As the alien delegation shuffled and lumbered through the corridors of the White House, ducking under doorways too low for their stature and carelessly knocking the priceless antiques that lined the route between the Roosevelt Room and the Press Briefing Room, President John Handcock the Second gave thought to the many men and women they had swept aside to get there. They’d hoped to enter the White House under different circumstances; waving a flag of victory and dictating terms of surrender, or perhaps reducing the building to ashes as a warning to future generations of human slaves. Fortunately, their invasion of Earth had not gone according to plan.
Tens of thousands of America’s finest had laid down their lives to fend off the alien invasion, but in the end it was the courage and ingenuity of just a small few – and one plucky Brit – that turned the tide of war.
Now the Honogons were in Washington for a different reason. Unaware of how close they had come to victory, and unaware of how easily they could yet defeat humanity, they had come to sue for peace on equal terms. The fate of the world rested on a bluff, but the Honogons, it seemed, were poor poker players.
Lorbor the Conqueror (or Lorbor the Capitulator, as the treaty stipulated he would henceforth be known) held the president in a mesmerizing stare. With a clear three foot height difference between them, Handcock felt an embarrassing crimp beginning to attack his neck.
“I shall make the arrangements immediately,” said the great beast. He spoke in an assortment of low grunts and flat squeeks, and the words were translated by a gizmo the boys at NASA had hastily cobbled together. The negotiations had revealed flaws in the accuracy of the device, but it served its purpose well enough.
There were some words and concepts that could not cross the cultural divide that separated the two species. The Honogons, for example, had no concept of democracy or personal liberty. They’d mistaken President Handcock for a king, and a detailed lecture on the American political system had failed to convince them otherwise.
The great beast continued. “Next moon-orbit we shall confirm the treaty in the traditional manner; we shall join our houses through blood and marriage. Providing the marriage is fruitful, there may ever after be peace between us.”
President John Handcock the Second swallowed hard. He’d be more comfortable ratifying the treaty with a signature and a handshake, but it was too late to back out now.
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Artwork by Jason Chan.