landed less than an hour ago.

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Senators and other governance jobs are available to anyone of more than six years of age and blue caste; all castes except red can vote, weighted by caste; many advisory and bureaucratic positions are held by greens and yellows.

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The ruikni don't have social castes like that! The humans have a fairly stark division between Ceirene and Aluvai but instead of separations in function or status this has resulted in separately administered states. Miuka the xenosociologist is fascinated and asks what the various castes all do and how their votes are weighted and why.

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Most people are purple caste. The purple caste is farmers, retail and factory workers, food service, construction, stuff like that. They're not super bright but there are lots so naive vote allocation would promote a mediocre understanding of purple interests rather than a good understanding of varied interests. Blues (governance) and greens (intellectuals, artists) are fewer but much more likely by comparison to know what's going on, so they get extra. Greys (law enforcement and military), oranges (caring professions), and yellows (skilled miscellaneous) all get the same.

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Miuka the xenosociologist tentatively points out that there is a colour missing from this list.

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Oh, right, those can't vote but they do have jobs, they handle the dead and sewage and stuff like that, but don't worry, they haven't touched anything the visitors will interact with.

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"Oh, that's very good to know," says Miuka. "The Interstellar Hygiene and Safety Commission will want to send a representative to document the relevant procedures and exchange information, but they'll have to wait until they can find someone who's comfortable interacting with, um, outsiders."

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"...the rest of us are quite clean," says the blue Miuka is talking to.

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