My head was ringing when I left the cafe hours later. I wandered around the town square aimlessly, too excited to sit still or sleep.
I had heard the story from media, books, people who knew people and now from the closest sources yet. Inspiration struck and I hurried back to the apartment to write my own account of the legend. I gathered my notes and sat down to a desk in front of the window overlooking an unspectacular view of the empty street below. I turned off the phone, pulled the blinds and began to write.
Ping....ping.... a high pitched tone woke the Garin Rogue from a very sound sleep. Ping...ping... he opened a yellow eye to see the ship's clock. Long distance space travel had one, and only one perk-lots of sleep time. He groaned as he slowly heaved his thick frame up and turned off the alarm.
"Good waking Teotao," the ship's computer voice chirped, when he turned on the bedroom light. He mumbled a profanity as he pulled on charcoal gray pants and shirt.
"We have entered the Yi system two cycles ago, shall I start the solar orbital sequence?" the computer went on cheerfully.
"Hmm? Oh sure Betty. You pick up any broadcasting yet?"
"Plenty, most of it is indecipherable," Betty replied. Of course it is, Teotao thought, annoyed at the computer's thoroughness.
Very little was known about this system except that it had one inhabitable planet, a rarity with many systems, and the single species was a scattered mess of politics, cultures and religious superstitions.
"Narrow it down to the ten most frequent bands and run a full mineral scan on the place when we're close enough. Keep us in the shadows of any surveillance too, " he ordered as he finished dressing and tended to his personal grooming. He looked in the mirror and primped with his lush pelt of hair the color of cinnamon covering his head and body, neatly trimming his facial hair.
Done with the ritual, he climbed the steep stairs to the bridge. The barge had small living quarters and a sparse bridge but that was the point. All the available space was for cargo. His thick, pudgy fingers danced over the controls as he took command of the ship and ran a check on the small solar dinghy he used as a commuter vessel.
After an hour of scanning he had a better handle on the new world. All the right elements were there, ripe for the taking. There was evident of recent nuclear activity but none of the feeble military defenses had space based weapons and-- praise be the Four Powers, Betty isolated one of the languages which was on file in the Alliance library. He would spend the remaining time of the approach learning the basic vocabulary, easy business for a Rogue, and figuring out which dominant control to contact for business.
Teotao rubbed his hand with glee at hitting the jackpot: a fresh planet with lots of raw minerals and ignorant suckers ready to trade.
That the system had been declared off limits by the Alliance made the prospect easier with no interference from the insufferable Jovas.
They were a female dominated planet and he thanked the Four Powers he was born a free agent on Gar, a nice planet of hardy sorts who gave the Alliance a rude gesture when they tried to run the place.
He shuddered as he sat in the pilot seat. He preferred his own counsel rather than those fems and their prissy males with their high drama and rules when it came to riches waiting to be plucked for the adventurous.
He chuckled at the Guardianship, they did the work for him with their monitoring and data collection of the system for eventual contact. He had spent a good amount of time at the Alliance library familiarizing himself with his new find.
He hitched the barge to the orbit of the gray, lifeless moon nearby and gazed wolfishly at on the bridge monitor. He would wait for the right moment to introduce himself to the citizens of the bright blue orb with wisps of white clouds over a half dozen land masses.
* * *
"Of all the greedy, arrogant, irresponsible things you have done Teotao this takes the prize," Madame Malinka of the Alliance Guardianship Commission could no longer contain her temper.
The Jova Administrator along with the Pohlian and Chiron representatives, were seated in a large conference room where the Rogue was being interrogated. The awkward silence stretched as Teotao and his lawyer shifted uncomfortably on the other side of a massive white table. Teotao shrugged his bulky shoulders at the verbal lashing.
"Nobody was hurt or killed, so what's the big deal?" his disdain increased her ire.
"The big deal is that you-- an unlicensed trader made first contact with an unaligned, barbaric, non-space faring civilization without our consent," she fumed, incredulous at his audacity.
"How can they become aligned if they aren't contacted first?" he argued and his Cassarian Lawyer nodded his double chin in agreement. Malinka slapped the table with a small elegant hand.
"That's for the Alliance to decide, not some raw ore dealing pirate, " she hissed.
You don't run the universe, he wanted to retort. It was the Jova's turn to run the Alliance, a loose federation of fifteen races on twelve planets among five solar systems.
Don't play with non-Alliance folks, they scolded, repeating the outdated prohibition, but the Pohl's and especially the Jova's, freely dealt with new worlds all the time and they call me arrogant, Teotao seethed.
"What exactly did you promise the Orbis, pray tell?" Ambassador Shem inquired in his typical formal manner.
Boy he's an odd one, Teotao thought as he considered his answer. The Pohl would make a superb gambler with his blank expression and minimal body language. He wondered if it was true that the hairless gray physique under a mauve robe was a robot housing a squishy blob. His lawyer put a fat hand on his arm and sotto voce discouraged him from answering but he felt no need to hide his actions.
"We decided on a fair trade of copper and nickel, in exchange I gave some of their-ah what's the word," he groped for the term as he waved a large hand vaguely.
"Astronauts, a ride around their solar system. They were thrilled with the deal," he gave a hearty chuckle as he recalled their child like enthusiasm.
"They did not inquire about interdimensional travel?" Shem pressed on.
"I told them that was too tricky," Teotao admitted with a smirk. He leaned back, pleased with his response to a potential trap.
It was true, there was no way these newbies could handle the warping of interstellar travel. And, while trading ore was one thing, selling technology was a serious offense.
"My client made a business transaction with private citizens, not with any government. All perfectly legal under Alliance guidelines, despite Madame Malinka's objections," his lawyer Parthalon added with confidence.
"That is quite correct counsel, however trading with the Klee is not," Shem retorted smoothly. Teotao stiffened.
"I never had anything to do with those bastards, it's not my fault they tried to horn in on the action," he snapped, deeply offended. Still he hoped the Klee didn't get near the Orbis, they wouldn't survive an invasion by those roaches.
"Then you should have been more discreet with your new found wealth," Malinka added.
She didn't care about his dealing, it was the Klee getting wind of it that worried her. Was he really so ignorant to think they wouldn't notice the sudden influx of sought after minerals he was offering on the open market? They were bound to wonder where he acquired it.
"How did they find out?" Shem continued.
"My client doesn't know." Parthalon answered before Teotao could give a snarky reply he would regret. Shem arched an eyebrow. Given the Cassarian's poor bluffing skills he was probably telling the truth.
"I think we need to take a break so the counsel can consider the evidence Teotao has graciously given," said Clement, the Chiron member of the triad.
At least he was polite, Teotao thought as he and his lawyer quickly retired. Clement stood and stretched, thankful for a break from sitting in a chair that was not designed for a creature with four arms and long legs. Malinka swiveled in her chair impatiently while Shem contemplated his hands.
"The Alliance will have to recognize this system," Shem said finally, making the informal offer as sponsor. The other two exchanged looks.
"Do you think they are ready for the leap?" Malinka asked, dubious of his motives with the primitive species.
"Ready or not, we need to get to them before the Klee does," he said, expressing their true fear. A conflict between the Klee, the Orbis and the Pohl's would not end well for anyone.
"Fair enough, let's assume a spy must have overheard the Rogue while he was celebrating and find them out," Clement said, turning away from the tall window to face his coordinators.
Shem barely heard him as his mind reeled with anticipation of another ally. What kind of contribution could this new planet make to the burgeoning alliance of civilizations?