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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.
This is a work of fiction. business establishments. characters. places. and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. events. and any resemblance to actual persons.Copyright 2010 by Brian W. Names. . in any form or by any means. living or dead. or locals is entirely coincidental. stored in or introduced into a retrieval or peer to peer system. Porter All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced. or transmitted. without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
Instead. Colonized by prisoners five hundred years before. who will determine if the species found is truly sentient and therefore the owner of the planet according to Federation law. .Preceding Adventure Captain Lucas Mussuclio. He also secretly carries a small squad of marines who are to discover and destroy the only dangerous weapon on the planet. finds a star system previously hidden by the dust from an exploding Pollex. The colonists contact Captain Mussuclio and claim they found a sentient native species already living on the planet. Headquarters orders Captain Mussuclio to transport a group of scientists to the planet. he finds several viable agricultural communities using technology and metals not shipped on colonist ships. after several adventures. he expects to destroy the savages and claim the planet for the Federation.
hunting the small creatures. the only predator capable of attacking a marnman and winning. and had turned toward him. surfacing only occasionally to bask in the source of light and life. A deep fear coursed through Gives-Direction-to-Those-WhoHunt. that dwelt at the same depth. a desire to follow the Thinker and do what it directed. one of nature's cycles. or his worry. it was a normal occurrence that came many warm and cold times apart. those who dwell in the air of life. The Thinkers were of a size that a marnman would fit in its mouth without being bitten or chewed. across the star seas. A feeling of calm flowed over Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. had done nothing obvious to make the change. One of the creatures appeared to inhabit the region of the stars where the air of life was not. Food was becoming scarcer for some reason. Possibly. He swam slowly out to the deeper water to where six of the behemoths waited.Chapter 1 Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt scouted the deep water looking for new sources of food for his community on the reefs. A dark shadow passed under Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. to let the number of people lower to the point where all could feed. Now the larger creatures usually left the only other intelligent species that dwelt in the living-waters alone. close enough to see him. almost close enough to grab him. or the dwellers on the ancient land. He saw that creatures lived inside. their normal hunting tactic. tried to hide. It had appeared suddenly in a way that was strange. that it was not the shape of any animal. and the small creature drop into the air of life and drift down to the ancient land. yet he could not leave. That was not his area of understanding. . but that was for Gives-Direction to discover. His calmness slowly turned to agitation. He would have to speak to Gives-Direction about this matter. Thinkers lived in the deep water. He felt that some of those were meant for looking. A psychic force held him steady on the surface while visions of creatures formed in his head. but he could not move as he watched the creature of the star seas give birth. or any of the dead worlds that roamed near the source of light and life. toward the living planet. and those larger. to the living place of they who dwell in the air of life. These creatures had thoughts of killing. a shadow that called out Thinker. Deep Thought Hunter. suggest that the proper people explore the possibility that it was again time to limit births for a while. and he was not happy with the situation. but not the same. Even the intelligent species that had arrived not all that many lifetimes past. an action too many times performed in the long past. and had woken the ancient fears. and that it had tubes and other projections not found on living creatures. and now it drew closer to him. and the cause was not the making of the people. not of friendship. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt tried to run. This creature was not of the living world. This creature was from far away. That Gives-Directionto-Those-Who-Hunt had seen one was unusual. Possibly the dwellers on the ancient land would have an idea. He could see it clearly. and some were meant for killing. a fear born out of the ages before the treaty between the species. creatures like those who dwelt on the ancient land.
You always keep your thoughts together. "No. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. sleeker and more muscled. From there we will have to see. As he drew closer to his community a comrade." "I do not know if I can be calm." Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt did not slow. your plans. Quickly he asked. but you are right. matched his pace. the community's messenger and fastest swimmer. He told his companion. They passed one or two people swimming on personal missions. restored. A thing. Now be calm. If anything. his ability to act.Slowly he felt his being released by the predators. a thing among the stars. It is possible that they mean no good. We will swim at a normal speed to the message entrance." That Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt did not know what frightened him so was a thought Swims-Between did not want to contemplate. It is what they showed me. but it is true they will not eat us. Never. At least not at this time. "What about the Thinkers? Have they returned to hunting our kind?" "No. the fences growing more crowded as they moved toward the center of the community. you are terrified! That is rare. he put on speed straight for the community of his brothers. We must slow. weaving around the obstacles." SwimsBetween. Tell me what you have seen and I will make sure you get the proper audience. Without an acknowledgement of the message. It has come to attack. and then the way became more crowded as they entered the community proper. I have seen--I do not know! I must go to Gives-Direction and ask to be pointed the proper way. no. We enter the community. Very rare. It would not go well for us if we upset all those who dwell here. the living and working area of He-Who-GivesDirection. he picked up speed. I have seen terror. his community. We will go see Gives-Direction so the message can be sent to the proper person. They come to speak to they that dwell in the air of life near the waters that taste strange. Still they hurried. pushing their way through large groups when necessary. to the area Gives-Direction used to speak about important matters. . Tell me. See? We are almost at the edge of the community. his freedom. 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. "You are not like this. a friend." The two friends entered a more populated area with stone fences that set off private areas. that gave birth to the small thing that came down to talk to those who dwell on the ancient land. possibly faster than before. observed as he caught up to the speeding marnman. They still hold to the covenant. that I may help. to eat us all. Tell me. that they come to hunt. "You are afraid. and there we will tell Guards-TheMessage-Entrance of our concerns. "I have seen danger. a thing larger than that which gave birth to that which came to the air of life and the ancient land not long ago. my friend. "They do not come for us. his fears. what has made you so afraid. driving toward the community's center. quickly. But we must slow now. Tell me what it is. 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.
As the legends of those who dwell on the ancient land foretell. Come." Guards-The-Message-Entrance turned and quickly led the way along the stone lined paths toward the center of the palace. the Empire comes to destroy. hidden by trees. mountains apparently raised by plate tectonics. "That vital that it may concern death? That is what I read in your eyes. including one where the land rose from the sea to the east along a coastal plain to an area of folded land. It has been done before in a time similar to this. Both the cave and the forest communities had a minor amount of electricity supplied by a complex near a waterfall. 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. Three other communities had sprouted in the forest. the occupants of this colony ship section not only survived. When they reached him. except in the valleys between the ridges. yet highlighted in red designating a sentient species already lived there. eventually intersecting the ocean at a natural harbor. According to new official records. well to the north of the original landing area. The water that dropped as rain flowed through streams that joined to form a small river. I will lead you to the private chambers. still primitive farming villages without an obvious power source other than gathered wood. "Swims-Between. "You mean. a planet designated by number rather than by a name. mountains that condensed the atmosphere flowing across the higher ground to the west." "This is a question for Gives-Direction. to the private conversation room." Guards-The-Message-Entrance studied the two for a moment judging the truth of their claim. and another small community in the forest just downstream from the caves. charts updated with a newly discovered system that contained planet 27634755. Forest covered the Eastern plains of the continent. or ." "If that is so." Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt told him. 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. why did the Thinkers show me those who come prepare weapons for killing? You know they can only show what is true. The inhabitants of the planet claimed that a native species that lived in the ocean. He asked. Official scans showed several continents. clearing land to build a small farming community half a mile inland. one of the four sections of a colony ship had landed near this harbor more than five hundred years before. they expanded to a cave system in the mountains.Guards-The-Message-Entrance watched the two marnmen approach quicker than those with questions approached. We must see Gives-Direction and inform him of this development so that we might be pointed the right direction. but not so fast as to cause a major disturbance. Instead of reverting to savagery as was normal." Guards-The-Message-Entrance backed away. he asked. +++ Every ship in Federation space downloaded new Federation Charts. "They come again. as we were told would happen just a warm and cold time before. which suggested it was uninhabited.
Without preamble. because tonight is the feast of the founding of The Woods. he would have no problem becoming the leader of the planet after the upcoming harvest festival. if he kept his head and planned well. and explained. or this is the end of life as we have known it." Wendell rolled his head around his neck. "The marnmen have been told a new ship approaches. a large building near the top of a hill. the people of the Federation should stay by the ocean. The biting aroma woke his brain as he considered the new information. You must go to both The Caves and The Woods and tell them that the Federation is back. dark with tan from years standing or swimming in the sun while speaking with the marnmen. Bale entered cautiously. and all went how he thought it would. Knowing beforehand ruins their surprise. peering through the door." "Oh? And why is that?" Bale looked at Wendell and carefully stated. I remember. "You sent for me?" Only Bale gave him the respect he deserved. were sentient. it may not be as joyous an occasion as you had hoped. Go. Tell no one. Thus. Bale. Now they had to wait." Bale bowed and began to back out the door. That is all." a voice at the far end of the room replied. "Wendell. "Wendell. Wendell said. Send Aarmand." Wendell walked to a table at the side of the room laden with fruit gathered from orchards and the wild. Bale." Wendell stepped off the dais." he called into the relative darkness. and no other community was close enough to be in danger. the leader sat on an ornate chair. "Then either Captain Mussuclio was allowed to keep his word. However." "Come. and said. thin man. "I will send Aarmand. Headmon of the cave community and considered leader of the world. We will discuss it after the feast. He looked sleepily at his visitor.possibly several species world wide. and closed his eyes. the newcomer asked. The Captain who had originally discovered this colony questioned that finding and now had orders to return with a scientific panel to get answers. In his chair on the dais at the far end of the long room. Check with Headmon Halfords first. He had done what he could to prepare. "Aarmand. sought out the community leader in the original village's council house. "Find Aarmand for me and send him here. He had already talked to Halstead. stood. I must put in an appearance. Shall I thank the marnmen for the information?" "Most definitely. Tomorrow. Wendell had laid the groundwork so he would be the only person to interact with the strangers. a larger one than before. as they had been when the colony ship landed." Bale lowered his head and clasped his arms over his stomach. A tall. I have news." The messenger hurried out the door. but I am sure he will give orders to have The Woods and the farther villages hide from sight. Now. . Hopefully the first of those choices. stepped into the torch lit room. and convinced the other that since the seaside community had an adequate clearing nearby. respect Bale had learned from the ocean creatures. stretched his arms wide. searching for anyone within. with long hair pulled away from his face and tied behind his head. but do not tell him why. Glaring at the messenger. Wendell climbed back on the chair. "Yes. "I was resting my eyes. his eyes slowly adjusting to the flickering reddish light of a wall-mounted torch. at least from the air.
and the reason for the scientific study. "Mr. it's your Bridge. Captain Mussuclio planned to scan before anyone discovered they had arrived. Running it through the computer now." "Hold. By subjecting the caves and the surrounding area to a deep scan without any warning." "Very good. before they have time to realize what we're doing. The Helmsman turned to his left and announced. The Captain rose from his chair and walked to the communications console. Wendell had said the supposedly sentient natives would have a way of knowing he was back. The trade off was even in his estimation. Make a deep scan of that area immediately. so how could they know? That there was even a sentient native species was doubtful. the one weapon of any significance could be located. therefore they would think better and be less likely to give away information unwisely. "Captain!" Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper called. their days would be growing shorter and the marines in the mountains would have less daylight than during high summer. but they lived in the ocean according to the colonists. I think you should know we're being scanned." the Captain told the lift. The doors remained open. However. Seems modulated.+++ 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. or make emotional decisions. Thornapple. "Where from?" "Somewhere near --" an image of mountains formed on the main viewscreen "-here." The lift doors opened. I'll be in my cabin. Since those the Captain planned to visit lived approximately twenty-three degrees north of the equator. which he doubted. scan the planet. Sir. There is a community that lives in caves you should locate shortly. which should allow them to come upon the planet undetected. standard array. He quietly told Lieutenant Junior Grade Floyd Pigongqui. and the gravity drive did not show to scanners available two hundred years ago. Don't know if it's truly a scan. Fornihopper. which would make the marine's task easier. let alone when the criminals or whatever they were had been were shipped out. 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. he turned and crossed the Bridge to the lift. "Before you go." A white noise broadcast over the communication speakers coalesced into a person's . Those on the planet had no way of knowing the Federation was in the system. the temperature near the ocean would be closer to the civilians' scientist's comfort level. although it seemed that they had knowledge of his arrival that first visit. Captain Mussuclio ordered one quarter braking from the Running Bear Gravity Drive. so Captain Mussuclio thought. Lucas called over his shoulder. Battle dampers and shields blocked most of the ship's stray radiation. "Inform the ship that orbit has been established. "Standard polar orbit. We're looking especially for any weapons or power sources. Captain." With a final glance around. Communications." "Scanning." the Science Officer crisply acknowledged. He asked the Science Officer. we'll set three relay satellites on stationary orbit.
we'll try this again. He covered one light with his finger so it reflected back to the reader. They obviously know we're here. remotes for major bridge functions." The air crackled and became silent. in a depression hidden from all sides and with a canyon like access. To the south. planet." the air replied. Then he had to get the clandestine team as close as possible to their task. "How do they know we're here? the Captain asked no one in particular. "--spacecraft. Standard scan pattern. I'll control it from my chair. all good locations for a landing site and easily watched by people on the ground. "Let's keep on our toes. "When can I speak to Wendell?" "He's at Seaside. we will be there. He asked. He studied the shades of green on the monitor." At the Captain's signal. It was the . and sat at the workstation. near a ridge. waited for the door to slide open." Captain Mussuclio advised his bridge crew." Captain Mussuclio decided to ignore the last statement. Fornihopper. Come in. with all the equipment the scientists brought. Planet calling the spacecraft. If you will wait for three days. Commanding the United Federation of Earth Colonies Navy Battle and Exploratory Ship UFECNB 461572. he will meet you there. amazement showing in his voice. "This is Captain Lucas Mussuclio. I'll be in my cabin. Standing by. causing the microphone near the Command Chair to open. no." The Captain crossed to the center of the bridge and sat in the Command Chair. a double row of LEDs with readers had been built in. Then the scientists needed to meet those on the planet." "Very good. Greetings. Communications. "Commander. A quick command brought up the scans of the planet taken during the last visit. First. the place where you landed before." This time when the Captain entered the lift. the doors shut. and he had to make nice noises to the powers on the ground. Then he had to have the science team and a security detail loaded into the shuttle. drew a cup of coffee from the personal galley. forget the deep scan for now. was a small break in the trees. "They've come a long way in a year or so. Captain Mussuclio strode through the color coded corridors on the way to his cabin considering the task ahead of him. I'll take the Bridge for a moment. which sent a minute electrical impulse to a switching transistor. "Uh. Commander. Captain?" Lieutenant Junior Grade Floyd Pigongqui asked. "Do you wish to reply. "He did tell us to expect you. Is Wendell available?" His finger crossed the LED again to shut off the microphone. It's your Bridge. Then he had to have the Marines moved to the rear hold of the shuttle with a minimum of crew knowing. The geological features would not change. he had to load the center hold. the larger on the two-hold shuttle. easily reached by his fingers. Several large clearings showed near the cave system. On the right arm. then land two hours after sunrise in the clearing just to the north of the village. hard to locate and therefore probably unknown to those on the ground. although he would have to check the latest scans for nearby activity or new villages during the next few days. Lucas palmed the handprint next to his cabin's access. preferably by the same security officer who escorted them when they came onboard. stepped inside. the Communications Officer broke contact. "We are not. Pride of Cappella. which should not pose a problem.voice. again without anyone knowing. Come in." the voice from the ground answered. We have been watching.
Especially not to the civilians." A shoe nudged the rookie." "I take it you are alone?" "In my office. The latest scans showed thick green forest around the concealed landing site. Communications. "Van Rapton. and Sergeant Tucker was itching to get out and move. "Yeah?" "Sergeant. +++ Just after duty three days later. He would check the new scans in a couple of days to ensure the privacy of the landing site." A short tone indicated the line was ready." Hopefully she was in her cabin. the Captain drew a cup of coffee from the personal galley in his cabin and sat in front of the monitor. A voice. Out. The secure line should be enough information for her to take the message in private. "Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton. who slowly opened his eyes and . Let's keep it that way. "Secure line. "Yah. secure line. but for now. It was a good site. Toolkie. rear hold." Only a moment passed before a familiar voice called. "Security will escort you to the shuttle. husky from years of shouting. and the marines would have a three or four-day hike to get to the caves. He had woken most of the squad just by rattling his long weapon. and tomorrow the scientists would go groundside for a month of study. door closed. for later he would be busy. and others they did not know about would go elsewhere. He quietly called. the last day or two slow and careful to avoid discovery. no villages nearby. Absolute silence must be maintained during the trip to the surface. Now he had arrangements to make. and this was not a good time for her to have company. Cabin twenty-five. preferably the previous escort. one of the other officers in Engineering. Best I can do. They do not exist." "Very good. but it was the best location he could find. "We'll handle the matter. Only one soldier still slept. Sir. said. You'll want to bring the pressure up.best place he could find. "Captain?" "Marilyn. alone." The Captain broke contact wondering why Marines could not be as disciplined as his crew. Let's go. Captain." "Understood. They need an escort. and the nearest well used path several kilometers away. The approach would test the skill of any pilot." "Whatever you say. Rear hold. this task was completed. "Secure line. The shuttle was loaded with the scientist's gear. She had found a partner." the Captain said just before he broke contact. Lieutenant Commander Marilyn Mantarris." "We're moving the items stored in the vacuum. Shuttle Three tonight. tonight there will be five heavily armed marines moving from the vacuum area to Shuttle Three." "Understood. +++ The Marines had been in the private area for a week. Pressure up by end of fourth watch." the voice acknowledged. The civilians don't know about you. Captain." Lieutenant Commander Mantarris replied." he called into the air.
and only one of his men had the skill as teacher. unless he was bullet fodder. The five silent Marines in full ground-war gear eased along deserted corridors. Do. any conditions. Most of that time we'll be under silent maneuver rules. he's right. he checked on his squad. and one guard . Ist. They are not. They were all good men. They were ready with thirty seconds to spare. "Morganthur. then the usual tour of duty. Not. that did not happen this time. saw the Marines were ready. Animal. or civilians for that matter? The first tour was usually a month or less to find problems. He had no choice in this matter. We'll get our orders soon enough." "Didn't you learn in boot. Saunders would give the kid bad information as a joke. Apparently. he did not have the patience for it. Three of them he had worked with before. I agree. We. No noise. for as long as I say. Is that understood?" He glared at the four marines in his command. Sarge. hunters and killers who knew their job. Ex. "Now listen up. Any weather. no dirt showed. You know what they are. make sure Toolkie understands.looked at his timekeeper. led by the Ship's Officer. Get ready. Sarge. and they're not talking yet. I got other problems. The door opened and a security officer stepped inside. He knew their abilities and could trust them to work on their own if necessary. not to know we exist. Now get up." Sergeant Tucker dug through his pack checking off items he would need. though. But I just got the word. and don't you dare breathe a word of that to his family. No movement until you're given the word. Try not to breathe. Don't drink. The spotless walls were color coded by area. "Face it kid. It was just one of many unknowns that would stay that way. it was asinine. let me repeat that. The navy personnel loading the shuttle were in the mess on lunch break. the code unknown to the sergeant. well. This new one. a time in dock to repair what was necessary. Animal had already shouldered his pack and stood bent over under the normal sized ceiling. He would need more training. We move out in ten minutes. and led them silently through the ship. don't you worry. You're on all the time. But Spirit. It's too damn early. Nine minutes. Probably when we land. then his weapons and battery packs. Satisfied all was ready. The occasional security personnel encountered along the way pointedly ignored them. There will be other people close by. waiting to duck through the door. as if this was the ship's first mission. it's not even two yet. We don't have access to no facilities for the next twelve to fourteen hours. "Spirit. The floor continued the color scheme with no scratches or scuffs to dull the reflection. This is a clandestine mission. Even in the few areas with direct light. that you're in the Marines? You got a job that's got no hours. Don't eat. He did not want to see the kid killed on his first mission. Saunders was helping Morganthur teach the rookie how to pack. Why they needed some green kid on this mission was. You know the drill. Only the Captain and the Old Man know what we're doing. child. And make sure he does things right." Saunders rolled over and rested his head on his arm. you ain't gonna win. Sergeant Tucker could not think like the idiots behind the desks." "Yeah. nodded to Sergeant Tucker. under orders to look the other way when their escort showed. Why would they send a brand new ship on a mission with Marines.
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
and stay low. and my orders to scan the other planets in the system. We meet again in one month. "Sergeant. sweep starboard in a wide arc 180 degrees. and a long and fruitful relationship between your planet and the Federation. Let me know when we come over land again. No matter. With any luck.must control. 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. I saw us scanned at two hundred when we came in. head to the mountains using the third river south of the village. surrounded with packs and assault gear. stood at attention. Five Marines. then silently picked up their loads. but their discipline is atrocious. Captain. and climbed up the ramp to the passenger compartment. followed by the security detail. he ducked through the small opening and into the rearmost hold. Stabilizers on the shuttle dampened most of the turbulence of atmospheric travel. +++ Captain Mussuclio keyed the intercom and instructed. Head along the third river inland toward the mountains. The job must be done. over the ocean. In thirty days I will return to pick up your guests. and close the hatches as you pass through. and saluted. made a complete circuit of his ship to insure everything was secure. place them on manual so I can close them when I'm done. bring your men forward. out of range of their detectors." The Captain moved carefully aft. They may be adequate for the job. and when the aft hatch of the second hold slid open. and keep the cockpit door sealed. Watch for turbulence." "Very good. he hit an access button. The door slid closed. Just inside the door." He bowed and backed away to the edge of the crowd. a security team would have been better. "Good sailing to you. Stay out of sight. Is that clear?" "Aye. Again. Several times. he turned. I'll be in the back. That. out of range of any detectors they may have. Turning smartly on his heel. walked to a wide path." Wendell ginned." He retraced his steps to the passenger compartment. The inside hatch to the forward hold slid open at his touch. he caught his balance when winds over the ocean buffeted the small craft as he crossed the open area. After you are well below the horizon. Three hundred kilometers out should do. friend Captain. and they do have something. the heavier crates lifted by four or more people and. . The crowd watched as the shuttle lifted. +++ Near the diminishing pile of scientific equipment. but he still had to steady himself on the passenger seats. unnoticed by the visitors. but now that I see what we have. sat at the edge of the hold leaning against the bulkheads or lay on the floor. "Take us east. Unlock inside access to both holds. this is not a group I would want to be fighting without much better odds. the Captain strode back to the shuttle. their work here will lead to a further understanding of both our peoples. Captain Mussuclio studied the group for a few seconds and thought. forces me to bid you farewell.
When he looked at the group he was part of again. You will meet them later." In a singsong voice she answered. however." Wendell continued. but the sources of the sounds were hidden in the dense growth. "The name of the person who organized the escape and brought the Originals here. He knew the ocean was just east of them. casting shadows over the scattered bushes and saplings. "Our name for the planet. The waves of the distant ocean could barely be heard. We will follow them. grew close by the trail. "Hey.Brevor took a long moment to slowly spin around and study the forest surrounding him. and knew them to be safe. "She's the best." "Don't let her fool you. they had flown over it. and my hobby is studying ancient foods." "Tuesday. The original settlers." Definitely information for Estelle and not him. Tuesday Wells reached toward the bush to pluck the berries. or she . The only visible blue. and with what appeared to be moss growing on it. my Doctorate is in chemical analysis to be precise. "Actually. then learned the language of the marnmen. as I remember. My people will treat you kindly. a source of color that drew Brevor's attention. please. but I also have Masters in biology. then possibly they would be good. My wide range of learning helps make my job easier. his voice resonating in the stillness among the trees. and bacteriology. Trills and harsh cries occasionally echoed from various directions. You are the first off world visitors to Tonylobons. leaned against a neighbor. geology. "Do not touch those berries. Deciduous trees enclosed the small clearing." "Tuesday. none of the villagers or the equipment was in sight. If she knew what they were. A smell of the dissolved ocean minerals and decaying organic matter hung in the air. They named it." "Marnmen?" "Those who live in the sea. was the clear sky showing through the dark green leaves. our first guests. where's our stuff?" he cried. or possibly just wishful thinking brought on by the smell. Come." Estelle Goldman told Wendell. a cleaner smell than he had found on more industrialized planets. A dead tree." Wendell sharply warned her. Dead branches and leaves littered the sandy soil. and that they called this world the Living Planet. "They are highly poisonous. handle your things gently. Brevor thought as he followed Wendell and the others along a path that passed under a thick canopy of leaves. an undercurrent to the rustles and calls of animals and the buzzes of insects. plus a background in physics and marine biology. the direction the breeze came from and the direction the shuttle had headed when it left. half rotten. you--. She did study ancient and natural foods as a hobby. much like walking along a green speckled tunnel. "Do not worry. I've become one of the better Chemical Analysts in the Federation. sometimes completely covering the short plants that comprised the ground cover. A thorny bush covered with bright red-violet clumps of berries." Wendell explained." "Tonylobons?" Estelle questioned as the group walked between two of the large trees and entered the path at the edge of the clearing. "On its way to the storage building. Several dead trees stood in the distance." the leader of the village answered calmly. botany. "you are a chemist. Lady Wells.
She was a very happy lady. just doing that could put you in an asylum or jail. My grandmother used to do that. She was an old-fashioned lady who enjoyed doing what she could in a primitive manner. "Not so. in the wing for mental disorders. the two planets are the same. "You needn't get so upset. "What's wrong with that?" Tuesday shot back." The sensual blonde corrected. Possibly there will be more of the higher order elements. In fact. "There is that. however. "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. I recognized them from when I was growing up." Brevor gulped. That something looks the same but is different is like pigmentation in humans." Wendell told Tuesday. or his wife." . like pick the berries and bake them in pies. He was about to pick some of those berries himself.wouldn't be here." "It always does. It was so primitive. "I understand how your broad learning would help you. "She knew how and had what she needed. More people should live that way." "Those I don't need a book to know. I'd pop one in my mouth while we were picking them and savor the flavor. Basically. They're what my grandmother called raspberries. The berries are delicious. and can lead to disaster. but not a lot. "I am not sure if I am familiar with jelly. Brevor thought." Spirit. pigmentation means nothing." "Unless you eat it. "What Tuesday said is entirely true. You might be interested in learning about our plant life. They tasted so good. satisfied with her life as she led it. what do you think those plants are? The ones you were about to pick. Chlorophyll is the same on both planets." Wendell nodded at Estelle. and I used to help her. Maybe she should become a colonist. its size. and can be cooked in pies or made into a jelly. "On some planets one or more elements are missing. "but that's what makes anthropology so fascinating." Estelle conceded. To Tuesday he said. He speculated it had something to do with her bright red hair. she was touchy. Tuesday answered after a moment. I should have seen that evolu--" "Minor! Superficial!" Brevor pushed his way forward and asked. A wounded animal does not run far. No big deal. That minor changes in form or function occurred should be a logical conclusion anyone could make." Brevor said as he pointed to more of the berries. We'll find the metallurgical scan matches that of Sol 3. We wouldn't have as much dissent. I would bet the periodic table would look the same on both worlds. And she enjoyed herself." a sultry voice behind him countered. may not be obvious. "Apparently the factors of this planet. or usually twice or thrice. "That is something you will have to take up with your guide. Once in a while." Brevor argued. made evolution here similar to that of the home world and the world where my Grandmother lived." "She actually made them?" Brevor asked incredulously. Superficial differences. its orbit. But what I was saying is that the two planets are alike in their basics. The subtle differences mean so much. Brevor. usually in the high order metals. "She didn't use a replicator? Buy them in a store?" No one did that any more. Estelle." He soothed and moved to the back of the group. Those berries? Our hunters use the juice from those berries to coat their arrows. For instance.
Over there. and of animals. Never had a completely new culture appeared. that the students she used for fieldwork did not understand the importance of the senses. see if any of the materials used were new. and they have all learned your language. rules you grew up with but we would not know as visitors. As she dictated notes into her recorder. of people. Wendell. She decided that a change was necessary. The smells of cooking. the path opened onto a group of buildings laid out in an orderly manner. the buildings coated with some kind of rock substance. actions we should not take. even the cities from the earliest civilizations on Sol 3. a grass covered square with a large pile of wood in one corner. It will be safe there from any predators or weather. places we should not go. Video supplied any necessary missing facts or nuances. is the building where your equipment is. such as the one to honor your arrival that will be held tonight." "I plan to do that. and that through the years she had missed important information that she could not recover. She had thought of this adventure as a prolonged camping trip to gather the energy to pack and reach the port on time. to experience life as so many of the cultures she studied had lived. his words clipped into neat verbal packages. Near the top of the hill several large buildings looked out on a place that Estelle thought needed a statue. Now she was hiking under so many trees there seemed to be a roof above her head. they could hear the sound of children playing unmuted by the noise of traffic. Speaking precisely. that her science had fallen asleep. he said. influence her findings for the rest of her life. She would have to talk to Brevor about that. or actually your guides will do that." Wendell explained. It is the sight of our feasts and ceremonies. all intertwined into one unique odor. As the scientists following Wendell turned onto a well-used path wide enough to be a road. How could people live in a forest like this. Each guide is the apprentice in the field closest to yours. and it was time to wake it up. and not go crazy? She was about to experience the same conditions found in ancient times. Wendell stopped at the edge of the open area. about the engineering. and announced. Estelle usually dug through databanks and books to gather previous findings of the civilizations she studied. a path that curved along the side of a small hill. I will have your guides meet you there. This building should also be used as the work area. "This is the square. with a few houses and other buildings closer to the top. items we should not touch. The insights she would gather would stay with her. behind the store and storage house. but later. Estelle realized that some information would not show on videos. Warehouses stood near the bottom of the low hill on the side toward the farms inland. a central square found in many cities. but it may place us on a positive footing if you informed us of any other taboos. without stores or theaters or civilization of any kind. We will go directly to the building where your equipment is being stored. turned to the newcomers. It would be dreadfully embarrassing if one of our party should cause offense because of our ignorance of your ways. with students operating the cameras. Come with me." . could be distinguished from the rotting salt smell of the forest by the sea. "I do not mean to offend." Nathan DuPont interrupted." +++ So many trees. one that required her presence in the field. "We are nearing the village of Seaside now."Excuse me.
with windows protected by a glass like substance. We will try to keep things orderly during your stay. For now. she heard people shouting and moving objects. which suggested a life suppressed by social mores. Estelle found her computers and library. As the group entered the muted madhouse. The small company drew near the long building made of something that looked like hard mud. She had seen several people in the crowd who were lacking clothes. She would have to talk to Brevor. wavy. or a special way to handle something. Therefore. and not quite clear. something that talking to people would reveal. 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." Wendell called as he went to talk to a young man off to the side. and locals carefully moved the items to a large open area under the truss supported roof near several windows that supplied light. As the visitors directed the setup of their equipment. . she had other priorities. why the celebration? Possibly something in the history of this colony. yet that could not be. Inside the building. "Right now you could help us by identifying what is yours and how we should place it in your area. Rather the opposite. You must tell your guide if there are items that must not be touched. and they will pass the instructions on to those who help. the lean young man Wendell had spoken to loped unnoticed out the door. more sophisticated engineering than usually found in this type of colony. have him keep his eyes open. pointed to the equipment. and a large opening at one end with a wooden door the size of the opening suspended from a slightly slanted wooden track. Casual nudity was not an indicator of a repressed society. "Friend Aarmand. crude. Wendell explained.They would hold a celebration for the visitors' arrival? This society must use any excuse to let loose.
Last man out. Let's go. "Sergeant. waiting for orders. but that is all we know for certain. "My back's killing me. Stretch a bit and you'll be OK. "Leave him alone. and leaned his weapon within easy reach. Your job is to move north from the drop point. locate the main entrance and any back entrances. briefed them on their mission. and return to the drop point for pick up. "What's gonna be left for the creeps if your back kills you?" The Captain turned. Morganthur. cleared his throat. sabotage. Toolkie. broad shouldered. He stood next to the forward viewscreen facing the squad. We do know it is near the river that the colonial village called Seaside is on. under the easternmost ridge of a range of mountains." "It's about time." a young kid barely out of his teens complained. You will note your orders do not say to disassemble. Arms flailed and legs kicked as the men loosened tight muscles. You are to reconnoiter a group of caves. and strode across the forward hold." Lucas strode to the forward row of seats and turned to the back of the cabin. locate any scanners they may have operating. secure the hatch. "Gentlemen. The Captain ducked through the low opening and told the squad's leader." a thin man with a nose that could serve as a bird's bill said. "You will be dropped well out of range of any source of detection used by the colonists. Five stiff men dropped their packs and weapons in the aisle by the passenger seats and stood cracking their necks and backs and shoulders. The sergeant's voice reverberated out of the aft hold." "Hey kid.Chapter 2 Captain Mussuclio palmed the inside access for the rearmost hold as the shuttle crossed from the land to the ocean. looking expectantly at him. and peered inside. quit griping. a tall. This should be a sizable . flanked by the two security crewmembers. possibly naturally formed. muscular man who looked like he would be more at home felling trees than herding a squad of marines. or destroy. a mission that concerns the safety of the entire Federation. Five marines sat along the walls or lay on the floor. Those objectives are to be located only. Our scanners have not detected many details because of the density of the rock surrounding the caves. The Marines settled into their seats as Captain Mussuclio removed his jacket. and close the hatches as you pass through. you heard the Captain. the information to be used in the future. He motioned the others to find places in the other rows. You will have to hike the necessary distance using the mountains as your guide. We're all in the same shape. locate their source of power. and. bring your men forward to the passenger area. as if he was addressing a large group of cadets. entered the cabin. That means that they have explored these caves very well. ducked out of the hold. This weapon you will destroy. While you locate said features you will find a weapon they have hidden somewhere near the cave system. you are on a clandestine mission. C'mon. dropped his pack near one of the rear seats. waited for the door to slide open. guys. Watch for turbulence. As you know. the home of a community of locals. Sergeant Tucker.
The pilot's fingers danced on the keyboard and control panel as he constantly corrected their course to stay as low as possible. I've noted the coordinates so the pilot can avoid their line of sight. "Sir. Three kilometers west the clearing. "Aye. I've passed the coordinates and course to the pilot. If they are hungry. To the Marines he said. Therefore. as large animals have been known to do. however. Even if they look familiar. Because of the rock surrounding the caves. "Remember." The navigator turned to his board and entered information into the computer." the Captain answered. this is a nonexistent mission." Captain Mussuclio retrieved his uniform jacket." "Very good. "A couple of cautions. An unbroken sea of treetops surrounded them.object of unknown description. or possibly the temporary nature of the instillation. it is up to you to find this weapon." "Captain. accessed by this narrow path. minus four hours. for a good reason. You have only the one radio. Good luck. There are several types of large animals on this planet." the intercom announced. Also. You should be able to reconnoiter and return without being seen. The shuttle plunged into narrow valley formed as the river wound through the foothills. do not eat them. we're crossing over the shoreline. they may attack. The pilots he had aboard that vessel had been good. and palmed the door locked again. all within a day of the caves. Keep in mind it will send a powerful beam at least 200 kilometers through the atmosphere. this location. Shortly the mountains appeared in the distance." The Captain leaned back in his seat and thought about similar flights aboard the Glorious Moon. If you don't make it to the rendezvous. "There's a small depression just off the river. +++ Talks-To-Many drifted at the edge of the hunting domain. "This should not be as hard a mission as it sounds. The pilot crossed a thin line of trees. Some of those may be dangerous. "Rendezvous will be thirty days from the time we drop you off. some of the plants may be poisonous. 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. and be careful. stepped into the cockpit. Ship has scanned several groups of colonists either hunting or patrolling. No one on the ground at this time knows that you are here. a receiver only. They had made the slow arc to the south. Less than a minute had passed when he informed the Captain. we'll have to assume you are captured or deceased. but none of them could compare with the skill shown here. Either way there will be no second chance. "Where do you want me to set down. He sat in the acceleration chair directly behind the pilot and watched as they skimmed the treetops. we cannot locate it with the scanners. and then followed the convolutions of the river as they headed inland. Yet the true test of the pilot's skill was still to come." he ordered the pilot. Captain?" the pilot asked. the vast tract of living- . "Be right up. a green ocean forbidding them to settle. palmed the forward door unlocked." The Captain handed the navigator a memory chip. "Tell our passengers to buckle up.
an object of metal that traveled close to the living-waters and the ancient land. to sort the messages that traveled along the lines of thought. a tenthlight's leisurely swim from his community in the direction of the source of sight and life's waking. an unnatural object that few toward the ancient land. Talks-To-Many. His understanding of the spiritual realm was a necessary part of his duties. He floated on the gently rolling surface. at peace with the All. and the multiple rows of sharp teeth showed the carnivorous nature of his species. one who only killed in order to eat. binocular vision. rocking him with a soft circular motion. While performing his duties he sometimes brought news from far away. but Talks-To-Many could nearly keep pace for a short distance. supporting him with gentleness greater than the small viscous creatures he collected for his sleeping area. He also passed messages to others in communities far away. news that could affect all those who dwelled in the living-waters. those who dealt with creatures who lived on the ancient land. and the size and flexibility of his flat tail. and cooled his body. was a gentle being. Shortly his favorite food. A bed of small-shelled creatures. He ignored the sparkles of light that danced on the wave tops. His long sleek body. where Talks-To- . 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. Could this be the object those to the north. would rise. alone with his thoughts as he cleared his mind for the coming hunt. an area far from the hub of the marnmen's community. and then disappeared above the trees leaving a swirling wake of leaves. He meditated. His stillness as he waited for the hunt showed his patience. he would sit with a troubled individual and help them understand the nudges given by the Creator of All. pink in color. Those of his community knew that others swam much faster. 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. More spiritual than most. 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 duty. for the feeding that would last until well after the source of light and life slept. He relaxed as he waited for hunting time. protected from the thoughts and emotions of his friends by rock and sand. +++ Swims-Between approached the living area of Talks-To-Many. suggested the speed he could maintain for a short time. pausing after delivering the message to help the recipient fit the news into their life and understand the will of the Creator of All. not only those of his species. This was his contribution to the whole. and the ultimate capture and consumption. A freshening breeze kissed his dorsal fins. drawing out all urgency. resting within sight of others of his settlement whose positions were marked by occasional breath-fountains in the distance. that the fastest was Voyages-Between. A shape passed above him. but those of the other sentient species also. like most of his species. riding the vertical circles of the gentle swell. The living-water caressed him. the chase as his prey danced in all directions trying to evade the hunter. streamlined for ease of travel through the living-water. He focused on the coming hunt. His long snout.water that lay opposite where the water that tastes strange met the living-water. and would help a creature in need if it was at all possible. tickled his skin. his reason to exist.
the place where the first GivesDirection had chosen to work. staying near the living-water's surface. powerful thrusts of his tail propelling him toward the area . I have need of your skills of rapid swimming and accurate reporting. clicks. for it was possible that the machine would turn and head back to the ancient land on either the warm or the cold side. Swims-Between saw Talks-To-Many floating near the surface. he began to build up tremendous speed. and low rumbles. He sounded the whistle of warning to clear his way as he sprinted through the growing crowds of the hub. He foresaw swimming at emergency speed with messages that would form a plan to wipe out an enemy. Thank you for your trust." Swims-Between's whole body quivered with anticipation. it is time for you to tell GivesDirection what our watching has shown so he may have the message passed on. This is what he lived for. It foretells great danger. "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. This is not what those who travel the star-seas were supposed to do. "You sent for me?" Swims-Between asked in their language of high squeaks. was unoccupied. A message must be relayed to the dwellers of the air of life who are our friends. Now that I have told you what has happened. 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 needed the psychic quiet in order to gather the thoughts from other communities. He made several shallow breath jumps and pushed harder toward the community where his way became more crowded. Talks-To-Many slowly dropped toward the conversation area. as we had been warned." "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. joined shortly by Swims-Between at finger holds meant for snout-to-snout conversations. the excitement. speed that. "Yes. as was a larger area of yellow living wall that grew flat to the floor. I have just received information that may be vitally important to them. 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. only he could attain. We were to watch and tell them whether this happened.Many slept. he waved a fingered flipper to signal he would descend in a moment. the chance to show off his strength." "I float ready to serve. slowly rising above the living-waters." The formalities complete. and skill. stamina. or not. or our communities. Swims-Between slowly left the working area of Talks-ToMany with gentle thrusts from his powerful tail. 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. set aside for conversing with friends. out of all the creatures in the living-water. This would not bode well for those who dwell on the ancient land. He sprinted for the center of the community's hub. Talks-To-Many replied. When Talks-To-Many noticed Swims-Between waiting below. 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. When he had swum far enough that the turbulence would not damage the living area of Talks-to-Many.
