Another View From Outside

Some comments excerpted from an early edition of “The Lonely Galaxy® Unofficial Guide to Working with the Empire’s People”:

General

  • Augmentation is a way of life in Imperial space, and there are probably millions of different augmentations on the market. Do not rely on knowing what one of them ought to be able to do; be sure about what that one is able to do before you throw out a challenge.
  • Death: they don’t. They find it very silly that you do. Do not get into this argument.
  • Death: do not lose, bury, or incinerate that little marble. That contains their most recent backup, and you will not be popular if you make them use a cold backup instead. Treating the restored backup as a different person will also not go over well, and these people treat philosophy as a combat discipline.
  • Don’t take them to the fixed-price all-you-can-eat buffet. All those augmentations take energy, and that comes from food, and you are definitely underestimating how much all they can eat is.

    This also applies to open bars.
  • Every Imperial has a high-powered quantum computational device optimized for an information-dense society in their head. Try not to be alarmed if they accidentally decrypt all your secure networks by accident. For them, this is the equivalent of accidentally reading a sign when looking at it. It’s very difficult not to do.
  • They will be armed, which they think is something all good neighbors do. Do not attempt to take their weapons away. At best this will be taken as a personal insult, and not a reason to hurt you.

    Don’t attempt to hint at them making you uncomfortable, either, or you might be inviting a race to see just how far the definition of “sidearm” can be stretched.

    Historical evidence suggests that it’s a long damn way.

Ciseflish

  • Don’t attempt anything tricky when writing a contract with a ciseflish. Trade is their life, and they’ve seen it all. They will walk right through your own carefully-hidden loophole, then celebrate over drinks you weren’t expecting to have paid for.
  • Never, ever gamble with a ciseflish unless you’re prepared to lose everything you bring to the table. The little guys are basically magic when it comes to memory, probability, and anything else involving numbers.

Dar-Bandal

  • Don’t confuse them with their non-uplifted ancestors, the bandal. This isn’t a particularly easy mistake to make, since they’re larger, wear accessories, and talk, but it’s worth mentioning anyway since it’s also a particularly stupid mistake to make when dealing with a highly successful apex predator’s smarter cousin.
  • If you’re not convinced yet of how stupid that mistake would be to make, these were highly successful apex predators who, post-uplift, are also one of the most socially adept species in the galaxy. Two words: social predators.

    Give them enough reason to be furious, and even hitherto uncontacted species in the Ancíël Clouds will giggle when they see you walk by.

Eldrae

  • All Imperials are prickly to one degree or another about trespasses on their person, property, or reputation, but the eldrae turn this up to thirteen. Avoid playful punches, don’t try a friendly insult, and for the love of sanity, ask before you touch their stuff.
  • They often travel with companion animals, called bandal. They will expect to be able to take them everywhere, and will not be happy if this is not permitted. The bandal themselves are usually friendly, and making friends with them is often a good way to make friends with their person. On the other hand, harming them, especially the young ones, is quite definitely a good way to bring down an entirely disproportionate reaction on your head. Be nice to the puppies.
  • If you are their manager, try to remember that you’re in charge. It may be hard to do in the face of unbounded self-assurance, but they will give you whatever is in the contract.

    Don’t micromanage. You contracted them to do a job, they believe, not to listen to your uninformed opinions about their profession. Basically, whatever they’re actually doing, imagine that you’re trying to teach your high-priced corporate lawyers how to lawyer, then don’t do it.
  • If you are their manager, remember that they don’t have to give you anything that isn’t in the contract. Requests outside its scope will be treated as “asking for a favor”, with reciprocation expected, and sticking your nose into their affairs outside the job will likely result in having it chopped off.

    (Metaphorically. For a first offense.)
  • They get bored quite easily. This boredom rapidly turns into either seeking new experiences, or tinkering with things. If you find yourself assigned as minder, escort, or guide to a visiting eldrae, make sure you have a lengthy list of approved activities lest they start making their own fun.

    If they are hired to work on equipment that belongs to you, make sure that it’s clear where the boundaries lie. The resulting improvements are usually beneficial, but it’s something of a surprise to take a day off and come back to find that your corporate network’s been completely redesigned just because your on-duty sysadmin had time to have a better idea.
  • What another species might turn into a sexual harassment case, they’ll turn into a knifing.

    Honestly, we can’t find it in ourselves to criticize this much.
  • Yes, they’re incredibly smug. It’s a racial trait. You aren’t going to be the one to change this.

Esseli

  • They will probably comment on various bits of your biology that could be improved, possibly while coming uncomfortably close to your personal space. They really can’t help it, but will usually back off after one or two reminders. If only because they find people who aren’t interested in their biological Art quite boring.
  • They are every bit as good at biotechnology as they think they are, and can probably deliver on whatever improvements they suggested. However, as their current form suggests, they have a great deal of trouble understanding why anyone might prefer retaining their current appearance instead of having the six awesome new organs they just dreamt up. Caveat emptor!

Galari

  • They absolutely are as serene as they look all the time, and simply will not seem as passionate, especially angry, as you think they ought to be about things. It probably comes from not having glands.

    This having been said: the galari love and hate as strongly as any other sophont – they just don’t become overly heated about it. Do not make the assumption that they aren’t wrathful just because they aren’t yelling at you about it, lest you find yourself on the wrong end of a calm, serene, and entirely cold-blooded destruction of everything that made itself sufficiently distasteful.

Kaeth

  • Don’t accept drinks from them, or get into a drinking contest with them, unless you know that your liver is rated for what you’re getting into and/or your incarnation coverage is paid up, preferably both. Kaeth booze hits the average liver like a toxin-carcinogen-acid cocktail garnished with ground glass, and on fire.
  • Don’t steal their lunch, obviously.

    But actually, don’t stand even next to their lunch. It is almost certainly poisonous. It is probably radioactive, and may be alive. All three is not off the table.
  • If a kaeth has a companion animal, it is quite likely to be an extremely dangerous large carnivore. Do not attempt to pet, feed, or stand close to Mister Snugglescales without checking first.

    If said companion animal appears to be small, cute, adorable, or harmless, the odds are good that it’s even worse than that.
  • The full-contact body-check is just how they say hello. They are doing their best to keep it turned down around all the squishies, and request your forgiveness for any accidents that may occur.

Summary

No, you can’t take ’em.

Notable Replies

  1. Avoid owing the space elf mad scientists a favor, got it.

  2. And, make sure to keep the mad scientist space elves busy and give 'em a chance to do extra work. Got that, too.

  3. One wonders about the amount of complexity in the Common Social Protocol to handle conflicts between the eldrae standard for personal space and the kaeth standard.

  4. Avatar for avatar avatar says:

    “We agree to only glomp people we know well; in exchange, we agree to restrain our personal-intrusion murderdeathkill instinct.”

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