Winging it

Author: DJ Lunan

The spokesman for the Nui, Jesús the Giant, considered me with a foreboding and weakly threatening glare. “I have negotiated successfully with races on twenty planets. I know you have something to tell me, Gloria.”

“It’s the ostriches.” I blurted honestly, with an exasperated undertone that I had been practicing in the VR unit for the past month.

Jesús shook his head resignedly, “What happened, Gloria?”

“Ecuador and Colombia teamed-up, raided Peru for their fertilizer reserves, unleashing scorched earth tactics on the coastal ostrich farming towns. 15 million birds, around 1 million humans perished in the chemical fires. It will take us around 3 months to re-establish the supply chain with Nui Island”.

“Doubtless supplied from the aggressor nations. Spoils of war” speculated Jesús, shaking his head.

“They are re-establishing ostrich farms along the Colombian coast….” I replied trying to be factual but not drawn into taking sides.

“Just as I was beginning to enjoy this place” interjected Jesús, springing soundlessly to his feet and striding across the room towards me extending his hand to shake. At 20 feet tall and weighing two tonnes, Jesús was truly a gentle giant and a fair one during our negotiations over the past 3 years. His bulk moved air in new ways, like a charging but tame elephant. His proffered hand the size of an armchair, rough and hewn from rock. I did my best to return his handshake.

Jesús towered before me, uttered a long-suffering sigh which howled through me. “We always hope each new race we deal with will be able to integrate our regenerative technology without resorting to wars and economic disobedience. Frankly, we expected better of you humans, you’ve invented paradox travel, host and regularly assimilate innumerable alien races including those refugees annexed by their own solar systems. Yet barely 1000 of your Earth days trading with us on this new small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean….and you can’t deliver winged protein to sustain us.


“Regretfully we must agree to end all trade.”

As the sole negotiator for the human race, I was rattled. I’d been expecting tension but not cessation. Previous supply challenges had been met with concord, laughter and brainstorming on solutions. We’d swapped crocodilian meat for ostrich, corn flour for wheat flour. But this time, the Nui were stonewalling. Time to slash prices.

“We are indeed embarrassed, Jesús.” I began, hoping my mind would catch-up with my mouth, “Land is our only comparative advantage and we are willing to demonstrate goodwill in our trade and harmony with the Nui, by forgoing this month’s supply of your crystal fertilizer. You will be getting a month for free.”

Jesús’ half-smile coyly portending his answer, “A good deal, Gloria. Under normal circumstances. But we are beyond paltry trading economics. We need some land, so we shall create some. With a little home-tech, we can grow land and herds of hoof and winged protein in a matter of weeks. We shall become self-sufficient quickly.”

“Surely you need something from us?” I implored.

“We learn all the answers we need about a planet’s potential from its commercial capabilities”

“Answers to what?”

“Which cuckoo will thrive in your nest – prisoners or pensioners?”

“That’s the choice?!” I hollered with protocol-busting frustration.

“Our decision is largely irrelevant to you. Since it is our law to withhold all of our regenerative technology from your race. We will cloak this island, which will become our future continent, from your spies in the sky and on the sea. You will not hear from us again.”

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