Every year we read one of my books together, out of the 60 or so I have written so far, free of charge, in three languages: English, Esperanto and Spanish, disregarding the original language I used when I wrote every one of them.
Up to now we have read:
Remember there is also a Spanish version, which will expire at the same time as this one; but the Esperanto version will stay here for good, as well as my other works which were once The Book of the Year. If you can read Esperanto, you will be able to read the whole of my books, as I translate and upload them. If you want to learn Esperanto, you can ask the American or British Esperanto Asociations for guidance on how to, as they will supply you with a lot of information about easy and cheap courses on the subject.
To those who know that
Space is the only reality.
I was quiet. I was born like that, and that's the way I have been my whole life. I intend to be like that for the rest of my life. At least that was the feeling I had till some strangers came to live by me. I never invited them, but I had to accept them whether I wanted or not, till they decided to go away on their own will, because we Holians dislike forcing our will on others. We do enjoy solitude and individuality, and that's exactly why we respect the environment and every living being. It was a sun bright day with some clouds when that thing fell down from the sky and grounded near me. I had enjoyed a nice and long rain and was admiring the beauty of a thick rain-bow when I saw it fall from the bow and then ground downwards near the place where I was lying getting dry from the rain heavens had just blessed me with.
We, Holians, have a lot of time and a long memory. That's why I noticed everything they said, and then, when I finally managed to understand their language, I remembered and understood it all. Unfortunately it was too late for our first meeting to be more successful. From that little thing, which I later understood they call it roundabout, came out two beings. They moved by means of two long branches, like Apes do some times, but hey had a large head with only one eye, and had no neck, unlike Apes. They started mumbling and moving strangely. I thought they were about to greet me, but they paid no attention to me. It was strange, as I was the only intelligent being in miles around. My sensors detected, that they were nervous. Afterwards I rebuilt the dialogue they had in that moment:
"Commander, the air is good for breathing".
"Are there any bacteria or viruses in it?"
"Negative. It is totally secure breathing here".
Both of them did something strange: they took off part of their heads. I remarked then that they did have two eyes and one neck, but they were extremely short.
"Well, it is beautiful breathing this nice air! Fresh and healthy".
"Yes, Pol. This looks like paradise. Unfortunately there is nobody we could ask about this planet".
I was going to say something then, but I did not know what they were talking about at that time, or who they were, or what they wanted. So I went on watching them.
They took a stone near a little machine they had in their belts.
"Iron", said the tallest one. "Apparently iron is very abundant in the ground".
"Yes. Unluckily we cannot grow wheat on iron".
"I don't understand how can this shade giving tree here. How can it grow out of iron?"
"Yes, neither can I. And there are also other things growing here. If they were green instead of gray, we could call them vegetables".
Then they tried to break my arm, as if I were a thing which could not defend itself:
"Commander! Can you hear me?"
The poor Commander got my automatic electric shock. I never intended to attack him, but my reaction was instinctive. He did not cause any pain to me, but I noticed his pulling and I counter-attacked automatically. And then I detected that thing in Pol.
Then I understood that I could communicate with her with feelings. Suddenly I radiated a comfort feeling to them both. She looked at me, beyond me, over me, and around me, missing me all the time.
Pol, "said the Commander, "what happened?
"Commander! You are alive! Good God!
"Yes", he said as he stood up. "I suddenly felt an electric bolt. In this strange planet trees grow up on iron and there is natural electricity.
"Yes, but there is peace here. Do you not feel well, Commander?
"Better than never in my life! Probably here there is an iron paradise.
Pol laughed. I enjoyed that laugh: fresh, smart, melodic...
"Fortunately there is no iron snake, Commander.
I could not understand then that the name Pol was so short, and yet the other one's name was three times as long, Com-man-der. But then I understood that they come from a place I never had heard of. From their talking I understood that they come from another planet, which was not mine. I understood then, too, that my world is not the universe, but there are other worlds in the universe. At least mine and their planet, which has a name, Earth. But then I understood that Pol's planet was not the same one, so there are at least three planets in the universe: Earth, Klato and my own one, which has no name till now. Probably Commander and Pol would give it a name, and then it would not longer be The World.
I also understood that earthlings and Klatans have two sexes, and Pol was a female and Commander was male. Later I would understand that male and female can come together, excited, and then there would be another small person, who they two must care of till the time when it can take care of him or herself. However, Commander and Pol never joined in such a way, because they are from different planets, different species really, and they were afraid they were not compatible, and were not willing to test it. Commander's hair was yellow, and his eyes were blue, whereas Pol had very thick, short black hair, and even blacker eyes.
For a whole year they were on my place, and when the season changed for the fifth time, they decided to go. Along that period of time they went to and fro, (up and down, really) by means of their craft, and they broke pieces of iron from the ground and decided to build a new ship by means of which they could carry up many things they collected from my planet, among them several animals and plants. I tried to tell them they were going to die if they were away from the planet, but I could not make any sound, and I could not understand their language very well. That's why I could not talk to them and thought with sorrow, that those poor beasts and plants were going to die.
