Post on Ajthat [ite-hut]

This book was never printed, nor would it make sense. It lives on my disks for almost twelve years now, and has had a few excursions to the networks, it its regular state - as a ghost of an unfinished book. It will remain unfinished ad infinitum, because additional material may appear anytime, as it did before.

These building blocks for a possible book remained unordered. Despite the composers efforts to trust it to oblivion, lack of care and cover of dust as often as feasible, it managed to survive several shifts of technology, and pass unharmed through all the possible conversions, rollovers from one form into another, from one operating system to the next, and it finally (?) found some peace on this place in the Web. Your humble collector of the blocks announces no responsibility on his part on this matter, because he can not claim it will really settle here, or will just start growing from here, if the mere act of its appearance here causes a flood of new blocks.

The items below the editor's foreword (which is just her favourite version of the translation of her favourite part from the chapter about SMID, plus the list of chapters) are given in alphabetical order, because this ordering brings a virtual logic into where there's no head nor tail. There's also a numbered guide in parallel to this. The numbers with the chapters may serve as some ordering, but they are more in sequence of their arrival to the editor's desk (been lazy, D.R.?)(well, yes - but then this was also a decision), than any recommended order to read them by. Maybe that is the recommendation?

Some parts do constitute some stories, specially chapter six, which is put in sort of chrono- or khronological order if yu prefer, but there's no plausible clue as to what comes before and what after. Even the chapter six, which is a more or less regular account of how did the pirates come into power on Ajthat, isn't ordered completely, because it has no end. Yes, the pirates' stolen ship was retrieved years later, in neatly dismantled parts, but the pirates themselves were nowhere to be found. There was an apokhryphal story of their commander being crowned a queen, but only afer attending a proper skhola - but there's no record of that. The first crew of the post was already too old at the time, and the new crews never had contact with these pirates.

The only thing known here for sure is that the parts before the establishment of the Post (chapters one and two) should maybe go before those where the Post already exists, but that is not in too much of a concordance with the postulate of synkhronicity , so it may turn up to be (or it was always so)(or it will once have always been so) that this ordering is just a temporary illusion.

Until proven otherwise. 

Since it will be obvious that the translator was feeling too much sympathy towards the languages she was translating from, and far too often (to my taste) failed to translate phrase by phrase and expression by expression, but rather decided to respect the sentence of the original, here's

Additional comment to the English edition, by translator (not a true Roverli , but as close as it gets)

At the time of this translation, there were some 400 kilobytes of the original text. The editor has decided to translate parts at random, simply overwriting the copies of the text by translated text. This way, all the links inside the text will remain linked to their proper locations - but most often these proper locations weren't readable.

Few years later, the translation was complete, so if you still see some unreadable text, yell at the webmaster, editor, coordinator or whichever title D.R. assumed this week. The real work can now finally begin.

While translating, I had this idea that I should continue to keep up with avoiding any Latin words, as was done in the original, but had to give it up. English language simply doesn't have enough English words. If anyone knows English words for "inversely", "translate", "consciousness", "motion", "notion", "plant", or simply "simply", or at least the proper ones which have anything but Latin origins, let me know. The only remainder of this effort is the attempt to bring Greek words directly into English, and not through Latin (i.e. 'kiklos' vs 'cycle','stadion' instead of 'stadium' and such - but probably there's still a lot of character instead of kharakter, century instead of hektade etc.). Anyway, the plan is that this will grow but will never be finished.

At the end of the beginning: I am signing this more as an editor than as an author, even though some of the chapters were physically born from my keyboard. This book (or whatever it is) is dedicated to all the people who enjoyed the absence of my nagging while I was busy with it.

D.R. Fairday

Copyright 1992-2003 by D.R. Fairday

Editor's foreword

"The shielded position was bringing in a somewhat smaller amount of money than to other league services (actually, much less than the Communications were receiving for just their internal communications), so the sparingness led to a demand for not just "experts of everything that may be needed", but no less than "experts for everything". Everybody had to know how to do at least three jobs. This was too much for the last glory hunters who jumped the wagon in the first years. What only remained was a special breed of people, devoted to their uncertain business. The first deal was Grumel, the famous statistical miracle. This didn't help too much with the next one, because,, accidentally, ...all the records on the first mission vanished. Then there came Vrana3, Finana, Sumpor, Renj and Halmazta, all the mislaid human worlds from the migration era, each and every one of them returned to the League membership. That was the produce of the first twenty years, and later there was even less work.

What they were hoping for, and what they have truly feared, was contact with some really alien species. The universe has not sent anything of the kind so far, and there was no need for that. The uncounted human worlds are sufficiently diverse, and ready to display miracles to anyone who is ready to believe in the idea."

And so they landed
Buccaneer law
Buccaneer tribunal
Case of failed business
Dear students
Death and such
Death of judiciary
Encounter with the king
Five pictures
Genesis (end of religion)
Get down
Glem's notes
How does it work, then
I would like to move to your planet
The laundry problem
Lykeion Vasileion
Mission opening (skenarion)
Mission opening (speech)
No money?
Nonsense in the writing
Now, encounter
Observers of the wash
On the wall a picture
Origins of the name
The pirate ships
The post
Public services
Reception 2
Religious customs
Remark on Ajthat beliefs
Report 2
Report 3
Rules on the institution of faith
So we are
Smoking wars
No money?
So what?
Take a peek, it's worth it
Take me to your leader
Thieves land on Ajthat
Tools to understand
Ugliness and beauty
What are they doing
What have we found
What is known about Ajthat
Where are your elders
Where do they ease themselves
Wolba's tragedy
You may be in power here, but

Chapters by numbers:
1. Intro
2. Preparations, takeoff
3. Third chapter has vanished.
4. Various
5. The embassy opens.
6. The plot. The drama. The why.
7. Incomplete material.
8. Belief, disbelief, institutions involved.

The content of these numbered chapters should be the same as the content on the left side; however, there's no guarantee to that, nor can we hope the third chapter is just temporarily missing. It may be missing by simple miscount, or that the composer, in not-quite-by-himself condition, renumbered the subsequent chapters, to induce more intrigue. If he did that, and if that was his intention, the dust of oblivion from the first sentence has covered that.

1.1 Reception

( Me) Some introduction may be due here. Let's say it begins with the admission.Of course, this admission did not happen in the beginning. It happened after a few months of our stay on Ajthat. Our hosts seemed to think we need some sort of formal acceptance rite, so they made one. Or just played it for us. Or with us. Maybe they enjoyed the game, and at some level took it as seriously as we did. I'll write this in third person, because I was present with the camera just briefly, and I talked with Zeneia and Hinema later.

The admission hall was not too big; more akin to an ordinary room, a lounge in some bed & breakfast. Zeneia and Hinema submitted their emissary papers to the clerk and waited, scrutinizing the hall, as much as could be seen from the anteroom. The rooms were not significantly bigger than rooms in ordinary houses, just the details let on that more attention was devoted to beauty. The door was translucent, and through it an ordinary wooden table was seen, carved, visible year lines, high chairs with well hidden mechanism to adjust inclination. There was nobody in the hall.

The clerk looked up his paper, or whatever it was. Some signs appeared in the corner. The language was rather different from all the languages of the known universe (Zeneia: as much as we know them); its logic was similar to some of the mongolian and some of the dead amberic languages, with traces of oldtrenshk; they managed to fathom its possible scope of meaning to some extent, but the writ still refused to surrender to reason. The clerk has, probably, mastered the art of Ajthat script as a little boy, and the writ made him conclude it was time they were allowed to enter. As they say, full script haiping is hard as well, and still the little Chiroquese did learn it nice and easy when they were kids.

The door opened; inside, there indeed was a table with a few chairs, seemed to really be wooden, to hand it felt confirming the look, but the light was artificial, no doubt. Hinema could swear she saw windows through the door, and through them something like trees, or where would one classify the high greens which grew on buildings in this area. Instead of a window, a curtain opened on the opposite wall, or an impression of a curtain, and two Ajthatans entered through it. With a moderate mutual nod (a sign of belonging to human civilization, or just a learned gesture?), all four sat.

(Me: the acquainting rite is very short and reduced in Ajthatans. One mild nod, nearly ancient niponese, murmuring the names and few uninteligible words. Names, as it turned out in almost all human cultures, are learned by practically nobody first time around, but the custom survived all the same.

I stayed in the anteroom, not knowing whether the hosts would like me to record everything. For this time we resorted to notes taken immediately upon return to post.)

(Zeneia :) Even today it is not clear whom have we met. King not, or not in official role. Maybe he received us as a citizen. That may look like truth, as [we heard it] told later, king's job is official occasions, matters of state, neighbour affairs. Universe, and anything that may come from it, is in custody of starminders, rainwrights and the like. Anything is to be expected from the universe, though the appearance of humans [coming out] of it did surprise them a little. We were no natural or political trouble, so I hold it could be king receiving us, in abode of his, not castle. That explains the clerk in the anteroom, and the modesty of the chambers.

What would look like them the most, would be to pick the nearest interpreter, and another, conditionally speaking, sage, and to present them to us as fully fledged representatives of their planet. Or have we just convinced ourselves into believing such a thing. This doesn't seem too clear: I meant to say that nobody said that those, whom we met then, were any sort of representatives of anything. What was said was like "you wanted to talk with someone, well talk with them". Anyway, as soon as they sat at the table with us, they became fully legal representatives. I still don't know whether it's customary here, or they were watching us when we spent the first hours here sitting around an assembled table near the ship and are emulating us with best of intent, whatever, some drinks and treats were brought to table. We recognized none of it, we only could tell some of it was made of some grain, something else of some berries and something of fish, and four or five dishes which escape comparison.

(Hinema :) We handed them the greeting letter from our [folks] at home. They managed to read it somehow (it was just second week, measured by local moon, and we hardly learned each other languages), and they seemed to understand. During the talk, however, nothing of the letter was mentioned. It is still unclear today whether they understood nothing, or their script and language are not equally related as our script and language are, or they understood that what was written [there] are not our words, and they had no interest in what was written by someone who can't address them.

Their language is incredible. I started learning, by immersion, even getting somewhat alienated from [my] own [folks], and I'm catching myself composing sentences in [my] dream... eh, composing - I squeeze them out of my head, and lo, they take off into the talk. And the head from which they take off, as if it is not mine. Matter is, it is mine, but as if I found in it a room which I didn't know I had. Logic, mother, what do I do to you while I talk to you. Not a stone [remains] on stone... and yet, a nice building grows.

The talk itself went rather hard. Lots of stuttering, jotting, waving hands, twisting eyes and whole faces (both sides, though the hosts were a bit more constrained). There were admirable misunderstandings, but we eventually got what we wanted: two houses, in different areas, where our post will be, where we'll move the things we landed with. Lot of it remained by the ship, and nobody's touching that. The intention was to leave them without guard - for, if this was a belligerent planet, we are doomed anyway - to arouse curiosity. Didn't work. The subject of curiosity were we alone, though the hosts display an incredible patience, and their nerves could hold a swing for older children.

4.5 Traffic

There's almost no traffic on Ajthat. People rarely travel, or are at least not seen, and it is hard to say what would they travel between. The whole planet can be best described as one scattered village, where [one] can reach as far as fourth or tenth neighbour before dark. There are no clear borders between places, nor [are there] clear centers, places where a larger group of people would gather, any structures of religion or state. Thus it is possible to walk a large portion of the planet while looking like someone who went to buy something for lunch.

No vivacious transportation of goods is observed, nor of informations. Even the energy transportation flows unnoticed - even the lighting of the roads is not customary here. With three moons which alternately light the night side of the planet, that is not necessary. Only two or three times a year it happens that a good portion of the night is dark, but that is simply known in advance and in those nights [one] does not start on [the] road.

(Romfu) that we don't notice some things does not mean they don't exist.

Among means of transportation noticed were road oneseaters and twoseaters, some with sails, foot driven (pedals and an obscure system of strings, pipes and spanned membranes). For cargo hauling there are models with trailers, extended rear part or they simply tie a rope somewhere to pull the baloon to carry the load. They usually run the baloons down the wind - they probably know their winds. They do know how to harness the wind, we often saw the load pulling the cart.

We never so any big building, specially not anything which couldn't be built out of the materials found on the spot. No big building makhines. We saw only one building site, a dozen people were using hand tools, without any large technical aid. Out of the soil dug nearby they made adobe, which they baked on a handy mirror, and they bound it with some mixture of clay and bouillon out of plants from a nearby pasture. The beams are wooden, of trees planted purposedly there a necessary number of years in advance. They strengthened them again with some other stew of surrounding plants (they let us know the plants were specially cultivated, and that nothing is built where they won't take root).  Various harness and spikes are made of the same tree's branches, strengthened in another process. All in all, everything on that site came from within walking distance. We didn't notice any great rush; [one] would say that building is more of a religious rite than hard work.

Possible answers to questions arising:

(Gvelim: if they bake brick on sunshine, what stops them from making bigger mirrors?)

5.1.2 Mission opening skenarion

Let's not get fooled, this is a synopsis, too many details are missing for a real skenarion.

Image sound
Mission, from afar and above with close-in Anthem of League or other proper tune. When melodion gets recognizable, it fades; covered by background speaker
Access road, a procession of Ajthatans approaches Ajthat anthem, fades as the procession enters the solemn lineup of the mission
from above; left and right the mission solemn lineup, the procession in middle. at times insert front faces from the procession and lineup, some from audience. one freelance camera.   Tune fades, capture from the Embassadors, live.
At the bottom the Embassador waits at the main entrance - show driveway to door. The Embassador ushers the Leader of the procession, handshake, others mingle and make one long procession.
Axially symmetrical image driveway to door. capture at the front of the procession, as they enter the main door, live.
Solemn hall, long dining table, each party takes their side of it, leaders in the middle facing each other hook into the inhouse PA, background speaker when the officials are silent
Manage the rest somehow until they sign and exchange the signed copies; camera leaves backwards, blend into the next segment, something about Ajthat in general.

This was, obviously, composed by someone who has never seen Ajthat, and knows the mission even less. There was no procession - at the appointed time they all gathered coming in twos and threes from various sides. As each of them arrived, they joined the hosts. They were standing around the lawn and chatted. Ajthat has no anthem, and some states have five or six songs for solemn occasions. None of them was proper for this sort of event, this is the first mission being open since Ajthat [is there]. There are state missions, but then they always existed, and nobody remembered a solemn opening ever being held. The music was picked to the mood of the present [people]. The mission building is far from symmetrical, and the entrance is not in the middle at all, and so is not the path; there are three paths, and they were treaded by themselves, as the trees and hills had their way. There is no solemn hall at all, and the dining table was set behind the house ("behind" to mean "on the opposite side from the main entrance"). No paper was ready to sign, eventually the one that M. Embassador brought with her, and both copies remained in the mission, because Ajthatans didn't know what to do with theirs. Also, there was no cameraperson (linguistic misunderstanding, or a prank by Mission and hosts together) which they were supposed to provide, so everything was recorded by one fixed and two bobbing cameras. In brief, instead of a celebration of an event of galactic importance, the neighbours have made a little party for themselves, sized as a smaller wedding. Because of all of this, there was no live broadcast, some twenty-damar footage was gathered, and the whole thing was generally covered up.

The reporters on the Worlds have inflated this later, so the third-hand reports could almost lead to a conclusion that the celebration was, in the least, magnificent and unseen. From which only the very last word is true.

6.5.1 The pirate ships

The pirate ships don't look extremely different from normal ships. They mostly were normal ships once, and their owners like them to look so. There are a few small changes, though. There is much more sensor equipment, far less outward rays, and the habit of vanishing.

A normal ship may vanish from your screen, and you wouldn't be surprised, simply because you knew, and your ship knew, that it entered a safe jump topos. It would jump to a certain other emergence topos, or "exit hole", as navigators call it. To jump outside of a safe topos is... just unsafe. But so is life. Doing a jump from a random place takes you to some uncharted exit hole in any part of the universe. With less than a tenth of the galaxy being charted, a random jump may get you anywhere. Literally.

The pirates, of course, disobey this rule, just like they usually do. Some retired pirates say this is a calculated risk, because there is some mysterious function which calculates the probable distance from a regular exit hole from the distance to the nearest jump hole. They say this function gets very complicated and highly unreliable if there are more than two jump holes distant the same order of magnitude from the jump point. Also, any gravity field strong enough, magnetic fluctuation... plus the usual list of superstitions. Nobody really knows how much of this is true, because this function is always stored in computers set to self-destruct when pirates are caught.

One has to admire their guts to do random jumps like that. Still, some pirate ships which vanished in random jumps have been seen later in other places, so there must be some trick they use.

The invention of this function has reshaped the pirate world. Before that, they had strict rules and turf boundaries. They even had safe areas, where they would defend each other from the outside world, they had wide borders where they were at peace with each other - they had a way of making their subculture last. Of course, having fixed turfs made them vulnerable to League's attacks, and it sometimes took long negotiations between gangs to divide a vacated area, where League took a gang out. At times, they would just create a new gang out of dissatisfied members (or rejects, in other words) so they would get a chance to have a gang of their own. And their bašas would have the good feeling that they took care of their own.

After the random jump started to work, all this changed. Turf borders were not respected anymore. A ship in search of victim would just jump at random, appear anywhere, jump a few more times as necessary - until it found one. It would strike quickly, loot and vanish. They would sometimes strike as much as ten times, before vanishing for a longer time. The time it took to retrace their steps from defense reports was sometimes years - simply because the places where these strikes happened were so far away from each other.

This, accidentally, decreased the number of victims. The pirates didn't care if anyone saw their faces. They would vanish in a few damars, and they knew the defense forces didn't dare follow them into a dangerous jump for just looting. For murder, maybe.

Several defense skenarions were developed against this. One was double load - post something expensive enough, but little of it, in a seemingly empty cargo space. Stash the real cargo elsewhere. Another, fake a mutiny on the spot and have a part of the crew take over and join the pirates. This sometimes worked, sometimes the attacked ship never returned from the jump, even though they were instructed to follow the pirates' steps to ten decimal places. One of the most successful ones was to hardwire the whole ship with micro modules, which would start reporting to any defense post that the ship was hijacked, and actually broadcast any word spoken on it, any reading of its instruments, any button pressed anywhere on it. This helped, at least in the cases when the pirates decided to switch ships. Which they did, quite often, just to get any pursuit party confused.

6.6 Dear students,

If we suppose the history had flown in a manner different from how it really did, we may have arrive to a quite different shape of human community, and to a different today. Imagine, let's say, that Plaphon's ideas of a strong central state, always looking out for its own survival, and always ready to sacrify individual for general welfare's and for the future of the whole, ergo, what would happen if those ideas didn't find root, or if they appeared just a few hekto years later?

We would have circumstances where some colonies may break away and move into some standalone existence, there, for one, let's say that Khardakhine did it, or Leiandaria, or even Rumy, though Rumy never made a serious assould. Imagine, Rumian Empire... yes, sounds funny, but we could easily create a skenarion in which Rumy secedes, joins with the peoples to the north up to Galeony, in the east it only fires up the Delmans and Kozars, and the Zhipshans in the south, ere Yeleni would have their hands full for a number of years, maybe as long as half a hektade. Meanwhile, after running the Yeleni garrisons out from their fortifications and burning some of their ships, Rumy can quietly work on building an empire. A small one for starters, then a little larger... while the Yeleni pacify their neighbors, the Rumy has already made progress, primarily to the west, to Atalanya, crossing in places into Aphriqueia as well.

What you say? Not impossible. Take just that... by present count, in the year 52003 roughly, instead of Xenophoeb, the assembly vote tipped in favor of Katalay, well known, by the way, by not really liking Plaphon. Katalay, was, also, representing the faction which pulled for a decrease of the polises' obligations to the state... and was not supported, because just then, just one day before the voting, a courier rode in with the news that some varvarians again attack from the east. It would have sufficed if the courier did not arrive, or was late, to have Katalay instead of Xenophoeb, who would then squeeze the polises a little more than a campaign against the varvarians needs, to then have complaints arriving from the polises very soon. He would then, as any good ruler would, try to please them in order to be elected again, and we would so have a nice development of some cities, and even nicer development of colonies, and the ideas of loose alliances, alliances only when needed and such, in the time when a simple message travelled days, weeks. The couriers were not significantly faster than armies. At home, you should try to calculate for yourselves what would the old world look like in the following hektade, and how long would it take until the first clash between the north and the south. Pardon? Ah, on the north of the time we have the so-called analphabetic varvarians. No, they were not analphabetic, they earned the nickname by their habit of catching alphabetic slaves - in the north, reading and writing were not deemed a noble work. There is a number of mighty empires there, and it all moves each hektade or two, they all keep moving every now and then. Take into account the population density of the time - two peoples could get into moving and go unseen past each other.

6.5.2 Thieves land on Ajthat

This time we undertook a bit bigger of an enterprise. We don't know what we took, it was well guarded. The pursuit was soo swift and mighty, that we already have serious suspicions about the need to look at ourselves and notice the hook piercing our mouths. We entered too easily, guards just as much as we expected, alarm delayed just as much as it should be, we cut the right doors at the right places, blueprints we had correct, everything went well oiled, until we started the runaway. And then, from everywhere... we didn't panic. It is known exactly what is done then -  a mad jump. Uncalculated. Not that our computer didn't have the time to calculate -  it did -  but it refused to push us, for it was too dangerous. We hastily froze its sensor of self-preservation but we couldn't cut off that fast the sensor for preservation of master's life. Glem gave the Spindle one good finger kick, precisely measured, so doing that he didn't disturb it too much, but managed to force a lie to the computer, which then threw us into a Jump.
The tekhne of the big Jump is unreliable. The computer endorses one request in hundred. We have been finding ships awfully humped and crews scattered; we still don't know which came from a bad jump and which from a good weapon. Our jump passed as excellent -  nothing wrong with us, and we don't know where we are. The Spindle is straightening up and we start looking around... the constellations are unknown, we couldn't have hoped for better. We already grew accustomed that the computers, in situations like this, sulk like insulted brats and stay silent for fifty damars whenever we hurt them. I've doubled the guards to read out whatever it does. People mumble and grumble, but I know them. Trouble is when they shut up.

- Baša, a nice system here. Three days ride. Got worlds.

- Good news or bad news?

- Still no know. No trace of life.

- Pebble?

- No, greens. No cities, no lights, silent like a turd in the grass.

- And it may do as good to step into it. Keep readouts, whatever you get. Report when his dumbness wakes up, then wake me too to hear what's it. Navigate while I sleep.

- Understand, baša.

I really will sleep now. People look at their baša and adore seeing her relaxed and not manic with fear. Flows trust ito them. They are very scared from commander going nuts when it gets tough. My first rule: pretend you know it all and have all the answers; even if you don't, rely on yourself, you'll say something yet.

/* click */

- Yes? Give vids. Sound? Didn't expect either. Send me something stuff up here, to wake up. Hey, this is nice. Where did we stumble upon this? Blind god Random. Drive us around it, keep distance.

- Full circle two days ana haf, if we peek from afar.

- Don't care. What does the dumbhead say?

- The computer pretends to be crazy, or was manufactured crazy... or we have perforated it a bit more when we bought this vessel. Doesn't mention any pursuit, no alert.

- Let half the guards to sleep. Did they notice anything anywhere?

- Not a toothpick. Desert.

- Good, what we need. Vessel?

- All ship shape, except compuuter. Still somewhat sulking.

- Not a wonder to me, always been like that. Let them sleep, rest, then split the loot. What did we get this time?

- Almost everything as was reported. Some of the treasure flew away during attack, some burned; we recorded all and no lies there. All accounted for. Add to it -  we have more weapons now than we had when we took off, and ammo supplies. Water, food for five weeks more, unless we fix the Maker.

- And this world?

- At first sight, will do us good. There are some people down there, but they must be very poor. They may be just learning how to hone stone axes, or to drill the soil for fuel. Whatever, if they are not starving, so won't we be.

- OK, Glem. Find out about them whatever you can, then summon the Forehead. Meanwhile, send me Olgat.

If Olgat's wisecracks don't help me, I'll have to rely on machines, and that won't just fly. To get down or to get lost? Are we sought somewhere? The synkhrono won't work for at least ten more days, until the computer achieves balance and oneness with the Universe. Which religions were the guys who made it? Probably Idols, that thing has spread over the Universe in recent years. How did it go, "There is only Now. All that was or will be is really a Is. Time doesn't exist.", fine and neat, and just these guys had to make ships' computers. Wish there was a law to forbid the religion to computers. Or should the installation of religion be deemed as breach of oath on nonenforcement of faith? And who am I to complain on the law, I'll kill myself with this mockery. Had the Universe been composed otherwise, I may have been writing philosophical treatises or defending the likes of me at the judges. Ah, if you do something wrong, do it right. If we are buccaneers, we will loot and live dangerously. And merrily.

- Whadya want now, Baša? You pull me out of sweatest dream.

- Sweet dreams is what I just need.

- Lie then. Or you want some of this?

- I need not your vice, Olgat, but your dreams. What's it down there?

- Eden.

- Does eden keep place for buccaneers?

- Does eden keep laws?

- You don't answer, yet better you answer so. Again it comes down to what we know and what not. And we know nearly nothing -  yes, there's food, air and water, and what else? We suffer no shortage, not even in adventure. We live in excitement, and for another fifty standard we won't be that old to be fed up with it all, then to wish for a place like this. Did we not find it too early?

- We can always come back. Bury our treasure in here and mark the place with a tiny cross?

- 'Nough fairytales. Say, what do you hear from below?

- Eden, I tell you. Peace, quiet, good people, somewhat simple, or I don't understand them.

- Which could be used, eh?

- Don't know what's on your mind, Baša. I'm scared to imagine. Two hundred of us against whole planet. Let them have just spears.

- Knowing the past of human societies, I think these guys can't be warmongers, nor advanced. All they need falls from their sky -  they are probably lazy readymades and liebreads, maybe they haven't invented bread yet.

- There's a little landing pod there.

