Dirk Vorhis walked home from the bookstore where he worked. He had a bottle of fendor blood in his hand, and idly sipped from it. His long, luxurious hair, which covered his entire body and rendered clothing unnecessary, flowed behind it. He did need to get it cut. He got to his apartment complex and took the stairs up to his apartment.
As he went on, he passed his neighbor and his two wives as they went into their apartment. In his species, the Markabs, there were about seven times as many females as males. This meant that either most women would have to go unmarried, which was an unforgivable social sin, or that polygamy would be allowed, which it was, and no one ever questioned its morality. Indeed, Dirk was of marrying age and ought to have been seeking out his first wife. He could easily find one online. Females had not been legal property for about fifty years now, and not been truly treated like property for about two-hundred, but they still played a subordinate role in the family groups which Dirk’s species formed. Generally, males seeking wives or females seeking to be wives would advertise themselves, and the female’s family would have as much or more weight than her in the decision of whom she would marry.
He, as was his custom, drew a bath for himself, which he would take as he watched the news report for that evening. He turned his television on. There was a special report. He was told that a specific large announcement was to be made by his own president. As he sipped the last of the blood and tossed his bottle aside, he waited in anticipation.
After a commercial break, he saw his president come onscreen to deliver a speech.
President – For many decades, even many centuries, our species has looked skyward, wondering if there might be some other life out there. Well today…
The President stopped, as though he was nervous as to the reaction he would receive.
President – Today our suspicions have been confirmed. Today, we have learned with certainty that there is life in this universe outside of this… this… humble planet. Today shall go down in history, as the date of our first contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence. They came here last night, deliberately silent, and made contact with government officials from over two-hundred countries. They call themselves the Aeoneonatrix, and they say that they would like us to join their empire.
Dirk was speechless. Aliens… Aliens had come. They had asked us to join them. A complex stream of emotions entered Dirk. He felt surprised, certainly, that was the easiest one. He was definitely excited. The rest, though, was hard to untangle. There was nervous in there somewhere, he thought. He wasn’t sure. There seemed to be some delight, or was that just more excitement? The complexity of these feelings was unmatched by any experience he had had before. There was one other one that was relatively clear, doubt, or was it mistrust? Perhaps it was a little bit of both. He had to question the true agenda of the aliens. Why would they feel the desire to come here? Why would they want the Markabs to join them? The Markabs were still split into nations and confined to one planet. There had to be something which was motivating the aliens to come here, some ulterior motive. Dirk was not sure what that could have been, and he was not confident that it was good for his own species.
At the capitol of the once-seemed-to-be-great Republic of Tursig the president was about to have the most important meeting of his life. This was the meeting that could decide the fate of his species. This was a meeting with aliens. They had come to their planet, and admitted that they sought that the president’s species join them, though they had not said why.
The president walked in. Soon, an alien diplomat came in to meet with him.
“I am Cabar Starsmoke,” the diplomat said as he walked in.
“Greetings lord Starsmoke,” the president said, “I am Cervantes Le Hide, take a seat.”
The alien sat down. The president looked at the alien. He was still not done processing that this was all real. The alien had short, green hair, a long tail, and only one eye. He wondered how the alien functioned well without depth perception, or if the eye was somehow split in a way the president couldn’t see. He remembered why he was there, and spoke aloud.
“So then,” the president said, “why has your race contacted this humble planet?”
“We have recently discovered a wormhole nearby,” the diplomat said, “it leads to another galaxy. It is naturally transversable, and stable. We will gain enormous benefit if we can fortify it and charge a toll for its crossing. This planet is close enough that a military base established on it would be able to facilitate this.”
“I see,” the President said, “and what is in it for us?”
“Well, you will be made citizens of the Aeoneonatrix Empire, and enjoy all of our freedoms as the cost of being bound by our laws, though if our laws are ever a problem, we will gladly amend them. This will also entail access to our advanced technologies which will massively improve your everyday life. This includes medical technology, computer technology, and food production technology. If your world accepts this, we expect starvation on it to end almost entirely, and for crime to be drastically reduced due to the lack of poverty.”
“I see…” the President said, “I am greatly tempted by your offer, though I would like to know more about your laws. Do you have some sort of summery you could send me?”
“Actually, we did think to make one for you. It’s not a comprehensive review of every single law in our empire of course, but it should do rather well for our purposes.”
Cabar motions for one of his staffers to bring him a copy of the document.
“Thank you,” the president says, “If I may look over this document tonight I will come back tomorrow with a decision.”
“Alright then,” said Cabar, “I will return tomorrow, goodbye, Lord Le Hyde”
“Farewell for now, lord Starsmoke.”
The Alien left, returning to his ship.
That night, the president laid in bed, receiving a massage from his fifth and newest wife, Callisto. The others were all occupied either with housework or with children. Children usually knew which one of their father’s wives had carried them, but also usually did not have any special relationship with that one over the others.
“What do you think I should do?” President Cervantes asked.
“Well what were their laws like?” Callisto asked, “I never heard.”
“Mostly acceptable,” Cervantes said, “This is not the first time they’ve taken in new member races, and discrimination is not legal, so we can be assured equal status. There was nothing absurd like legalized murder or theft. I did notice that their anti-slavery laws were harsher. I think because they seem to have a rough equality between the genders and the only slavery they’d encounter would be brutal plantations and habitually raped party attractions that we knew in our ancient days.”
