Tales from Alien AA
By Sonny Zae
Tonight was my last time moderating an AA
new alien ordered to attend tonight's meeting was a
Warreth spaceship pilot, Smirek, arrested for exceeding
the speed of light while intoxicated.
Warreth were snobby, temperamental as bog
planet warthogs with hemorrhoids, and famously unable to
hold their liquor.
Nudging Smirek out of control would kick off the
All members of our group were from alien
could technically join, but became confused and upset by
how we operated. It
wasn't our fault we'd modified AA practice.
Take Soss-soss the Fungusacian.
How do you explain a twelve-step program to a
mushroom creature with one leg?
"Ssssssshouldn't we get ssstarted?"
Soss-soss asked, always the eager one.
He burbled in delight, his support stalk and
One would think that a monopedal space-slug
wouldn't have a drinking problem, but Soss-soss was a
Marooned on Earth, the only thing we aliens
enjoyed on this miserable out-of-the-way planet was
getting free-fall drunk.
"Hold your water," I admonished.
"We can't start until the new guy gets here."
"I'm thirssssty!" came Soss-soss'
complaint, whistling like a teapot.
It wasn't speech in the Earth sense, composed
of sibilances of various pitch and length, like his
A knock echoed from the door.
I waved for Galabus to let our guest in, then
realized my mistake as Galabus shuffled to the door on
his bottom tentacles.
Did Warreth spacefarers get along with Stronian
land sharks? Too
late now. One
belly tentacle reached up to twist the doorknob as
Galabus' shark tail waved like a cat spying a bird.
The door opened to reveal a towering,
tri-pedal alien. A
small, round head looked down at us from a seven-foot
height, its three-faceted eyes spaced across its face.
"Alcoholics Anonymous for non-Earth
aliens?" Smirek rumbled in a deep voice.
"Come in," I said, standing.
"I'm Aarn, the moderator.
Find a seat and we'll begin."
I waited until Smirek found an open chair and
draped his three legs awkwardly over the sitting
here for the same reason, Smirek.
I was a technical freight specialist in an
Aackt-class Doulaag merchant ship, arriving on Earth
after a three-year journey from the Blaatch system. I came down
with five other crew members and got very drunk.
When a human astronaut lectured me about how
many particles could be found in open space and still be
considered vacuum, I corrected him.
The discussion turned into an argument, which
turned into a fight."
"Tell him your sentence." Druon
the Malation smiled impishly, always ready to start
was always amused by my story about being saddled with
being the AA monitor/leader, including all my past
failed attempts to get out of the unpleasant duty.
I wasn't going to fall for Druon's tricks. "Tell us your
It was a familiar one, coming down on leave
to indulge in the legendary delights of Earth's brewing
excellence and ending up in the clutches of the human
legal system, then abandoned by his ship.
Space freight companies had strict schedules
and couldn't afford to delay departure to deal with
Earth's bureaucracy -- also legendary among spacefarers.
"Have a soda."
I handed Smirek a fast-food cola in a cup with
a straw. I
could smell the alcohol through my long and sensitive
Smirek's tri-eyes blinked in surprise at
his first sip. "Hey,
I'd hoped he'd be more discrete.
The others clamored for a drink.
I held up a forepaw.
"Only the new guy gets a special cup."
I hoped the listening devices hadn't picked up
his surprised utterance.
After all, punishment for running the group
badly was to continue running the group.
Jolep the Asturish, sitting on my left,
seized my cup and sucked on the straw, hoping my drink
was also alcoholic.
He made a face of disgust.
"What do you call this delightful
concoction?" Smirek asked, his straw sucking air.
on ice." I
gestured toward the video cameras, hoping he'd get the
"Can I have another?"
His tri-eyes glinted with greed.
Had I misjudged his alcohol tolerance?
"When will we begin?" Soss-soss warbled,
"Start the introductions," I replied.
I watched Smirek as the others introduced
it was his turn, Smirek's voice had a drunken tinge. "I shouldn' be
harrrr," he slurred.
"Stupid Earth offish-shuls coss me my job!"
"When does our outing begin?" Soss-soss
asked, prudently directing his voice port toward me. Caution was
rare in a Fungusacian -- even rarer in Soss-soss.
"I'm getting thirsssty," he complained.
"You know what they sssay on my planet."
"Yes, I know," I said wearily.
"'Drying is dying.'
