Kirashi formally presents the prized Mulmul Zapppu to E5
They were silent, watching the shuttle pull up alongside. The crew watched through a starboard window in a compartment adjoining the shuttle bay. The shuttle was a quarter the size of their ship, but sleek and wide, the front of it coming to a blunted point. The engines, one on each side, were set back behind the cockpit, attached behind short wings. Its purple shell gleamed in star light. The alien shuttle descended, moving to a position under the Essuru. Moving to a larger window, the crew looked out into the shuttle bay itself. Curved doors underneath the ship swung open and the Amelu shuttle drifted upwards into the hangar.
The three diplomats stood just inside. Curved shuttle bay doors closed again, and long vents extending the length of the floor pumped oxygen rich atmosphere into the space pressurizing the hangar. Kirashi, Erish, and Alhalsu stepped down onto a walkway around the edge of the bay, to a position beside the foreign vehicle. A door slid open on the Amelu vessel, and a man stepped out of the ship.
Kirashi stood in front holding a welcoming gift, a thin, golden, rectangular case, the Mulmul Zappu, adorned with the ancient Tayamni symbol, a seven-pointed star. The recipient could use this case to access the history of the Tayamni missions. Kirashi had presented these gifts to only three diplomats in the past. It was normally given only after negotiations were successful, after trust was established. Alhalsu looked at the gift and wondered whether it was appropriate to present this gift so early. Kirashi sensed his misgivings and sent a telepathic message, stating, I trust him.
Erish was oblivious to the importance of the gift and found herself worrying about potential hostilities. She alone wore her weapons belt and cautioned Kirashi and Alhalsu to activate shields.
Kirashi forcefully directed them to leave shields down.
She was certain E5-273 presented no threat. In fact, the Genetic Compatibility his people enjoyed was more highly evolved than that of the Tayamni, themselves.
E5 walked to the diplomats, and removed his helmet. He wore an abbreviated helmet consisting only of the screen to protect his face. Kirashi wondered if he required oxygen. The only other adornment he wore was a metallic brief covering his genitals, if in fact he had genitals.
He stood directly in front of Kirashi. All three diplomats felt calm, positive energy. He radiated goodness. Erish wondered how a cyborg creature could be so evolved.
E5 looked at Erish briefly, then back at Kirashi. The look in his eyes, his smile, and his masculine hands attracted her. He felt this. Kirashi wondered if he was flirting. She opened her eyes wide, feeling as if he were sending her a telepathic message, but one of feeling rather than words or images. There was no doubt, he was telling her he was attracted to her.
“You communicate telepathically?” Kirashi asked aloud.
E5 responded, by sending them each a telepathic message, confirming his ability. He continued aloud, “We reached Genetic Compatibility in ancient times.” He placed his right hand over Kirashi’s left one and smiled exposing brilliantly perfect teeth. He drew in a deep breath, flaring his nostrils.
Kirashi was captivated. To her it seemed as if mechanical coverings on his body merely covered organic components.
He felt her thoughts.
She looked to the right, blushing.
“If you allow me, I will accompany you to my planet on your ship.”
Kirashi looked at him with wonder, asking herself how she could be so attracted to him. He seemed fully organic. “Of course,” she nodded.
As if reading her thoughts, he continued, “We have learned to incorporate organic components into technology in such a way that functionality is enhanced.” He looked down at the case in Kirashi’s hands, “I will give you technology that will help you expand the efficiency of anti-matter fuel, while also increasing safety.” He turned to look at his ship, still in the position he left it, then turned back, looking into Kirashi’s face. “We will give you complete instructions on how to maintain organic components.”
Alhalsu interjected, “Do you use organic components in other technology?”
E5 nodded, “I believe there may be no purely technical components in any of our,” he paused for effect, then continued to pronounce the word with irony, “…machines.” He smiled, as if he were teasing them.”
“Is there a danger of the organic components evolving, and gaining awareness?” Erish asked.
“If that happens, we will welcome them into our society,” he added. “Danger is not a word I would use to describe that eventuality.” He smiled at her to show her he was not offended.
“E5-273, of the Amelu, representative of the Kataru Alliance of Genetically Compatible Races,” Kirashi began formally. She then lifted the golden rectangular case up to her chest, presenting it to him. She continued, “We present to you the Mulmul Zappu, the history of our missions.”
E5 understood the importance of such a gift. He received it from her formally, nodding, bowing, holding the case horizontally, out in front of him. “We are honored,” he responded.
“We are pleased that you wish to accompany us to the Kataru. Please be welcomed,” she stated, bowing to him, herself. Taking the queue, Alhalsu and Erish also bowed. “Please accompany us to the lounge,” Kirashi suggested. She stood aside and motioned for him to move ahead of her. The formality of the greeting completed, she relaxed and pointed him to the lift that would take them to the lounge.
Entering the small lounge, they saw a young blonde woman, sitting at a table near the window. The entire crew was aware of the importance of this event, so the blonde woman stood, nodded and left the room. Kirashi gestured to another table at the observation window. The window revealed nothing more than a vast field of stars, no planets, no asteroids. “We are here to switch anti-matter canisters,” Kirashi added. “It may take a while,” she smiled as another crew member brought a crystal decanter from the Terran 19th century, containing red French wine. Kirashi looked around at the lounge and felt disappointed. She had always felt that this room was sufficient. But, she was not prepared to welcome such an important guest. For the first time, she saw the room to be made of cheap materials. She noticed a darkened spot on the floor under a nearby table, a stain left by spilled food. A synthetic band serving as a base-board was scuffed, showing signs of wear. She noticed a frayed patch of fabric on the wall near them. She was embarrassed.
“What a perfectly wonderful vessel,” E5 ventured, sensing her discomfort. “I see it is eminently utilitarian. Your people exhibit a most honorable and moral sense of efficiency.” Kirashi looked at him, surprised that he was responding directly to her feelings. “I am happy to see that your people do not value ostentation.”
Kirashi almost chuckled. Looking into his eyes, she saw that he knew she was aware of what he was doing. She took a sip of the rich red wine, wondering if he could also drink liquids. “You are good at telepathy,” she said.
“Thank you, Ambassador,” he said as he took a sip from the crystal goblet in front of him. “I detect a harmful metal in the container.”
“Yes,” Erish answered, not wishing to be left out of the conversation. “The goblet contains lead.”
“We use it sparingly, and only for special occasions,” Kirashi added. “Its negative effect is minimal.”
“What a delicious liquid,” he paused. “It has been fermented.” He smiled, “Ah yes,” he stated excitedly as if he remembered something important. “Alcohol is used to inebriate. In ancient times, Terran priests and priestesses believed this liquid brought them closer to the Gods.”
Kirashi smiled again, impressed with his knowledge of the human project. “You seem to be familiar with us and our work,” she added.
“Thank you, I am honored that you think so,” he responded.
“We have questions about the people we encountered at Anuria,” Kirashi ventured.
E5 looked serious.
She continued, “We gathered the Tiamatu are far more wealthy than the surrounding systems.” She looked at him drawing her brows together, and sent a telepathic message asking, Were the Tiamatu enriched by taking resources from neighboring systems?
He responded to her by sending a message to all three diplomats, explaining, The Anurians and other races around this system were colonized and, some would say, robbed of resources. Some systems have not recovered from imperial devastations wrought by the Tiamatu. He stood and moved closer to the window, as if looking for the planet of Tiamat. He continued aloud, “The Anurians have applied to the Kataru to negotiate on their behalf for reparations.”
He pointed to a place to his right, and in the far distance. “Of course, you cannot see it with your naked eye, but the Tiamatu system lies in that direction.” He took another sip of the wine, and raised the goblet to eye level, as if peering into its molecular structure. “Yes,” he continued, “In their museums you will find historical treasures from older systems. Statues, carvings, even entire buildings.”
Kirashi seemed confused, “I take it the other systems did not donate their treasures to the Tiamatu.”
“They defend their prior actions by claiming that those civilizations were in decline. They claim that their ancestors rescued important works of art,” E5 responded.
He looked at Kirashi and smiled. “We are negotiating with them to return the most precious Anurian artifact, the Eye of Tammabukku.” He looked at Kirashi to explain, “The Eye is the largest precious stone in the sector, worth quite a fortune,” He turned and took Kirashi’s hand in his. “The Eye is an emerald that previously adorned a statue of their dragon goddess, built during a more prosperous time.”
Kirashi looked at the masculine hand holding hers. It seemed completely human, as if the metallic sheathing, cables and wires, on his forearm were clothing covering a completely organic body. E5 raised his eyebrows detecting her feelings of attraction. He sent Kirashi a telepathic message explaining, The Tiamatu looted the Anurian system during their Great Expansion. The Anurians were almost wiped out.
Kirashi responded telepathically, asking, Will your people be involved in the return of cultural artifacts?
He sighed turning to address the other two diplomats, speaking aloud, “Unfortunately, the Anurians have already involved us. We are working, on their behalf.”