“Yes, Mr. President. Glublefluke is a necessary element for a species to be recognized as sentient and join the Galactic Federation.”
An uncomfortable silence settled over the oval office. The two aliens sitting across from the president had shown up yesterday with the request to meet with the human leader. They weren't the only ones. Most of the important world powers had received ambassadors. Even Canada. He wondered if their aliens were also perfectly human looking apart from the green skin. He'd wanted to comment on it but hadn't really known how to approach it tactfully. Or if he needed to approach it tactfully. In fact he'd actually wondered if a career in politics hadn't made him the least qualified person on Earth for first contact. He glanced at his newly appointed Secretary of Extraterrestrial Affairs, some professor of philosophy or linguistics, who looked at least as disturbed and dumb founded by the statement as the president felt. He turned his attention back to the aliens.
“I'm sorry but I don't think either of us follow. What is a Glublefluker?”
“It's what you use to Glublefluke.” the alien on the left replied bemusedly, gaze flitting between him and the secretary as though he could catch the jest.
“Okay,” the president replied as evenly as he could, “what is Glubleflu–?”
“What do you mean we aren't sentient? Because when I use that word I mean something that has senses and responds to sensory cues in the environment and I know I and all mammals do that so I think we must be using the word to mean something different,” the Secretary said.
The aliens exchanged an unreadable look.
“We were just using the word in the colloquial sense to mean someone that Glubleflukes most if not all of the time.”
“That's not the colloquial sense. The colloquial sense is self awareness or human level intelligence or . . . something like that.”
“We meant colloquial in our sense of the word,” the right alien replied sounding a bit put off.
“We're speaking English. Unless you were speaking English before you got here you can't ha–”
“What is Glublefluking?” the president interjected.
“What do you mean what is Glublerfluking? You can't build a computer much less develop germ theory without Glublefluking. Hold on. Transitional feedback on. The muldrelk can't Glublefluke a bwat … The-muldrelk-can't-Glublefluke … how does that not translate? You can't have a technological civilization with out at least having the concept of Glublefluking. Did a different alien race give you the computers and medicine?”
“Uh, no we developed both in the natural course of scientific advancement,” the secretary said.
“What is scientific?”
“Science is the systematized study of and experimentation on phenomena to formulate more accurate understanding of them,” the Secretary responded sounding incredulous.
There was another uncomfortable pause.
“That sounds insane,” said the alien on the left.
“I think there must be something wrong with our translation. Can we get back to you later?” asked the alien on the right.
“Sure. Do whatever yo–” the president's words died in his throat as both aliens slumped over. The secretary checked, neither of them had a pulse.
“Do you have any thoughts or theories on what just happened,” the president asked.
The secretary of extraterrestrial Affairs turned to the president with the most bewildered look he'd ever seen.
“Other than a major issue in translation, no.”
“I see … You're fired.”
The title for this node was taken from a prompt on the writing prompt subreddit. The text of the work is all mine.Link
SciFiQuest 3017: The Frontier that Wouldn't End