At the first whiff of Commander Shmeegl the two guards instantly activated the immense double doors of the Royal Hall. This was technically a breach of regulations. All entering the Hall, even His Majesty himself, were required to proffer their pheromones for identification before being admitted. But at this moment Shmeegl was the most celebrated individual on Slork, and he winked jauntily at the guards as he strode into the vast chamber. A chorus of excited chirps went up from the assembled courtiers as they detected his aroma and felt the presence of this extraordinary individual.
Shmeegl prostrated himself before his ruler, who caressed his head with his proboscis in keeping with the strict protocol of the court. “Arise, Shmeegl,” the king murmured. Shmeegl raised himself on his hind pods but paused for one dramatic moment before lifting his face. “You smell well considering the distressing conditions I am told you endured during re-entry into our planet’s atmosphere.”
“It was nothing really, your majesty,” Shmeegl replied with unbecoming false modesty. “A few glitches in the hyperwarp. I’ve had bumpier rides.” He produced a small aromatic packet from his pouch and presented it to the king. “I am happy to present you with my formal report on my mission to the third planet in the Gnarpal sun system. By your leave, I will be happy to summarize my observations and conclusions for His Majesty’s court.”
Shmeegl settled comfortably onto his hindquarters and addressed the throng. “As you know, the purpose of my mission was to confirm the presence of higher life forms on that world, and to ascertain the level of that intelligence with a view to establishing relations for the mutual benefit of our societies as we have done in so many other instances. As to my first purpose, the samples collected by my crew and me, which we hope to exhibit after our scientists have thoroughly analyzed them, testify that this world teems with every variety of plant, animal, bird, insect, and creature of the sea imaginable, much of it exhibiting a primitive form of intelligence. More important, it boasts of a specie of bipedal creatures whose intelligence, while woefully inferior to our own or even to that of our common domesticated flibling, did conform to the G-10 rating established by the Academy of Science and Exploration.”
The king raised a pod. “G-10 meaning . . .”
“Suitable for closer examination, Your Majesty.”
“Ah, of course. Go on.”
“I spent several days observing their civilization and altering my appearance and metabolism to conform to theirs, and acquiring their astonishing garb so that I might live among them. During that orientation I studied several subspecies of this race, which calls itself ‘human,’ and ultimately selected one which I hope exemplified the application of intelligence to what we all agree is a worthy endeavor for any civilized race, the dissemination of information. I told myself that if any segment of the human race would exhibit superior intellectual qualities, it would be the variety known as publishers.” Read more…