3. The Lill and the Backstory of the Backstory
Within two hours of the Hipronians coming across humans wandering about within the Hipronian Outer Colonies, the Galactic Union had been informed that the one hundred and eighty-eighth race of star-faring aliens had been encountered. Within forty-eight hours after humanity’s first contact with an alien race, a massive GU warship entered Earth’s orbit and demanded a meeting with the leaders of the FAP.
Even then, some of the FAP generals wanted to lob a few nuclear warheads at the GU ship, just to see if they had shields, and to see if they were tough. Luckily for humans, the generals weren’t able to actually make military decisions on their own. Once holovid footage of the warship in orbit reached the government, everyone visibly trembled. Some even fainted. According to the satellite laser scans, most of the gun barrels on the alien ship were large enough to fire shells the same size as the rockets humans were using to put those satellites into space with.
The humans agreed, and the GU warship sent down a dropship. Humans across the entire Federation held their breaths as the landing gear settled on the ground outside of the U.N. building in New York City. They were hoping that these aliens were cute and fuzzy like the Hipronians. When a frightening monster with four arms and what seemed like hundreds of claws, fangs, and gun barrels stepped from the dropship, panic riots broke out all over the Federation.
The monster cleared its throat, or maybe it was saying something in its native language, no one could tell, but everyone shut up to see what it would say. “Humans,” the thing growled, a shiny translator hanging from its neck sounding like an angry human male, “we welcome your species to become trial members in the Galactic Union. Over the next few decades, your species will be scrutinized and studied. Good day.”
The monster roared loud enough to shatter the translator around its throat, raised two of its arms and made a crude gesture at the sky, then entered the dropship and blasted off. Two hours later, the Chancellor of Earth received an email from the New Species Welcoming Center. Chancellor Adimo wondered if it was more spam, or a prank, until he opened the attachment and an even more frightening monster began screaming and growling at him. The leader of Earth, once he stopped hiding under his desk, replayed the video, this time reading the subtitles.
A nervous laugh escaped him as he turned to one of his aides. “They basically say don’t be starting a bunch of wars, and don’t be assholes to the other races in the Union.”
“Sir,” the aide replied, shaking his head, “we’re totally fucked, aren’t we?”
“What course of action would you like us to take, Griz?” asked the Lill representative.
“Well,” Griz grunted. Griz was a Darvorian, a race of quadrupeds that looked sort of like a giraffe crossed with a spider, and the fourth alien race at war with the humans. “How about letting us crush these stupid humans and feed their marrow to our livestock?” This was greeted by a chorus of clicks, shouts, grunts, subsonic whistles, and a lot of other weird noises that aliens might make.
“Come on, Griz, you know the rules,” the Lill said, shaking his head. “Everyone gets a fair shake.”
“Bullshit!” cried a Gadrian, whose species was currently in a bitter war with the humans.
“Fuck that!” said the Hipronian king-senator. “They just started shooting at us for no reason! We’re supposed to just take it?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” answered the Lill. “Remember when you all joined the Union. Some of your species were no better than humans.”
This caused an uproar of such vehemence and denial that the Lill thought he might have to call in security and fry a few of his fellow alien representatives. He held up a shining hand, and eventually the room quieted down. As upset as the other reps were, they all knew better than to push the Lill too far.
While the Lill offered equal representation within the Union, the one hundred and eighty-six other races of the GU knew that just a few of the energon beings could wipe out the entire galaxy without much trouble. The Lill had been around for millions of years at least, and had helped to guide almost all of the other GU species to become good members, not go to war all the time, and not be assholes to each other.
“Fine,” Griz relented, looking quite comical yet scary. “What do you suggest?” He crossed his six arms and waited for the Lill to answer.
“We’ll send them a warning, and give them a couple of years to back off and stop colonizing every planet they come across.”
“Oh, great,” one of the Urgs, a race of diaphanous, web-like creatures said, its translator unit injecting sarcasm for the alien races that could grasp such a concept. “A warning. I don’t think these humans are smart enough to even read something written in their own crude language. What makes you think a warning will make them change their ways?”
“Oh, I don’t think it will make them change their ways,” the Lill said. “I’m interested to see how badly they will screw everything up. They seem like an inept, bumbling, barely-sentient species.”
