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The Defense of Tonylobons
Brian W. Porter
Also by Brian W. Porter The Discovery of Tonylobons The Defense of Tonylobons Naming Tonylobons The Caterpillar Campaign The Regional Life The Traveler all available at http://www.scribd.com/Brian%20W%20Porter You Cannot Run From Yourself available on http://www.lulu.com/
Other short stories and essays from this author available at http://www.scribd.com/Brian%20W%20Porter.
without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. . business establishments. and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Names. Porter All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced. or locals is entirely coincidental. This is a work of fiction. events.Copyright 2010 by Brian W. stored in or introduced into a retrieval or peer to peer system. in any form or by any means. characters. or transmitted. places. and any resemblance to actual persons. living or dead.
. Instead. finds a star system previously hidden by the dust from an exploding Pollex. who will determine if the species found is truly sentient and therefore the owner of the planet according to Federation law. He also secretly carries a small squad of marines who are to discover and destroy the only dangerous weapon on the planet. after several adventures. The colonists contact Captain Mussuclio and claim they found a sentient native species already living on the planet. he finds several viable agricultural communities using technology and metals not shipped on colonist ships. Colonized by prisoners five hundred years before.Preceding Adventure Captain Lucas Mussuclio. he expects to destroy the savages and claim the planet for the Federation. Headquarters orders Captain Mussuclio to transport a group of scientists to the planet.
One of the creatures appeared to inhabit the region of the stars where the air of life was not. He saw that creatures lived inside. one of nature's cycles. yet he could not leave. and the small creature drop into the air of life and drift down to the ancient land. close enough to see him. He could see it clearly. A dark shadow passed under Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. suggest that the proper people explore the possibility that it was again time to limit births for a while. He felt that some of those were meant for looking. but not the same. and had turned toward him. A feeling of calm flowed over Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt tried to run. and that it had tubes and other projections not found on living creatures. almost close enough to grab him. Food was becoming scarcer for some reason. creatures like those who dwelt on the ancient land. Deep Thought Hunter. not of friendship. These creatures had thoughts of killing. had done nothing obvious to make the change. This creature was not of the living world. their normal hunting tactic. Thinkers lived in the deep water. A psychic force held him steady on the surface while visions of creatures formed in his head. hunting the small creatures. He would have to speak to Gives-Direction about this matter. A deep fear coursed through Gives-Direction-to-Those-WhoHunt. Possibly the dwellers on the ancient land would have an idea. That was not his area of understanding. surfacing only occasionally to bask in the source of light and life. It had appeared suddenly in a way that was strange. a fear born out of the ages before the treaty between the species. and now it drew closer to him. His calmness slowly turned to agitation. and those larger. Possibly.Chapter 1 Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt scouted the deep water looking for new sources of food for his community on the reefs. This creature was from far away. The Thinkers were of a size that a marnman would fit in its mouth without being bitten or chewed. that dwelt at the same depth. He swam slowly out to the deeper water to where six of the behemoths waited. an action too many times performed in the long past. That Gives-Directionto-Those-Who-Hunt had seen one was unusual. toward the living planet. that it was not the shape of any animal. Even the intelligent species that had arrived not all that many lifetimes past. the only predator capable of attacking a marnman and winning. across the star seas. a shadow that called out Thinker. or any of the dead worlds that roamed near the source of light and life. to the living place of they who dwell in the air of life. or his worry. or the dwellers on the ancient land. and the cause was not the making of the people. and had woken the ancient fears. those who dwell in the air of life. Now the larger creatures usually left the only other intelligent species that dwelt in the living-waters alone. tried to hide. . it was a normal occurrence that came many warm and cold times apart. and he was not happy with the situation. but he could not move as he watched the creature of the star seas give birth. but that was for Gives-Direction to discover. and some were meant for killing. a desire to follow the Thinker and do what it directed. to let the number of people lower to the point where all could feed.
He told his companion. We must slow. If anything. weaving around the obstacles. It is what they showed me. he picked up speed. Without an acknowledgement of the message. We will swim at a normal speed to the message entrance. We enter the community. a thing larger than that which gave birth to that which came to the air of life and the ancient land not long ago. observed as he caught up to the speeding marnman. Tell me. Swims-Between imagined a possibility that caused him to shiver with terror even as he swam next to his friend. and for doing that we will be kept informed. your plans. Very rare. Quickly he asked. but you are right. a friend. From there we will have to see." SwimsBetween. It would not go well for us if we upset all those who dwell here. he put on speed straight for the community of his brothers." "I do not know if I can be calm. his freedom." Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt did not slow. Tell me what you have seen and I will make sure you get the proper audience. "You are not like this. my friend. you are terrified! That is rare. the community's messenger and fastest swimmer. "What about the Thinkers? Have they returned to hunting our kind?" "No. I have seen terror. You always keep your thoughts together. his ability to act. a thing among the stars. the living and working area of He-Who-GivesDirection. Now be calm. to the area Gives-Direction used to speak about important matters. But we must slow now. "You are afraid." That Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt did not know what frightened him so was a thought Swims-Between did not want to contemplate. They come to speak to they that dwell in the air of life near the waters that taste strange. driving toward the community's center. Tell me what it is. A thing. what has made you so afraid. restored. possibly faster than before." The two friends entered a more populated area with stone fences that set off private areas. As he drew closer to his community a comrade. They passed one or two people swimming on personal missions. to eat us all. the fences growing more crowded as they moved toward the center of the community. Never. but it is true they will not eat us. It is possible that they mean no good. We will go see Gives-Direction so the message can be sent to the proper person. matched his pace. and then the way became more crowded as they entered the community proper. It has come to attack. that gave birth to the small thing that came down to talk to those who dwell on the ancient land. Tell me. At least not at this time.Slowly he felt his being released by the predators. quickly. and there we will tell Guards-TheMessage-Entrance of our concerns. I have seen--I do not know! I must go to Gives-Direction and ask to be pointed the proper way. that I may help. his fears. See? We are almost at the edge of the community. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. I could see!" "Wait! Slow! Think!" Swims-Between called to calm Gives-Direction-to-ThoseWho-Hunt." "The Thinkers--" Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt swam in earnest. pushing their way through large groups when necessary. They still hold to the covenant. "They do not come for us. that they come to hunt. sleeker and more muscled. "No. his community. . no. Still they hurried. "I have seen danger.
" "If that is so. yet highlighted in red designating a sentient species already lived there. one of the four sections of a colony ship had landed near this harbor more than five hundred years before. Forest covered the Eastern plains of the continent. Come. The water that dropped as rain flowed through streams that joined to form a small river. mountains apparently raised by plate tectonics. eventually intersecting the ocean at a natural harbor. The inhabitants of the planet claimed that a native species that lived in the ocean." "This is a question for Gives-Direction. "That vital that it may concern death? That is what I read in your eyes." Guards-The-Message-Entrance studied the two for a moment judging the truth of their claim." Guards-The-Message-Entrance backed away. as we were told would happen just a warm and cold time before. Three other communities had sprouted in the forest. He asked. the occupants of this colony ship section not only survived. why did the Thinkers show me those who come prepare weapons for killing? You know they can only show what is true. the prophesy? What the Dwellers on the Ancient Land predicted? We were told they were to bring scientists to study the claims of our sentience. "Swims-Between. Instead of reverting to savagery as was normal. According to new official records. but not so fast as to cause a major disturbance. and another small community in the forest just downstream from the caves. including one where the land rose from the sea to the east along a coastal plain to an area of folded land. "They come again. the Empire comes to destroy. still primitive farming villages without an obvious power source other than gathered wood. When they reached him. mountains that condensed the atmosphere flowing across the higher ground to the west. a planet designated by number rather than by a name. why have you brought Gives-Direction-toThose-Who-Hunt to this entrance?" "Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt has a vital message for those who dwell in the air of life. they expanded to a cave system in the mountains. We must see Gives-Direction and inform him of this development so that we might be pointed the right direction. +++ Every ship in Federation space downloaded new Federation Charts. Both the cave and the forest communities had a minor amount of electricity supplied by a complex near a waterfall. hidden by trees.Guards-The-Message-Entrance watched the two marnmen approach quicker than those with questions approached. well to the north of the original landing area. Official scans showed several continents. except in the valleys between the ridges. As the legends of those who dwell on the ancient land foretell. or . I will lead you to the private chambers. charts updated with a newly discovered system that contained planet 27634755." Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt told him. It has been done before in a time similar to this. he asked. clearing land to build a small farming community half a mile inland. to the private conversation room." Guards-The-Message-Entrance turned and quickly led the way along the stone lined paths toward the center of the palace. "You mean. which suggested it was uninhabited.
I have news. I remember. and closed his eyes. Knowing beforehand ruins their surprise. stood. Wendell had laid the groundwork so he would be the only person to interact with the strangers. "I was resting my eyes." Wendell walked to a table at the side of the room laden with fruit gathered from orchards and the wild. Tomorrow. peering through the door. You must go to both The Caves and The Woods and tell them that the Federation is back. with long hair pulled away from his face and tied behind his head. stretched his arms wide. searching for anyone within. at least from the air. That is all. dark with tan from years standing or swimming in the sun while speaking with the marnmen. "Wendell.possibly several species world wide. were sentient. the newcomer asked. Bale. Send Aarmand. Wendell said. Now they had to wait. The biting aroma woke his brain as he considered the new information." he called into the relative darkness." a voice at the far end of the room replied. I must put in an appearance." Bale bowed and began to back out the door. the leader sat on an ornate chair. "I will send Aarmand. However. it may not be as joyous an occasion as you had hoped." "Come. and all went how he thought it would. Hopefully the first of those choices. He looked sleepily at his visitor. The Captain who had originally discovered this colony questioned that finding and now had orders to return with a scientific panel to get answers. a large building near the top of a hill." "Oh? And why is that?" Bale looked at Wendell and carefully stated." Bale lowered his head and clasped his arms over his stomach. stepped into the torch lit room. because tonight is the feast of the founding of The Woods. and no other community was close enough to be in danger. "Then either Captain Mussuclio was allowed to keep his word." Wendell stepped off the dais. Glaring at the messenger. his eyes slowly adjusting to the flickering reddish light of a wall-mounted torch. Bale. "You sent for me?" Only Bale gave him the respect he deserved. Check with Headmon Halfords first." Wendell rolled his head around his neck. or this is the end of life as we have known it. respect Bale had learned from the ocean creatures. the people of the Federation should stay by the ocean. but I am sure he will give orders to have The Woods and the farther villages hide from sight. sought out the community leader in the original village's council house. Bale entered cautiously. He had done what he could to prepare. "Find Aarmand for me and send him here. and convinced the other that since the seaside community had an adequate clearing nearby." The messenger hurried out the door. "Aarmand. if he kept his head and planned well. "The marnmen have been told a new ship approaches. Thus. In his chair on the dais at the far end of the long room. A tall. he would have no problem becoming the leader of the planet after the upcoming harvest festival. . We will discuss it after the feast. Without preamble. Headmon of the cave community and considered leader of the world. Go. thin man. Now. a larger one than before. but do not tell him why. and explained. Wendell climbed back on the chair. "Wendell. "Yes. and said. Shall I thank the marnmen for the information?" "Most definitely. He had already talked to Halstead. as they had been when the colony ship landed. Tell no one.
We're looking especially for any weapons or power sources. and the reason for the scientific study. Captain Mussuclio ordered one quarter braking from the Running Bear Gravity Drive." The lift doors opened. let alone when the criminals or whatever they were had been were shipped out. The doors remained open. and the gravity drive did not show to scanners available two hundred years ago. the temperature near the ocean would be closer to the civilians' scientist's comfort level. Fornihopper. "Where from?" "Somewhere near --" an image of mountains formed on the main viewscreen "-here. standard array. "Mr. although it seemed that they had knowledge of his arrival that first visit." A white noise broadcast over the communication speakers coalesced into a person's . There is a community that lives in caves you should locate shortly. He asked the Science Officer." With a final glance around. Seems modulated. I think you should know we're being scanned. Captain Mussuclio planned to scan before anyone discovered they had arrived.+++ The newly discovered planet's tilt placed the northern hemisphere just over halfway toward the cold season when Pride of Cappella reached the outer planets. it's your Bridge. The Captain rose from his chair and walked to the communications console. He quietly told Lieutenant Junior Grade Floyd Pigongqui. Wendell had said the supposedly sentient natives would have a way of knowing he was back. he turned and crossed the Bridge to the lift. their days would be growing shorter and the marines in the mountains would have less daylight than during high summer." the Science Officer crisply acknowledged." "Very good. "Captain!" Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper called. which would make the marine's task easier. scan the planet. or make emotional decisions. therefore they would think better and be less likely to give away information unwisely." the Captain told the lift. The Helmsman turned to his left and announced. Make a deep scan of that area immediately. Communications. Captain. but they lived in the ocean according to the colonists. so Captain Mussuclio thought. The Federation's arrival in system should be a surprise to those living on the planet even if they had a tracking device as they claimed. Thornapple. which should allow them to come upon the planet undetected." "Hold. "Before you go. Don't know if it's truly a scan. which he doubted. I'll be in my cabin. "Inform the ship that orbit has been established. Since those the Captain planned to visit lived approximately twenty-three degrees north of the equator. Sir. Running it through the computer now. By subjecting the caves and the surrounding area to a deep scan without any warning. The trade off was even in his estimation. However. Battle dampers and shields blocked most of the ship's stray radiation. Those on the planet had no way of knowing the Federation was in the system." "Scanning. "Standard polar orbit. so how could they know? That there was even a sentient native species was doubtful. Lucas called over his shoulder. before they have time to realize what we're doing. the one weapon of any significance could be located. we'll set three relay satellites on stationary orbit.
drew a cup of coffee from the personal galley. the place where you landed before. On the right arm." The Captain crossed to the center of the bridge and sat in the Command Chair. Communications. He studied the shades of green on the monitor. he had to load the center hold. stepped inside. I'll be in my cabin. I'll control it from my chair. A quick command brought up the scans of the planet taken during the last visit. "Commander. He asked. Come in. "He did tell us to expect you. forget the deep scan for now. waited for the door to slide open." The air crackled and became silent. "This is Captain Lucas Mussuclio. planet. It's your Bridge. a double row of LEDs with readers had been built in. Commanding the United Federation of Earth Colonies Navy Battle and Exploratory Ship UFECNB 461572. near a ridge." Captain Mussuclio decided to ignore the last statement. we will be there. no. "How do they know we're here? the Captain asked no one in particular. and he had to make nice noises to the powers on the ground. Lucas palmed the handprint next to his cabin's access." the air replied." "Very good. all good locations for a landing site and easily watched by people on the ground. "We are not. Come in." Captain Mussuclio advised his bridge crew. easily reached by his fingers. Then the scientists needed to meet those on the planet. again without anyone knowing. although he would have to check the latest scans for nearby activity or new villages during the next few days. the Communications Officer broke contact. We have been watching. the doors shut. Standard scan pattern. If you will wait for three days." the voice from the ground answered. he will meet you there. "They've come a long way in a year or so. Pride of Cappella. "Do you wish to reply. I'll take the Bridge for a moment. Then he had to have the science team and a security detail loaded into the shuttle. then land two hours after sunrise in the clearing just to the north of the village. Then he had to get the clandestine team as close as possible to their task.voice. Planet calling the spacecraft. "--spacecraft. The geological features would not change. Fornihopper. He covered one light with his finger so it reflected back to the reader. Captain Mussuclio strode through the color coded corridors on the way to his cabin considering the task ahead of him. "Uh. "Let's keep on our toes. which sent a minute electrical impulse to a switching transistor. They obviously know we're here. we'll try this again. causing the microphone near the Command Chair to open. which should not pose a problem. Greetings. was a small break in the trees. hard to locate and therefore probably unknown to those on the ground. Several large clearings showed near the cave system. amazement showing in his voice. preferably by the same security officer who escorted them when they came onboard. remotes for major bridge functions. Standing by. "When can I speak to Wendell?" "He's at Seaside. the larger on the two-hold shuttle. First. in a depression hidden from all sides and with a canyon like access. It was the . Is Wendell available?" His finger crossed the LED again to shut off the microphone. with all the equipment the scientists brought. Then he had to have the Marines moved to the rear hold of the shuttle with a minimum of crew knowing. Commander." This time when the Captain entered the lift. and sat at the workstation. To the south." At the Captain's signal. Captain?" Lieutenant Junior Grade Floyd Pigongqui asked.
Captain. secure line. and others they did not know about would go elsewhere. Let's go. The civilians don't know about you." the Captain said just before he broke contact. The secure line should be enough information for her to take the message in private. A voice. Out." A shoe nudged the rookie. and the nearest well used path several kilometers away. He quietly called." The Captain broke contact wondering why Marines could not be as disciplined as his crew." "Understood.best place he could find. The approach would test the skill of any pilot. Captain. and Sergeant Tucker was itching to get out and move. but it was the best location he could find. Sir. "We'll handle the matter. one of the other officers in Engineering. "Yah." "We're moving the items stored in the vacuum." "Very good. You'll want to bring the pressure up. the Captain drew a cup of coffee from the personal galley in his cabin and sat in front of the monitor." "Whatever you say. Now he had arrangements to make. no villages nearby. Lieutenant Commander Marilyn Mantarris." "I take it you are alone?" "In my office." the voice acknowledged. and tomorrow the scientists would go groundside for a month of study. +++ Just after duty three days later." "Understood. tonight there will be five heavily armed marines moving from the vacuum area to Shuttle Three. Especially not to the civilians. Cabin twenty-five. who slowly opened his eyes and . "Captain?" "Marilyn. He had woken most of the squad just by rattling his long weapon." Hopefully she was in her cabin. this task was completed. Toolkie." A short tone indicated the line was ready. Rear hold. "Yeah?" "Sergeant. She had found a partner. the last day or two slow and careful to avoid discovery. husky from years of shouting. Communications. Only one soldier still slept. "Van Rapton." he called into the air. Let's keep it that way. said. alone. It was a good site. "Security will escort you to the shuttle. The latest scans showed thick green forest around the concealed landing site. +++ The Marines had been in the private area for a week. for later he would be busy. He would check the new scans in a couple of days to ensure the privacy of the landing site." Only a moment passed before a familiar voice called. and this was not a good time for her to have company. They do not exist. "Secure line. Best I can do. Pressure up by end of fourth watch." Lieutenant Commander Mantarris replied. but for now. Absolute silence must be maintained during the trip to the surface. and the marines would have a three or four-day hike to get to the caves. "Secure line. door closed. "Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton. The shuttle was loaded with the scientist's gear. Shuttle Three tonight. preferably the previous escort. They need an escort. rear hold.
he did not have the patience for it. and don't you dare breathe a word of that to his family. child." Sergeant Tucker dug through his pack checking off items he would need. The floor continued the color scheme with no scratches or scuffs to dull the reflection.looked at his timekeeper. that did not happen this time." "Yeah. Apparently. They were all good men. We. Animal had already shouldered his pack and stood bent over under the normal sized ceiling. then the usual tour of duty. it's not even two yet. Don't drink. that you're in the Marines? You got a job that's got no hours. Try not to breathe. no dirt showed." Saunders rolled over and rested his head on his arm." "Didn't you learn in boot. then his weapons and battery packs. And make sure he does things right. Any weather. hunters and killers who knew their job. it was asinine. You know the drill. Get ready. and one guard . He would need more training. It was just one of many unknowns that would stay that way. The spotless walls were color coded by area. Nine minutes. Probably when we land. saw the Marines were ready. The occasional security personnel encountered along the way pointedly ignored them. led by the Ship's Officer. a time in dock to repair what was necessary. though. he's right. well. and only one of his men had the skill as teacher. He had no choice in this matter. There will be other people close by. We move out in ten minutes. Ex. This is a clandestine mission. Even in the few areas with direct light. Satisfied all was ready. Is that understood?" He glared at the four marines in his command. Sarge. the code unknown to the sergeant. Saunders would give the kid bad information as a joke. This new one. don't you worry. "Spirit. Three of them he had worked with before. Why would they send a brand new ship on a mission with Marines. make sure Toolkie understands. Only the Captain and the Old Man know what we're doing. We'll get our orders soon enough. and they're not talking yet. waiting to duck through the door. The navy personnel loading the shuttle were in the mess on lunch break. unless he was bullet fodder. Do. nodded to Sergeant Tucker. not to know we exist. Sergeant Tucker could not think like the idiots behind the desks. "Face it kid. I agree. It's too damn early. Animal. But Spirit. But I just got the word. let me repeat that. any conditions. They were ready with thirty seconds to spare. You're on all the time. he checked on his squad. or civilians for that matter? The first tour was usually a month or less to find problems. They are not. Most of that time we'll be under silent maneuver rules. "Now listen up. Ist. We don't have access to no facilities for the next twelve to fourteen hours. The door opened and a security officer stepped inside. The five silent Marines in full ground-war gear eased along deserted corridors. Don't eat. No noise. you ain't gonna win. Saunders was helping Morganthur teach the rookie how to pack. Sarge. He knew their abilities and could trust them to work on their own if necessary. Why they needed some green kid on this mission was. You know what they are. I got other problems. Not. "Morganthur. He did not want to see the kid killed on his first mission. Now get up. No movement until you're given the word. and led them silently through the ship. for as long as I say. under orders to look the other way when their escort showed. as if this was the ship's first mission.
kept watch. No one else was in sight to comment on why five marines with full packs and heavy personal field weapons would silently steal into the aft hold of Shuttle Number Three, then close and seal the door from the inside. "Get comfortable. We won't move for a while," the sergeant whispered. "Wake me if I snore," Morganthur whispered back and lay on his back. In total darkness they waited, the sergeant listened to the quiet breathing of his squad. They sat or lay along the walls, as comfortably as possible, their gear in front of them ready for instant access. Each hour passed slowly, seemingly the length of a day, until the flight crew powered up. Lights came on showing the bare plastic walls of the aft hold. Whines and faint vibrations resonated as pumps began working. Still they waited, time dragging, every noise a potential problem. Footsteps and voices told of people entering the shuttle. One voice made a speech. His squad waited, not moving a muscle. Like him, they realized that just a small noise could terminate the mission. A scrape and minute vibrations heralded their launch into space. He waited, muscles stiff and crying out for activity, distractions he was sure the rest felt also. Slight bumps and dips telegraphed the shuttle's passage through atmosphere, and still the Marines silently waited. Then the forward hold opened and the sergeant knew this was the most dangerous time.
Captain Mussuclio stood in the shuttle's passenger area aisle, flanked by three rows of four seats positioned just a bit too close to each other for comfort, describing to the seated civilians what he had found during his last visit to the planet. Partially activated viewscreens on port and starboard and toward the bow gave the illusion of windows looking out at the Shuttle Bay. "We're ready when you are, Captain," the communicator announced. Captain Mussuclio acknowledged the statement, and then said, "Ladies, Gentlemen, please. Let's strap in. We're going into an uncontrolled atmosphere and there may be more turbulence than the inertial dampers can handle. Pilot, may we have full screens on? Total surround view until we reach atmosphere, then three-sixty, please." He sat in the front row and slipped the belt over his lap, then leaned his head back. To the passengers it seemed as if the shuttle disappeared except for the seats, as if the passenger area had levitated off the Shuttle Bay floor. Lucas thought, A bit unnerving, that. Always seems like I'm floating. The Captain watched as the shuttle smoothly eased out the open lock into the unending expanse of space. Stars surrounded them as the glare from the docking lights died out, the chairs magically aligned and linked. Ahead of them, the planet showed as a ball of blue-tinted, greenish-brown land and deep blue ocean, with areas of white cloud that floated above the surface. Near the terminator, a spiral storm slowly rotated over the horizon and out of sight. Slowly the world sphere grew as they floated through the infiniteness of space. Captain Mussuclio excused himself, walked on nothing through a bright rectangle that appeared in front of the floating chairs and joined the shuttle crew in the cockpit for the latter portion of the descent. He told himself he had a better view through diamond
coated clear plastic than by floating in the passenger compartment, although his stress level continuously rose the longer he floated. How would the scientists feel when they finally arrived? Happy to be on solid ground he hoped, an emotion he could attach to the planet rather than the trip. Now sitting securely behind the pilot, only one hundred meters above the surface of the planet, he searched for the only available landing area close to the village. "Pilot," the Captain said as he looked out the front screen of the shuttle, "set down in that clearing just north of the village. Probably be animals and people." As he predicted a small group of villagers had come out to meet the shuttle. They stood to the village side of the clearing under the trees, which made a reference point for the pilot. Wendell, the leader of the village if not the whole colony, stood at the fore dressed in shirt and pants made of red leather. The cloak draped around his shoulders shimmered reddish rainbows. "Orient the hatch on the person in the red cloak," the Captain ordered the pilot. "I'm going aft with the passengers. Cut the view when we touch down. Open only the passenger bay door on my signal. After I disembark, close the door and secure the ship. Reopen only on my signal. If I am taken, immediately inform Commander Thornapple and leave." As the pilot began his maneuvers, Lucas joined the scientific expedition still seated in the passenger compartment. "We're almost there," he informed the four passengers. "Please remain in your seats when we land. I'm going out to make sure the conditions are up to the standards we agreed on when I was last here. It's within the realm of possibilities you will be heading back to the ship without me." When he saw the shocked expressions on their faces, he added, "But that's unlikely." The vibrations in the floor changed so slightly only he noticed. He strapped down in an empty acceleration chair.
A bump so slight the civilians did not notice, and the lessening strain on the gravity drive, was the only indication the shuttle had reached the ground. Lucas stood, shook out his pants to reform the crisp crease, walked to the passenger access door as it slid into the bulkhead, and stood in the opening as his eyes adjusted to the sunlight. His gold braided dress whites resplendent with medals seemed to glow in the bright light while he waited for the two security crewmembers to ascertain the danger level. Wendell approached as security stood aside and Captain Mussuclio descended the steps. The shuttle door slid silently closed behind him. The two men met halfway between the shuttle and the crowd. They grasped each other's arms just below the elbow in the greeting that had become traditional among the planet dwellers. "Ho, friend Captain," the cloaked leader welcomed in a deep voice. "Welcome back to Tonylobons. It has been awhile." He nodded toward the shuttle. "You have a different ship." The Captain smiled and replied, "Ho, friend Wendell. You are right; I received a promotion. That just means I Captain a larger ship. And it hasn't been that long, only a bit more than a year." Wendell looked over Captain Mussuclio's shoulder. "Tell me Captain, where are the scientists you were to bring? We did agree to have them stay with us, yet I do not see
them. Are they not here with you?" "They are in the shuttle," the Captain soothed, "eager to get out and begin their work. Since I am responsible for their safety and welfare, as you can understand, I wanted to be sure all conditions had been met before allowing them to disembark." "A reasonable precaution," the cloaked man conceded. "I would have done the same. We have a large open building for them to store their equipment. They can stay with the villagers who have been assigned to be their guides, or they can stay with their equipment. All the guides have learned your way of speaking as you requested, and I must thank you for the teaching device. Without it, we would never have learned. Your people should eat what we eat since we know which foods are good, and which will kill you quickly. They are the same foods the original colonists tested and ate when they first came, so there should be no problem. Is all this acceptable to you?" "That is acceptable." The Captain spoke quietly into his communicator and turned toward the shuttle as the passenger access door slid open. "Allow me to introduce the representatives of my government." A tall woman with blond hair that reached well down her back appeared, blinking back the sunlight. She still had the thin physic and tight facial features of a model, which is how she had put herself through school, though she had gained a few pounds while working behind a desk between field assignments. The Captain proclaimed, "Estelle Goldman, Anthropologist. She is one of the best in her field of study. She is to watch how you live and will learn of your culture, and if anyone will answer the questions we have about you or others on the planet, she will. "Tuesday Wells is a chemist." The Captain presented a petite woman with bright red hair, almost pure white skin, a multitude of freckles, and a smile bred in the best of families. "She also has a good background in most of the sciences." A tall man, extremely thin, with a captivating smile, and dressed in flowing robes, stepped cautiously over the threshold. "Ambassador Nathan DuPont," the Captain announced as the aristocratic man approached. "He has represented the Federation on several planets and should be able to answer all your questions about our government. Hopefully, you will be able to answer his." A well-padded ex-jock without a hair on his head, whose unused muscle had turned to flab over the years, was the last to leave the shuttle. "Brevor Schneider is an engineer. He has designed bridges and buildings on several planets, and will want to look at some of your buildings." Wendell grasped arms with each of the newcomers as they stepped off the shuttle. They stood in a line next to the Captain as Wendell's voiced reverberated among the trees. "Ho. all. I am Wendell, the head of this village. Arrangements have been made for your comfort. I am sure you would prefer to oversee personally the unloading and storage of your equipment. We are here to help in any way we can." The forward hold doors, large enough for major machinery to fit through, slid quietly open. Villagers quickly entered the shuttle and, under the direction of the visitors, emptied the hold. They carried the contents away from the landing area, placing their loads on the ground. Captain Mussuclio and Wendell, smiles on both faces, again clasped arms. The Captain told Wendell, "I must take my leave, my friend. I have a ship in orbit I
Head along the third river inland toward the mountains. "Good sailing to you. the heavier crates lifted by four or more people and." He bowed and backed away to the edge of the crowd. walked to a wide path. I'll be in the back. Captain Mussuclio studied the group for a few seconds and thought. place them on manual so I can close them when I'm done. over the ocean. he hit an access button. out of range of any detectors they may have. Captain. but now that I see what we have.must control. The door slid closed. Watch for turbulence. their work here will lead to a further understanding of both our peoples. "Sergeant. Five Marines. Just inside the door. Let me know when we come over land again. made a complete circuit of his ship to insure everything was secure. The crowd watched as the shuttle lifted. but he still had to steady himself on the passenger seats. this is not a group I would want to be fighting without much better odds. out of range of their detectors. bring your men forward. . "Take us east. Several times. With any luck. then silently picked up their loads. then closed again after he was through. the four scientists stood beside Wendell and watched as the shuttle quickly accelerated out of sight behind the trees. the Captain strode back to the shuttle. The inside hatch to the forward hold slid open at his touch. and they do have something. +++ Captain Mussuclio keyed the intercom and instructed. and a long and fruitful relationship between your planet and the Federation. In thirty days I will return to pick up your guests. unnoticed by the visitors. he caught his balance when winds over the ocean buffeted the small craft as he crossed the open area. friend Captain. forces me to bid you farewell. and saluted." He retraced his steps to the passenger compartment. Three hundred kilometers out should do. and my orders to scan the other planets in the system. and keep the cockpit door sealed. Unlock inside access to both holds. and climbed up the ramp to the passenger compartment. We meet again in one month. Turning smartly on his heel. No matter. They may be adequate for the job. After you are well below the horizon. sweep starboard in a wide arc 180 degrees. and when the aft hatch of the second hold slid open. Again. followed by the security detail. That. and close the hatches as you pass through. a security team would have been better. The job must be done. he turned." Wendell ginned. he ducked through the small opening and into the rearmost hold." "Very good. but their discipline is atrocious. Is that clear?" "Aye. Stay out of sight." The Captain moved carefully aft. +++ Near the diminishing pile of scientific equipment. Stabilizers on the shuttle dampened most of the turbulence of atmospheric travel. and stay low. head to the mountains using the third river south of the village. sat at the edge of the hold leaning against the bulkheads or lay on the floor. I saw us scanned at two hundred when we came in. surrounded with packs and assault gear. stood at attention.
" "Tuesday. then learned the language of the marnmen. We will follow them. sometimes completely covering the short plants that comprised the ground cover. but the sources of the sounds were hidden in the dense growth. My wide range of learning helps make my job easier. half rotten." Wendell explained. where's our stuff?" he cried. was the clear sky showing through the dark green leaves." "Tuesday. you--." "Marnmen?" "Those who live in the sea. Dead branches and leaves littered the sandy soil.Brevor took a long moment to slowly spin around and study the forest surrounding him. as I remember. "you are a chemist." "Don't let her fool you. A dead tree. and knew them to be safe. The original settlers." Definitely information for Estelle and not him. an undercurrent to the rustles and calls of animals and the buzzes of insects. grew close by the trail. "The name of the person who organized the escape and brought the Originals here. Several dead trees stood in the distance. Lady Wells. however. She did study ancient and natural foods as a hobby." Wendell continued. Come. a source of color that drew Brevor's attention." "Tonylobons?" Estelle questioned as the group walked between two of the large trees and entered the path at the edge of the clearing. When he looked at the group he was part of again. If she knew what they were. none of the villagers or the equipment was in sight. "On its way to the storage building. Tuesday Wells reached toward the bush to pluck the berries. please. "They are highly poisonous. or possibly just wishful thinking brought on by the smell. You are the first off world visitors to Tonylobons. handle your things gently. "Do not touch those berries. The waves of the distant ocean could barely be heard. leaned against a neighbor. A thorny bush covered with bright red-violet clumps of berries. they had flown over it. the direction the breeze came from and the direction the shuttle had headed when it left. He knew the ocean was just east of them. My people will treat you kindly. and with what appeared to be moss growing on it. or she . and my hobby is studying ancient foods." the leader of the village answered calmly. but I also have Masters in biology." In a singsong voice she answered. "She's the best. "Hey. You will meet them later. my Doctorate is in chemical analysis to be precise. and bacteriology. They named it. Trills and harsh cries occasionally echoed from various directions. "Actually. The only visible blue." Wendell sharply warned her. Deciduous trees enclosed the small clearing." Estelle Goldman told Wendell. much like walking along a green speckled tunnel. and that they called this world the Living Planet. plus a background in physics and marine biology. casting shadows over the scattered bushes and saplings. geology. his voice resonating in the stillness among the trees. "Do not worry. a cleaner smell than he had found on more industrialized planets. I've become one of the better Chemical Analysts in the Federation. A smell of the dissolved ocean minerals and decaying organic matter hung in the air. then possibly they would be good. our first guests. botany. "Our name for the planet. Brevor thought as he followed Wendell and the others along a path that passed under a thick canopy of leaves.
its size. "There is that. We wouldn't have as much dissent. "You needn't get so upset. or usually twice or thrice.wouldn't be here. We'll find the metallurgical scan matches that of Sol 3. "She didn't use a replicator? Buy them in a store?" No one did that any more. "What Tuesday said is entirely true. They're what my grandmother called raspberries. Tuesday answered after a moment. A wounded animal does not run far. however. They tasted so good." He soothed and moved to the back of the group. I should have seen that evolu--" "Minor! Superficial!" Brevor pushed his way forward and asked." "Unless you eat it. and I used to help her." "It always does. she was touchy. and can lead to disaster. Estelle. Maybe she should become a colonist." Brevor gulped. Once in a while. For instance. but not a lot. She was a very happy lady. And she enjoyed herself." Brevor said as he pointed to more of the berries." Spirit. pigmentation means nothing. "On some planets one or more elements are missing. In fact. The berries are delicious." ." Brevor argued. and can be cooked in pies or made into a jelly. Possibly there will be more of the higher order elements. That something looks the same but is different is like pigmentation in humans. Chlorophyll is the same on both planets. That minor changes in form or function occurred should be a logical conclusion anyone could make. "I am not sure if I am familiar with jelly. He was about to pick some of those berries himself. "How can you say that any change is minor or superficial when it means life in one place and death in another?" "But it is. More people should live that way. "That is something you will have to take up with your guide. The subtle differences mean so much. Basically. No big deal. "I understand how your broad learning would help you." "She actually made them?" Brevor asked incredulously. He speculated it had something to do with her bright red hair." Estelle conceded. satisfied with her life as she led it." "Those I don't need a book to know." Wendell told Tuesday. She was an old-fashioned lady who enjoyed doing what she could in a primitive manner. But what I was saying is that the two planets are alike in their basics. "Not so. Brevor thought." Wendell nodded at Estelle. "but that's what makes anthropology so fascinating. I'd pop one in my mouth while we were picking them and savor the flavor. To Tuesday he said. its orbit. I recognized them from when I was growing up. Superficial differences." The sensual blonde corrected. made evolution here similar to that of the home world and the world where my Grandmother lived. My grandmother used to do that. Brevor. like pick the berries and bake them in pies. Those berries? Our hunters use the juice from those berries to coat their arrows. It was so primitive. in the wing for mental disorders. the two planets are the same. just doing that could put you in an asylum or jail. "Apparently the factors of this planet. what do you think those plants are? The ones you were about to pick. I would bet the periodic table would look the same on both worlds. or his wife. "What's wrong with that?" Tuesday shot back. usually in the high order metals. may not be obvious. "She knew how and had what she needed. You might be interested in learning about our plant life." a sultry voice behind him countered.
She had thought of this adventure as a prolonged camping trip to gather the energy to pack and reach the port on time. Now she was hiking under so many trees there seemed to be a roof above her head. but it may place us on a positive footing if you informed us of any other taboos. Never had a completely new culture appeared. that the students she used for fieldwork did not understand the importance of the senses. with a few houses and other buildings closer to the top. behind the store and storage house. of people. She would have to talk to Brevor about that. and of animals. turned to the newcomers. As the scientists following Wendell turned onto a well-used path wide enough to be a road. She decided that a change was necessary. items we should not touch." . influence her findings for the rest of her life. The insights she would gather would stay with her. without stores or theaters or civilization of any kind. How could people live in a forest like this." "I plan to do that. is the building where your equipment is. about the engineering. a grass covered square with a large pile of wood in one corner. see if any of the materials used were new. they could hear the sound of children playing unmuted by the noise of traffic. the path opened onto a group of buildings laid out in an orderly manner. Wendell. and announced." +++ So many trees. As she dictated notes into her recorder. and it was time to wake it up. rules you grew up with but we would not know as visitors. actions we should not take. Each guide is the apprentice in the field closest to yours. a central square found in many cities. to experience life as so many of the cultures she studied had lived. It is the sight of our feasts and ceremonies. Warehouses stood near the bottom of the low hill on the side toward the farms inland. "I do not mean to offend. The smells of cooking. It would be dreadfully embarrassing if one of our party should cause offense because of our ignorance of your ways. he said. places we should not go. Estelle usually dug through databanks and books to gather previous findings of the civilizations she studied. and not go crazy? She was about to experience the same conditions found in ancient times. the buildings coated with some kind of rock substance. "This is the square. a path that curved along the side of a small hill. Over there. all intertwined into one unique odor. Come with me. that her science had fallen asleep. It will be safe there from any predators or weather. his words clipped into neat verbal packages." Wendell explained. even the cities from the earliest civilizations on Sol 3. but later. This building should also be used as the work area. such as the one to honor your arrival that will be held tonight." Nathan DuPont interrupted. Wendell stopped at the edge of the open area. "We are nearing the village of Seaside now. and that through the years she had missed important information that she could not recover. could be distinguished from the rotting salt smell of the forest by the sea. and they have all learned your language."Excuse me. I will have your guides meet you there. with students operating the cameras. Estelle realized that some information would not show on videos. We will go directly to the building where your equipment is being stored. Near the top of the hill several large buildings looked out on a place that Estelle thought needed a statue. Speaking precisely. one that required her presence in the field. or actually your guides will do that. Video supplied any necessary missing facts or nuances.
"Right now you could help us by identifying what is yours and how we should place it in your area. The small company drew near the long building made of something that looked like hard mud. crude. and they will pass the instructions on to those who help.They would hold a celebration for the visitors' arrival? This society must use any excuse to let loose. she had other priorities. Wendell explained. or a special way to handle something. she heard people shouting and moving objects. with windows protected by a glass like substance. Casual nudity was not an indicator of a repressed society. the lean young man Wendell had spoken to loped unnoticed out the door." Wendell called as he went to talk to a young man off to the side. As the group entered the muted madhouse. Therefore. have him keep his eyes open. "Friend Aarmand. You must tell your guide if there are items that must not be touched. Estelle found her computers and library. She had seen several people in the crowd who were lacking clothes. As the visitors directed the setup of their equipment. For now. which suggested a life suppressed by social mores. and locals carefully moved the items to a large open area under the truss supported roof near several windows that supplied light. Rather the opposite. and a large opening at one end with a wooden door the size of the opening suspended from a slightly slanted wooden track. . Inside the building. pointed to the equipment. We will try to keep things orderly during your stay. but still glass and enough to keep the wind out and let light in. She studied the material that covered the windows and decided it was glass. wavy. She would have to talk to Brevor. and not quite clear. more sophisticated engineering than usually found in this type of colony. why the celebration? Possibly something in the history of this colony. something that talking to people would reveal. yet that could not be.
C'mon. and close the hatches as you pass through. "Gentlemen. looking expectantly at him. We do know it is near the river that the colonial village called Seaside is on. You will note your orders do not say to disassemble. He stood next to the forward viewscreen facing the squad. Stretch a bit and you'll be OK. Our scanners have not detected many details because of the density of the rock surrounding the caves. entered the cabin. The sergeant's voice reverberated out of the aft hold. and leaned his weapon within easy reach. Watch for turbulence. a tall. or destroy. While you locate said features you will find a weapon they have hidden somewhere near the cave system. flanked by the two security crewmembers. Let's go. waiting for orders. dropped his pack near one of the rear seats. sabotage. possibly naturally formed. "What's gonna be left for the creeps if your back kills you?" The Captain turned. He motioned the others to find places in the other rows. quit griping. Your job is to move north from the drop point. locate any scanners they may have operating. secure the hatch. The Captain ducked through the low opening and told the squad's leader. Morganthur. and peered inside. As you know." "Hey kid. Those objectives are to be located only. This should be a sizable . locate the main entrance and any back entrances. That means that they have explored these caves very well. Arms flailed and legs kicked as the men loosened tight muscles.Chapter 2 Captain Mussuclio palmed the inside access for the rearmost hold as the shuttle crossed from the land to the ocean. and. Last man out. ducked out of the hold." Lucas strode to the forward row of seats and turned to the back of the cabin. you are on a clandestine mission. You will have to hike the necessary distance using the mountains as your guide. a mission that concerns the safety of the entire Federation. the information to be used in the future. under the easternmost ridge of a range of mountains. bring your men forward to the passenger area. broad shouldered. "My back's killing me. "Leave him alone. guys. you heard the Captain. This weapon you will destroy. "Sergeant. as if he was addressing a large group of cadets. Five stiff men dropped their packs and weapons in the aisle by the passenger seats and stood cracking their necks and backs and shoulders. and return to the drop point for pick up. Toolkie. The Marines settled into their seats as Captain Mussuclio removed his jacket. Five marines sat along the walls or lay on the floor. cleared his throat. Sergeant Tucker. You are to reconnoiter a group of caves. but that is all we know for certain. "You will be dropped well out of range of any source of detection used by the colonists. the home of a community of locals. muscular man who looked like he would be more at home felling trees than herding a squad of marines. and strode across the forward hold. locate their source of power. We're all in the same shape." "It's about time. briefed them on their mission. waited for the door to slide open." a thin man with a nose that could serve as a bird's bill said." a young kid barely out of his teens complained.