You call for a dreamer and a twisted mind, only to be slapped with hard facts over your nose.

- Or at least looks so. I saw it. May be a shrine. Maybe both -  maybe they adore the pravessel which settled them here. Big Jet Mama, our feeder. Whaddey look like?

- Wait one. Got a call. Ah, our sleaping monster woke up. Speak up, your obtuseness.

- On service.

- Where are we?

- You see the constellation and the rest onscreen.

One could miss three hundred worldly khistorions a day, judging by the production of news which should count as important. That is the same as if nowhere nothing happened. You can waste whole life following what goes on, to be with the flow, or live equally well in beatified ignorance. No middle there -  whatever you chose, you're always infinitely far from the extremes. Still, I heard about this place somewhere.

- What's the planet's name?

- Ajthat.

- Talk.

- One of lost ancient human worlds. Found again twenty two standard ago, took their place in the League. Traffic limited to synkhrons and a bit of cargo. Strictly protecting their garden.

- Tekhne?

- For around the house, got a lot and most of it operates on nobody knows what. The working principle of most of the appliances is mystical. Nothing large -  no large transportation, production, construction.

- Enough. Olgat, you study this your way, Glem his way, and so will I. Tomorrow we decide what shall we. Run further, hide down here, or something third. With idolic computer and few more random jumps like this, I fear we can't push far, good as it may be now. Think what is there for us to do. Gurdoni, you sleeping?

Three seconds for him to step on the pedal... two more to draw himself in front of the screen. Good, they're not asleep.

- Say, Baša.

- Send a good dinner for three to the bridge. A better wine, not the one from the loot. Tell the cooks to prepare for all; at ease. Take ten only to stay sober for next shift of guard. And dig out some musike to be good, with them organons and khorons.

4.8 Case of failed business on Ajthat

To the executive board of UPM company

Subject: extract of the outcome of business on Ajthat

Initial expectations: the intention was to sell some equipment on Ajthat to carry 4m recordings, with the underlying intention to supply them further on with content, of descriptive nature to some extent, expecting they will be interested in life on various worlds of the League, and in majority of featured nature, in the types of melodrama, tragedy, modern comedy, featured children programming and similar to that, with tendency to equalize [it in time] with the content UPM broadcasts to majority of worlds. We didn't put much hope in the sales of equipment itself,  because of the known limitations regarding the weight of the load which may be transported annually. No matter how the equipment today may seem minuscule compared with its previous editions, many things have unshrinkable measures, which depend on wavelengths, size of human palm and such. The general intention was to rely on their technology, find partners there who will produce proper equipment corresponding to the location, and produce it, paying us just a meager bit of royalties, the intention being the main profit to be left to them.

However insane this may sound, and such remarks have arrived from equipment manufacturers here, we did not want to found a company on Ajthat (see appendix with calculation), nor did we want someone else to found one in our stead. Also, the Ajthatan rules (I dare not call that a law), do not recognize any sort of intellectual property on equipment, it is they don't recognize an individual, firm or any other person of this level as its owner, but only a state or a planet or the whole League. As far as that would go, further proceedings (i.e. claiming such money from the League) would last too long to bring any profit at all.

That is why we went for simply giving, as a gift to them, the blueprints for the total of equipment required, and show them what this equipment may provide for them. We have shown some to their representatives on our worlds, and sent some to our representative as a package (portable equipment mostly, we sent the recordings wavewise, and kept sending for several months). Wavewise is slow, but is cheap and reaching; considering the estimated profit and the time we had at our disposition, we were not in a hurry. The profit was supposed to come from any content they would develop and exchange with us; we would keep the copyright for the rest of the league, and they would have anything we send them for free. We did not expect this to happen soon, but rather in its own time.

The response was more than just affirmative, they liked it, their representatives here liked it and the guests of our representatives there liked it. On the contrary, when we offered a deal, they started, to put it in a mildest way, to find excuses. Actually, they were extensively bewildered. As first, they couldn't grasp the idea of large scale production at all. An impression emerged that they never produced more than hundred pieces of anything. Allegedly, they never needed that much of anything. They permanently just keep replenishing the stock. They probably don't want to have anything warehoused beyond age of obsoleteness, as it seems they never throw anything away, specially not equipment which may have a sufficient number of unperishable parts. Instead, they suggested introducing the content into their network already in place. We have already given up the equipment anyway - and if it can be pushed through theirs, the better and smaller the expense for us. Our representatives saw how it was done, and are satisfied with quality. The colors are maybe too natural, lack some bit of cakeshop glitter, but it may be good as it is, if it better fits their sense of beauty. We have always produced local versions, why not this time too.

To begin with, they translated first few thousand damars of our recordings, and announced the time when they well be run (we composed the time table together, where we acquired important knowledge about their domestic habits, which may come important for some potential attempt in the future).

Now comes the punch: nobody said anything bad about [what was] shown, and nobody asked for more. Our representatives grew to feel they thought they have seen it all. We urged to send more, and we sent it. Same again. Here's a note from our representative, [it] will be clearer:

"Then we explained to them that the production of such recordings, i.e. something that people will watch and listen to in their idle hours, is an important industry at us, and that the number of people who make a living on it is not insignificant at all."

"They watched us quite puzzled. We explained to them how it really looks, we even fished out some recording about how these things are made, from shot taking to transmission, and how does a regular spectator look, sofa and beer can included."

"Then we explained [to] them how does the advertising work. Billboards, inserts in regular shows, inserts in the news, stickers, trinket gifts, calendars, public services sponsored by someone's ad, selling advertising space... and there we noticed they behaved strange. Two of our older inhabitants, Me Lidgha and mr. Orehi, I didn't remember the last names, and don't guarantee that I can read the first names properly, went out to the hall. I sneaked out after them, while my assistants attracted the hosts' attention, running I don't know which recording. I found them twisted with laughter."

"I asked for an explanation, and got one. They started talking both in one voice, between bursts of laughter, and I managed to understand somehow that the sole idea of advertisement is unknown here, and that the strange behavior of the hosts is just a symptom of supernatural abstinence from laughter. 'You know, we warned them that you will be very confused if they laughed, as they usually do. That's why they try not to. We couldn't [do it] anymore, so we left'. After yet another outburst of laughter, 'such, as someone going around and persuading others to take something, is deemed nearly indecent here, if not nearly insane. That is not done here. Why would anyone paint stripes on neighbor's sky?' That's when I reckoned there's none [to be hoped] of advertising there."

"We returned inside and continued, with mutual appologies, moving to the matter of how to still do the whole thing without advertising. When asked how did they advertise what will be in the recordings to be played, they said it was an ordinary announcement, information, and that is not an ad. No words of recommendation, nor is anything bad said about it. Simply says what is being given. We then proposed to issue announcements of the content which will run following few days, and to gather the response somehow. They accepted that right away, they even knew the response already."

"I was surprised, because less than fifty damar passed since the first release, and they already have the response. Well, in this business one learns to wonder over nothing, if he's intent to be retired in good health."

"The response came in a strange form, and boils down to less than a hundred people whole-planet-wide had asked to see more - and those are mostly artists. Here everyone is sometimes an artist, but not permanently and not by occupation, they just partake in art in some periods of their lives. By some estimates, at any moment on Ajthat there can be between five hundred and seventy thousand artists, in any case the response was nil. The rating was around 0.95, which is not just not bad, it would launch us as the first in the known worlds if it was only heard that we have achieved this sort of miracle, but: that's the rating for the first twenty damar. After that, it sank down to 0.062, which would at home equal the suicide of the whole network."

"Calculating that the present hosts can equally well represent a sample just like any of the unbeknownst to us population (an entirely new sampling skhemae would need to be invented, because we can't classify the viewers to employed, housewives and unemployed, nor by occupation, nor by the income level - all of which is absent here). Their impressions have really conformed with the majority: they have also watched the first dozen damar, some up to thirty, and gave it up. Some went to garden to read something, some went to have a drink, some to swim."

"Then we switched a little to watch what they run themselves. We were surprised: only news, art, some of those forms which last for hours and nothing noticeable happens in the oktakhedron (this one is more ball-shaped, and also depends on the room where it is watched, very interesting equipment). We conferred with them a little and ran some of test shots - it turned out that thay hear and see somewhat wider range than we do, though in aboveviolet it is neglectably little. In the underred, though, quite a lot - they see almost all sources of heat."

"They also mentioned some other ranges which our recordings totally lack, see the appendix and the parallel table with radiation spectri of their sun and a few more common [ones] in the known universe."

That would be it, and probably would be quite enough to get us to give up right away, or sit and keep having meetings over it for a few days. But, this is not all. Few days later, this came as well:

"It crossed my assistant's mind to check the translation. It was really suspicious, in his mind, that so highly dense dramatic content, for we did pick the best bullseyes from the previous two years, didn't manage to impress them. It didn't look like so much of a cultural difference to be written off as mere misunderstanding. We asked for a reverse translation. Two of their translators worked independently, we doublechecked that they never saw the source, and so did the old employee of our mission, that Zeret Dovše (Dohv-sheh), she's there ever since the official opening".

"The three reverse translations received did not particularly differ among themselves, but, for that matter, did not have much connection to the source. The connection was established later, but... I appended the examples and explanations. Old Zeret firms that we could have expected something like that in the first place, had we just remembered to ask around a little before getting involved. I would not take this for granted, I know what [size of] exploration preceded this business."

"Examples and explanations you will find in the appendix of this file. I remind that there was no mention of payment, it was inserted into the conversation only as an en-passant remark that we may reach some sort of barter, that any income they produce by selling the recordings, or subscription,  may be exchanged for the income they make by selling their things on our worlds. Nobody has seen their money yet anyway, but there are other values it may be chargeable with."

4.8.1 Appendix: Examples and explanations


Reverse translations

Dear, why are you going out with the guys tonight?

Do you want to break tonight or you think we can do some more?

Boss, this is one of your greatest inventions!

You stole my idea again, you old horse!

Nice weather today, isn't it?

I would feel better if we had not met.

I like you this way so much. Let's go my place.

I am sad, I would like to say something nice to you, but don't know what.

stay tuned for an incredible unravelling of the plot

you already know it all, but we have still made another episode

In the following business year we expect moderate growth in all areas we spread to so far, plus an outbreak at a few new ones.

We are broke, but will try a few more tricks.

I'm not close at the moment; when you hear the beep, leave a message, and I will call you back as soon as I get to.

I hate teeveephones, say something and if I like you I'll answer it.

The explanation, on the side of the present translators from, ahem... order of Roverli : "our languages difference between is that meaning and form separate you strongly, us by while that one seeks towards. You by, words and sentences one look as, meaning while to it quite other is. Us by, one other not go without. That-because translation moment-at, each both languages learned who has, form discards and meaning takes, later form as-much-as can backputs. Excused, that I speak like this, I feel form that good is still not, but before days five your language learned I have, but that that-because intended is, that better difference I see, while I translate to think to have I, and that-because better it difference where to it I know. Experienced translatorii that already think not have, er, thinks not there what to, translate and no thinks, and more not know why, that in sould has to him. That-because I they sent help you. More once, appologized."

Explanation, Zeret Dovše: these guys can't  lie . I'm not surprised they are avoiding the League.

4.8.1 A note

(Romfu) No, they can't see below red. It was just their sense of humor. They simply had to invent something equally funny as what they had received.

4.3.1 Religious customs

(Romfu) Ajthatans actually don't have much of special religious customs - we haven't noticed anyone in any special position, they don't bow, they don't kneel, they don't pray. We do find some deeply in thought or taken away, but that's no different from the ordinary - there's no sign to make one think he's deep into matters of faith or other. Further on, there's no exclusivity: an Ajthatan switches faith many times in a lifetime, without discomfort and limits, sometimes sticking to as much as two or three beliefs at the same time. To our amazement they answered with their amazement: their faiths do not exclude each other, but are just different views-at-the-world. In their base lies the pangnostic pursuit of knowing the Self and the World, as One and as All-At-The-Same-Time. The passages through various beliefs are just a part of the Road, where then there are no rules: everyone takes his own road down the Road, getting wherever they get. This somewhat coincideswith our beliefs that getting there is important, but the really important things happen on the way, not on its end.

6.5.3 Get down

- Neighbour, I have some news for you.

- Say it, Romfu. Got word from your, how do you say, superimposeds?

- Superiors? No, but that was close. A call for help.

- From who?

One ship, bit bigger, looking for permission to land. We don't have a landing spot that big, and it's too big even compared with biggest loads which had arrived here. Zeneja is just talking with them, and in parallel we are trying to find through synkhrono who they are.

- Didn't they present themselves?

- They did, but Zeneja feels they lie. Sees through the language. A lying head doesn't make a honest sentence. Shall we go our place?

They say they have air for a few hours. Few have fainted. See the shots. Does this one look like fainted from suffocation?

- Looks like drunk.

- So would I say. All chances are, these are some... and here's the report from the synkhrono.

„The ship circling us was taken two and a half standard years somewhere near Nikako, on regular line from Dolazi to Obzir. Some passengers were killed, some saved themselves running in the hijackers' old ship. This ship was last seen ten days ago in a similar clash near Efodikxs, when a larger amount of skrool was looted, some heavy infantry weaponry and a shipment of precious metals. The image of the ship's commander is unavailable until further; one can be only traced from attack to attack, having recognizable equipment units which leave identical prints each time. Personal features are sealed, so there are no reconizable marks on the attackers -  they are fully dressed, voices resynthesized, they collect the exhaust from their suits into lower bottles. Ammo and cartridges they provide from space wide, usually fourth hand and at the same places as the likes of them. All in all this is the same company that we follow through the last seventeen attacks during the last fifteen standard. Their suits char the corpse, so we couldn't even identify their dead, far from reading them out.

Our respected allies Ajthatis, you will have to find your own way out with these robbers. They have found you at random, without League's doing, don't take it on us. We helped you with this news only, just to have you warned. We could have helped you more, had you agreed to have a Guard Post somewhere in your system. Since you refused that, the nearest Guard Post is several years away from you. We have already dispatched an armed vessel to help you, but we suppose it will come late."

- This is Khatamlaia, Speaker for Ajthat. Who are you?

- Subritenant John Bezukhoff, on duty in Forenshk Guard Post. Speak up, please.

- Get that vessel back.

- But... it may come handy when it comes.

- It will not. Get it back. We want no vessels in around us, big not armed.

- You already have one.

- We handle that one. No blame on you, your personal. League has bad sides to it, and has turned one on us now just. Send what we speaked to where you need. Over.

What do we do now?

You? How do you handle buccaneers?

Hardly. If we catch them, there are ways. If not,

Then no. We will not fight. We take them as guests.

6.7 On the wall a picture


On the wall a picture. Is not on wall - in wall. As if was painted on wet, while was built. Has no traces of brush, spatula... nothing. As if the picture is built (up) together with wall. Has no frame - melds with, else undefined, color of wall. Not make out the edges of picture, has none. As far as two steps left or right from the picture I not know if I am still by the picture or by simple wall.

Scene on picture is in fog. She walks long bridge to castle. Bridge has no parapet. Invisible forces compete for her life. It is only a rite. I feel next to me has tens of spectators, yet not see them. I know we are all here. All from same vilage. She goes to a skirmish with destiny. Something there important is solved, will be decided thus or thos [this way or another]. Our lives will not be same, any way it turns. If she there fails... not understand what, but good be will not. On the high walls nobody has, just two brown banners limp down their masts. A shape peeks out one of the windows right under the lookout on the left tower, and fast retreats. Water under bridge plows in stripes sideways, darker and lighter. The stripes wiggle, faster, slower. From one of the darker stripes uprises a rainbow arch, height of three people, with her in center. Sudden ease, we passed for this year. "What will be with her", I ask the next to me.

"Nothing", my host anwers. "This is just a skene from our ancient past. Or future, who knows. It is all today."

My host is, seems, an idol. Or a  haram?

(Hinema - private note : I've heard that it is possible for an image to induce a hypnotic effect, but I should have been immune to that. I even sank into thinking in one of my almost forgotten languages and translating from it for the record - I'm leaving the translation on the record as is. The structure of the language in it is not exactly what I would expect myself to produce when translating from Kharamei. Or was it that language? I remember translating, but not which language was it.. certainly it was no language I know. Or no language at all. Was it my host telling me an old tale by telepathy? No, I would have detected that. Or would I? Two people, one talking in whistles and another talking in roars, could go by each other in a dark forest and think the other people had no language.)

2. Nonsense in writing there

You see, reverend delegates, Ajthat is not a rarity. Such worlds are found once in each few years. We wonder sometimes, what is driving complete planets to stay away from the mainstream human universe. Whole planets, mind you, sans exception. Quite a number of them has never even grown a daring individual who would reach the nearest world leaving at least a message in a bottle. Some are staying away with a purpose, wishing to keep their paradise. Some were even right, about that. The others, of course, were not - human worlds are not so warmongering and khaotic as they once were, in the times of Moving. Some of them were, furthermore, happy to rejoin the mainstream, some were simmering their public opinion a long time, and some are still holding aside. Many of the refound worlds have kept important artefacts from our common history. Thus, in its own time, we have found on Manderbor a well-kept vessel from the pre-fusion drive age, a renewed oil drive, a dozen almost extinct languages and the last movie tape; then on Kodred a collection of, as it turned out to be called, "postage stamps" and to be the first officially recognized private money ever.

We didn't gather to talk about that.

Yes, we should concentrate on Ajthat. You have got the basic data before arriving here, but we gave them to you too late with intent, so you wouldn't have the time to find what stinks there.


Let's say that you'd have to stumble right away upon a few... nonsenses in the writing.

You mean the dysharmonic development of technology?

Well, like them having some things the rest of the universe still dreams of, yet they fly not, save in balloons and kites, have no artificial escort orbiting. Their habitats, for one, have some building solutions which never came to our minds. No radio, teveephones, or at least they use no emission greater than the planet's natural noise, and yet the movements noticed didn't seem random at all. It may turn out that this would be the first entirely telepathic world in human history, and may as well be a highly sophisticated technology of smoke or light signs or sound broadcast through the soil, or they don't talk at all. We never got any message from there, and the language doesn't fit into any of the known groups, as it seems by the miserable sample [we got] so far,

What sample?

The first ship which crashed, dropped the black box. It kept recording and broadcasting for a few hours more. The local folks found it and took it somewhere. And talked along the way. The language is neither among the known, nor the formalized. Though, there are terran traces in it, allegedly among the forgotten pra-languages and meta-languages. And those balloons of their fly too fast and land too straight.

How were they found at all? If they don't broadcast...

By accident. The case of the postman NKoga is known; he's found some traces of Ajthat in postal archives; they originate in the times of the first and only expedition twelve centuries ago. The coordinates were, however, lost, short of saying "intentfully altered so that the planet can't be found". Someone took care do mislay the traces, and partly the we should thank to misclassification for the general oblivion. It managed to mislay even bigger things.

Bigger than a planet?

No, I meant to say they were losing even bigger trails. The planet has not, of course, vanished, nor was it mislaid. It was just wrongfully marked as uninteresting. It wrote that it was a desert, radiated, poisonous, with more oxygen and moisture in the air any equipment can stand. Why do I have a hunch that some versions said "nitrogen" instead of "moisture"?

But, permanig, poston, durvan?

Their price is sky high, it wouldn't ever pay to build complete ships out of them, or heaps of equipment. There were a couple of notes [found] thousand and fifty years ago, when they had cost even more - someone indeed was following the trail, but those few attempts ended by giving up very, very soon.

The case with the postman happened just a couple of hundreds of years ago, and the dust would have surely had covered it, had not some vessel recently crashed there, some rambling unmanned wreck, and having entered Ajthat's weight field, sent its position to the nearest traffic posts. One of them sent an examiner; after a while it did find Ajthat roughly where it should have been, snapped some shots, recorded what it could [do] unnoticed, and returned.

Surely unnnoticed?

"Surely", right, but rather a "maybe". The ether around Ajthat is dead silent, but that still doesn't mean there's no curious ears. If any wreck just scratches my atmosphere, I'd prick up all [the things] I have, even my very ears, until I see if anyone's coming to pick it up. Need I mention I would do it in the most unobtrusive way. The examiner, which... should have passed unnoticed, [it] was [one] of those completely black [ones], entered the perimeter of their sun undriven, and turned drive on only on [its] way out. This was almost always enough to pass unnoticed. Why, it can't listen up too zealously, it'd be a giveaway, so whatever happens within the first five hundred damars after the intruder is discovered, all the fuss and then cover up and arranging the pretenses that nothing, really, is going on, may even skip its attention. Five hundred damars is some measure, empiric. Somewhere it takes just a hundred, somewhere else a whole day. The travel from edge to edge of a planetary system lasts weeks, and all the time only the sun batteries and listeners are active - no path corrections, no reporting on anything, and the stronger listeners activate only when the regular ones find something worth suspicion.

Were the first real and proper reports of the first Ajthat mission ever found?

No. It is, they were, but look what's in them: Captain's diary

6.5.4 And so they landed

- And so what, where do we land? All the places look the same.

- Where it seems to have water, before all. We do have supplies for two years ahead, but the crew complains that... you know them, they speak as always. Like, ship stinks, and it's not that it really stinks, but it rather has a hint of a pharmako. So to get their spirits a bit better. And don't even think of faking a crash

– I want you to land clean like on a tarmac.

- Okays, Baša. There's a good spot near the lake, sky is clean and the grass green.

- Don't scorch everything. Try to land into shallows and then slide to coast.

- And to amaze the aborigines with my skills? They will sit by the meadow and grade the artistic impression? C'mon, we haven't seen anything bigger than a cow... alright, then, you don't have to look at me so. Kid... give attention, sights on the ninth point. Nice, slow, I want to see this vat to lift its skirt and slowly duck on the coast. On cold, don't burn around. Here?

- Glem here. Listen, can you pass around that hill, want to look at something.

- May you suspect it to the sky, can't now. Fly out later and look all you want, we land in ten... nine... eight...

6.5.5 Report

- Landed at 12:75, local time unknown. Planet Ajdhado. Head speaking, all first present, let everything get recorded. What's this we've landed into, lemme hear you?

- Onto a village.

- Onto what sort of village?

- You know, Baša, I grew up on a soilcrafter planet. We had cows, chuvdas, chingillas, we grew skrug, hannyana, whear... this is just like it.

- It's alright, baša, she's not seeing things. No psykhe fields nor defenses alike. No spectres, nothing obvious from subconscious. Everything is just like she said. As if we landed into a greenhouse -  everything is so nice and green, shlepnitches chirping and waves murmur. We even saw a few fish splashing in the shallow.

- A wilderness, then?

- No, baša. Just village. We even saw in distance a peasant dragging a haystack dangling hung below a blownup bellows.

- Aaaaaalright. Into lookouts, three each at every half hour. First round, second round, third round. Each patrol to report to me. Others, no shore leave until I order. And, um, yes, first round calls the second to guard them while they take water on return. And food samples.

6.5.6 What are they doing?

- Though these are buccaneers of some sort, they behave like a real exploring crew. So far they are seeing to avoid being poisoned or diseased, and whether they can eat what grows here without danger.

- I never asked, how did you get used to this here? Did you have trouble with food, water, sleeping?

- Not more than elsewhere, on any other human world. As we expected, in first four days we had the runs and two or three easy nauseas. Mostly because of the water.

- Yes, that was reported by our delegates at you[r side]. We have a symmetry... and some news seems to be coming.

"They fly out in a vehicle of sort and circle slowly around. I don't see how many of them are inside. They seem just to drive around."

- That's a lookout vehicle... [do you] have image? A-ha, this is the smaller one, it's harmless. At least that's how they are made, who knows what could these [guys] have added. It suffices, by the way, that he lands somewhere without the counterweight drive, doing only the jets way, and to burn all below it. Can you communicate straight from head to head?

- It only seems so to you. We only know each other well.

(neither this time I believe, not them, and not our skill of fathoming their insane language)

- Couldn't you scare them?

- No, we never did that.

- And now what, what kind of reception?

- None. We will pretend they do not exist, to see how their nerves hold. All who speak your language are already into visiting their farther relatives, and their places are taken by... how is it said at you...

- Soldiers?

- No, that's seen from afar. Ordinary... e, volunteers.

- Trained to fight?

- Yes. No, not... not the way you think.

- What is funny?

- Not funny, integral... it all together... but some smaller things. I know not what all these [guys] may do, but it will be serene at times. Trust me.

8.1 The rules on the institution of faith

8.1.1 all the gods are same

This requirement, amazingly, did not present a major obstacle. The worlds, at the time when these Rules were established, have mostly grown accustomed to their differences, and developed an air of tolerance, even a healthy interest in differences, hoping all the time that the neighbor's grass may be greener, that some grain of wisdom may be found by the others. Thus the first axiom of old religions fell, that "our god is the only true [one] and all the others are false", where "god" could be replaced with "truth", "faith", "belief", "dogma" and much else. A religion founded on denying the others was not finding acceptance anymore. Any such religion leads, sooner or later, into a war.

8.1.2 clergy is not rich

This was yet harder. Though many religions have vowed poverty, very few held it. Even among those whose priests personally fasted, abstained from possession and lived ascetically, their temples were glittering in gold, precious equipment, accepting (often even demanding) rich gifts from their believers, and even circulated big money on whatever markets, sometimes having their own mints, mines and what else. Religions were recorded having traded weapons, opiates, white slaves, laws, education, taking a tax, having their own states and armies. Having their own experts at psykhe messing was also quite common; all sorts of deception were easily justified within the dogma, as long as they brought expansion, and more believers. There were many techniques of brainwashing applied. Or just simple blackmail.

Therefore it was enforced that no priest nor his family may be wealthier than two average wealths on their world of residence (or local community, whichever was lower), that a temple may not be as big as to accept more than ten personal or two public vehicles (whichever was greater), that a temple may not posess (per priest) more than the nearest skhola has (per student), that nobody is allowed to give to a church more than one hundredth of his annual gross income, that neither the temple nor a priest may accept more than that, but have to transfer it to a welfare institution anonymously, without a trace. Furthermore, any temple which crosses any of these lines, starts paying tax just like any other tavern, and the priest loses the title and is treated as a merchant [from that point] further on.

