Diplomatic Etiquette and the Alien Menace by Andrew Johnston

Andrew Johnston shares a hilarious guide to etiquette for dining with an alien species.

Welcome to the Exterran Federation Guide to Human-Kro'dyl Relations. Perhaps you are reading this because you are an Envoy considering a xenodiplomatic post, or a businessman seeking practical advice on alien relations, or a member of the public curious about this strange new species. The members of the Kro'dyl Dominion have a reputation for belligerence, but they are also a species marred by cruel and inaccurate rumors, as well as simple cultural misunderstandings. These guides are intended to set the record straight on this species while also helping the reader navigate their culture with caution and sensitivity.


As with any other civilized species, the Kro'dyl often conduct diplomatic and business affairs in well-appointed dining halls. Our research suggests that humans make more mistakes at these functions than any other, even Envoys with prior experience in xenodiplomacy. Take heed the experiences of our dignitaries, and remember to always behave with the utmost care when dealing with Kro'dyl in such formal circumstances.

Introductions - Cross-cultural problems can begin before the guests are seated. Many people report being attacked by their patrons as they are led to their seats, but this is an understandable error. Yes, it is not at all uncommon for a Kro'dyl to lunge at a patron from behind and seize them around the neck, but this is not an act of hostility but rather an especially aggressive greeting, comparable to a very firm handshake. This manner of grappling is simply not in line with Kro'dyl combat (which would consist of driving the dominant claw into the victim's upper back, shredding the heart and lungs and causing unconsciousness and death before the blow was even felt) but rather aligns with their very rough-and-tumble means of addressing one another. Of course, this may still lead to a brief loss of consciousness, as happened to Envoy Bragh at his first state dinner; in the event that this happens, it is not considered rude to aid the afflicted party. Thanks to Envoy Bragh's fellow dignitaries, he suffered no significant neurological damage and has been cleared to return to work as soon as he feels he is ready.

Introductions, Ctd. - Observant patrons may note that Kro'dyl frequently strike each other in the jaw, often with alarming force. This is considered an act of endearment, though it is one that they exclusively perform with one another. There is no record of a Kro'dyl striking a human in the face as a form of greeting. Some Envoys, whether out of a desire to better fit in or a simple misunderstanding, will follow suit and strike at their hosts with their bare fists. This is highly discouraged, as Kro'dyl saliva contains a truly remarkable assortment of exotic pathogens that proliferate in the human bloodstream after entering through a split knuckle. In this regard, take well the lesson of Envoy Kaspersky, who just recently recovered from his own bout with a Kro'dyl-sourced bacterial infection known among the crew as the "howling toilet trots."

Serving the Wine - All formal Kro'dyl meals are prefaced by the serving of a wine known as "Blood of the Conquered." Please don't let the name discourage you from partaking - chemical analysis in Exterran labs shows that this wine contains no animal fluids at all, no toxic compounds, and has a very reasonable ethanol content. Further, please do not be offended if one of your dinner companions spits some of that wine into the air or into your face. The Kro'dyl are renowned expectorators and some of them are known to demonstrate this skill openly, especially if the dinner comes after a recent military victory. If you should be struck by expectorated wine, simply clean yourself off (excusing yourself from the table if necessary) and behave as though it did not happen. Some of you may have heard of Envoy MacLain, who experienced this firsthand and reacted in a strongly negative manner to the Kro'dyl sitting next to her. Rest assured that the rumors were exaggerated and she will be returning to work as soon as she has completed physical therapy.

Delicacies - Ey'koal is a type of succulent that grows on one of the Kro'dyl worlds and is often served as an appetizer or alongside certain main dishes. There are two varieties of ey'koal, one which has orange veins running through its tissues and one with purple veins. The Kro'dyl do not distinguish between the two, and tend to serve them mixed together, perhaps for aesthetic purposes. However, the purple veined plant contains alkaloids that, while they have little to no effect on the Kro'dyl, are extremely potent deliriants, causing protracted, horrific hallucinations in humans. Fortunately, there appear to be no long-term effects from consuming hallucinogenic ey'koal - Envoy Hussain, who inadvertently consumed a very large amount, recovered with no lasting neurological effects, although her fellow Envoys report that she does still flinch when confronted with cacti.

Toasts and Rituals - Many problems stem from the fact that Kro'dyl often wear their weapons to the table, a practice that seems to stem from the constant parade of undeclared wars that marked their early history. They are known to use these weapons in their celebratory toasts. One common post-battle toast involves the head of the table taking the signature Kro'dyl ranged weapon - a sort of needlegun - and firing several flechettes while the gathered company grumbles a victory chant. While this is somewhat dangerous when done out of doors, the Kro'dyl are known to do this inside and even on their ships, where the risk of ricochet is great. It is not considered rude to duck out of the way during this ritual. Ducking too late can lead to unintentional injury, as it did in the case of Envoy Takahashi, though you will be pleased to know that due to cutting-edge Exterran surgery, he is expected to recover at least 70% functionality in his right eye.

First Aid - Patrons at Kro'dyl formal dinners are strongly advised to bring a small first aid kid in the event that anyone suffers a minor injury while at the table. In the absence of such preparation, Kro'dyl treatments are highly effective (more so than comparable Exterran treatments in some cases) but may not be pleasant for the recipient. They do not employ anesthesia of any kind and the sole means of disinfectant appears to be extreme heat. In the words of Envoy Woodland-James, who received treatment for a small laceration resulting from a knife mishap: "Fire. It's all fire. No more fire, please God, no more fire." Dinner Conversation - The rules for conversation with Kro'dyl are no different than those for formal dinners with any other species - keep to lighter topics, avoid areas of controversy unless the hosts bring them up, always be diplomatic when answering questions, and exhibit the utmost sensitivity when making comments. It's here that we really must address the case of Envoy Thayer, who was detained by the Kro'dyl for several days, apparently due to his insistence on employing humor that his hosts found offensive. The good news is that we were able to negotiate his peaceful release, and some of Exterra's finest surgeons have agreed to waive all costs in reattaching the severed hand.


  1. Sick, twisted, and beautifully executed flash sci-fi. I can picture this guide played out as a brilliant TV sketch. This story is going to make me smile all weekend.

  2. A clever and humorous satire. I think it would make even Jonathan Swift chuckle.

  3. Cultural misunderstandings can be embarrassing. Be nice. Be kind. Focus on the good news. Sage advice from the etiquette expert. I wonder if the Krodyls have such a person....he he.

  4. Very funny. Even with the protocol guide, I don't think I'd want to be an envoy. Just saying. Thanks for the laughs

  5. Send Mike Pompeo an invitation. Please.