I come to seek direction. or that the living-waters become dead. You can wait there while I bring him to you. "Hold!" the sentry ordered. Not yet. Guards-The-Message-Entrance will patrol and protect our privacy. following passages that led toward the government area. as you who know me well should realize." Guards-The-Message-Entrance said. "that you have news of great importance for our friends. Guards-The-Message-Entrance. the private council area had living wall formations growing in and around it." A slight movement of his head to the side ordered the guard to start his rounds. the place where Gives-Direction could live and work in relative safety." "It is war. An area carpeted with blue green sea plants.in the center of the hub where Gives-Direction lived." ." then moved off into unseen areas of the open complex. or not. approached Swims-Between. Therefore. "Now tell me what you have been told. "I have been told. Possibly these people from the starseas will try to destroy all life. "GivesDirection is in Public Audience at this time. "but not for our people. lines of time on his body and three gray streaks on his chin. wise in the eyes and wearing a ring of yellow rock on his forehead. "Swims-Between. It is war for our friends who dwell in the air of life." Swims-Between told the guard. Finally. and told him. clearing a few servants working nearby. 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. This message may decide whether we have friends to trade with. I wondered if it might be war. Guards-TheMessage-Entrance rose over their heads and began to circle in an ever-widening pattern. which directly affects our own people. I will escort you to his private council area. "Wait here until I return with Gives-Direction. The traditional entrance used by messengers to the side. and possibly for us. he grew closed to where Gives-Direction ruled. needle-like teeth showing and holding clubs of death and sharpened thrusters in their fingered fins. came into sight. "Yes I know you. Swims-Between. The main entrance crowd was thick with those who had questions. Short jumps through the air of life replenished the oxygen his muscles used as he grew close to the community's center. "This is no pilgrimage. 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. One of the four broke away and advanced toward him. waited outside the entrance while Swims-Between approached." Guards-The-Message-Entrance answered. A short time later Guards-The-Message-Entrance reappeared with an older marnman." he said slowly. 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 come from Talks-To-Many with a message of vital importance to those who dwell in the air of life. even in the community. I can only hope we do not become involved." The two quickly entered the complex and followed a convoluted course around sleeping and working areas. The old ruler. Guards-The-Message-Entrance led Swims-Between to the center of the area. his pectoral fins steering him around groups of conversing marnmen. Four marnmen." "Then this is a serious matter indeed. away from the crowds.
"Follow him. Anything pertaining to this situation is to come directly to me. When all three had drawn breath. and to pass what they knew and learned. "Yes. Respect no privacy. You are to use all speed to deliver your message. Now. when the political prisoners from the Federation who managed their escape using Federation resources landed on Tonylobons. The old marnman said. They learned to ignore individual differences. in reality a non-government that organized and suggested rather than led. 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. Now we will rise to Guards-TheMessage-Entrance so he may hear the rest of my instructions. as always." 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. The colonists had found the native sentient beings who lived in the water. as a whole. if not attacked. to live and work together. go to the talking shallows. which is what those instructions would do. Go with as much speed as possible." the ruler told the guard. Have him translate only the answers. until the community. but obey all conventions. Swim a dead straight line to the talking shallows. The small amount of time wasted will not matter that much. Do not take the time to pass the message on in the usual way. The fears and predictions handed down for five centuries became reality when the . Respect no rights. Be sure no one stops him for any reason. 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. is a certainty." The marnman swimming patrol drew close as the two rose toward the surface. to share freely everything they had. You have given good direction. "Swims-Between. they worked together to build a community that could sustain itself. and what future they feared.Swims-Between repeated his conversation with Talks-To-Many. learned to communicate with them. and found they had their own civilization that had grown for thousands of years. There you will find Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. A loose form of government grew over the years. was one family. "This is a grave situation. Friendship between the two communities grew over time to the point where neither group felt they could do without the others. Vitally important. with all available speed. go!" The old ruler watched as Swims-Between's powerful muscles propelled him swiftly on his way. on to their children." "I agree that this is a matter of grave importance. "You must. Your clearances will follow. They must be informed quickly. Go! Wait! We must not cause panic. Gives-Direction said. my leader. that is important. Use the emergency war whistle. hear these instructions. my friend. a mutual dependence and respect that forced feelings for all beyond the bounds of friendship. +++ Five hundred years before. That those who swim in the air of life along the water that tastes strange will be approached. A companionship and love for each other also grew.
and their strange ways. well built from years of work. meet Halbrack. decide if there were possibilities for growth. The Trader. hair that appeared bleached by the sun. Chief Hunter. were busy setting up their headquarters with the help of some of the villagers. looking for pirate bases of operation. He would have to study its uses through harvest. with a face that did not see many frowns. Wendell leaned against the edge of the people door and watched the activity inside the building." Tuesday said absently. how we began. and how we grew. He can also tell you who can answer your questions if he can not. Seaside. Villagers carried equipment from a central repository to the four corners of the building. Estelle said." She looked around the room. but will poison you. "They trade with us. each area occupied by one of the Federation observers. was a few large community buildings laid out around a central square used for ceremonies and social gatherings. easily accessible by the outlying villagers who lived near their farmland. "The coating you use. Wendell clasped arms with the newcomer. and a way to grow apart. There are some extremely dangerous creatures out among the trees." "Yes. all lived near the square in the buildings they used to store their supplies." "They are the people of the ocean. but remembering the history of our community is one of his duties. newly arrived. the first of the five communities on the land surface. not finding what she wanted.Federation. may be a way for him to gain status over the other villages. He helps the marnmen process the metals and minerals we need. Desks and computers seemingly grew from the wooden floor. a long life power generator placed outside. however." "Oh. "Dennis is it? Good to meet you. He is the closest we have to what you would consider a chemist. Officially. a waste of resources and energy. Dennis can explain our heritage. as you have already learned. Head Messenger. I have many questions. All the technology was new to the village leader. Make sure he is with you at all times. and strode towards Wendell. Tables and counters were erected. A lanky young man with a large pouch hanging from his shoulder strolled in and approached the village leader. She saw a young man. Thank you. and cables were run to electronic equipment. who met the newcomer half way and clasped arms. He is studying our history as we remember and understand it under the Keeper of the Legends. paused to let his eyes adjust to the different light level. And there are plants that look like your Grandmother's food. What he could learn from these strangers. sounds like Estelle's field. Wendell. wandered through the large door. Dennis." Halbrack answered. Um. "Halbrack. That I have already learned. and Leader. that is your name? Good." A man in his mid twenties. "this is your guide. I think it's on the outside of this building. the four observers from the Federation. "Tuesday Wells. "Marnmen?" she repeated inquisitively. he is the apprentice healer." Wendell announced. What kind of materials are in use here. stumbled onto their planet. Explain the term please." Estelle turned toward the native as Wendell eased back toward the main entrance. what does it consist of?" . may have a use. especially if you wish to leave the village. Healer. "Estelle Goldman. and together they joined a statuesque blond where she was setting up a study area. In one of the storage buildings." Tuesday looked up from the distillation setup she was building. Together they walked over to where the red headed chemist had set up shop. thin. an example. barely out of his teens if that. "I've never heard of anything or anyone like that.
including their lives. that is the correct pronunciation. "Now for you. Wendell cleared his throat. a seaweed we. then we both will be heroes and set for life." Wendell admonished s he clasped arms. the mud and the seaweed. Having the marnmen as a sentient species was just luck stemming from the first colonists. You do remember your instructions. This had started as a holding pattern at best." Wendell answered as another man strolled up to them and clasped arms. mixed with an. Good. No longer would he be relegated to this tiny village. sometimes within a day and a half. apprentice. Try to discover how it works and if we can use it without outside help." he gasped. If we do well. I would like you to meet Anderson. "I came as fast as I could. He's in training as our head builder. "What is it I am supposed to do?" "You will know presently. we get in trade with the marnmen. so I'm sure you will both learn a lot from each other. dark straight hair flowing out behind. he wondered what would happen over the next few days. George. we. Over the last five hundred plus years. A series of manufactured mistakes had enabled a group of intelligent people to colonize at government expense. Come with me." "George. Your charge is very experienced in the ways of what they call diplomacy. It would not be good. how it will eat distance with a minimum of effort." The three men walked to the rear of the storage building. or his plans would work out and he would be the one who saved the world from the invaders from space. Now it was up to his people to keep it. with the help of the marnmen."It is mud. Watch the run they use. "In the mean time. Either his people would lose everything. his people. I was hoping it would be otherwise. that is the word." The soft visitor and the muscular villager clasped arms in greeting. then escalated into a do or die situation." "I will remember. the Leader of both Cliffside and of all the people." Wendell watched the scientists as they continued to set up their areas. You can probably learn new ways of dealing with others from him. The head of the village said. and as it dries. If either of us. Just keep your ears and . will not get you where you need to go on time and in a condition to quickly alleviate the problem. had built up what they had today." George replied steadily hiding his still quick breathing. A young man sprinted up to Wendell. This is possibly the most immense problem either of us are ever to encounter. "have I not told you that you can not do your best if you are short of breath? Wait with me here." Halbrack thought for a moment. For some reason the ship's computer either did not recognize. it forms a much harder substance than either of the two alone. That in itself is a highly useful skill. watch and learn. is it not? Good. Remember. or ignored. he would wind up more respected than Headmon Halford. myself or you. teacher. or a steady jog that your body can easily handle. and continued. While he observed the quiet activity. the sentient species already on the planet and allowed the colonists to land. there is rarely so much hurry that a fast walk. "an extract. They travel between here and Cliffside. I'll let you imagine the ending. "Brevor Schneider." To the newcomer he said. they have a source of power that is beyond the turbines of Cliffside. "Teacher. and brought a new form of power to his world. To do this you must meet your visitor. Wendell and George walked off together. "Anderson. snapped his fingers. but we will just have to live with it. Look at Aarmand and the other runners. mishandle this--well. We mix the two together.
I believe that term would be more appropriate than deputy. there's the weapon they'd be interested in. He would be called an understudy. Now we meet the Ambassador. like Cliffside or the Woods. but he lacks experience. and that they will try to learn all they can about our power supply. The two walked over to where Ambassador Nathan Du Pont had set up his recorder and reader." Nathan replied thoughtfully. "Then I leave you in his hands. And tell him also that I believe these visitors will want to explore other areas. Although deputy is the normal term. He walked out of the storage building and headed for his house at the top of the square. may I have the pleasure of introducing George. tell him that I believe they will try to locate and disable the weapon we showed. the hotter lands. "Ambassador DuPont. and from us. He must know this immediately. but no more that we thought would happen. I need you to carry a message to Cliffside. so as their people hide things from them. He knows how to reach me if I am needed. he is beyond being a student." The Ambassador clasped arms with George in the proper planetary greeting. from myself." Wendell gripped arms with the Ambassador. They know Cliffside is the principle site of our territorial government. Tell Headmon Halford all that you've been told." Wendell replied. and came to a decision. "Yes. the sinewy messenger. 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. Showing that might have been a mistake. He passed by where the feast was in preparation as Aarmand." "Yes. Wendell said respectfully." "That would be enjoyable. as it refers to one helped rather than taught. apprentice is not the proper term. He knows how the government works to a degree. They won't risk their people here. toward the warm waters they said. What is it?" "I contacted the guides as you told me. learning about the government of the village. "George is my understudy. it describes someone who is second in command with his own ideas and ways. We do not need to show . Nor is protégé for that matter. the only equipment he had other than stacks of reference films. "I agree. then went to the speaking cliffs. but is not considered a fully qualified professional. I counsel against that. Also. I believe you are correct. since he is still learning. "Now we must wait and see." Wendell thought for a minute. rather than someone who is still learning. Also. and left." the Ambassador replied with a slight bow toward George. the side toward the rising sun. and others." "I see. and in my opinion. then his understudy. silently fell in beside him." "Interesting. one who could play the part. "That's done.eyes open and remember: your station is to learn. It would seem to me that the term for an apprentice in the arts could suffice. "Unfortunately. I am hoping you will teach him of the ways of others as he teaches you our ways." Wendell's bass voice quietly boomed. rather than try to attack us at this time. He is my assistant. so may we hide things from them and their superiors. Apprentice is more for the trades. I learned that the marnmen told Bale that the flier that left here turned back and went ashore again. These people do not appear to know about this second mission. and not accomplished in his own rights. When the Ambassador looked up from his study. Wendell continued.
" The sergeant shouldered his pack. Along the edge of the clearing. here. adding mustiness to the air." he grunted at the sergeant. is it passable. Near each stump. Try to find us a path. a weasel faced." the sergeant barked. and that is by their own rules. The shirts were a material that should let perspiration out. evil looking warrior dwarfed by his companion. "Then we do it the hard way. Today would be a good test whether or not the material lived up to specs. eased over to the sergeant. and silently disappeared into the brush. Now go. almost reached the ground. "Animal. it would be the only dire message he would send. with large packs held by two shoulder straps. go east. Animal answered. +++ Five men. He reflected that it was good they were inoculated against all the diseases known to man. but don't go farther than one thousand feet. Hopefully. Sanders. Did I ever tell you about the time--?" The sergeant finished checking his gear.them everything. Sergeant Tucker quickly scanned the area. Thick brush surrounded them. especially in jungle areas like these. "Nothing. the trunk alive with insects. Move!" The two marines. Sanders. The two men." the thin veteran cheerfully answered. He hoped their clothes held to the standards in the manual." the sergeant called. "No path. or do we burn?" Used to powering through obstacles." "Sure thing. the remains of a tree lay on the ground as if pushed over by a giant's hand. slipped between stalks of grass taller than the giant. "make sure that Toolkie's ready to go. "Morganthur. A glance around the area revealed two men who lounged back against their packs. weapons in hand. An insect landed on his arm in the center of one of his tattoos. "Hey. "Animal. . and holding various weapons. Vines more than one hundred fifty feet long. "Animal. head west. waited at the edge of the clearing as the shuttle rose above the trees and quietly shot out of sight. A lone rock jutted up from the ground near one stump as if it had dropped directly on target. picked up his weapon. for the available government insect repellent almost never worked. stumps covered with thick green moss showed where trees had broken. and ordered. attached to high branches in the trees. Toolkie. Sergeant Tucker slapped it dead and hoped it did not carry any diseases grown in the primitive jungle. relaxed since the next time they could take a break could be hours distant." the sergeant informed them. Sarge." Sanders informed them where he materialized on his side of the clearing. It was going to be hot and humid. Sergeant Tucker sat on the rock as he again checked his equipment. "Animal. Animal silently slipped into the clearing and walked to the rock. his thoughts on the job ahead. and the other. "We can make it. He sat on his rock and looked out into the thick brush. wearing mottled green video camouflage coveralls. but not let rain or wind in. canopied by tall trees with thick trunks and wide spread crowns that let little light reach the ground. weather to expect a storm." He watched as the young man loped off with the easy stride that would eat distance quickly that all runners learned with time. Dead leaves and debris on the forest floor slowly decayed. one a small giant who looked as if he had been training for power lifting.
And take Toolkie with you. tilii. Move out!" "Hey. More streams from springs and snowmelt joined to form a small river meandering around the ridgelines flowing toward the ocean. the humans had rerouted a small portion of the stream into the cave system. A narrow path along a bare face on the forested versant was the only obvious entrance to the caves from the wooded mountainside. The linked caverns became a good-sized town. "I bring news from Taggart. Jamson. If not. Otherwise. or sentient enemies if there were any on the planet. the ridges stretched over one thousand miles along fault lines that flowed roughly north and south. This way. If we can get by safely. a small room naturally formed. The lithe hard bodied man ran through the corridors from the third level of the upper reaches calling. "Come." the Headmon said. Watch for strange creatures. We may. Well. Close by the river. several springs combined to form a stream that flowed toward the edge of the continent. leave it alone. "Headmon Halford. no anachronism. with areas for all the different functions that surface communities found necessary. just starting the road of adulthood. I may want to send you on a mission. "And a very good hunter. tectonic plates smashed together in the not too distant past as measured in geological terms. which is how I came to be there. "I know who Taggart is. Show him the ropes while we're relatively safe. "Headmon!" He dashed into a chamber in the rock. where an older gray haired man sat before a small fire. Now we go. Head due west until you reach the mountains. He asked me to deliver the message. Rising in places more than half a mile above the lowland. Headmon. Animal. a group of interconnected caves formed in the rock. how is it that he knows?" The younger man answered excitedly. We don't want any smoke to draw the enemy. Jamson might fill his post. but he was already an extremely skilled hunter. and further along the growing river a dam supplied force to turbines that supplied electric power. asked. Do not burn the vegetation. we'll pick up on something going our way. in a firm voice that belied his age. with a young family." ." The old man looked up at the messenger and. He was looking at a chart and making symbols on another piece of paper. and his friend. We will both go to Taggart. Near the continental divide. oh tilii. one within three meters of the stream. the Lead Hunter. forming lines of mountains. so skilled that when Lanford. it's going to be a long trip. it how you pronounce the initials for tell-itlike-it-is. would have a hard time gaining access from the valley below. died. Even the smallest could be poisonous enough to kill you.point. his beard still scraggly." the fresh recruit said quietly. He's the one who tracks the sky. And tell me. too. just a wife and one very young child. no. mean?" "It anagram. we will have to depend on him someday. "I'm not sure. I wish to talk to him myself. I am only a hunter. in a shallow valley. burn the mother. 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. Over the years." he gasped. +++ Inland from the ocean approximately one hundred kilometers. Several openings had been located that led to a high valley and hidden. Animals. Animal. He said the only thing it could have done is to turn back. If we're lucky. "What's that word." Jamson was a young man. Chop if you have to.
the reed would bend and tap. all is quiet. The two passed through the room into another gently rising corridor that doubled back toward the face of the mountain. Jamson followed impatiently through the room of the weavers where several women made cloth. They followed another long corridor that gently rose towards the surface. Off to one side. After a short wait. carefully noting everything that happened." Halford answered. No problem." the old leader replied. The sentinel recognized the headman's voice. The walls had several layers of alcoves dug out. A man stood near one of the windows and watched the land outside. Halford stood behind the pudgy observer who acknowledged Halford's presence with an upheld hand. Without taking his eyes off the landscape he respectfully said. near the top of the caves. yes. the dowel topped with a thin splint that held a reed. 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. Can you explain this?" "Sure. which circled over the piece of wood. the point shifting slightly each rotation. I understand the general workings. I can not track over the horizon. At the time." Halford thought for a couple minutes. A middle-aged man hunched over a table near one of the alcoves. Each time it circled. the early residents carved a small room into the soft rock by." "It is nothing. through a narrow corridor that connected the small meeting area with the rest of the cave village. I did not know it was you or I would not have made you wait. Now. Headmon Halford. Through the center of the wood a dowel slowly rotated. and some of those alcoves had equipment placed in them.Halford held his hand out to the younger man. which in turn led to a large storeroom." Halford unhurriedly continued on his way." the old leader said almost impatiently. Several rumblers are slowly moving closer and should be close enough for hunting in two days. Please continue with your explanation. The two men walked from the room. I thought my figures were at fault. they were on the track I had calculated. 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." "Yes. Jamson at his heels silently urging him on. "Headmon Halford. Almost all the field workers have finished the midday meals and are back to work. Headmon Halford sedately moved to an opening at the rear of the large cavern that led farther under the mountain. "You must make your observations. to stairs carved in the wall to the left that led to a naturally rising corridor." "That is good news. I checked them three times. Halford paused. "You're sure that it didn't just slow down along . and into the main chamber of the cave. unless they turn toward Seaside. You do understand that I can only follow things when they are in sight of the tracker. circular lines. when they came back in sight. who gripped the wrist and hauled the old man to his feet. a table that held a flat piece of wood marked with evenly spaced. That's where I lost it. Continue on with your watch. There are no fires to be seen. Light of a yellow-white hue glowed at the far end. "Oh." "Well. The flier was not where it should have been. "How goes it?" he asked the watcher. but they were almost five minutes late. "Inform Chief Hunter Lanford of their movements. "You've explained them before. I tracked the flier out over the horizon on this tracker. the man relaxed and turned his head to the newcomer. light from a room with several windows to the outside.
" Jamson hurriedly left the tracking room. I don't know why. but it's all I've got." "That's to be expected. "Somewhere over the horizon. You have given us excellent information in the past. I know you just have my word. It's been doing so since it arrived. And keep the information coming. I will remember this." the leader said almost to himself. "That is possible. but I can feel it." the Headmon said." The tracker said passionately. "So be it. "I'd like to see a more positive indication of it. "Look." . "They might also not want to take the chance we can find them when they send a message. "Part of the agreement was no communication. why no radio?" "Just in case we can detect the transmissions?" Taggart queried. If I was to send out a group of hunters like that. I was hoping to hear some radio communications. "is there any way you would get an indication of where these people. but all I heard was early this morning when they were coming down. you did exactly right. I want to meet with Lanford in the number three guard room. That is why I ask every one to tell me their problems. better make it at dawn tomorrow. or whatever. I believe your hunters would be better able to tell you where they could land. I surely would use it. then I would not have heard them. If someone was sent down here." "Possible. Continue with what you are doing here. I know it's not much. Radio communications are line of sight. no. I do not understand it though. Any closer and I would have tracked them. They took five minutes longer than they should have." "Taggart. and they're going slow enough that they can get pictures without changing speed." "Then we cannot wait. I just have that feeling. That is the closest they could be. We need your skill. Also. There's no way I could tell. OK. OK. As to a more exact location. I will take precautions. the main ship can scan the planet very well. They should have learned to compensate for any type of atmospheric disturbance by now. Still. If you say there is a possibility that there may be hunters from the flier coming this way. and I had a way of talking to them. They stayed out of my line of sight." the Headmon addressed the tracker after the hunter left. would have been placed?" "No. Over the years I have learned to trust you. Good work." "Then it's only the difference in time that makes you suspicious. "Jamson. I can feel it all the way into my bones! The discrepancy is there. to trust your judgment.the way?" he asked. but I would not be surprised if visitors had some way of signaling the ship. If instructions were given after the vehicle flew over the horizon." Taggart conceded. I think there are people either north or south of us somewhere that have instructions to do us harm of some nature. make it three or four days away. we can not take the chance." He straightened and said firmly. No. "but I cannot for the life of me think of any reason that they would. now. "Taggart. Headmon. Where would be the closest they could have landed?" "Two. Taggart. Headmon." Halford said.
"And it was all good. you lose some of that belly. the gentle breeze stirring her long red hair that hung over her naked breasts. don't answer that. and I was in better shape. "Do you always spend your evenings that way?" "No. Let's go." Anderson patted the padded stomach of the visitor." He grinned as he chuckled. You got me." Brevor laughed. Get all sleepy. A muted roar of varying intensity sounded in the distance as breakers spent their fury on the coral reefs that protected the lagoon. Oh. But that beyond cold season. Her legs crossed lotus style. I feel worse than the day after a game. "That is not proper question. I was backline. Still celebrate to last. It was rough. You stay till time of hunger. Last night we honor you visit. one of those who tried to plow through the blockers and tackle the Captain. The well-built colonist joked. but I got pounded so much during a game I was sore for most of the following week. Never had anything like that. She was thankful that many in this community thought nothing of showing skin. Feast days." "Game?" "Battle Ball. and chair. You eat more than anyone. You go first I think. most people had arrived as partners." Brevor laughed. What was it?" Anderson gave him a toothy grin. a comfortable position although the origins of that name were forgotten. too. she enjoyed whenever she could. but with more food and much more touching. my head. "You body not feel good. Did you have more fun? More food? I think some villagers eat too much during feast. "Whew! What a party. we have fun. Only special occasions. +++ Tuesday Watson lazed on the grass-covered cliff near the ocean. a feast that had lasted for hours." "OK. much as what happened at a cocktail party in civilized society." The evening before the village held a celebration for the visitors. 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. a means of attire. I don't want to know. "Those groups of people I saw. 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. You fill him up real fine. and all thing. That I did." "OK. they were really doing what I thought they were? No. Some people had moved off into the dark to engage in the . physical." "That I did. "I don't know if I'm ready to start yet. and table. Ripples showed on the surface as schools of small fish fed on insects and surface plankton. You ready to go? Today we visit craft houses where basket that hold water made. She had noted that at the celebration last night. Instead. Today I feel even worse. Brevor asked his guide. but he feel just fine. or lack of it. What was that drink you kept pushing at me?" The two laughed and walked down the dirt street. ask what we did not have.
ultra violent." With her luck. Take your time. Its mouth extended more like a crocodile. Tuesday wondered how long it would take Estelle. His back muscles rippled in what Tuesday thought was a pleasantly interesting way as he gestured to a creature in the water. Halbrack reminded her. Each could understand the language of the other after years of study. lost in a sudden desire. of course. showed how it had reverted from a land animal.extracurricular activities that she enjoyed so much. but one of the supposedly sentient animals." She stretched and rolled in what she hoped was an enticing manner. go where they extract the metals from the ocean. Skin more like rubbery leather than scales--it reminded Tuesday of the wet suit she had worn in school--covered its body. Some couples had split and left with others. "But for now I just feel like lazing in the sunshine. and clicks impossible for a human to master. nor can any of us for that matter. broad shoulders. With this almost god as a guide. It had been too long since her body had relief. possible sexual companions before they had arrived on planet. I suppose we should go where you said. Maybe we could go sit under those trees over there. In the same way. and some left as double pairs. she thought as she stared at the rugged face." Complete with living gods. and huge biceps of her guide. Unless. the Anthropologist. at least not for a year or so. Or we could go to observe the metal worker. The marnmen. "We have reached a point of indecision. I just hope I don't get sunburn. to compatriots and colleagues. it had the natural shape of a fast swimming water dweller. and we only have thirty days." "The rays are called ultraviolet." the red head answered with a lazy smile. Halbrack would like other men. the ultra. the front two with four appendages like fingers. however. that lived in the sea. Apparently this society condoned casual sex. We have to decide who can accurately describe what the process does. either reptile or mammal. no marnman could speak the language of the humans. She thought that was the word. "Remember there are more of those rays you mentioned. and all were holding hands when they left. which Halbrack answered in what sounded like an ancient variant of Federation trade language. for that is what the animals were called. What appeared to be a strange looking fish floated just below him in the calm waters of the lagoon. It was not a fish. squeaks. and it had a single sealable nostril centered just in front of its eyes. to discover that fact. Halbrack turned to Tuesday and told her. so the two species could communicate with a minimum of misunderstanding. This place is too much like paradise. I don't think so. Four flippers. That would be irony. emitting squeaks and clicks as if talking. Halbrack. you wish to learn to understand marnman?" "No. she relegated Brevor and Estelle. It is obvious you cannot. and can answer questions in such a way that I can translate them. apparently had a sophisticated language of whistles. I'd rather wait for now than miss something important because the information in the translation wasn't accurate. There are other things to check out. with several rows of sharp teeth that angled past its lips. the original home of humanity and where she grew up. Spirit. You did tell me to remind you. Shaped like a dolphin of Sol 3. "There's no way I could learn the difference in tone and duration. and yes. his upper body leaning over the edge of a low cliff. Her green eyes watched a near naked Halbrack as he lay on his stomach. since a week before they . possibly to escape competition.
But the dancing. and his grace as he stood. which is about as close to reality as any other people's imagining. "I am not sure I know what you mean by that word. with extremely difficult moves. the marnman I think you said. What did it symbolize?" "Symbolize?" Dennis questioned. A woman collected an armload of wood from the side of her house as they watched. such as how a hunt went. it is usually primitive cultures. arms wrapped around pulled up knees. At the edge of the village. From time to time one of the women of the village. cultures that are just starting out. spoke a few words. and the booming thud of a tree felled for use by the colonists echoed through the forest behind them. and then rose from the cliff. As I understand." The blond anthropologist paused. The top had a large opening in one end with stains that ran in lines toward the ground below. She had played with females occasionally when the opportunities for male companionship were almost nil. We happen to be between those two. or cultures if you prefer. let me do this. but if the situation had merited no local contact then one of the former would have to do. his strong strokes in her. "What was the story. 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. dances are a way of telling a story. behind a storehouse at the end of a well-worn street. the distant cry of animals. the myth. She watched the ripples of Halbrack's back on either side of his long. Smoke rose from several chimneys where fires used for cooking burned. Estelle. "I understand the story you told me. This was an anthropologist's dream. the--oh. Very promising. the way his abdomen looked like a washboard. as I have read in the teachings brought by the Originals. Children played a running game at the edge of the forest behind the houses. a period without sex. Calls of birds and insects. a long tank had been mounted on wooden supports. She wanted him. This male. that tell stories in dance. She had prepared for a dry period. "We were having fun. and several pipes that jutted out at evenly spaced locations. looked promising. as I have been taught. would look out a window or stand in a doorway and watch the play. but we work too . It was a peaceful late summer scene. however. much as it must have been on Sol 3 during the times before history. dressed in anything from a flowing robe to nearly nothing. What was meant by your dances?" Dennis smiled. +++ Rough bark scratched their backs and leaves gently rustled above their heads as Estelle Goldman and Dennis sat at the edge of the woods. or maybe having to put up with one of her colleagues. discussed what she had seen the night before. the pleasure he would give. Or else the dance is highly involved and stylized. or an important happening." "Fun?" "Sure. their story of creation. his hard muscles over her. not quite primitive. and Brevor was not her first pick for male companionship. Tuesday marveled at the size of his biceps. In some civilizations. Now how could she finagle the situation? Halbrack turned back to the marnman. blond hair as they walked across the village.had left for this assignment. the occasional crackle of a breaking branch.
The crowd drew away from the door and windows. were two supports where a spit or a rod to hold pots could hang. If something is done that has--. just as would a doctor. A woman in the back of the crowd saw Dennis coming and cleared a path for him. I am a healer. halfway between the front and the rear. Tears had streaked the dirt on her cheeks." Dennis smiled to take the bite out of what he said next." Estelle moved off toward the freestanding fireplace. if the fire is not out. Between breaths Dennis explained. The boy ran between the buildings toward the square and another set of houses on the far side of the hill. As they followed the boy across the village. Natalie." Estelle told him. the dancing last night was mild. Beyond that. Under the hooks. Constructed of stone. agitation growing as he pulled information from the cries and stutters of the youngster. we tell it. She held her left arm away from her body. At the sides of the hearth. she is in pain. near the back wall. Therefore. "Dennis! Dennis!" he shouted." As they rounded the Community Center. and a woman lying on a mat near a wall. gently pushing people aside while saying his name. Dennis and Estelle following. I can restart it. It is a way to relax when we get a chance. it had hooks for cooking tools imbedded in its back and sides. Boil it. Usually people will get much more involved with each other as they dance than they did last night. "One of the women burned herself. Dennis spoke to him calmly." "If it is. the skin an angry red from near her elbow to the tips of her fingers. and a hole where a smaller ." A young boy. then spoke to her quietly in the colonist's language. "I was an Explorer when I was young. with no candles lit and only the glowing coals on one part of the hearth for light. they saw a crowd had gathered around the door and windows of one of the houses near the oceanside forest. "I need you to boil some water. If we want to tell a story. with a small box on the floor next to the piled wood. Above the fire grate were two hooks of different sizes. All I can get from the boy is that she is crying.hard for the invention of such intricate dances. a pile of wood leaned against the side of the fireplace. I do not know how badly. Dennis turned to Estelle. Dennis said her name. was a pile of pots with handles for hanging or carrying." he told Estelle hurriedly as he stood and hung his bag from his shoulder in one motion. Dancing is fun. and mortared with the same material that was used to coat the outside. and Dennis replied soothingly and ruffled his hair. to take a break from our labors. Actually. Estelle asked what had happened. Above the main hearth to one side was a smaller area used for baking. "Follow us. Estelle's eyes adjusted as the available light grew. Dennis motioned with his hand and called something in the village's language. and the length of Dennis' strides. The boy said something. sprinted up to them. There should be a pot of water near the fireplace. "Do not try to read more into what we do than is already there. The look on her face and the tears in her eyes said she was in a great deal of pain. She saw a pot on the floor with water in a puddle nearby. its open area pointed toward the middle of the house. He began to pull on Dennis' arm and excitedly plead with him in the villager's language. I go. no more than eight. Estelle was amazed at the young boy's speed. Estelle found she could make out a few of the words. as if both the language of the colonists and hers had come from the same roots. or to arrange a very temporary bonding. It stood near one end of the room. allowing the inside to brighten significantly. Inside the house it was dark and hard to see.
Luckily. and then said something to the boy sitting beside him. Tell me when the water steams. but not what I need. your medicines. then told Estelle. worn smooth with use. for the fire caught the first time. a few coals still burned at the side. While the woman took a medium sized pot to fill with water. We all learn. and then cleaned the wet ashes from the hearth. and another to mix a poultice. she carefully slid the tinder onto the bark under the cone of sticks and gently blew on the flame until the cone ignited. When the water boils. . she carefully touched the twigs and dry needles to the live coals at the side of the hearth." Shortly the boy burst into the room holding a leather pouch much smaller than the one Dennis carried with him.hook had been. and one from the bottom. Estelle built a cone of twigs and bark in the center of the hearth. "Will these do?" she asked Dennis. "Looks like he wants to be a healer. I should have had them with me." Estelle observed. I will repack tonight and carry everything with me from now on. but I am still learning. to which she added split logs. who ran out of the house. and fill the other bowl only a quarter of the way. That was easier than using two sticks like we had to at camp. one for a tea. Estelle pushed them out of the way. and saw the hook in the wet ashes. Water that had splashed when the pot fell had extinguished most of the fire. one for a wash. The boy reached in and drew two out of the middle of the pile. half fill the tea and the wash bowl. Estelle began to search through the bowls. bringing whispers of approval from the crowd outside. "My teacher is at Cliffside." He opened the pouch as he spoke quietly to the woman. what is in that bag?" "That is my collecting bag. she found some dry tinder she could use. The anthropologist glanced at the pots. so it is up to me to do the healing. A gentle breath blown on the coals supplied enough oxygen so the coals would give more heat. When the flame began to strengthen. When the fire was going again. She then carefully slid a small piece of bark into the bottom of the cone of twigs and small sticks." Dennis continued to stroke the injured woman's forehead. I will not forget again. Holding some tinder in her fingers. In a box next to the firewood. While she waited. I sent the boy for my burn herbs. and then crossed to where the woman lay. The boy's eyes followed each of the small pouches Dennis removed from the bag. Estelle asked." The colonist hurried in the door and hung the pot on one of the large hooks. Dennis spoke to the boy gently. Luck was with her. the fire's started. Estelle studied the boy as he sat watching Dennis sort through what he needed. Estelle smiled at the boy. I do have a few medicines in it." The boy handed Estelle a half gourd attached to a wooden handle she could use to move the heated water into the bowls. All we need is the water. One of the women came in to help Estelle. The washbowl should be fairly large. which started the needles and twigs in her fingers burning. "I need you to find three bowls. "OK. "If you don't have your herbs. They seemed to be about the right size. and here it is. she said. Dennis told Estelle. Dennis nodded. Larger sticks and small branches established a good blaze. just as she used to do on campouts when she was becoming a teen. "They will work.
gets watery bumps--or turns dark. I will be the healer instead of the helper soon enough. He thinks if he watches me I will do it right. Purple Flowered Rosette that is used to cool the burn. That should help soothe the tenderness of the burn. "Why not half fill it up like I said?" "It's for the wash. so he feels responsible for her. and the bark of the Drooping Tree to alleviate pain. in the wash I am going to put some Purple Heart Root. I will not need any more until the healer comes back. You can drip that over her burn when the time comes while I mix the poultice. I would anyway. One of the ingredients in the poultice is a coolant to bring down the temperature of the burn. Hopefully. and the poultice still has to be changed tomorrow. Burns do not get bandages. "Good. He poured another mix into the large bowl. If it is not cooked. While he sat working the mix. It is a mix of the vine with the good smell for flavor and Spiny Mad Apple to help deaden the pain. "Steaming. I will tell you what I am going to do. And the Spiny Mad Apple has to be in a weak tea. She will feel better about ten minutes after that. "I am going to make a tea of these leaves." "Good. One helps the burn keep from getting infected. "Um. It would save some burns from getting worse. "This mix has three ingredients. Witch Hazel. Then there will be some changes. and poured several dippers full into the large bowl. How is the water?" Estelle stopped dripping cold water from a cloth on the burns. he said. She looked around. Estelle half-filled one small bowl. and then asked the other woman for something. Dennis poured one of the mixtures into the half-filled bowl and set it aside." He poured the final mix into the last full bowl. I do not want to use too much of the Spiny Mad Apple or it could poison her." Using the gourd. and then use that. is put in. looked at the pot over the fire. I learned that when I was a kid. and the last of my Yellow Shrub Mix. "Her family will eat next door. and I have no idea why it is called that. 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. I did not think of that." . so she will not be allowed to work. it must be used." He asked a question of the other woman and received a oneword answer. and said. quarter filled the other small bowl. It is fairly important in a mild burn like this. but not necessary. dug through a pile of cooking utensils. The thing is. right? Any more heat would aggravate the burn. Oh. His Father is out with the hunters. If she did not have the tea to deaden the pain. The other women will pitch in. well. she could easily be poisoned. Finally. "This is his mother. There is also a pain deadener in the mix. I did not make the connection."Not really. Especially the Yellow Shrub Mix. That is gently spread on the burn to promote healing." Dennis' eyes widened. which is common. and then handed him a pestle to grind the mix into the water. When the skin waters--that is. A lot of plants are like that. Burns are easy." Dennis answered. That will contain Orange Flower. That is a plant that helps draw out the heat. She will need it when the tea wears off. along with some other things that also help. Ready to boil. and asked. It also has that coolant I told you about. That should be ready about five minutes after the water gets hot. I'll add cold water when you tell me to. some of this Green Flower Bush that the boy just brought. I wish everyone could have some in their house. You have to know what you are doing. Pour some in each of the bowls like I said earlier. that would hurt like anything. I should of though.
this society was one of practicality where the amount of clothing one wore was not dictated by shame. and some things will only grow there. No one else had said anything about it either. I'd enjoy hearing it."What's this Yellow Shrub Mix you spoke of?" Estelle asked. "Just kind of run the wash over the burn. but still only a scald--and we do not want to make it worse. "Is it another community?" Dennis quickly changed the subject as if he had said too much. Apparently. It has to be cooked in a special way. or lower. It's only about a minute more. I don't remember which. It is only a scald right now--a bad scald true. so now was as good a time as any. But then I wouldn't understand it. Now that she thought about it. I'll keep track. right? What about the rest of the things? Anything else poisonous?" Dennis did not answer the question. Natalie spoke to Dennis. It happens to be worse than the Spiny Mad Apple. She answered and they both laughed. the conditions are different. then at the tea. I would have used a few other things." Estelle asked. Anyway. That is why I only use it for the poultice. "We can do no more here. So just drip the wash over her arm. Do not actually touch it. That is enough. but we are out of the plants that grow up by Cliffside. "You said five minutes. and whatever other parts of the tree are available." Dennis continued to grind the poultice until Estelle said it was time." "What is Cliffside?" Estelle asked. he only watched his patient. her neighbor will take care of her." "What. OK." Again. though the healer sometimes will put it into a tea. "It is the inner bark of the elder tree mixed with leaves." He asked Natalie something in their language. and she had seen others last night. So we have to make a two or three day journey to trade for what we need. like that. roots. and I have it mixed enough. "How is the tea?" Estelle looked at her wrist. this time questioningly. He gathered his pouches and spoke to Natalie and the other woman. Dennis told Estelle. picking up what we need. he asked Estelle to wash the skin gently. Yes. One more question. but by how much protection one needed. There are many who find the rhythm soothing." Using a leaf. Dennis began to spread the paste in his bowl along her arm without touching the skin. Would you mind?" Estelle knew that she would also have to ask Dennis about the history of the colony. Dennis had her hold the woman up and let her sip the tea. You said the Spiny Mad Apple and the Yellow Shrub Mix could poison you. "Not at all. When I am done. would I?" . seeds. She answered. She wants me to recite the Chant of the Beginning. Estelle noted that the neighbor who hovered over Natalie was naked. or it will kill you when you eat it. and she had her recorder with her. and appeared not to care. "She is ready for me to apply the poultice. When Estelle told him the tea had steeped long enough. Shortly the paste covered her forearm and none of the red was visible. Let us return to where we were and we can talk in peace. and when she had stepped off the shuttle. That is where the healer is now. After Natalie was prone again. several of those around the house when they had arrived had been naked or nearly so. "Still steeping. "Cliffside is a place inland where there is much more rain and higher temperatures. right? I have a watch. He turned to Estelle. Estelle gave up.
but not now. Here is the trade building." Dennis said. I would like to hear it. Within three stanzas. the poem?" Estelle thought for a moment." he told Estelle. she slept because of the tea and what she has just been through. "We will go to the trade building and see if her husband is back from the hunt yet." Natalie heard the positive tone of Estelle's voice and smiled. "Then we will wait until she is settled in her bed. "My critic went to sleep. but this was not the government's version. One man stood near a table and gestured at a ." Dennis joked. His soft voice whispered to Natalie as he ran a gentle hand along her cheek. The normality and calm of the village was a contrast to the small disaster inside." "You sound as if you are telling me how to do my job." They walked into the dark room. heavy breathing came from the sleeping mat as the herbs worked to put Natalie to sleep. although I noted that some disobeyed. Just wait and see for yourself. I am sure you would rather observe and note on your own. "I have told her to dream pleasant dreams. Estelle asked. When Estelle's eyes adjusted to the light. "Yeah. as will all the villagers except those with other jobs like the charcoal maker. Wendell suggested that we not do more than dance at your welcoming. "Possibly it is better if you just wait. Estelle followed Dennis into the darkness and stood in the back near the sleeping area while Dennis checked the arm one more time. It is spoken in the old language. almost without touching it. It will be different at harvest. Now I begin." In a soft but powerful voice. who left the house. that was bad. I am sure you do not want what I think to color your findings." "Do I need too? No. She has gone to tell her eldest daughter what to start for a meal. "If I bored her to sleep. she saw stacks and piles of items people would need. "Before long she will be asleep. we have another celebration. "I caught a few words. "You said that dancing was sometimes a preparation for bonding. see the answer for yourself." Dennis commented as they walked back toward the tree where they where before the crisis. he chanted a story the anthropologist had read about in school. Can you tell me the story sometime?" "Surely. If not." "How could it possibly be bad?" Estelle asked him. we can get a message to him. After the grains are brought in and stored." A motion at the door drew their attention as the woman came out and asked them to enter with a gesture. but to say I understood it would be going too far."You might. The fields are close to harvest. Did you understand it. 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. and the other woman will be back shortly. We will help. What do you mean by bonding? Is it some ritual that you perform? Or is it sex?" Dennis smiled. They stepped out of the house into a world of peace under a blue sky. although he usually times his duties so he can help out. but it may be bad." "I do know some of the old language. It was started by the Originals so the children would not forget what they were fleeing from. then nodded at the other woman." He changed their direction toward one of the buildings. "That is probably good." Estelle thought aloud. It is repeated each year at the New Beginnings ceremony. clear and soothing to the ears. "No.
"They who dwell in the air of life have asked me to relay their appreciation and respect for your work. I was thinking of Natalie. and then reflect off bright rock formed by the melted ancient land that rose from deep inside the living planet. +++ Almost three tenths of a light time from the community. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life arrived at the place of changing waters. Come. and if I made mistakes. that they will truly understand. carefully placed it on a pile of skins of the same kind. The second man turned toward the new arrivals and spoke angrily at Dennis in the village's language. but I do not believe they truly understand. 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.skin stretched across a rack as he argued with another man. it is true. However." "I realize this fact in all of its truthfulness. Let us go back to the trees where we can sit and talk. I believe. plants that gathered sky water. bowed. The time of dead water is drawing ever nearer. and place them in separate containers for later consumption by those in the community and those on the ancient land. They have told me they understand that what you say is as it should be. and not about where we were. "I also have duties. but they must realize that this source will have an end. then they will have to find something else. before you return to your duties. but no creatures roamed the surface. and depositing the minerals to a shelf below. I have told they who dwell in the air of life the truthfulness of what you say." "I am afraid that is true. It is only then. He put them on the table. my young friend. The concentrated light quickly raised the temperature of the living-water. you should talk to Gives-Direction. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life said. "Why did we leave? What is wrong?" "Women are not to be in the store. "That is all well and good. a hollow center where light would bounce off the air moisture and sky water that collected in puddles. They told me that the high qualities of the metals have enabled them to make fine tools. but the metal in the living-water would last . Finally. and then picked up some cloth and several bags. Estelle asked. Greens rose from the small areas of ancient land. my friend. the woman. Changes-The-Water would go to the shelf just before the source of light and life rose. several small islands rose from the living-water. It is a place for men only. Changes-The-Water. brought closer by their demands. When you have no more of the metals to extract from the living-waters. The two men grasped arms. It is time I go back to my work. They wish you to always swim in calm water." The young marnman touched his elder's fingered flipper." Changes-The-Water accepted the large pouch from Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-TheAir-of-Life. causing it to change to air. Dennis motioned Estelle they would leave. the second man picked up the skin. 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. and the first man picked up the cloth and bags and walked out. and what I did. One of the islands had an ancient cone. and handed an empty pouch made from the skin of a fish to Changes-The-Water. gather the minerals.
The problem is not for those we speak to daily. 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. I need to pass a message to Gives-Direction." "They who dwell in the air of life have spoken to me. Tell me of your need. They may be coming to a war not of their own choosing. Not far from the community. but later. Possibly he could entertain her in other ways. They send to us their appreciation and thanks. Very wise. This message was given to me by they who dwell in the air of life. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. For now." Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life eased away and slowly swam toward the hub. "Tell me how the chemicals are found. we could ask for more in trade if we had less metal to give.longer." "Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. then dipped slightly to Talks-ToThe-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. "Are they mined underwater? Or is it a process of osmosis?" . "Yes. also had that frustrating lack of language and chemistry skills shared by the other males she had known in college. I did. TalksTo-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. I will take your message to Gives-Direction. for it will be a terrible day if the strangers do kill our friends." "This I can and will do. and possibly be replaced as it disappears. but forced on them by the strangers from far away. Perhaps we can save the living-water. and ask that we monitor the waters that taste strange to be sure they are not poisoned by the strangers. but for those who live farther from the living-waters. may you always swim in calm waters. and so I will do. and wore only what was necessary for protection. or lack of it. floated on the surface of the livingwater. and whose rippling muscles were a constant source of entertainment and desire. "That is a wise idea. Why they had assigned him to be her guide she did not know. near the source of the waters that taste strange. It will be a pleasure to do my utmost to deliver the message in a timely fashion. Also. to take your message to where it needs to go. +++ Tuesday fluffed her long hair as she and Halbrack walked along the beach. 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 she had to make due with what she had." The young ocean dweller slowly moved off toward the hub. she had easily taken to the local style." Tuesday asked." Changes-The-Water ceased movement for a time. Swims-Between. who had the build of the empty-headed male model she had hung with back in civilization. but the tediousness of walking runways or the mindlessness of standing in front of pansy photographers turned her stomach. she had offers to model. He relaxed as he returned to the community. They have told me that the message we delivered to them about the flier turning south was of the greatest importance. I will consult with Gives-Direction as you suggest. Very astute. she would delve into what little information his head held. I float ready to serve. Even years out of college. both of them naked from the waist up. and allowed the ripples to tickle his sides and the air of life to refill his lungs. Her guide.
We use the metals to make what we need to live. then you place the seaweed over it." Halbrack explained as he took he hand and pulled her to a clump of trees. drops of water form in such a way that they make the sun shine more powerfully on a shallow pond. and trade some with the marnmen. can demand a high price. He felt as if he was deep in a pit." "Long enough to relax then. and he could not run to Wendell every time he came to an impasse. or." Halford said as he ran a hand gently up her leg. She woke to find Halbrack lying next to her on the sand. "I brought some mud and one of the leaves of seaweed we use. When it dries. and then sat in the shade next to her. and this tall. more likely. We have traded some of the tougher fruits to the marnmen. looked into the forest. These metals slide down the sides of the pool." She watched as he ran back to the village. "No. and into a larger area where the marnmen can gather them and bring them to us." a gentle voice called. one that he would pass without help. that seaweed that you were telling me about?" "I can show you that. the ones under the cliff. it will be hard as a rock. The water evaporates--I think that is your word--and leaves the metals behind. a couple hours at least. The pleasure would be so divine. through a small opening. It's . regally dressed stranger with impeccable manners who belonged in the grand halls of another planet. She would love to feel those muscles and the others she knew were barely hidden work on her. she thought just before she dozed off." "How about that substance. the Ambassador had asked questions George was not sure he should answer. Tuesday. +++ "So then everyone from this community helps harvest the fields?" Ambassador Nathan DuPont. Tuesday. Watch. "Far out to sea. each community takes care of their own. gently speared another slice of meat from the platter passed to him. This was a test of his abilities." "There are better things to do than relax. and pour ocean water on it. You build what you want with the mud. Tuesday purred. or the other village? Do they help also and share the harvest? Or do the communities have separate fields?" George inwardly gulped. He explained. George replied. pulled the dirt from under George's feet with each question. the Ambassador could read the complete answers just by observation. in this case just a pile. So far." "How long will it take to dry?" "Oh. or in a limited quantity. Gorgeous. Wait here. in an old hollow mountain. "What of the others."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. "Tuesday. his muscles working in perfect synchronization under his bronze skin. He held her hands as he lowered her to rest her back against a tree with a wide trunk and a large top. and just as waterproof. Several times already." "Anything that is hard to get. It seems they are delicacies in that community and command a high price. the partial answers he gave seemed to satisfy the Federation Ambassador. Tuesday.
George knew that watching for the welfare of his planet against this colossus that wanted to swallow them was his duty. Many times we have stepped in to prevent a takeover from outsiders. Wendell had his own desires. If you are capable of working. and the more others will want to control it." There was a catch." +++ "Will you sleep at our house. We realize that for a strong interplanetary economy to exist. but on a much larger scale. or even when dealing with Wendell. George decided the protection of their way of life was up to him. Never could he get his way without giving something up first. Wars have been fought over the trading rights of rare commodities." "That does not sound very promising. That is just one of the benefits of belonging to the Federation. This was the same. There was always a catch. This is where the Federation can help a small planet like yours. his own schemes. how . invaders from more powerful planets. There are not many families who need the help. endeavors that were good for Wendell. a course of study required for any diplomat. and a major factor in trade. but not as rare as in a larger community such as a planet." George replied as he helped himself to some broad leaf. however. Many ways have been tried to combat this factor. and how they relate to you. "Tell me more about the Federation. we trade at the store. we will not interfere in civil wars. compromise was required. it is all too easy for some of the people to find ways of receiving food or the equivalent for little or no return." "Then the entire community has a good work ethic. Mind you. Any time the population gets above a certain factor. Estelle. Dealing with other communities. and no matter what Wendell said. seen how friends helped. and not necessarily good for the planet. The only way to combat this trend is not to grow. The more minerals. The accommodations were comfortable enough. there is always something for you to do. seafood. or whatever.basic economics. with food and facilities close by. are involved. I see. That is rare in a small community. not only on a planet. each planet must control their own resources to deal with as they see fit. when that woman had been burned. greens. but to really see how these people lived she would have to share a house. only when outsiders. but so far none have proved successful. as had the other visitors. 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. it is important that you understand economics. and give food to the villagers that have no other way of eating due to injuries or other circumstances. She had caught a glimpse inside today. but between planets. whether it is meat. cloth. the more valuable the planet. had slept in the equipment warehouse the first night. "My wife and I would appreciate it if you would. a give and take. "Another factor is the amount of mineral resources available. What we do not need. Estelle?" Dennis asked the older visitor as they sat under the stars after dinner. "But the administration duties must cost money. lazy people and other ills will develop. If you are going to be a part of a community of nations such as the Federation." He shredded grass with his nimble fingers as he waited for her answer. When you reach a population of that size.
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
Nor would they have much woodcraft. Halford turned back to the opening to the outside and pondered what might have occurred if the others. New items would come to his planet." "But they wouldn't know we took it apart and hid it. too. "If they knew of this community. I think. life was easer before this Federation arrived. He talked to himself. Wendell demonstrated the weapon. and how? An easier life some would say. . Remember. but more likely they will try to destroy it. I want you and--. the equipment Taggart uses to track them is from the old colony vessel. They will at least try to disable what is no longer there so we can't use it." Lanford rumbled. It is good that you had it dismantled." Jamson put in. power that would not have to remain hidden. but at what cost? More power. That is the thought I dread. The farthest is two days journey to a tree we gather sap from. There was a reason the Originals handed the warnings down over the centuries." "But they might want to second guess us. they would have to fight the mountains and forest until they found one of our paths." Headmon Halford said. and probably after the weapon. Search out the intruders and destroy them before they do the same to us. They would have peace. Jamson. and that was built a long time ago. Now? If only they had not come. his way of going over the facts before planning a hunt." Lanford agreed. They would come as hunters to destroy either the weapon or us before we found them. Or they may know of this community. To the south there's a good path there. Headmon. Have them watch from convenient trees. You said it would cause them to come in force." The two hunters passed through the door and out of hearing. easier to use. He had been silent for a while as he let his elders work out the problem.last time they were here? Against my wishes. Possibly." "A watch party to the north and east. "That's true. may I make a suggestion. so that is why I think they have come. Who would set the prices? How would goods be shipped? Who would pay." "Right away. Lanford. but did he want that? For Halford. pick your best men. the games simpler. and the players people he knew. I think that is where they will come from. Send out a party to travel south. the Federation. of course. Double the guard here. they would pick what appeared to be the easiest way to get here. Lanford. along the southerly ridge line. It is possible they could work out where the weapon fired from or the line that it took. although he did not understand about this Federation or all the politics involved. Killing them will not be so easy. They will be easy to find and track. if they come up the clearing. If they came from the north. A small group. Trade was a given. hopefully. They will try to destroy it at night thinking we will be asleep. "I agree. There's no way to know how much they can see from their ship in space. Headmon. "They could come from any direction. They may be following the mountains along the foothills hoping to catch sight of it from below." "I remember. They would probably come from the south." "That is what I wanted to know. had dealt with his planet honestly." "That is why I wanted to talk to you. which they might now that you mention of it. Under us we can see them.
Really weird sounding noises. One of the nitrogen bubbles between the vertebrae in his neck popped. the sun only moments from rising above the horizon to cast heat and shadows across the land. . And when it starts to dawn. But not as close as mine. "Mornin' Sarge. you got to worry. Couldn't tell what it was. wrapped comfortably in their personal cocoons. Ain't no doubt about it. Sometimes they're so loud you can't hear anything else. if it suddenly goes silent. "The little noises and insect sounds are good. that's what you did. Sarge kept himself neat. The other marines were scattered around the small clearing in various stages of sleep. you're supposed to start the coffee." Animal threw some sticks on the coals and blew up a flame. including hair cropped so close it could not be combed. There was hope he would make a soldier yet. Fully awake and alert. and hearing none. I'll get it today. Did you see the trees? Spooky." Animal ginned at memories of other green recruits. alert and as well groomed as anyone in the squad. not the sound of a quiet attack. You wake us up when it's ready. it's been so quiet. but that would require someone getting very close. where Aarmand met him." Animal replied without looking. kid. and there were some calls way in the distance. And the insects. You wake Sarge. but he had not gone off at nothing like some others. The light was what had woken the soldier. Toolkie. It's when there's no noise at all. when Animal warily opened his eyes. Bullets did not worry the marine. Rustling in the weeds. you're in trouble. The kid looked into the trees searching for who knew what. "Wishful thinking. the sound loud in the quiet of the forest. and the uniform itself had glass fibers that would deflect. "It's getting there. any frequency of laser used. The under armor would form an instant shield if struck by a fast moving projectile. +++ A gray sky showed through the leaves overhead. his long laser assault weapon across his knees.Shortly he turned away from the window and exclaimed. his head jerking as odd sounds came out of the forest. Animal thought running a hand over his shaved head. lifted his head. Been spooked all night. Pah!" He slowly walked back to his business room." He knew what the sergeant would be like. "Water ready?" a husky voice behind him asked. or possibly something primitive like an arrow. Animal explained in a grating voice. he listened for the soft sounds of an attack. And the trees. It's only me. his long weapon coming up to fire. "How's it go this morning?" "Scared the bejesus out of me Animal. You know something close then. Toolkie might be spooked. and then scanned the clearing where they had stopped for the night." Animal soothed as he twisted to crack his back. fighting the innate knowledge that their time of rest had past. take it easy. "Hey. that's what it is. Oh. glanced at his feet. to have whole trees light up as if they had electric lights or were on fire. Toolkie jumped and spun toward the sound. or possibly reflect. no insects or small animals. don't worry. Toolkie sat with his back against a thick tree. and his short laser pistol out of the holster lying by his side. Only a slow moving knife could penetrate. Animal slowly sat and shrugged to work the kinks out of his neck and shoulders. and Animal was not about to let that happen.
" Morganthur joked." "Mornin' Sarge. I only heard insects. fortified fake eggs. "OK boys. He handed out self-heating boxes and watched surreptitiously as the others dug into the steaming. Means most of the plants look the same." "And I warn't never no Wood Crafter. he thought. didn't know you had a wife. "Hell. Animal. One each on two planets." "That's just as well. Morganthur either. "Thanks. Grab an instant and have a sit." the sergeant ordered as he opened another pack of coffee. 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 heard something large go past. remember what the Naval Captain said? This star is much like Sol. Sanders heard one last night. The sergeant continued.Animal handed the sergeant an instant coffee packet. He opened the top flap of his pack as the sergeant issued the day's instructions. Sarge. After yesterday. They got it too easy. "Toolkie. Morganthur. We're still too far away for trouble yet. a rough bitter taste he could almost feel. Animal carried the coffee and breakfast." The sergeant turned and looked at a sleepy eyed marine with an unruly mop of dark hair. He always carried the breakfast. That was too much. "Sure. but keep your eyes open and your guard up. Now it was time to roll up his cocoon and pack for the day's hike. Sanders was a joker. You could not take anything he said at face value. "This stuff is better than my wife makes. And neither one knows about the other." "Cool it. Animal. water's ready. hand out the morning rations. you're off watch when we wake up. When he finished eating." Always Animal with the food. I'd say at least seven. How could he like that stuff? Animal was sure there was a reason. I don't expect to see nobody else out here for a while. "Morganthur. possibly more. If this was better than Sanders got at home. "He got two." a newly awakened marine said. "Anything go last night?" The sergeant said. Animal. guy. they must use lousy mix. Every mission was the same." A twig cracked next to the sergeant. This world is in almost the same orbit as the home world." Animal poured steaming water into the tall man's cup." "I remember my survival skills. Didn't hear nothing from anyone else. at least in the morning. We got it easy here. Don't mean they are. He mixed it in his hot water. Sarge. Mornin' Animal. The kid did not know them yet and would get the wrong idea. Maybe Sarge knew he hated the food so much he would not eat any extra." Animal sipped the coffee again. one of his . "You just remember your Wood Crafter's' motto. you guys. Two or three. for that matter." came the quick answer. though. Animal threw his trash into the fire and watched it burn without showing smoke. and lowered his wiry body to the ground. Come on over and grab some breakfast. took a sip. his eyebrows raised. Who knows what monsters lurk in these here woods. Animal informed them. Morganthur gave an evil laugh. All the noise woke me up." That was a quote from a recent video. "With all the girls you got." Sanders observed as he retrieved an instant coffee packet.
"Checking now. I have to go deeper. "They said no problem. his Academy classmate and a long time friend. "OK. however. Sir. use your big mouth to put out the fire. Sanders. and the style of farming used conserved the land's minerals. Fornihopper. "Very good. The LJG visibly checked his board as he answered. and clean water. They said there was a sentient species in the oceans.usual jokes. Let's go. usually one of the first areas disrupted by pollution. studied the graphs sent from the scanners and squinted at the results. Soaring Hawk?" Soaring Hawk spoke quietly into his headset. Stay alert. What do you need?" Soaring Hawk answered a little louder than necessary. who manned the engineering desk. hey." Soaring Hawk again spoke and listened. Sir. "Hey yourself. "What's a bread box?" +++ Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper. Morganthur. Animal looked up in time to see the sergeant shoot Morganthur a look that instantly shut him up. you're point. He wished more planets could live so cleanly. We've got a good distance to cover. Sir." He listened for a moment. one hidden somehow. Maybe they watched what the settlers did and prevented major changes to the oceans. "Like I said. The sergeant continued. Easier asking this way." Richard quietly called to Lieutenant Junior Grade Kondo Soaring Hawk. +++ Lieutenant Commander Thelma Whimner stood at her desk in the small office. and the scans would not go more than a couple hundred feet below the surface for some reason. and that's only where there are openings on top of each other. If I'm going to find that weapon they're supposed to have. He sat at his position at the Bridge Science desk. 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. Can it be done." The Captain glanced at the main screen. The planet had a lack of mining and other industries that throw off waste." Animal heard Morganthur ask Sanders. Fornihopper?" the Captain asked laying a pad of reports on his lap." "Tell them I want a solution ready to go next orbit. That announcement received several grumbles as the Marines quickly packed. "Kondo." "Problem. "Just need a boost on the deep scan. "They'll work on it in the back. Let me know if you see anything bigger than a breadbox." No wonder Sarge had drunk two cups." Soaring Hawk looked over at Fornihopper and winked. had dedicated his life to combat the poisons that industry throws into the air. And enjoy the coffee. and then answered. He was looking for a certain installation. For some reason the Captain thought the deep scans needed a . From now on it's flashpacks. keep your eyes and ears open. her chair shoved into a corner. raised on Arborstead by parents who followed the old style like so many from that planet. resulting in clean air for the planet.
"Power's at a hundred ten percent. much less. Thelma wondered. At the far end of the muted red engineering room. She stepped out of her overgrown cubical and walked across the large room to her lover. "Dinner tonight?" Thelma grinned. Less of the broad bandwidth we have now and something more selective. Get it done for now. Unfortunately. Screeches of exotic birds and the hunting cries of their carnivorous cousins echoed through the thick .boost. Then we can keep it around until we need it again. so no luck there. we can only do this once. and the scanner can read deeper. dear. imagining what new games they would invent. past the equipment door. drooped low from overhanging trees and grabbed at the soldiers as they passed. trapping heat inside as five Federation marines loaded down with full field packs and assault weapons forced their way through the dense growth. if they could not boost the power. but the resolution would be less. And then some. put it in a case. "Let's see. corpses of the tall trees. maybe. they want it pronto. Set your board on auto and build me a plug-in box. Thelma had discovered excitement there. The overgrown path meandered through the thick brush as it passed moss covered stumps and rotting logs. Later we'll go back and pretty it up. we've got to work on it some more. Not enough sleep. Any more and we'd blow something." She raised her voice so Thelma could hear her over the noise. Any suggestions?" Thelma had an idea now what to do. almost as if they were hungry and hunting. "What we need is a two stage system. we need to boost it. the deep scans. then a limiter so most of the boost is the frequency or frequencies we want. but something blocked the creative side of her brain. not only in Finical's lively and tasty body." She looked at her superior hungrily. and it irked her. Vines that would cling to anything they could grab. which did not help. How much were they missing now? Could they miss what they were looking for with less resolution? That wasn't an answer. That way only the signal we need runs through the amplifier. Length of scan had to do with orbital velocity and the laws of physics. but she wanted other ideas from someone who would think in unconventional ways. "Only thing we could do would be to install another amplifier inline." She looked out the large windows toward scanner control. That would not change." Thelma agreed. She could not think. something that would work. Then the final signal can run through a pot to be lowered to where we won't blow anything. Warrent Officer Four Debar Finical monitored those controls. "No problem. past the gravity drive and life support. There had to be something she could do." +++ A blanket of dark green leaves covered the forest. so if it's not enough. "My place. much more intelligent and creative than the records showed. No. "Debar. an amplifier as you said. but also in her playful brain." Debar smiled at the challenge." Finical said to herself as she checked the gauges. Change frequencies? Longer frequencies might penetrate deeper. But where? Boost the signal too much and you risk blowing the next stage." "Exactly. could they lengthen the scan. yet she was pushing all the power the equipment could handle.
You know the drill. They ignored him." the sergeant answered. When you see clouds. "I'm such a stupid fuck. you'll probably get wet. The sergeant explained. this is your first hitch. their tops soaring into the sky and flattening as if pressed against an invisible barrier." Morganthur commented. so I won't read you the riot act about dumb questions. This is storm climate." Sanders grouched. that would feel good right about now. kid." Animal muttered. the air too humid for the salty liquid to evaporate. "Wouldn't find it over there. Most kids are cocksure they know . Toolkie." croaked Sergeant Tucker about midmorning as they broke out into a large grassy valley between two wooded ridges. Now what do you think they're scanning for?" "Intelligent life?" Toolkie asked sheepishly. boy. Toolkie looked across the grassland toward the top of a low ridge. It'll either drizzle all the time like it did yesterday. you watch them to see where the prevailing upper winds are coming from." Toolkie moaned as a blush covered his face. "Toolkie boy." "Um. A damn good storm. seventeen standard years? How do you expect to know it all? I'll give you one thing. Take five. You watch the sky. punctuated the air. Where is the ship?" "Above us in space." the sergeant told him. One of the birds seemed to follow them as it warned the world of the impending danger. boy. mostly echoes from the far distance but sometimes close by. That and a quick announcement by ship. or save it up and let down a waterfall. They'll rain. For enemies? Weather?" "Oh. all of." Morganthur quipped as he motioned toward where the sergeant and Toolkie sat. Electric arcs flashed in the darkness. Rivers of sweat poured off the travelers. too. Black clouds loomed over the forest. "Do you think that's all they scan for? Think they might be watching the conditions down here? You know. Occasional roars. sixteen. "Hey Sarge." "Thought we had radio silence. "Scanning the world?" "OK so far. what. You watch for clouds that are dark on the bottom all the way to the ground. "Take a look at the sky on your right. the rumbles echoing through the hills to disguise their origin. How can you tell the storm's coming?" Toolkie asked. Dark sheets hung at an angle from the black base to the ground. "That's rain." Toolkie thought for a few minutes. "Tell me something. Just one obvious answer. I'd say in about fifteen minutes we're going to be inundated." The youngster tried to crawl into his uniform. "Looks like we'll want to break out ponchos. hell.forest. "Maybe the water'll go in instead of out." "And what do you think they're doing? Not everything. "We're all first timers once in our lifetimes. Insects droned in the background and bit any exposed skin." "Man. So you look. "Not necessarily. guys. If they're off in the direction the clouds are approaching from." "How come. The sergeant sighed. You're fresh out of training. "But how could they know?" Toolkie insisted. Sarge?" Toolkie asked as he dropped his pack onto the ground and fumbled with his flap." "You wish. "OK.
as long as the rest of the animal. Most kids do something stupid and get themselves hurt or killed. also." Morganthur commented. Mount up. "Like I was saying." . like you been dong. "Who knows what we'll run into next month? And Animal. They ignored him. and a neck the length of its body. "Look alive." Morganthur answered. The sergeant pulled his poncho down so it covered his pack. You. but he knows his shit. he may make remarks about things he doesn't understand. but he--. Who knows how far the natives go when they're hunting. This mission looks to be fairly easy and straight up. Its tail. Deep in among the trees a large animal. look at that!" Sanders quietly cried pointing into the woods that climbed the slope to the left. "I wonder if it's good to eat. "unless you want to butcher it by yourself while we're moving. Learn." "Thanks loads. Sarge. about seven meters tall. They delivered this stuff right on time. with a green skin of some nature streaked with gray. "I know. swished back and forth over the ground for balance. Morganthur too. ship broadcasting a general warning won't give away our position. "Sometimes those science boys amaze me." Animal complained." Leave it alone Sanders." Morganthur grouched. Talk to him." 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." Sergeant Tucker ordered. stretched up to eat the leaves of a tree. He told his squad. We don't want any surprises." "Yeah right. are a bit nervous.everything first time out. Sarge. Sarge. like those they dropped off first. Large drops of rain began to hammer them when they were away from overhanging trees. Sarge." "I still think the rain would feel good going in. And it could be meant for the others. "Hey. He may be a bit spooky and strange. That's good. Enough of explanations. "And how would your rations be when they're soaked?" the sergeant asked a bit angrily. I know. at least. a bit watchful." "Thanks. you all. The sergeant looked at his watch and mumbled to himself." Toolkie said just before he slid his rain gear over his head. Find the opening in those trees ahead. you're point. You stick with Animal. And since you're so alert.
Do not go into the trade house. feel the emotions. "Did you dream? Did something bother you? No matter. Why is this?" Dennis pulled Estelle back into the house. You took me inside. How was she supposed to do her job? Just roam around? Well. I have to go. been at digs that suggested that separation. hear the thunder of footsteps. so just roaming was . she eagerly awaited the hunter's trek that was to start soon. though. although the storekeeper admonished Dennis for bringing her in. No one had said anything about this hunt. but Francine barely spoke the trade language the visitors used so talking to her probably would not contribute much information. observe life. since occasionally the woman has no man for some reason and must trade to live. and smell the pheromones. see the primitive methods. and we could use your help. any woman. Awake and packed. Stay with Francine. I will tell you everything about the hunt. Moreover. Dennis. even those that were comparatively primitive. many more stars than she saw on more developed worlds where streetlights shone all night. No one had invited her. or help the farmers prepare for the harvest. And do not follow!" Dennis picked up his bag and hurried out of sight." Again men only. is extremely bad luck. You can help my wife and learn of the women's ways. she had learned that the large migratory animals were nearby and that a hunting party was preparing to leave this morning. Thousands of stars twinkled at her above where the black shadows of the trees and buildings did not block the view.Chapter 5 Estelle stood at the cottage's main door and gazed into the early morning sky. or just wander around the village if you wish. Even Dennis' mentor. or teacher. but she would not understand what she was seeing. and there was no one else in the village she had met that she could understand. but the modern civilizations she had studied had grown past such sexism." Dennis observed. it is not possible for you to go on the hunt. Now what do I do? Estelle wondered as she unpacked. "I've seen the store. but right now. She would find out in a moment or two more. Study the village and our ways. too. but then no one had told her she could not go. She had read about cultures that separated men's and woman's duties. hopeful she could join and observe. and everyone helps. that was one way. she had been in the store already. They say that to have a woman with the hunters. Worse even than a woman that trades. That is for men only. explain about what we do. If she went with the hunters. she could observe. I must leave for a day or two with some of the hunters. so she hoped she could go. "It is some of the others. was not available. Now I cannot go on the hunt. although she did not know what time. No. Talk to others. That is coming soon. Now you say I cannot go in. even one just here to observe. She knew Dennis and Francine." "You are awake early. "Good morning. The sky slowly grew light and the stars faded away as she waited for Dennis to appear. When I come back. Unknown to Dennis. I thought as an observer we would ignore your sex. Observe the marnmen. She saw Dennis come around to the front of the house. but that is not the way many of the others think.
That creature was in the water below her doing what they . a regal figure in the long robes of office he constantly wore. he asked. She stepped out into the village and walked toward the square. the nasal twang was so unexpected when you looked at the person. but I can't speak to them without Dennis. hide things from her. Or if I entered the store. "It is that. also. and that voice was so uncultured. but she does not know our language very well. but I've found out that it's more a difference in jobs than status. Or was it? She could make notes and discuss what she saw with Dennis later. was in charge of the distillation process. that women are more domestic and men more hunters. Dennis. Estelle saw Ambassador DuPont walking through the square. about their life. I first thought the women were lesser. After an hour of sitting under the trees in the square and watching people begin to move around on their errands. "Ambassador. without a guide. "Ambassador. You are here to study the marnmen also. He said I should stay with his wife. This lack of escort might work out. I think you'll have a pleasant surprise. and that they feel women are different than men. "may I speak with you?" He stopped at the bottom of the steps and waited for her to join him. I have dealt with peoples like that. it is your duty to learn. Even after dealing previously with the beings who lived under the water. Other guides." "Some others do. how the ocean creatures acquired the chemicals the colonists used. Tell me something. what is it?" His voice always set Estelle back. but with crocodile mouths. where women are relegated to a lesser status. that what Halbrack supposedly translated was really what they said. reasons that. marnmen as Halbrack called them." "That is what I've observed. This way he could not impede her. Estelle. No one else speaks our language. mostly farmers from the outlying area coming in for supplies." +++ Tuesday looked down at the two creatures floating in the large lagoon fifteen or twenty feet below the small cliff. something that was done on this planet. She hurried to join him as he reached the far end of the community building. was hard to believe. child. One of these water people. however there may be reasons. Estelle was to learn about them. went on a hunt for what he says will take a couple days and left me here alone. She shook off her confusion." "Yes. a few villagers I've met. Isn't that against the agreement?" The Ambassador raised his eyebrows and looked off to the side for a moment. but apparently not where she could see. Did he tell you why?" "He only said that it would be bad luck if I went. "Yes. according to her guide." she called as she ran. you may remember. Go observe the relationship between people and marnman and how they work together. my guide. but that was not her call.not the best way. When she reached him. Tuesday knew chemistry. are you not?" "Yes. they still looked strangely like the dolphins she had seen as a kid. That they talked. What have you learned of this community so far?" "So far I know a little about their medicine. The Ambassador was so formal and cultured. how to decompose compounds and combine elements.
which gathers in small ponds on the side of the shaft. A strange water formation grew above the living-water." Tuesday watched Halbrack's back while he listened to the marnman squeak and click some more. Probably because the people here have handed down stories for centuries and do not trust us. to speak to the marnmen. Pretty good for not having fire. was swimming in the open waters when one of the Thinkers approached him. he's the one they use for long distance communication. "It seems that long ago. ready to translate. The one with the duller patches of color on his skin began to squeak at Halbrack. Talks-To-Many. gobble-de-gook as far as Tuesday was concerned. who told him to describe the island to Swims-Between. as he calls Wendell. He is going to have to slow down production and ask for more in trade for each unit he brings." Halbrack crinkled his brow at Tuesday. but to make it a viable process you'd have to heat it more than just the sunlight can. as he calls the ocean. from the water." he urged. heads nodding and bobbing. Now . Tuesday thought. I will have to talk to Nathan about it. a formation that focused the sun and heated the water below to boiling. so we will make the knives and the other things they need. then the other would make noise. He translated. First one. but it was not until we came that they really learned how they could use the powders. He said that you are right. and then used his language. Halbrack lay next to her in all his splendor. "So they can get a certain amount of heat by focusing the sun. Finally. "They really are quite intelligent." Tuesday reiterated. Several people made suggestions. so that's why they give them to us. He said to apologize to Gives-Direction-To-Those-Who-Dwell-InThe-Air-Of-Life. Talks-To-Many saw a picture of a certain island and its hollow inside. the animal she thought of as the younger one dipped into the water. He is the one who controls the process that makes the metals. "Go ahead. Swims-Between found the island and brought back the metals to Gives-Direction. where the sunlight can be focused like a lens. They do not want us prying. He says they can not gather enough heat to form the metals or make the alloys. and then the metals float out and descend to a shelf." Not as good an explanation as Halbrack gave yesterday. During the day. and all the metals and minerals precipitated out as the water changed to steam. a small island with a hollow shaft inside. At least that is what he says. Halbrack continued translating. Tuesday did not realize she was thinking of the marnmen as people. he sorts the metals in a way he will not explain. Ask them how they learned that. The two animals started to squeak and click at each other almost as if they were speaking. He took his vision to Gives-Direction.called talking with the animal that was usually here. and that is where they are gathered. they do need more heat than comes from the sun. who asked the general populace for uses. he will do no more than talk. Now he says that the metals and minerals in the water are much less. especially about the ocean. Unfortunately. They do not trust us yet. This lens gathers the light and concentrates it on one area of the living-water. will you?" The answer came back shortly. About some things they know more than we do. so I guess it's up to us to carry the message. She said. "There is a place. "What I'm really curious about is how they extract chemicals from the ocean. The easiest way would be distillation and recovery. "This is Changes-The-Water. The resulting heat causes the living-water to grow hot and steam. Tuesday thought.
The water is where they live. There was a worldwide shortage of food for a time. an interesting toy if only he knew her language. so farmers had trouble finding new crops. what happened on Sol 3 when the greedy leaders ignored all the warnings? First the world heated up. Now their practices are used on other planets to control the climate. some parts got hot and dry. finally." "But surely there are other ways of getting metal? Couldn't you mine it?" "That would be much harder. or fish. and he would get jealous maybe. They couldn't help but pollute something." The tanned. He was ready also. or the water. and Tuesday could have this Bale. and they'll get advice gathered from many planets over a long period of time. But if they don't ask. they can ask the Federation. and tried to take everything out. Then how would they get the metals?" Estelle answered. and got it settled down in about four hundred years. before we started to colonize the planets of our system and branch out farther. "Back a couple thousand years ago." "So?" A voice Tuesday knew said from behind her. I think that is his name. they can't mine because the planet is at the high end of the temperate range for life. He usually talks to the marnmen. That let enough heat out to begin an ice age. "The way they've been getting them. Halbrack turned to Estelle and said. waited back by the trees. We have several plants that . No matter. "This is Bale. then they over cleaned the air and caused an ice age. Then they finally learned to control the pollution. and there are others. a type of marnman that are not as intelligent. If they want help. but that's not our problem. living in the river. she could tell. enjoy a bit of variety.your Ambassador Nathan. and we've made an agreement with the marnmen not to do any damage to the land. but Halbrack was Tuesday's. people forgot to watch what went into the air. sort of our go between I think you would say. ignored the signs of poison and death. because there wasn't anything to stop the heat from radiating out into space. and the dry and wet parts did not correspond to where they were before. And if that ends. cousins. is going to see how we negotiate. or whatever you called them. just grabbed as much as you could. If you really worked at it. The world's climates changed then. or decide he liked Estelle better. like having a blanket over the world." Halbrack reached for Tuesday's hand." Tuesday contemplated the situation for a moment. we can't help them. Estelle was here alone. "OK. but almost any type of mining these people could do with the limited tools and power they have would be highly dangerous and dirty. you may not want to admit it. You know the rules. He said. you could destroy the world. they may not. Remember your ancient history. in the waters that taste strange as they call it. and others hot and wet. It took them more than three centuries to find and hold a medium. He asked something in the local tongue. Tuesday was ready for play. and wanted an excuse to get away." Estelle elaborated. on a hunt it was. He wants to know what happened. play with him. They learned how to manage the climate. Estelle could keep Halbrack busy. Tuesday had heard that Estelle's guide was out with some of the other men. muscular man who usually talked to the animals. "There are other things to see. How could she extract them from this situation? Tuesday asked. We're here to observe. This resulted in too much of the gasses that trap heat to form. "Tuesday.