Pol did not come often, but many other individuals of either sex came to do strange, different functions on my ground. At last they managed to break me an arm, and were very surprised that almost instantly I could grow a new one in the place where the old one had been. Yes, they realised that I was there, and had been from the very beginning. Even if they still did not understand that I was an intelligent being.
Three days after my miming I saw Pol again. It seemed that she wanted to say good-bye to the planet. At the time I started to understand what was on... It was fortunate that I could finally contact her while she was sleeping under my trunk's shade.
Pol!, I said into her peaceful dream, I greet you in the name of my civilization.
I felt how afraid was her reaction. So afraid that she woke up.
"What!?", she shouted.
Don't be afraid, I said sending her a wave of peaceful feeling.
"Okey, well, but tell me: who is talking to me?"
I cannot talk, Pol. I have no mouth.
"Where are you? What are you?"
You are touching me.
"How come? I can see nothing. If I am dreaming, why am I awake?"
You are not sleeping. Can you understand telepathy?
"Yes, my species, Klatans, can do that". She said.
Can't your comrades?
No, she replied by telepathic means, They are Earthlings. They can only talk.
I can see how great my mistake was, then. I saw you come and when I realised that you did not go away, like our other visitors, I tried to contact you, but I could not understand your language, and when I finally managed to grasp its meaning, I could not talk to you. But I did not try telepathy with you before.
Well, you can see now that I am not dangerous, but you are still invisible to me. Why don't you tell me where you are, so that we can talk more freely?
We needn't talk because we have compatible thought, which is much faster than your talk.
Oh, yes, said Pol realizing that she had not been talking for some minutes, but she was thinking with that being, whatsoever thing it is. Anyway, let me know your name, please.
I am no earthling or Klatan. I am Holian. In fact I have no personal name, because we don't see one another here, as we communicate by telepathic means among us, as we could say we are just a collective conscience. Now you are not talking to me exactly, but to my whole species.
Interesting civilization. Can I first give you a personal name? I like knowing who I am talking to, even if the whole of your civilization are listening. Will the others talk to me, too?
No, Pol. I talk on behalf of them all. We are one and all at the same time. Feel free about it. You name me, please. Which name will you give me, Pol?
Do you have a family name?
A family name..., I understand what is this about, Pol Kunos from Klato. No, I do not have a family name, because I have no family. I come from seeds from my ancestors, whom I do not know directly, but through other individuals who knew them. Who am I?
You are Holian, so let you be Polholian, as you are my first friend on this planet. You keep this name for you as a symbol of friendship of mine.
Polholian. Thanks for your gift, Pol. I am honored by you for this, and I will always bear this name proudly. You are my family, if that does not upset you.
Ha, of course it doesn't. It is my honor to have you in my family. But I cannot see where your thought comes to me from.
Is your back leaning on something now?
My back is leaning on a tree trunk.
Well, this is me. So, according to you, I am a tree.
A tree! Are there intelligent trees in Iron?
Interesting name for my planet. Up to now it was The World, where Holians, Apes, Hidrargia and Nubos live... But yes, you are right: I am an intelligent tree.
Are you the dominant species on this planet?
Indeed. Though those whom I just mentioned are also intelligent and independent from us, even if they respect us and often ask for advice from us, Holians.
OK..., I am ashamed to confess that we took things from your planet without your permission.
Well, I cannot understand your feeling to possess, take, manipulate. The planet is not ours. We happened to have been born here and our planet, Iron to you, gives us everything we need free of charge. If something is useful to you, take it.
I feel bad remembering that we even took a branch of yours. Ferris did that.
The Commander. Commander Ferris. He was born in Valencia, a beautiful city in Earth, by the Mediterranean Sea, where Earth civilization started.
That's interesting. Well, I felt a nasty moment, and then I produced a new branch.
Yes, they told me that. But I must apologize to you for that.
It's not important. I don't remember that. But I must tell you something important you did.
The Apes and other animals you took into your vehicle will die if they do not come back soon.
Well, some of them are ill, yes. Why is that?
There is hydrogen in our air, and iron on the ground, and they must use both of them for their internal functions.
Oh, so we cannot take them to our home...
If it takes a short time for you to get home, perhaps they will still be alive. But they will certainly die a little time after.
We don't mean that. I will report that immediately.
I saw the woman take something from her belt and talk:
Commander, I must tell you something urgent. Please, transport me now".
I saw her disappear suddenly. She was there, and then she was no more.
An hour later I saw ten people appear there, and then twenty different animals, who ran away fast into the prairie, till we no longer saw them.
This is Polholian, Commander Ferris", Pol said pointing at me with a finger.
The man came near mi and looked at me for a long time. He touched me, hung from one of my branches and finally said to me:
Pleased to meet you, Polholian. I apologize for taking your animals and things. Can we take anything from your planet for a later study?"
