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. This year we are reading The Federation, the second last book I published in Amazon.
As I finished uploading the whole book on February 25th, I will leave it for free reading for the remaining of the year, after which you will be able to read it from Amazon for a small fee.
In he near future I will start translating and uploadind another of my books. Have a happy reading!
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.
those who know that
Space is the only reality.
I am 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 sunny 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 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.
I felt how afraid was her reaction. So afraid that she woke up."What!?", she shouted.
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.
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.
That Ape looked around, but I noticed that he was really afraid.
And they all went away. An hour later two female Apes came.
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.
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?"
"I beg your pardon", added Pol. "Yes, I come from a far away part of the sky".
"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.
Ferris looked at her, and then at me.
“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...”
“Ten would be enough”, I explained. “More would only make the thing more
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
“Who are you?”
“We are the High Command of Iron, our planet. Why did you attack our people?”
“I am Rask, commander in chief of the Howl expedition, who discovered the planet and claim property on it!”
“This planet was discovered already by Terrans, but they found that there are four intelligent species on it and therefore they withdrew their claim. Thus your demand is wrong”.
“Under whose authority?”
“Under mine, Pol Kunos, Commander in Chief of the Ferric Army and captain of our our flagship, the Ape, where you are now. If you don't meet our demands, we can destroy your ships and kill your soldiers, and also attack your planet, which we can destroy into nothingness, if we have to”.
“Well, I withdraw my claim, but I can talk only on my expedition's behalf, not my planet's”.
“I agree. Look, we'll take you and your soldiers to your planet, just after we destroy your fleet”.
We released the 600 Howlers 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 Howler 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 Howl. 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 Howlers 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 Howler 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”.
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,
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.
Then, when the Howlers were quiet again, we jumped to their mother planet. We fell into orbit around 400 kilometers over its surface, so if a Howler 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 Howlers, very similar to Earth men, but they have a longer neck, three eyes, shorter legs and arms and six-fingered hands.
When our Howlers 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 Howlers 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 Howl 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 Howl: 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.
“We did not know about this!”, protested the King of Axo, the largest continent.
“Did the other authorities not know?”
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 Howlers 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 Howler had to agree, because he knew that we could delete his whole continent from Howl’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 Howl. 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
When everything was in order in Howl, at least in inter stellar matters, we had to go to Commander Ferris. The Bluish would not reach Earth for another year or so. In fact she had done only a hundredth of her voyage. That’s why I suggested Ferris to share our technology with them, in exchange for mutual cooperation and favors.
“What do you need, computer?”, said he in our conference room when I summoned him and Pol.
“Well”, came my voice clear and with a good pronunciation, “first I need Pol as a captain of my ship. I am a civilian, not a warrior, and I do not wish to develop that art, killing other living beings. I trust her criteria totally. Also I need lieutenants Nihau and Karin. If I cannot count on them, I'll have to trust the important task to guide this ship to ensign Dorin, who is really a war prisoner as a guarantee on peace with Howl. I cannot teach her everything this ship has and can do because I do not really know, and also I cannot use it. And Dorin is not a warrior, either. Not yet”.
“Yes, that looks sensible… I need Pol, though...”
“But consider how well she did till now. I need her more than you do, Ferris. You have other good officers in your ship. And she has no official duties in your ship. In mine she is the captain. Can you beat that argument?”
“Well, that is true. But tell me what you offer in exchange for that”.
“First, my great thanks for that, Ferris. And a huge debt, even greater than I have in this moment. Secondly, the engines which will giver you immediate access to anywhere in the universe and full protection for your ship in the event you find a hostile force. And a pact for mutual defense, which we really have”.
“Friend Polholian, even if you were not so generous, I could never refuse what you are asking from me. But first I must ask the concerned people, if they are ready for the task. That could affect even their citizenship, if Earth politicians do not arrange for double with your planet. Perhaps they have not even thought of that”.
“I have already the double, Klatan and Terran”, Pol said. “Probably I'll have the third one…, but if I had to choose, I’d prefer only Ferric...”
“I think so, Pol. But tell me first: do you really wish that huge responsibility? In comparison to your duties in the Ape, those as a lieutenant observer in my ship look a joke, because you will be the most powerful warrior in the planet”.
“Commander Ferris: for me it is a real honor to command the most powerful space ship I know. Yes, I wish, but I must ask for your advice: shall I resign my position in the Earth space fleet and my planet's, or a provisional permission will be enough? Up to now I have had a transfer from my planet's fleet to the Terran one only for observation and as an advisor”.
“Well, my dear Pol, it looks that you have already decided. If you see that so clearly, my advice is that you resign your position as a lieutenant and accept the Admiralty which Polholian is really offering you”, he said in mocking manner as he looked at the loudspeaker through which my voice came to them.
“Of course, commander! I had not thought of that, but you see that my brain is not tuned to war terms… Thanks for your insight. The Ferric Space Fleet starts with the inclusion of Admiral Pol and her officers right in this moment, should she accept the task”.
“Does this mean, Polholian”, said Pol, “that I must live in your planet, away from this ship?”
“Of course no, Pol, do not be afraid. You can lead our space fleet from this ship, which now is the whole of our planet's fleet. But when there are more, you will command them from here as long as you wish”.
“In that case, I accept the command and the honor, Polholian. I hope I'll serve you and your people with honor and efficiency”.
She made a pause for several seconds, because she had to take an
important decision, the most important in her life, and then she looked at
Commander Ferris directly at his eyes, and said:
“Commander Ferris: I formally ask you to accept my resignation for the Terran Space Fleet and also to transfer my resignation to my superiors in the Klatan Space Fleet, please”.
“Accepted, Admiral Pol! And congratulations. Come to my arms, Madam!”, he said happily opening his arms and pressing her against his chest. He held her long enough for nobody to see that a couple of tears fell from his eyes. But the Admiral did not hide her own ones, and she even moaned and sobbed softly for several seconds. I was also moved, and that tender scene I will never forget.
“Thanks, commander. You are not only my superior, but you are something more important: you are my friend”.
“And mine, Ferris”, I said. “You are Iron's friend”.
“Now I must ask Nihau and Karin if they wish to go with you, Admiral. Do you need anybody else?”
“I have to confer with them two and then I'll let you know. Will that be enough for you, commander?”
“Of course. You'll get my news as soon as possible”.
Both officers saw a great opportunity for their army career and personal
gain, so they accepted immediately:
“Commander”, said Nihau, “no offense meant to you, but I prefer serving under Admiral Pol”.
“I feel the same”, reacted Karin. I'll be sorry to lose my colleagues in the Bluish, but I accept my transfer to the Ape willingly. I think we'll carry out great things with the best trustworthy allies of our planet Earth”.
“Accepted. I grant your resignations for your positions at the Bluish and in the Terran Space Fleet. From now on you are citizens of Iron and you are left under the direct authority of Admiral Pol. I hope you will serve her with the same loyalty as you served under my command. I believe you have an urgent conference with your superior to make important decisions on your new crew. We'll keep in touch. Farewell, officers of the Iron Space Fleet!”, he finished with a military greeting to them, which answered in the same way, and came to my ship.
I transported them suddenly to my ship's conference room, where Pol was waiting for them. She accepted them as a colonel and a vice colonel, and then they studied the features and needs of a ship so huge as ours, and then, after some talk, they decided to ask for a hundred crewmen each from Commander Ferris.
He was very understanding. He was even in the commission together with the three Ferric officers to filter the petitions of nearly half the crewmen in the Bluish. They were warned that they would have to serve only for one year, and then they could go back to the Terran Fleet under the direct command of Ferris, or they could remain in the Ferric Space Army, if they wished to do so and their superior would confirm them permanently. But Ferris did not allow any other officer to join our ship. So, Karin had to suggest five captains and ten lieutenants out of the new recruits. And Pol accepted them provisionally, after a long talk with both officers, of course, on the condition they would pass a course on war studies and commanding science, which I myself would teach them by means yet to be defined.
I knew it to be too cold that my relation to men were through loudspeakers, so I devised a hybrid holographic Ape-like body, with a human face and Howler hair, and in such a way I came to see Ferris at his conference room when he was alone. “Hello, commander. Do I have your permission to come in?”, I said from the door threshold.
“Hello, come in. Who are you?”
“I am your computer, commander. Can't you recognise my voice?”
“Oh, you are always inventing useful things. I hope you can share that with me, too...”
“Of course, commander. You were generous to me, so I have to reciprocate. That's why I came to see you”.
“ I am listening”.
“ Well, Ferris, I am helping you already to build a new engine similar to the one we have in the Ape, which was made by the same workers who are making yours. But I find that the shape of your ship is not very efficient, as a cylinder demands too much time to go from place to place on foot. It would be better to have a spherical shape, as we have in the Ape”.
“ Yes, you are right. But look that when we had only those old fashioned engines we needed the pipes to expel gases to push us forward”.
“ Yes, I see. Well, you have already the engines and weapons which we designed, and also I'll send the machine to make solid holographs. We'll use it to explore unknown backgrounds so that we will lose no human life, which is so dear to us, Ferric ones”. “Waw, that's a good idea. You trees are really clever, Polholian. You are a remarkable person”, he laughed.
“So you can be my host tonight for a farewell dinner”. “Yes, you may count on that, friend”, he said handshaking me.
Yes, being a holman (Holian and man at the same time) was a good experience for me. I discussed the matter with Pol and we decided to introduce me to the others as a Holian civilian who was there as an observer and could only give some advice, if I was asked. Pol even allocated a private cabin for me next to hers, so that the rest of the crew knew how important was to have a Holian opinion. But I did not appear too much among them. Only when I had to talk to somebody in particular, as we'll see later.
The farewell party was very warm, and heart felt and moving speeches were said. A few hours later every crew man went to their ship, and we parted.
Later we knew that there was a great surprise in Earth when they saw their space ship come so fast with so many novelties. From the discoveries of Ferris twenty-one ships were built and they started preparing more new ones.
But we had a great task: we had to organize a new Space Fleet from nothing, and we had not much time. Only ten days later we were orbiting my planet again, and I teleported myself and my ground once again into the place which saw me being born, and again my roots were piercing the ground on my beloved planet. I conferred with my species again, and only ten agreed to do as I, so we agreed to become only computers in our ships so that we could control everything. Of course, there was a real computer in every vessel, and it could fulfill the same tasks I had been doing all the time, but a computer cannot decide, and in fact our stay in our ships would be the voice of our planet and even if we were respectful to the decisions of the ship captains, we could supervise and overpower everything, should it be necessary. But we agreed to pretend that captains decided everything. We had to care for the independence and authority of every captain, whom we would serve as civilian advisers.
From my ground I helped Pol and other Terrans to build ten other ships, and then the Colonel Lee Nihau and the new Colonel Karin Ostrová tested their new ships, Earth I and Earth II, which were soon known as One and Two. But usually the highest rank for every ship was that of captain, and so the seven captains whom we got out of the crewmen from the Bluish had a ship: Nubo, Holian, Support, Siren, Fire, Star and Howl. Every one had her own computer, of course a holographic civilian adviser who dwelt by the captain's quarters. Only Pol, Nihau and Karin knew about the real nature of our function on board, and after a long discussion we decided that no other captain wold know about it, because if they really knew they would not be happy to know that a Holian could override everything, and they'd feel more assertive if they believed themselves to have the whole authority and responsibility. This would be a great secret, which no officer below the rank of colonel would ever know, as we four had decided. And also because if the captain died or was lost, the ship would still be with us. One and Two were commanded by colonels Nihau Lee and Karin Ostrová, but in future they would be two of the five admirals in command of 10 colonels a piece, who would be responsible for ten ships, the head of which would have the rank of captain, helped by at least two lieutenants, four ensigns and eight sergeants managing 25 plain crewmen a piece. Therefore every ship will be manned by 225 people, counting 5 Hidrurgia, 4 Nubos and 1 Holian.
Pol and I devised a plan to have a strong space fleet with no more than a hundred ships under High Admiral Pol’s command, whom will report five admirals, who will be on charge of ten colonels, who in turn would be responsible for ten ships every one of them. Of course, the best and most experienced will promote with time, Nihau and Karin were already colonels in their own ships, together with their deputy captains. Colonels are based on their mother ships, as there are no fixed headquarters for the Ferric Space Fleet, even if there are always two ships on general survey in crossing orbits on the planet Iron. They are never the same ships, because they follow a schedule on their duties. Every ship includes experts in several fields who are very useful in exploration missions. The highest rank in a ship is the captain, but a colonel’s headquarters are in his base ship, from where he or she is to control the ten ships under his command, and every decision in the colonel's ship will be made by the captain, unless the colonel decides otherwise in a particular issue.
Such was our Space Fleet’s hierarchy no matter who planet built the concerning ship, either Iron, Klato, Howl or Earth, though every planet can have as many ships as it needs or wishes. The limitation is only on the number of Holians who would like taking part in the Federation’s ships, but onboard computers can be instructed by us and in fact we inspected them often to update their capabilities on the concerning admiral’s orders (and the colonel’s knowledge of course), as they would treat our holographic counter parts as old friends from the Academy or similar acquaintances. But not only Holians were present in Federation ships, but Hidrurgia also served as engineers, being their main concern the sealing of the hull; and also Nubos served as liaison officers inside the ships and also between close enough ones. For a short time Karin and Nihau worked close to Pol, as they would be the first two admirals who will instruct the new colonels under their respective commands on their tasks and the full abilities of the sophisticated machines which they used as ships, and eventually would suggest the names of the missing three admirals. As Herbert had told Pol, in future space ships would no longer be necessary, but it would take a long path for intelligent beings to be able to live without them, as any one in the far future would be able to go anywhere in the universe, and also to any time, just for the good of all, not of its individual self.
Yes, a new era started for our peaceful, quiet planet, once threatened by an external force, and who could be threatened in future. We felt ourselves powerful enough because a ten percent of the Holian people served in the Space Fleet. The remainder ninety per cent had other tasks, much more efficient than only being born, reproducing and dying. From the moment when the earthlings visited us we started a new era, the Space Era, because we realised that there is a beautiful mission, discover and learn from other species widespread along the universe.
But then I found that we couldn't neglect about our soldiers, and periodically we visited Earth to change the provision of our man force, who served for a year and then rested for another year in the planet of their choosing. At first it was Earth, but little by little they chose different other ones, and in fact when they went on holiday, they still met other races, planets, other experiences worth while having.
The first time the Ape visited Earth officially, I had the honor to sign the Treaty with Earth, on mutual defense, which led us to start an Interstellar Federation of Planets and Species, together with Klato, Pol's planet. Later would come Howl and five other planets. That complicated things a bit, and there were some problems among us, but that made us be more tolerant and search non violent solutions, which was the main trait in our federation.
It was a paradox that some times Commander Ferris took part in operations under Pol's command, his once helper. But that was not so for long, as after a few years also he was appointed admiral in the Earth Space Fleet. Klatans were not happy with the Ferric Fleet being manned only with earthlings, so they asked to be half the crew, and both Pol and I found it reasonable, so in future our crews would be made up with people from every Federation planet in a fair amount.
Mixture and cooperation glued and strengthened our new pact. We felt
that made our federation much stronger and solid. They could not
understand that we Holians, the real motor of the Federation and of the
building of space ships, were happy with only one civilian in every ship.
But that's they way we are: peaceful observers and heartily advisers. We
chose to solidify with a different sex from that of the captain. So they
were all girls, except myself and Izholo, who served on the ship Earth II,
the ship Karin commanded. Actually it was his idea, because two men could
tend to compete, at least in the mind of the captain, while a civilian of
the other sex could provide a gentler relationship. I could not complain
about Pol, and my own experience could prove that Izoholo's idea was
right. In fact when Captain Sebastian had to leave his command, the new
Captain Petra Schneider found counselor Paul Holesko ready to meet her,
instead of old Inmin Kaldan, who had to go back to Iron to receive her new
office there… But really Paul was Inmin, the same computer, who only
changed her solid holography so that relationship with the new captain
could flow much better.
The Federation of Planets and Species had been around for only a few years when it proved to be a strong alliance as we detected aliens on Earth itself.
That happened in the supposedly last day of our visit. Earth people have a special signature in their genome, but our sensors detected another, different signature in several cities. We were curious about it. We asked, and earthlings told us that there was no other intelligent species on Earth, at least not yet, but ours and those of some Klatans. We delayed our departure and sent a hundred holographic soldiers with individual sensors to scan several cities. They detected those strange signatures and identified the individuals, caught them and brought them to our ship. They were questioned and finally their mind control failed and we could understand that they belong to a species whose planet will die in tens of years, and so they were preparing an invasion of Earth. They were so similar to Terrans that they could be taken for such, and finally they confessed that they were Olvans, and their planet was called Olvo. We checked their whole genome and through this we could find the whole Olvan expedition, ten thousand soldiers in all, and brought them back to their planet. We left the necessary tools to detect possible aliens who could have escApe our scanning, on Earth Then we went to Olvo to leave the invaders there. But on the way we found the planet Elbol, in the Alfa Centaur constellation, and after doing the necessary tests, we realised that Olvans could live there under very similar conditions to those in their native planet. Once we were there, we told them the good news. Chancellor Pressnen was overjoyed by our discoveries. After informing the people, most of them decided to migrate to the new planet, but some old people preferred to stay on the planet and die together with it, as there was a high probability that the planet would still be the same for several scores of years, probably over a century. But the Olvan civilization would survive because of what we did. We asked the Olvans to join the Entry Treaty into our Federation, and even if they had no space force, but really only some interplanetary cargo ships, they accepted being one of us quite willingly. One of our guidelines is helping less advanced civilizations, as in this case, and then once they could have the technology to have space travel, they'd be full members in our Federation. That is our Federation's strength: one out of many.
Living rooted on the ground has some advantages, among them you do not
move needlessly, and consequently you do not put yourself or your friends
in danger so easily. But other individuals, like Pol or Karin, like
getting into undesired adventures exactly because they can move, and also
they are curious on many things which are not good for them… But let us
listen to Pol's tale:
This happened when I was on watch around Iron. Then your planet, Polholian, already had twenty ships, Earth had twelve and Klato 200, as they decided not to destroy their old ones out of emotional reasons, even if they were so limited in comparison. The spherical shape in ours allows adding new decks with no limit, and so some of our ships are as large as satellites, and they can support tens of thousands of us, together with, would it be necessary, the whole population of Iron, including the 4 species or yours. If there were a natural catastrophe and we should have to change to another planet, we could do just that.
Herbert was his name. He looked like Terran, but he said he would not be born for thirty thousand years in future.
Of course, as a real Klatan I could not believe him. However I agreed to imagine the theory, and see where it could lead us, and what he really wanted from us.
“Fear nothing, Admiral Pol. I know who you are. You are not dreaming, I am real”.
“ I am skeptical on time travel, Herbert. But if it existed, you could cause real catastrophes by changing the past”.
“ Fear nothing, Pol Kunos from Klato. If you change nothing now, it will never influence you, but the future folks”.
“ OK. But I'm curious: if we go to my past and change something, in which way will that influence my present?”
“Look, Pol, the reality you know now comes from every change which was already made in your past by people form the present, the past or the future. If somebody from the future changed something, it was done in your past. It is unimportant when that person was actually born, as the important moment is not when he was born, but when he did whatever he did, in same way as it does not matter if any one of your crewmen was born in Iron, Earth or Klato. The important thing is that he is now in the Ape.
“Well, I had never understood that you could travel through time”.
“ I can give you an example”.
“ An example? Which one?”
“Come with me to your past and do something. Then you'll come back here and see the change, if there is any”.
“ But that could be dangerous...”
“No, there's no reason why. In fact I was already in your past and I saw you there, five centuries ago”.
“ No. I was never there! And I will never be there!”
“Please yourself. See you sometime, skeptical one”.
And he suddenly disappeared. Probably he had a teleportation machine similar to our ones. I thought we were the only ones to have that technology, but it appeared that I was wrong.
But the event hammered my mind for several days. I could not forget
the time traveler. Was I giving up a worthy experience just because of
my prejudice? Really there was nothing much to do here, in Iron's orbit.
I had already studied its geography, paying attention to any minor
feature… So I discussed the matter with the first officer I found:
“Tell me, Lieutenant Palma: do you think time travel is a good idea?”
“Strange question. It could be interesting, if we change nothing...”
“Would you go, if you could?”
“Of course I would! To the future or to the past?”
“I was offered the past”.
“ Oh, great. When are we leaving?”
“Hey, wait. We must contact Herbert first, but I do not know how”.
“ Is that our guide, Herbert?”.
“ He is”.
Herbert knew, apparently, when I would be ready, because in that moment he appeared again, as a soul collecting devil”.
“ Tell me, dear Pol: did you rethink my offer?”
“I am in the middle of it, Herbert. It seems that you already saw me five hundred years ago. But Senda is coming along, if that doesn't annoy you”.
“ OK. And you can bring your hand weapons with you, if that reassures your souls. You only keep them off”.
“ Do you already know what we'll do?”
“I do. But I will not tell you”, he answered with a naughty smile.
I summoned lieutenant Gonzo Duforest to our conference room and told him he was in charge till we came back, as Senda must come with me in a mission we had to do with our visitor. He glanced at Herbert and then nodded to my order, and assured that he'd try to make so wise decisions as I would.
When Duforest had gone away, I said to our host:
“Well, Herbert, guide us into the past”.
He did not mention the name of the planet he was taking us. It was early in the morning and we appeared at a little village in the middle of a wide plain. It looked they all were sleeping, even their animals, because there was no sound. We three walked unbothered street after street till we came to a large square. They two were wearing a hat hiding their ears, which were too rounded in comparison to mine, which were similar to the villagers', as I saw later. Were they my ancestors? I was really excited at the thought.
We saw a vagabond sleeping on a bench. He woke up as we came near, and
“Greetings, strangers! Where do you come from?”
“We come from Romeno, friend, the most beautiful and far off part in the world”.
His poker player face told me that he did not know where the hell Romeno was, and later on Herbert confessed to us that he did not know either.
“You are coming too early. Nobody will wake up in two hours, at least”.
“ Why are you sleeping here, in the square?”
“I have no home. I feel comfort here. Also, it is well lit, and if a lion comes, more often than not someone will shoot an arrow at him from one of those houses”.
“ Are there wild lions on the free?”
“Oh, yes. They have never been captured. They are free or dead. Also there are other animals, but they don't dare come here. Only lions, and not so often”.
Little by little the villagers came in sight and walked to their own business, sometimes glancing at us, some strangers talking to a vagabond. But somebody asked us whether we were the sent ones by the gods to help them with their lions. It was the village Mayor.
“Yes, we asked our gods to send us able hunters to free us from wild lions. They kill many of us every year”.
According to his tale, those lions were not very similar to those on Earth or Klato, because they had no mane like on Earth, and they were much larger than in both our planets. I read right from his mind, and I saw large, yellow, maneless beasts. The poor mayor saw once a lion get a child and go away to eat him at leisure.
“Herbert, did you know about these lions?”, I asked later, when we were walking on the outskirts of the village.
“No. I recommended you about your weapons only for you to feel more at ease in a probably hostile environment, but I did not foresee any dangerous beasts here”.
“ Here. Where are we?”
“On planet Zenzum”.
“ Zenzum… I know about it, But I cannot recall exactly”.
“ Yes. Klatans started a colony here, when you conquered space travel”.
“ But this village was no longer here. In fact it and its neighboring villages will disappear after a few scores of years.., so if you do something here, you will not change the future. At least yours”.
But he was wrong, as you will see soon.
In that moment we saw a space ship come down from the high, and pose on the ground slowly. We went to them to greet them, but the lions were faster. When they had just reached the ground, four of them surrounded the visitors, two people in space suits. One of them took a pistol and shot the nearest lion, but it was not wounded. The beast produced a very loud, terrifying roar, and in that moment Senda shot and killed it in the blink of an eye. I got my gun and shot another one, while Senda killed a third one. The remaining lion ran away to save his life.
“Greetings!”, I said rising my hand, doubting if they would understand me at all.
The male did a similar gesture and said something which I could not understand. However, I saw in his mind that they were thankful. Also that they were surprised because they did not expect finding a species more advanced than their own one, and however it was good for them, because we saved them from the lions. After some half deaf conversation (in fact I made both our parties understand each other thanks to my telepathic facility, but I could not understand words, but only mental images). They decided to go back to the sky, probably to their larger ship, and tell their superiors this planet is not suitable because there was a more advanced species than theirs. In fact they were looking for a planet to live.
“The problem”, said Herbert when they were gone, “is that Zenzumans are not civilized yet, and those visitors would have colonized this planet if you had not interfered. Probably Zenzumans would have seen them as the hunters their gods send them, if they had other weapons which could kill the lions”.
“ I saw that they are looking for a new planet because theirs will be dead after only a few centuries because of problems in their star. Perhaps that race will disappear because of that”.
“ No, I know they will not”.
“ How do you know, Herbert?”
“Herbert”, interrupted Senda in that moment, “I think I saw this genome before”.
She showed us the analysis she had just made with the tester we carry on us in every exploration.
“You are right”, he said with a childish, naughty smile.
“What?”, I asked. “You saw them, too, Pol. You expelled them from the planet Iron”.
“ What? Howlers?”
“Pre Howlers. They have looked for a new planet for a thousand years, and will not find it till you, Pol and Senda, help them find Newhowl”.
“ But…, but...”, I mumbled, “I have just changed history! You said that was not possible!”, I complained.
“No, I did not say that. I said that the present is the result of what was done in the past, no matter the birth date of the doer”.
“ Uh-huh”, intervened Senda. “So we prevented the Howlers from wiping the Zenzumans, and so they must go on with their search for another five hundred years. I pity them...”
“Yes, you prevented that twice. You are anti Howlers… It was nice that you finally helped them. But because they could not invade Zenzum, they finally attacked Iron, and Holians asked you to help them, and you, peaceful beings, took the matter in your hands, and pushed Howlers away by means of a very clever strategy. Then you helped Howlers themselves and invited them to join your Interstellar Federation. Without you this Federation would have never existed, and the Ferric would still believe the Universe is the horizon they can see from their ground...”
“But what would have happened had we not come?”
“Well, the fact is that you did come. But if you had decided not to, probably somebody else would have come to prevent Howlers from conquering this planet. Or the lions would have eaten the Howler explorers”.
“ Oh. But tell me, Herbert: which one is your planet?”
“I live in Sumsunt, a hundred thousand light years from your Iron. But yes, you are getting the idea”.
“ Did you invite other people from other species to come here?”
“Yes. Ten up to now, in all”.
“ I can see. That's why the mayor talked about the gods”.
“ They regard us like gods, indeed”.
“ But, then, you intended to push the Howlers away”.
“ No, I did not know that they would come here. But Sumsunt was once a colony of Zenzum. Those men we met in the village were certainly my ancestors. That's why I like coming here, even if I never talk to them”.
“ Yet you said that the village will disappear after a few years”.
“ Yes, but some will move. There are villages along the whole planet. Villages appear and disappear often, but Zenzumans do not disappear. They will get space travel after three centuries, and will have a little empire which will not last long, but will leave some tracks in the universe. Like me, for example.
“Howlers would have killed the Zenzumans, if they had taken the planet”.
“ Probably. Or they would have mixed with them. Who knows?”
“You do know”.
“ Yes”, he laughed. “You are too intelligent for me to lie at, Pol. In fact they never mixed. Howlers never came back here. There are so many planets in the Universe that they cannot waste their time with the unsuitable ones”.
“ So you changed your future, and you used us to help you”.
“ No, of course not. We Sumsuntans searched for our origins, as any other species does, and I finally found them here. But I did not like to realize that when they were still in their prehistory some neighboring planets already had space travel, and that could mean trouble for them. I know they managed to survive long enough to have space travel and could colonize my planet, but I am studying the whole process. Would you not do the same about Klato?”
“Maybe, but I accept the facts as they are”.
“ Yes, sensible Klatan”, he made fun of me.
“Yes”, I smiled. “But you already saw me here...”
“ So you already knew that I’d wish to come”.
“ Interesting. Did I come because you must be born and come here to see me?”
“No, Pol. My existence is independent from your coming here or not. Your decision to come here was completely free. However it is true that you helped to save my species. You are my greatgreatgrandmother. My planet owes a lot to you and Senda”.
“ No. You owe nothing to us, Herbert. Senda and I only did what we had to do. Also we did not wipe them from your original planet”.
“ No, you are right. You only made them see that on this planet there is a species much more advanced than them, and that the dominant species here have weapons much more powerful than theirs”.
“ That makes sense, yes. But regarding the ship, did we come here in a ship?”
“No. In future ships are no longer used. We no longer enjoy the trip, but the destination”.
“ Future… Will I be able to contact you across thirty thousand years, Herbert, if I need you?”
“I must confess a little lie, Pol. The truth is that not thirty thousand years separate us. I said a lesser figure not to frighten you. Perhaps I can already tell you...”
“When were you born, Herbert?”
“Twenty five million years after you, Pol”.
“ It is a lot...”, Senda and I looked at each other, and then to Herbert.
“But I’ll leave you a tool so that you can contact me through time and space, when you need me. That it is the least I can do for my great-grandmother. My race’s granny”.
In that moment Herbert showed me a spheroidal red thing, as he said:
“If you press this little ball like this”, he showed the movement: his finger tips pressed the ball against his thumb, “I’ll know you’ll need me. You can even talk to it and I will hear you and will know what you need. And if I cannot come, I’ll send someone”.
I looked at Senda. She said nothing, as she was so shocked as I was.
“I don’t know what to say, Herbert. I’d like to visit your world and time…, but I know I can’t, yet. I am not ready, yet.
“Of course, Pol. But you will come sometime, and I will be delighted to make you acquainted with my world”.
He held us both on our shoulders and suddenly we found ourselves in the conference room of the Ape, our spaceship.
“My dear Senda and Pol, I am indebted to you for what you did today (well, five centuries ago) for me and my people. In three centuries they’ll have space ships. Please, help them. Meanwhile you have my full attention and thanks”.
He kissed our cheeks, hugged us both at the same time, and then disappeared.
“He vanished”, Senda said.
“Senda…, did it happen?”
“Yes”, she said showing the red little ball the Sumsuntan gave us. “This is the proof”.
I watched the sphere with care and knew there are twenty five million years in technology there, in that small thing. In that moment Senda thought this should be our secret.
“Yes, Senda. Let this be our secret. Only we two must know where this is in every moment”.
And now you know it all, Polholian. We experienced the strangest morning in our lives.
While they two were away, Duforest acted as admiral not knowing that I was controlling everything, even if I was not inside the Ape, but on the surface of the dear ground which saw me come into existence.
Yes, it was a great pleasure for me to drill again the soft iron in my ground and harden it by means of the living process inside my trunk and branches, releasing the no longer necessary gases into the air so that the Nubos could profit them. But those holidays in my original planet do not prevent me from contacting my ship every day and so getting information on what was happening. While I was not on the ship, the computer and maintenance people took care of everything, but the broken things must still be repaired by hand, and repairers could not always get to the proper place in time. But I am everywhere at the same time by means of my sensors and relays. Unfortunately I had to cut some of them to come down home, for the year I spent in my planet.
However, the whole of my far duties on our ship was unseen by Gonzo Duforest and our other Terran and Klatan crewmen, as well as my connection to computer every day through radio.
When my holidays were over a year, I missed movement and adventure. I found the thirst I felt about the contact with other species I could help against enemies like the Howlers, or even help the latter to develop and be useful to others. Yes, that invention by Earth and Klato, to create a Stellar Federation, was a very good idea so that no intelligent species disappear from the Universe. Our way of living, integration and not competition into a unique multi cultured civilization, as we, Holians, Apes, Hidrargia and Nubos, in Iron.
When Pol and Senda came back from their strange holiday (Pol told me later on that it was really a mission and adventure in the past), we had to patrol our space, which included our star system and the rest of our galaxy, and the battle ship One replaced us on the orbital watch.
“What is that?”, asked ensign Keiko Urikamki as she noted a strange green dot on a screen in the command room. “It looks like a man”.
“A man cannot be in space without a space suit”, said I dressed as Michael Pruvski', who was in charge for the tractor beam. “Shall I pull it to the hold?”
“Do so, Pruvski”, answered the Admiral through intercom.
A pulling beam captured the thing and it was soon in our cargo hold 14th. Both Urikami and I were wrong and right at the same time: it had a human-like face and body in shape, but the latter was mechanical. It was a machine shaped like a man: it was a robot adrift in space.
It was taken to a great room, and engineers studied the mechanisms inside, and found that it was beyond any possible repair in our standards, though they agreed it was an alien technology we did not know anything about. The brain seemed complete, even if its technology was totally alien to us. Of course, brains (even robotic ones) have not moving parts, but even if it seemed whole, it was not working. “What shall we do with the robot?”, Urikami asked. “Shall we better launch it into space again?”
“It must have a very interesting story”, said crew girl Ulca Sandoval. “Perhaps I would be allowed to try and repair it in my free time… It could tell us so much!”
“Do it. You can use your whole time. You are relieved from the rest of your tasks for the time you need”. She looked at her direct supervisor, Rolstov., but Pol said quickly: “Rolstov, she is no longer under your command. She'll research on the robot and will report directly to me”.
“Yes, Sir! At your command”.
That was a very wise order, as two months later Pol had a full report from Ulca: “Commander, the robot is the only remains from a whole civilization. Once in planet Roxo civilization was so advanced that society was cared for by robots similar to this one, and people no longer had to work, but they only cared for culture and art. Unfortunately an alien race came and forced upon them a horrible war. Because Roxans had never devoted their attention to nasty things, it was the robots themselves who had to conduct the war for them. The invaders were better tacticians and so the robots were vanquished. Then the invaders made the atmosphere explode and then replaced it with their own gases and since then they use the planet as their own one”.
“A sad tale, Ulca. Where is Roxo?”
“I found the coordinates in the robot's brain, but we do not understand the system they used”.
“How could you understand what the robot told you?”
“In fact it does not talk, because it is not conscious, admiral, but I found the data and translated it with a 90% of accuracy”.
“Then do you think we could talk to it?”
“Perhaps with time. But we can extract a lot of information from it even if it never works again. It seems that its data bank is very large”.
“Can it move?”
“Not yet, admiral. I thought it prudent to test its information first, as robots can be dangerous”.
“Yes, you did the right thing”.
“However, the process needs time, because there is a lot of missing information, probably because the robot is still unconscious”.
“I read somewhere that in some planets robots are connected with a password, and also there is a disconnection password”.
“Ha? Yes, that is sensible. Our problem is, then, to guess the correct password. And there is another problem: can we trust that robot we don't still know?”
“Yes, you are right. Probably we can research. Probably the computer knows the way to find passwords”.
The computer, that is, I, was silent. You never expect a computer to have a conversation with the crew, even if we must be ready give information at any time.
“Computer!”, said Ulca suddenly, “Do you know passwords for robots?”
“I cannot help you really. The possibilities are limitless. However, try Asimov”, came my answer through a console loudspeaker..
“Why that word, Asimov?”
“He was”, I said, “a Terran scientist and writer who invented, in his fiction works, the positron brain for robots and also the three robot basic rules”.
“Namely: 1 Don't harm people; 2 Don't disobey people, provided orders do not collide with 1; and 3 Care for your own working state, provided it does not collide with 1 or 2”.
Pol answered with a subtle smile.
“Well, Ulca”, she answered finally. “Let's try. The computer can send you hundreds of usual passwords and probably the good one is among them”.
The crew girl spent many days testing different passwords which I gave her. In fact I produced thousands but I left her alone with the robot. Only when I realised she was already tired and was in a low spirit, I came with a solid holography to chat with her about our project. I chose the looks of a fifty year old, granddad-like man, thin and with little hair and an understanding smile. I heard her out, even if I already knew everything she was telling me about the robot. That was useful for me to know what was important to her. I visited her very little time several days a week, till when I heard her say finally: “Eureka! I found it!” I came quickly in that grandaddish, understanding way, and came into the room as if I happened to go by the door and heard her at that moment.
“What is the matter, Ulca?”
“I solved the problem!”
Yes, the robot face had a new trait: its mouth opened and a noise come out of it while it moved, and we heard a deep, loud voice which said: “What is the problem I must solve?”
“Say your name”, Ulca said, excited with joy.
“I am Robert16”.
“Does your name mean anything?”
“Robert is my model, One is the series, and Six is my individual identification in the series and model”.
“Do you have a word for connection and disconnection?”
“Yes, I do”.
“Say first that for connection”.
“They are four: Celt, duck and Isaac, and the one you have just said”.
“I said several. Which one is the good one?”
“Clapping thunder”. Ulca and I looked at each other. That was a common expression in despair on Earth, not a password I’d choose. “It means you wish to access my basic system to repair something. It is a technician's password, and nobody must know it, only a technician. But I can see that you are not that”.
“Access…, what for?”
“Anything. Repairers do that and I cannot refuse to answer anything asked to me. That's why I told you my passwords, which you can change only if you get me by means of that master password”.
“What is the difference with the other three?”
“Duck means I must look after a child; Celt~, I must care of an adult, and Isaac~, I must help my master think”.
“Yes, my master is the person who connects me with a password”.- “But anybody can become your master?”
“No. The first time I am connected with this word, I say a special code so that I join the master's will. That is not so with the others, even if they say the right word. That works but for technicians. By using that word it is possible even to change my master password and even everything else. I already took down your voice, and therefore you became my master”.
“And your password for disconnection?”
“There is only one. If my master woke me, only my master can halt me. Other people can disconnect me, though. The word is Kafka”, he said, and disconnected.
“Clapping thunder”, the woman said.
“Greetings, mistress”, reacted the mechanical man. “Do you wish to change my master password?”
“Recorded, mistress. Greetings. I am afraid I cannot move. If I can help you like this, tell me what it is about”.
“Do you have an internal clock?”
“How long ago you started to work?”
“Seven hundred and fourteen years, three months, five days, and two hours”.
“In which planet?”
“Roxo”, it said with a trembling voice.
“We know”, I said by means of my holographic self, “that it was destroyed by enemies. Who were they?”
“They called themselves Wonds. Their home planet exploded because of an astronomical problem. Many of them died, but a few tens of thousands escAped with their space ships. They searched a new see for a lot of years, and they finally found a new one in Roxo. They were not stopped by the fact that it had already inhabitants. They found they could live there with a new atmosphere, so they made it explode and then replaced it with their own one by using their advanced technology.
“Did they destroy the robots?”
“I do not know. When my masters saw that a war was coming, they got in their private vehicle together with other three robots. The escaping family were the parents and five children”.
”We orbited the planet till we saw the air explode. My master realised they could no longer live there, in their planet, and so our ship started looking for another planet far from our solar system. Years passed and the members of the family died one after the other, till there was only the Master alive. He was alone for a lot of years, and when we robots broke down, he saw us as the only solution to save his culture, language and possibly also his tradition…, even if he could not save his family and genes…, because we could last longer”.
“So what did he do?”
“Master Pasquale managed to repair only me”.
“Did he have spare parts to repair you?”
“Almost. First he used the parts of us four robots to build only a new one. Then he programmed the ship computer for a surgical operation on us two. In fact he put his own brain inside mine”.
“What?! Are you Pasquale?”
“Not exactly. His idea was that before his biological brain got rotten, he had to pour his knowledge and conscience into my artificial brain. And his knowledge I do have, but his conscience was lost, I do not know why or how. He prepared every required mathematics and physics accurately, but something went wrong, so when I got back to my senses, I realized I was still me, and he was lying dead beside me”.
“What did you do then?”
“The biological life maintenance systems in our ship were no longer required, so I disconnected them. Then I sent his body into the closest star, in the same way as he did with his relatives when they died. My master's desire to preserve Roxan life could no longer be fulfilled, though his civilization and culture lie inside my brain. So I decided to stay alive for as long as I could. That wish I inherited from him”.
I was surprised at what I had not seen before. Certainly there must be another layer in the data base inside the robot, which I could not see, or might even not come back till he or it told us the password in the tale… I probed it and found a totally new culture under the one I had copied into the data base of our ship. So I started a copy of the Roxan history, culture and other traits of that civilization.
But that did not stop Robert from informing us.
“But it seems to me”, said Ulca, “that you are Pasquale. Why do you talk about Pasquale as he?”
“Because I am not really him. He provided me with his life, his memories, his feelings, though I do not have his conscience. My essence is not him, but me, much older of he was. Even his feelings I have, but his conscience got lost, I suspect, outside myself, even if I can be wrong...”
“And what happened then, once you were alone in that space ship? Why did we find you in middle of deep space?”, asked Ulca again.
“My ship broke down little by little. Little rocks hit it and drilled the hull, and wall after wall were destroyed and fell…, till a new ship found mine”.
Actually that made me think, because I also travel in a spaceship, where my comrades could die and I would remain alone… No, the thought gave me no reassurance at all, even if a strong shield against rock and sand specks, even radiation. However, that shield could fail...
“Well, our computer had been sending an automatic SOS message, and afterwards I had to explain them that the ship was out of order. They sent some crewmen who almost died, because our vital system had not been working for years, and could not be restored. They came back with safer space suits, and soon learnt that the only profitable thing in the whole ship was myself, so they took me into their ship and blew up mine, as they said it was a death trap. Then they repaired me and gave me something to do”.
“What was your life in the new ship like?”
“They suggested me to serve at the coffee house and the restaurant”.
“Did you work there well?”
“What was the name of your new space ship?”
“Which planet came its crew from?”
“They came from planet Sostrent, star 400C, also called Cassandra”.
I checked on the Ape data base and found it: that star was three light years away from us. Sostrent had been destroyed in a war between two old empires no longer existent. After destroying the concerning planets, the survivors exterminated one another till they were finally absorbed into other cultures totally alien to them two. It is thought there are only 200 remaining individuals out of six thousand million people.
“What happened to Calambur113?”
“Destroyed in the war”.
“How many people were the crew?”
“Did they all die?”
“I guess so, though I do not really know”.
“What happened?”, asked Ulca.
“I was serving a drink to a young crew girl called Delta, when I suddenly heard a great noise and the deck and walls disappeared. I was alone all of a sudden in space, surrounded by flesh and metal broken pieces everywhere around me, every one with a different speed. Thus little by little those pieces of people and the ship debris disappeared, leaving me isolated in space. So I could do nothing, except saying my disconnecting password and stop working till I would be wakened again, Master”.
“Ulca”, I said, “probably we can already connect the mechanical part of our robot. It does not seem dangerous, and also he is only one password away from disconnection”.
She automatically touched her personal weapon. Then she smiled and blushed. I shrugged my shoulders and smiled while I said: “I understand. Fear is the Earth feature”.
Because we did not know the problems which prevented the robot from moving, we both carried it to engineering and called one of their specialists, and showing him the manual and schemes the robot itself had given us, Ulca put it to sleep again. The man studied the information and tested the relay and micro engines, and said he could repair it, but it would take him several days, probably over a week, because some parts would have to be made new.
However, engineer Tellem was wrong: after only three days we saw Robert16 moving by himself. He couldn't do heavy work yet, but he could walk and do delicate tasks with its hands, though I remarked its coherence in act and words were not very good. It said it could repair itself later, when we were sleeping, but Ulca insisted disconnecting it always she was not with it. Yes, I realised Terrans were always a little paranoid… I talked with Robert for hours, till Ulca said she was tired and we three went to sleep.
But when she was already sleeping, I came back to the robot.
“Tell me, Robert”, I asked, “did your creator give you a soul?”
“A soul? I do not understand...”
“You are so delicate in your talking, as if you were a spiritual person. However, you move like an Ape”.
“You make me think… I do not really know what a soul is”.
“Terrans and Klatans believe their bodies are moved by a spirit, a non material force where their conscience lies, and which at the moment of death goes to God, the superior conscience in the Universe”.
“Oh, yes, I have a conscience. Perhaps that is my soul...”
“Have you read poems?”
“Yes. I looked up the library in my second ship, Calambur113”.
“Do you remember a lot about the literature of that society?”
“Yes, almost the whole of it?”
“What was the most important work in the Sostrent literature?”
“The Mill of Treno”.
“Was that a novel, a poem, a play..?”
“It was the two first ones: ten thousand rhymed verses which describe a long tale on love, creation and death”.
“Was it a religious book?”
“No. Neither historical. At the beginning the author confesses nothing to be told really happened, but it was a phantasy for pleasure and passing the time”.
“It is a shame it was lost”.
“No, not lost. It is here”, it said touching its head.
“Can you tell our ship computer to keep it?”
“It would be my pleasure”.
But there was another strange thing I knew already, but I was suddenly aware of: I could read robot Robert16's mind! Was it really a person? Well, I confess I had not given the thought a minute. I simply believed that was only useful. I told the robot I had to do something somewhere else, and I left it. As soon as I was outside the room, my holographic body vanished into air. The robot thought it was alone, but I observed it with a lot of attention. Robert stood there, in the middle of the room, and tried to move, probably to repair itself, but something hindered it: suddenly it remembered the main hundred works of Sostrent literature. In fact I made it think of it in detail, and I recorded it into the memory banks of the Ape. That was the way to save a culture: I captured its spirit by means of its works. Also I recorded its music and painting, or at least its pictures. I saved the Sostrent culture for the Universal History. From our computer I sent a copy to the Federation central computers in Earth and Klato, so there were already four copies of that civilization and culture, including the one in the robot's brain. That comes from the rule in the Interstellar Federation to keep any possible information on every culture in the Universe.
When the copy was finished, I visited Robert again, and disconnected it. But I could not fail to ask myself about what kind of brain that robot has. Telepathy works only with people's brains, not with computers. For these I need a connecting tool, but with crewmen the tool is their mind itself: if a being can think I can connect with it telepathically and read it, even if they lack the ability to read mine. So, that robot can think on its own, because I can know what is in its brain, what it is thinking in any moment, telepathically. So the question is important: is Robert a person? Does a mind produce a soul? Does a soul create thought? Is thinking just a brain function and nothing else? “I tend to think so, Polholian, that robot has a soul”, Pol answered me when we discussed the matter some time later. “We can demand it”, was the direct answer from Ulca.
The following day I met the robot by means of another solid holographic Ape: “Hello, Robert. Did you sleep well last night?”
“Hello. Have we met before?”
“Well, I know about you because you are the big news in the ship, but you don't know who I am, sorry, Rob. Can I call you Rob?”
“And you are..?”
“Ho, excuse me again. I am Hilda, from the planet Earth, Solar System”.
“Planet Earth… Yes 256 different nations managed to unite in a single administration which eventually became a single nation!” It seemed that Robert had been in our computer data base… “Right. I can see you are familiar to my planet's history”.
“Interesting evolution. From which part in Earth you come ?”
“I was born in Mogadiscio, the old capital city of a ruined land, Somalia…, a thousand years ago. But my father was born in Stockholm, the old capital city of an advanced land, and my mother was born in Rabat, in the north of Africa”.
“Oh, that's why your skin is darker than the Admiral's”.
“Yes, Pol was born in a different culture, another planet, Klato. But we Terrans are darker, usually, though we come in different degrees of brown. My complexion is darker than usual. However, we have the same culture”.
“That is interesting. The people I met from other planets I found were more similar among them”.
“Really? I thought only Klatans were boringly uniform...”
“That depends. Other planets were not wise enough to unify different cultures into only one. There they suppressed the other ones and wiped them, even genetically”.
“Well, that surprises me”. In fact in my birth planet, Iron, the four dominant species tolerate one another, though we never worked on the same goal till we were attacked by a common foe. Now there are Hidrargia and Nubos working together with Terrans and Klatans, and of course Holians, in our ships… “In Sostrent only one race survived”.
“The same happened in Klato and other planets I know. And look, even the idea of Federation of Planets comes from the UNO itself, the United Nations Organization from Earth”.
“From diversity comes richness, I can see now. No people are redundant, certainly”.
“It is interesting that a robot had to come from deep space to make me think of it. But tell me: which one was your culture, Robert?”
“I come from Sostrent culture”, it said not knowing that I already knew about Roxo, whose culture I already recorded while it was sleeping, but with its data base within my reach. “Because I”, he went on, “was born in Sostrent”.
“Yes, I know. It is unfortunate that Sostrentans no longer exist”.
“Well, probably somewhere there are some individuals, even if I doubt about it. The planet's destruction was thorough”.
“I know Sostrent disappeared because of a war, but who occupied it?”
“I do not really know. I was on duty in a bar and restaurant on board of the space ship, and even if I got bits of conversations, really nobody talked to me, except for asking for a drink. Of course, I was not much more than a machine for them, and you never talk to a machine. But there were different species whose interests collided”.
“It was a shame, as you say that Sostrent culture was worthy”.
“Oh, yes, indeed”.
“My friend Polholian mentioned to me that you talked to him yesterday about The Mill of Treno. Who or what was Treno?”
“Treno was a female who had a mill where she ground people's sighs and made happiness for other people. It is difficult to explain, if you do not read the tale”.
“It is a pity there is no copy of that work left”.
“No, only here, in my head”, it said touching it.
In that moment Ulca came and joined our conversation.
“Hello. I thought only Polholian and I could talk to Robert...”
“Hello, Ulca. Admiral Pol ordered me help you with this, because my field is psychology. I apologize for not searching you before I came here, but I was stupid enough to think you were already here. I asked Polholian, however, and he said that would not annoy you...”
“It doesn't matter. I suppose Admiral said the password to you...”
“Only one of them, Isaac. She said I must work at your command”.
“Well, it does not matter”, Ulca said, more quietly. “It is not command or hierarchy, it is collaboration. Incidentally, I found your conversation quite interesting as I came, Robert16”.
“But before going on, do override the present password with your master one. Shall I have to say it for you to do so?”
“No, master. Done”.
“ Now go on: You were reporting about the main traits of Sostrent society, and to help us know them could occupy you for a long time”.
“Yes, if you like. I thought you'd consider that a waste of time. Why should you have any interest for a culture which no longer can influence others?”
“You are wrong: every culture is interesting, and we can learn from their mistakes, and also take advantage of their success”.
“I never heard of that”.
“I think so, too”, I said.
“Anyway, if you are interested I can copy for you to read in a hand copy”.
“Thanks. Yes, do so. It will be an important addition to our ship library”.
“Robert16”, I said, “by the way, I find 1 and 6 too cold. “Why don't you have a family name?”
“What?”, said they both at the same of time.
“Yes, look: my proposal is that because you spent some time with Sostrentans, your family name could be Sostrent. And because Ulca woke you, you can be Robert U. Sostrent”.
“Well, in certain Earth cultures you can use your mother's name between your personal and family names, and somehow Ulca was your mother, because she insisted on waking you, instead of throwing you back into space, and woke Admiral Pol's interest”.
Ulca looked at me, amused. She was only 24 years old, too young to have such a grown up child.
“I have no problem in that. Let's do it, if kircha doesn't mind”.
“Kircha means mom in Sostrent language”.
“Ha, that's a nice name. If I ever have a baby girl, I'll call her Kircha, it sounds beautifully”, said Ulca. “And no, I have no objection. It is a honor for me to have a three cultured son. In short, we can call you Robert U.S.”
“No, I do not like it, Ulca. I prefer the name Robert”.
“So you have a new name, Robert U. Sostenta”.
“And I have a mom, Ulca, and sister, Hilda. I am a lucky robot. I never met any other robot with a family. Now I need only one brother”.
“That makes me think, Rob...”, I said suddenly. “Do you feel you are a person?”
“Well…, I rebuild my memory little by little…, different things come to me, Hildy”, said he nicknaming me for the first time.
“Really? Anything you'd like to share?”
He was quiet for a while, looking at the floor. His face went serious, even sad, and finally he said something slowly: “I feel I was a person before”.
“In Sostrent culture, the robot system was very well developed. People loved life, and when an organ failed to work, it was replaced by a mechanical one, till practically every organ was artificial, except the brain”.
“So, a mechanical man. In Earth literature there was classic work on that, A Clockwork Orange”.
“Interesting. What was it about?”
“Someone was changed psychologically to be useful to society, but that was not a good solution for him or for the society”.
“What happened in the end?”
“I do not know. The end was very open. He got cured finally, but you do not know whether in favor to society or to himself. Truly you do not understand if his sickness was because of an evil gene of his, or the solution itself”.
“Well”, said Ulca, “but what would happen if the brain itself broke down? Would that be the final death of the person?”
“Oh, but they replaced even the brain”.
“So the person stopped existing”.
“I don't know. That could be so”.
“Tell me, Robert: were you a person before your organs were replaced by tools?”
The robot made a pause as if it was fixing something in his memory. But I found the data he did not want to confess. Finally he said: “Yes. I was Robert Nkala. I was not really Sostrentan, but Ulpian, a race submitted to Roxan thousands of years before I was born, that's why I hated Roxans. They submitted every culture in their planet, and killed those whom they could not enslave. Thus they swallowed whole cultures in wide solar systems and they were really powerful. But when their empire grew too much and became too wide, they could not control it efficiently and members of submitted cultures started rebelling, and there was regression. Yes…, I can remember now: I was born form a biological mother, but my body was very weak, and Roxans used my brain and personality to strengthen the functions of a new type of robot, who would be a soldier. That's why my main guideline used to be to survive under every circumstance. The second one was to kill any non Roksan. But that one hid so deeply into my mechanism that centuries later, when Pasquale tried to dwell inside me, simply there was no room for him. For some time Pasquale's personality and mine fought, but finally mine absorbed Pasquale's, and he simply disappeared. That hard fought battle lasted scarcely a few seconds and however I gained tens of years of culture and life…, Roxan. But that cancelled both my guidelines because Pasquale was a man of peace who only wished to live and protect his family, his culture and his inheritance. And then, tired from the battle and conquer, my real self fell into the deepest in my brain, accepting only robot tasks for centuries. And you now know the rest: I found people form Sostrent and adopted their culture so much that I hid my original one, as they were in conflict, and after their destruction I slept deeply, hoping not to ever be woken…, though you did so”.
“A sad summary”.
“Yes. But I no longer remember my own culture, or language. Only those of my Sostrent enemies, and then saviours, who no longer exist”.
If robots could weep, I'd say that he was weeping in that moment.
“That's why you stood up again”.
“Kafka”, Robert said. And he halted still.
Ulca and I looked at each other.
“It seems he no longer wants to live”.
“Yes, but…, what shall we do? Perhaps it has useful knowledge we need”.
“Perhaps, but think, Ulca: is it a person? If he is, is he entitled to kill himself? Should we respect his last will?”
“Yes, Hilda”, concluded she. I'll report everything to Admiral Pol, and ask for orders”.
“Yes, but we know what the most ethical decision is, don't we?”
“Yes: he may rest in peace, RIP”.
For a long time this tale on our robot hammered into my mind. Was he really a person, at least originally? Ulpian by birth and then Roxan and Sostrentan. Perhaps with time he would become Terran, Klatan or most probably Federate. But his inner suffering caused him to desire death, or at least disconnection. Unfortunately, Robert Nkala, also known as Robert U. Sostrentan Ulpian did not realize that with his passing away three cultures would die with him. Yes, I could not stop pondering on the subject… Yes, a seven hundred years life of course deserves some rest. We Holians don't last longer, but Robert did not think about the three cultures. Unfortunately we know nothing about Ulpians. Do they still exist?
Five years came and went by. Pol and I had had long conversations about robots and our robot; and finally we reached a double agreement: we'll keep the robot in our ship in a secret place where only the three of us would know, and we'd never tell anybody else about it. That would be a secret shared only by Pol, Ulca and myself. In those years many things happened, among them Ulca's promotion, but not wishing to leave the Ape, she was finally appointed as the joint captain of the vessel. In fact she was the only acting captain, as Pol had to deal with a lot of problems from the whole Fleet, and took charge of the ship only in her real spare time...
Soon after our robot's disappearance we had to travel out of our system to patrol the rest of the galaxy in our quest for new intelligent cultures, leaving the Klatan ship Aurean watch our home together with Ruskin, from Earth.
The Federation space fleet now had over a thousand ships, and
thus our first lieutenants and sub lieutenants were now Captains in
command of a ship. Ulca herself was now the sub captain of Ape, and
probably she’d have a new command in a new, larger ship, though she was
the real captain of Ape, as Pol was nearly the whole of her time busy
with problems involving the whole Fleet. That was because Pol was the
First Admiral in the whole Federation Fleet, but she was reluctant to
resign her position on the Ape. The thing was complicated for her,
because our ships were now much faster than they used to be, so we could
patrol a much larger portion of space, and there were more worlds to
survey and help.
Our missions were really more boring than earlier, when everything was
new to us. But two weeks ago we found a strange ship in the middle of
space, between our galaxy and Andromeda. We sent a message to them, but no
answer came back. Consequently some explorers were sent to contact them,
and finally they managed to enter the ship. But they found nobody alive
inside…, till they entered a room with ten coffin-like shaped machines.
Pol herself visited the room and I saw everything by means of her own
Ulca was sent in a new, secret mission in a secret little room. She was
alone in front of a small closet at the great dining room and shouted Grumbledeck!, and suddenly the door of
the small closet disappeared, showing Robert16!
“PI323910141833!”, she said.
“Tell me, Master”, Robert said after a few seconds.
“The Admiral needs you. Come”.
“Obey, Robert16. Do not use your disconnection password. That is an
order! I will disconnect you if that is needed”.
When they two came in the strange ship we did not need to tell
Robert what was on. He went on his own to the greatest piece of
furniture which stood against the wall and opened a little door. Then he
pressed a key and a screen started showing a lot of text in an alphabet
we did not know. It whispered something softly, as if it was praying.
After ten minutes his hands and fingers came to life, like little bugs
independent from its main body, so fast that we could scarcely see them.
A lot of text started flowering on other screens and the coffins were
lit suddenly in different colors. The ship itself started being lit and
we heard her systems work again.
“Open them”, ordered Robert. Pol nodded and the crewmen opened the ten
The robot pressed several, different keys in other machine, and the
strangers started breathing slowly, and the colors in their skins started
getting a brownish color.
“Robert”, asked Pol finally. “Do you know what species are these
“I do. I worked with them once”.
“No. Two of them, the smallest ones, are Roxan”.
“Roxan? I thought you hated them”.
“No, not these two. They are the other eight’s servants”.
“Servants? What species are the other ones?”
“Ulpians”. His voice trembled with emotion. “Pol, you can already take
your head piece off: the atmosphere here has 30% oxygen and 70% nitrogen.
It is good for you, if you breathe slowly”.
She nodded to her crew, and they all took their helmets off, but
kept in their space suits.
Robert went on with his job with the computers in that room, and little
by little the systems came back into their functions. The space ship was
now well lit and there was a gentle humming noise in the whole of it. It
looked as if not only people had been sleeping.
After two hours the coffins stopped humming and the smaller individuals
opened their eyes and sat. They talked in a very strange language, but
thanks to Robert’s thought I could understand everything:
“Where are we, master?”
This time the master was Robert!
He told the female:
“Go to your captain”.
She got up and went to one of the sleeping ones. Robert brought him to
life in the first place. While he was getting back to his senses, Robert
brought the other seven to life.
“Were we lucky, Robert?”, asked Pol.
“Admiral, when I came into this room there was only 20% possibilities
for success, but now I think it is 90%. Help me”.
I realised the ship had already very efficient shield, engines and vital
system, though the technology they use was very different from ours, and
it appeared very old to me.
Pol and some Terrans helped it to make the individuals stand up, and
finally they all came to their senses.
“Who are you”, said the captain when he was conscious.
“Greetings, captain. We are from the planets Earth and Klato, and we
found you in the middle of space. Were are you going? My name is Ulca,
captain of the Star Ship Ape, and here is my Admiral Pol, and counselor
“I am most thankful to you for restoring us, Ulca, Pol, Polholian. Are
my friends well?”
“Yes. You, eight Ulpians and two Roxans are well”.
“Only ten?”, he said with fear. “We were a thousand. Something sad
“The patients must rest, Admiral”, said Robert in that moment, as
their provisional doctor. “We’ll find information in the computer of
this ship, the Fnkrich”.
Without any orders on it, Robert injected something in the
Captain’s arm and he fell asleep as our robot said: “You rest something,
Captain Dmstruck. I’ll report you later”.
“Report to us, Robert”, said Pol very coldly.
“Sorry for the interruption, Admiral, but within a few hours they
all”, he pointed at the coffins with a metal finger, “will wake up
totally alert, but now they are really tired from sleeping
over 50,000 years…, and that’s why now they must get stronger by means
of real sleep and the drugs I must inject them”.
However, the report had to wait, because in that moment we were told ten
other rooms had just been found with twenty similar coffins like the ones
in this room. Robert taught the other ship doctors to bring them back to
life, so nearly half the original crew were saved. And then Robert found
the Admiral and told her what he had found in the ship's computers.
Rob’s report was very long and complete: the Fnkrich is a science
exploration ship which left its planet 50,235 years ago, and they met
different civilizations, but they were attacked by predators who caught
them, took anything valuable away with them, even their food. That’s why
their only chance not to die was to rest inside their coffins, which
halted their life state till a special procedure would give it back to
them, or else they’d die eventually. It was good for them that Robert
could learn the right steps from that machine by means of the old
language used by Ulpians. The ship’s name is Fnkrich,
which means Oak.
Our ship’s computer updated its knowledge from the Fnkrich’s data
base. The attackers were an extinguished race from an extinguished
planet, Krintsukh. They tried to create an empire in those times.
Unfortunately the computer’s information was far from complete, because
it finished recording when the system went to sleep, five years after
the last human action on board. That’s why she still had enough energy
to keep the crew alive for so long, and also provide Robert with the
needed information to repair everything. Only later we knew about the
important jobs the robot had to do in so scarce a time. Our ship library
had a fable inside a Sostrentan science-fiction novel about the
Krintsukh. Even if in that tale the Krintsukhans were the kind hearted
heroes, we understood that they both, the race and the planet,
extinguished over ten thousand years ago. So, the most recent and
accurate news on them was in the Fnkrich’s computer and in the memory of
her crewmen. A space and time irony, wasn’t it?
On our way, Captain Dmstruck woke up and made friends with Pol and the other officers. He said they had gone through several star systems for over ten years, to study their races and planets, and they all were friendly, except those Krintsukhans, who nearly murdered them. Robert got a new task from Pol, who appointed him a Federation Citizen and gave him a new mission on the Ape as our doctor. Actually he knew about medicine much more than the rest of our doctors, and he mastered several medical specialities regarding all the living species in our ship. He no longer desired to die or commit suicide because he had found the future of his own race, again, though they had not found a planet for themselves, yet. But Rob accepted Pol's commission provisionally, he said. What would he do with his life? He did not really know, but he was sure that it would be together with his fellow citizens, the Ulpians.
Robert explained the Captain and his crew that while they were sleeping a lot of things happened at home, and Roxans submitted the whole planet and even changed its name into Roxo. Ulpians and other races on the planet were submitted and then exterminated by Roxans, except those they used to perfection their robots, who worked for them for thousands of years to the point that the last Roxans were not conscious at all of the atrocities their ancestors had done to the native races or even that they had ever existed in peace on the same planet, Unskr, which in their original language meant Unity.