While Soss-soss and I had been talking,
Smirek had succeeded in getting into an argument with
surprise there, as Stronian land sharks were as
short-tempered as they were ill-informed.
It didn't matter what the argument was about,
as long as it created a distraction.
Galabus leaped to his tentacles, his mouth
wide open as he rebutted some statement by Smirek. The
three-legged alien stood in response, his voice also
"Be ready to move," I warned Jolep.
"Right," Jolep replied.
"I'll pass the word."
No reaction from the proctors.
Had I picked the wrong meeting night?
Galabus vomited on Smirek's feet and the
Warreth roared. Did
Smirek understand the effect of Stronian vomit, that the
venom would be drawn into his torso, leading to partial
I handed my drink cup to Jolep.
Jolep switched my cup with Smirek's.
I pulled the lid off Smirek's cup and poured
the ice next to Soss-soss large, single foot.
His foot rippled, absorbing the melting ice.
Smirek fired a barb from his head fringe. It struck
Galabus' pointy nose.
Galabus thrashed his tail and gnashed his
The door flew open and proctors burst in,
carrying stun guns and a sticky-net.
They fired and sticky webbing wrapped around
Smirek, tightening until he toppled over.
"What happened?" a proctor demanded.
"I don't know."
I did my best approximation of a sheepish human
have been drunk when he arrived."
"You gave him a drink." The
proctor picked up Smirek's fast-food cup and sniffed. "You didn't
give him booze?" He
motioned for the other two proctors to move out.
They picked up Smirek's bound form as he
snarled and thrashed.
I waited until they had left.
"Go down the back hall to the parking lot. Get on the
green shuttle bus."
As soon as I arrived, the driver put the
bus in motion. Everyone
We pulled up to the Escape Velocity Brewery, home of Freefall lager. The
group crowded around as I signed us in.
"Quite a group you have here," the
"We're part of an interplanetary small
business tour, curious about entrepreneurial
boys want to open breweries of their own."
"No pictures!" she snapped as she shoved
plastic badges at us.
"Thank you, earth woman." I
scooped up the visitor badges with my claws.
Inside, the fermentation aroma made us
giddy with delight.
Kortang hummed with anticipation, even though the
beer tasting room was the last stop.
Our guide, Doug, a human young enough to
deserve a warning label of teenager,
led us around the brewery's interior.
The group's excitement peaked when Doug led us
up onto a catwalk over brewing vats.
Below us, golden liquid swirled and gave off
magical odors. Soss-soss
leaned forward, his olfactory feelers fully extended,
his bulk squeezing through the bars of the catwalk
"Careful," I warned.
Soss-soss eased farther out to sample the
beery updrafts. His
foot rippled with excitement, then pulled loose.
He squirted through the railing, falling into
the brewing vat with a plopping sound like a mushroom
landing in a stewpot.
"Man overboard!" Doug yelled.
He glanced wildly around, as if looking for a
life preserver -- or help from senior brewery staff. "Everyone back
from the railing!"
But Jolep was already jumping over,
followed by Dontele-meekan, then Slouwcoo and Firjik the
I was the only one left on the catwalk.
Below, members of my group floated, swam, and
spouted golden ale, like a pod of alcoholic whales. Moos and
groans of pleasure floated up, along with splashing
"What … what are they doing?" Doug
asked, eyes wide.
"Enjoying the fruits of the brewer's
wonderful craft," I replied.
"Don't worry, they're in no danger of drowning
… though we might need to net a couple of them out."
"I'm not worried about them,"
Doug replied. "They're
contaminating a vat of ale.
You know how much trouble I'm in, anteater
"Don't worry, I'll claim you had no warning
and we outsmarted you."
"You don't have to say that!"
Doug snarled. A
puzzled look crossed his face.
"Why aren't you down there?"
"I'm a Doulaag.
Like your Earth anteater, I'm a land animal. I'd drown in
absolute beer heaven, but I'd drown."
That wasn't the entire story, of course. I had to stay
out of the vat to signal the others and avoid capture. And to tell
Doug what we were doing, so when Earth authorities
reviewed the incident, they would decide we're too much
trouble and deport us.
"Hey," I shouted.
"Anyone like India pale ale?"
My group scrambled out.
Soss-soss tried to ooze over the vat's top
edge, plopping back several times.
Finally he managed to ease over the top edge of
the vat, falling onto Firjik.
I waited on the catwalk as they frolicked
in the India Pale Ale.