8.1.3 belief is personal

This was even harder, because it meant the religion was not a public matter anymore, that advertising and preaching a belief is moved away from the agora and screens, but now requires personal contact with prospective believers. At that, the potential believers must be of the age of consent, which is in turn proved with the generally recognised exam of self-awareness . This has severely limited the spread of religions, since the psykhologon agoras could not be used, and the spreaders of the faith had to learn how to withstand and respond to every question; any attempt to spread a belief by one way address, without a way to respond, became just bad manners.

4. Various and similar

4.1 Where do they ease themselves

The easiest description would be an array of colorful duck seats .

4.2 Lykeion vasileion

...all of kings, princes, dukes and presidents are elective offices. The election is two-way - various councils choose kings, and kings choose the states.

4.2.1 Encounter with the king

We didn't meet any king, not not officially, at least.

4.3 Religious and philosophical skholas on Ajthat

Fenol, Roverli and others are not really religious sects.

4.3.1 Religious customs

An Ajthatan switches faith many times in a lifetime, without discomfort and limits.

4.3.2 Genesis (end of religion)

In the beginning there was the word- I received my instructions.

4.4 Art

What could be called pictoral art does not substantially exist: the painted square exists in museum only.

4.5 Traffic

ahem, so where are then the things we're not allowed to see?)

4.6 The principle of synkhronicity

It is clear that the number of people in the League who understand the substance of all this is insufficient to have any decent guesthouse agree to rent them the main meeting room for their annual gathering.

4.7 Names

They say that on Ajthat, [one's] nickname goes ten steps ahead [of one],and the born name hundred steps behind.

4.8 Case of failed business on Ajthat

Initial expectations: the intention was to sell some equipment on Ajthat to carry 4m recordings, with the underlying intention to supply them further on with content, of descriptive nature to some extent, expecting they will be interested in life on various worlds of the League, and in majority of featured nature, in the types of melodrama, tragedy, modern comedy, featured children programming and similar to that, with tendency to identify with the content UPM broadcasts to majority of worlds. We didn't put much hope in the sales of equipment itself, because of the known limitations regarding the weight of the load which may be transported annually.

4.8.1 Examples and explanations


Reverse translations

Dear, why are you going out with the guys tonight?

Do you want to break tonight or you think we can do some more?

Boss, this is one of your greatest inventions!

You stole my idea again, you old horse!

Nice weather today, isn't it?

I would feel better if we had not met.

The explanation, on the side of the present translators from, ahem... order of Zenean: "our languages difference between is that meaning and form separate you strongly

4.9 Public services

(Me)Nothing to notice. We spotted no tax collectors, postpersons, guardians, traffic regulators, no persons with any official garments, nor with any insignia denoting them as belonging to any service.

4.10 Kids

(zeneja)Their children are cute. We never saw one spoiled brat.

4.10.1 Immunity

They have not only wiped their feet at the door, but they have also burned the house, washed it thoroughly and then made a new one, without the dangerous bacteria, viri, fungi, radiatio... They were left, though, with illnessesof mind, but they seemed not to notice them, or maybe deemed them harmless. In their religion those were only the various phenomena of the Great Health Keeper, or what did they call what they believed in.

4.10.2 Death

We asked our neighbors what happens with us when we die. They answered undefined, convincing us they will respect any customs our religion may require, and they will recommend our psykhei, or whatever we believed in, to the best place we may believe they should arrive to.

4.11 Time

We imagined the time travel somehow like this, but where's his equipment?

4.12 Behaviour

They don't bow. They don't salute. They do smile.

6.5.7 Second report

- What's got?

- What'd be in a vilage? Cows. Chicken. Creek. Country homes.

- People?

- Just a few. Do their dues and don't look around.

- Didn't see you?

- They did, waved us a couple of times, and got back to work again.

Frowny look. Baša lights a long chibouc.

- Glem, Olgat, over here! Crew, guard on yellow! Lookout on all gadgets! All inside! All lookout patrols here, with reports! To our work, gentlemen, we got mire in color.

- Cmon, Baša, is it uncomfortable like this? People are busy, who knows how important the work may be to them.

- Glem, don't play more stupid than. Do you have a reasonable explanation why would two-three peasants from a peasant planet behave like this? They see a flyer which goes without a sound, and spits small fire here and there, blinks lights like a merry-go-round, and they wave it off as nothing special. They should run spit scared in all directions, hide where can, go mad, berserk or do anything unusual.

- I have only one explanation - this is not the Ajdhado that this boat knows. This boat has sailed many detours, and who knows how stale her knowledge is.

- And that knowledge, what says of this?

- Says that they just recently got into thinking about maybe deciding to join that League, or maybe not to join. Ergo, they saw so far some poor fourseater or such, if the League sent emissaries. Knowing the League, they will send no others for another twondred years, until only two of the first ones are alive. Otherwise it would already be chock full of League's stations, there wouldn't be silence like this. We would hear at least some ads, be hailed and i-deed, anything. We wouldn't have landed just like this had the League been here.

- Why would the League wait twondred years? Or is this place yet too dangerous even for them?

- No, the League all hopes to find a planet with intact human society of twenty centuries ago, so to fill the holes in self-knowing. So they have this agreement that such places should not be touched, just watched. I would still rather wait to get somehow into connection with some League's stations, to find out what's new.

- And so to tell everyone where we are. Still nobody has found a way to lie - it is always known who called from where. This boat is like a marked bill. We better stay put here long enough to get them think we crashed. Once we're forgotten...

- We can always hop to some tenth place, get connected, and disappear before they come to their senses, and get back here to study...

- ...I said once we're forgotten, we can hit wherever we want. Gentlemen, I suggest we gamble a sharp long shot - this be our treasure island, our sanctuary.

- And if they are dangerous?

- Peasants with perforated baloons and cows of burden? I doubt. We'll  fight a piece of land here, just like any other honest shipwreck is expected to.

- Still, maybe I should have faked a forced landing?

- No, no and no. We are low on energy. Following days decrease the night lights around the ship. One lookout boat should go out with almost no fuel, and land somewhere to be seen. Burn some equipment, overload. Act despair. We will start talking with them.

4.7 Names

The origin of names on Ajthat is accidental. A child gets its first name as the parents name it, and remains for life. The names originate in the universal set of congruent syllables, which please the Ajthatan ear, and are composed thereof more or less at random. They explained [to] us that the parents obtain a list of some fifty possible names, and pronounce them in turn while looking at the child. They pick the one they like, or the one the child responds to. That name is written into the book of people (which we actually never saw anywhere, and we don't even know its form - is it carved, impressed, expressed, magnetised, woven - their libraries are everywhere and nowhere), together with the birthchart, day and place of birth, speech made by some of the guests at the celebration and who knows what other record. By that name the person is later found when needed for something - when some necessity is ordered, when ballots are cast, when a message is sent to someone afar, in death. Although, this is the name least responded to by anyone, even though everyone knows their own born name. Instead of the real name, they use something we found in our archives under the idea of nickname. The description of this idea, such as we have found, describes quite well the behavior of its Ajthatan counterpart, with some differences.

The Ajthatans give a nickname to one of theirs, seems to be, without any intention, except, maybe, a wish to use some other word there where using a name wouldn't be proper. Most nicknames appear by pure accident. Anyone inventing [his/her] own nickname, [it] will not take root, unless [he/she] is very stubborn (but then [he/she] never knows when another nickname may come by) or [he/she] hit it right.

This "hitting right" holds equally for spontaneously generated nicknames- some survive, some don't. In accordance with the philosophy of Ajthatan languages, the form should correspond to the content. The degree of congruence is not determined by anyone special - simply, it is remembered or forgotten. Some nicknames stick right away, some hang around for days until they stick, and some are forgotten the next day.

They say that on Ajthat, [one's] nickname goes ten steps ahead [of one], and the born name hundred steps behind.

8.3 Take a peek, it's worth it

Fiyas pictures, oh, found. Wonderful, gentlemen, we're delighted, aren't we?

Let's be sincere: they are worthless. Yes, they are more than a kilo years old, so what? Pointless flops weren't made back then? We are not capable of recognizing a genius? I doubt [that], it will rather be about an average colour spreader, saved from oblivion by random dance of events. Just pay attention at what the announcements talk about: all the carriers die off quoting endlessly expert and scientific evidence that the paintings were not forged, that this is the real, true and unreplicated ben Fiyaso, and nowhere, just nowhere there is not a single letter about who he was. That is, like, understood, of course you know that yourself, can't be you haven't heard of the famous in ben Fiyaso, come on please... oh give me a break. Have you done a little search down your pantries, did you look a little for what the ancient disks have to say?

No need, I did that. In ben Fiyaso was an ordinary beach painter. A beach painter sits on the beach by the sea, or somewhere in the port, and paints, for money, the random passers-by, travellers... just the same way the eternal street players play by an upturned hat. Yes, he has entered the books, but not by being a famous painter, but as the first one to make the book of achievements by painting hundred and fifty hours in a baloon, drinking all the time. The baloon and the pipes to supply (and drain) the drink were set up on a square, the show was supervised by a regulated committee... which is really getting a person recorded in history in a single move. Recorded, neatly inventoried, classified, and safe from oblivion. Ordinary county fair painter.

Just look at the four portraits among these five paintings - that's one family. The kids really resemble their parents, as was customary at the time. On the fifth picture there is a classical nature morte, with the home appliances and view through the window altogether. Well, we have recognizad the place seen through that window, and behind the backs of the characters on the first four paintings. That is Gurbuzovo on Marhaf [Mar-khuff], on the northwestern coast of the Sinjavsko [Sih-nyav-scaw] sea. By the housefronts which appear we decided the year as well, more or less. If the editor of this edition gets to court us a little, we may even trace the people on the pictures, even with more than kilo and three hundred years passed. They are probably more important than Fiyas.

We'd still prefer photographies, but can't have it all. You got what you got.

Actually, we got it. The thing you haven't noticed, and yet it was before your eyes. The accompanying exhibition. The ideas, which really made these works possible. The form of these works - away from all the tradition of the known universe. There is not a [single] picture, not a [single] sculpture, song is not heard, there is no verse, no story, no building. And yet, it is all there here - all of the architectural relation, distribution of volumes, khroma, sounds, rhythm, icon, symvol, meaning, here and there a vague message stashed, addressing the hypognostic, expressing the gnosa,  all, all, there it is all here. [For the one] Who knows how to see.

This may sound like a criticist's brag, but there are several valid reasons for it. First, this is a criticist's brag. I claim, gentlemen, in the presence of my clear mind and free will, that I have discovered the greatest thing after Zen Dejkhen [Zen Dake-khen], and maybe even greater than her as such: Ajthat.

Ajthat is one great artist. I am not saying this because of the works being unsigned, or because the names of their authors wouldn't mean anything to us, but because I feel so: the whole Ajthat is one vast artful soul.

I will report from there, if it takes a lifetime of waiting. I feel that for a criticist there is no other place in the known universe. Maybe not in the whole universe.

Chenheri [chan-kherry] Three Bears,

for the art page of "Noa Kashmari Zeidong"

1.2 The postman

Old pal of mine, Deri NKoga, visited me the other day. We studied together, crazed in those times with the width of the universe and all the possible miracles that abide there. Our crazes led us each his own way, I went to the press, and he to the post. He was always the night shift ghost, that's what I remember him like. I had just returned from Manderbor back to Bantau [bun-tah-oo], to reshuffle my memories a little. Every reporter gets something like that before getting retired, to chip away from himself a few chunks of nostalgy over the events of fame. To have some of the stuff we prepared to tell our grandgrandgrandgrandchildren arranged into a professionally composed story, while we're still in the trade.

And there comes he, with a spark of sensation, that I've been seeking for the whole of the preceding century and hadn't found. Here's the recording, he tried to novelize a little, he was always a slightly poetic type, one of the last [ones] who behave differently while being recorded.

"I had just been thinking whether I should open the other food wrap I had prepared for the night shift, or should I leave it for the morning hours. I wasn't hungry anymore, but my eyes have grown big on the first wrap, so I wanted more, or should it be better if I waited until four, I'll be hungry then again, regardless..."

I never got it how does he force the dictrite to get this into italics; whenever I run the recording, it prints like this:

"this dilemma of mine was interrupted by the sound of the printer. I was already an old night shift wolf, and I knew by the sound and rhythm what's printing; this could be the sign that the regular package is coming from Profijuči [pro-fee-yu-chi] or Garaminsk [guh-ruh-minsk]. yes, two seconds more of line after line, and it will pull two more words, then end. in the trasnmision centrals of this type they have long ago stopped setting the silent printers - the silent are expensive, the sound of these old [ones] is undisturbing enough, and they are welcome to break the slumber. the amount of paper they kick out for a night is not too big, fifty some pages. here goes the last page now and it will stop."

"See, it didn't stop. What [to] the which is it still writing out? This hasn't happened since long [ago], better let's see what is it. Last time when it spat out an extraordinary message, I was really lucky as well. Three weeks I searched for a lady which couldn't be found by computers, and eventually found out that her shipment set off with a badly read primary code of the sender, and all of it for an ancient greasy blot, so upon return the checker reported an impossible address... So by employing intuition, old postman's intuition, I found her and delivered [it] to her in person. An encounter that was. I have understood why was the code wrongly read - I was totally baffled myself."

"Such a beauty. Here I am, grown quite old, and still can't get it how did I manage to get married with her. My explanation that her ultraviolet lipstick was confusing the readers was no big wisdom... nor had it anything to do with reality; all the same, it worked."

"now let us see what could this now be. the message from ajthat was not delivered because the recipient does not exist. the primary code impossible. let's see the number... it is impossible, the message should have been returned. why wasn't it returned? the sender also has and impossible number. second round of search found a similarity between the two impossible numbers, it was possible that the original permanent addresses of both sender and recipient have the same planet written in [them], though the coding is quite irregular. in the third round of search the library was searched on fifty planets until ten coding systems were found which could have produced such numbers. in the fourth round ten planets were found which had such systems once, but all of them used them only locally, not for interplanetary mail. fifth round... how far does this go? let's see the last page... hundred forty seventh round, established that the message came from a temporary post on planet of ajthat, a total of five messages exchanged before the cessation of traffic..."

"and where's the message? as a rule, the message should ramble, be multiplied a hundred times until the recipient is found, and then all the stations along the way get notified that it was delivered and the panic is cancelled. let's see, what does it say... somewhere about seventeenth circle a notice was captured that the contents of the original message was left on some computer which hasn't communicated for more than nine hundred years, and no other has taken over his node. incredible. i have always had a feeling that the computers are real and eternal, when it... behold the phantom, now you see it, now there's none. i know, nothing's forever, but the computers get replaced. this is the first time i saw a node vanish.."

"duh. the folks went for a hike, sent a postcard, seem to have missed the address... when they fail to carry a functional communicator along. hikers! it would take seeing which planet did this start from. whose expedition was it? doesn't say? what is there in this printout at all? or should we try the dates. something like this should print only if the message rambles for more than a... regular lifetime, or half thereof... come on, remember, you did learn that long ago. besides, the regulations are at hand, just let's see. reports, standard, cases when, longer than, header if contains words... thousand years? this message... let's see the dates... really each round took... darn electronics, limited by speed of light. when will we postmen get decent machines. any devil can have the sooper huyper and whaddayaknow machinery, only we, they tell us, must be the good old reliable post office, we must not dump the fashionable contraptions on you which need replacement every five years. all your stuff must work as if everyone else has the oldest equipment, at the price of it being slow as slow it takes. it must be able to recognize a pre-flood telefax, if there's any one of those still operating anywhere. all of that must, i repeat must, work. and then something like this runs up. it reacts on a thousand years' delay. it must have reacted every fifty years, just nobody had the nerve to bother."

"but what if one should bother? who knows what can be found. imagine, if i found a ten century old ship. a fortune, by just selling the keyboard buttons, chips and whetever was installed in those times. the collectors are mad about those things. or the culturologists. how many museums would pay fairy tale amounts just for a ship's log or the permanent memories from teapots or elevators? and who knows, the planet may be inhabited later and just the first expedition was forgotten... even then, today's inhabitants would give much to find out such a tackling detail from their history. even if the thing is banal, this is my moment to dive through the files. the glory is smiling, ah. the postman who discovered a planet. just like that legendary one-eyed colombo, the last guy who discovered america."

"so let's see, what does it say when was ajthat last mentioned. strange name. they're all strange. profijuei or garaminsk i did expect. the names sound like the last worst villages on grumel. even grumel itself just the same, though the whole planet is a luxury gambling place. what else would one do there, when it has local disturbances of probability. when that lucky guy, what was he called, dhari belkanov, took away half of the planetary budget, closed the door behind hem and the whole saloon sank undersoil. and there they find an old gold mine, leftover from the preceding colonization. there's our garbage on all of the planets, it just takes digging deep enough."

"here, the expedition launched one thousand hundred twenty four years off marhaf [mar-half]. how far from here? five transit stations, that's five to ten hours' wait. about two hundred, if forwarding wait adds up. forth and back... about three weeks. it'll last. i'm in the nightshift next three months, anyway. it will be interesting. "

"eh, that's the way i was thinking then. but instead, the search dragged. i have found a handful of ekhoes of this stray message, became somewhat suspected by my bosses and... they took the first opportunity to install new equipment, and brought someone younger, who knows [ways] around it. relocated me into the post office museon, to eat up my remaining half year. out of the museon there's no way to learn anything: the data warehouses are quite modest, they hold samples only, space is tight for even only that, and their connections to the rest of the universe do belong into a museon. i gave up, simply - the post office connections do me no good, so you better pull your reporting [ones], may we dig something out. no, it did not cross my mind to address the higher authorities - what do i have at all, a roll of printed paper. i am the only one who knows it's real, for i watched it print, and i know the machine which printed it since it was first plugged in until it was finally plugged out. they'd probably tell me that was the reason why the machine got unplugged, having to spit out things like that one. no, no higher levels, the discovery is mine, period."

Somewhere around that point he gave up the narrative tone and started talking of... what would he do if he had that money, if he managed to grab it. I understood the recording time is out, poured more drink and made sure i didn't stay too long with him. As soon as I escorted him out, I sat by my desk and started meandering around various places the reporters use when they search for mislaid information. After the fourth coffee it dawned on me that I won't get far. After four weeks I understood I will not write my memoirs - not even after hundred and fifty years of off-native-planet sojourn, not even after seven hundred and some flights, two landings on a new planet, I have nothing better than this. And this is one nothing. A phantom. In those four weeks I squandered a chunk of my savings and lots of editorial funds calling all sorts of remote nodes, chasing the damned Ajthat from rim to rim of the galaxy, destroying the remainder of my intestines with all the worse coffee I stubbornly cooked... and nothing. Being a little too old for a narcomaniac, I unhooked in time. I turned it into a pastime for the years of retirement. I have replaced almost all the service subscriptions for the slower but cheaper ones, gaining reach. There will be more time than money. I may, maybe, at least find where that Marhaf is. The reporting speed is not important to me anymore. I am interested, at least once, in truth.


6.5.8 Now, encounter

- I don't like this. What do we burn?

- Gambling automat? Sauna? Landing lights?

- Talking stupid helps severely. Just two-three things can make good smoke, or... what do you think of landing into shallow? Just like that, middle of the beach. Get our legs wet a little. There's a good spot, two kliks east. Seems to me last pass I saw a couple with cows nearby, and as if there were more of them on the hill.

- Yah, see them now. Hey, don't turn off the side drive on me!

- I'm not. Baša has, seems, taken care that we rush down in style - quit those levers and buckle up, we're on remote. There, she switches of the rear drive as well.

- This is cruel. I hope we get out, and then one day...

- Even you would do this to yourself, just like you would do to anyone. You have a short distance remote, no delays, she'll land us exactly as we thought to. You see we're heading for just that shallow. She doesn't really have to stumble us, I'll puke. Ehey, bridge! Come in.

- Bridge here. Reading ya.

- Our  rig is dying out one by one, can you help us land?

- We've noticed, you  got support. Hold on. Out.

- So, we're done with the mandatory composition, in case anyone listens. How much more?

- To hit twenty five damar, ...twenty, nineteen...

Splash. Vapor cloud. The tiny vessel marooned awry, better part of glass ports under water. Door faces a low cloud. Two buccaneers slowly crawl out. Staring left right. Go out on the wing and look around the place. Return inside, take out a boat, tie it to the wing and throw it into the water to inflate. Climb down a rope, untie, raw to the coast, curving around the rocks.

- Watch not to break the oars.

- That's made of durvan, we'd sooner break our hands. How long are we rawing?

- Hundred damar. Shut up and pull some, I'm doing all the rawing. If I didn't watch where we goin', we'd be circling already. What sort of pirate are you when you don't know how to raw?

- I'm a flyer, not a rawer!

- All flyers know how to ride a bikiklo,  boat and wing.  Don't nag, we're almost on the coast. Look around, are they approaching?

- Nnnnno... much as I see. The coast is a little more steep here, should we turn a little... there, see?

- Deal. Now I see them. They watch our wreck, not us. If I see them, they should see us too. How many centuries since they make this boat howling yellow? Impossible not to see us.

- Don't tell we're even supposed to wave them?

- We haven't come here to be on 4m, and whom should you wave? Mom and dad?

- I'm just as orphan as you, which is not to surprise anyone, given our age. Never mind, we're sent for a walk anyway. Should I tie to this tree?

- Tie what? The rope stayed tied to the ship. Mmmmmm... should we just let it float away? No, pal, we will pull it out to the bank and load a few stones not to wind carry it away. It won't tear, this is some habitation model, should endure pulling hundred kilos over sand.

- What was it baša said? We should look like a regular salvation service or some such? She could at least pull out some of those official garments from the ship store, but no, the pirates despise such stuff. Our traditions will cost us our heads some day. We look like two scum.

- Aren't we?

- Scum salvation services, right. We better look like two poor shipwrecks, as we don't look like a service, nor we can look so. Load the stuff on your back and lat's go. Give that pack to me. I wonder whether baša is really so smart as she looks to us.

- You know which skholas she finished, and from which troubles she pulled us so far.

- And got us into those same troubles, just the same. I don't think she's stupid, opposite, but whether she really is so much higher than we so we rarely notice when she errs. Think - why did she take two of us, old served-out pirates, to first go talk with inborns?

- I can from my sleeve pull a few reasons to you. First, our years may develop respect; second, least damage if we die off; third...

- Cut it and start playing a mushroom, finally they noticed us.

- (quieter) ...we're unarmed so it'll come harder to do stupid. Fourth, she expects stupid acts from us, and that's always a good bait to see what they'll do.

Approach slowly. Cows graze. Those two look at each other.

- Good day.

- Goady day.

- Speak komon?

- I speak one little, he not how know. From come?

- Our boat fell down, we ran out of energy.

- Saw. Why go if no drive?

- Orders, girl.. When baša orders, you don't ask, you just go.

- No stand under.

- We had to.

- No.. under stand.

- Never mind. We are far from main ship.

- One day go. Cow need? Know ride?

- Ride a cow? Why?

- Go home big ship to, yes?

- We're too old to do acrobatics, my child, but take us somewhere to night over, then tomorrow we go.

She explains to her man. He's surprised, shaking head. Speaks something, very rapidly.

- Know your ship where you?

- They know, but... you see, we got no more energy. That's why we landed your place. They have nothing to send for us. They said that in case of failure we find our way around, and return until next day. If we're late... we'll have to hide til the rest o'our lives.

- Late?

- If we don't come on time.

- Then cow.

6.2 How does it work, then

The disputes can't be avoided. It is customary in the League that the opposing parties gather to face each other before a council of neighbours (of equally multicolored composition, gathered at random). All the avaliable recordings are seen first, and witnesses under oath are invited to track everything. Whatever anyone says, is recorded and classified. Each side hires a computer with a crew, which will build the course of events and find logical holes. The witnesses under oath have the right to question anyone - the parties, witnesses, computers and crews, and to demand the crews to consider possible courses of events. This lasts until the truth emerges, acceptable to all. Usually everything finishes fast, because the crews exchange recordings and soon come up with a very agreeable displays of the course of events. Usually the accused party sees it has no way to defend, or the accusing party sees it has nothing to demand.

Out of and beyond this, small frontiers live, isolated communities whith proprietary unwritten laws. They fit, for the most part, into Foundations of Humanity, and in Liberties and Tolerance, but usually behave strangely about Damage and Refund. That's where their neck of the space starts differing from the rest of humankind, and the Damage is written in very small print if it's not their, and they don't care about Refund. They live their way. The Rest of the Universe tolerates them, as long as the cost of a raid is higher than the damage they make, and runs upon them only when they cross the line.

6.5.9 Reception

- I would have done better to send two drawn scarecrows to look out, than you two! I send you to conquer a planet, and you come back riding a cow! Alright, you made the whole crew laugh, we all refreshed. Olgat!

- At command, your highness.

- What was it you read now? What kings, what czars? That's what you found on recordings?

- The language they speak among themselves is... undescribable. It has words and sentences, that is all that I could pull out. The melodics is flat, rhythm though strange, lingers, then stretches, then speeds. Elusive. The sample is insufficient for any serious knowing - I have caught more from girl's mistakes while speaking komon. If I catch a few more kilo damars of good recording, I could, maybe, resolve the kinds of words.

- Drop the language. I wasn't even expecting that, still early. What are they like?

- I would learn most from the language... well, thus, by luck and wise guess, I would say they are simpletons. They have met two unknowns, from some ship out there, they roughly know who it is about, and what do they do: they find the quickest way to get them back home. A cow? A cow. Maybe it is not so strange to them to ride a cow, and as I see the beast has taken the load and the trip well, and slowly returned.

- Did we wire the cow?

- Well, we hooked something to the girl as well, when we finish this off I go to listen. The more important is what they did not do.

- Like what?

