Chapter 1Edit

In the Republic of Shadgor, in the winter of the seventh year of the Qweg adminstration, a very odd thing happened. Nothing too stupendous or earthshaking, it seemed at first. Nothing that would attract the attention of kings or dukes or generals or even systems analysists, nothing big, in other words. And due to its smallness, it was overlooked by all but a simple farmboy, who recognized it for what it was and tried to warn all that came his way that the downfall of the country would be rapid, oh yes, terribly quick, and that it would come soon.

He had been dozing and resting his eyes behind the third grain silo to the left of Slabark's field when he overheard Citizen Toop and some farmers talking of the effects on trade of hydroponics producing food and some plans to produce enthanol. As they talked he heard a tiny fizzing sound down near the ground next to where he'd left his rake.

"Fzzz Fzz ppt fzzz sqk fzzz" it went. The farmboy raised himself from his supine repose and knelt down near the sound. There was a little blue hole in space, about three inches from the ground and about one inch wide. Certainly not big enough to worry anybody, was it? Still, a hole in reality suggested the gods were preparing to mess with people's lives in the Republic again and that hadn't happened for nearly 300 years.

The farmboy could still hear Toop and the others droning on about the farming concerns of the day when he noticed he could see something through the little hole. At first he wasn't sure what it was, but then... He realised it was the tiniest humanoid form he had ever seen, apart from toy soldiers. This was no toy, however. It was a living breathing tiny person wearing a business suit like they sometimes did on that "Earth" planet.

Now businessmen had there purpose, but they could only mean trouble in the farms, no matter what size they were. They always seemed to bring contracts and things that brought taxes, written in the fine print the farmers could not read for their lack of glasses and excess of sweat within the eyes.

The little person wasted no time. He immediately demanded in a quiet voice, "I must see your Emperor, for my people wish to make a deal with your planet. I am I'iannta, and I represent the Oontar Empire."

Now, the farmboy was very skeptical. After all, the near-falling of the Republic 300 years earlier was caused by a man, albeit much larger, in a similar-looking suit. His first deal sparked an economic depression that nearly destroyed Shagdor. Although the government no longer trusted them, their next deal was the only thing that saved Shagdor. Since then, the businessmen had continued to make deals to benefit the Republic at someone's expense, usually the farmers.

So the farm boy knelt down and told the buisness man, "We do not have an emperor, because our head of government is called the Primary. But why do you need to see him? All he does is tell people what the councils have decided. What do you even want, bizzta?" He decided not to tell the alien that 'bizzta' was a highly insulting term meaning 'treacherous, thieving businessman'

The little alien looked up and tried to explain, "It might be a little hard to explain to one of your class..."

Chapter 2: ConfidenceEdit

I'iannta continued. "The Oontar Empire has something that your people desperately need. We have monitored your communications and your climate for several years. Your people have been attempting to grow tomatoes hydroponically for several decades with varying degrees of success. Am I not correct, lad?"

The boy frowned slightly and gave a "hmmpf".

I'iannta explained, "There is a reason your tomatoes have done so poorly on your world compared to those of others. You see, the air of your world contains a certain chemical, harmless to most species, that can sometimes get in the water and stop them from growing. My people have made special tomato seeds that are immune to that chemical, and my people are willing to give them to you."

"But what would be in it for you?" asked the boy.

The little man replied, "Our planet is completely unsuitable for large-scale hydroponic farming, or any farming for that matter. That is why we have others grow things in exchange for some of the crop. We would only need a few of the grown tomatoes to feed my starving people. After all, beings of our size don't eat much."

The boy's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe you," he said.

"Do you...children always treat us 'bizztas' with contempt?" The alien gave a sly smirk. He knew exactly what that word meant. Now the farmboy's face was red with a mixture of anger and embarrasment. He began to tremble with increased emotion.

"How dare just..just-just plop yourself into our affairs!!!" the boy shouted with a frenzied stammer. "Why can't you people leave us in peace? You people are always robbing us!!!" Tears of frustration began to roll down the lad's ruddy cheeks. "Leave us alone!!!"

"Come now, lad, be sensible," said the diminutive Oontaran. "You know as well as I do that tomatoes, grown well and successfully, would be a tremendous source of pride - as well as revenue - for this land and its citizens. Your people would not have to starve.

"Tell me...are you...hungry, lad?" I'iannta's look was seemingly earnest and slightly caring.

The farmboy felt a rumble in his nine-year-old stomach at that very moment. Supper would not be for another four hours. Toop had also mentioned something about the blueroot crop being significantly less this past fall, which meant fewer blueroots to make blueroot soup and blueroot pancakes. Outside of blueroots, the people had little else to eat but the grains left over from ethanol production, and there was talk of the Primary imposing mandatory rationing on ALL foodstuffs.

Very scary talk for a young boy to hear.

Just then, the boy heard an adult voice.

"Teegrin! Teegrin! Is something the matter over there, boy?"

It was Slabark. Slabark was the elder of the farm land and had kept many goverment intrusions away, always bringing out some protest.

Teegrin turned his head towards the old farmer. "Slabark, I think you should see something," called Teegrin. Just then, a fizzing noise filled the air. He turned his head back toward the little person, but I'iannta had gone.

Teegrin tried to explain everything to Slabark, but Slabark told him, "I'm not in the mood for one of your fanciful tales. Now get back on the fields. The blueroot seed-worms won't catch themselves, you know."

As Slabark walk away, the boy looked around, deeply hoping to see where's the little man has gone.


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