Soss-soss rolled over repeatedly, his foot
stalk pointing straight up, blowing bubbles while
waiting to be rolled back upright.
"Sampling room time!" I shouted.
This time, they were slower to evacuate the
vat, though only from a lack of coordination.
All of them had discussed the wonders of the
sampling room, where a visitor could imbibe in every
type of ambrosia produced by the Escape
The sampling room crew must have been
newly lettered sign at the door said, "Only one
sample per visitor – thank you for your cooperation."
Dontele-meekan stumbled into the sign,
knocking it over. Soss-soss
glided over it, leaving it shiny with slime.
Inside the sampling room, I stopped at the
Warp Drive witbier
station, gulping two cups before Slouwcoo and Firjik
crowded me. Next,
I tried a Big
Bang Belgian dubbel, then a Dark
Somewhere, an alarm went off.
Authorities would be arriving soon.
"Last call!" I cried.
"Time to get back on the bus."
This was greeted with grumbles of
overflowed a cup with Flaming Reentry malt liquor,
waiting for the group to fall into line.
Soss-soss gurgled contentedly as the others
struggled to push him up the bus steps.
Everyone was in a good mood, despite leaving
before they'd had too much.
"Here's the deal," I cried, rearing up on
my hind limbs as the bus lurched forward.
Tentacles reached out to keep me from falling. "I'm tired of
Earthlings using our alcohol consumption to imprison us. I don't have a
drinking problem. When
I've had enough to drink, I stop!"
It was something humans couldn't
comprehend, and made the AA requirement ridiculous.
I hooked the digging claws of one foreleg
through a hand loop.
"Humans think they can't let us go until
they've cured us. It's
time we take matters into our own paws and grapplers. Today, we'll
become such a nuisance they'll abandon their laws, say
to hell with the cost, and deport us off this
uncivilized, out-of-the-way world."
"How long until the ATF comes after us?"
I waved a forepaw dismissively, slopping
malt liquor. "I'm
sure the Alien Temperance Force is already speeding
toward the brewery.
But they won't catch us!"
They cheered, inflated crests, and rattled
"What next?" Jolep asked, tail plates
turning luminous green with anticipation.
"Glad you asked."
I gulped my drink.
"We indulge in an escapade of bad behavior, but
not crossing over into lawlessness.
We'll annoy and frustrate Earth authorities so
much they'll loath us, but without reason to subject us
to their criminal justice system."
"We're with you," Jolep said, thrusting a
manipulator limb in the air.
Soss-soss made a low sound like a babbling
"Thank you for your agreement."
"Oh, that wasn't agreement." Kortang
motioned at Soss-soss.
"He lost control of his bladder."
I lifted a paw to block out the sight. Soss-soss
was sliding over the front edge of his seat like a
"Make sure he doesn't fall on the floor.
We don't know who used this bus before."
Galabus' tail thrashed.
"I say we burn down the AA meeting hall."
"Stop that talk!
You remember Dagmish the Dorsaap, don't you? He ran an AA
group on the other side of the city.
Dagmish became frustrated and smashed up a bar. He was jailed. So we have to
be careful to not make the humans angry, only
Firjik chirped in agreement.
"Then how do we cause trouble?" Galabus
"We're going to places where they won't
like us, won't want non-humans around.
But we must let humans
start trouble. That's
the key. We
annoy humans until they start the fight.
I'm talking to you, Galabus," I said pointedly.
"Will these places have alcohol?"
Dontele-meekan asked, his voice whiny.
"They will," I replied as the bus lurched
to a stop in front of the only cowboy bar in the
spaceport area. A
faux-neon sign advertised the coldest beer in the
region, along with a mechanical bull.
"Cold beer, here I come!" Galabus shouted,
lurching to his bottom tentacles.
Jolep followed him up the aisle.
"I'll have a mechanical bull -- whatever that
We stormed into the Cow Palace Saloon like cowpunchers on spring break, elbowing between
the men at the bar so successfully one would have
thought we had elbows.
Jolep made a show of hooking his
rudimentary thumb claws through an imaginary belt, and
tipping back an imaginary cowboy hat.
"What'll you be havin'?" asked the
"Gimme a red-eye!" Jolep demanded.
The bartender's eyes narrowed as he met
Jolep's gaze. "You
know what that is, stranger?"
"Nope," Jolep replied, looking around the
bar with three of his six eyes.
"Aincha' got any dancin' girls?"
