The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act III

Siluria and Our Mission

For this mission we had been sent to Siluria to start new tax framework negotiations with the Silurian Ambassador. Siluria was an Earth-like habitable planet discovered around the end of the 21st Century in the XXi Regus 7 star system. Silurians were the dominant species on the planet and were basically bi-pedal reptile-like beings, with huge eyes and even ‘huger’ teeth. They were however, despite the teeth, generally an extraordinarily friendly and placid civilisation. They are one of only two extra-terrestrial groups that have made proactive contact with Earth with a view to meeting and sharing knowledge and expertise. And they did, of course, give us Baffleberry juice!!

The Silurian way of living was quite uncomplicated compared to the daily life of humans. They did have rudimentary technologies for communication (so they could phone home when they needed to) but they didn’t have the lifestyle ‘tools’ that Earth had. So they didn’t need vehicles to move around on their planet and they only ate vegetables and fruit. They also didn’t wear clothes as they had no obvious dangly or otherwise private bits to hide. Procreation apparently only really involved their tongue. They had quite tough and wrinkly skins that varied from pale brown to almost black. So, all in all, they led a very simple life on a daily basis, enjoying a very temperate climate that hardly varied as they went through their equivalent of a year.

Trade was limited with Siluria primarily because they had few needs and therefore didn’t need to import much and had only a limited number of items to export. Their two main exports were Baffleberries and Silurian silk rugs. The latter were unique because living Silurian silkworms were incorporated into every rug. The rugs were very popular on Earth as you could buy a small one and then, if you ever moved to a larger place, you could trigger the growth cycle of the worms and watch the rug grow to fit the space. Downsizing was a bit of an issue as there was no equivalent means of shrinking a Silurian rug. In addition, Silurian silkworms have remarkably strong legs which meant that on occasion a rug could go walkabout unexpectedly!!

Baffleberries on Siluria were quickly determined by the early explorers to be essentially delicious and then, by the inevitable scientists, to yield a juice with remarkable antioxidant properties. The juice rapidly became popular on Earth as a natural way to address the aging process and have a sometimes yummy drink for breakfast. Baffleberries got their name for a number of reasons. First, it was never easy to work out when the bright green triangular shaped berries were ripe, so farming them was something of an art. Not only that but from the consumer side, their flavour could vary enormously from sweet raspberry, banana-like, to something like raw onion. Consumers never really knew whether the Baffleberry juice they bought at the cloud market was going to bring a smile or a grimace to their face. However, committed Baffleberriers (members of the very popular Baffleberry club which made someone very rich) didn’t mind too much if they got one of the fairly rare onion flavoured batches – wrinkles were kept at bay and that was the most important thing. Silurians, in contrast, didn’t really care because they were wrinkly by nature, so Baffleberry juice was exported to Earth quite cheaply. And finally, as if that were not enough to baffle, the juice, when refrigerated for longer than an hour, became totally invisible. This meant that you never quite knew how much you had left or worse, if you were in a rush in the morning, how much you had actually poured out into your glass!!

Cat had by now finished his investigations and announced,

“Well, that is worrying.”

“What is?” I enquired.

“Sabotage. It was sabotage.”

I felt my eyebrows head towards my hairline as I said,

“You mean someone tried to kill us? Or rather me, because as we all know you’re pretty indestructible.”

“Yep someone tried to kill us.” responded Cat, “and I may have a pretty tough coating but in a full-blown crash at the speeds we were going at, I too would wind up in quite a large number of pieces, albeit generally indestructible ones. Anyways, we don’t have time to dwell on it. We’ve surfaced and we are being met.”

To be continued………

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