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Pride goeth...


By John Reiher

Counselor Biddle, of the Terran Diplomatic Corps, had been dispatched to the planet Hre'wei to help settle a potential shooting war with the planet Meryu. Both worlds were home to sentient feliniods. Hre'wei was home to the Assiotto, a tiger like species, descended from a nocturnal predator species.

The Firenordo, a species that was very lion like in its structure, populated Meryu. Both worlds were a mere 10 light years apart and developed star travel nearly at the same time. Habitable worlds are far a few between worlds and the Assiotto and the Firenordo were soon at each other throats.

The last war fought between the two of them nearly decimated both worlds. It was only under the auspices of the Terran Diplomatic Corps did the two species stay their hands and sign a truce between each other.

However, the Firenordo were fencing along the borders again, looking as though they were thinking of trying a preemptive strike.

Counselor Biddle read all of this on his trip to the world and about the different physiology of the two species. The Assiotto were primarily nocturnal, living in darkened cities, with only the barest light sources available. Just enough light for them to see by. They formed a tight knit society, highly social and able to work together as a people.

The Firenordo were proud race of conquerors, the current pride, the Amo'rina, had conquered their planet and sought to conquer other worlds as well. There were several prides, each vying for a top place in the imperial court, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine that the current intrigue happening in the Hre'wei capital city of Saso'pas was not sanctioned by the Imperial Pride.

Disembarking from his shuttle, Biddle slipped on his night vision contact lenses and stepped out into the cool night air. The city of Saso'pas was a bustle with Assiotto all about doing their nightly business. He was met by a robust male Assiotto, by the name of Log'isi.

"Greetings counselor!" purred Log'isi, "Welcome to our fair city!"

Biddle turned his head for a sniff, the traditional greeting of the Assiotto, and Log'isi obliged, sniffing the human's ear. Biddle returned the favor, noting that Log'isi was wearing cologne of some kind.

"Glad to be back," replied Biddle, "It has been a while since I've been here."

"You were here for the great peace ceremony between Hre'wei and Meryu?" replied Log'isi.

"Yes, I was one of the signers," Biddle replied nonchalantly. "Now what is this about a spy in your government?"

They walked as Log'isi explained that transmissions had been intercepted from the capital to various Firenordo "trade vessels" in orbit about their world. The messages were encrypted, so their contents were not know... yet. However the Assiotto were very tenacious, and they hoped to find out soon who it was that was sending the messages.

They entered the Capital building, only slightly better lit than the outside and just as busy. Log'isi presented Biddle to the Chairperson of the Assembly, Mree'huu. She greeted him with the traditional sniff. She smelled of cinnamon and allspice, not an unpleasant combination, but Biddle was here on business, pleasure later.

"Counselor Biddle," she said, taking his hand. "We are very worried about this. All Firenordo in our city are accounted for during the transmissions, and their movements were tracked well by our security, none of them could have setup a transmitter for an automated broadcast. So we fear the worst..."

"That they have found a way to alter the appearance of one of their people to look like an Assiotto?" replied Biddle.

Mree'huu nodded, "Yes, that is it exactly. But who? Everyone in our staff has impeccable backgrounds and family ties that can be verified. Only a handful do not have that level of security, but they all willingly took a physical and body scan to prove they were Assiotto. The rest..."

"...Have refused, afraid of what we humans know as a witch hunt." relied Biddle. "And it is also a great invasion of privacy, one that once allowed, could always be allowed in the future, for less dire circumstances."

"Which is why we have not do so," replied Mree'huu. "We do not want such a precedent made..."

"Madam Chairperson! I want to have words with you!"

A muscular Firenordo bellowed the latter out. His mane was puffed out, and he was surrounded by several female Firenordo, probably his wives and assistants.

"Ambassador Churmee, now is not the time..." started Mree'huu.

"It is, when my fellow country-persons are being stalked every night and day by your jackals!" replied Churmee. He then caught sight of Biddle and was taken aback. "Counselor Biddle! What minor trifle has drawn you back into our little squabble?"

"Nothing you should worry your mane about ambassador," said Biddle, who then shook hands with Churmee, the Firenordo way, grasping the forearm and digging one's nails in. He had left his untrimmed for this purpose. He didn't wince when Churmee's claws drew blood.

"I shall take my leave, while the two of you talk," said Biddle. "Madam Chairperson, Ambassador." He gave both a little bow. He took a few steps away, pulling an object from his pocket.

"Oh Ambassador," he called out, poised waiting for the Firenordo to turn around. He then turned on his pocket flashlight, shining it in the eyes of Churmee and Mree’huu.

"What? Arrgh, my eyes!" cried Churmee, his females as well as Mree'huu.

Mree'huu's eyes glowed a bright orange in the light, while the Firenordo's eyes were dull green from night vision contact lenses.

"What is the meaning of this human!" bellowed Churmee. "I'll have your liver for supper tonight for this affront!"

"Yes Counselor Biddle," demanded Mree'huu, "why did your try to blind us?"

With a faint smile, Biddle said, "This is why..." He turned a flashed the light at the several Assiotto assistants, senators and pages who had gathered to watch the fight. All their eyes glowed orange, except for one pair that glowed a dull green.

"There is your spy, Madam Chairperson," said Biddle triumphantly pointing at the lone pair of green glowing eyes, "Log'isi!"

Log'isi was grabbed by security and found to be wearing a pair of night vision contacts lenses.

"Well, ambassador," said Biddle as Log'isi was carted away, "you do not have to worry about your country-persons being followed any more."

"How did you know?" said Churmee.

"You can alter your bone structure to mimic the Assiotto, dye your fur to match their color, but due to the nature of their eyes, that you could not duplicate. And that proved to be your downfall."

"How?" asked Churmee.

"You can disguise everything, but...

"You can't hide your lion eyes."

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