I pressed my fingers into my temples, exhausted. This wasn’t going anywhere. I sent a quick report to my ship and then turned to the stack of papers on my desk. I had been on the planet Cranus for over a week but still hadn’t convinced their leaders to sign the treaty.
Cranus was part of the tri-planetary vortex near S9, an area which had been plagued by wars over the last two decades. While the beings here had treated me with respect, I hadn’t made any progress on creating terms everyone on this planet could agree to.
As I pored over the papers scattered on my desk, I realized it wasn’t helping that I couldn’t get the images from yesterday afternoon out of my mind. I had seen a Dikangu for the first time, and their octopus-like body hovering on a web of tentacles had followed me to my dreams last night.
Lost in thought, a knock jolted me.
“Come in,” I said. The door opened to reveal a male Cranusian. His grey skin glowed under the fluorescent light of the hallway.
“General Promeus,” I said, standing up, “how can I help you?”
“May we come in?” he asked. I didn’t see anyone else, but as Promeus stepped through the doorway, I realized there was an alien there I hadn’t met before.
They were introduced to me as Tronum. I had to use all of my diplomatic training not to stare at them –Tronum was Dikangu. The Dikangu had been oppressed by the Cranusian’s in the past, and, in fact, it was their ability to end the civil violence that sparked this entire peace process. Yet, both races now seemed reluctant to extend that peace to an official document.
“We’re here to offer you a tour of the Dikangu quarter. It was mentioned this was something you were interested in?” Promeus said.
I had mentioned no such thing. But that was part of the reason this entire process had been exhausting and futile. All of the beings that lived on this planet could read minds.
“Thank you,” I said, standing, not bothering to address the invasion of privacy. I did genuinely want to see the Dikangu quarter.
I followed the two aliens down the hall of the space station, leaving my quarters behind.
As we exited the space station, I was met by a whir of noise. Hover crafts whizzed by me, and the muddled sounds of aliens speaking, walking, and going about their day was in stark contrast to the quiet isolation of the space station.
“The Dikangu quarter is the oldest part of the city,” Tronum told me as we walked through the grid-like streets, turning left, right, then left again passing rows of high-rise buildings and busy streets.
“The Dikangu’s were the first creatures to settle here, before the arrival of the Cranusians,” Tronum said, his round black eyes narrowing as he looked at Promeus.
“Yes, when their home planet was destroyed.” I filled in. It was a tragic story.
When the Cranusians had arrived on what was…