The Grand Tour
It is good to be back home, and to arrive at about the same time I would have had I returned directly by Pegasus. I’ve seen Oceana – set foot on my third planet – and for the first time heard “city” used as an expletive.
We, and the team from Oceana met with Captain Rigel and the crew of the Freedom. A wooden star ship – who would have though it possible? With artificial gravity, no less. All our time spent in cold sleep, the Janus 3’s losses. Was it all for nothing, when our descendants arrive only a few years later? I guess not. We have begun to explore Terra Nueva, and have many skills for planetary exploration that Freedom’s colonists lack.
Adams proposes a grand tour of sorts. We travel to Oceana, let Freedom’s crew see their planet for themselves, bring a delegation from Oceana back to Terra Nueva, and have talks on Terra Nueva. Once of Oceana’s team will return to Terra Nueva with our Pegasus to make some arrangements for goods enroute. Freedom is much faster than a Pegasus – I won’t even arrive later than expected. Adams’ hope, shared by all of the Contact Team, is that we can stitch together our societies into one.
At our first dinner, Mehai (the Medynn navigator) stands up and delivers a toast. “To those whose path we have to find. We remember.” This passes around through the others. It ends with “We remember” every time. There is a sadness about these people – they saw first hand the destruction of Aute and were left behind in its birth.
There are but three Medynn, but they have a gene printer and plans to re-establish their race. They are travelling folk, distinct from the city Medynn of Mars. (Mehai pronounces “city” as if it were a dirty word. “We will take space back.” “We were raised to take it back.”
Those are our kin back at Aute and they are suffering. It would be suicide to go back now and try to take on the Vorta – they are well beyond our tech. But we shouldn’t abandon our kin even if it takes a century before we are ready to return.
Marcus is practically salivating at the new drive tech and their cyborg space fighters. I’ve been talking to Dr. Bow, their Medynn medic. The advances in nanotech are … the implications … I have much to study. Marak and Vicinius are busy trying to recruit the Medynn to their houses. The newcomers have no experience with Venus bots, none survived Aute’s destruction. They have no volitional AI of their own.
Marak has asked me an uncomfortable question. I’ve been scanning the auras of the newcomers, in part in concern that they may not be entirely what they seem. He rightly points out this is an invasion of privacy. I need to give it thought – reading auras is practically a reflex. I hadn’t thought how the patient might perceive it.
At Oceana, I’d forgotten how much Terra Neuva is different. The air here is all created and recycled. The gravity is higher, the atmospheric pressure thicker. All of the colonists have uniforms, all interact in a formal, military style. The Venus AI here have no rights – “toasters”. Venus 1 is formal, stand-offish. My door is open to her, if she ever needs an ear.
Once home, Adams makes introductions. The newcomers are not interested in meeting the Tikket or Fisher Kings around Aurora and Bayside – they’ve had bad experiences with aliens. Mehai is in awe of the Helios. Marcus wants to teach him to fly it. Adams is busy with diplomacy. Marak manages to toss a couple of monkey-wrenches into his plans.
Cailean and Seri have been working with the Tikket. The situation is unstable and will blow into civil war. The big question is how soon, and how can we stay out of the line of fire. Freedom’s arrival changes so much, if only we have enough time.