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Author Topic: Why is it all so familiar? An Universal Truths Prequel[non-Battletech]-Take 2  (Read 4102 times)

monbvol

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[Author] Okay I'm going to try this again.  I think I have a much better plan going in this time.  While I do have to explain more I don't have to explain everything.  Plus I'm just going to translate things a bit more and handwave it if pressed.  :P  [/Author]

In orbit of a primitive world
in orbit of a G2 star
somewhere in the Orion Arm
Milky Way
some 30,000 years before Common Era


"They will not understand what we do, nor why we do it."  A large orb dominated by one eye, small nose, small mouth, and with six tentacles supported by a serpantine body stood on the bridge of his transport.

"Yes and if we succeed we will carry a great stain with us.  If we fail there is no hope for Parava."  Another creature moved next to the first one.

"Begin the collections."  The first ordered.

Council of the Clans
Gimbala
Shrilala
1927 Common Era


A large ornate round stone table dominated the center of the room.  9 figures sat around it, each in a high backed wooden chair with a banner behind them.

"We made contact with a species we are calling the Paravans.  Contact is not going well."  A man under a banner, top half gold bottom half black spoke.

"Opinions from our Rigylian and Carfana friends?"  A man under a green and brown banner spoke.

"They both report prior contact with the Paravans and coming to blows over it.  Nothing major but enough to prevent meaningful long term relations."  A woman under a banner of purple and blue spoke.

"An update.  One of our merchant captains reports that they have uncovered evidence that the Paravans are abducting and experimenting on a primitive race.  Likely have been for quite some time."  The man under the gold and black banner spoke.

"We must act.  We all know what nearly happened last time we discovered something like this."  The woman under purple and blue spoke.

"Information first."  The man under a banner of red and blue spoke.

"Yes, we need to know more."  The man under green and brown added.

Across the planet some hours later

"The fools.  It will mean a great sacrifice but we must act now while we can.  It will mean our exile at best.  Possibly our execution too as the leaders of our clans."  The woman under the purple and blue banner spoke to two others.

"My Clan is with you."  One of them spoke.

"I have an idea to help mitigate the odds at least a little.  The rest of the council and especially the primitive species we are about to aide can never know."  The other man spoke.

"Excellent, let us get started then shall we?"  The woman smiled.

The wild lands
Mithras
1930


Ling looked at her parents.  The Oppressors had taken them a week ago and now they were back.  Little more than empty husks.  Nothing of what they used to be remained.

"May the gods grant me the power to avenge you and all those like you that the Oppressors have taken from us."  Ling growled.

There had always been a resistance movement but now something had changed.  The Oppressors seemed distracted and were devoting less attention to their human slaves.

Now was their chance and Ling knew it.

Office of the Chancellor
New Babylon
Mithras
United Colonies of Humanity
Somewhere in the Milky Way
12 February 1940
No coffee is truly strong enough for this early before dawn


No one was really sure where humanity truly hailed from, especially in those early days.  Many of us just knew that an alien race that we knew only as the Oppressors had seeded us on many alien worlds and tried to direct our lives.  Something happened in their society, we don't know what or exactly when, but it gave us the opportunity to seize some of their interstellar ships and regain mastery over our lives.  We knew it was likely if there was one sentient alien race odds were there were more waiting to be discovered by us.
Excerpt from the personal journal of Professor Johan Rassman

Chancellor Abdi Murasa entered her office looking over her gathered staff and military commanders and cursed her aching old body.  She was getting too old for these emergency meetings at god forsaken hours.

"So what is today's emergency?"  Adbi poured herself some more coffee as she sat at her desk.

"Madame Chancellor two hours ago we received a communication from the UCS Danube while it was on patrol 100 light years from here in the Loros system.  We have our confirmation of our second encounter with intelligent alien life.  We have established very crude communication based on prime numbers and other scientific constants and they do not seem to be hostile."  Admiral Yusef Kamal answered with a deep raspy voice.

"Okay.  Let's be safe and keep the fleet such as it is on alert in case this is a ploy to get us to let our guard down.  Professor Rassman as my cultural advisor you're the most qualified person for me to send.  Plus it is not like we've established much of an academia since our liberation to have a lot of other candidates to even choose from."  Abdi wished she could go back to bed but knew events had already prevented that possibility for many hours.

"I understand Madame Chancellor.  I will gather a small staff and depart on the first available ship."  Professor Johan Rassman stood and gathered his things.

The next few hours was him gathering up a go bag and picking his staff to bring with him.  His list was indeed short for good candidates without leaving here dangerously understaffed.  A couple of military escorts made sure he didn't take too much time and got him to the space port.

Johan looked at his small staff.  They were not all his first choices but he knew he would need many of his first choices to remain here to help the Chancellor keep the fledgling nation together with the diversity of human cultures that were it's peoples.

Ling Xiang Xu was something of a notable figure during the uprising so he knew if this did become a confrontation she would be able to handle herself and despite her heritage she looked like something of a short but stout brick house.

Frederick Hessen was an up and coming grad student in the newly established university and the still rather new field of xenoanthropology.  Enough understood that if they were going to prevent another Oppressors situation that they needed to understand non-human cultures.  His young age though meant he had not been involved in the fighting to liberate humanity until by the point humanity had clearly won.

"We've been tasked by the Chancellor herself for this one.  To prevent panic we're to keep our mission details secret.  So watch what you put in any letters to friends and family.  We're boarding Shuttle ST-147 to meet up with the Destroyer UCS Hamilcar which will then relieve the Corvette UCS Danube and we will work to improve communications and find out if this new alien species is hostile, running a long con, or is genuinely friendly.  We'll be in FTL transit for two days."  Professor Rassman briefed his staff.

Crew Mess
UCS Hamilcar
13 February 1940
08:00 Ship time


Johan studied the latest updates from the UCS Danube.  The Alien vessel had finally approached close enough for visual readings.  It was starkly utilitarian looking.  Compared to the Oppressor ships they captured and converted it was rather smooth with no real protrusions.  The best way to describe it was a tube capped with half spheres.

The communication established via prime numbers and scientific constants was extremely limited and primitive but the Danube's communication officer was reasonably certain they had successfully communicated that the Hamilcar was enroute to take over the task of first contact.

The alien vessel had sent back a rather large data file in response.  Human designed computers could not do anything with it.  The Oppressor computers that they still didn't fully understand how to use were able to make something of it.

"Fred, correct me if I'm wrong but I think we've been sent an intermediary language set."  Johan looked at the pictures the code generated.

"You could be right.  The Oppressors didn't seem to have a verbal language.  This seems the basis for a gesture based language."  Fred looked at his tablet screen.

"You sure?  Could be their written language."  Ling was also nose deep in her own tablet.

"Display the first through tenth symbols as a one second slideshow.  I'm pretty sure that is a universal greeting in the gesture based language sent to us.  The rest I'm still trying to get grouped together correctly."  Johan grabbed for his coffee.

"Does make me wonder though.  The Oppressors didn't use anything like this to communicate with us and we all know what they looked like.  So we know they could have.  Why didn't they?"  Frank scooped up the last of the nutritional paste on his plate and ate it.

"That would require a living Oppressor to answer.  With what their kind did yo my father and grandfather if we met one I'd kill it on principle."  Ling seethed.

"Well these aliens are clearly not the Oppressors.  So we need to be restrained, but yes cautious.  We still don't know their motives either."  Johan tried to defuse the sudden tension between his staff members.

Captain's office
Two hours out from the Loros system


"Professor tell me something useful about what we're going into here.  The Danube's reports are not exactly reassuring despite the fact these new aliens are not shooting at us."  Captain Ingred Neiman was even more a physically imposing presence than Ling and her deep voice didn't help.

"Keep in mind this is still a lot of barely educated guesswork but so far I am confident they have sent us some sort of gesture based language files.  Possibly also written.  At least thanks to you letting me use your comms array to keep in touch with the think tanks back home we think we can actually start communicating with them."  Johan braced himself.

"Hmmm I am inclined to believe these aliens are not outright hostile.  If they were they would not be trying to communicate with us so.  Still this seems too good to be true.  We know from our own nature that there are less overt forms of hostility."  Ingred clasped her hands as she leaned back into her chair.


"Agreed but the only way to find out for sure is to talk to them."  Johan wanted to sigh but he knew better.

Shuttle Deck Staging area
Three hours later


Johan stood there with a small honor guard.  He was able to get the Captain to agree to at least keep it small.  He just hoped it would not antagonize their guest.

The small alien shuttle was a bit blockier than it's parent ship and Johan could see wing roots and the associated folded away wings.

