OFFICIALLY, ON ALL the half-thousand human-populated planets of the Terran Federation, the date was September 14, 654 Atomic Era, but on Zarathustra it was First Day, Year Zero, Anno Fuzzy.
It wasn’t the day that the Fuzzies were discovered — that had been in early June, when old Jack Holloway had found a small and unfamiliar being crouching in his shower stall at his camp up Cold Creek Valley on Beta Continent. He had made friends with the uninvited visitor and named him Little Fuzzy. A week later, four more Fuzzies and a baby Fuzzy had moved in, and Bennett Rainsford, then a field naturalist for the Institute of Xeno-Sciences, had seen them. They were completely new to him, too. He named the order Hollowayans, in honor of their discoverer, and called the genus Fuzzy and the species Holloway’s Fuzzy: Fuzzy fuzzy holloway.
Fuzzies were erect bipeds, two feet tall and weighing fifteen to twenty pounds; their bodies were covered with silky golden fur. They had five-fingered hands with opposable thumbs, large eyes set close enough together for stereoscopic vision and vaguely humanoid features. They seemed to know nothing of fire and, as far as Holloway and Rainsford were able to determine, they were incapable of speech. The fact that they spoke in the ultrasonic range was yet to be discovered. They made a few artifacts, however, and their reasoning ability amazed both men. As soon as he saw them, Rainsford insisted that Jack tape an account of them.
Twenty-four hours later, a number of people had heard that tape. One was Victor Grego, manager-in-chief of the Chartered Zarathustra Company. If, as seemed probable, these Fuzzies were sapient beings, Zarathustra automatically became a Class-IV inhabited planet. The Company’s charter, conferring outright ownership of Zarathustra as a Class-III uninhabited planet, would be just as automatically void.
Grego’s instinct was to fight, and he was a resourceful, resolute and ruthless fighter. He was not stupid, but some of his subordinates were; a week later, everybody on the planet had heard of the Fuzzies because a CZC executive named Leonard Kellogg was facing trial for murder — defined as the unjustified killing of any sapient being of any race whatsoever — for having kicked to death a Fuzzy named Goldilocks. Jack Holloway was similarly charged for having shot a Company gunman who had tried to interfere while he was administering a beating to Kellogg. Both cases, scheduled to be tried as one, would hinge on whether Fuzzies were sapient beings or just cute little animals. On the docket, it was People of the Colony of Zarathustra versus Kellogg and Holloway, but, beginning with Holloway’s lawyer, Gus Brannhard, everybody was calling it Friends of Little Fuzzy versus The Chartered Zarathustra Company.
Little Fuzzy and his friends won, and when, on September 14, Chief Justice Frederic Pendarvis rapped with his gavel after reading what would go down in Federation legal history as the Pendarvis Decisions, Zarathustra became a Class-IV inhabited planet. The Space Navy had to take over until a new Colonial Government could be set up, and Bennett Rainsford was appointed Governor General. The Zarathustra Company’s charter was as dead as the Code of Hammurabi.
And Fuzzy fuzzy holloway was now Fuzzy sapiens zarathustra.