- They reported to nobody. They didn't stir, at least not overly. They didn't go frantic, [didn't] fight. Didn't try to take these two into some sanctuary. They didn't propose a hideout. They didn't mention any spies or cops. They called exactly nobody.

- Well, see... does it mean this really is a rural planet? Nobody knows what happens in next village?

- Not exactly - mind, they knew about the big ship.

- We are here thirteen days now.

- So, in thirteen days the news about our landing managed to spread and nobody is getting excited.

- Here we are. You said the key word. Nobody is getting excited. Excellent. Prepare me a vehicle.

- Baša, this was no cruise ship, we stole this from the Outer Guard. It has only four vehicles, and not one of them looks peacefully.

- How does it look then?

- Baša, you can not hide the barrels! It is recognised as a combat car from three vrsta distance.

- C'mon, what are you waiting for? Take one out. See which one looks the most horrible, or which one is most dirty. And load the weapons. Fill the crew with the worst, and take the driver not to be too skillful. If we tear something down or trample someone, the better. I don't want it to be intended - I want to take an elephant into a random, easy stroll down the pottery street. We take off early in the morning. Now set up a dining table outside the ship, and let the boys and girls have a little thunderout. Guard regular. Scram!

4.1 Where do they ease themselves

(Romfu) The easiest description would be an array of  colorful duckseats, in plank sheds among the trees. Sometimes in the house, even with regular seats, some of them similar to the ordinary, though of unclear produce. It doesn't look, the build [of it], like the standard pform. As to the form, can't be not similar - we still do share the anatomy. We didn't notice any locks on the doors, though the doors are opaque. What a point to have common customs about, really. Regardless of  opaque doors, nobody ever caught us with our under[wear] down. The solitude is respected here. They seem to be constraining themselves succesfully, or they control their intestines - we haven't even seen anyone hopping around the door. Taboo against peeing into the clothes or bed is effective here too, though not as any big shame, but rather as inconvenience. The habit or restraining is not a mark of adults, it's rather a matter of personal comfortability. Outside it isnot unusual to see someone stand or duck next to a tree. Always next to a tree. If that [place], where we landed, was a desert, then it's no wonder that such a "always next to a tree" custom survives. Trees are everywhere.

4.1.1 Addendum

(Romfu) They explained [it to] me. The pit below leads to the roots of the trees which feeds on it. Also, the sink drain and the other kitchen garbage goes there to rot, brew and dissolve. The local trees do that a little faster than we think, and [one] would say with a little help from the local bacteria and other garden. They didn't understand the question on detergents, so I had to explain the most of the known ways of washing the dishes. I called Me to pull up and show the footage. They shook their heads (our way, else their expression for it is rocking the eyes sideways ) and explained that they don't wash the dishes, they just sweep it with the leaves of the same tree and send it all down. The dishes seem to be made of pform, but they're not. It's heavier, and shinier, while they're easy and matte. It is not clear how does it not get dirtier. Sometimes they even use open fire, though they mostly cook by the sun, during the day, or by some gas (along with lots of helion, there is methane, from the same pits, or from natural origins; they use it for heating in winter), and I haven't seen black or stuck dishes. I learned how to prepare taraja (tur-ruh-yuh) of prapar, but I don't know if these things grow anywhere else. Sending the recipe to anyone won't mean [anything].

8. Believe or don't

This being a serious (ahem) magazine, before we deal with the subject, a minor introduction is due, with a reminder on the past.

On The Worlds there are no wars of faith for the last fifteen centuries, the idea has irreversibly departed into the past, and breaking the rules on the institution of faith has become a taboo just like, may well be, incest. Everyone knows the rules, they have become a part of the culture long ago, and nobody even thinks about them.

From time to time, once in a odd year, it doesn't hurt to remind. New worlds pop up, where these rules are forgotten, bent or even amplified. Let us be reminded now, therefore, because here comes Ajthat, a new world which has reinvented [a thing] which we thought were lost in the mist of centuries past: the unreliable border between the faithe and philosophy. 

8.1 The rules on the institution of faith

8.1.1 all the gods are same

8.1.2 clergy is not rich

8.1.3 belief is personal

8.2 A Remark on Ajthat Beliefs

And here we get to Ajthat, which fits and doesn't fit into this. Ajthat is not a belief in the true sense of the word - there's no god(s), no dogma. Harami are a lack of belief, rather than one, since they always turn their dogmae inside out, peeling them off like skins.

8.3 Take a peek, it's worth it

Fiyas pictures, oh, found. Wonderful, gentlemen, we're delighted, aren't we?

8.4 LMOD

Such a profile of an emissary has led to the gathering, in the league's ministry of out-worldly deeds (or other interpretations of the LMOD acronym in various languages), of a very diversely coloured bunch. Experts were needed for anything that may be necessary, which meant for everything.

4.4 Art

Art is and is not congruent with the art on other human worlds. The basic ideas are more or less the same; there's the artist, the artefact, the idea and the expression. All the other things are shuffled.

As first, there are no separate techniques and arts. What could be called pictoral art does not substantially exist: the painted square exists in museum only. We hardly found the museum, a little house just like any other, a bit of basement to keep the mushrooms which maintain the balance of humidity and heat, and only five pictures, with not much of artistic value. Music is there, but all the form are indeterminable; there is none of the long array of names from syphoneia to parancs [pahr-unch], the form is simply established as another means of expression.

(Me) The instruments, or should I say "playing appliances" are strange. We haven't managed to determine whether they are electronic, psychomagnetic, wooden or what, since we haven't heard a live performance. The carriers to store sound are somewhere far [away], and any house has enough appliances to play anything [that was] ever recorded, and anything is available at will. By our hosts' courtesy in our posts (conditionally speaking, see previous reports) transitional plugs for our machines were added, so along with our reports we are sending hours and hours of their music [on a] daily [basis].

The trouble is that none of this is enough, because neither in (conditionally speaking) pictorial arts is there any tetragon, nor is the music limited to playing and singing - in a large share of all the art forms it is about an alloy of many techniques in the same opus, id est the techniques are not separated at all. The artist uses whatever he wants and/or knows how to use, to express what he wants and create the Work. Often the Work is manufactured in a commune, one starts something, prepares the building blocks and hands it all to the next [one], who builds on or discards, and hands to the next [one]. The Work does have a meaning throughout all of its phases, which is changing all the time, so for the best perception of the work it is best to be present all the time or at least at times. Telepathy would clear up some matters here, but even after three years (so many already?) we have found no evidence that it is [there] nor that it is not.

One of the works which follows us at all times is the string of parks around the so-called embassies. The grasses are chosen in such a way that the smell they emit is changing by each step, and it was noticed that it (probably along with some other things which we don't notice) influences the mood, so we already know where will who put his cot when going out to study. They have got us used to it being more pleasant to read outside here. The play of shadows is also interesting, specially in the daylight, and then specially at night, when various images are formed on the central lawns, depending on the positions of the three moons. We compared the pictures of these shadows, and noticed some regular patterns; namely, at a certain time of the night the shadows compose in a manner which gives the images of the continents on most prominent human worlds. The pictures are not perfect, because of the breeze, but it is still unclear how do they make those flowers bloom at such nights on exact spots on the map where the capital city should be.

2.3 Calendar

The year here has 256 days, which our kiberneshi take for a round number. As soon as it was reported to ours at home, they immediately composed a calendar of 16 months 16 days each, and they guessed well. Such is the one here. The seasons do change, but without much of a visible difference in clime - planet's slope is little, just about 0.16, so the good part of the lands we saw enjoys a sort of eternal spring. The difference between a summer noon and winter night are half of what we got used to in many of the worlds of the League.

Their months are not divided into weeks, since the local moons' rounds go very irregularly, and change their faces nearly at random. The logos, of course, exists, but their kiklos take 47, 59 and 73 days, and not whole days at that. They get into the same position just a few times in anyones lifetime. The moons are called the fast, the middle and the slow.

Day lasts about twenty fliers hours, and is divided into (as we had expected) sixteen local hours, so the noon is at eight. The numbers used here bear close semblance to what the kiberneshi apprentices use among themselves, based on sixteen. The words for numbers always have two syllables, where each of them has one of the four possible vowels; the consonants seem to be arbitrary or we did not manage to understand what are they denoting. The first digits to be spoken out (and written) are ones, then the sixteens, then the twohundredfiftysixes and so on.

Getting used to the local clock and calendar was no trouble, except we always reached for our gadgets when we needed to recalculate some of ours to some of theirs and back. It was about our years, the time it took us to arrive here and such. As for our biological clocks, we got used to it easily, though we all eventually slid into a two-day kyklos, day and a half awake, half a day asleep, and literally half a day at that. The nights here are specially beautiful.

First we had an impression they are all so much younger than we were, but then it shone on us that it's about the influence of the mild skyline to skin, and the good ozone envelope (no, no radio waves underneath it either). It turned out that we were somewhat right, and somewhat then not - they seem to be more resistant than we are, against many things, including aging, and live half longer than we do, in the average. No, they are not deathless. It did cross our minds to ask about [that] too.

7.1 No money?

In SMID's missionary skhola, an opinion took root that the money is the borderline - if you find a world where there is money, there's hope they may join the mainstream. Where there's no money, devil took the joking [away] - that's either someone's weird experiment, another cabinet attempt to produce an artificial paradise, or a crowd gone wild which should be left with trinkets and axes and [the emissaries should] run away head over heels.

Money is there on Ajthat, but it's invisible. Almost all the important money in the League is also invisible; the paper remained for just some small stuff. Paper and coin have more of a symvolic than real value - they bear the crest, name of the state, [of] the planet, it is a piece of art, collector's item. Nevertheless, the meaning of money is visible everywhere, and everyone's total is known, somehow.

Ajthat money is valid planetwide. No state has its own mint. There's really not a common one, either. Probably somewhere in background the mighty, invisible and elusive computers count all the expense and income, any purchase and payment are noted, and some divine accounting is kept. Or everything functions fine without any of that. Since these people are so painstakingly honest, one should not wonder if everyone knew who owes whom [and] how much, even if the numbers are written nowhere.

7.3.1 Origins of the name of Ajthat, pronunciation and spelling

Ajthatan languages have an ideographic script, which is, though, in sparse use. The books are taken down in it, official files, the plaques at our apartment doors are written in it. The writ, roughly, means "here guests from say they league space live and themselves/theirs represent in-front-of can+here". This "can+here" is one of five basic meanings of the AjtHat syntagm, namely the third one. The first is "good, here we will [verb omitted but implied]", the second is "placeable" (we couldn't come with a better expression for "place which can be [verb]" or "where placing can be [done]")' the fourth is "here [you] come" (plural AjdHat), and the fifth is "valid/best place". Obviously (is it?) all of these meanings stem from the initial, primitive (primitive in the sense of "which was first") meaning, which is, in turn, explained in many ways.

One linguistic skhola, believed to be in good terms with the Roverli (if one could judge by some of its members having qualified as Order members), represents a thesis that, at the time Ajthat was first found, the custom was still accepted to give a planet a name after the first words spoken by whoever sees it first. The custom did hold very long, even though as much as three planets are called "See This" and two of each of "Finally" and "Ohmama" (fortunately, all in different languages). Allegedly more than seven hundred planets got very interesting names this way - since most of the scouts knew what's in store for them, they all had a little something ready in their heads.

The synopsis of naming Ajthat, according to some of them, went like this: a migratory ship loses course, can not find the originally plotted habitation place and looks for another. Finds this, and someone says "can here", "it's good here". The meaning persists through several languages which may have come and passed.

The other skhola has a different synopsis: more ships are getting ready to get lost from the League, the preparations advance and the list of suitable planets gets smaller. Finally a name on the list is kykled:  this name must not be mentioned anywhere, and a name like this is assigned to it.

The third skhola takes over from here, saying that from the very beginning of the migration the future language of the new world was in preparation, something brought over from ancient past, cleaned out of the tekhne and gnose ingredients, probably from some of the far-orient philosophy skholas, so the name is immediately translated into the new language. This interesting thesis holds that they have probably used the new and several old languages in parallel, in different occasions. The new language encompassed day to day living, ceremonial events and rites; the old languages were a privilege (or burden) of the tekhnikers and other personnel who maintained the equipment brought until new one was built, which had names in the new language. They even suppose that the designs for new equipment were immediately done in the new language, to obtain the desired purity and balance. The thesis sounds quite stretched, almost incredible, which is the reason why many believe the reality was even stranger than this.

The word AjtHat (capital letters denote ideograms) is written with two symvols. The basic meaning of the first is "mark, end of path, destination, target, place [set aside] for something, a marked place, foundation outlined with stakes", and looks like a splashed little cross inside a trapeze. The other denotes a field, meaning basically "hundred roads", or "anything can happen" and is customarily used as a suffix to anything which is just a possibility.

Parallel table of names (League / Ajthat)      

League name

Ajthat name





where Mand said "good night"




a name without special meaning




my old [one]




Lykeion Vasileion


2.1 Farming

The first thing one notices here is lack of hunger. Maybe they have shown us a planet-sized Potrebkin village, she really is big enough to hide anything on it, they may keep somewhere a hidden pile of slaves, robots, heavy machinery... but any of that would sooner or later emit at least some energy. Our chip remained kykling around, and since we arrived, restlessly records the silence of the spheres. Not even the life density scans show any larger and faster animals. Nothing bigger than a bull.

The farming is, ahem, funny. The whole planet is a string of tiny gardens. Here and there we see wheat, or something akin to it. We ate the bread, and it looks like. Actually, rather looks like what we imagine bread could have been like once. Among the cultivated plants there's weed, but they don't mind. They don't till. They achieve the composture of soil in some other way to be just the way that suits the crop, or other way round - they grow what suits the soil. We have nowhere noticed soil being worked on for sake of any plant. They dig it over, once a year. We have never seen a barn bigger than a house; once, though, they showed us a long dug-in one full of barrels. In some there was, let's call it wine, in some wheat, in some oil. We got an impression that one in ten or fifty houses has such [facilities].

The size of population is a question. By measuring from the air, could be anything between a hundred megs or few gigs. Such a rough estimate is justified by having such measurement assuming the knowledge of how many people are outside and how many can't be seen. The ratio is usually estimated by the density of traffic, the area ratios between the clean places, forests and buildings... which makes no sense here.

Here the whole planet is one spread forest, patterned by meadows, gardens, with randomly spread houses and paths. We have nowhere found the distance between two nearest trees being less than hundred steps. We counted five hundred sorts of trees, plus a thousand and some of other plants. Out of these, two thirds can be counted among cultivated plants, for they grow by the houses, are used for something, or planted by locals. Whether are they accustomed to weed, or they deem all plants useful, or they never made the distinction, is a thing to dispute.

There's cattle, moving freely. No barns, at least no such place where the cattle would be tied overnight.

4.3 Religious and philosophical skholas on Ajthat

(Gvelim, Me ) Fenol, genol, and others are not really religious sects.

Fenol are more of a skhola of thought; according to them it is assumed that the things are given by its appearing side, or fenolmic, as their official expression has it. The essence remains unfathomable and is not worth the hassle. The things are as they seem to us - the subconscious definition is the exact definition. A better one can not exist. Any truth we can arrive to, is under the [constraints of the] appearing side of things, from which we can not break away, and we can not even dream about any essence at all - the dreams originate in appearances. The mere existence of the truth is an unknown, and if it does exist, we don't know which side to turn to start to search for it. Therefore the truth is what we think it is. At that, the phenomenon of truth is also a fenolm, sleight of mind, which makes us imagine that truth exists, while it is as real as the rainbow in the sky.

Egol say that it all the same, what is truth and what is not, because the universe is infinite. For any statement a time and space in the universe can be found where it will be true or false, and in most of the cases it will make no sense or will be undecidable. The purpose of knowledge is to have, in some final synthesis (two damars before the Big Mouth) at least one statement which will be true in both the moment of the Big Source and Big Mouth at the same time. Getting to know such a statement gains an ability to influence the parameters of the next kyklos of universe.

Genol say the universe was made as a part of a great project to generate entities, notions and other categories which may not be known to us at any moment, because such a knowledge was not designed. The generating goes multiphase, namely it creates multiple notions/objects which generate other such objects, not necessarily of a different class, which in turn generate more of such or different objects. An example they find in the development of a living organism, where each cell is a generator of the next generation (!) of cells, in the fractal structure of the universe (the rounds around the atomic kernel, around a planet, around a sun, around a galaxy center, around the center of the known universe, around the center of the unknown universe, and so beyond).

Harami [khuh-rah-me] are a religious sect, there are four of them [number four here is in the form that means 'four people' ]. Four is their sacred number (unknown why, allegedly it was taken arbitrarily). There are always between five and two hundred and eight candidates for membership. The rules for letting a new member join were never published, but seem to narrow down to the consensus of the other three, or tossing a dice. The dogma they adhere to is replaced each time a new member is accepted, the same goes for the rite and some of the sacred books. When all four members get replaced, all the sacred books are discarded and new ones are written.

(Me: this sounds like there are regular cycles of four changes; it almost seems that the moment of discarding the old books is an event which doesn't happen too often and that the history of the sect can be traced that way. Doesn't hold water, because once in a few generation, a new set of random numbers is taken instead of current four, five and two hekto and eight, and new set of sacred meanings is attached to them)

It is not known whether there is something that Harami really believe in permanently, as is not known what happens with former members - they simply vanish and nobody ever looks for them. The sect gathers no money from its believers; they live on selling the apocryphe books.

(Romfu: this doesn't fit with the lack of visible money on the planet. I have asked someone who was supposed to know those things, introduced to me as a banal thinker, and she explained that the selling is not unknown on Ajthat, it is actually a game - akin to gambling in League's worlds, and the money involved is just like the fake money used there)

Their influence is unproportional to size - and they never, just never, get in touch with their followers, and treat the content of their discarded books as the worst heresy possible. They pick the candidates for new members among their opponenets. They have never published a book which would be in accordance with any of the previous ones. The majority of their followers don't take them too seriously, neither themselves nor their books. The general attitude is that the religion shouldn't be taken too seriously, which may be the sole general opinion that the Harami themselves agree with.

Idoli [e-dolly] are a mysticist movement. Movement is a wrong word, they rest. They deem motion senseles, since they deny existence of time. All the past and future is contained within an endless Now. All they do, they do in order to prove the senselessness of motion, waiting, hope. Anything that will ever happened, has happened already, and is happening this very moment in the future, thus long Now ago. No matter how little sense this seems to make, some of the Idols say they have found the synkhronicity principle, full twenty thousand years ago in the future. This somehow explains why this movement existed in parallel on Ajthat and elsewhere at the same time.

Roverli [raw-ver-leigh] are a language sect. On Ajthat, about twenty mutually similar languages are spoken, probably originating in prakommon and some other earthly languages, with visible traces of a score of language reforms, to the unrecognisability of roots. Roverly are more of a monk order, vowed to make, during the next fifty reforms of the language, a language where the orthography and sense will unite. The purpose of that is to, via unity of content and shape, what is spoken becomes understood from how it is spoken, and inversely, to have the content unable to be expressed any other way but by its characteristic form. The sect influence is important, because the Ajthatic languages are among the most difficult to translate in the known universe. Some sect members have  created   translators for the emission members. Any longer translation begins with the phrase "I deem myself worst on the planet, and am to be dignified with every disdain, for I can not bring more through, but just this much, but still, hear:".

4.2.1 Encounter with the king

(Zeneia) We didn't meet any king, not officially at least. We may have remained thinking the League has never met the local administration, if we'd stick to form. Three kings, more precisely two queens and a king, that we met, were in capacity of ordinary citizens at the times. They all [con]firmed like one that meeting emissaries from other worlds does not fit their job descriptions anyhow. They knew, as from lykeion, that there are other worlds and that there should be some peoples and governments, but it didn't touch them in any manner. That seemed like a work incompatible with regal [work].

The regal working hours are similar to what our kyberneshi around the League once held, just like most of the congenial trades where the measure has not settled yet - looking in from outside, they work when it falls on their minds. In reality, they work sometimes much more than one would ask from a common person, and then there's times when they do nothing for days. But then it only seems so, because they work even when they go walking, wherever they go walking to - theirs [job] is to think. Of course, just like with the congenial trades, it counts what they accomplish, not how much effort it cost to create. Who knows how to achieve without labor, profits, who doesn't, took the trouble.

We learned this from their telling, and the pun on "king going walking" they, of course, didn't understand. Our legend of ancient kings which were carried everywhere was initially understood as "poor people, crippled and all-ill and had to be showing all the time"... until we, hardly, managed to explain it was about the symvolic show of power.

2.4 Preparations

And how will we fly, how will we land?

After extensive checking, we reduced the crew to five of you. There are few of you to resemble a squad, yet enough to show you are no exception to your species. You will have no official garments, no insignia, rank marks specially not.


While studying the psychologos of the runaways along the history of human, we learned that they mostly run away from institutioned society, having in mind that it had been wrongly founded, morally or culturally bankrupt, unable to develop or to stop its fall, which all turns into intolerance against the state, and very ugly feelings toward her representatives. Most of that is directed against the officials thereof, which are primarily symvolised by the garment. Without it, you represent nobody else, but your own selves. That is a sign of the responsibility bestowed upon you, which the renegades should know how to appreciate.

This may be the fortieth generation of their offspring. That is some difficulty; we never had a case like this. On the early Earth there were cases when runaway crews had founded habitats, but they usually merged with the homeborn, and vanished as a group. During the Widening there was all sorts of things, but it mostly turned into some sort of states, replicating some of the homeworld societies. Keep the famous Otrich Engar case in mind.

Engar is not a case, it's just a planet of special guys.

Made special by blessing any genetic change which happens to them? I'm still wandering if they are still human.

If they can mate with ordinary humans, they are.

What is the ordinary human? Oldearthling? Unadapted to disgravity, able to be breathless not more than fiftyfive damars, unable to manage his electromagnetic senses, gravity ray senses, with eyes set for oldearth sun, half-blind because he sees just from red to violet, hears just between twenty and twenty thousand, is too sensitive to ten and fifty thousand, has the appendix and eighth teeth

Wisdom teeth?

...yes, winsome,


...wisdom, alright then, has very low empathy, telepathy, telempathy, immunity. Need more?

No need, thank you nicely, but the question was "are the Engarchan still human", and if they fit any of the definitions, then they are, at least by that one.

Let's drop this - a child from an Engarchan and a League citizen would, probably, be a less than a success of a person on Engar, and a poor cripple, and maybe a human, outside Engar. Nobody can guarantee it would be born at all. They say that even not all the Engarchan can mate with each other.

Neither can all humans - some are of the same sex.

Well they do have additional constraints over there. Why are we wasting our time talking about Engar, if we are going to Ajthat?

(quiet, pause, silence)

Ahem, OK, it will be five of us without garments. Is that all? Should we manage the other tiny details ourselves, eh? Spacesuits? What for, if humans live there? And if they don't? A complete radio silence may mean anything; they may be extinct by now, and have the street lights working all by themselves for a hundred centuries more. We have been finding things abandoned two thousand years ago, still functional. Additional trouble would be the domestic animals gone wild.

The DHermes [d-kher-mess] case?

Yes. Though it was no rebel colony. If I was to build one, I would think up several nasty tricks against anwanted guests. In forty generations, it would become quite a nasty pagan tradition.

That would become an empty mold with no content.

Since we are aware of the possibility in advance, let's build a religion on it then, and grow a caste of priests or sentries or anything, which would be able to maintain the psykhosis of siege and defense for centuries. The form may be empty, but it would work. Eternal tlights in the orbit, for one. Keramic housing, unspottable and what do I know what else could be thought up when needed, and more than enough to suppress any surprise attack. Maybe that's how few of all those ships vanished?

Maybe the first one from this case is included, as well? The captain's log allows for such a possibility, and the conspiracy theory may be just a mere theory. Will we finally learn what had the probe recorded? Desert? Boulevards? Landromes? Ocean? Where are we going, really? Or your agenda for this month includes two more days of suspense in serene ignorance? 


7. Incomplete

7.1 No money?

In SMID's missionary skhola an opinion took root that the money is the borderline - if you find a world where there is money, there's hope they may join the mainstream. 

7.2 Ugliness and beauty

(Zeneia) Ideas of human beauty are the most unstable winter preserves that exist.

7.3 Tonguing

7.3.1 Origins of the name of Ajthat , pronunciation and spelling

The synopsis of naming Ajthat, according to some of them, went like this: a migratory ship loses course, can not find the originally plotted habitation place and looks for another.

7.4 five pictures

The content of the exhibition is primarily the five pictures found in the homeland museum on Ajthat, as well as the accompanying material, which should present the young Ajthatan art to the world.

7.5 The floors in the apartments

Once I entered with lots of wet sand on my soles, made a lot of dirty steps and checked what was going on. I introduced some magnetised rust into the sand, so I could track it on the recording.

5.2 I would like to move to your planet.

- I would like to move to your planet.

- But...

- What but?

- You "would like" - much as I know, in your language this sort assembly denotes conditional way, it is "what would it be if I have been was", and known as much as logic of your languages is to us, there right on follows the reason which prevents it. By your face judging, I have crossed myself over, have not I? Then this is that your, so called, transferred meaning... you know, at every moment delights me the wonderful halflogic of your languages. It is logical to an extent, from an extent is not, and I never know where is that extent. You in the matter really want to move to Ajthat?

- Yes.

- Do you like trees?

- What a question is that?

- Your place it would be called "question for entry exam".

- Well, I do like. Won't you ask me about my name and other generalia?

- If necessary be. How many trees have you planted until now?

- Two.

- By code and averages of the League, for your life so far was cut thirty two and half trees, so you owe the world forty three more.

- Which number system is that?

- Yours. The thirteen is for the advance years. You can apply again when you plant them.

- Where do I plant them?

- Somewhere where they will not obstacle be and where will feel good to them. You think it. And bring the recording. See with you in five years. Leave your data to the doorperson, so we know when we first time met you.

- Do I score something for waiting?

- In matter no, maybe for persistence. If we get to like you, if we esteem you fit, score will not be important.

