History classes made this sort of thing sound so easy, so inevitable. Everybody gets together and out comes a treaty without any of the messy uncertainties and confusion. I wonder about the untold stories of the early Empire and the Compact – were things as messy then? I also wonder what stories they’ll tell of us a generation or two down the line – assuming peace holds, that is.
Counselor Bahiti did a fine job negotiating a truce – all the more impressive for negotiations in a language neither of us speak as native, with concepts from a Stone Age civilization. We’ve got a prototype scent translator, but it doesn’t have the vocabulary for detailed discussions.
It began with Desert Bloom loudly accepting our invitation – using a psionic transmitter dropped from a height. The Council had to scrabble to explain this to the Colony, since the response was loudly in the heads of everyone near Speaker. Ozone’s echos have shown little interest in leaving the dome, but we probably should let people know they are here.
[Medical note: still need to work on dosage for the miracle fish pills, Virgil’s procedure ultimately successful, but more stressful than expected. At least he’s cured.]
From surveys, we saw the Tikkit arrive – with a group of fire ants and more golden ants. They set up some domes. We decide to go in with equal numbers, the diplomatic team, some Mict, and several civil engineers to set up shelters. As we set up camp, we are met by two of the desert ants with a container of Buggalo honey. We offer a gift in return – something sweet from our stocks. Adams is an excellent cook and the Buggaloo glaze works well with steak vine, but I just can’t deal with much of that stuff.
The Tikkit don’t like open spaces – the golden ants form a tunnel for them to move into the meeting dome. There are five queens – last daughters of Desert Bloom, each with a vest of unknown power. The elder and senior has a black flower and calls herself First Bloom of Desert Bloom. The Bringer of Harmony, of Peace, offers us a chance to become part of her hive and to help us grow. (As we later realize, at times Desert Bloom may be possessing First Bloom to talk directly to us.) Counselor Bahiti respectfully declines – it is a generous offer, but we seek to be friends and equals, to work with her Hive, but not as part of it.
At lunch, we break. The Tikkit don’t seem to have the concept of two hives that are not essentially one. How do we convey this idea? While we are talking two of the golden ants approach discretely. They are allies of the queens from the southernmost end of the central mountains – Golden Sand and Desert Sand. In public, the golden ants are servants, but in private they work with the Tikkit to deal with the dangers of the desert. They and their queens are worried about fighting, either between us and the Tikkit, or a fracturing of their Hive because of us. We talk about options and proposals.
Counselor Bahiti eventually returns to negotiations with a proposal for two groups – their Hive and our Nest, separate and competative, but not at war. (This does leave Coral Bloom in an odd spot.) The division is based on continents. We agree to keep delegates on this island (The Island of Understanding) to study from and learn from each other. While that happens, we try not to take any actions that might be misunderstood or cause conflict. Sadly, none of us will be able to stay – we know too much about the Colony’s defenses and contingency plans.
So peace for now – about the best result we could realistically expect. Now we need to settle our own affairs – get through the elections and figure out how we are all going to work together. I’m hoping for some time for my own projects, including treatment protocols for Tikkit with our technology. Ozone is our guest – it’s our job to keep him healthy and safe.