"No dancing girls on Wednesday nights. Red-eye is
nasty whiskey, really low-class stuff.
You sure you want that?"
Jolep puffed out his chest plates.
"Bring me the whole damn bottle."
The bartender shrugged, then rummaged under
the bar. He
retrieved a dusty bottle and unscrewed the cap, holding
the bottle at arms length and peering at the label. "Brewed in
the hell's wrong with this world?"
Jolep tilted up the red eye and glugged
noisily, his breath blasting out in spurts from his aft
thunked the bottle on the bar top, swaying on his bar
stool and uttering a raspy sound.
Milky liquid leaked from his six eyes and his
short, wide snout quivered.
"Good stuff," he muttered, voice hoarse.
Kortang ordered five of the coldest beers,
wrapping a grappler around them and inverting the group,
the fleshly lips of his catfish-like mouth sealing the
bottles in place. Golden
beer was replaced with bursts of air bubbles at each
momentary opening of Kortang's earflaps.
A human standing next to Kortang frowned.
"Don't forget our mission," I reminded
Kortang opened his mouth and let the
empties fall. Three
rolled around on the bar top, two fell to the floor and
bartender scowled, then went to fetch cleaning
implements, muttering under his breath.
Kortang turned to the man next to him. "How you
doing, pardner?" Kortang's
nostril slits contracted and he sidled closer.
"Buy me a beer?
Just don't get any ideas, okay?
I don't give free anal probes anymore.
We've found out all we need to know, right?"
The man left without finishing his beer. Kortang gulped
Where was the escalating war of words,
leading to the eventual and unavoidable fight?
Had we missed some important part when watching
old Earth westerns?
I looked around at my crew, all earnestly
engaged in absorbing alcohol in maximum quantities. Who else would
be good at starting an incident?
And where was Druon?
The Malation was a natural trouble causer, with
or without alcohol.
I looked toward the door, in case he had been
moving slower than the rest of us.
"Hey, bar saver, over here," Kortang
"That's barkeep," Galabus corrected him.
"Barkeep!" Kortang waved a grappler for
me a bottle of red-eye!"
Had we left Druon behind at the brewery? I couldn't
remember seeing him after the second vat of beer.
We'd have to get along without him.
My thoughts were interrupted by a cry of
was climbing up onto a large seat on a rectangular-cubic
structure was in an open area, with padding distributed
around it. Jolep
hooked a forelimb lobe through a sturdy handle and waved
a free limb. The
bartender grunted and turned a control knob.
The seat began to rotate.
Then it lurched upwards.
The seat abruptly changed direction, causing
Jolep to sway. He
hooted in amusement.
"It's like a human children ride in an
The bartender muttered under his breath,
turning up his dial.
The seat's movements grew more abrupt.
Jolep howled with glee.
The bartender turned the dial farther.
With a violent spasm, the seat threw Jolep. He flew
through the air to land on a nearby table, smashing it. He got up,
picking off splinters.
"Whoa!" he exclaimed, looking over to the seat
where his missing limb hung from the handle.
Purplish-blue blood trickled down the side.
"No bother," Jolep proclaimed, returning to
the bar. "I'll
grow a new one."
"It is a bother," the bartender
do you think's going to clean up that mess?"
Jolep didn't have an opportunity to answer
before Kortang vomited red-eye.
"Out!" the bartender shouted.
"We don't need your type in here!"
"But … but I haven' finissssh my red-eye,"
Kortang complained, trying to take a drink while
clinging to the bartop like a mountain climber pulling
himself onto a cliff ledge.
The bartender pointed to the door.
"Leave, or I'm calling the police."
I put my foreclaws on the bar.
"Cowhand, we ain't leavin' here until we're
good and ready!" I said this with as much bluster as I
"When police arrive, I'm pressing charges,
"Oh, I understand just fine," I replied,
giving the others a look signifying we weren't about to
leave until we'd stirred up a heap of trouble. "We're already
wanted … uh, men, or some analog to your Earth outlaw. We're what you
humans call Desper-ay-dos.
You call the police, and we'll trash this
He pressed an alarm button.
A high-pitched warbling filled the saloon,
along with a recorded voice instructing where exits
could be found, then declaring that no one could leave,
as authorities were on their way.
I led the crew out of the Cow Palace Saloon. We'd
achieved our goal.