-...and if your estimate is that I don't fit, no score can help me, right?

- Yes.

- That means one can enter your place for nice eyes?

- You almost confused me, I rarely hear this phrase. Hardly remembered what it means. Well, let it be the nice eyes.

- Where's the justice in this?

- This is no court, this is, em... a Bassy. Justice? We have no intention to interfere in your courts and laws. We strain to have as little touch with them. It goes not about any justice or injustice here on the account of your rank in some list of wishing to inhabit by us, rather it goes about protecting you from the caprice of our planet, and other way around.

- The planet from my caprice?

- Just as you and I are sensitive organons, so it can be said for Ajthat. Several yours have moved back already, just as we feel difficult here without home. Someone makes root somewhere, someone not. We want to spare both you and the planet from that.

- You see me as a pest?

- You may be, or may be not.

- How long does one wait for a move-in permit?

- Between two hours and fifty years.

- Fifty years?

- Some people simply not hear when tell them "no". Probably because we will tell everyone why the not, and some still try to fix that. Some be really stubborn.

- You will create a religious sect here in the end. Purgatory, then admission to paradise.

- If the locals be liking it, we can stop them not.

- You are a genol?

- No, a roverli. It is, roverli at the moment, because of the language. I was a genol before I came here. But that is my personal matter.

- Faith is a personal matter here as well, sorry for asking.

- It is a public matter at home, the reasons are, however, personal.

- At the price of repeating myself, it's the same here.

- Then, if you want to talk with me more, ask more something, and if not, I would not like to next visitor too long wait.

- Just this: how many people have you let inhabit your place so far, and how many had asked?

- Through this Bassy we passed twenty three, not counting the Bassy members, out of fifty seven thousand plus some. Out of this, twenty are at us, one has died of natural source, and two returned.

- Returned?

- The undersky did not fit them, they didn't manage, the language didn't go to them...

- You didn't say the language was compulsory.

- And is not, but by us you soon learn how much translation is an unreliable and ticklish business. You simply want to learn the language, for without that you always have a feeling that something is passing by to you. Compulsory is to learn what is written in this book, it has only ten-some pages. Help your self with taking it and learning it until the next encounter.

5. So what?

- (Hamva, the guide) We heard your proposition.

- (Romfu ) And?

- What and?

- What do you intend to undertake?

- Nothing.

- Should I be insulted or surprised?

- I think you know us enough already. We will do nothing, and let it happen if it really must.

- Is that a result of influence of your   popular philosophy skholas ?

- Regardless of your mocking tone, and you shouldn't be embarrassed about it, our philosophy skholas are people's. They keep the ideas which live in this people as far as pre-origins, and only let them reshape themselves every once in a while. I'm not objecting, really, you think you are offering [to] us something grand, you probably think we are even unable how grand it is, and we don't even move.

- Still it is not clear to me, what do we report home - do you agree to have an official mission of the league here, or not?

- If you really care so much about it, how can I refuse [you]? On the other side, we must save [keep, guard] our planet. I don't know what's custom [at you] in the League, but it is clear there is many of you and there is much less of us. We can not receive so many guests at once.

- We can agree on limitations - you are not the first planet imposing them, we're used to it. Just say.

- As first, we do not dare allow for any heavy technology which would disturb our inner balance. Thus we can not receive any vehicles heavier than a hundred igaz, which comes [to it] by your measures...

- ...a tovar and a half. That's a two-seater.

- In the matter [of fact] less, because it must not exradiate or excrete anything dangerous to the environment.

- That leaves us with the counterweight drive, therefore one-seater. That would assume a post in the orbit.

- Believe or not, but we have things which are sensitive to anything which would circle around us. We give you few suitable places on the opposite sides of natural escorts of our planet. There you can do anything, under the condition it is not visible from here.

- ...and we came with a five-seater...

- You knew not. The damage you made was not too big, for you landed really nice and quiet, into a desert at that.

- Didn't really look like a desert, to speak straight.

- If your whole planet is green, you have different standards of what is a desert. We calculated we can sustain one landing and one launch each five days.

- Ahem, let's see... that's about two hundred people plus some equipment to add, unless the counterweight drive is perfected soon. It would take good of five years to establish a post here.

- What would you need thousand people for?

- There's so much to do, record everything, bring libraries... do your limitations cover cargo vehicles, or you have a separate provision for them?

- They cover everything taken together. Hundred igaz in five days, so what you put into it. Sometimes we may travel too, I don't say [we won't], and that also goes into the total.

- You really don't make it easier to us.

- It's not nice to refuse [you] completely, and yet we must save [guard, keep] our garden. Would you like to have [them] landing below your window every day?

- I feel like kissing you now, but I don't have whole day to explain what would it mean [at us]. I will report home word for word how you said. They won't be satisfied, they'll grumble, though we have actually achieved that what we are here for. It's worst with wishes when they start coming true. Who wishes, [it] will happen to him, he asked for it.

- In the vocabulary of League this would be called "taking sides"?

- This is unabashed bias. I have been to twenty worlds, and nobody was taking care of them. Somewhere they save the plants but kill animals by and large, somewhere the other way around, somewhere they grow this and suppress everything else... nobody cares of their home like you do here.

- I like you [all].

7.6 Skholas

Didn't notice any. Their kids just learn. Anyone is a teacher. I've seen children talking with few grownups for hours. Never saw children grouped into any sort of class. They don't have classes here... in any meaning.

But I've seen kids helping the adults in many things. They would fill a baloon, analyse and fuse a bikyklo, plant a tree, all together. Haven't seen adults alone too much either. Their children aren't banned from attending anything. Maybe that's why they don't ever sulk.

4.12 Behaviour

(Zeneia) Just a note for myself. Their behaviour. It is completely out of this world. This... I mean out of our, it is entirely of this one.

They don't bow. They don't salute. They do smile. They laugh, but not when we expect them. We laugh when they don't expect, but they are not shocked, just amused. And confused. Each attempt to explain what's so funny ends in another galimathias of translations there and back, more confusion, and the point is lost.

They did understand some of our jokes; eventually learned how to make new ones our way (homework: define our way). We made a few that made them laugh, some of them intentionally.

Nothing to be surprised at. Body language is so circumstantial, so culture-bound. We had examples of two neighboring nations where one had a nod (face going up and down) meaning yes and sway (left-right) meant no, and the other had it the other way. A simple wave of hand in a certain way was a greeting in one place and a deadly insult just few hills away. And these Ajthatans had generations' time to develop a different set.

We drink together, there's no toast. Drink has absolutely no rites attached. They watched us drink and observed an intricate dance, thought it was some sort of art form of ours. Maybe it is, not that we were aware of it.

I meet an acquaintance somewhere in forest. Not really on a path, no marks, no pavement, just the way we usually go. His eyes smile when he sees me. His first sentence: "Did you read [or whatever would the proper translation be, word means any reception of content recorded by someone else] the book [another general expression, as if he doesn't remember on what medium was it, or the medium doesn't matter, work counts] I forgot at your house last time?".

We talk. He is sorry he forgot the thing, in case I read it and found it a wrong choice for my mood. I explain that I like to read what comes my way, no matter how, and decide on my moods only after reading. He liked that. I pick one of the literature packs from my backpack, completely at random, and give it to him.

"What is it?"

"Let me see... the last rock opera."

"What is a opera?"

"They act and sing and thus tell a story. They sing what they should speak. It should look like life, but it's only make believe - we never sing complete dialogues."

"Why you call it rock?"

"The kind of music used - the strictly limited choice of instruments, the certain way they sing, makes it different from other kinds of opera"

"So its name is 'The last rock opera'?"

"No, the name is 'Debora, a robed wizard'... and its form is rock opera."

"So about each time one asks you what is a piece of art, your answer is the name of its form?"

"...mmmm now that you put it that way, yes."

"So interesting it be. But how you ask what inside? What it really is?"

"Most of the authors would say that if they could put it in a few words, they would have told a story. "

"Well said. I feel so."

He nods there (in their funny, jackass-like way) and leaves. We said what was to say.

1. Intro

1.1 Reception

(Me) Some introduction may be due here. Let's say it begins with the reception .

1.2 The postman

End there he pops up, with a spark of a sensation, the one I sought all the previous century and hadn't found. Here goes the recording, that's him trying to novelize a little, he was always some of a poetic type, one of the few remaining who behave differently when being recorded.

1.3 The post on Ajthat

(Me) For the  post they were assigned a few small houses scattered around the planet.... the important stuff is, of course, everything.

2. Nonsense in writing there

You see, gentlemen emissaries, Ajthat is on rarity.

Were the first and genuine first Ajthat mission's reports found?

No. It is, they were found, but what's in them:

2.3.1. Captain's diary

"Entrance into the planetary system passed without problems, but as soon as we started approaching the planet, the crew began to grumble. I am expecting trouble.

2.1 Farming

They don't till. They achieve the composture of soil in some other way to be justthe way that suits the crop, or other way round - they grow whatsuits the soil.

2.2 Sport

There is and there is none. No olympiadas.

2.3 Calendar

The year here has 256 days, which our kiberneshi take for a round number.

2.4 Preparations

Will we finally learn what had the probe recorded? Desert? Boulevards? Landromes? Ocean? Where are we going, really? Or your agenda for this month includes two more days of suspense in serene ignorance?

2.5 What is known about Ajthat

- I suggest we abandon this long list of technical pretexts for a lousy shot. How much can one really see?

- About ten damars of good arshinage. You will view it tomorrow as many times [as] you like. You can view the weaker shots as well, if you don't feel unlike.

4.2 Kings' lykeion

States on Ajthat are by majority kingdoms. To question what is the use to them of [having] various states when [they] would can [be able to] live in one equally well, they usually answer something about the human souls (see about religions) that gravitate toward diversity, need for the change, of migratory birds and other poetry stuff. We conclude they like it so, where we are warrantedly wrong. One detail escaped us, or maybe just the essence. It will probably be that we are so right, we have no idea about what [matter].

But why kingdoms? There are, also, princedoms and dukedoms, even two republics. By later exploration we concluded there are no real differences - all of kings, princes, dukes and presidents are elective offices. The election is two-way - various councils choose kings, and kings choose the states. The councils are similar to sabors of old times, parliaments and skupshteens, and the method of election is similar to the one what [it] was [like] a thousand years ago on majority of human worlds.

As a rule, the kings are not royal descendants. They originate from a few lykeions. It is hard to get into a lykeion vasileion; royal descendants have the advantage just in case they have inherited from their parents those attributes [unclear which ones ]  which are required for the assessment examination.

When a state seeks a king (it remains to examine "when" and "why" once - are they impeached, are there attempts to retake the throne, is anyone overseeing the kings), they seek candidates from the lykeion of their choice. More prominent states receive more offers - lykeions only hang these announcement to their message boards, and influence their diplomates [finnishees] in no way. Various occurs: kings without lands, kings changing states for the third or fourth time, swapping kings among states and inversely, countries without kings, prosperous states going down because they have limited the king's powers and now have no success finding a new one, kings by trade, working as advisors, or have some other good office, and it does not cross their mind [at all] to take the throne somewhere. Few cases were noted where some kings had two thrones at the same time, among which one incredible case when the employer states were in some sort of dispute, and the king eventually sidedwith the winning [state]. [It] remained unclear whether the king knew how to pick the side which will pass better, or the side which managed to attract the king passed better.

Theoretical reasoning: the dynasties were good only for providing the princes an aristocratic education and growing them on the court, training them for their hard job from early [age]. They were bad for all other reasons. The lykeion vasileion has all the good sides of such an environment, and provides the spirit of competition, unavoidable for rulers.

The number of male and female attendees is uniform; during the history some student love affairs managed to breed complete dynasties, which then in no case have ever ruled the same state in two consecutive generations. The kings, in their turn, don't rule quite alone, but they compose (impose?) governments and take advisors for themselves. The ministers and advisors move with the king sometimes when he changes country, or swim over to other kings. There are cases when smarter ministers manage to replace a king they are not satisfied with; more often it's the other way around. There are no skholas for ministers; this sort of staff is populated by lesser students of the lykeion vasileion, or more prominent sage from within the state. Some king may make an offer to an impeached minister from other's government, or a government may canvas a foreign king.

Above all there is still the crown council, which is sitting in more or less of a slumber, and wakes up when it takes replacing a king. Through this slumber, many say, the council is awake watching for whoever may be dragged onto the throne, if need arises.

There happens to be a lot of funny troubles on tournaments, when competitors from opposing skholas meet. These feuds between lykeions are long passed to following generations, and would be said that [they] are carefully cultivated. They comprise an important branch of the local folklore, along with rich heraldry. Though, this word should be taken with reserve, since there were no mounted animals (though in some dialects mints from 'horse' and 'donkey' are mentioned), and therefore there were no horsemen or shields. The heraldry relates to personal insignia of kings themselves, which can be, thanks to some technical trick, seen bobbing above their heads. This probably stands for the kalpak, mentioned in Earth's histories as "klown", "vientze", "kvoun" and such. Typically it consists of a few clear symvols (see recordings). The most frequent symvol is a tree with various fruit, which in turn bear their own symvolic meanings, or a ring of objects orbiting around a point somewhere above monarch's head. The list of symvols shown does nto change, except in case of important events in king's biography; king changing country changes his decoration, but always takes a couple of kharakteristic signs from his previous office, or in case of annexation of a smaller dukedom or princedom adds their marks into his "overhead cloud".

Encounter with the king

2.2 Sport

There is and there is none. No olympiadas. No championships. Here and there boys and girls try to outperform each other. Everyone is working out some, a dozen damars a day, some of them even twice - but not more. Nobody does exercise as a trade. No stadions. Many walk, or ride bikes. They don't drive too fast, since the roads are not made for speed. Nobody's hurrying here, follows that they don't race. They were unable to tell us anything about their achievements in any branch of sport - they don't record them.

6.8 What have we found

(Glehe, neighbour) My dear, what is this I found among the books you gave? Is that possible?

(Litha) What are you thinking of?

- I think of the unbelievable and educational story of the smoking wars. Let us understand each other, I know that the wars are inseparable from the history of humankind, but it was all so long ago, while we were all within one parshan from each other.

A longer rest. We look at each other. I don't know what to tell him. He seems as if [he was] completely ignorant, as if his twenty odd generations were enough to forget all the ugly [stuff] from our common ancientness... or maybe they were not. He looks at me as if he knows everything, or knows nothing because it is all clear to him. I gather the best sincerity I can.

- The smoker wars were no [real] wars. The writers overdo it a little, to sound more important. There were no dead nor wounded, [there was] no shooting.

- But what [was] all that for?

- How can I explain "selling fog" to you. It's such an oldterran thing.

- I will try hard to understand.

Teacher's patience. Every honor to him. If I didn't know that almost all [of them] are like this, I would have thought they have really staged a "planet-sized Potrebkin's village". Should remember who of us said that and why. They are so sickly polite and understanding, I think I would kiss the first [one] who would call me names.

- Does by you exist a [manner of] speech, in which one [thing] is told, and all the [time the] intention is to not mention something else... actual intention is to divert the attention, to remove the prying eyes from the main subject, by making big noise about something on the side?

- Just like waving a big bone at a puppy so it won't see the meat?

- Works. Something like that, just raise it to... the size of the known universe.

- In smoker wars, who was waving and who was a puppy?

- The powers were waving, and simple people were the puppy. Many did see through the game, but whenever it went about the lunch, almost all, oh well, puppies, barked a lot about the bone, and just a few were looking for the meat. Long, unfathomable long it took the puppies to start seeing.

-The picture is clear to me, but I fear that our symvol systems not congruent enough are, so to prevent me from getting it wrong, forgive the old man, what was it really about?

- Big deals [make you] dirty. Can't have scrambled eggs unless you break the eggs. If it wasn't me, it would be someone else. Megs over megs of pretexts like that for destroying planet after planet. They were not actually destroyed, but by the time the business enterprises fully blossomed there, they didn't look too much like their own selves either. Same things were sold everywhere, even not specially necessary ones, and the people were cunningly persuaded to buy them. The same roads, posts were built everywhere, the same language and script were introduced over the domestic [one], because it's cheaper that way, and all in all the better part of known worlds was empoverished for the sake of big firms' benefit.

- What the smokers have [to do] here?

- They were the powers' best hit. The power was under the public fire because of things seen - dirtying and destroying the nature. The culprits were known, and what is it all about, whose trash poisons the water and the soil, and who is making money on it, and who was signing permits for each of the poison shops to be erected. But, the culprits were too powerful, and too close to the authorities. When the real culprits are intouchable...

A flash of sudden understanding in his eyes. Does not hint to [anything] nice, as if I have given away some tiny slimy secret of mine, and he didn't imagine me capable of such things. Will we remain good neighbours after this?

- ...a scapegoat is sought. I don't know what a goat is, and probably neither do you. The saying must be holding for kilos now, if we both know it in spite of that.

- I wouldn't be amazed if you were right. The smokers fit the role best. First, since [their] childhood they know smoking is no good - they are brought up that way. Thus, they are ready themselves to play the role. Their environment, in turn, seeks such a victim. It is accustomed to have one. Through the early history of humankind various sorts of victims drag - slaves, kmets, entertainers, servants, Gebreii (ghe-breh-ee), Zhipshans, sebars, all the possible minorities - which were abusable, unpunishedly, by anyone in their own times. There were not just a few of such times - there were more centuries when such was possible, than those when [it was] not. There still is no generation which never knew the rules of that game. As the modern democracies were established and the politics was in many ways forced to play softer, things like that were gradually removed, equal rights were set up and the sacrifiable layers vanished, were revoked. Under pressure, the powers offer such a victim again, again denigrating a minority and the calling the majority to take aim. This time it was smokers who were to blame for everything. The crowd, eager to avenge all of its troubles, and aware in some dim corner of its submind that the real culprits stand out of reach, is hardly waiting to spill its bitterness on someone. The governments pass various laws, forbid smoking at various places, until they finally bring things to an edge when "being a smoker" becomes a sufficient reason to get bounced out of a bar, to lose advantage you gained otherwise fairly, to be blamed in a divorce, to have them break into your house and check if you're smoking in a room with unsmokers present... they can do anything to you. The crowd, miraculously, even in places where law was never spelled with a capital letter, abides to it, and neatly reports the violators. The only thing left to you is to change sides, or planets. On some planets, the laws were... milder.

- You smoke?

- Yes, when I want to. But, the air is so clean here, and life so calm, that the wish rarely appears. No, I am not from a smoker planet, but my grandpa is.

This has vividly surprised him. Maybe Ajthat could have been a proto-pattern for whatever was happening on such worlds, or was it all a replayed mutiny on "Blighty", with paradise on a deserted island.

- Smoker planet?

- Ah, I see you didn't read it all!

- I was so upset already around the half [of it], I expected you would calm me down. Until then I wished not to read further.

- Two or three things happened in parallel. Pressed by the laws against smoking, many people gathered on the worlds where smoking was tolerated. Not gathered - moved. And united. Ancestry societies, legislature pressure groups, research.

- What was researched?

- Ah, well I did say they had a feeling they were somehow doing something wrong. The smoke did contain some harmful ingredients. [Put] aside how accurate were the stories of the actual harmful effect - they all exaggerated there, each to his own side, and independent inquiry could not even be. Everyone was suspected of working for, or taking one of the sides. The smokers moved toward creating a harmless smoke.

- And that solved the dispute?

- No, it was dissolved before that. They set forth a goal to create such a smoke which will satisfy both sides. "Satisfy" meant that a committee of twenty most zealous smokers and unsmokers sit in the same smoky room, and that neither side grumbles. They did make it in the end, when the tempers cooled down a little, when tolerance was praised again, and when better part of those laws were retracted.

- Retracted?

How are our lives tangled with laws. Each time I stumble over that misunderstanding of theirs over our legal catches. Is it possible they succeeded forgetting thousands of years of precedent cases and previous rulings, and make something so short and clear that all can know and doesn't even need to be written down? Each of our laws required a lengthy explanation, and not just at first reference.

- Yes. Just as [much as] a law can be invented, so changing it can too. It was achieved several ways - as first, the smokers had it over their heads to be lied about so much, so they found a way to cast [those] lies into their authors' face, with all the world watching. Then, they brought up the hidden to visible - whose gains were the biggest, whose damages the worst by these laws. Worst of all, they published the names of the smokers who were the most warmongering against the smokers, by keeping the right to be abstained from the laws they were passing, being powerful enough to prevent it being known. They found this all out aided by many unsmokers who were on their side from the beginning. And that's about all the story. The first ecological legislature followed. There were tugs here or there about that as well, but the example of the "smoking war" has brought a good part of the humankind to its senses. Sinse then it is hard to...

- ..."sell a horn as a candle"?

- Well you will really learn all sorts from us. Or is it you picking what you will learn?

- Unfortunately, my child, pick I must. This book will remain locked our place. I beg you best [I can] not to give it to anyone; why, we can not stop you from trying, but better don't [do that]. We can surround you with silence wall quite easily, and we are not glad to treat guests like that. Things like this, which happened by you just two or three generations ago, speak of the danger of letting you in here. The five of you are clean, keep your [things] in order and mind the surrounding, but how many of such of you [people] are there on your worlds? Even smaller things take as much as thirty generations to be forgotten, and what about the age old habit to start prosecuting so easily, or to tread the age old rights in the name of some doubtful new ones.

- It is all clear to me. I am often ashamed of my kin. I am born there, no good running away [from it]. Wherever [may] I go, [what is] mine will [follow] after me. I'll rather stay, and better as much as I can.

- And then it is written that you volunteered... even that fits. Let's go to dinner, and get me to understand after it what are those "laws" if you can't live without them.

I felt stumped. By the way, how much have those smoking wars created me? I took no part in them, [I was] born late enough. I was as much connected with that, when I found an archive where I had dug up the evidence that the Gondvan natives did not die off from smoking, but from the illnesses brought by new masters' messengers of good will. And from the bullet and axe, of course. After all, they were smoking a few centuries before the rest of the world heard about it, and were still numbering enough to receive those people when they came to rob them.

7.5 The floors in the apartments

(Romfu) It is interesting that we nowhere noticed any [home] appliances, at least not in the meaning the expression has in the Worlds. Nothing to respond to voice, to self start at some set time ... or at least nothing similar we could noticed. Still, some of such things do work, though... it is still not clear to us whether it is an appliance or is it solved in some completely different way.

The thing I can't get out of my mind are the clean floors. True, there are wipe rugs in front of the doors, and the footwear is left on some railings, but I never saw dust in a house. Not even in our houses, which somewhat rules out the possibility of psikhe-tekhne, none of us in the post have mastered those skills. The dust vanishes overnight, both when we are here and when we are not, both when someone's present and when not. Once I entered with lots of wet sand on my soles, made a lot of dirty steps and checked what was going on. I introduced some magnetised rust into the sand, so I could track it on the recording. I started the recorder, left my dirty sandals on the rail, shod myself with something else and left for a walk. I dropped by some neighbours', got into talking with them until some hours, and came back in the nick of dawn, very sleepy.  The walk wasn't a short one, there's five houses to [these] neighbors, which means hour and a half of walking. I fixed one good coffee, but the recording woke me up before the coffee started its action.

On the recording it was seen how the magnetic particles slowly started oozing toward the siphon. The pattern looked like any river's watershed - not too regular, without too many straight lines, but infallibly pointing to the mouth. By the end of the recording the disappearance of the river was visible - the sources run dry and the whole river flows away. I searched the floor with the scanner and found all the sand in the sink. The sink was formed as a hole in the floor, and was hidden below the kitchen sink. Of course, once I knew where to look it, I found it right away. I pressed where it seemed proper to press, and the lid detached. No hinges, knobs, latches. It seemed like it had been glued, and having unglued under pressure. The sink had two compartments. One still contained some sand, but obviously less than I had induced (checked with the scanner). I rummaged through it and found a sieve on the bottom. The sieve has slowly letting the sand and dust through. Where was that going to... probably mixing with the water from the sink and leaving toward wherever it headed to. I am not of a particularly analytical mind, and I don't find it too much fun to tear the house down just to find where is that. In the other compartment I found several small things we lost [during the] previous days: one pen, Zeneia's ring, two bolts, some peeled insulation from the wires. This so reeked of an artificial mind, distinguishing garbage from usable, or at least unknown, things, that I lined down on the floor several small things next evening: few pebbles, among which one I brought from home (in the groove of my sole), few seeds from home, some leaves, collection of weights for the small scales, ranging from quarter dram to eighth pood. I wanted to see what will go and what will be preserved.

The three drams and heavier weights went nowhere. By further experiments I discovered the mass doesn't matter, it's pressure. All the seeds went to garbage, and so did the leaves, twigs, nail clippings. However, pebbles (regardless of origin) remained in the second compartment, just like any artificially processed things.

In such matters, the first thing we do is to ask the neighbours what is it and how does it work. It usually happens that the neighbors can not really explain, because of the language. This time it was worse - the neighbour we addressed knew it all, knew how to explain, flooded us with a long story... and it is still not clear. We have forwarded, as much as we were capable, the technical details to experts on Worlds, so let them bang their heads. For us, the story is reduced to Ajthatans being capable of controlling the surface tension of solid matter. At least the one used to make (or coat?) the floors, and the sieves. Who knows what possible uses they may have for this ability, and how many unexplainable ideas can be explained with it. And who knows what else they know, with us not even dreaming of.

How does the sink lid know when to stick, when to detach?

4.11 Time

(Bovid Regmeu [Bohvid Ragmaoo], first neighbor, says Regmeu is his born name, but all call him Bovid ) You see, if a wall was built here, it wouldn't do good, because that tree of yegon would spread too much, and nothing would grow under it, save for the most resistant weeds and some of harsher grass. Yegon likes the shade while it's [yegon] little, grows fast and catches sun as much as [it] can, and then when it gets off enough, nothing can stop it. Then it would make shade and so would this wall, but in time it would grow so big, that it would lift the wall with its root and in the end you have no wall but a ruin, and a huge tree of yegon. Yegon makes more shade than we need here, and in twenty years it would kill all the flowers around itself. So I think around the yegon no wall should be built, in a clearing it advances slowly, losing as much moisture as [it takes] to not grow faster, it reaches the roots deeper seeking it, and the other plants will have a chance to take off. When it grows the root into depth, it also stretches the crown intoheight. All trees have the root same as the crown, what is up is also down.