But I could not make myself understood by him. After a few minutes, Pol said:
He cannot talk, commander. He asked me to translate for you. He says that we can take minerals and liquids, except mercury, which is also an intelligent, feeling being we call Hidrargium here. In fact there is a mercury sea formed by many intermixed individuals who can solidify individually, but when they do so they are very angry, because they do not feel well in solid state".
"Oh, I see. Tell him we did not suspect that. How many intelligent species are there in this planet?"
"He says that there is the Holians (ferric trees), Hidrargia (liquid ones), Nubos (clouds) and Apes, though the two last ones are not very clever. There are very few Apes and they gather together in tribes, who make war to one another along most of the planet".
"But we met none of them for a year!"
"Yes. They are very few, only ten thousand all over the world, and they saw us and hid, because they were afraid. It is their fear what made them fight one another".
"OK, Pol, we must go home in a few days. Ask him if we can talk to those Apes, and if he could make the arrangements for us to meet them".
"He says it is. His neighbors will look for them and will tell it about it then. Polholian asks me to hide among its branches while it calls Apes. Then it will summon you".
Commander Ferris and his party went away by means of that little ship in which Pol had come earlier, while she hid among my branches. I helped her get the highest ones so that she could see the whole roundabouts.
Ape Grankh came two hours later. With him there were his son and other twenty warriors.
Hello, he said looking at me.
Hello, Grankh, son of Grankhel. I must introduce you to my new friend, who came from the sky.
Are there sky folks?, he said in fear. Where is he?It is not a male, but a female. Are you willing to meet her?
That Ape looked around, but I noticed that he was really afraid.
No, he said finally. If it is a female, my wife will come and talk to her. It is not proper for a male to talk to an unknown female.
And they all went away. An hour later two female Apes came.
Greetings, Holian, one of them said.
Hello! Who are you?
I am Ruznyo, from the P'kol tribe. My husband says that a sky female wants to talk. This is my sister Rukh.
Yes, but I must translate, because she cannot talk the language.
She was afraid, too, but also curious. So I told Pol she might come down already.
The two Apes panicked when they saw a female come down from the high in strange clothes.
Hello!, said Pol. Hello, Ruznyo said through my interpretation.
I translated mentally for them both in such a way that they thought they could talk each other's language. In fact Pol started to talk as if she was having a conversation with Ruznyo, who did the same.
"Do you come from the sky?"
"Not exactly. I come form another planet".
"Planet? What is a planet?"
Understand, Pol, I clarified, that she lives in Prehistory. She understands only sky and ground.
"I beg your pardon", added Pol. "Yes, I come from a far away part of the sky". "Friendly?"
"Yes, Ruznyo. I want to be your friend".
"And what do you want from us?"
"Information. I want to understand you".
"Will you help us survive in winter?"
"Yes, of course, we'll do everything we can".
The dialogue went on for hours, and I had to warn Pol twice that I was not really translating, but interpreting, because the vocabulary and ideas of those Apes was very limited. Finally I managed to make Ruznyo understand that Pol's boss, a male, wanted to talk to the chief of P'kol tribe. They went away, and a friend of mine made me know that Grankh agreed to come, provided that the sky inhabitant was a male. An hour later Ferris and Grankh met in front of me.
After the formal presentation, both males talked freely by means of my interpretation and Pol's. Their talk was simpler than the girls' one, and finally they came to commercial affairs: people from Earth and Klato could take anything from the planet freely, even come and live here, on the condition that they will not annoy Apes, and also they could not occupy the surrounding fifty square kilometers territory, at the center of which we were then, but they could root in the land beyond the sea. Apes did not know what is beyond the sea, but I and my species do, and we know there are very different continents and oceans, so the Apes were giving away the planet to these men. I interlocked another condition without they being aware: they could not change the environment, and they must consult me or any other of my species, if they are in doubt on this.
And then the moment of farewell came. Ferris and Pol came to say good-bye, and they promised to come back soon.
I'll be here, I said. I'm going nowhere.
Have you never envied these animals, which can move freely along Iron?
The real truth is that when beasts come to the shadow from my branches, I can see what is in their brains. They may not think, but they have memory, and I can see everything they saw and felt. In addition, the Apes can tell me their opinions and also I can see everything which is inside their heads, because they are capable of telepathy, as you know.
Do you mean everything? The whole of it?, Pol wanted to know.
Yes, Pol, but don't worry: your secrets are safe with me. I never tell what I happened to find.
Ferris looked at her, and then at me.
Do not look at me, Ferris. I am not telling what you have in your head, either.
“So, if you no longer need to talk to us...”
“Well”, I said through Pol, “Ferris, your human thoughts seemed an abstract picture to me. I needed to learn your language to find any sense in what you were thinking. You talk all the time, either you word it in your mouth or simply you think it. But yes, now I do understand everything”.
“So you know it all about my civilization...”
“Of course I do. And I am willing to help you, if you only ask me”.
“Help? Well, I'll remember, thanks. But tell me: do you think it is possible to found a human colony here?”
