The alien mother ship settles into an orbit near Neptune. Thanks to Channel Three it is now known that these aliens call themselves Mirondians. It is also known that they are not part of any galactic empire. As best they know there is no such thing -- the stars are just too far from each other to support such a governing structure. The people of this ship are their own bosses. They have no allegiance, even to their home world of Mirond.
Likewise, their language is Mirondian. They have been teaching "pigin Mirondian" on Channel Three. Once again, as far as they know, there is no Galactic language. The galaxy is a big place and there are many, many different intelligent races and civilizations, separated from each other by decades to centuries of space travel.
The Solar System scout ships approach the mother ship. They are greeted with a communication from it. Captain Ahab answers it, a man in his 40's, on the bridge of the lead scout ship along with a couple of crewmen. On the screen is Miro-John, a Mirondian. Due to the distance between the scout ship and the mother ship there is a four second delay in responses -- they are about as distant as the Moon is from Earth.
Miro-John's manner is pleasant. He does not seem arrogant or fearful. He says, "Greetings Humans. Welcome to being near to our Mother Ship. Please do your scanning then move to a respectable distance... in your terms one Astronomical Unit. We will interact further with you at the... "Show Room"... we will set up in the Jupiter orbit. We would prefer you to keep your distance from the Mother Ship."
(One AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun.)
Ahab answers, "All right. We will make one close pass then pull away. Where is this show room going to be?"
"The exact location is now being researched. We expect that to finish soon, and we expect to launch a ship for there in one week. I think you will find scouting that location will be much more interesting than scouting this one."
The scout ship fleet makes a pass by the mother ship. After they do, and are flying away, the mother ship gets close to transparent and loses color contrast. It doesn’t disappear entirely, but it is hard to see. This is advanced electronic counter measures (ECM) in action.
Ahab says, "Hmmm... They do have powerful ECM. I guess this is what he meant by things getting dull out here. We will leave a drone that will stand off. The rest of us will head for Jupiter orbit."
The scout ships rocket off leaving the Mother Ship. They are headed for Jupiter orbit. One week later the drone reports that a craft has left the mother ship and is headed for the inner system. The craft is monitored and it heads for the Trojan asteroids that circle behind Jupiter.
Six weeks later the craft reaches its destination and transforms. It picks one of the asteriods there and using that for raw materials becomes the Show Room Asteroid for the Mirondians.
This generates more talk show fodder for humans, and Myrtle and John are right on top of it.
John starts with, "Oh... and it turns out 'Galactic' is a misnomer for the communication protocol. According to the education channel, these people are Mirondians, and the Solar System is on a distant edge of their cultural area, which is about 300 light years across, and there are other civilizations that the Mirondians are in contact with.
"And, the Mirondian language that is being used is a scientifically designed, easy-to-learn "Pidgin Mirondian" rather than a full language."
Myrtle says, "What happens next?"
"There is a lot of trade talk going on even as we speak.
"Even more exciting the ali... er, Mirondians are setting up a show room in one of the Trojan asteroid clusters in Jupiter’s orbit. The ship arrived last week. We expect the show room to be completed in six months to a year."
John blanks out a moment, litening to his communicator, "Wait! This is astounding news. This show room is nearly complete. The scouting fleet is just arriving in the area, and we have videos."
On the big screen behind him is a scene being taken by a scout ship. It shows that the show room ship is next to an asteroid. There is a lot of hustle and bustle going on between the ship and the asteroid. There is a building complex being assembled on the asteroid. This will be the Mirondian Show Room.
The construction is happening so fast it looks like time lapse photography.
John is watching this with dropped jaw. He is amazed.
Myrtle says, "What are you seeing, John?"
"It’s... It’s... It’s happening so fast! It’s like 'blip' and there is a building there. This is nothing we expected."
"What does it mean?"
John smiles, "It means there are still lots of surprises coming."
The building complex on the Show Room asteroid is complete, and human ships have come to drop off human dignitaries. Three of those are Anna Hatchet, Paula Stove and Mickey Palusi, all in their 40's, all veteran trade negoiators.
Inside they meet with Miro-Sam, Miro-Alex and Miro-Bob, also seasoned negoiators, but not with humans. This human-Mirondian negotiating is brand new for both sides. The humans are wearing fashionable crew suits. These are considered high fashion in Solar System business circles these days -- purely Earth-bound business circles have a different fashion. The Mirondians are wearing high fashion designer crew suits, designed for mother ship living. Their crew suits put the human suits to shame because of the fabrics and materials used, but they are not ostentatious. This is just more of the Mirondians showing off their stuff, as in, what they have for trade.
The humans are lead through an atrium that takes their breath away. This is showing off all sorts of "wow" stuff to impress the human visitors and fire their imaginations as to what they want to trade for. It is much like a pavilion at a World Expo. The Mirondians take their time leading the humans through this exhibit hall. They let the humans drink it up.
Miro-Sam says, "These are some of the things we have fabricated on the ship that may be of interest to you. Feel free to look them over."
Anna says, "You made these on the ship? You didn’t bring them from another star system?"
Miro-Sam says, "These we have manufactured. We want to give you an idea of what we can provide in large quantities."
Paula says, "So your ship is a factory as well as a mobile trading post."
Miro-Alex says, "Indeed, in fact it is more factory
than trading post. We do a lot of... value-adding, I believe you call it, as we travel from star
system to star system. We have a lot of time on our hands."
They move from the atrium into a meeting room. It is as fantastic as the atrium, but in a subdued way. This is a place designed for serious trading talk. The Mirondians offer the humans refreshments and, once again, what they offer is neat stuff.
Mickey says, "This is fantastic. You do food well, as well as the other things we have seen. How did you learn to do food?"
Miro-Bob says, "We have been watching your entertainment videos. And, all metabolizing creatures pay lots of attention to their food. So as we approach every system we observe those processes carefully."
Miro-Sam adds, "But your world here... Earth... is quite exceptional."
Anna says, "Our home world?"
Miro-Sam says, "Yes. It is quite rare to find a planet so lush with life. Most are more like your Mars or Jovian moons. They have pockets of life in small favorable niches. This business of living things spreading all over the surface is rare... and quite fascinating to us."
Miro-Alex says, "A world with nine billion people, and that is thickly covered with life from pole to pole. You have no idea how rare that is in our part of the galaxy!"
The small talk continues for just a little while longer before Miro-Sam says, "Shall we get down to business?"
They all sit around the table.
Miro-Sam continues, "You have been through our catalog, right?"
The humans nod.
"So let us talk about possibilities that are beyond the catalog. There are two things that come to mind right now, there will be more in the future.
"The first is: we would like to get you moving around this solar system faster. Your... infrastructure is primitive. Therefore we would like to talk with you about constructing factories to make Mirondian-style propulsion systems."
The humans look at each other. This is huge.
"Second, we would like to help you identify and exploit your small moon and asteroid resources better. The fact that this Show Room was built at a Trojan Asteroid point that was previously uninhabited is a striking example of under exploitation."
Anna says, "These are valuable offerings, indeed. What do you want in return?"
Miro-Sam says, "We want a share in what is produced... And we want to visit Earth. We want to experience your... jungle planet... which it is from our point of view."
Mickey says, "These projects are going to transform our world as we know it, and produce billions in profits. I don’t think doing a little tourist hosting on the side is going to be any problem."
In addition to face-to-face negotiating, once "Hello's" were exchanged over the communications channels, a lot of "meat" followed in the form of information exchanging and developing trading opportunities. These channels were open to all, so the whole Solar System community was caught up in discussing what would come next. A lot of what got talked about were specific trade deals. Basically, each time Earthlings or Mirondians expressed interest in a particular possible project, it was assigned to a communication channel. Channels One and Two were kept open for general discussions. The most discussed project early on was where the Mirondians should set up their "show room." From the Solar System point of view there were several conflicting desires:
Defense considerations and access by the Solar System community ruled out Earth and the Moon. Intense radiation and a deep gravity well ruled out moons of Jupiter. It was finally decided that an otherwise nondescript asteroid in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter was the best choice from the Solar System perspective. This choice was passed on to the Mirondians. They first asked if something in the Neptune orbit range might be better, but after the next exchange agreed with the Solar System choice. "We hadn't given good consideration to the current state of your propulsion technology." they explained.
The official Earth delegation launched, and arrived six months later. While they were headed there, a dozen other ships from all over the Solar System community, including more from Earth, launched and made their way to the Show Room. The Show Room was going to be a busy place, indeed! And all the while the ships were approaching, the communications lines hummed.
More Mirondian-compatible transceivers were built -- once the concept was understood they were cheap and easy to build, and it wasn't long before they were valuable for all sorts of Solar System communications needs. Even if the Mirondians were to vanish before a single trade was transacted, they had started a communications revolution in the Solar System. Given how easy it was to make transceivers, it was only weeks before the government gave up on trying to regulate communication with the Mirondians. They were Solar System Superstars. Millions of people wanted to talk to them, and there was plenty of bandwidth to do so. The government decided to let the Mirondians handle their own "fan club problems" -- the government would monitor, not regulate.
Solar System researchers went back to the Mirondian encyclopedia they had downloaded over the text channel and did their own research. They reported, "Most settled planets Mirondians know about are Mars equivalents -- planets or moons with mildly life-hostile environments that have been lightly terraformed so that their inhabitants can live underground or in domed cities. Planetary populations tend to be in the one-to-ten million range. By those standards, Earth is a rare, primordial jungle planet. No wonder they are so curious."
The value of the trade conducted was simply enormous. It seemed like anyone who got any sort of trading deal completed with the Mirondians came out a billionaire, and it seemed like everything that was traded for was of "potato magnitude" in its potential effect on Solar System culture. (the potato was one of the wonders that came to the world from South America after Columbus discovered it. Who hasn't eaten french fries? Who can imagine a world without them?)