Book IV: To Qwell the Tide
by euhal allen
Table of Contents|
Chapter 2, part 2 appears
in this issue.
Chapter 2: Going Home
part 3 of 3
* * *
Grand Minister Xhelsher read the report with a mixture of satisfaction and alarm.
Satisfaction that work on the sub-quantum carrier beam was progressing faster than expected and that a working model could possibly be ready in about four months. With that carrier beam, the resources of the whole galaxy would be more open to the Council.
The alarm came where the report pointed out that research on the carrier beam had also led to the invention of a beam detector. In testing the detector there had been found a number of seemingly permanent carrier beams of great size. Those beams all connected systems that the Council had englobed. They were all connected to one another, even Earth, with the exception of the Skeltz system, which was still englobed, silent, and alone.
Even stranger was the fact that there were three worlds, unknown by the Council until now, that were connected to that system, one of which was not englobed and was the planet thought to be Starhell. Then, there were two more that the Council had never englobed, one at the center of the beams and another in an area that Council fleets had not yet explored.
“At least,” thought the Grand Minister, “none of those beams are connected in the Cernon Sector; so that means that we can stop our search there and begin to focus it more in some other sector.”
* * *
Ka’Tia sat across from Rondol and awaited the answer to her question. It was a long time in coming, but, having learned long ago that patience was a form of pressure, she just sat and looked at Rondol with that little, wry, smile on her face. Finally, Rondol succumbed.
“‘Why are we hidden when we had the weapons powerful enough to destroy the Skeltz, weapons no one else had?’ Ah, that would be a good question, if its implications were true. But, they are not. The Skeltz had weapons of much greater power than any we had. We do not find war an acceptable alternative to almost any other means of problem solving. We did not have weapons as good as even the Galactic Council’s. We still do not have such weapons.”
Stunned by Rondol’s statement, Ka’Tia retorted, “Of course you didn’t have weapons to defeat the Skeltz. Just because their ships started blowing up when you appeared doesn’t mean you had weapons.
“And your action in hunting down and destroying every Skeltz vessel in the galaxy was only a coincidence of your appearance.
“Then your protection of the Council fleet while they set up the englobement of the Skeltz system was only a sham, because the superior weapons you did not have destroyed the Skeltz fleets attacking those Council ships. If you didn’t have weapons superior to the Skeltz then what destroyed them?”
“We penetrated each ship with a sub-quantum carrier beam, ” said Rondol, “a Door long enough to place a nuclear explosive device with a thirty-second fuse in each of their ships. So, in essence, we did not battle the Skeltz; we murdered them.
“Had those devices detonated outside their shields, the Skeltz would have never been harmed. But since they had no knowledge of the carrier beams, and since the carrier beams could penetrate their shields, they had no defense against them.
“Later, just before we gave our fleets to the Council, we removed all the carrier beams from our ships and all the information about them. The Council tore the ships apart looking for the ‘superior’ weapons. But, of course, they couldn’t find what didn’t exist.”
“You had Doors that long ago and didn’t share the technology with the Council? Why?”
“Our Families debated long and hard over that very question. Those choosing to share the technology were almost at the point of doing so when the Galactic Council englobed another race as a danger to the Galaxy. That action destroyed any desire to give Doors to the Council.
“Instead, we used the Doors to watch that race gain the maturity needed to become a part of galactic civilization, aiding if necessary. That was where Bridge technology had its first test. It worked, and they were the beginning of Tunnel Worlds.
“We did the same things with each race englobed since then. All of them have become members of the Tunnel Worlds. Our success was so great that through careful encouragement and strategic insertions of formulas and data we helped the Council ‘discover’ Bridge technology. That was the start of the Galactic Council’s use of the Bridges in seeking to guide growth of races rather than englobe them.
“It worked until Earth came along.”
“Why,” Ka’Tia asked, “didn’t you use the Doors and Bridge technology with the Skeltz? Surely they too could have been encouraged to leave their past behind?”
“We couldn’t. When the Skeltz knew that they had been soundly defeated they couldn’t face it. Losing a war to others, inferiors, shamed the Skeltz so much that they killed themselves.