“Of course it is possible. And also in neighboring planets. Before you came, this planet was the whole universe for us, Holians. Thanks to you and your knowledge and findings, we know more about our planet, our star system and the real universe itself. You gave us much more than we could ever dream of, and certainly what you said or thought to give us was just a joke, in comparison”.
“Is it?”, said Pol. “I could never imagine...”
“Look, dear Pol: we could give us only one planet, and we even did not give that. But you gave us the technology to make a star ship, exploration of the Universe, and even the reason to do so”.
“Reason? In which way a tree can move across the Universe?”
“Well, Ferris, look: I could make Apes refine the ground to build a star ship around me, for example. I could be at the center, the nucleus of the ship. On the whole ship surface sensor devices could be scattered so that I could be reported on everything and I myself could manage the engines which move the ship across the Universe without needing any vital system, as I need only iron, hydrogen and probably only a few Hidrurgia to help me fix repairing, if something goes wrong. Once a laboratory is built inside the ship, I could live endlessly if only I can find iron from time to time, and you know there is iron everywhere, even in planets where men could not have a chance to survive. Even more, our ships will be made of iron, and that means that our nutritional reserve is the ship itself”.
“Oh, that's interesting!”, said Ferris in awe.
“Yes, commander, I could do that single handed, but I find that our two species could help each other. If you can leave me a few men here, under my guidance, they could build a ship which will get you before you are on Earth. But if you do not want that, or there are no volunteers, Apes can do that for me, and within a few years I could visit you in your planet”.
“Commander”, Pol said suddenly, “I volunteer, if you allow me”.
“Pol, you are very important in our ship...”
“Commander, officially I am only an observer. Almost anyone else can do what I do in our ship, and it would be an honor for me to collaborate with a Ferric to develop star travel through inter stellar cooperation”, she said with respect.
It was evident to me from Ferris' mind that even if the the chief officer and vice captain in the Bluish was senior lieutenant Santos Oliveira, Pol and Ferris were always together, as he valued her views and opinions from the very moment they first met, as explaining everything to an alien forced him to rethink the things he did as a matter of course, and then he detected minor flaws and absurd procedures on board, and that made him change things for the better. But he understood that was a golden opportunity for her as a person and officer, and for their two planets to get acquainted with a new species and way to see life. Yes, Pol's observation power was excellent, and some time with the Holian could give her an excellent feed back Terrans and Klatans could use.“Well, Pol, OK. You only need to convince only a few of our 2,000 crewmen to help you...”
But Pol did not convince ten, but a hundred. In fact many more wanted to remain with her. I noticed that the crew were in for their observation officer, whom they saw so eager to help building a new Space Fleet. Their good vibrations let me unarmed to Pol’s argumentation to include a hundred human helpers. And she was right: a hundred people worked faster than only ten, for she was a very efficient planner and leader.
Right before I got my hundred crewmen, Ferris went back to his ship alone, and then she abandoned our planet forever.
The earthlings and klatlings were surprised to see how easy was to help iron layers arise from the ground and form walls which made a large building. Inside they saw staircases and rooms where there was furniture, everything made of iron.
But, Pol asked, if you can do that on your own, what do you need us for? Oh, dear, that is raw building. Now you must refine everything. We cannot make delicate things such as sensors and electronics, not to mention teleportation and replication machines, or cushions, curtains, beds, clothes, and so on. Similarly, we can provide you with the materials, but we cannot do the fine work. That's what we need you high tech ape-like beings for.
We made a great home for them, but also a bigger place for them to relax and amuse themselves. Later the labor tasks were organized. I was surprised men could not make gravitational engines and other devices necessary for inter stellar exploration, if they had already the theoretical knowledge. It was not so complicated for us Holians to add and mix their efforts and achievements in different fields make the best of them. I downloaded all the information in their central computer, and a thousand Holians were thinking for months and then produced the necessary physics and mathematics to get the technology to produce the three engines we needed to power a ship which could be useful to us and other people we might find in our courses.
Even if they could not believe it, in only two weeks we had totally built a huge iron ship. We did it around the first buildings which we had made in the first place. The most delicate task was making the sensors, course setting, vital and transport systems. But a Klatan, a hundred men, and over a thousand Holians under my lead worked very hard and so after only fourteen days we had the largest spaceship they had ever seen. We built it around the place where I was living, so I was really inside the ship, even if I had not got inside. Layer after layer were added around me, till we completed the four cubic kilometers I had intended. That awed my workers, who did not really know what they were doing in so many minimal tasks, once I put them together. Pol suspected the whole thing, but she had not believed that could be done till she saw it with her own eyes.
But, Polholian, she said when the ship was finished, how can this monster be moved at all?
By means of her engines.
But they are inside the sphere, in fact right by your side, and there are not pipes, which will throw he gases outside!
Oh, my dear!, you have still to learn something about the engines which Jones and Schultz helped me design… They do not push physically, but gravitationally. I will explain everything to you before we leave, because a good captain must know everything about her ship.
Who? Me? Why me?
Well, my dear, the most advanced beings on Iron are the Apes, and I do not trust them. They don't know what a planet is, and they'll not know for centuries. I am not a navigator, and you are a good one, and my faith in you is absolute. So, will you honor me by being my captain, please?
Well..., yes, I do not really now what to say. Well, yes, Polholian, I'll be your captain till you find a better one.
During the next three days the men tested the sensors and the rest of the ship systems, and when they found they were working efficiently, I told Pol about the engines and the rest of the systems, and their advantages and limits. Then, they all relaxed, rested, walked, and collected memories to miss when we were away.
And so twenty days after the Bluish, the Earth spaceship, went away, it was the moment for me to part with my planet for the first time in my life. The engines started to work and our huge ship slowly started to move upwards. Little by little we went away from Iron, while our crewmen watched through a huge window, not believing that the whole ship can move at all. Because it was a huge ship made of iron. In fact they had tried to persuade me to make it of steel, but there was no tin in my planet, and also, I told them, iron is strong enough and even if it is heavy, the engines we designed would never have a problem to move the ship.
We had three different engines: for short distances we had an inverse gravity motor which took advantage of the force of celestial bodies in the neighborhood to glide among them at speed never met before by my crew. For long distances we had made a WHG, that is to say, a Worm Hole Generator, which allows us get out of the space-time continuum in a given point and appear again in another one we had chosen previously. Our system allows us memorise both points so that we could come back instantly, even if the most complicated part of it all was calculating the returning point into the continuum so that we do not crash with another body there. But we avoided that sending a virtual probe ahead of us, so that if it came back with no error, it meant it had not found a solid body, it was safe to jump. Otherwise it disappeared unnoticed, and it meant it had found a solid body right there or within a tenth of light year. And the third engine was an Inertia Controller, which was my own species’ contribution, as we felt that the required inter planetary speeds (within a star system) would need an acceleration positive and negative which would be uncomfortable to me and deadly for the ape crew we would need, human for the moment.
In our maiden trip our speed grew constantly more and more, and after only two days we saw the Earth spaceship without needed to jump into an induced worm hole.
“Attention, Bluish”, called Pol on the radio when we were only ten thousand kilometers away from them, “answer, please. We are the Spaceship Ape, from the planet Iron. We ask permission to come near you”.
“Granted, Pol”, Ferris' voice sounded. “Come beside us”.
We halted only a few centimeters from the human ship, which actually seemed a dwarf beside us, like a lentil beside a watermelon.
Ferris wanted to come to us, and so he was the first man who tried our teleportation machine. Then he understood why there are not doors to go into or out of our ship.
“Greetings, commander! I give your crewmen back to you”.
“Oh, hello, Polholian. You can already talk!”
“Yes. There is a machine. I use it instead of your officer Pol for that”.
“Well. What else can you show me?”
“My colleagues and I unified the knowledge of your experts, and we succeeded to build faster and more efficient engines than the ones you have. I am willing to share them with you, if you wish so. In fact I already did, as it was your crewmen who build them, and so they know how to make them”.
My crewmen went back to the Bluish while we were talking. They had thought they were going to war, but all they got was a walk to the stars, luckily for them; and also a bit of video games.
“I will miss them, commander. Would you allow me to keep at least one of them to be given advice on what to do?”
“Ha…, I am afraid I know who is this about...”
“Yes, commander, I am asking for Pol, if she wishes to stay”.
“Pol?”, he asked her. “Would you like that?”
“Yes and no, commander. Perhaps if I stay longer on this ship I will learn how to use Polholian's technology more efficiently… That could be useful to the Earth and Klato Star Fleets”.
“You have already the scientific tools, Pol. Remember that I invented nothing, but only put together the different human bits of knowledge. So, really this is Earth technology. How to use it is the real defy for our species”.
“Polholian, maybe you'd like to come with us to Earth?”
“I cannot, commander. My planet is under attack. I have just got the news from my fellows in my planet”.
“How can you know that, so far away?”
“We have long range telepathy. My fellows sent the message while we were talking. This ship is the only defense we have now. If Pol would like to come along to help us, probably her observations will be useful to you later”.
“Or perhaps I will never see her again, if you are defeated”.
“That could be the case, also. I am sorry not to be able to assure you otherwise. But consider that I have no experience as a warrior, and making a decision can be a real burden for me, as I have never killed any living thing. That's why I need a warrior with the experience Pol has, and also some other of your crewmen, if you can spare them”.
Ferris himself solved the problem. Yes, probably he saw our technology in the hands of our enemies, and that could not be good for Earth itself. That's why he suggested Pol to come into my war as the commander in chief, and lieutenant Nihau Lee and ensign Karin Ostrová come as observers under Pol's direct command.
They two could not be more different: a girl from Olomuc, a town in the center of Europe, the old Czech Republic, Karin Ostrová was small, red haired, thin and very serious and responsible of her duties; while Nihau Lee was born in South America from Chinese parents who met in Buenos Aires. He was fond of singing tangos, which he did very well, and he was in a good mood all the time, telling ingenious jokes all the time. Very tall, blonde, with a bit of overweight, but very competent on exotic languages and setting the course of the ship and a very reassuring person. It was not surprising that Pol asked him from Ferris. Regarding Karin, Pol knew she would become a great captain in the future, when there were more ships in the Iron Star Fleet.