For all their advanced technology these aliens also designed their shuttles to take advantage of aerodynamics for atmospheric flight.

This comforted Johan.  He hoped it was a sign that these aliens didn't totally outclass humanity or even the Oppressors.

The shuttlebay closed and pressurized.

A hatch on the side of the shuttle opened and a humanoid figure came out.  The body shape, height, weight, everything the suit didn't hide said the approaching figure could be human.  The suit they wore shined as if it was all made from metal.  The helmet was rounded with no obvious eye slits and had a small protrusion on the back.

The figure came into the airlock for the staging area.

Johan felt as if time stopped for a few moments.

Finally the inner door released and the figure came through and walked straight up to Johan.

"Welcome aboard the UCS Hamilcar.  I am Professor Johan Rassman.  Please follow me."  Johan spoke as well as gestured what he hoped was a similar intent.

The figure gestured back what Johan and the research teams had guessed was the gesture for gratitude and acceptance.

A nearby small cargo area that normally stored consumables had been converted into a conference room for this occasion.

Johan stayed silent for the few moments it took to arrive there hoping that his best suit was appropriate, that he wasn't visibly sweating, or worse.

"Please sit.  Please let us know if we can offer you something to eat or drink."  Johan hoped his gestures were still proving accurate.

The figure sat at their indicated place and began taking their helmet off.

Johan sat and watched nervously.  Intellectually he knew the alien would not be taking their helmet off if they needed it to breath but the irrational parts of his mind still worried if first contact would go awry because of some small detail that had gone over looked by one side or the other.

The head revealed at first glance looked like a human male who was in late stage liver failure.  The deep purple eyes and some careful observation of the bone structure did indicate some distinctly non-human features but this person with little effort could pass for human if they wished to.

"I am Corrath Oorsk.  Merchant Captain.  Apologies but it does take the gift of Narakin a while to kick in and often only does so after actually hearing a language spoken aloud by a person."  The figure spoke unaccented English.

Johan was stunned.  Then it hit him.  The words did not match the shapes his mouth was making.

"Seems we have much to talk about."  Johan gathered himself.

At first we still were not sure that we had not found some offshoot of humanity they were that similar.  Our guest did help disprove that.  As we talked face to face he became more and more disoriented.  If it had not been for the fact that I watched him deteriorate it would be easy to proclaim him a drunkard, especially with his skin tone.  Medical though was able to work out that their physiology while very similar to us was geared to a lower oxygen environment.  Which we would be able to handle for prolonged periods as long as we didn't exert too much for too long.
-Excerpt from the personal journal of Professor Johan Rassman

"Better?"  Johan asked their guest.

"I feel a bit foolish letting myself get so engrossed in our talks that I forgot to account for the higher oxygen content of your atmosphere."  Corrath's was now speaking their language.

"We do run a little oxygen rich compared to what we are normally accustomed to.  The spacers claim it helps keep them sharp in space but that is not my area of expertise.  Now that we are past that unpleasantness I believe you were telling me about this gift of Narakin."  Johan knew he was going to be challenged in ways he had not even begun to consider.

"Yes.  Our gods live among us.  Indistinguishable from us.  We all trace our lineages back to them in some way and with them come certain gifts.  The Clan of Oorsk traces back to Narakin.  Her gifts pertain to knowledge, language, and wisdom.  So those who trace back to her often become scholars, merchants, and diplomats."  Corrath answered as he poured himself a glass of water.

"I have noticed you now seem to actually be speaking the same language as me."  Johan still wasn't sure if there was some technology involved.

After all they still didn't fully understand all of the Oppressor's technology and even to this day some of it seemed more akin to magic than technology.  Perhaps something similar was happening with this species and they just built up a religion around it.  It would take potentially lifetimes of study to find out the truth.

"Yes.  Narakin's gift is nearly fully active now.  There are still some gaps in vocabulary but those will be filled in time as well."  Corrath nodded.

"Now the big question.  What do we call you as a species?"  Johan leaned forward.

"We do not have a single answer to that like you do as who you ask will get you a different answer depending on which God they follow.  Clan Aku for instance would insist on going through your cultural archives to search for a symbol or term often associated with fate or destiny that was subverted towards dark purpose by your people to call us by.  But no matter who you ask we all acknowledge that Shrilankin, the god of fate, is responsible for our world existing in what should be an impossible stellar state and thus we agree our world's name should be Shrilrala.  I think that would be acceptable for your purposes and not offend too many of the others."  Corrath seemed pained by the answer he gave.

"I see.  I suppose the next thing I need to ask is where do we go from here?  I mean no offense but you are a Merchant Captain and my people have no real official protocol established for meeting new species."  Johan silently prayed that he had not offended or overstepped.

"None taken as you are correct.  I am only a Merchant Captain.  I do not have the authority to fully speak for my people but I have been trained in basic first contact protocols.  Much as you are your species' specialist and were sent here a similar expert from our government is on their way.  It took us longer as we were not sure who you really were.  Your vessels are remarkably similar to another race we have not seen for some time but never had diplomatic relations with."  Corrath's tone and pacing stuck in the back of Johan's mind, as if Corrath was carefully choosing his words.

"It is true that our ability to travel through interstellar space is due to our contact with another race and as such our vessels are heavily derived from theirs.  We too have not seen this race for some time and many would be quite pleased to learn what happened to them."  Johan didn't want to reveal too much of his own people's history.

"Professor Rassman, I think we have new guests."  Captain Neiman's voice came over the intercom.

Johan keyed up an external feed.  The new vessel was of a similar spartan style to the merchant ship but far more angular and blocky.  A pronounced engine area and main hull leading to an almost arrowhead shaped forward section.  It was clearly a military ship as weapon turrets could be made out.

"Now would be a good time for me to report in to my people.  I suspect you will need to do the same now."  Corrath offered.

As per my mission orders I have made contact with the species being groomed by the Paravans.  My assessment is that the council's decision was correct and that without Paravan interference this species is no longer a threat to us and we may begin diplomatic relations and possibly trade with them.

-Excerpt from Merchant Captain Corrath Oorsk's report

Arranging cultural exchange and establishing diplomatic relations proved rather easy with the language barrier broken.  Their society seemed downright anachronistic though.  They obviously had very sophisticated technology, knew how to use, build, maintain, and even improve on it but how they lived their lives and what they actually used all seemed much more in line with a less technologically advanced society.  I keep having to add lifetimes to my estimates for how long it would take to truly understand these people.
-Excerpt from the personal journals of Professor Johan Rassman

Johan and his staff were aboard the new alien vessel.  He was still a bit overwhelmed with this new reality staring him in the face.

He couldn't help but notice that their honor guard were armed with what looked very much like ballistic weapons, not terribly far off from the automatic rifles humanity managed to work up to help them overthrow the Oppressors.  He wondered if that was a concession on their host's part to break out some antiques to alleviate tension or a ceremonial choice.  Either way it seemed an odd choice when the Oppressors did have directed energy weapons.  Certainly space faring civilizations would be capable of making such weapons and prefer them.

Maybe it was just a cosmetic choice?

He wasn't a military man but even that didn't make much sense.

The gravity was notably higher on the alien vessel and even walking to his guest quarters was a workout.

He was glad to set down his bags.

The facilities were recognizable enough if a bit spartan.  A bed, a toilet that confirmed they had a very similar overall anatomy, a shower, and a small office area.

Johan sat at the desk and tapped on the computer.  The alien script on the screen flashed before becoming something he could read.

"Greetings Professor Johan Rassman.  I am your personal digital assistant and have been programed to provide you with any information permitted by your Basic Diplomatic Clearance.  How may I help you?"  The computer spoke.

"What do I call you?"  Johan was taken back.

"I have no designation.  Would you prefer I have one?"  The artificial voice was slightly unsettling.

"I think that would be helpful."  Johan replied cautiously.

"Do you have a preference or would you like some suggestions?"  The voice almost seemed cheerful now.

"I think I'll call you Freya."  Johan eased up slightly.

"Designation updated.  If you need my help just say my designation followed by your inquiry."  Freya took on a more feminine tone.

"Freya are you sentient?"  Johan was back to worrying.

"I do not qualify as an artificial lifeform."  Freya answered.

Ling stormed into his room.

"You have one too don't you?"  She growled.

"What?"  Johan was confused.

"An eavesdropping computer!"  Ling looked like she was getting ready to smash the computer screen on Johan's desk.

"Freya is it true you're spying on us?"  Johan asked.

"I am not programmed to record your conversations."  Freya answered.

