Trade-In. A story by: GF Willmetts.

It’s a common myth among the young sentient species that they will face alien invasion forces that will exterminate them before taking over their planet. This species even has an entire media devoted to the subject. That made my job easier. I mean, I was only one person. What kind of threat was I? I came offering better gifts than they even deserved and they knew it.

So I do what I normally do. Said I was an ambassador and needed to make an assessment of their planet so I could send in a report to gain permission for galactic aid to give them help. They’ve heard of that. Aid that is, not galactic aid which is a bit more fictitious. As if the other planets had the resources to send to a merging planet-life. Some of these nations leaders told me that they had offered such aid to poorer countries themselves. They just never expected to be in a similar situation that someone would offer them help with their own failing climate.

Like a lot of young species, they were careless with their industries and forgot to look after their waste earlier. Too much waste, not enough recycling. Failing climate. Yadde-yadde! Old story. None of which was helped by messing with their environment. A few more planet turns and there wouldn’t be enough people left to worry about. They hadn’t even realised that their waste could easily be recycled even now and that it was cheaper than digging it out of the ground. Even so, there was a regulation forbidding genocide and if it looked like I had made the right deal, I could continue my trade across the galaxy and look like a benefactor. I could also claim a benefit for doing a good deed. Yadde-yadde!

Always remember: the universe doesn't care.

I nodded in all the right places and apologised that my language translator couldn’t always make sense of what they were saying. That way I got all the things they weren’t going to tell me. They treated me like one of their own. Why not? I had a similar shape. Biped with two arms and a head at the top. Worse case of parallel evolution that they shared with me. A lot easier to deal with than tripeds and quadpeds who were used to counting more limbs. I remember that time when I thought I was talking to the lead sentient on one planet until a behemoth came out of the water asking me why I was talking to their livestock? That was a long time ago and I learnt my lesson from that. I made all the right noises, spent a few days in my starship and came out saying that I had permission to carry out my actions. Yadde-yadde!

Moving a planet’s population is more a case of logistics than size. It would be even cheaper as cargo and I had filmed a planet around a nearby star that looked suitable on my way to their wasted planet so they wouldn’t be going far by my standards. It was a bit primitive and smaller compared to what they had but if they wanted to survive it was better than no choice at all. They’d have to get their metals out of the ore themselves and even offered them some more efficient designs at cost. I made a mental note for me or one of my kin to come back this way in a millennia or so as they would undoubtedly make a wreck of that planet as well as I doubt if they’d ever leave that star system in the state I was giving it to them. These societies were so primitive and slow to learn from their mistakes and invariably would become repeat offenders. Yadde-yadde!

They had their doubts that it could be done and took a lot of persuading to get the heads of the various nations to sit down together and assure them that they could have similar sized, albeit smaller, nations on their new planet. As I continually pointed out, it might be a little smaller than their current planet but the land mass was similar just with smaller oceans and a little volcanic action from time to time would make the planet grow as indeed their own had or did they think continent drift only happened by chance?

The main question that always springs up is what was in it for me? Why was I being so generous? I held up my hands and said I was willing to take their shortly to be uninhabited world off their hands. As a habitation with all the damage they had made to it, it would be a millennia before it would be much use for any new evolved sentient species let alone colonisers. All inhabs liked big numbers because it looked impressive not that it meant that much to me. I could wait that long. No need to tell them of how much I valued the planet for its scrap value or its gas giants for fuel. They were far more willing to see those gas giants go to me when I pointed out they could fuel their journey. That alone would make the finance transporting them to another world small change in comparison. Had they known that, I can see them wanting to make a better deal but with no one else around to advise them differently, why should I be worried? I could have raised my edge a little and offered a few beads to the natives and they hadn’t even got that far in the stakes. These fledging species having only been around for a small amount of time were so naïve and invariably desperate. Like adolescences everywhere, they never saw beyond their own life-span. Yadde-yadde!

While they were coming to the only decision they could come to, I checked their history books. Had any of my kin come this way before? The previous dominate species that had lived far longer than these were giant reptoids who hadn’t gotten the sentience genes. Had we been this way and before that asteroid damage, we would surely have taken some for a meat source. I made a note in my records to keep that in mind should we pass this way again and this lot didn’t last as long. Providing wee didn’t take everything, we would be within our rights. An asteroid bombardment was also a natural disaster that could be capitalised upon.

Finally, I was called to another meeting. Would these ‘arks’ take other members of their animal kingdom and plant life? I had to chuckle at that. Starships that could take a planet’s sentients would surely have room for those as well. I had a done deal. Yadde-yadde! They had no idea of the value of things. What would I do with their animal population? I didn’t have anyone to feed. Let them keep it so they wouldn’t starve. Yadde-yadde!

Anything else was a matter of logistics. I even pleased the natives by shipping them nation to a starship. Well, nearly. The smaller nations had to share but on ice, they wouldn’t care and already each of them had their own territory set on arrival. I have been known for my generosity, at least as far as it has gotten out. By the time they arrived on their new planet, what was left of their home star system would be gone and how could they come back to check? Yadde-yadde!

As their last leader made his way to be iced, he told me that there were a few people left who refused to go. I shrugged and told him, there were always a few. I reassured him that they would be safe as my plans would take a while to set up and probably after their short life-spans. By the time they reached the new planet, it wouldn’t matter what I had done with them. Yadde-yadde!

I watched the last starship leave. All automated. My engineering starships were already working on the gas giants. It’s so good when things go to plan. Yadde-yadde!

After all that work, I needed a break and a check on what the small colony left was doing. Were they fatalists? Flight phobics? Death wish suicidals? None of those labels applied. They were just playing with pieces of card and showing some dexterity in concealing a picture. They seemed happy to see me and would I like to join in. I smiled to myself. I might even get them off this planet quicker this way. Yadde-yadde!

They were perplexed by my winning streak, unaware of just how good my eyes were. We were even betting various objects until one of them asked what I would really like. A people free planet was my offer. They countered that if they won, would I bet my personal starship? How could I lose? Yadde-yadde!

We played their game and I chose the picture card…only it wasn’t! The sentient was very apologetic about that and offered double or quits. My entire fleet for them to return my starship. He would even crease the card so I could see which one was the picture. So helpful, until I turned the wrong card again!

Would I like to play again? I confessed that I had nothing left to play with and sure they wouldn’t want their planet back and congratulated them on a good game. They had my starship and fleet and I had a planet that would easily last me my lifetime. We were really both winners. Yadde-yadde!

Too bad for me they told me as they boarded my starship and took off. They didn’t know that my communicator channel was still open and them discussing that I hadn’t been as smart as I thought I was.

Too bad I thought as out in space, the life capsule shot off from the starship and jettisoned them into their star, before returning to me.

Did they really think I was born yesterday? It’s not that I’m a poor loser. It’s just that I don’t want any competition a few years down the line. Yadde-yadde!



© GF Willmetts 2014

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