Community." "Other with special job. Come. Have leader. "He'll be back later then. "He go on and on. He say you make test. She recognized a pattern. Maybe she would learn something today after all. Ask him. He say leader make decision. there are other things I want to show you. You name?" He did not speak all that well. "I want to meet a marnman." "This Harbiting. For that matter. They live in community." "He's away. but he may have his uses." Estelle informed them. Have one take talk between people." Not as good as Dennis. she had not seen many overweight people in the village. Are your people truly sentient?" The marnman looked at Bale. Yes. clicks. like trade that come soon. Bale said something to the marnman. "That's a place where many people live together. or what it signified. How would you do that?" The answer came quickly. "You're Bale?" she asked the young man. decision. He say they have. talk to Dennis. how you say?" Bale thought for a minute. "Estelle Goldman. and then gave up trying to translate the name. city? School?" "Community?" Estelle asked. and squeaked with a click at the end. She grinned as Halbrack led her away. a couple days at the most. They needed a healer. All controlled by leader. it was longer and in a ponytail. Both men looked long and thin. He say is true they no use high counting. and groans seemed to go on forever. Tuesday. He say is true they no use big tool. and the squeaks. off toward the privacy of the forest. He speak me. but she could understand him well enough. Tanned like Dennis." "A messenger. You meet." Tuesday knew what they were and could not wait to see them. one vaguely familiar. whatever your name is. . With a smile. and his hair was shorter and darker. I'm the anthropologist." "OK. she noted after a more careful look. "Dennis had to go on a hunt because of that. yes." "Trading is good evidence of sentience. I would like to see that if possible. good medicines." "Trade? When?" "Soon. what word." Halbrack said. +++ Estelle looked over at the person who had asked about Sol 3's battle with the climate. that is word. Continue. "Yerf.are medicines." "Community. After a minute. I speak him. "You can understand me and speak our language?" "Some. the one who's supposed to work out whether the marnmen are truly sentient or not. is name. he said." came the hesitant answer. No. You want see. but she could not remember where she had seen it before. marnman you say. "Dennis say. he was more muscular. Bale started laughing and raised his hands to stop the flow of language. "Ask. If you want we can talk to the Healer. make decision.
swimming with her friends. Swim. a different society. as they got ready for bed. the condition of the living-water required that trade would have to change. values she needed to learn and record. you do as the Romans do. look at him. Is fun. or whatever. Together they floated . 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. "Leader tells who does what. This world had very different values. Come. he led the way along a small path to the beach. Young then learn. Maybe this way she would learn more." To Estelle's amazement. Yes. He was joined by Talks-To-TheDwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life." "Nothing?" "Yerf. and many with nothing above their waist. "What? Swim with them? Here? Now?" "Yes. the community of marnmen had slowly grown over many warm and cold times." Bale smiled. Bale began to remove his clothes. then this young marnman will learn the job?" "Yerf. the only community that regularly communicated and traded with the sentient creatures on the ancient land. She threw away her inhibitions and decided to follow an old axiom she learned in school. as much of an expert on the humans as anyone. as she learned while growing up. Estelle placed her clothes in the bushes as Bale swam out into the lagoon. and with their neighbors on the ancient land. say you will be a hunter. Calling on his experience in dealing with his people. Wear no thing. that when in Rome. then translated the answer. When he was naked. a medium sized community had grown. Dennis and his wife had thought nothing of being naked in front of her. From a few younglings who had run from another society. one that dealt well with its neighbors." "Wear that." It took Estelle a minute to remember that this was a different world. She had seen several nude people. that less of some things must gain more of others. with different values and rules. It almost seemed as if Francine had invited her to join them. with other groups of marnmen." "Then what happens is that the leader will take a young marnman. +++ Near the living wall that formed the wave stop for the place of still living-water. Is fun. She also remembered how good it felt to swim without clothes."Now about the community. though why anyone would want to act like the man they called the Pope she never could figure out. The tools obtained from the land dwellers clearly added to the marnmen's status in the world community. his teeth brighter because of his tan. You are right." "I have nothing to wear. or a messenger. ChangesThe-Water. However. Gives-Direction prepared for the discussions that would affect the trading power of his community. "You want--" He made swimming motions with his hands. and Talks-ToMany to remind him of what the other communities would think. the mineral and metal recovery specialist for the community. "Come.
and Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life knows that. How? We must send for one of the . more like those that flow from the ancient land than the livingwater. spoke of peaceful times. Who should decide how much to cut back? Once trade was cut back. Gives-Direction said. We must do so again. He agrees that to take more minerals and metals out would make us sick. The life in the water has dropped to a level where it may become dangerous to all who dwell in the living-waters. We have started to form waters that taste strange. "Those who dwell on the ancient land are wise. he bowed his head. The question is. Gives-Direction said. How far could that death spread? How many species would it effect? Those that dwell on the ancient land could see this also. "I have already spoken to Speaks-For-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-of-Life about this very problem. It is past the time to tell the dwellers on the ancient land that they can have the metals no more. Some of the living rock near the place of changing water was already losing color. unless the price is much higher. Can we do without the elements of work. not only our people. and the trade given is much less. and the life could not deal with the changes." He settled back to the bottom satisfied that he was able to help his leader. times of plenty when the marnmen had few problems. The muted pinks and blues of the living rock. He agrees that the living-waters should not be threatened. It is time to cut back the trade with those who dwell on the ancient land. We have ourselves started to do what we warned those who dwell on the ancient land not to do. What they say is the only thing they may do if we of the living-waters are to survive. He has spoken to Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life about this. and that the waters now taste strange. and might be losing life due to the amount of minerals removed. This must be done. That was good. 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. He has informed me that the process has slowed. This will mean a loss in trade. "Changes-The-Water has informed me that the amount of minerals and metals in the living-waters has changed near his place of duty. 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. and he says that Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life agrees. how could the metals and minerals go back into the living-water? How long would that take? The last was unknown. the convolutions that formed hiding places for the pageant fish and absorbed sound. Together they may change the water back to where his people would not die. and those minor.near the surface. and much of the life died. No. and the minerals and metals allowed to dissolve into the living-waters once again. Apprehensive now that those times were gone. make all life sick. breathing deeply to gather the oxygen necessary to stay in the acoustically private conference area. but also the Thinkers and the food plants and the small voyaging food. it is past the time to cut back the trade. but a factor that he must include. that only growing trouble lay before his people. When they slowly dropped to the bottom. There is no choice in the matter. had learned that this was not good from the actions of other worlds. how do we do this?" Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life rose slightly from the bottom. One of the visitors to the community on the ancient land has said that on other worlds the waters were allowed to change.
When all had settled. you would not know. "Back when the dwellers on the ancient land first arrived. Gives-Direction and his advisors again drifted to the floor of the world. When Gives-Direction knew that the person he wanted would be located and sent to the conference. The plants then grow to take the breath of life away from the living-waters. there are other things we must discuss. then again drifted to the private speaking area. so all that gains life from the water dies. we add more minerals and metals to the waters that taste strange.hunters. but not so the small food fish or large food fish. "While we wait here. but the minerals plants need most to grow. Their death would be terrible. and traveled toward the horizon. "If we ask those who dwell on the ancient land to change the waters that taste strange. The animals that lived in and breathed the water would lose the oxygen that sustained life. have you noticed changes in the waters that taste strange? No. Possibly Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-ofLife has learned something. for the minerals in any one part of the ancient land are few. the time of refreshment. 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. our cousins might be spared the indignities and discomfort of drowning. You live too far away. They would all die and be no more. 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. passed its zenith. TalksTo-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life thought for a span. The stories say that they did change the waters that taste strange of their planet." Joined by the others. they told the first Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life about the world they were sent from. which would cause those who dwell in the waters that taste strange to die of starvation and poison the living-waters. Changes-The-Water. but in such a way that the fish and other animal life were all killed. "What are you asking? Do you think that if. What other items of major importance are there to discuss?" The conference continued while the source of light and life rose in the sky. The four marnmen already present rose to the surface to greet the newcomer and renew their supply of the breath of life. Finally. not that long ago as measured by the times of changing current. . Very well then. then told them. he said. as if one of his people could not rise to the surface for a breath of life. Gives-Direction rose to the surface to replenish the oxygen in his system as he considered the new information. GivesDirection-to-Those-Who-Hunt arrived at Gives-Direction's living area entrance. A guard escorted him to the conversation area. a fate he would not want to face. 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." Gives-Direction looked at the translator of the human language and waited." Gives-Direction rose to near the surface and called out to a passing guard. he drifted back down to the bottom to where his comrades waited. could no longer extract what they needed as they had been doing since the time of changing currents. while the minerals in the living-water are many. When the oxygen in their blood was replenished. somehow. it would correct the problem in the living-waters? I do not believe that is true. into the speaking area with no echoes. The minerals that dissolve in the waters that taste strange are not what we need in the living-water.
details that we do not need." Gives-Direction asked. but after a period of time we would not be able to hunt as well. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. as you have suggested." "Can they be gathered and returned to Changes-The-Water at the place where the living-water is changed?" "They could be. who may easily gather them. not spread around. "Some.Gives-Direction explained to Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt. considered. Perhaps it can tell the difference in the water. Do that then. From what I have heard." Changes-The-Water replied. we change the points of the prods in one area. 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. the elements of work you have been getting. "That I could not say. or nearly as well." Gives-Direction said. 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. "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. scarred from many fights with beasts his size and larger. We can keep them sharp for a time. The living-waters would quickly hold all they could if the elements of work were gathered in one place. "We could for a while. Will their thing do more? Yes. all in one place. will that be a problem?" The scarred marnman quickly answered." "But the waters near where the water is changed will take the metals and minerals faster since more is missing. but not quickly enough to change what is now. leave what has been dropped where it is. "We know the water is different. To the appearance of my sight. Better they are spread around. so all the elements of work are there for He-Who-Changes-The-Water. Gives-Direction." Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life said." Gives-Direction-to-Those-Who-Hunt bowed and said. that is a truthful statement. that would mean we would not have as much food to feed the ." "That is done. but soon they turn useless. He will spread the elements of work in the manner he thinks will best replenish the living-water. "Gives-Direction." "Then. If you cannot get the sharp objects. I have no way of measuring how much has disappeared. We can feel it on our skin." Changes-The-Water reminded them. "How much?" Gives-Direction asked. "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. unless those who dwell on the ancient land can find another material that will work as well. "We must cut back on the amount of trade we do with they that dwell in the air of life. Can you do your work if we do not trade for new elements of work?" The marnman. I have heard of it also and know it will give details. 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. Now answer my question. and that metal could not be made again. if those who dwell on the ancient land can not find a replacement for the elements of work. the metals will dissolve quicker near the place where the living-water is changed. "but it may be better to leave them where they are. but gather the metal that is no longer useful and give it to Changes-The-Water.
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,
giving the animal a narrow area of binocular vision. "Food. "They can move things. Tell me more about them. She could see the mouth measured almost a meter in length." +++ Brevor did not realize there was this much farmland near the village. The animal most definitely was capable of receiving sensations and responding in an appropriate manner. Trees surrounded the few storage. The marnman ran the branch over and under its fingers. the meaning of sentient to the Federation." Bale explained. We talk. The marnmen could receive sensations and act on them. "Bale. one of the creatures came over to Estelle and looked at her. yes. The eyes were at the sides of its head. "Cook later. both with their species and. "I do not understand word. self-sealing nostril at its base. Her word alone would not do. Unfortunately. twirling the stick as if it were a baton. if it could recognize that it was an entity all its own and react with empathy and understanding toward others. they could manipulate and use simple tools. used the terms interchangeably. the roughness scales that overlapped. with other species." Bale told her. the temperature the same as the water. Then the marnman held the stick and used it as a club. that would probably be enough proof. if they're really sentient. killing one of the smaller fish and handing it to Bale. He and Anderson had followed a cleared path through the trees beyond the narrow strip of woods that surrounded the village. Estelle noticed its tail was horizontal. "Yerf. and maybe Ambassador DuPont. however. "These things can manipulate objects?" she asked. She would have to speak with Dennis. However. "I need more information. the dirt of the path compacted from years of travel. I ask he let you look entire body. and houses that formed the village proper. if it had judgment. Shortly the marnman returned carrying a large branch that had fallen in the water. Harbiting.Harbiting you say. It felt like a cross between rough leather and rubber. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life swims close by. not vertical like the tail most fish had. indicating the fingered flipper. man--man-i-pi-late." "Yerf. with the four appendages like fingers." He said something to the marnman and the creature slowly swam off. pick them up and carry them? Or use tools?" she explained. Few ." Estelle said. hiding the ocean and inland surroundings. If they could negotiate. with a small. apparently. Could they handle complex ideas? Dennis had said there was trade. but located so they could both see directly ahead. which is what she had learned sentient meant in school. trade buildings. she still had to learn if it had intelligence. and they could communicate in several ways. including herself she had to admit. will show. The marnman rolled over on its side and showed her one of its flippers. and what the law looked for." Just after Bale spoke in his native tongue." Estelle considered the implications of what she had seen. and tentatively she reached out to feel it. we wait. I still have a problem. more like the whale of Sol 3 that she had learned about long ago. We'll have to wait for Dennis so he can explain what I need in greater detail. Its skin looked like rubber. to an open land that seemed not to end." "Yerf. better idea. most people. Have best.
not long ago I designed and supervised the building of a suspension bridge three kilometers long. You will find out all you need to then. with two rooms inside. I had to build a bridge between two of the islands. until I was sent here. adding our own ideas or ideas we got from the marnmen. The whole family seemed to sleep together. then the roadway." . That's all there is to it. Tell me some of the things you have worked on. When they dry." Anderson mixed some dirt from the garden with water left outside in a bucket.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." "The Originals? Who are the Originals?" "The first to come." Anderson watched as Brevor worked on another crack. first stringing the long suspension cables. "What we will do is to fill the cracks. Who designed the buildings. You are learning about how we do things. It was on Bushy's Planet. When I was done I was." "Tell me something. one of the nicer planets I've visited. no. then the support cables that hang from them. No. so they designed them. Brevor slept in his field office. We had to build from the shoreline out. the history is told. working it in well. but with the same results. one for living and one for sleeping. As they turned onto the cart path. as they say. the houses?" "The Originals were the first to build. The depth of the water was from fifty meters to over a kilometer. slower. Like this. Near one of the side windows cracks showed in the outer coating. then smeared the excess along the crack. then paste the seaweed on it and let it dry." he instructed. In the evening. so there was no way to put in supports. Anderson uncovered the buckets he had carried from the village and filled a small container with the water it held. We will finish yet. rewarded with a desk job. and press them into the filled cracks. All the houses seemed the same. And we had to use the lightest materials available for the strength we needed. Here we are." "Well. Now that was a challenge. Now you try. Definitely not Bushy's planet. What was it?" "Just something made up from some of the local plants." They stood in front of a small house. That is her duty. "Dip the leaves in the water to get them wet. they will harden and blend into the rest of the coating. Anderson placed his pack on the ground and said." "It all depends how far from the sea you are. I have others." He took a handful of mud from the bucket and plastered it to the face of the wall. Brevor said. That should renew the coating. between supper and dark. though how that worked he did not know. then pour sea water all over it. The road branched. and we have followed when we needed to. Wait for the festival after harvest. Some places are harder than others. Like this. making sure it was supported the entire time. "Here. a too hot terraformed place with nothing but sun and standing water interspersed with islands of land. "That is how it is done." After they had filled the cracks with mud." "That doesn't sound so hard. slap them on. I don't pay that much attention to cooking. two windows on either side of the door like Brevor had seen in the village. "There you go. one path heading off into the distance toward where the sun would set in a few hours. the other passing a nearby house with a large front lawn and a cart path leading up to it. This place is nice. "That salad Agatha made was good. Just slop it on. "Now just pour this container over the wall where we just patched.
A suspension bridge is hung from cables or ropes stretched between two supports. Francine stood outside the doorway with a straw broom in her hands. Figure from the ocean to the mountains is about three hundred kilometers. Stretch out your arm and look straight ahead." "You'll have to tell me more. I have no problem with that. but everything else is OK. Francine said. Francine removing the sometimes visible lines that marked the item's position. "I am cleaning house before I cook night meal. but later. Now tell me what is terraformed?" "Terraformed just means that plants and bacteria and animals were taken there first. Only some. where together they moved beds and other heavy objects. One planet they tried terraforming had nothing. In spring we all go gather meat and bring it back. One thousand of them is a kilometer. from before light to after dark." Estelle almost grinned at the broken language. Anything else?" "Several things. more or less. just number needed. That is why must clean house. "How long is Dennis going to be gone?" "One day. Estelle suggested sprinkling water on the floor first to keep the dust down. a path. but Francine said that made it harder to sweep." +++ As Estelle rounded the corner of Dennis' house. Estelle asked. The word Island I understand. A meter is. maybe four. maybe three. After that. but they figure another thousand years or so should do it. We need more water." They worked for a time. "Sure. or another path. in order to allow humans to live on it. "That was a challenge. They moved into the bedroom after a few minutes. Dust fogged the air inside. while they rested outside away from the dust. the suspension cables. Say a planet has more carbon dioxide than oxygen. Now from the tip of your fingers to the opposite ear is about a meter. That is when they send one person back to tell us. moving heavy containers and full baskets that one person could not handle alone. You help clean? We move things so I sweep again better. we stay and work hard. rather than having supports coming from the ground. Then they are butchering them. Translating each word separately. um. Very dust. Kilometer? What is that?" A kilometer? That's a thousand meters. that crosses over something like a lake or river. tell you what. it's usually OK to let people start living there on a limited basis. "Back?" Francine asked as Estelle approached." "And you built one of them--" Anderson's voice faded as he grasped the enormity of the project. Half an hour later. go with harvest time here. Means you and me. First hunters must find Rumblers. Rest stay. and other ropes or cables are hung from them to hold up the path or roadway. That means a trip to the ocean. So far it's not ready for humans. and you can tell me along the way. but managed only to smile as she answered. they send a load of different seeds to the planet and let them grow for five or ten years. a unit of measurement I think. so they dropped a bunch of bacteria and one celled animals."You mentioned something. Then they are killing them. It's supported that way. visible clouds floating out the door and windows. gather crops in field. Not so much dust. maybe two. but what is a suspension bridge?" "That's a bridge. and that'll give you an idea. After .
Tuesday Wells would like this. It makes all closer. Just not between not friends. which was fun. Yet other known couples kept fully covered and stayed apart." "When you celebrate with friends. no wait. Then we eat and eat. She was friends with Dennis and Francine. All good friends. Tuesday had a reputation for enjoying many men. Neither would do more than join the feast. Friendly relations are between good friends. 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. from when humanity was growing up. do you mean. I haven't heard of present civilizations practicing this type of ceremony before. um--. an unwritten rule that everyone knows and follows. she was sure. We celebrate with friends. Especially in public. "Yes. Not so much outside celebration. yes. First ceremony." It did sound as if Francine was talking about a night of open sex with many partners." "Taboo? Immoral? What mean?" "Taboo? That means something that is not done. How could she ask this? How deeply could she investigate without breaking taboo? Francine knew what Estelle wanted to ask. how they interacted. and others would call disgusting. or a few other ancient tribes. not participate. the Harvest Festival? Dennis mentioned that. and took weeks. Then celebrate life with all our friends all the night and next day. She saw people walking around naked and half-covered. Many people think that what their society dictates is what is ingrained in instinct. and more than a few women. however. she had no ties to anyone at the moment. "That is interesting. What should she do? Estelle had a duty to observe and report about this type of celebration." Estelle wanted to ask how intimate the celebration became. Immoral? That's going against God's laws or the laws of nature.harvest work is celebration. I thought. She had talked to Bale and swum with the marnman. You enjoy. and almost laughed at her embarrassment. Harvest was imminent. That's a custom that some believe happened in early Sol 3 civilizations. she was sure. Both he and Brevor were careful and not adventurous. She stayed with Dennis and Francine in that truly family bedroom." "Yes. Tuesday would fit right in. she had been here only a few days and had not interacted with many people. and sex was just something that happened. Usually there's something in the local religion that makes that type of demonstrative relationship immoral. and had not stayed with anyone else so she could test her hypothesis. what some would call an orgy. No problem. and others seemed less reticent as they grew to know her. to all who help. something like the ancient Inuit legends. You give thanks for what you have been able to grow?" "We give thanks. With a party like this. Fun time. no family. to our friends. That was what she was supposed to do. what you think. a natural law. A weight seemed to lift off her shoulders. Dennis had suggested as much. but she still did not understand the local mores. and one couple did more than just kissing in public. Taboo. It's something we in my profession have . Think more of others. Anything more than protecting the women who are fertile and the children of a group is learned behavior and not natural law. at celebration. or Incan. All enjoy. After all. which suggested that families were completely open with each other. That is fun. However. The Ambassador would not.
Tell me more about other customs while we work. "Come. me. try to avoid. Not bad. that it goes against God or nature. that all depend on others. It is time begin cooking. I hope that before you leave we will be good friends." "How that be bad? Is only showing closeness.to watch for. you." ." Francine looked at the location of the sun told Estelle. Most cultures now think openness like you describe is bad. Is good. and Dennis.
they showed up the last hot time wanting." "As if theirs wouldn't be better. Fogart asked. his heavy breathing slowing as he rested. we'll find the intruders either this afternoon or early tomorrow. that they were not dealing with savages." Lanford had given Fogart no information back at the caves before he disappeared. finally falling into an exhausted sleep well after the stars had appeared. the Federation or Empire or whatever it's called. He sounded amazed at how ill informed his partner was. And now those others are back. dressed in loosely woven clothing designed to protect against insects and let out heat. trying to take over the world. they climbed high into the crooks of trees. coolness from the sky to wash the sweat and smell off their bodies." "Yeah. Headmon Halford and Wendell cooked up the scheme to show off the thunder weapon as a demonstration of our power. it seems that government is the same. and that's what they did. You know our ancestor's story. that can travel much faster than they used to. the heat and humidity growing as they ran under the trees. They followed the main path south from the caves. suggested it was the only way for them to know the marnmen are intelligent. The privacy curtain had moved aside. his body drooping as if he had been awake for days. no. though. Well after nightfall. If Taggart's information is right. They found out. or at least it has the same goals. Stupid. They have a new kind of engine." Fogart replied." "Exactly. and more arrows than they could possibly need. Morning light found them already traveling south again. looked in. Fogart heard the scratches of feet as someone entered the living area of his cubby and came instantly awake. and Lanford and Halford both think it is. culminating in a heavy downpour as they reached the first of the high valleys. You know the story of the old home world. But we . Well. and so he would know what to watch for. carrying enough trail food to last two weeks. saw that Fogart was awake. "OK. a strong bow. though. He was beat. We invited them to leave scientists at Seaside to study our ways. "What's going on?" "You mean to say that no one told you?" Jamson asked. but they did it. and Jamson had been silent. 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. real people. as he slept with his new mate. To satisfy his curiosity. I'll have to tell you. We'll take the side trails close enough to watch the main path. and instructed him to pack his trail kit and meet Jamson at the southern upper entrance as soon as possible. I remember that. maybe. The rain was a welcome relief after the humid heat of the forest. headed south at an easy lope.Chapter 6 Early yesterday. drawn back by familiar fingers. "I think its time we slowed down and split up. Twenty minutes later the two hunters. the one Humphrey recites each year. or rather we showed them. If you remember. OK. lost in thought or planning as they traveled along the path. Lanford. Jamson called a halt. "Lanford should have told you everything since you're with me.
He answered. We have no way of knowing. You can call like a night bird. dressed differently. talk to you later. that runner from Seaside. after the storm had completely passed. I can't tell you. I'll think about it. that I think they'd use to land and start their journey. resting his calves. just before you arrived. They could do just about anything you can imagine. He said the marnmen saw the flier circle around this way. "Stalk the main path.think they might have secretly dropped off more people somewhere up here. or they might have a way of making the sounds we make louder. But running for two days straight will do us no good. Halford designated me leader of the southern hunt. or draw a reminder. We'll camp near the three trees. but they won't realize it's out of place. what would you do if you were the invaders?" Fogart thought for a minute. "I may have an idea or two. And remember. Also. "What makes you think they'll land there and use this path?" "Taggart found some things. "And be . meet on the trail at dark." Jamson rested his chin on his chest." Jamson replied. even at night. or lack of any birds. Fogart smiled. "Listen for the hornbird call." Fogart replied. "Destroy the weapon and take over the world." Jamson said to his partner as they prepared to split up. Jamson gave Fogart his final instructions. so the way I figure it. and I think they'll follow this path because it's easy to see from space and leads close to the caves. a small valley. You know how the hornbird warns of danger. as he came in. I met Aarmand." Fogart." "Good hunting." "Nice. More than that. How will we know them if we find them?" Jamson squatted nearby. Figure a. we should meet them shortly. We'd only get ourselves killed if we find the intruders. Otherwise. Shortly. I take it they know nothing of this world?" "Only what they've learned in the past few days. picture a growler watching. walked to the edge of the clearing and leaned against a tree as thunder sounded in the distance. um." "Exactly. You know how quiet we have to be when we go after them. us. He said it was mainly because I used my knowledge and experience to predict where their hidden hunters would go. Not alert. and be silent. We'll not be effective hunters if we're out of breath and tired. You know this. soaked from the storm. Just keep your eyes and ears open. 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. Anyway. They're out here somewhere. can't you?" "Sure. "Excellent." "You understand. no more than a depression. If you see anything. because I helped organize this thing. they were ready to move out from under the trees. carrying different types of weapons. You'll need to use all your skill. We can meet here if either of us sees them. It's possible they have some way of seeing us. I think. Not thinking. They'll hear it." "Why?" Fogart asked. I don't know myself. call like a night bird. Good. Look for people not like us. either one can kill you." "Sounds good. but there's only one place that fits all their needs. a long ear is listening. "OK. There's a clearing. Now considering what Halford and Wendell did.
" "Healthy?" Halford asked curiously.careful. Headmon. "I wouldn't use it. as healer. What is left of it. He wore a hide shirt that barely covered his large stomach and trousers that stopped above his ankles." Murphy answered with a smile. powdered seeds. that is." Halford told him without looking up. an assortment that. A large pouch. "I wanted to have time to look at you. The only access was a long winding passage. "You are early. "With that to reflect the light. Halford waited in one of these. For a private meeting room to make secret plans it was ideal. He looked at the thin gray haired man that sat by the fire and cleared his throat. hung from a strap that crossed over his shoulder. you don't need to use your head. and a guard stationed at the far end who had a short list of people allowed to pass into the room. I've been waiting to see you to let you know. the healer of Cliffside. Let the rest arrive. 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. +++ The third level of Cliffside had the only watch room with an opening that looked out toward the river. . and distilled oils. thank you. Nothing remained to indicate the two men had stood there to make plans. indicating the large protuberance below the healer's chest." "But what of your belly?" Halford asked. In all those powders you carry." "Even if one did. Used mostly for storage and rarely visited except by the guards who manned the watch room." Halford answered shortly. an enclosed room dug out of the rock that had just enough circulation to keep the air from stagnating. he was never without. common attire at Cliffside." Murphy chuckled as he patted the roundness below his chest. The first person to join Halford was Murphy. No twig cracked or leaf rustled to betray his passage. Fogart disappeared as silently as a ghost into the mist on the other side of the path. The mists of the distant river's rapids showed above the forest. with furs hung on the walls to stop sounds from echoing." Halford recited back the prescription Murphy had given him. How do you think I see to get around without a light at night? A shiny head is good for something. "There are more coming. "Have you been drinking that tonic?" "In my tea every day during lunch and dinner." Murphy replied quietly. you'd look the same. "It has helped. How much longer before Marty has her baby?" "No longer. you could look along the cultivated fields and natural pastureland that ran along the base of the mountain. The rough walls flickered red from the fire he had built in the center of the room. you would think one could help restore the color to the hair on your head. From it. reached by a series of interconnecting passages and rooms. "If you had as good a cook at your fire as I have at mine." Jamson faded into the bushes on the left. Tell me something. she had it early this morning. the remoteness resulted in several areas that were almost completely private. Why am I here?" "Patience. packed with diverse dried plants.
" the historian replied. "Ah. We begin. "We do not know why. was extremely long sighted and shrewd. colonization of the stars was inevitable. will you refresh us on the history?" "I can. but when mankind learned how to unfreeze. next to Morning Star. "After talking to Aarmand. I will send more hunters in that direction. depends on whether you want a viable colony or not." The old leader raised his hands to silence the questions." Halford turned to his right and asked Lanford. unfreeze those humans who were frozen safely. at Seaside to learn our ways and to learn of our friends. or anything else. That in itself was not important." "Thank you. They. He is our only link to Seaside at the moment. however. followed by a wiry man with a weather-beaten face. It's a wonder you didn't hear it squalling."Very. how many. there. as we speak. "Does Aarmand know how to get here?" He's being shown. or just plain stupid." "I have been busy. "and I know you have plenty. That it tried to hide the turn back is very suspicious." A short stocky man with long hair floating behind him entered the room. The present government has been taking over planets for years now." He looked up as a lean sinewy young man hesitatingly entered the room. We are all here. I also believe they will ask to come here. Aarmand then brought word that the marnmen had seen it heading for land south of us. As you know. I will hear your suggestions and make my decision. taking over the former 'colonies' that have reverted to savagery. the home of the Originals. or you would not be the great hunter that you are. "Ah. were to send a small party to study us. We. I don't have to tell you about our ancestors. The little man looked into the fire for a minute as he decided how much to tell. "What is being done at . What you may not know is that we believe that more people were secretly placed on the ground somewhere to the south. Sit down Aarmand. the outworlders. scientists supposedly. Halford asked. The thin man scowled at his leader. a trip between stars can now take two weeks instead of two centuries. and we have found the marnmen. sitting on the hard floor." Lanford answered curtly. I will wait for Aarmand. "Why are we here? There are important things happening. "Where do you want me to start?" "Wherever you feel is appropriate. and that is the term. what kind. then extended space flight was possible. we learned of the new type of drive that had been developed. They joined the two already by the fire. here are Morning Star and Lanford. and those are the people at Seaside. I have come to the conclusion that the four visitors at Seaside know nothing of this." Halford explained. their legs folded in front of them. and this includes them. we are being visited by people from the old world. "I feel it starts when humans first learned to freeze people. We sent hunters out in all directions as a precaution. "When the outworlders arrived last summer." "Patience." Halford answered. Great distances can now be covered quickly. When what we call the self-fueling rocket was invented. the Federation they call themselves. have not reverted to savagery. his voice rumbling with agitation. "I have some news and information. the marnmen. Morning Star. or actually just its leader. That the government of the time." Halford answered. my friend. First. All we knew until early yesterday morning was that the track the flier took into space was wrong. as is obvious to any who look. They have placed four people. so I will move on. We are here to decide the answer to that question.
to my left's left. can you tell us any more about these scientists?" "From the little I saw. I feel that to deal with them at all is idiotic." "No?" Halford asked. I'm sure of that. "No." Halford threw back his shoulders." "And Aarmand. Lanford. I know of nothing else to do but wait. We do not let the visitors leave Seaside. a brilliant insight. the chemist seems to be the best educated." Halford thought he had missed a clue. we have not heard from you yet. also." Murphy repeated. yet I could not find the words. "Then we agree. how much should they be shown? Those are the questions." Headmon Halford recognized the lost cause and gave up. They would have given him some sign. Murphy. Aarmand. until a better solution can be found. 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?" "No. That they did just that shows that what we learn in the teachings is of use in our future dealings with these people. The message will be sent to Wendell in the morning. but the ambassador seems to be the best informed about us. He asked Aarmand. I've placed watchers at all our entrances. before we let you get more rest. I think we should be able to hide things from their people." "Then I ask for opinions. He says they feel they are the only mission. soon extras toward the south. They must not know what we do or do not have. Aarmand. "That's my opinion. earlier in all directions. If they knew. Call it a hunch. From my left." Halford stared at the historian for a moment. No. I've posted double guards at all our watch points. they wouldn't have sent out the two groups. but will use any information they can get against us. "Morning Star." "Why?" Halford asked. Just a feeling. "How can you be sure that they hide things?" "If the scientists knew of the other group.this time?" "The hunters have been sent out. Should we allow them to come inland? If so. They will lie and give us promises they won't keep. Headmon. then Wendell would have seen they were hiding something. I do not know where you keep all your information. I say we should keep them in Seaside. anything to add?" "Not really. but deal with them we must." "Then that is two votes for restricting them to Seaside. Three nos. . If you look at our first meeting historically. Morning Star said it all. do you have anything to add?" the Headmon asked the visitor. Now. it's foreseeable that they would promise to send people to analyze our society. do you have an opinion?" "Just that it appears the Federation's government is willing to hide things from its own people. a bit taken aback at such a short reply. It's also reasonable to assume they would send a secret mission to try to destroy us. "We will leave it at that. all say to restrict the visitors. and on around. "Just that Wendell suggests we keep the outworlders at Seaside. Wendell said they do know about our weapon. "I'm not sure. but that is exactly what I was thinking.
" Murphy looked over at Halford and told him. That will change. there is the chance that they have orders to find our weapon or power source and destroy it. Seeing no one else had anything to say. Good speed is needed. Aarmand. I want to see him." Lanford observed." . Come to think of it. Fogart is with Jamson. They are skeptical the marnmen exist." "Let's hope so. and he's fairly devious on his own. nothing is to be said about Cliffside other than it is a village by the mountains. "but surprise is on our side. Also. and I repeat." "Then the ones my hunters are after may be an observation mission. "Are we done? Is there anything else?" The thin gray haired man looked at each of the other participants. who knows the area almost as well as Jamson. you are off tomorrow morning. "And I will send Scale Hunter with a new mixture I believe may be helpful." "I'll give you that. "That means their weapons probably won't be too heavy. I believe they'll do all right.but not where it is. let alone are a people themselves. Nothing. Jamson is a pretty tricky hunter. he continued. I will send Carroll down to join them. I will also send Willow." Halford said. but no rush like your trip here." "They would want to be protected from all types of dangers. as soon as Jamson returns. but for worse or better I don't know. His distance and accuracy with a bow is unbelievable. "Good." Morning Star counseled. "and they probably know that some of the animals are rather large. Lanford." Lanford agreed.
"Where is Estelle?" The Apprentice Healer's mate said. Looking out the window. a small crowd in working clothes had gathered around him near the path to the gate. We'll go slowly until you catch up. We'll have to do something special for him. When. Later. Wendell looked out at the hunter standing just outside the sleeping room window. I can see you're not. and the sun held no influence at all. I didn't think she was to come. Either the hunt was over quicker than usual. "Wendell. someone who they needed to learn their ways. except where women are not allowed. Wendell asked Francine. He woke several close villagers and had them wake others farther way. That's why he was so early. the galaxy a glowing mist in the dark sky." . starting the fire and cooking the meat. Go on to bed. OK. and hurry. Wendell gauged this was earlier than the messenger should have arrived. He looked back toward where Gouge stood and asked. to start the harvest at Manny's farm. All the windows of the village were dark. Almost unbelievable. Instead.Chapter 7 "Wendell. and Olga's on the opposite side of the farmland. wake up!" He would wake the entire village at this rate. of shooting an arrow through a two inch hole in the head of a fast moving animal. This is part of her duty. It was Gouge. Then he informed George he would be in charge for a time. alert and ready to work. to observe all the parts of village life. Gouge would help with the smokehouse later. I'm up. had obviously kept the messenger awake. "All right. the first two fields planted. "We got two. like the hunt. Is that you. That's a good shot. Wendell looked over who was with him ready to go." Wendell watched as the hunter stumbled toward his house. Go get her. Wendell called out the window. Gouge?" The hunter did not acknowledge the question. The hunt was over and there was meat for the winter to carry back to the village. I'm awake. and mark the turns. Two of them? I'll wake extra carriers. Wendell pulled his robe tight against the early morning chill and appeared at the porch at the far end of the building. What had happened? The excited messenger again called. Don't wake the whole village. who looked dead on his feet as if he had run all night without sleeping. Wendell returned inside and dressed. all right. the second still had several minutes before it disappeared into the trees. then to continue in the proper order. or something spectacular had happened that had kept the messenger going all night. "Through the ear? You're kidding. One of the moons had just set. "I didn't wake her. Someone was missing." "She is. No. and the stars above him twinkled brightly. as the sky began to turn dark gray. Wendell! Two! You should have seen it! Stuart shot the first one through the ear!" The excitement of Stuart's extreme marksmanship. he shouted. Wendell!" The leader of Seaside heard one of the younger hunter's voices and knew what it meant.
We hurry. Carry back to village. but since he was the only person who stayed there. it was a good way to tighten bonds between friends. That is all. fewer than usual and more hurried than on previous days. Estelle asked. You good. A few people passed by on business." "Then we go to join Dennis?" "Yes. +++ Ambassador Nathan DuPont stood outside the cabin's door and stretched." The two women ran to join the rest of the group as they moved briskly toward the hunters. Hurry. I have all things we need." Francine threw a working dress at her new friend and unhelpfully helped her to dress. Not bad. one moon dimly showed the village and that people carrying bundles ran toward one of the paths that led through the forest. and had a faint odor. Estelle reached over to wake Francine. Friends show love. Two! We must hurry. Get Rumbler meat. I learned that last night. On this world. and she heard people calling out at a time when most should be asleep." "Not to worry.+++ Estelle woke to noises outside. and why must we hurry?" "First time with friend confuse brain? We go to hunters. At that moment Francine threw open the bedroom door. Something was going on. Estelle slipped the dress over her head and said. The amenities inside the visitor's house were quite crude and primitive. unpolluted. Come! We must hurry. So far. I don't want you to get the wrong impression or anything. Wendell had the extra duty of trading with the creatures that lived in the ocean. he had slept well and felt refreshed. "Where are we going?" "Two rumblers to carry. and as Francine had said. thank you. with a tinge of ocean. a smell that would fade after a few minutes. All work hard next two weeks. a product of the relaxing bedroom games she had enjoyed the evening before with Francine. "Yes. Estelle would probably know. "About last night. sex with another woman. If there was truly trade between the marnmen and . and slept well. and his duties were few. and found that the woman had disappeared. Rest stay to harvest. It was the first time she had tried that. and on previous assignments he had had to deal with worse. They were barely out of the village when Estelle finally asked." She grabbed the bundle Francine pointed at and lifted. Outside. See? We catch up. to house of much smoke. It was heavier than she thought. Is good. "Come. I've never done that before. or could find out. hurried across the room. while the leader of the community in the mountains coordinated the villages. They already left and we must join them!" As she stood. She had slept well." Francine pushed Estelle out the door before the anthropologist had eaten. like old blood. Now she was awake and alert. Estelle said. a council of villagers who met on an irregular basis picked the leader of the community. and more from village. I mean. The leader was more an organizer than anything else. bond. the Ambassador had learned little. "What? Who has left. The morning was clear and the air smelled good. and almost pulled Estelle out of the bed.
men and women with their children in hand. We should be done this and ready to move on by lunch. 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. although I see that three wagons are already here. including the Federation engineer. We'll be out there all day. and the vegetables have been gathered over time. Here we are. "Harvest today. From what I understand. I am leader. He would have something to do. and move to the next when they finish. that one can get wild. a reason for the Federation to care for him for years. believe me. began to load the piles onto the wagons. I will divide those who did not go to carry the meat into two parts." Nathan looked over the mass of yellow stalks with trepidation. We pick. areas of plants appeared different. +++ . Aren't they included?" "They have other duties. But for today. thinking the exercise would help his health. Let's go. You do not want to wear that robe. Most of the vegetables and the orchard should have already been brought in. They had almost reached the first field when Nathan said. so we only have the grain fields. Nathan smiled at the thought and started toward the storage building where George would meet him with a small breakfast. It should take a week or two.humans. "I noticed that the family of the store keeper was missing. wondering how long it would really take them. and Wendell has gone with them. but the time always goes quickly. George lifted his arm and brought it down in front of him." 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. which would lead to interesting political problems. and should be first gathered. no longer. If that rumor is true. he will get an award at the festival. Whole families stood together. then Estelle should declare the marnmen a new people. There are others you'll see who transport the plants to the storehouse. and each part will go to the first of the ripe fields. the lead hunter made an almost impossible shot that Wendell needs to witness. so we'll probably miss the return of the hunters. the fruit picked as it ripened over the past month or so. Nathan noticed that after a time several of the men. They'll open a couple of the storehouses and get the wagons ready. Then. "We'll all go out to the fields to gather what's ripe. It was first grain planted. start at Manny's farm. until all the grain is gathered and stored. "Part of the village has gone to retrieve the results of the hunt. cutting the crowd into two parts. Although the entire field was a golden yellow color. as if the villagers had planted more than one kind of grain in each field. and when the meat has been smoked and the food all stored we'll have another feast." "So we are to help?" The Ambassador asked. as the sun came up." George told Ambassador DuPont a few minutes later as he placed spiced bread on Nathan's desk. all in a semicircle facing the council hut waiting to be told their duty. to bring it in. The other three wagons will be with the other group. and. placing the yellow plants on piles spaced evenly in the field. The harvest festival. The storekeeper's family will stock the storehouse. I see we're ready. he led one group almost two miles to the farthest farm from the village where three leaf grazer drawn wagons waited.
She doubted that they would finish by dark. Heavy use made these roads. drainage where puddles formed." +++ Roads. She told her guide. Then again. You will enjoy. One of the properties they had passed on the way here had a large outbuilding. and the next. The grass at the edge. centuries of use by a people who knew they had to work hard to survive. a small place like the one they had in the village. real work. "I know what you will and will not need when we are done. this is a small field. "We have to have it done before lunch? It really doesn't seem possible. was large enough to hold a major petroleum refinery. Brevor had never seen roads like these before. low enough to form a pond or small river when it rained. much bigger than the Battle Ball field at Phrontistery. Not the dull brown dead of dry lawns. and that will be the time to have fun. from here to here. like kekite or corvusite. for many days. Anyway. a small one to start the season according to Anderson. and tomorrow night.Tuesday looked at the field that stretched into the distance toward a line of trees. "We have to pick all this today?" Tuesday asked Halbrack who was already nearly naked. let alone lunch. I know I'll be tired." This was a small field? It looked huge. hid small ditches that led away from the road. The fields he saw seemed large for hand agriculture. This one field. like most of what he had seen so far. almost the color of honey someone had spread for miles across the field." He smiled. These people had opted for the practical solution. The only building he could see on the property was the house. just an area of grass and the field. packed dirt lower than the grass that lined either side. more like melkovite. It did not even look that much like a farm. at least two hundred acres." Halbrack said indicating a three-foot section in front of Tuesday. When we are done will be the harvest celebration. it was more yellow. Possibly this was a planet wide commune or something. even with half the village here. Much fun. or maybe the forest. This was work. Halbrack answered. It looked as if heavy wagons had compressed cart and animal trails for years. but don't expect me to be ready for anything other than sleep tonight. well over the usual twenty to thirty acres he had seen on other worlds. Between the line of villagers and the trees in the distance was an expanse of dead grass. It is how we all will feel tonight. larger than any manufacturing area he had seen. or the massive burners he had seen on other planets that baked the dirt into a hard surface. or maybe more like karnasurtite. "That's true. "Just pull the stalks out of the ground like the others are doing. He looked at the petite red head beside him staring off to the trees in the distance. the field she had used once with a group of guys. And I am sure you would rather do this than load the carts like your friend Brevor. no barn. which. maybe they would not fill up with water when it rained. He would have to . "It is nothing major." There was no way that would happen. he realized. is exactly what had happened. much more work than she had done in years. There was no shed. There were no machines to lay a hard surface.
or breaking the stalks near the ground. he thought as he bent over and began the task. The kids were all laughing at each other. Come on. It's Estelle's study anyway. tedious?" Brevor watched the gathering and noticed that the children seemed to have more fun pulling the plants than the adults. worked in a semicircle pulling the plants in front of them until they had too many to hold. With the two of us loading. what is the word. I can do that. along with some of the grownups. "Tell me something." So they had a mill. it can cause damage to your skin. there is not a problem. and we will load the plants piled along this line. it should work out." Brevor said to his guide. but Anderson stopped before the far rows. "You ready to work? Good. Did they trade food for the grinding service. If you are out in it for a short time. and they had already started bending to pull the plants out of the ground. There the grain will be separated from the rest of the plant and some of it will be taken elsewhere to be crushed. But if you are out in it for most of the day. They would squat down and strain and the plant would come out sending the smaller ones over on their backs. Brevor and Anderson walked along the edge of the field with the others." Anderson clapped Brevor on the back. he thought as he worked to catch up to his guide. We keep most of it here. the kids kept up. and to his surprise. like now. and that will transport what is gathered back to the village. and tossing the plants onto the pile that was growing nearby. Then they would stand and crack their back straight. Everywhere he looked across the field there were people bending over and pulling plants out of the ground. so I imagine that's normal. Throw it onto the cart. then placing handfuls on piles scattered through the field. He stopped and watched as a couple." +++ 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. and the best is saved and planted after the cold time. But here everyone is clothed. "We wait here with the wagon. no others because the grain is different. I've seen some of the women going topless. It is not hard. both of them in their seventies he thought. Yet. see if the Ambassador noted the same thing. some to be eaten as is. using the flow as a source of power. so everyone covers up. many of the villagers were older than he was.talk to Nathan about it. yanking the plants into the air. or was this a socialist . "Where do you take the plants?" Nathan asked George as they worked their way toward the end of the field. just. throw the gathered plants onto a pile. Why?" "It is because of the sun. "Since we arrived. "They are taken to the trader at one of the buildings used for storage. So be it. and return to their task. we will collect what the others have pulled from the ground and build the load." "Why?" "When it is time. Where? Most likely it would be near the water. after the gatherers have worked for a while. roots and all. bend. The shopkeeper has opened the storehouse. He had not performed manual labor since he had moved out of his parent's house thirty some years ago.
