Nnurveela, my dearest
I miss you tremendously; each of my trips seems to last longer
than the one before. I must remind myself that I'll be home and
with you in a little over a month. But something extraordinary
has happened, and I want to tell you immediately.
We stopped by a small planet on the way to our next dig.
We picked up some signs of some technological civilization from what
appeared to be a dead world, and thought it worth a day or two to
It turns out that it was inhabited eons ago by a race which called
themselves "humans", who we thought had gone extinct long ago, but
we've found several warrens containing hundreds of them being kept
in some kind of stasis by automated machinery. We think
they may still be alive. We've been reading the records they left
behind, and have found references to a plan some of them had, to try
to survive through the calamity they saw was going
to befall them.
(They never mention what it was, and we haven't figured it out.)
Evidently many of the people were embittered because only a few
of the most prosperous and privileged were able to participate in
this attempt to sleep their way to safety in the far
future; even to the extent that there was vicious fighting by
some to try to gain a place for themselves. I find the drive to
survive in this race exquisitely beautiful, and have come to regret
its absence in our own. (I tremble at the notion, but perhaps when
the Elders decide it is my time, I may not be so pliant -- nay,
complicitous -- as our traditions dictate.)
In contrast, we see images of religious leaders, their faces a
livid scarlet, decrying these attempts as blasphemous,
exhorting their followers not only not to participate, but to save
the chosen ones from the consequences of their lunacy, by violent
means if necessary, and redeem them in the view of their gods.
Some of the more zealous of these did manage to penetrate a few
of the enclaves and destroy them, at the cost of eir
I suppose it might be considered a bizarre backhanded compliment
that someone is so concerned for you that e would,
emself, die in killing you, in order to save what
e considers your eternal spirit.
While they clearly knew what was going to happen, we don't think they
knew exactly when (or their stoicism was so great as to
we can see that some of them were taken in the midst of mundane
daily activity. Many were asleep, but we've seen remnants of a female
brushing her hair; youngsters gathered around uneaten pizza (a popular
food item almost unique both in its ubiquity and in the prevalence
of businesses that would prepare it and bring it, ready to eat, to the
consumer); there was even a parent helping its child with academic
exercises. That seems to go beyond stoicism and into denial. But perhaps
continuing life until the very end was the best way they could deal with
their inevitable doom.
I think the Elders will agree that this world is worth considerably
more study. We are leaving tomorrow, because the sun of our next
scheduled stop will go nova in about three weeks, and we must get
what we can before then. Fortunately, the sun of Earth is too small
to nova, and we will have plenty of time to learn all that we can of
these humans. Perhaps we'll even try to revive one. Hopefully I can
get an assignment to that mission, but
that will not happen for a while, and I will still be home when this
cruise is over.
It's a bit silly, but one reason I really want to return is to pursue
a small mystery that I've found. I'm sure it means nothing, but there
was among the humans a fascination with what they called "soy", which
was simply a vegetable that provided a versatile and healthy foodstuff,
but the way they glorified it makes me think we may be missing something
very important. Anyway, that'll be my pet project if I can return here.
I haven't forgotten my promise to find a unique
souvenir for you
on this trip. Enclosed is a datawire containing the contents of a
centralized information repository that claims to hold all the knowledge
of the humans. This clearly cannot be, but it should be fun for you
and the kids to sift through, and see through the humans' eyestalks.
I love you, and Fjimma and Herv. I'll be home soon.