Captured aliens are invited to a Tayamni diplomatic dinner to hear their fate
The translator sputtered and emitted an electronic tone.
Jerry looked at the two Kataru guards with worry.
One of the guards, a Tiamatu female, simply nodded to the large reptilian man standing in the doorway. Two armed women stood on each side of him.
Then, the translator emitted words, “…criminal?”
Jerry looked at the reptilian man, furrowing his eyebrows.
The Tlaloc spoke again, “Are you imprisoning us? You agreed to negotiate!” he yelled.
“Bring him to the dining table,” Jerry ordered. Looking at the reptilian man, he continued, “We have discovered over the millennia, that we cannot trust you."
“You negotiate with prisoners?”
“If it serves our purposes,” Jerry responded, looking across the table at Kirashi. Turning back towards the reptilian, he continued, “Tonight, you will dine with us and we will consider your terms.” He paused, “What is your name?”
“I am Cococ,” the reptilian man answered.
“Those of you in the underground caverns at Calisto chose you as leader?” Kirashi asked.
Looking back towards the entrance, Jerry saw two more guards accompanying a Potacas. As they approached he smelled chlorine, then he saw the rebreather. The Potacas breathed chlorine gas. “Please be seated,” Jerry directed them. “Our diplomatic team will arrive shortly.”
Both sets of guards led their charges to chairs at the long table. The Diplomatic Dining Hall adjoined a garden. Through a curved opening, more like a graciously shaped open window than a doorway, He saw an oak stretching towards lights placed around a window above. The tree grew from a bed of clover and tulips as if it were early spring on the ship. Artificially produced breezes gently wafted through the garden. The sounds of wind blowing through branches made Jerry homesick.
Berenib, Agu, Bosmat, Kurum, and Namazu entered. Jerry walked to the head of the table to stand with Berenib.
“Welcome diplomats and guests,” Berenib said, gesturing towards Cococ. “You will find that our chefs have created dishes suited to the diets of your home planets. If you eat meat, you will be served laboratory created flesh, mammalian and aquatic. We do not consume the flesh of living creatures, therefore, anything resembling animal flesh is produced by the rearrangement of raw materials.”
The Tlaloc looked away from her in disgust.
“We are here to discuss terms proposed by those remaining in the caverns at Calisto,” Jerry continued. “They have been there for 14 years, since the beginning of the Tlaloc wars.” He looked pointedly at Cococ. “Now, they wish to leave.”
Berenib turned aside, pointing to a space on the wall between her and Jerry. “Please observe the most recent information we have regarding the Tlaloc home system. This footage was recorded by a sensor attached to a Tlaloc vessel in 1963.”
Cococ looked at the display, pointedly. The Potacas looked at the surface of the table as if he were trying to focus on its texture.
An image of a green, yellow planet emerged. In the distance were three suns, two white, and one red that was closer. As the sensor descended through the fog the skies grew darker. It was soon clear that the mists were not natural, but smoke, burn-off from industrial waste. An orange, red ball, the closest sun, hovered near the horizon. The vehicle to which the sensor was attached, descended into a city. Structures, towering sky-scrapers, appeared as dark silhouettes against a dimly lit sky. Looking more closely, some buildings were in ruins, as if they were allowed to disintegrate and fall into disuse and remain where they stood. In those still occupied, light peered through windows into the smoke. Moving closer, they saw thick, electrical cords connecting some buildings to others.
The sensor broke from the ship, flying down to lower levels. Flying vehicles, emitting a vapor or smoke, flew around the bases of structures. Then, the image changed to the interior of an apartment. Several male Tlalocs were in a room. One of them walked towards a locked door. Passing his hand over a mechanism, the door opened. Inside were spheres, white ovals, stacked in a framed structure. There were around 15 eggs. The focus shifted to a control on the wall. Perhaps this was a temperature control.
The image changed to one where a tall man stood wearing loose fitting, yellow cloth, draped from his shoulders. He stood on glistening marble steps, holding a scepter in one hand, gesturing out towards a gathering of Tlalocs. The hisses and clicks emitted from him were not translated, but Cococ turned his gaze away and focused on his plate, as if he were stung by the words. The view changed to one of the thousands of people in attendance.
The sensor drifted through the crowd. It seemed that males in military clothing, like that worn by Cococ stood near the front. Behind them, in a section cordoned off, were gray reptiles with no tails, scantily clad, but looking nervously forward.
Namazu looked at Kirashi, sitting across the table from her, and sent a telepathic message, “No females?”
Kirashi shook her head.
The display switched off and Berenib walked to a position at the head of the table. “You are observant to have asked the question, Commander Namazu.”
“Commander?” Cococ asked sarcastically.
Berenib continued, “All Tlalocs present themselves as male. Like certain reptile species on Earth, they can incubate eggs, or fertilize them. The roles apparently change depending on relationship dynamics.” She looked at Cococ who was staring at her.
“Thus,” she continued, “they are both male and female.”
Cococ stood abruptly and shouted, “No females!” He reached to his side hip to retrieve a weapon that was not there.
All eyes were on him. One of the guards stepped forward.
Slowly, but maintaining an air of superiority, he sat back down.
“Thank you for illustrating Tlaloc cultural biases, Cococ,” Berenib responded.
Looking back at those seated around the table, she continued, “Their culture is deeply hierarchical, with warriors, like Cococ at the top. Other races, workers, sex slaves, administrators are kept apart from the warrior class. Reproduction is tightly controlled.
“As you can imagine in such a Patriarchal culture, warfare and battle are deeply revered. Young warriors study strategy, weapons, and fighting from infancy. And, they are deeply religious.”
Cococ looked at her sharply again. Berenib only smiled in response.
