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Send in the Truth Smellers

by Kat Beyer

The two ships hung in the open silence of space as if they were already depicted in a tapestry: the Gaian ship glittering with fretwork and enamel and the perlescent oval of the Free and Independent Peaceful Coalition of Jupiter's Moons. The Negotiators’ Bubble between them emptied; the negotiators had called it a day (because that was easier than calling it a biorhythmic activity episode).

"Here they come," said the Fire Keeper as the Gaian team came up the gangway. "Hope your weird plan worked."

"Me too," said the Senecan Sachem, holding out a glass of water to the Speaker.

"No deal yet," she shrugged, and took a long drink.

"Any complaints about the – additions – to your team?"

"They thought we were weird bringing teenagers with us, but figured it was just a cultural thing."

Behind her the three youngest members of her team traded their ceremonial robes for tattered jeans and buckskin shirts.

"What did you think of the Jupiter people?" said the Speaker, turning to them.

"I don't know," said the youngest teenager, and then stood with his mouth open.

The tallest boy shook his head and asked, "Can I say it however?" looking only at the Speaker.

"Just don't swear in front of the grandfathers."

"Okay. Frankly, they were kind of full of it."

The third teenager nodded gravely, carefully restarting each of her seven holotoos.

"They talk like my mom," she said. "You know, like they learned it out of a blog on how to get what you want without ever really asking for it or whatever."

The Sachem looked toward the treaty analysts.

"You have anything for us yet, Hannah? Adsila?"

"The kids are basically right. It looks really nice on the surface, but it’s a load of... things you shouldn't say in front of the grandfathers."

After dinner, in private, the Sachem said to the Fire Keeper, "I was right, wasn't I?"

He got a grunt.

"I got the idea when my youngest grandson got upset about something. Those kids are really on alert any time an adult is hypocritical. It's perfect. They look harmless – at least with the robes on – like what the Speaker said – a Cultural Thing."

"They're so eloquent, too," said the Fire Keeper.

"Oh, shut up. I want to give them some name nobody will bother to translate. What's Onandaga for 'truth smeller?'"


A charming idea. The quaint notion that teenagers would be helpful!

Posted by: David | March 18, 2009 8:49 PM

so informative, thanks to tell us.

Posted by: rorUnsado | September 30, 2010 1:02 AM

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