" The Captain leaned back in his seat and thought about similar flights aboard the Glorious Moon. however. as large animals have been known to do. Ship has scanned several groups of colonists either hunting or patrolling. some of the plants may be poisonous. we're crossing over the shoreline." the Captain answered. "Rendezvous will be thirty days from the time we drop you off. palmed the forward door unlocked. You should be able to reconnoiter and return without being seen." the intercom announced. Keep in mind it will send a powerful beam at least 200 kilometers through the atmosphere. "Be right up. "Remember. Captain?" the pilot asked. I've passed the coordinates and course to the pilot. The shuttle plunged into narrow valley formed as the river wound through the foothills. and be careful. "Where do you want me to set down. Because of the rock surrounding the caves. and then followed the convolutions of the river as they headed inland. Even if they look familiar. I've noted the coordinates so the pilot can avoid their line of sight. +++ Talks-To-Many drifted at the edge of the hunting domain. but none of them could compare with the skill shown here." The navigator turned to his board and entered information into the computer. "This should not be as hard a mission as it sounds. There are several types of large animals on this planet. No one on the ground at this time knows that you are here. the vast tract of living- . they may attack. "Aye. stepped into the cockpit. Some of those may be dangerous.object of unknown description. If you don't make it to the rendezvous. minus four hours." The Captain handed the navigator a memory chip. Less than a minute had passed when he informed the Captain. or possibly the temporary nature of the instillation. The pilot's fingers danced on the keyboard and control panel as he constantly corrected their course to stay as low as possible." he ordered the pilot. "A couple of cautions. accessed by this narrow path. Yet the true test of the pilot's skill was still to come. Therefore. The pilot crossed a thin line of trees. To the Marines he said. The pilots he had aboard that vessel had been good. If they are hungry. we cannot locate it with the scanners. it is up to you to find this weapon. a green ocean forbidding them to settle. "There's a small depression just off the river. this is a nonexistent mission." "Captain. Sir. "Sir. The pilot swung sharply to a new heading ninety degrees starboard and in one minute was through the only opening visible and over the clearing. do not eat them. He sat in the acceleration chair directly behind the pilot and watched as they skimmed the treetops. Three kilometers west the clearing. Shortly the mountains appeared in the distance. Either way there will be no second chance. They had made the slow arc to the south. An unbroken sea of treetops surrounded them." Captain Mussuclio retrieved his uniform jacket. this location. for a good reason. You have only the one radio. Also. and palmed the door locked again. we'll have to assume you are captured or deceased." "Very good. all within a day of the caves. Good luck. "Tell our passengers to buckle up. a receiver only.
and the size and flexibility of his flat tail. drawing out all urgency. Could this be the object those to the north. but those of the other sentient species also. he would sit with a troubled individual and help them understand the nudges given by the Creator of All. +++ Swims-Between approached the living area of Talks-To-Many. a light show put on by the source of sight and life as it sank toward its sleeping place on the ancient land. This was his contribution to the whole. a tenthlight's leisurely swim from his community in the direction of the source of sight and life's waking. Shortly his favorite food. like most of his species. where Talks-To- . His long snout. Those of his community knew that others swam much faster. While performing his duties he sometimes brought news from far away. and would help a creature in need if it was at all possible. pausing after delivering the message to help the recipient fit the news into their life and understand the will of the Creator of All. This was his duty. Talks-To-Many. alone with his thoughts as he cleared his mind for the coming hunt.water that lay opposite where the water that tastes strange met the living-water. protected from the thoughts and emotions of his friends by rock and sand. A shape passed above him. supporting him with gentleness greater than the small viscous creatures he collected for his sleeping area. an area far from the hub of the marnmen's community. He focused on the coming hunt. and cooled his body. those who dealt with creatures who lived on the ancient land. but Talks-To-Many could nearly keep pace for a short distance. not only those of his species. He ignored the sparkles of light that danced on the wave tops. A freshening breeze kissed his dorsal fins. pink in color. to sort the messages that traveled along the lines of thought. His long sleek body. the chase as his prey danced in all directions trying to evade the hunter. an unnatural object that few toward the ancient land. More spiritual than most. resting within sight of others of his settlement whose positions were marked by occasional breath-fountains in the distance. He meditated. and the multiple rows of sharp teeth showed the carnivorous nature of his species. He floated on the gently rolling surface. suggested the speed he could maintain for a short time. could it be what they had said may pass? Talk-to-Many concentrated and sent what he had seen to his counterpart in that community. his reason to exist. A bed of small-shelled creatures. would rise. riding the vertical circles of the gentle swell. one who only killed in order to eat. He also passed messages to others in communities far away. binocular vision. that the fastest was Voyages-Between. at peace with the All. The living-water caressed him. and then disappeared above the trees leaving a swirling wake of leaves. He relaxed as he waited for hunting time. the small multi-tentacled creatures that spent the light times feeding in the dusk of the deeper waters and the dark times swimming near the surface. and the ultimate capture and consumption. streamlined for ease of travel through the living-water. was a gentle being. an object of metal that traveled close to the living-waters and the ancient land. for the feeding that would last until well after the source of light and life slept. tickled his skin. His stillness as he waited for the hunt showed his patience. His understanding of the spiritual realm was a necessary part of his duties. rocking him with a soft circular motion. news that could affect all those who dwelled in the living-waters.
"I will go to Gives-Direction with the information you have given me and he will direct me to the proper snout for the swift swimming of the message to Gives-DirectionTo-Those-Who-Dwell-In-The-Air-Of-Life. He sprinted for the center of the community's hub. stamina. speed that. the chance to show off his strength. It foretells great danger. slowly rising above the living-waters. I have need of your skills of rapid swimming and accurate reporting. and low rumbles." "Gives-Direction-To-Those-Who-Dwell-In-The-Air-Of-Life told us that the machine that swims in the air of life was to travel a line that is straight and true. was unoccupied. "Yes. it is time for you to tell GivesDirection what our watching has shown so he may have the message passed on.Many slept. Thank you for your trust. He made several shallow breath jumps and pushed harder toward the community where his way became more crowded." Swims-Between's whole body quivered with anticipation. clicks. powerful thrusts of his tail propelling him toward the area ." The formalities complete. When Talks-To-Many noticed Swims-Between waiting below. staying near the living-water's surface. I have just received information that may be vitally important to them. or not. for it was possible that the machine would turn and head back to the ancient land on either the warm or the cold side. We were to watch and tell them whether this happened. Swims-Between eased around a prominence of living wall that broke through the surface of the living-waters and shielded the work area of Talks-To-Many from the jumbled thoughts and images of the community's hub. only he could attain. "You sent for me?" Swims-Between asked in their language of high squeaks. This would not bode well for those who dwell on the ancient land. he waved a fingered flipper to signal he would descend in a moment. out of all the creatures in the living-water. and skill. joined shortly by Swims-Between at finger holds meant for snout-to-snout conversations. This is what he lived for. This is not what those who travel the star-seas were supposed to do. set aside for conversing with friends. A message must be relayed to the dwellers of the air of life who are our friends. He sounded the whistle of warning to clear his way as he sprinted through the growing crowds of the hub. Talks-To-Many needed the psychic quiet in order to gather the thoughts from other communities. as we had been warned. When he had swum far enough that the turbulence would not damage the living area of Talks-to-Many. A hunter from the warm reefs has seen the machine that swims through the air of life traveling back to the ancient land at a good speed. Talks-To-Many slowly dropped toward the conversation area. or our communities." "I float ready to serve. The dwellers on the ancient land must be told that the machine that swims through the air of life did not follow the direct line that is straight and true. Now that I have told you what has happened. Swims-Between saw Talks-To-Many floating near the surface. as was a larger area of yellow living wall that grew flat to the floor. the excitement. Swims-Between took the opportunity to rise to the surface for a breath of the air of life and waited patiently until his friend was ready. the place where the first GivesDirection had chosen to work. Swims-Between slowly left the working area of Talks-ToMany with gentle thrusts from his powerful tail. Talks-To-Many replied. he began to build up tremendous speed. He foresaw swimming at emergency speed with messages that would form a plan to wipe out an enemy.
or not. wise in the eyes and wearing a ring of yellow rock on his forehead. away from the crowds. A short time later Guards-The-Message-Entrance reappeared with an older marnman. or that the living-waters become dead. It is war for our friends who dwell in the air of life. Possibly these people from the starseas will try to destroy all life. One of the four broke away and advanced toward him. his pectoral fins steering him around groups of conversing marnmen. which directly affects our own people. Finally. "GivesDirection is in Public Audience at this time. and told him.in the center of the hub where Gives-Direction lived. Short jumps through the air of life replenished the oxygen his muscles used as he grew close to the community's center. I will escort you to his private council area. You can wait there while I bring him to you. he grew closed to where Gives-Direction ruled. the place where Gives-Direction could live and work in relative safety. This message may decide whether we have friends to trade with. I come to seek direction. The main entrance crowd was thick with those who had questions." A slight movement of his head to the side ordered the guard to start his rounds." he said slowly. "but not for our people. came into sight. "that you have news of great importance for our friends. waited outside the entrance while Swims-Between approached. Guards-The-Message-Entrance led Swims-Between to the center of the area." Swims-Between told the guard. lines of time on his body and three gray streaks on his chin. "Swims-Between. The traditional entrance used by messengers to the side. I come from Talks-To-Many with a message of vital importance to those who dwell in the air of life. Therefore. Four marnmen. The acoustics formed from the echoes deadened any sound that originated in the center of the area before it could cross the boundary markers and out to the public. the private council area had living wall formations growing in and around it. Guards-The-Message-Entrance will patrol and protect our privacy. I can only hope we do not become involved." Guards-The-Message-Entrance answered. needle-like teeth showing and holding clubs of death and sharpened thrusters in their fingered fins. An area carpeted with blue green sea plants. following passages that led toward the government area. "Now tell me what you have been told." . approached Swims-Between. Guards-The-Message-Entrance. I heard your whistle of warning and wanted to know what was of such importance that you would carry all the speed you could. "I have been told. and possibly for us." Guards-The-Message-Entrance said. Guards-TheMessage-Entrance rose over their heads and began to circle in an ever-widening pattern." The two quickly entered the complex and followed a convoluted course around sleeping and working areas. as you who know me well should realize. "Wait here until I return with Gives-Direction. clearing a few servants working nearby." "It is war. "Hold!" the sentry ordered. The old ruler. Swims-Between." then moved off into unseen areas of the open complex. Not yet. even in the community. I wondered if it might be war." "Then this is a serious matter indeed. "This is no pilgrimage. why do you come with your whistle of warning? Of what importance to Gives-Direction is this pilgrimage?" Swims-Between floated calmly in front of the threatening guard. "Yes I know you.
They must be informed quickly. Friendship between the two communities grew over time to the point where neither group felt they could do without the others. learned to communicate with them. Be sure no one stops him for any reason. my friend. is a certainty. Do not take the time to pass the message on in the usual way. "Yes. The fears and predictions handed down for five centuries became reality when the . The small amount of time wasted will not matter that much. Vitally important. A loose form of government grew over the years. "This is a grave situation. Now. The colonists had found the native sentient beings who lived in the water." the ruler told the guard. as a whole. Now we will rise to Guards-TheMessage-Entrance so he may hear the rest of my instructions. Anything pertaining to this situation is to come directly to me. You have given good direction. Have him translate only the answers. on to their children. go to the talking shallows. to share freely everything they had. When all three had drawn breath." Guards-The-Message-Entrance carefully followed the approved corridors as he swam back to his post to dispatch one of the lesser marnmen to straighten out any differences. until the community. in reality a non-government that organized and suggested rather than led.Swims-Between repeated his conversation with Talks-To-Many. Respect no privacy. That those who swim in the air of life along the water that tastes strange will be approached. to live and work together. when the political prisoners from the Federation who managed their escape using Federation resources landed on Tonylobons. Go! Wait! We must not cause panic. They learned to ignore individual differences. and what future they feared. There you will find Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. Swim a dead straight line to the talking shallows. Gives-Direction said. "Swims-Between. Respect no rights. go!" The old ruler watched as Swims-Between's powerful muscles propelled him swiftly on his way. You are to use all speed to deliver your message. was one family. The old marnman said. They started to trade metals and minerals extracted from the water and plants grown in the shallows of the ocean for tools and containers the ocean dwellers had not possessed before. with all available speed. A companionship and love for each other also grew." The marnman swimming patrol drew close as the two rose toward the surface. as always. my leader. Go with as much speed as possible. hear these instructions. That this thing swam past the line that divides the living-water from the ancient land at a good speed and far away indicates our friends themselves will not be affected at this time. +++ Five hundred years before. if not attacked. "Follow him. and to pass what they knew and learned." "I agree that this is a matter of grave importance. a mutual dependence and respect that forced feelings for all beyond the bounds of friendship. which is what those instructions would do. and found they had their own civilization that had grown for thousands of years. "You must. they worked together to build a community that could sustain itself. but obey all conventions. that is important. Use the emergency war whistle. Your clearances will follow.
" Wendell announced. was a few large community buildings laid out around a central square used for ceremonies and social gatherings. "The coating you use. barely out of his teens if that. "I've never heard of anything or anyone like that. I think it's on the outside of this building. And there are plants that look like your Grandmother's food." Halbrack answered. I have many questions. Healer. "Estelle Goldman. "They trade with us. All the technology was new to the village leader." Estelle turned toward the native as Wendell eased back toward the main entrance. a waste of resources and energy. all lived near the square in the buildings they used to store their supplies. with a face that did not see many frowns. Um. Head Messenger. A lanky young man with a large pouch hanging from his shoulder strolled in and approached the village leader. easily accessible by the outlying villagers who lived near their farmland." "Yes. "Marnmen?" she repeated inquisitively. and a way to grow apart." "They are the people of the ocean." "Oh. Villagers carried equipment from a central repository to the four corners of the building. how we began. Wendell clasped arms with the newcomer. and how we grew. sounds like Estelle's field. meet Halbrack. what does it consist of?" . He can also tell you who can answer your questions if he can not. a long life power generator placed outside. and strode towards Wendell. he is the apprentice healer. Desks and computers seemingly grew from the wooden floor. "Tuesday Wells. Make sure he is with you at all times. paused to let his eyes adjust to the different light level." A man in his mid twenties. thin. and cables were run to electronic equipment. Dennis. looking for pirate bases of operation. Wendell. the four observers from the Federation. wandered through the large door. Dennis can explain our heritage. especially if you wish to leave the village. Tables and counters were erected. that is your name? Good. "Dennis is it? Good to meet you. but remembering the history of our community is one of his duties. He is the closest we have to what you would consider a chemist. were busy setting up their headquarters with the help of some of the villagers. may be a way for him to gain status over the other villages. There are some extremely dangerous creatures out among the trees. Explain the term please. That I have already learned. not finding what she wanted. and Leader." She looked around the room. He would have to study its uses through harvest. Estelle said. well built from years of work." Tuesday looked up from the distillation setup she was building. The Trader. and their strange ways. "this is your guide. newly arrived. What kind of materials are in use here. Thank you. "Halbrack. may have a use." Tuesday said absently. decide if there were possibilities for growth. stumbled onto their planet. but will poison you. Together they walked over to where the red headed chemist had set up shop. Officially. Chief Hunter. the first of the five communities on the land surface. hair that appeared bleached by the sun. and together they joined a statuesque blond where she was setting up a study area. In one of the storage buildings. however. Seaside. each area occupied by one of the Federation observers. who met the newcomer half way and clasped arms. What he could learn from these strangers. as you have already learned. He is studying our history as we remember and understand it under the Keeper of the Legends.Federation. Wendell leaned against the edge of the people door and watched the activity inside the building. an example. She saw a young man. He helps the marnmen process the metals and minerals we need.
They travel between here and Cliffside. "Brevor Schneider. or his plans would work out and he would be the one who saved the world from the invaders from space. Wendell cleared his throat. myself or you. "Teacher." The soft visitor and the muscular villager clasped arms in greeting. his people. Watch the run they use. apprentice." George replied steadily hiding his still quick breathing. "have I not told you that you can not do your best if you are short of breath? Wait with me here. Now it was up to his people to keep it. That in itself is a highly useful skill. Your charge is very experienced in the ways of what they call diplomacy. a seaweed we. the sentient species already on the planet and allowed the colonists to land. or ignored. is it not? Good. had built up what they had today. "Now for you. and continued. Remember. "What is it I am supposed to do?" "You will know presently." he gasped."It is mud." Wendell admonished s he clasped arms. You do remember your instructions. "I came as fast as I could." To the newcomer he said. he wondered what would happen over the next few days. they have a source of power that is beyond the turbines of Cliffside. the Leader of both Cliffside and of all the people. watch and learn. including their lives. we get in trade with the marnmen. that is the correct pronunciation. then escalated into a do or die situation. sometimes within a day and a half." Wendell watched the scientists as they continued to set up their areas. George. We mix the two together. the mud and the seaweed. While he observed the quiet activity. If either of us. it forms a much harder substance than either of the two alone. Having the marnmen as a sentient species was just luck stemming from the first colonists. that is the word. No longer would he be relegated to this tiny village. For some reason the ship's computer either did not recognize." "I will remember. dark straight hair flowing out behind. will not get you where you need to go on time and in a condition to quickly alleviate the problem. "an extract. He's in training as our head builder. "Anderson. and brought a new form of power to his world. Just keep your ears and . A series of manufactured mistakes had enabled a group of intelligent people to colonize at government expense. with the help of the marnmen. To do this you must meet your visitor. he would wind up more respected than Headmon Halford. but we will just have to live with it. mishandle this--well. Look at Aarmand and the other runners." Wendell answered as another man strolled up to them and clasped arms. "In the mean time. so I'm sure you will both learn a lot from each other. A young man sprinted up to Wendell. teacher. If we do well. The head of the village said." "George. I'll let you imagine the ending. This is possibly the most immense problem either of us are ever to encounter. Wendell and George walked off together. It would not be good. Either his people would lose everything. Good. I would like you to meet Anderson. then we both will be heroes and set for life. Try to discover how it works and if we can use it without outside help. we. and as it dries. how it will eat distance with a minimum of effort. Come with me. You can probably learn new ways of dealing with others from him. mixed with an." The three men walked to the rear of the storage building. This had started as a holding pattern at best. Over the last five hundred plus years. snapped his fingers. or a steady jog that your body can easily handle. I was hoping it would be otherwise." Halbrack thought for a moment. there is rarely so much hurry that a fast walk.
rather than try to attack us at this time. "Yes. It would seem to me that the term for an apprentice in the arts could suffice." Wendell gripped arms with the Ambassador. but he lacks experience. Wendell continued. He would be called an understudy. They know Cliffside is the principle site of our territorial government. may I have the pleasure of introducing George. toward the warm waters they said. "Ambassador DuPont. He is my assistant. "I agree. "Unfortunately. as it refers to one helped rather than taught." "Interesting. and not accomplished in his own rights. Apprentice is more for the trades. there's the weapon they'd be interested in. Nor is protégé for that matter." the Ambassador replied with a slight bow toward George. The two walked over to where Ambassador Nathan Du Pont had set up his recorder and reader. "George is my understudy. He walked out of the storage building and headed for his house at the top of the square.eyes open and remember: your station is to learn. he is beyond being a student. They won't risk their people here. rather than someone who is still learning." Wendell replied. Also. apprentice is not the proper term. it describes someone who is second in command with his own ideas and ways. I need you to carry a message to Cliffside. the only equipment he had other than stacks of reference films. Wendell said respectfully. tell him that I believe they will try to locate and disable the weapon we showed. I learned that the marnmen told Bale that the flier that left here turned back and went ashore again. the hotter lands. "Now we must wait and see." "That would be enjoyable. When the Ambassador looked up from his study. He knows how to reach me if I am needed." "I see. Tell Headmon Halford all that you've been told. so may we hide things from them and their superiors." Wendell thought for a minute." "Yes. I am hoping you will teach him of the ways of others as he teaches you our ways. and from us. from myself. Now we meet the Ambassador. Showing that might have been a mistake. I believe you are correct. then his understudy. the side toward the rising sun. He knows how the government works to a degree. like Cliffside or the Woods. learning about the government of the village. and came to a decision. What is it?" "I contacted the guides as you told me. since he is still learning. one who could play the part. I counsel against that." Nathan replied thoughtfully. and that they will try to learn all they can about our power supply. but no more that we thought would happen. the language recordings that were left for us by Captain Mussuclio on his first visit did not include precise terms to describe what George is. so as their people hide things from them. "Then I leave you in his hands. Although deputy is the normal term. but is not considered a fully qualified professional. We do not need to show . "That's done. and others. Also. and left. I believe that term would be more appropriate than deputy. silently fell in beside him. the sinewy messenger." The Ambassador clasped arms with George in the proper planetary greeting. and in my opinion. He must know this immediately. He passed by where the feast was in preparation as Aarmand. These people do not appear to know about this second mission. then went to the speaking cliffs." Wendell's bass voice quietly boomed. And tell him also that I believe these visitors will want to explore other areas.
Sergeant Tucker quickly scanned the area. and the other. "Animal. He sat on his rock and looked out into the thick brush. Sarge. go east. "Then we do it the hard way. Animal answered. "Morganthur. It was going to be hot and humid. picked up his weapon. attached to high branches in the trees. with large packs held by two shoulder straps. stumps covered with thick green moss showed where trees had broken. wearing mottled green video camouflage coveralls. and silently disappeared into the brush." the sergeant called. head west. evil looking warrior dwarfed by his companion. The shirts were a material that should let perspiration out. the trunk alive with insects. Sanders. Toolkie. and ordered.them everything. but don't go farther than one thousand feet. He reflected that it was good they were inoculated against all the diseases known to man. his thoughts on the job ahead. canopied by tall trees with thick trunks and wide spread crowns that let little light reach the ground. "We can make it. Now go. especially in jungle areas like these. for the available government insect repellent almost never worked. Thick brush surrounded them. "Hey. "make sure that Toolkie's ready to go. . slipped between stalks of grass taller than the giant. it would be the only dire message he would send. Did I ever tell you about the time--?" The sergeant finished checking his gear. and that is by their own rules. A glance around the area revealed two men who lounged back against their packs. eased over to the sergeant. or do we burn?" Used to powering through obstacles. Sanders." He watched as the young man loped off with the easy stride that would eat distance quickly that all runners learned with time. Sergeant Tucker sat on the rock as he again checked his equipment. Dead leaves and debris on the forest floor slowly decayed. weather to expect a storm." the thin veteran cheerfully answered. almost reached the ground. but not let rain or wind in. weapons in hand. "No path." The sergeant shouldered his pack. Today would be a good test whether or not the material lived up to specs. one a small giant who looked as if he had been training for power lifting." "Sure thing. Sergeant Tucker slapped it dead and hoped it did not carry any diseases grown in the primitive jungle. waited at the edge of the clearing as the shuttle rose above the trees and quietly shot out of sight. +++ Five men. Hopefully. An insect landed on his arm in the center of one of his tattoos. A lone rock jutted up from the ground near one stump as if it had dropped directly on target. "Animal. a weasel faced. Try to find us a path. here." the sergeant informed them." the sergeant barked. Animal silently slipped into the clearing and walked to the rock. The two men. adding mustiness to the air. "Animal. is it passable." Sanders informed them where he materialized on his side of the clearing. Vines more than one hundred fifty feet long. "Nothing. the remains of a tree lay on the ground as if pushed over by a giant's hand. He hoped their clothes held to the standards in the manual. and holding various weapons. Along the edge of the clearing. Move!" The two marines." he grunted at the sergeant. Near each stump. relaxed since the next time they could take a break could be hours distant. "Animal.
The linked caverns became a good-sized town.point. The lithe hard bodied man ran through the corridors from the third level of the upper reaches calling. just starting the road of adulthood. If we can get by safely. Head due west until you reach the mountains. Watch for strange creatures. "Headmon!" He dashed into a chamber in the rock. and his friend. And take Toolkie with you. "I bring news from Taggart. with areas for all the different functions that surface communities found necessary. would have a hard time gaining access from the valley below. I wish to talk to him myself. "Come. and further along the growing river a dam supplied force to turbines that supplied electric power." The old man looked up at the messenger and. with a young family. +++ Inland from the ocean approximately one hundred kilometers. Close by the river. the ridges stretched over one thousand miles along fault lines that flowed roughly north and south. Over the years. tilii. Several openings had been located that led to a high valley and hidden. "I know who Taggart is. Even the smallest could be poisonous enough to kill you. we will have to depend on him someday. He was looking at a chart and making symbols on another piece of paper. so skilled that when Lanford. a small room naturally formed. which is how I came to be there. his beard still scraggly. We may. oh tilii. He said the only thing it could have done is to turn back. Move out!" "Hey. no anachronism. asked. A narrow path along a bare face on the forested versant was the only obvious entrance to the caves from the wooded mountainside. Now we go. Headmon. "And a very good hunter. mean?" "It anagram. Jamson might fill his post. leave it alone. Near the continental divide. several springs combined to form a stream that flowed toward the edge of the continent. in a firm voice that belied his age. He said the flier that brought the visitors to Seaside did not go around the world to reach orbit as it at first appeared to do. Well. tectonic plates smashed together in the not too distant past as measured in geological terms. This way. or sentient enemies if there were any on the planet. Animal. Jamson. Show him the ropes while we're relatively safe." the Headmon said. If not." Jamson was a young man. We don't want any smoke to draw the enemy. a group of interconnected caves formed in the rock. it's going to be a long trip. Rising in places more than half a mile above the lowland. More streams from springs and snowmelt joined to form a small river meandering around the ridgelines flowing toward the ocean. He's the one who tracks the sky. one within three meters of the stream. too. it how you pronounce the initials for tell-itlike-it-is. He asked me to deliver the message. Otherwise. where an older gray haired man sat before a small fire. no. I may want to send you on a mission. Animals. If we're lucky." he gasped. but he was already an extremely skilled hunter. I am only a hunter. the Lead Hunter. Chop if you have to. forming lines of mountains. "What's that word. Animal. "Headmon Halford. how is it that he knows?" The younger man answered excitedly." the fresh recruit said quietly. we'll pick up on something going our way. just a wife and one very young child. "I'm not sure. died. Do not burn the vegetation. in a shallow valley." . We will both go to Taggart. the humans had rerouted a small portion of the stream into the cave system. burn the mother. And tell me.
Headmon Halford." "Well. I understand the general workings. I can not track over the horizon. "You must make your observations. A middle-aged man hunched over a table near one of the alcoves. Each time it circled. and some of those alcoves had equipment placed in them. I thought my figures were at fault. That's where I lost it. light from a room with several windows to the outside. Jamson at his heels silently urging him on. the early residents carved a small room into the soft rock by. Almost all the field workers have finished the midday meals and are back to work. and into the main chamber of the cave. when they came back in sight. Halford stood behind the pudgy observer who acknowledged Halford's presence with an upheld hand. After a short wait. The two men walked from the room. I checked them three times. to stairs carved in the wall to the left that led to a naturally rising corridor. Light of a yellow-white hue glowed at the far end. The flier was not where it should have been. They followed another long corridor that gently rose towards the surface. the point shifting slightly each rotation. They approached the room slowly giving their eyes time to adjust to the brightness from small patches of light that burned on the room's floor. circular lines. a table that held a flat piece of wood marked with evenly spaced." Halford answered." Halford unhurriedly continued on his way. Can you explain this?" "Sure. Through the center of the wood a dowel slowly rotated. the man relaxed and turned his head to the newcomer. yes. who gripped the wrist and hauled the old man to his feet. near the top of the caves. "You're sure that it didn't just slow down along . At the time. "You've explained them before." "That is good news. I did not know it was you or I would not have made you wait.Halford held his hand out to the younger man. There are no fires to be seen. A man stood near one of the windows and watched the land outside. the reed would bend and tap. but they were almost five minutes late. No problem. all is quiet. the dowel topped with a thin splint that held a reed. "How goes it?" he asked the watcher. "Inform Chief Hunter Lanford of their movements. Headmon Halford sedately moved to an opening at the rear of the large cavern that led farther under the mountain. they were on the track I had calculated. Please continue with your explanation. Now. which in turn led to a large storeroom. which circled over the piece of wood." the old leader replied. I just had Jamson run into my chambers in a highly agitated state telling some tale about how you found the visitors did not do what they were supposed to do. "Oh. Continue on with your watch. unless they turn toward Seaside. Jamson followed impatiently through the room of the weavers where several women made cloth." the old leader said almost impatiently. You do understand that I can only follow things when they are in sight of the tracker. Off to one side. The sentinel recognized the headman's voice. The walls had several layers of alcoves dug out. The two passed through the room into another gently rising corridor that doubled back toward the face of the mountain. through a narrow corridor that connected the small meeting area with the rest of the cave village. "Headmon Halford. Without taking his eyes off the landscape he respectfully said." "It is nothing. Several rumblers are slowly moving closer and should be close enough for hunting in two days. I tracked the flier out over the horizon on this tracker. carefully noting everything that happened." "Yes. Halford paused." Halford thought for a couple minutes.
"So be it. I think there are people either north or south of us somewhere that have instructions to do us harm of some nature. Where would be the closest they could have landed?" "Two. then I would not have heard them. Good work. "Taggart. but it's all I've got. Headmon. I will take precautions." "That's to be expected. I know you just have my word." Halford said." ." Jamson hurriedly left the tracking room. no. "They might also not want to take the chance we can find them when they send a message. Radio communications are line of sight. If someone was sent down here." "Taggart. They stayed out of my line of sight. I don't know why. the main ship can scan the planet very well. make it three or four days away." the Headmon addressed the tracker after the hunter left. I know it's not much." "Then it's only the difference in time that makes you suspicious. Still. but all I heard was early this morning when they were coming down. No. or whatever. If instructions were given after the vehicle flew over the horizon. That is why I ask every one to tell me their problems. You have given us excellent information in the past. "Somewhere over the horizon." Taggart conceded. I was hoping to hear some radio communications. Also. "Jamson.the way?" he asked. "That is possible. "but I cannot for the life of me think of any reason that they would. There's no way I could tell. They should have learned to compensate for any type of atmospheric disturbance by now. As to a more exact location. I surely would use it. you did exactly right." The tracker said passionately. I want to meet with Lanford in the number three guard room. but I can feel it. OK. now. I will remember this. better make it at dawn tomorrow. and I had a way of talking to them. OK. why no radio?" "Just in case we can detect the transmissions?" Taggart queried. Any closer and I would have tracked them. That is the closest they could be. "is there any way you would get an indication of where these people." the Headmon said." "Possible. Taggart. It's been doing so since it arrived. We need your skill. we can not take the chance. "Part of the agreement was no communication. Headmon. And keep the information coming. but I would not be surprised if visitors had some way of signaling the ship. I believe your hunters would be better able to tell you where they could land." "Then we cannot wait. I do not understand it though." He straightened and said firmly. I can feel it all the way into my bones! The discrepancy is there. Continue with what you are doing here. I just have that feeling. If I was to send out a group of hunters like that. to trust your judgment. If you say there is a possibility that there may be hunters from the flier coming this way. "I'd like to see a more positive indication of it. "Look. Over the years I have learned to trust you. They took five minutes longer than they should have." the leader said almost to himself. would have been placed?" "No. and they're going slow enough that they can get pictures without changing speed.
" "That I did. You got me. too. Still celebrate to last. "And it was all good. the gentle breeze stirring her long red hair that hung over her naked breasts. What was that drink you kept pushing at me?" The two laughed and walked down the dirt street. Ripples showed on the surface as schools of small fish fed on insects and surface plankton. "Whew! What a party. ask what we did not have. You ready to go? Today we visit craft houses where basket that hold water made. she sat near the ocean and considered the world around her.Chapter 3 Brevor Schneider clasped elbows with Anderson the morning of the engineer's second day on the planet. She had noted that at the celebration last night." Brevor laughed. I was backline. A muted roar of varying intensity sounded in the distance as breakers spent their fury on the coral reefs that protected the lagoon. She was thankful that many in this community thought nothing of showing skin. The well-built colonist joked. most people had arrived as partners. But that beyond cold season. It was rough. Did you have more fun? More food? I think some villagers eat too much during feast." He grinned as he chuckled." Brevor laughed. +++ Tuesday Watson lazed on the grass-covered cliff near the ocean. one of those who tried to plow through the blockers and tackle the Captain. they were really doing what I thought they were? No. What was it?" Anderson gave him a toothy grin. but I got pounded so much during a game I was sore for most of the following week. she enjoyed whenever she could. Brevor had eaten an unknown number of strange concoctions and watched as singles and pairs of people and groups all moved and enjoyed the company of friends." The evening before the village held a celebration for the visitors." Anderson patted the padded stomach of the visitor. Never had anything like that. and I was in better shape." "Game?" "Battle Ball. and table. You fill him up real fine." "OK. my head. Instead. a comfortable position although the origins of that name were forgotten. Feast days. Oh. Only special occasions. but with more food and much more touching. I don't want to know. we have fun. "You body not feel good. and chair. don't answer that. "That is not proper question. Her legs crossed lotus style. a means of attire. You eat more than anyone. and all thing. Last night we honor you visit. Let's go. "I don't know if I'm ready to start yet. Get all sleepy. much as what happened at a cocktail party in civilized society. but he feel just fine. I feel worse than the day after a game. You go first I think. "Those groups of people I saw. Brevor asked his guide. Some people had moved off into the dark to engage in the . That I did. physical. "Do you always spend your evenings that way?" "No. a feast that had lasted for hours. you lose some of that belly. You stay till time of hunger. Today I feel even worse." "OK. or lack of it.
"Remember there are more of those rays you mentioned. since a week before they . Or we could go to observe the metal worker. It was not a fish. In the same way. Halbrack reminded her. at least not for a year or so. possible sexual companions before they had arrived on planet. "There's no way I could learn the difference in tone and duration." She stretched and rolled in what she hoped was an enticing manner. Shaped like a dolphin of Sol 3. Her green eyes watched a near naked Halbrack as he lay on his stomach. Spirit. There are other things to check out. and it had a single sealable nostril centered just in front of its eyes. Halbrack would like other men. of course. This place is too much like paradise. Four flippers. and can answer questions in such a way that I can translate them. nor can any of us for that matter. Tuesday wondered how long it would take Estelle. lost in a sudden desire. she thought as she stared at the rugged face." Complete with living gods. With this almost god as a guide. and we only have thirty days. and yes. you wish to learn to understand marnman?" "No. but one of the supposedly sentient animals. Each could understand the language of the other after years of study. Apparently this society condoned casual sex. it had the natural shape of a fast swimming water dweller.extracurricular activities that she enjoyed so much. Its mouth extended more like a crocodile. go where they extract the metals from the ocean. that lived in the sea. "But for now I just feel like lazing in the sunshine. It had been too long since her body had relief. Maybe we could go sit under those trees over there. so the two species could communicate with a minimum of misunderstanding. She thought that was the word. and some left as double pairs. Some couples had split and left with others. Unless. no marnman could speak the language of the humans. It is obvious you cannot. The marnmen. His back muscles rippled in what Tuesday thought was a pleasantly interesting way as he gestured to a creature in the water. Halbrack. and clicks impossible for a human to master. with several rows of sharp teeth that angled past its lips. apparently had a sophisticated language of whistles. the original home of humanity and where she grew up." "The rays are called ultraviolet. which Halbrack answered in what sounded like an ancient variant of Federation trade language. his upper body leaning over the edge of a low cliff. I suppose we should go where you said. the ultra. and all were holding hands when they left. Skin more like rubbery leather than scales--it reminded Tuesday of the wet suit she had worn in school--covered its body. emitting squeaks and clicks as if talking. however. to compatriots and colleagues. I just hope I don't get sunburn. You did tell me to remind you. I don't think so." With her luck. I'd rather wait for now than miss something important because the information in the translation wasn't accurate." the red head answered with a lazy smile. for that is what the animals were called. "We have reached a point of indecision. We have to decide who can accurately describe what the process does. ultra violent. Take your time. to discover that fact. showed how it had reverted from a land animal. squeaks. broad shoulders. the Anthropologist. Halbrack turned to Tuesday and told her. the front two with four appendages like fingers. and huge biceps of her guide. she relegated Brevor and Estelle. What appeared to be a strange looking fish floated just below him in the calm waters of the lagoon. possibly to escape competition. That would be irony. either reptile or mammal.
not quite primitive. the distant cry of animals. a period without sex. the way his abdomen looked like a washboard. What was meant by your dances?" Dennis smiled. From time to time one of the women of the village. Now how could she finagle the situation? Halbrack turned back to the marnman. such as how a hunt went. In some civilizations. We happen to be between those two. She had played with females occasionally when the opportunities for male companionship were almost nil. and then rose from the cliff. Children played a running game at the edge of the forest behind the houses. It was a peaceful late summer scene. and his grace as he stood. discussed what she had seen the night before. Smoke rose from several chimneys where fires used for cooking burned. Or else the dance is highly involved and stylized. looked promising. the occasional crackle of a breaking branch. This male. dressed in anything from a flowing robe to nearly nothing. "We were having fun. as I have read in the teachings brought by the Originals. and several pipes that jutted out at evenly spaced locations. or an important happening. "I am not sure I know what you mean by that word. One of the pipes bent to enter the storehouse and the others were routed to the shadows under the tank where light blue flames showed at the ends. the myth. and the booming thud of a tree felled for use by the colonists echoed through the forest behind them. let me do this. a long tank had been mounted on wooden supports. She wanted him. A woman collected an armload of wood from the side of her house as they watched. What did it symbolize?" "Symbolize?" Dennis questioned." "Fun?" "Sure. At the edge of the village. much as it must have been on Sol 3 during the times before history. or cultures if you prefer. Very promising. +++ Rough bark scratched their backs and leaves gently rustled above their heads as Estelle Goldman and Dennis sat at the edge of the woods. This was an anthropologist's dream. The top had a large opening in one end with stains that ran in lines toward the ground below. Tuesday marveled at the size of his biceps. would look out a window or stand in a doorway and watch the play. As I understand. his strong strokes in her. but if the situation had merited no local contact then one of the former would have to do. But the dancing. "What was the story. however. which is about as close to reality as any other people's imagining. the--oh. his hard muscles over her. behind a storehouse at the end of a well-worn street. and Brevor was not her first pick for male companionship. or maybe having to put up with one of her colleagues. Estelle. "I understand the story you told me. with extremely difficult moves. blond hair as they walked across the village. that tell stories in dance. dances are a way of telling a story. spoke a few words. it is usually primitive cultures. cultures that are just starting out.had left for this assignment. Calls of birds and insects. She had prepared for a dry period. arms wrapped around pulled up knees. but we work too . their story of creation. She watched the ripples of Halbrack's back on either side of his long." The blond anthropologist paused. the pleasure he would give. as I have been taught. the marnman I think you said.
"Dennis! Dennis!" he shouted. Inside the house it was dark and hard to see. or to arrange a very temporary bonding." he told Estelle hurriedly as he stood and hung his bag from his shoulder in one motion. and a woman lying on a mat near a wall. Dennis turned to Estelle. "Do not try to read more into what we do than is already there. Estelle found she could make out a few of the words. Therefore. and mortared with the same material that was used to coat the outside. and the length of Dennis' strides. There should be a pot of water near the fireplace. At the sides of the hearth. she is in pain. A woman in the back of the crowd saw Dennis coming and cleared a path for him. to take a break from our labors. then spoke to her quietly in the colonist's language. Estelle was amazed at the young boy's speed. near the back wall." Estelle moved off toward the freestanding fireplace. we tell it. halfway between the front and the rear." Dennis smiled to take the bite out of what he said next. Above the fire grate were two hooks of different sizes. Between breaths Dennis explained. It is a way to relax when we get a chance.hard for the invention of such intricate dances. Estelle asked what had happened." Estelle told him. I do not know how badly. I am a healer. "Follow us. He began to pull on Dennis' arm and excitedly plead with him in the villager's language. were two supports where a spit or a rod to hold pots could hang. She saw a pot on the floor with water in a puddle nearby. As they followed the boy across the village. with a small box on the floor next to the piled wood. Constructed of stone. the skin an angry red from near her elbow to the tips of her fingers. Usually people will get much more involved with each other as they dance than they did last night. no more than eight." "If it is. Dancing is fun. Dennis motioned with his hand and called something in the village's language. it had hooks for cooking tools imbedded in its back and sides. I go. The look on her face and the tears in her eyes said she was in a great deal of pain." As they rounded the Community Center. Under the hooks. All I can get from the boy is that she is crying. Boil it. with no candles lit and only the glowing coals on one part of the hearth for light. was a pile of pots with handles for hanging or carrying. If something is done that has--. "One of the women burned herself. and a hole where a smaller . its open area pointed toward the middle of the house. It stood near one end of the room. I can restart it. allowing the inside to brighten significantly. Estelle's eyes adjusted as the available light grew. Dennis said her name. The crowd drew away from the door and windows. the dancing last night was mild. just as would a doctor. Actually. If we want to tell a story. and Dennis replied soothingly and ruffled his hair. Dennis spoke to him calmly. Tears had streaked the dirt on her cheeks. Natalie. The boy said something. "I was an Explorer when I was young. as if both the language of the colonists and hers had come from the same roots. Beyond that. Above the main hearth to one side was a smaller area used for baking. "I need you to boil some water. agitation growing as he pulled information from the cries and stutters of the youngster. they saw a crowd had gathered around the door and windows of one of the houses near the oceanside forest. Dennis and Estelle following. She held her left arm away from her body. gently pushing people aside while saying his name." A young boy. The boy ran between the buildings toward the square and another set of houses on the far side of the hill. a pile of wood leaned against the side of the fireplace. sprinted up to them. if the fire is not out.
Larger sticks and small branches established a good blaze. one for a wash." Shortly the boy burst into the room holding a leather pouch much smaller than the one Dennis carried with him. I will not forget again. When the flame began to strengthen. and fill the other bowl only a quarter of the way. We all learn. Holding some tinder in her fingers. and then cleaned the wet ashes from the hearth. "They will work. a few coals still burned at the side. but I am still learning. to which she added split logs. One of the women came in to help Estelle. "I need you to find three bowls. Dennis nodded. Estelle studied the boy as he sat watching Dennis sort through what he needed. Estelle built a cone of twigs and bark in the center of the hearth. Luckily. Estelle began to search through the bowls. I sent the boy for my burn herbs. half fill the tea and the wash bowl. . she carefully slid the tinder onto the bark under the cone of sticks and gently blew on the flame until the cone ignited. "Looks like he wants to be a healer. then told Estelle. I will repack tonight and carry everything with me from now on. but not what I need." Estelle observed. A gentle breath blown on the coals supplied enough oxygen so the coals would give more heat. and then crossed to where the woman lay. bringing whispers of approval from the crowd outside. "OK. and another to mix a poultice." Dennis continued to stroke the injured woman's forehead. which started the needles and twigs in her fingers burning.hook had been. she said. Dennis spoke to the boy gently." He opened the pouch as he spoke quietly to the woman. and one from the bottom. she found some dry tinder she could use. and then said something to the boy sitting beside him. Estelle pushed them out of the way. Estelle smiled at the boy. Water that had splashed when the pot fell had extinguished most of the fire. one for a tea. When the fire was going again. Dennis told Estelle. the fire's started. for the fire caught the first time. She then carefully slid a small piece of bark into the bottom of the cone of twigs and small sticks. who ran out of the house. The anthropologist glanced at the pots. she carefully touched the twigs and dry needles to the live coals at the side of the hearth." The boy handed Estelle a half gourd attached to a wooden handle she could use to move the heated water into the bowls. I do have a few medicines in it." The colonist hurried in the door and hung the pot on one of the large hooks. and saw the hook in the wet ashes. I should have had them with me. "If you don't have your herbs. Luck was with her. They seemed to be about the right size. All we need is the water. While she waited. The washbowl should be fairly large. The boy reached in and drew two out of the middle of the pile. so it is up to me to do the healing. That was easier than using two sticks like we had to at camp. While the woman took a medium sized pot to fill with water. "My teacher is at Cliffside. just as she used to do on campouts when she was becoming a teen. Estelle asked. When the water boils. what is in that bag?" "That is my collecting bag. Tell me when the water steams. and here it is. In a box next to the firewood. The boy's eyes followed each of the small pouches Dennis removed from the bag. "Will these do?" she asked Dennis. worn smooth with use. your medicines.