“So,” Griz said, gnashing his spider fangs together loudly, “in the meantime, those of us at war with these humans are supposed to wait for your curiosity to be satisfied?”
“Yes,” the Lill answered, giving a warning look to the Darvorian.
“Fine,” Griz said, as sullenly as a Darvorian could through such a weird mouth. “I’ll have my assistant begin taking bets on how long these dumbass humans last before getting exterminated.”
Within minutes, the betting lines opened all over the galaxy. The member races of the GU hadn’t seen such a poor excuse for sentient life forms in almost sixty thousand years, and were eager to bet on the fleshy, weak-looking, low-tech creatures being annihilated within a year.
By the time that year came and went, the humans were kicking the shit out of the fuzzy little Hipronians. The betting odds went through the roof, with some of the aliens suddenly betting that the humans might actually win the war. The Hipronians were upset that a lot of the GU began betting that they’d lose to the humans, but they had to admit it seemed most likely, since they’d been backed into Nebula SX-156G-r4. None of the alien species in the Milky Way had ever heard of a cat, let alone seen one, so they of course used the “official” GU name for the nebula.
Within another few years, the betting went haywire again when the humans showed up to fight the Tyx and kicked their asses thanks to the stolen and reverse-engineered rapid-fire plasma weapons and powered exoskeletal combat armor. By the time humanity was fighting the Darvorians on a fourth front, more than half of the GU members were just as curious as the Lill. The overly aggressive upstart creatures had a laughable mix of technology, a rudimentary understanding of physics, and they smelled absolutely awful, but the ugly little fleshbags were full of fight.
Finally, the Lill had to step in. Humans had stolen and reverse-engineered even more technology, this time the kind that turned humanity’s thin-skinned, unshielded, comical space ships into a naval fleet of considerable power. The Galactic Union members, once amused by the spunky new race, were beginning to grow worried. They demanded that the Lill call for a vote to exterminate the humans.
They cited studies and charts and anecdotal evidence that the humans were not only capable of assimilating just about any technology in the galaxy to assist their war efforts, they were disturbed by the fact that humans bred faster than the Valdothi, a race of insectoid creatures that were regularly spotted carrying a thousand offspring on their backs as they went about their lives.
The Lill and the ruling council agreed, and set about organizing a Trial. Trials were serious things in the GU. There had only been a total of nine in the entire multi-million year history of the Union, and of those nine, only one race, the Farkers, were still around. The other eight had been wiped from the galaxy after proving too dangerous to be allowed to exist.
In 2124, the Galactic Union stepped in and demanded a cessation of hostilities between humans and the four alien empires they were fighting. Some of the FAP generals wanted to keep fighting at all costs, but cooler heads prevailed when the human xenobiologists warned the Federation against ignoring or disobeying the decrees of the GU.
The Prime Leadership of the GU was a race of beings made of pure energy who called themselves “The Lill.” A lot of human warmongers scoffed at these supposedly powerful aliens with sissy names, but soiled themselves when they were given a demonstration of just a small show of power from these ancient, immortal beings.
The Lill were energons (with a hard ‘juh’ sound) who could shapeshift into any physical form that they wanted, granted it was within a reasonably relative size to their own. More importantly, they could harness the power of stars, could manipulate space and gravity, and could single-handedly destroy all of the other one hundred eighty-six races of the GU combined.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the Lill ambassador said to the gathered leaders of the Federation of Allied Planets at the Earth Headquarters. “I am here to discuss the terms of your extermination.”
A massive uproar broke out, not just in the cavernous FAP assembly hall, but all over the Federation. Who was this jagoff, this alien bastard, to negotiate humanity’s demise? they asked. A few in the assembly shouted questions, asking the Lill ambassador if he thought he was tough, and did he want to fight? The alien looked at the strange humans with curiosity, especially at the three humans who had already removed their shirts and were doing little dances, thrusting their fists out while shouting insults at him.
The Lill ambassador thought that it was a new human negotiation custom, so he agreed to fight all three of the shirtless human leaders at once. This made a lot of the humans pause for a moment, as the weird alien made of light particles seemed a little too confident. The pause was broken when some of the humans in the assembly hall challenged the manhoods of the shirtless men, and as one, the shirtless humans charged the lone Lill.