(Me) But we do need some fence around the mission.

You test me, or want to tell me something, and not know how? By this translation that I receive, theword you used means nothing nice. Defense from egbirk... villains?  Here that not there. [none of that here]

Ah, the fence is a decoration. To bring some of earthly cultures.

Yes, you let on that most of the things you decorate come all the way from the cave. Weapon, crests. In everything to you there is some fight. You still have not given up fight among [your]self. I know, power of habit, few thousand years. Zeneia once told me your legend of Brantenberg, thatthe place was initially called "broni bor", border forest. [Is] that where also your fences [are] from? Maybe you may try to bring some of those customs also here, but I doubt they will take root. Anyway, this [thing] with the fence will not do good, sit [and let me] show you.


How it would look.

I am experiencing a slight blur, something like that sudden sound which appears in my head before I get asleep. Sometimes it is like the noise of wind condensed into one instant, sometimes like dropping all the wheat for a full sack onto a wooden floor, sometimes I hear the real electronic white noise. Once I even felt as if some toy has bounced off the table and hit my forehead. This time it is not just the sound - I feel it through all of my skull, through all senses. It is not unpleasant, but it did surprise me. It is getting dark rapidly, then it dawns, twilight again, then flashes of day and night in an accelerated string. We did imagine the time travel somehow like this, but where's his equipment?

The wall is erected, yegon is really developing faster than such a skinny plant would lead [one] to conclude. Around it some strange weeds flourish, which weren't growing here. The tree breaks off and overgrows even the most prosperous shrubs. The crown widens and covers three neighbouring trees; some of their branches dry and gradually start looking miserable. The wall under yegon crumbles and vanishes. Instead of the wall a row of tables and stools appears, nice place for summer slumber in a shade. A path is beaten through the grass; the grass is different from the sort I remember, somewhat shorter and darker green, one would say it inclines to blue. The same sound, even more staccato than the first time. The sudden silence after it shook me - I understood that all the time of this trip I kept hearing some distant hum. Like the sound of sand being poured, slowed down several times. If the flying skhola exercises haven't failed, this lasted a damar and a half, and we should have gone thirty years.

How did you do this?

That is like a khramonzom to you, you just point the mragoon other way. Put back after.

I didn't quite understand.

I didn't expect so. Do fish learn to ride bicycle?

Do I have to be fish forever?

Yes and no. Maybe a fish bicycle may be made. Trouble is there is no bicycle here. It is all in you.

Wait a damar. You performed this walk through time?

Could be called so also, though does not fit nature of time in no way; it is not a mall.

I could really do with an easy explanation, but what [it] is, here [it] is. How come I saw, felt, all of it, and here I am a fish on a bicycle?

Fish in a glass, the biker carried you underarm.

I could have fell out. The glass might have shattered.

Right so. The biker would never do it unless watching the fish very carefully.

And there is no bicycle.

There is the biker. Maybe a better expression may be "walk on wire". So somehow.

6.5.10 Third report

So let's finally go for that stroll, to see whether we have stepped into, or shall we beat a path. For ourselves, of course. One never knows with these dumb planets. On some, the religion is full of all sorts of bans, and you can at any given time breach some taboo, and from a great god you turn into a great sinner, or enemy of the land of the first order. Up to that, everything looks fine, so fine that the hands go slack and fail to check everything.

Well, alright, us knowing those things already, and having been burned on that fire a couple of times, we are supposed to notice on time if such a thing comes along.

We are riding for half an hour, no settlement anywhere. I purposely ride on tracks, to do damage. Over the plows. I have uprooted several trees. Šorgelj is an awful driver, he once smashed four pillars while he took [his vehicle] out of the yard. He proved his value this time - except we nearly drowned in some pond. At least we destroyed the boat piers. What are all those boats for, when there are only two houses nearby. Where is the village? Could they be keeping the main buildings underground and these on top be just resorts?

- Šorgelj!

- Yes, Baša?

- Drive into that valley on ten, looks like there's a larger building, for a change. Stop before the main entrance. If that means anything here. When you conquer a place, you know what to attack first, and none of that is here. No landing pad, no traffic hubs, no central hydroplant, no communication center. Where is their trideo, where they broadcast from? Going out, switch to in-suit recording.

This looks like a church, at least from the outside. The door is somewhat bigger, and a board on the side.  And the flowers all over the garden... doesn't look right for a church, should have paths around it. Ah, each faith to its own. Again, doesn't look like it's made for larger gatherings. Actually, no equipment has shown in these three weeks that anywhere more than ten people have gathered. Are they people at all?

- Surround. You two, at the door. Load, ready. Report.

- This board can be read.

- Which language? What writes?

- "League Station". So they do have one, eh?

- We'll have interpreters, then. Open, cover each other.

- Good day. Gee, since when I have't seen an armed entrance. You're good. This is like a trideo drama, hats down, countrymen. They don't pay that much of an importance to skenic act. The weapons are real, I presume? You are really a genuine cultural event. Oh, my apologies all the way to the sky and back, you have taken me by complete surprise, I haven't introduced myself:  Gvelim Emzet, sent by the League. Please, make yourselves comfortable. Who is for a coffee? Oh, just put your weapons away, nobody will harm you here. Er... how many of you are here, can't make that much coffee at once, I will have to do from twice.

6.4 Buccaneer tribunal

The tribunal consists of twenty strongest and twenty weakest Brethren. The judge, prosecutor and defender are chosen by dice among them. The opposing sides give a juror each. At each session, the most quiet and most loud juror move into the audience and get replaced by two persons from it, chosen by dice. Each dispute is recorded ten-track, verified by two sworn witnesses, one for each side.

There is only one verdict: out. It can be interpreted as exclusion [from membership], excommunication, and exile. It boils down to erasing, from theship of the sentenced, anything that might help him find sanctuary in the Brotherhood's posts, and is erased from the welcome list in all the posts, nobody will help him. Some of the expelled disappear without trace, some get accepted by other brotherhoods. There's not too many of these brotherhoods, unless the secret ones count. Typically, they are all secret, and the known [ones] should be the weaker [ones], with the most runaways and expelled, with most of knowledge bleeding.

This is a court of honor, so it doesn't harm the rest of the Universe - members only.

By the irony of it, the buccaneers are internally suffering from the greatest swell of legality. The legal worlds of the League have far less text to regulate themselves.

7.4 Five pictures

To the Ministry of Education, Vrana5 / Tulakhian Republic / 01000 Vishekhrad / Barian 45

Subject: Art exhibition

Respected ms Minister, and members of the Ministerial Council

I am taking the liberty of addressing you with a suggestion to have, on Your planet, starting with Your Republic, an exhibition of artwork posted. The content of the exhibition is primarily the five pictures found in the homeland museum on Ajthat, as well as the accompanying material, which should present the young Ajthatan art to the world.

The five pictures, mentioned above, are undoubtedly early works of the ancient Fiyas (Perforio inben Fiyaso, better known as Perforiyas). Attachments:

6.5.11 Where are your elders

B: Where are your elders?

X: At home.

B: How many of them?

X: About two or three of them in a home. Sometimes four or five.

B: I need the important ones. The ones who make decisions. Who write laws.

X: Everybody important. All people important.

B: But who writes laws?

X: We had a couple, not far from here, they wrote nice laws. Wrote maybe two hundred of them in their lifetime.

B: They are dead?

X: Yes.

B: There was a revolution against these laws here?

X: No, why? They died of old age. Why would one turn against laws? They are just art.

B: But who is enforcing these laws?

X: Force the laws? Why?


4.10.2 Death and such

They don't bury the dead. At least we noticed no places where the corpses would be deposited, nor are such places regularly visited, if any. We asked our neighbors what happens with us when we die. They answered undefined, convincing us they will respect any customs our religion may require, and they will recommend our psykhei, or whatever we believed in, to the best place we may believe they should arrive to. The religious idea being the last thing we wanted to carry from home, among us delegates we are all heathen, and no special wishes we have.

(Me, from recording of the talk with Bovid)

- Really, what if I had a wish to do me as you do yours?

- No rules. As you may be wanting. Death should be in agreement with life, else it disagree.

- This sounds like black not being white.

- Disagree as in musike. Not good sound.

- Ah, dyskharmonion? Yes, that makes sense. But how does one know when is it? You can't prepare.

- You can, you can. You always have a possibility of choice.

- Does that mean among you exists... ritual suicide?

- Ritual? Ah, that the belief obliges. No, nothing do with belief. What binding has belief with what you do make of your life? Belief can not rule a man. Man decides what do, what believe. If belief in disagree with life, then no believe, not his religion. Find other, or drop all, make his own if wants.

- But how does he know when will he die?

- Gets to know in time, at least two damars ahead. And choses how to die. Some sleep right on and wait so; some sing, some silent.

- Some die when they want?

- Has that too. When think finished work on life. When fill his idea full.

- And out of dispair?

- That counter us. We help as much can. Not nice despairy. And rare too. Was one some year ago, almost... but was not so for real. Had it hard, tried to finish self, but very diskharmonion... all the near hear and come. Was good after, there she lives now.

- How did you hear?

- No word in komon. Closest special channel for case of danger, do not jam or use with no need, as your bookpantry says.

- Emmergency channel?

- Yes, so you it call.

- How does it work?

- By call. What do you mean how does it work?

(each, but literally each attempt we make to understand whether they have telepathy, ends in a lingual confusion)

- Alright, what happens with my body when I die, if I wanted to do as here do, as if I was from here, and give no instructions? We are not as healthy as you are, I could die when [I'm] not ready. The only instruction is to do me like I was [one of] yours. What would happen when I die?

- You be dead.

- Where would I be then?

- Psykhe, who knows. What you believe, there you go.

- I believe not.

- You vanish, for what you concern. Though, who knows. It is custom we think like this, but nobody believes any of it is certain. Can not be known.

- You are egol?

- I believe it, for now. I know that I not know. You know?

(something's going to pass by me unnoticed now, I feel it)

- I don't know. I don't know what is I should know, and what I know, I don't know is it just so.

- You may be an egol that you know not of.

- I don't believe I'm an egol (here we both drop the dispute and roll laughing -  because all the time we tried not to speak our languages. He spoke komon, and I [spoke] his dialect of the low language, and we managed to make a turn of a sentence despite the tangle we played. I have just surpassed the limitations of my ignorance). Psykhe aside, this is not known at us either -  what happens with the body?

- Sometimes we dig in, sometimes burn, sometimes in water. Has various.

- Various?

- Someone wants to be in house. In foundation of new house. To plant his tree in him. To cut and feed fish. To give to young healers to learn. To dry and grind and feed birds.

- You're not disgusted?

- No stink if dried well. Why would?

- Grind a man and throw to birds.

- Man not there no more. Moved out. Body without man is like body of anything else, no substance.

- Alright, so into me you plant some flowers. Some that blossom nightly.

- I will pass it where should. I feel you live after me. We go swim now.

(and that winter swimming of theirs... brrrrr)

6.5.12 The laundry problem


The laundry problem. It is a fake problem, of course. There was nothing wrong with the ship's washer. Baša just wanted us to come up with some humiliating and pointless task to assign to the natives. Someone mentioned laundry - it's unimportant, easy to control, and borders on insult.

Great. We just  picked up two nearest peasants and told them they will be in charge of our laundry from now on. They just nodded and left. The messenger who passed the order to them didn't have any orders for himself, except to tell them this, and really didn't know what to do at this desertion.

However, they came back within fifty damars, carrying a big basket hanging under one of their baloons, towed by a two-seat trikyklo. We just dumped our regular batch of dirty underwear and told them to turn it in clean and smooth before midnight.  The guy who talked to them this time was Jebiga, who was kicked out head first from the USNW army, because he enjoyed yelling too much, far beyond his role of duster corporal.  He made quite an act of them, specially about them leaving without a word and without asking a permission to leave.

They came around noon the next day. The laundry was perfectly clean, but didn't smell of any khelating agent that anyone could recognize. Our tekhneshi examined the buttons, and didn't find any traces of ultrasound or any other known tekhnike of dry washing. We still don't know how they do it.

Along with the dirt and stench, the wrinkles were also gone. Gone for good. We tried all known tricks to create them again, didn't work. It defies reason; we searched the ship's library for all human knowledge about cloth postprocessing to make it resistant to wrinkles, no find.

And then someone noticed the stitches were also gone. Every piece of garment we had was not just clean and smooth, it was woven in one piece. Our instuments showed the stitch thread was still there, but it was now woven into the fabric. It became a part of the fabric thread. As if it was all woven from scratch, starting with bare fiber to make thread, then to weave this thread into exactly the shape of our underpants. Analysis? Failed to yield any plausible explanation. Or palatable.

Next time we gave them a load of shirts with bullet holes and tlight cuts. We assigned four guys to guard them during the wash. Do I need to say? The shirts came back whole, no holes, no stiches, refusing to wrinkle. And the observers saw nothing.

2.3.1. Captain's diary

"Entrance into the planetary system passed without problems, but as soon as we started approaching the planet, the crew began to grumble. I am expecting trouble. My reputation and respect are declining, for a better than 0.0245 a day, and I keep suspecting that some master of psykhemanipulatio was inserted into the crew. I haven't seen such a damarly organized mutiny even in the books -  I can't even confirm it's a mutiny. As if I'm fighting a fog. Every now and then some piece of equipment breaks, allegedly because of the unreliable operation in the presence of a magnetic field of such frequency (attachment), but my personal instruments sense none of that."
"Seems that the first officer, Reni F. Emulatova, is on my side, because she keeps bringing me proof that what crew reports as faults, or weird behavior of the equipment, usually isn't right. When she's whith the crew, she's respected less and less, she's getting easy to agree with their remarks, she doesn't fight their evidence with our evidence, and all in all I don't know whose side is she on."
"Since after three days orbiting we haven't found anything strange, except that s"

And that is all. Half of the first damar of captain's diary recording. Arshin and a half of tape, when unrolled. Nowhere any trace of the remainder, nor of the attached reports, and nowhere it says where did this come from -  did captain have time to send this, or was it smuggled, lost en route, or is it fake. To some of our explorers it was strange that the captain is a male... which really is not customary today, it is definitely not, but this was that one out of ten. Namely, in those times the customs were much stricter, records say, that at least each tenth captain had to be male, and to be chosen by raffle among ten. This time dice flew for him, of which event records were found. And yes, as much as two passengers were masters of psykhemanipulatio. One previously did it in service, other as hobby. All these records found can be doubted, but we have no others. Marhaf was not among the most neat worlds.

Seems to be there were later flights to Ajthat as well. After the first mission, another three didn't return, and the fifth, allegedly, perished somewhere half way to there. It's no use wasting words on no traces being found. The space is full of our garbage, you will find there anything, except what you seek.

The message, that that postman mentioned, was sent from the orbit roughly at the time when captain's diary came to be, what we just heard, one of those days. Quite a good measurement, after thousand years and more. Even today they arrive, here and there, instances of the Nkogo's message header, and for a real miracle, after having passed several thousand nodes, headers still carry the same date and time. There, that was preserved, while the original message wasn't. Probably one of the initial nodes treated the message as garbage, but respected the header. Or the message looked like a header, and was replaced with another header, or it's still here, stashed somewhere in the header... but does anybody read those prefaces? I always jump right down and read the message alone. Who knows, maybe there's something written up there.

In the fifty years following that, that end of the space was where some thirty odd colonizer ships vanished, or other larger vessels which could be used as such. Also, some stations on the way went suddenly rich -  which can still be written off to black plaza, but... there are some things there.

We have done some classifying, shaping up and ordering; when one takes a look what have these stations traded in -  and it's another miracle that after more than thousand years we still find good data on old disks of backwater stations, while in thick shielded official archives a vast draft blows -  we arrive at a complete shopping list for finding a colony. It is all there, or almost all: givers of power, fields and currents, soil examiners, genetic material, few randomly picked kyklos of erotography, khistory of submusic, whole heap of blueprints for building musikalia, molecular recordings of several important pieces of art from early Earth era, middle Widening era and a few modern artists, mining equipment, a shipyard, blueprints for a speedup tunnel... all in all, full basket.

So that's the list of "lost on the way / found on Ajthat"?

Unfortunately, not. From the list of these stations' merchandise of the time such a list can be composed, as well as another one can. We noticed gaping absence of some things: no fashion gadgets, none of the home magic, no personal flycycles, no automatic kitchens, no clothes, makeup, footwear. There are raw materials -  spores, seeds, eggs, genetic material. Basic healer's needs, but no psykhegenic drugs, no complex prosthetics, no autodocs.

Autodocs exist on all ships.

Yes, when we add the usuall equipment on the ships, we can only stay amazed. We have in front of us a case of staged escape from reality. They left silently, and managed to pull it off unnoticed. The calculated amount for bribe and smugglers' fees is horrendous.

What did they pay with?

Probably with real estates. Some station owners then became owners of bigger trusts, stations or ships. Give some attention to the customs: the smugglers keep very exact double set of books on merchandise -  something must not be seen, something then just must; so they are very carefully hiding their customers, and specially suppliers. All of our attempts to trace either of them led to false companies, people who were largely dead by the time of transaction or were not born yet, nor will some of them ever be. In the end, better part of the statins which went rich then, changed owners in the following twenty years, while the trace of previous owners gets lost, or leaves them safely dead. Again, in a large number of cases it can be said that "we can not confirm for we did not see the corpse". Universe is a good place to get lost.

How many centuries old is the invention of "conspiracy theory"?

More than we can imagine. Which, then, doesn't mean there was no conspiracy. Furthermore, literature is full of lost edens and fake imprisonment colonies where tomorrow's elite is actually brought up. The best rulers are yesterday's rebels, aren't they? Well these guys didn't return to take over the power, or didn't leave any traces of doing so. With a bit of healthy paranoia, we could state that they returned surreptitiously just like they left. Just to avoid falling into that trap, we checked the origins of some half million important people for the last five hundred years. Neglectable few have suspectable biographies. That could mean they are either getting ready to conquer us once, or they are too good at reinfiltrating the society, so we don't recognize them. Anyone with a different theory?

Why shouldn't we suppose they have no interest in us at all?

8.2 A Remark on Ajthat Beliefs

And here we get to Ajthat, which fits and doesn't fit into this. Ajthat is not a belief in the true sense of the word - there's no god(s), no dogma. Harami are a lack of belief, rather than one, since they always turn their dogmae inside out, peeling them off like skins. Roverli are verbose without equals. Anyway, all the Ajthat beliefs are rather philosophical views at the world, pastimes, and could not be classified as institutional religions.

Something else has started spreading from Ajthat in recent years, with nobody really knowing what could that be and into which sack could it be stashed. If we would say [that] it's a belief, we could ask ourselves right away "belief in what?", and we could not exactly say what would that be. It could be said that it's some zoopsikhike belief, belief in the animatedness of the world (in the literal sense, that everything has a soul), that it's even some sort of a tau, belief in the unity of an individuum and the universe, but that would not be anything new. There was more than three thousand of such religions on the record so far. 

It is also questionable whether that is a religion at all, because it was not established anywhere. There are no Ajthatan temples, priests, not even special posts on the net which would deal with that. While writing this, I feel as if I am trying to prove that the clouds are tangible. Yes, everybody sees them, but nobody can say exactly where [one] begins and where [it] ends, it is only known that sometimes something falls out of them, and that they offer some resistance while flying through them. And nothing else.

Ajthatan religion is not there, then why am I writing? First, because everyone still sees the clouds, if one wants to notice them. Second, because my editor ordered me to dig up some interesting subject. Third, because someone may see something I don't. And something is visible, because even [you your]self recognise, in places, some small changes in customs, which were brought from no other but Ajthat, and were accepted all along the known space. For example, where is the study in the new houses? Where is the living room? Where is the kitchen? Doesn't it seem as if all of it is getting together? Where do you receive your guests - in the kitchen, right? And the kitchen is no more a place where you only cook and eat; you have moved your terminal there, that's where you receive your message, there you work, there you read this writ, there you live. You only still sleep in the bedroom.

When was the last time you used paper to jot a note on and thrown it away right away? You don't remember? Yes, that is the general culture of nature preservation, something that follows us for two-three thousand years now, but come on, please, that was just a courteous gesture, a nice custom to keep nature in mind, but nobody took it seriously. Dig through your garbage from ten years ago, if you have it somewhere on recordings, and inspect its contents, then go compare with today's garbage. We have become purists, haven't [we]? We started not just thinking of our only planets, but started feeling they are our homes, because [we] know Universe will not give us other [ones] if we don't know how to take care of these [we already have].

That came from Ajthat. The best [things] we thought about ourselves, this time taken seriously, descended from empty speech straight into our daily life. Two thousand years of persuasion and reeducation of countless generations have not succeeded in [the matter] where imported customs from Ajthat have. At that, let us remind, for all this time, hardly fifty Ajthatans have stepped on our worlds, and all the communication with them boils down to regular exchange of messages, art and bits of load - about as much as any two other planets exchange in a day, as much is exchanged between them and the Worlds in a year. No, gentlemen, they are not to blame. We carry that through.

The guilt mentioned may when-then [sooner or later] turn out to be merit, or we will wake up one morning in a world we will not recognise; everything will be the same, and nothing the way it was. And maybe we may come to think that the things should be exactly that way, because we will not be the same either - is there any other way to change the world, but to change ourselves? Change for the better or worse, question is now.

I hope the editor will be pleased with the previous sentence, he's simply melting with gladness when it seems I'm unbiased, and staying unshakably detached from the subject in the end. The miracle is that he prints these additional words after that.


5.1.1 Speech at the Mission Opening Ceremony

/* about twenty Ajthatans present, six from the League, atmosphere moderately casual, the previous Embassadors suppress laughter, the hosts attackingly serious. first ten damars they persuade the newcomer main missioner that she should not stand while speaking, it is not customary here and would badly affect the relations. led by diplomatic wisdom, she accepts.*/

"It constitutes an exquisite honor to be writing the first page of our new, common history. I announce the mission open."

/* This was recorded as one of the twenty shortest speeches in the history of diplomacy. The prepared speech was about ten thousand glyphs long, and remained lying on the table. The probable reason the speech was not read lies in the mentioned casual atmosphere, overloaded dining table and before all in the [fact that] nobody seemed in the mood to listen [to it]. The later report that the missioner sent home was not published, [it is waited] another fifty years remaining (of the three hundred assigned) until it is available */

6.5.13 You may be in power here, but

Gvelim: You may be in power here, but you are also imprisoned on Ajthat. The ship you stole records every whisper. It has contacted our com sat even before you landed, and broadcast all your secrets all over the League. You can't go anywhere now.

Baša: We'll dig our defenses here. You'll defend us or we'll unleash the worst oykological disaster you can imagine over the niceset areas of this bemusement park.

G: Defend against what?

B: The League's attack.

G: I didn't say League will attack.

B: It's implied. There's no League world without a defense post nearby. One never has more than few weeks before they come.

G: Not here. Ajthat has chosen a special contract with the League. The nearest defense post is fifteen years from here.

B: So we can rule you as we like. Nice.

G: You can try. You will meet resistance.

B: We haven't seen any, and we are already ruling you now.

G: I wouldn't be so confident. Check up what happened with your orders so far.

B: We'll see. What happened with your orders?

G: What my orders? I didn't give any.

B: Not even passing the orders from your League bosses?

G: There was just one, in the outset, to come here and talk with these people. Start communication. Be here. Which they accepted. No orders, everything strictly freely willing.

B: And they gave you this house of their own free will?

G: We just explained we would need one. Two, if that matters. We also helped build them.

B: Did they ever refuse to do something you needed?

G: Well, yes. We talked quite long at times. They would convince us we don't need it, or we'd convince them. Or we found a third way together.

B: Did you kill anyone here?

G: No, why would I? Do you plan to do that?

B: Not really. The buccaneers' code forbids killing without reason. We are not savages. Thou shalt not kill one without weapon.

G: So you are civilized. Pleased to hear that.

B: Is this sarcasm?

G: Not only civilized, but sophisticated. I am amazed. Do they teach finer cultural points at the buccaneers' lykeon?

B: You can go to hell.

G: Will not can. I am religion free.

B: You know what I mean.

G: No, I really don't. You see, you can't assume everyone shares the cultural baggage of your particular faith. How can a person of your education be so arrogant?

B: The base ideas of the six great religions of the Old Worlds are a part of the cultural kernel of humanity!

G: Wrong. They have all claimed the so-called kernel of humanity for themselves and included it into their dogmae, masking it and tweaking as needed, trying to make it look as one whole, as if it grew together. This was proven for each religion in turn, including yours.

B: You have no idea of what is my faith.

G: Thank you for this sentence, it has blown away my last doubts. Without it, you could have belonged to one of them orthoslamic sects, or a panzoon theleologos. Now you are just the kathoslamic asophos. Arrogance becomes you, because you think you are always right. And so right you are, you have no idea.


7.2 Ugliness and beauty

(Zeneia) Ideas of human beauty are the most unstable winter preserves that exist. What nice thoughts you had of your looks last fall, may not be worn next spring anymore. Most of the literate people are aware of it for quite a while; the bodily beauty is still important, it still does appeal to the primal in a human, and that may be the reason we're still here, but still we bring our children up to peek behind the beauty, and look for a human. Behind ugliness as well - there are wonderful people who really bear the burden of accident on their faces, or bodies, and who have accepted wearing their natural trouble rather than trying to paint it over or tailor it around.There are some awful beauties, as well. The ugly can be nice, nice can be nice, nice can be ugly... and the other way around.