Especially the Yellow Shrub Mix. and said. I wish everyone could have some in their house. I will tell you what I am going to do. "Her family will eat next door. A lot of plants are like that. I did not make the connection. Pour some in each of the bowls like I said earlier. and then use that. If it is not cooked. Finally. and then handed him a pestle to grind the mix into the water. Purple Flowered Rosette that is used to cool the burn. and the bark of the Drooping Tree to alleviate pain. some of this Green Flower Bush that the boy just brought. I learned that when I was a kid. Burns do not get bandages. "This is his mother. that would hurt like anything. That is gently spread on the burn to promote healing." He poured the final mix into the last full bowl. is put in. "I am going to make a tea of these leaves. so she will not be allowed to work. She will feel better about ten minutes after that. That will contain Orange Flower. so he feels responsible for her. How is the water?" Estelle stopped dripping cold water from a cloth on the burns. looked at the pot over the fire. His Father is out with the hunters. I would anyway. He poured another mix into the large bowl. And the Spiny Mad Apple has to be in a weak tea." He asked a question of the other woman and received a oneword answer. The thing is. You have to know what you are doing. It would save some burns from getting worse." Using the gourd. she could easily be poisoned. One helps the burn keep from getting infected. dug through a pile of cooking utensils. and the last of my Yellow Shrub Mix. He thinks if he watches me I will do it right. That is a plant that helps draw out the heat. Then there will be some changes. Estelle half-filled one small bowl. "This mix has three ingredients. I should of though. While he sat working the mix. "Um. and poured several dippers full into the large bowl. She will need it when the tea wears off. When the skin waters--that is." . in the wash I am going to put some Purple Heart Root. and I have no idea why it is called that. I will not need any more until the healer comes back. "Why not half fill it up like I said?" "It's for the wash. "Steaming. She looked around. and asked. It also has that coolant I told you about. he said. gets watery bumps--or turns dark. There is also a pain deadener in the mix. Can you drip some of the cold water from that bucket over her arm while we wait for the water to boil? And while we wait. It is a mix of the vine with the good smell for flavor and Spiny Mad Apple to help deaden the pain. Ready to boil. and then asked the other woman for something." "Good." Dennis' eyes widened."Not really. Witch Hazel. If she did not have the tea to deaden the pain. That should help soothe the tenderness of the burn. which is common. I will be the healer instead of the helper soon enough. it must be used. It is fairly important in a mild burn like this. I do not want to use too much of the Spiny Mad Apple or it could poison her. Dennis poured one of the mixtures into the half-filled bowl and set it aside. but not necessary. "Good. That should be ready about five minutes after the water gets hot. I did not think of that. One of the ingredients in the poultice is a coolant to bring down the temperature of the burn." Dennis answered. along with some other things that also help. I'll add cold water when you tell me to. and the poultice still has to be changed tomorrow. well. Oh. Hopefully. right? Any more heat would aggravate the burn. You can drip that over her burn when the time comes while I mix the poultice. The other women will pitch in. quarter filled the other small bowl. Burns are easy.
seeds. It is only a scald right now--a bad scald true. the conditions are different. So we have to make a two or three day journey to trade for what we need. Now that she thought about it. right? I have a watch." Again. or it will kill you when you eat it. Shortly the paste covered her forearm and none of the red was visible. then at the tea. Dennis had her hold the woman up and let her sip the tea. and when she had stepped off the shuttle. like that. would I?" . roots. and whatever other parts of the tree are available. That is where the healer is now. Dennis told Estelle. "Cliffside is a place inland where there is much more rain and higher temperatures. There are many who find the rhythm soothing. OK. "Not at all. Do not actually touch it. It has to be cooked in a special way. Yes. so now was as good a time as any. but by how much protection one needed. When I am done. That is enough. "How is the tea?" Estelle looked at her wrist. and some things will only grow there. "Is it another community?" Dennis quickly changed the subject as if he had said too much. So just drip the wash over her arm. this society was one of practicality where the amount of clothing one wore was not dictated by shame." Dennis continued to grind the poultice until Estelle said it was time. this time questioningly. He gathered his pouches and spoke to Natalie and the other woman."What's this Yellow Shrub Mix you spoke of?" Estelle asked. But then I wouldn't understand it. and she had her recorder with her. and she had seen others last night. I would have used a few other things. Let us return to where we were and we can talk in peace. he only watched his patient. I'd enjoy hearing it. Dennis began to spread the paste in his bowl along her arm without touching the skin. Estelle noted that the neighbor who hovered over Natalie was naked. One more question. She answered and they both laughed. and appeared not to care. though the healer sometimes will put it into a tea. When Estelle told him the tea had steeped long enough. several of those around the house when they had arrived had been naked or nearly so. "It is the inner bark of the elder tree mixed with leaves. I don't remember which. or lower. "Still steeping. I'll keep track." "What is Cliffside?" Estelle asked. Apparently. but we are out of the plants that grow up by Cliffside. but still only a scald--and we do not want to make it worse. Anyway. It happens to be worse than the Spiny Mad Apple. "She is ready for me to apply the poultice." Using a leaf." "What." He asked Natalie something in their language. She answered. Natalie spoke to Dennis. After Natalie was prone again. He turned to Estelle. You said the Spiny Mad Apple and the Yellow Shrub Mix could poison you. her neighbor will take care of her. Estelle gave up. It's only about a minute more. "We can do no more here." Estelle asked. and I have it mixed enough. "Just kind of run the wash over the burn. Would you mind?" Estelle knew that she would also have to ask Dennis about the history of the colony. he asked Estelle to wash the skin gently. She wants me to recite the Chant of the Beginning. "You said five minutes. right? What about the rest of the things? Anything else poisonous?" Dennis did not answer the question. That is why I only use it for the poultice. No one else had said anything about it either. picking up what we need.
we have another celebration. One man stood near a table and gestured at a . although he usually times his duties so he can help out." Dennis commented as they walked back toward the tree where they where before the crisis. she saw stacks and piles of items people would need. We will help. see the answer for yourself. I am sure you would rather observe and note on your own. When Estelle's eyes adjusted to the light. Estelle asked." In a soft but powerful voice. but to say I understood it would be going too far." "How could it possibly be bad?" Estelle asked him. "I caught a few words. They stepped out of the house into a world of peace under a blue sky. Can you tell me the story sometime?" "Surely." They walked into the dark room. His soft voice whispered to Natalie as he ran a gentle hand along her cheek. If not. "No." Natalie heard the positive tone of Estelle's voice and smiled. that was bad. "Then we will wait until she is settled in her bed." Estelle thought aloud. Wendell suggested that we not do more than dance at your welcoming. and the other woman will be back shortly." Dennis joked. She has gone to tell her eldest daughter what to start for a meal. Just wait and see for yourself." "Do I need too? No. although I noted that some disobeyed." Dennis said. he chanted a story the anthropologist had read about in school. Dennis nodded at the boy sitting in the corner and put a finger to his lips in an age-old gesture before he and Estelle silently stole out of the house." "You sound as if you are telling me how to do my job. as will all the villagers except those with other jobs like the charcoal maker. Now I begin. After the grains are brought in and stored. "We will go to the trade building and see if her husband is back from the hunt yet. heavy breathing came from the sleeping mat as the herbs worked to put Natalie to sleep. The fields are close to harvest. "I have told her to dream pleasant dreams. What do you mean by bonding? Is it some ritual that you perform? Or is it sex?" Dennis smiled. The normality and calm of the village was a contrast to the small disaster inside. Within three stanzas." he told Estelle. "My critic went to sleep. Did you understand it. I would like to hear it. I am sure you do not want what I think to color your findings. "Yeah." He changed their direction toward one of the buildings. "You said that dancing was sometimes a preparation for bonding. It will be different at harvest. "That is probably good." "I do know some of the old language. Estelle followed Dennis into the darkness and stood in the back near the sleeping area while Dennis checked the arm one more time. she slept because of the tea and what she has just been through. "If I bored her to sleep."You might. but it may be bad. then nodded at the other woman. "Possibly it is better if you just wait. almost without touching it. but not now. clear and soothing to the ears. It is spoken in the old language. Here is the trade building. "Before long she will be asleep. we can get a message to him. It is repeated each year at the New Beginnings ceremony. but this was not the government's version. who left the house." A motion at the door drew their attention as the woman came out and asked them to enter with a gesture. It was started by the Originals so the children would not forget what they were fleeing from. the poem?" Estelle thought for a moment.
I have told they who dwell in the air of life the truthfulness of what you say. but no creatures roamed the surface. and not about where we were. The two men grasped arms. carefully placed it on a pile of skins of the same kind. and place them in separate containers for later consumption by those in the community and those on the ancient land. but the metal in the living-water would last . One of the islands had an ancient cone. you should talk to Gives-Direction. but they must realize that this source will have an end. but I do not believe they truly understand." Changes-The-Water accepted the large pouch from Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-TheAir-of-Life. They told me that the high qualities of the metals have enabled them to make fine tools. The time of dead water is drawing ever nearer. it is true. several small islands rose from the living-water. +++ Almost three tenths of a light time from the community. then they will have to find something else. and depositing the minerals to a shelf below. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life said. Dennis motioned Estelle they would leave. a hollow center where light would bounce off the air moisture and sky water that collected in puddles. and then reflect off bright rock formed by the melted ancient land that rose from deep inside the living planet. and if I made mistakes. I believe." The young marnman touched his elder's fingered flipper. and the first man picked up the cloth and bags and walked out. Come. Estelle asked. "I also have duties. You would not have as much metal. It may be a wise thing for you to slow down your process of extraction if you can. that they will truly understand. brought closer by their demands. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. Changes-The-Water would go to the shelf just before the source of light and life rose. "That is all well and good. gather the minerals. The second man turned toward the new arrivals and spoke angrily at Dennis in the village's language." "I realize this fact in all of its truthfulness. However. bowed. the woman. They wish you to always swim in calm water. When you have no more of the metals to extract from the living-waters. He put them on the table. "Why did we leave? What is wrong?" "Women are not to be in the store." "I am afraid that is true. It is only then. and then picked up some cloth and several bags. Finally.skin stretched across a rack as he argued with another man. before you return to your duties. the second man picked up the skin. causing it to change to air. They have told me they understand that what you say is as it should be. I was thinking of Natalie. and handed an empty pouch made from the skin of a fish to Changes-The-Water. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life arrived at the place of changing waters. and what I did. plants that gathered sky water. Let us go back to the trees where we can sit and talk. It is time I go back to my work. I can only extract a certain amount of the minerals and nutrients from the living-waters before they begin to change and become dead waters. my young friend. Changes-The-Water. The concentrated light quickly raised the temperature of the living-water. It is a place for men only. Greens rose from the small areas of ancient land. "They who dwell in the air of life have asked me to relay their appreciation and respect for your work. my friend.
also had that frustrating lack of language and chemistry skills shared by the other males she had known in college. Her guide. Even years out of college. He relaxed as he returned to the community. The problem is not for those we speak to daily. may you always swim in calm waters. a young marnmen with a muscular tail floated beside him and laughed at the joy of life. May the Waters of Life always be calm for you. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. and whose rippling muscles were a constant source of entertainment and desire. TalksTo-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life.longer. Proud of her body clothed or unclothed. "You wanted to talk to me?" Swims-Between asked Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-TheAir-of-Life as they floated together. but forced on them by the strangers from far away. near the source of the waters that taste strange. and ask that we monitor the waters that taste strange to be sure they are not poisoned by the strangers." "This I can and will do. and so I will do. but the tediousness of walking runways or the mindlessness of standing in front of pansy photographers turned her stomach. for it will be a terrible day if the strangers do kill our friends. we could ask for more in trade if we had less metal to give." The young ocean dweller slowly moved off toward the hub. Why they had assigned him to be her guide she did not know. but she had to make due with what she had. to take your message to where it needs to go. who had the build of the empty-headed male model she had hung with back in civilization. Perhaps we can save the living-water. "Are they mined underwater? Or is it a process of osmosis?" . They may be coming to a war not of their own choosing. she would delve into what little information his head held." Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life eased away and slowly swam toward the hub. I will consult with Gives-Direction as you suggest. and allowed the ripples to tickle his sides and the air of life to refill his lungs. Swims-Between. It will be a pleasure to do my utmost to deliver the message in a timely fashion." "Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. Not far from the community. I did. but for those who live farther from the living-waters. I float ready to serve. Very astute." Tuesday asked. and wore only what was necessary for protection. I need to pass a message to Gives-Direction. For now. I will take your message to Gives-Direction." Changes-The-Water ceased movement for a time. or lack of it. They send to us their appreciation and thanks. Tell me of your need. and possibly be replaced as it disappears. They have told me that the message we delivered to them about the flier turning south was of the greatest importance. she had easily taken to the local style. This message was given to me by they who dwell in the air of life. "That is a wise idea. Very wise." "They who dwell in the air of life have spoken to me. floated on the surface of the livingwater. then dipped slightly to Talks-ToThe-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. Also. but later. both of them naked from the waist up. Possibly he could entertain her in other ways. "Tell me how the chemicals are found. she had offers to model. "Yes. +++ Tuesday fluffed her long hair as she and Halbrack walked along the beach.
He explained. more likely. pulled the dirt from under George's feet with each question. So far. "Far out to sea. George replied. When it dries. the Ambassador had asked questions George was not sure he should answer. through a small opening. the Ambassador could read the complete answers just by observation. The pleasure would be so divine. in this case just a pile. Several times already. drops of water form in such a way that they make the sun shine more powerfully on a shallow pond. "I brought some mud and one of the leaves of seaweed we use. Tuesday."I am not familiar with those terms. sitting in the rough-hewn chair and eating a plain cooked meal as if he were in a king's palace. a couple hours at least. regally dressed stranger with impeccable manners who belonged in the grand halls of another planet. It's . "No. the ones under the cliff. and he could not run to Wendell every time he came to an impasse. and then sat in the shade next to her. and into a larger area where the marnmen can gather them and bring them to us. Watch. can demand a high price. +++ "So then everyone from this community helps harvest the fields?" Ambassador Nathan DuPont. in an old hollow mountain." "Long enough to relax then. "What of the others. "Tuesday." She watched as he ran back to the village. looked into the forest. each community takes care of their own. or the other village? Do they help also and share the harvest? Or do the communities have separate fields?" George inwardly gulped." "Anything that is hard to get. she thought just before she dozed off. and pour ocean water on it. gently speared another slice of meat from the platter passed to him. and this tall. Tuesday purred. Tuesday. We have traded some of the tougher fruits to the marnmen. his muscles working in perfect synchronization under his bronze skin. We use the metals to make what we need to live. Gorgeous. This was a test of his abilities." "How about that substance." "How long will it take to dry?" "Oh. the partial answers he gave seemed to satisfy the Federation Ambassador. and trade some with the marnmen." Halbrack explained as he took he hand and pulled her to a clump of trees." Halford said as he ran a hand gently up her leg. He felt as if he was deep in a pit. These metals slide down the sides of the pool. and just as waterproof. or. She would love to feel those muscles and the others she knew were barely hidden work on her. or in a limited quantity. She woke to find Halbrack lying next to her on the sand." a gentle voice called. Wait here. that seaweed that you were telling me about?" "I can show you that. it will be hard as a rock." "There are better things to do than relax. one that he would pass without help. Tuesday. He held her hands as he lowered her to rest her back against a tree with a wide trunk and a large top. It seems they are delicacies in that community and command a high price. The water evaporates--I think that is your word--and leaves the metals behind. then you place the seaweed over it. You build what you want with the mud.
That is rare in a small community. Wendell had his own desires. Many ways have been tried to combat this factor. and give food to the villagers that have no other way of eating due to injuries or other circumstances. How is that handled?" "How do you handle the payment for your community needs? How are Wendell and yourself paid for your services?" "Each family contributes what he can do best. when that woman had been burned. I see. cloth. and a major factor in trade. "Another factor is the amount of mineral resources available. or whatever. "But the administration duties must cost money. it is all too easy for some of the people to find ways of receiving food or the equivalent for little or no return. but between planets. Dealing with other communities. but to really see how these people lived she would have to share a house." "That does not sound very promising. seen how friends helped. had slept in the equipment warehouse the first night. each planet must control their own resources to deal with as they see fit. Never could he get his way without giving something up first. lazy people and other ills will develop. but not as rare as in a larger community such as a planet." +++ "Will you sleep at our house." "Then the entire community has a good work ethic. The more minerals. and no matter what Wendell said. The only way to combat this trend is not to grow. Any time the population gets above a certain factor. it is important that you understand economics. a course of study required for any diplomat. but so far none have proved successful. endeavors that were good for Wendell. only when outsiders. Estelle?" Dennis asked the older visitor as they sat under the stars after dinner. There are not many families who need the help." George replied as he helped himself to some broad leaf. Many times we have stepped in to prevent a takeover from outsiders. however. there is always something for you to do. are involved. compromise was required. This is where the Federation can help a small planet like yours. and the more others will want to control it. a give and take. whether it is meat. we will not interfere in civil wars.basic economics. invaders from more powerful planets. not only on a planet. and how they relate to you. We realize that for a strong interplanetary economy to exist. George knew that watching for the welfare of his planet against this colossus that wanted to swallow them was his duty. his own schemes. how . but on a much larger scale. Mind you. This was the same. "Tell me more about the Federation. There was always a catch. "My wife and I would appreciate it if you would. or even when dealing with Wendell." He shredded grass with his nimble fingers as he waited for her answer. the more valuable the planet. If you are capable of working. When you reach a population of that size. That is just one of the benefits of belonging to the Federation. George decided the protection of their way of life was up to him. and not necessarily good for the planet. Estelle. If you are going to be a part of a community of nations such as the Federation." There was a catch. She had caught a glimpse inside today. Wars have been fought over the trading rights of rare commodities. The accommodations were comfortable enough. with food and facilities close by. we trade at the store. seafood. greens. What we do not need. as had the other visitors.
the community worked together. To see how they truly lived, how families reacted behind closed doors, she would have to take this opportunity to get inside. She said, "I suppose it would be all right. I look at Tuesday and Halbrack, and I can see there's some feeling there, some sort of relationship growing, so I don't think anyone would say anything for me sharing only a house. It's the best way to research." "Why would they? And that relationship you speak of, that one between Halbrack and the woman, is purely temporary, Estelle." "Her name is Tuesday." "Yes, Tuesday. Halbrack is like that. For him to stay with one woman, or even several, on a permanent basis would be strange. He goes from here to there and no one minds too much. I am sure Tuesday feels much the same way. On the other hand, I am happy where I am, with my wife, and have roamed only to help the healing of a broken heart, or for celebrations. The requirements of behavior, morals I guess you could say, are different among our group from those on other planets from what has been handed down. Your reactions, and especially the reactions of the Ambassador and the other man, have born that out. They hold back, cage themselves. I'm sure that you will teach me as much as you will learn." "You said Halbrack fools around and no one says anything? That you have sex with others besides your wife? That it's considered OK? Even normal?" Estelle chuckled. "To say your ways are different would be an understatement. There are some planets where any relationship outside of marriage is illegal and punished by hard work or jail time. Or both." "They are punished for loving?" "I guess you could say that. I've studied many cultures, and personally I find the people who come from planets like yours where jealously is unknown are usually happier." "Jealousy? What is that?" "That's when you believe that one person belongs to another and no one else. It would be the same as if your wife was that bag. If someone took it, you would be upset. That's jealousy when it's applied to a person in a relationship." "You are lying! How could anyone feel that? Each person is their own being, and responsible for their own actions. I do not think I could live on another world, especially one with this jealousy. I would go crazy." "Many do," Estelle replied thoughtfully. "Many do. Yes, I think I will sleep at your house. It will help my studies." "Then we will gather your things." Dennis' house was like the other buildings in the small village, a simple log rectangle with a centered entry and windows to either side. Thatch covered the roof, and a mud like substance harder than a road coated the entire building. The door was a thick piece of wood hinged to the right that swung to the outside, pulled by a string. Francine, Dennis' wife, met them at the door. "It is--honor--you join family, Estelle from beyond sky," Estelle looked at Dennis. He had said his wife did not speak the Federation's trade language, but Estelle had no trouble understanding the woman. "I thank you, Francine. I suppose I should put my things away. Where is my room?"
"Let me show you," Dennis said and led them into the dwelling. A room opened to the right of the main door, with a fireplace near the center as she had seen in the other house, an eating table toward the far corner, and comfortable chairs in a conversation area near the other corner. To the left a cloth-covered door led to another area of the house, an area Estelle had not seen before. Dennis pulled the cloth aside. "This is the sleeping area. We sleep over there, behind the blankets. The children, when we have them, will sleep in the rest of the room, in other areas surrounded by blankets, unless they want to pull them back. You may sleep over there, in that cubby, or closer if you wish." Rough log walls surrounded the room, and the support for the roof was visible above. Each wall had several windows, covered with curtains. A plain cloth hung from the rafters closed off one corner of the room. Another corner had also been closed off, the cloth much newer looking. How would they get privacy? Yet they had invited Estelle to join them. Perhaps she should have waited until she understood all the implications. Estelle asked, "A single room? The whole family sleeps together like this? All of you?" "Yes," Dennis replied. "It is how we live. The Originals first built these houses as a matter of simplicity. They did not have the time or the manpower for more. It was hard enough just to survive. We have lived like this since then and do not see a problem with this arrangement. What happens in the house stays in the house; that is all." "But how do you make love with the family together like this?" "Sex? That is no problem. The children learn about it the same as they learn about everything else. There is no problem. Just wait. Harvest starts in a day or two, and then, after many days and some nights of hard work, we celebrate, and that is when you will learn. Or possibly you can visit other families. Just wait." Francine walked to the new cloth and pulled it aside revealing a bed and storage baskets. "Estelle. Come. Put things down. Help with dinner?"
Headmon Halford stood at the small opening of a third level guardroom, staring out across the valley at the black carpet of trees climbing the far slope, noting the occasional flashes scattered through the forest. Those slow sparkles would end soon, not only with the coming daylight, but also with the approaching winter when the snows fell on the high ridges to the west and the cold drizzle of rain fell onto the grass of the valleys. The insects would burrow and wait for warmer weather, just as humans had taken over mansized burrows called caves to hide from the harsher conditions of the mountains. Now he wished he could burrow further into the ground to hide from the other humans that had arrived. There was no way to hide. He had to face this problem head on. Halford considered the implications of the news he had received only a few hours before. The Federation, the government of the planets in space, had left the village by the sea, had flown out of range of the tracking device, and then had taken longer to reach orbit than the path they took from the ground predicted. The only reason he could imagine to do this was to set soldiers or spies on his world somewhere out of sight, strangers to destroy part or all of his society. Anything else, any scientific activity like collecting plant specimens or mapping the world, the visitors at the Seaside village could do without hiding, or the ship could do from space. Hiding their activities as they did told Halford the visitors were hunting. The question was, what were they hunting? Or who? If the hunters were trying to reach Cliffside as he thought, what chance would his people have? Federation hunters, solders, would have advanced weapons, better even than what the originals knew about. Possibly, they would have a way to find an enemy, or to kill him, without showing themselves. Possibly, they would have an armor that would repel all manner of danger, especially arrows, treating arrows and knives as if they were small flying creatures, yet it would be comfortable so that the hunters would enjoy wearing it. Their technology would be much better, simply because they had a large resource base. Then again, large was not always good. A large government, as the Federation must be, would not know the strengths and weaknesses of their individual soldiers as he knew his hunters. Moreover, his hunters were on their home ground. They knew the land, knew how to move silently, and had many tricks to bring down the larger quarry they usually stalked. Moreover, they had incentives, reasons to protect their home and friends from harm brought by strangers. Possibly his people, all his people in all five communities, would survive intact. For that to happen, however, he would have to guess right where to send his best. Sounds of waking families echoed from the large room behind him as they began the day, pots clacking as food was cooked, the yawns and shuffles of his people starting daily activities. Occasional cries and shrieks sounded from the valley below, and from the forested slope surrounding the watch window, as wild animals and birds declared their territories. Even with all the activity, the sky fought against the daylight, slow to give up the stars. Halford wondered if one of the visible stars was the sun of the planet from where the intruders came. There was nothing in the growing light that would suggest
anything other than complete normality in the world. A throat cleared behind him. His chain of thought broken, Halford turned to see two men dressed in the rugged skins of the hunters looking at him. Jamson, one of the better hunters, stood behind an older, wiry man with a weather-beaten face. "You two are quiet," Halford observed. "It's not many people who can approach without my knowing." "That's what enables you to eat, Headmon," the weather-beaten man said. "Jamson said you wanted to talk to me here. What is it I can do?" "Has he told you what has been observed?" "Only briefly, Headmon," Jamson answered. "Lanford just got back from a hunt. I wasn't sure how much you wanted him to know." "That's just as well," Halford answered. He turned to the weather-beaten man, the chief hunter of the community, and told him, "As you know, a flier was to drop off scientists at Seaside. It was hoped that they would be convinced that the marnmen are sentient." A bass voice, the vibrations so low they almost sounded separated by slices of silence, said, "They are, Headmon. There's no doubt about that." "You and I and the rest of this world know that, Lanford, but we must convince the outsiders so that they will leave us alone. To continue. This flier, when it left, went east over the horizon as it was supposed to. We picked it up again to the west nearly out of the atmosphere as it approached over the mountains, but it was later than it should have been. At least that's what Taggart the Tracker has told me. The only reasonable reason I can think of that they would do that is if they circled back and dropped off one or more people on the land. Yet we can't be sure that is what they did, or if they did, where they are. What are your thoughts on the matter?" The older hunter pondered for a brief time. "How close could they be?" "No closer than three or four days walk. Any closer and Taggart would have seen them with his tracker." "Then anywhere along the oceans or the mountains, or anywhere else. None of the villages in the forest are important except to hold for some greater purpose. If they would do that, hold a village for ransom, they would have a force in Seaside. Therefore, they come for us. Where would they land? North of us there's a field large enough for them to land in. That's closest, but well over a week away because there are no paths. West of us are the mountains, and the desert. There are many places for landing in those parts, but would it be worth trying to work their way over the mountains or find their way through interconnecting valleys? I don't think so. Southwest of us is the lake. We go there frequently, and they could tell that, even from space. No, especially from space. Our paths would stand out, an arrow from there to here and the other villages. South of us is a field they could land in, farther away than the one to the north, but with paths to reach here. Though the paths are overgrown in some areas, I think that is where they would come, Headmon. Why would you think they landed?" Halford looked out over the valley to the trees climbing the slope on the other side, clearly visible in the growing light. The shadow of the ridge began its descent along the opposite face, sunlight first touching the tops of the trees that covered the ridge, and then working slowly toward the valley. Still watching outside he asked, "Do you remember the
" "A watch party to the north and east. You said it would cause them to come in force. I think that is where they will come from. The farthest is two days journey to a tree we gather sap from." "I remember. Lanford. along the southerly ridge line. they would pick what appeared to be the easiest way to get here. but did he want that? For Halford. Possibly. I want you and--. and probably after the weapon. easier to use. pick your best men. There's no way to know how much they can see from their ship in space." "But they might want to second guess us." "That is why I wanted to talk to you. Killing them will not be so easy." "That is what I wanted to know. Wendell demonstrated the weapon. "They could come from any direction. Remember. If they came from the north. and that was built a long time ago. had dealt with his planet honestly. He had been silent for a while as he let his elders work out the problem. They will be easy to find and track. hopefully. if they come up the clearing. the games simpler. they would have to fight the mountains and forest until they found one of our paths. There was a reason the Originals handed the warnings down over the centuries. They would have peace. "I agree. It is good that you had it dismantled. Now? If only they had not come. They will try to destroy it at night thinking we will be asleep. New items would come to his planet. the Federation. I think. of course. Search out the intruders and destroy them before they do the same to us. Nor would they have much woodcraft. Jamson. . He talked to himself. although he did not understand about this Federation or all the politics involved. so that is why I think they have come. Headmon. That is the thought I dread. Halford turned back to the opening to the outside and pondered what might have occurred if the others." Jamson put in." "But they wouldn't know we took it apart and hid it. To the south there's a good path there. too." Lanford rumbled. Send out a party to travel south. They would come as hunters to destroy either the weapon or us before we found them. but at what cost? More power. his way of going over the facts before planning a hunt. power that would not have to remain hidden. They may be following the mountains along the foothills hoping to catch sight of it from below. which they might now that you mention of it. A small group. Trade was a given. and how? An easier life some would say. They will at least try to disable what is no longer there so we can't use it. may I make a suggestion. but more likely they will try to destroy it. They would probably come from the south. It is possible they could work out where the weapon fired from or the line that it took. and the players people he knew." "Right away. Headmon. Who would set the prices? How would goods be shipped? Who would pay." The two hunters passed through the door and out of hearing." Lanford agreed. Double the guard here. Under us we can see them. Have them watch from convenient trees. the equipment Taggart uses to track them is from the old colony vessel." Headmon Halford said. life was easer before this Federation arrived. "That's true. Or they may know of this community.last time they were here? Against my wishes. Lanford. "If they knew of this community.
Sarge kept himself neat. when Animal warily opened his eyes. his long weapon coming up to fire.Shortly he turned away from the window and exclaimed. no insects or small animals. It's when there's no noise at all. But not as close as mine. you got to worry. "How's it go this morning?" "Scared the bejesus out of me Animal. Oh. . or possibly reflect. "The little noises and insect sounds are good. "Wishful thinking. don't worry. but that would require someone getting very close. Sometimes they're so loud you can't hear anything else. Fully awake and alert. The light was what had woken the soldier. you're in trouble. and his short laser pistol out of the holster lying by his side. including hair cropped so close it could not be combed. his long laser assault weapon across his knees. wrapped comfortably in their personal cocoons. Been spooked all night. "Water ready?" a husky voice behind him asked." Animal replied without looking. his head jerking as odd sounds came out of the forest. You wake Sarge. and the uniform itself had glass fibers that would deflect. glanced at his feet. where Aarmand met him. the sound loud in the quiet of the forest. And when it starts to dawn. You wake us up when it's ready. It's only me. or possibly something primitive like an arrow. fighting the innate knowledge that their time of rest had past. Really weird sounding noises. Animal slowly sat and shrugged to work the kinks out of his neck and shoulders. "Hey. "It's getting there. And the insects. The other marines were scattered around the small clearing in various stages of sleep. There was hope he would make a soldier yet. kid. Pah!" He slowly walked back to his business room. it's been so quiet. you're supposed to start the coffee. Animal explained in a grating voice. but he had not gone off at nothing like some others. if it suddenly goes silent." Animal soothed as he twisted to crack his back. lifted his head. Rustling in the weeds. Only a slow moving knife could penetrate. Did you see the trees? Spooky." Animal ginned at memories of other green recruits. not the sound of a quiet attack. Toolkie might be spooked. and then scanned the clearing where they had stopped for the night. to have whole trees light up as if they had electric lights or were on fire. alert and as well groomed as anyone in the squad. One of the nitrogen bubbles between the vertebrae in his neck popped. and Animal was not about to let that happen. that's what it is. Toolkie. +++ A gray sky showed through the leaves overhead. Toolkie sat with his back against a thick tree. "Mornin' Sarge. Animal thought running a hand over his shaved head. take it easy. he listened for the soft sounds of an attack." He knew what the sergeant would be like. Ain't no doubt about it. the sun only moments from rising above the horizon to cast heat and shadows across the land. Couldn't tell what it was." Animal threw some sticks on the coals and blew up a flame. And the trees. that's what you did. and there were some calls way in the distance. Bullets did not worry the marine. You know something close then. I'll get it today. Toolkie jumped and spun toward the sound. The kid looked into the trees searching for who knew what. any frequency of laser used. and hearing none. The under armor would form an instant shield if struck by a fast moving projectile.
" A twig cracked next to the sergeant. but keep your eyes open and your guard up." Animal sipped the coffee again. "Toolkie. Grab an instant and have a sit. you guys. How could he like that stuff? Animal was sure there was a reason. "Sanders heard something large go past. "With all the girls you got. his eyebrows raised. took a sip. wolfing them down more to avoid the taste than from a recent lack of rations. we're supposed to be four days out according to the scan. Sanders was a joker." came the quick answer. Animal. He mixed it in his hot water. Come on over and grab some breakfast. "OK boys. "You just remember your Wood Crafter's' motto. you're off watch when we wake up. Means most of the plants look the same. Animal. Sanders heard one last night. Animal informed them. And neither one knows about the other. When he finished eating. We're still too far away for trouble yet. possibly more." Always Animal with the food." Animal poured steaming water into the tall man's cup. Sarge. guy. Morganthur gave an evil laugh." "Mornin' Sarge. Who knows what monsters lurk in these here woods. That was too much." Morganthur joked. "Hell. Maybe Sarge knew he hated the food so much he would not eat any extra. They got it too easy. Every mission was the same. If this was better than Sanders got at home.Animal handed the sergeant an instant coffee packet. at least in the morning. The sergeant continued." "That's just as well. The kid did not know them yet and would get the wrong idea. This world is in almost the same orbit as the home world. I'd say at least seven. Animal threw his trash into the fire and watched it burn without showing smoke. Don't mean they are. a rough bitter taste he could almost feel. Now it was time to roll up his cocoon and pack for the day's hike. Didn't hear nothing from anyone else. for that matter." "And I warn't never no Wood Crafter. "This stuff is better than my wife makes. one of his . "He got two. "Thanks. water's ready. After yesterday." "Cool it. I don't expect to see nobody else out here for a while. I only heard insects. You could not take anything he said at face value. he thought. Animal. and lowered his wiry body to the ground." The sergeant turned and looked at a sleepy eyed marine with an unruly mop of dark hair. Morganthur. He always carried the breakfast." Sanders observed as he retrieved an instant coffee packet. Two or three. didn't know you had a wife. One each on two planets. We got it easy here. He opened the top flap of his pack as the sergeant issued the day's instructions. He handed out self-heating boxes and watched surreptitiously as the others dug into the steaming." the sergeant ordered as he opened another pack of coffee. Animal carried the coffee and breakfast. "Anything go last night?" The sergeant said." a newly awakened marine said." "I remember my survival skills." That was a quote from a recent video. Morganthur either. "Morganthur. Sarge. though. remember what the Naval Captain said? This star is much like Sol. All the noise woke me up. Mornin' Animal. they must use lousy mix. fortified fake eggs. "Sure. hand out the morning rations.
" Animal heard Morganthur ask Sanders. "Very good. We've got a good distance to cover. and that's only where there are openings on top of each other." He listened for a moment. raised on Arborstead by parents who followed the old style like so many from that planet. I have to go deeper. The sergeant continued. Morganthur. "Like I said." Soaring Hawk looked over at Fornihopper and winked. his Academy classmate and a long time friend. Let me know if you see anything bigger than a breadbox. Sir. and clean water." Richard quietly called to Lieutenant Junior Grade Kondo Soaring Hawk. From now on it's flashpacks. The LJG visibly checked his board as he answered. Sir. "Kondo. Animal looked up in time to see the sergeant shoot Morganthur a look that instantly shut him up." No wonder Sarge had drunk two cups. and the style of farming used conserved the land's minerals. He was looking for a certain installation. Easier asking this way.usual jokes. +++ Lieutenant Commander Thelma Whimner stood at her desk in the small office. "They said no problem. hey. Stay alert. He wished more planets could live so cleanly." "Tell them I want a solution ready to go next orbit. Let's go. Maybe they watched what the settlers did and prevented major changes to the oceans. The planet had a lack of mining and other industries that throw off waste. studied the graphs sent from the scanners and squinted at the results. Sir. "Just need a boost on the deep scan. Can it be done." The Captain glanced at the main screen. had dedicated his life to combat the poisons that industry throws into the air. usually one of the first areas disrupted by pollution." "Problem. and the scans would not go more than a couple hundred feet below the surface for some reason. And enjoy the coffee. you're point. Fornihopper. "Checking now. What do you need?" Soaring Hawk answered a little louder than necessary. however. Soaring Hawk?" Soaring Hawk spoke quietly into his headset. use your big mouth to put out the fire. They said there was a sentient species in the oceans. Fornihopper?" the Captain asked laying a pad of reports on his lap. Say they have an idea or two but it may take time. "Any way for your people to boost the deep scanner? I can't get farther than three levels down." Soaring Hawk again spoke and listened. who manned the engineering desk. For some reason the Captain thought the deep scans needed a . resulting in clean air for the planet. He sat at his position at the Bridge Science desk. "Hey yourself. keep your eyes and ears open. one hidden somehow. "OK. If I'm going to find that weapon they're supposed to have. and then answered. Sanders. "What's a bread box?" +++ Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper. "They'll work on it in the back. her chair shoved into a corner. That announcement received several grumbles as the Marines quickly packed.
yet she was pushing all the power the equipment could handle. we can only do this once. "Power's at a hundred ten percent. But where? Boost the signal too much and you risk blowing the next stage." She looked at her superior hungrily. How much were they missing now? Could they miss what they were looking for with less resolution? That wasn't an answer. past the gravity drive and life support. then a limiter so most of the boost is the frequency or frequencies we want. something that would work. and the scanner can read deeper. At the far end of the muted red engineering room. Vines that would cling to anything they could grab. much less. "Only thing we could do would be to install another amplifier inline. but something blocked the creative side of her brain. That way only the signal we need runs through the amplifier. "What we need is a two stage system. That would not change. "Let's see. if they could not boost the power. we need to boost it. Change frequencies? Longer frequencies might penetrate deeper." She raised her voice so Thelma could hear her over the noise." Debar smiled at the challenge. Less of the broad bandwidth we have now and something more selective. Thelma had discovered excitement there. not only in Finical's lively and tasty body. but the resolution would be less. an amplifier as you said. we've got to work on it some more. Length of scan had to do with orbital velocity and the laws of physics. much more intelligent and creative than the records showed. Screeches of exotic birds and the hunting cries of their carnivorous cousins echoed through the thick . almost as if they were hungry and hunting.boost." "Exactly. Set your board on auto and build me a plug-in box. the deep scans. Unfortunately. but she wanted other ideas from someone who would think in unconventional ways. No. Thelma wondered. Get it done for now. Later we'll go back and pretty it up." +++ A blanket of dark green leaves covered the forest. "My place. "Dinner tonight?" Thelma grinned." She looked out the large windows toward scanner control. She could not think. Then we can keep it around until we need it again. trapping heat inside as five Federation marines loaded down with full field packs and assault weapons forced their way through the dense growth. so if it's not enough. Then the final signal can run through a pot to be lowered to where we won't blow anything. past the equipment door. And then some. they want it pronto. put it in a case. and it irked her. The overgrown path meandered through the thick brush as it passed moss covered stumps and rotting logs. maybe. Not enough sleep. Any suggestions?" Thelma had an idea now what to do. Warrent Officer Four Debar Finical monitored those controls. imagining what new games they would invent. but also in her playful brain. "Debar. Any more and we'd blow something. She stepped out of her overgrown cubical and walked across the large room to her lover." Thelma agreed. could they lengthen the scan. corpses of the tall trees." Finical said to herself as she checked the gauges. There had to be something she could do. drooped low from overhanging trees and grabbed at the soldiers as they passed. "No problem. so no luck there. dear. which did not help.
They ignored him." "How come. kid. Electric arcs flashed in the darkness. hell. Sarge?" Toolkie asked as he dropped his pack onto the ground and fumbled with his flap." "You wish. sixteen. The sergeant sighed. what. "But how could they know?" Toolkie insisted. too. "OK. Toolkie looked across the grassland toward the top of a low ridge. That and a quick announcement by ship. Most kids are cocksure they know ." Animal muttered.forest. One of the birds seemed to follow them as it warned the world of the impending danger. Insects droned in the background and bit any exposed skin. "Scanning the world?" "OK so far. seventeen standard years? How do you expect to know it all? I'll give you one thing. "Tell me something." "Man. You watch for clouds that are dark on the bottom all the way to the ground. mostly echoes from the far distance but sometimes close by. They'll rain. "Hey Sarge. When you see clouds. "Toolkie boy. punctuated the air." Toolkie moaned as a blush covered his face. so I won't read you the riot act about dumb questions. Take five. I'd say in about fifteen minutes we're going to be inundated. you'll probably get wet. Just one obvious answer." croaked Sergeant Tucker about midmorning as they broke out into a large grassy valley between two wooded ridges. you watch them to see where the prevailing upper winds are coming from. You're fresh out of training. Toolkie. Black clouds loomed over the forest. "Maybe the water'll go in instead of out. You watch the sky. their tops soaring into the sky and flattening as if pressed against an invisible barrier. "Do you think that's all they scan for? Think they might be watching the conditions down here? You know. that would feel good right about now. If they're off in the direction the clouds are approaching from. You know the drill. This is storm climate. boy. Rivers of sweat poured off the travelers." Sanders grouched. Occasional roars." Toolkie thought for a few minutes. "Looks like we'll want to break out ponchos. So you look." Morganthur quipped as he motioned toward where the sergeant and Toolkie sat. the air too humid for the salty liquid to evaporate. How can you tell the storm's coming?" Toolkie asked. A damn good storm." "And what do you think they're doing? Not everything. "We're all first timers once in our lifetimes. guys. Dark sheets hung at an angle from the black base to the ground. For enemies? Weather?" "Oh." The youngster tried to crawl into his uniform. the rumbles echoing through the hills to disguise their origin." the sergeant told him. all of. Where is the ship?" "Above us in space. "Not necessarily. "Wouldn't find it over there. boy." Morganthur commented. this is your first hitch." "Thought we had radio silence. The sergeant explained. "I'm such a stupid fuck. "Take a look at the sky on your right. It'll either drizzle all the time like it did yesterday." "Um." the sergeant answered. Now what do you think they're scanning for?" "Intelligent life?" Toolkie asked sheepishly. "That's rain. or save it up and let down a waterfall.
"Who knows what we'll run into next month? And Animal. Large drops of rain began to hammer them when they were away from overhanging trees. Sarge. He told his squad. Morganthur too. stretched up to eat the leaves of a tree. Who knows how far the natives go when they're hunting." Toolkie said just before he slid his rain gear over his head. and a neck the length of its body. a bit watchful. Most kids do something stupid and get themselves hurt or killed. but he knows his shit. Sarge. he may make remarks about things he doesn't understand." . Deep in among the trees a large animal. Mount up. look at that!" Sanders quietly cried pointing into the woods that climbed the slope to the left." "Yeah right." Morganthur answered. "And how would your rations be when they're soaked?" the sergeant asked a bit angrily. They delivered this stuff right on time." "Thanks loads. "I know. also. The sergeant pulled his poncho down so it covered his pack. but he--. That's good. you all." Morganthur grouched." Leave it alone Sanders. And since you're so alert." The Marines crossed the open valley and followed the convolutions of the path as it wound its way north around the debris of the forest. Talk to him. Its tail. ship broadcasting a general warning won't give away our position. you're point. like those they dropped off first. Sarge. He may be a bit spooky and strange. "Like I was saying. The sergeant looked at his watch and mumbled to himself. You stick with Animal." Animal complained. like you been dong. This mission looks to be fairly easy and straight up. Sarge. "Hey. "unless you want to butcher it by yourself while we're moving. Enough of explanations. They ignored him. as long as the rest of the animal. with a green skin of some nature streaked with gray. You. are a bit nervous.everything first time out. about seven meters tall." Sergeant Tucker ordered. at least." "Thanks. We don't want any surprises. Find the opening in those trees ahead." Morganthur commented. And it could be meant for the others. Learn. "I wonder if it's good to eat. "Look alive. swished back and forth over the ground for balance. I know." "I still think the rain would feel good going in. "Sometimes those science boys amaze me.
No. observe life. Awake and packed. I will tell you everything about the hunt. She had read about cultures that separated men's and woman's duties. but then no one had told her she could not go. see the primitive methods. been at digs that suggested that separation.Chapter 5 Estelle stood at the cottage's main door and gazed into the early morning sky. or teacher. How was she supposed to do her job? Just roam around? Well. Thousands of stars twinkled at her above where the black shadows of the trees and buildings did not block the view. If she went with the hunters. Talk to others. but the modern civilizations she had studied had grown past such sexism. although the storekeeper admonished Dennis for bringing her in. And do not follow!" Dennis picked up his bag and hurried out of sight. was not available. "It is some of the others. it is not possible for you to go on the hunt. so she hoped she could go. and everyone helps. or help the farmers prepare for the harvest. No one had said anything about this hunt. They say that to have a woman with the hunters. I thought as an observer we would ignore your sex." Again men only. Even Dennis' mentor. Dennis. Moreover. Worse even than a woman that trades. so just roaming was . or just wander around the village if you wish." Dennis observed. but she would not understand what she was seeing. even those that were comparatively primitive. though. "Did you dream? Did something bother you? No matter. any woman. That is for men only. She would find out in a moment or two more. and there was no one else in the village she had met that she could understand. too. Now I cannot go on the hunt. she could observe. "Good morning. I must leave for a day or two with some of the hunters. She saw Dennis come around to the front of the house. The sky slowly grew light and the stars faded away as she waited for Dennis to appear. although she did not know what time. Observe the marnmen. When I come back. and smell the pheromones. I have to go." "You are awake early. She knew Dennis and Francine. No one had invited her. but that is not the way many of the others think. Study the village and our ways. she eagerly awaited the hunter's trek that was to start soon. many more stars than she saw on more developed worlds where streetlights shone all night. "I've seen the store. but Francine barely spoke the trade language the visitors used so talking to her probably would not contribute much information. Now you say I cannot go in. That is coming soon. Do not go into the trade house. she had been in the store already. explain about what we do. is extremely bad luck. even one just here to observe. feel the emotions. she had learned that the large migratory animals were nearby and that a hunting party was preparing to leave this morning. since occasionally the woman has no man for some reason and must trade to live. Why is this?" Dennis pulled Estelle back into the house. Unknown to Dennis. that was one way. and we could use your help. You took me inside. hopeful she could join and observe. hear the thunder of footsteps. Stay with Francine. but right now. You can help my wife and learn of the women's ways. Now what do I do? Estelle wondered as she unpacked.
When she reached him. mostly farmers from the outlying area coming in for supplies. "Ambassador. I think you'll have a pleasant surprise. a regal figure in the long robes of office he constantly wore. but apparently not where she could see. Even after dealing previously with the beings who lived under the water. Estelle. No one else speaks our language." "That is what I've observed. You are here to study the marnmen also. I have dealt with peoples like that. the nasal twang was so unexpected when you looked at the person." "Yes. Or was it? She could make notes and discuss what she saw with Dennis later. how to decompose compounds and combine elements. and that voice was so uncultured. but I've found out that it's more a difference in jobs than status. child. something that was done on this planet. One of these water people." +++ Tuesday looked down at the two creatures floating in the large lagoon fifteen or twenty feet below the small cliff. "Yes. went on a hunt for what he says will take a couple days and left me here alone. but I can't speak to them without Dennis. He said I should stay with his wife." she called as she ran. but she does not know our language very well. a few villagers I've met. my guide. reasons that. how the ocean creatures acquired the chemicals the colonists used." "Some others do. The Ambassador was so formal and cultured. Estelle was to learn about them. She shook off her confusion. I first thought the women were lesser. Or if I entered the store. marnmen as Halbrack called them. without a guide. where women are relegated to a lesser status. What have you learned of this community so far?" "So far I know a little about their medicine. She hurried to join him as he reached the far end of the community building. After an hour of sitting under the trees in the square and watching people begin to move around on their errands. Go observe the relationship between people and marnman and how they work together. Isn't that against the agreement?" The Ambassador raised his eyebrows and looked off to the side for a moment. but that was not her call. This lack of escort might work out. Tuesday knew chemistry. he asked. Estelle saw Ambassador DuPont walking through the square. that what Halbrack supposedly translated was really what they said. according to her guide. that women are more domestic and men more hunters. about their life. Dennis. "may I speak with you?" He stopped at the bottom of the steps and waited for her to join him. This way he could not impede her. it is your duty to learn. however there may be reasons. was in charge of the distillation process. they still looked strangely like the dolphins she had seen as a kid. Did he tell you why?" "He only said that it would be bad luck if I went. That they talked. and that they feel women are different than men. also. "It is that. Tell me something. are you not?" "Yes. "Ambassador. was hard to believe. you may remember. That creature was in the water below her doing what they . hide things from her. but with crocodile mouths. She stepped out into the village and walked toward the square. Other guides.not the best way. what is it?" His voice always set Estelle back.
