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Among the many didactic anecdotes Trade Master Greenish of the Melnorme related to the Human Captain Zelnick during their association in the Second War of the Alliance was the story of the native inhabitants of the planet Algol 4; apparently Greenish did not know the species' name, lacked a usable transliteration or translation of it, or simply refused to give it for his own reasons (as he often did with various details of his anecdotes). In any case, he simply dubbed the race Algolites after the Human name for their star.

When an initial misunderstanding between the New Alliance Humans and the Melnorme led to brief hostilities, the Melnorme rescinded their initial offer to open peaceful information-trading relations with the Humans. In Zelnick's original talks with Greenish attempting to restore relations with the Melnorme, Greenish brushed aside Zelnick's assertion that the Humans' attack had been an accident with a typical Melnorme anecdote illustrating the uselessness of claims of nonintentionality as atonement, comparing the Humans to their cowardly Spathi enemies.

Greenish related how the Spathi, in their expanding wave of colonization, established a base on Algol 4 and a peaceful relationship with the surrounding Algolites. Finding the climate unsuited to their needs, the Spathi, apparently without consulting the Algolites, thoughtlessly set up terraforming equipment to (they thought) slightly, harmlessly alter the planet's atmosphere. Unfortunately, their equipment malfunctioned and set off a catastrophic chain reaction; in typical Spathi fashion, the colonists fled rather than attempting to correct their mistake, and the resulting disaster ended up stripping off most of Algol 4's atmosphere and wiping out the Algolites. Greenish challenged Zelnick as to whether the disaster having been an accident made any difference to the Algolites, leading Zelnick to eventually acquiesce and meet the Melnorme's demands for a formal apology.

The Melnorme never gave any further details about this incident. The whole story, including what role the Melnorme themselves played in it (if any), as well as what the Spathi might have to say for themselves about it, remains unknown thanks to the slave-shielding of the Spathi and the cryptic nature of the Melnorme.