“The planet is still there. So are the cities. Their ships are there, carefully docked in spaceports all over the planet. But there is no life there. They detonated a weapon that, though it destroyed little physically, turned the atmosphere into a radioactive blanket.”
* * *
Cyr, busy studying Qwell, came onto an interesting point that he just had to tell Ka’Tia. “This is really strange, Ka’Tia.”
“What is strange, Cyr?”
“How you can take almost any word in Qwell and make it have a negative connotation merely by adding ‘tz’. For instance, the word for small animal becomes something like ‘vermin’ if you add the tz.”
“And the point you are making is?”
“The Qwell word for small animal is skel.”
“Cyr, that can’t be coincidence! There has to be a reason for that.”
“There is,” said Jo’Eya, just coming through her Door. “It is a simple one. When the Council ships first met the Skeltz and heard that one word, they assumed that they were being given the name of that people. Instead, they were being identified as vermin to be destroyed.”
“The Skeltz — we, too, call them that now — and our people had known of each other for a long time. They hated us because we taught peace. To them peace and accommodation were weaknesses.
“They studied us at every opportunity. They were like hunters tracking prey. They would have destroyed us had they found out where our home world was.
“When the Council ship first contacted them they used our word for vermin as their answer to the Council ship’s hails. Had they used their word, they would have been known as the Proznal. In using our word they were saying that even their vermin, Proznal, were of greater worth than those on the people of the Council.”
“If you knew those things why didn’t you make that known to the Galactic Council after you joined them?” asked Ka'Tia.
“The Skeltz,” Jo’Eya replied, “were englobed, and then they were dead. There was no reason to bring it up, while there were many reasons not to.
“When you were Grand Minister, Ka’Tia, did you never notice that there were always those who would believe any philosophy put out by others? We did not want the thoughts of the Skeltz to be brought out into the galaxy for fear that there would be some who would adopt it and become like them. It was better that they were just the Skeltz, and evil.”
“I have another question, Jo’Eya, ” said Ka'Tia. “How is it that you seem to pop up almost every time that Cyr and I have one of these little discussions? Are you, somehow, spying on us?”
Grinning, Jo’Eya answered, “Every chance I get. However, I can’t listen in to your conversations as such. What happens is that when you or Cyr access a source that may need some explanation to make things clear I am notified to come over and see if I am needed.
“When Cyr hit on the skeltz conundrum, anything concerning that set of terms being flagged, the dictionary program sent a flash to the main server and I got a heads-up and came to make sure you got the information you needed in an unambiguous manner.”
“You mean,” replied Ka’Tia, “we would get an explanation that put the Families in the best light?”
“Of course. We wish to be thought of in positive terms. Do you know of anyone who wants themselves shown in a negative light? We won’t lie to you: you are Family, but we will attempt to help you see things as we, your Family, sees them. It is our Truth.
“This should not surprise you. You were Grand Minister of the Galactic Council. You are the one who initiated the exploration of the Cernon Sector so as to show the galaxy that humans could be a valuable addition to galactic civilization. That was a truth, your Truth, that you wanted others to see, and, so, you controlled much of the information that came out of that sector and made it be known in the most favorable light. Should we be any different?”
Laughing, Ka’Tia answered, “I am guilty as charged, and you have made your point. It might be a little easier, though, if, when we come on something interesting and want some clarification, we could call you.”
Jo’Eya walked over to the data input and inserted a small data card. “There, you now have my page number. You use it and I will be right over. Please, though, remember that I am not a cyber-person. I do sleep, eat, and take showers. Sometimes, I even spend time with males that I like.”
Ka’Tia, again laughing, “When I was Grand Minister I used that same line of reasoning with those who needed to contact me. It never did any good.
“But,” seeing the disappointment on Jo’Eya’s face, she added, “since that was the case and I hated it at times, we will do our best to be kind to you and contact you only when you are not in the shower, eating, sleeping, or entertaining. You just need to keep us posted as to your schedule.”
Ka’Tia was still laughing as Jo’Eya went back through her Door and to her, now, very cold meal.