"This is Changes-The-Water. "It seems that long ago. but it was not until we came that they really learned how they could use the powders. he sorts the metals in a way he will not explain. but to make it a viable process you'd have to heat it more than just the sunlight can. heads nodding and bobbing. Halbrack continued translating. the animal she thought of as the younger one dipped into the water. and all the metals and minerals precipitated out as the water changed to steam. He translated. Now . who asked the general populace for uses. ready to translate. they do need more heat than comes from the sun. as he calls the ocean. Ask them how they learned that. a formation that focused the sun and heated the water below to boiling. At least that is what he says. He said that you are right. The easiest way would be distillation and recovery. A strange water formation grew above the living-water. He says they can not gather enough heat to form the metals or make the alloys. and then used his language. The resulting heat causes the living-water to grow hot and steam. Now he says that the metals and minerals in the water are much less. "So they can get a certain amount of heat by focusing the sun. About some things they know more than we do. This lens gathers the light and concentrates it on one area of the living-water.called talking with the animal that was usually here. so that's why they give them to us. During the day. He is going to have to slow down production and ask for more in trade for each unit he brings. which gathers in small ponds on the side of the shaft. "They really are quite intelligent. The two animals started to squeak and click at each other almost as if they were speaking. he's the one they use for long distance communication. Pretty good for not having fire. He took his vision to Gives-Direction. They do not want us prying. then the other would make noise. Talks-To-Many. Swims-Between found the island and brought back the metals to Gives-Direction. he will do no more than talk. gobble-de-gook as far as Tuesday was concerned. and that is where they are gathered. Talks-To-Many saw a picture of a certain island and its hollow inside. They do not trust us yet. Probably because the people here have handed down stories for centuries and do not trust us. and then the metals float out and descend to a shelf. especially about the ocean. She said. so we will make the knives and the other things they need." Tuesday reiterated. where the sunlight can be focused like a lens. Several people made suggestions. will you?" The answer came back shortly." Halbrack crinkled his brow at Tuesday. Tuesday thought. "Go ahead. who told him to describe the island to Swims-Between. Halbrack lay next to her in all his splendor. Tuesday thought. so I guess it's up to us to carry the message. a small island with a hollow shaft inside. Finally. First one." Not as good an explanation as Halbrack gave yesterday. as he calls Wendell. He said to apologize to Gives-Direction-To-Those-Who-Dwell-InThe-Air-Of-Life. was swimming in the open waters when one of the Thinkers approached him. to speak to the marnmen. He is the one who controls the process that makes the metals. Unfortunately. The one with the duller patches of color on his skin began to squeak at Halbrack. I will have to talk to Nathan about it." Tuesday watched Halbrack's back while he listened to the marnman squeak and click some more. "What I'm really curious about is how they extract chemicals from the ocean. Tuesday did not realize she was thinking of the marnmen as people." he urged. "There is a place. from the water.
and we've made an agreement with the marnmen not to do any damage to the land. enjoy a bit of variety. There was a worldwide shortage of food for a time. before we started to colonize the planets of our system and branch out farther. they can't mine because the planet is at the high end of the temperate range for life. and tried to take everything out. or whatever you called them. "OK. Halbrack turned to Estelle and said. or decide he liked Estelle better. you could destroy the world. ignored the signs of poison and death. and Tuesday could have this Bale. Then they finally learned to control the pollution. is going to see how we negotiate. He usually talks to the marnmen." Tuesday contemplated the situation for a moment. they can ask the Federation. "There are other things to see. and others hot and wet. and they'll get advice gathered from many planets over a long period of time. muscular man who usually talked to the animals. Then how would they get the metals?" Estelle answered. We're here to observe. an interesting toy if only he knew her language. "The way they've been getting them. And if that ends. waited back by the trees. but that's not our problem. If you really worked at it." Estelle elaborated. so farmers had trouble finding new crops. That let enough heat out to begin an ice age. Estelle could keep Halbrack busy. some parts got hot and dry. and got it settled down in about four hundred years. she could tell." Halbrack reached for Tuesday's hand. then they over cleaned the air and caused an ice age. Estelle was here alone. and there are others. Tuesday had heard that Estelle's guide was out with some of the other men. play with him. Remember your ancient history. they may not. and wanted an excuse to get away." "So?" A voice Tuesday knew said from behind her. It took them more than three centuries to find and hold a medium. in the waters that taste strange as they call it. They learned how to manage the climate. This resulted in too much of the gasses that trap heat to form. sort of our go between I think you would say. If they want help. You know the rules." The tanned. They couldn't help but pollute something. but Halbrack was Tuesday's. but almost any type of mining these people could do with the limited tools and power they have would be highly dangerous and dirty. We have several plants that . No matter. living in the river. because there wasn't anything to stop the heat from radiating out into space. finally. I think that is his name. like having a blanket over the world. and he would get jealous maybe. But if they don't ask. a type of marnman that are not as intelligent. How could she extract them from this situation? Tuesday asked.your Ambassador Nathan. or fish. Now their practices are used on other planets to control the climate. cousins. He said. The world's climates changed then. just grabbed as much as you could. He asked something in the local tongue. people forgot to watch what went into the air. "Tuesday. He wants to know what happened. on a hunt it was. He was ready also. and the dry and wet parts did not correspond to where they were before. you may not want to admit it. The water is where they live. Tuesday was ready for play. "Back a couple thousand years ago. what happened on Sol 3 when the greedy leaders ignored all the warnings? First the world heated up. or the water." "But surely there are other ways of getting metal? Couldn't you mine it?" "That would be much harder. "This is Bale. we can't help them.
one vaguely familiar. They live in community. +++ Estelle looked over at the person who had asked about Sol 3's battle with the climate. yes." "Trade? When?" "Soon. he said." Estelle informed them. and then gave up trying to translate the name. She grinned as Halbrack led her away. All controlled by leader. "Estelle Goldman. He say they have. the one who's supposed to work out whether the marnmen are truly sentient or not. With a smile. . They needed a healer." "This Harbiting. there are other things I want to show you.are medicines." came the hesitant answer. and the squeaks. Community. that is word. After a minute. He say is true they no use high counting. Have leader. I speak him. How would you do that?" The answer came quickly. clicks." Not as good as Dennis. and squeaked with a click at the end. "Ask. she had not seen many overweight people in the village. He say you make test. like trade that come soon. Come. "I want to meet a marnman. He say is true they no use big tool. but she could not remember where she had seen it before. I would like to see that if possible. He speak me. what word. If you want we can talk to the Healer." Tuesday knew what they were and could not wait to see them. He say leader make decision. talk to Dennis. For that matter. good medicines." "Community. "Yerf. "He go on and on. but she could understand him well enough." "A messenger." Halbrack said. it was longer and in a ponytail. She recognized a pattern. he was more muscular. Continue. Yes. and groans seemed to go on forever. a couple days at the most. "Dennis had to go on a hunt because of that. Tuesday. "You can understand me and speak our language?" "Some. "Dennis say. and his hair was shorter and darker." "Other with special job. she noted after a more careful look. Bale started laughing and raised his hands to stop the flow of language. Tanned like Dennis. off toward the privacy of the forest. Ask him." "Trading is good evidence of sentience. is name. Have one take talk between people. No. whatever your name is. city? School?" "Community?" Estelle asked. but he may have his uses. decision. "You're Bale?" she asked the young man. make decision. Maybe she would learn something today after all." "He's away. Are your people truly sentient?" The marnman looked at Bale. You want see. You name?" He did not speak all that well. or what it signified." "OK. You meet. "He'll be back later then. I'm the anthropologist. how you say?" Bale thought for a minute. Bale said something to the marnman. Both men looked long and thin. marnman you say. "That's a place where many people live together.
Is fun. though why anyone would want to act like the man they called the Pope she never could figure out. He was joined by Talks-To-TheDwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. then this young marnman will learn the job?" "Yerf." "Then what happens is that the leader will take a young marnman. Come. who picks who is going to do what job? Is it that the son takes over from the father? Or is there another way?" Bale spoke to the marnman. or whatever. as she learned while growing up. and many with nothing above their waist." To Estelle's amazement. Together they floated . Maybe this way she would learn more. as they got ready for bed. say you will be a hunter. However. +++ Near the living wall that formed the wave stop for the place of still living-water. his teeth brighter because of his tan. the only community that regularly communicated and traded with the sentient creatures on the ancient land. look at him. When he was naked. Is fun. the community of marnmen had slowly grown over many warm and cold times." It took Estelle a minute to remember that this was a different world. Calling on his experience in dealing with his people. values she needed to learn and record. She also remembered how good it felt to swim without clothes." "Nothing?" "Yerf. "You want--" He made swimming motions with his hands. as much of an expert on the humans as anyone. that less of some things must gain more of others. It almost seemed as if Francine had invited her to join them. with different values and rules. that when in Rome. a medium sized community had grown. then translated the answer. Dennis and his wife had thought nothing of being naked in front of her. "Come. the condition of the living-water required that trade would have to change. one that dealt well with its neighbors. The tools obtained from the land dwellers clearly added to the marnmen's status in the world community. "Leader tells who does what. a different society. She threw away her inhibitions and decided to follow an old axiom she learned in school." "I have nothing to wear. Swim. the mineral and metal recovery specialist for the community. Bale began to remove his clothes. and with their neighbors on the ancient land. She had seen several nude people. or a messenger. Wear no thing. and Talks-ToMany to remind him of what the other communities would think. Young then learn." Bale smiled. Estelle placed her clothes in the bushes as Bale swam out into the lagoon." "Wear that. he led the way along a small path to the beach. "What? Swim with them? Here? Now?" "Yes. Yes. Gives-Direction prepared for the discussions that would affect the trading power of his community. with other groups of marnmen. you do as the Romans do. You are right. From a few younglings who had run from another society. This world had very different values. ChangesThe-Water."Now about the community. swimming with her friends.
Who should decide how much to cut back? Once trade was cut back. "I have already spoken to Speaks-For-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-of-Life about this very problem." He settled back to the bottom satisfied that he was able to help his leader. We have ourselves started to do what we warned those who dwell on the ancient land not to do. Gives-Direction said. We have started to form waters that taste strange. He has spoken to Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life about this. times of plenty when the marnmen had few problems. The muted pinks and blues of the living rock. more like those that flow from the ancient land than the livingwater. That was good. but a factor that he must include. "Those who dwell on the ancient land are wise. how do we do this?" Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life rose slightly from the bottom. This must be done. He agrees that to take more minerals and metals out would make us sick. No. and he says that Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life agrees. Apprehensive now that those times were gone. how could the metals and minerals go back into the living-water? How long would that take? The last was unknown. not only our people. Together they may change the water back to where his people would not die. but also the Thinkers and the food plants and the small voyaging food. What they say is the only thing they may do if we of the living-waters are to survive. This will mean a loss in trade. make all life sick. We must do so again. The life in the water has dropped to a level where it may become dangerous to all who dwell in the living-waters. it is past the time to cut back the trade. that only growing trouble lay before his people. and might be losing life due to the amount of minerals removed. spoke of peaceful times. How? We must send for one of the . When they slowly dropped to the bottom. He agrees that the living-waters should not be threatened. unless the price is much higher. Gives-Direction looked at the colorful rocks that surrounded the speaking area. Those on the ancient land have agreed to talk and decide how much to cut back on trade so that we might not die. How far could that death spread? How many species would it effect? Those that dwell on the ancient land could see this also. and the life could not deal with the changes. "Changes-The-Water has informed me that the amount of minerals and metals in the living-waters has changed near his place of duty. and those minor. and much of the life died. and the minerals and metals allowed to dissolve into the living-waters once again. It is time to cut back the trade with those who dwell on the ancient land.near the surface. breathing deeply to gather the oxygen necessary to stay in the acoustically private conference area. without the tools we get from they that dwell in the air of life? We did without before those who dwell on the ancient land arrived. The question is. had learned that this was not good from the actions of other worlds. he bowed his head. There is no choice in the matter. Can we do without the elements of work. the convolutions that formed hiding places for the pageant fish and absorbed sound. and Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life knows that. Gives-Direction said. One of the visitors to the community on the ancient land has said that on other worlds the waters were allowed to change. Some of the living rock near the place of changing water was already losing color. He has informed me that the process has slowed. and the trade given is much less. and that the waters now taste strange. It is past the time to tell the dwellers on the ancient land that they can have the metals no more.
The animals that lived in and breathed the water would lose the oxygen that sustained life. GivesDirection-to-Those-Who-Hunt arrived at Gives-Direction's living area entrance. while the minerals in the living-water are many. a fate he would not want to face. Have any of you others noticed any changes? Could dissolving the used tools there be a way of increasing the minerals and metals in the living-waters?" The marnman who worked at the dormant volcano stared at his leader. "While we wait here. You live too far away. but the minerals plants need most to grow. which would cause those who dwell in the waters that taste strange to die of starvation and poison the living-waters. What other items of major importance are there to discuss?" The conference continued while the source of light and life rose in the sky. Their death would be terrible. have you noticed changes in the waters that taste strange? No." Joined by the others. When Gives-Direction knew that the person he wanted would be located and sent to the conference. into the speaking area with no echoes. as if one of his people could not rise to the surface for a breath of life. he said.hunters. . we add more minerals and metals to the waters that taste strange. and traveled toward the horizon. The four marnmen already present rose to the surface to greet the newcomer and renew their supply of the breath of life. it would correct the problem in the living-waters? I do not believe that is true. Gives-Direction rose to the surface to replenish the oxygen in his system as he considered the new information." Gives-Direction looked at the translator of the human language and waited. Very well then. but in such a way that the fish and other animal life were all killed. Possibly Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-ofLife has learned something. When the oxygen in their blood was replenished. Ripples tickled his back and the source of light and life added warmth to his being as he imagined how the waters that taste strange could lose the breath of life. there are other things we must discuss. not that long ago as measured by the times of changing current. The minerals that dissolve in the waters that taste strange are not what we need in the living-water. "If we ask those who dwell on the ancient land to change the waters that taste strange. could no longer extract what they needed as they had been doing since the time of changing currents. Finally. so all that gains life from the water dies. Changes-The-Water. Gives-Direction and his advisors again drifted to the floor of the world. the time of refreshment. A guard escorted him to the conversation area. they told the first Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life about the world they were sent from. "Back when the dwellers on the ancient land first arrived. somehow. for the minerals in any one part of the ancient land are few. TalksTo-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life thought for a span. our cousins might be spared the indignities and discomfort of drowning. you would not know. but not so the small food fish or large food fish." Gives-Direction rose to near the surface and called out to a passing guard. then again drifted to the private speaking area. passed its zenith. The stories say that they did change the waters that taste strange of their planet. The plants then grow to take the breath of life away from the living-waters. we must be sure they that dwell in the air of life understand that they can not help by adding things to the waters that taste strange. "What are you asking? Do you think that if. he drifted back down to the bottom to where his comrades waited. When all had settled. They would all die and be no more. then told them.
considered. We can keep them sharp for a time. but gather the metal that is no longer useful and give it to Changes-The-Water. We can feel it on our skin." Gives-Direction asked. all in one place. as you have suggested. but after a period of time we would not be able to hunt as well. To the appearance of my sight. He will spread the elements of work in the manner he thinks will best replenish the living-water. From what I have heard." Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt bowed and said." "Then. but not quickly enough to change what is now. but soon they turn useless. that is a truthful statement. "but it may be better to leave them where they are." Changes-The-Water replied. Gives-Direction. "We could for a while. scarred from many fights with beasts his size and larger. we change the points of the prods in one area." Gives-Direction said. The elements of work we have received since then tend to dissolve in the living-waters over a period of several warm and cold times. "Some. I have heard of it also and know it will give details. We were told at the time that they were made from the metal that was outside the vessel that swam through the air of life. not spread around." "That is done. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. "Those who dwell on the ancient land have a thing that can analyze rocks and soils and living things and say what these things are made of. Better they are spread around. so all the elements of work are there for He-Who-Changes-The-Water. who may easily gather them. Do that then. that would mean we would not have as much food to feed the ." Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life said. Will their thing do more? Yes. unless those who dwell on the ancient land can find another material that will work as well. or nearly as well. Perhaps it can tell the difference in the water. the elements of work you have been getting. The elements of work we first received from the dwellers in the air of life are still sharp and kill the large food fish easily. the metals will dissolve quicker near the place where the living-water is changed. leave what has been dropped where it is." "Can they be gathered and returned to Changes-The-Water at the place where the living-water is changed?" "They could be. "We must cut back on the amount of trade we do with they that dwell in the air of life.Gives-Direction explained to Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. "What do you do with them when they turn useless?" "We generally leave them where they are when we change the points of our hunting prods. If you cannot get the sharp objects. and that metal could not be made again." "But the waters near where the water is changed will take the metals and minerals faster since more is missing. Now answer my question. will that be a problem?" The scarred marnman quickly answered. "That I could not say. if those who dwell on the ancient land can not find a replacement for the elements of work. The living-waters would quickly hold all they could if the elements of work were gathered in one place. I have no way of measuring how much has disappeared. "Gives-Direction. Can you do your work if we do not trade for new elements of work?" The marnman. "We know the water is different. "How much?" Gives-Direction asked. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. details that we do not need." Changes-The-Water reminded them.
community. We will have to drop the population. If necessary, this can be done. We will cut back on the trade. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life, when can we speak to they that dwell in the air of life?" "I will speak to them and explain our problem and ask if they can find a substitute, and I will make arrangements for a snout to snout when the source of sight and life is highest a few lights and nights from now." "That will be a good time. It will encourage them to be quick. It is time to go back to your homes, for the source of light and life is leaving. We have been long talking, and now we are done."
Brevor and Anderson stood in a small nook behind a long storage building near the edge of the forest, well shaded by nearby trees. Brevor leaned his weight on a crank, pushed it down, and then struggled to pull it toward him and up to complete the circle. Wooden gears slowly turned, the main shaft disappearing into a large tank that held organic waste. Movement of the crank slowly stirred the compost, allowing the heat and gasses of decomposition to be collected, and moving it toward the far end to become fertilizer for the local gardens. "This is work, you know that?" Brevor commented as he struggled to push the crank down, drops of sweat stinging his eyes. "Not that bad. Only needs strength. Harvesting is harder, not as much strength but never ending, all day and into the night when the moons cooperate, and harvest comes very soon. You will see. Everyone helps with harvest, more than two weeks' worth of hard work for everyone, but when the work is done we have a huge feast, fun and games, and celebration for the bounty of the harvest. Tonight we will probably get the word and help carry a rumbler or two back for winter meat if the hunt was successful, but for now it is just the normal chores of everyday living." "This is much harder than on other worlds, though. So much effort that could be done some other way, by steam or something. Most towns and cities and villages have large complexes that aerate and mix the sludge, with bacteria and microbes to break down almost anything, and mechanicals to stir the mix." "But you must remember our size, how many people we have compared to these other places, or do not have is more likely. How much power do they have compared to us? We are very limited in what we can do, but we survive by working hard. And everybody works hard because everybody sees the need. We even have fun. Remember the night you arrived?" Brevor chuckled. "Do I ever. Don't let me drink that much again. I didn't know I could feel that bad." "Stop. That will be enough for now. Others will turn more tomorrow and the next day. We are done with this chore. Come along and I will show you a new building we are putting up." Brevor let the crank hang from the shaft, shrugged away the growing stiffness in his shoulders, sipped some water from his flask, and then hung the strap over his shoulder. He followed Anderson through the town, a mix of small houses and large storage
buildings, all completely coated with the rock like substance that repelled all types of weather. Even the large community building where they had held the first feast, and where the community's leader, Wendell, stayed, was coated with the stuff. All the buildings were log and mud, or sometimes a mud brick, and appeared over engineered. Even at the one farm he had visited, the house was a solid two-room building back from a graded dirt road. No, he could not say the roads were graded. They were more pressed, as if years of loaded wagons had compressed the ground into a hard surface. A path led into the trees of the barrier forest, a nearly half mile area between the ocean and the village that protected the buildings from storm winds. A short way into the woods a fresh clearing still had stumps in the ground that poked out of the decaying leaves covering the forest floor. Near the middle of the clearing a partially built log and mud building stood. Several buckets of water stood next to a large pan resting on the ground. Anderson picked up a nearby shovel and threw some dirt into the long, almost flat container. "Toss some of that water into there," Anderson instructed. "I still have some bricks to form, then tomorrow it gets a strength log." "A what?" Brevor asked. "A strength log. It is a log that is shaped to fit on the wall, that helps distribute weight along the entire length of the wall so the bricks will not crack. Because of what we are building, it will be necessary to have one on both sides. A heavy screen will be hung from a support located just above the strength beam. It will be moved from place to place, depending on how much meat we have to smoke. Oh, I am sorry. I forgot to tell you what this will be. We are building a smokehouse. A smoky fire will be at this end, which is why we use brick and not wood, and the smoke will rise and roll along the roof into that side of the building where the meat is hung. Then the smoke will flow out through those vents at the bottom on the far wall. Sometimes we have more meat than others, and the larger the initial fire, the less we have to tend it, therefore we thought of trying the movable screen. It will be made of rumbler hide, slow to burn. In fact, Rumbler hide is almost indestructible. With the metalwood strength log, we can place it in any of many holes that will be formed by the bricks on top of the strength log. Then it will be adjustable. Other holes will hold the logs we use to hang the meat, which can be wood from the forest since the meat is not that heavy and the fire will not reach it. The room will fill with heat and smoke and the meat will cook and cure." Brevor studied the construction. They had already known, or had learned, that offsetting the bricks added strength. The corners and walls appeared square, and the layers were level. This was good workmanship for so primitive a planet. Brevor said, "You said that you already have a smokehouse." "We do, but it is old, and not adjustable. This is an idea one of the hunters came up with, so I build it. It should be ready for the spring Rumblers. There, the mud is ready, and now must be formed. We will only need five more bricks for this side, but more will be needed for the other side, so we will go ahead and make what we can. Place the mud into the wood forms over there, scrape them level with the top, and tomorrow, when the bricks are formed, we will place them and the strength beam, if we do not have to carry a Rumbler." "What kind of wood is that?" Brevor asked as he scooped the mud from the shallow
pan into the molds with what looked like a shovel made out of wood. "This is a log of metalwood, wood from a tree that grows far to the south and is carried here by a team of leafgrazers pulling a wagon. It is strong and does not burn, and it is hard, and heavy, so we will need help to place it. A shaped metalwood pole will be used to hold the rumbler skin, which would wear out any other type of wood. If we used wood that is easier to find, like we do for hanging the meat, we would have to tear the building down in order to replace the strength log after a few years. So, you see, although other wood is used in other places, only metalwood will do here." Anderson inspected the forms Brevor had filled. "That's good. Very good. You'd make an excellent brick maker. Now they have to dry and harden. We'll mix up another batch for those forms and that should be enough. While I go to get the dirt, follow that path and get water from the sea." "From the sea? It has to be that?" "For the proper chemical reactions to take place, we have to use what the marnmen call living-water. That, and the seaweed they give us, are what react together with the mud to form the outside coating." "And the coating is really durable?" "It is. What you see as the village, especially the houses on the hill closest to the sea, and those on the farms, are the original houses built when we first arrived on the planet. They have withstood the weather with only an occasional recoat. We will do some of that later this afternoon. For now, more mixing."
Late summer sun shone down on naked bodies, the long and short frequencies causing changes in the color of Estelle's skin as she and Bale floated together in the lagoon. An ominous shape slid under them, the shape of a hunter, with a long jaw and powerful tail, a predator on the prowl. Estelle reached down into the warm water and allowed her fingers to slide along the rough skin of the predator. "This is so relaxing," Estelle quietly told Bale. "It's amazing no dangerous creatures come around." "Nown, no," the translator replied. "Harbiting dangerous to enemies, but with us they watch, same as food fish. Protect us. If we dip, lose breath, they save. Perfectly safe." "Kind of a life guard that's always on duty. Pretty neat." "Tell me. You go feast?" Estelle remembered the festival coming up after harvest. Dennis had said it would be something like the feast they had the night they arrived but more so, and in a way he would not reveal. She decided that was the feast Bale was talking about, the festival after the harvest, and not to answer the question, to feign ignorance. "I was there, mostly with Dennis." "Was? Means past?" "Yes." "Nown. Feast after harvest. You go?" "I haven't heard of anything coming up, but if there is, I'll be there. I want to watch what goes on. That is my job, you know. Part of it. I also have to learn if the marnmen,
Could they handle complex ideas? Dennis had said there was trade. man--man-i-pi-late. with the four appendages like fingers. if it had judgment. I ask he let you look entire body. "Bale. trade buildings. to an open land that seemed not to end. we wait. The animal most definitely was capable of receiving sensations and responding in an appropriate manner. apparently. and what the law looked for. with other species. better idea. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life swims close by. She would have to speak with Dennis. the meaning of sentient to the Federation. used the terms interchangeably. Harbiting. with a small. "Cook later. "I need more information. We'll have to wait for Dennis so he can explain what I need in greater detail. including herself she had to admit. not vertical like the tail most fish had. "Yerf. that would probably be enough proof. the roughness scales that overlapped. she still had to learn if it had intelligence. However. and houses that formed the village proper. more like the whale of Sol 3 that she had learned about long ago.Harbiting you say. He and Anderson had followed a cleared path through the trees beyond the narrow strip of woods that surrounded the village. Few . Trees surrounded the few storage." "Yerf. the temperature the same as the water. and they could communicate in several ways. twirling the stick as if it were a baton. and tentatively she reached out to feel it. they could manipulate and use simple tools. yes. pick them up and carry them? Or use tools?" she explained. Estelle noticed its tail was horizontal. will show. one of the creatures came over to Estelle and looked at her." Bale explained. The eyes were at the sides of its head." Just after Bale spoke in his native tongue. the dirt of the path compacted from years of travel." Estelle said. self-sealing nostril at its base. I still have a problem. hiding the ocean and inland surroundings. and maybe Ambassador DuPont. She could see the mouth measured almost a meter in length. which is what she had learned sentient meant in school." "Yerf. Unfortunately. It felt like a cross between rough leather and rubber. giving the animal a narrow area of binocular vision. The marnmen could receive sensations and act on them. Have best. The marnman rolled over on its side and showed her one of its flippers. We talk. but located so they could both see directly ahead. if it could recognize that it was an entity all its own and react with empathy and understanding toward others. Its skin looked like rubber. Then the marnman held the stick and used it as a club." Bale told her. Shortly the marnman returned carrying a large branch that had fallen in the water. "These things can manipulate objects?" she asked. "They can move things. The marnman ran the branch over and under its fingers. most people. both with their species and. if they're really sentient. however." +++ Brevor did not realize there was this much farmland near the village. Her word alone would not do. If they could negotiate." Estelle considered the implications of what she had seen. Tell me more about them. killing one of the smaller fish and handing it to Bale. indicating the fingered flipper. "Food. "I do not understand word." He said something to the marnman and the creature slowly swam off.
Now that was a challenge. and we have followed when we needed to. as they say. between supper and dark. We will finish yet. but with the same results. making sure it was supported the entire time. one for living and one for sleeping. No. slower. "That salad Agatha made was good. rewarded with a desk job. Near one of the side windows cracks showed in the outer coating. one of the nicer planets I've visited. Anderson placed his pack on the ground and said. a too hot terraformed place with nothing but sun and standing water interspersed with islands of land. "Dip the leaves in the water to get them wet. It was on Bushy's Planet. then the roadway." Anderson watched as Brevor worked on another crack. adding our own ideas or ideas we got from the marnmen. Definitely not Bushy's planet. so there was no way to put in supports. so they designed them. "That is how it is done." "Well. Like this. I have others. Now you try." "The Originals? Who are the Originals?" "The first to come. Like this. The whole family seemed to sleep together. then pour sea water all over it. first stringing the long suspension cables. Brevor slept in his field office. then smeared the excess along the crack. slap them on. That is her duty. with two rooms inside. "What we will do is to fill the cracks." "Tell me something. That's all there is to it. Just slop it on. That should renew the coating." They stood in front of a small house.trees and fewer houses dotted the variously shaded squares of plants and occasional fenced in pasture that caused the land to look like a large quilt. All the houses seemed the same." "It all depends how far from the sea you are. one path heading off into the distance toward where the sun would set in a few hours. What was it?" "Just something made up from some of the local plants. This place is nice." He took a handful of mud from the bucket and plastered it to the face of the wall. I had to build a bridge between two of the islands. The road branched." After they had filled the cracks with mud. then paste the seaweed on it and let it dry. they will harden and blend into the rest of the coating. though how that worked he did not know. As they turned onto the cart path. and press them into the filled cracks. working it in well. You will find out all you need to then. the history is told. Wait for the festival after harvest. "Here. I don't pay that much attention to cooking. Who designed the buildings. the houses?" "The Originals were the first to build. Here we are. the other passing a nearby house with a large front lawn and a cart path leading up to it. Tell me some of the things you have worked on. When they dry. In the evening." . "Now just pour this container over the wall where we just patched. We had to build from the shoreline out. Some places are harder than others. not long ago I designed and supervised the building of a suspension bridge three kilometers long. When I was done I was. no. "There you go. And we had to use the lightest materials available for the strength we needed. until I was sent here. then the support cables that hang from them." he instructed. Brevor said. Anderson uncovered the buckets he had carried from the village and filled a small container with the water it held." "That doesn't sound so hard. You are learning about how we do things. The depth of the water was from fifty meters to over a kilometer." Anderson mixed some dirt from the garden with water left outside in a bucket. two windows on either side of the door like Brevor had seen in the village.
Very dust. One planet they tried terraforming had nothing. "I am cleaning house before I cook night meal. That is when they send one person back to tell us."You mentioned something. where together they moved beds and other heavy objects. Half an hour later. and you can tell me along the way. Francine said. but Francine said that made it harder to sweep. but everything else is OK. After . "How long is Dennis going to be gone?" "One day. but what is a suspension bridge?" "That's a bridge. or another path. "Sure. the suspension cables. and that'll give you an idea. After that. Say a planet has more carbon dioxide than oxygen. more or less." They worked for a time. It's supported that way. I have no problem with that. maybe two. They moved into the bedroom after a few minutes. A meter is. One thousand of them is a kilometer. The word Island I understand." "You'll have to tell me more. visible clouds floating out the door and windows. a path. That is why must clean house. so they dropped a bunch of bacteria and one celled animals. in order to allow humans to live on it. rather than having supports coming from the ground. but they figure another thousand years or so should do it. that crosses over something like a lake or river. Francine stood outside the doorway with a straw broom in her hands. Rest stay. Estelle asked. Dust fogged the air inside. Not so much dust. but later. Now from the tip of your fingers to the opposite ear is about a meter." +++ As Estelle rounded the corner of Dennis' house. First hunters must find Rumblers. So far it's not ready for humans. while they rested outside away from the dust. Then they are butchering them. it's usually OK to let people start living there on a limited basis. A suspension bridge is hung from cables or ropes stretched between two supports. um. We need more water. moving heavy containers and full baskets that one person could not handle alone. In spring we all go gather meat and bring it back. Figure from the ocean to the mountains is about three hundred kilometers." Estelle almost grinned at the broken language. and other ropes or cables are hung from them to hold up the path or roadway. maybe four. from before light to after dark. go with harvest time here. "Back?" Francine asked as Estelle approached. we stay and work hard. Estelle suggested sprinkling water on the floor first to keep the dust down. but managed only to smile as she answered. gather crops in field. Kilometer? What is that?" A kilometer? That's a thousand meters. Only some. Means you and me." "And you built one of them--" Anderson's voice faded as he grasped the enormity of the project. Anything else?" "Several things. Then they are killing them. You help clean? We move things so I sweep again better. "That was a challenge. tell you what. just number needed. Stretch out your arm and look straight ahead. That means a trip to the ocean. Francine removing the sometimes visible lines that marked the item's position. maybe three. Translating each word separately. a unit of measurement I think. they send a load of different seeds to the planet and let them grow for five or ten years. Now tell me what is terraformed?" "Terraformed just means that plants and bacteria and animals were taken there first.
no wait. "That is interesting. She was friends with Dennis and Francine. or Incan. do you mean. um--. However. how they interacted." Estelle wanted to ask how intimate the celebration became. We celebrate with friends. Anything more than protecting the women who are fertile and the children of a group is learned behavior and not natural law. You enjoy. The Ambassador would not. which suggested that families were completely open with each other. All enjoy. I haven't heard of present civilizations practicing this type of ceremony before. and sex was just something that happened. She stayed with Dennis and Francine in that truly family bedroom. no family." "Taboo? Immoral? What mean?" "Taboo? That means something that is not done. Immoral? That's going against God's laws or the laws of nature. All good friends. Then celebrate life with all our friends all the night and next day. however. I thought. and almost laughed at her embarrassment. a natural law.harvest work is celebration. Just not between not friends. Neither would do more than join the feast. which was fun. Taboo. Yet other known couples kept fully covered and stayed apart. Both he and Brevor were careful and not adventurous. Harvest was imminent. yes. and had not stayed with anyone else so she could test her hypothesis. and others seemed less reticent as they grew to know her. After all. an unwritten rule that everyone knows and follows. Friendly relations are between good friends. How could she ask this? How deeply could she investigate without breaking taboo? Francine knew what Estelle wanted to ask. and others would call disgusting. not participate. what some would call an orgy. and took weeks. Tuesday had a reputation for enjoying many men. What should she do? Estelle had a duty to observe and report about this type of celebration. How would she feel after harvest? Who would she know well enough to feel comfortable? Could she stay with full families and find out how they lived? Would she know anyone that well? That brought her back to her original question: should she participate in the Celebration? Did she want to participate? She could always go with the excuse she had to observe. A weight seemed to lift off her shoulders. She had talked to Bale and swum with the marnman." It did sound as if Francine was talking about a night of open sex with many partners. It's something we in my profession have . and more than a few women. Fun time. Dennis had suggested as much. With a party like this. what you think." "Yes. she was sure. That's a custom that some believe happened in early Sol 3 civilizations. the Harvest Festival? Dennis mentioned that. Especially in public. Tuesday Wells would like this. Many people think that what their society dictates is what is ingrained in instinct. to all who help. to our friends. You give thanks for what you have been able to grow?" "We give thanks. That was what she was supposed to do. Usually there's something in the local religion that makes that type of demonstrative relationship immoral. or a few other ancient tribes. First ceremony. That is fun. She saw people walking around naked and half-covered. It makes all closer. something like the ancient Inuit legends. she was sure. she had been here only a few days and had not interacted with many people. she had no ties to anyone at the moment. "Yes. and one couple did more than just kissing in public. at celebration." "When you celebrate with friends. from when humanity was growing up. Not so much outside celebration. Think more of others. No problem. Then we eat and eat. Tuesday would fit right in. but she still did not understand the local mores.
It is time begin cooking. you. try to avoid.to watch for." Francine looked at the location of the sun told Estelle. "Come. that it goes against God or nature. me. that all depend on others. and Dennis." "How that be bad? Is only showing closeness. Most cultures now think openness like you describe is bad. Is good. Not bad. I hope that before you leave we will be good friends." . Tell me more about other customs while we work.
Stupid. saw that Fogart was awake. searching the forest and listening for the danger cry of a hornbird as they covered much of the distance to where the high valleys opened out. and that's what they did. trying to take over the world. real people. If Taggart's information is right. or at least it has the same goals. the heat and humidity growing as they ran under the trees. the one Humphrey recites each year. Well. Fogart asked. finally falling into an exhausted sleep well after the stars had appeared. suggested it was the only way for them to know the marnmen are intelligent. his body drooping as if he had been awake for days. He was beat. though. a strong bow. that they were not dealing with savages. "OK. as he slept with his new mate. and so he would know what to watch for. They followed the main path south from the caves.Chapter 6 Early yesterday. but they did it. Well after nightfall. it seems that government is the same. drawn back by familiar fingers. Morning light found them already traveling south again. maybe." Fogart replied. and more arrows than they could possibly need. We'll take the side trails close enough to watch the main path. "I think its time we slowed down and split up. and instructed him to pack his trail kit and meet Jamson at the southern upper entrance as soon as possible. Headmon Halford and Wendell cooked up the scheme to show off the thunder weapon as a demonstration of our power. no." "As if theirs wouldn't be better." "Exactly. culminating in a heavy downpour as they reached the first of the high valleys. I'll have to tell you." "Yeah. We invited them to leave scientists at Seaside to study our ways. we'll find the intruders either this afternoon or early tomorrow. You know the story of the old home world. dressed in loosely woven clothing designed to protect against insects and let out heat. He sounded amazed at how ill informed his partner was. and Jamson had been silent. headed south at an easy lope. They have a new kind of engine. though. To satisfy his curiosity. coolness from the sky to wash the sweat and smell off their bodies. The rain was a welcome relief after the humid heat of the forest. "Lanford should have told you everything since you're with me. and Lanford and Halford both think it is. his heavy breathing slowing as he rested. They found out. lost in thought or planning as they traveled along the path. or rather we showed them. Jamson called a halt. that can travel much faster than they used to. And now those others are back. But we . carrying enough trail food to last two weeks. If you remember. the Federation or Empire or whatever it's called. OK." Lanford had given Fogart no information back at the caves before he disappeared. they showed up the last hot time wanting. looked in. they climbed high into the crooks of trees. Fogart heard the scratches of feet as someone entered the living area of his cubby and came instantly awake. You know our ancestor's story. "What's going on?" "You mean to say that no one told you?" Jamson asked. Lanford. The privacy curtain had moved aside. I remember that. Twenty minutes later the two hunters.
Halford designated me leader of the southern hunt. picture a growler watching. I think. "Excellent. Anyway. You can call like a night bird. You know how the hornbird warns of danger. Figure a. And what would you do if you were in the place of the visitors? Looking at the world from high above? They'll see a more or less straight line through the canopy going the direction they want and will remember it. Good. It's possible they have some way of seeing us. "Stalk the main path." "Sounds good. We can meet here if either of us sees them. We'll camp near the three trees. or lack of any birds. can't you?" "Sure." Fogart. I take it they know nothing of this world?" "Only what they've learned in the past few days. You know how quiet we have to be when we go after them. call like a night bird. Just keep your eyes and ears open. and be silent. He said the marnmen saw the flier circle around this way. because I helped organize this thing. either one can kill you. "I may have an idea or two. no more than a depression." Jamson replied. They could do just about anything you can imagine. Shortly. Not alert. carrying different types of weapons. More than that. But running for two days straight will do us no good. us. so the way I figure it. There's a clearing." "Good hunting. or draw a reminder. I don't know myself. and I think they'll follow this path because it's easy to see from space and leads close to the caves. Look for people not like us." "You understand. talk to you later. How will we know them if we find them?" Jamson squatted nearby. They're out here somewhere. "Listen for the hornbird call. Fogart smiled. that runner from Seaside. meet on the trail at dark. "What makes you think they'll land there and use this path?" "Taggart found some things. walked to the edge of the clearing and leaned against a tree as thunder sounded in the distance." "Nice. we should meet them shortly. We'll not be effective hunters if we're out of breath and tired. I met Aarmand. um. as he came in. after the storm had completely passed. If you see anything." Jamson said to his partner as they prepared to split up. You'll need to use all your skill. a small valley. resting his calves. "Destroy the weapon and take over the world. but they won't realize it's out of place." "Why?" Fogart asked. Otherwise. I'll think about it. They'll hear it. We'd only get ourselves killed if we find the intruders. dressed differently. or they might have a way of making the sounds we make louder." "Exactly. You know this. a long ear is listening. "And be . just before you arrived. Jamson gave Fogart his final instructions. We have no way of knowing. Now considering what Halford and Wendell did. but there's only one place that fits all their needs. "OK. what would you do if you were the invaders?" Fogart thought for a minute." Fogart replied. He said it was mainly because I used my knowledge and experience to predict where their hidden hunters would go. And remember. that I think they'd use to land and start their journey. they were ready to move out from under the trees. even at night. Also." Jamson rested his chin on his chest. Not thinking. I can't tell you. He answered.think they might have secretly dropped off more people somewhere up here. soaked from the storm.
hung from a strap that crossed over his shoulder. Used mostly for storage and rarely visited except by the guards who manned the watch room. What is left of it. Let the rest arrive. she had it early this morning. an assortment that. "It has helped. Fogart disappeared as silently as a ghost into the mist on the other side of the path." Halford answered shortly. In all those powders you carry." Murphy replied quietly. For a private meeting room to make secret plans it was ideal. The rough walls flickered red from the fire he had built in the center of the room. as healer.careful." "Even if one did." "Healthy?" Halford asked curiously. The only access was a long winding passage. Headmon." Halford told him without looking up. and distilled oils. common attire at Cliffside. "There are more coming. Nothing remained to indicate the two men had stood there to make plans. How do you think I see to get around without a light at night? A shiny head is good for something. From it. The mists of the distant river's rapids showed above the forest. packed with diverse dried plants. an enclosed room dug out of the rock that had just enough circulation to keep the air from stagnating. you don't need to use your head. +++ The third level of Cliffside had the only watch room with an opening that looked out toward the river. "Have you been drinking that tonic?" "In my tea every day during lunch and dinner. The first person to join Halford was Murphy. and a guard stationed at the far end who had a short list of people allowed to pass into the room. indicating the large protuberance below the healer's chest. Why am I here?" "Patience. I've been waiting to see you to let you know. He looked at the thin gray haired man that sat by the fire and cleared his throat. with furs hung on the walls to stop sounds from echoing." "But what of your belly?" Halford asked. the remoteness resulted in several areas that were almost completely private. How much longer before Marty has her baby?" "No longer. . "I wouldn't use it." Murphy chuckled as he patted the roundness below his chest. "If you had as good a cook at your fire as I have at mine. He wore a hide shirt that barely covered his large stomach and trousers that stopped above his ankles. No twig cracked or leaf rustled to betray his passage. "I wanted to have time to look at you. the healer of Cliffside. "With that to reflect the light." Jamson faded into the bushes on the left. thank you. you could look along the cultivated fields and natural pastureland that ran along the base of the mountain. you would think one could help restore the color to the hair on your head. A large pouch. he was never without. The watch room was part of a section that was a kilometer closer to the small stream that supplied Cliffside's water than it was to the river. you'd look the same. reached by a series of interconnecting passages and rooms." Murphy answered with a smile. that is. Tell me something." Halford recited back the prescription Murphy had given him. powdered seeds. "You are early. Halford waited in one of these.
What you may not know is that we believe that more people were secretly placed on the ground somewhere to the south. and we have found the marnmen. I will send more hunters in that direction. I will wait for Aarmand." Halford explained. I have come to the conclusion that the four visitors at Seaside know nothing of this. "Does Aarmand know how to get here?" He's being shown. We begin. "After talking to Aarmand. That it tried to hide the turn back is very suspicious. unfreeze those humans who were frozen safely. were to send a small party to study us. "We do not know why. a trip between stars can now take two weeks instead of two centuries. The little man looked into the fire for a minute as he decided how much to tell. taking over the former 'colonies' that have reverted to savagery. was extremely long sighted and shrewd. and that is the term. That in itself was not important. When what we call the self-fueling rocket was invented. the outworlders. his voice rumbling with agitation. have not reverted to savagery. The present government has been taking over planets for years now. next to Morning Star. We. Morning Star. He is our only link to Seaside at the moment." Halford turned to his right and asked Lanford. and this includes them. my friend." Halford answered." A short stocky man with long hair floating behind him entered the room. "Where do you want me to start?" "Wherever you feel is appropriate."Very. "I feel it starts when humans first learned to freeze people. They joined the two already by the fire." "I have been busy. "When the outworlders arrived last summer. so I will move on. and those are the people at Seaside." "Patience. As you know. how many. sitting on the hard floor. "and I know you have plenty. First. Great distances can now be covered quickly. Aarmand then brought word that the marnmen had seen it heading for land south of us. we learned of the new type of drive that had been developed. "Ah. "Why are we here? There are important things happening. We sent hunters out in all directions as a precaution. their legs folded in front of them. we are being visited by people from the old world. I will hear your suggestions and make my decision. colonization of the stars was inevitable." Halford answered." the historian replied. or you would not be the great hunter that you are. here are Morning Star and Lanford. then extended space flight was possible. will you refresh us on the history?" "I can. or just plain stupid. the Federation they call themselves. followed by a wiry man with a weather-beaten face. depends on whether you want a viable colony or not. but when mankind learned how to unfreeze. or anything else." "Thank you. Sit down Aarmand. We are all here. We are here to decide the answer to that question. what kind. I also believe they will ask to come here. "Ah. or actually just its leader. there. "What is being done at ." The old leader raised his hands to silence the questions. Halford asked. That the government of the time. It's a wonder you didn't hear it squalling. the home of the Originals." Lanford answered curtly. "I have some news and information. They have placed four people. They." He looked up as a lean sinewy young man hesitatingly entered the room. the marnmen. scientists supposedly. however. at Seaside to learn our ways and to learn of our friends. as is obvious to any who look. The thin man scowled at his leader. I don't have to tell you about our ancestors. as we speak. All we knew until early yesterday morning was that the track the flier took into space was wrong.
" Halford thought he had missed a clue. but will use any information they can get against us. From my left. yet I could not find the words. I know of nothing else to do but wait. I've posted double guards at all our watch points. Murphy. a bit taken aback at such a short reply. "How can you be sure that they hide things?" "If the scientists knew of the other group. "No. how much should they be shown? Those are the questions. I think we should be able to hide things from their people." Headmon Halford recognized the lost cause and gave up. Just a feeling. we have not heard from you yet." "And Aarmand. I've placed watchers at all our entrances. Headmon. soon extras toward the south." "Then I ask for opinions. If they knew. That they did just that shows that what we learn in the teachings is of use in our future dealings with these people. I feel that to deal with them at all is idiotic. "We will leave it at that. Call it a hunch. Lanford. ." "Why?" Halford asked. They would have given him some sign. can you tell us any more about these scientists?" "From the little I saw. We do not let the visitors leave Seaside. They must not know what we do or do not have. "I'm not sure. "Then we agree. "Morning Star. until a better solution can be found. Do you have an opinion?" "No. earlier in all directions. "That's my opinion. I say we should keep them in Seaside. He says they feel they are the only mission. but deal with them we must." Halford stared at the historian for a moment. If you look at our first meeting historically. it's foreseeable that they would promise to send people to analyze our society.this time?" "The hunters have been sent out. Should we allow them to come inland? If so. but the ambassador seems to be the best informed about us." Halford threw back his shoulders." Murphy repeated. No. then Wendell would have seen they were hiding something. I do not know where you keep all your information. Morning Star?" "All the teachings that have been handed down over the years of how the old world's rulers deal with their problems mostly say that they used lies and false promises to get what they want. do you have an opinion?" "Just that it appears the Federation's government is willing to hide things from its own people. anything to add?" "Not really. Three nos. He asked Aarmand. They will lie and give us promises they won't keep. to my left's left." "Then that is two votes for restricting them to Seaside. I'm sure of that." "No?" Halford asked. Now. the chemist seems to be the best educated. before we let you get more rest. they wouldn't have sent out the two groups. all say to restrict the visitors. The message will be sent to Wendell in the morning. also. Aarmand. a brilliant insight. Wendell said they do know about our weapon. "Just that Wendell suggests we keep the outworlders at Seaside. and on around. Aarmand. do you have anything to add?" the Headmon asked the visitor. but that is exactly what I was thinking. Morning Star said it all. It's also reasonable to assume they would send a secret mission to try to destroy us.
but no rush like your trip here. there is the chance that they have orders to find our weapon or power source and destroy it. I want to see him." "They would want to be protected from all types of dangers. who knows the area almost as well as Jamson. "and they probably know that some of the animals are rather large. "And I will send Scale Hunter with a new mixture I believe may be helpful. They are skeptical the marnmen exist." "Then the ones my hunters are after may be an observation mission. His distance and accuracy with a bow is unbelievable. Nothing. "but surprise is on our side. Lanford." "Let's hope so." Murphy looked over at Halford and told him. Jamson is a pretty tricky hunter. and I repeat. Also. Come to think of it." "I'll give you that. Fogart is with Jamson. but for worse or better I don't know. Aarmand." Morning Star counseled." .but not where it is. "That means their weapons probably won't be too heavy. "Are we done? Is there anything else?" The thin gray haired man looked at each of the other participants. "Good. and he's fairly devious on his own. nothing is to be said about Cliffside other than it is a village by the mountains." Lanford agreed. Good speed is needed." Halford said. I will send Carroll down to join them. as soon as Jamson returns. That will change. Seeing no one else had anything to say. he continued. I believe they'll do all right." Lanford observed. let alone are a people themselves. I will also send Willow. you are off tomorrow morning.
the second still had several minutes before it disappeared into the trees. like the hunt. It was Gouge. alert and ready to work. Is that you. Later. The hunt was over and there was meat for the winter to carry back to the village. the galaxy a glowing mist in the dark sky. Instead. Almost unbelievable. someone who they needed to learn their ways. Don't wake the whole village. "All right. who looked dead on his feet as if he had run all night without sleeping. "I didn't wake her. Wendell gauged this was earlier than the messenger should have arrived. "Where is Estelle?" The Apprentice Healer's mate said. to start the harvest at Manny's farm. What had happened? The excited messenger again called. Gouge?" The hunter did not acknowledge the question. I'm up. Wendell called out the window. and Olga's on the opposite side of the farmland. Wendell returned inside and dressed. except where women are not allowed. Someone was missing. He woke several close villagers and had them wake others farther way. Go get her.Chapter 7 "Wendell. I'm awake. Gouge would help with the smokehouse later. Looking out the window. When. Wendell asked Francine. and the stars above him twinkled brightly. Two of them? I'll wake extra carriers. of shooting an arrow through a two inch hole in the head of a fast moving animal. wake up!" He would wake the entire village at this rate. We'll go slowly until you catch up. a small crowd in working clothes had gathered around him near the path to the gate. starting the fire and cooking the meat. then to continue in the proper order. That's a good shot. I can see you're not. Wendell pulled his robe tight against the early morning chill and appeared at the porch at the far end of the building. the first two fields planted. Wendell looked over who was with him ready to go. "Wendell. No. as the sky began to turn dark gray. and the sun held no influence at all. had obviously kept the messenger awake. he shouted. Wendell!" The leader of Seaside heard one of the younger hunter's voices and knew what it meant. Wendell looked out at the hunter standing just outside the sleeping room window. Wendell! Two! You should have seen it! Stuart shot the first one through the ear!" The excitement of Stuart's extreme marksmanship." "She is. all right. That's why he was so early. and mark the turns. I didn't think she was to come. We'll have to do something special for him. Go on to bed. and hurry. Then he informed George he would be in charge for a time. All the windows of the village were dark. Either the hunt was over quicker than usual. to observe all the parts of village life. This is part of her duty. He looked back toward where Gouge stood and asked. or something spectacular had happened that had kept the messenger going all night. OK. "We got two. "Through the ear? You're kidding." . One of the moons had just set." Wendell watched as the hunter stumbled toward his house.
he had slept well and felt refreshed. I've never done that before. and almost pulled Estelle out of the bed. At that moment Francine threw open the bedroom door. "Come. and why must we hurry?" "First time with friend confuse brain? We go to hunters. Is good. +++ Ambassador Nathan DuPont stood outside the cabin's door and stretched. or could find out. sex with another woman. "Where are we going?" "Two rumblers to carry. It was heavier than she thought. "Yes. and had a faint odor. Not bad. to house of much smoke. The amenities inside the visitor's house were quite crude and primitive. Estelle said. thank you. a smell that would fade after a few minutes. Wendell had the extra duty of trading with the creatures that lived in the ocean. I have all things we need. See? We catch up. Carry back to village. and found that the woman had disappeared. If there was truly trade between the marnmen and . and more from village." Francine threw a working dress at her new friend and unhelpfully helped her to dress. "About last night. They were barely out of the village when Estelle finally asked. the Ambassador had learned little. Come! We must hurry. Rest stay to harvest. I mean. On this world." Francine pushed Estelle out the door before the anthropologist had eaten. Outside. Two! We must hurry. and she heard people calling out at a time when most should be asleep. The morning was clear and the air smelled good. All work hard next two weeks. A few people passed by on business. She had slept well. Estelle reached over to wake Francine. a council of villagers who met on an irregular basis picked the leader of the community. like old blood. I don't want you to get the wrong impression or anything.+++ Estelle woke to noises outside. and on previous assignments he had had to deal with worse. Hurry. Friends show love. They already left and we must join them!" As she stood. Estelle asked. Now she was awake and alert. and his duties were few. You good. it was a good way to tighten bonds between friends. and slept well. It was the first time she had tried that. That is all. fewer than usual and more hurried than on previous days." She grabbed the bundle Francine pointed at and lifted. one moon dimly showed the village and that people carrying bundles ran toward one of the paths that led through the forest. while the leader of the community in the mountains coordinated the villages." The two women ran to join the rest of the group as they moved briskly toward the hunters." "Not to worry. Get Rumbler meat. Estelle would probably know. and as Francine had said." "Then we go to join Dennis?" "Yes. bond. So far. hurried across the room. a product of the relaxing bedroom games she had enjoyed the evening before with Francine. Estelle slipped the dress over her head and said. with a tinge of ocean. Something was going on. I learned that last night. but since he was the only person who stayed there. We hurry. "What? Who has left. unpolluted. The leader was more an organizer than anything else.
" George told Ambassador DuPont a few minutes later as he placed spiced bread on Nathan's desk. until all the grain is gathered and stored. Their group spread out along the road facing the field with an arm length between them and began to pull the ripe grains out of the ground by the roots. so we'll probably miss the return of the hunters. George lifted his arm and brought it down in front of him. he led one group almost two miles to the farthest farm from the village where three leaf grazer drawn wagons waited. But for today. He would have something to do. I am leader. They'll open a couple of the storehouses and get the wagons ready. I will divide those who did not go to carry the meat into two parts. "Harvest today. It was first grain planted. You do not want to wear that robe. The storekeeper's family will stock the storehouse. began to load the piles onto the wagons. placing the yellow plants on piles spaced evenly in the field. although I see that three wagons are already here. They had almost reached the first field when Nathan said.humans. which would lead to interesting political problems. the fruit picked as it ripened over the past month or so. believe me. The harvest festival. cutting the crowd into two parts. It should take a week or two. but the time always goes quickly. including the Federation engineer. If that rumor is true. he will get an award at the festival. Then. Here we are. men and women with their children in hand. We pick. all in a semicircle facing the council hut waiting to be told their duty. to bring it in. and the vegetables have been gathered over time. and move to the next when they finish." "So we are to help?" The Ambassador asked. Aren't they included?" "They have other duties. We'll be out there all day. and Wendell has gone with them. wondering how long it would really take them. and each part will go to the first of the ripe fields. so we only have the grain fields. that one can get wild. start at Manny's farm. no longer. thinking the exercise would help his health. Nathan noticed that after a time several of the men. Nathan smiled at the thought and started toward the storage building where George would meet him with a small breakfast. We should be done this and ready to move on by lunch. I see we're ready. the lead hunter made an almost impossible shot that Wendell needs to witness. Most of the vegetables and the orchard should have already been brought in. as the sun came up. "Part of the village has gone to retrieve the results of the hunt. and should be first gathered." Almost everyone left in the village and the farms had gathered in the square by the time they George and the Ambassador stepped out of the council house. areas of plants appeared different." Nathan looked over the mass of yellow stalks with trepidation. +++ . Although the entire field was a golden yellow color. then Estelle should declare the marnmen a new people. Let's go. From what I understand. Whole families stood together. "I noticed that the family of the store keeper was missing. The other three wagons will be with the other group. "We'll all go out to the fields to gather what's ripe. a reason for the Federation to care for him for years. and when the meat has been smoked and the food all stored we'll have another feast. There are others you'll see who transport the plants to the storehouse. and. as if the villagers had planted more than one kind of grain in each field.
The only building he could see on the property was the house. just an area of grass and the field. or the massive burners he had seen on other planets that baked the dirt into a hard surface. like most of what he had seen so far. for many days. Brevor had never seen roads like these before." +++ Roads. Not the dull brown dead of dry lawns." Halbrack said indicating a three-foot section in front of Tuesday. more like melkovite. Heavy use made these roads. much bigger than the Battle Ball field at Phrontistery. When we are done will be the harvest celebration. Between the line of villagers and the trees in the distance was an expanse of dead grass. And I am sure you would rather do this than load the carts like your friend Brevor." This was a small field? It looked huge. it was more yellow. like kekite or corvusite. this is a small field. let alone lunch. or maybe more like karnasurtite. or maybe the forest. "We have to pick all this today?" Tuesday asked Halbrack who was already nearly naked. is exactly what had happened. centuries of use by a people who knew they had to work hard to survive. This one field. Then again. She told her guide. a small place like the one they had in the village. no barn. and tomorrow night. "I know what you will and will not need when we are done. It is how we all will feel tonight. "It is nothing major. well over the usual twenty to thirty acres he had seen on other worlds. was large enough to hold a major petroleum refinery. the field she had used once with a group of guys. he realized. drainage where puddles formed. at least two hundred acres. much more work than she had done in years. This was work. You will enjoy. The grass at the edge. She doubted that they would finish by dark. larger than any manufacturing area he had seen. The fields he saw seemed large for hand agriculture. but don't expect me to be ready for anything other than sleep tonight. and the next. One of the properties they had passed on the way here had a large outbuilding. from here to here. Possibly this was a planet wide commune or something." He smiled. It did not even look that much like a farm. These people had opted for the practical solution. and that will be the time to have fun. low enough to form a pond or small river when it rained. almost the color of honey someone had spread for miles across the field. maybe they would not fill up with water when it rained.Tuesday looked at the field that stretched into the distance toward a line of trees. Much fun. even with half the village here. "Just pull the stalks out of the ground like the others are doing. There was no shed. which. a small one to start the season according to Anderson. packed dirt lower than the grass that lined either side. He would have to . hid small ditches that led away from the road. Halbrack answered. "We have to have it done before lunch? It really doesn't seem possible. He looked at the petite red head beside him staring off to the trees in the distance. "That's true. It looked as if heavy wagons had compressed cart and animal trails for years. I know I'll be tired. There were no machines to lay a hard surface." There was no way that would happen. Anyway. real work.
after the gatherers have worked for a while. then placing handfuls on piles scattered through the field. "Tell me something. many of the villagers were older than he was. or was this a socialist . tedious?" Brevor watched the gathering and noticed that the children seemed to have more fun pulling the plants than the adults. so everyone covers up. see if the Ambassador noted the same thing. he thought as he bent over and began the task. Brevor and Anderson walked along the edge of the field with the others. Yet." +++ Ambassador Nathan Du Pont had looked at the field from the edge next to the road and wondered if he was up to this challenge. just. throw the gathered plants onto a pile. "Where do you take the plants?" Nathan asked George as they worked their way toward the end of the field. There the grain will be separated from the rest of the plant and some of it will be taken elsewhere to be crushed. It is not hard." Brevor said to his guide. If you are out in it for a short time. but Anderson stopped before the far rows. worked in a semicircle pulling the plants in front of them until they had too many to hold.talk to Nathan about it. it can cause damage to your skin. He had not performed manual labor since he had moved out of his parent's house thirty some years ago. I've seen some of the women going topless. The shopkeeper has opened the storehouse. With the two of us loading. and the best is saved and planted after the cold time. Why?" "It is because of the sun. Everywhere he looked across the field there were people bending over and pulling plants out of the ground. I can do that. yanking the plants into the air." Anderson clapped Brevor on the back. he thought as he worked to catch up to his guide. roots and all. along with some of the grownups. and tossing the plants onto the pile that was growing nearby. like now. what is the word. But here everyone is clothed." So they had a mill. we will collect what the others have pulled from the ground and build the load. But if you are out in it for most of the day. Where? Most likely it would be near the water. It's Estelle's study anyway. Then they would stand and crack their back straight. The kids were all laughing at each other. Come on. Throw it onto the cart. there is not a problem. We keep most of it here. They would squat down and strain and the plant would come out sending the smaller ones over on their backs. "We wait here with the wagon. so I imagine that's normal. no others because the grain is different. some to be eaten as is. Did they trade food for the grinding service. He stopped and watched as a couple. and they had already started bending to pull the plants out of the ground. and that will transport what is gathered back to the village. the kids kept up. using the flow as a source of power. or breaking the stalks near the ground. it should work out. "Since we arrived. and return to their task." "Why?" "When it is time. "They are taken to the trader at one of the buildings used for storage. So be it. "You ready to work? Good. and to his surprise. both of them in their seventies he thought. and we will load the plants piled along this line. bend.
most people had gone out looking for extra supplies. There was something to be said about mindless repetition like this. but when they planted it. a small part who stayed away from the whole. +++ Gives-Direction floated near the surface of the living-waters. It is not that I do not know. "My most humble apologies. when Talks-To-The-Dwellers-InThe-Air-of-Life and Changes-The-Water moved slowly toward him. I sense that you have a suggestion you would like to make?" Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life moved slightly away from Changes-TheWater. and you should not be too busy. as he said." What was the meaning of what Changes-The-Water said? He was a part of the community. That is the largest field. with many sections of green plants. but that I have been told not to speak about certain places until decisions are made. The slight shift brought the leader's eyes to him.economy where everybody did their part and reaped the benefits equally? Finding the Mill and speaking to the miller would help reveal the answer. Relax for a moment. Most are away. "How long before we break for a meal?" "When the sun is overhead we will stop to eat. "Were do you take the grain to be ground?" George stood at the end of the row and bent backward. for once feeling as calm as the waves above him. Let us start another row and get the job finished. You might want to speak to Wendell when we are done with the harvest and hunt. that they were to gather meat from the fall hunt. I correct myself." They had reached the end of the field without the Ambassador realizing it. He had time to think. I was enjoying the lack of pressing need. At this rate. Until then. "Is it not my duty and pleasure to decide?" Changes-The-Water bowed to his leader. He also said that the grains they grow were ready to be gathered. Come. He many times forgot proper etiquette. so there is not that much grain to pull. "You decided?" Gives-Direction asked. It came from living so far away from others. We will probably be finished that field by tomorrow. After the celebration would be a good time. reserves for when the food became scarce. "I was told. however. Nathan asked. He said that when the source of light and life shows in two sets of fingers and two fingers . He was not surprised. GivesDirection. Usually the problems of his community threatened to overwhelm him. "You still swim. we'll be done this field before we stop to eat. We believed it would be a good time." "It is true that I am not busy. Then we'll start down the field again. Gives-Direction. we work. his hands pressing on the small of his back. they divided it into different areas for different plants. by Speaks-For-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-of-Life. The field is almost half done already. but with the colder season near. "That I cannot say. See? We reach the trees already. his proper place. Then we will go to the next field. "We decided you would not be busy at this time and it would be good to decide when to speak to the dwellers on the ancient land." Changes-The-Water said as they grew close. and the rest of the farms in nine or ten days. Gives-Direction. relaxing for what seemed to be the first time in years.
Or they may know that it is impossible. She would have to recommend that any group allowed back to explore and study areas not yet colonized. Yet Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life must have reason for suggesting that. if we can think for ourselves and make decisions and deal with others. He will not stay angry or upset with us. "And why at that particular time?" Gives-Direction asked. with the dwellers on the ancient lands from far across the starseas. Here native trees grew and native species roamed exactly as they had for thousands of years. I want you to be there. an anthropologist's dream. and may add to Give-Direction's thinking." "And they may use that as a reason to convince the dwellers on the ancient land they should join this Federation of theirs. when Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life may not think clearly. and those that were. Changes-The-Water. They may know how to take metals out of the ground without poisoning the world. but will be more likely to work with us since the bounty of the land as they say will be almost gathered. He says that one of the reasons for the visit is to find out if we are intelligent." The timing intrigued the older marnman. we will be at the meeting place. you and Swims-Between should also be in attendance as advisors and witnesses. "Because it will lessen the time he is worried. and their share would grow. She and others needed to come back. be gone." Gives-Direction watched as the two marnmen bowed and slowly moved off. Until then. those that come from the Federation. was just a remnant of what was found when the colonists first arrived. Would it not be better to wait until they leave?" "I do not think so. That the human settlers had decided not to use technology. before the festivities begin. at the time when the source of light and life has traveled one sixth of its path across the heavens. made them a fascinating study. She could imagine a large Stone Age village. and he will have better things to consider as the source of light and light goes to rest. To ask the reason would take nothing. It is a good suggestion. though. and it would be good if Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-LifeLearning would also be there. different ways.more they would have the feast they hold this time each year. +++ The forest between the village and the ocean. and the narrow windbreak that continued along the edge of the river. and a traveler's peril." "He has problems of his own. all out on a . Let it be known to the dwellers on the ancient land that when the source of light and life passes two fingered flippers and one finger. included guards against dangerous animals. and neither does Speaks-For-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-ofLife. It is my suggestion that we speak to Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life on that day. The path Estelle followed through the trees led to wilderness not far from the village and farms that she had yet to see. Watching us trade and exchange ideas should convince them of those facts. They also know new ways of doing things. that they had stayed an agricultural world that used primitive weapons like spears and bows and arrows. one of the early cultures she had studied in school. After the feast was the logical time. Yet I agree with you.
was technique. but she noted that it was more that the trees were changing. That they were agricultural and therefore naive was the wrong path to follow. Estelle counted fifty of the villagers on the way to the hunt." "We all do what we must for the community. right?" "It is called the gate. with places under them where no light showed. Estelle pointed to the line of trees and asked Francine. This culture was unique. Many of the villagers carried large skins folded into bundles like the one she carried either on their head or in their arms. whether for their own reasons or because of the creatures who lived in the ocean she did not know. that the trees were thinning out. It is not for women of the community to know. Saplings grew among the taller trees that made the crown of the forest." Estelle saw well-trampled ground at the gap in the trees. a clearing opened with two lines of the cylindrical trees at the far end spreading at an angle into more open forest. enough information for several books. this culture had reverted to some of those beliefs. a decision. He may tell you since you come from far away. Francine urged her to hurry. but just because these people performed certain rights did not mean those in ancient times did the same. Some of the trees had branches that started low to the ground and rose in a cylindrical shape almost a hundred feet into the air. any day on this planet. The trail was easy to follow into the crushed trees. Ahead of them. Francine answered.mission. but it was an intellectual decision of a group." Estelle thought the forest was growing lighter. The group followed the trampled ground along the line of the stones until they came to another line pointing away from the main trail. and a few carried long poles with skins attached to one end. "That is to steer the animals into the narrow opening. "I bet you will be glad to see Dennis. "This is where rumbler shot moved away from herd. "What are the skins for? And the poles?" Estelle asked. Estelle put those ruminations away for later and told Francine. yet in other ways they were as perceptive as any modern culture. It will be soon. enough to make her fortune. We are close now. Francine told Estelle. and to a huge pile of bones. thicker. narrower. It is good that we stay fed. becoming more compact. much as the ancient humans might have done. You should ask Dennis when we reach him. Nearby many . They stayed agricultural because of what their forbearers had learned. what these people called their ancestors." Francine's refusal to know anything about hunting was not like any culture she had studied. and near a large jumble of boulders. how they brought down large animals and butchered the remains. and a somewhat folded skin that would take two men to carry it. The Originals. several small stones placed in a line to indicate the direction to take. not a growing culture. and more mature cylindrical growths formed larger groups. Soon she would learn how the very ancient ancestors of modern man hunted before there were rifles. all laughing and talking as they hurried to their task. "You will see. Somehow. Granted the technique was probably the same as used in ancient times. did not want to ruin this world. I do not know how it works. as she looked at the group ahead of them." Estelle could see where very large animal had left huge holes wherever it had stepped. or how the hunters use it. except some primitive human cultures on sol 3. Estelle. What she learned today. a pile of meat just as large.
"Who's that?" she asked Dennis. "Time to go. and how they learned to live on the land. Near the middle Estelle interrupted." +++ Estelle heard a voice say something in the local language that sounded like an instruction. He is the lead hunter and the leader on this expedition. Dennis told Estelle. that Lloyd and Pat Rick you speak about. Over there. surprised at how light it felt compared to what she expected." . Are you ready to work? We have to pack everything on these poles. He'll even tell Wendell what to carry in this situation. they split into two sections. how they found the marnmen in the ocean. then stretch and lash the skins they carried from the village across the opening between the poles. how they reworked the programming in the Empire's computer. Don't pick it up yet. At least today it is cool. Francine stood and told Estelle. "Dennis!" Estelle cried when she saw her friend. but not quite. that it came out how sophisticated they really were. "Now we take a break before we haul all this back to the village. I'll grab the one just behind you. Wait for the other group to join us. No! Not that one. That one is Stuart's because he placed his shot so exactly. because this is his first kill. You know he wiped out the settlements across the ocean. a nearly impossible shot. began to help drag the bundle of meat back to the village." Hard work by many people made what seemed like an impossible task pass quickly. If you and Francine pick up that pack. Dennis continued his tale of the Originals." He continued his tale for almost two hours. will you? She'll show you what to do. "Oh. The bones can wait until they get picked up later." Estelle picked up the pole Francine indicated and. that is Stuart. "I see you made it. what you didn't hear the other day at Natalie's. It was not until later. That is work that will tire us. as if everyone listened to a favorite story. A familiar figure stood near the poles. "Did the Originals. how they arrived. did they know the marnmen had intelligence at that time?" "I do not believe so.long poles waited. I will get to it later in the story. at least all the meat. I think they thought the marnmen were almost there. Then I can tell you how the Originals came and settled here. Help Francine. when the marnmen told them things. You listen to Dennis. The meat had been stacked onto the spread animal skins and lashed on securely. About fifteen minutes later." "When was that?" "Relax. She looked over to the voice and saw a mountain of a man ordering some of the others around. Not long after the villagers arrived. Finally he concluded. Stuart will make sure he gets to haul his prize back to the village. Estelle stayed with Dennis and Francine and helped the villagers find pairs of poles and lash them together at one end. "And that brings us up to when your Captain first arrived." Estelle watched Stuart as he walked along a path torn into the forest by large animals. The other rumbler belongs to Bailee. she could hear voices approaching. through a two-inch ear hole as the animal was moving at speed. during which time there was little conversation elsewhere along the line. Estelle. one for each rumbler.
The next day. then we followed them to where they died. The scouts located two families close together. She was not about to mention her swim the day before. possibly doing some farming. along with the rest of the colonists. After a moment she said. Captain Mussuclio would not just wipe out a civilization before he knew if it was viable. "After all. they stay off to the side of the main family." "Well." "Tell me what happened on this hunt. driving the Rumblers to the gate. "How do you hunt the rumblers?" "Every time is different. When the four rumblers were moving in the right direction. "He is one of the chasers. I guess you could say they were hunting and gathering. "Change of subject. not quite ready to move to another group. with Dennis laughing occasionally. When they are that age. He said that the four animals they picked were young adults. with the help of Stuart's son. too old to be watched by a mother. four of the hunters. because within the first five years they found each other and fought. "And what about the marnmen. The marnmen were glad to see them go. The mothers all had new babies to protect. The outriders of those herds would find other families to join. "On the land across the ocean were two settlements of colonists. The rumblers they picked were too young to be watched by the male of the family. they are the ." Estelle asked as they walked through the growing darkness. and he suggested ways to cut them away from their families. waited in the rocks until the rumblers passed. and they didn't care for keeping the oceans clean. each chaser selecting a different animal. moved them away from the herd. They keep mixing like that all the time." "Possibly smell." "But how did the men. Shortly Dennis told Estelle." "But what would happen to the outriders as you call them if they weren't chased away here?" "Later this winter. The lines of trees forced the rumblers through the narrow pass. the sun was behind the treetops and dropping toward the horizon. that's Stuart's son. you understand. it took them awhile to regroup. the chasers. After that. Tell me more about the animals around here. But they didn't know of the marnmen. the four chasers made noise and generally sounded like a large predator." Dennis raised his voice slightly and called to a man in front of him. when the Rumblers roam the plains to the south." Maybe Dennis did know." Estelle said." Several hours later. There must be more that Dennis did not know. where it was easy to shoot them. Then all they have to do is to make a lot of noise to send the outriders one way and the families the other. It is fairly easy for the chasers to get between the outriders and the main family. speaking at length. or I can tell you about this time. though they did not agree with the way it was done. went out and. They reported to Stuart. including several yearlings that were large enough and would have tender meat. first the scouts were sent out while I coated the arrows with poison. They were nowhere near the level we are." Estelle began. because they were not breeding age yet. I don't think anyone does. the surprise and the matter of fact way Dennis broke the news making her voice shrill. A lean man further ahead called back in the colonist's language. the outriders would join other herds they meet. Webber and I."What?" Estelle cried. "I just can't see one man being able to get between a child and its mother. and then faltered. I can tell you generally. I don't know how they tell the difference between families.
" Talks-To-Many slowly swam back toward his home. With no destination in mind. the day over. Silence. you may tell they that dwell in the air of life of the confirmation. a feeling of a power greater than his own. He wondered at the feeling. because shortly we will be back home. "Good. He realized he felt the presence of a Thinker closer to the community than they had approached for many years. or just not talking or thinking right now. Oh." Dennis agreed. so communication should not be a problem. placed that thought in my head. "They gather their food before the cold sets in. but elsewhere. He could see it floating slowly to other planets in the system as Bale had said they would do. There will be time. "Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life-Learning. we have been told that the large vessel that swims between the stars may move to a different place closer to another body of ancient land that travels around the source of light and life." the young marnman answered. and they hunt the large animal that dwells in the air of life as they do each of the warm and cold times. even closer than when those who swam in the starseas appeared.ones we're supposed to be studying. possibly not now. Also. No. and some of the marnmen understand ours. and were found by accident as I told you in the story. may I ask?" "You may." "Sure." She was growing tired from dragging the pole. "at least not that I can think of now. his responsibilities ended for a time. "What is new with they that dwell in the air of life. When he woke from his trance. I recognize this place. "No. "we will let you talk to them when we get back. although they are limited in what they can do. at the conviction growing inside him that the vessel that flew between the stars was not around the planet. Now that my mind is at rest." "That is what I just learned. He relaxed. I do not know how they do it. and they have a way of communicating over long distances." Estelle answered. to the area away from the other . alone with his thoughts. but in the near future. You will spend days lying in the sun by the lagoon. Is there anything else?" he asked as they started to enter a thinner section of the forest. I don't think so. would help. A Thinker." +++ Talks-To-Many floated near the dark surface enjoying the vibrations of the small pieces of sky water as they fell into the living-water. he swam hard to throw off the feeling of agitation. I wondered if I should tell Gives-Direction. but I do not think it will be necessary. the energy that erupted along his back. It would be only confirmation of what he already knew. but I see that is not necessary. you still swim. of an animal close by that could do him harm. You will find the marnmen are intelligent. A presence grew. after harvest. Ahead he saw Talks-To-The-Dwellers-InThe-Air-of-Life-Learning swimming slowly back to the community from the feeding grounds." Talks-ToMany said as he slowed near his friend. or possibly more than one. They were here when the originals arrived. Some people can understand their language. not alone. She wanted to get back to the village quickly. If you wish. yet he dare not leave. and there will be sun. he sped through the open water until exhaustion began to slow him. you may. I will bid you good sleep. but they manage.
When Estelle and Francine arrived at the door. They meandered between the buildings. the cropped shoulder length hair that framed a long. he knew he would not use it yet. he rose to the surface and breathed the air of life while he waited for the thought to form. The line in front of her stopped and started several times as they approached a building near the forest throwing light from inside onto the trees. "You are back. The harvest goes well. who moved them off to the side and onto a growing pile. By the time he reached his sleeping place. and gently the light rain tickled him until the realization emerged that the Thinkers were not getting bolder. Bailee. He felt better than he had felt for days. He had felt that tonight. "Don't you need to wash that?" Estelle asked. you must speak it properly. To Estelle's surprise." "Or you are just learning the language. "Tomorrow morning will be. still smiling with the pleasure of his first rumbler kill. dear.marnmen where he could listen to the far thoughts." Dennis corrected. You must remember that any language you speak. I take it that building is where the meat gets smoked?" "Yes. Instead. By then we will have enough smoked meat to last the winter." Estelle said grinning." Francine answered." "In just over one week. Francine handed the poles to Dennis. you are right. better than expected. he returned to his sleeping area to await the coming of the source of light and life. He would have to work to assure the latter. the pole she had hauled for hours now seemed to help balance her. You help me? Or others?" "Will. and I will clean. then accepted a folded skin from Bailee. the skin that had wrapped the meat. weather-beaten face. except for a nagging thought buried deep in his subconscious. whether it is ours or someone else's. "Tomorrow morning be soon enough. and some of the meat will be used for that feast as an appreciation. or friends. And you don't have to wait long for your taste. She saw the long robe. my young friend. their intelligence was growing." As he began to speak. The problem solved. Nothing else will do or you will sound as if you are lacking in intelligence. The marnmen would have competition. The celebration will be after the harvest." Dennis said unnecessarily as the group slipped along the wet dirt road. barely able to support their loads. though not as often. the large pouch suspended from his shoulder. will. lifted the package of meat off the poles and took it inside. fighting for balance in the slippery mud. "Don't worry about it. The three friends headed back to their house. +++ "Here we are. . She noticed that Francine had the same problem." "Wakefield!" Dennis cried. They were learning what was important not only to themselves. and acting on the fact to help other species. Estelle studied the new person. Gently he rocked in the low swells. Some of the men will start the fire shortly and tend to it for the next seven days. coming out from the blackness under the trees and into the almost as dark village. "I clean this and then go help with harvest. haggard. in maybe ten days or sooner. but to others.
"Dennis. Francine." "It is good to meet you." Wakefield replied. and the historian. bringing Estelle back to the present. Good night. He is my teacher. although she was not sure he understood. the healer for Seaside. we will speak after harvest. "We better get to bed. "Tomorrow will start early."Estelle. also. or Keeper of Legends as you would call him. "You. and a better man you will not find anywhere." Dennis said. Estelle." ." Estelle watched as he seemed to float off into the darkness. this is Wakefield." Estelle said to the newcomer.
Animal. The sergeant decided that all the blips belonged to the same family of animals. They had long thick legs that ended in flat. male voices could be faintly heard approaching along the path. tails flying high. they bounded to the side past Fogart. violet-pink flower. pulled the water pouch from his belt. The call of a night bird echoed through the forest. as usual. The underbrush made an impenetrable curtain impossible for those he hunted to see through. he saw the family group of leaf grazers spook and flee into the brush. and better for traveling at high speed through the trees. as he watched for anything strange. all of his senses at full strength. A short distance ahead. powerful weapons if necessary. To his left brush crackled. each step carefully placed in order to be silent. Just seconds later. and in the early colonies. slightly larger than the females of the family. unaware of the hunter as he watched from the shadows. Morganthur and Toolkie eased up to where their leader waited. a family of leaf grazers picked at the bushes. or for Fogart to see them. but the technology level on this planet was low. As if signaled by a director off to the side. was silent. four-clawed feet. displayed a single horn that curved gently as it rose to its pointed end. Fogart backed stealthily out of the bushes. The radio plug in his ear crackled and told him of one large blip and two smaller ones near his location. "Hey Morganthur. He brought up his weapon. discussing whether the animals were good to eat or not. so he did not expect too much resistance. his self-preservation instinct aroused. picked out a yellow centered. Leftover dewdrops glittered on bushes. Sanders. just that two were grazing in areas away from the others. and took a sip. +++ Sergeant Tucker led his patrol along the path. at the edge of a small clearing. leaping and darting out of sight. they turned their heads toward the main path and gazed through the brush. Any guess what they are?" . as they got closer. then. these grazed contentedly. but before he could activate the electronics. but. the sound bouncing off the trees. He moved as quickly as possible to the rendezvous with Jamson at the point where they had slept the night before. Sergeant Tucker stopped and waited for the others of his party. Their white tails would raise and wave in the air to signal danger as they leaped obstacles and darted through clear spaces. Sergeant Tucker quietly called. The male. The morning sun that shone through the leaves sent rays of light through remnants of mist to dapple the ground with patterns of brilliance.Chapter 8 Fogart paused in his silent trek. flickered on fallen leaves and. What he would find on this world he could not know since each mission was a new experience. He had studied ancient war history when he had first joined the Marines fifteen standard years ago and was aware of some of the tricks used on the home world. When the three were close enough. White tails down. he identified three distinct voices. since he had not heard or seen any signs of humans yet. in one spot of luster.
bent trees they had left only hours before. so he could move quickly. then. and they each carried something like a long spear. in the small clearing by the three large. except the end away from where the point would be. unless it has taste or poison defenses. Shortly he had put the patrol well behind him. The sun was not yet at zenith when. As long as it's not a hunter. Hell. The hunter made his way through a thin section of brush to the main path and doubled back to the bush. they'd have a field day on this planet. You're point. and heard the voices. Sarge. +++ Jamson crouched in the bushes and watched the first stranger as he stopped near Jamson's position. if it had a point. Want I should bring one down for us to cook tonight?" "No fires. Jamson quietly negotiated the small. The five men began to move off into the forest. I . almost a child. it's not that dangerous yet."Got no idea. "Were you seen?" Jamson asked. when I heard your signal. "Are you kidding?" the young hunter quietly enthused. We've been making good time. so let's go. was shaped as if it were meant to be held to the shoulder. Jamson had a pot of the dark poison used to coat the arrows when hunting Rumblers. without a sound. I can tell you one thing. Jamson cupped his hands together in front of his face and made the haunting hootwhistle of the night bird. "Once I saw the leaf grazers looking. Jamson coated his arrows with the same substance he had used on the bush. No. sometimes barely visible animal trail that wound its way through the brush roughly parallel to the main track. It's herbivorous." A bird called off to the right. The narrow path he traveled turned closer to the main path for a time. a new man in the lead. talking as if they were out for a morning hike. Only a few minutes had passed before he was off again to his rendezvous with Fogart." the sergeant answered. hopefully not Fogart. ignore it. It was a small group of leaf grazers. Fogart silently followed his warning into the open area. and he noted that a thorn bush with a multitude of small leaves sent dark branches across the path in such a way that anyone who wanted to go past would have to move them. Toolkie. A strangely shaped hat that came down to cover their ears seemed to float above their heads. out of sight and hearing. "And we're not here to study the wildlife. "The zoologists would love this one. he moved swiftly along the side path to where he was to meet Fogart. and studied the far side of the path. and each of them carried a large and apparently heavy pack on their back. all of them dressed in strange garb. He used a thin stick to coat each thorn with an invisible layer of poison. concern for his companion foremost in his mind. and he was ready to move back into the bushes at the edge of the clearing. The other four humans. lifted what might be a weapon. In a small pouch at his side. Jamson thought as he looked to where the weapon pointed. when he heard a low whistle. They wore some kind of blotchy green and brown cloth that sparkled with light. I knew where they were." the thin marine answered. joined the first and discussed the animals that bounded into the trees. so it should be good eating. Then. A good amount of time had passed since he had arrived.
" The two hunters gathered their equipment and slipped off into the forest. consider all the possible problems. If they get caught by the bush." Jamson looked hard at the youngster. "We won't do it if they're alert. After many repeated scans of the entire planet." "They're not animals with little brains. only five minutes apart. "I'm glad you didn't give away that we are here. "Let's head on along the path. but I never saw them. either. There are five of them. the section that backed up to the Bridge Lounge. trying to picture what would happen.slipped out so quietly not even the animals knew I was there. They might be doing that anyway." Jamson ran the plan through. that's good. specifically a form of potassium in solution used in inexpensive batteries. what you would do?" Fogart thought a minute. They even have hats that float on their heads." he said thoughtfully." Jamson said." "Maybe we'll be lucky and get them all at one time. the one with the rock. I did manage to give them something to think about. It's the one we use for the larger beasts. anything at all. OK." Jamson agreed. Tell me. . I like that you think. They're all carrying a long thing like a pole that I think is a weapon." "Good. "Both moons set late tomorrow night. "At least that's what I was thinking. just when it gets totally dark. "That might actually work. they may leave one person awake to watch all night. though. We might even be able to get them all while they sleep. under the caves. About a day and a half north. "I doubt that." Fogart said hopefully. "You know." Jamson answered. "Pick them off one by one?" "Something like that. They never saw me. He considered all the variables until his brain formed a moving picture in his head. +++ Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper peered at the scanner monitor at the far end of the science board. I did see them. If we shoot just the watcher at that exact time. It's an easy place to reach from the side path. and then suggested thoughtfully. I poisoned the thorns on a bush they have to pass. We'll make a lead hunter out of you yet. formed a deeper picture of what the planet held under the surface. smiling at his companion. was a pocket of alkali. and the data that the Captain wanted was finally coming in. I could hear them." Fogart reminded Jamson. I don't know if this poison will work on people. Yeah. He said admirably. but with luck at the bush and that one. Probably get us killed. building a picture of the planet. Now he was reworking the broad and narrow band scans. That's good." "You mean the one that blocks the path?" "That's the one. they had layers of data that. "We'd only get one. when added together and mated. too. He pondered a minute. the main path opens out into a good place to spend the night. And if none are awake. Deep in the planet. They're a noisy bunch." Fogart smiled. but I've never seen anything like it. then the darkness might confuse them and we could get away. and there's plenty of cover. you're right. and I wasn't about to find out what it was the hard way. They may decide to stay there for the night tomorrow. each completely covered with some kind of skin or cloth. Any noise or motion. let's go. and whoever is watching would see and give us away.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper. The new kid had done OK as point so far." "Big problem. Seems to be a potassium hydroxide deposit under that cave formation. "Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton. and they're all right." the shaped vocal projection told only him. Now it was not nearly as humid. We can cook it on the ship if not before. come on back. This was as good a place as any other was for a break. "Got no idea. How they did it I have no idea." came the answer finally. but if you find it. gentlemen. For now they were safe enough. "It's Richard." The sergeant turned to the youngest member of the group. It's unknown where those two minerals would have come from. Sarge. Don't tell me you still want to eat some. "It was made by forcing ionized water into a natural deposit of potassium. Until we get back to headquarters. please." "What were those animals. but I may come back. They had been hiking since dawn. we don't exist. Are we still within range? No. something none of them had thought they would need. Sarge?" Sanders asked as his pack hit the ground. no problem. I'll wait to get confirmation on the zinc and carbon before I tell the Captain. dripping water from the leaves as the squad passed under the canopy. Got it?" Sanders sighed. Sarge. "That's not natural. Never seen anything like that before. The air when they started that morning was warm and so humid that the trees sweated. and the weather had changed drastically as a cold front came through. Very good work. too. "See? Every one. You remember the signals you were taught in basic?" "Sure." From the sound of her voice. you let me know. Toolkie. "You're doing good Toolkie. That's a big battery. nothing dangerous. "Take five. that could mean an accommodation. Next pass. and the temperature had dropped to where an extra layer of clothing would help. but that's a battery if you have the electrodes." "Well. if we see some just before pickup.Fornihopper called into the microphone in front of him. Drop your packs. He did need to learn the finer points for when things got rough. Richard. Lieutenant Junior Grade Fornihopper grinned as he turned back to his task. +++ Sergeant Tucker looked up at the sky noting the fast moving clouds. Ponchos would help hold their body heat in. that's our battery." The young marine ran through a group of arm movements so fast his arms were a blur." "Hey. Do you think?" A moment passed. the trees and brush that could act as cover had thinned out. OK. an easy day since all they had seen was local flora and fauna. possibly while the top Science Officer considered what the scans showed. "Sure. We'll make a marine out of you yet. Lieutenant Commander. if you get a chance to come back. We'll take a break." "Van Rapton here. That's a damn big battery. Good work. The sergeant said. I'm sure going to pick one off. I remember that much. I want some. We'll be just as invisible on the way back to drop off the civilians as we were on the way out. But I . but to get at them they needed to stop. check for zinc and carbon in pure form.
I stopped him and asked why he had it. and this one local ahead of me had this heavy coat. Sarge and the boys busted me out. sweatin' to death. Back when I was on Bacchus. Let's go. real civil like you know. He got caught in a dead end. Don't need the logistic headaches keeping track of where not to send people like you. so I asked him again." Animal chuckled where he leaned on his pack. "Good or bad?" "Oh. that was fun. I took off after him through streets and alleys. and that's one planet we'll never see again. Well." Morganthur chuckled. looking up at her. Captain Mussuclio looked up from the report he was reading." Sergeant Tucker stood and shrugged his pack back on. and someone saw me with the coat. You ought to go back so we can do it again." "Oh?" Lucas said." she said as she walked toward the center of the Bridge. Here I was. I believe you'll find it good" she answered with a mischievous grin. this was business and had nothing to do with her private life. any fight is fun to you. her long hair hanging freely down her back instead of in the usual ponytail. "Sure. rising from the Command Chair. Well. Like to drove me crazy. just looked scared and started to run. I didn't even know I'd done anything wrong. and today it's chilly. a composite of many scans. "I have news for you Captain." "Animal. stepped out of the lift onto the bridge. man. Captain?" she asked as they entered the private area. She was good looking like that. the temperature could go from thirty degrees to below zero in the space of a few hours. Of course I wore the coat since it was handy." he said. he handed me the coat and ran. Then. and what would Marilyn think? More than likely. so I just kept the thing. then back again. That guy had died in the cold. the temperature dropped and stayed down for a full day. the air hotter than a sauna. I didn't know what to do. "Let's go. you reminded me of why I remained a sergeant last time promos came around." +++ Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton. you're point again. "Can I get you something to drink. I ought to put you point.don't remember learning about such drastic changes in the weather. Toolkie. Morganthur. "Aw. I got arrested. Lesley. you can see the entire cave complex that . "This ain't nothin' kid. Yesterday it was so hot and humid." "Come on. Rain gear on to hold the heat. but Toolkie needs the practice. her hair flowing free. Morganthur. just wanting an answer. Lieutenant Commander Van Rapton gave Richard a wink as they passed the science board. "Can we use the lounge? I'd like to show you something on the screen." Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton turned on the viewscreen and typed some commands into the control board. If you look carefully. Figured I'd go back and get mine if there was a good reason. turned out for murder. "Not just yet. He didn't answer. as I was boardin' the ship to head back to base. "These views are coming from the scanner memory. Warn't nothin' else to do. boys. but was that for his pleasure? He did not think she was interested. Let's see what you have to show me. 'Bout an hour later.
and a carbon rod into the other. That is what scans have labeled this deposit. watching for danger." "Don't you need heat or something?" "Usually yes. If you take H2O and remove one of the Hydrogen atoms." Finally. you see this point here. they pumped it into the deposit and let osmosis take care of the rest. you wind up with hydroxide. What should he look for? Animal. "How big of a battery. the Giant. his first assignment. "The voltage wouldn't be very high." "Very well. Have you found the electrodes?" "Not yet. but the current. such as this one below the level of the lowest cave. Captain. He would have to pry it out of her. Now if we look for minerals we can see they're fairly evenly distributed. Richard's good work deserved a special reward. "So what's the meaning of this?" "Well. as you probably guessed. and this point at the end of this corridor here? If you were to run a zinc rod into one point. not draw things out like this. squawking its head off. yet above the water table. There are several pockets of pure deposits. use what she had learned in school. which is in liquid form. well--. After a time the potassium and hydroxide would combine. Combine the potassium and the hydroxide and you create potassium hydroxide. but we're working on it. and he. She probably wanted some type of dramatic climax." Couldn't she just come out with the information? He would have to talk to his crew about passing along information in a clear and quick fashion. my cabin. which was something he did not want to do. An interesting fact is that this particular deposit used to be pure potassium. but he wanted the information. had said to listen to the insects. Lieutenant Commander?" Lesley realized she was near the end of the Captains patience. Dinner. At least that damn bird was not following them any more. She whispered. so that was no help. a rookie. Tonight she would switch gears. but they had the time to wait. Now. is that sometime in the past someone combined the two there? How?" "As they formed the hydroxide. seventeen hundred hours. but they shut up as the group passed. That was a . which causes the resulting atom to ionize. was leading these seasoned Marines." They shared a drink and discussed possible actions necessary at the conclusion of her investigation. and she was dragging it out. This was not the time to be lax on discipline. "Good job. +++ A strange planet. brushing his cheek with her hair. "Get on with it!" "That could form a battery. Lesley.the colonists call Cliffside." She glided across the Bridge and allowed the lift door to slide closed before she turned around." "So what you're saying. Lesley leaned over Richard Fornihopper as she followed the Captain back onto the bridge." "I think I'll take that drink now. That deposit right there could be your source of power." Lucas could tell this was important.
