Dreamed 3/18/1996 by Chris Wayan
I'm in interstellar diplomacy. On the street I run into a fellow diplomat I like a lot. She's a trade rep for an antlike people who allow little individuality--they may even have a tinge of hive-mind, back home. But away from the family, so to speak, she's developed her own style. I always suspected she volunteered, just to get off the ant-farm.
Even as she turns cosmopolitan, though, she conscientiously represents the Hive, hoping that'll keep the Enforcers off her back.
Wrong. As we walk along, she tells me they're getting nastier, sending soldier ants to question her about ordinary behavior she takes for granted now. And her horizons are broadening--she wants far more. She tentatively, indirectly asks if diplomatic asylum is an option.
"Yes" I say, "or you could marry someone. You'd have no trouble finding someone who likes you!" I didn't even realize, till I blurted this, that I mean me. I've admired her a long time. And who knows how far she'll grow? She's already come so far from her antish past.
A man in a hooded robe comes up. An Enforcer! He starts accusing her, in quasi-religious terms, of violating sacred Ant precepts. She just stands there taking it, looking shaken. Deep inside her thorax, she still believes the old hive line!
So I break in. "You enforcers and your leaders don't understand other species, you don't understand diplomacy! You gave her this difficult job, to adapt to other cultures and be a go-between for you, and then you condemn her for doing her job right! She's an excellent representative for your people. She's RIGHT to learn alien ways. That's what the job takes!" I decide it's time to pull authority, Enforcers aren't into logic. "We do it too: we learn YOUR ways to talk to you, only YOU don't notice, you're unobservant--for the purposes of YOUR job, you can be lazy and blur us all together as aliens. But she can't--she must differentiate many alien patterns. She's doing hard, necessary work, and you blunder in here like an idiot..."
To my shock the enforcer starts to lift its hollow staff--a weird weapon that blasts energy from nowhere. No one quite knows how--the tube is empty, yet deadly as a laser. I can't believe it--this enforcer's ready to violate diplomatic immunity!
I stand in front of her and snap "And don't you threaten me! I'm not yours to discipline."
Or did it think I'd just stand here while it drags her off? Let it try! She's not just a worker ant to me, any more. And you know... maybe she needs to see that, to see how much we care for her, before she'll believe it inside.
NOTES ON WAKING UP
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