Diuturnity's Dawn

Free Diuturnity's Dawn by Alan Dean Foster

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Authors: Alan Dean Foster
of white hair, he leaned back in his chair and considered. For an ambassador appointed to what was arguably the most important nonhuman populated world known, he was casual in manner and laid-back in his work habits. It was an attitude much appreciated by those who labored under him. Azerick was a lonely enough place to be stationed without being forced to toil for some inflexible martinet.
    “If it were up to me, Fanielle, I’d give you permission to vet and sign treaties. But you know I can’t do that. I don’t have that capability myself. As soon as we adjourn here, I’ll get on the deep-space communicator and find out just how far the authorities on Earth are prepared to let you go. One thing you can be sure of: You won’t be allowed to negotiate anything controversial.”
    “I already know that,” she responded.
    “But we might be able to procure more authority for you than you think, by trumpeting the importance of this meeting, how it’s likely not to be repeated for some time, the sensitive nature of relations between you and this Eint Carwenduved—I intend to call in every favor and promise I’ve been stockpiling.” He leaned forward. “I want you to have as much autonomy going in as we can manage. This is the first real breakthrough we’ve had in months, and I don’t want to squander it.”
    “Even so, sir,” Sertoa began, “we don’t want Fanielle to agree to anything hasty.” He smiled deferentially at her. “Careful perusal and dissection of any potential covenant is demanded before the authority to sign can be conferred.”
    “Loosen up, Jorge,” she told him. “No matter what I manage to get the eint to agree to, I don’t think you have to worry about some thranx sharing your bathroom anytime soon.”
    It was an exceedingly mild put-down, but whether for that reason or one unknown, Sertoa said nothing more for the duration of the meeting.
    “I’ve been working on proceeding to the next step in securing a stronger alliance among our respective species.” Holding up her reader, she touched a contact and waited the couple of seconds necessary to transfer the relevant documentation to everyone else’s handheld. “If the eint doesn’t dismiss it out of hand, I intend to at least broach a number of possibilities for future discussion.”
    “Such as what?” Hwang asked with obvious interest.
    “A lasting, permanent alliance. Nothing held back. Military presence on one another’s worlds, mutual command of tactics and weaponry, joint colonization of which this plateau and the Amazon Basin are only the most preliminary sorties.” Someone whistled.
    “You don’t want much, do you, Fanielle?” Genna Erlich observed.
    “You’re talking about the kind of treaty that would require not only a vote of the full Terran Congress, but approval by majorities on all the settled worlds.” Mieleski’s tone was somber. “It’s a very adventurous program.”
    “What are we here for, if not to press for closer relations?” Toroni smiled paternally. “Though you’ve certainly chosen an ambitious agenda for yourself, Fanielle.”
    “Everything depends on the eint’s reaction to my prefatory suggestions,” she replied a bit defensively. “Depending on how things go, I might not even have the chance to make known my more elaborate proposals.”
    “Quite right.” Rising, Toroni indicated that the conference was at an end. “I look forward to reading all the details of your report, Fanielle. With luck, we should within a couple of days have some guidelines from Earth detailing how you will be allowed to proceed. I myself am optimistic, and intend to frame the request for those guidelines in the most anxious manner possible.
    “In the meantime, we all of us have much to study, and to digest. I take it you are amenable to criticisms and suggestions, Ms. Anjou?”
    “Always,” she replied, at the same time hoping there would not be too many. Putting what had previously been an informal

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