The blood flowing through his arteries and veins would carry the nanobots throughout his body so they could locate and neutralize any infections or poisons known to the military. Sarge. What was danger? What could kill them? All he had seen recently were small animals as the squad wound their way through the bushes and trees of the forest floor. He continuously peered into the thick brush as he searched for enemies that were not there and traps that were not set. and told Sanders to remove his shirt. Just move it out of the way. . continued on their way north. his voice barely heard. selected a clear bottle. Just a scratch. and they look sharp." Sergeant Tucker answered. His voice carried out to the rookie. Got it. and usually did. When he was in training. They regrouped." Morganthur let out with a nasal groan. "Hey. you're right. and after a cursory look at Sander's injured hand by the sergeant." he observed as he carefully eased past. Animal. About twenty minutes later Toolkie glanced back at the group and stopped. Sarge. Toolkie cautiously led the patrol along the path starting at small noises and movements. Something was happening. The most dangerous thing he had found so far was this bush that had grown over the path. "Sure. happen. with thorns that were almost an inch long. "Hey." Sergeant Tucker called ahead. now!" Toolkie sprinted back to the group and handed the sergeant a metal case from his pack. It can be moved. I'll bet this is an attack bush. The sergeant placed the gun against Sander's upper arm and fired a shot of microscopic medical robots through the skin." The thin marine moved up to where the other two waited. These things are sharp. Remember about ten missions ago. A sudden fear caused the young marine to search the bushes for enemies. I'll agree with that." Toolkie worked his fingers between thorns and moved the branch away from the path. something bad. "I don't want no advertisement of what we do or do not have." Animal told them as he slowly slipped his bulk past the bush. He wanted to make a good impression on his first mission. don't shoot it. still watching for danger. The sergeant hefted an air gun syringe. Morganthur?" "Right Sarge. Sanders' skin was the color of paste. Sanders. You're doing good. and set the dosage. "Ow! OK. This thing just attacked me. They look wicked." "Good. No problem. but there's enough room to get a grip. Keep going Toolkie. The sergeant looked at Sanders and called. "Yeah. Toolkie again took the lead. he had learned that anything could.help. "Med kit." "Good. is it getting hot. the rearmost of the patrol. Sarge. Sergeant Tucker inserted the bottle into the gun. "There's a bush across the path here. He looked at Sanders. but not now. if not worse. so he stayed alert. "These thorns are big. carefully slipped past the bush. twisted the lock closed. Morganthur and Sergeant Tucker. or is it just me?" "It's just you. "You OK." "Yeah?" Sanders asked disdainfully as he brushed by. that place where the dummies used thorns for weapons? These are as bad. however. Beads of sweat stood out on the wiry man's face. Normally somewhat pale. Sanders had pulled his outer protection off and was flapping his shirt. but watch the thorns. Sanders?" the sergeant asked. Later in his career he could afford to relax.
"Now! Standard CPR drill. hide the body. don't worry about it." Toolkie dropped to his knees next to Sanders' head. He slowly sank to the ground." Animal answered. watch him. but apparently Sarge knew the drill." "Right. Just minutes before he had been a fellow marine." Sergeant Tucker closed Sander's eyes. Air sighed out. Animal was alert and watching the forest." the sergeant replied. not with the power of the diaphragm. you're the best. Again. "One dead." "Great. warn't your fault. boys. Animal. and be careful about it. They continued for alternating pumps and breaths for ten minutes. I don't want to lose no more men. "War footing. so he might as well learn how now. On the fifth stroke Toolkie pinched Sanders' nose and placed his mouth on Sanders' and breathed out hard. giving the nanobots time to circulate and fix the problem. However. but only with the force of the lowering chest. counting each stroke. Point. this time a part of the group. Keep alert. Toolkie. Animal. then lifted." The big man took off at an easy lope."Thanks." Animal said slowly. Sarge. "It's dark. Morganthur said quietly. breaking the cartilage bond to gain flexibility. Learn. Toolkie breathed into Sanders' mouth. until the portable reader Animal held beeped. He pressed hard five times. and we haven't even reached our objective. never seen death. 'No known cause' is what it says here. Sarge. someone who could be a friend. This is not going by the book. The sergeant had already counted five. "Go check that bush. Sarge. "He's a number. to be doing something away from the group. Toolkie." Sanders was dead? Toolkie had been kissing a dead man? A male was bad enough. We have half a day to go yet. The sergeant ordered." Sanders said weakly. away from the planet. who told stories and taught skills." Toolkie's stomach turned. "Mouth to mouth. He leaned back onto his heels and stared into the dead man's open eyes. and now for some unknown reason he was a statistic of the mission. "The question is. this was something he would have to live with many times. Toolkie. What the hell? This was the first time Toolkie had seen this happen. Why did he die? What was the cause? The sergeant stood and searched the area." Animal said as he rejoined the group. . too eager. Toolkie wished he could be somewhere else. perhaps. This is something new. Sarge. The sergeant had already hit Sander's chest hard." the sergeant growled. impossible to see against the branches. and he emptied its contents before he again followed the path. but a dead one? Toolkie could not allow the others to see his disgust. "No good. away from the group. I had to use a stick and scrape it off to see it. "Morganthur." the sergeant ordered sharply. We'll pick it up on the way back. "Neither do I." "Something's been spread on that bush. was it a general trap set for whatever passed by? Or was it meant for us?" "I don't think it was general. Number one in the loss column he had heard some say in Basic. He had never done this before. but there was no reaction when Toolkie lifted the body and helped carry it into the bushes. got it? Toolkie. Now the marine looked as if he was sleeping.
"She'll remember you. and it was built. Really good. keyed the communicator. I also learned that it has to be 'recharged' as they wrote. Morning Star?" "Since the visitors first arrived. He said he could boost one category each pass. yet low enough that most of the field workers in the valley fields would come in from the harvest. that she could not open to just anyone? How had she sounded just now? Valerie stewed about how she had no friends or lovers the rest of the shift. He told me the crew there had just completed an amplifier that could be put in line temporarily with any scanner anywhere in the primary system. "My apologies. the side of the ridge where the sun rose. but I have news I thought you needed to know. it was time for the harvesters to come in. permanent friends. Was it she. Xeghmire. you will remember it. I can show you. looking for ways to protect the community. I found an extremely low direct current from the potassium deposit to an area just under the rocks near the small stream on the land above the cliffs. +++ Headman Halford stood at the left side of Cliffside's main entrance. On the first pass we made. the Bridge Science Officer assigned to the "B" shift. I found where it told how the place electricity is formed was built. nor is it mine. but we will see. what are you doing tonight?" "What she does on her own time is none of your business. still well above the tree line of the forest. several people had broken limbs that way. the category he boosted was electrical activity. The sun was slowly lowering toward the far ridge." Halford turned toward the speaker. And she's good. A movement behind Halford caused him to jump. The valley side was not as dangerous as the forest side. "News from you is usually bad. Electricity has to be put back in.+++ Ensign Valerie Xeghmire. What is it. a dangerous job because they could not return until it grew dark when you could not see your footing on the narrow path along the cliff face. "Her dinners extend to bed time. She rewards you. or I can show the builders. Excellent." Valerie admonished and turned back to her board." The communicator clicked silent as Valerie smiled. Fluttering Butterfly said." "So that means the battery still works. . but none recently. Still. It also shows how to build the necessary equipment. I know from past missions. "Van Rapton here. By the way. "but she's having dinner with Fornihopper. I have been looking at the records of the first journeys to Cliffside and how it was built. I'll remember that." "Xeghmire here. Several would stay out to scare away the grain-eating fliers. "Van Rapton. the place where we located the antenna. Over the years." "So?" Ensign Xeghmire asked. She studied the results of the scans coming in to avoid considering the trouble she had making close. the kind she could talk to and tell her troubles. Headmon." she spoke quietly. I asked Engineer First Class Poindexter if there was some way to increase the strength of the scan for different categories." Ensign Wanda Fluttering Butterfly said from the Science Board.
You're not as dumb as you think. I thought you were one of these big guys that didn't have any brains. it cannot be returned." "Am I ever beat!" Toolkie complained." "What do we need to rebuild the electricity supply?" "We need to tap the electric supply by the river. "It's been an exciting day. on or off the job. Morganthur said. I was out on Rigle K-5 drinkin' with a lady." That would give the skilled of his community time to make the needed equipment. I take the hint. your mind finally realizes that the danger is real." +++ The path opened out into another small clearing. kid." Morganthur supplied. And you just came out and said it. But it's not." Sergeant Tucker studied the perimeter. Few bushes grew between the trees to hide attackers. place your rolls. Never underestimate your enemy. . Tell the builders. "Good. is it? You got brains. Small area. show them what you've found and help them find what they need. unless you do complicated things with chemicals that we do not have or know how to use. Morganthur. just a big dumb galumph who beats up whoever the school bully says? Then. You're smarter than I thought. when I first saw you. Sarge. All that tends to wear you out. when I heard you talking to the Sarge. either. Those in the ocean could keep Seaside informed about those in space. we can use the electricity from the river to charge the electricity pond. I thought my first assessment was true. "I will speak to Taggart. which will pull power away from the grinder. "You know. one of several the marine's had passed recently. and there were other things for Taggart to do. Your muscles are tense and the adrenaline's flowing full time. Animal replied." Sergeant Tucker started to move toward Animal." Toolkie's forehead crinkled as he looked at Animal. You'll learn over time not to make quick assessments or generalizations. We will stop. The storage area is useless. then that would happen. It would have taken me hours to work out what you told me. and you've gone on alert now with your whole body. Animal. you'll be first tonight. "Yeah. It can get you killed. it's getting dark. either animal or human. You know. Is there anything else?" "Yes. about ready to go upstairs and have some fun. You've seen death for the first time. "OK. and even then I wouldn't have known how to say it without thinking hard. no trees above us. If they had to stop tracking those in space. Down packs." Or maybe the news was bad. "This looks like a reasonable place. no one would drop out of the sky. but his face relaxed. The records also say that if the electricity stored is completely used up. With no trees above them." So be it. after that the usual order. "Thanks kid. and it's defensible. You'll get used to it. After the harvest is ground. Maybe this news was not so bad after all.whichever you choose. "Then you are saying it would be better not to use any more electricity?" "That may be a good idea. Break out a meal.
it'll be decomposed or eaten by the time we come back. that was uncalled for." "Yeah. He looked at me kind of strange. sure. We will be safe. I took it. sure. and gave him a quick one back." He always claimed the stories were true. Toolkie. Quietly. Hit the sack. by this time the bar had cleared. Walk with me. 'She's mine tonight cause I paid for her. "What are we goin' to do about Sanders. What more can we do?" "Nothin'. I'll skip the details and just say that for the rest of the furlough I took lessons from him. Sarge?" "We'll report his death. or Marganthur's tall tales. I guess. years ago." Sergeant Tucker stewed for a moment." "Let us go up next to the stream. my friend. I look at him and don't worry. Morganthur. He saw the man. "You're right. he says 'That's my woman. we need to talk. I will be up shortly. I'm hittin' the sack. and I let him stay. and I'm wonderin' what's goin' on. He turned into a corridor that opened to the left and entered the workroom of Taggart. the sides of living rock the same as when the corridor had formed eons ago. then flipped a fist at my face real quick like. Wish I could believe it. and I tell him that it don't matter cause I still paid for her. Well. Whatever. "Headmon. and the systems that have papers out on him. when you know somethin's got to happen. there ain't no one in the place. see you in the mornin'. Sarge. I didn't hear you come in. Animal. You ever have one of them feelin's. bent over a table working on a problem. You're on duty after Morganthur. Headquarters will notify both his wives. It is a clear night and the stars are out." "That sounds like a good idea. See you in a couple hours. and that ain't no exaggeration. almost as fast as a snake. before he entered the room. he said." Taggart jumped. not much younger than he was." Morganthur put down his half-eaten dinner. and then walked with him up the . "But it's true. Come. but you don't know what? Well I got this feelin' just before this little thin guy walks over to me.' soundin' real mean.' I tell him. the sky tracker. He was that good. That was when I was still a private." Halford waited while Taggart put his tools away." "Right Sarge.' He said 'That is my wife. Where'd you keep it? Up your nose?" "Sarge. everyone backs away. Sanders got to me. the floor worn smooth from hundreds of years of use." The sergeant was not in the mood for fun and games." "Nice story.when this little guy comes in the bar. "Taggart." The sergeant looked at the new recruit lying in his sleeping sack and staring wide eyed at the materializing stars. Ain't no way to get his body. I'm beat. "Yeah. "You too. Well. when I start to get a feelin'. This little guy." +++ Headmon Halford walked up a ramp. Up there is not wild. except for the occasional lamp that gave out just enough light to see. What is on your mind." "There is time for what you do later.
The morning will start at daylight. "Headmon." "Yes. we will go down to the rocks over there. Spread the word. "Morning Star has told me that the electricity deposit needs to have the electricity replaced. since I was last in the open." he told Halford as they walked toward the stream. I'll stop using my electrical equipment. offering relief to the overused appendages. I can help him get ready to charge the deposit while I'm not doing my regular job. The movement of the cool liquid massaged the muscles and numbed the nerves slightly. "It makes sense. oh.ramp until they reached the entrance to the outside near the river. and we should be done in just a . Ilant. that does. so that what has left reforms. Soft noises from nearby domesticated animals added to the peace of the valley. OK. any hour. it would work better that way. and maybe you'll see something new. purged is the word he used. I was calculating new orbits to see if any of them could cause that to happen. "days at least. Until then he suggests we stop using it so all the electricity will not leave the deposit. I'm going down to my sleeping rugs. for the season of harvest is upon us. a line of bushes showed where the stream ran. Halford followed the long spiral through corridors and large rooms filled with activity. It's time. Down the grass hill at the bottom of the valley." "Have they moved? Or are they still going around us in the same way?" "They have disappeared from my screen. the time of the harvest is now. Stay here awhile." Taggart sat on his rock thinking. The water here has been warmed somewhat by the sun." "So be it. savoring the freshness of the air just above where he worked. He had almost reached the ramp to the first level when the Crop Master." "Come. You would not be able to track the skies any more. That may be what happened. He says that he can do it in a couple months. carefully controlled." "Good. Taggart paused and breathed deeply. Smells good. crossed to the shore. and that can be done by running electricity through them in greater amounts. yes. all will work. and we would lose a valuable resource. I will tell O'Brien and have the guards spread the news also. watch the stars you love." "Time? Oh. Dip your feet and enjoy with me. Or Morning Star could replace the electrodes. I expect to be told it is time for the main push." They sat on rocks in the middle of the small river and let their feet dangle in the water. Any day." Headmon Halford stepped into the water. after the harvest and the grain has been ground. and walked down the smooth ramp into the noise of his community. You know we won't be able to watch the space ship any more. stepped in front of him. If that happened. The electrodes need to be reformed. It has been hot these past few days. when we work into the dangerous night. "It's been a long time." "Could it be possible the left to study the other planets and will return when it is time to pick up their people on the planet?" "That is a possibility. there would be nothing available for the new electricity to attach to." "Yes. to gather." he panted. "What is it you wanted to speak of?" Taggart asked. "I caught you. Did he mention that?" "He said the deposit would have to be. to the main room on the second level. Working always to his left.
Headmon?" "I need word spread that gathering starts tomorrow.week if we work hard." Halford said. "All goes well." Halford watched as Ilant weaved through the thinning crowds toward the sleeping area. how goes it?" he said as he saw the head of the guards making ready to sleep." "I will have that message delivered." . Headmon. Other than that." "That is good. Headmon. O'Brien asked. This has been a good year. What brings you here?" "I need news spread. "What is it. and then walked to the guardroom. all seems well." "If that is so it will be a miracle. "O'Brien. Seaside killed two rumblers. Halford knew he had been looking forward to sleep. Now go tell the others. We will see what happens. The head of the guards sighed. We have yet to locate any close enough for our hunters to reach. Ilant will be in charge. Good evening. All are to report to him at daylight. so they will have what they need for the winter.
"We must get going to the smokehouse." Brevor looked at the smoke flowing out of the vents near the entrance. except there's no movable partition. but Wakefield knows what is needed. No fields." "If they were. They have to." There was no way Brevor wanted another day of that backbreaking labor. "We have to smoke the meat. We cannot let it get too big or too small. It is complicated." "I still think the vents should be at the top. The stars were out." Brevor had worked hard all day yesterday. Brevor joined Anderson outside and looked up. There was a lot of night to go. "What? Huh? The sun isn't up yet. Brevor." Anderson said shaking the engineer. like the smokehouse Anderson was building. but smaller. "So what do we have to do?" "Mostly tend the fire." A glance through eyelids opened a slit showed only darkness outside the window. along with the heat. and he was awake and moving. Even building as he had with Anderson a couple days before was not as hard as carrying all that grass or wheat or whatever it was to the storehouse. and the animals mostly go to the warmer areas. and we have to use the proper amount of green wood to supply the right amount of smoke." ." Anderson said.Chapter 9 "We must go. protected with a screen of some material Brevor had yet to identify. Anderson kicked the bed. but they would die. It's the only way they can live. and it has to be a certain type of wood or the smoke will not have the proper preservatives. it is time to get up. walking out in the fields under the sun throwing the gathered stalks onto wagon after wagon. I'm awake! I'll be with you in a minute. leading Brevor between the houses. a lot of time to sleep. What this does is cook the meat while letting the preservatives in the smoke and the salt we sprinkle on the meat soak through. He put on his pants and shirt and slipped into his shoes while wishing he were back in civilization. That was hard work. "Unless you would rather work the harvest?" "Oh. poured smoke into the air. He had slaved just as hard as anyone else had and deserved to sleep at least until the sun was up. all the smoke would get out before it reached the meat. Brevor mumbled. It's like at the larger smokehouse we're building. They walked through the shadows with Brevor bemoaning the early hour until they reached a building with no windows. Anderson added a little incentive. Small vents near the bottom. you see. Where was the justice? "It is this way. and one of the moons. Others have started the process and now it's our turn. We can wear their skins. no. What do you mean it's time to go?" He rolled over so his back was to his guide. "Here we are. This way it will last through the winter when it will be too cold to grow much. He did not have all this manual labor back where there was technology.
although you could breathe. Across from the door a small fire burned on the hearth. the heat and smoke deflected through a hole in the wall behind the fire by a skin from which all the hair had been removed. The first two fields are done already. we will get to work in the fields some more. collapsing on it without undressing. we only have to keep the fire up. will you? I will get the next load. "Just about the way it is. it appeared that most of the wood had already gone into the fire. He gathered an armload from each pile and returned to the fire room. We do not have to mess with that. Not so big that it will burn the deflection skin. and now that the whole village helps the work will go quickly. Oh. wider that it was long. "Come. and placed the screening in. Too early in the morning. Then we used the light bricks I showed you the other day. we will be doing this on and off for a week. She fell almost instantly asleep. Someone had worked hard to gather all this wood. "Through that hole." Brevor found both piles his guide had mentioned near the trees of the forest. Brevor hoped he could hold his breath that long. "How did you build this?" "The same as we built the other one. This was worse than those tobacco sticks they used on Cadrupi.Feed the fire. The travelers had lugged all the meat and the intact skin on poles dragged behind them from the kill site to Seaside. The group had arrived in the village after dark and trudged to the building where they smoked the meat. Estelle had walked for hours with Francine and the others to where the hunters waited. Brevor asked. They can support the roof because the walls are thick to hold in the heat. There are others who know where the proper trees are. Add one of the untrimmed green branches. "It looks like most of the wood is gone. and before you ask. How big do we need to keep the fire?" Brevor asked. To pass the time. Bring some of both in. Oh." Brevor followed Anderson through a three-meter wide door in the half-meter thick wall into a rectangular room. but you might want to prepare to wake early when it is our turn to tend the smoke fires. It needs a bit more smoke. and we'll be done before the harvest celebration. and he or she would need more. is the room filled with hanging meat. but it keeps out what we don't want in the meat and lets out the smoke. The screen was on the original space ship. so I have no idea how it was made. We go harvest. They would have to go into the smoke and place wood and poke and prod. The first few layers we built into the ground." . From the debris scattered around. A strong odor of smoke filled the room. Come in and I will show you. you will find some cut and split wood and some green branches. Then we built the layer with the holes. They will replenish the wood later today. Then we can watch the sun rise. or that door over there. Just about the way it is." +++ After waking early the morning before. Around the side of the building. nor so small that it is ineffective. Estelle had dropped her load where Dennis had said and had followed her guide to the house and her bed. exhausted after the long trip. Francine woke Estelle.
and pulled Estelle to a sitting position. I have felt something strange." "That's what I'll do. Talks-ToMany lowered respectfully as he reached the guard and said. and when it is time to eat. You know your way to the conversation area. "You still swim to you. And welcome." "Then wear something else. he slowly made his way to the large area where the marnmen could speak to Gives-Direction on matters of general importance. You're speaking better. and good luck. I feel so dirty. you still swim. "You still swim. Too rarely. something that worries me. but just a feeling I have felt." How did Francine look so ready after working so hard and so long yesterday? Estelle could barely open her eyes. "Harvest? I thought all that was done." "Then enter. May you always swim in waters that are calm. There is no communication involved. "Talks-ToMany." The guard quickly gave a shallow bow and answered. The sun had not risen yet. it looks like we'll finish early. After we swim you can put on clean clothes." Estelle pulled on the dress she had worn the day before. He noticed many waited to speak as he entered the conversation area. It has been long since you have come here with a message. And have more than last year. TalksTo-Many. Francine pulled the covers off her guest. You and I will work together. I need a bath. Guards-The-Entrance. But with the extra help. GuardsThe-Entrance. "Gives-Direction. Wendell will be pleased. In front of him a guard waited. that's why we all pitch in. his equipage polished to a high shine. Come close and tell me why you feel it necessary for you to come." +++ Talks-To-Many eased around groups of conversing marnmen toward the governing center's entrance dedicated to those with important messages. extra strength. Thanks. Come on. something that Gives-Direction should know about." "It comes from talking to you. as politeness required. Gives-Direction noticed the newcomer and recognized him immediately. and something different to wear. I learn. It's the hardest of the gatherings.It was barely light. I come to speak to Gives-Direction about a matter that may concern everyone who lives in the living-water and those who dwell on the ancient land. or wear that and bring something else. "Ha! You think we earn a celebration that easy? We have another week before all the grain is brought in. Why do you come yourself?" "Because it is not a message that I have received. Maybe then she would have the energy for more work. You rarely come here and grace us with your presence." Talks-To-Many crossed the open area filled with marnmen and lowered to the ocean's floor. something new. so I come in person to receive direction. Possibly the primitive life was good for you. grasped an arm. his manner that of an old friend. We go this way. She needed one of Dennis' strong teas." Talks-To-Many swam slowly along the marked corridors of the area of GivesDirection. at the least. we can go to the stream and clean up. "Spirit. For you to leave your post to enter the community is highly unusual. Usually you send your words with Swims-Between. Looking neither right nor left. I have a feeling that we may be coming into an important .
but as you pointed out. a way to keep the marnmen safe. Talks-To-Many. or the respect of life. the Thinkers may teach us. or the ability to laugh as I have heard once. to ignore a danger to another. Then he continued. If the Thinkers did change. to let a life go for no reason. not right now. Both times the Thinkers volunteered information that was vital to us or to those who dwell in the air of life. or any other community. I think that they have empathy awakening. Talks-To-Many. those who supplied sustenance to all who live here. No one truly knows what intelligence is. stirring up the water and silt from the bottom. A treaty had been in effect for many warm and cold seasons. Gives-Direction said. I will work on this problem." The two marnmen floated out of the fog of silt to rock on the gentle waves at the living water's surface. Talks-To-Many. "You will remember that the Thinkers also told us about the Federation approaching without our asking them to. "Now explain what you mean." Talks-To-Many told of what had happened with the Thinkers. Go back to your duties with a clear mind. about this possibility. and that although you may kill for food. I feel the Thinkers may be starting to show true intelligence. I know they cannot and will not use tools. it involves another species. would it mean the treaty must change? Could the hunters for the community. a respect for other species that goes beyond the respect you feel for those stronger than yourselves. Rather. Gives-Direction. None other is to listen. but is that the true measure of intelligence? Is it not rather recognition of the needs of those around you? Is it not the recognition that all life is precious. and to those who dwell in the air of life.time. is wrong? That is what an unintelligent being does. nor make things. and how it had passed under him and shown him the vessel that swam through the star seas leaving the living planet's area. what those who dwell on the ancient land call sentience. a consideration for others that only intelligent creatures have. It is good that you have told me of this. We will have to wait and watch for the results. nor suddenly. but over the next few warm and cold times. not one who thinks. we will rise to the surface of the living-water and breath the air of life while we speak of this feeling you have. This does not involve those who dwell on the ancient land. I will speak to my advisors." The marnmen in the area became agitated. whether it is the use of tools. Thinkers were the one species who could successfully hunt the marnmen. how the one had come closer to the village than any had before." . I believe that shows intelligence." "It well might. "Come. None know the true answer for that question. be in danger? Gives-Direction said.
I have no relief readily available. which is where they scan us from. What did his science expert think? "Does that suggest anything. but not much more.C. "It . and highlighted for ease of viewing. so you'll have to use the main screen. "Do you have time for me to show you something?" Captain Lucas Mussuclio glanced around the light brown room. We can see the cave system. We think. which turned up interesting results you'll remember. which I can show you now. Now he could relax for a few minutes and wait for problems to arise. "Captain. her long blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. this is the proper area. Those two lines go from the deposit of potassium hydroxide to a room up near the top and a small area near the bottom. There were several possibilities that occurred to him. and some of the surrounding deposits. we placed an amplifier in-line to strengthen the signal to noise ratio." The Captain pondered the problem for a moment. please. "Who's there? Fornihopper." Lesley answered. and yes. bring up the real time scan. L. a short period of quiet bustle and conversation as the personnel in seats changed and exchanged information. However. real time. Fornihopper? Make sure no one removed the amplifier. When we looked again we saw something new. Van Rapton?" "It seems to me that they've stopped scanning for some reason. our scans. when pushed to the maximum. "At this moment I'm not busy. overlaid. have disappeared. please. After a moment he answered. to get a better picture." "Then why doesn't it show up? Go to scan 431927. "What happened? Are you sure that's the proper scan. ship time. The door of the lift slid open to reveal a tall woman in an officer's working uniform. We're almost positive the deposit at the one end works as a battery supplying low voltage current to the room near the top. "Engineering say's everything is as it should be. bring up view 431896. The Captain said. There." "And now those lines. Perhaps a reaction slightly off the normal course could supply the hint. Captain. probably not right. As you will notice. where the current runs I imagine.Chapter 10 The A shift had started at zero six hundred hours. During the first few minutes. Yesterday. it's gone!" Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton stared at the screen open mouthed. Quiet ensued as projects continued or the boredom of circling a planet grew. Sir. look like this." she called as she strode past the Communications Desk and to the Captain's right. Captain. just before the end of 'B' shift. the Captain reviewed the logs of the past two shifts after he checked the status of the boards on the bridge." She looked at the Science Desk next to the Captain's Lounge door opposite where she had entered. however." The Science Officer pushed buttons and whispered into the communicator. that's what we saw. This was the second time Lieutenant Commander Van Rapton had burst onto the Bridge." "Very well. Fornihopper. She had a dramatic streak she would have to keep under control.
" "Yes. a dangerous place to work because of the cover provided for predators. The grains were separated and sorted for eating or next year's seed. this area was fully cultivated from the gentler lower slopes of the mountains to the forest's edge. even with the children helping they are not as far along as they were last year." Since Iolif had asked for information. Used up the electrodes? Was that possible? If it came from Van Rapton. unable to hunt since the accident. We seem to have a good harvest this year." the Science Officer proposed. They must have shut down for some reason. "I think the hunters that searched north have returned. We worked out that the use of the power should be stopped until we learn how to store more. Slowly the grain for the coming winter was sliced from the ground and transported to storage areas deep in the cave system. Other than that I don't know. but I cannot understand why. Halford turned to him and said. Is that true?" "Not quite." The guard paused for a moment. Very good. the third time he had heard it used. it must be possible. I will wait and see. It appears that if the harvest is this good next year we will be able to plant less grain and more of something else. Lanford has said that these people want to destroy us. stood nearby watching for signs of predators in the area. Lanford sent out patrols to watch to the south in case the enemy does not follow the path. one Halford had asked himself several times before. "I would tend to agree with that assessment. "Can you tell me what the hunters feel about this enemy that you mentioned?" The guard continued to look out the window. A hunter with a twisted leg. "Another point to discuss when they don't want to join the Federation. "Have you heard anything about the hunters Lanford sent out north and east?" Iolif continued to scan the forest as he answered. Headmon Halford inspected the fields of gold and greenish brown from the window where the guards watched for dangerous animals. "Then I will have to speak to him." Halford noted the new word. and the straw dried and used as bedding and compost. "Tell me something. "I heard a story that Taggart has been told to stop. We have not done them wrong. They may elude those he sent down there. Iolif. Morning Star found an old record about the power Taggart uses. possibly to conserve power. At least from that source.appears they have stopped the use of their electricity." That was one of his possibilities. and good information. Sir." +++ Fields of grain and partially decayed leavings filled the area from the mountains to the foothill forest. and how it is made and stored. he could not evade answering a question in return. so what reason would they have?" A reasonable question. I'll remember that. "They are unsure of exactly what is going on. Lesley. Unlike the valley between the ridges. and neither can the others." He paused as if to think of the exact words he wished to use. his height above the valley floor giving the illusion he flew above his people as they worked at their tasks. silent for a moment." "Or they've used up their electrodes and don't have the technology to replace them. Morning Star says he has complete instructions. "I have .
Why would there be a problem?" "The clouds have begun to form up there. "I've sent the hunters that were to the north to watch from the large tree near the charcoal pit. Their ways are strange. it's time for you to take a break. walked into the main cave. Lanford looked out the window. at least five in each group. In a . especially since the marnmen told us their small craft returned to the mountains. In this case it fits. but the work would have to be done. and." "That would be a mess. everyone living here. For a time you could hear the pole as it hit the floor. They can see a wide. nodded his head. I want to send them to the thinking rock a day from here. and placed them as watchers. I do not know. "Have you seen how the harvest goes?" "Not as recently as you. "It appears to be going well. They want to control everything." "For you and me. that the people in charge of large groups like the Federation forget that people exist. Why do you call them the 'enemy'?" "Is that not what they are? Morning Star said that's the word that was left in the record for those people who try to destroy you. and Lanford trying to penetrate the trees with his gaze. as far as I know. "Iolif. When it was again quiet. the beats echoing through the large open area. He asked. There's no reason for it. It will be rainy in an hour." "That is what I had heard. I've pulled all my hunters. not entities.been told that if no one is living on the planet. At least we don't have to work the high land today. They think of power and belongings." Lanford chuckled. reached for the pole. Tell me something. to watch below and give us a chance if the enemy comes from below." The younger man turned to Lanford. not honest. just as it has to be done down below there. I have heard stories that a new storage area will have to be opened up. and I want as little a chance of someone getting hurt as possible. slightly bent. How that can be. that would not be sufficient reason. That is what Wakefield thinks. wild area to the south of us that cannot be covered with patrols. with gray hair cascading down his back. an old man. but I couldn't understand why. using the pole to support his weight on the left side. however. Those that were sent to the west should return later. then they can claim the planet and do what they want with it." They looked out the window." The two men watched the world in silence. Lanford found them that way a few minutes later. We've seen attacks of Raptors around. and they think of people as numbers. or those living on it die for some reason. except those dealing with the people from the Federation. Halford watching the harvesters at work and thinking of a winter with plenty to eat. if it's not already." Halford stood at the window next to his lead hunter and watched the people working below him. They are bringing in more than ever before. The marnmen have told us they destroyed the people on the other side of the ocean. Wakefield believes. and a younger man with a twisted leg next to him leaning on the wall." "Yes. other than as property for their use or misuse." "That it does. that work is done. that they had killed the others." "So be it. I would think. It is what we thought might happen here. and. a stout pole within easy reach. but I hope no one's meditation is disturbed.
evil he could see. and then bent far forward. The head began to turn sideways as the animal leaped from the trees. Besides. Just below the shining eyes. The watcher had not heard anything." +++ Taggart puffed over to the growing pile of cut plants. He noticed someone had started a new pile. they still harvested. Just to the right of where he would be. and cut another handful. and within a couple meters of the trees. After all. one that would be closer as he moved across the field. cracked his back straight. sharp claws into his chest and stomach. It gaped wide as it grew. Taggart looked at the watcher. he had reached the end of his row without realizing it. "I think I saw something one quarter to the right and halfway to the horizon. he was still looking the other direction. use his long knife to slice the stalks close to the ground. returned to where he had been a short time before. There seemed to be more watchers than usual today. until it was so dark you could not see. never moved. he could relax for a few minutes while he moved to a new section. A noise sounded from the woods. and cracked his knuckles. the teeth revealed. he thought he could detect movement. bending and cutting and walking. Again. it was none of his problem. and add his handful to the pile. Forget the harvest. on and on until the sun goes down. He raised his hands above his head. An arrow suddenly quivered in the animal's side. He heard a scream. I must continue on my rounds. eyes slightly below the level of his. and Lanford would be under the sun bending and cutting and walking. he bent slightly so he could grasp a large handful of plants. The eyes seemed to glitter above a sharp-toothed beak. The beak seemed to grow explosively. one of the hunters stood watch. thirteen days when everyone except the watchers. I want back in my room with my power. Then he groaned and straightened. Bending and cutting and walking. The people working to his right and left had not heard anything. but when he looked. All he had to do was continue bending and cutting and walking. nostrils flared. Staring back at him from the bushes. Another matched the first . just stared. nothing was there. "Keep your eyes open. At the same time. The watcher had heard the noise and drawn his arrow. bending and cutting and walking. He knew it would take at least thirteen days to complete this task. There was the pile. the beat of Iolif's stick entered the small room. Headmon. coming at his face. his eyes searching the leaves. so he must be imagining things. Was he ever tired of harvest. Taggart looked back at the trees. stretched as far up as he could. prepared to drive huge. a rustle in the leaves as if a small animal passed through among the trees. bending and cutting and walking. Once he reached there. just three steps away now to his left. no one else had heard it. They never wavered. He thought. It wouldn't be long before he could take a break. Well. and most of them were watching the woods for some reason. he saw two eyes. hobble over to the pile of cut plants. Headmon Halford. Good day." Lanford told his guard. Powerful legs swung forward. Evil stared out of the eyes. leaned back to work out the kinks. and finally did a deep knee bend. bending and cutting and walking.thinner area where he could see patches of ground. an arrow nocked in his bow. Taggart brushed aside any apprehension he felt. He also saw he was near the edge of the forest. I am definitely not used to this. He stood straight. He heard an answering crack from the trees.
The beak would split his jugular. not since raptors killed his wife. Slowly he became aware of people yelling.arrow's position on the opposite side. Go to the stream and clean up. "Again. Iolif realized. Two more twangs and thuds sounded almost simultaneously. this time with a cooling solution. and then liquid was poured on his head. You're Taggart. and his work of tracking. but there might be more. Again. Maybe now. He felt wetness on his face and neck. Several pairs of feet thudded by at a run. I have to go." Gently his face was wiped. He knew he was dead. You look to be lucky. I'm Jenny. More shouts on both sides sounded. "Hold still. if not right then it would be only a matter of seconds. Something had to give. this time to stay. He heard someone tell him not to move. the words confused. but during the Harvest Celebration. "Do not open your eyes or you won't be able to see for a long time. Iolif looked . he could think of more than just her. I will talk to you later. The weight came back onto his chest. There were more shouts. keep your eyes closed. his head bowed." he answered quietly. "Good. I want to talk to you more. aren't you?" "Yes. one of the hunters he thought. Someone wiped his eyes again. and then lessened. His neck prickled. What did she say? That she would talk to him later? During the Harvest Celebration? Most people did more than just talk. a twang. and more liquid poured on his head. See Murphy. "OK. He heard scratching close by. +++ Iolif looked over at Headmon Halford as he sat leaning against the far wall. The answering thunk seemed to be in the same place as the first. some very close. The weight on his chest seemed to lessen." He carefully folded into a hunched sitting position. the rag brushing liquid and debris from his eyes. He had not considered a woman in a long time. "You're the one who found out the misbegotten Federation cretins played games. and then leave. Shouts sounded from farther away. maybe better than most. and Taggart would be no more. and pain in his chest." The young woman gracefully rose and walked toward a knot of people. A stream of liquid began to pour on him." a woman softly told him. then almost immediately a thunk. Calmly the voice said. Maybe. unsure of exactly what happened. but sit up. The voice sounded familiar. The weight on his body suddenly grew. His face began to get wetter." he heard someone say. and pain where the beak met the skin. The weight of the pouncing animal knocked him over." the woman said again gently wiping his eyes clean. then see Murphy. That noise he could recognize. The evil light seemed to disappear from the beast's eyes just before the toothed beak drove into Taggart's neck. and a nap in the middle of the morning was as good a fix as anything else was. Late night meetings followed by early morning organizing were not for a man as old as Halford. All the beast had to do was clamp down. Taggart noticed her dress was torn and covered with blood. the weight lifted off his chest. Another twang sounded from his other side. "you can open your eyes now. yet she still looked good. and his chest felt sore. Maybe Evening Light was telling him it had been long enough since her death. others are hurt. Fingers probed his body. he felt all right. I think your chest is just bruised. but other than those two problems.
I just could not believe it at first." a sleepy voice answered. what is it." Lanford left them at a run." Halford was at the window peering out at the forest. the sky tracker as Iolif thought of him. I've seen five so far just since I've been here. I think it's Raptors. a head." "I see it. where Taggart would be in a couple minutes. Iolif had carried several messages from Taggart to the Headmon." "What would I know?" Lanford asked as he walked into the small room." a bit louder when there was no answer. Without the marnmen. but not by name. Wave something. "Headmon. There must be something we can do. Close by were several others he recognized. Watchers looked back and forth along the lines of trees. He could see many folk he recognized." "I heard you. This must change. for they looked away again. It's too far to shout. There is one by Taggart. close by the forest. Taggart was the only way to track what was above the atmosphere. skilled hunters searching for any predators that might attack. and we have no way to signal. "I've seen movement in the bushes by the field. Can you warn the harvesters?" Iolif considered the problem. Yet they obviously did not see it. It is too far to shout. for both Taggart and the guard close by looked at it." "We need signals like we used to have years ago. I don't know. I know there is nothing to do at the moment. Taggart reached the end of the field. Is Murphy down there?" "I'm not sure. Headmon. That's a Raptor for sure. do not answer. Signals were complicated. He could shout a warning." "An attack of Raptors watching and no way to warn them. Do you know where Murphy is? We should send him down now. in the bushes that lined the field. Iolif and Halford could do nothing but watch as the Raptors prepared to attack. or anything arraigned to warn them. A few harvesters over was Taggart. and what to look for." The signals must show where the danger was. I will talk to Lanford tonight. He called. . He will be needed. "No. some he knew by name. "An attack of Raptors is close by and watching the harvesters in that field. Lanford would know. "Headmon!" "Yes.back out toward the harvesters. and another over there some more. "What!" "I said I thought--. He saw movement again at the edge of the forest. It would only confuse the watchers and draw their attention away from the problem. "Look to the right. "Lanford did say they were around. but I can't tell. stood. one of them when the Federation first arrived." "What?" The voice was alert. Halford pointed." "He's two fields over tending one of the women who came down with the sun disease. this time farther over. Iolif saw something move. Beat a drum. and stretched. but the distance was too great for understanding. Why they stopped. A barely heard voice would be no more than a distraction. I'd better get down there. Halford noticed the guard had his arrow held ready. It won't take him long to get there. "Headmon. They were all in one field. all the way to the corner." he called quietly. There was Jenny. The one by Taggart might have made a noise. Taggart was important to Cliffside. At the edge of the forest. No. before they had started a child. He called. whose husband of less than a season died while hunting. Where did you see them?" "I think I saw one right at the end where Taggart is.
drew it. Raptors also attacked. grabbed an arrow from his quill. Her sister just had a baby. One life was more than they could spare." Halford said as he watched several hunters run to the next field over where more of the attacking animals began to show. and grabbed one of the women." Iolif told Halford as the boy sprinted off to complete his task. "I should be down there. "Look at Taggart!" Iolif yelled as another Raptor drove into the carnivore on Taggart's body. you will. both driving directly to the heart and killing the beast instantly. You will. vague screams." Halford answered quietly. dropping the beast. Look! At! The! Trees! Taggart turned and froze as Halford yelled. The nearest watcher ran over and began to lift the Raptor from Taggart's body. and then died as two more arrows pierced its heart. the Raptors are attacking the people in the field!" "I saw. The Raptor completed its ballistic flight knocking Taggart to the ground hard. A shout caused him to spin around. but one of the women had her arm shredded. For now. and let fly straight between the eyes of the Raptor that was less than a meter from him. with nothing making sense. there were only people and dead beasts in the field. Taggart must have screamed. Noise drifted up from below." A Raptor dove from the trees near the middle section of the field. "That is Mary down there hurt. but the deadly jaws failed to close. harvest is finished for today. Look at the trees. slashed at the guard that was beginning to take aim. I saw. It dragged her back into the safety of the bushes before anyone else had a chance to rescue her. A hunter on either side let fly and again killed the attacking animal. The feet came forward. When they return. Just as suddenly as the attackers had appeared. Halford and Iolif watched as more of the carnivores attacked different sections of harvesters. for both watchers turned toward him. tell each of them we will meet here tonight after supper. in mid leap. his head lowered and his shoulders slumped. Right here." Halford answered. When they were finally driven off. Headmon Halford turned away from the window. The Raptor leapt. It bounced off Taggart and fell next to him.He turned his back on the trees. "If this happens again. and then the women close by began to take care of his needs. a wound in its neck pouring blood onto the tracker. two arrows found their mark. The bird swerved." "I wish I could have helped. Halford thought trying to project his warning psychically. shouts and yells. and her husband is with Taggart. "Good. They died at the hands of hunters also. but for now we need to recuperate. One of the hunters shoved the Raptor off Taggart. The Raptors had disappeared. One of the young boys of the community ran into the room. "And even now you . powerful legs propelling it into the air at a high speed. Halfway to Taggart. toes pointed to spear its prey with sharp claws as long as a hand. "Do you know Lanford? Murphy? Morning Star?" As the boy nodded to each one of the names Halford continued. tell the field bosses that they are to bring everyone in. He yelled. "Look out!" One of the carnivores leaped out directly at Taggart. Halford told Iolif. only the one human life had been lost. "Headmon. He reached behind him. Tomorrow we can continue the task. Its head turned sideways so the scissoring beak would slice Taggart's head from his neck. At the other end of the field.
silent as they moved. watching everything around them. He sent the two of us." Jamson greeted the middle-aged hunter who led the reinforcements. too. and coverings for their entire bodies that look like they're supposed to blend into the woods. We've been sent to help. Willow introduced the third newcomer. "Jamson?" one of the travelers called quietly. "What do you want us to do? It's your hunt. Carroll and me. "Willow." as he placed the gourd in his pouch." An average young man in the prime of life bowed slightly. Halford received word that the marnmen to the south saw the flyer head back to the land. "This is Carroll.can help. I do not know why. talking loud enough for us to hear them first. but I don't know if that worked. their senses attuned to what was around them. to help if we could. and how do we direct the guards to where the danger is? Think on it and tell Lanford later." +++ Headmon Halford entered the guardroom with the window overlooking the fields." Fogart whispered to Jamson as he pointed along the path in the direction of Cliffside. "Let me fill you in on what has occurred so far." "Then it won't be used much. Jamson stopped. There are. both sensing another's presence. and wait. just before the moons set. as did Fogart. He said to be sure you do not touch it. footsteps placed carefully. Then Jamson said. a young man with a large muscular chest and broad powerful shoulders. Tonight. What can we use for a signal. Fogart and I will get close to them. They had barely settled themselves when three men cautiously eased past. especially with the trees dripping after the rain. And they are in no way hunters. The three new arrivals approached him. their eyes searching the bushes near where they had heard the voice. "Scale Hunter. The two hunters disappeared into the dripping underbrush at the side of the path and watched to see who approached. "Someone's coming. . that one that blocks the path a bit more than a day back." "What we do? I think they will camp near here tonight. "It's a new mixture. and only use it on life that is not to be eaten. +++ Two hunters glided along the path like ghosts through the light rain. They might. The three newcomers froze. Jamson recognized the first man in line and called to him quietly. The hidden hunters stepped out of the bushes and Jamson raised his hand in a quiet greeting. In bright sun they have sparkles." Willow asked." The Headmon turned and with lowered head began to walk slowly toward the main entrance." Jamson said as he studied the young man with Willow." "And Murphy sent me with this. I poisoned a bush. "It seems to be made just for this expedition. though if the bush caught them they might be more careful. or were. especially toward their rear where the enemy traveled." Scale Hunter told them holding out a gourd. possibly around this rock. they are noisy like you would not believe. five men. They have long poles that appear to be weapons. if the men were still and they were in the shadows.