"Like we can trust what it says!"  Ling fumed.

"Simple solution Ling.  We talk in your language when we're in private."  Johan knew several human languages but he still wasn't sure how many Ling spoke.

"This is likely only a temporary solution."  Ling answered in her native tongue.

"Perhaps but based off our interactions with Merchant Captain Corrath Oorsk it seems their phenominal ability to learn languages requires them to be in our presence to work.  Plus it will reveal for sure how much we can really trust them."  Johan answered.

"I'll do it your way for now but if it turns out you're wrong I'll start with you before I start with them."  Ling's intensity left no question that she would.

Johan closed his door after Ling left.  He wasn't sure how he would defuse this time bomb yet but he knew he had to even if he was right.  For now though he needed to get back to work.

"Freya I would like a breakdown on the political situation I am going into."  Johan sat back down at the desk.

"The leadership of our people is rooted in the Council of the Clans.  Each of the recognized Great Clans sends a representative to the council to set policy and make decisions impacting all Clans."  Freya's answer was somewhat lacking by Johan's standards.

"Freya define Clans, what makes a Clan Great, how many seats are on this council, and how representatives are chosen."  Johan hoped that would give him a better answer.

"Clans are large family groupings.  Often comprised of thousands or even tens of thousands of members.  The criteria for when a Clan transitions to a Great Clan is decided by different methods amongst groupings of Clans.  Currently there are 6 Council members with the Great Clans recognized to be Aku, Gimba, Horsk, Oosk, Pas, and a representative from the Holwe Corta.  Clan Aku is the current head of the Council with the ability to break any ties if needed.  Who is chosen to be on the Council is also different for each Great Clan."  Freya answered.

Johan was starting to wonder if he was getting such vague answers because of poor phrasing of questions or if perhaps his hosts didn't want him knowing too much about their inner political workings just yet.

"Freya tell me about Merchant Captain Corrath Oorsk."  Johan decided to test which it was.

"Merchant Captain Corrath Oorsk is on record as making first contact with humanity while on an exploratory mission to expand mercantile and resource acquisition opportunities.  His public record contains no reprimands or commendations."  Freya answered.

"Not as helpful as I hoped.  I'll have to think about this somemore."  Johan leaned back into his chair.

Before Johan could grow more frustrated with his digital personal assistant a knock came from his quarter's door.

"Troublesome device isn't it?"  Fred spoke from the doorway.

"Very.  I am still trying to figure out if I should be overjoyed or dismayed at it though."  Johan answered.

"Consider how much trouble we still have with Oppressor computers that we rely on for our space travel.  Considering they have managed to get our written language to display for us based only on what we sent them and have spoken so far is actually pretty incredible.  It will probably just take more time before their computers can be properly helpful."  Fred shrugged.

A small man in clothing in an what Johan would best describe as an ornate tunic two tone tunic, left half gold and right half red, and a pair of pants not too different from what Johan was wearing approached him and Fred.  Just how yellow his skin tone was was unsettling but what really took Johan back was the small man's piercing red eyes and long straight black hair with a slight sheen of green to it.

"Ah gentlemen I am glad to see you are getting settled.  We find it is best to let new species get a little settled before we bombard them too much with shipboard protocol and establishing a few points of common ground.  If your third companion would care to join us I would like to invite you to dinner so we can start talking.  Oh how terribly rude of me to not introduce myself properly, I am Belnoth Horsk and I have been assigned to be your counterpoint for our cultural exchange and trade negotiations."  The short man's voice was low and gravely.

"Fred care to let her know?"  Johan tried to hide that he was still worried about Ling's last outburst.

"Yeah I'll get her."  Fred gave Johan a look that clearly indicated he knew that Johan had triggered Ling.

Fred went over to Ling's door and knocked.

Ling opened her door in a better mood than last Johan saw Ling.

"We've been invited to dinner."  Fred smiled.

"Better than being stuck in here with their digital spy."  Ling was proving to be a poor choice for this mission.

"Please, follow me."  Belnoth gestured then turned.

The walk was not particularly long but the higher gravity made it notably more of a work out than Johan was really accustomed to.  He was just glad that he wasn't breathing particularly heavy or visibly sweating.

The table and chairs seemed particularly rugged yet simple.  Johan was beginning to wonder if this alien society was even more spartan than humanity had become under the Oppressors.

"I apologize for the simplicity of our decor.  Normally we would have more appropriate furnishings but to keep you as comfortable as we can while you are our guests and knowing we are accustomed to a higher gravitational force than you are has forced us to improvise a little."  Belnoth waited for his guests to be seated.

"Our decor is quite spartan so this is actually quite familiar to us."  Johan didn't want to reveal it was not entirely by choice thanks to the Oppressors.

"I am glad then.  Tonight's dinner is our chef's specialty.  Fire grilled brinth steaks in herb glaze, steamed franath, and vexian pie.  Would you care for the suggested paired wine or something else?"  Belnoth finally seated himself after everyone else was seated.

"I would be most glad to try your wine.  It has been some time since I have allowed myself to partake of fermented fruit or grain."  Johan again was trying not to reveal too much about humanity's past with the Oppressors and how they tried to restrict such things.

"Water."  Ling stated coldly.

"I would prefer water as well."  Fred at least tried to be more diplomatic.

"Excellent.  While the stewards get to work shall we start with some light conversation to get to know each other a bit better?"  Belnoth smiled.

"I would enjoy that very much."  Johan said as the stewards made their entrance.

The bread was certainly familiar enough.  Perhaps a bit oddly green colored but not moldy looking.  Certainly better than some that Johan had to make due with during the darker times of the uprising when proper food became a bit scarce.

The smell from the wine was sweeter than he was used to as well and the dark blue tint of the fluid wasn't too alien either.  The taste was better than the stuff that came out of the stills during the uprising.

"Well Professor what are your first impressions so far?"  Belnoth swirled the wine in his glass.

"I know your a different species but we still seem to have so much in common.  I may be an expert in cultures but I am learned enough in the science of genetics that I wonder if somehow we have a common root ancestry."  Johan immediately wished he hadn't jumped into that topic so soon.

"We have noticed this as well and that is something our scientists may eventually discover but rest assured there are far more alien races out there.  We have met four others besides you and have active relations with two.  We'll introduce you once we get to our home world."  Belnoth's smile seemed too casual to Johan but the tone was certainly friendly enough.

"Forgive me if I am being a bit forward but that seems a detail I should press for more information on to pass along to my government."  Johan knew he was taking a risk at insulting his host but with the bomb that was just dropped it seemed necessary.

"We have already informed the two we have ties with of your existence and approximate location so it is unlikely you will meet them in a random encounter in space but I suppose there is some wisdom in sharing some details so that your ships do not venture forth where they should not.  I will have the data prepared for you.  The two we have relations with are the Carfana Federation.  They are quite happy to confine themselves to their home system but do engage in trade with us.  So as long as you stay out of their system until invited you will not have any issue with them.  The other are the sentient trees of Rygil. They are just now looking to establish colonies so chances of encounter with them are higher but again thanks to us having notified them it is extremely unlikely that you will have issue with them.  The other two are the walking rocks of Ukair and a race that we have not seen for some time known to us as the Paravans.  The Ukarians are not a terribly friendly bunch and are quite difficult to communicate with.  Even via the trade language we co-developed with the Rygil and Carfana."  Belnoth grimaced at the end of his answer.

"These Paravans, what can you tell us of them?"  Johan suspected he finally knew the name of the Oppressors, at least the name given to them by their hosts.

"Not much I am afraid.  Their ships are very similar in style to those of yours that we encountered but beyond that they never established diplomatic ties.  They may well remain largely a mystery to us as well."  Johan still got the sense Belnoth wasn't telling everything.

