The cinema of my dreams – I always wanted to see the planets – Episode 48

A meeting of department heads

First impressions, I was told, were everything.

Back on earth, before this mission, before I had been selected for the crew, we had to spend time learning diplomacy.

I didn’t mind it because I was used to working with multiple nationalities as crew members aboard the cargo ships I worked, some often at odds with each other, and I had to broker peace.

But this brand of diplomacy was more about meeting aliens from other worlds and what to do, even though those running the sessions really had no clue.  The problem was, we would have no idea of what their customs and rules were, much like on earth where the same applied, but you could look them up before going to an ‘alien’s destination.

I could say that now I had experienced one encounter.  And nothing we did in any of those sessions gave me any help or guidance on what I should do.  Yes, we may have learned a little about their culture, but that was never going to be enough, not in the time I had in front of them.

What needed to happen was for us to set up something similar to the old-time embassy where we could exchange information and prevent the problems of new travellers before they got here.  And there would be more travellers now we had the spaceships and not everyone was going to be a positive influence’ ad the Russian example quite clearly illustrated.

But, getting someone or some people to stay with unknown people on a relatively unknown planet, was going to be a difficult ask.

It was one of a dozen topics on the head of department meeting I had called immediately after being transported back to the ship’ joined by the Princess’ whom we had agreed to return to her people.

I suspect that the aliens who had all but incarcerated her did not want to wear the wrath of her people.  Perhaps we would be treated better and hopefully, we would be able to engage in meaningful diplomatic discussions.  It was a subject I had raised with the Princess when escorting her to her transit quarters. Accommodation befitting a Princess.

She was hateful to come aboard but she seemed apprehensive to go home.  That was something else that would fuel another conversation. Because there was definitely more to that story. I didn’t quite trust our so-called new friends.

The next task was to ensure the princess had a private security detail, and dampeners installed to prevent her being transported off the ship.

After that my first call was to the diplomatic unit where I gave them five minutes of my thoughts on the subject before heading back to my quarters to freshen up, and get down the bare bones of the report I was eventually hoping to send on our first encounter, one that I doubted was over yet. 

I will still be getting over the fact they knew of our existence, lived among us, and we had no idea.  And they didn’t believe we were worthy yet to be told.  Sadly, given my knowledge of humankind, I was not really surprised, but others like the Admiral would be shocked and offended and it was their reaction I was worried about.

It was also not so much of a surprise there were others out there, places and people, we knew nothing about because our telescopic technology still wasn’t up to see beyond the limits of our known galaxies and we were the first well technically the second to go beyond it.

And now we proved we could get to that theoretical barrier, set at Pluto, perhaps a telescope launched from there might help us see what was beyond in the first instance because they did hint at a number of civilisations with their own galaxy.

My idea would be to suggest caution and not hit them with a flood of ships but to spend time building a space station at the edge, and then launch exploratory forays from there, when it was complete.  It would take time ten or more years, but the aliens weren’t going anywhere.

But I knew it didn’t matter what I thought.  That was up to the Admiral and the rest of the Space Alliance, and they would want to be out there getting as many aliens on side, much the same as the others would.

The Russian ship had stayed long enough to offload the prisoners and get ready for the return trip.  That was going to be some homecoming because the Space Alliance was going to want answers long before it hit Earth’s outer limits.

Stolen technology, an unannounced foray into space that could have ultimately destroyed any chance of relations with our nearest space neighbours, I wouldn’t want to be the captain of that vessel, at home, or in front of an international jury.

It highlighted just how easy it was to make mistakes, or how badly everything could go wrong very quickly over a nuance.  His background hadn’t helped him either but that shoe could also have fitted elsewhere too.  I had been lucky, he had not.

I walked into the conference room packed with both relevant and interested parties, all eyes on me.  It was, to say the least, uncomfortable.  Whatever noise there was had subsided into silence.

There was one seat remaining.  Mine.

© Charles Heath 2021-2022

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