Author : Bob Newbell
“May 18th is totally unacceptable!” says the Thrike admiral. “That date falls in the middle of the Feast of the Blessed Serrod, the Great and Enlightened. But on June 4th, then…THEN,” he raises his neck frill for emphasis,”you should beseech the Mother of All Creation to have mercy on your souls, for we assuredly will not!”
I take a sip of water and wait for the response from the Veydrel fleet commander.
“The Thrike representative is fully aware that our hatchlings will be returning to their learning cycle on June the 4th and that our people will be too busy attending to their young to engage in battle. Now, the 3rd of July, that will be the day history will record as the beginning of the end of the Thrike menace!”
It’ll go on like this for a while, I think. My mind wanders back to when we made first contact with the aliens. The Veydrel and Thrike fleets entered the solar system almost simultaneously from opposite directions. They each warned humanity about the alleged threat the other represented and asked to use Earth as a base of operations during the upcoming battle. The leaders of the world refused to take sides and offered to try to broker peace.
“August 12th!” yells the Veydrel. My mind snaps back to the present. “That day,” the alien continues, raising a twelve-fingered hand in the air for emphasis, “the sky will burn with the fires from ten thousand Thrike ships!”
The Thrike leader looks at a computer screen and sighs, one of several humanisms he’s acquired. “I have to get my fangs sharpened August 12th. Give thanks to your gods that this dental appointment that I have already rescheduled twice has saved you from eternal damnation in the afterlife!”
I recall as a teenager being fascinated by the psychology and customs of the Thrike and the Veydrel concerning war. Neither species could comprehend concepts such as the first strike or the sneak attack. When American diplomats related the historical accounts of Pearl Harbor and 9/11, both groups of aliens had trouble recognizing either one as acts of war. “But they weren’t scheduled by mutual agreement of the combatants,” said one of the dumbfounded extraterrestrials.
“On September 28th,” says the Thrike, “the streets will run blue with the blood of– Wait. Our Festival of Merrymaking and your vacation both start that day. Nevermind.”
Something else we learned was that both civilizations were about ten thousand years older than recorded human history which meant they’d been around long enough for their calendars to fill up almost entirely with holidays and remembrance days and festivals and religious observances. So delegates like myself have been attending meetings like this for the last 40 years as both sides try to find a date without scheduling conflicts when they can go to war.
“Perhaps a skirmish could be undertaken late on October 21st,” suggests the Veydrel, “as your Imperial Foundation Day comes to a close and just before our Labor Drone Appreciation Day begins? No. No, the time would be insufficient.”
I sit here bored to tears like the other human delegates. At least the Thrike and Veydrel presence has allowed humanity to leapfrog a few centuries ahead technologically. I suppose decades of bureaucratic tedium is a small price to pay.
“Have a care, Veydrel!” admonishes the Thrike admiral. “Next year is a leap year on the human calendar! An extra day! Even now our calendrical tacticians are scouring the days and weeks to schedule your date with annihilation!”