the short story project


Jake Furminger

A Matter of Negotiation

The room was set. 
It was a beautiful mahogany table sitting in the middle of the sparse meeting room. He had managed to liberate it from the head office when they had moved from the Seattle to the moon of Phoebe. He went over to his delegation’s side of the table in an effort to ensure all the chairs he had picked out where equidistant from the edge of the table. He angled his badge up so he could see the printed emboldened symbols. Of all the languages he had learnt this was the most alien. It seemed to cross over itself and even previous characters, but he knew because he had been told translated to “one who talks”. Honestly it felt redundant as the Maxalars had learnt English which had proven incredibly useful for him as the translator software supplied had not worked from the beginning.  
He was glad that the Maxalar had been so co-operative in these talks, as he felt it almost fell apart in the first 5 minutes. He looked over at the refreshments which he had ensured a Verona blend coffee had been put out as the Maxalar had acquired a particular taste of it. This was a historic moment between Humanity and the alien Civilisations that shared our universe. He realised he had been using the word again. The term ‘alien’ had been deemed a derogatory term on a galactic scale, seen as a way to generalise any life that wasn’t human. It had been added to the prohibited word listed on universal communication guidelines of ethics documents 2 months ago. It had forced him to rewrite a lot of negotiation document for export. 
Straightening out the black leather-bound folders in front of the chair he looked across at the Maxalar delegation side of the table. Their seating arrangement was quite different. They had what looked like small vertical hammocks that looked so uncomfortable they seemed more kin to an elaborate torture device designed by a community of particularly unpleasant sadists. He had been amazed that the Maxalar had been able to spend 6 hours in them in the last talks. At least today it was only just document signing which should be completed quickly. He was glad as dealing with all this alien culture had been exhausting. 
The rest of his Negotiation team entered the room and the greeting “Greetings First Secretary” then went to stand behind each of the flanking chairs beside him waiting for the Maxalar to arrive. The Maxalarian delegation had been running late due to being distracted the updated vending machine en route but now where being ushered in by their chaperone. Their gangly grey bodies came into the room led by their head representative whose title roughly translated to “Prince Controller Elect”. They had created a system that they would save the DNA of successful leaders and in times of need, or if a better “candidate” was not available, they would be cloned and put in office. This particular clone had recently celebrated his 258th term in office.  
The Malaxarians positioned themselves on the other side of the table and poured themselves large cups of coffee and then nodded. The Negotiation team sat down and pulled the document from one of the folders. The decision was made to write it in English as the Maxalarian written language was non-linear and could be written in multiple directions depending on meaning and emotional state, which would have meant the document would have had to be 3d printed for its intent to be correct in Maxalarian. The document was then handed across, where a 3 fingered hand took it from him with unintended force. The document was then glanced over with black glassy eyes till suddenly the oval face looked up addressing him and his colleagues on the other side of the table. 
“Which sections covers the moon terraforming requirements and timescale of works?!”  
They hadn’t quite got the hang of controlling the volume of their voices.  
On the other side of the table a copy was brought out, quickly being turned to the page and replied. 
“Section 93 paragraph 12, as part of additional requirements section.” 
The Blank grey face looked back down at the document. 
“Thank you” suddenly a slight wheezing noise then again repeated softer “Sorry, thank you First Secretary, it is difficult read like this.” 
He smiled widely back in reply “Not a problem I know you have done all you can to adjust to these concepts, I myself have been contended with adapting to alien ideas.” NO! It had been said it without thinking. All he could do was wait to see what would be the reply. It was unbearable to think that it may now all fall apart. The grey face continued to look at him while it reached for the coffee. A long drawn out sip was made, prolonging the silence before saying “Yes most difficult, but worth any such problems.”  
Relieved that the meeting had not abrupty ended, the negotiation team looked to completed things swiftly. Using the specially marking stones created as the first joint piece of Human-Maxalar technology, the document was signed. it was now back in the hands of the Negotiation team. Now it was time for him as First secretary to close these negotiations. He stood up and straightened out his clothes in an attempt to remember the speech he had prepared for this moment.  
“On behalf of Starbucks Corporation as First Secretary of franchising, I would like to offer our congratulations and gratitude on the Maxalar becoming our partners in the Pecunia system. We hope for a fruitful and long-lasting partnership which will supply high quantity products to the inhabitants of the Pecunia system.” 
The Maxalar side of the table stood up and nodded in acknowledgement. 
“Thank you for being so useful in these talks, we must now go as we have an initial meeting with your colonel of the chicken.”  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *