In the continuing adventures of Captain Hailey and the crew of the Federation Starship U.S.S. Harrier on their way home from the other side of the galaxy, they meet a race called the Dorians and another race that preys upon them called the Sixians.
Or does it just seem that way?
The Dorians and the Sixians
Jay P. Hailey
We were a month into our journey and the diplomatic reception was going very well.
The reception was being held in the hall of an ancient palace. The ceiling was twenty feet over our heads and I could see intricate paintings on it. Baroque moldings framed the paintings.
The walls were similarly decorated with intricate designs and art.
A historian was talking to me.
“This was the final palace of the Age of Accountants.” He said. It hardly looked like an accountant’s idea of cost effective.
“Really? Did the Accountants have many palaces?” I said brightly. I’m sure it was a stupid question, but I was new to Doria III, and stupid sounding questions were all I had.
“Oh, yes.” The historian said “Before the Great Rectification the accountants ruled with an iron fist. Opulence among the ruling class was the norm.”
“Oh, how fascinating.” I said. He seemed to need little encouragement. I understood. History was one of my hobbies, but it was lonely. One rarely met anyone to talk with who understood the value of the subject.
A servant came by us. She was dressed in a fancy costume that reminded me of an Elizabethan Judo practitioner. It was a gi in red and blue silk like material with lace and filigree adorning it. Leggings and a high collar completed the effect. She carried a tray of drinks and refreshments. I took a bland little tofu-like cake and a glass of juice. I had been briefed before the official reception had started and shown what to eat and drink, and what to avoid. I did want to stay sober.
“Thank you.” I said as I took the refreshments off her tray. I wished that I had some local currency to tip her. Alien VIPs and a major diplomatic reception can’t be an easy job.
She looked at me oddly and continued on her way.
Maybe the Dorians didn’t have the custom of tipping. Although we were all people, in the broadest possible sense, it didn’t mean that we all did things the same way.
The Ambassador came over to me and interceded. Maybe he thought he was protecting me from a horribly boring diatribe from the historian. I didn’t mind being rescued too much.
“Good evening Captain Hailey!” He said “How are you doing? May I get you anything?”
“No, thank you. Sub-Minister Salby was telling me that this was the last of the palaces of the Accountants.”
“The last and the grandest!” He waved his hands expansively. “We keep it this way as an exhibit of our past for the edification of our citizens, and for special diplomatic functions.”
“Did you meet the Gallowayans here?” I asked.
“Goodness! I helped sign the final version of our trade agreement at that desk over there.” He pointed it out. “They later sent a payment for half the rent of the hall for the duration of the event!” He seemed vastly amused at this.
“The Gallowayans are interesting people.” I allowed.
“What did the Gallowayans say about us?” He asked.
Two weeks ago we had met the Gallowayans. They were a trading empire in the area that we found ourselves. Since we were lost and isolated from the UFP, we approached with caution, and found the Gallowayans to be nice folks. They viewed the world in a complex set of value assignments and cost benefit ratios. The results were surprising.
The Gallowayans were guarding a world near the Dorian system. As it turned out they had a version of the Prime Directive. They felt that a premature contact with a primitive world would damage the culture involved. This, they felt, would reduce the value of later trading relationships between future generations of the Gallowayans and the natives. The future carried a heavy value among the Gallowayans.
We had made an agreement with the specific Gallowayan ship we had encountered. This amounted to a contract to conduct future contact and profitable relationships through that ship. Each trading ship of the Gallowayans was an independent financial entity among their culture. In return they had told us of what they knew of the space between us and home.
It wasn’t a lot, but it helped.
The nearest planet with which the Gallowayans traded was in the Dorian System. I felt that the Gallowayans were trustworthy in their estimate of the readiness of the Dorians for contact with other races.
I had gained a new understanding of the old phrase “Any port in a storm.” The starship Harrier was facing a three to five year journey home through unknown space. I was searching for a friendly place to take a rest, to catch our breath and to get some parts to fix the ship with. Our arrival in this area had used up some critical components of the Harrier. We were using our replacements. I didn’t like that. Every trained spaceman likes at least one backup at hand. I liked three if I could get them.
