We have postponed our decision, but not for ever. The most recent data shows no real will to improve: their biggest country, the only one with genuine world-wide reach, is paralysed by petty politicking, and an infernal, suicidal individualism. We have seen the symptoms before, many times, as you well know. We are now monitoring all their significant inter-governmental communications. Their level of cooperation is abysmal, even in the face of great danger to themselves. The political class is clueless: they don’t understand mathematics, they mostly ignore, or worse deny, scientific evidence, even when it stares them in the face.
Your judgement is so harsh. I cannot believe you have forgotten our own beginnings. How many times did we risk our own destruction? How many times did we ignore the views of our sages? How many times did we insult Mother through our contempt for Her teachings?
We know your opinion, Gabrielle, and in turn we think your judgement is failing. You have spent too much time on that world. Objectively our situation was very different, their world is – was – a small paradise, compared with ours. From the start we faced destruction, slavery. We progressed despite hostility of everything around us: astronomy, even, was against us! Now, look at what those humans do: they build weaponry, but it does not come to their minds to use it for self-defence! They did not see our little rock coming, and they would have been impotent at defending their world against the big one that flew by… What does that tell us? Does a species hellbent on cruelty and violence towards itself, incapable of looking after its own interest, deserve to survive?
We must give them more time. Elga has met Julian and his companion: you have the ability to study them in depth now, at very close range. They are not unique, I would say, they are probably fairly typical of their generation…
Indeed, and we want to talk to you about this. Melissa, your protégée, has given us a good insight into Julian’s antecedents, his upbringing, his culture, as you would say. We are skeptical. His memories of the war he participated in show no real remorse. He himself benefited from luck and the generosity of at least one fighter who spared him. What did he do? He killed people regardless, like all the others. In his intimate thoughts there is a lot about his own little person, the women he loves, his desires and search for satisfaction. You are absolutely right: he is typical of a species obsessed by egotistic wanderings, to the detriment of the common good. They have no sense of collective responsibility. We would be more optimistic about the women, and we don’t fully understand why they should be any different. It may be as a result of their evolution, but we need more data. We meant to ask you the question, since we haven’t been able to get a satisfactory answer from Melissa. Do you think they would survive if we eliminated their males and induce parthenogenesis on the genetic make up of the rest of them?
I am clear, and I tell you now: this would be genocide. I would call upon the Confederation to stop you. This level of criminal interference will not be tolerated. And you are telling me about human violence! She, Mother, would not let you commit such a crime against Her children.
Yet, as you know, Mother herself belongs to a tribe that is exclusively female.
You cannot identify yourself with Mother’s tribe: we are only a small part of Her Creation. Humans are the results of a short evolution yet. We must give them time.
Then you have to do more to convince us, Gabrielle. Will you please give some thought to the following question: would their females consider a deal – we suppress the male side with their agreement, perhaps over a century or so, we guarantee them children, protect their world, eliminate hunger, war, diseases and calamities – forever?
You really have understood nothing of their psychology. Perhaps Melissa could explain this better than me. Their women would die fighting you with their bare hands if you wanted to kill their brothers, lovers, fathers and sons. You still have a lot to learn…
I am concerned. I have listened to the questions and I have answered them all. Yet you seem to believe that you know best, even though you have no comparable knowledge of that species and its civilisation: what you know is what I have reported to you, and yet you seem to believe you know best. What are your reasons?
It is simple: we have listened to your answers. Unfortunately they only confirm our worse fears. Our reasoning is twofold: first you have lacked judgement in what you have shared with those humans, second their own conduct since you got closer to them has not improved, far from it. So you are in breech of the galactic convention on developing colonies: it is very clear from your own accounts that you have told to them, admittedly a small number of them, some facts they cannot currently comprehend. However you have said yourself: they learn fast. We know for example that only a few decades separated their guesses at the structure of matter and them developing an archaic atomic weapon! Those friends of yours are not very clever but they are lethal. They have used these weapons on their own cities, developed more powerful weapons, ignoring the evident need for restraint and strict control: they are reckless with their own survival. They risked annihilation of their own civilisation at least twice in the short space of seventy of their years. You are best placed to know that they are now, as we speak, pretty close to poisoning their planet. They persecute their poor, torture their women, wage stupid wars for no rational reason, and you want to convince us we should still be lenient? As for you, you have ignored our warnings. You seem to be persuaded to know more than you do: the coven has met many such species in its long history, and you should pay more attention to our experience. Yes you have incomparable first hand knowledge on what those creatures are up to. So you are doubly guilty: given what you know you appear to be drawing exactly the wrong conclusions. They do not need help, they need discipline, quarantine, and probably a good scare.
You surprise me. You are talking like some of their worst leaders, as if you had universal knowledge, and represented all intelligent species in the universe. You do not: even in our galaxy, the views of the coven are respected but are not unanimous. I may be in a small minority regarding the human species. Indeed as an historian I accept that I may at times be more sympathetic to their labour: they feel very isolated, they wonder why no-one has yet contacted them…
But surely, you of all of us, you must understand why! No-one in their senses would approach them in the current circumstances: they massacre other mammals, they poison the earth, their home, they spend much energy and valuable resources on needless weaponry! And of course, mercifully, they live on the edge of their own cluster. Peace!
I promise you: she is your friend and she is human, I hope you won’t doubt it much longer. I know of those doubts, and I know that Sarah shares them with you. No, I cannot read your minds, but I am a logical being, I can see that you question all that I have told and shown you when we met, and, after all, I told you a tall story: I am not surprised you are thinking of other explanations, that perhaps I am a fraud. But the story is true. I preserved all that could be preserved of Melissa’s thoughts and dreams. And when you meet her in the flesh you will know, all your doubts will disappear. The reason why this is difficult has to do with the way Melissa’s body exists here, not exactly in the dimensional physical space you inhabit, Julian. This is an artefact of her being alive, and no longer subject to the entropy you call ageing, and is hard to explain because your physics and biology are still at an early stage of development. Giving you a credible interpretation of where she is and how she can interact with you is a difficult task, and will take a little longer. But, when your mind is at rest, she can talk to you, as I can, and you have seen her face – her face of now. Although we had to transpose you somehow in an environment that presented no risk for either of you: your sweet memory of a place you loved, the old library.
There is something I wish to confess to you, “confessing” I think, is the right term in our circumstances. I care a lot for both of you, and I will never do anything that could hurt either of you, or anyone you love. So, rest assured Melissa and you, and your sister, and Sarah are very safe with me. I see it as my duty to look after you.
- A gentle creature (thepageanovel.wordpress.com)