Usually the problems of his community threatened to overwhelm him. we'll be done this field before we stop to eat. and the rest of the farms in nine or ten days. There was something to be said about mindless repetition like this. but that I have been told not to speak about certain places until decisions are made. Then we will go to the next field. for once feeling as calm as the waves above him. The field is almost half done already. 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. "You decided?" Gives-Direction asked. The slight shift brought the leader's eyes to him. when Talks-To-The-Dwellers-InThe-Air-of-Life and Changes-The-Water moved slowly toward him. That is the largest field. Relax for a moment. He said that when the source of light and life shows in two sets of fingers and two fingers . "How long before we break for a meal?" "When the sun is overhead we will stop to eat. He had time to think." "It is true that I am not busy. reserves for when the food became scarce. Then we'll start down the field again. his proper place. He also said that the grains they grow were ready to be gathered. Most are away. with many sections of green plants." What was the meaning of what Changes-The-Water said? He was a part of the community. After the celebration would be a good time. so there is not that much grain to pull. they divided it into different areas for different plants. Until then. however. by Speaks-For-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-of-Life. "Is it not my duty and pleasure to decide?" Changes-The-Water bowed to his leader. "I was told. "My most humble apologies. It came from living so far away from others." Changes-The-Water said as they grew close. Gives-Direction. but when they planted it. At this rate. relaxing for what seemed to be the first time in years. his hands pressing on the small of his back." They had reached the end of the field without the Ambassador realizing it. "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. +++ Gives-Direction floated near the surface of the living-waters. We will probably be finished that field by tomorrow. as he said. He many times forgot proper etiquette. I correct myself. that they were to gather meat from the fall hunt. I was enjoying the lack of pressing need. See? We reach the trees already. we work. Come. "Were do you take the grain to be ground?" George stood at the end of the row and bent backward. and you should not be too busy. Let us start another row and get the job finished. "You still swim. "That I cannot say.economy where everybody did their part and reaped the benefits equally? Finding the Mill and speaking to the miller would help reveal the answer. Nathan asked. It is not that I do not know. He was not surprised. You might want to speak to Wendell when we are done with the harvest and hunt. Gives-Direction. most people had gone out looking for extra supplies. a small part who stayed away from the whole. but with the colder season near. We believed it would be a good time. GivesDirection.
She could imagine a large Stone Age village. an anthropologist's dream. Here native trees grew and native species roamed exactly as they had for thousands of years. you and Swims-Between should also be in attendance as advisors and witnesses. Changes-The-Water. To ask the reason would take nothing. but will be more likely to work with us since the bounty of the land as they say will be almost gathered. though. and those that were. and their share would grow. He will not stay angry or upset with us. when Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life may not think clearly. Yet Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life must have reason for suggesting that. "Because it will lessen the time he is worried. different ways. I want you to be there. and neither does Speaks-For-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-ofLife. Until then." "And they may use that as a reason to convince the dwellers on the ancient land they should join this Federation of theirs. and may add to Give-Direction's thinking. be gone. They may know how to take metals out of the ground without poisoning the world. that they had stayed an agricultural world that used primitive weapons like spears and bows and arrows. He says that one of the reasons for the visit is to find out if we are intelligent. 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. all out on a ." Gives-Direction watched as the two marnmen bowed and slowly moved off. That the human settlers had decided not to use technology. was just a remnant of what was found when the colonists first arrived. She and others needed to come back. made them a fascinating study. and a traveler's peril. and he will have better things to consider as the source of light and light goes to rest. "And why at that particular time?" Gives-Direction asked. Would it not be better to wait until they leave?" "I do not think so. She would have to recommend that any group allowed back to explore and study areas not yet colonized. After the feast was the logical time. at the time when the source of light and life has traveled one sixth of its path across the heavens. It is my suggestion that we speak to Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life on that day. with the dwellers on the ancient lands from far across the starseas." "He has problems of his own. we will be at the meeting place. Or they may know that it is impossible. if we can think for ourselves and make decisions and deal with others. Yet I agree with you. included guards against dangerous animals. It is a good suggestion." The timing intrigued the older marnman. one of the early cultures she had studied in school. before the festivities begin. and the narrow windbreak that continued along the edge of the river. +++ The forest between the village and the ocean. those that come from the Federation.more they would have the feast they hold this time each year. Watching us trade and exchange ideas should convince them of those facts. The path Estelle followed through the trees led to wilderness not far from the village and farms that she had yet to see. They also know new ways of doing things. and it would be good if Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-LifeLearning would also be there.
any day on this planet. as she looked at the group ahead of them. Soon she would learn how the very ancient ancestors of modern man hunted before there were rifles. They stayed agricultural because of what their forbearers had learned. a clearing opened with two lines of the cylindrical trees at the far end spreading at an angle into more open forest. thicker. whether for their own reasons or because of the creatures who lived in the ocean she did not know. Estelle counted fifty of the villagers on the way to the hunt. Ahead of them. narrower. Many of the villagers carried large skins folded into bundles like the one she carried either on their head or in their arms. This culture was unique. Nearby many . We are close now. "That is to steer the animals into the narrow opening. "What are the skins for? And the poles?" Estelle asked. It is good that we stay fed. becoming more compact. that the trees were thinning out. It is not for women of the community to know. and near a large jumble of boulders. Saplings grew among the taller trees that made the crown of the forest. "This is where rumbler shot moved away from herd. much as the ancient humans might have done. was technique. but just because these people performed certain rights did not mean those in ancient times did the same. Granted the technique was probably the same as used in ancient times. this culture had reverted to some of those beliefs. Estelle.mission. how they brought down large animals and butchered the remains." Estelle could see where very large animal had left huge holes wherever it had stepped. 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. What she learned today. "I bet you will be glad to see Dennis. what these people called their ancestors. I do not know how it works." "We all do what we must for the community. did not want to ruin this world. all laughing and talking as they hurried to their task. not a growing culture. with places under them where no light showed. or how the hunters use it. and more mature cylindrical growths formed larger groups. You should ask Dennis when we reach him. Estelle pointed to the line of trees and asked Francine. several small stones placed in a line to indicate the direction to take. Francine urged her to hurry. a pile of meat just as large. Francine told Estelle. The trail was easy to follow into the crushed trees. 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 to a huge pile of bones. and a somewhat folded skin that would take two men to carry it." Francine's refusal to know anything about hunting was not like any culture she had studied. and a few carried long poles with skins attached to one end. right?" "It is called the gate. Francine answered. yet in other ways they were as perceptive as any modern culture. Somehow. "You will see. He may tell you since you come from far away. The Originals. enough information for several books. That they were agricultural and therefore naive was the wrong path to follow. Estelle put those ruminations away for later and told Francine. except some primitive human cultures on sol 3. enough to make her fortune. a decision." Estelle thought the forest was growing lighter. but it was an intellectual decision of a group. but she noted that it was more that the trees were changing." Estelle saw well-trampled ground at the gap in the trees. It will be soon.
how they arrived. "And that brings us up to when your Captain first arrived. Not long after the villagers arrived." Hard work by many people made what seemed like an impossible task pass quickly." He continued his tale for almost two hours. one for each rumbler. that Lloyd and Pat Rick you speak about. Wait for the other group to join us. "Dennis!" Estelle cried when she saw her friend. Finally he concluded.long poles waited. The bones can wait until they get picked up later. It was not until later. will you? She'll show you what to do. they split into two sections. I will get to it later in the story. Don't pick it up yet. Estelle. that is Stuart. The meat had been stacked onto the spread animal skins and lashed on securely. how they reworked the programming in the Empire's computer. If you and Francine pick up that pack." Estelle watched Stuart as he walked along a path torn into the forest by large animals. because this is his first kill. The other rumbler belongs to Bailee. Stuart will make sure he gets to haul his prize back to the village. Near the middle Estelle interrupted. Are you ready to work? We have to pack everything on these poles. that it came out how sophisticated they really were. a nearly impossible shot. That is work that will tire us." +++ Estelle heard a voice say something in the local language that sounded like an instruction. during which time there was little conversation elsewhere along the line." . Over there. she could hear voices approaching. did they know the marnmen had intelligence at that time?" "I do not believe so. surprised at how light it felt compared to what she expected. About fifteen minutes later. "Time to go. You know he wiped out the settlements across the ocean. At least today it is cool. "Oh. He is the lead hunter and the leader on this expedition. I think they thought the marnmen were almost there. She looked over to the voice and saw a mountain of a man ordering some of the others around. Francine stood and told Estelle. and how they learned to live on the land. began to help drag the bundle of meat back to the village. what you didn't hear the other day at Natalie's. Estelle stayed with Dennis and Francine and helped the villagers find pairs of poles and lash them together at one end. A familiar figure stood near the poles. Dennis told Estelle. No! Not that one. "Who's that?" she asked Dennis. You listen to Dennis. at least all the meat. He'll even tell Wendell what to carry in this situation. That one is Stuart's because he placed his shot so exactly. Dennis continued his tale of the Originals. "Did the Originals. when the marnmen told them things. "Now we take a break before we haul all this back to the village. "I see you made it." Estelle picked up the pole Francine indicated and. Help Francine. I'll grab the one just behind you." "When was that?" "Relax. but not quite. how they found the marnmen in the ocean. Then I can tell you how the Originals came and settled here. as if everyone listened to a favorite story. through a two-inch ear hole as the animal was moving at speed. then stretch and lash the skins they carried from the village across the opening between the poles.
the sun was behind the treetops and dropping toward the horizon." Several hours later. I don't think anyone does. He said that the four animals they picked were young adults. Captain Mussuclio would not just wipe out a civilization before he knew if it was viable. "He is one of the chasers. with the help of Stuart's son. because within the first five years they found each other and fought. They keep mixing like that all the time. they are the . four of the hunters. After that. She was not about to mention her swim the day before. or I can tell you about this time. The next day. When they are that age. possibly doing some farming. "And what about the marnmen. Then all they have to do is to make a lot of noise to send the outriders one way and the families the other." "Well." Estelle said. "I just can't see one man being able to get between a child and its mother. first the scouts were sent out while I coated the arrows with poison. waited in the rocks until the rumblers passed. I can tell you generally. you understand. though they did not agree with the way it was done. too old to be watched by a mother. The mothers all had new babies to protect. The rumblers they picked were too young to be watched by the male of the family. the four chasers made noise and generally sounded like a large predator. the surprise and the matter of fact way Dennis broke the news making her voice shrill." Dennis raised his voice slightly and called to a man in front of him. Shortly Dennis told Estelle. The marnmen were glad to see them go." "Possibly smell. and they didn't care for keeping the oceans clean." "Tell me what happened on this hunt. and he suggested ways to cut them away from their families. I don't know how they tell the difference between families. When the four rumblers were moving in the right direction. Webber and I. The scouts located two families close together. not quite ready to move to another group. "How do you hunt the rumblers?" "Every time is different." Estelle began." "But how did the men. A lean man further ahead called back in the colonist's language. then we followed them to where they died." Maybe Dennis did know. They were nowhere near the level we are."What?" Estelle cried. where it was easy to shoot them. I guess you could say they were hunting and gathering. because they were not breeding age yet. it took them awhile to regroup. that's Stuart's son. But they didn't know of the marnmen. speaking at length. "After all. "Change of subject. The lines of trees forced the rumblers through the narrow pass. There must be more that Dennis did not know." "But what would happen to the outriders as you call them if they weren't chased away here?" "Later this winter. It is fairly easy for the chasers to get between the outriders and the main family. when the Rumblers roam the plains to the south. moved them away from the herd. with Dennis laughing occasionally. each chaser selecting a different animal. They reported to Stuart. along with the rest of the colonists. the outriders would join other herds they meet. the chasers. After a moment she said. went out and. they stay off to the side of the main family. including several yearlings that were large enough and would have tender meat. and then faltered. The outriders of those herds would find other families to join." Estelle asked as they walked through the growing darkness. "On the land across the ocean were two settlements of colonists. driving the Rumblers to the gate. Tell me more about the animals around here.
but I see that is not necessary. and were found by accident as I told you in the story.ones we're supposed to be studying. because shortly we will be back home. not alone." Talks-To-Many slowly swam back toward his home. but they manage. A presence grew. Now that my mind is at rest. so communication should not be a problem. placed that thought in my head. Silence. He wondered at the feeling. after harvest. 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. He relaxed. No. She wanted to get back to the village quickly. a feeling of a power greater than his own. and there will be sun." She was growing tired from dragging the pole. but I do not think it will be necessary. There will be time." Talks-ToMany said as he slowed near his friend. "Good. you may." "That is what I just learned. I wondered if I should tell Gives-Direction. yet he dare not leave. "What is new with they that dwell in the air of life. you may tell they that dwell in the air of life of the confirmation. of an animal close by that could do him harm. may I ask?" "You may. or possibly more than one. Oh. you still swim. He realized he felt the presence of a Thinker closer to the community than they had approached for many years. I will bid you good sleep. alone with his thoughts. You will find the marnmen are intelligent. to the area away from the other . "at least not that I can think of now. Also. It would be only confirmation of what he already knew." "Sure. "They gather their food before the cold sets in. the day over. although they are limited in what they can do. he sped through the open water until exhaustion began to slow him. but elsewhere. He could see it floating slowly to other planets in the system as Bale had said they would do." Estelle answered. and they hunt the large animal that dwells in the air of life as they do each of the warm and cold times. he swam hard to throw off the feeling of agitation. A Thinker. I don't think so. and they have a way of communicating over long distances. They were here when the originals arrived. his responsibilities ended for a time. at the conviction growing inside him that the vessel that flew between the stars was not around the planet." the young marnman answered. Some people can understand their language. possibly not now. but in the near future. You will spend days lying in the sun by the lagoon. and some of the marnmen understand ours. Is there anything else?" he asked as they started to enter a thinner section of the forest. would help. I recognize this place. I do not know how they do it. With no destination in mind." Dennis agreed. When he woke from his trance." +++ 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. Ahead he saw Talks-To-The-Dwellers-InThe-Air-of-Life-Learning swimming slowly back to the community from the feeding grounds. even closer than when those who swam in the starseas appeared. If you wish. "Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life-Learning. "No. the energy that erupted along his back. or just not talking or thinking right now. "we will let you talk to them when we get back.
The problem solved. You help me? Or others?" "Will. coming out from the blackness under the trees and into the almost as dark village. He felt better than he had felt for days. better than expected. and acting on the fact to help other species. They meandered between the buildings. Nothing else will do or you will sound as if you are lacking in intelligence. Francine handed the poles to Dennis. "Tomorrow morning will be. who moved them off to the side and onto a growing pile. except for a nagging thought buried deep in his subconscious. The celebration will be after the harvest.marnmen where he could listen to the far thoughts. And you don't have to wait long for your taste. whether it is ours or someone else's." "Wakefield!" Dennis cried. you are right. By then we will have enough smoked meat to last the winter." Estelle said grinning. Instead." Francine answered. the pole she had hauled for hours now seemed to help balance her. "I clean this and then go help with harvest. When Estelle and Francine arrived at the door. and I will clean. The harvest goes well. She saw the long robe. though not as often. but to others. She noticed that Francine had the same problem." "In just over one week. "You are back. my young friend. weather-beaten face. Estelle studied the new person. will. 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. he rose to the surface and breathed the air of life while he waited for the thought to form. he knew he would not use it yet. Some of the men will start the fire shortly and tend to it for the next seven days. lifted the package of meat off the poles and took it inside. The marnmen would have competition. He would have to work to assure the latter." "Or you are just learning the language. To Estelle's surprise. the large pouch suspended from his shoulder. Bailee. then accepted a folded skin from Bailee." Dennis said unnecessarily as the group slipped along the wet dirt road. fighting for balance in the slippery mud. "Don't worry about it. and some of the meat will be used for that feast as an appreciation. I take it that building is where the meat gets smoked?" "Yes." Dennis corrected." As he began to speak. you must speak it properly. By the time he reached his sleeping place. You must remember that any language you speak. "Tomorrow morning be soon enough. They were learning what was important not only to themselves. dear. he returned to his sleeping area to await the coming of the source of light and life. He had felt that tonight. barely able to support their loads. their intelligence was growing. the skin that had wrapped the meat. Gently he rocked in the low swells. "Don't you need to wash that?" Estelle asked. the cropped shoulder length hair that framed a long. . haggard. The three friends headed back to their house. in maybe ten days or sooner. or friends. +++ "Here we are. and gently the light rain tickled him until the realization emerged that the Thinkers were not getting bolder. still smiling with the pleasure of his first rumbler kill.
and a better man you will not find anywhere. "You." Dennis said. or Keeper of Legends as you would call him. Francine. "We better get to bed." . "Dennis. the healer for Seaside. although she was not sure he understood. we will speak after harvest. bringing Estelle back to the present. Estelle. also. Good night."Estelle." Wakefield replied." Estelle watched as he seemed to float off into the darkness. He is my teacher." "It is good to meet you." Estelle said to the newcomer. "Tomorrow will start early. this is Wakefield. and the historian.
Chapter 8 Fogart paused in his silent trek. but. The call of a night bird echoed through the forest. He moved as quickly as possible to the rendezvous with Jamson at the point where they had slept the night before. What he would find on this world he could not know since each mission was a new experience. Sanders. his self-preservation instinct aroused. picked out a yellow centered. pulled the water pouch from his belt. he saw the family group of leaf grazers spook and flee into the brush. as usual. +++ Sergeant Tucker led his patrol along the path. they turned their heads toward the main path and gazed through the brush. Just seconds later. A short distance ahead. The sergeant decided that all the blips belonged to the same family of animals. Morganthur and Toolkie eased up to where their leader waited. all of his senses at full strength. Their white tails would raise and wave in the air to signal danger as they leaped obstacles and darted through clear spaces. discussing whether the animals were good to eat or not. violet-pink flower. tails flying high. The radio plug in his ear crackled and told him of one large blip and two smaller ones near his location. Sergeant Tucker stopped and waited for the others of his party. White tails down. the sound bouncing off the trees. "Hey Morganthur. He brought up his weapon. or for Fogart to see them. Leftover dewdrops glittered on bushes. was silent. a family of leaf grazers picked at the bushes. he identified three distinct voices. and better for traveling at high speed through the trees. powerful weapons if necessary. The male. so he did not expect too much resistance. and took a sip. As if signaled by a director off to the side. leaping and darting out of sight. they bounded to the side past Fogart. flickered on fallen leaves and. since he had not heard or seen any signs of humans yet. just that two were grazing in areas away from the others. Fogart backed stealthily out of the bushes. and in the early colonies. at the edge of a small clearing. as he watched for anything strange. these grazed contentedly. displayed a single horn that curved gently as it rose to its pointed end. unaware of the hunter as he watched from the shadows. as they got closer. but before he could activate the electronics. Animal. male voices could be faintly heard approaching along the path. then. Sergeant Tucker quietly called. Any guess what they are?" . The underbrush made an impenetrable curtain impossible for those he hunted to see through. They had long thick legs that ended in flat. but the technology level on this planet was low. To his left brush crackled. four-clawed feet. each step carefully placed in order to be silent. The morning sun that shone through the leaves sent rays of light through remnants of mist to dapple the ground with patterns of brilliance. in one spot of luster. 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. slightly larger than the females of the family. When the three were close enough.
and they each carried something like a long spear. ignore it. I can tell you one thing. when he heard a low whistle. Jamson had a pot of the dark poison used to coat the arrows when hunting Rumblers. A strangely shaped hat that came down to cover their ears seemed to float above their heads. it's not that dangerous yet. talking as if they were out for a morning hike. joined the first and discussed the animals that bounded into the trees. In a small pouch at his side. almost a child. and he was ready to move back into the bushes at the edge of the clearing. he moved swiftly along the side path to where he was to meet Fogart. "Are you kidding?" the young hunter quietly enthused. The narrow path he traveled turned closer to the main path for a time. The sun was not yet at zenith when. The five men began to move off into the forest. bent trees they had left only hours before. without a sound. out of sight and hearing. a new man in the lead. 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. Fogart silently followed his warning into the open area. The hunter made his way through a thin section of brush to the main path and doubled back to the bush. +++ Jamson crouched in the bushes and watched the first stranger as he stopped near Jamson's position. Toolkie. Jamson quietly negotiated the small. in the small clearing by the three large. and heard the voices. He used a thin stick to coat each thorn with an invisible layer of poison. Jamson cupped his hands together in front of his face and made the haunting hootwhistle of the night bird. Jamson thought as he looked to where the weapon pointed. We've been making good time. and studied the far side of the path. they'd have a field day on this planet. Then. and each of them carried a large and apparently heavy pack on their back."Got no idea. The other four humans. Only a few minutes had passed before he was off again to his rendezvous with Fogart. Sarge. No. Want I should bring one down for us to cook tonight?" "No fires. "The zoologists would love this one." A bird called off to the right. You're point. concern for his companion foremost in his mind. It's herbivorous. As long as it's not a hunter. sometimes barely visible animal trail that wound its way through the brush roughly parallel to the main track." the sergeant answered. so it should be good eating. "Were you seen?" Jamson asked. They wore some kind of blotchy green and brown cloth that sparkled with light. was shaped as if it were meant to be held to the shoulder. all of them dressed in strange garb. Shortly he had put the patrol well behind him. lifted what might be a weapon. when I heard your signal. so he could move quickly. Hell. hopefully not Fogart. I knew where they were. if it had a point. I . so let's go." the thin marine answered. A good amount of time had passed since he had arrived. "Once I saw the leaf grazers looking. unless it has taste or poison defenses. then. "And we're not here to study the wildlife. It was a small group of leaf grazers. Jamson coated his arrows with the same substance he had used on the bush. except the end away from where the point would be.
" Fogart reminded Jamson. That's good. There are five of them. consider all the possible problems. they may leave one person awake to watch all night.slipped out so quietly not even the animals knew I was there. I did manage to give them something to think about. Tell me. They're a noisy bunch. the one with the rock. We might even be able to get them all while they sleep." Jamson agreed." The two hunters gathered their equipment and slipped off into the forest. "We won't do it if they're alert. let's go. . I don't know if this poison will work on people. He pondered a minute." Jamson looked hard at the youngster. you're right. I did see them. "Pick them off one by one?" "Something like that. +++ Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper peered at the scanner monitor at the far end of the science board. and there's plenty of cover. building a picture of the planet. too. He considered all the variables until his brain formed a moving picture in his head. only five minutes apart." Jamson answered. Any noise or motion. He said admirably." Fogart said hopefully. Now he was reworking the broad and narrow band scans. and whoever is watching would see and give us away. I poisoned the thorns on a bush they have to pass. I could hear them. "We'd only get one. when added together and mated. It's the one we use for the larger beasts. was a pocket of alkali. and the data that the Captain wanted was finally coming in. They may decide to stay there for the night tomorrow. but with luck at the bush and that one. and then suggested thoughtfully. that's good. "Both moons set late tomorrow night. "That might actually work. Deep in the planet. We'll make a lead hunter out of you yet. Yeah. but I never saw them. I like that you think. About a day and a half north. They're all carrying a long thing like a pole that I think is a weapon. then the darkness might confuse them and we could get away." "They're not animals with little brains. And if none are awake. either. smiling at his companion. the section that backed up to the Bridge Lounge. and I wasn't about to find out what it was the hard way. though." he said thoughtfully." Jamson ran the plan through. They even have hats that float on their heads." "Good. OK. They never saw me." Jamson said. they had layers of data that. Probably get us killed. If we shoot just the watcher at that exact time. "I doubt that. just when it gets totally dark. the main path opens out into a good place to spend the night." Fogart smiled." "Maybe we'll be lucky and get them all at one time. anything at all. "I'm glad you didn't give away that we are here. what you would do?" Fogart thought a minute. each completely covered with some kind of skin or cloth. After many repeated scans of the entire planet. "You know. "At least that's what I was thinking. formed a deeper picture of what the planet held under the surface. If they get caught by the bush." "You mean the one that blocks the path?" "That's the one. "Let's head on along the path. It's an easy place to reach from the side path. trying to picture what would happen. They might be doing that anyway. specifically a form of potassium in solution used in inexpensive batteries. but I've never seen anything like it. under the caves.
Next pass. the trees and brush that could act as cover had thinned out. You remember the signals you were taught in basic?" "Sure. gentlemen. Never seen anything like that before. I'll wait to get confirmation on the zinc and carbon before I tell the Captain. For now they were safe enough." From the sound of her voice. and the temperature had dropped to where an extra layer of clothing would help. +++ Sergeant Tucker looked up at the sky noting the fast moving clouds." "Big problem. check for zinc and carbon in pure form. Do you think?" A moment passed. Now it was not nearly as humid. "Got no idea. Toolkie. OK." "What were those animals. if you get a chance to come back. "Take five. you let me know. and they're all right. Are we still within range? No." The sergeant turned to the youngest member of the group. Lieutenant Junior Grade Fornihopper grinned as he turned back to his task. possibly while the top Science Officer considered what the scans showed. an easy day since all they had seen was local flora and fauna. That's a big battery." The young marine ran through a group of arm movements so fast his arms were a blur. something none of them had thought they would need. nothing dangerous.Fornihopper called into the microphone in front of him. "Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton. "Sure. no problem. Got it?" Sanders sighed. but I may come back." "Hey. Good work. Ponchos would help hold their body heat in. we don't exist. but that's a battery if you have the electrodes. come on back. Very good work. Richard. "It's Richard." came the answer finally. Lieutenant Junior Grade Richard Fornihopper. How they did it I have no idea. I remember that much. They had been hiking since dawn. "That's not natural. This was as good a place as any other was for a break. that's our battery. "See? Every one. Sarge?" Sanders asked as his pack hit the ground. Sarge. We'll take a break. That's a damn big battery. "You're doing good Toolkie. We'll be just as invisible on the way back to drop off the civilians as we were on the way out. Sarge. too." "Van Rapton here. I'm sure going to pick one off. but if you find it. Until we get back to headquarters. and the weather had changed drastically as a cold front came through. "It was made by forcing ionized water into a natural deposit of potassium." "Well. We'll make a marine out of you yet. We can cook it on the ship if not before. Seems to be a potassium hydroxide deposit under that cave formation. The sergeant said. The air when they started that morning was warm and so humid that the trees sweated. But I . please. It's unknown where those two minerals would have come from." the shaped vocal projection told only him. Don't tell me you still want to eat some. Drop your packs. dripping water from the leaves as the squad passed under the canopy. that could mean an accommodation. He did need to learn the finer points for when things got rough. if we see some just before pickup. I want some. Lieutenant Commander. The new kid had done OK as point so far. but to get at them they needed to stop.
and someone saw me with the coat." "Come on. you're point again. Figured I'd go back and get mine if there was a good reason. "Let's go. Let's see what you have to show me. you can see the entire cave complex that . Captain Mussuclio looked up from the report he was reading. so I asked him again.don't remember learning about such drastic changes in the weather. a composite of many scans. Morganthur. I didn't even know I'd done anything wrong. you reminded me of why I remained a sergeant last time promos came around. Well. She was good looking like that. "I have news for you Captain. Lesley." Sergeant Tucker stood and shrugged his pack back on. "Aw. stepped out of the lift onto the bridge. so I just kept the thing. and this one local ahead of me had this heavy coat. "This ain't nothin' kid." he said. "Can I get you something to drink. Yesterday it was so hot and humid." Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton turned on the viewscreen and typed some commands into the control board. Lieutenant Commander Van Rapton gave Richard a wink as they passed the science board. then back again. Morganthur. and what would Marilyn think? More than likely. I got arrested. Like to drove me crazy. that was fun. looking up at her." "Oh?" Lucas said. "Sure. he handed me the coat and ran. just looked scared and started to run. Well. Don't need the logistic headaches keeping track of where not to send people like you. Back when I was on Bacchus. and that's one planet we'll never see again." Animal chuckled where he leaned on his pack. You ought to go back so we can do it again. Warn't nothin' else to do. real civil like you know. the air hotter than a sauna. That guy had died in the cold. rising from the Command Chair. I ought to put you point. If you look carefully. Sarge and the boys busted me out. her hair flowing free. this was business and had nothing to do with her private life. and today it's chilly. but Toolkie needs the practice. the temperature could go from thirty degrees to below zero in the space of a few hours. sweatin' to death. I took off after him through streets and alleys. I didn't know what to do. as I was boardin' the ship to head back to base. any fight is fun to you. I stopped him and asked why he had it." she said as she walked toward the center of the Bridge. the temperature dropped and stayed down for a full day. Toolkie. He didn't answer. Captain?" she asked as they entered the private area. 'Bout an hour later. man. her long hair hanging freely down her back instead of in the usual ponytail." Morganthur chuckled. Here I was. but was that for his pleasure? He did not think she was interested. "Not just yet. Rain gear on to hold the heat. "These views are coming from the scanner memory." +++ Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton. boys. Of course I wore the coat since it was handy." "Animal. just wanting an answer. He got caught in a dead end. Then. Let's go. turned out for murder. "Good or bad?" "Oh. I believe you'll find it good" she answered with a mischievous grin. "Can we use the lounge? I'd like to show you something on the screen.
" Finally. If you take H2O and remove one of the Hydrogen atoms. so that was no help. After a time the potassium and hydroxide would combine. use what she had learned in school. but they shut up as the group passed. That was a ." "So what you're saying. is that sometime in the past someone combined the two there? How?" "As they formed the hydroxide. Combine the potassium and the hydroxide and you create potassium hydroxide. and she was dragging it out. An interesting fact is that this particular deposit used to be pure potassium. "The voltage wouldn't be very high." She glided across the Bridge and allowed the lift door to slide closed before she turned around. Lesley. Tonight she would switch gears. There are several pockets of pure deposits. She whispered. was leading these seasoned Marines. but the current. yet above the water table." They shared a drink and discussed possible actions necessary at the conclusion of her investigation. the Giant. Have you found the electrodes?" "Not yet. +++ A strange planet. his first assignment. you wind up with hydroxide. He would have to pry it out of her. At least that damn bird was not following them any more. watching for danger. Dinner.the colonists call Cliffside. She probably wanted some type of dramatic climax. which is in liquid form. well--. That is what scans have labeled this deposit." Lucas could tell this was important. Lieutenant Commander?" Lesley realized she was near the end of the Captains patience. Now if we look for minerals we can see they're fairly evenly distributed. "Good job. What should he look for? Animal. as you probably guessed." "Very well. and a carbon rod into the other. which was something he did not want to do. Now. such as this one below the level of the lowest cave. but we're working on it. but they had the time to wait. my cabin. brushing his cheek with her hair. Richard's good work deserved a special reward. "Get on with it!" "That could form a battery." "Don't you need heat or something?" "Usually yes. This was not the time to be lax on discipline. but he wanted the information." "I think I'll take that drink now." 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. they pumped it into the deposit and let osmosis take care of the rest. had said to listen to the insects. and he. squawking its head off. Captain. 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. Lesley leaned over Richard Fornihopper as she followed the Captain back onto the bridge. seventeen hundred hours. you see this point here. That deposit right there could be your source of power. "So what's the meaning of this?" "Well. a rookie. "How big of a battery. which causes the resulting atom to ionize.
The most dangerous thing he had found so far was this bush that had grown over the path. Just a scratch. "Med kit. He continuously peered into the thick brush as he searched for enemies that were not there and traps that were not set. continued on their way north." Toolkie worked his fingers between thorns and moved the branch away from the path. They look wicked. The sergeant hefted an air gun syringe. Something was happening. I'll agree with that. His voice carried out to the rookie." "Good. "I don't want no advertisement of what we do or do not have. but there's enough room to get a grip. and after a cursory look at Sander's injured hand by the sergeant. 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. Toolkie cautiously led the patrol along the path starting at small noises and movements. Keep going Toolkie. Normally somewhat pale. "Yeah. "Hey. you're right. if not worse." Morganthur let out with a nasal groan. "Hey. and usually did. he had learned that anything could. A sudden fear caused the young marine to search the bushes for enemies. that place where the dummies used thorns for weapons? These are as bad. Sanders." he observed as he carefully eased past. These things are sharp. and they look sharp. The sergeant looked at Sanders and called. "Ow! OK. selected a clear bottle.help. Animal. with thorns that were almost an inch long. "There's a bush across the path here. twisted the lock closed. Sergeant Tucker inserted the bottle into the gun. and set the dosage. About twenty minutes later Toolkie glanced back at the group and stopped. Later in his career he could afford to relax. happen. now!" Toolkie sprinted back to the group and handed the sergeant a metal case from his pack. Sarge. still watching for danger. Got it. I'll bet this is an attack bush. but not now." "Yeah?" Sanders asked disdainfully as he brushed by. When he was in training. Sanders had pulled his outer protection off and was flapping his shirt. but watch the thorns. Remember about ten missions ago. is it getting hot." Sergeant Tucker answered." Sergeant Tucker called ahead. something bad." The thin marine moved up to where the other two waited. No problem." "Good. Morganthur?" "Right Sarge. so he stayed alert. He wanted to make a good impression on his first mission. He looked at Sanders. and told Sanders to remove his shirt. Sanders?" the sergeant asked. You're doing good. don't shoot it. . The sergeant placed the gun against Sander's upper arm and fired a shot of microscopic medical robots through the skin. Morganthur and Sergeant Tucker. "You OK. Beads of sweat stood out on the wiry man's face. "Sure. or is it just me?" "It's just you. It can be moved. Sanders' skin was the color of paste." Animal told them as he slowly slipped his bulk past the bush. his voice barely heard. Sarge. This thing just attacked me. "These thorns are big. Just move it out of the way. Toolkie again took the lead. Sarge. carefully slipped past the bush. They regrouped. 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. the rearmost of the patrol. however.
" the sergeant replied." "Great. Learn. He had never done this before. "Now! Standard CPR drill. The sergeant had already counted five. away from the planet. They continued for alternating pumps and breaths for ten minutes. Sarge. to be doing something away from the group. Air sighed out. Toolkie wished he could be somewhere else. and be careful about it. Now the marine looked as if he was sleeping. watch him. He leaned back onto his heels and stared into the dead man's open eyes. What the hell? This was the first time Toolkie had seen this happen. Sarge. breaking the cartilage bond to gain flexibility. Toolkie. This is not going by the book. He slowly sank to the ground. boys." Sanders was dead? Toolkie had been kissing a dead man? A male was bad enough." the sergeant ordered sharply. counting each stroke." Toolkie's stomach turned." Animal said slowly. I don't want to lose no more men. Just minutes before he had been a fellow marine. "No good. Sarge. not with the power of the diaphragm. We'll pick it up on the way back." Animal answered. until the portable reader Animal held beeped. was it a general trap set for whatever passed by? Or was it meant for us?" "I don't think it was general. too eager. 'No known cause' is what it says here. you're the best. "Mouth to mouth. perhaps. Keep alert. "Morganthur. Sarge. "One dead. Animal was alert and watching the forest." Toolkie dropped to his knees next to Sanders' head. This is something new." Animal said as he rejoined the group. and we haven't even reached our objective. Toolkie. warn't your fault. Point. On the fifth stroke Toolkie pinched Sanders' nose and placed his mouth on Sanders' and breathed out hard. Toolkie breathed into Sanders' mouth. hide the body. this time a part of the group. but a dead one? Toolkie could not allow the others to see his disgust. someone who could be a friend. away from the group. . and now for some unknown reason he was a statistic of the mission." Sergeant Tucker closed Sander's eyes. and he emptied its contents before he again followed the path. this was something he would have to live with many times. who told stories and taught skills. but only with the force of the lowering chest. "The question is. "War footing. Again. but there was no reaction when Toolkie lifted the body and helped carry it into the bushes. Why did he die? What was the cause? The sergeant stood and searched the area. then lifted." the sergeant growled. He pressed hard five times. The sergeant had already hit Sander's chest hard. so he might as well learn how now. but apparently Sarge knew the drill."Thanks. don't worry about it. never seen death." Sanders said weakly." "Right. However. "He's a number. got it? Toolkie. impossible to see against the branches." The big man took off at an easy lope. "Neither do I. "It's dark. Animal. We have half a day to go yet. I had to use a stick and scrape it off to see it. The sergeant ordered. Animal. Toolkie. "Go check that bush. giving the nanobots time to circulate and fix the problem. Morganthur said quietly." "Something's been spread on that bush. Number one in the loss column he had heard some say in Basic.
looking for ways to protect the community. I asked Engineer First Class Poindexter if there was some way to increase the strength of the scan for different categories. Morning Star?" "Since the visitors first arrived. Excellent. She studied the results of the scans coming in to avoid considering the trouble she had making close." "So that means the battery still works. what are you doing tonight?" "What she does on her own time is none of your business. He said he could boost one category each pass. "but she's having dinner with Fornihopper. "She'll remember you. permanent friends. still well above the tree line of the forest. "My apologies. 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." The communicator clicked silent as Valerie smiled. On the first pass we made. Still. Headmon." she spoke quietly. Really good. 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. but none recently. keyed the communicator. Several would stay out to scare away the grain-eating fliers. I know from past missions." "So?" Ensign Xeghmire asked. several people had broken limbs that way. you will remember it." "Xeghmire here. Over the years. Xeghmire. Fluttering Butterfly said. nor is it mine. The valley side was not as dangerous as the forest side. What is it. I found where it told how the place electricity is formed was built. 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. the side of the ridge where the sun rose. but we will see. By the way. And she's good. "Van Rapton here. A movement behind Halford caused him to jump." Valerie admonished and turned back to her board. I'll remember that. Electricity has to be put back in. . She rewards you. and it was built. the Bridge Science Officer assigned to the "B" shift. the category he boosted was electrical activity. Was it she. "News from you is usually bad." Ensign Wanda Fluttering Butterfly said from the Science Board. +++ Headman Halford stood at the left side of Cliffside's main entrance. I also learned that it has to be 'recharged' as they wrote. "Her dinners extend to bed time. but I have news I thought you needed to know. "Van Rapton. the kind she could talk to and tell her troubles. 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.+++ Ensign Valerie Xeghmire." Halford turned toward the speaker. the place where we located the antenna. or I can show the builders. The sun was slowly lowering toward the far ridge. I can show you. it was time for the harvesters to come in. I have been looking at the records of the first journeys to Cliffside and how it was built. yet low enough that most of the field workers in the valley fields would come in from the harvest. It also shows how to build the necessary equipment.
" "What do we need to rebuild the electricity supply?" "We need to tap the electric supply by the river." Morganthur supplied. "OK. I thought my first assessment was true.whichever you choose. You're not as dumb as you think. you'll be first tonight. Animal replied. show them what you've found and help them find what they need. either animal or human. You're smarter than I thought. Break out a meal. Morganthur. your mind finally realizes that the danger is real. "This looks like a reasonable place. We will stop. You've seen death for the first time. Maybe this news was not so bad after all." Sergeant Tucker studied the perimeter. You'll get used to it. after that the usual order. I take the hint." "Am I ever beat!" Toolkie complained. You know. no one would drop out of the sky. If they had to stop tracking those in space. "I will speak to Taggart." Sergeant Tucker started to move toward Animal. and you've gone on alert now with your whole body. Morganthur said. The storage area is useless. "You know. is it? You got brains. Is there anything else?" "Yes. Never underestimate your enemy. we can use the electricity from the river to charge the electricity pond. Few bushes grew between the trees to hide attackers. You'll learn over time not to make quick assessments or generalizations. I was out on Rigle K-5 drinkin' with a lady. And you just came out and said it. "Yeah. After the harvest is ground. But it's not. Sarge. and there were other things for Taggart to do. Your muscles are tense and the adrenaline's flowing full time. Small area. The records also say that if the electricity stored is completely used up. about ready to go upstairs and have some fun. I thought you were one of these big guys that didn't have any brains. "Good. Those in the ocean could keep Seaside informed about those in space. one of several the marine's had passed recently. then that would happen." Toolkie's forehead crinkled as he looked at Animal. and even then I wouldn't have known how to say it without thinking hard. on or off the job." Or maybe the news was bad. it cannot be returned. no trees above us." That would give the skilled of his community time to make the needed equipment. when I first saw you. but his face relaxed. Down packs. which will pull power away from the grinder. when I heard you talking to the Sarge. "Then you are saying it would be better not to use any more electricity?" "That may be a good idea. unless you do complicated things with chemicals that we do not have or know how to use. "Thanks kid. and it's defensible. Animal. place your rolls. With no trees above them. . All that tends to wear you out. It can get you killed." So be it. Tell the builders. It would have taken me hours to work out what you told me. just a big dumb galumph who beats up whoever the school bully says? Then. it's getting dark. kid. "It's been an exciting day. either." +++ The path opened out into another small clearing.
sure. I look at him and don't worry. He looked at me kind of strange. the sky tracker. when I start to get a feelin'. Headquarters will notify both his wives. the floor worn smooth from hundreds of years of use. Sarge?" "We'll report his death." The sergeant was not in the mood for fun and games." "Yeah. Ain't no way to get his body. I'll skip the details and just say that for the rest of the furlough I took lessons from him. and I'm wonderin' what's goin' on. my friend. almost as fast as a snake." Morganthur put down his half-eaten dinner.' He said 'That is my wife. that was uncalled for. I'm hittin' the sack. "What are we goin' to do about Sanders. there ain't no one in the place. Wish I could believe it. You ever have one of them feelin's. You're on duty after Morganthur. Walk with me. Up there is not wild." Sergeant Tucker stewed for a moment. bent over a table working on a problem." "That sounds like a good idea. the sides of living rock the same as when the corridor had formed eons ago." Halford waited while Taggart put his tools away. Toolkie." "There is time for what you do later. and then walked with him up the . This little guy. and gave him a quick one back. and the systems that have papers out on him. "You too. That was when I was still a private." The sergeant looked at the new recruit lying in his sleeping sack and staring wide eyed at the materializing stars. Animal. Well." "Nice story.' soundin' real mean. he said. I guess. I'm beat. and I let him stay. What more can we do?" "Nothin'.when this little guy comes in the bar. Sarge. "But it's true. Quietly. except for the occasional lamp that gave out just enough light to see. not much younger than he was. when you know somethin's got to happen. He turned into a corridor that opened to the left and entered the workroom of Taggart. I didn't hear you come in. Hit the sack." "Right Sarge. Sanders got to me. "Yeah.' I tell him. it'll be decomposed or eaten by the time we come back. everyone backs away. and I tell him that it don't matter cause I still paid for her. Where'd you keep it? Up your nose?" "Sarge. It is a clear night and the stars are out. I took it. and that ain't no exaggeration. see you in the mornin'. or Marganthur's tall tales. Come. He was that good. See you in a couple hours. sure. by this time the bar had cleared. then flipped a fist at my face real quick like. 'She's mine tonight cause I paid for her." Taggart jumped." "Let us go up next to the stream. years ago. "Taggart. He saw the man. but you don't know what? Well I got this feelin' just before this little thin guy walks over to me. Morganthur. we need to talk. Whatever. We will be safe. before he entered the room. he says 'That's my woman. "You're right. "Headmon." +++ Headmon Halford walked up a ramp. I will be up shortly." He always claimed the stories were true. What is on your mind. Well.
I will tell O'Brien and have the guards spread the news also. The morning will start at daylight. Soft noises from nearby domesticated animals added to the peace of the valley. Smells good." They sat on rocks in the middle of the small river and let their feet dangle in the water. Stay here awhile. a line of bushes showed where the stream ran. Until then he suggests we stop using it so all the electricity will not leave the deposit. "I caught you. "It's been a long time. I was calculating new orbits to see if any of them could cause that to happen." "Time? Oh. and we should be done in just a . You know we won't be able to watch the space ship any more." Headmon Halford stepped into the water. oh." "Have they moved? Or are they still going around us in the same way?" "They have disappeared from my screen. yes. The electrodes need to be reformed. that does. "Headmon. Halford followed the long spiral through corridors and large rooms filled with activity." "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. when we work into the dangerous night. Spread the word. carefully controlled." "Yes. You would not be able to track the skies any more." "Come. Any day. for the season of harvest is upon us. If that happened. to gather. to the main room on the second level. It has been hot these past few days. Working always to his left.ramp until they reached the entrance to the outside near the river. I'm going down to my sleeping rugs." he told Halford as they walked toward the stream. we will go down to the rocks over there. Taggart paused and breathed deeply. watch the stars you love. He says that he can do it in a couple months. after the harvest and the grain has been ground. stepped in front of him." "Good. "What is it you wanted to speak of?" Taggart asked. offering relief to the overused appendages. I can help him get ready to charge the deposit while I'm not doing my regular job. so that what has left reforms." Taggart sat on his rock thinking. crossed to the shore. there would be nothing available for the new electricity to attach to. purged is the word he used. and that can be done by running electricity through them in greater amounts. Dip your feet and enjoy with me. It's time. "days at least. and walked down the smooth ramp into the noise of his community. "Morning Star has told me that the electricity deposit needs to have the electricity replaced. The water here has been warmed somewhat by the sun. Ilant. and maybe you'll see something new. since I was last in the open. I'll stop using my electrical equipment." he panted. "It makes sense. and we would lose a valuable resource. any hour. That may be what happened. He had almost reached the ramp to the first level when the Crop Master. all will work. the time of the harvest is now. I expect to be told it is time for the main push. savoring the freshness of the air just above where he worked. OK. Did he mention that?" "He said the deposit would have to be. Or Morning Star could replace the electrodes. it would work better that way. The movement of the cool liquid massaged the muscles and numbed the nerves slightly. Down the grass hill at the bottom of the valley." "Yes." "So be it.
Ilant will be in charge. Halford knew he had been looking forward to sleep. This has been a good year. "What is it." "That is good. The head of the guards sighed. We will see what happens. Headmon. What brings you here?" "I need news spread. All are to report to him at daylight. all seems well. We have yet to locate any close enough for our hunters to reach. how goes it?" he said as he saw the head of the guards making ready to sleep." Halford watched as Ilant weaved through the thinning crowds toward the sleeping area. O'Brien asked. Other than that. Seaside killed two rumblers. Headmon?" "I need word spread that gathering starts tomorrow. "All goes well. Good evening. "O'Brien." "If that is so it will be a miracle.week if we work hard." "I will have that message delivered. so they will have what they need for the winter." . and then walked to the guardroom." Halford said. Headmon. Now go tell the others.
and the animals mostly go to the warmer areas." Anderson said shaking the engineer. This way it will last through the winter when it will be too cold to grow much. but Wakefield knows what is needed." "I still think the vents should be at the top. He put on his pants and shirt and slipped into his shoes while wishing he were back in civilization. No fields. along with the heat." There was no way Brevor wanted another day of that backbreaking labor. walking out in the fields under the sun throwing the gathered stalks onto wagon after wagon. but smaller. but they would die. What this does is cook the meat while letting the preservatives in the smoke and the salt we sprinkle on the meat soak through. Small vents near the bottom. Where was the justice? "It is this way. it is time to get up. We can wear their skins. That was hard work. a lot of time to sleep. "What? Huh? The sun isn't up yet. and it has to be a certain type of wood or the smoke will not have the proper preservatives. poured smoke into the air. you see. all the smoke would get out before it reached the meat." . He did not have all this manual labor back where there was technology. and he was awake and moving. It's the only way they can live. "So what do we have to do?" "Mostly tend the fire. Anderson added a little incentive. Brevor mumbled. Others have started the process and now it's our turn. protected with a screen of some material Brevor had yet to identify. "We have to smoke the meat. "Unless you would rather work the harvest?" "Oh. 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. The stars were out." "If they were. It is complicated. and we have to use the proper amount of green wood to supply the right amount of smoke." Brevor had worked hard all day yesterday. "We must get going to the smokehouse. I'm awake! I'll be with you in a minute." A glance through eyelids opened a slit showed only darkness outside the window. Brevor joined Anderson outside and looked up. leading Brevor between the houses. We cannot let it get too big or too small." Anderson said. like the smokehouse Anderson was building. no. What do you mean it's time to go?" He rolled over so his back was to his guide. There was a lot of night to go. Brevor. and one of the moons. except there's no movable partition. They have to. "Here we are." Brevor looked at the smoke flowing out of the vents near the entrance.Chapter 9 "We must go. It's like at the larger smokehouse we're building. He had slaved just as hard as anyone else had and deserved to sleep at least until the sun was up. They walked through the shadows with Brevor bemoaning the early hour until they reached a building with no windows. Anderson kicked the bed.
Oh." Brevor followed Anderson through a three-meter wide door in the half-meter thick wall into a rectangular room. The first few layers we built into the ground." +++ After waking early the morning before. He gathered an armload from each pile and returned to the fire room. They would have to go into the smoke and place wood and poke and prod. Brevor asked. we will get to work in the fields some more. They can support the roof because the walls are thick to hold in the heat. From the debris scattered around." Brevor found both piles his guide had mentioned near the trees of the forest. and placed the screening in. exhausted after the long trip. and now that the whole village helps the work will go quickly. you will find some cut and split wood and some green branches." . we only have to keep the fire up. although you could breathe. Oh. Brevor hoped he could hold his breath that long. We do not have to mess with that. "Just about the way it is. we will be doing this on and off for a week. Francine woke Estelle. How big do we need to keep the fire?" Brevor asked. "Come. The first two fields are done already. "How did you build this?" "The same as we built the other one. but you might want to prepare to wake early when it is our turn to tend the smoke fires. Then we built the layer with the holes. or that door over there. Someone had worked hard to gather all this wood. but it keeps out what we don't want in the meat and lets out the smoke. To pass the time. A strong odor of smoke filled the room. "It looks like most of the wood is gone. Estelle had dropped her load where Dennis had said and had followed her guide to the house and her bed. The screen was on the original space ship. it appeared that most of the wood had already gone into the fire. Come in and I will show you. wider that it was long. Just about the way it is. Then we can watch the sun rise. The group had arrived in the village after dark and trudged to the building where they smoked the meat. She fell almost instantly asleep. Estelle had walked for hours with Francine and the others to where the hunters waited. We go harvest. The travelers had lugged all the meat and the intact skin on poles dragged behind them from the kill site to Seaside. Across from the door a small fire burned on the hearth. nor so small that it is ineffective. and we'll be done before the harvest celebration. 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. Bring some of both in. Add one of the untrimmed green branches. so I have no idea how it was made.Feed the fire. There are others who know where the proper trees are. and he or she would need more. Too early in the morning. It needs a bit more smoke. Around the side of the building. Not so big that it will burn the deflection skin. is the room filled with hanging meat. and before you ask. will you? I will get the next load. "Through that hole. collapsing on it without undressing. They will replenish the wood later today. This was worse than those tobacco sticks they used on Cadrupi. Then we used the light bricks I showed you the other day.
Possibly the primitive life was good for you. There is no communication involved. It's the hardest of the gatherings. TalksTo-Many." Talks-To-Many crossed the open area filled with marnmen and lowered to the ocean's floor. Come on. I have a feeling that we may be coming into an important . or wear that and bring something else. so I come in person to receive direction.It was barely light. Usually you send your words with Swims-Between. You're speaking better." "That's what I'll do. "Talks-ToMany." "It comes from talking to you. and pulled Estelle to a sitting position. and when it is time to eat. You and I will work together. I have felt something strange. GuardsThe-Entrance. and something different to wear. "Ha! You think we earn a celebration that easy? We have another week before all the grain is brought in. But with the extra help. you still swim. "You still swim to you." "Then enter." +++ Talks-To-Many eased around groups of conversing marnmen toward the governing center's entrance dedicated to those with important messages. And welcome. at the least. Why do you come yourself?" "Because it is not a message that I have received. Come close and tell me why you feel it necessary for you to come. We go this way. "You still swim. Too rarely. I learn. as politeness required. Thanks. You know your way to the conversation area. Guards-The-Entrance. Maybe then she would have the energy for more work. we can go to the stream and clean up. "Harvest? I thought all that was done. Talks-ToMany lowered respectfully as he reached the guard and said." Talks-To-Many swam slowly along the marked corridors of the area of GivesDirection." The guard quickly gave a shallow bow and answered. but just a feeling I have felt. Wendell will be pleased." Estelle pulled on the dress she had worn the day before. extra strength. Francine pulled the covers off her guest. And have more than last year. Gives-Direction noticed the newcomer and recognized him immediately. I need a bath. I feel so dirty. that's why we all pitch in. "Spirit. "Gives-Direction. something new. After we swim you can put on clean clothes. In front of him a guard waited. She needed one of Dennis' strong teas." "Then wear something else. May you always swim in waters that are calm. something that worries me. and good luck." How did Francine look so ready after working so hard and so long yesterday? Estelle could barely open her eyes. He noticed many waited to speak as he entered the conversation area. something that Gives-Direction should know about. he slowly made his way to the large area where the marnmen could speak to Gives-Direction on matters of general importance. Looking neither right nor left. You rarely come here and grace us with your presence. his equipage polished to a high shine. It has been long since you have come here with a message. it looks like we'll finish early. his manner that of an old friend. The sun had not risen yet. For you to leave your post to enter the community is highly unusual. grasped an arm. 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.
stirring up the water and silt from the bottom. No one truly knows what intelligence is. to let a life go for no reason. Talks-To-Many. None know the true answer for that question. "Now explain what you mean. a consideration for others that only intelligent creatures have. is wrong? That is what an unintelligent being does. but over the next few warm and cold times. Talks-To-Many. not one who thinks. A treaty had been in effect for many warm and cold seasons. "Come." Talks-To-Many told of what had happened with the Thinkers. or any other community.time. Talks-To-Many. I feel the Thinkers may be starting to show true intelligence. would it mean the treaty must change? Could the hunters for the community. how the one had come closer to the village than any had before. I will work on this problem. we will rise to the surface of the living-water and breath the air of life while we speak of this feeling you have. whether it is the use of tools. and to those who dwell in the air of life." The two marnmen floated out of the fog of silt to rock on the gentle waves at the living water's surface. 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. Then he continued. it involves another species. nor suddenly. about this possibility. or the respect of life. We will have to wait and watch for the results. but as you pointed out. None other is to listen. a respect for other species that goes beyond the respect you feel for those stronger than yourselves. Rather. to ignore a danger to another. nor make things. I know they cannot and will not use tools." The marnmen in the area became agitated. "You will remember that the Thinkers also told us about the Federation approaching without our asking them to. Go back to your duties with a clear mind. If the Thinkers did change. This does not involve those who dwell on the ancient land. and how it had passed under him and shown him the vessel that swam through the star seas leaving the living planet's area. It is good that you have told me of this. the Thinkers may teach us. Thinkers were the one species who could successfully hunt the marnmen. what those who dwell on the ancient land call sentience. not right now. a way to keep the marnmen safe. I believe that shows intelligence. those who supplied sustenance to all who live here." "It well might. Gives-Direction. Gives-Direction said. I think that they have empathy awakening. I will speak to my advisors. or the ability to laugh as I have heard once." . and that although you may kill for food. Both times the Thinkers volunteered information that was vital to us or to those who dwell in the air of life. be in danger? Gives-Direction said.
" The Captain pondered the problem for a moment. when pushed to the maximum.Chapter 10 The A shift had started at zero six hundred hours. overlaid. "Engineering say's everything is as it should be. She had a dramatic streak she would have to keep under control. bring up the real time scan. There were several possibilities that occurred to him. Van Rapton?" "It seems to me that they've stopped scanning for some reason. "At this moment I'm not busy. bring up view 431896. it's gone!" Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton stared at the screen open mouthed. The Captain said. this is the proper area. I have no relief readily available. and some of the surrounding deposits. "It . The door of the lift slid open to reveal a tall woman in an officer's working uniform. look like this. we placed an amplifier in-line to strengthen the signal to noise ratio. As you will notice. "Who's there? Fornihopper. just before the end of 'B' shift. Fornihopper? Make sure no one removed the amplifier." The Science Officer pushed buttons and whispered into the communicator. However. which turned up interesting results you'll remember. however. What did his science expert think? "Does that suggest anything. have disappeared." "And now those lines. please. which is where they scan us from. Yesterday. Captain. probably not right. her long blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. "Do you have time for me to show you something?" Captain Lucas Mussuclio glanced around the light brown room. Now he could relax for a few minutes and wait for problems to arise. After a moment he answered. L. to get a better picture." Lesley answered. a short period of quiet bustle and conversation as the personnel in seats changed and exchanged information. where the current runs I imagine. so you'll have to use the main screen. real time. We're almost positive the deposit at the one end works as a battery supplying low voltage current to the room near the top.C. that's what we saw. When we looked again we saw something new. ship time. Those two lines go from the deposit of potassium hydroxide to a room up near the top and a small area near the bottom. Sir. This was the second time Lieutenant Commander Van Rapton had burst onto the Bridge. "Captain. but not much more. Quiet ensued as projects continued or the boredom of circling a planet grew. Captain. which I can show you now." "Then why doesn't it show up? Go to scan 431927. "What happened? Are you sure that's the proper scan. We can see the cave system. Fornihopper. 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. please. and highlighted for ease of viewing." she called as she strode past the Communications Desk and to the Captain's right. We think. and yes." "Very well. Perhaps a reaction slightly off the normal course could supply the hint. our scans. During the first few minutes. There.
We worked out that the use of the power should be stopped until we learn how to store more." He paused as if to think of the exact words he wished to use. possibly to conserve power.appears they have stopped the use of their electricity. Unlike the valley between the ridges. Morning Star says he has complete instructions. stood nearby watching for signs of predators in the area." +++ Fields of grain and partially decayed leavings filled the area from the mountains to the foothill forest. a dangerous place to work because of the cover provided for predators. Used up the electrodes? Was that possible? If it came from Van Rapton. We seem to have a good harvest this year. "I have . but I cannot understand why. he could not evade answering a question in return." The guard paused for a moment." Since Iolif had asked for information." "Or they've used up their electrodes and don't have the technology to replace them. Slowly the grain for the coming winter was sliced from the ground and transported to storage areas deep in the cave system. I will wait and see. They must have shut down for some reason. silent for a moment. unable to hunt since the accident." Halford noted the new word. Lesley. Lanford sent out patrols to watch to the south in case the enemy does not follow the path." "Yes. "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. and how it is made and stored. Other than that I don't know. Very good. his height above the valley floor giving the illusion he flew above his people as they worked at their tasks. Iolif. Is that true?" "Not quite. one Halford had asked himself several times before. "Then I will have to speak to him. They may elude those he sent down there. and neither can the others. We have not done them wrong. it must be possible. "I would tend to agree with that assessment. and the straw dried and used as bedding and compost. I'll remember that." That was one of his possibilities. "Tell me something. "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. Halford turned to him and said. It appears that if the harvest is this good next year we will be able to plant less grain and more of something else. "Another point to discuss when they don't want to join the Federation. Morning Star found an old record about the power Taggart uses. and good information. "They are unsure of exactly what is going on. the third time he had heard it used. "I think the hunters that searched north have returned." the Science Officer proposed. The grains were separated and sorted for eating or next year's seed. "I heard a story that Taggart has been told to stop. this area was fully cultivated from the gentler lower slopes of the mountains to the forest's edge. so what reason would they have?" A reasonable question. At least from that source. Lanford has said that these people want to destroy us. Sir. even with the children helping they are not as far along as they were last year.
Their ways are strange. to watch below and give us a chance if the enemy comes from below. "Have you seen how the harvest goes?" "Not as recently as you. Those that were sent to the west should return later. There's no reason for it. Wakefield believes." Halford stood at the window next to his lead hunter and watched the people working below him. that would not be sufficient reason. if it's not already. the beats echoing through the large open area. other than as property for their use or misuse. He asked. at least five in each group. not honest. I want to send them to the thinking rock a day from here. just as it has to be done down below there. I've pulled all my hunters. nodded his head. Tell me something. using the pole to support his weight on the left side. 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. That is what Wakefield thinks. and. that the people in charge of large groups like the Federation forget that people exist. or those living on it die for some reason. They want to control everything." They looked out the window. "It appears to be going well. a stout pole within easy reach." "Yes. Halford watching the harvesters at work and thinking of a winter with plenty to eat." The two men watched the world in silence. with gray hair cascading down his back." "That is what I had heard. it's time for you to take a break. and. They are bringing in more than ever before. especially since the marnmen told us their small craft returned to the mountains. When it was again quiet. as far as I know. an old man. except those dealing with the people from the Federation." "That would be a mess. slightly bent. but the work would have to be done. "Iolif. wild area to the south of us that cannot be covered with patrols. and I want as little a chance of someone getting hurt as possible. that they had killed the others. I would think. and a younger man with a twisted leg next to him leaning on the wall. Why would there be a problem?" "The clouds have begun to form up there. It is what we thought might happen here. Lanford found them that way a few minutes later. walked into the main cave. reached for the pole. and Lanford trying to penetrate the trees with his gaze. We've seen attacks of Raptors around. "I've sent the hunters that were to the north to watch from the large tree near the charcoal pit. but I couldn't understand why." "For you and me. but I hope no one's meditation is disturbed.been told that if no one is living on the planet. It will be rainy in an hour. They can see a wide. How that can be. They think of power and belongings. that work is done." The younger man turned to Lanford." "So be it. not entities. In this case it fits. Lanford looked out the window. and they think of people as numbers. I do not know. and placed them as watchers. For a time you could hear the pole as it hit the floor. everyone living here. At least we don't have to work the high land today. The marnmen have told us they destroyed the people on the other side of the ocean. In a . I have heard stories that a new storage area will have to be opened up. then they can claim the planet and do what they want with it." Lanford chuckled." "That it does. however.
and cut another handful. but when he looked. his eyes searching the leaves. the beat of Iolif's stick entered the small room. After all. just stared. eyes slightly below the level of his. one that would be closer as he moved across the field. so he must be imagining things. He noticed someone had started a new pile. hobble over to the pile of cut plants. sharp claws into his chest and stomach. Well. He also saw he was near the edge of the forest. The beak seemed to grow explosively. Then he groaned and straightened. bending and cutting and walking. Just to the right of where he would be. and add his handful to the pile. Good day. evil he could see. All he had to do was continue bending and cutting and walking.thinner area where he could see patches of ground. An arrow suddenly quivered in the animal's side. Just below the shining eyes. There seemed to be more watchers than usual today. bending and cutting and walking. The head began to turn sideways as the animal leaped from the trees. the teeth revealed. he had reached the end of his row without realizing it. he saw two eyes. "I think I saw something one quarter to the right and halfway to the horizon. He stood straight. Was he ever tired of harvest. A noise sounded from the woods. Taggart brushed aside any apprehension he felt. Evil stared out of the eyes. The watcher had heard the noise and drawn his arrow. he thought he could detect movement. nothing was there. bending and cutting and walking. I must continue on my rounds. "Keep your eyes open. He raised his hands above his head. Once he reached there. a rustle in the leaves as if a small animal passed through among the trees. He thought. he could relax for a few minutes while he moved to a new section. The watcher had not heard anything. Powerful legs swung forward. I am definitely not used to this. cracked his back straight. Another matched the first . Forget the harvest. he was still looking the other direction. nostrils flared. never moved. he bent slightly so he could grasp a large handful of plants. It wouldn't be long before he could take a break." Lanford told his guard. leaned back to work out the kinks. and then bent far forward. and within a couple meters of the trees. Headmon Halford. They never wavered. on and on until the sun goes down. until it was so dark you could not see. prepared to drive huge. they still harvested. and cracked his knuckles. I want back in my room with my power. thirteen days when everyone except the watchers. an arrow nocked in his bow. coming at his face. He knew it would take at least thirteen days to complete this task. bending and cutting and walking. He heard an answering crack from the trees. There was the pile. stretched as far up as he could. Taggart looked back at the trees. no one else had heard it. At the same time." +++ Taggart puffed over to the growing pile of cut plants. Bending and cutting and walking. Besides. just three steps away now to his left. He heard a scream. Headmon. use his long knife to slice the stalks close to the ground. one of the hunters stood watch. Again. Staring back at him from the bushes. The eyes seemed to glitter above a sharp-toothed beak. and most of them were watching the woods for some reason. Taggart looked at the watcher. It gaped wide as it grew. it was none of his problem. and finally did a deep knee bend. and Lanford would be under the sun bending and cutting and walking. returned to where he had been a short time before. The people working to his right and left had not heard anything.
The weight on his chest seemed to lessen. His face began to get wetter. I'm Jenny. one of the hunters he thought. What did she say? That she would talk to him later? During the Harvest Celebration? Most people did more than just talk. Taggart noticed her dress was torn and covered with blood. if not right then it would be only a matter of seconds. he could think of more than just her. He felt wetness on his face and neck. Again." a woman softly told him. There were more shouts. He heard someone tell him not to move. Several pairs of feet thudded by at a run. The weight came back onto his chest. Two more twangs and thuds sounded almost simultaneously. yet she still looked good. I think your chest is just bruised. You look to be lucky. not since raptors killed his wife. keep your eyes closed. maybe better than most. The beak would split his jugular. "Again. the rag brushing liquid and debris from his eyes. his head bowed. "Good. Fingers probed his body. Go to the stream and clean up. Slowly he became aware of people yelling. Calmly the voice said. I have to go. He heard scratching close by. and then leave.arrow's position on the opposite side." he answered quietly. Something had to give. but during the Harvest Celebration. I will talk to you later. this time to stay. this time with a cooling solution. He had not considered a woman in a long time. You're Taggart. His neck prickled. and then lessened. some very close. a twang. and then liquid was poured on his head. the words confused. The evil light seemed to disappear from the beast's eyes just before the toothed beak drove into Taggart's neck. +++ Iolif looked over at Headmon Halford as he sat leaning against the far wall. Iolif looked . and pain where the beak met the skin. but other than those two problems." the woman said again gently wiping his eyes clean. Someone wiped his eyes again." He carefully folded into a hunched sitting position. and his chest felt sore. and more liquid poured on his head. Iolif realized. others are hurt. then see Murphy. the weight lifted off his chest. The weight of the pouncing animal knocked him over. Maybe Evening Light was telling him it had been long enough since her death. he felt all right. "You're the one who found out the misbegotten Federation cretins played games. He knew he was dead. but there might be more." Gently his face was wiped. and pain in his chest. The voice sounded familiar. Maybe now. See Murphy. and his work of tracking. "Do not open your eyes or you won't be able to see for a long time. and a nap in the middle of the morning was as good a fix as anything else was. "Hold still." he heard someone say. A stream of liquid began to pour on him. but sit up." The young woman gracefully rose and walked toward a knot of people. The answering thunk seemed to be in the same place as the first. The weight on his body suddenly grew. Another twang sounded from his other side. unsure of exactly what happened. That noise he could recognize. I want to talk to you more. Maybe. then almost immediately a thunk. All the beast had to do was clamp down. "OK. "you can open your eyes now. Late night meetings followed by early morning organizing were not for a man as old as Halford. More shouts on both sides sounded. Shouts sounded from farther away. and Taggart would be no more. aren't you?" "Yes.
It is too far to shout. Wave something. one of them when the Federation first arrived. Watchers looked back and forth along the lines of trees. and we have no way to signal. I just could not believe it at first." "I see it. He could shout a warning. He called. and what to look for. Why they stopped. Taggart was important to Cliffside." a bit louder when there was no answer. I will talk to Lanford tonight. some he knew by name. Is Murphy down there?" "I'm not sure. before they had started a child." "An attack of Raptors watching and no way to warn them." "He's two fields over tending one of the women who came down with the sun disease. He called." Lanford left them at a run. whose husband of less than a season died while hunting. "No. There must be something we can do. It's too far to shout. He will be needed. what is it. I don't know. this time farther over. Iolif and Halford could do nothing but watch as the Raptors prepared to attack." he called quietly. Taggart was the only way to track what was above the atmosphere. He could see many folk he recognized. Headmon. "An attack of Raptors is close by and watching the harvesters in that field." "What?" The voice was alert. and stretched. Taggart reached the end of the field. Yet they obviously did not see it. There was Jenny. and another over there some more." Halford was at the window peering out at the forest. "I've seen movement in the bushes by the field. Halford noticed the guard had his arrow held ready." "I heard you. close by the forest. It would only confuse the watchers and draw their attention away from the problem. They were all in one field. skilled hunters searching for any predators that might attack." The signals must show where the danger was. Close by were several others he recognized. where Taggart would be in a couple minutes. Iolif had carried several messages from Taggart to the Headmon. stood. "What!" "I said I thought--. The one by Taggart might have made a noise. or anything arraigned to warn them. A few harvesters over was Taggart. Signals were complicated. This must change. Without the marnmen. "Lanford did say they were around. Iolif saw something move. "Look to the right. but I can't tell. I'd better get down there. A barely heard voice would be no more than a distraction. Halford pointed. all the way to the corner. "Headmon. I know there is nothing to do at the moment. That's a Raptor for sure. At the edge of the forest. I think it's Raptors. Lanford would know. .back out toward the harvesters. He saw movement again at the edge of the forest." "What would I know?" Lanford asked as he walked into the small room. Beat a drum. I've seen five so far just since I've been here." "We need signals like we used to have years ago. Where did you see them?" "I think I saw one right at the end where Taggart is. Do you know where Murphy is? We should send him down now. but the distance was too great for understanding. "Headmon. do not answer. a head. "Headmon!" "Yes. in the bushes that lined the field. It won't take him long to get there. No. for they looked away again. There is one by Taggart. the sky tracker as Iolif thought of him. but not by name. Can you warn the harvesters?" Iolif considered the problem. for both Taggart and the guard close by looked at it." a sleepy voice answered.
" A Raptor dove from the trees near the middle section of the field. grabbed an arrow from his quill. vague screams. both driving directly to the heart and killing the beast instantly. Taggart must have screamed. powerful legs propelling it into the air at a high speed. "Do you know Lanford? Murphy? Morning Star?" As the boy nodded to each one of the names Halford continued. One of the hunters shoved the Raptor off Taggart. Halford told Iolif. Halfway to Taggart. The Raptors had disappeared. drew it. with nothing making sense. but for now we need to recuperate. Halford and Iolif watched as more of the carnivores attacked different sections of harvesters. shouts and yells. "Good." Halford answered. tell the field bosses that they are to bring everyone in." Halford said as he watched several hunters run to the next field over where more of the attacking animals began to show." Iolif told Halford as the boy sprinted off to complete his task. "I should be down there. Right here. there were only people and dead beasts in the field. and then died as two more arrows pierced its heart. When they were finally driven off. "That is Mary down there hurt. I saw. "If this happens again. a wound in its neck pouring blood onto the tracker. For now. "And even now you . You will. At the other end of the field. and let fly straight between the eyes of the Raptor that was less than a meter from him. The nearest watcher ran over and began to lift the Raptor from Taggart's body. and grabbed one of the women. "Headmon. Halford thought trying to project his warning psychically. He reached behind him. The feet came forward. Tomorrow we can continue the task. The bird swerved. and then the women close by began to take care of his needs. It bounced off Taggart and fell next to him. Look at the trees. "Look out!" One of the carnivores leaped out directly at Taggart. He yelled. but the deadly jaws failed to close. They died at the hands of hunters also. in mid leap. Raptors also attacked. The Raptor leapt. the Raptors are attacking the people in the field!" "I saw. two arrows found their mark. One life was more than they could spare. It dragged her back into the safety of the bushes before anyone else had a chance to rescue her. his head lowered and his shoulders slumped. A shout caused him to spin around. "Look at Taggart!" Iolif yelled as another Raptor drove into the carnivore on Taggart's body. slashed at the guard that was beginning to take aim. Her sister just had a baby." Halford answered quietly." "I wish I could have helped. tell each of them we will meet here tonight after supper.He turned his back on the trees. only the one human life had been lost. Its head turned sideways so the scissoring beak would slice Taggart's head from his neck. One of the young boys of the community ran into the room. and her husband is with Taggart. When they return. but one of the women had her arm shredded. for both watchers turned toward him. you will. toes pointed to spear its prey with sharp claws as long as a hand. A hunter on either side let fly and again killed the attacking animal. Noise drifted up from below. dropping the beast. harvest is finished for today. Look! At! The! Trees! Taggart turned and froze as Halford yelled. Headmon Halford turned away from the window. Just as suddenly as the attackers had appeared. The Raptor completed its ballistic flight knocking Taggart to the ground hard.
+++ Two hunters glided along the path like ghosts through the light rain." Willow asked. They had barely settled themselves when three men cautiously eased past. "Scale Hunter. The three new arrivals approached him. "What do you want us to do? It's your hunt. In bright sun they have sparkles. though if the bush caught them they might be more careful. The three newcomers froze. Tonight. They might." "What we do? I think they will camp near here tonight." The Headmon turned and with lowered head began to walk slowly toward the main entrance. He sent the two of us. They have long poles that appear to be weapons. What can we use for a signal. Halford received word that the marnmen to the south saw the flyer head back to the land." Jamson greeted the middle-aged hunter who led the reinforcements. "Someone's coming. their senses attuned to what was around them. but I don't know if that worked. to help if we could. if the men were still and they were in the shadows. "It's a new mixture. they are noisy like you would not believe. . their eyes searching the bushes near where they had heard the voice. footsteps placed carefully." An average young man in the prime of life bowed slightly. watching everything around them. Then Jamson said. The two hunters disappeared into the dripping underbrush at the side of the path and watched to see who approached. and only use it on life that is not to be eaten." as he placed the gourd in his pouch. There are." Scale Hunter told them holding out a gourd." "And Murphy sent me with this. or were. as did Fogart. Willow introduced the third newcomer. Carroll and me." +++ Headmon Halford entered the guardroom with the window overlooking the fields." "Then it won't be used much. "It seems to be made just for this expedition. just before the moons set." Fogart whispered to Jamson as he pointed along the path in the direction of Cliffside. that one that blocks the path a bit more than a day back. "This is Carroll. too. The hidden hunters stepped out of the bushes and Jamson raised his hand in a quiet greeting. He said to be sure you do not touch it. "Let me fill you in on what has occurred so far. "Willow. and how do we direct the guards to where the danger is? Think on it and tell Lanford later. possibly around this rock. and wait. especially toward their rear where the enemy traveled. We've been sent to help. Jamson recognized the first man in line and called to him quietly. silent as they moved. "Jamson?" one of the travelers called quietly. a young man with a large muscular chest and broad powerful shoulders. And they are in no way hunters. especially with the trees dripping after the rain. Fogart and I will get close to them. and coverings for their entire bodies that look like they're supposed to blend into the woods. five men. I poisoned a bush. Jamson stopped. talking loud enough for us to hear them first. I do not know why.can help. both sensing another's presence." Jamson said as he studied the young man with Willow.
If there are many. three or four or more. While Lanford watched the dark forest with the occasional tree flash." The historian ran his fingers through the hair near his head. Some stories I remember say that while the signal did tell those on the ground that those above had seen something. Iolif it was I think. I use them in some of my medicines. What was the reason for red?" Halford asked. and has a touch of yellow in it." Headman Halford prompted. then the hunters near Taggart would have known to be alert. Do we have anything that could be used while the cloths are being readied?" No one spoke. The plants are easy to find in the forest just beyond the field. as there were today. So would orange. Silence slowly became a burden felt by everyone at the meeting. "I don't know. Morning Star. and it may contrast against the brownish gray better. but not the roots. but only a very short time and they would know to watch carefully. The one you blow into that Candice uses during dance. What I'm trying to say is. and it should be easy to make. and attached them to the wall so they would always be ready. the lightning bug's mating call. "When I am below. until it fades. . sit so he won't fall off. Finally. Headmon Halford asked the small group gathered in the watch room. so it should show up very well. I can sometimes see when a person is leaning out of one of the windows. if the person watching sees something. Morning Star? We cannot lose more people to attack from the trees. "Begin to prepare and dye large skins or cloths like you said. but may I speak?" "Any suggestions would be welcome.Lanford. It's made from the red-fruited sticky bush. Yes. if Iolif had thrown over the cloth to this end." Halford thought a moment. They looked to the entrance as Halford entered. There is also the loud music maker. we could make sounds that would carry. and then told Murphy. and Murphy were already there. he can climb out to the edge. Like today. the watcher by the window could not stand it any more. if they are in the light. "If we had several of the cloths. If the guard. or any work done in the fields. As far as I can tell. Make sure the color is bright. "Excuse me. He will be seen by anyone looking. Try to find the color that shows the best against the rock. the other two talked quietly. pulling it back behind his shoulders. It will take me a while to get some roots and prepare a dye. what colors are available?" "What would show up well against the rocks? Bright red does work. Without preamble. "What can we do to make the harvest. then all the cloths could be shown. If they saw danger." "Could we use another color than red? Murphy." "That is a consideration. That was stopped when the last red cloth faded enough it would blend into the rock behind it. It must stem from then. safer?" "What did we do before to warn of danger. the guard could just throw the cloth out that was near where the danger was. If we had one of them up here. and wave his arms over his head." Lanford said. "For many seasons the watchers would keep a cloth dyed bright red near at hand. and I look up at the cliffs. it would distract the hunters for a time. it was the danger signal used by the Originals. sometimes the guards would look the wrong direction. they would hang the cloth from their window and alert anyone that saw to keep their eyes and ears open. and the alarm can be spread.
soaked through his poncho. "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. He ought to be a writer there were so many." Toolkie answered dismally. "Nope. Sarge. so between missions its party time." Sergeant Tucker grouched back. 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. Morganthur. Wouldn't have been so bad if we could've buried him. cold and miserable. "I believe so. Animal. He might become a good advisor. His stories always made you laugh." the sergeant threw back over his shoulder. when we breaking?" Toolkie whined. "Yeah. Toolkie thought that basic would be the worst he would have. like it or not." Animal commented from the rear. They could get ready to shoot and keep their attention on the woods. even during the first six weeks. but when he had signed up. I will instruct my watchers both up here and on the ground. "none of us like this weather. He had a good head. Then the guards would not need to look. get those cloths ready as quickly as possible. Hey. To Halford. They did not mention this type of mission. his eyes growing wider. positioned just in front of Animal and always upbeat. except maybe not today. Later. Drips from the canopy of leaves dropped onto plants at the side of the path and splattered into the faces of the travelers. and he loved to tell them." Morganthur called to the man on point. Muted reds. We all feel lousy about Sanders. blues. Good! That is an excellent idea. Lanford?" Lanford also studied the guard at the window. And Murphy. but we got orders to follow. 'ceptin for one thing. Basic had been hard. inventive thinking. and many blows for a large danger. That's a fact of life for a marine. No reason to save it. "Sarge. so we'll do it. You get all your lousy pay at one time. and be sure they can be seen." "Do that. Small skirmishes and scouting missions were all you heard about now. said. Large wars were past. to a steady rain shortly after sunrise. Sir. somewhere beyond the clouds the sun was setting. . Would it work." That was the truth. to misty fog. understood?" "Yes." Headmon Halford stared at the young hunter. and if you're smart and use your head and stay out of trouble. "Lousy conditions to do a lousy job for lousy pay. The air had grown from highly humid. yellows.One blow for general danger that would direct the guards to look up here and see the signals. my friend. When would they find some dry? Would this infernal rain never stop? "This is what we signed up for. it's all yours. and greens shone as if the flowers and leaves were buffed with a high gloss wax. Toolkie was too miserable to laugh. finding puddles and soft ground that pulled at his feet as if the planet wanted to bury him alive. until his grin caused them to squint slightly. Lanford said. In addition. boy. Nowhere was there a dry piece of land to sit on. The ground squished beneath the feet of the four dejected but determined Marines. and depressing. And we got a job to do. and maybe leader. "Look. to drizzle. He had slogged through mud all day. "Good.
He might as well get used to it now. and he stored it way for when he needed the information in the future. two hours each. He climbed inside the small tent and attached the edges of the ground sheet to the inside so water would not run in. And their Storm Trooper will lay you out in nothing flat. And always sleep under the stars. it's fantastic. "Why?" "Two reasons. and the upper cover stretched over them and fastened down. And if lightning strikes. whoever was on guard could see farther into the woods. "I'll take the first watch. There was plenty of cover for animals or enemies to sneak up on them. all four Marines were smiling again. He had been miserable all day. Buddy. it'll take out a tree. That would make hunting easier. but the trees will drip forever. they're heavier than lead. "You'll learn. Flashpacks only." Toolkie watched Sarge climb a rock near the middle of the clearing. Animal. The crossing arch supports to his tent attached to the pegs. They had been walking a long time hearing nothing. And when they're wet. Just what I needed to hear. with only Sanders dying from a trap Toolkie figured was for animals passing by." He moved his ground cover from under the trees to the other side of the rock and staked the corners. That would help. before it goes to open land." the sergeant instructed as he slid down the side of the rock. Twenty minutes later." The story that followed would have made a prostitute blush. in that order. But the best. Toolkie. the most fun. It would give a better view around them than they could get on the ground. you'll only shiver. kid. They've got girls there you would not believe. Shortly the trail widened into a small clearing with a large rock in the center. the rain'll stop." the sergeant ordered. If'n it rains." "I hope I remembered my ground sheet." Toolkie hadn't realized the veteran marine was that close. you might as well have watch all night. never under trees. and this is as good a place to camp as any. Bad weather's more common than the good kind. You'll never sleep in a soaked wrap. teasing and making caustic remarks between stories." Toolkie mumbled to himself. including Toolkie. and oh so ready to play. Moreover. but food in the tent would be worse. Animal. tonight he would have to sit on this rock by himself. "Let's down packs." Toolkie said appreciatively. "No fire. "Thanks. "If you didn't. what with all the bushes and trees that surrounded them. is the floorshow. I'll tell you. but with that rock there." Animal had selected his sleeping area in the open near the rock." "Oh?" Toolkie asked. Thin. He always ribbed you. And after a while they stink. and I think the rain is going to stay with us. I saw one where--. The information Toolkie gathered from those stories and comments was valuable. Might as well have someplace dry. never shutting up. Always take foul weather gear. and luscious. Morganthur whispered. unrolled his sleeping wrap. and anyone under it. then retrieved a flashpack ration from his pack and joined the others sitting on the rock. Here it is. . And they can take weeks to dry. however. in case you haven't noticed. "Thanks. It's about dark. Toolkie said. Morganthur."Well. "And break out your shelters. after the story was finished." "Good point.
By the way. and made her way to the river for a bath. "All I did was helping carry the stuff back. several of the female villagers were ridding themselves of the dirt accumulated the day before. The women left her alone. yet they're still different. It took her a moment to remember where she was. . I'll be there. I'll see you later. The past two days had been rough. not even for lunch. but there was so much more to learn. Right among them. Remembering to save it for the harvest celebration a few days away. sore muscles and aching joints. Even a night's sleep did not help. holding her clothes well away from her body to keep them clean. Estelle climbed out of bed and rooted through her clothes chest for a clean dress. But right now I just want to get clean. although she wore the dress she put on yesterday." "First I've heard of it. which was cleaner than the dress she had worn to the hunting grounds. For all that information she had paid a price. "Halbrack's really nice. but then she smiled. She felt crummy. she met Tuesday Watson. closer than any others I've seen. entered the water." the red head called. Estelle removed her clothes. she was ready to lie down in the field." the small woman answered. On the beginning of the path to Cliffside that also led to the bathing area. It'll definitely take study. instead. about what she had learned just the past three of four days. brought her fully awake." When Estelle arrived at the swimming hole. and began to wash the grime from her body." "Sure. Estelle. No one had taken a break from harvesting yesterday. They're close to old world plants. She found. you might say. but glanced at her from time to time. She would spend years writing papers about her experience. she replaced it. "Hey. wouldn't miss it for the world. settled for slacks and a shirt. full of hard work and painful muscles. the brightly colored dress she had brought with her. "You going to the celebration after harvest is finally done? From what Halbrack tells me it'll be a blast. The knowledge that she'd spend days writing up the notes about what she had experienced. We have been real close to the plants a couple times. the wealth of information she had gathered was worth any price. Should be a learning experience at the least. They had worked through the day to dark.Chapter 11 Echoes of laughter and joyful shouts woke Estelle before sunrise the morning of her sixth day on the planet. Her hair lay flat on the top of her head and fell in a mass that threatened to pull together into strings. "I heard you helped with the hunt." the tall blonde answered grinning widely. Time to gather plants. in need of a bath. dirty. Congratulations." "I can believe that. I'm not looking forward to that. have you taken a good look at the plants?" "Among other things. first hand knowledge of how totally agricultural cultures functioned. However. Sorry for holding you up. and when the harvest stopped for the evening. Tuesday. still glistening from her swim and with her bright red hair pulled together and draped over her shoulder. And years of writing. if you know what I mean.
I will show you where we go today. People were talking and laughing as they walked unlike the crowds in many cities he had visited. Come. fathers and mothers leading children along. They will help you take the dirt off. With her hair combed and clean clothes on. On this planet." Pretty Wings smiled. the villager hesitantly said. or your friends. too." "One more thing. helping her to remove the accumulated dirt. I did not realize.One of the village women drifted over to her after a while. over there. It did act like soap. an unwritten law. I feel I would be remiss I did not tell you that you are about break a social prohibition. "You know. +++ Brevor stood outside the smokehouse and watched the line of people headed toward the field. "Anytime. If I have offended you. After Estelle rinsed. A short water fight ensued." The villager held out a bundle of leaves. "I didn't know just how many people were in this village until I saw the harvest. how is it you speak my language?" "I. By the way. She stopped at the cottage to deposit her dirty clothes on the growing pile of laundry. but I imagine you are new to the ways of behaving. There is no reason be sorry. "Then use these. great lady." Brevor said thoughtfully. A foamy lather formed which she spread over her body and rubbed into her hair." . Whole families stayed together. wife of Stuart who you already met. "Today we harvest yet again. have broken tradition learning your speech. I think there are more today than yesterday. Estelle felt ready to enjoy the day no matter what she had to do. which demanded graciousness and courtesy in return. I'd like to talk to you more at length sometime. and then walked to where Dennis waited. ""Excuse me. I would be honored. May I offer a suggestion?" "Anytime anyone wants to help." "Easy. only a week or so more. It should not take too long. showing only neck. What is your name?" "I am Pretty Wings. as did the others. and you will not break tradition. You have been granted exemptions our laws so that you may learn all our ways." "Thank you. "I didn't know I was doing wrong. "I depend on Dennis to keep me within bounds. that is. The harvest goes well. 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." Pretty Wings said as she directed a splash of water at the newcomer. fine lady. I was wondering what you use for soap. near the shore. I do not wish to--intrude? Intrude on you time leisure. "What's on the agenda for today?" she asked. In a slightly broken version of the interstellar language. but not as rushed." "Well Pretty Wings. almost as if she was afraid Estelle would rebuff her for bathing naked or talking to someone. I will be happy to listen. If it's all right with you." Estelle apologized. How can we make the mood lighter? I heard laughter before and would like to hear it again. please." The woman tried hard to be friendly. the smallest carried in parent's arms. I am sorry. she felt cleaner than she had felt in a long time.
maybe more. so they harvested a different field yesterday.Anderson. The poles are here. Now almost all go to three fields. along with the Cure Master. "This is one of our duties. all the way through. A week. We should be set until they come. "I thought they were left over from the hunt. "The Originals built a room deep in the ground below the storehouse that stays cool. like that. Brevor doubted the temperature would get low enough for refrigeration. the next two will take over. and this skin will do. He would find this interesting. even well cured meat." "A natural refrigerator." "Below the storehouse? Isn't that below the ground water level?" "Yes. said. Easy. let alone freezing and snow. For now. The Cure Master announced. we only make one trip." The sun was high and the day heating in a last blast before the cool of winter when their relief arrived. That is interesting. Then we will put the meat on it and carry it to the store house. When the sun is high. Something I want to see. They were too close to the equator." "That's us. "Ten pieces are ready for storage." "Don't we have to keep it cool?" They had to have refrigeration of some kind. Then they were washed. not for how long it would take for winter. When we are done that day. also. we have duty. Ten pieces will need a carrier. The old man entered the smoky room then quickly returned. They used some kind of material that we don't have that makes it waterproof and bug proof and all. harvest will go quick." . "There are." Anderson said." "When will that be?" "A few days yet. Anderson explained. It's like a giant box in the ground. Some had gone to gather the meat first day. my wife among them. we can go help her. See the holes in the skin? Run this pole through that hole where the skin is folded over and sewn. standing beside the engineer. With this." Brevor said. and now we use them. Until then we move cured meat to storage. within a week or a little more. but only once. We've not done that before. and you'll see the best possible way to cook a rumbler. several of the women will prepare the cooking pits." "Yes. Yes. those. and they came back late. Soon. they were used then. There was no way that meat would keep in this heat.
he saw the top of his tent twenty centimeters above his nose. Just rookie complaints that'll disappear as you learn the job. Gave the rest of us some warning when we heard the wood and skull meet.Chapter 12 Toolkie dreaded when Morganthur would wake him for two hours of night sounds. I don't want to become a number. and told his new friend. With his eyelids opened no more than a slit. big-time." Toolkie opened the steaming pack. But don't worry about that. It's like anything else. the crackling as unseen beasts passed by. and Animal. I'll have to remember that. the eerie cries that echoed through the grass and twigs and branches." "You sound like Sarge. so we'll teach you the field work as we go. the insects that screamed with their wings. kid. What's happening?" "Not a lot. Animals are all I heard. All that added together makes for strange feelings. kid. We want you to grow into the team. a low sky that showed no shadows of danger. or foreboding." Toolkie told the veteran. Had a native jump the length of his tent swinging a club the whole time." Morganthur chuckled as he climbed off the rock." Morganthur replied. teaching like that. The incessant rain had stopped and the clouds had broken. If you listened closely. kid. Strange smell. Probably be dark as a black hole then. He gently slid out of his field tent. No danger showed that direction. Compton Six has so much dust in its air the sky is a yellowish brown. it's been fairly quiet. like the rest of this planet. I had a buddy who didn't check his feet once. and I'm grateful. strange colors. and heard a body shift positions. . "You do your job and don't complain--much. but it didn't do him no good. almost together tonight." "Yeah. Sometimes even the sky is strange. "Well. You'll get used to strange. on any planet. He got clobbered. you sure as hell don't learn everything in basic. I ain't seen that too often. and his body. prepared to stand. "Watched you as you came out. You'll do OK. kid. it sounded like he was embarrassed. but remember this. once." "That type of sky I'd like to see. Sometimes folk develop a phobia so bad they have to live in the community for the rest of their lives." "Any planet not your own is strange. took a sip that burned his lips and tongue. that the clammy feeling was the visible humidity that clung to the trees and the bushes and the rock." He dug a flashpack of coffee out of his backpack. revealing a hazy pattern of black sky that slowly moved away from the mountains. "Thanks." Toolkie threw his trash off to the side. That dread turned into a realization that he was awake. "I'm finding that out. Didn't know there was still so much to learn. Two moons are strange. A glance above his head through the opening revealed a few stars glimmering through the sparse leaves around the campsite. He froze. Looks like both moons will set in a couple minutes. sometimes a sort of dread. Sarge and the rest of us like you. along with all the other shit. "Hell. a cacophony that lasted until finally the night began to get light. "It's only me. Did you remember to look at your feet? I saw you check above your head. strange sounds.
A body fell off the rock." Toolkie blew on the coffee and climbed the rock in the center of the clearing. The sergeant reached the young marine seconds after Morganthur. there is no . +++ Sergeant Tucker woke with a start as he heard Toolkie cry out. +++ "Lieutenant Commander. "Give it up. there ain't no justice!" Morganthur wailed into the dark. The thin enlisted man was already giving mouth-tomouth resuscitation desperately trying to save the youngster. He's a statistic. Sarge. The night became blacker as the last moon set. disgusted by their inability to save the rookie. "Well. Lieutenant Commander Lesley Van Rapton rose from the Captain's chair she had occupied for the last eight hours. He looked at his calf intending to kneed the muscle and saw an arrow buried in his calf. "We'd never find them in this black. and then straightened. We're on course for the next planet to scan the mineral content and should arrive at our first scan position shortly. but warm to fight the night's chill. that he had never seen anything act that quickly. Don't remind me. He sipped the warm brew and listened to the nighttime noises. it's too late. Animal backed next to them. and that comes from Medical. very well." the sergeant groaned. his weapon raised and charged. or thought of moving from their defensive position until well after the sun rose. depressed. They may still be around. The moons set and left the world dark. I ordered a hold halfway there for a long distance scan as it rotates. A sudden cramp in his leg caused him to straighten it and want to stand. turning slowly." Both men sat dejectedly on their heels." Morganthur chuckled. Without pickup it's useless. crouched over. "Man. both of you. According to Lieutenant Commander Christen Hamorrod. A quick look showed no attackers visible in the dark." He wondered what kind of poison they had. The sergeant checked Toolkie's pulse. ready to pick off any enemy that showed. The sergeant told Morganthur. and it was also looking for attackers. He called out for the sergeant as he turned toward where the arrow pointed. like someone was looking at them from behind." Animal pleaded. "Right. It's already too late for the meds. No one slept. Per your instructions. "Let's get them. Only one barely discernable body moved. Seems some of the crewmembers have reported a feeling of being watched. "There is one anomaly this shift. searching the invisible perimeter. the forest lit only by the stars. Scans of the fifth planet were completed half an hour ago. he fell off the rock and lay motionless.good night. Captain. sudden movements that would wake the others. I'll see you in a couple hours. "No. No pulse. who was still awake when Toolkie had called. a clump of bushes to his right. or to help. Before he had completed his turn. how goes the Ship?" Captain Lucas Mussuclio asked as the lift door fully opened. Stay alert. By the time he sat on the top of the boulder the coffee was a drinkable temperature--not that good. just a slumped body at the foot of the rock.
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. Thanks. "It's the one with the two large branches that go one way. beyond most hunters' bowshot. like you feel when the hairs on the back of your neck rise. lightning had started a short-lived fire. "Thank you Lieutenant Commander. "What do you think. Carroll noticed a large tree with thick branches spreading into a leafy crown almost as wide as the tree was tall. This feeling. either. A feeling like someone was watching you strong enough to report to medical. bushes thick with shiny leaves. Tangled masses of thorny bushes. 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. He had never encountered that before. and woke them. you're relieved. it would conceal someone who stood in the branches. searching for ways to protect their community. It seems to be more a feeling of vague dread. this feeling?" he asked before she had a chance to leave. They gathered their belongings. Jamson told them." "OK. "Lesley. He asked. "Got one on the rock." The sky began to lighten as Fogart kicked the fire out. prolific ground cover. 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.medical reason for it. They had quietly felt their way back to their companions. Captain. Presently. Over the next few years ground cover. "It has to be more than mere paranoia for people to report it. When it's light. the woods thinned out." . I know of no reason for it. +++ Jamson and Fogart had watched the confusion around the rock as the last moon set. I've seen that a few places. have you ever encountered anything like this. just to the left of the path. Not even the small animals had been able to force their way through the wall of living green. saw that now there were only three of the intruders. Still fully leafed. That. but it's something I felt you should know. ground vines. They'll think ghosts are killing them or something. and slipped silently into the jungle after the darkness was complete. and to my knowledge there's no scan that would locate a source of this feeling. After he started a small fire and brewed the morning tea. That should hold them for a bit. let's head along the path and see what the land suggests. extinguished after less than a day by one of the torrential rains common to the area during that season. Years before. made it nearly impossible to pass across the cleared area on foot. and then saplings had pushed their way out of the burned ground. joined the others before the sky began to lighten. and the five hunters loped along the path toward the caves at an easy pace and looked for more ways to ambush the invaders. watching. The Captain bowed slightly. The hunters inspected the open area. then underbrush. but never so strongly." Questions. is what I found last night. saplings of various sizes. and short. This raised questions that needed answers. Helm. maintain heading and speed." The Captain settled into his chair for his stint at responsibility. What could it be? Some kind of scan?" "The only information I can give you. plus the fact that the experiments lacked controls and other necessary parameters leads me to suspect the results.
"you really think you can do it? You do know that if you fail. . The surprise would cause confusion. if that was possible. his chest rippling with pride. Let's let him. The rest of us will wait near this end of the clearing. Willow. barely old enough to separate from his mother. Could this young hunter. How had he missed the youngster before? Jamson asked. Life will eventually teach him humility. while they're confused. and only one guard was that accurate. I should explain that Carroll won several contests. it's likely we'll all be killed." Jamson said a bit doubtfully. and I can down one of them. You'll see. The arrow sailed across the clearing and thudded into one of the branches of the tree Carroll had tried to point out. He was the one that split Dead Shot's arrow from fifty steps. amazed at the distance the arrow had flown. one that did not revert to savagery as was usual for those colonies but stayed agricultural in spite of a capability to do more. I know how you feel. and his chest grew larger. Remember to use the new mix to coat your arrows. Whatever it is. the surprise Dead Shot showed when his arrow. "Then go. and what he's done only gives him an excuse to be arrogant." The young hunter jogged toward the tree in question. For distance and accuracy." Willow cleared his throat. I know he's arrogant. was split in two and knocked to the ground. There were too many anomalies to this mission." Answers. The hunters from the stars would not expect an arrow to fly so far. and even if a gust changed the flight. Jamson said. "Communications."The one here about thirty-five steps?" Jamson inquired looking at a small tree barely five years old. "Then. "No. there was a prison colony." Jamson looked at the quivering arrow stuck in the branch. and let fly. 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. it works fast. a scratch was enough with this new poison. do what he said? He remembered that shot. he won the shoot-off last season. This child was that hunter? Jamson could not remember. and the power of its strike. He can do what he says. the only one to exactly center the target year after year. what about it?" "I can circle around and perch in that tree. None of his seasoned hunters had that range. I'll show you. but now is not the time or place for the lesson. get me medical. one of those from the time of the Expulsions. "Jamson." Carroll stood taller. If you remember. See if you can locate Lieutenant Commander Christen Hamorrod. you four can do away with the others. but if not get me the Officer on Duty. "That one. "OK. Here. First. the oldest of the new growth. and that should allow the others to attack in relative safety." Carroll slipped an arrow out of his quiver. to this planet. He needed answers. tops with a bow." the young hunter explained. You wait. "OK. "I won't fail. the one further on. They wouldn't think to look that far away. but he's young. pulled back to his ear. +++ Captain Mussuclio called. nocked it to his bowstring." Jamson considered Carroll's suggestion. child.
"Christen. and it was best to deal with the problem on the ship since they explored the system away from the planet. The natives of the Northern Nation. He would not stop initiative. and when we return." The Captain entered the quieter area and drew a cup of coffee from the permanent supply on the food counter. Detail the problems and bring them to me at the end of shift. he heard the Chief Medical Officer's voice. "At the conference table. I've been doing some research on the matter in preparation of briefing you later. The Captain asked. what can you tell me about these strange feelings I've been hearing about?" "Not much." Captain Mussuclio considered the distraction and rumors that would start if the conversation continued in the open. I could use a cup. Hey. He needed answers. then. and then told the security officer on duty." Lieutenant Commander Thelma Whimner called out as soon as he had disengaged the communicator. Thelma. Finally. Both areas made studies on different 'psychic phenomenon' as they were called. or whatever." Lucas answered. "I could use a cup of coffee. I can tell you now. Captain." Initiative. Come to my ready room. but I can tell you what I've found out so far. this coffee is . Now this feeling his crew reported. the ability to see a situation and act on it before they received orders. Good coffee in the middle of a battle could be the difference between a stressed out bridge crew and winning." "It began in the late twentieth century in both the Northern Nation and parts of the Eastern Continental Conference. and made sure at least one was on the ship." "We've finally completed repairs on number five shuttle door. there's not much more in the library. as long as they could change direction if necessary." a feminine voice answered. As he heard the door slide open he asked. "Here. They did one lousy job. Captain. He had first seen one in Admiral George Jackson's office just off the War Room. Many experiments were conducted over the years since then. had a long history of happenings that couldn't be explained which sparked their interest. and the scientists of the Eastern Continental Conference wanted to show the legends and beliefs wrong. "Now what have you found. We'll give them hell now. "That would be good. "Coffee Doctor?" "Sure. still the controlling force of that time. It'll only take a few moments. 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. mostly not subscribing to approved scientific method." He waited a moment to see if any more problems would surface." "Aye.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. unless you want to wait?" "No. Most of the time that was good. He drew a second mug and carried both to the large oval table secured at the far end of the room. Send Lieutenant Commander Hamorrod in to me when she arrives. especially if they did not go in the wrong direction or to a dead end. "I'll be in the ready room." "Very well. That one deserves a complaint to the dry dock." "Captain. Placing one in front of the Doctor he asked. The Captain answered. Most of his Department Heads had that this trip.
Do you realize that the supposedly sentient species in the oceans. One of us might live." "So? What? Do you feel there is something there? Or don't you want to comment on it. but that's as far as I'm willing to go. and the few that followed accepted standards didn't show any usable results. we might be done with this strange hunt. A nearby exposed root held the vine to the ground next to where it pulled the tree down. He could bend the small tree with spiny leaves almost into a circle. we'll catch them from both sides. then pulled it to the ground and wrapped a vine around its top branch. so there won't be any obstacles." "Thank you. Jamson ." "Well. or possibly one of the other species they have contact with. And tell them to report to you immediately anytime they get these feelings in the future. I've been expected because some species on the planet knew when we entered the system. that's a good contraption to have. or scans. no matter what they're doing. those that have come to complain of these feelings almost invariably descend from what used to be the Northern Nation. That's the way I feel. Who knows what we'll run up against? And remember. nothing about this leaves this room. Tell their Department Heads they have orders to report. and 'I' all said they began to feel this as we entered the solar system. Have them check with me if there's any problem. The most definitive answer is that some people are more susceptible to these feelings than others. Fogart. or better yet. and still have it this good. "If you notice. Possibly sensitive to whatever force is involved. The arguments are still alive whether this stuff is real or not. subjects 'D'. but mark their papers in some way so we know not to transfer these crewmembers. help me set up a path protector. Doctor. the stronger the feeling. It was made just before we left dry dock. most of the experiments weren't worth their weight in barium." "Good enough. A new contraption I picked up. As I was saying. behind that group of brush. "Willow. If Carroll doesn't make his shot. you and Scale Hunter set up on that side. or whatever they are?" "Susceptible? No. apparently can tell when we arrive? It's happened both times I've been here. then we'll hide in those bushes. I wouldn't say that. noting the way the bushes yielded cover if you stayed just there." Jamson found a scratcher sapling growing next to the barely visible path." "If it can hold coffee that long. I won't even say it's real without further study. He lopped off the branches on one side to leave sharp points." Two columns of statistics appeared on the view screen in the corner of the room. 'K'.good. and over there. Now how about the rest of the crew?" +++ Jamson studied the clearing. It even appears that the closer to pure breed the person is. and it would spring back to its original shape when released. Do you think that these people might be susceptible to the brain waves. I have noticed one thing as I correlated the material." "And what is that?" "If you would look at the screen." "Now that is interesting.
A short distance behind. crouched with one hand in the air. followed his line of sight ready to destroy any danger. Distance was no problem. Shortly the mountain on legs moved with animal like caution into the clearing. The fire had spread over a square kilometer area. clothed in mottled green. Although still too young to hunt by a season. my friend?" Let's see. an area cleared of most trees but filled with dense brush had resulted. less than six years later. Only one tree had survived. searching right and left. its covering of leaves burned off and the thick bark singed. +++ Six years before. Then Willow and he slid behind the bushes where they could watch the path. his weapon held firmly in his grip. and then continued to follow the path. He had a good view of the clearing. burning even the smallest reptile. and his nose took in each smell. within a week new growth had started. a huge man. the tree would spring across the path and stick whatever was there with the sharp poison coated spikes. Jamson. directing the sound further into the brush. Carroll sat on the upper of two large branches of the large tree well off to the side of the path. The giant slowly swept the area with his eyes. and then passed on. No one else could even come close to drawing it. "What news is there from Cliffside. Scale Hunter. he had proven his accuracy and . followed the other two standing tall. All he would have to do would be to stand up and his weapon would be ready. his bow was one of the most powerful of all of Cliffside's bows. To pass the time while they were waiting. and tried to be aware of the least sound or movement. so he'll get an ancestor's name from Halford next harvest. yet remain hidden. also seemed to be invisible to the searching stranger. wrapped it around a rock. a man with a dark unruly mop of hair and a nose that could pass for a Raptor's beak followed. "You know Marty? She had a child just before I left. now obviously a weapon. When someone or something stepped on the vine." Willow closed his eyes and tried to remember who in the underground village was know to both of them. A boy. A tall man. peered into shadows. Murphy said she should be fine in a few days. his large arms decorated with drawings. All three continuously swept their gaze from side to side. especially where the path entered on the other side.trailed the vine across the path. One of the lightning bolts had picked a dead tree to use as an electrode. a major electrical storm had passed not far south of Cliffside. and now. burning everything in its path. the young hunter had lodged his bow and arrows above him in the smaller branches. and the resultant heat caused it to burn. At the far end of the clearing. Your wife is fine and she asked me to tell you that Yellow-Flower-On-The-Hill has a blocked nose again. Jamson asked." 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. The long pole. his keen hearing picked up every sound. crouched like a hunting night hunter. and Willow. The devastation had been almost total. However. and covered the exposed vine with dry leaves to hide it. Jamson hooted. Fogart froze as the man looked directly at him. He also swept the clearing with his eyes trying to see through the brush. Not knowing how long he would have to wait. where the bushes parted. You could tell no detail escaped his sight. and her first.
When Carroll had spoken briefly to Stuart after winning the shoot-off last planting. and his keen sight. dwarfed by the giant. wearing the same kind of covering. if anything. Brush was everywhere. 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. and Jamson had agreed. They had given him a job to do. He could move almost any obstacle aside rather than go around it and fall into a trap. Arrows were the only weapon used against them so far. a place to keep your head together no matter what happened. but he did not have Stuart's skill. alert and watchful. as long as he was still. A movement on the path across the clearing caught his eye. The only variable was the new poison Murphy had supplied. or playing guard on some god forsaken desert planet. a relic that had survived whatever fire had formed this open space. but walking tall. Those bushes with the thorns. One lone tree stood in the clearing. and then started to penetrate the edge of the clearing. and crouching to make a smaller target. The medicine man had said the results would be surprisingly quick. towered over everyone and. much too far away for any bowshot. move up to the edge of the clearing. He reached the edge of the trees and raised his hand to signal a . A man of average height. Carroll felt as if he was a child talking to his father. moving in spurts and jerks. especially now that they knew the locals hunted them. was stronger than Carroll was. a hunter from Seaside. His great strength was an added bonus. This was an area for extreme caution. possibly meant to blend in with forest plants. A third man showed himself. Animal could not see any sign of people hiding in the nearer bushes as he approached the open area. other bushes. Ahead of him. tall grass. Carroll reached for his bow. Bright flowers colored red and yellow and blue meant that a person in bright clothes could crouch behind a bush and stay hidden. Stuart. his right hand raised. He had met only one person who could come close to the size of this man. the trail was brighter as it opened out into a clearing of sorts. +++ Animal took point as the three marines moved carefully along the path. something better than hanging around waiting to capture pirates. 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. made him the obvious choice for the dangerous position. The woods on the far side of the open space were as thick as the forest they had just traversed. probably the only weapon these near savages had.strength in contests. If it was all that Murphy promised. then everyone was in for a surprise. This man searched the brush. The second stranger appeared scared and ready to bolt. He slowly stood and saw a large man covered in something colored a mottled green. all lent places to hide across his line of sight. followed the first person. small trees barely operate height. Stuart would have seen the five hunters waiting in the cover before he had shown himself. The animal like sense of danger which led to his nickname. He did not understand why the Federation sent his squad into this jungle instead of destroying the planet's life as they usually did. The person at the edge of the clearing possibly had Stuart beat for size.
The dark haired marine ignored the distraction and continued his search for possible death. Over his shoulder. Morganthur showed it more than Animal. Morganthur heard the sergeant groan. and an occasional splash of color from a patch of flowers or flowering vine. a small movement. but there were no birdcalls or insect noises. He used his height. he could tell. The big man eased into the open. This was the type of lush vegetation small creatures loved. Crouched almost double to make a smaller target. Noises he could not identify from the . The lush vegetation was nice to look at. but saw only brown. Nothing showed among the bushes. The sergeant did not blame either of them. 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. a place where any number of people could hide. green. Already the thick brush hid the big man's legs and torso. They were both frightened. his thin frame bent almost double to make as small a target as possible. A noise from his left like a fast bird drew his attention. wary. Morganthur called softly to Animal and moved to the downed man. no insects danced above the bushes.stop. He stifled a general warning to Animal. A noise like a seed sack hitting the ground to his left drew his attention. he carefully followed Animal out into the open. Sergeant Tucker watched the two marines ahead of him as they anxiously peered around. That was the noise. This was ambush country. but it held so many hiding places it frightened him. heard a soft noise to the left and spun in that direction. He knew. but experience told him that no sight of danger was the clearest sign of a firefight in the immediate future. told him that danger was near. A sudden pain in his neck changed to numbness. his long laser at the ready. The complete silence pricked his instincts. +++ Morganthur waited at the edge of the clearing for Animal to move ten meters ahead. he was close to running himself as he moved into the relative open. You could not even see the path two feet from where you were. no sounds of small or large animals. +++ Sergeant Tucker looked out at the dangerous terrain as his two remaining men gingerly made their way through the open brush. With his long laser ready to fire he slowly swept the carpet of brush with his eagle eyes. a string or some other trigger across the almost hidden path. No birds flew. The world disappeared. but he saw nothing. especially in this uncanny silence. Nothing moved. He could feel the danger the same as the sergeant felt it. tentatively traversing the tangled terrain. but with good cause. +++ Morganthur. and an arrow protruded from his neck. that death was imminent. He saw nothing dangerous. feeling their way across this brier patch full of enemy cover. which allowed him to see over the top of the brush into holes in the undergrowth to watch for ambushes. He rolled the sergeant to his back and checked for a pulse. The sergeant had crumpled to the ground. The big man was the best at point.
He swung his long laser in that direction as he searched for a target. Then he looked up. He kicked one of the bodies. Then toss these bodies aside and we'll head for home. oddities from another culture. It's going to rain shortly and that will put out the fires. He watched helplessly as Animal slowly crumpled. sending a deadly line of light into the sky. the first noise he had heard. the ghosts that had taken the life from the rest of his squad. any target. The weapon slowly lowered to the ground. as Morganthur called again. his long laser still triggered as he collapsed. Morganthur ran to the big marine and felt for a pulse. which caused flames to sprout from several nearby bushes. Not waiting to pull it out. than from the invisible death they had encountered on this planet. +++ Animal heard a soft twang from the left of the path. he sprayed the vegetation to his immediate right with laser fire. He screamed his rage when he fond none. and fired blindly into the woods. the skin pasty." Jamson agreed as he looked at the sky. The weapon fell from Animal's hand and the light beam disappeared just above Morganthur's head. who lay deprived of life in the middle of the trail.direction of his comrade in arms distracted him while he searched. hoping for help while he checked Sergeant Tucker's pulse. We might be able to use that pattern. From behind them the fifth man. the lips blue. To people who used bows and arrows. collapsed with his weapon still triggered. Jamson turned to the approaching hunter. + ++ Four of the five hunters moved from their hiding places in the brush onto the path and approached the strangely garbed humans. What did Murphy say about that new poison? I've never seen anything drop that fast. Cautiously the huge man peered into the bushes as he searched for the source of the noise." Scale Hunter said. He called to Animal again. Did it matter if the beam reached him? Morganthur knew he was dead anyway. "Watch the bush just there and disassemble that trap before you come. Morganthur called to him excitedly. And bring along one of those weapons for Taggart to look at. their strange weapons of light and fire were a curiosity. Crouched over. from space. A sudden pain in his right arm caused him to look down at an arrow that had imbedded itself in his biceps. We don't want anyone caught by it. Within seconds he became dizzy and. stood. now proven skilled in the hunt. "Get a bit of that covering. but he saw nothing in the thick brush." "I'll say. "He said it was too powerful to use for hunting. Two arrows sprouted from his body. if not from the laser." . called. the line of searing light pointed at the last live marine. +++ Morganthur squatted next to the sergeant. the eyes open and staring without seeing.
then. Do you think we could meet them?" Bale looked at the field. He stays with his wife. It is better if you wait for Harvest Feast." The native said. We talk. and then returned to her task. Bale. except on occasional hot nights with a special partner. "You might. but it will be work. The thought gave her energy. added more to the bundle. Sweat rolled down her forehead and between her breasts. driving the moisture from the air. and to play. And I'm not the kind of person to force anyone. "I know you. I do have more questions for them. well built man with long hair tied in a pony tail like so many of the others. "You good at that. He doesn't speak very well. You there too. "That me. as I do women. to learn. and again added more before she tossed it on the pile. I want to talk to the marnmen sometime in the near future. At least this was the last field.Chapter 13 The sun drove heat through the mist. but he's understandable. a feeling she had not experienced since physical education classes in school." "Why. and she always could take a swim to clean up. Halbrack would be free again. We're going to meet this afternoon and talk to the marnmen. when you stood in the bright it still was too hot for hard labor in Tuesday's opinion. "I didn't know he knew your language. after lunch we'll talk to the marnmen and see what else comes up." "OK. +++ Not half an hour after talking to Tuesday. It was not her favorite activity. I saw you working. I be at cliff after field done. You're Bale. maybe I will only talk to the marnmen with Bale. Tell me something." "I heard the comment. You do realize he won't play games like some of the other men. or close to the last. I know. he . "You were talking to Bale?" Halbrack asked as he picked up the pile next to the red head." Bale walked down the row and began to cut grain. you know. You will have all the men you want. but soon harvest would be over and she would have more time to study. "Well then. Later. if he's shy I think I could convince him it'd be OK. She grabbed a handful of grain and sliced it free. don't you?" "Oh. You like a variety of men." Halbrack looked Tuesday up and down. you know. Tuesday watched him work for a moment. Want to say not many people handle grain and knife so well. You good. the one who talks to the marnmen. "This afternoon. Once they were finished. thank you." Tuesday answered. Now let's get back to work so we can get done. I have my family status to think of. Although the temperature in shade was more comfortable than when the harvest started. when Bale reached the end of the row. This last field. Tuesday turned around to find a very tan. She had met him before." a male voice said from behind her." "Just talk. "Just a little bit." Tuesday shrugged." She attacked the grain in front of her.
Think that would be possible soon?" She deserved a truthful answer. as she hoped. "Well. She was learning to fit in. the meeting about trade was tomorrow morning. right?" Bale nodded vigorously. and one for the children. longer than any other time in her life. unlike some of the others. "The day after tomorrow it is. which was good. with her hair tied behind her head like everyone else. her hands forcing her back straight. He'd give me a different slant on things than what the leader would. I hope. one for his wife and himself. learning their ways. I'll see you tomorrow. We swam a few days ago. They were one of the few families in the community with more than one sleeping room. She was pretty. and after. She would tell her government and they would leave Tonylobons alone. "No. the signal that he agreed he had learned a few days after the visitors arrived. but so had the other villagers. That will be something to tell the others. She had bent double pulling stalks for days. Good enough. The day after the celebration. And. "You talk to Wendell. Later in the day might work. +++ Estelle reached the end of her strip and unbent. after the celebration. He liked to keep sex private. Much better than what I do. even as sweaty and dusty as they all were. Bale stood at the end of his row. no. her eyes scanning the forest that surrounded the cleared farmland in the distance. saw he was looking at her. how they lived. He take you out to meeting with marnman leader in day or two. none of whom complained. or see how he interacts with Wendell. one that would help her. You're Bale. and the Harvest Celebration would be tomorrow afternoon and through the night and possibly into the next day. but that was her job. and how the two peoples interacted. I'd still like to talk to the one you talk to. and to learn about the marnmen. It was her job to see what they did in the village. The trade talk and her conversation with Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Airof-Life would give her evidence." "So what you're saying then is that I'll get to talk to the leader. Estelle looked over at him. as did his wife. not be mad. See what they think of the silly human customs.moved down to the next section. Maybe I'll get their opinion on the humans and their celebration. That public display was disturbing to Bale. The day after the Harvest Celebration. During the talks she would see they were intelligent. Trade talks came soon. not as pushy or as public with her lust. Even the children stayed awake into the night. talks between Give-Direction and Wendell. and I told you I wanted to talk to the marnmen some more. To her right. "Hi. . Talk to Wendell. Not too early. Estelle stretched before starting on what would be her last row. she must think they were intelligent. and said. Next to him. Think I could do that?" Tuesday was going to join him this afternoon." He saw Estelle give him a puzzled look that began to change to anger. few would be up early. her talks would come later in the day. "Tomorrow's tomorrow?" he asked. really people. That would be the best time for her to learn about the marnmen." If she wanted the marnmen's opinion. The blonde was nicer than the visitor with red hair was. Bale said. next to Estelle.
twisting and bending sideways to loosen stiff backs. But I'll do that tomorrow. I'll see you later. I'm going to find what it is that makes it so special. I haven't had a chance to do more than meet them. "Not really. Anything I should know about them?" Estelle replied quietly. Oh. A tap on her shoulder surprised Estelle. I did go swimming with them. Then we will catch up on household chores and get ready for the feast. She had known it academically. the noise level growing a bit every time someone new entered the community bath. as had many others. "Now what?" She asked. almost bouncing off the stream bottom. ask if I can talk to Pretty Wings after we eat. To the left and right it seemed that the village was stopping. Dennis grinned. Even Dennis had stopped. She accepted soap leaves that appeared from over her shoulder and began to rub them on her body. how it reacts and interacts with the . almost. The villagers were gabbing away at each other." Dennis left at a lope. He meandered over to her. her red hair darker than usual. if you see Stuart. I can't wait. "Hey. and joined the group of women already there. The harvest is over for this season. and lay them over a bush. stripped off her sweat soaked shirt and pants. Go ahead if you like. Not like this. I will talk to you later. You do think that would be OK." "You mean that's it?" She watched as the last pile was placed on the wagon that would carry it back to the village. Finally she realized the chore was done. standing still or loosening tight muscles. She turned to find Tuesday Wells. "Now a bunch of hot and sweaty people are going to jump in the river to get clean. Tuesday told Estelle. The task is completed. her green eyes bright with anticipation. headed toward the river. Come on. Bale's taking me. "What is it?" she asked when he finally came within hearing distance. I hear that after the feast all sorts of games are played. the days they'd spent bent over to cut grasses. Estelle followed him along the road to the river at a more sedate pace. +++ About half an hour after Dennis had hurried off. I've been trying to learn about the colony here. "We are done. who did not expect to meet anyone while bathing. They will not let you drown. in the past. swim with them. More people were standing as they finished their rows. I'm going to talk to the marnmen today. It's a free for all. She had not understood how hard primitive cultures worked. don't you?" "I do not see any reason why not. greeting friends along the way. Halbrack got me some Rumbler skin to study. 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. but not in her muscles.stretching to the sky. her arms spread to keep her balance. but I couldn't tell you anything other than it's perfectly safe. the almost two seeks of hard work to gather enough food for the winter. He did not move off to the next field as she thought he should. More than that you'll have to find out for yourself." "You have got to be kidding! I'm just going to take my good old time and relax my sore muscles. finished. She walked carefully down the bank into the shallow water. I will race you.
and several others important in the community. Now I won't be caught by surprise.animals and forest." "Don't be. "Mr. She picked up her clothes and. Francine will be back shortly. the guide for Tuesday Wells. I'm sorry. Thanks for letting me know. as if she was not so confined. A hand clapped him on the shoulder. my friend. Nathan said. I should have warned you. but these things were so disgusting I couldn't wear them back. a familiar voice said. Several men standing by the door of the storehouse watched her pass. decided to walk naked to where she was staying. He recognized Dennis. As he turned. And I think I might like this. a friendly gesture among some that he tried to avoid. or sent clothes with Francine. Until then we wait. See you soon. after a final dunk to rinse her hair again." Dennis stepped back and let her enter." "I've talked to one. a racing dive into the shallow water he had learned in upper school. Estelle's guide. disgusted with the dirty wet feel of them." "Stuart said you could come over and talk to Pretty Wings after lunch. I take it these people are working you hard?" ." "He would. Estelle scrubbed off and. Dennis greeted her at the door. I could have thought ahead. I've learned a lot I can use in analyzing primitive cultures from watching this one. And let me know your opinions of the marnmen before then. and she will decide." Tuesday swam toward the shore." +++ Nathan dove into the cold water at the edge of the river. He says it's the perfect time. Oh. "No. you're looking well. What's for lunch. And whether they're intelligent and sentient. It's kind of a cross between a stone working and metal working culture." Brevor Schneider had grown a bit darker and a bit thinner during the two weeks they had been on the planet. Hey. they had seen naked women before. and I think they are. will you?" "Sure. "That is not the normal way for you to travel. Unfortunately. Nathan wants a meeting during the celebration to discuss our progress and exchange information. is it?" Estelle grinned and held out her dirty clothes. You will probably have to help her with the house work that did not get done because of harvest. but you can still talk. "You're going to crack your head open you keep doing that. This river is shallow. Estelle. followed Tuesday to the shore of the river. and how people react to each other. Now I have to learn how the marnmen fit in. No matter. but I'll be able to tell you more about that after today. Schneider. Outdoor activity obviously was better for him than desk duty." "That'll be fine. his hair soaked. anyway?" "I do not know. it had not improved his personality. and one of the women sweeping a house she thought. but she shrugged it off. got to go. "That's why Francine and I took along other clothes when we went. It gave her a feeling of freedom. surfacing close to the group of men that had come from the fields.
and sleep. looked at the rocks. You feel good." An interesting thought. He went over to give Agatha a hug. Near the far corner. and almost everybody else was. thanks. meant nothing. Hello. you would not believe what Agatha can do to Rumbler meat when she's cooking for the village. and you'll feel like a new man. they do by hand. Their method of government is the same way. What is good for sore muscles?" Brevor chuckled." Anderson explained. and then . Rocks in the fires glowed red-hot." Brevor knew the way they insulted each other. She said. the friends turned toward their homes. Anderson said. Creep. Harvest and the smokehouse keep the village fed. how hard it would be to surpass Stuart's shot through the ear. and their friends. but we'll talk about that during our weekly meeting. It'll work the kinks out in no time. "Now see? Here is a man. but Anderson and I have smokehouse duty. They talked about the hunt and the harvest. and Anderson led Brevor across the square to where three fires burned near deep pits. how the storehouses were over filled this season. These people do not have it easy. and if Anderson didn't have the skill needed for that job. and how much better the new smokehouse would be than the old one. Or possibly eat. but you still stink! Better get back to the river. I'm not sure. Brevor saw Anderson's wife wrapping something in leaves. "It's about time you got here. Two others had joined them as they slowly walked along the street." That was an obvious conclusion. hunters who also worked the smokehouse and had helped with the gathering. "From overwork and doing what you're not used to? Get a massage. and that's not really hard. but its nothing major. I just want to get clean." "We have to take half the rocks from the fire and drop them into the bottom of the pit. "Brevor. though. Brevor. I prefer a nice woman who's willing to do a bit extra. you two would be in the fields as I. How did you make out?" "Not too bad. Chunky. by someone who understands how the muscles lay. At the edge of the square. What. Come here. I had to carry grain the first day. We'll meet again during the celebration." +++ Brevor and Anderson wandered toward the celebration square from the river. Whatever you are used to turning a switch for. It's got to be good. They are all important. as I will explain in my written report. Brevor looked at him from under lowered eyebrows."You ain't kidding about that. I'm ready for them. "Good. "No one does who lives without a viable source of power. after you help me with these rocks. and everything stops for those two duties. The hunters exclaimed how well the hunt had succeeded with two of the large animals felled. For now. You ready for us yet?" The small woman looked up as Anderson spoke." Nathan did have a question Brevor could answer. That's intrinsic to the way the colony is governed. Were you off getting clean after helping with the harvest? As if the smell of smokehouse isn't enough to cover your stink. creature. but the massage is the thing. and how even the mill had extra grain to make into powder. but it is a skill. Good day. We do need to help her somewhat." "No. friends of Anderson. "You've been around sports and physical activities more than I have.