“But my dear commander Ferris”, I said with emotion, “Have Nihau and Karin any experience as commanding officers?”
“No. In fact their war experience is next to nihil. For a war you need Pol or me”.
“I really thank you, commander, for ceding Pol to me, because my planet is under real danger. I will pay your generosity with a large vessel like this one, if you will accept it”.
Ferris thought for a while… He would like to volunteer for the task, but his ship could not come back to Earth without her commander. Also, if technology broke down, Pol always could contact me through telepathy.
“Well”, he said in the end, “I agree if you, Pol, wish to command the most powerful war machine I ever saw. But I must tell your planet, also, because your services were ceded by Klato Space Fleet to my ship. I tentatively cede your services to the Ferric ones, but we must report to do things well”.
“Yes, commander, you are right”.
“Lieutenant Pol, you are the provisional captain of the Ape. Congratulations!”
“Commander Ferris”, I added “according to my government Pol is the definitive captain, and also the highest rank officer in the Iron Army as long as she wishes. So long, and thanks for your understanding and help. Give our regards and best wishes from Iron and Holians to our friend planet Earth”.
“But commanding this huge ship I need some man force, commander. Two officers cannot do everything. I need some other crewmen. Imagine they manage to invade our ship. What can only three people do?”
“I agree. Nihau and Karin, you choose 20 crewmen out of our 2,000 for your war. They must be warned that they go to a war, not on exploration”.
“Thanks, commander. My debt to you grows. And friendship between Earth and Iron, too”.
While Karin and Nihau were choosing their hardest soldiers among the five hundred men and women who volunteered to go to war, I had a war conference with Pol:
See, captain, that I am a civilian. I am peaceful and I never even thought of taking a living being's life. Your orders will be laws for me and I will blindly obey them, so blindly that my only responsibility on what happens will go on your shoulders directly. See that your judgement will be unappealable law to me. Are you willing to take the responsibility? You can still go back to your ship, if you did not consider this matter before. In fact it is not your war. Have you ever killed anyone?
Don't be afraid, Polholian. Yes, I killed more times than I wished, but those deaths were necessary, and I am not sorry for them. This is not the first war I enter. And I think that I will no longer have to kill with my own hands, as I did in the past. Since you are peaceful, I'll spare you the pain to hear how I hardened my heart. But know that you have a hard warrior, even if my looks don't suggest that physically.
The trip back to Planet Iron took us only the blink of an eye, as we did use our WHG. Ferris had still to travel for a year to get his planet, but I was in a real hurry, because I was afraid for the safety, even the existence itself, of my planet, my friends, and my whole universe.
Before taking any action, Pol and I conferred to solve the internal order of life in the ship. It was understood that the final word would always be Pol's, but I had the right to order the needed tasks, and also Nihau and Karin's help before the captain's final decision.
For a whole hour hour Pol and her two officers conferred alone. Later they called me:
“Polholian, we are there. What is situation we'll find like?” “I was informed that Apes have been massacred. There are only one thousand left, because they took shelter in their caves. Regarding my species, the attackers even did not notice them.
“Have Apes victuals at all?”
“Yes, but only for a few days”.
While we were on our talks, Karin and Nihau tested our weapons in a great hall on iron mannequins. In addition to their standard laser pistols we had added bombs, which needed no air or oxygen to explode, because they did not blast, really, but made the atoms within a radius of ten meters collapse and fall into nothingness.
Of course, they were very dangerous weapons, and therefore they were signed, what means that only one individual could make work every single weapon, and no other person could trigger it because the it would not recognise him or her. Our ship itself has twenty radio guns which can destroy everything in the vicinity of one light year. But our greatest strength was our shield, which could prevent any object, ray or radiation reach our hull, that is to say, the body of our ship. It meant also that we can hide from light, no matter how powerful, and any other kind of radiation, and thus we could be inside a star, at least in theory.
Pol and the humans did not know they had already the technology to produce those weapons or the shield. They needed someone from a far away planet, like me, to come and fuse their different fields of knowledge into a cooperative task.
“Pol”, I said, “we should talk about our weaponry”.
We conferred telepathically, mind to mind, and I showed her how to manage every weapon and offensive and defensive tool we had.
If you can use all this, she said, why do you need me?
Pol, I repeated, I never killed another living being. I believe I cannot. Nobody in my species did so. So I need, should the need to kill arise, somebody else to do so for me. Let the decision, and therefore the responsibility, be yours, even to defend my own life. Will you defend me, Pol?
Certainly, my dear Polholian. Even with my own life.