The meal was served before he could press further.  Some sort of steak like with specks of herbs and seasoning with a steamed vegetable that looked vaguely similar to carrots and something rather akin to a potato.  Then he started eating.  It was very different from the nutrition paste he had to endure for the last two days and that was enough for him to welcome it.
« Last Edit: 27 January 2022, 17:18:59 by monbvol »

Daryk

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A better start, I think... more show than tell.  I look forward to more!  :thumbsup:

monbvol

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[Author]  Overall yeah while it's not much I do think that new start I gave the story does rather help setup a few things that will make it easier for me to drip in exposition instead of dropping a ton all at once.  [/Author]

I have decided to call this species the Anachranisms.  Our best minds tell us that such scientific and technological achievements that they display should be incompatible with a spiritual belief system.  Yet here they are with practical FTL technology but still brandishing personal ballistic weapons by choice while clinging to their gods Shrilankin, Utherkin, Shanteekin, Irinikin, Narakin, and Kithikin.  I think the only thing that kept me from going into complete dismay in those early days was this was really still quite similar to us.  Despite what they did there were humans who worshiped the Oppressors, or Paravans, as gods.  Despite having their ships and learning how to copy them at great expense and sacrifice we too still used comparatively primitive ballistic weapons instead of directed energy weapons for personal arms.  When I learned that they too had their internal power struggles even to this day and that they managed to go to the stars before having a unified planetary government, well that settled for me that all said and done we were more alike than different.
-Excerpt from the personal journal of Professor Johan Rassman

Johan was glad that the conversation died with the serving of yesterday's dinner.  He wasn't sure if he could have kept it from going sideways the way Ling and Fred looked.  Then there was the wine.  And food.  After being on nutritional paste and enhanced water for two days it really did a number on him that he was not entirely prepared for.

"At the least you should have gone with the water."  Ling said coldly from his quarters door.

"A small price to pay for being polite."  Johan lied.

"Come on.  It's time for breakfast."  Ling almost smiled.

Johan was glad that he was feeling recovered.

Belnoth and Fred were waiting for them.

"I do apologize Professor.  I was assured by our medical experts and our chef that what we served would be safe for you.  I feel terribly embarrased by this oversight."  Belnoth stood and bowed.

"Fear not Belnoth Horsk.  I am rather certain it is just due to rapid shifts in my diet in a short time frame."  Johan hoped he was right.

"Still I have asked for a simpler fare for this morning's meal and hope we can continue some of our discussions from last night."  Belnoth seemed to attempt to smile but somehow it all looked wrong.

"I guess my first question is your name.  Horsk.  I was able to get the digital assistant you prepared for us to identify that name as one of the Great Clans sitting on your council.  But I could not get it to tell me what makes a clan great or how representatives are chosen.  I think it would be helpful for me to know."  Johan pushed his luck again.

"Hmmm.  I suppose you are correct..."

Before Belnoth could continue the ship seemed to shake and the lighting shifted.

"We are safe here but it seems breakfast will be delayed."  Belnoth sighed.

"Well this is just fantastic."  Ling grumbled.

"What's going on?"  Fred seemed on the edge of a panic attack.

"We're in a fight."  Johan wasn't exactly a resistance veteran like Ling due to his obvious gifts with language ensuring he was kept out to help the resistance in other ways but he could still feel the obvious signs of an inertial dampening system at work.

Daryk

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A cliffhanger on a holiday?  Too cruel...  :D

monbvol

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Hehe.  To be honest if I were not at work still and was not getting to be a bit of an old man I would have kept going.  So if all proceeds as I have foreseen I'll put up some more after I get home from work.

Daryk

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Bummer... sorry you had to work today!

monbvol

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Must resist rant mode.  Especially explaining how I came to the name of my new computer. ;D

Daryk

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If you ever need to rant, just PM me.  I seem to be pretty good at handling people of all kinds ranting at me (no comments about who I married!).

monbvol

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[Author]  Most of the time when I rant it is actually me being heavily sarcastic.  But anyway obviously things did not go as I had foreseen yesterday but since there is not much to distract me while doing my daily software update for my work and there's something going on where I have to use a different VPN version that is making the dowload before I can even start it really slow I should have enough time to finish a short offering today and resolve the cliff hanger.  I think.  [/Author]

Johan was used to being hidden in caves and basements while danger was around him but Fred and Ling seemed different cases.  It was easy enough to guess it was because Ling didn't like being sidelined and feeling out of control over her fate during a battle.  Fred was most likely just too inexperienced.

"Something we should know?"  Johan probed.

The barely noticeable delays for inertial dampening systems made it difficult for Johan to know how much the ship was actually moving about but with a slight bit of bracing he had no trouble staying in his chair.

"Seems we've made another new first contact.  Ones not terribly inclined to talk before shooting."  Belnoth answered.

"Should we be worried?"  Fred seemed on the verge of cracking.

"Unless they are holding back some much more powerful weaponry we seem quite safe."  Belnoth's calmness in the situation seemed odd to Johan.

"For a diplomat you seem rather certain and calm."  Johan probed.

"I think in light of our current situation I think it is reasonable to share before I became a diplomat I was a veteran of our last civil war that brought about our current political system."  Belnoth gave his odd smile again.

With that as suddenly as the fight started it now seemed at an end as the ship stopped shifting under Johan and the lighting returned to normal.

Belnoth seemed to be focused on something for a moment.  Then he spoke in his native language.  Johan guessed he was talking through some not readily visible communicator.  The native language of their host was very fluid and almost melodic.  Johan knew he'd have to study it a great deal before he could master it.

"This is an odd situation to be sure.  We've never had to deal with two first contact scenarios at once before, especially when one was shooting at us.  Given their obvious aggression I am going to grant you an unusual amount of access.  Seems we have recovered some of their escape pods with survivors.  As soon as we finish our meal I think we have some interrogations to observe."  Belnoth went from calm to a sudden subdued menace.

Daryk

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Interesting!  8)

monbvol

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[Author]  And back to it.  [/Author]

Johan found for some reason he had trouble taking his eyes off the prisoner on the view screen provided for him to witness the interrogation.  While largely humanoid in basic form it was obviously an evolved avian  covered in bright almost hynotic feathers with vestigal wings on it's back, beak for a mouth, and four large eyes.

"The effect is even more pronounced in person according to medical and my chief of security.  We have identified it as a female member of their species."  Belnoth seemed to be handling the distraction better than Johan.

Fred seemed more resistant as well.  Ling was showing now outward signs of being affected at all.

"Fascinating.  Do the male members of their species exhibit the same effect?"  Johan wished he could speak to the prisoner in person.

"No.  We're still not sure if it is some sort of phermonal response or if the females of this species are psychic.  Ah I think our interrogator is finally going to get our prisoner to speak."  Belnoth saw the creature's body language change.

The chirps and screeches one would expect of a beaked mouth were sudden and easy to interpret as an angry but defeated foe trying to lash out for one last desparate measure of revenge.

"Well that is something."  Johan made notes in his journal.

"I suspect there will indeed be a quite interesting report here soon."  Belnoth studied the prisoner intently.

"The gift of Narakin is starting to kick in I take it?  I'd love to know more about that and how it works."  Johan was hoping their host was continuing to feel generous.

"It is less effective when watching a broadcast such as this but yes.  Our scientists cannot say exactly how or why the gift works.  Just that it does and that it presents only in certain Clans.  Horsk is the most prominent.  We have used that to be the greatest of the merchants and scholars.  This is how we have earned our place as a Great Clan.  We also choose our representative to the Council based off the merit of acumen and intellect.  For we worship the goddess of knowledge Narakin and our Clan is of her blood."  Belnoth hesitated for a moment before answering.

"Certainly something I would love to learn about in more detail."  Johan furiously made notes.

"Tell me do you humans have any gods?"  Belnoth obviously wanted the exchange to be a little less one way.

"Many.  There are those who worship the aliens that gave us space flight and spread us among the stars.  For the rest there seems to be as many gods as there are different human cultures.  I was making a career out of studying this aspect of humanity's diversity before we met you.  It may well be something that defies any one person becoming a true authority on, there is that much left for us to learn about ourselves."  Johan answered carefully.

"This is good.  Self discovery is important but recognizing that there is always something more to learn is a sign of wisdom.  Our people are quite diverse too but I believe common bonds such as these will ensure we follow the path of friendship."  Belnoth gave his unsettling smile.

The interrogation seemed to go on for some time as Belnoth seemed more focused on it than Johan.

This was fine with Johan as it gave him time to refine his notes and organize exactly what he was going to report back to the Chancellor.

I have been provided a transcript from our hosts.  This new species calls itself the Hysan Federation.  Biological details are noted below.  The important things to know is they are a Federation much in the same way we are the United Colonies of Man.  In other words very fractious and barely held together.  They seem to be driven by a desire to accrue wealth.  Many ply their trade as raiders and marauders.  Others hire themselves out as spies as the female of their species seems to have a peculiar effect on the males of other species.  We will have to be on guard against their marauders and raiders.
-excerpt from Professor Johan Rassman's report on the Hysan

Daryk

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Yikes!  This new species seems to affect some members of other species and not others... that should be disturbing on MANY levels...  :o

monbvol

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[Author]  Or are certain people better able to hide how much they are affected?  Or do I have something else up my sleeve?  I'll tease that it is a bit of both.  [/Author]

If I had known back then how much of a nuisance the Hysan would be, well I doubt any more could have been done.  It was the catalyst that caused us to split as we did no doubt but it was also what galvanized those who remained.  The United Colonies of Man would now be able to stand together in a way that was not possible before. 
-Excerpt from the personal journal of Johan Rassman

Johan looked at the report from Mithras.  The colony of Zanzibar was now broken away after the raid by a Hysan vessel.  He doubted with how contentious the period of peace had been they would be the last world to break away.  But he could do nothing about that in his current position.

