The Achuan were collected by their parents. In their culture their age gave them considerable latitude, apparently. However, contacting an intelligent species by accidently dropping radioactive debris on them and then trying to clean up the damage without anyone finding out had crossed the line that activated parental intervention.
The human Terrani found the reactions of their erstwhile invaders’ parents easy to categorize. Some grabbed their offspring by a protuberance or limb and dragged them onto the parental vessel, to the accompaniment of either continuous speech or deadly silence. Several sets of parents wanted their children’s possessions, currently scattered as debris across three continents, returned to them – these demands ceased when they were offered what the humans understood to be the planetary cleanup bill. Two sets of parents offered their children up for punishment ‘under the Accords’ – offers their species’ mentor turned down with, “It was a genuine accident and they displayed no ill intent, the Accords were not broached.” Three sets of parents provided ‘an apology display.’ The Terrani could categorize these reactions if not understand them.
One parent, arriving on its own in a sharp-edged vessel and with a glowing white globe orbiting its head, loomed over its equal height offspring and said clearly, in translation, “Interesting. You may be worth my time after all. We will discuss your further education on the way home. In.” The parent did not seem to care that everyone within a three hundred metre radius heard every word.
“That family,” commented the mentor, “has always been a problem. I’m glad they left before we had the stardrive discussion.”
“The stardrive discussion?” His human audience weren’t sure they wanted that discussion.
“Oh, its having been done isn’t a problem,” the genial being assured him, “reverse engineering from unintentional debris is completely within the Accords. It’s what your collaboration of,” it consulted something, “the University of Kinshasa, the Sorbonne, NASA and a man in a backyard shed in Leumeah have actually done.”
“You’ve skipped the Achuan’s stardrive and made the type my people employ.” The Achuan’s mentor looked directly at the human. “Mentor race selection for your species should be very interesting indeed.”