Jolep helped me into the bus, then joined
the others to lift Soss-soss, depositing him behind the
where I sat the fumes from Soss-soss interfered with my
must have affected the bus driver, too, as he clipped a
metal post and sent the saloon sign toppling into the
bus turned onto a street leading away from the club.
I looked around.
"Probably still in that place." Slouwcoo
shook his scaly head.
"Oh, great, we lost another member."
Things weren't going quite as planned.
A siren wailed behind us, flashing lights
strobing the interior of the bus.
"Cops!" the bus driver shouted.
Fortunately, the two vehicles weren't ATF.
"I'll lose them!" The
bus driver whipped the steering wheel.
I moved up behind the bus driver.
"Stop and comply!"
But he ignored me, driving faster.
Our alcohol fumes were affecting him.
Another police vehicle caught up to us, and it
wasn't long before a helicopter joined in pursuit. I sank down in
my seat. Things
were not going to end well.
The bus driver uttered a cry of alarm as
police vehicles barricaded the street ahead.
The bus careened over the curb and through the
parking lot of a convenience store, weaving between gas
lost control and the bus skidded sideways, slamming into
Kortang coughed as dust swirled around the
"What now?" Galabus asked as a bullhorn
ordered us to come out with hands raised.
"Follow me," I said, resigned to failure. I opened the
rear emergency door and hopped to the ground, my
forelegs as high as they could go.
The wrecked bus shrank in the rear window
as the police transport departed the scene of our
Dagmish before, I'd gone too far.
Soss-soss made a sound like rain falling
gently into a pool of water.
"What's he laughing about?" Galabus
Slouwcoo leaned closer.
"He says when they tried to test his
exhalations for alcohol content, they held the test
instrument to his sphincter."
Jolep pointed ahead.
Spaceport towers and gantries rose above the
The transport went through the spaceport's
front gates, then down a main avenue.
The officer riding along received a phone call. "New orders,
turn right," he instructed.
"They're still arguing about what to do with
this bunch." He
gave us the look one gives a Parmizziar bladder leech.
The police transport backed up to a loading
dock of a large building.
The two policemen unlocked the rear door and
waved us toward an entrance.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"Get inside," the guard ordered.
We went down a hall to a door labelled rocket lab. We entered a
I blocked the door when the guard tried to
close it. "What
The officer gestured to enter.
"What are the charges?"
The officer sighed.
"How about destruction of property?
And driving under the influence."
"The driver was sober!" I protested.
"And he wasn't part of our group."
"Tell that to the judge." He
shoved me in and locked the door.
Jolep opened a crate of plastic bottles and
took a drink, then spat it out.
He glanced at the label.
"That's the poorest kerosene I've tasted."
He opened another crate and repeated the
nitric acid." He
tipped up another container, then smiled after wiping
his mouth. "Excellent
The door swung open with a bang.
Druon the Malation and Firjik the Fronin were
propelled into the room.
"Hey!" Galabus exclaimed.
"You guys okay?"
I was almost as surprised by Galabus'
enthusiastic greeting as I was at seeing our two missing
"What's happened?" Druon asked.
"Nothing yet," I admitted.
"We thought the humans were going to deport us,
but they locked us in here instead."
"That's it?" Firjik
"I can't imagine it'll be long," I replied. "There's no
place to sleep, no bathroom facilities, and no food."
"I could use a drink," Galabus remarked.
Soss-soss made a glugging sound of
agreement, swaying on his foot stalk.
"You know what they say on my planet.
'Drying is dying', right?"
Firjik looked at me.
"Maybe we should have a meeting?"
not? Form a
waited for them to take positions.
"Hello, I'm Aarn, and I love alcohol in every
form -- which humans view as a weakness."
"Hello, Aarn!" they chorused.
"I'll never drink again," Soss-soss
trilled, making the others laugh.
"It already seems like years and years."
"Let's recite the serenity prayer."
I led it, with the others joining in.
"Gorg, grant me the serenity to accept the
things I cannot change…."
"I still think we should be praying to
Lonits, not Gorg," Firjik interrupted.
"Gorg's only a minor deity."
"Don't start with Lonits again!" Galabus
only a god of special occasions."
"No," Firjik protested.
"You've got Lonits all wrong."
Jolep squealed in disgust, getting to his
don't have time for this higher
Soss-soss whistled his distress at the
meeting devolving into deity arguments.