It was a shock that reminded him that for the past day or two he'd become consumed by the information provided to him by his hosts.  He needed to resume the role of diplomat.  He could not do that buried in transcripts that he had to further correct.  The translations were fairly well done by any measure but it was still clear that some things were out of place.  Considering how little time had passed that they were able to get this far breaking each other's written language barrier was certainly impressive.

Washing himself and getting dressed for another meeting with Belnoth he was aware there had been a question gnawing on the back of his mind.

He made the short trip to Fred's quarters and knocked on his door.

"It's open."  Fred's voice was muffled through the door.

"Fred something has been on my mind that I just can't shake that is making me ask.  These Hysan females.  Now that we're going to have to deal with them, it'd be helpful to know how you're able to keep better control over yourself than I am."  Johan disliked admitting his weakness.

"I don't know really.  They just don't do it for me.  I mean yeah on some primitive instinctual level the hypnotic pattern of their feathers does kind of register but it's not hard for me to ignore them really."  Fred answered.

"I think I understand."  Johan nodded.

If Johan was correct young Fred had a preference in sexual partners that was not viewed as particularly acceptable, certainly in the resistance cells.  It was a terrible failing of humanity that even after all these years that it was looked down upon so.

Johan walked to the dinning hall with that new piece of information in hand.  He had to convey it somehow without outing Fred.  He added it to the list of problems he'd have to figure out.

"I have news Johan.  The Council of Clans has decided given recent events they wish to meet with you directly.  Normally we allow relations to develop a bit further before such a formal meeting but these are unusual circumstances."  Belnoth greeted Johan with his unsettling smile.

"With the morning I've had this is most welcome news."  Johan sat across the table from his host.

"There are some protocols I must go over with you first.  To give you some time to adapt to our homeworld we have arranged for a small residence for you and your staff for your stay and you will be allowed an interstellar day to rest, recover, and adapt.  We measure interstellar time based off the atomic decay rate of a particular element that seems common to every space faring civilization we have come across so far.  We've done our best to get you adapted to the cycle of our homeworld.  As Clan Aku has the tie breaking vote with there being six representatives on the council the chamber is in their city.  You are free to wander the city and arrangements have been made for guides and translators."  Belnoth gave Johan a chance to absorb what he was being told.

"Seems sensible enough though I doubt Ling will like the idea of having an escort."  Johan nodded.

"I have noticed that about her so I have made special arrangements for her so that she may wander freely without guide or translator if she so desires."  Belnoth answered again with his unsettling smile.

"I'd be remiss in my responsibilities and duties if I did not ask what this entails."  Johan almost hesitated.

"My daughter will watch over her personally.  She is quite skilled at this.  If Ling even notices her I will actually be quite surprised."  Belnoth answered.

"Well let's hope she does not get lost or need a translator because I fear that would be even worse."  Johan was forced to admit.

"Now back to your meeting.  As I was assigned to you I will be making the introductions.  In addition to the six representatives the ambassadors from the Rigylian Union and Carfana Federation will be there as well.  How long the meeting will go will depend on how curious everyone is feeling that day."  Belnoth gave an even more unsettling frown.

"I understand and I will prepare myself as best I can."  Johan answered.

"Good.  We'll be landing soon.  I suggest you begin preparations to disembark."  Belnoth's smile no longer seemed so unsettling.

Spaceport
Akula
Shrilabre
16 February 1940


The first thing to catch Johan's attention was the fact that there were three suns in the sky.  Even he knew that should make it impossible for this world to be where it was, let alone inhabited.  Belnoth broke him from his trance before the impossibility could sink in even further.

The second thing that caught Johan's eye was all the stunning architecture.

"Clan Aku are renowned as some of the greatest craftsmen among our people.  They trace their lineage to the god of creation Utherkin.  You can see the results of his gift to them all around you."  Belnoth had not trouble guessing what had caught Johan's attention.

That they were up on a plateau allowed him to see the rugged island they were on.  A large central valley was where most of the civilization was.

Some sort of hovering vehicle was waiting for them but his eyes were still more occupied taking the mix of buildings, green places, and how it all seemed to blend together so effortlessly yet still be stunning to look at.

After stowing their baggage the four of them entered the vehicle.  It took little time for it to get down to the city proper.  Johan guessed maybe two million people lived here.

"This city is tremendous.  We have few like it even on Mithras."  Johan let slip.

"Akula is a sight to behold for sure but it is one of the smaller cities of our world.  Most of these people here are actually members of lesser Clans under the rule of Clan Aku.  Clan Aku is the least populous of all the Great Clans but they are still highly respected."  Belnoth seemed eager to point out.

The sense of rivalry was obvious to Johan.

"One of the great sights.  The Forges and Workshops of Akula.  It is said here despite using primitive methods their greatest craftsmen can produce great works.  Even I cannot deny their skill and quality of work."  Belnoth again seemed begrudged to admit.

Johan could see a figure pounding a piece of glowing hot metal on an anvil.  He had to admit it was an odd sight but not an unfamiliar one.  In the dark days of the uprising resorting to similar primitive methods of manufacturing was required as well.

The vehicle moved along above the streets filled with pedestrians.  Eventually it came to a stop above a group of buildings.

"We're here.  Government district of Akula.  There is the building that houses the Council.  You will be staying over in that building."  Belnoth pointed out two large ornate buildings.

The vehicile landed on a pad on the roof of the second building.  Walking about freely with no obstructions the large dome of what would be best described as the capital of these people was squat in shape and covered in intricate carvings visible even from this distance.  Johan guessed they must be portrayals of important figures and events from their history.

Johan grabbed his bag and followed Belnoth.  It was not hard to figure out this was housing for the government officials and their families.  Johan couldn't help but wonder at the wisdom of housing them so close to the capital but somehow just looking at the building despite how intricate and detailed the craftmanship he still got a sense that this building easily rivaled any fortress humanity ever created.

What he was shown to was more like a large apartment.  Even back on Mithras Johan had far less impressive living arrangements.

"I trust this will be satisfactory."  Belnoth seemed to enjoy the look of shock on his three guests faces.

"Yes.  Thank you."  Johan barely managed.

"Excellent.  Ah here are the guides and translators I arranged for.  My daughter Gelenda Meer, a distant cousin who is also skilled in the arts of cooking Berlok Horsk, and another even more distant cousin Hullak Oorsk."  Belnoth introduced a young woman and two young men.

The woman was darker in skin tone than the others.  More almost a rich brown.  It was downright human of a skin tone in comparison to the stark yellow of Belnoth.  She had a very athletic build and was dressed in what looked like hand sown natural fibers.  Johan couldn't help but notice she was very short but something about her told him not to underestimate her.

The two young men were not as short but Johan was still easily the tallest person in the room and he was not regarded as being especially tall by human standards.  The hair style they both wore reminded Johan of mop heads but he knew better than to say anything.  More than anything else the two showed something he had grown to suspect must be true.  With the higher gravity of this world compared to what humans found comfortable they did not seem to have any wasted body mass.  None of them looked thin or overly skinny but it was no surprise that he had not seen anyone overweight here yet either.

Johan though found himself strangely not tired.  He must be getting used to the higher gravity and lower oxygen content of their atmosphere.

"Do you have a library.  I'd love to see some of your older texts and start studying."  Johan asked.

"Certainly.  Hullak why don't you show him, you know this city better than I do.  Plus it'll give you an opportunity for the gift of Narakin to work for you too."  Belnoth nodded.

Johan followed the young man.

"From what I understand it'll be helpful if I just talk.  So please do not mind me too much if I just ramble a bit."  Johan said as they began walking down the hall.

They eventually came to an elevator.

"Part of me still feels foolish for talking like this even though I know it'll help us break the language barrier."  Johan was beginning to wonder of his guide/translator might not have the gift after all.

"It's fine.  I'm just the quiet type."  Hullak spoke in a deeper more gravely tone than Belnoth.

"Ah good. Well seems it's kicking in."  Johan felt silence was the better approach when possible.

Thankfully the walk to the library was not much longer.

Johan was shown to a table.  Eventually several books were brought to him.

