"What?" Jin'thun finally growled, his expression unable to hide his annoyance at being the sudden center of attention.
"W-w-well... It's just..." stuttered Cherryl.
Jin'thun locked eyes with her. Despite the fact Darrian didn't think he was actually trying to be intimidating, Cherryl let out a little squeak and stopped talking.
"It's just...with the way things are happening..." Illiquina tried to continue for her.
"Where do your allegiances lie, Jin'thun?" asked the old judge, clearly growing annoyed with the Consortium's attempt at tact.
The Gorderian glowered at the robot and Darrian felt his throat tightening with fear that they had been right. But, as they watched, Jin'thun's expression softened and he sighed heavily.
"What do you mean by that?" inquired Jin'thun with the softest tone Darrian had ever heard from the ambassador.
"Will you, and by extent the Gorderians, be joining the Tulgucks in the slaughter of the human species?"
The room grew incredibly still as everyone waited on bated breath for his response. At the same time, Jin'thun seemed to return the glances, silently weighing his options.
"I don't know." he finally stated.
"Well, that's better than a yes..." whispered Ferris.
"Is it?" asked Jin'thun. "I simply recognize that it's not my place to make a decision that would slaughter an entire species. Or condemn my own to exile from Consortium."
"Unlike some." grumbled A'alan't 32.
"You're not wrong." agreed Jin'thun begrudgingly.
"So you're considering it then?" asked Darrian.
"I'm considering all of my options, Merrenian."
"The humans are monstrous. Terrifying." stated Ugul. "But you can't just kill them all."
"Again." Jin'thun said with just a hint of anger. "It's not my place to decide. After this meeting, I will contact my homeworld and we will discuss the implications of all possible actions."
"As it is, I can't deny the possible threat that the humans present." he continued. "But, it's hard to deny that the more we have watched them, the more promise I've seen from the oxygen breathers."
"May I suggest something then?" asked the old judge.
Jin'thun looked at the robot expectantly.
"You say you would like to discuss all possible options?" the old judge continued.
"Yes..." Jin'thun responded with a questioning look.
"What might those options be?"
Baffled whispers could be heard around the table. Many of the ambassadors looked just as surprised and confused by the question as Darrian was.
"Is this some kind of a trick?" asked Jin'thun with a threatening growl.
"No trick." said the old judge. "I simply want to know what you consider as options."
Jin'thun watched the old judge carefully, seemingly still not sure what the robot was getting at. Finally he answered.
"We will discuss whether we should join the Tulgucks in their attack on the human population, and thereby lose our standing with the Consortium, or if we shall remain neutral."
"May I suggest a third option then?" asked the old judge.
"It's well known that the Gorderians and the Tulgucks are the only two species within the Consortium that maintain a regular Armada force. You're both young, new to the Consortium, and clinging to your old ways."
Darrian noticed several of the ambassadors quietly agreeing.
"As a general policy, the Consortium maintains a regular species-based security force to help maintain order within respective planets. But, as you likely know, those forces are little to nothing compared to the might of either the Tulguck or the Gorderian armadas."
"While this might be considered an oversight, it is quite rare that we ever need such a force. It's even more rare that such an event might come from one of our own."
"Where are you going with this?" asked Jin'thun thoughtfully.
"Jin'thun. Your species is the only other member of the Consortium with a military force that might be able to stop the Tulgucks from committing a horrible atrocity. Will you ask your homeworld to about utilizing your armada in aid of the humans?"
The Gorderians looked just as surprised as the rest of the ambassadors. None of them would have ever considered suggesting Consortium races wage war on each other. Or, if the thought crossed their minds, it would have been gone just as quickly and certainly never said out loud.
"Are you serious?" asked Jin'thun quietly.
"As serious as an impending genocide." the old judge answered back, seemingly nonplussed.
"Defend the humans?" Jin'thun growled and then repeated. "Defend the humans...?"
"Yes." the old judge agreed.
The Gorderian furrowed and glared at the robot. His fur bristled and claws dug deeply into the table. Darrian felt himself tensing as he waited for the impending explosion.
But it never came.
Instead, once more, Jin'thun let out a heavy sigh and stood.
"Will you consider this third option?" asked the old judge again.
"I will." agreed Jin'thun to the Consortium's surprise. "I make no promises. But I will present the proposition to my homeworld."
"We will have a great deal to talk about." he said as he made his way towards the meeting room door.
The room was silent as he went. Just as he reached the door, the old judge spoke once more.
"Thank you." he said softly.
"Don't thank me yet, robot." Jin'thun said. "And judge?"
"You do know that, even if we were to respond, the Tulguck Armada has already mobilized. The humans may already be dead by the time we could even reach their solar system."
"Then I hope the Gorderians will be willing to take such a risk."
Jin'thun stared quietly at the old judge for a long time before finally closing the door behind him.
Start at the Beginning