Attalla sat at the table in the mess with his head in his hands. When I placed the cup of tea in front of him he flinched at the sound.
“Sorry,” I said. He had already told me that his head felt like a cracked egg this morning after being tranked last night.
Chee lay curled in her pouch on the table. She came out and approached Attalla for a pet or a bit of breakfast.
He pointed to her pouch without even looking up. “No, Chee. Pouch.”
The little mahserg turned around and returned to her pouch. I took pity on her and slipped her a grape.
“How much tranquilizer did Sam have in that dart?” he asked into his hands.
“He loads them according to weight,” I answered plaintively.
“Just for the record, Sam, I weigh two hundred pounds, not five,” Attalla announced to the ceiling.
“Duly noted,” Sam responded.
Attalla lifted his cup and took a sip of his tea.
“Can I get you anything else?” I asked. I felt terrible about what had happened last night. Not only was it rude, it had been a terribly disappointing ending to what could have been an incredible evening.
“No thanks,” he replied. “As soon as I get through this and can see without squinting my eyes I have to reschedule the meeting with the iisadsu and the Oacoco.
I thought it might be best to try and get past last night to concentrate on something else for a while.
“What does their treaty consist of, or can you talk about it?” I asked.
Attalla seemed to forget his headache and immediately shifted into ambassador mode.
“The iisadsu and the Oacoco are the two sentient beings on the planet. They both depend on the bounty of their ocean for their sustenance. The iisadsu fish by dipping nets into the sea while in flight. The Oacoco live in the ocean and fish with spears, a lot less efficient.” Attalla paused to take another sip of his tea. He reached out and stroked Chee on the head in apology for the earlier order to remove herself from his presence.
“The iisadsu used to be a monogamous species – this kept the population in check. In the last few years something affected the balance of the species and far more female children were born then in any known recorded time. This development led the males of the species to alter their behavior and turn to polygamy, in turn, the population exploded. They began to over fish the ocean and fight with the Oacoco when they encountered them at sea. Luckily no one has been killed yet.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked. I couldn’t imagine the iisadsu or the Oacoco having the means to report treaty violations to Attalla’s people.
“We have our ways. Every planet in our solar system is monitored in some way, electronically or with counselors usually.”
He got up and went to the prep unit. “Muffin, bran, warm,” he ordered. Moby popped out a muffin in record time. I think my crew members were all feeling guilty for the treatment the ambassador received from their shipmate.
“Thanks, Moby,” Attalla said.
“My pleasure,” Moby said.
“So you are negotiating a treaty between the iisadsu and the Oacoco?” I asked.
“No, I am here to negotiate a treaty with the iisadsu that will move some of them to another planet in the system and put a limit on their reproduction here on this planet so they don't encroach on the Oacoco.”
“You can do that?” I asked in disbelief. I didn’t think anyone had the authority to limit another species procreation, but then I knew nothing about negotiation.
“I can try,” Attalla said.