Posted on: August 7th, 2011 Lessons in Invertebrate Diplomacy

By Helen E. Kourous

The perfect gentleman, 78th Earth Ambassador began by praising the plumpness of her queenship’s ovipositor. Before sitting down to to the afternoon’s defecation, he complemented the new art on her exoskeleton using trending adjectives. H’waaNi Noorek, Fourth Moult, of Five Million Sacs, Queen-Prefect of Subjugated Earth Colony, twisted and untwisted her eye stalks salaciously. She yanked out a minor limb at the slightly flirtatious (but still quite proper) second joint and presented it to the human Ambassador with a flourish. He rapped it smartly on the ice block table to show his amusement, cautious not to bare his enamel incisors.

They had learned that from number 17.

Pocketing the gift, he dropped his trousers and seated himself first to show deference. Not that fast! Bend each part of your legs separately, remember? He scowled at the unwelcome tinny voice in his ear. He needed no damn coaching, he had worked for over a year for this. He continued, schooling himself to patience.

“I see that your most recent mate was a fifth tier artist.” Yes, past tense was proper here (number 50). The Ambassador nodded toward the iridescent patterns on her queenship’s chitin and politely waited for her to defecate first.

She beamed approval by clacking her pincers, and purred, “You have learned much from your-” the translator hissed static, then enunciated “–predecessors” She paused to drop a pearlescent row of dainty regal pellets from her lower thorax, and keyed up the week’s tribute sheets on the vid.

He bowed in place and said nothing, the new embedded-sensor scars on his scalp tight and aching.

Suddenly she rose and towered over him. Her abdomen quivered and she emitted a long series of pops and clacks. “Night or six?” The translator finally produced this unencouraging monosyllabic query.

The tin voice was silent. He reviewed all his memorized responses. Nothing.
“Ah, night, your queenship.” He bowed his head, waiting, and hoped they were getting all of this back home.

Filed under: bad-ass, stories

6 Responses to “Lessons in Invertebrate Diplomacy”

  1. Sandra M. Odell Says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    What an incredible piece. Very tight, a complete story arc, and a wonderful study of the difference between cultures based on biology and politics.

  2. Helen Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you Sandra! I admit the whole story came about while thinking about one of those opposite-norm posits: “what if it was culturally acceptable to defecate socially, but not eat socially?”

  3. Jono Davis Says:
    August 22nd, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Upon recounting this story to someone else, I falsely recalled her queenship devouring the ambassador a la Ed from the first Men In Black movie. I like it much better the way it actually is, though.

  4. Kevin Says:
    December 8th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with the praise above. Your humor is very deft as well. I enjoyed it very much.

  5. James Says:
    December 11th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I really enjoyed this story. It’s not often that I get to read stories about interactions with aliens that really feel…well, alien. Well done.

  6. Douglas Hackle Says:
    February 24th, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I love the communication breakdown at the close. Awesome story.