It didn't take him long to realize he was given primers typically given to children or adults with developmental disabilities to teach them to read.  Johan didn't mind.  It'd help him further break the written language barrier.

some hours later

"You look lost in your work."  A female voice broke Johan's concentration.

"Yes well I have much work to do if I am going to break the language barrier sufficiently that I do not need a translator anymore."  Johan didn't even look up from his books.

"I commend the dedication but you really do need to take a break now and again."  The woman intruded again.

Then it finally hit Johan.  The woman was speaking to him and it clearly wasn't Ling.  Not just that but she wasn't speaking English either but his native language.

"Who are you?"  Johan finally looked up.

"All I will tell you Johan Rassman is that I was curious too.  Luckily I've decided I like your dedication to learning and want to observe you more.  Be well Johan."  Johan saw the back of a woman walking away from him.

Suddenly Johan felt himself start up from the table.  Had he dreamed the encounter or had it really happened?  The other occupants of the library were staring at him.

Johan looked down at the pile of books in front of him and his copious notes.  Maybe it was just his mind's way of telling him he needed to stop and eat something.

Daryk

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So... their gods walk among them...  8)

monbvol

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I'll go ahead and say this out of story rather than try to be coy about it because I have no idea how to convey this reasonably in story: To an extent yes.  Narakin as the goddess of knowledge(and wisdom if you really want to get down to brass tacks) has a habit of appearing in people's dreams and sometimes just for the novelty of it she'll manifest in a physical form and interact with them in an exhausted/compromised state like Johan was to make someone wonder if she visited them in a dream or every once in a great while read a new book at their equivalant of a coffee shop but be really low key about it.

Daryk

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Cool!  :thumbsup:

monbvol

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[Author]  Of course after I sleep on it a bit I actually get an idea how to handle at least part of it in story.  Just my luck.  Oh well, just means more content to slide into this short bit while I deal with a bug with the thing I'm doing QA testing on.  [/Author]

Johan felt his exhaustion catching up with him as he got back to his room.

"I had the most intense dream while I was studying.  I am pretty sure I dreamed an encounter with Narakin."  Johan muttered still not fully reconnected with reality.

"It is not unheard of for her to visit scholars in their dreams or even in person when they overwork themselves.  I think you now know why we still have the faith we do with all the advancements around us.  But there is something else we need to discuss."  Belnoth answered.

Johan came back to his senses and realized Ling was on the couch bandaged and bruised and two strangers of their host's species were in the room with them.

"Ling?  What did you do?"  Johan was mortified.

"Introductions are in order first.  May I present Panlas Aku, head of Clan Aku and his eldest son Lorinar Aku.  This is a most delicate matter.  I would recommend we sit."  Belnoth kept an even tone.

monbvol

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[Author]  I have just shy of two hours left at work, sitting at 39 QA tests completed, and the end client only asks for 25 to 30 a day for my areas of testing.  So yeah.  For the sake of my sanity and so the end client doesn't get too many ideas about upping the quota you lot benefit.   :D  [/Author]

A few hours back from Ling's point of view

Johan had the right idea.  Ling was feeling restless after being stuck in a tin can of some form for the past few days.

She looked at her escorts.  Something about Gelenda made her feel like less of a drag than the other.

"Fine.  Come on.  You're just so I don't get lost.  Clear?"  Ling growled.

Ling didn't wait for a response before leaving.  She didn't really care where she went as long as she could move about for a change.

It wasn't hard to find her way to the streets.  She had to admit that it all felt very human in a lot of ways with the sounds, smells, and sounds of the city filled her senses.

These people seemed to speak a more harsh and deeper dialect of the local language than she had observed Belnoth use.  Their skin tones were darker as well.  Almost human shades.  Their hair brighter but just that little bit off too.  The red and purple eyes of many were also obvious reminders.

She picked a direction and started walking.  It didn't take long for her to find an open air market.  Some of the local produce looked similar enough to foods she had grown up with before the dark days forced humanity to subsist on nutritional paste.  The return of agriculture was still an ongoing process when she left and was a point of contention that political social elites like herself, Johan, and Fred got to have real food while everyone else subsisted on the nutritional paste.  It was decided that they'd eat what was on the ship that brought them to the contact rather than cause problems by having real food shipped up with them.  There were many that would be even more incensed at the bounty that Ling was nearly gawking at.

Ling gathered herself before moving on.  She was moving closer to the mountain now.  The open air market gave way to what seemed to be a production zone.  At least that was what it seemed like but Ling didn't smell any harsh chemicals or other types of pollution.  Small vehicles lifted off from some roofs while others landed in their place or on top of other buildings.  Ling didn't slow down though.

Another large open plaza was before them.  The stone work of the plaza was nothing like Ling had ever seen before.  The way the hues of the stone flowed together made Ling certain if she could get a view from higher up she'd see some sort of work of art incorporated into the stone.  At the base of the mountain was a small stone building that went into the mountain.  Ling found it odd.  It was almost plain in comparison to the other buildings.  Short, square, and boringly grey.

Gelenda stepped between her and the building.

"Bad idea to get too close I take it?"  Ling was forced to ask.

"For now."  Gelenda answered.

"Fine."  Ling picked another direction and began walking.

Working through the maze of buildings and streets she found that she had wandered to the workshops and forges Belnoth had pointed out to them before.

Down on the ground she could see into the building better now.  The massive foundries pouring out liquid metal, craftsmen at anvils and work benches, the sound and smell, something about it just made Ling feel like she was where she was meant to be.

She walked up to a safe distance from a craftsman working at an anvil.  He stopped his work and studied Ling.  His muscled form was certainly appealing and his sandy blonde hair made him quite distinct.  They locked eyes.

Ling smiled.  Finally she would be able to let loose.

"Wait..."  Gelenda failed to grab Ling before she charged at the man.

Ling decked the man square across the jaw.  He buried his fist in her stomach.

Ling couldn't stop smiling.  Despite the pain.  She grappled the man.  He was stronger.

"Finally."  Ling could see the same sense of satisfaction in the man's eye.

Gelenda was muttering something that Ling just did not care about as she head butted the man then when they both recovered she kissed him deeply and passionately.

The man just picked her up and carried her off.

Back at the apartment current time from Johan's perspective

"This is my fault in a way.  Lorinar thought Ling was a Holwe Corta since she was with me."  Gelenda offered.

"Okay I've heard that term before.  Seems it needs explained."  Johan was desperately trying not to lose his composure.

"We are a nomadic people with our own ways.  Purely matriarchal.  We only come to the cities in rare circumstances.  To return male offspring where they belong, trade, and yes seeking mates in some cases."  Gelenda answered.

"It does create some complications in relationships."  Belnoth spoke with clear experience.

"Well she isn't.  So what do we do now?"  Johan began rubbing his temples.

"Lorinar's honor in this case does demand he at least try and court Ling and since you're the closest thing to her leader available he make recompense for the breech of protocol."  Belnoth spoke solemnly.

With that the one identified as Lorinar stood and presented a blade in a scabbard.

"Examine the work.  If you find his work acceptable keep the blade.  If you decide he cannot be forgiven use the blade to kill him.  If I judge you correctly Johan I doubt you'll do the later but it is their way when one oversteps in such a manner."  Belnoth kept his even and calm tone.

Johan took the blade and drew it.

"Ling you're pretty banged up.  Did he mistreat you and what do you have to say for yourself?" Johan studied the blade.

"I was pent up.  No fighting, no guys worth screwing that I've met for a long time now, and on edge.  We got a bit carried away."  Ling sheepishly admitted.

"You intend to keep seeing him?"  Johan continued to examine perhaps the finest sword he had ever seen.

Ling's face turning red was all the answer he needed.

"Belnoth please tell him for me that I accept his act of contrition as Ling has accepted him as a suitor.  As long as he does not mistreat her he has nothing to worry about from me."  Johan sheathed the sword and bowed.

"I think the message has been conveyed."  Belnoth seemed to relax.

"Good.  I think a nice meal with our new friends is in order."  Johan found he couldn't resist making Ling squirm instead her intimidating him for a change.

"An excellent suggestion."  Belnoth gave his unsettling smile.

One semi-awkward meal for Ling later...From Gelenda's perspective

"Gelenda, this was nearly a disaster."  Belnoth sighed.

"I told you having me be her guide was a bad idea.  She nearly wound up challenging the Guardian and going into Shrilanken's maze.  I was able to stop that mess."  Gelenda stared down her father.

"Okay, yeah that would have been worse if she went into that unprepared.  Still I hoped you would be able to prevent this near disaster as well."  Belnoth scolded her.