Yes. What I'm trying to say is. sit so he won't fall off. they would hang the cloth from their window and alert anyone that saw to keep their eyes and ears open. until it fades. Make sure the color is bright. safer?" "What did we do before to warn of danger. and it should be easy to make. So would orange. we could make sounds that would carry. "When I am below." Headman Halford prompted. but may I speak?" "Any suggestions would be welcome. "Excuse me. and the alarm can be spread. and wave his arms over his head. sometimes the guards would look the wrong direction. and Murphy were already there." "Could we use another color than red? Murphy. As far as I can tell. but only a very short time and they would know to watch carefully. or any work done in the fields. and attached them to the wall so they would always be ready. if they are in the light. "I don't know. it was the danger signal used by the Originals. If they saw danger. They looked to the entrance as Halford entered. I use them in some of my medicines. the guard could just throw the cloth out that was near where the danger was. If the guard. and has a touch of yellow in it. That was stopped when the last red cloth faded enough it would blend into the rock behind it. Some stories I remember say that while the signal did tell those on the ground that those above had seen something. then all the cloths could be shown. Morning Star. The one you blow into that Candice uses during dance. Headmon Halford asked the small group gathered in the watch room. what colors are available?" "What would show up well against the rocks? Bright red does work. "If we had several of the cloths. the lightning bug's mating call. It must stem from then. While Lanford watched the dark forest with the occasional tree flash. then the hunters near Taggart would have known to be alert. it would distract the hunters for a time. and I look up at the cliffs. Like today. ." Halford thought a moment.Lanford. as there were today. pulling it back behind his shoulders. the other two talked quietly. "For many seasons the watchers would keep a cloth dyed bright red near at hand. Iolif it was I think. "What can we do to make the harvest. He will be seen by anyone looking. Finally." Lanford said. "Begin to prepare and dye large skins or cloths like you said. but not the roots. Do we have anything that could be used while the cloths are being readied?" No one spoke. It's made from the red-fruited sticky bush. so it should show up very well. Try to find the color that shows the best against the rock. if Iolif had thrown over the cloth to this end. the watcher by the window could not stand it any more. There is also the loud music maker. if the person watching sees something. If there are many. If we had one of them up here. three or four or more. What was the reason for red?" Halford asked. Morning Star? We cannot lose more people to attack from the trees. The plants are easy to find in the forest just beyond the field. It will take me a while to get some roots and prepare a dye. Silence slowly became a burden felt by everyone at the meeting. Without preamble. I can sometimes see when a person is leaning out of one of the windows." The historian ran his fingers through the hair near his head." "That is a consideration. he can climb out to the edge. and it may contrast against the brownish gray better. and then told Murphy.
Good! That is an excellent idea." Sergeant Tucker grouched back. Animal. and many blows for a large danger. somewhere beyond the clouds the sun was setting. it's all yours. and greens shone as if the flowers and leaves were buffed with a high gloss wax. "ever been on Chambers? The Dutchman's bar in Capitol?" Now what was Morganthur going to talk about? The stories that came out of his head. No reason to save it. and be sure they can be seen. They did not mention this type of mission. get those cloths ready as quickly as possible. so we'll do it. inventive thinking. my friend. to misty fog. Lanford said.One blow for general danger that would direct the guards to look up here and see the signals. to a steady rain shortly after sunrise. He ought to be a writer there were so many. He might become a good advisor. soaked through his poncho." Morganthur called to the man on point. When would they find some dry? Would this infernal rain never stop? "This is what we signed up for. I will instruct my watchers both up here and on the ground. so between missions its party time." "Do that. said. Nowhere was there a dry piece of land to sit on. and depressing. Small skirmishes and scouting missions were all you heard about now. until his grin caused them to squint slightly. To Halford." the sergeant threw back over his shoulder. but we got orders to follow. The ground squished beneath the feet of the four dejected but determined Marines. and if you're smart and use your head and stay out of trouble. His stories always made you laugh. "I believe so. Lanford?" Lanford also studied the guard at the window. his eyes growing wider. In addition." That was the truth. but when he had signed up. Later. Drips from the canopy of leaves dropped onto plants at the side of the path and splattered into the faces of the travelers. You get all your lousy pay at one time." Animal commented from the rear. Toolkie was too miserable to laugh. Muted reds. Hey. blues. The air had grown from highly humid. And we got a job to do. except maybe not today. Now how are the people? Have you heard from those to the south?" +++ Leaves glistened with moisture from what seemed like a never-ending drizzle. boy. "Lousy conditions to do a lousy job for lousy pay. like it or not. 'ceptin for one thing. finding puddles and soft ground that pulled at his feet as if the planet wanted to bury him alive. And Murphy. and he loved to tell them. Then the guards would not need to look. Sarge. He had slogged through mud all day. Basic had been hard. when we breaking?" Toolkie whined. cold and miserable. "none of us like this weather. Morganthur. They could get ready to shoot and keep their attention on the woods. He had a good head. "Sarge. . and maybe leader. understood?" "Yes. That's a fact of life for a marine." Toolkie answered dismally. Would it work. "Nope. Wouldn't have been so bad if we could've buried him. to drizzle. Sir." Headmon Halford stared at the young hunter. yellows. "Yeah. positioned just in front of Animal and always upbeat. Large wars were past. even during the first six weeks. "Good. "Look. Toolkie thought that basic would be the worst he would have. We all feel lousy about Sanders.
He might as well get used to it now. Shortly the trail widened into a small clearing with a large rock in the center. I saw one where--. and he stored it way for when he needed the information in the future. Twenty minutes later. and the upper cover stretched over them and fastened down." Toolkie mumbled to himself. There was plenty of cover for animals or enemies to sneak up on them. then retrieved a flashpack ration from his pack and joined the others sitting on the rock. unrolled his sleeping wrap. "Let's down packs. Thin. before it goes to open land. but food in the tent would be worse. And always sleep under the stars. and anyone under it. Morganthur. what with all the bushes and trees that surrounded them. "Thanks."Well. Buddy." Animal had selected his sleeping area in the open near the rock. If'n it rains." "Oh?" Toolkie asked." the sergeant instructed as he slid down the side of the rock. tonight he would have to sit on this rock by himself. That would help. "And break out your shelters. whoever was on guard could see farther into the woods. . all four Marines were smiling again. in case you haven't noticed. The information Toolkie gathered from those stories and comments was valuable. And after a while they stink. Moreover. You'll never sleep in a soaked wrap. He climbed inside the small tent and attached the edges of the ground sheet to the inside so water would not run in." Toolkie hadn't realized the veteran marine was that close. it'll take out a tree. but the trees will drip forever. "Thanks. Just what I needed to hear. And when they're wet. you might as well have watch all night. It's about dark. "I'll take the first watch. is the floorshow. The crossing arch supports to his tent attached to the pegs. They've got girls there you would not believe. with only Sanders dying from a trap Toolkie figured was for animals passing by. I'll tell you." He moved his ground cover from under the trees to the other side of the rock and staked the corners." "I hope I remembered my ground sheet. He always ribbed you." The story that followed would have made a prostitute blush." the sergeant ordered. teasing and making caustic remarks between stories. and I think the rain is going to stay with us. however. Bad weather's more common than the good kind. He had been miserable all day. Toolkie." "Good point. including Toolkie. in that order. And if lightning strikes. Always take foul weather gear. Animal. Here it is." Toolkie said appreciatively. they're heavier than lead. two hours each. "If you didn't. after the story was finished. never under trees. it's fantastic. the most fun. Morganthur whispered. never shutting up. you'll only shiver. "No fire. But the best. and luscious. and oh so ready to play. the rain'll stop. kid. And they can take weeks to dry. "You'll learn. and this is as good a place to camp as any. Might as well have someplace dry. They had been walking a long time hearing nothing. Animal. Flashpacks only. That would make hunting easier. but with that rock there. Toolkie said. "Why?" "Two reasons." Toolkie watched Sarge climb a rock near the middle of the clearing. It would give a better view around them than they could get on the ground. And their Storm Trooper will lay you out in nothing flat.
On the beginning of the path to Cliffside that also led to the bathing area. you might say. "I heard you helped with the hunt. dirty. brought her fully awake. Estelle removed her clothes." When Estelle arrived at the swimming hole. several of the female villagers were ridding themselves of the dirt accumulated the day before. I'll be there. which was cleaner than the dress she had worn to the hunting grounds." the small woman answered. "You going to the celebration after harvest is finally done? From what Halbrack tells me it'll be a blast. However. settled for slacks and a shirt. But right now I just want to get clean. have you taken a good look at the plants?" "Among other things. We have been real close to the plants a couple times. but then she smiled. Should be a learning experience at the least. holding her clothes well away from her body to keep them clean. . Even a night's sleep did not help. And years of writing. Tuesday. not even for lunch. It'll definitely take study. Estelle climbed out of bed and rooted through her clothes chest for a clean dress.Chapter 11 Echoes of laughter and joyful shouts woke Estelle before sunrise the morning of her sixth day on the planet. first hand knowledge of how totally agricultural cultures functioned. She felt crummy. Her hair lay flat on the top of her head and fell in a mass that threatened to pull together into strings. For all that information she had paid a price. Time to gather plants. They had worked through the day to dark." the red head called. Sorry for holding you up. although she wore the dress she put on yesterday. "Hey. yet they're still different. "Halbrack's really nice. I'll see you later. if you know what I mean. but glanced at her from time to time. She found. Congratulations. she replaced it. instead. the brightly colored dress she had brought with her. still glistening from her swim and with her bright red hair pulled together and draped over her shoulder. By the way. Estelle." the tall blonde answered grinning widely. "All I did was helping carry the stuff back. entered the water. Right among them. It took her a moment to remember where she was. wouldn't miss it for the world. She would spend years writing papers about her experience. The women left her alone. and made her way to the river for a bath. I'm not looking forward to that." "Sure. in need of a bath. The knowledge that she'd spend days writing up the notes about what she had experienced. she was ready to lie down in the field. and began to wash the grime from her body. Remembering to save it for the harvest celebration a few days away. They're close to old world plants. about what she had learned just the past three of four days." "First I've heard of it. full of hard work and painful muscles. The past two days had been rough. the wealth of information she had gathered was worth any price. but there was so much more to learn. closer than any others I've seen." "I can believe that. sore muscles and aching joints. she met Tuesday Watson. No one had taken a break from harvesting yesterday. and when the harvest stopped for the evening.
"What's on the agenda for today?" she asked. or your friends. that is. +++ Brevor stood outside the smokehouse and watched the line of people headed toward the field. over there. the villager hesitantly said. A foamy lather formed which she spread over her body and rubbed into her hair. By the way." "One more thing. "Then use these. I think there are more today than yesterday. In a slightly broken version of the interstellar language. I was wondering what you use for soap." Pretty Wings smiled. as did the others. I did not realize. "I didn't know just how many people were in this village until I saw the harvest. I will show you where we go today. helping her to remove the accumulated dirt. I am sorry. almost as if she was afraid Estelle would rebuff her for bathing naked or talking to someone. If it's all right with you. and then walked to where Dennis waited. With her hair combed and clean clothes on." Estelle apologized. I'd like to talk to you more at length sometime. but I imagine you are new to the ways of behaving. fine lady. and you will not break tradition. "I didn't know I was doing wrong. please. she felt cleaner than she had felt in a long time. "You know. which demanded graciousness and courtesy in return. Estelle felt ready to enjoy the day no matter what she had to do. She stopped at the cottage to deposit her dirty clothes on the growing pile of laundry." Pretty Wings said as she directed a splash of water at the newcomer. have broken tradition learning your speech. You have been granted exemptions our laws so that you may learn all our ways. near the shore. People were talking and laughing as they walked unlike the crowds in many cities he had visited. What is your name?" "I am Pretty Wings. too." . ""Excuse me. wife of Stuart who you already met." Brevor said thoughtfully. Come. After Estelle rinsed." "Thank you. I would be honored. How can we make the mood lighter? I heard laughter before and would like to hear it again. "Anytime. after which Estelle moved to a shallow area near the bank of the river and rubbed the leaves Pretty Wings gave her between her hands." "Easy." The woman tried hard to be friendly. May I offer a suggestion?" "Anytime anyone wants to help. I do not wish to--intrude? Intrude on you time leisure. If I have offended you. "I depend on Dennis to keep me within bounds. A short water fight ensued. how is it you speak my language?" "I." "Well Pretty Wings. "Today we harvest yet again. There is no reason be sorry. It should not take too long. Whole families stayed together. fathers and mothers leading children along. showing only neck. On this planet. great lady. the smallest carried in parent's arms. but not as rushed.One of the village women drifted over to her after a while. I will be happy to listen. I feel I would be remiss I did not tell you that you are about break a social prohibition. They will help you take the dirt off. The harvest goes well." The villager held out a bundle of leaves. It did act like soap. only a week or so more. an unwritten law.
" "Yes. There was no way that meat would keep in this heat. so they harvested a different field yesterday.Anderson. See the holes in the skin? Run this pole through that hole where the skin is folded over and sewn. When we are done that day. "There are. within a week or a little more. not for how long it would take for winter. Something I want to see." . even well cured meat. The Cure Master announced. they were used then." Anderson said. "This is one of our duties. and you'll see the best possible way to cook a rumbler. It's like a giant box in the ground. Soon. Some had gone to gather the meat first day. Easy. Brevor doubted the temperature would get low enough for refrigeration. The old man entered the smoky room then quickly returned. Yes. several of the women will prepare the cooking pits. and they came back late. and this skin will do. all the way through." "Don't we have to keep it cool?" They had to have refrigeration of some kind. those. we can go help her. "Ten pieces are ready for storage. let alone freezing and snow. Anderson explained." The sun was high and the day heating in a last blast before the cool of winter when their relief arrived. A week." "Below the storehouse? Isn't that below the ground water level?" "Yes. also. we only make one trip. Then they were washed. Now almost all go to three fields. harvest will go quick." "That's us. said." "When will that be?" "A few days yet. With this. Ten pieces will need a carrier. He would find this interesting. we have duty. For now. Then we will put the meat on it and carry it to the store house. Until then we move cured meat to storage. When the sun is high. but only once. maybe more. They used some kind of material that we don't have that makes it waterproof and bug proof and all. and now we use them. standing beside the engineer. like that. along with the Cure Master. That is interesting. "The Originals built a room deep in the ground below the storehouse that stays cool. We've not done that before." "A natural refrigerator. The poles are here. the next two will take over. "I thought they were left over from the hunt. They were too close to the equator. We should be set until they come. my wife among them." Brevor said.
kid. You'll get used to strange. kid. big-time. What's happening?" "Not a lot. almost together tonight. Sometimes folk develop a phobia so bad they have to live in the community for the rest of their lives. "It's only me. Animals are all I heard. "Hell. and his body. But don't worry about that. "Well." "Any planet not your own is strange. and told his new friend. the crackling as unseen beasts passed by. a cacophony that lasted until finally the night began to get light. A glance above his head through the opening revealed a few stars glimmering through the sparse leaves around the campsite. "I'm finding that out. and heard a body shift positions. and Animal." Toolkie opened the steaming pack. prepared to stand. Didn't know there was still so much to learn. it sounded like he was embarrassed. He got clobbered. I'll have to remember that. strange sounds." "Yeah." He dug a flashpack of coffee out of his backpack. but it didn't do him no good. revealing a hazy pattern of black sky that slowly moved away from the mountains." Morganthur replied. Compton Six has so much dust in its air the sky is a yellowish brown." Toolkie told the veteran. It's like anything else. strange colors." Toolkie threw his trash off to the side. Sarge and the rest of us like you. once. All that added together makes for strange feelings. it's been fairly quiet. so we'll teach you the field work as we go. you sure as hell don't learn everything in basic. and I'm grateful. With his eyelids opened no more than a slit. teaching like that. No danger showed that direction. but remember this. Just rookie complaints that'll disappear as you learn the job. Looks like both moons will set in a couple minutes. kid. The incessant rain had stopped and the clouds had broken. I had a buddy who didn't check his feet once. took a sip that burned his lips and tongue. along with all the other shit. That dread turned into a realization that he was awake. I don't want to become a number. . "Watched you as you came out. He froze. Did you remember to look at your feet? I saw you check above your head. like the rest of this planet. You'll do OK. Strange smell. I ain't seen that too often. a low sky that showed no shadows of danger. the insects that screamed with their wings. If you listened closely. Had a native jump the length of his tent swinging a club the whole time. kid. "You do your job and don't complain--much.Chapter 12 Toolkie dreaded when Morganthur would wake him for two hours of night sounds." Morganthur chuckled as he climbed off the rock. or foreboding." "That type of sky I'd like to see. Gave the rest of us some warning when we heard the wood and skull meet. Sometimes even the sky is strange. He gently slid out of his field tent. Two moons are strange. he saw the top of his tent twenty centimeters above his nose. sometimes a sort of dread. Probably be dark as a black hole then. on any planet. "Thanks." "You sound like Sarge. the eerie cries that echoed through the grass and twigs and branches. that the clammy feeling was the visible humidity that clung to the trees and the bushes and the rock. We want you to grow into the team.
"Man. He's a statistic. Stay alert. "We'd never find them in this black. he fell off the rock and lay motionless. I ordered a hold halfway there for a long distance scan as it rotates. crouched over. Before he had completed his turn. He sipped the warm brew and listened to the nighttime noises. and then straightened. or thought of moving from their defensive position until well after the sun rose. Don't remind me. The sergeant checked Toolkie's pulse. The sergeant reached the young marine seconds after Morganthur. Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton rose from the Captain's chair she had occupied for the last eight hours. Only one barely discernable body moved. "Give it up. The night became blacker as the last moon set. They may still be around. "There is one anomaly this shift. Seems some of the crewmembers have reported a feeling of being watched." the sergeant groaned. or to help. Captain. who was still awake when Toolkie had called. the forest lit only by the stars. Sarge. +++ "Lieutenant Commander. Without pickup it's useless. A quick look showed no attackers visible in the dark. and it was also looking for attackers. We're on course for the next planet to scan the mineral content and should arrive at our first scan position shortly. depressed. both of you. ready to pick off any enemy that showed. sudden movements that would wake the others. just a slumped body at the foot of the rock. A body fell off the rock. his weapon raised and charged. I'll see you in a couple hours. It's already too late for the meds. Per your instructions." Animal pleaded. Scans of the fifth planet were completed half an hour ago. there is no . He looked at his calf intending to kneed the muscle and saw an arrow buried in his calf. No one slept. "Well." He wondered what kind of poison they had. +++ Sergeant Tucker woke with a start as he heard Toolkie cry out. very well. turning slowly.good night. "Let's get them. He called out for the sergeant as he turned toward where the arrow pointed. No pulse." Both men sat dejectedly on their heels." Morganthur chuckled. The moons set and left the world dark. and that comes from Medical. A sudden cramp in his leg caused him to straighten it and want to stand. searching the invisible perimeter. disgusted by their inability to save the rookie. it's too late. The sergeant told Morganthur. but warm to fight the night's chill. how goes the Ship?" Captain Lucas Mussuclio asked as the lift door fully opened. like someone was looking at them from behind. "Right. By the time he sat on the top of the boulder the coffee was a drinkable temperature--not that good. The thin enlisted man was already giving mouth-tomouth resuscitation desperately trying to save the youngster. that he had never seen anything act that quickly." Toolkie blew on the coffee and climbed the rock in the center of the clearing. there ain't no justice!" Morganthur wailed into the dark. According to Lieutenant Commander Christen Hamorrod. Animal backed next to them. a clump of bushes to his right. "No.
Captain. beyond most hunters' bowshot. Years before. the woods thinned out. I know of no reason for it. "Thank you Lieutenant Commander. but it's something I felt you should know. and the five hunters loped along the path toward the caves at an easy pace and looked for more ways to ambush the invaders." . He asked. it would conceal someone who stood in the branches. ground vines. and woke them. That." The sky began to lighten as Fogart kicked the fire out. After he started a small fire and brewed the morning tea. +++ Jamson and Fogart had watched the confusion around the rock as the last moon set. joined the others before the sky began to lighten. Jamson? See that big tree? The one the fire didn't burn?" He pointed to the large tree near the center of the small clearing. searching for ways to protect their community. The Captain bowed slightly. "It's the one with the two large branches that go one way. extinguished after less than a day by one of the torrential rains common to the area during that season. Not even the small animals had been able to force their way through the wall of living green. I've seen that a few places. like you feel when the hairs on the back of your neck rise. Still fully leafed. Tangled masses of thorny bushes.medical reason for it. Carroll noticed a large tree with thick branches spreading into a leafy crown almost as wide as the tree was tall. prolific ground cover. He had never encountered that before. That should hold them for a bit." "OK. and then saplings had pushed their way out of the burned ground. "Lesley. that over the years several cases have been documented as real where a subject can tell when he or she is being watched via telescope from a good distance away. maintain heading and speed. you're relieved. They had quietly felt their way back to their companions. A feeling like someone was watching you strong enough to report to medical. Presently. They gathered their belongings. but never so strongly. saplings of various sizes. When it's light. This feeling. and to my knowledge there's no scan that would locate a source of this feeling. "What do you think. plus the fact that the experiments lacked controls and other necessary parameters leads me to suspect the results. is what I found last night. Helm." Questions. Jamson told them. It seems to be more a feeling of vague dread. just to the left of the path. let's head along the path and see what the land suggests. was it a by-product of those creatures on the planet? Did they have a way of watching? Was this feeling a residual effect? Medical may know." The Captain settled into his chair for his stint at responsibility. The hunters inspected the open area. have you ever encountered anything like this. and slipped silently into the jungle after the darkness was complete. lightning had started a short-lived fire. What could it be? Some kind of scan?" "The only information I can give you. watching. made it nearly impossible to pass across the cleared area on foot. and short. this feeling?" he asked before she had a chance to leave. This raised questions that needed answers. They'll think ghosts are killing them or something. then underbrush. "It has to be more than mere paranoia for people to report it. saw that now there were only three of the intruders. Over the next few years ground cover. Thanks. either. "Got one on the rock. bushes thick with shiny leaves.
"That one. First. "Communications. pulled back to his ear. The arrow sailed across the clearing and thudded into one of the branches of the tree Carroll had tried to point out. None of his seasoned hunters had that range. but if not get me the Officer on Duty. Life will eventually teach him humility. I know he's arrogant. tops with a bow. while they're confused. if that was possible. amazed at the distance the arrow had flown. he won the shoot-off last season. "No. I should explain that Carroll won several contests. See if you can locate Lieutenant Commander Christen Hamorrod. He needed answers. and even if a gust changed the flight. Willow. and I can down one of them. the one further on. +++ Captain Mussuclio called."The one here about thirty-five steps?" Jamson inquired looking at a small tree barely five years old. The surprise would cause confusion. you four can do away with the others. This child was that hunter? Jamson could not remember. it works fast." Jamson said a bit doubtfully. Then there was the reported sentient species in the ocean." Jamson looked from Carroll to Willow and back to Carroll again. I don't think even you could beat him. but he's young. do what he said? He remembered that shot. get me medical. the only one to exactly center the target year after year. Here. I know how you feel. and let fly." Carroll slipped an arrow out of his quiver. You wait. one of those from the time of the Expulsions. "Jamson. . "OK. Whatever it is. what about it?" "I can circle around and perch in that tree. "I won't fail. He was the one that split Dead Shot's arrow from fifty steps." Jamson considered Carroll's suggestion. Jamson said." Jamson looked at the quivering arrow stuck in the branch. If you remember. and that should allow the others to attack in relative safety. "Then go. There were too many anomalies to this mission. "OK. You'll see. "Then." Carroll stood taller. the oldest of the new growth. and only one guard was that accurate. child. a scratch was enough with this new poison." Willow cleared his throat. For distance and accuracy. The rest of us will wait near this end of the clearing. barely old enough to separate from his mother. was split in two and knocked to the ground. the surprise Dead Shot showed when his arrow. Could this young hunter. Let's let him. and the power of its strike. He can do what he says. I'll show you. and what he's done only gives him an excuse to be arrogant. one that did not revert to savagery as was usual for those colonies but stayed agricultural in spite of a capability to do more. The hunters from the stars would not expect an arrow to fly so far." the young hunter explained. and his chest grew larger. it's likely we'll all be killed. "you really think you can do it? You do know that if you fail. Remember to use the new mix to coat your arrows. there was a prison colony. nocked it to his bowstring." Answers. They wouldn't think to look that far away. but now is not the time or place for the lesson. How had he missed the youngster before? Jamson asked." The young hunter jogged toward the tree in question. his chest rippling with pride. to this planet.
"Now what have you found. Captain. That one deserves a complaint to the dry dock. "Coffee Doctor?" "Sure. mostly not subscribing to approved scientific method. Thelma. "Here. Placing one in front of the Doctor he asked. unless you want to wait?" "No." "It began in the late twentieth century in both the Northern Nation and parts of the Eastern Continental Conference. Now this feeling his crew reported. Many experiments were conducted over the years since then. and it was best to deal with the problem on the ship since they explored the system away from the planet. They did one lousy job. the ability to see a situation and act on it before they received orders. As he heard the door slide open he asked." He waited a moment to see if any more problems would surface. Send Lieutenant Commander Hamorrod in to me when she arrives. he heard the Chief Medical Officer's voice. as long as they could change direction if necessary. He drew a second mug and carried both to the large oval table secured at the far end of the room. and made sure at least one was on the ship. I can tell you now. Good coffee in the middle of a battle could be the difference between a stressed out bridge crew and winning. "I could use a cup of coffee." "Very well. or whatever. there's not much more in the library." Captain Mussuclio considered the distraction and rumors that would start if the conversation continued in the open. "That would be good." Initiative. "I'll be in the ready room. but I can tell you what I've found out so far. "At the conference table. He needed answers." "Aye. We'll give them hell now." Lucas answered.and hints of other species in the oceans that could sense what was off planet or possibly in the future and communicate with those on the land. Come to my ready room. The Captain answered. Hey." "Captain. what can you tell me about these strange feelings I've been hearing about?" "Not much." a feminine voice answered. had a long history of happenings that couldn't be explained which sparked their interest. this coffee is . and the scientists of the Eastern Continental Conference wanted to show the legends and beliefs wrong." The Captain entered the quieter area and drew a cup of coffee from the permanent supply on the food counter. I've been doing some research on the matter in preparation of briefing you later. "Christen. Most of the time that was good. Detail the problems and bring them to me at the end of shift. especially if they did not go in the wrong direction or to a dead end." Lieutenant Commander Thelma Whimner called out as soon as he had disengaged the communicator. and when we return. and then told the security officer on duty. Captain. then. The Captain asked. Both areas made studies on different 'psychic phenomenon' as they were called. He reflected that one of the best inventions of the past century had been the dispenser that heated refrigerated coffee with microwaves as it dropped into the mug. The natives of the Northern Nation. He would not stop initiative. Most of his Department Heads had that this trip. still the controlling force of that time. Finally." "We've finally completed repairs on number five shuttle door. It'll only take a few moments. I could use a cup. He had first seen one in Admiral George Jackson's office just off the War Room.
or possibly one of the other species they have contact with. we'll catch them from both sides. Possibly sensitive to whatever force is involved. "If you notice. then pulled it to the ground and wrapped a vine around its top branch. Tell their Department Heads they have orders to report. but that's as far as I'm willing to go. A nearby exposed root held the vine to the ground next to where it pulled the tree down. subjects 'D'. He lopped off the branches on one side to leave sharp points. 'K'." "If it can hold coffee that long. The arguments are still alive whether this stuff is real or not.good. so there won't be any obstacles. Doctor. Who knows what we'll run up against? And remember. but mark their papers in some way so we know not to transfer these crewmembers. and the few that followed accepted standards didn't show any usable results. He could bend the small tree with spiny leaves almost into a circle. no matter what they're doing. or whatever they are?" "Susceptible? No. or scans. I have noticed one thing as I correlated the material. and 'I' all said they began to feel this as we entered the solar system. It was made just before we left dry dock. I've been expected because some species on the planet knew when we entered the system. If Carroll doesn't make his shot." "Thank you." Two columns of statistics appeared on the view screen in the corner of the room. Do you realize that the supposedly sentient species in the oceans. most of the experiments weren't worth their weight in barium. "Willow. that's a good contraption to have. you and Scale Hunter set up on that side. the stronger the feeling. Now how about the rest of the crew?" +++ Jamson studied the clearing." "So? What? Do you feel there is something there? Or don't you want to comment on it." "Good enough. Do you think that these people might be susceptible to the brain waves." Jamson found a scratcher sapling growing next to the barely visible path. That's the way I feel. we might be done with this strange hunt. I wouldn't say that. I won't even say it's real without further study. A new contraption I picked up. apparently can tell when we arrive? It's happened both times I've been here. and still have it this good." "Now that is interesting." "And what is that?" "If you would look at the screen. The most definitive answer is that some people are more susceptible to these feelings than others. then we'll hide in those bushes. help me set up a path protector. behind that group of brush. Have them check with me if there's any problem. As I was saying. nothing about this leaves this room. noting the way the bushes yielded cover if you stayed just there. It even appears that the closer to pure breed the person is. and over there. One of us might live. and it would spring back to its original shape when released. those that have come to complain of these feelings almost invariably descend from what used to be the Northern Nation. Fogart. or better yet. And tell them to report to you immediately anytime they get these feelings in the future." "Well. Jamson .
he had proven his accuracy and ." He passed on what other gossip he could remember and told what Aarmand had said about Seaside until Jamson's hand on his leg silenced him. and now. yet remain hidden. his bow was one of the most powerful of all of Cliffside's bows. his large arms decorated with drawings. The fire had spread over a square kilometer area. Then Willow and he slid behind the bushes where they could watch the path. All he would have to do would be to stand up and his weapon would be ready. One of the lightning bolts had picked a dead tree to use as an electrode. his keen hearing picked up every sound. At the far end of the clearing. "What news is there from Cliffside. its covering of leaves burned off and the thick bark singed. The long pole. Not knowing how long he would have to wait. The giant slowly swept the area with his eyes. and his nose took in each smell. my friend?" Let's see. wrapped it around a rock. A boy. Distance was no problem. directing the sound further into the brush. less than six years later. the young hunter had lodged his bow and arrows above him in the smaller branches. and then continued to follow the path. Shortly the mountain on legs moved with animal like caution into the clearing. Jamson asked. and then passed on. Only one tree had survived. also seemed to be invisible to the searching stranger. Your wife is fine and she asked me to tell you that Yellow-Flower-On-The-Hill has a blocked nose again. peered into shadows. searching right and left. a major electrical storm had passed not far south of Cliffside. burning everything in its path. He also swept the clearing with his eyes trying to see through the brush. The devastation had been almost total. and covered the exposed vine with dry leaves to hide it. and her first. followed his line of sight ready to destroy any danger. "You know Marty? She had a child just before I left. within a week new growth had started. When someone or something stepped on the vine. a man with a dark unruly mop of hair and a nose that could pass for a Raptor's beak followed. crouched with one hand in the air. so he'll get an ancestor's name from Halford next harvest. No one else could even come close to drawing it. Jamson. and tried to be aware of the least sound or movement. an area cleared of most trees but filled with dense brush had resulted. He had a good view of the clearing. Carroll sat on the upper of two large branches of the large tree well off to the side of the path. and the resultant heat caused it to burn. Scale Hunter. a huge man. the tree would spring across the path and stick whatever was there with the sharp poison coated spikes. A short distance behind. Jamson hooted." Willow closed his eyes and tried to remember who in the underground village was know to both of them. especially where the path entered on the other side. A tall man.trailed the vine across the path. +++ Six years before. To pass the time while they were waiting. where the bushes parted. Murphy said she should be fine in a few days. However. clothed in mottled green. burning even the smallest reptile. All three continuously swept their gaze from side to side. Fogart froze as the man looked directly at him. his weapon held firmly in his grip. and Willow. You could tell no detail escaped his sight. followed the other two standing tall. Although still too young to hunt by a season. now obviously a weapon. crouched like a hunting night hunter.
other bushes. They had given him a job to do. The only variable was the new poison Murphy had supplied. His great strength was an added bonus. A man of average height. a hunter from Seaside. He reached the edge of the trees and raised his hand to signal a . He slowly stood and saw a large man covered in something colored a mottled green. Carroll reached for his bow. Brush was everywhere.strength in contests. dwarfed by the giant. Stuart would have seen the five hunters waiting in the cover before he had shown himself. If it was all that Murphy promised. +++ Animal took point as the three marines moved carefully along the path. tall grass. all lent places to hide across his line of sight. and crouching to make a smaller target. This man searched the brush. and then started to penetrate the edge of the clearing. This was an area for extreme caution. made him the obvious choice for the dangerous position. followed the first person. the trail was brighter as it opened out into a clearing of sorts. or playing guard on some god forsaken desert planet. The animal like sense of danger which led to his nickname. move up to the edge of the clearing. Bright flowers colored red and yellow and blue meant that a person in bright clothes could crouch behind a bush and stay hidden. his right hand raised. but he did not have Stuart's skill. The woods on the far side of the open space were as thick as the forest they had just traversed. The medicine man had said the results would be surprisingly quick. small trees barely operate height. a relic that had survived whatever fire had formed this open space. Arrows were the only weapon used against them so far. was stronger than Carroll was. then everyone was in for a surprise. The second stranger appeared scared and ready to bolt. The person at the edge of the clearing possibly had Stuart beat for size. moving in spurts and jerks. much too far away for any bowshot. and his keen sight. alert and watchful. as long as he was still. especially now that they knew the locals hunted them. if anything. Carroll felt as if he was a child talking to his father. All his senses were at the peak of their capabilities as he approached the light where the trail shifted from a tunnel through the trees to a barely visible path through a thick carpet of tall brush. He had also said that they should not use it for hunting since he had not had a chance to test if cooking would stop the poisonous effects. A movement on the path across the clearing caught his eye. He did not understand why the Federation sent his squad into this jungle instead of destroying the planet's life as they usually did. He had met only one person who could come close to the size of this man. Animal could not see any sign of people hiding in the nearer bushes as he approached the open area. towered over everyone and. a place to keep your head together no matter what happened. A third man showed himself. wearing the same kind of covering. but walking tall. and Jamson had agreed. possibly meant to blend in with forest plants. When Carroll had spoken briefly to Stuart after winning the shoot-off last planting. Those bushes with the thorns. something better than hanging around waiting to capture pirates. Stuart. One lone tree stood in the clearing. He could move almost any obstacle aside rather than go around it and fall into a trap. Ahead of him. probably the only weapon these near savages had.
his thin frame bent almost double to make as small a target as possible. A noise like a seed sack hitting the ground to his left drew his attention. but experience told him that no sight of danger was the clearest sign of a firefight in the immediate future. This was ambush country. but there were no birdcalls or insect noises. a small movement. Noises he could not identify from the . no sounds of small or large animals. He knew. no insects danced above the bushes. he could tell. green. A noise from his left like a fast bird drew his attention.stop. a string or some other trigger across the almost hidden path. With his long laser ready to fire he slowly swept the carpet of brush with his eagle eyes. but with good cause. The world disappeared. his long laser at the ready. Morganthur called softly to Animal and moved to the downed man. He used his height. This was the type of lush vegetation small creatures loved. +++ Morganthur waited at the edge of the clearing for Animal to move ten meters ahead. The lush vegetation was nice to look at. feeling their way across this brier patch full of enemy cover. They were both frightened. +++ Morganthur. and an arrow protruded from his neck. He rolled the sergeant to his back and checked for a pulse. The dark haired marine ignored the distraction and continued his search for possible death. but saw only brown. Morganthur showed it more than Animal. +++ Sergeant Tucker looked out at the dangerous terrain as his two remaining men gingerly made their way through the open brush. told him that danger was near. The complete silence pricked his instincts. Nothing moved. Sergeant Tucker watched the two marines ahead of him as they anxiously peered around. Crouched almost double to make a smaller target. That was the noise. Over his shoulder. a place where any number of people could hide. wary. Already the thick brush hid the big man's legs and torso. tentatively traversing the tangled terrain. The sergeant did not blame either of them. He stifled a general warning to Animal. but it held so many hiding places it frightened him. and an occasional splash of color from a patch of flowers or flowering vine. A sudden pain in his neck changed to numbness. The big man eased into the open. Morganthur heard the sergeant groan. He saw nothing dangerous. heard a soft noise to the left and spun in that direction. he carefully followed Animal out into the open. that death was imminent. He could feel the danger the same as the sergeant felt it. No birds flew. The big man was the best at point. but he saw nothing. Nothing showed among the bushes. especially in this uncanny silence. which allowed him to see over the top of the brush into holes in the undergrowth to watch for ambushes. You could not even see the path two feet from where you were. he was close to running himself as he moved into the relative open. searching for a strange color. He carefully searched the thick undergrowth and the line of trees on the far side for any sign of activity. The sergeant had crumpled to the ground.
collapsed with his weapon still triggered. He kicked one of the bodies. called. the first noise he had heard. who lay deprived of life in the middle of the trail. from space. A sudden pain in his right arm caused him to look down at an arrow that had imbedded itself in his biceps. but he saw nothing in the thick brush. and fired blindly into the woods. "Get a bit of that covering. He watched helplessly as Animal slowly crumpled. And bring along one of those weapons for Taggart to look at. Jamson turned to the approaching hunter. +++ Animal heard a soft twang from the left of the path. Within seconds he became dizzy and. Crouched over. "Watch the bush just there and disassemble that trap before you come. He swung his long laser in that direction as he searched for a target. + ++ Four of the five hunters moved from their hiding places in the brush onto the path and approached the strangely garbed humans. their strange weapons of light and fire were a curiosity. He called to Animal again. than from the invisible death they had encountered on this planet. stood. Then toss these bodies aside and we'll head for home. From behind them the fifth man. hoping for help while he checked Sergeant Tucker's pulse. The weapon slowly lowered to the ground. Did it matter if the beam reached him? Morganthur knew he was dead anyway. his long laser still triggered as he collapsed. the ghosts that had taken the life from the rest of his squad. Two arrows sprouted from his body. sending a deadly line of light into the sky. He screamed his rage when he fond none. The weapon fell from Animal's hand and the light beam disappeared just above Morganthur's head. Morganthur called to him excitedly. the eyes open and staring without seeing. he sprayed the vegetation to his immediate right with laser fire. the line of searing light pointed at the last live marine. Then he looked up. Morganthur ran to the big marine and felt for a pulse. What did Murphy say about that new poison? I've never seen anything drop that fast. To people who used bows and arrows. We might be able to use that pattern. if not from the laser. any target. the lips blue. +++ Morganthur squatted next to the sergeant. now proven skilled in the hunt. "He said it was too powerful to use for hunting." "I'll say.direction of his comrade in arms distracted him while he searched. Cautiously the huge man peered into the bushes as he searched for the source of the noise. oddities from another culture. We don't want anyone caught by it. the skin pasty. which caused flames to sprout from several nearby bushes." . Not waiting to pull it out. as Morganthur called again. It's going to rain shortly and that will put out the fires." Scale Hunter said." Jamson agreed as he looked at the sky.
I have my family status to think of. well built man with long hair tied in a pony tail like so many of the others. "This afternoon. It is better if you wait for Harvest Feast. thank you. but soon harvest would be over and she would have more time to study. We talk. You like a variety of men. And I'm not the kind of person to force anyone. This last field. or close to the last. At least this was the last field. he . He stays with his wife. a feeling she had not experienced since physical education classes in school. and she always could take a swim to clean up." "I heard the comment. She grabbed a handful of grain and sliced it free." Tuesday answered. driving the moisture from the air. and again added more before she tossed it on the pile." "OK. the one who talks to the marnmen. She had met him before." a male voice said from behind her. Once they were finished. "Well then. Tuesday turned around to find a very tan. Bale. when you stood in the bright it still was too hot for hard labor in Tuesday's opinion. +++ Not half an hour after talking to Tuesday. The thought gave her energy.Chapter 13 The sun drove heat through the mist." Tuesday shrugged. Now let's get back to work so we can get done." She attacked the grain in front of her. don't you?" "Oh. and to play. after lunch we'll talk to the marnmen and see what else comes up. but it will be work. I want to talk to the marnmen sometime in the near future. You will have all the men you want. "You were talking to Bale?" Halbrack asked as he picked up the pile next to the red head. We're going to meet this afternoon and talk to the marnmen. "You good at that. He doesn't speak very well. "That me. when Bale reached the end of the row." The native said." "Just talk. Want to say not many people handle grain and knife so well. you know. to learn. added more to the bundle. "I know you." Bale walked down the row and began to cut grain. and then returned to her task. Sweat rolled down her forehead and between her breasts. You do realize he won't play games like some of the other men. you know. You good. except on occasional hot nights with a special partner. then. I be at cliff after field done. You're Bale. "I didn't know he knew your language. Tuesday watched him work for a moment. if he's shy I think I could convince him it'd be OK." Halbrack looked Tuesday up and down. It was not her favorite activity. You there too. Do you think we could meet them?" Bale looked at the field. Later. I do have more questions for them." "Why. Although the temperature in shade was more comfortable than when the harvest started. I know. "You might. maybe I will only talk to the marnmen with Bale. Tell me something. I saw you working. Halbrack would be free again. "Just a little bit. but he's understandable. as I do women.
Think I could do that?" Tuesday was going to join him this afternoon. few would be up early. "The day after tomorrow it is. It was her job to see what they did in the village.moved down to the next section. He'd give me a different slant on things than what the leader would. as she hoped. That would be the best time for her to learn about the marnmen. See what they think of the silly human customs. +++ Estelle reached the end of her strip and unbent. and the Harvest Celebration would be tomorrow afternoon and through the night and possibly into the next day. after the celebration. one for his wife and himself. The day after the Harvest Celebration. really people. To her right. the meeting about trade was tomorrow morning. That public display was disturbing to Bale. Estelle stretched before starting on what would be her last row. longer than any other time in her life. Maybe I'll get their opinion on the humans and their celebration. She had bent double pulling stalks for days. "You talk to Wendell. Not too early. and after." If she wanted the marnmen's opinion. and I told you I wanted to talk to the marnmen some more. That will be something to tell the others. the signal that he agreed he had learned a few days after the visitors arrived. learning their ways. and how the two peoples interacted. and said. and one for the children. Next to him. but so had the other villagers. I hope. how they lived. even as sweaty and dusty as they all were. Trade talks came soon. "Hi. no. right?" Bale nodded vigorously. saw he was looking at her. and to learn about the marnmen. not as pushy or as public with her lust. "No. During the talks she would see they were intelligent. not be mad. none of whom complained. unlike some of the others. her talks would come later in the day. You're Bale. next to Estelle. as did his wife. . "Well. Even the children stayed awake into the night. Much better than what I do. She was pretty. but that was her job." "So what you're saying then is that I'll get to talk to the leader. her eyes scanning the forest that surrounded the cleared farmland in the distance. Bale stood at the end of his row." He saw Estelle give him a puzzled look that began to change to anger. The blonde was nicer than the visitor with red hair was. I'd still like to talk to the one you talk to. Talk to Wendell. I'll see you tomorrow. her hands forcing her back straight. He take you out to meeting with marnman leader in day or two. Later in the day might work. one that would help her. The trade talk and her conversation with Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Airof-Life would give her evidence. She was learning to fit in. "Tomorrow's tomorrow?" he asked. She would tell her government and they would leave Tonylobons alone. which was good. Think that would be possible soon?" She deserved a truthful answer. The day after the celebration. with her hair tied behind her head like everyone else. And. Estelle looked over at him. We swam a few days ago. she must think they were intelligent. They were one of the few families in the community with more than one sleeping room. talks between Give-Direction and Wendell. or see how he interacts with Wendell. Bale said. He liked to keep sex private. Good enough.
