Interplanetary travel requires that you adapt. We'd been sent to negotiate a trade deal. Our Commerce Union needs their Feelinite; the female leaders of this planet want our help. There's a war going on and they need a woman to negotiate with a rogue faction to achieve peace on the planet. That means I need to get along with their all-male army. Seeing how these guys are hung, it's an assignment I can throw myself into with some enthusiasm.
~~~~~ PG Excerpt ~~~~~
“Your leader should come with us.”
I'd stuck my head out of the doorway of our space ship to get the lay of the land and found him standing there, waiting. Four other men stood behind him. Having said his piece, the tall man stared at me. I think he was trying to decide if I understood him. His concern was reasonable, seeing as we'd just arrived on his planet in a space ship.
“Hold on a sec,” I said.
We'd swallowed our biotranslators before landing and they were assimilating into our systems. They'd make us conversant in the local languages for a week before digestion returned them to basic proteins. Pic and I had military issue units that lacked the nuance algorithms, and speaking slang could come out weird. The Foreign Planet Service people got the good ones. Ours gave us the gist of general conversation pretty well when the units didn't crap out, but we didn't always get the full picture.
“I am the Ambassador, “Jenna told him, stepping forward to face him. “I am the leader of this mission and represent the governments of the Commerce Union. These are my escorts and must attend me.”
I have to admit that Jenna had the moves down. She held her chin up and had her shoulders pulled back as she stepped ahead of us. It was all intended to seem imperious. Unfortunately, to me it just looked silly. Her people were squarely built, rather hairy and anything but regal. Being fortunate to be of a race that is slender, hairless and with golden skin, I try not to show my prejudice, but when one of them assumes that posture it strikes me as ludicrous.
The man was looking at us cautiously. Clearly he had no idea what she was talking about. Sometimes it's funny the way politicians are positive you've heard of their group when there is no reason why you should. “Why are you hiding under fabric?”
I should put his question in context. The question undoubtedly seemed reasonable to him, given that he and his four men were naked. They each held a spear that to my trained eye appeared totally ceremonial. I didn't think it could cut paper. As far as clothing went, forget it.
“We aren't hiding,” Jenna said. “In our culture we show our rank by wearing these.”
He didn't get it. “What do you have under the cloth that we shouldn't see?”
Although Jenna didn't know it that wasn't entirely true. Both Pic and I carried stun wands under our robes. Ambassadors like to think that protocol protects them, but Pic and I are marines. Being responsible for her security, we lean more toward the might of concealed weapons. While Jenna considered the situation, weighing the political, moral and social aspects of his request, the man stood, waiting. We seemed to be at something of an impasse.