Ambassador Pryce strode purposefully across the open
walkways which meandered between each building of the Capital. His destination
was the Senate Chamber, where the Senate met with ambassadors like him, discussing
interstellar matters. The structure’s dome rose majestically above any nearby
buildings and monuments. The tranquil appeal of the vast parkland ecosystem surrounding
Pryce did little to calm his nerves, various scenarios of how the next few
sensitive hours could play out repeating in his mind.
seat on the Senate wasn’t an option: Humanity was an officially recognized
species in intergalactic space, establishing an embassy here in mere years. It
is no secret that unfair gesture led to resentment from each race that had been
waiting longer for that recognition. Failing after such an aggressive play
would certainly make him seem like a figurehead with no real power. Pleading was
another tactic, but he feared it would give off an impression of weakness. Once
he arrived at base of the Chamber, he knew there was only one course of action.
He had to show them humanity’s worth.
He marched up
to the security guards standing at the Chamber’s only known entrance, and then
waited tensely while they confirmed his identity. He was gratified to note that
at least one of the guards was a member of his own species. The number of
humans operating under the Senate and its various appendages had been growing
steadily; another example of how important his species had become to the
galactic state since their arrival. With renewed confidence he entered the cylindrical
elevator that would lift him up the exterior of the building to the Senate Chamber.
The elevator’s shell was composed of primarily glass panes, so as he rocketed
upwards he could admire the whole of the Capital stretched out beneath him. As the
elevator reached even higher he could see beyond the edges of the Capital and
its government buildings. In the distance were the flickering lights of the great
metropolis he rarely ventured.
The view was breathtaking,
but the ambassador did his best to ignore it. The grandeur of the Capital and
its neighboring cities was on display here deliberately. Though they held no
official power, the Senate was comprised of exclusively aliens, who were for
all practical purposes the rulers of the civilized galaxy. Speaking directly to
them face-to-face should be a humbling experience, particularly for someone as
politically sharp as humanity’s finest ambassador. There was no doubt in Pryce’s
mind that the convenient ride to the top of the Senate Chamber had been
carefully constructed to make visitors feel overwhelmed before laying eyes on
the Senators. Within a minute he was at the highest point possible, his stomach
lurching from the deceleration as the elevator halted. Maybe it was lingering
The doors slid open,
and he stepped into a hallway that sufficed as a waiting room to the Senate
Chamber. Near the end of the hall was a staircase guiding up, with wide
passages branching off on two sides. As he took one step at a time, the walls disappeared
from view, revealing the Senate Chamber. It was reminiscent of an amphitheater,
a large circle with seats for hundreds of spectators lining each side. Erected
on opposite ends were raised platforms. The stairs he was ascending right now
would bring him to the top of one of these platforms: Humanity’s stage. From
here he would look across the great chamber to the opposing platform, where the
Senate would be seated. As the ambassador walked out onto the appropriate
platform and approached the podium, he was frustrated to see that none of the
spectator seats were occupied. Although this decision would be made public, he
disliked that the Senate thought it unnecessary to include any observers. Yet, this
strengthened his resolve: Part of him had feared this would be nothing but a
spectacle for public show. At the far end, the three members of the Senate were
already seated. The long distance between the two stages rendered Pryce unable
to clearly see the reactions of each representative.
“There is no need for pretense in this case,” the senator
in the center seat said, beginning the proceedings with limited formality. “We
have been informed by one of our delegates that humanity intends to join this
“Ambassador,” another Senator on the left chimed in,
“surely you understand the risks your species present to the galaxy as a whole?
You all seem to still believe
competition is the key to prosperity. As a species, you are antagonistic
“Every species competes for power,” Pryce shot back.
“The only reason each of you are enabled to pass judgment on the rest of the
galaxy is because the Senate races control an enormous fleet.”
“The Senate races allocate countless resources in our
efforts to ensure widespread galactic peace,” the Senator on the right reminded
him. “We do not suggest individuals and collectives alike will not seek to
expand their territory and influence, however, humanity’s growth is best
accomplished with the understanding that there must be reciprocity: What you
humans call give-and-take. The Senate races are willing to sacrifice for the
sake of others,” he concluded. “Can you honestly say the same about humanity?”
Pryce remained silent in genuine contemplation. It
seemed obvious he could not change the Senate’s mind. Maybe this rejection is simply
part of the process of assimilation into the galactic community, he thought
wearily. Our current state is a natural and inevitable one that will bring humanity
in line with the rest of the species who answer to the Senate. “Not yet,” Pryce finally responded.
The three representatives of the galaxy’s most
powerful government glanced at each other, and left to hold a brief conference
in private. From the other side of the chamber it was still impossible for Pryce
to read their expressions or hear what they were saying, but the discussion was
“It is decided. Humanities candidacy will not be
considered for the Senate today, or in the near future. This meeting is
adjourned,” one Senator announced.
Pryce gave a reserved nod of his head, managing to
adopt a neutral expression. He’d suffered a major defeat; there was no benefit
in mourning over it. But as he made his way back down the stairs of the platform
and headed toward the elevator that would fittingly take him back to the ground
below, his right hand balled into a fist. Were they scared of us?