She continued, “Their primary God, Quetzalcoatl, rules over the other Gods ruthlessly. He has emissaries to which they can pray and ask for help. But, it is thought that praying directly to Quetzalcoatl, can be hazardous. The supplicant must be pure in heart, and a great warrior, to connect directly with him. One’s position in Tlaloc culture depends heavily on the numbers of captives one had taken to sacrifice.”
Young male Tayamni entered the room, pushing hovering platters of food and wine. As they served those seated, Cococ looked at the servers menacingly.
“Is there anything you would like to add, Cococ?” Berenib asked, looking at him.
He looked into her face the formal headdress he wore, resembling ram-horns mounted to his skull and extending outwards on each side. “We are here to discuss the terms by which you will allow us to leave this accursed system.”
“Ah, yes,” Kirashi offered, looking to her right at Kurum who sat silently, his face unreadable during the presentation. She then looked back at Cococ. “We have discussed your terms and made a decision.”
Cococ and the Potacas looked at her.
“You will be given a Tayamni ship, especially fitted for your purposes. It will have no weapons or defensive capabilities. All your people at Calisto and at Venus, will be permitted to leave this sector. We will escort you to Alpha Centauri,” she added, looking down at the food placed in front of her.
“But, without defensive capabilities we could be killed or taken captive on the journey,” Cococ responded.
Kurum stood slowly, turning his head towards the reptilian. Without taking a breath, or opening his mouth, they all felt his words appear in their heads, “The only creatures who would attack you, on the programmed route are your own kind. We are afraid you will have to trust your own race to safeguard your return.”
“You condemn us to certain death. That or enslavement,” the Potacas finally spoke.
“It does speak,” Namazu interjected. “I thought your friend,” she said sarcastically, “had forbidden you to talk.”
“We will take your offer,” Cococ said, looking down at the artificially produced meat on his plate.
“Now, please,” Berenib began, taking a seat herself, “eat, drink. I believe our negotiations have been successful.”
“When will we leave?” Cococ asked.
“That is yet to be determined,” Berenib responded. She looked at the plate of food in front of him, “You are not eating. Is the meat not to your liking?”
“It’s dead,” he said incredulously, looking away from the food.
Kurum, the shape-shifter, looked at him, then back to Berenib. “They eat live mammals. They can subsist on other kinds of foods, but their savage culture demands they sacrifice the living, in order to maintain warrior status.”
Cococ looked towards Kurum quickly and stood. “If you were a man, I would challenge you for insulting me.”
For the first time since any of them had known him, Kurum actually smiled. He raised the index finger of his right hand, and motioned for Cococ to sit. The Reptilian struggled to remain standing, but he could not resist the force of Kurum’s mind. He tried to speak, but could only gurgle. Seated, he tried to stand again, but could not. He brought his hands to the raw meat on his plate. The dining party were focused on his movements, watching him struggle. He tried to move away from the table, but could not, tried to turn his head to Berenib to ask for help, but Kurum’s will held him.
Fighting against an unseen force, causing him to move his hands to the plate, he lifted the raw steak and inserted it whole, the entire slab, into his mouth. Everyone watched as the reptile’s throat expanded and he swallowed the meat. Blood from the uncooked laboratory steak ran down each side of his mouth and onto his clothing. He grunted, struggling to assert his free will.
Kurum, still smiling, simply looked at him as a little boy might look at an insect under a glass.
Cococ turned his head, grunting against the force of the shape-shifter’s telekinetic powers. Looking at Berenib in desperation, his mouth twisted in unfamiliar ways, his tongue moving against his sharp teeth, he pronounced words in ancient Tayamni, “The meal … is de- … -licious. May I … have another serving?”
The party were astonished. Did such powers exist? Again, Kurum’s voice sounded, but from all around the room, not from the silver, gleaming creature seated at the foot of the table, but from the walls, from the floors, “We have history with this savage.”
Berenib stood, looking at Kurum as if she would demand that he stop.
Taking a breath, moving his mouth, allowing sound to come from his body this time, Kurum offered, “There are still Tlalocs on Earth. But, not in reptilian form.” He looked at the Potacas, “Isn’t that right, Pale Dwarf?”
The Potacas gasped. He also tried to stand, intending to leave the room. But, he was held in place by the force of Kurum’s mind.
“Kataru allies,” Kurum began, addressing the dining party, “there is another intelligent lifeform in your system, safely protected underground at a nearby moon. This creature, this reptilian savage tried, eons ago to enslave them and take this system for their own. The most recent war is the result of their third attempt.”
Cococ and the Potacas fought against him, trying to move and talk. The Tlaloc to defend himself, the Potacas to escape. They grunted trying, panting with the struggle, but they were held in place.
Kurum stood and walked closer to the exit to the garden. He looked back at them and spoke, but his voice sounded from the previous location, where he had sat moments earlier. “Before the Tayamni arrived here, these reptilian brutes came to the planet you call Earth. They intended to enslave the innocent creatures who later became humans.” He smiled again, looking at each of them, then, continued, “The Tayamni were not the first to offer genetic enhancements to Homo Erectus.”
He walked further away, towards the oak tree. But they heard his voice from the same location. “I must leave you for a time, but I will return. Dispense with these monsters as you see fit.”
Then, Kurum simply vanished.
Cococ began to cough. He reached for the goblet of water at his plate.
The Potacas was gasping, trying to catch his breath. He pressed a control on his collar causing a more continuous spray of chlorine gas. He breathed the pungent fumes hungrily.
Berenib stood, looking at the dinner guests. “My dear ones, I believe our visitor, our new ally is not from this dimension.”
The Potacas looked at Berenib with wide eyes.