XMF Galactic Race (NaNoWriMo14) Part 34
Mac stepped forward as Jhad translated Saruthan’s words for the humans. He scanned the crowd and saw other Airoutans scattered around. Some looked like they might be reporters, there to cover the race with their tablets and some kind of device orbiting their heads. Potentially a camera drone? Mac wasn’t sure. Most of the Airoutans were dressed like Jhad in simple jumpsuits. Mac guessed these were translators for other species.
The human captain spoke slowly, giving Jhad ample time to translate his words. “It was a good race. I’m glad we were able to give you a run for your money and that we could provide an entertaining finish for the crowds.” Mac walked closer to the podium as the small crowd parted around him. The other humans followed, taking in the spectacle of seeing so many sentient alien beings so close.
The press conference was again in Hissthashar standard environmental conditions, similar to the pilot’s lounge. Lewis wondered if the On’mya minded any environmental conditions … possibly an environment full of strong magnetic fields might irk them… Faye gawked at the technology on display, from the roving camera drones to the devices attached to the Hissthashar’s heads. The cranial implants had lights which seemed to pulse whenever someone else spoke aloud. Faye wondered if they had their own translators and weren’t reliant on the Airoutans like the other species seemed to be. Amanda likewise focused on the displays of Hissthashar bio technology. She categorized the visible implants and wondered about what might lie below the surface, and how the implants affected the host. She pulled out her ShipTab to jot down questions and ideas she wanted to follow up on later. Doug walked at the back of the group, staring at his PersCom and occasionally glancing up to avoid walking into anything.
“We’re looking forward to coming back for the next race,” Mac continued, “maybe even working with you and the other racers to make all our ships better and more competitive.”
Saruthan opened his mouth in a wide grin. “I look forward to it. For now, I must return to my ship and begin our journey homeward. Thank you all.” The lizard bowed and turned from the podium. Laethimorod followed quickly behind him as they exited the auditorium.
The assembled press turned their attention to the human and began shouting questions at him. “Do you think you can win next year?” “Any plans to fit weapons on your ship next year?” “How do you feel about your performance?” Jhad translated as quickly as he was able, but Mac could tell some questions were being dropped. He held up his hands in what he assumed was a universal expression.
“Slow down!” A smile spread across his face as he raised his arms. “One at a time!” Before his words were translated, several sentients dove out of the way. The questions stopped at once, replaced by screaming and an air of panic. Mac quickly lowered his arms and turned toward his crew. “We still have a lot to learn … Let’s get back to the Cartographer before I start a war…”
The humans quickly exited the room amid, slipping out virtually unnoticed in the chaos of the panicked aliens. Jhad followed close behind.
Back in the human lounge, the crew of the Cartographer gathered around a table with Jhad. Mac spoke first. “That could certainly have gone better …”
“Indeed so, Captain.” Jhad returned.
“What did I do?” He raised his hands, palms facing outward, again. “Is this a show of force? A threat?"
“Not directly. There is another species you have not encountered; they did not participate in this season’s race. They are called the Dimunon and have the technology to increase and decrease their size as well as the size of other objects. There have been … incidents where a Dimunon controlled another sentient from inside its body. It made similar movements before the Dimunon grew to full size, detonating its host.”
“What the fuck?!” Lewis shouted as he imagined the scene Jhad described.
“It was decades ago, by your reckoning, but during the Dimunon War the sight became frighteningly commonplace as a terrorist tactic. The ramifications of those actions reverberated throughout the fledgling Alliance of Worlds. It wasn’t until very recently that the Dimunon have been recognized as a non-hostile species.”
“Okay. I think we’re going to need a crash course of Alliance history before our diplomats begin their work in earnest.” Mac scratched his chin, raking the stubble that had grown during the race. “Are there members of the Alliance who could join us on Earth and act as a diplomatic liaison?”
While Mac and Jhad talked, and even called in Captain Alisa Vaughn of the Entregar and Brent Deneau, CEO of the Bridge Company and owner of both ships, on their PersComs, the rest of the crew retired for the night, preparing for the journey back home.