Yes, the relationship between Pol and me was really one of love. Her ideas on strategy were very suitable, and she suggested me to explain my samespecians, the Holians, how they should imprison the invaders with ferric layers, which they should raise around them while they are sleeping. In fact that was the same procedure we did to build our space ship. They did so, and even if the attackers managed to make a hole in one of the walls, they could not get through a new, much thicker layer which was produced on the former one, and so when we came they were already imprisoned inside three huge cells.
That's how our war was fast and bloodless. We needed only to tow the cell containing the other three and leave it on another planet.
On the surface there were only five invaders, the attackers, and Pol made them come to her presence, in the confer room.“What did you want to do in Iron?”, Pol asked the invaders’ commander in chief.
Is this necessary, Pol?
Yes, Polholian. These Surlians abide only by the Law of the Strongest.
We released the 600 Surlians into the outermost deck in our ship, from where they could see, through wide windows, how their three huge ships and their hundred smaller ones disappeared one by one in a chain of bright bursts. And then they realised that there was no debris, as the ships became a fine dust, which disappeared also, as a sort of fog which cleared away.
“Will you now kill us?”, asked the Surlian commander when she visited them to check if everything was OK.
“No. We prefer making friends out of enemies. If you wish so, we can become friends so that we can defend each other against a third party. As a token of friendship, we'll take you to your planet and will propose a peace treaty to your government.
“How do I know that you will not have my planet disappeared in the same way you did with our fleet? No, I won't tell you where our planet is, I prefer you to kill us all”.
“No, I do not need your information, Rask. We know where your world is: in Cygnus Constellation, star 34th , which you call Kuni, planet 235th, to you Surly. It is very far, but we'll be there soon. While our trip lasts, you and your comrades are free to walk along this deck where you are now. It is 12 square kilometers, so you have room to walk… However, you will not have time to get bored because the trip will take only a few seconds.
“seconds! We had to travel several years to come here”.
“Yes, you. But wait. You and your comrades can walk freely, as I told you, along this deck, but do not try to go into another one, because you will be arrested. There is an entertainment center and a swimming pool. You must control your Surlians and I will control everything else”.
“Well, you are stupid, Pol. You did not take our weapons away. Now I demand the control room of your ship, or I'll kill you”, said Rask pointing at her with his laser gun”.
“Do you want to do this?”, asked Pol with a smile. “Shoot, if you must, because you will never have this ship”.
The Surlian shot and everybody was surprised at the killing ray going through Pol's body and reaching a curtain, which was burnt, and the wall behind it, which was partly melt by the burst of energy while Pol never lost her smile. After a few seconds, she said:
“Well, Rask, you had already your fun, so now there are rules for you: you can shoot one another, or you can amuse yourselves till our arrival in your planet. Now I will go till I decide to tell you something else. But think that this ship can push into space the whole deck where you stand now. The minute I want you all will be dead. But I won't do so, even if you have just tried to kill me”. And Pol disappeared suddenly. They looked at the place her holographic ghost had just used to talk to them.
“Now, what will happen to us?”, asked one another and to their boss.
“Nothing”, a metal voice from a wall said. “You no longer influence us. You will be in your planet after a few hours. Enjoy your flight”.
Did you know they would shoot me? Asked Pol.
It was likely, my thought answered hers, that they could attack you. That's why I made that holographic copy so that you could talk to them.
They must think there is only me in the ship. Well, later I can show them how many yous there can be. But they can understand it is only a holography. Not exactly. I can make solid holographies, look.
Pol heard a little noise behind her, and turned round automatically. She saw Commander Ferris!
“No, Pol”, he said. “I am only a solid holography ridden by me, Polholian. Look”:
The Commander snapped his finger and Pol saw Commander Ferris' twenty copies. One of them took a chair and threw it against the floor, and a big noise was heard and the chair bounced twice to a stop, broken.
You always surprise me, Polholian!
Well, Pol, just with you I could make a whole army, but I do not know how to make a military decision. For that I need you and your men. You have perfect soldiers who will never die, and if they are damaged, it will be easy for me to substitute them; but you must think in a warlike manner and win a war for me.
Then, when the Surlians were quiet again, we jumped to their mother planet. We fell into orbit around 400 kilometers over its surface, so if a Surlian watched the sky from it, he or she could see only a new star, as the Ape moved with the planet as it turned. We sent a probe to the planet, and as it was falling it reported to us on the quality of the air, water and ground, when it finally reached it. We saw there were eight continents, and half the planet was covered by water saltier than the Mediterranean Sea on Earth.
Together with other non intelligent species, there were a thousand million Surlians, very similar to Earth men, but they have a longer neck, three eyes, shorter legs and arms and six-fingered hands.
When our Surlians saw their planet, they searched for the way out, but they did not find it, because there was none. One of them, though, found a hole leading to the deck under theirs, but it was arrested on the site by two holographic policemen and brought to Rask, who promised that would not happen again. Immediately after that our two policemen vaporized in front of their frightened eyes.
“Now, Rask”, solid holographic Pol said, here's your planet. Take me to your superiors.