"There was no stopping this without making things oh so much worse.  I'm just glad they got indoors before they got truly 'involved' with each other.  She practically screams Holwe Corta Fire Clan."  Gelenda repressed the urge to attack her father.

"I see no alternate course at this time though.  I must ask that you continue to be her translator guide when I cannot be."  Belnoth seemed to finally accept the truth.

Daryk

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Gelenda repressed the urge to attack her father.
Whoa! That's a bit surprising...  :o

monbvol

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I see I was not making him as disapproving/condescending as I wanted to in that scene then...

Daryk

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Heh... I have three daughters.  The youngest (who is now an adult) approached me when she was less than 5 years old and stated quite clearly, "Daddy, I don't like it when you act like a lking!".  I laughed out loud, and sent her to her room.  She went without further argiumemt, but perhaps a bit of indignation.  She now claims not to remember the incident... ;D

monbvol

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[Author]  I also probably really should have taken the opportunity last post or two to expand more on the Holwe Corta but I have an idea how to handle that.  [/Author]

Johan was surprised that a world with three suns could even have a day night cycle and how dark it could actually get.  Another impossibility of this world that would force some of his colleagues to reconsider what they thought to be true about celestial mechanics.  In a way he was glad his area of expertise was in other fields or he suspected he'd be dealing with a whole different level of anxiety, existential dread, and even depression.

He was glad that yesterday's incident seemed settled but it still made him anxious that there might be fall out later.

Eventually he laid down on the bed provided for him and almost felt like he was floating and almost immediately he fell asleep.

When he woke the next morning Fred was gone but left a note that he was taking a turn in the library.  Ling, well he could guess where she was and that what she was up to didn't require a translator.  Johan wanted to be dismayed at that but he realized there was nothing he could do about it.  He just hoped it was not a short term fling that would blow up in his face later and that the two of them moving so fast wouldn't create another incident.

Johan looked around at the empty apartment.  He did wish for some company this morning as he found himself filled with many questions.

Almost as if on cue Gelenda entered.

"Ah Gelenda I was hoping to talk with your father some more before meeting the Council of the Clans.  Is he available?"  Johan greeted the young woman.

"He is making the final preparations for your meeting.  He did ask me to do what I can to get you ready."  Gelenda seemed irritated to Johan.

"I can't help but notice some tension between you and your father."  Johan wanted to ask more directly but knew better than to be so forward.

"I am a reminder of his unfaithfulness to his wife.  He was foolish.  My mother was Holwe Corta and found him worthy despite it.  I was raised as Holwe Corta.  He was not a large part of my life growing up as a result."  Gelenda offered.

Johan could only nod slightly.  It was an all too familiar story.

"Most human cultures are no different.  There are the odd exceptions but those are almost on the individual level rather than whole groups.  From the way you spoke yesterday I take it there are no men among the Holwe Corta?  How does that work?"  Johan couldn't contain his curiosity any more.

"Back in our ancient history the stories of my people tell of a time when science, industry, and progress was destroying our world.  A young man saw this and was determined to stop it.  He decided to petition Shrilankin, the god of fate and leader of the gods.  When he finally found Shrilankin he asked for a group of warrior women to be created to help him found a new lineage that would protect nature and stop the destructive ways of the others.  Shrilankin found the man's baser instincts and hubris behind his request wanting but the request reasonable.  So we were created.  We were trained to hunt, fight, stalk, and live in harmony with nature.  We excelled at this task.  So it was decreed no man could ever be Holwe Corta and our reputation was established.  For the most part young men from the lesser Clans looking to make a name for themselves come out in sufficient number that prove worthy that our numbers are kept stable and sustainable but now and again when there are shortfalls we do go out to seek the worthy or even accept women from the cities, especially orphans, that prove worthy."  Gelenda seemed almost eager to answer.

"Do your stories say what happened to this man or who he was?"  Johan prodded for more.

"It is not known for certain who he was but we believe he was originally from Clan Gimba as they have become our greatest allies in protecting and preserving nature, making sure it is utilized with respect, wisdom, and restraint.  As for what became of him that is easy.  Shrilankin granted him immortality with the curse of ensuring that only those who had cultivated their body would pass into his maze that would test the intellect and wisdom of petitioners before being allowed to see him.  We call him the Guardian and that is the only name he answers to anymore.  Time to break for eating.  It will be a taxing day and you will need your strength."  Gelenda's smile was less unsettling than Belnoth's but still unerved Johan.

monbvol

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[Author] So I debated waiting until I got home to work on this some more but realized I'm much more likely to get distracted by projects that I can't do at work if I do something silly like that.  Part of me keeps worrying about what this says about me that I'm doing so much of my writing at work instead of at home.  The other part is saying shut up because you've already done everything expected of you and then some.  [/Author]

Johan marveled at the sight before him.  A crescent shaped table with 6 figures seated on the far side under a large domed room.  He was certain he had seen the dome from the outside but from where he stood the dome was a spectacular rainbow of colors that revealed the sky above them.

"When the Council of the Clans was first brought together Clan Aku styled this dome to bath each member in the colors associated with their Clan at certain periods of the day.  It is no longer so precise mostly because the number of members have changed.  Also today is a special occasion.  Normally the sit at a circular table."  Belnoth almost whispered beside Johan.

Two more figures entered the chamber.  It was not difficult to figure out who these were.  One looked a lot like the old folk tales of the tree peoples.  The other was a four eyed obviously evolved from some sort of feline species covered in a stark obsidian colored fur.

Johan was taken aback by Belnoth speaking in 7 different languages then using the interstellar trade language with the Rigylian.

Johan had practiced the gestures for greetings and gratitude in particular and saw the obvious cue from Belnoth to use them.

"Professor Johan Rassman may I present the Council of the Clans.  General of the Armies Jedith Pas.  Master of the Treasury Noola Horsk.  Nature Warden Halla Gimba.  Healer Pana Oosk.  Sentinel Mother Raina Kla.  Leader of the Council and Master Craftsman Panlas Aku.  From the Rigylian Union Wise Root.  From the Carfana Federation Great Merchant Belith Honor."  Belnoth alternated from the outer most person seated at the table towards the center then the two standing figures.

The Rigylian was the first to approach.  Calling what it did walking would not be an accurate description at all.

I bring the greetings of the Great Tree.  The creature gestured.

"The Rigylians are not a true shared consciousness but they all can hear each other in their thoughts and obey the will of their eldest member of their species known only as the Great Tree.  They don't see in a traditional fashion but they can sense when you make the gestures of the trade language we gave you to study."  Belnoth almost whispered again.

The next to approach was Belith Honor.

Welcome to the interstellar community.  Johan finally noticed how massive the feline creature was in comparison to him and how uncomfortable it seemed.

"As I said before the Carfana do not like leaving their homeworld.  So much so this is a rarity as they prefer sending out automated vessels and drones to reap the riches of space.  They also have difficulty speaking our languages and suspect that may be true of yours as well."  Belnoth again helpfully offered quietly.

Jedith despite being substantially shorter than Johan was obviously a very formidable person.  The small man in simple clothes looked like a highly compressed coil of muscles was buried under a mop of green hair and had a skin tone of almost a bright canary yellow.

The dark purple eyes of the man moved up and down Johan.

He almost barked something that Johan didn't fully catch.

"Jedith is asking if you have ever been in combat."  Belnoth translated.

"No.  I have been near it at times."  Johan answered.

The small man didn't wait for Belnoth to respond before walking away.

"Did I offend him?"  Johan worried.

"Not really.  Jedith has few social graces and is known to not be particularly friendly to those who cannot fight."  Belnoth answered as Raina walked up.

Johan felt even more uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the woman.  If he were younger and not in the position he was in now he would certainly find the woman very attractive and worth pursuing.  The physicality about her was certainly appealing on a primal level even though he guessed he had 20 years on the woman.  Assuming these people lived and matured similarly to humans anyway.  Her skin tone was almost that of a nicely roasted almond and she was not much shorter than Johan.  Her black hair almost had a sheen of green to it and her eyes were an almost human brown.  She could easily hide amongst humans if she wanted to.

Johan made the gestures for greetings and gratitude again hoping to break the woman's intense gaze.

She leaned in and Johan could swear she was trying to smell him.

Then she said something to Belnoth.

"She wants me to tell you if you were not so old she'd find you worthy."  Belnoth seemed to struggle in thought for a moment.

Pana Oosk and Haila Gimba walked up together.

