The Kif Strike Back
by CJ Cherryh
The Kif Strike Back
by CJ Cherryh
In Our Last Episode. . . . (As told in: The Pride of Chanur and Chanur’s Venture.)
A kifish prince named Akkukkak acquired a prize and an unprecedented opportunity: an alien ship and crew fell into his hands-promising him new hunting-grounds for the kif and a new species to prey on. All he had to do was to find out where the ship came from and how powerful the aliens might be.
But the last surviving alien escaped him onto the docks at Meetpoint, and ran onto the hani ship The Pride of Chanur.
That was how Pyanfar Chanur met Tully the human; and how the ancient Chanur clan ended up in a fight hani would ordinarily have avoided.
It ended in a full-scale shootout at Gaohn Station in the hani home system, when Akkukkak occupied Gaohn. Chanur clan and a couple of mahendo’sat hunter-captains named Goldtooth and Jik joined forces to defeat the kif.
Akkukkak perished in that battle-or at least made an unwilling exit in the company of a species called the knnn, methane-breathers of bizarre mentality.
Tully went back to human space. Pyanfar Chanur hoped then that there would be trade forthcoming. She anticipated a whole new era of hani prosperity with Chanur clan getting rich.
But she was quickly betrayed, first by the stsho who owned Meetpoint and who barred her from that critical trading, station- and thereby from access to humanity; then by her mahendo’sat partners, who went off and dealt with the humans on their own; and finally by her own kind, because a good many hani clans saw Chanur clan as a threat to their own power and were all too glad to see it impoverished.
In hani eyes, Pyanfar Chanur had done a heinous thing in bringing aliens to Gaohn: hani had been brought into space by the mahendo’sat and always resented the debt. Mahendo’sat had taken their direct influence off the hani home world of Anuurn, but hani never quite trusted them; they liked kif far less, distrusted the stsho, and wished not even to contemplate the knnn-let alone the prospect of non-Compact aliens like humans, all of which Pyanfar Chanur had brought into the very heart of hani civilization.
More, she had grown foreign. When a hani lord is defeated in challenge, he dies; but Pyanfar intervened when her son supplanted her husband: she took her husband offworld where no hani male had ever been permitted, and declared him part of The Pride’s crew. Moreover, Kohan, lord of Chanur, acquiesced in her action, a circumstance which occasioned ribald jokes at Chanur’s expense and further damaged Chanur’s credit among hani.
So for two years The Pride of Chanur and other Chanur ships made small runs and barely kept operating, sinking deeper and deeper into financial ruin.
Constantly Pyanfar renewed her applications for Meetpoint access; but she lacked money for the bribes necessary to deal with the stsho, she had no help from the mahendo’sat, not a whiff of human trade, and there seemed no hope for Chanur’s fortunes.
But unexpectedly and for no reason she could fathom, the stsho sent word her application was approved: The Pride turned toward Meetpoint with the last large cargo Chanur could scrape together.
Once docked, Pyanfar headed immediately for the offices Stle stles stlen, stationmaster of Meetpoint, to sign the necessary documents and reinstate her trading license. She was accosted on dockside by Goldtooth, who dragged her aboard his ship, Mahijiru, and brought her face to face with Tully–back in Compact space and at a station which would erupt in xenophobic riot if it knew a human was present
Now Pyanfar Chanur was a hani of considerable nerve, but this was more than she could bear-until Goldtooth began naming advantages to the deal, like human trade, and money, and alliance-and until a small quiet alarm started going off In her skull telling her just who had gotten those papers cleared, and how fast it all might collapse if she refused Goldtooth’s deal.
She took it; and Tully; and a packet of papers; and went buck to break the news to her crew.
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