The task is completed. "What is it?" she asked when he finally came within hearing distance. who did not expect to meet anyone while bathing. She had not understood how hard primitive cultures worked. Bale's taking me. the almost two seeks of hard work to gather enough food for the winter." "You have got to be kidding! I'm just going to take my good old time and relax my sore muscles. Finally she realized the chore was done.stretching to the sky. She turned to find Tuesday Wells. "Not really. "Now what?" She asked. I will talk to you later. I haven't had a chance to do more than meet them. but I couldn't tell you anything other than it's perfectly safe. But I'll do that tomorrow. headed toward the river. He meandered over to her. Come on. They will not let you drown. the noise level growing a bit every time someone new entered the community bath. A tap on her shoulder surprised Estelle. don't you?" "I do not see any reason why not. You do think that would be OK. The harvest is over for this season. +++ About half an hour after Dennis had hurried off. "We are done. It's a free for all. More than that you'll have to find out for yourself. She walked carefully down the bank into the shallow water. I can't wait. She accepted soap leaves that appeared from over her shoulder and began to rub them on her body. Tuesday told Estelle. twisting and bending sideways to loosen stiff backs. her arms spread to keep her balance. but not in her muscles. finished. Even Dennis had stopped. I'll see you later. almost. and lay them over a bush. I will race you. "Now a bunch of hot and sweaty people are going to jump in the river to get clean. Not like this. I'm going to find what it is that makes it so special. The villagers were gabbing away at each other. standing still or loosening tight muscles. Oh. He did not move off to the next field as she thought he should. the days they'd spent bent over to cut grasses. Estelle arrived at the crowded river. "One day and it's time for Harvest Celebration! Or you can figure a day and a half since it really starts after noon. Estelle followed him along the road to the river at a more sedate pace. Then we will catch up on household chores and get ready for the feast. her red hair darker than usual. if you see Stuart. I did go swimming with them. Dennis grinned. ask if I can talk to Pretty Wings after we eat. I hear that after the feast all sorts of games are played. and joined the group of women already there. Anything I should know about them?" Estelle replied quietly. To the left and right it seemed that the village was stopping. stripped off her sweat soaked shirt and pants. swim with them. She had known it academically. I've been trying to learn about the colony here. greeting friends along the way. Go ahead if you like. how it reacts and interacts with the . I'm going to talk to the marnmen today. as had many others." Dennis left at a lope. "Hey. almost bouncing off the stream bottom. Halbrack got me some Rumbler skin to study. More people were standing as they finished their rows." "You mean that's it?" She watched as the last pile was placed on the wagon that would carry it back to the village. in the past. her green eyes bright with anticipation.
" "Don't be. and how people react to each other. I take it these people are working you hard?" . Now I won't be caught by surprise." Tuesday swam toward the shore. it had not improved his personality. As he turned. And let me know your opinions of the marnmen before then. is it?" Estelle grinned and held out her dirty clothes. or sent clothes with Francine. Schneider. got to go. my friend. will you?" "Sure." "He would. I'm sorry. She picked up her clothes and. He says it's the perfect time. What's for lunch. Nathan said. Hey. Several men standing by the door of the storehouse watched her pass." "I've talked to one. He recognized Dennis. This river is shallow. A hand clapped him on the shoulder." Dennis stepped back and let her enter. you're looking well. You will probably have to help her with the house work that did not get done because of harvest. but she shrugged it off. Unfortunately. Oh." Brevor Schneider had grown a bit darker and a bit thinner during the two weeks they had been on the planet. It gave her a feeling of freedom. Dennis greeted her at the door. the guide for Tuesday Wells. "That is not the normal way for you to travel. Until then we wait. surfacing close to the group of men that had come from the fields. anyway?" "I do not know." "That'll be fine. It's kind of a cross between a stone working and metal working culture. a familiar voice said. as if she was not so confined. followed Tuesday to the shore of the river. they had seen naked women before. And whether they're intelligent and sentient. and I think they are. and one of the women sweeping a house she thought. I've learned a lot I can use in analyzing primitive cultures from watching this one. his hair soaked.animals and forest. but I'll be able to tell you more about that after today. I should have warned you. and she will decide. and several others important in the community. Now I have to learn how the marnmen fit in. disgusted with the dirty wet feel of them. And I think I might like this. but these things were so disgusting I couldn't wear them back. Estelle. Thanks for letting me know. a racing dive into the shallow water he had learned in upper school. Estelle's guide. after a final dunk to rinse her hair again." +++ Nathan dove into the cold water at the edge of the river. "Mr. "That's why Francine and I took along other clothes when we went. decided to walk naked to where she was staying. See you soon. Estelle scrubbed off and. Outdoor activity obviously was better for him than desk duty. but you can still talk. Nathan wants a meeting during the celebration to discuss our progress and exchange information. "No. I could have thought ahead. Francine will be back shortly. a friendly gesture among some that he tried to avoid. No matter." "Stuart said you could come over and talk to Pretty Wings after lunch. "You're going to crack your head open you keep doing that.
Chunky. For now." "We have to take half the rocks from the fire and drop them into the bottom of the pit. I had to carry grain the first day. and that's not really hard. you two would be in the fields as I. He went over to give Agatha a hug. We do need to help her somewhat. At the edge of the square. but you still stink! Better get back to the river. I prefer a nice woman who's willing to do a bit extra."You ain't kidding about that. "Now see? Here is a man. They are all important. "You've been around sports and physical activities more than I have. and almost everybody else was. Anderson said. Their method of government is the same way. Creep. hunters who also worked the smokehouse and had helped with the gathering. That's intrinsic to the way the colony is governed. Come here. you would not believe what Agatha can do to Rumbler meat when she's cooking for the village. You ready for us yet?" The small woman looked up as Anderson spoke. Brevor. Rocks in the fires glowed red-hot. but the massage is the thing. after you help me with these rocks. Brevor saw Anderson's wife wrapping something in leaves. and everything stops for those two duties." That was an obvious conclusion. Near the far corner. Good day. and how even the mill had extra grain to make into powder. and then . as I will explain in my written report. "No one does who lives without a viable source of power. Or possibly eat. You feel good. Were you off getting clean after helping with the harvest? As if the smell of smokehouse isn't enough to cover your stink." Anderson explained. and sleep. They talked about the hunt and the harvest. they do by hand. by someone who understands how the muscles lay. What is good for sore muscles?" Brevor chuckled. friends of Anderson. but we'll talk about that during our weekly meeting. and if Anderson didn't have the skill needed for that job. Whatever you are used to turning a switch for." Brevor knew the way they insulted each other. It'll work the kinks out in no time." "No. but it is a skill. and you'll feel like a new man. It's got to be good. I'm not sure. though." Nathan did have a question Brevor could answer. The hunters exclaimed how well the hunt had succeeded with two of the large animals felled. the friends turned toward their homes. Two others had joined them as they slowly walked along the street. but Anderson and I have smokehouse duty. and Anderson led Brevor across the square to where three fires burned near deep pits. meant nothing. how hard it would be to surpass Stuart's shot through the ear. and their friends. looked at the rocks. We'll meet again during the celebration. Harvest and the smokehouse keep the village fed. Hello. how the storehouses were over filled this season. How did you make out?" "Not too bad. thanks. What. "From overwork and doing what you're not used to? Get a massage. but its nothing major. Brevor looked at him from under lowered eyebrows." An interesting thought. She said. "Brevor. creature. and how much better the new smokehouse would be than the old one. I just want to get clean. I'm ready for them. These people do not have it easy. "It's about time you got here. "Good." +++ Brevor and Anderson wandered toward the celebration square from the river.
"You made that cover out of the mud you use for the heavy bricks." Agatha said. That way I can help you make the cover. correct? We'll just make a ball meter thick and throw it in a fire after it's had time to cure completely. the almost round cylinder looked extremely ungainly. and if it's the way I think you do it. "Now about nightfall we change the rocks on the top." "But the light bricks aren't as strong. If necessary. "Now the rest of the rocks go on top. and then Anderson told his wife. We can use the mud at the new smokehouse. not at all. and lift. and coated with the waterproofing agent. We don't want rock pieces in the bottom. Brevor looked at the cover." She placed a good number of leaf packages into the pit. Slide them through here. the ones that have to support loads. Anderson said." "But how could you know if it would work?" "That cover looked to be about a meter thick. She added different leaves." "Sure. Carefully." +++ . you can add a bit of the heavier material to the top and it will still be lighter and you will be able to lift it. Granted there is some. but could not get his hands underneath." "How much heat? It's not like it has a fire around it.his hands. then place it in the pit. "We use these. "Just keep your shirt on. I want to see how you make the light mud." She told the shirtless guide. Let's give this a shot. then it would probably let less heat escape. Brevor asked. By the afternoon it should be ready. and in the morning we tear it out and pack the whole thing again. Come on. How will we lift it?" "You won't need to lift as much weight. I didn't want it to crack in the heat. Anderson said. Chunky. The two men strained to place the cover on the fire. right?" "Sure. "Not like that. then that cover. wood integrated in the top or something. He tried to lift one edge. I'll be ready in a moment. and tied it with the vine trailing from the large leaf. "No. "With our fingers?" Anderson and Agatha laughed. I'll be around for a couple more. and then stood back. "All you do is scoop a rock up like this. we'll make it now before we bathe. Made from the same mud used in the bricks. wrapped it all. it is my turn. "Now." Anderson handed Brevor a long pole with a forked and curved end made of metal. Come on." "We have time." Brevor watched as she placed a large chunk of meat in one of the leaves usually shredded for flavoring. at least fifty when Brevor gave up counting." After they had filled the pit with the rocks remaining in the fire. but is there enough to crack the lighter brick? Let's make up two balls of each kind. They cool off too quickly." "That would take a week." "And tonight I'll be ready for you. you know. Use this. and in a week we'll test it. and you can add supports as you form it. He asked. "Your turn." Together they moved half the rocks." Anderson said with a chuckle. along with chopped vegetables and a fruit. On their way back to the river to wash off. Brevor looked up and saw two poles in Anderson's hands.
add the support thatch. and coat everything well with the waterproof coating. is it not?" "Yes. . it was her job to observe." He added three handfuls of sand and began to stir the dirt in the other bucket using a faster stroke." "Perspectives? I am not familiar with that word. like a pot. I also want a different perspective than Francine can give me. and then Stuart filled the door and motioned her to enter.The new smokehouse was near completion. and rolled the blob into the semblance of a sphere. so I can fit them all together and get a true picture of your culture. This would be the first time she visited someone at their home. You should be ready. come in. That is what you want. anyway?" "Just the amount of sand. so why don't you use that. and then poured water into each. The heavy mud is easier to work with once it's mixed. That way we can see if either cracks. they had invited her. While he worked. A pot of water stood on the floor steaming. had only seen the inside of two. how the men and the women interact. to tell you the truth. Did she really want to enter? She had to. he said. No problem. Let's see who gets done first. start high. "Yes. they had formed two spheres of the proper size and left them to dry. "OK. as yet. to learn the ways of the people. and she wanted to observe all the proper ceremonies. a young boy and girl ran out of the house. kneaded and flipped the mix until he thought it was free of air. The lighter mud is almost half sand. I would ask you to help. All that was left to do was to set the rafters. and the one was because of an emergency. and my main task is to learn whether the marnmen are truly sentient." Pretty Wings called from near the fireplace. but you have no idea where these go. Shortly two more bodies joined those at the stream. +++ Estelle looked at the entrance of the cottage with apprehension. Estelle could do nothing other than follow in his wake. It's thick like this. Take this small broom. The supports had all been laid and secured with another two layers of brick." Within half an hour. "Come in. But I only have a month. She barely knew Stuart and Pretty Wings. Anderson threw dirt into two buckets. "And here is the lighter mud. there are things you can help with while you are here. I'd like as many perspectives as possible. While she vacillated. Pretty Wings drew a string bag filled with dishes from inside the pot. As the giant backed out of the way. but after all. What's the difference between the two types of mud. "I am just cleaning up from our lunch. here is the mud we use to make the bricks that will support the heavy loads. especially the roof so it would not burn. You keep stirring this until it's ready. She. Slowly stirring one bucket he said. The heavy mud has almost no sand. Kneed it for a time using the heel of your hands to force the air out. and heavy. We make the balls as thick as the cap?" Brevor dumped the heavy mud onto a nearby skin. Dennis' and Natalie's. No matter." "Then this heavy mud would be like clay. and I'll make the ball from the lighter stuff.
and you can answer questions as you work. that would be good. Yes. A bit sore." "A massage? Rub down? Rub your body everywhere to stimulate the muscles and take away the soreness. Stuart moved the full pot over to the corner. I do too. He leads the men who get our meat. Once the place is swept we can relax somewhat. and he said something back. "Stuart said that he wishes to show his respect. looking at something from different directions." Estelle allowed herself to be led into the other room of the house. I agree. Stuart asked a question. either in the early morning or late evening. then the reason why would be the different perspective." As she lay on the bed and allowed her tired muscles in her bare back and legs to be manipulated. and began to sweep the dust off. See? I am done back here. I'm used to lugging heavy equipment around sites. We would like to help soothe your sore muscles. She saw that both of the others had removed their . now that you mention it." "Give me a massage? That would be like a rub down. oh. he said something. reached the high shelves. sometimes both. Usually the help I have is lazy. Rub them. Pretty Wings. And Stuart said you and Francine took one of the heavier loads. I am not sure of the word. if Francine dusted only from eye level down." "So a different perspective is like. "Different points of view." Estelle told Pretty Wings. He will stay home. Two beds stood on either side of a window on the far side of the room. and what you would have to discover. Shelves on the wall next to them held small toys and other knickknacks." Pretty Wings lifted Estelle's dress over her head. but that might be from the harvest." "I'm OK. an important job for the community. Pretty Wings translated. There is not that much furniture. "We can not afford to have anyone be lazy. "This is where we sleep. I seem to be done. Estelle asked. Pretty Wings continued to put the dishes where they belonged." As Stuart entered with another load of wood." She swept the loose dirt and dust carefully toward the door. Pretty Wings held Estelle's hand and guided her to a freestanding bed in a curtained off area to the left of the door. She explained." Pretty Wings said smiling. ways of seeing things." "That's good. Tell me what are these perspectives?" Estelle took the broom. How is your body? I saw that you worked hard during harvest. she answered. tonight would be a meatless meal in the village in order to respect the rumblers. and by that light. That is what we want to do." "That is not a problem you will find here. "What is your relationship with Stuart?" "What is my relationship? He is my husband. How are you doing?" "Fine. "Tell me more of how you two divide the work between you. Estelle said. After a time Estelle was gently prodded into rolling over. That made an impression on him. "He said that since tomorrow is the feast. and then began to restock the woodpile. At a sign from his wife. each with a large box at the bottom. Estelle listened to the explanations of Pretty Wing's day-to-day life.and sweep all the surfaces until you reach the floor." "A body massage. and over there are the children's beds. You mean how do we get along? We do well." "Then I can begin to sweep. He has high status. They are out to play. so relax. and I did everything. Most of the time he is gone.
.clothes. and was mildly surprised when Stuart gently kissed her on the lips.
she could not jump in the water as she had with Bale and the animals a week before. and again trade for a half load. the visitors from the starseas who were to decide if his community was one of intelligent creatures. Gives-Direction had chosen this place for the smoothness of the water." Gives-Direction moved slowly to those who dwell in the air of life as they sat in their floating tool. A look assured him it was only Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life and Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-ofLife-Learning leading the others in their floating tools. were showing signs of intelligence? Of that he would not speak at this time. You will play your part. and if she knew Nathan. also. Gives-Direction. they approach only now. Gives-Direction felt a disturbance in the living water. She would have to make a decision. she would have to be able to answer the question whether the marnmen were sapient or not by the time they met during the Harvest Celebration. so your information was not missed. if Gives-Direction was to inform them that the Thinkers. but I had to be sure of the latest facts. wait for one warm and cold time. Patiently he waited for them to arrive. and two others. "I apologize for my tardiness. SpeaksFor-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-of-Life. water-breathing fish who knew a few tricks? What would they say. I believe we can give them a half load. observers as those that dwell on the ancient land called them. Enough had to be decided without any distractions." "Then the price will have to be much higher. Is it as we think?" "Not quite as bad. With Wendell and Ambassador DuPont along. and not an invading hunter. I will keep that in mind during the discussions." "Your arrival time is of no matter. This time would be business instead of play. Gives-Direction. +++ Estelle looked over the calm water. See. pulled the small boat through the water of the lagoon toward others that waited.Chapter 14 Gives-Direction waited near the center of the lagoon. which made it easier for the hollowed trees used by those who dwelt on the ancient land not to turn over. enjoying the sun on his back and the warmness of the calm living-water. That is the best we can do. The living-water will give no more. Estelle watched as a marnman that she had not seen before hurried to the meeting . Changes-The-Water slipped next to Gives-Direction and bowed. Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life. He waited for the dwellers on the ancient land to arrive for the telling of truth and the trade. I will bring them up when you say the time is proper. Two of the creatures that were called marnmen. they of this allpowerful Federation. which start now. She had no mean task ahead of her. He knew there would be four participants from the ancient land. What did the observers think his people were. one of which she recognized.
Wendell spoke. Bale translated." After a moment of squeaks. can you tell me?" The Ambassador. Until that time what can he offer us?" "Only one half of a normal trade amount. "I believe Estelle may be better able to answer that question. "It's possible that the minerals and metals supply nutrition for plankton. and will do what we can to help. And he said something about knowing of plants that could be food? It is possible we could continue to trade for them. which could be the origin of the name of 'living-water'. "He regrets the major cut back. You have asked us to meet here to discuss a mutual problem with the materials you supply to us. She thought for a moment." the answer came after a moment. Estelle. "He will see about the food plants. Tell him we will have the Federation chemist test the water while she is here to determine what. They have legends that they came from the land to the oceans when the land became cold. He suggested one more trade. and then he waited. When Bale had finished. said. May the living-waters always remain calm for you." Wendell pondered the information for a moment. Their bodies wouldn't have time to adjust to such a quick change. We will also need some of the water shedding plant. "You still swim GivesDirection." "Yes. and thereby larger life. And yes. then a wait of one year. soon the marnmen and other creatures of the sea would not be able to live. but yes." One of the nearby animals squeaked for a time as if translating what Wendell had said. and how if the extraction continued. as translated by Bale. a long series of sounds. and they have been good in the past. and have discovered some seaweed that will suffice?" "That is what they have said. if anything. they do know what we eat. explained about the lack of minerals in the living-water. can be done other than just wait. his robes discarded for a time. with Bale trying to translate as it went. Shortly he repeated the list to Wendell. and then said. When the marnman floated next to them. Gives-Direction. We wish you and your reef no harm or misfortune. not to be a source of knowledge.point. but any more would be detrimental. "Is that a true statement? Nathan. The marnman that had joined them squeaked back at Wendell. "That much? Well we can do most of it." ." "Does he have a list of what he needs in return?" A long session of squeaks and clicks followed. Tell us of your problem. or less. It is also possible that the lack of minerals would affect them due to the change in salinity. She had come to observe the interchange. and he agrees that is a good idea. have you seen enough?" "Am I correct in assuming that they know what is good for humans to eat. I would have Tuesday run some tests in the ocean. Wendell asked. and another meeting to discuss how the living-waters were progressing. She heard the two water animals squeak at each other. and then the one who waited slowly moved over to rest near the boat. it may be exactly that. and then told them. He finally gave up and settled on remembering everything. I understand." Estelle was surprised they asked her this question. "Tell your leader we agree that a problem exists and will help in ways we can.
"A religion?" "No. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Airof-Life and Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life-Learning pulled the two boats back to shore. "Take the meat. and that we accept his terms of trade. More like a history passed along by each generation." Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life said. except for the quantities of metal made objects from us. but the woman tending it called her over. while many seasons passed. They apparently were land animals that lived farther north. +++ "They accept exactly what you said they would. Tell them they may go in the proper way." As the two marnmen who had waited turned toward the ocean. She could see several large groups gathered around the square. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. Estelle chose a fired clay plate and began picking from the many plants and fish available on a table next to the fire. You have done well. It is only as I expected. You'll also find people friendlier tonight. it is as simple as that." Wendell said. We will pass along through Bale any findings we have. satisfied he again had solved a problem before it arose. so we feel you should receive one of the better pieces." Pretty Wings said from behind Estelle. and wish us well. They are anxious to be off to their celebration. we cannot make the metal objects. however." The marine animals squeaked at each other." Gives-Direction moved slowly toward his place of living. The woman held a large piece of meat out to Estelle as she jabbered away in her language. "Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. They couldn't take the cold of the winters and for some reason they could not or would not move south. we have much to do. Gives-Direction. Very good. This has gone well. "Then let's go home people. +++ Her shadow was directly under her as Estelle pulled on her flowered dress and made her way to the square to join the gathering throng. not exactly. then congregating in another area to eat. that began to grow warmblooded. We need to get back for the celebration. She passed by the fire where a huge piece of meat roasted planning to come back to it. mostly centered near one of the three cooking fires. changed into what you see today. "They want us to trade later for the food plants. Wakefield. We wish you good hunting in the living-waters. People milled around talking to each other. You can learn the legend in more detail from Dennis. Don't be shy." Estelle thanked her and moved off with the . Shortly Bale said. passing the cooking fires and snatching some morsels. If we do not receive the metal. so they moved into the water and. A smaller crowd of mostly children listened to stories told by Dennis and his teacher. "They accept." "Good. "You helped with harvest and carrying the hunt. and they said they would tell us anything they find out from their test of the living-waters. tell your leader we will discuss his problem and do everything we can. much as we do. except they say we do not supply enough of the metals for them to return the metal objects you requested.
"Brevor. or where support is needed. playing power games." "The engineering is interesting. and to make building easier. I could have sworn that waterproofing agent is akin to concrete. "And I've found the politics. Tell us about it. and the historian. Tuesday. We might as well get this briefing of Nathan's over with now. both to add less stress to what is below. rather than wait and miss something. "I've been trying to cross reference all the plants to their old world catalogue counter parts. I'm surprised at what you said. but there's one compound in one of the seaweeds that reacts with the clay to make a waterproof coating more durable than concrete." the fleshy ex-jock said. The buildings are functional and serve the purpose they were designed for. is from what the original colonists brought with them. and the truth is fascinating. being political rebels. One of their leaders could very easily take over." a male voice called. At least that's what I see in the microscope. Tuesday Watson. drilled their dissatisfaction with large governments into their children down through the years. like the design of the houses and buildings. Then there are the other designs I've seen where you can almost feel water surrounding it. isn't it. too." Nathan quickly countered. "The materials used are all readily available. Then there are some that are a combination of the two. will give the floor to whom I choose. Investigating by eye. The knowledge and ways of doing things must have been handed down over the years. along with some other ocean creatures. Nathan. but the original colonists. And Tuesday. That. each to the other. Now it will take . You especially don't want to miss anything. That's almost the mix that occurred in the Cretaceous period of Terra. I. don't. what little there is. Brevor Schneider. and trying to analyze all the materials these people use. the marnmen seem to be mammals. Most of the land creatures could be classified as reptiles and insects. as Chairman for this investigative enterprise. But that's not what happens. "Estelle! Over here. to be very enlightening. may I ask how far along you are on cataloguing the plants and chemicals used? The biologist answered. It's impossible! There are just too many. or cement. "Some of it. Lighter material is used higher up." Tuesday agreed. has kept me busy. when I choose. a naturally occurring long polymer. Heavy materials are used in the bottom of walls. although biology is not really my field. It seems to be akin to plastic. but used ingeniously. They must have come from the marnmen. "Come join us. that the plant somehow leached the limestone and calcium from the soil and water to make a plaster of Paris. and then nodded for him to continue. or so I believe." "No. except for a few emerging birds." the aristocratic ambassador commented to regain control. The distrust I've seen could be that distrust of large Governments. There are also the animals I've been looking at. You probably know about this Brevor. I hear you've been talking with the marnmen." "Fascinating. Nathan gave him a look that said Brevor should have waited. it looks like a close cousin to concrete. is as far as I've gotten. And that. There are no mammals on land. and Nathan DuPont sat to the side of the crowd as they enjoyed the succulent feast. "A complete trust among themselves prevails. we will hold this meeting in a proper manner. but of outsiders like us they are suspicious.tender slice of meat. but they're the only mammals on the planet. For some reason. They're wild.
Brevor. Ambassador DuPont ignored the comments. or at least to see blueprints or designs. and an area where I kept my private matters. One mistake or misdeed could make this a totally isolationist world that refuses to deal with outsiders. The term I've heard that seems the best suited to describe the leader is 'he who gives direction'." "That means I probably won't get to see how Cliffside is constructed. Maybe that's why you notice it more." the red headed chemist agreed vehemently. I would want to have an area where they could feel free to roam at will. even if we can convince Wendell to let us make the journey. total strangers that is." "No. Maybe it's you. for the time being. that's where they're keeping secrets." "Why is that?" Brevor asked. I suppose. It's a typical agricultural community." "I would not go quite that far. and they're fanatic about it. "But in their lights you are. Haven't you noticed that the women stay home to cook and care for the children? The men do all the hunting and most of the farming. or we're strange looking men. Either we're women who are unprincipled and self centered and refuse to follow the normal division of labors as they see it. and one I have much to learn about. or that you. If I were expecting people to arrive of whom I had no knowledge. most just don't have the sophistication to realize there could be other ways. are a symbol of the Federation. "Let me put it this way. or someone who does what they feel is right and takes complete responsibility for their own actions. I'm also interested in going to Cliffside to observe the way they live. "I've been trying to get permission to go there. I do not believe we will be given permission to enter. who act for themselves in a responsible manner. Most of the people are what we call responsible anarchists. It's normal in a situation like this." "Yeah. Of course they're going to feel some resentment." "Yeah. you and I. They feel that what you and I are doing is a man's job. but they're given laws and duties by one person. Now I know why I keep getting the run around." Estelle commented." The anthropologist sprang to the villager's defense. It's almost as if I were supposed to be a second class citizen just because I'm a woman. "at least not since the first few days. Ambassador DuPont. wrong word." "In other words. The division of labor is natural--no. An interesting form of government. "though there are probably ." the Ambassador answered." Brevor complained." "I haven't noticed any real distrust. "However. Do you think you could talk to Wendell and convince him to let us go?" "I could speak to him. Wendell directs the efforts of his constituents. "The type of government seems to be a cross of a benign dictatorship and a completely anarchistic society. and those who do just go along. "I'm always told that all I need is here. but I get told it would take too long or no drawings exist." Brevor observed. the same kind we've seen in many primitive societies and in the ancient histories. as it were. I believe Cliffside is their private storeroom. Tuesday. more than the rest of us.decades of careful dealings to bring them into the Federation." Nathaniel replied." "Or maybe it's because he won't associate with the people.
at least in the part. for one. We won't be allowed to return. Why can't we go to this Cliffside." +++ Estelle chomped on something that was close to a carrot in texture. "That does seem to happen a lot. or one of the other villages? The one with the mill? Why can't I see how others on this planet live?" "It is really very simple. however. Tuesday. Many women had removed their tops." Brevor sighed and said. for that reason. it's declared off limits. dodging among the groups of people. But for now let's party. To the side several men held a shooting contest trying to pierce a large leaf attached to a tree. am going to request a return trip. I." This was frustrating. their cooperation. including the younger women. You mentioned some of the engineering is meant to be under water. And I. have originated in the oceans. is a marvel. perhaps. for one. everyone she talked to. I could spend years learning a new way of political interchange." Tuesday rose. Brevor's found some of the architecture--no. Several men she remembered from the hunt told a story with large gestures. the remaining time must be put to good use. her cup empty.items that they do not want us to know right now." "Yeah. In the future I believe relations will be more open. If I could learn their ways I could teach others. my friend. It was also true. You've seen chemical reactions that. Two women conversed as they breast-fed. and a few were naked. engineering--that must be from under water." "How do you figure." Nathan soothed. ignoring all the other activities. plenty close enough to spend a week there. They'll be declared a new sentient species and the planet declared off limits for years at the very least. but tasted more like the sweet tarrington from Rigle. will encourage that they are so classified. Young children played a chasing game. Nathaniel. said there was not enough time. She turned to Dennis and protested. "There just is not enough time to get there and back. "Not really." "You're dreaming. Have you tried that pink punch? It really has a kick. How is it that you know? You do realize that you'll have to back up your theory when we get back to Capitol. and for you to study what you need to study. Ambassador. "There is more than enough research here for the time allotted. "Perhaps. The interaction between the two races." Brevor grumbled. my friend. "I don't understand. their respect for each other. "What do you mean?" "Just when you want to stay somewhere." The ambassador chuckled." Dennis told Estelle as he led her to where Francine waited. I'm going to be studying the culture of the marnmen for the rest of my stay. Everywhere she went. Therefore. I find this world fascinating. "Isn't that always the way?" Nathan asked. Estelle?" the red head asked. We have two weeks left. but for now they're keeping things from us. "It's like this. It was only a few days distant. possibly the story of the most recent hunt as she saw one man act as if he shot an arrow. I believe we have found the first sapient beings that live in the water. that she could not study the marnmen as she should if .
That is my reason. each dancer pairing with the opposite dancer. But now most of your time would be spent in traveling there. The rest of the village gathered in a large circle. but do not eat too much. holding hands. "This year has been good for us. and you would not see them at Cliffside. Wendell clapped his hands. the dancers began to meet each other. then separated again. as are the marnmen. for her hard work. However. They were sentient." Estelle stood to the side as the beat of the drums sped up slightly and the instruments began to play a melody that became crude harmonies. then joining hands as they reeled around their center. "But it seems like you're hiding something. that does not mean you cannot get the information you need about us. The older boys carried the tables inside the large open building. we could work something out. Let the dance begin. some of it so delicious Estelle had to use most of her willpower to eat only a little. and they had a social system and religion of their own. and not bogged down by food. At the beginning of the third sequence. the dancers split into an inner and outer circle that moved in opposite directions." Dennis thought for a moment. Every fourth beat the circles moved together. She explained. Wendell addressed the crowd. the entire village honoring each other for the work completed with hugs and sometimes kisses." +++ All afternoon people had eaten and snacked on the bounty available. but the rest of the instruments were unfamiliar. Both Tuesday and Brevor both feel that is what you're doing. Now come and let us show you some especially good foods. it's only normal. This is good. We have more in storage than we can use. they used some tools. from the very young to the very old. and as the sun set Dennis had repeated the story he began two weeks before for Natalie. it moved to the right. The circle moved to the left. Now. they had intelligence. She did not really need to study them further. Near one corner of the square. It takes five days to a week on foot. except to gather more evidence. We can share the extra we have as they have helped us in the past. If you were to come back for a longer length of time. and some asked if she wanted to bond later. touching or bumping slightly. a number of people had gathered with various instruments.she was away from this village. We are right here for you to see. until the movement was too fast and the dancers either stopped or stood holding . She recognized several drums and two flutes of some kind. what any nation or world would do. Many people came to Estelle and thanked her for her help. young and old. As the beat sped up. Possibly that was the explanation for her. Dennis. the inner and outer circles joined. for others have had problems. both moons illuminated the celebration square as people milled around. The drummers sat and began a slow beat. you will want to be ready for fun. then. "It may be true that Wendell and Headmon Halford think that one or two things should not be known at this time. She had pretty well made up her mind on that matter. when the melody repeated. Nathan says that if you are. What about the others? They did not have that constraint. After I give my first full recitation of the history. the partners circling each other. At some signal Estelle could not discern. Let us thank each other for the hard work that has enabled us to give freely.
Estelle thought she detected more hugging and kissing than normal. The drummers started another beat. I must say I was not prepared for the amount of intimacy involved. this open sexual behavior. I did. We enjoy now?" Estelle remembered what Pretty Wings had just said and nodded. "Are you ready for the fun? We do this each year. "how far you and Pretty Wings were willing to go. did what Estelle thought was a sexual dance. dancing so closely together that they looked joined. Pretty Wings asked." Estelle saw Tuesday walking toward the shadows with four men. something that other scholars would respect. or just watching. "Did you enjoy this morning?" he asked haltingly. Holding her close. "No one worries about anything tonight. or maybe it was something started by the first settlers to celebrate the first harvest. with Stuart joining them. Perhaps the isolation of this world had allowed this celebration to form over the years." "Inter-. with anyone. She noticed Stuart give Francine a deep kiss. nearly naked. and you are speaking well for as little as you have practiced. before they even thought about traveling among the stars? She. They'd have to open their minds to differing mores if they wanted to make an unbiased study. +++ Brevor dipped another gourd of punch from the pot on the table after watching the . a closeness that was private most times. enjoy closeness with our friends. Another very enjoyable time at her house followed Pretty Wing's actions. and then wandered with the youngster into the dark. Pretty Wings came over to Estelle glowing with energy and fun." Estelle thought a moment. when they new the community would survive. a form of acknowledgement for the hard work everyone had completed. Estelle had joined Pretty Wings at the pool and found that bathing community style could mean more than just talk. or whatever. who grabbed the hand and pulled it up into a private area. It helps to bind us together as a community. and reminds us we are all a large family. do it. One of the young children ran a hand along a teen's leg. Could this celebration be close to what some of the ancient peoples did. "Yes. so if you feel like doing something. Perhaps the way everyone depended on others just to live was a cause of this closeness. and then changed the statement to.tightly to each other. and place his hands on parts of her body generally reserved for spouses. the musicians began to play. um. Stuart quickly replaced her. this time without the ritual. and couples started to dance again. or someone would research that in the future. Some danced separately. and something she had worked hard to learn. Enjoy. others formed a line." Pretty Wings gave Estelle a kiss on the cheek and walked off into the crowd." "We enjoy. That was something few could do. laughing. probably some kid just out of higher school who wanted to join one of the science ministries. and a few.Intimacy?" "The. and shown openly this night. dependent on each other. the early humans. and circled Estelle's waist with an arm. This was not the behavior you found on most planets.
Even children participated. removing clothes and joining with others to walk into the dark. a disgusting and immoral activity.dance. "I believe you're feeling envious. "Look at that. Brevor? Remember. What business did she have with him? She was here to watch and study." . You notice Tuesday is. this is normal and proper. For these people. If you don't agree with this. I'm going to have to report this. Illegal. naked. fornicated. if you are so intolerant. If they were part of the Federation. of reaffirming the oneness of the community. Several of the teens held hands as if they were couples. giving him a peck on the cheek. They don't follow the rules of the Federation or the religious teachings we know. join in. These people have no respect for decency. who ranged in age from thirteen to twenty. but that did not give her permission to be so intimate." "Decency? Whose decency. This is how these people interact with each other. this is a different society." Estelle said. and Brevor moved to join the anthropologist. and energized. Would he join this immoral revelry? "No. It was all immoral and someone should stop it. maybe you should go to bed." "They should at least wear clothes. He wiped the offending kiss off his cheek. what rules they follow. If you don't agree. "And I see you're still here. if you feel it's wrong that strongly. "You've forgotten why you're here. none of them spouses. Couples and groups. Estelle moved out of the dark with Stuart looking extremely happy as if she had just shared a private time with her husband. Why is it disgusting? It's a way of sharing. This is disgusting. eased out of the shadows together." Estelle smiled at him. had sex out of wedlock. Why are you so grouchy. go to bed. "It looks like they're learning about love. had moved away from the crowd into the dark and returned glowing and joyful. anyway?" She could not see the problem? "Look at this. Think of how they act. The whole planet had turned into an abomination. Brevor. terribly wrong. Look at those kids. He said. of joining." Brevor growled. Some of the nearly naked couples were like parent and child. "Since when are you my master? There are all sorts of ways to learn about a society. that they all depend on each other. Otherwise. talking and touching." Why did she sound so offended? This was wrong. He knew they had just committed adultery. "I thought you were supposed to study these people. They parted." Estelle stood straight and glared at him. this society. I'm leaving. Groups sat and stood totally naked. not join their society. this would not happen. not participate. left out." What right did she have to do that? Sure. "Why. You notice Ambassador DuPont isn't here. I'm just collecting experiences. Have you lost your tolerance for the ways of others?" "But it's immoral. they were colleagues. Disgusting. What have they been doing?" "What's wrong with that?" Estelle asked as she looked at the kids." Just then. this orgy. or grandparent and grandchild over there. It's immoral. this debacle. It was as if the kids knew what sex was and wanted it. just in a more direct way than the society of the Federation. a group of teens.
But when one of your people takes a trip. it would take her the entire trip to Capital just to organize her notes on the marnmen. until someone else discovered a new species. was yet another year's work. and you or your spouse have relations with someone else. After that. "You can not this trip. about their ways. the reasons for that deviation she had discovered. had a society that grew more fascinating the more she learned about it. if you are married to a person and they go away for a while. Estelle started for a moment. for one. There's no one up in arms about a 'breech of nature' as some people in our culture call it. she would be at the top of her field." "But your wife?" "Different cultures you just said. In my culture. I have only been there once. Then she would have a place in history. The way that Seaside had deflected from what the Empire considered normal. It's also possible one or the other would go to prison." Dennis interrupted. she watched how the humans interacted with the marnmen. I guess that would be out of the question considering it's our last day and all. like Ambassador DuPont." "Why do you say that?" Dennis asked. "Oh. It's a fact of your life. slightly perturbed. and then realized she had spoken aloud. I." Dennis answered her interrupting her thoughts. and how the land community interacted with the marnmen. then the marriage can be dissolved. It's as if you were never human. if she could later study Cliffside. and how the two villages interact. Then she would spend another six months or so tied to her voice-activated word processor. As a people you're generally happier than most. Then there's--. "Why not now?" +++ . I will get Wendell to ask for your return. and she knew now that they were people. "If I can. never part of what we know as human society." "Do you mean what I think you mean?" "I might." "I was hoping I could learn about it. The people of the seas. and it seems to be a good one. would be happy to see you again. "Well. didn't I?" Her blue eyes lost their focus as she heard Dennis ask from far away. she would tackle Seaside. let me give you an example." "I see what you mean. In addition. Extremely hard to define. This whole world is like a new planet with a new species. Can you tell me about it?" "About Cliffside? Not really. As she listened to his stories on the last day of her visit. the spouse shares pleasure with another couple. "I wonder how I could visit Cliffside next time we come.Chapter 15 Estelle sat next to Dennis in the mid morning light under the trees near the lagoon and helped him sort through his medicines." "I did." she wondered under her breath.
"The far hunters report that a tool that swims through the air of life is heading for where the dwellers of the air of life live. Sir. nothing. Other than that. they stayed near the central reef where there were many marnmen to defend against hungry predators. The captain had no information about the men and their whereabouts." . or their health. The shadow slowly started to ease gently down toward the formal entrance to his homestead. It was his only hope to salvage this mission. Changes-The-Water said the living-water has gained enough that he will now extract half a load for they that dwell in the air of life over the next season. after they had dropped off the witnesses. If no one shows. and scans when the Pride had returned from mapping the system did not pick up the heat signatures attributed to them. and his entire body quivered with the effort to communicate with those who were far away. Were they alive? Were they at the rendezvous? The Captain would discover that in a moment. most probably. Wait. and grasped a flipper hold to signify he had time to wait if necessary. "Captain. More likely. The long distance communicator waited in his work area and greeted his friend as he approached. He just wants GivesDirection to know that the process of renewal is working. my friend. He recognized Swims-Between. The marine's mission had required radio silence. Presently he focused on Swims-Between again. it was one of the message carriers who approached his home.The screens in the shuttle showed forest. "You still swim. with either a message to be sent out. Normally the folk did not come out this far. Do you detect any life forms?" "No. Captain. one of the best couriers of this reef." Talks-To-Many swam slowly to a position slightly away from the courier. Tell me. land and wait for fifteen minutes. There was only the hope that the scientists had determined the supposed sentient species in the ocean was not. He also said he remembers the agreement. Talks-To-Many said. Then he could claim the planet for the Federation in a few weeks. "Pilot. To have someone visit him socially was rare. What brings you here? Swims-Between said. Talks-To-Many. His eyes lost their focus. his forehead wrinkled. Blank your mind." "Thank you Pilot." the pilot announced as the trees slowed. "Good friend. approaching clearing." "Understood. Swims-Between entered the work area. the ocean fading behind them as the captain and pilots approached the secret meeting place. do you have any news?" "Nothing of great importance or urgency." "Very well. wiggled the fingers of his right flipper in greeting. we'll approach the village from the oceans as if we were never here. +++ Talks-To-Many looked up at the shadow near his coral. here for the load of messages to be transferred to Gives-Direction." This mission had failed. You still swim. you still swim. or the knowledge that one would come in soon.
and the forest just as shaded as a month before. but they always put us off. a waste. How far out are they from the hunters?" "Just to first valley." "Then there is not enough time. There is to be no alarm. the colors and designs an ever-changing abstract." "We couldn't go near Cliffside. Captain Mussuclio in a dress uniform stood in the door and surveyed the scene. After a midday snack. but Gives-Direction said if we heard early enough I could go to deliver notification they are on the way." Brevor agreed indignantly. the flowers just as colorful. The front window of the cockpit glowed where the displays touched it. we meet again. let's discuss the matter. warning any other craft of the shuttle's position. She would miss seeing the myriad stars at night. +++ The animals were just as noisy. after the scientist's stay in the simplicity of Seaside. Now. some of the leaves outlined in blues." Wendell welcomed." Tuesday griped from the right. "That's true. The air was cooler and the trees showed some color. The space vessel hovered overhead. and Francine's in her left as she watched the decent. The strangers from beyond the air of life are expected to send a tool that swims through the air of life to pick up those who came to learn. as you can see. she and the others had packed their equipment and bade goodbye to new friends. and then slowly drifted down as if it were a balloon that lost helium. or whatever the other village is called. watching as a boxy space vessel smoothly eased down toward the surface of the planet. Did you get all the information you need or can . a sign of time passing. "Well. "Since we've broken protocol. A door on the side snapped open." the Captain said as he grasped arms in the traditional greeting when he met the village leader. the faint sea of the galaxy with bright patches showing the bars and center. the constellations she now knew that would skew or disappear. and yellows. with all the electronics and the replicators and the lights and the crowds. Her academic life would seem dull now. bright even in the sun. Estelle clasped Dennis' hand in her right hand. The day had come for leaving. a group of people waited in the cool afternoon air under the trees at the edge of the clearing. I hope your people have collected the information they needed." The two friends floated slowly to the surface of the living-water. "We asked several times. Tell me more news as we get a breath of life. equipment piled in front of them. To Estelle. Wendell. "Captain Mussuclio. reds. until it touched the ground and rested on its runners. Running lights on either side flashed out. That is one thing I was to inform you of. Without a sound it descended. giving both scientists a hard look. and arrogant as he stepped out and strode to Wendell. She would miss swimming with the marnmen." "That may be. sliding into the double hull. "We've been expecting you. the Captain appeared gaudy in his full dress uniform. just normal life now for Estelle Goldman. the hour when she would have to return to what some thought was civilization. She would miss the love and companionship these people showed for each other. She had to return." the Captain replied."Ah.
Captain. gave Dennis a long. and I found my stay pleasant and enlightening. let me say that the Ambassador is highly respected by the leaders of the Federation. the scientists and Ambassador followed the Captain up the steps into the passenger compartment." Wendell turned to Captain Mussuclio. she replied. I understand it's a five to seven day hike in one direction. For now the Captain was speaking. What we have not seen seems due to physical barriers. accepting the report. I'm going to do some digging on my way back. They respect themselves and each other for what they are. If they have certain items or processes that they wish not to be known. I ask your forgiveness for this slight breech of our agreement." Captain Mussuclio bowed. precise style." Cliffside episode? What was that? Had someone been able to visit the other village? Or were there some shenanigans going on that her group did not know about? She would dig a little. lingering look before she allowed the hatch to close. Nothing in this village was hidden from us. "I have found no cause for complaint other than a lack of certain luxuries this world cannot provide. Do you agree with this protest?" Distressed by her colleague's lack of respect for their hosts. Also. Perhaps one or two of your visitors will return. we have yet to hear from you. as is Ambassador DuPont. we expected some form of protection. They seem to lack the petty jealousies and inhibitions that cause violent behavior in our society. however late. That is to be expected. although he did not make that request. "Then I will wish you a good life. "Wendell. turned smartly on his heel. the last to enter. It was for the protection of our people. You will be contacted once the Federation decides the status of your planet. I found the people very pleasant and free of animosity. "What did he mean? Do you know?" Tuesday asked Estelle. There are two more things to say before you leave us. am not ready to do that. "Captain. it is their prerogative. they are backwards as compared to our society. . find out later. only. Estelle." "Very good. He had the ability to contact the ship if it had become necessary. but not forgotten. and entered the shuttlecraft." Almost an hour later. I have not seen cause yet to suspect that. for one. Want to help?" "I think I'll do a bit of digging myself. Goldman. as is your honesty in reporting it.get from this location?" The two scientists were silent. That will have to wait until the four reports are filed. I. "Estelle Goldman. Tuesday Wells and Estelle Goldman are both welcome to return. The four scientists watched as the villagers loaded the shuttle and the equipment was stowed by two pursers. That it was so discrete is appreciated. I am satisfied with what I've learned. inform your Government that the Cliffside episode will be ignored. To have learned of none would have lessened our respect for you." the Captain said. As far as technological development goes. my own way. "Sir." "I must agree with Ms. not political. As far as visiting Cliffside. "No idea. He was sent as much as an observer as a protection for our people." Ambassador DuPont affirmed in his clipped.
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