It was a problem humans didn't have to worry
about, content with a single deity, reflective of their
"Let's move on," I said, wondering why I
thought today might be different, that with the stress
of recent events and our current incarceration the
serenity prayer might not be worth fighting about. "Jolep, come
back and join us."
He shook himself, a sign of Asturish
can waste time if you want. I'm
going to escape."
"Don't know yet."
By the way his shoulder plates stood out, I
wouldn't change his mind.
I turned back to the others.
"Let's talk about step eight, making a list of
all humans we've harmed, so we can make amends."
I looked around.
"Who wants to go first?
No one volunteered.
I sighed again.
"Druon, why did you join AA?"
Druon grinned, chin whiskers curling as his
neck frill rose. "I
thought I was joining Alcoholics Associated."
"You wouldn't have liked that group."
Druon's face turned yellow.
"Don't tell me what I wouldn't like!"
I raised my forelimbs.
"I joined AA because of the humans I'd harmed."
"Name them!" Slouwcoo demanded.
"Or are you just reading from their manual?"
I harmed my landlord when I spent rent money in a
futile attempt to catch a buzz on Zero-G light beer."
"Ooh, you awful creature!" Firjik cackled.
"Quiet," I growled.
"Slouwcoo, why do you drink?"
Slouwcoo rippled his chest fringes. "Because I love
I crossed my forelegs, suppressing an urge
to shred something with my digging claws.
"Tell us about an incident where alcohol got
you into trouble."
Slouwcoo's fringes turned deep red.
"When the spaceship I was crewing on landed on
Beeriest Four. It's
a planet with seas of two percent alcohol.
Despite that, the seawater is nasty tasting,
with salt and manganese overshadowing the alcohol. But it's free,
and that's what counts."
straightened up, interested.
"You could drink until you were wasted?"
"Sure could," Slouwcoo replied, a note of
pride in his voice.
"And I did.
It was drink, pass out, float, repeat.
The high salt content keeps you thirsty."
raised my voice. "Step
eight is not about trading stories to see who
went on the most epic bender!"
"It should be," Jolep retorted.
Galabus thrashed his tail for attention. "I can top
Jolep was examining materials at the far
wall of the room. He
uttered a cry.
"What did you find?"
Jolep gestured toward tanks arrayed along
the wall. "Fuel
pumps and tanks can be configured to distill liquids. Humans were
using this facility to experiment with different rocket
"Any alcohol?" I
studied Jolep's frontal sensory region for a suggestion
"Not a drop."
We uncurled ourselves from various sleeping
niches when a key turned in the lock.
A Komconeran dressed in plush robes stepped
into our prison. "I
am ambassador Ron-toennin, here to represent you in
legal actions. How
"I could go for a dark beer," Galabus
"That's not possible given your alcohol
stared at the distillation apparatus constructed on the
other side of the room.
"What legal actions are we facing?" I
"You'll be charged with public drunkenness,
property damage, fleeing to avoid arrest—"
Soss-soss bumped me.
I turned to chastise him.
A beaker rode on top of the Fungusacian.
Jolep stood behind Soss-soss, his chest plates
buzzing with excitement.
"What is that?"
The ambassador waved his gripping appendages.
I seized the transported beaker, extending my
tube-tongue for a sip.
It was a bouquet of flavors, with most of them
being alcohol, including one I had never tasted.
I gripped the beaker in both front claws and
poured some into my mouth.
The liquid seared my throat and made my head
life-giving spirits!" I declared, trying to maintain my
Galabus snagged the beaker and gulped twice
before the others wrestled it away.
"What are you fighting about?" Ambassador
"We made homebrew," I explained.
Ambassador Ron-toennin shook his head. "You shouldn't
I held the beaker out to the ambassador.
"You just brewed this?" Ambassador
Ron-toennin took a sip, closing his eyes and swishing it
do you call it?"
Jolep responded, surprised by the question.
"Rocket Fuel," I decided.
"It's dual-purpose, after all."
Realization crossed the ambassador's face. "That explains
the hint of hydrazine."
The guard came for us less than an hour
"Are we being taken to a court hearing?" I
"You're being released."
The guard turned.
"We don't know what you said to the ambassador,
but he paid your fines and covered the damage.
You're leaving on his personal ship, never to
The guard gave me a pitying look.
"You won't be happy about your release
claimed he'll subject you to hard labor, putting you
trouble-causers to work making rocket fuel."
I flicked my tongue with delight.
"You poor humans will never understand.
our higher power."