Still, there's one kind of ugliness which stays ugly, whatever you do to it. That's the tiny, unconscious gestures, which make a face into something else, and you don't enjoy looking at it. All the mouth gestures, pulling this or other feature sidewise, strange wrinkles on the forehead, neck, around the eyes, specially around the mouth. You accept that it comes with age,but still don't like it somehow - and you remember [the] older and more wrinkled[people] whose wrinkles simply had become [them]. And you remember that you should not trust people who don't wear a smile comfortably. There's such people everywhere. We thought until now that there's such people everywhere.

Ajthat. Incredible. Since I noticed this, I keep looking at them. Even their ugly faces have a pleasant smile.

4.3.2 Genesis (end of religion)

People find Me. The only miracle I can still conjure is to stay alive in vacuum.

In the beginning there was the word - I received my instructions (to begin creation of yet another world)

I created Avdam and Eva - products of genetic attempt just like any other people on all other worlds.

Tree of knowledge - the antidote to annull the effect of teaching hypnotics which kept them in a virtual world; go out and manage yourselves.

Kahin killed Avelj - yes, by that time I saw something went wrong. Later I had even more trouble to revoke incest, once I had to introduce it. All those temporary fixes tend to last longer than it could be estimated. And they call for more fixes, which then... endlessly.

On the seventh day the instructions read that from that point on I can only rest, the job is done and too late for fixes. If course, the project's internal time is running independently from my time - that's seven of my days. They don't pay me for virtual eons which pass inside the project.

Anyway, on day seven, my apparatons started failing one by one and I could only watch what was going on - I couldn't influence most of the events anymore. That's a rule in this game. I'd spend a few seconds here and there to get them, the people in the project, to know me. Instead, they started believing in me. I wasted most of the time after that trying to make them understand that I'm just a simple engineer.

6.5.14 Glem's notes

This occupation we're enforcing here is a sham.

Yes, we have everything we want. We eat well, we have all the gold and jewels we can carry... if we cared to return several times. We have our fortress built... by the locals, in their own manner. It looks like a tiny neck of a village, just a few houses scattered across several hills. They are, however, all connected below. We even have our own seaside exit, through a chain of caves, with our trusty vessel waiting there. And we made sure that none of the local workers knew enough to walk the tunnels from end to end. They never got to work on more than a few dozen square arshins of it, and we picked them from various places of the planet, so we never had more than five people at a time who would speak the same language. And these would work in different places.

And still they knew everything. They would send their children to fetch tools, and the children would go down the catacombs where nobody speaks their native tongue, and yet not one child got lost on the way. And unmistakenly brought the right tool. They even went through our secret tunnels. The plan was to have them dig parallel sets of tunnels, which would be each on its own, and then we'd just tlight out a few secret passages. They used the first passages we made just like ordinary doors. Let's assume they have a perfect spatial sensing, and can feel the slightest draft and so on. Still doesn't explain the rest.

We are eavesdropped at all times, no doubt. They told us our ship was so made to tell the League every word spoken on it ever since we hijacked it, so we wanted to live on the soil. But even the holes in the ground have ears here. Soil itself is bugged.

We even tried any sort of telepathy shielding we knew of. Or that the ship knew of. Can't trust that ship.

We suspected they may have some of nanotekh stuff in our clothes, so we burned a new cave, with all the walls glazed with smooth fresh glass. Then we burned our clothes, left our coms and weapons in another fresh cave, at least twenty arshins away, all torn apart and then took all of the energy packs into yet another cave on the other side. Then we sat, stark naked, with the two of us whose faith forbids looking at naked humans facing the walls and having their eyes closed. And there we held our warroom meeting.

To no avail. When we emerged, two of the workers were waiting for us, with fresh change of clothes for each one of us, proper sizes and all. All our weapons were neatly assembled and laid out, with cells fully charged, safety on. They said they remembered our desire for help with the laundry.

6.1 Matters of right and law or the "Death of judiciary"

Laws as such vanished more or less alltogether with the enforced govenrment many generations ago. After the smoking wars the attorney ones came, which looked like wars even less, just more like a rhetoric competition, where all were rapidly losing attention and patience. Whoever spoke in a roundabout and extended way, was soon removed from the stand, or the audience scattered. The whole world was listening, everyone disputed with everyone else, it took fifty years. The last ten made it obvious that the lawyers are becoming scarce, the worst students were chosing law skholas, various parliaments have revoked thousands of laws... and living was more relaxed.

Of course, it didn't go that easy. Several centuries the lawyers' main job was to revoke themselves - the preceding centuries' legacy required that first all the laws which were in effect but made no sense anymore be revoked: all the naval regulations on desert worlds, which were regularly copied over from the League's laws. Someone calculated that this operation would cost a ten years income of a medium planet, but that such a cost would occur every three days for just empty litigation.

Ever since only local regulations apply. They may be local to a planet, three habitats, or several planets in some cases. Several basic things hold throughout the League. Not too many of them, and knowing them is the easier part of the selfawareness exam. The selfawareness exam is what actually ended the laws and became a base of the unwritten one. The better side of the unwritten law is that it applies all by itself.

The examination committee for this exam is a strange thing; half of the members are volunteers, elected by  quick vote. Some members are picked at random, from those who never volunteer. The membership in the committee is shortlasting - as soon as a dozen candidates are examined, a third of the committee is replaced. Care is taken that everybody comes to be a member sometimes, and that nobody should examine more than about fifteen. The purpose of the exam is to assess one's ability to live in a society, which also assumes the acceptance of the unwritten laws.

6.5.15 Observers of the wash

O1: We followed them to this little house. We sent two of us to search it first and two to watch it meanwhile. Deep scan discovered no EM activity, no radiation, no known poison or drug in the air.

The couple just sat there, with expression of eternal boredom, and at times, a self-satisfied smile. They didn't talk until asked, because .-.-. told them so. This took two hundred damars, and then we allowed them to proceed, after re-examining the house. They have lifted a part of a floor, something like a trap-door, except it uncovered some sort of shallow vat, just deep enough to fit the laundry in it. We didn't notice this trapdoor on either of the scans. We re-examined our laundry and found that all the holes, burns and cuts were still in place, so no mystical energy was taking its course yet.

O2: The door melted with the floor when they closed it. We asked them to open it again, but they said they don't know where it is now, until it finishes. Then they just lied down on the floor and slept, while we stood guard.

We tried to find the trapdoor, but the floor was in one piece. Found nothing even at the exact coordinates we measured before they closed it. Full video recording attached, it covers the whole night.

O1: After a good few hours of sleep (they sleep like kids, smiling... haven't seen a grownup do that ever since... can't really remember if I ever saw one), they just woke up of themselves. We didn't hear any sound that could wake them up - except the regular sounds we were making all night. Check the recording, nothing there. The two opened yet another hatch and pulled our shirts out of it. You know the results, no wrinkles, no dirt, no stitches, no holes. Like new. The missing buttons were still missing, and there was a slight khroma shift where the tlight burns were.

Analyst's note: also, a slight shift in polarization plane where the stitches were, and where the burns were. The rest of the clothes map is unchanged. Except it doesn't wrinkle anymore.

Analyst's note, much later: I've kept one of my shirts out of their cycle for a while, and washed it on ship. After about a dozen old-style washes, it started wrinkling again. I'm wearing it as a fashion statement now.


1.3 The post on Ajthat

(Me) We were given two smaller houses at different places around the planet to use as posts. They weren't too spaceous; they could classify as modest. Still they were more comfortable than the crews used [to have] at home. Why am I recording this in third person plural, I wish I knew. Alright, let it stay for now, I'll fix that easily later, if I feel like.

Food wasn't bad either. They expected to be forced to feed on their dry remanufactured garbage, diluted in cleansed water of their own production, or that they may just starve if the first few get poisoned or ill. Instead, some mysterious tekhne understood their wishes better than they would be capable of expressing [them], and served them the delicatesse of choice. The quantities were damarly medically calculated, so there was never too much of anything, not a crumb, but then they never missed that crumb. The mysterious rays, or whatever was it that the cooks used to calculate the lunch, did not neglect changed moods either. Each good appetite was rewarded, and so was the grumpiness. Aw, I'll kill me of style. I composed better in skhola. Maybe the keyboard was better indeed, this dictowrite thing... requires thinking up a sentence first, makes you think more of how will it look, and less of what you will say. With keyboard you always say it somehow, and look at how will it look later. Alright, let's go on.

It was alike with washers, beds, talking with other posts. The apparata... resisted the experience. There were, though, some levers to press, some tiny wheels to turn, and that's where the similarity with the known ended. They were in-wall, most of them, and there was no visible trace of nuts, locks, hinges or any other way to open them. They either never broke, or were replaced - there was no way to clarify where would it open if it needed fixing. Even the sound emiting apparata had no visible speakers, and the sound was not subdued as it happens when the speaker is somewhere inside. Simply knocking fingers on the front (and the only reachable) board spoke of accousticity, in the manner of the ancient wooden strings. Image transport was similar - in some crevice there was a finely honed crystal, size of a fist, which emanated a clear picture onto a spanned cloth. The cloth was, then, a story for itself. We never saw such a way of weaving.

There was just no paper. We even gave them a sample from one of the small notebooks from the ship, but the hosts nodded their heads away, mildly bewildered. They didn nod rather strangely in the beginning ("like donkeys",  Hinema said),until they managed to have it look humanely. It's really strange how gestures get different from planet to planet, even between different places on the same planet.

The paper was thus given up; tried with cloth but it didn't take any sort of ink. Eventually a stock of magnetic monofiber thread was found; that was enough to record anything that may be important.

Important, of course, means everything.

6.5.16 Tools to understand

If there's something that our gnosa and tekhne can not explain, that means exactly that. That there's something that our gnosa and tekhne can not explain. Doesn't mean anything more. It simply outlines their boundaries.

A phenomenon unexplained is neither impossible, impobable nor implausible. It's just beyond our powers at this time.

(Zeneia) The proud buccaneers of galactic shores are baffled with the mystery of an ordinary domestic garment washer. So were we, once. I am not saying I understand how it works, or how do the axioma of Fenols and Harami apply to the procedure. It works, and they apply. The Ajthatans understand it, just as much as we understand the inner works of our cameras and recorders. We could have understood, if we had only been born here. But we weren't, and there's something in our culture which doesn't let us understand. We have a big blind spot where the tools for understanding go. Just as much as an Ajthatan will never be able to understand the finer points in creative accounting.

4.9 Public services

(Me) Nothing to notice. We spotted no tax collectors, postpersons, guardians, traffic regulators, no persons with any official garments, nor with any insignia denoting them as belonging to any service. Only at times the regal suite wears solemn clothing during ceremonies, but that also lacks any sort of military iconography: there's no lineup of platoons, no guardians with javelins crossed, none of the kind. Once we observed a coronation (that is, adding a new sign into the queen's... aura? see recording) and it more looked like a symposion of amateur's skene pieces than a state event.

When crossing from one state into anothe we did not notice any borderline. By the road there was, though, a large stone, with names of each state on each side, but we found nobody by it. No rangers, no customs. This probably comes from absence of any visible trade. Nobody is too rich, and nobody is poor. I am getting an impression that this is an ideal consumer society - whatever is made, will be consumed, whatever is needed, will be made. No advertisements, no retail network. At least there's no shops. As much as we managed to understand, when we need something, we address just anybody, and the thing arrives during the same day. Where from? We'd be glad to learn.

The service which organizes the voting, as it seems, is not there. At least not as an occupation. In case when something needs voting, the representatives of the opposing propositions gather and form the question. In the first round the question is asked to everybody (within the state, village... what?). Those who may be affected by the matter are extracted, their suggestions gathered, some of them join the, ahem, committee, and then the question is rephrased based on the suggestions, and then the procedure is either repeated until the final form of the question is reached, or it is sent as is to those who were interested. The circle of the inquired does not necessarily coincide with any area of land - some matters are voted on planet-wide, some by only mothers of infants, or just the seniors, or just the kids (!), or the people on the same watershed (even when the river flows through three countries).

(Romfu) The decisions are enforced by their own selves. We have seen no instruments of enforcement. It is possible that it's about one of those intuitive communities, with high conscience about everything (or a deeply implanted one), where disrespect of the community decisions equals a taboo of highest rank. Are they brought up that way? Or conditioned so?

6. The plot, the suspense, the why

6.1 Matter of rights and law, or the „ Death of the judiciary"

It took fifty years. The last ten made it obviousthat the lawyers are becoming scarce, the worst students were chosing lawskholas, various parliaments have revoked thousands of laws... and living was more relaxed.

6.2 How does it work, then

All the avaliable recordings are seen first, and witnesses under oath are invited to track everything.Whatever anyone says, is  recorded and classified.

6.3 Buccaneer law

Do not hit [your] own

6.4 Buccaneer tribunal

This is a court of honor, so it doesn't harm the rest of the Universe -  members only.

6.5 Buccaneer Ship

6.5.1 Buccaneer ships in general

They mostly were normal ships once, and their owners like them to look so. There are a few small changes, though.

6.5.2 Thieves land on Ajthat

Ah, if you do something wrong, do it right. If we are buccaneers, we will loot and live dangerously. And merrily. 

6.5.3 Get down

Our respected allies Ajthatis, you will have to find your own way out with these robbers. They have found you at random, without League's doing, don't take it on us. We helped you with this news only, just to have you warned.  

6.5.4 And so they landed

Fly out later and look all you want, we land in ten... nine... eight...

6.5.5 Report

I grew up on a soilcrafter planet. We had cows, chuvdas, chingillas, we grew skrug, hannyana, whear... this is just like it.

6.5.6 What are they doing?

They fly out in a vehicle of sort and circle slowly around. I don't see how many of them are inside. They seem just to drive around.

6.5.7 Second report

Do you have a reasonable explanation why would two-three peasants from a peasant planet behave like this? They see a flyer which goes without a sound, and spits small fire here and there, blinks lights like a merry-go-round, and they wave it off as nothing special.

6.5.8 Now, encounter

You see, we got no more energy. That's why we landed your place. They have nothing to send for us. They said that in case of failure we find our way around, and return until next day. If we're late... we'll have to hide til the rest o'our lives.

6.5.9 Reception

They reported to nobody. They didn't stir, at least not overly. They didn't go frantic, [didn't] fight. Didn't try to take these two into some sanctuary. They didn't propose a hideout. They didn't mention any spies or cops. They called exactly nobody.

6.5.10 Third report

Stop before the main entrance. If that means anything here. When you conquer a place, you know what to attack first, and none of that is here. No landing pad, no traffic hubs, no central hydroplant, no communication center. Where is their trideo, where they broadcast from?

6.5.11 Where are your elders

We had a couple, not far from here, they wrote nice laws. Wrote maybe two hundred of them in their lifetime.

6.5.12 The laundry problem

The laundry was perfectly clean, but didn't smell of any khelating agent that anyone could recognize. Our tekhneshi examined the buttons, and didn't find any traces of ultrasound or any other known tekhnike of dry washing. We still don't know how they do it.

6.5.13 You may be in power here, but

We'll dig our defenses here. You'll defend us or we'll unleash the worst oykological disaster you can imagine over the niceset areas of this bemusement park.

6.5.14 Glem's notes

And still they knew everything. They would send their children to fetch tools, and the children would go down the catacombs where nobody speaks their native tongue, and yet not one child got lost on the way.

6.5.15 Observers of the wash

After a good few hours of sleep (they sleep like kids, smiling... haven't seen a grownup do that ever since... can't really remember if I ever saw one), they just woke up of themselves. We didn't hear any sound that could wake them up - except the regular sounds we were making all night.

6.5.16 Tools to understand

A phenomenon unexplained is neither impossible, impobable nor implausible. It's just beyond our powers at this time.

6.5.17 Wolba's tragedy

The pirate, however, went mad and killed herself the same night. Ajthatans said that she suffered too much and couldn't be sedated using regular means, so she received a combined overdose of several unmatched _cures_, which killed her.

6.5.18 Take me to your leader

B: Who tells you what to do, who gives you orders.

X: I know what to do, no tell me. Orders? There is one order, but I no go there. Maybe later. My work order itself.


5.3 sex

Sex in a public place - nobody turns attention to children when they play in a park, and equally not to older children when they play with themselves. Everywhere there's shrubs and fine grass, it is easy to get away from the way; again, even when it is in the visible, and it does happen that they roll away or a shrub gets rolled over, nobody turns attention, one would say they try not to watch. Presence of children is avoided, though, until they learn the custom (to not turn their attention).

They were completely compatible with our customs, though it may not be true in the oposite direction. Same general traits - no violence, no domination games, and a total lack of any paraphernalia. They use only their bodies, nothing else. No other stimuli.

Special traits: they have fun. If you hear laughter from a bush, you don't need more than one take at guessing what caused it. This also means they are very relaxed, no stage fear.

Mating rituals: no fixed rituals. Given their total lack of restaurants and fancy places, it comes down to usual looks, soft talking and a few facial signs, which are pretty much commonplace. Rarely bring confusion about. Refusal is usual, and there are varying degrees, between not now, not today, not you, not your gender, not anyone ever.

Threesomes etc: depending on agreement. There are no special orgies - it's just a different sort of party, or rather a party which may or may not include this sort of pleasure.

Conception: voluntary. They seem to have a way of preventing or allowing fertilization at will, both sides. Though they don't really keep their numbers on record, nor is there any sort of census, the population seems to grow, but very slowly. Or it just grows in some places and goes thin in other? We haven't seen too many new houses, but also haven't seen any ruins or empty ones. Some are turned into warehouses, or keep two people where they could keep six. There's no way we can know if some of these are overcrowded or almost empty - that may be just an opinion of those who live there. And they don't live in the same place all the time. They are quite mobile, changing houses, changing partners, changing countries at will, and mutual agreement.

6.5.17 Wolba's tragedy

(Me) Wolba's tragedy should have shed some light on the question of 'are Ajthatans telepaths or not', but it didn't. We still don't know.

There are several wildly different accounts on what and how happened.  Briefly, one of the buccaneers was greatly annoyed with all the mockery, cynical remarks and other disrespect displayed, and she fired a tlight (*) and cut off his legs just above the knees. Ajthatan healers saved the legs and promptly put them back. Wolba was walking again within just a month, carrying just a narrow scar.

The pirate, however, went mad and killed herself the same night. Ajthatans said that she suffered too much and couldn't be sedated using regular means, so she received a combined overdose of several unmatched _cures_, which killed her. I have heard accounts where she took some of these herself and didn't have the presence of mind to tell anybody about them. Yet another account mentions euthanasia, and yet there is another, where she hypnotised three other people into killing her.

This may not be telepathy. It may be a sort of emergency telempathy, which is aroused by violence. When attacked happens, both the assailant and the victim get flooded with each other's feelings, and those do not end when violence stops. The guilty party remains connected with the wounded until he heals. A thorough explanation for the total lack of violence here. And the shock, worse than any [other kind of] cultural shock, must have been too much for rough and tough pirate's mind.

I was thinking... if there was a combat of equal fighters, who would be able to forget about the pain (or numbed themselves with khemike), what would the outcome be? Seems to be I got as close to the answer as I could.

(*) tight light weapon or tool; once known as 'laser'. 'Lasing' is unknown in any language in any similar meaning. Some linguists suppose it was once an acronym, which took upon a life of its own. If so, there was no plausible expansion to "L.A.S.E.", except that the L may have stood for light.

2.5 What is known about Ajthat

- What do we really know? The probe recorded for some fifty hours, not directing the lenses and antennas too often. The antennas caught nothing, except the echoes of our blundering broadcasts.

- I know, universe is full of our trash.

- I meant ordinary radio waves.

- That's not trash?

- Once you will understand why I wouldn't send anyone to be someone's guest unless he's an ecologist in soul. Remember that if you ever ask yourself "why did they pick me".

- What was left was, then, ordinary observation, where the lenses, yes, ordinary lenses which consume no energy whatsoever, glass and mirrors and nothing more, there, they have focused and retargeted each fifteen damars and that without any engine, just by conducting solar heat into the oil pistons so they would expand as needed; between two retargetings the planet was visible, on the average, third of the time. Visible for a longer time from greater distance, but with fewer details.

- I suggest we abandon this long list of technical pretexts for a lousy shot. How much can one really see?

- About ten damars of good arshinage. You will view it tomorrow as many times [as] you like. You can view the weaker shots as well, if you don't feel unlike. It can be both filtered and unfiltered, any way you please. We will record all your remarks ten track, so you can freely speak up anything that falls on your minds, regardless of someone already speaking at the moment, or of you thinking someone else is already saying the same thing. Any idea, or at least its deduction or twist - anything is welcome. We will always order it all before the next day, to work through and view few more times, first separate screenings for you and us, then one together, and then the same the next day - until you seem to have had enough. Then we all go for a vacation, wherever you all agree, and then all over again. When we exhaust all that can be extracted out of this recording, and any other source you demand as well, we leave you to think up what you are going to carry along.

- When was this combination of Borshack's blot and brainstorm invented?

- Specially for this occasion, but I wouldnt claim this was the first.

- It's so good it was invented many times over? And what's your pricing on the length of this?

- You didn't leave your cat hungry, we checked. Thus, no hurry.

- I'm not in a hurry myself, this may take a lifetime anyway. What is our deadline to get ready? Just don't try the military idiocy with abrupt unannounced leaving in the middle of the night. Any drama is out of question.

- No, no way, that was not in any neck of the mind of ours. The deadline is... undefined. When you feel like going, leave. You are neither military nor state mission, nor you face any critical orbit window with the least consumption trajectory. I assure you the League wasn't cheap with the equipment for your ship, except that there is no weapon on it. You are a mission of good will. You go to be guests.

- Then, let's think of presents for the hosts.

- It's worth good thinking on that one - if they have kept any trace of earthly cultures, they fear the Rataos even when they bear gifts.

- I think we will bring our selves. No more nor less.

8.4 LMOD

Once when, with the end of the last campaigns on the rebelling planets, the military production had its wings short-trimmed, the world was largely not the way it once was. Seemingly en passant, but actually long-term, it has changed its approach to the found worlds, societies and species. The known worlds have, on the surface, accepted their destiny: the centennial fear of the stronger and mightier, that may be bred by deep space, was bridged by its transfer from the jurisdiction of the army onto the embassies, ministries of out-of-worldly deeds and other civil services. These services, in turn, tended not to mess too much with matters so unpleasant, so they delegated them to experts. Just like with any other such menial job, it was soon avoided by the greedy and glory seeking, and has attracted, instead, the curious, knowing, and at last, dilligent people. Each epoch has such a place where the broth is cooked for the upcoming generations. The novelists usually find it too late, when the epoch is long on its way, but while it happens, the people needed on such a place come [there] by themselves, most often unaware of their own importance.

The crews to send to the found worlds were numerous. They weren't really killing themselves with labor; each of the league worlds was giving five to six people, plus a few buildings and utilities with maintenance staff altogether. It turns that one good, speaking army lingo, batallion, of its few kilo people, was lazing for years, because only once in an odd year there was something to do.

They just sat and prepared, not knowing exactly for what. The experiences of the first missions weren't too big of a help, because each newly (re)discovered world was a tale for itself. Therefore all the military books were discarded, where it was prescribed who and when will be allowed to contact the unknown world, which precautionary measures must be taken, what is allowed and what is not, how to erase any trace of the mainland worlds in the ship's computer, how to examine and learn and not let on... all of this was thrown into the water.

Only one rule remained: send the people you trust. It is very important [to choose] whom we send; once they go there and meet Them, they will be alone and will have [their] hands untied. We need such, which will carry what we think best. What we think of ourselves, of course. The thesis of hands untied was long subject to dispute, but eventually it prevailed. The rules are there, anyway, so those who know how and have a good reason why could break them. This was, though, valid in arts, not in relations between worlds, but was applicable very nicely. Furthermore, there are numerous examples of when the rules were plain wrong. A post festum survey of succesful connections with the already returned worlds showed that, playing strictly by the rules, the missions would succeed in reintegrating two or three worlds, but has actually succeeded in all others exactly because it was acting against them [rules]. Rules or not, a lonely crew far away from home always does what it can, must or wants, whichever of those comes as more pressing. A League's emissary's first task is to represent his own self (and the thesis claims that by this very (f)act he represents the whole humankind, and the League itself - because a state is as its citizens are). The second, to establish, if possible, a mutual embassy; one post of the League to be established there, and one post for Them on the league planet of their choice, or on more planets. Third, optional, is to try to understand and maybe love Them. This third task often preceded the second, meaning that many couldn't establish an embassy on a world they couldn't learn to love. The tradition, additionally, obliged to write a book about the mission.

Such a profile of an emissary has led to the gathering, in the league's ministry of out-worldly deeds (or other interpretations of the LMOD acronym in various languages - QBOF, SMID, WEOD), of a very diversely coloured bunch. Experts were needed for anything that may be necessary, which meant for everything. The shielded position was bringing in a somewhat smaller amount of money than to other league services (actually, much less than the Communications were receiving for just their internal communications), so the sparingness led to a demand for not just "experts of everything that may be needed", but no less than "experts for everything". Everybody had to know how to do at least three jobs. This was too much for the last glory hunters who jumped the wagon in the first years. What only remained was a special breed of people, devoted to their uncertain business. The first deal was Grumel, the famous statistical miracle. This didn't help too much with the next one, because,, accidentally, ...all the records on the first mission vanished. Then there came Vrana3, Finana, Sumpor, Renj and Halmazta, all the mislaid human worlds from the migration era, each and every one of them returned to the League membership. That was the produce of the first twenty years, and later there was even less work.

What they were hoping for, and what they have truly feared, was contact with some really alien species. The universe has not sent anything of the kind so far, and there was no need for that. The uncounted human worlds are sufficiently diverse, and ready to display miracles to anyone who is ready to believe in them.

6.5.18 Take me to your leader

Baša: Take me to your leader.

X: I know where to go. No guide me.

B: I mean your boss.

X: Boss? What that be?

B: Who tells you what to do, who gives you orders.

X: I know what to do, no tell me. Orders? There is one order, but I no go there. Maybe later. My work order itself.

B: Where's your army?

X: Arm tools, you mean? I have some gloves in the house.

B: I mean big arms.