So we went to Doria III and found a hearty welcome waiting for us there. It was almost too good to be true.
Part of the Dorian enthusiasm I understood. The Gallowayan charts said that Doria was a source for minerals of all kinds and a market for low-tech goods. As we entered we scanned no subspace activity. There were no warp drives or subspace radios. I almost backed out, but they were ready for visitors.
There were boundary markers and impulse powered patrol ships to greet us. Despite the speed of light delay, they seemed most hospitable. The culmination of this was the diplomatic reception.
I replied to the Ambassador’s question. “They said that you were friendly, open and a good source for minerals.”
He grinned. The Dorians had fluted nose channels and their foreheads were segmented and enlarged, in the manner of humanoids with advanced senses of smell. The effect of a grin on his face was extreme and catchy. The grin shined through his eyes. I knew why he was the Ambassador. He was hard not to like.
“That’s the Gallowayans, always on the bottom line right away.” He said merrily. “Tell me more of your United Federation of Planets.”
I knew right away that the Dorians were after warp drives of their own and higher technology than the Gallowayans were willing to trade to them. I jollied them along. As allies of the Federation, they would have a remote control relationship with the UFP. A great deal of the way the Federation treated them would have to do with my report and the report of my officers. I didn’t want to commit to anything or make any promises that would later backfire.
It was a certainty that the Federation would be a long time in sending a starship out here to double check me.
I answered all the questions the Ambassador put to me, and explained things as well as I could. We had downloaded a packet to the Dorians. It was a collection of public access information about the UFP. It was honest and truthful as far as it went. It was obviously pro-Federation in its bias. It didn’t talk about embarrassing incidents or things that hadn’t worked out in a simple, cheerful way.
Some Captains added information from other points of view. Many called it a sales brochure and joked about the complimentary T-shirts, mugs and pens to hand out with it.
The Dorians were still plowing through it, and were formulating questions as they went. It would take them a while. It had taken hours to download all the information to them and we strained the limits of their data storage media doing it.
So I struggled with explaining the Prime Directive and gave specific examples of how it had come to be.
“So the Iotians dress in traditional costumes from Earth? And they mimic your traditions?” The Ambassador said. He no doubt thought it quaint.
I thought of the drive by shootings during my visit to the Federation mission to the planet. “Er, their interpretation is, well, unique.”
“I don’t doubt it.” The Ambassador agreed. He was good at that.
I looked for the officers who had accompanied me to the surface of Doria III. There was Tillean Darvon Ahk, my science officer. She was a Vicharrian with delicately upswept ears, white hair, purple eyes, and a lot of enthusiasm for science. She was earnestly waving her hands and making notes on her tricorder, while talking to the Dorian Minister of Science.
Stephanie Anderson, the Harrier’s chief of Security loitered coincidentally nearby me and watched everyone who came around me. She was in state of relaxed readiness. We didn’t expect anything to happen, but Stephanie knew that was when the jaws of a trap might close. This made her wary. Stephanie didn’t fear the threat that she saw and recognized. She feared the one that she didn’t see.
Seamus McTague had a group around him. The Harrier’s Counselor was an interesting person. He was a large red headed Irishman. He played the stereotypical Irishman like it was a role invented just for him. He was waving a drink around and telling a story. I could see him working the pauses and emphasizing things with his finger. He made lots of eye contact and sold his story for all it was worth.
He appeared drunk, but I wasn’t sure. He seemed to have been waving a drink of the same color for some time. His audience found him easy to like. So did I. His personality was catchy.
I looked at my watch. It was time. I went to the window and looked up. Through the glass I could see the sky, and the stars. There were quite a number of artificial stars in orbit around Doria III. They were space stations and factories, moved to orbit to shield the carefully managed and tended ecology of Doria III.
I was no talent at astrogation, but I had passed the basic course. Right on schedule, there was a sparkle as the sunlight glinted off the white hull of a starship. The USS Harrier, passing in standard orbit right over our heads.
She looked good. It seemed as though things were going to work out fine.