All three humans exploded in a shower of fine ash the instant they threw a punch at the alien. A few more humans decided to be brave and attacked the alien, only to become a speck on the air filters of the hall’s HVAC system. The remaining humans shouted insults and challenges at the Lill ambassador, but none were foolish enough to attack him again.
“All right,” the ambassador said, “shall we begin?”
“Piss off!” shouted one of the European leaders.
The Lill ambassador sighed and shapeshifted into a human form, which made all but a few of the humans panic and run around the assembly hall, shouting in fear, running into each other and falling over chairs and desks.
“Humanity is hereby notified that on Galactic Date 2.563.904-1, the leaders of the Federation of Allied Planets must appear before the full assembly of the Galactic Union, on the planet Harmony IV, Perseus Sector. Failure to appear will result in immediate judgment against your species, and extermination will commence within one Earth hour. Thank you, and good day.”
The Lill representative walked off the stage, the stunned humans unable to even shout one last insult at the alien. Within minutes the U.N. assembly was almost rioting, the FAP leaders and ambassadors going into a frenzy of fear, anger, and disbelief. Ten minutes, sixteen black eyes, three bloody noses, and a broken wrist later, Ghazi Adimo, the Chancellor of Earth and head of the Federation of Allied Planets, stood at the podium, watching his fellow humans brawling. He wrinkled his nose at the lingering stench of disintegrated human flesh.
“Attention,” he called out, but no one seemed to be listening.
“Attention!” he shouted, but it did no good.
Chancellor Adimo, no stranger to history, removed his shoe and beat it against the microphone until the feedback nearly blew out the eardrums of everyone in attendance.
“Attention,” he said in a softer voice once everyone had calmed down and were looking at him. “According to the GU calendar, we have exactly six weeks before we have to appear before the Galactic Union Assembly and plead our case.” The chancellor sighed and looked around at his ragged band of fellow humans, most in a state of disrepair with torn shirts, scraped knuckles, and wide eyes. “May God have mercy on us,” he said in a resigned voice, and walked off the stage.
“Humans, you have been brought before the Galactic Union Prime Leadership Council to be judged,” a strange creature that looked like a weird tree said. The human delegation almost laughed out loud at the tree’s high-pitched, nasal-sounding voice. The fact that they were on trial to be exterminated kept their laughter in check, but only just barely.
“Uh, not guilty, Your Honor,” Dave Thatcher said into his amplified translator unit.
“Human,” the Hytrian said, and Dave thought it sounded really annoyed, but he was really high and couldn’t really tell what the tree’s tone represented. “Shut up.”
Dave sat down in the uncomfortable seat that was made for much larger aliens with much tougher skin or exoskeletons. He crossed his arms and glared at the stupid tree.
“You have been accused of warmongering, war crimes, and behaving below the standards of the Galactic Union. You have been found to be a dangerous species—”
“Fucking-A right we are,” Dave said under his breath, forgetting that his amplified translator was still on. He turned bright red when the entire GU assembly twittered and crackled and hooted and made all kinds of weird alien noises.
“—and you have been found to be a reckless species.”
It paused to see if the smartass human had anything to add, but Dave gave the tree a thumbs-up. Three different roars of rage went up from some of the assembly, species that all had thumbs and viewed the thumbs-up sign as a mortal insult in their culture.
“You have been found to be a danger to not only the members of the Galactic Union, but you are a danger to yourselves,” the Hytrian said, giving the human a tree-scowl.
“No shit,” Dave muttered again, this time putting his hand over the translator to keep it from repeating his words in one hundred and eighty-seven different languages. He saw the writing on the wall, and began to tune out the boring aliens.
“Since you have failed all four of the basic tests of the Galactic Union, failing them purposely and with intentional malice in some cases, it is the judgment of this Trial to give you one Earth year to reverse your actions and fall within acceptable parameters or face total extinction.” The tree banged its woody limb on the podium, signaling the end of the trial.
“We’re totally fucked,” Dave said, forgetting once again that his translator unit was still on and still hot.