Would a Mexican standoff work?
I couldn’t help thinking just how far behind the technological ball we were, and that even if we had to ability to travel far into space, we were always going to find people more advanced than us.
I remembered back to the time, before this mission was to get underway, an almost finished spacecraft waiting for a crew, the round table discussions that were held to talk about what we might expect and how we would react.
I said then that we would not be able to treat them like we would other nationalities on our own planet, which seemed to be the consensus for first contact.
Some thought it unlikely we’d run into anyone else.
And where we were right now was largely uncharted territory. Of course, there was a whole team aboard whose job was specifically to handle alien encounters, and all of them had been huddled in their meeting room since day one of our first encounter with the Foroi, taking extensive notes, analysing every aspect of each encounter, and contributing information I would find useful in my dealings with them.
It was there I headed now.
I had already been admonished by their leader, Emile Jacques, over my handling of certain situations, particularly when I chose what he called the ‘death or glory’ option.
I told her it was like the nuclear option, where each side held an Armory of weapons at the ready, threatening to use them, but never with intention of doing so. The old ‘Mexican standoff’.
I told her I based my decision on the fact we were simply dealing with more evolved human beings who’d moved beyond the corporeal life we were still stuck with. But, for all their advances, the notion of creating a nuclear wasteland still held respect.
I doubted anyone no matter how advanced could get past the finality of a nuclear attack on a home planet.
And if they had been on ours and seen the effect of the one time our leaders had decided on pre-emptive and retaliatory attacks would see the wastelands of what London, New York, and Moscow looked like.
How much we hadn’t learned from our mistakes, beggared belief.
The table was full, a dozen experts with a lot of books, papers, and computers, all talking at once, a half dozen conversations, each trying to be heard above the others.
I came, and the noise subsided.
The leader of the team, Emile Jacques, was down the other end of the table.
I looked at each one of them, experts in fields that related to humans, and not one had any idea what an alien might be like. They were trying to apply the human factor to the aliens and every decision they made had been based on flawed theory.
The aliens were nothing like us.
We knew nothing about them, but they knew everything about us.
When I looked at Emile, he said, “The consensus is that we should let her people take her back to her homeland.”
“What if she doesn’t want to go?”
“Is it worth possibly sacrificing this ship and crew just to make a stand? We want to make friends with these people, not enemies.”
“Did you consider the possibility that if we let her people take her, the other group might object? I get the impression that no matter what we do, it is going to end badly.”
Was that a possibility they hadn’t considered?
“What do you think we should do?” Alexandra was the crew representative, and not formally a member of the team, but a person who should have a seat at the table when matters were discussed that concerned the crew.
It was a position I had insisted on before we left on this odyssey, with far-reaching authority to make decisions that would resolve crew issues in a fair and balanced manner. That included discipline and punishment when warranted. I did not want the crew to think that their fate rested in the hands of the ship’s officers. I had ultimate authority but rarely intervened in any decision she made.
“She had offered to become a mediator so that we can sit down and discuss their intentions. She has also requested what back on earth we would call asylum, she wants to not be taken by either group. Did anyone back on earth before this began ever consider the possibility that we might be asked for asylum?”
“No.” Jacob was the international law expert, well versed in all matters that related to problems back home, and was sent with the possibility of him learning or creating a set of rules for intergalactic relations. “My superiors didn’t think we’d meet any alien races, but now we have, all I have as a basis is earth’s international law, and it has provisions for asylum, and as such, we should be able to extend it galactically, I can’t believe I actually said that, but we may have problems in getting these people to agree to anything we propose.”
“But there’s no reason why we can’t grant her asylum if she formally requests it. Something that might help, these people as I understand it, have spent time on our planet, which means that aliens have been walking among us for a very long time.”
“Did she tell you that? It might just be a ploy to gain your trust.”
“She’s not the only one. The captain of the first vessel we encountered said the same. They know of us, and our ways, and they’ve been watching our evolution over a very long period.”
“Why didn’t they just invade us, then. We’re obviously technologically inferior.” The technological expert, the person who was charged with getting his hands on alien technology, if we found any, asked.
“It explains the UFO’s then,” said another.
“You know what we would have done the moment their ships arrived. Shoot first and ask questions later. It’s probably what they’re expecting from us now. We have to be better than that.” To the lawyer, I said, “Start drafting some intergalactic rules for asylum. Everyone else, start formulating questions to ask the Princess about anything and everything. I’m going to see the Chief Engineer.”
© Charles Heath 2021-2023