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Among the many didactic anecdotes Trade Master Greenish of the Melnorme relates to the Human Captain during their association is the story of the Algolites, the native inhabitants of the planet Algol IV. He calls them simply "Algolites", referring either to the entire population of non-sentient species on Algol IV, to a primitive species without a name themselves, or to a species whose name he does not know. Greenish might also lack a usable transliteration or translation of the name, or simply be refusing to give it for his own reasons (as he often did with various details of his anecdotes); it is always a possibility that the Algolites didn't even exist.

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

Greenish relates how the Spathi established a base on Algol IV. 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 IV's atmosphere and wiping out the Algolites. Greenish challenges The Captain as to whether the disaster having been an accident made any difference to the Algolites, leading The Captain to eventually acquiesce and meet the Melnorme's demands for a formal apology.

The Melnorme never give 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.