Once Rask and his 600 Surlians were teleported onto Conquer Square, in the center of the capital city, they shot Pol again. She just smiled, put her hand into her belly and gave six bullets to Rask, as she said: “Take this, I think it is yours. We will not destroy Surly for the moment. Not before I talk to your rulers”.
A frightened Rask took Pol to his superior, General Bokh.
“Greetings, General. Are you the highest ruler in your planet?”
“No, Madam. Our planet is not unified. General Entebbe is our highest Authority here, but there are parliaments in other continents, and also there are kings in two of them”.
“OK. Can you arrange a rendezvous with them all?”
“I can try”.
“We all must talk”.
She touched General Entebbe's arm and suddenly he found himself in the Apes' conference room. There he found the real Pol, Nihau, Karin and ten armed crewmen waiting for him.
Ten minutes later the other planet leaders were there, too. Ten people in all.
“Well, apparently everybody is here now”, Pol said. “Do you know why we summoned you?”
“Where are we?”, the Aurean Prime Minister said. His was the smallest continent. “Why did you bring me here without my consent?”
“Welcome, leaders of Surly: I am Pol, the Leader of the Space Army from Iron, and I must inform you on important matters which you did, or at least were done in the name of your planet. I hoped to discuss the matter with a planet wide government, but I can see there is not one. But first let me introduce you to my Second in Command, Nihau Lee kaj lieutenant Karin Ostrová1, who is next in command”.
They looked at the earthlings in awe. Why do they have only two eyes? Those short-necked ones were a little different: the blue-eyed had long, gold-colored hair, while the other one has two black eyes and very short hair.“A few days ago your space ships attacked my world with no provocation, and killed thousands of my people. Why? The commander of your expedition, General Rask, said that the planet belongs to you because nobody else saw it before. Now I can see that you possess not even your own planet.
They all denied, but I told Pol that only General Entebbe was lying. Consequently, Pol turned to him and said:
“General Entebbe! We know you knew, and you sent that space fleet against us. If the others had known, I'd take your whole planet under my command, or destroy it. However”, she said after a short pause, looking at the other rulers, “I'll only ask from you to sign this pact on no aggression from you with Iron, and then we'll solve our issue with General Entebbe, later.
The Surlians looked at one another, an finally the Axan King said:
“I'd like to see the pact, and after reading it perhaps I'll sign it”.
He read attentively. It was very clear and short:
He asked for a pen and signed. Afterwards he was taken to his palace with a copy of the pact, signed also by Pol. Little by little the other governments disappeared with their copy of the pact, till there was only General Entebbe with us.
“And you, General, will you sign, too?”
“Yes, of course!”
“It seems you lied at me. Why should I believe you?”
“I have a son. You can take him as a hostage for my good will and honoring our treaty”.
My explanation to Pol was so fast that she could say at once:
“General Entebbe, I know that you do not talk to your son Riken, but you pamper your daughter Dorin. We’ll take her as your guarantee. You know that if we see a ship of yours again, she’ll be shot to death”.
“No! My daughter no!”
“Oh, do you intend not to honor your part of the pact?”
“Yes, I will honor, but I cannot live without her”.
“You can visit her from time to time. But she is to be with us”.
The poor Surlian had to agree, because he knew that we could delete his whole continent from Surly’s surface.
“Don’t be afraid, daddy”, she said suddenly. “I’ll be fine. Karin and I are already good friends. She said she’ll teach me everything. I’ll be allowed even to steer their spaceship!”
The crew spent the whole week on holiday on Surly. The people there were not like their rulers. We learnt that there was no free speech or thought, or even political freedom in that continent, but Pol decided that we were not there to solve the social problems of those half civilized individuals. We collected the whole literature and music in the planet, and thus our library and museum started getting the cultural treasures which would determine our main mission since then.
Dorin became one of us, and Pol appointed her ensign. She was only eighteen, but as a gesture of trust, Pol commissioned her to steer the ship. That meant that she had to make the calculations for our course and steer the helm and engines herself. In fact the helm gave me the desired course and I provided the needed functions so that it happened with the desired speed. Also there was the possibility to steer the course directly, but I could override that, should the need arise. But Pol and I decided to trust her on that important role, and the captain officially appointed her navigator and helmsman in our ship. Only Pol knew the truth, so neither Nihau nor Karin, or Dorin, and evidently none of the other 200 crewmen knew about me. They only referred to me as the computer, so when someone needed the computer to do something, he thought he was ordering, but both Pol and I knew that it was a petition. They knew there was a Holian counselor called Polholian whom nobody had seen.
The crewmen were soldiers, and so they had to practice in the use of their personal weapons. Karin, as a lieutenant was the direct commander of Pil and Phillip, who were the ensigns who commanded the four sergeants who were responsible for 198 soldiers. But the most important task for them all was to drive their own solid holographic copies so that if the need should arise they all could use them efficiently with no fear to die in their own lives. They did not really like that, but fortunately Karin and her officers were very strict and bossy, so everything went on easy most times. Our army force could be ten thousand immortal soldiers, if necessary.
To be continued...
However, may I remind you of the tales we have shared in this page so far: