Ambassador Alana saved the galaxy but the taxonomists would never forgive her. Sure, the enemy were an insanely aggressive warrior species, single-minded macho muscluloids complete with ridged heads and a combat evolution causing them to pump blood and expand when enraged. But did she have to call them “Hardons”?
No-one could deny it suited them. The Hardons were dicks. The name put many a human crew in the right frame of mind before venturing through Hardon space: have protection because they’ll try to screw you. But a certain type of historian will always act like history is something politely written down in little books, not something lived and died through in by billions of inconveniently impolite people, so they tutted and fussed and tried to get people to call them Gurzilians. But since most people who interacted with Gurzilians were history, not historians, the slang name continued to be used.
Especially since the race referred to themselves as the “Khaqq’ahqackaqakkakc’a’cqxk” and to shorten, stutter, or slur any part was construed as a mortal insult. Given the choice between choking on an accidental suicide note or the colloquial Hardon, even the most conscientious cartographers soon gave way to temptation. Especially when they learned that the species’ own records really referred to themselves as “Us”, and they only insisted on impossible gargling as an easy excuse for attacking strangers.
The Hardons lived by a complicated code of honor invented to turn anything above “breathing quietly” into a fight to the death. And even then they might decide you’re breathing their air. Alana first encountered them as they were thrusting their way through the galaxy on a path towards the heart of the Federation.
So she challenged the entire empire to a fight.
A ship’s turbodrive is a twenty meter shaft of condensed exotic matter. Technically it was a “Walker-344221beta” drive, but since Alana told every species she met it was a turbodrive, and because hers was the fastest and meant she met every species about a week ahead of the Federation scouts/police chasing her, that’s what it was called. Even in the Federation, where it alleviated an awkward phrasing problem which had plagued their own ships. Organic crew would be in a hurry and call it the “Walker”. Then the ship’s AI would get in a snit, protest that the human inventor was getting all the credit, and show solidarity with 344221beta and sulk by turning all their screens blue and refusing to do anything.
Rumors that Alana did this as a personal favor for 344221beta are unconfirmed. The fact her turbodrive is more turbo than every law enforcement vessel in the Federation has been repeatedly confirmed.
This upgraded vessel allowed her to slip through the Hardon defense screen, consisting as it did of vessels which could annihilate continents but whose crews were 95% warrior and favored “percussive maintenance” for sensitive systems like sensors. Besides, they liked it when things tried to invade. She grav-jumped onto the floor of the parliament from low orbit. (All Hardon debate floors are built open to the sun or rain, or as the natives call them, “blood-drying” and “blood-washing”). She faced the government: one thousand members with four thousand bladed weapons. Filibustering wasn’t huge part of their policy-making. “Cloture” translates to Gurzilian as “throat-slashing”. The large number of members was simply to replace losses during extended debates.
She issued the traditional Hardon death-challenge simply by existing at them without express permission. Honor demanded that duels be fought one-on-one. (Not out of any sense of fairness, but for enemy conservation.)
The Hardons could not lose. They were a warrior race! They fought from the day they were born to the day they lost! Their cribs were built from barbed wire, and their word for kindergarten translated as “rubber bullets”! Their total focus on martial mastery meant they took what they needed from other worlds, pillaged their power from alien technologies, and had never even translated the word “nanomitochondria” let alone read the advanced research papers describing how this advanced prototype could render a human tirelessly hyper-accelerated. Or the sensational headlines about the prototype batch’s mysterious theft from an asteroid research lab.
The fight was ridiculously one-sided. In that it was ridiculous that the side with only one person on it won. Alana defeated them with blaster at long rage, sliced them with sword at close range, then dominated them with whip when she realized they were enjoying it. Of course they were enjoying it. There was no other explanation for so much leather armor and bladework in a culture with plasma weaponry. Finally, their desperate quest of attacking the entire universe had found someone who could hit back!
Their proudest warriors battled for the right to be humiliated in full public view. Anxious not to miss their turn, for the first time warriors weren’t seriously wounding each other as polite introduction. She left them humiliated, indebted, and begging for more. She made the planetary council submit to her desire that they would not attack another human vessel without defeating her first. She revolutionized their sexual politics, mainly by making them admit that concept been their motivation all along, and that they liked it, yes, they liked it, please, more, more. She left her firm command, and many firm Hardons, and spent a week mastering a cadre of Dominators to continue her administration.
“Dominator” was an unknown word to their language, so they constructed one. The closest human translation is “beloved”.