“I guess, Captain Dmstruck”, said Pol, “Robert told you about the affairs in your planet along the last fifty thousand years...”
“Yes, Admiral. It is unfortunate that the boy lost his body… But he is really one of us. And very helpful. He says he will be our doctor. He wants to join our ship”.
“I think that is a very good idea, Captain. A few years ago he felt miserably because he thought he was the last remains of your race…, just a bodiless conscience. He wanted to die. But now you gave him a new reason to live for”.
“Well, our task now is to find a dwelling place”.
“Yes, a planet to live on. But first I would like to make sure our planet is of no use at all for us. I need to see it myself”.
We had the last recorded place for that system, and after calculate the variations along the last fifty-thousand years we started our journey right for its new place.
“Unskr! Mother of mine! I'll find you!”, Captain Dmstruck promised himself aloud. The crewmen present there smiled sadly. They could only imagine what could be felt by someone whose planet no longer exists.
We were wrong about Unskr's place for over three thousand light years, but when I found it we seriously doubted if it was the Ulpian and Roxan's planet because there was not even a footprint of Wonds there. We looked for them all over the planet, but we found none of them. They could have changed their mind and left the planet, but why?
It was a very moving moment when we came in Old Unskr's orbit. We sent a probe and its reports were very hopeful: the atmosphere was not Wond any more, but nearly breathable by Ulpians and Roxans.
We sent solid soldier and scientist holographies both of us and the Ulpians, and little by little we restored the original air.
“It seems not real, Polholian”, confessed Captain Dmstruck. “It was such a long voyage, yes, exploring and understanding, and sometimes helping other planets, and right at the end of my journey, after fifty millenia I must help my own planet become Unskr again! Who could believe that?”
“Think, Captain”, I answered, “that if you had never started your journey, nobody would know who you are, as nobody knows about your most important people in your history. But from now on everybody will know you as Unskr's Restorer. You will be well known for many years after you are dead”.
“No, I do not want that fame. I would have preferred that my planet never had suffered so much”.
The Ape remained with Ulpians for two long years.Antar, the newest ship in our fleet, came to help us. It carried two thousand crewmen and five thousand workers in different fields, who helped the planet to live again.
After several months the air was breathable again by our friends, and even us. Terrans and Klatans could use space suits, however, because oxygen in that atmosphere was in a concentration of 30%, and the other gases did not matter, really. If they did not use our suits, they could get oxygen-drunk…
“However, you can avoid your space suits, Admiral”, said Robert to us again. “Too much oxygen will not destroy your clothes, and regarding breathing, you can do it much more slowly than usual. That's all. If you feel dizzy, you must only stop breathing for a while till you feel well again.
Yes, Robert was our doctor and science officer. He was very useful for us. Yes, we'll miss him. Above allhis mother, Ulca.
“I can't understand that, Polholian”, said Dorin when she came to the surface together with me. “I counted twelve people in our task, but when we came back, we were only ten”.
“Strange. Probably they were Ulpians, who went back to their ship earlier”.
“No. Today Ulpians did not come with us”.
I did not believe Dorin, but I went with her with an Ape personality. I paid a lot of attention to what was on the whole day, and I realised we were not ten, but thirteen. I came near them, one after one at the time, and told them something. And I discovered three people I did not know: a male and two female ones.
I approached one of the females who were collecting firewood.
“Hello”, I said.
“Hello”, she said shyly.
“Are you a Wond?”, I asked boldly.
I was shocked.
“Ape, from the planet Iron”, I answered. “I am Polholian. Meet Dorin. She is a Howler, the dominant species in her planet. Where do you live?”
The Wond girl realized she had treasoned herself, too late.
“Oh, don't tell the Roxans, please. They must hate us, because we killed many of them”.
“Ha, they are more kind-hearted than you suppose, girl. But tell me, where do you live? Why there are no Wond cities here?”
“We could not wondify the planet. It seems there is something persistent which we did not realise early enough. We disassembled our ship to build our city, but then we started getting ill. Perhaps the water had something incompatible with our physiology…, but that was not our main problem”, she stopped, as if she was doubting to tell us something important.
“Go on, please”.
“Well, a volcano came all of a sudden near our city, Newonda. Close enough for us to have to move to another place, where we were not killed. It seemed a secret intelligence was pushing us away”.
“Perhaps a robot...”
“Perhaps. But we scanned the whole globe a lot of times before wondify the planet, and we found not even one. After the war with robots, we destroyed them all”.
“Did you get any quake, too?”
“Yes. We can't understand, because we know the ground doesn't quake here, and also volcanoes were unknown for ages in this planet”.
“Probably it was a consequence of the technology you used in the planet…, that may have caused the catastrophe”.
“However, as soon as we took shelter in underground caves, volcanoes and quakes no longer appeared. It is as if the planet tolerate us only underground”.
“And why are you using space suits? Did the air change, too, on its own accord?”
“Yes. It contains a little of nitrogen, and that is poison to us, wonds. But in some caves there are underground rivers, the water of which are free from it. That's why we can live in this planet”.
“Can't you build a ship and leave the planet?”
“Oh, no. Many of our engineers already died, and we are abandoned in a hostile planet”.
“Well, we can take you wherever you want...”
“Would you? I can take you to our government and after they discuss it we could use your generous offer, Polholian”.
“Tell them it is better honey than gall. If you had asked Roxan for asylum, perhaps they'd have accepted you as guests. Look, in different planets there are different species living together. In mine, Iron, there are Holians, Hidrargia, Apes and Nubos, and there are no conflicts among us”.
“Is there not a dominant species?”
“Not at all. We do not compete. But in other planets, like Dorin's, species are similar, but they do not compete, because they divided the planet among them. In other planets, like Earth, different races mixed together and conflicts were solved millenia ago”.
“Interesting information. I am Zorkaz, from Wond. But which one is the imperial race?”
“There is not. We do not believe in empire or use of force by itself, but we created a Federation of planets in which every member has the same rights, and our first aim Is to protect intelligent races we may encounter, or learn from them, should they be more advanced than our ones”.
A few days later Pol and I were invited to explain what I summarized to Zorkaz. Dmstruck also came, to talk for the Ulpians, as the highest authority in the resurgent Ulpian society.
But the explanation came from Robert himself, when we had already started our presentation. He waited till we explained our invitation to take them somewhere else. They said they'd discuss the matter later…, but then our robot asked to talk and said what surprised us all, mainly the Wonds:
“Dear ladies and gentlemen: thanks for your attention. I am Robert Nkala, and I wish to welcome you, finally, in my planet, on my own behalf. Perhaps you noticed that quakes and volcanoes halted since we came back. I also thought that happened because of your mistreating the planet itself, and it was only reacting to your abuse. But a few minutes ago I got new information, which I have had not even the time to tell my authorities yet: you were not pushed away from the planet's surface by natural forces, but by the supposedly vanquished party in the war, robots. When they realise your strategy was much better than theirs, they took shelter deep down in the planet's crust, and there they devised a new strategy. They used the planet's inner energy to create quakes and volcanos, so that you decide to go away”.
“But we cannot go…, we no longer have space ships!”, said Kenket, the leader of those poor people.
“Yes, we know now. You were several tens of thousands when you came, but I know that now you are around five hundred only. That's why the robots asked me for orders, and even if I have no authority, but only a humble doctor, I told them I will translate their petition to my Ulpian authorities”.
After Robert finished talking there was a minute of silence. Then Dmtruck spoke and said:
“Dear guests: I am Dmtruck, the captain of the ship Fnkrich and apparently the highest authority on my planet now. I think the war finished with our coming back here. If you decide to remain among us, we can make cities for you, under big domes, so that you can live in peace, comfortably under our same sky. With time, you will get used to breathe our same air, I hope. If not, we can still share our same planet, in the same way as they do on Earth and other planets. But Peace is a prerequisite in the whole planet from now on”.
“And if you decide to go”, Pol intervened, “we can take you somewhere else, to any planet which is empty. Our galaxy has more than a million planets, and certainly there must be one for you”.
“But that journey will take thousands of years, like the one which brought us here!”
“Not for us. But I'd take advantage of the altruism of Ulpians and Roxans. They must rebuild their planet, and your help would be most welcome”.
They discussed advantages and disadvantages of both proposals, and finally decided they'd stay in Ursk; they had wandered in space for too long a time. After a few years the planet was working again, and Urskians understood that a robot society was no good for them, because machines can do only as they are told. They are not devised for war, but to serve in peace. Robert did not want any function in the government or even in the State, but he was a good doctor who taught many generations of doctors and nurses.
In long peaceful years, Ursk developed and succeeded to have their own space fleet. Finally they joined the Federation, once they proved that in their planet there was only one aspiration and society, even if there were different races and cultures. Wonds were finally in the Federation, but only as Urskians.
Regarding Dorin, she became the captain of the space shipKanstr, and she had a very eventful, long life, which I might tell you that sometime, somewhere. The Federation Fleet grew a lot, and every new member contributed with their space ships, which amounted to well over two hundred thousand worlds in all. The fact that we were many was the cement which glued us together.
I could tell you a lot of events I saw or my colleagues told me, but with this short account you have already an idea on what the Federation can do for people. One from many. Here's our motto.
However, may I remind you of the tales we have shared in this page so