X: Your hands same big as mine. Gloves fit you. I bring.

B: Stop! Freeze! Don't move or we shoot!

X: Shout no need. You don't like gloves, you say.

B: Olgat, burn that tree. These guys seem to understand nothing at all.

(O. takes a rifle, narrow beam, burns a hole in the trunk. The hole burns for a while, then sputters and douses)

X: Feel cold? Wrong tree to burn. Need the dry tree. These yegons no burn. Go inside on warm. Come?


4.10.1 Immunity

(Hinema) Yesterday, searching for ancient scripts, we found one strange sentence, which is subscribed to your Founders. We don't know how much of it is true and how much a legend. It goes: "We are acquainted with the Manhorat [mun-haw-rut] case, and we will do the exact opposite". What is it actually about?

(Hatamlaja [hut-um-lie-uh], our guide for this month; he hasn't quite mastered kommon so we took an interpreter with us as well, thus having two guides) Our are mostly true, except a few poetic liberties, which are then true fo themselves.

Our scripts mention no Manhorat at all, neither as a person nor as a habitat.

Scripts are chopped freaks who imitate reality, and reality is nofathomable. Manhorat is a name of a planet, from your mislaid history, or that is what our history calls it at least. I don't know what it was called in yours.


Ah, yes, the so-called case. Tragedy, indeed. Human stupidity has various ways, mostly unaccessible to reason, to know how to lead to a tragedy. One of the Haram books states that stupidity should be studied most seriously, because one can learn much more from it. The reason will always do the best thing possible, while the stupidity will try the impossible as well. Alright, the Haram have stated almost the opposite in the next book, that the stupidity will repeat, while the reason will think of something else. They may have been right both times.

Let's get back to Manhorat. The first habitat on Manhorat was founded by the members of some sect, with the fear of illness as their basic mania. I don't know what they called themselves, those are called fools here. You have missed something here, my interpreter, Roverli-of-Njerhone [nyer-haw-neh], can't even tell me what exactly, but simply... yes, he says that "with immesurable sorrow I must announce to you that the expressions, for the interpretation utilised, have depleted the substance utterly, having brought through just less than a quarter of the original meaning, but I find no better". They have not only wiped their feet at the door, but they have also burned the house, washed it thoroughly and then made a new one, without the dangerous bacteria, viri, fungi, radiatio... They were left, though, with ilnesses of mind, but they seemed not to notice them, or maybe deemed them harmless. In their religion those were only the various phenomena of the Great Health Keeper, or what did they call what they believed in.

And did they succeed?

To make a world without illness? Yes, above any reasonable measure. The number of mental cases was spreading geometrically, because they lacked the fundamental thing - struggle with the ordinary illness. Mind you, not the illness by itself, but the struggle. Within twenty generations they achieved not knowing of a simple cold, and the slightly behind-the-bend guys were everywhere. They cured broken bones, sprains, bruises, love hurts... until once, after a couple of hundred of generations of a virtual eden, their attention faltered, and the old stupid flu virus sneaked out of a workshop. And killed the whole planet.

Stink, decay? The planet is fenced?

Both yes and no. There were benign bacteria for the organic decay, they didn't even raise much stench, but... there were simply no volunteers for repeated inhabitation. Nobody knew to what extent was the whole nature of the planet adjusted to the depleted bacterial garden, and what size of catastrophy would a simple glass of milk from another planet cause. Thus the whole planet was covered with oblivion.

The opposite thing that you do?

Immunity, of course. We train our organisms to wait ready for anything that may come. From flu to the gravitational disturbances, hard rays and whatever we hear is in use. Of course, not a completely opposite thing; because the exact opposite of any stupid thing is its equally stupid twin in a mirror.

Defense mechanism?

You are a healer?

No. It is, not only. We are only five, we did not know what to expect here, so each had to know at least three trades.

Then here it is: all the known immune mechanisms, plus a few more we invented ourselves. We have retailored our genes a bit as well, it is our ancestors have done so already, we only correct it if we find that something can be done better.

You know of the case of adaptable zoonosae?

Ah, the thing which keeps inventing new poisons until the defense goes mad? We know of that. Our body defense always looks for the attacker's weak spot, and defends as much as to fool it and patch the damage it causes. Our biggest accomplishment, so far, is the embryonic array.

(astonishment, silence)

Oh no, it's no array of cloning embryos, that was abandoned from the start, ethic reasons. It's us getting born, last ten to fifteen generations, with an extra gland. The gland's duty is to, at the sign of an organ's damage, begin to grow a new one. It is capable of multiplying like an embryo, just a few acupuncture points are used to tell that gland, if it doesn't find out for itself, which organ to bear. The surgeon completes it, of course, since the old organ begins to behave as an alien body, and falls off by itself in the end, like a broken fingernail. Better cut it out on time. If you're interested in anything else as well, freely call me later. More later, actually, I enjoy napping in the afternoon. Our healers say it does good to the new gland, or they have invented it just because they like to nap themselves.

4.10 Children

(Zeneia ) Their children are cute. We never saw one spoiled brat. The babies do cry sometimes, but a three-four year kid screaming until it achieves what it wants - there's no [such thing]. The children are typically lively, curious and bothersome only when demanding explanation. They haven't broken or broken ['brought into malfunction' is the meaning of the second 'broken'] any of our equipment (though I don't know how would they - each product from the Old Kernel must pass through exactly the kids' hands first, and if [it] endures, [it] may be sold).

I wonder, I wonder, skimming through these notes of ours, how many times have we written "not [a single] one", "no sort of", "is not there anywhere"... aside of their life apart from the rest of the world, are the Ajthatans also strict in enforcing this extraneousness of theirs? Of how many things there are no exceptions. Their taboo list seems to be quite lengthy. It also seems a good part of the list was pushed into common forgetfulness, into the big, dark, forbidden forest. How do they tell what belongs there, when some of that arises?

4.6 The principle of synkhronicity

(excerpt from the foreword to twenty first edition)

On Ajthat the messages are sent using the principle of synkhronicity, which had turned out (once the rest of the universe managed to understand it... more or less) to be at the same time the cause and the result of the principle of causality, and the other way round (i.e. the question of what is consequence of what is discarded), and that the principle of synkhronicity, when applied to the above statement, has a consequence of (a parallel event of) it itself (i.e. the principle of synkhronicity) being at the same time (synkhronous) (with) the principle of causality.

It is clear that the number of people in the League who understand the substance of all this is insufficient to have any decent guesthouse agree to rent them the main meeting room for their annual gathering. They always meet in the smaller one, but at the same time in the big one their assistants amuse, or for a better word, confuse the reporters, and through them the various audiences League wide. Nobody understands anything, but it works ("it works even when you don't believe it").

How does it work, applied to sending a message? It works by message coming into existence at the same time at both ends, both the departure and the arrival point. Furthermore, sometimes it is a problem to find out which is which. In flat time space, this would mean the sender is the one who knew the message before the recipient. The time, however, is not flat. The curvature of time escapes measuring, and is taken for the usual factor of unreliability of transfer of messages or any other content. The author of the message doesn't really ever know whether it was him who initiated or was the subject of the event, which is quite nicely (at the same time) explained with both the principle of synkhronicity and the curved nature of time, which in turn gives a new aspect to the causality principle: the result really does come after the cause, it is the direction and the curvature of time between them which need to be established, to know which is which.

It is quite possible that it be established both places (sender and recipient) that they were both first, or none were; that means the time flows from one to the other, from other to one, and the other way around. The time is not flat, nor is there any force of gravity which would force it to flow always to the same side, no matter how it may seem to us ("time is not subject to gravity force, gravity force is not subject to time").

10. All right, so we are

All right, so we are your runaway children, or we are your parents you disbanded long ago, or we are cousins to each other. We are not being mysterious to you -  one can rather say we are mysterious to ourselves. Traces of our origins are well covered. I think that, in the first few generations, several times a new count of time was introduced, to separate us from our past the better. One story says that, before coming here, we spent many years as secret societies in various backwaters, presenting ourselves as volunteers for hard work, pioneers for nobody's lands, miners and lost skysailors, trying hard to have whole crews composed from our people. That is where the new language was learned, as it could have been at the time. There was no move here for a long time -  may have been a few generations until a good place was found, Ajthat, that is.

Another story says this is the mutiny on Blighty, that is that like some larger colonizing ship crashed here. Allegedly the crew, seeing this paradise, broke connection with the worlds, faked the accident and landed here. After a while nobody was really missing the Worlds much. This story holds water worse, because there's no remains of the ship -  though, it could have been disbanded and the traces removed, intent on leaving the beginnings to oblivion.

In this latter case, the thing which is harder to believe is passing the idea down generations. The children sooner or later ask "who are we", "how did we get here" and such. If the adults give them no sensible answer, the children will find one themselves and keep it to themselves. So the first story is more plausible, but who would know. Our ancestors have broomed all the trails, even the oldest mention of anything on Ajthat is old just about eight hundred... alright, that's with recalculation of years into years, which leaves a lot of blank time from the time when, by our count, Ajthat was inhabited. We can only suppose how much [how long] had the original community here intended to stay hidden from the Worlds. If any one of them was alive now, we may hear [it] from them.

5. So what?

As first, we do not dare allow for any heavy technology which would disturb our inner balance. Thus we can not receive any vehicles heavier than a hundred igaz, which comes [to it] by your measures...

5.1.1 Speech at the Mission Opening Ceremony

The later report that the missioner sent home was not published, [it is waited] another fifty years remaining (of the three hundred assigned) until it is available

5.1.2 Mission opening skenarion

Let's not get fooled, this is a synopsis, too many details are missing for a real skenarion.

5.2 I would like to move to your planet.

Compulsory is to learn what is written in this book, it has only ten-some pages. Help your self with taking it and learning it until the next encounter.

5.3 sex

Sex in a public place - nobody turns attention to children when they play in a park, and equally not to older children when they play with themselves.

6.3 Buccaneer law

Take and leave some for next time; dead victim yields no bread

Taka end run; leave on time and [there's] no search

Do not sign, except within the Brotherhood

Do not hit [your] own

When you break some of this, may Brotherhood benefit [of it]

Nobody in Brotherhood stronger than ten other brothers must be not; who becomes, gives to the weak to make them stronger

3. The emissaries and others

3.1 Hinema Alfirinen

Ecologist in some twisted sense, she thinks even a garbage burning chamber is someone's natural environment, which has to be handled carefully.

3.2 Zeneja Amrindeg (Zenneiah Ahmryndegg)

Languages. Fluent in ten unrelated languages, knows the grammars of another seven, even less related. "Parallel courses of sense", edition of Remsh bookshop and diskbindery, the most often quoted sentence: "What different flows does the human mind assume in different cultures, it is a miracle that understanding ever occurred. The translators are therefore wizards of a kind, and people may be rightfully admiring them and yet not trusting them, because they have too much understanding for both sides".

3.3 Gvelim Emzet (Gvehlym Amzett)

Natureteller. Said to be able to talk with plants, but unable to translate into any language. Does worse with animals, says they think in pictures and odors, and he can't really pronounce that to them. Talks with the ship's computers on the way, tells them greasy jokes and lowers the fuel consumption.

3.4 Romfu Oreksi (Romfue Aw'rexy)

Topologist. One of the founders of the third breed of the modern skhola of topology, which states that planetology, geology or any other geo/planetology can not be done properly without an emphatic feeling for the stream of energetic and other forces of the celestial body examined. He does not talk to stones - by one story, it is his goal; yet by another he is long time beyond that. Side occupation - architecture, sociology of habitat, polistics.

3.5 Me Šomag Litha (Maeh Shawmugg Lit-khah)

Recorder. "Give me a wheel of oaken wood, I will make a recording on it". I charge of getting everything noted. Along the way, in charge of anything that needs to be written, sent to the League, calculated, classified. On deck, in charge of kitchen, ship's log and sailing.

3.6 Glem Ijenšo (Eyanshaw)

Kibernesh and kitchen boy at the same time. Feels universe and kitchen as the two places where his consciousness becomes a space, or more precisely, where it becomes a reality.

3.7 Olgat Onstenso

Third officer, Olgat Onstenso, is yet just an ordinary mugger, gambler, physicist. A miracle with naturally orange colored hairs, originates from some khrystal colony. The agitation of the weak radiance along ten generations could not pass unnoticed, though it is hard to find the first ancestor up the genealogos which would appear different from his [own] ancestors. He inherited spatial empathy, khromophtalmy (the mirky ability of noticing the color of things to happen). At least has some hinting gift. Retired pirate, he drags along as military advisor, the crew mostly thinks he lives off the old glory and steals his time from eternity. In the mirky times of his youth he was anything he had time for. Whatever he tried, worked to a point, and then he kept vanishing and reappearing later in a different role. That is seen as fear of importance, or a good foreseeing power. Really, one could say he never got into a big trouble - often it can be said he chose a smaller one in time.

3.8 Gurdoni (Gourdonni)

Drives anything that has an engine and moves. When he sits to steer something he sees for the first time, he allows himself two and a half damars to think (or not to think, but let the hand decide for itself) and presses the first button. As needed, he drives excellently, dangerously, badly, clumsily, calmly, nervously, or as a beginner. Many times he tricked the chase just by driving exactly like in a skhola. The nickname "Šorgelj" (Shorghell') comes from an unknown language, and its meaning is not known.

Oddly quite, there is a separate biographical note to his nickname, as if he were two people. Maybe he was.

3.9 Baša (Bashah)

The look is undescribable, because she changes it with her mood; the only thing which never lacks is some pirate's mark on the clothes - a deadhead with crossbones sometimes, sometimes belted arms, sometimes a fake artificial eye. The likeon knowledge of universe (which would say, everything). The title of Baša is a buccaneer's tradition, and nearly fits a captain's station in almost everything. She's into her better years, seemingly rough, and is actually refined (premeditated?). She foresees four moves ahead before playing one. Always ready for a change of plan, reacts from the nerve. Real name is not known (is that characteristic of buccaneers' traditions, or inherited from monks' orders, to change name by enthronement?).

3.10 Šorgelj (Shorgely)

Shorgely would be low anywhere. He is not particularly good at anything, unless being good at nothing counts. In his youth, he was always the third-best bully in his community, and the communities were mostly the gradually worse inmates' virtual states, because he was getting caught at worse crimes and sent to prisons of worse fame. He never made any fatal mistakes - never cost anyone's life, that is, except the victims' - so he always managed to be a crewman somewhere. While he learned to operate almost all of the equipment, and could almost qualify as an engineer, he remained sloppy all his life, and has a lengthy inventory of burned makhinery.

Add the usual bunch of thugs, bagsackers, framers and others...

1. Due to the principle of synkhronicity, the entry point into this ordinal review was chosen by raffle. It was chosen that the book is to begin with the reception right after the landing. On the review of circumstances see below.

As the tradition bids, here is the review of the raffle:

2. This is a post festum note, several months later. At the first eyeblink we did not give much importance to this first, if at least somewhat official talk, and then we thought it wouldn't hurt to take notes, even by memory. Some of these first impressions may keep something that the later recordings lack. 

3. Such a relation between the spoken and written word existed in some of the cultures in our mainstream worlds. It was held that what is said obliges more than what is written, because the partners-in-talk see each other, and the reader does not see the writer and can not respond. In all societies of that kind, the written word was given the dirty jobs - aid for weak memory, small messages and public versions of sacred scriptures; what really counted was the secret transfered among four eyes.

4. We, really, did not manage even to explain what is "broken unit", nor have we seen such a thing at them. Nothing breaks, nor have we seen anything done sloppily. 

5. In general, the customs about the names of places and geographic phenomena are of many colors. The only rule is that nothing bears some person's name, unless what is built by human hand. The things of nature always get popular names. Though the pre-colonisation lore is not kept here, research of the origins of names gave reason enough to conclude that many places had temporary names, and that they wayited long until some name stuck by itself. Lots of names sound like [they are] originating from a League language (oldtrenshk, khangol, prakommon), and that they might have had the meaning of the first words uttered by whoever saw them first. These names are sufficiently twisted to render this thesis as ultimately unplausible and stretched.

6. Should nodding and other body signs, performed to a foreign tradition, be considered as speech in foreign language? (Me)

7. This is a sum of recordings about royal skholas, which we collected during the years of our post. Just like the rest, we edited them together.

8. No electoral crowd was noticed, though we saw elections several times; they reduce to one call through some sound transmitter - or it just seems so - and hand tapping on the transmitter. Probably some parts of the transmitter are sensitive, or something like that, and the message on what is the next thing to vote on is not completely clear, because all the sound one hears is music. Whether the electoral question is stashed inside the music, or does it contain something else that we don't receive, or is it something completely away from sound, remained unclear to us. Had our host not told us he was just called to vote, and shown us how it is done, it would have seemed just as if he just hopped to the radio to hear the tones dear to him, and tapped the bars by the way.

9. This seems to be in some counterstate with their custom of never hurrying anywhere and hardly knowing of race and competition. This seems to be the exception, the pen where they keep those who have to do it for a living.

10. We often find holes in the ground, where natural gas erupts. Our analysers show it's a mix helion and azoon. No further analysi of soul, minerals, precipitation, anything, give any reason to suspect the presence of helion under the planetary crust. This is, of course, no obstacle for them using it to fill flying bladders. They use them when they travel somewhere farther, or carry a heavy load. It is no miracle if one sees an Ajthatian [ite-hut-yun] pulling a house sized bladder with his bikiklos, with a load hanging being five times heavier than himself, bikiklos included.

11. "created" is literally the expression used by first interpreter when assigned to us. They had access to our biblio, and we taught them how to read the first day, without understanding. Then we did not see them for two days, and third day, word by word: "I Roverli-of created-mine, serve-mine owe-yours, hoping-mine good-your serve-your long years-his". Very next day he appologized for attaching a person-ownership adverb (?), and translated it thus: "Me the Roverli created to on service to you find myself, thine need dire duty mine overwhelming is, though plenty years of hope cherish alike". It took as much as three months until he managed to clean up the layers of our language history and his own way of thinking. It was alike with the other three translators - what they uttered in the first weeks, helped us most when we started learning Ajthatski [ite-hut-skee]. There are some thirty Ajthatic languages, but they don't differ too much - roughly, as much as a Premaran [prem-a-run] is able to aciheve understanding with a Rodjanin [rod-yuh-nin], the two most distant Ajthatians are as well. They are more like various attempts at variations of a same language, then differing dialects which may once become separate languages. Heavy accent may be an obstacle to understanding, but that may happen even when both speak the same language.

12. With three of our team having some telepathic to some telempathic powers, still doesn't mean we succeeded noticing any such communication on Ajthat, and means even less that there's none here at all. Telelanguages are so many-kinded, depending on personal colors, frequency, speed, smell, caprices, it is all so different, that one is deemed a stong telepath if in a town of meg of people finds, in a lifetime, two or three people to achieve understanding with, and if the understanding goes without seeing them, this goes into Anals of World Telepathic Society.

The telepaths have, of course, opened some lykeons to practice talk, they even have some common language of their own. Almost one third manage to master it. All who did, agree that it is terse, dry, weak and a must. It can't express anything personal or complicated, but comes handy to talk with the unknowns.

13. At times, rumors spread that they don't meet at all (the gathering is just a show), but instead sit by themselves, each to their planet, and synkhronously weave the same stories, pretending to be sending messages to each other.

14. To the question of "where do they get it from", the answer was indefinite, as if we tried to explain to someone "how do you know which piece will you watch now" with a pithy sentence "well, I look up the announcement". In places like that one simply gives up questioning.

15.   "nickname" - the other name, calling name, hypocoristic, name in company. Unofficial name, rarely written down, given by chance. Tied to an event where the named person took part and stood higher for something done (good, bad or most often funny). Nickname does not last a lifetime; it is worn from the moment it sticks to the person, until death, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. A person may have more nicknames at the same time, then one is used in some places and the others in the other. After death, a person is remembered among people mostly by the nickname, even longer than by the real name. In lifetiem, the nickname is often stronger than the name - often more people know a persons nickname than the name.

16. Could this be the substance of the idea on "unity of form and content" that the Roverli profess, expressed most briefly? If it is, it's due thinking well of what is implied by that. An extremely simple and well meaning people may be implied, or it may be a higher skill of lying and deception. Not all the lie lies in what is said; bigger lies lie in choice of truth, self-deception, the unspoken.

17. (Gvelim) "Eden" is often mentioned in speech, or that's at least the translation we get. In Ajthatic mythologies, not even in the few which do count with a life after death, there is no mention of a duality "eden-hell", otherwise well known in several human mythologies. Eden is mentioned, as a rule, as a "place where all is nice and good". It usually bears a suspicious sound - no religion on Ajthat wants to have anything with eden, just a few mention it as a "place where you thought you are nice and well, until your eyes opened". We could not transfer our image of eden to them, because it's too similar to their everyday life. Or they just pretend to be crazy.

18. It was unclear to us where does his translation come from, because we saw no machinery, nor have I noticed the translator telling him anything, nor did he have anything on his head. His head was actually solemnly fresh shaven (sign of honor!), so every little vein under the skin was visible. Any good technology looks like magic, and the other way round. During the talk, by the way, the translator is silent and looking to the sky, and murmurs the needed translations to me. Does not translate back at all, for what I was able to see, since I did not hear a single word of theirs.

19. The expression in the low language denotes, as we have found later, "the rejected offspring", the one that the animal can not feed, analogon to "the thirteenth piglet".

20. (Me) It lasts twenty damars on the recording. Something is even visible, I can bring up those pictures when I watch it. As a document it is unusable - no focus, no color, no depth nor sound.

21.   The first official emissary of the League on Ajthat was Desfima Proprim bin Imaana, of Erkestbont, a diplomat by education, occupation and orientation. Despite the advanced age, she successfully mediated several similar situations, specially being acknowledged for calming down the rebellion of the populace which was to move because the planet was to become a landfill for orbital waste (see "Zajkil [zye-kill] case"). The critics of her career haven't found anything big against her, except the tendency to appear there where something important goes on, and to cast her coworkers into the fire, and then, either let them burn out or pick the laurels herself. Such a quality is everywhere deemed as important for a good negotiator, and is surely the one which recommended her for this post.

22. The Ajthatic houses have no front or back side. They usually have two or three equal entrances and face all the sides equally. They usually build them on the sunny side of a hill, or in smaller forests. Conditionally, the front side of the house may be the one facing downslope, though even that bears too many exceptions to hold as a rule.

23. In one of the previous editions, for the kommon haiping speaking area, this word (not too commonly used, denoting "personal data" - name, date of birth etc) was translated as "genitalia". Even the League spoken languages themselves are sufficient for a mess. Introduction of Ajthatic dialects can only add to it.

24.  Quick vote was introduced into almost all the League planets, except where the computers are avoided for religious or technical reasons. The proposition to vote on appears for all who hook up to any connection during the day, the message contains a brief description of the question disputed, and a list of propositions. The voter picks one of the offered ones or decides that none suit him, or that he has no interest in the whole thing. Anyway, voting must be confirmed by a personal sign (password, fingerprint, voiceprint - depending on places) unless no interest, in which case he does nothing.

25. This, of course, has its exceptions. Three cases were recorded (as known outside of Brotherhood) that someone cleaned the treasuries of the Brotherhood and vanished. Excommunication hits the real buccaneer, because he remains without accomplices and safe harbor, but that's exactly what an ex-buccaneer hopes for. With a good dowry, unknown origins, he is welcome anywhere.

26. The Roverli persistently refuse to be any kind of Order, because that would, according to them, impose too much management upon their work, which is managed quite well by itself already. The expression they use for themselves is "companionship". Being asked why just that one, when that means, in many mainstream worlds, "a group of passengers", they answered that that is exactly the best meaning, and translate it themselves as such ever since. At the same occasion, they said that the closest word for "Roverli" in our languages (they don't distinguish dead and live languages) is "rover", or "rovar", which denotes an animal which always goes around poking and sniffing.

27. This is one of the rare League planet names which still exists in Ajthatic languages, though it doesn't denote a planet, but is rather a general expression for nowhere land. Mand is one of the ancient gods, that nobody believes in, but is only mentioned in proverbs of this kind.

28. This coffee is a mystery by itself. We brought very little coffee with us, used half of it on the way, simply counting that where there's people, there will be tea. Just as they made replacements for all other consumables of ours, so they made coffee for us, even a better one than our was. Coffee is the only thing which nobody ever managed to doctor. So far. Or could they have grown it... based on two puds [pood] of roast, ground and processed beans?

29 There were religions which openly switched into a merchant status, but their believers crumbled away quickly. Some of them remained, but their current merchandise can hardly be called a belief. That is some other kind of soul food, and they don't really have believers, but spectators who are amused with a dispute on matters of religion, Becoming, Substance and Reasons. Among the spectators there are always some believers ho have paid to hear, which turns out to be a good counterweight to the real religions.

30. The self-awareness exam is designed so that the examinee can prove to be able to defend himself with words, deed or lack thereof, to be resistant to offering of fool's gold bargain, that he is not gullible and that he uses his own head to think with. Most get past this exam by age of fourteen to nineteen, but it was recorded that some never passed it, and some did at the age of eight. The examination committee is nominated by the local government, or a standalone committee approved by them. There are strolling committees, who visit backwaters; they must have a planetary or federal license. They are paid for each exam regardless of its outcome; the exam happens when candidate calls.

31. The scripture is unclear here and has already led some explorers into confusion. The final truth, if such a thing exists, is that some of the idle emissaries had come up with the old "Military rules for the first encounter and procedure henceforth", and compiled a list of all the acts by previous missions which were worth at least court martial, not wishing to dwell on anything smaller. The work was highly appraised later, and is considered as one of "last shovels of soil over the coffin of military history".

32. Since everyone keeps scribbling and trying to steal from oblivion at least some moments of each day, the writing itself is reduced to mere pick among the sea of existing notes.

33. "Returned" is an expression worth a honorable space in textbooks of exaggeration in reporting. Only Renj [Rhen'] was a member in one of the first League treaties. All the others have lost touch with the known worlds long before the League was thought of.