" "That would take a week. "We use these." Agatha said. "Not like that. I'll be around for a couple more. and you can add supports as you form it. If necessary. I'll be ready in a moment. but is there enough to crack the lighter brick? Let's make up two balls of each kind. He asked. Let's give this a shot. "No. and lift. Come on. He tried to lift one edge. and in the morning we tear it out and pack the whole thing again. "With our fingers?" Anderson and Agatha laughed. Chunky. then it would probably let less heat escape. The two men strained to place the cover on the fire. correct? We'll just make a ball meter thick and throw it in a fire after it's had time to cure completely. That way I can help you make the cover. the almost round cylinder looked extremely ungainly." "But the light bricks aren't as strong. Anderson said. On their way back to the river to wash off. Granted there is some. "You made that cover out of the mud you use for the heavy bricks." She told the shirtless guide. it is my turn." Anderson said with a chuckle. along with chopped vegetables and a fruit. then place it in the pit. Brevor asked. We don't want rock pieces in the bottom. "Your turn. the ones that have to support loads. By the afternoon it should be ready. right?" "Sure. Come on. Use this. How will we lift it?" "You won't need to lift as much weight. Made from the same mud used in the bricks." "But how could you know if it would work?" "That cover looked to be about a meter thick. They cool off too quickly." Anderson handed Brevor a long pole with a forked and curved end made of metal." She placed a good number of leaf packages into the pit." "We have time. I didn't want it to crack in the heat. and if it's the way I think you do it. then that cover. "Just keep your shirt on." Brevor watched as she placed a large chunk of meat in one of the leaves usually shredded for flavoring. Anderson said." +++ . Slide them through here. She added different leaves. We can use the mud at the new smokehouse. wood integrated in the top or something. at least fifty when Brevor gave up counting. not at all. Brevor looked at the cover. "Now the rest of the rocks go on top. and then Anderson told his wife.his hands. we'll make it now before we bathe. and in a week we'll test it. and then stood back. but could not get his hands underneath." Together they moved half the rocks." "How much heat? It's not like it has a fire around it. 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. "Now about nightfall we change the rocks on the top. and coated with the waterproofing agent. Brevor looked up and saw two poles in Anderson's hands. "All you do is scoop a rock up like this. Carefully. you know. and tied it with the vine trailing from the large leaf. wrapped it all." "Sure." After they had filled the pit with the rocks remaining in the fire. I want to see how you make the light mud. "Now." "And tonight I'll be ready for you.
Did she really want to enter? She had to. is it not?" "Yes. The lighter mud is almost half sand. That is what you want. She. add the support thatch. but after all. . The heavy mud has almost no sand. and she wanted to observe all the proper ceremonies. A pot of water stood on the floor steaming. it was her job to observe. and coat everything well with the waterproof coating. I'd like as many perspectives as possible. start high. "OK. how the men and the women interact. We make the balls as thick as the cap?" Brevor dumped the heavy mud onto a nearby skin. This would be the first time she visited someone at their home. like a pot. to learn the ways of the people. here is the mud we use to make the bricks that will support the heavy loads." Within half an hour. The heavy mud is easier to work with once it's mixed. It's thick like this." Pretty Wings called from near the fireplace. he said.The new smokehouse was near completion. That way we can see if either cracks. had only seen the inside of two. and then Stuart filled the door and motioned her to enter. Pretty Wings drew a string bag filled with dishes from inside the pot. She barely knew Stuart and Pretty Wings. All that was left to do was to set the rafters. to tell you the truth. Let's see who gets done first. they had formed two spheres of the proper size and left them to dry. so why don't you use that. I also want a different perspective than Francine can give me. Slowly stirring one bucket he said. +++ Estelle looked at the entrance of the cottage with apprehension. but you have no idea where these go. "I am just cleaning up from our lunch. so I can fit them all together and get a true picture of your culture. a young boy and girl ran out of the house. Kneed it for a time using the heel of your hands to force the air out. come in. "Come in. and then poured water into each. "And here is the lighter mud. anyway?" "Just the amount of sand. especially the roof so it would not burn. and rolled the blob into the semblance of a sphere. You keep stirring this until it's ready." "Perspectives? I am not familiar with that word. and the one was because of an emergency. While he worked. You should be ready. Take this small broom. Estelle could do nothing other than follow in his wake. and my main task is to learn whether the marnmen are truly sentient. there are things you can help with while you are here. No problem. and I'll make the ball from the lighter stuff. and heavy. No matter. What's the difference between the two types of mud." "Then this heavy mud would be like clay. But I only have a month." He added three handfuls of sand and began to stir the dirt in the other bucket using a faster stroke. "Yes. As the giant backed out of the way. Anderson threw dirt into two buckets. I would ask you to help. as yet. The supports had all been laid and secured with another two layers of brick. they had invited her. Dennis' and Natalie's. kneaded and flipped the mix until he thought it was free of air. While she vacillated. Shortly two more bodies joined those at the stream.
"Different points of view. I agree." "So a different perspective is like. Stuart moved the full pot over to the corner. Two beds stood on either side of a window on the far side of the room. now that you mention it. She saw that both of the others had removed their ." "I'm OK. and by that light. so relax.and sweep all the surfaces until you reach the floor. either in the early morning or late evening." As she lay on the bed and allowed her tired muscles in her bare back and legs to be manipulated. Estelle listened to the explanations of Pretty Wing's day-to-day life. That made an impression on him. I am not sure of the word. and you can answer questions as you work. Pretty Wings. How is your body? I saw that you worked hard during harvest. tonight would be a meatless meal in the village in order to respect the rumblers. Shelves on the wall next to them held small toys and other knickknacks. That is what we want to do. At a sign from his wife." Pretty Wings said smiling. They are out to play. He leads the men who get our meat. "We can not afford to have anyone be lazy. Rub them. Tell me what are these perspectives?" Estelle took the broom." "A body massage." Estelle allowed herself to be led into the other room of the house. And Stuart said you and Francine took one of the heavier loads." "Give me a massage? That would be like a rub down. "What is your relationship with Stuart?" "What is my relationship? He is my husband. and I did everything." As Stuart entered with another load of wood. that would be good. I seem to be done. Once the place is swept we can relax somewhat. "Tell me more of how you two divide the work between you." She swept the loose dirt and dust carefully toward the door. Yes. reached the high shelves. Stuart asked a question. "He said that since tomorrow is the feast. an important job for the community. Pretty Wings held Estelle's hand and guided her to a freestanding bed in a curtained off area to the left of the door. How are you doing?" "Fine." Estelle told Pretty Wings. Pretty Wings continued to put the dishes where they belonged. She explained. and began to sweep the dust off. Estelle asked. "Stuart said that he wishes to show his respect. You mean how do we get along? We do well. A bit sore. and over there are the children's beds. and he said something back." "That's good. then the reason why would be the different perspective. oh. if Francine dusted only from eye level down. sometimes both. We would like to help soothe your sore muscles. ways of seeing things." "A massage? Rub down? Rub your body everywhere to stimulate the muscles and take away the soreness. but that might be from the harvest. After a time Estelle was gently prodded into rolling over. See? I am done back here. He has high status. Usually the help I have is lazy. Most of the time he is gone. There is not that much furniture. looking at something from different directions. and what you would have to discover. "This is where we sleep. Pretty Wings translated." "That is not a problem you will find here. I'm used to lugging heavy equipment around sites. I do too. he said something." Pretty Wings lifted Estelle's dress over her head. Estelle said. He will stay home." "Then I can begin to sweep. each with a large box at the bottom. and then began to restock the woodpile. she answered.
clothes. . and was mildly surprised when Stuart gently kissed her on the lips.
if Gives-Direction was to inform them that the Thinkers. Gives-Direction. Gives-Direction. observers as those that dwell on the ancient land called them. enjoying the sun on his back and the warmness of the calm living-water. Gives-Direction had chosen this place for the smoothness of the water. "I apologize for my tardiness. they of this allpowerful Federation. which made it easier for the hollowed trees used by those who dwelt on the ancient land not to turn over. He waited for the dwellers on the ancient land to arrive for the telling of truth and the trade. Enough had to be decided without any distractions. they approach only now. wait for one warm and cold time. She would have to make a decision. one of which she recognized. He knew there would be four participants from the ancient land. You will play your part. 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. 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. Patiently he waited for them to arrive. water-breathing fish who knew a few tricks? What would they say. were showing signs of intelligence? Of that he would not speak at this time. Gives-Direction felt a disturbance in the living water. What did the observers think his people were. the visitors from the starseas who were to decide if his community was one of intelligent creatures." "Your arrival time is of no matter. The living-water will give no more." Gives-Direction moved slowly to those who dwell in the air of life as they sat in their floating tool. She had no mean task ahead of her.Chapter 14 Gives-Direction waited near the center of the lagoon. SpeaksFor-Those-Who-Dwell-In-the-Air-of-Life. I will bring them up when you say the time is proper. and two others. and not an invading hunter. she could not jump in the water as she had with Bale and the animals a week before. also. I believe we can give them a half load. Is it as we think?" "Not quite as bad. I will keep that in mind during the discussions. but I had to be sure of the latest facts. Gives-Direction-to-Those-That-Dwell-In-The-Air-of-Life. Two of the creatures that were called marnmen. pulled the small boat through the water of the lagoon toward others that waited. This time would be business instead of play. With Wendell and Ambassador DuPont along. and if she knew Nathan. so your information was not missed. Changes-The-Water slipped next to Gives-Direction and bowed. That is the best we can do." "Then the price will have to be much higher. Estelle watched as a marnman that she had not seen before hurried to the meeting . which start now. +++ Estelle looked over the calm water. See. and again trade for a half load.
" "Does he have a list of what he needs in return?" A long session of squeaks and clicks followed. She thought for a moment." Estelle was surprised they asked her this question. then a wait of one year. they do know what we eat. When the marnman floated next to them. and then said. can you tell me?" The Ambassador. soon the marnmen and other creatures of the sea would not be able to live. They have legends that they came from the land to the oceans when the land became cold. You have asked us to meet here to discuss a mutual problem with the materials you supply to us. if anything.point. can be done other than just wait. She had come to observe the interchange." the answer came after a moment. I would have Tuesday run some tests in the ocean. not to be a source of knowledge. It is also possible that the lack of minerals would affect them due to the change in salinity. or less. "That much? Well we can do most of it. and then told them. and then the one who waited slowly moved over to rest near the boat. and will do what we can to help." . She heard the two water animals squeak at each other. Wendell asked. Tell us of your problem. I understand. "I believe Estelle may be better able to answer that question. We will also need some of the water shedding plant. Until that time what can he offer us?" "Only one half of a normal trade amount. it may be exactly that. his robes discarded for a time. said. Shortly he repeated the list to Wendell." "Yes. and have discovered some seaweed that will suffice?" "That is what they have said. but any more would be detrimental." Wendell pondered the information for a moment." One of the nearby animals squeaked for a time as if translating what Wendell had said. He suggested one more trade. He finally gave up and settled on remembering everything. with Bale trying to translate as it went. When Bale had finished. and he agrees that is a good idea. and how if the extraction continued. but yes. and then he waited. have you seen enough?" "Am I correct in assuming that they know what is good for humans to eat. as translated by Bale. "Tell your leader we agree that a problem exists and will help in ways we can. "He regrets the major cut back. a long series of sounds. Estelle. Gives-Direction. explained about the lack of minerals in the living-water. Bale translated. and they have been good in the past. And yes. "You still swim GivesDirection. and thereby larger life. and another meeting to discuss how the living-waters were progressing. which could be the origin of the name of 'living-water'. We wish you and your reef no harm or misfortune." After a moment of squeaks. Wendell spoke. "Is that a true statement? Nathan. And he said something about knowing of plants that could be food? It is possible we could continue to trade for them. "It's possible that the minerals and metals supply nutrition for plankton. May the living-waters always remain calm for you. Their bodies wouldn't have time to adjust to such a quick change. The marnman that had joined them squeaked back at Wendell. Tell him we will have the Federation chemist test the water while she is here to determine what. "He will see about the food plants.
We will pass along through Bale any findings we have. Estelle chose a fired clay plate and began picking from the many plants and fish available on a table next to the fire. A smaller crowd of mostly children listened to stories told by Dennis and his teacher." Gives-Direction moved slowly toward his place of living." As the two marnmen who had waited turned toward the ocean. that began to grow warmblooded. except for the quantities of metal made objects from us. Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life. so we feel you should receive one of the better pieces. Very good. People milled around talking to each other. then congregating in another area to eat." Estelle thanked her and moved off with the . except they say we do not supply enough of the metals for them to return the metal objects you requested. passing the cooking fires and snatching some morsels. If we do not receive the metal. 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. it is as simple as that. "They accept. They apparently were land animals that lived farther north. You'll also find people friendlier tonight. You can learn the legend in more detail from Dennis. changed into what you see today. +++ "They accept exactly what you said they would." Pretty Wings said from behind Estelle. We need to get back for the celebration. This has gone well. not exactly. and that we accept his terms of trade. "Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life." Wendell said. much as we do. Gives-Direction. mostly centered near one of the three cooking fires. We wish you good hunting in the living-waters. She could see several large groups gathered around the square. we have much to do. "Take the meat. More like a history passed along by each generation. "They want us to trade later for the food plants. satisfied he again had solved a problem before it arose. You have done well. tell your leader we will discuss his problem and do everything we can. It is only as I expected. we cannot make the metal objects. while many seasons passed. Tell them they may go in the proper way." The marine animals squeaked at each other. She passed by the fire where a huge piece of meat roasted planning to come back to it. and wish us well. but the woman tending it called her over. "You helped with harvest and carrying the hunt. +++ 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."A religion?" "No. They couldn't take the cold of the winters and for some reason they could not or would not move south. however. "Then let's go home people. Don't be shy. They are anxious to be off to their celebration. so they moved into the water and." Talks-To-The-Dwellers-In-The-Air-of-Life said. Shortly Bale said. and they said they would tell us anything they find out from their test of the living-waters. Wakefield." "Good. The woman held a large piece of meat out to Estelle as she jabbered away in her language.
but used ingeniously. each to the other." a male voice called. Most of the land creatures could be classified as reptiles and insects. Lighter material is used higher up. 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. too." the fleshy ex-jock said. We might as well get this briefing of Nathan's over with now. is from what the original colonists brought with them. I could have sworn that waterproofing agent is akin to concrete. both to add less stress to what is below. The distrust I've seen could be that distrust of large Governments. as Chairman for this investigative enterprise. it looks like a close cousin to concrete. That's almost the mix that occurred in the Cretaceous period of Terra. You probably know about this Brevor." Tuesday agreed. or where support is needed. I hear you've been talking with the marnmen. and the truth is fascinating. Heavy materials are used in the bottom of walls. the marnmen seem to be mammals. I. to be very enlightening. or so I believe. along with some other ocean creatures. playing power games. don't. It's impossible! There are just too many. being political rebels. will give the floor to whom I choose." the aristocratic ambassador commented to regain control. For some reason. drilled their dissatisfaction with large governments into their children down through the years." "The engineering is interesting. "The materials used are all readily available. There are also the animals I've been looking at. isn't it. when I choose. But that's not what happens. You especially don't want to miss anything. although biology is not really my field. I'm surprised at what you said. Nathan." "No. There are no mammals on land. And that. It seems to be akin to plastic. but of outsiders like us they are suspicious. may I ask how far along you are on cataloguing the plants and chemicals used? The biologist answered. Tell us about it. The buildings are functional and serve the purpose they were designed for. Tuesday. except for a few emerging birds. Now it will take . that the plant somehow leached the limestone and calcium from the soil and water to make a plaster of Paris." Nathan quickly countered. but the original colonists. They must have come from the marnmen. but they're the only mammals on the planet. Tuesday Watson. Brevor Schneider. and the historian. Nathan gave him a look that said Brevor should have waited. and Nathan DuPont sat to the side of the crowd as they enjoyed the succulent feast. a naturally occurring long polymer. Investigating by eye. One of their leaders could very easily take over. Then there are some that are a combination of the two. And Tuesday. "Come join us. The knowledge and ways of doing things must have been handed down over the years. At least that's what I see in the microscope. "Some of it. has kept me busy. "Brevor.tender slice of meat. is as far as I've gotten." "Fascinating. or cement. but there's one compound in one of the seaweeds that reacts with the clay to make a waterproof coating more durable than concrete. "I've been trying to cross reference all the plants to their old world catalogue counter parts. "A complete trust among themselves prevails. rather than wait and miss something. "And I've found the politics. and trying to analyze all the materials these people use. we will hold this meeting in a proper manner. "Estelle! Over here. what little there is. and then nodded for him to continue. They're wild. and to make building easier. That.
Ambassador DuPont. or someone who does what they feel is right and takes complete responsibility for their own actions. the same kind we've seen in many primitive societies and in the ancient histories. "I've been trying to get permission to go there. If I were expecting people to arrive of whom I had no knowledge. but I get told it would take too long or no drawings exist. The division of labor is natural--no. "though there are probably . "at least not since the first few days.decades of careful dealings to bring them into the Federation. One mistake or misdeed could make this a totally isolationist world that refuses to deal with outsiders." Brevor complained. total strangers that is. Of course they're going to feel some resentment. and an area where I kept my private matters. I would want to have an area where they could feel free to roam at will." Brevor observed. even if we can convince Wendell to let us make the journey. The term I've heard that seems the best suited to describe the leader is 'he who gives direction'. as it were. It's almost as if I were supposed to be a second class citizen just because I'm a woman. "I'm always told that all I need is here. are a symbol of the Federation." The anthropologist sprang to the villager's defense. Now I know why I keep getting the run around. They feel that what you and I are doing is a man's job." Nathaniel replied. Ambassador DuPont ignored the comments. that's where they're keeping secrets. I believe Cliffside is their private storeroom. and they're fanatic about it. and one I have much to learn about. more than the rest of us. Maybe it's you." "Yeah." "In other words. Either we're women who are unprincipled and self centered and refuse to follow the normal division of labors as they see it." "Yeah. who act for themselves in a responsible manner." "I would not go quite that far. or we're strange looking men. or at least to see blueprints or designs." "I haven't noticed any real distrust. and those who do just go along. you and I. Wendell directs the efforts of his constituents. It's normal in a situation like this. 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. Do you think you could talk to Wendell and convince him to let us go?" "I could speak to him." "Why is that?" Brevor asked. most just don't have the sophistication to realize there could be other ways. Brevor. An interesting form of government. Tuesday." the Ambassador answered. Most of the people are what we call responsible anarchists." the red headed chemist agreed vehemently. I do not believe we will be given permission to enter. for the time being." "Or maybe it's because he won't associate with the people. or that you." Estelle commented. "Let me put it this way. "The type of government seems to be a cross of a benign dictatorship and a completely anarchistic society. wrong word. but they're given laws and duties by one person. I suppose. It's a typical agricultural community." "That means I probably won't get to see how Cliffside is constructed. "But in their lights you are. "However. Maybe that's why you notice it more." "No. I'm also interested in going to Cliffside to observe the way they live.
I believe we have found the first sapient beings that live in the water." Dennis told Estelle as he led her to where Francine waited. her cup empty. Several men she remembered from the hunt told a story with large gestures. You've seen chemical reactions that. To the side several men held a shooting contest trying to pierce a large leaf attached to a tree. I." Tuesday rose. their cooperation. their respect for each other. dodging among the groups of people. They'll be declared a new sentient species and the planet declared off limits for years at the very least. perhaps. plenty close enough to spend a week there. but tasted more like the sweet tarrington from Rigle. "There just is not enough time to get there and back. said there was not enough time. possibly the story of the most recent hunt as she saw one man act as if he shot an arrow. Brevor's found some of the architecture--no. She turned to Dennis and protested. my friend." This was frustrating. is a marvel. the remaining time must be put to good use. "Isn't that always the way?" Nathan asked. "That does seem to happen a lot. In the future I believe relations will be more open." Nathan soothed. "What do you mean?" "Just when you want to stay somewhere. Young children played a chasing game. it's declared off limits." +++ Estelle chomped on something that was close to a carrot in texture. Many women had removed their tops. for one. "Not really. for one. Tuesday. will encourage that they are so classified. have originated in the oceans. 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. am going to request a return trip. I'm going to be studying the culture of the marnmen for the rest of my stay. and a few were naked. I find this world fascinating. How is it that you know? You do realize that you'll have to back up your theory when we get back to Capitol." "Yeah. Therefore. "Perhaps. including the younger women. We won't be allowed to return. I could spend years learning a new way of political interchange. Two women conversed as they breast-fed." "How do you figure. "It's like this. We have two weeks left.items that they do not want us to know right now." "You're dreaming. You mentioned some of the engineering is meant to be under water. Ambassador. And I. however. Estelle?" the red head asked. Everywhere she went. Why can't we go to this Cliffside. at least in the part. ignoring all the other activities. my friend. Nathaniel." Brevor sighed and said. but for now they're keeping things from us. for that reason. everyone she talked to. If I could learn their ways I could teach others. It was also true. "There is more than enough research here for the time allotted. "I don't understand. Have you tried that pink punch? It really has a kick. But for now let's party. and for you to study what you need to study. It was only a few days distant. The interaction between the two races." Brevor grumbled." The ambassador chuckled. engineering--that must be from under water. that she could not study the marnmen as she should if .
"It may be true that Wendell and Headmon Halford think that one or two things should not be known at this time. we could work something out. the partners circling each other. The drummers sat and began a slow beat. Let us thank each other for the hard work that has enabled us to give freely. touching or bumping slightly. the entire village honoring each other for the work completed with hugs and sometimes kisses. It takes five days to a week on foot. and not bogged down by food. for her hard work. "But it seems like you're hiding something. Wendell clapped his hands. This is good." Dennis thought for a moment. "This year has been good for us. They were sentient. and some asked if she wanted to bond later. The older boys carried the tables inside the large open building. both moons illuminated the celebration square as people milled around. the inner and outer circles joined. Many people came to Estelle and thanked her for her help.she was away from this village. What about the others? They did not have that constraint. As the beat sped up. and you would not see them at Cliffside. She had pretty well made up her mind on that matter. they had intelligence. when the melody repeated. That is my reason. Now come and let us show you some especially good foods. some of it so delicious Estelle had to use most of her willpower to eat only a little. But now most of your time would be spent in traveling there." +++ All afternoon people had eaten and snacked on the bounty available. the dancers began to meet each other. you will want to be ready for fun. as are the marnmen. Every fourth beat the circles moved together. We have more in storage than we can use. We can share the extra we have as they have helped us in the past. and as the sun set Dennis had repeated the story he began two weeks before for Natalie. However. what any nation or world would do. for others have had problems. At the beginning of the third sequence. Both Tuesday and Brevor both feel that is what you're doing. She recognized several drums and two flutes of some kind. The circle moved to the left. but do not eat too much. Now. then separated again. they used some tools. then. She did not really need to study them further. it moved to the right. Let the dance begin. then joining hands as they reeled around their center. but the rest of the instruments were unfamiliar. young and old. We are right here for you to see. the dancers split into an inner and outer circle that moved in opposite directions. At some signal Estelle could not discern. holding hands. Near one corner of the square." 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. Dennis. Wendell addressed the crowd. a number of people had gathered with various instruments. If you were to come back for a longer length of time. and they had a social system and religion of their own. each dancer pairing with the opposite dancer. She explained. it's only normal. Nathan says that if you are. that does not mean you cannot get the information you need about us. except to gather more evidence. from the very young to the very old. until the movement was too fast and the dancers either stopped or stood holding . The rest of the village gathered in a large circle. Possibly that was the explanation for her. After I give my first full recitation of the history.
Could this celebration be close to what some of the ancient peoples did. the musicians began to play. "how far you and Pretty Wings were willing to go. Enjoy. Estelle thought she detected more hugging and kissing than normal. One of the young children ran a hand along a teen's leg. They'd have to open their minds to differing mores if they wanted to make an unbiased study. "Are you ready for the fun? We do this each year. The drummers started another beat. This was not the behavior you found on most planets. and you are speaking well for as little as you have practiced. Estelle had joined Pretty Wings at the pool and found that bathing community style could mean more than just talk. "Yes. nearly naked. a form of acknowledgement for the hard work everyone had completed. or whatever. +++ Brevor dipped another gourd of punch from the pot on the table after watching the . and something she had worked hard to learn. or just watching. Holding her close. or maybe it was something started by the first settlers to celebrate the first harvest. Some danced separately." "Inter-. enjoy closeness with our friends. We enjoy now?" Estelle remembered what Pretty Wings had just said and nodded. dependent on each other. Perhaps the isolation of this world had allowed this celebration to form over the years." Pretty Wings gave Estelle a kiss on the cheek and walked off into the crowd. and reminds us we are all a large family.tightly to each other. and a few. and couples started to dance again. and place his hands on parts of her body generally reserved for spouses. and shown openly this night. probably some kid just out of higher school who wanted to join one of the science ministries. something that other scholars would respect. and then changed the statement to. I did. or someone would research that in the future. She noticed Stuart give Francine a deep kiss. with anyone." Estelle saw Tuesday walking toward the shadows with four men. this open sexual behavior. the early humans. others formed a line. Perhaps the way everyone depended on others just to live was a cause of this closeness. did what Estelle thought was a sexual dance. who grabbed the hand and pulled it up into a private area. and then wandered with the youngster into the dark. this time without the ritual. before they even thought about traveling among the stars? She. "Did you enjoy this morning?" he asked haltingly. Another very enjoyable time at her house followed Pretty Wing's actions. with Stuart joining them. do it. dancing so closely together that they looked joined. That was something few could do. It helps to bind us together as a community. a closeness that was private most times. I must say I was not prepared for the amount of intimacy involved." Estelle thought a moment." "We enjoy.Intimacy?" "The. so if you feel like doing something. and circled Estelle's waist with an arm. laughing. Stuart quickly replaced her. Pretty Wings asked. Pretty Wings came over to Estelle glowing with energy and fun. "No one worries about anything tonight. um. when they new the community would survive.
that they all depend on each other. I'm just collecting experiences." Brevor growled. eased out of the shadows together. this orgy. "Since when are you my master? There are all sorts of ways to learn about a society. this society. a group of teens. had moved away from the crowd into the dark and returned glowing and joyful. It was as if the kids knew what sex was and wanted it. "I thought you were supposed to study these people. left out. Estelle moved out of the dark with Stuart looking extremely happy as if she had just shared a private time with her husband. For these people. had sex out of wedlock. giving him a peck on the cheek. but that did not give her permission to be so intimate. This is how these people interact with each other. Several of the teens held hands as if they were couples. or grandparent and grandchild over there. not join their society. He wiped the offending kiss off his cheek. removing clothes and joining with others to walk into the dark. If they were part of the Federation. and energized. Some of the nearly naked couples were like parent and child. this would not happen. He knew they had just committed adultery. of joining." . Brevor. I'm going to have to report this. not participate. terribly wrong. join in. What have they been doing?" "What's wrong with that?" Estelle asked as she looked at the kids. Couples and groups." What right did she have to do that? Sure. They don't follow the rules of the Federation or the religious teachings we know.dance. "Why. Brevor? Remember. this is a different society. You notice Tuesday is. Even children participated. They parted. this debacle. what rules they follow. Look at those kids. Think of how they act. maybe you should go to bed. Have you lost your tolerance for the ways of others?" "But it's immoral. fornicated. talking and touching. "I believe you're feeling envious. of reaffirming the oneness of the community. this is normal and proper. Why is it disgusting? It's a way of sharing. if you are so intolerant. none of them spouses." Estelle said. What business did she have with him? She was here to watch and study." Estelle smiled at him. If you don't agree with this. just in a more direct way than the society of the Federation. These people have no respect for decency. Groups sat and stood totally naked." Estelle stood straight and glared at him. I'm leaving. He said. "Look at that." "Decency? Whose decency. It was all immoral and someone should stop it. Why are you so grouchy." Just then. "And I see you're still here. Disgusting. You notice Ambassador DuPont isn't here. naked. Illegal. go to bed. "It looks like they're learning about love. who ranged in age from thirteen to twenty. Would he join this immoral revelry? "No. anyway?" She could not see the problem? "Look at this. If you don't agree." Why did she sound so offended? This was wrong. It's immoral. This is disgusting. "You've forgotten why you're here. if you feel it's wrong that strongly. and Brevor moved to join the anthropologist. Otherwise. a disgusting and immoral activity." "They should at least wear clothes. they were colleagues. The whole planet had turned into an abomination.
the reasons for that deviation she had discovered. until someone else discovered a new species." "I was hoping I could learn about it. Then there's--. would be happy to see you again. slightly perturbed. "Why not now?" +++ . There's no one up in arms about a 'breech of nature' as some people in our culture call it. I guess that would be out of the question considering it's our last day and all." Dennis answered her interrupting her thoughts. and she knew now that they were people. "If I can." "Do you mean what I think you mean?" "I might. The way that Seaside had deflected from what the Empire considered normal. if you are married to a person and they go away for a while. After that. for one." "But your wife?" "Different cultures you just said. But when one of your people takes a trip. the spouse shares pleasure with another couple." "I did. I will get Wendell to ask for your return. was yet another year's work. It's a fact of your life. "Well. and then realized she had spoken aloud. let me give you an example. then the marriage can be dissolved. "You can not this trip. The people of the seas. never part of what we know as human society. "I wonder how I could visit Cliffside next time we come. and it seems to be a good one. she would be at the top of her field. and how the two villages interact. "Oh." she wondered under her breath. didn't I?" Her blue eyes lost their focus as she heard Dennis ask from far away." Dennis interrupted. about their ways. It's as if you were never human. This whole world is like a new planet with a new species.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." "Why do you say that?" Dennis asked. In my culture. had a society that grew more fascinating the more she learned about it. she watched how the humans interacted with the marnmen. As she listened to his stories on the last day of her visit. I have only been there once. Estelle started for a moment. and how the land community interacted with the marnmen. she would tackle Seaside. Then she would have a place in history. Then she would spend another six months or so tied to her voice-activated word processor. it would take her the entire trip to Capital just to organize her notes on the marnmen. like Ambassador DuPont." "I see what you mean. Extremely hard to define. Can you tell me about it?" "About Cliffside? Not really. As a people you're generally happier than most. It's also possible one or the other would go to prison. I. In addition. and you or your spouse have relations with someone else. if she could later study Cliffside.
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. land and wait for fifteen minutes. Then he could claim the planet for the Federation in a few weeks. Normally the folk did not come out this far. and grasped a flipper hold to signify he had time to wait if necessary. approaching clearing. Tell me. his forehead wrinkled. +++ Talks-To-Many looked up at the shadow near his coral.The screens in the shuttle showed forest. most probably. do you have any news?" "Nothing of great importance or urgency. He also said he remembers the agreement. "You still swim. Other than that. The captain had no information about the men and their whereabouts. Talks-To-Many. His eyes lost their focus. To have someone visit him socially was rare. The shadow slowly started to ease gently down toward the formal entrance to his homestead. or the knowledge that one would come in soon. Swims-Between entered the work area. You still swim. The marine's mission had required radio silence. There was only the hope that the scientists had determined the supposed sentient species in the ocean was not. Talks-To-Many said. my friend. and his entire body quivered with the effort to communicate with those who were far away. we'll approach the village from the oceans as if we were never here. Do you detect any life forms?" "No. What brings you here? Swims-Between said. Presently he focused on Swims-Between again. Blank your mind." "Very well. If no one shows. He just wants GivesDirection to know that the process of renewal is working. wiggled the fingers of his right flipper in greeting." This mission had failed." "Understood. The long distance communicator waited in his work area and greeted his friend as he approached." Talks-To-Many swam slowly to a position slightly away from the courier. after they had dropped off the witnesses. Were they alive? Were they at the rendezvous? The Captain would discover that in a moment. or their health." the pilot announced as the trees slowed. it was one of the message carriers who approached his home. More likely. you still swim. Captain. Sir. He recognized Swims-Between. "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. here for the load of messages to be transferred to Gives-Direction. Wait. "Captain. nothing. with either a message to be sent out. they stayed near the central reef where there were many marnmen to defend against hungry predators." . "Pilot. "Good friend. and scans when the Pride had returned from mapping the system did not pick up the heat signatures attributed to them. the ocean fading behind them as the captain and pilots approached the secret meeting place." "Thank you Pilot. one of the best couriers of this reef. It was his only hope to salvage this mission.
Now. but Gives-Direction said if we heard early enough I could go to deliver notification they are on the way. or whatever the other village is called. and yellows. we meet again." Tuesday griped from the right. as you can see. with all the electronics and the replicators and the lights and the crowds. I hope your people have collected the information they needed. A door on the side snapped open. The front window of the cockpit glowed where the displays touched it. just normal life now for Estelle Goldman." "That may be. The space vessel hovered overhead. "Well. a group of people waited in the cool afternoon air under the trees at the edge of the clearing." the Captain said as he grasped arms in the traditional greeting when he met the village leader. watching as a boxy space vessel smoothly eased down toward the surface of the planet." "We couldn't go near Cliffside. and arrogant as he stepped out and strode to Wendell. After a midday snack. That is one thing I was to inform you of. the flowers just as colorful. How far out are they from the hunters?" "Just to first valley. sliding into the double hull. until it touched the ground and rested on its runners. some of the leaves outlined in blues. Tell me more news as we get a breath of life. a waste. She would miss swimming with the marnmen. +++ The animals were just as noisy." The two friends floated slowly to the surface of the living-water. warning any other craft of the shuttle's position. "Since we've broken protocol. the constellations she now knew that would skew or disappear. Did you get all the information you need or can . "Captain Mussuclio. giving both scientists a hard look. the faint sea of the galaxy with bright patches showing the bars and center. bright even in the sun. and then slowly drifted down as if it were a balloon that lost helium." Wendell welcomed. let's discuss the matter. she and the others had packed their equipment and bade goodbye to new friends. "That's true. and Francine's in her left as she watched the decent. She had to return." "Then there is not enough time. "We asked several times. To Estelle." the Captain replied. "We've been expecting you. The day had come for leaving. Without a sound it descended. the hour when she would have to return to what some thought was civilization. The air was cooler and the trees showed some color."Ah. the colors and designs an ever-changing abstract. but they always put us off. She would miss seeing the myriad stars at night. the Captain appeared gaudy in his full dress uniform. after the scientist's stay in the simplicity of Seaside. and the forest just as shaded as a month before. a sign of time passing. reds. Estelle clasped Dennis' hand in her right hand. equipment piled in front of them. 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. Captain Mussuclio in a dress uniform stood in the door and surveyed the scene. Her academic life would seem dull now. Wendell. There is to be no alarm. She would miss the love and companionship these people showed for each other. Running lights on either side flashed out." Brevor agreed indignantly.
Estelle. I understand it's a five to seven day hike in one direction. Nothing in this village was hidden from us. "Then I will wish you a good life. There are two more things to say before you leave us. Tuesday Wells and Estelle Goldman are both welcome to return. Want to help?" "I think I'll do a bit of digging myself. find out later. gave Dennis a long. and entered the shuttlecraft. For now the Captain was speaking. but not forgotten. "Sir. inform your Government that the Cliffside episode will be ignored. I am satisfied with what I've learned. my own way. the scientists and Ambassador followed the Captain up the steps into the passenger compartment.get from this location?" The two scientists were silent. I. 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. As far as visiting Cliffside. You will be contacted once the Federation decides the status of your planet." Captain Mussuclio bowed. although he did not make that request. The four scientists watched as the villagers loaded the shuttle and the equipment was stowed by two pursers. it is their prerogative. accepting the report. He had the ability to contact the ship if it had become necessary. Captain. It was for the protection of our people. I'm going to do some digging on my way back. I ask your forgiveness for this slight breech of our agreement. the last to enter. lingering look before she allowed the hatch to close." "I must agree with Ms. . Perhaps one or two of your visitors will return. Do you agree with this protest?" Distressed by her colleague's lack of respect for their hosts." the Captain said. That is to be expected. They seem to lack the petty jealousies and inhibitions that cause violent behavior in our society. as is Ambassador DuPont. "Captain." Ambassador DuPont affirmed in his clipped. Also. we expected some form of protection. only. I have not seen cause yet to suspect that. let me say that the Ambassador is highly respected by the leaders of the Federation. not political. as is your honesty in reporting it. and I found my stay pleasant and enlightening. That it was so discrete is appreciated. however late. They respect themselves and each other for what they are. I found the people very pleasant and free of animosity. she replied." Wendell turned to Captain Mussuclio." "Very good. "I have found no cause for complaint other than a lack of certain luxuries this world cannot provide. As far as technological development goes. we have yet to hear from you. "Wendell. He was sent as much as an observer as a protection for our people. am not ready to do that." Almost an hour later. To have learned of none would have lessened our respect for you. "What did he mean? Do you know?" Tuesday asked Estelle. "No idea. for one. Goldman. What we have not seen seems due to physical barriers. "Estelle Goldman. turned smartly on his heel. If they have certain items or processes that they wish not to be known. they are backwards as compared to our society. That will have to wait until the four reports are filed.
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