Pana was a small svelte woman slightly darker skinned than Raina but with bright firey red hair and bright green eyes.  Her simple robe barely revealing her sandled feet as she walked.

Haila was taller than Johan.  His dark brown hair and skin tone of a rich mud combined with a highly toned frame and  black hair.  His eyes also a bright green.

They each produced a simple looking cloth bag and handed them to Johan.

Johan made the gesture of gratitude before accepting.

Palnas Aku walked up to Johan and just nodded before leaving.

"That went better than I expected."  Johan let himself relax.

"Gelenda will take your gifts back to your room.  Now that the introductions have been made and the formal ceremonies completed comes the difficult part."  Belnoth smiled.

"I imagine it'll be more difficult on you as you'll have to translate so much still."  Johan had a sense of what was coming.

"Not as much as you might think."  Belnoth smiled again.

monbvol

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Going to just step out of story here for a bit since I'm collecting logs at work and thus literally have no work related tasks to do at the moment.  I'm just going to lay out that I'm probably almost done with Johan as a perspective character.  He's got a couple more things to witness and thus serve as a vehicle to the audience for me to more organically plot exposition but yeah once I do that it's full in on someone else.

Daryk

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That makes sense... no worries!  :thumbsup:

DOC_Agren

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interesting read
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

monbvol

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[Author]  Okay the curse on this story is getting weird.  When I'm on my own time at home I tend to be too exhausted or distracted by something else.  At work?  I swear I'm not intentionally arranging things so I can get paid to write but damn if it's not working out that way.  Still I'm not wanting to give up on it again and yeah I got a nice little scene in mind here.  [/Author]

Johan, Belnoth, the other ambassadors, and the Council moved out to a large courtyard area.  The breeze was refreshing and there was a crispness to the air.  Johan was seated next to Noola Horsk.

The woman had the undeniable look of an aged matron.

"So Professor Johan Rassman is it?  That title earned or honorary?"  Noola's voice was warm but deep.

"A bit of both if I'm honest."  Johan felt strangely inclined to share things with the woman.

"It is to do with the aliens you met before us doesn't it?"  Noola nodded as she drank some tea.

"Yes.  To a certain extent they didn't mind us developing to a certain level but they seemed to have a plan for us.  The more technologically developed we became and the more we tried to understand them the worse they treated us and used their technology to keep us down."  Johan didn't understand why he was being so forward with Noola.

Maybe it was because she reminded him of his grandmother?  Still he had worked hard to keep this information guarded from Belnoth and here he was just letting it all spill out like it was nothing.

"Hehe.  You're noticing aren't you?  I am more secular than my great grandson but even I can't deny there is something to our gifts that is better described as supernatural than scientific.  It's a rarer more advanced form of the gift of Narakin.  I have no better way to put it.  But it compels knowledge from others too."  Noola smiled.  Hers was far less unsettling but still odd.

"So this is what Belnoth really meant.  I feel I should tell you I think I met Narakin."  Johan answered.

"Maybe.  I don't know.  I am more of a scholar than merchant really.  Of course there are claims and our histories are full of stories but since the age of science there have been no verifiable proofs of them still being around and the only thing that keeps them around in our daily lives are the undeniable presence of each of the gifts.  I mean look at us.  An hour ago we would not have been able to have this conversation and I'm already prying the terrible truth behind your species' first experience with aliens out of you."  Noola smiled again.

"We are eventually going to have to break the language barriers without the gift of Narakin eventually."  Johan looked at the tea sitting in front of him and decided to give it a try.

The warmth was welcome with the slight chill in the breeze.

"Winter for this region is approaching.  Yes that is another sign even us skeptics can't deny.  With three stars this close to us we should not be here.  The gravity should tear this world apart, radiation cook what's left, day should be perpetual, and seasons much different.  Don't get me wrong.  We understand how harsh this world can still be with it's higher gravity and there is a lot of terrain on our world where death is certain if you wander too far into it without knowing what you are doing.  The dozen or so colonies we have established have given us a lot of perspective on the matter."  Noola sipped some more of her tea.

"In a way I am still envious.  Thanks to the Oppressors humanity does not know it's true birth place for certain.  We're scattered over three dozen worlds in our part of space.  Many still unaware that others exist.  None of which have a useful fossil record to help us figure it out."  Johan again found himself admitting something he would have preferred to not share just yet.

"Your ships, you took them from the so called Oppressors didn't you?"  Noola finished the tea in her cup.

"Yes.  Most of them we use as transports as best we can tell that is what they were originally.  Some we tried to uparm into proper warships.  A scant few of their proper warships we did capture as well but it cost us dearly.  Making more is a great effort for us and often includes the loss of worker lives."  Johan somehow didn't feel ashamed to let out so much of the past he had been trying to keep guarded.

"It's easy for you to share because you have come to recognize two things about us.  One is that you sense at least for now we don't have the desire to conquer you.  The second is as much as we're an older more technologically advanced race the numbers just don't work out for us to truly exert our will over you.  No I'm not psychic as much as that would explain many things.  Just a really perceptive old woman."  Noola gave him the most human like smile he'd seen since coming here.

"I just wish we had your unity.  One of our worlds, Zanzibar has broken away after our failure to protect them from a Hysan raid.  Last report I got from Mithras said others were likely to join them."  Johan wasn't sure how this would change things but he knew it would.

"We're not as united as we might seem.  The Council of the Clans is a new venture and inside two generations it's already seen great change in who is part of it and who is not.  Even now there are those who still plot in the shadows, making plans the rest know nothing about until it is too late.  The Hysan though may be a godsend for us though as they are something for us to rally around combating.  The warriors among us were starting to get restless with too much peace."  Noola sighed.

"I was hoping the same would happen with us but it seems it may take some time before that happens."  Johan sighed as well.

"Now enough serious talk.  Let's enjoy the rest of this day.  The rains will be on us soon."  Noola smiled.

United Colonies of Humankind Diplomatic Residence
24 April 1940
local evening


Outside the rains were coming down.  The bruises on Fred from when he tried braving them were proof that for them they were now stuck in their residence for who knows how long.

Ling was acting odd though.  Something had been off with her lately and he wasn't sure what it was.

He knew he'd have to press the issue and find out but before he could the communication terminal they had setup to keep in contact with Mithras came to life.  It was a call Johan had been expecting and knew he had to take before seeing to his staff.

"Congradulations on winning the election Chancellor Rowan Vries."  Johan greeted the middle aged man on the other end.

Even though the communication method was FTL there was still a quite noticeable delay.

"It was easy enough after the second Hysan raid caused another two planets to jumpship.  We're in a sorry spot here.  I'll be surprised if I serve out my full term before being recalled.  I doubt there is anyone who could do this job right now."  Rowan grumbled in a low voice.

"If you think it would help I could return home."  Johan already knew the response.

"No.  You're too useful to us to be anywhere other than where you are right now.  No.  There is another reason for why I called.  One of our ships out looking for Hysan controlled space has picked up some faint transmissions.  Not Hysan.  We think we've found another alien race.  I need your recommendation for who I should send to check it out if it is another alien race."  Rowan folded his hands in front of his face.

"Jack Armstrong would be my first choice if he's still around and fit."  Johan thought for a brief moment.

"Yeah he's still around and I don't think the navy will raise too much of a fuss hauling him around."  Rowan nodded.

"Any other news I should pass along to our new friends?"  Johan sighed.

"No.  Any progress on the trade negotiations?"  Rowan shook his head.

"Finding something they want that we can actually provide for their alloys has been tough but I think we're closing in on a final deal."  Johan answered.

Ling suddenly sprang up from the couch and ran to the bathroom.

"Apologies Chancellor.  I had suspect something was amiss with Ling for a bit now but I had no idea she was ill and apologize for not dealing with it sooner."  Johan grumbled.

"Could be worse.  The last time I saw a woman have to run to the bathroom like that was when my wife was dealing with morning sickness with our youngest."  Rowan almost laughed as he smiled.

"Oh no....  I have to go."  Johan went pale.

"I hope it isn't spreading what ever it is.  I'll be in touch later."  Rowan said before terminating the connection.
« Last Edit: 07 February 2022, 20:54:43 by monbvol »

Daryk

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Um... "Finding something they want for the alloys that we can actually provide" isn't making any sense to me...  ???

monbvol

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It's that the aliens are not against trading some hard to produce alloys suitable for advanced interstellar space ship production but the humans just don't have enough throughput on the stuff that isn't completely below the tech base of these aliens and thus not very desired by the aliens.

Daryk

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"the alloys we can actually provide" still throws me... I think you're missing a word, good sir...  perhaps a "that"?