“Their gender equality movements have taken them over then?” Callisto asked.
“Well the main race, the Aeoneonatrix, seem to have never needed them. The others all either had such movements a long time ago, were conquered by other empires and later taken in by the Aeoneonatrix as refugees, or simply do not have genders.”
“Do not have them?” Callisto asked.
“One of the races is actually a race of artificially engineered bioweapons which they took from elsewhere after its creators thought it obsolete.” Cervantes said. “Actually there will be one major way that we will be affected.”
“What would that be?”
“Well for one thing, under their laws on marriage, the family of a woman has no legal say in the matter of whom they marry, women may take the advice of their families if they choose, but are not required to, and may even marry without consulting them at all.”
“Well that’s… bizarre,” Callisto said, “I’ve never even heard such an extreme position advocated.”
“It is,” Cervantes agreed, “It seems that their laws on marriage are essentially lifetime mating pacts. The explanation I was given on their society seems to follow this monogamous framework. Having multiple spouses is legal, but it just never happens much.”
“Odd,”Callisto said, “is it a deal breaker for you?”
“Not really,” said Cervantes, “I plan to join, and half of our world seems to have agreed to. The Fycoris Islands seem to be the only ones likely to fail to consent by the end of all of this.”
“What will happen to them?” Callisto asked.
“I suspect that the Aeoneonatrix will simply conquer them,” Cervantes said, “I don’t really feel too sorry, if anything, it’ll be good for the Fycorians.”
“I agree,” Callisto said, “it’s rather big to think about. We’re about to join an alien empire. What were once fictional characters in obscure genres and though experiments in biological circles are now… here.”
“I know,” Cervantes said, “it’s a lot to take in, but I think that this is the best for our nation and our planet. They say that anyone in a governmental office right now will be able to live out any reasonable terms, and that later larger jurisdictions will be the direct and modeled successors of the current nations. The massive benefits of being able to share in their technology are, I think, worth it.”
Cervantes walked through the streets in the morning. His meeting with the alien was not for another few hours. He dropped by a vendor and bought a bottle of blood. As he walked along the route to his office, enjoying the journey, a rally of protesters came to his attention. "Don't sell our sovereignty to aliens," one picket sign read. "This is our world!" read another. Cervantes expected some parties to dissent from his decision to join the aliens, and they had a right to their opinion, but Cervantes would not have made his decision were he not confident it was the right choice. As he walked by, some of the protesters began shouting at him directly. Unsure if he was acting against his better judgment, he went over to engage them.
"Hello, what seems to be the problem?" Cervantes asked.
"The problem? You are planning to sell our planet so some aliens based on promises that you have nothing but their word they will keep."
"Well," the president said, "They did give me a plausible explanation as to why they came here."
"With all due respect your highness, I don't think you should just take them at their word. Consider what you're risking. If you trust them and they screw us, we could be slaves, and not just of the sort a few disparate nations here still have, we might be worked to death in mines or farms, or worse things, things we cannot even imagine with our level of knowledge."
"Perhaps," Cervantes said, "I still have time to ask. I must say though, that I question how effective a 'no' will be at actually repelling them."
"Well do what you have to do. Show them that we're not just mites to be tampered with."
"I may try," Cervantes said, "I will certainly ask them to prove their intentions. Now, I must attend to the running of this nation, please excuse me."
The President walked away from the protesters and continued into his office.
The Second MeetingEdit
The President waited in his building's meeting room once again. As he stood there, Cabar arrived.
"So have you came to a decision?" Cabar asked.
"Almost, I do have a few more questions."
"Sure," Cabar said, sitting down. "What do you want to ask?"
The President looked at Cabar. "How can we trust that you are actually being truthful about anything you say? Isn't it just as likely that you plan to enslave us?"
"Well," said Cabar, "What would all of this gain us? Why not just come in to invade? Surely the very slight advantage of greater integration into your society is not worth the time it would take compared to simply conquering you, and even if we preferred this, does that mean we'd not just take you anyways, and sooner, if you said no?"
"You're right," the President said. "Forgive me. My people are quite uneasy about giving up our sovereignty as a species. They fear you."
"No need to apologize," Cabar said, "I'd feel uneasy too."
"I'm on the cusp of saying yes," Cervantes said, "do you have anything else to say to me?"
"Just this," Cabar said, "just remember that for every one of those protesters, there are hundreds as excited as you are, and furthermore, no matter what happens, this planet will never be the same. This planet is not your people's world anymore, their worlds have become much bigger, because ever since we came, space is no longer just the ceiling."
"Alright then," the president said, "The answer is yes. We are happy to join your empire."
The President pulls out a pen and signs the relevant contract.
"Excellent," Cabar said. "Welcome to the Aeoneonatrix Empire, citizen. I can assure you you will be happy here."
"How many of the other nations have said yes?" The President asked.
"All of them," said Cabar, "this was my last meeting. The only exception is Fycoris, which will be conquered by the time you go to bed. Now, shall we discuss the exact nature of your position as continent governor?"
"Yes," Cervantes said.