* * *
Me’Avi Shapirov, Minister to the Galactic Council from New Earth came to her appointment with the Grand Minister loaded with data cards to help move him to do something about the current disaster facing the Galactic Council. Not since the war with the Skeltz did the members of the Council feel such apprehension about the future. Doing nothing but waiting was driving the Ministers out of their minds.
“The Grand Minister will see you now.”
Me’Avi went into the office quickly and started on her spiel about the need for action, and action now. She was surprised when the Grand Minister just yawned at her and said, “Close the door, Me’Avi, and sit down.” It was not the reaction she expected.
“Kran, you don’t seem to see the urgency of these matters. When the Qwell’Na left their offices, the whole government went into a tailspin. We still have not been able to fill half of the offices with qualified people. What are we going to do when they attack?”
“Nothing! Are you out of your mind? We have to have a plan ready to defend ourselves. We have...”
The Grand Minister just sighed and then said, gently, “Me’Avi, they are not going to attack. They are going to approach us to negotiate with us.”
“Negotiate? How can you say that? They had the weapons to destroy the Skeltz. They never gave those weapons to us. Why should they negotiate with us when they can win so easily?”
“Live with fairness: Die with honor; all else is Fel,” replied the Grand Minister.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Me’Avi, we are dealing with a principled people,” said Xhelsher. “I have worked with the Qwell’Na members of our government for decades. They will do almost anything to avoid unnecessary violence.
“They will accept violence only if there is no way around it. If we force them to use their weapons, then we are fools. They can be beaten only by following their own plans.”
“Their own plans? We don’t know their own plans. Or do we? Kran, what are you holding out on me? We decided, when all this mess started, that we would share everything. And now I come in here to do something and you start spouting proverbs that make no sense at all.”
“Live with fairness: Die with honor; all else is Fel makes perfect sense, Me’Avi. It means that without fairness and honor life is fel, or nothing. At least, I think that is what it means.
“The Qwell’Na have never given us anything in their language and so we have to guess their thought patterns. It was only by chance that I have this,” he said as he pushed a small book toward Me’Avi.
“The Qwom-Sor Manual of Dualism. What in the world is it and how did you get it?”
“When you read it you will know what it is. As to how I got it, that is a very strange tale. I happened to be doing some investigating work on a government project and was in an office when the Manager, a Qwell’Na, became very ill. Something like a heart attack, I believe. As he lay on the floor I went to his desk and called for help.
“On his desk I saw a copy of that book. As the medical people were taking him out I ran it through a replicator, made a copy for myself, and put the original back on his desk.”
“That is a strange thing to do, Kran. If I copied everything I saw on people’s desks I would not have room to store them all,” Me’Avi interjected.
“Yes, that is a problem. You should see the files and files of things like that in my storage areas.”
“You mean, Kran, that you do that as a habit?”
“Me’Avi, I may be Grand Minister, but I was Galactic Chronicler. To become Galactic Chronicler you have to be a historian. To be a historian you have to be interested in arcane and hard-to-find documents.
“The Qwom-Sor manual was something I not only had never seen before, it was something I had never even heard spoken of by any of the Qwell’Na I knew. Yet, that copy was very worn. It was obviously often-used. That made it interesting to me. I have never regretted replicating it.
“That it is an important piece of literature in Qwell’Na society is certain. I made sure of that.”
“Made sure of it? How could you do that?”
“I memorized some of the proverbs and then would rework them into Galactic Common. Then, when I was around one of the Qwell’Na and if an opportunity came up I would spout out one of those reworked sayings. Almost invariably the Qwell’Na would comment that they had a saying much like that. It did not just work once in a while; at first, it worked every time.
“Later, I found my office thoroughly searched. It was cleverly done and if I was not the type to keep everything in a certain place, I should not have known it. Besides, no one used the door of my office to get in, and there was no other way.
“After that every Qwell’Na would feign ignorance every time I quoted one of those little proverbs. They would even feign ignorance of those proverbs that had been acknowledged a number of times by other Qwell’Na in the past.
“As a historian I can only draw the conclusion that the Qwom-Sor manual is a very important and influential book. And if that is so, I can only draw the conclusion that the Qwell’Na will not attack us.
“You are bright, Me’Avi. You will see, after you read the manual, that I am right.”
To be continued...
Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen