Here they could have comfort, a fire and shops to buy whatever they need as they waited for news from Freddie.
Of course we’d monitored them and heard Ivgos. We had also wondered about the Hawmu when we saw the way they acted. Their behaviour had worried us, but we are wary of making judgements when we meet a species for the first time. What seemed self-inflicted violence, in a Terran would have suggested they are mentally unbalanced and the increase in self-inflicted violence when confronted with strangers would have given the impression they are using violence, the pain they cause themselves, as a self-discipline to prevent them attacking strangers. The idea that any species would instinctively need to harm strangers and that they would be willing to hurt themselves to control their urges, it just seemed unlikely, farfetched, somewhat as if we are trying to stretch the facts to accommodate our way of viewing life. We had not known that the species had changed dramatically after being brought to the Ribbon Planet and that little bit of knowledge made all the difference. Something here has affected them and we need to find out what. We had already been discussing ways to help the Hawmu when Ivgos asked Robbie to go to the void. While the Unation scientists took samples (like their cameras, tiny insects that sting so as to take blood samples), other insects did an ultra sound and took x-rays.
It is not possible to arrive at a planet for the first time, send a message that we want to examine a volunteer and, if they are willing, be given a corpse for us to perform an autopsy. Being able to time-event our jumps has turned out to be a real blessing in many situations, as it means we can take our time. We arrived at the solar system and Guhpan sent a message, we were invited to approach and then the Inguel handled the diplomatic niceties. Our isi was taken along when they were invited to visit the local leaders of the Federation in a space station. The meeting was successful and when they learnt the reason for our visit, they were overcome by the fact that we would bear the enormous cost of moving such a massive spaceship across so many light years so as to help the remnants of their colony - they did not recall the experiment and so they thought we spoke of a failed colony of theirs. It was a pity we had to disillusion them as it was nice being thought of as altruistic aliens (sorry, could not resist playing to a cliché from the science fiction books Robbie loves).
The Inguel suspected the truth when they visited the space station. They asked about the planet and it was confirmed that the gravity is about zero point four. They then tried to work out why higher gravity would affect the Hawmu so badly. Since the people of Guhpan, back at the Ribbon Planet, have shared all their computer data on the colonists, the study of those regarding the Hawmu led to an interesting discovery. The scientists of that time had made a number of adjustments to the bodies of the Hawmu so as to make the heavier gravity bearable. Studying the changes did not produce a quick solution, but when the truth was guessed and then proven, it caused a huge upset. Genetic engineering was employed to strengthen the cranium by strengthening the bone and making it thicker at certain key points. One such extrusion affects the part where the nervous system is connected to the brain and another extrusion grows at the point where the emotions are affected by the pressure. Inguel healers studied normal craniums and the x-ray pictures of the Ribbon Planet sufferers and once they were shown how the problem should be dealt with, we announced our departure.
While we are travelling, some thoughts about the Hawmu planet. I feel it is worth writing about as, I’m told, they are a unique lifeform. Their planet does not have a molten core and it did not have one at the time life first began to evolve (such life-bearing planets are very rare and a century later the scientists are still studying them). If we glance at our own natural history we’ll see why this is such an important factor and why scientists are so puzzled as to how complex lifeforms could have evolved there.
Life in the shallow continental shores produced the first free oxygen, but iron being released into the oceans from underwater eruptions used up all the free oxygen for about a billion years. Two billion years ago free oxygen started to rise into the atmosphere and as some of it drifted to the top of the atmosphere it created a shield, the ozone layer, allowing more complex organisms to be formed.
One billion years ago, continents existed and life evolved into a variety of single-celled organisms, thriving in shallow water around the continents. An amazing fact: life remained single celled for three billion years and only about six to seven hundred million years ago did soft multi-celled life appear - at great depths in the ocean where it is permanently dark. This proves that the first multi-celled organisms were animals, not plants. All the continents were in the south, below the equator. Because of this, the planet froze up with ice sheets almost reaching the equator. Seventy percent of life was killed. Continents broke up, allowing warm currents to form in the ocean and the Earth was warmed.
Five hundred and fifty million years ago both predator and prey had evolved in the oceans, both animals and plants. Four hundred million years ago, plants evolved, allowing them to leave the water. Within fifty million years the land was teeming with life.
Two hundred and fifty million years ago, dramatic changes to the Earth resulted in dramatic changes to life. The continents had been drifting together once more and they ultimately formed one huge continent that we call Pangaea. The shore line was greatly reduced with loss of life and then the water level fell, exposing the major part of marine life, killing off ninety percent of it.
Then, at about the area where Siberia is today, the earth split; a rift of three to four hundred kilometres long, spewing lava, dust and gasses, killing off, over a few million years, close to ninety percent of all life on land and in the ocean.
Pangaea moved northwards until the area that is now South Africa was close to the equator. Heat and deserts do not suit mammals and the dinosaurs grew to dominate for one hundred and seventy million years - up to sixty five million years ago. At the time the dinosaurs became extinct, so did many other lifeforms, from land and sea - sixty to seventy of the species became extinct. Whether a meteorite was partly responsible or not can only be theorised at this time, however, at that time the area that is now India became active, with volcanoes spewing more lava and gasses than had been seen for two hundred million years.
Over the last million years we have experienced ten glacial periods waxing and waning, affecting climate, species and the evolution of the human species.
If Earth had not had a molten core, tectonic plates could not have moved, there would have been no volcanic eruptions - and we would not have existed. Robbie has been asked, many times and by various species, ours included, to return to the early part of the life of our planet so as to examine how theories agree or conflict with real life. He has steadfastly refused because he does not want to solve the debates regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs. Children have asked for him to find out why the dinosaurs are extinct and he even refuses them. He insists we should be able to prove the reasons without having to return in time. We think he does not want to return to settle the arguments because he is a romantic and that is why we will never let the scientists know that they could return to see for themselves without having to ask Robbie. If they ask Freddie to return to that period in a dead reality where no humans evolved on Terra, Freddie would take them.
Chapter Three Hundred and Seventeen
A number of social scientists and a variety of other scientists, artists and a couple of politicians of the Hawmu are travelling with us. They accepted the conditions Guhpan laid out for them, but we have promised to help the scientists visit the planet to get samples without being seen. Their excitement is affecting the scientists in Freddie, bringing them out of their laboratories. Maybe it is time we invite some of the younger scientists from their species to join them. It is just so heartbreaking having to tell the older ones that their turn has ended - but the new generations must also have their chance.
Freddie has slowed down our return because of Ivgos. We had not mentioned Ivgos while we were at the planet of the Hawmu, but after departing, those travelling with us were told how the experiment was ended and the effect Ivgos had, forcing the Albaelits to change their mind. This needed a telling for them to understand and we had a few laughs (privately) when they reacted by asking to go to the Dream Mountain planet - they seem to be keener to go there than to the Ribbon Planet! Robbie promised to take them before we return them home and we can sense that every single one of them is planning to climb the mountain for a dream. I wonder how Robbie plans to deal with that!
Most of the alterations to the bodies of the RP-Hawmu were beneficial and necessary. The skull extrusions inwards towards the brain were a mutation the Albaelits had not noticed and when they did, they were far removed in time and thought what they saw was natural.
Uica, a Hawmu of the home planet, was speaking to our scientists and Guhpan. “We have not had enough time to thoroughly study the effects of the mutations imposed on our colonists but the first impression does suggest some of the mutations could be worth considering as beneficial when we need to find ways to strengthen those who travel to visit other Federation planets - whether for trade or on official business. Diplomats and traders suffering discomfort cannot be expected to perform at the peak of their mental or emotional abilities.”
Qeubo’s (a Muyzith) long limbs and fingers betrayed his discomfort as he tried to sit on a bench meant for our species. Unfortunately the Muyzith prefer to bring their own seating when they visit so we’d been caught unprepared and to create a seat for him since he had chosen a bench of ours might have been construed as insulting. “Unless imposed mutations are fully reversible, would that not develop specialised sections of your people who might grow to feel they do not belong to the mainstream? As there are many planets requiring your diplomats and traders, even if only within your Federation, would that many specialised groups not fragment your species?”
We can feel that the species who have come in contact with our guests, the Hawmu, like them and would not object to us linking them as Cherinians. It is considered wiser that we wait until we have met all the Federation species so that the decision can be applied to all of them. If in the meantime, it leads to such debates, as quoted above, then it is to the good. Perhaps they will develop new ideas or ways of perceiving the universe that will benefit them and us.
As soon as we arrived, the Ivgos family returned to their planet - their substitutes having been warned by our arrival took a walk out of the camp.
Despite experience in contacting a variety of alien minds, the team did not expect to find the entrance to their mind-worlds during the first try. The team consists of the following members (none Hawmu, as they cannot handle the pain): Robbie, Dommi, Iona, Imoha and Sifi. It was hoped that with the healer team made up out of four very different species, the familiarisation period would be cut down drastically. Once the first mind is healed, the rest should take less time. One theory held that they, in a sense, are suffering from sensory deprivation. It could be that after so many generations have existed from birth till death suffering the pain-rage, they will need help adjusting to a pain-free existence.
We don’t scream with delight that easily anymore, but it was exactly the kind of moment that needs screams. The team returned from the first mind within thirty four minutes and we sensed the guard returning to consciousness. We could hardly bear to wait for an explanation.
“Sorry,” Robbie mock seriously began, as Iona quivered with delight, “a miscalculation was responsible. They do not suffer during childhood, only from the equivalent of our puberty - which is what they go through also. The change in chemicals released in their bloodstream causes their bones to thicken and that is when the extrusions grow big enough to make them suffer. Those whose extrusions are not as large and thus, the pain and distortion of emotions controllable, become Road guards if all the Council and food producing positions are filled.” Robbie grinned. “I think you are going to like Cycoo; he’s bright and his sense of humour has much to recommend him - he even laughed at one of my jokes!”
Robbie is right, we like Cycoo and we are fascinated by him. Awakening in an alien world with people of a number of species, most of them so very different in appearance to him and each other and we sensed no fear, just wonder and questions tumbling over themselves like eager puppies. His first questions about the existence of Freddie had little to do with how he was created, it was as if he accepts Freddie as a being in ‘his’ own right and is more interested in existential questions. Learning that a second Freddie exists seemed to relieve him of a number of concerns. (I wonder, does he expect Freddie-the-ship to procreate?). He recalled the existence of a Marmirie among those who first accosted him at the Road Camp and is eager to return to hold long conversations with him.
We were supposed to have his help in healing the other four, but his mind danced so brightly that none of us had the heart to bring him back to earth so as to deal with what might seem such a prosaic detail to him at this moment. The others were the same and only once we had healed all five of them did it occur to them to question what had happened to them and how we had healed them. They were distressed to discover they had missed the experience of entering a mind world. We could not promise to use them with the next lot as there would be no ‘next lot’. Healers are going to their divide to heal them by the thousands. We’ll let them develop their philosophies with regard to dealing with the missing out of such an experience and all it could teach them, for they are definitely good Cherinian material and will be linked one day soon.
We’ve spent days watching the healed Hawmu. Not only because of their moods of exultation and the way they question so much that everyone takes for granted. We are worried for we see they have forgotten that crops need to be tended and they could end up very hungry if nothing is done to alert them to the dangers of ignoring the practical side of their nature. Still, I guess we can help for a while, it is so beautiful sensing them as they revel in posing questions for the pleasure of debating them. I’d hazard the guess that it is not so much the questions themselves that excite them but the ability to indulge in them without their thought processes being constantly interrupted by flashes of pain and mood swings.
The five who’d been brought to Freddie brought the others back to earth by reminding them that the change came about because of aliens interfering. It did not take them long to tie us to the family still waiting for them at the camp.
The questioning of Robert and any of us who made ourselves available did not last long - only two days. They learnt of the Fegorians and they all eagerly agreed to be sheathed so as to visit them. Hiahi remains the one they consider the best qualified for dealing with us impatient aliens, so we introduced a few of the leaders to him and then left them to it, to introduce the tens of thousands of their people who were with. They have now been talking, at a snails’ pace, for nearly a month and the truth of it is that none of us have had the patience to listen in. Perhaps the Unation will condense the conversations for us to listen to, for it is certain that Freddie won’t let us know what was discussed.
At first, Ivgos and his brother and friends, Bryce and Craig, found it hilarious that we had to wait for the Hawmu. Then they also grew bored. I, in turn, became fascinated by the Hawmu. Not to the extent that I was willing to try and listen to what they discussed, but their priorities do not strike me as being sound in an evolutionary sense. They lose themselves in theories and suppositions and the Fegorians adore them, but they do not ask why we came to them, what do the Ivgos family want, why did they come to their divide? Why haven’t they mentioned even once that they no longer have children? If they think we are so advanced, why haven’t they asked us for our help? I know why. They believe that we are highly advanced, ethically compassionate and altruistic. They cannot even imagine we came to their world for our own gain - to fit neatly within the way they view the cosmos, we came so as to help all the Ribbon Planet species. At least Robbie is delighting in sensing them, even though he knows we will have to change them…well, guide them so that they mature in the ways we consider necessary.
Without warning, all the Hawmu left the Fegorian niche and using the platform waiting for them, they came to the taverna. They settled on the grass while two of them stood waiting for us. Robbie took the hand of Ivgos in his and went to stand before them. We expected Syweco to be one of them, but the other was a surprise; it was Cycoo, the Road guard.
“Cycoo was the first to speak with you so he has accepted the position of official greeter. Robert, whenever Freddie visits, may a few of us visit the Fegorians? We have much to tell each other.”
“I am glad, the Fegorians are much loved by us, but they rarely have company. We trust you understand that the other species of your planet should not be told about us at this time? The day will come when we will announce ourselves, but this is not the right time for us.”
Syweco lowered himself so that both ‘hands’ touched the ground and we sensed that when both remain on the ground, ‘palms’ facing the sky, it symbolises respect. “Youngling Ivgos of the self-named family, is it not time for us to learn your reasons for visiting us?”
For a moment I thought Ivgos was going to protest that it is not his fault they have not been told, that they were too interested in other things and people for him to find an opportunity to explain. Seuria’s delicate and feathery touch in his mind soothed him and with a smile in his voice he replied, using the Road patois. “All the species of our world could not bear children and there was great despair. We came to let you know that has changed and your species, as with all the others, will be having children once more.”
“Now they will be welcome. Ivgos, how did you know what ailed us? Travellers have seen us for tens of hundreds of full cycles suffer and never noticed.”
I quickly sent to Ivgos and he replied, “Historians of your world examined your history and explained why we angered you. Once we understood you were not angry with us but were trying to protect us, we had to heal you.”
“Historians? There are such beings who can tell us why we came to this world?”
Guhpan asked, “You know you came - that you did not evolve here?” He had to explain his question and they became excited, seeing an answer in the explanation, that thrilled them. We had little choice and since all their population is in Freddie, we decided to do a telling so as to link those who wish to become Cherinians. Freddie jumped. The Hawmu from their home world joined us and they lost themselves in conversation for weeks.
Never have our friends, alien and Terrans laughed so much at our attempts to do a telling. Actually, even we kept getting the giggles every time the Hawmu interrupted the telling to debate something they’d just shared. If we remain determined to continue to the present time, this could take half a year! Meli has chosen a cut-off date so we should end within another ten days.
The telling has ended and the Hawmu are at their various favourite places debating among themselves all they learnt about us. From past experience we expected them to be at it for weeks, if not months, but Syweco and Cycoo were waiting for us when we arrived for breakfast. They did not wait for us to break fast and Cycoo touched the ground, so Robbie waited before him.
In a courteous tone of voice, Cycoo spoke, “What you lack in depth of thought is richly compensated for by your Cherinian nature. We admit we find it difficult to understand how you can pass through life with such little regard for all that needs to be noticed and expounded on so that deeper layers unfurl to widen your appreciation of all life gifts us with, but, there could be advantages to actively influencing your experiences, so we shall consider each equal in wealth, for what our minds learn your emotions appear to know so that we are both influenced almost equally.
It is time for us to return to our divide, but before we do so, there is one species almost extinct by now, if they still exist, who have been treasured by us for many lifetimes. Could you assist Ivgos so that they will be a part of our future - we shall be grateful. They are known as Lee~æ!eýessesstll, The Queen Tree of the Misty Land and they live on land that is surrounded by the big water.”
Guhpan spun as he croaked with astonishment, “We projected the last of them would cease to exist two generations ago as they have not had a Queen Tree for more than eleven!” He then showed tact by speaking to Ivgos instead of Robbie, “If but one of them survives, they are to be helped, whatever it costs us.”
As the platform filled, we avoided starting any discussions, but as soon as it departed and all the Hawmu were gone, Cherine demanded to know more about this species and why Guhpan considers them so special. In the meantime, we wanted to search their divide to ensure they still exist but luckily Lynda stopped us.
“Let me go back in time to when they definitely exist or else we cannot change the present. We must go to another reality for me to do so.” Within minutes we jumped.
I am adding this much later to make no apologies for not being apprehensible. This is one species we do not understand and much about them is likely to mystify us forever - however many times we visit them. Here then is the story from the day Lynda sent us back to. I’ll allow myself one comment at this time - the Inguel are in love with this species, even though they don’t understand them either.
There is much to be explained about the people of Qirwee but we have only understood a few of the details. Here is what I can add, maybe coloured by the illogic of my emotions as I struggle to reach deeper and find some working hypothesis that makes sense to my mind without it conflicting with my instincts.
Because my species likes to tag everything with a name, I’ll have to invent one for this species. If, later on, we learn to communicate better and they give us a name of their choosing, I’ll mention it. For this diary I will call them the Qirweens in honour of the one individual who is forced to die and be cloned at least two times during each cycle, that I know of, so that his people and the other-related species can regenerate.
From the sketchy records of the Albaelits, as passed on by Guhpan, the Qirweens were not given a divide on the ribbon continent. On their home planet they have about seven hundred Queen Trees and whenever the children of the one Queen Tree meet the children of another, they can turn quite vicious, mostly because they dare not reside within their rooms where they can easily be attacked, so they mostly act instinctively. They do not seem to have a racial or species awareness, only family instincts. For the purposes of the experiment, the Federation did not want them to grow a second Queen Tree, so they were sited on an island that was just big enough to comfortably hold one family (a family of the prime race, can reach from two to five hundred thousand). In case I’ve given the impression that the Qirweens consider their biological tools, such as Agve and Osvo, part of their family, I would have to admit that it could be so, but I’m not certain of anything. Take for example the Wirms, the same was thought of the species they use for creating and maintaining their nests and yet the scientists have proven them to be a separate species, only distantly related. Aliens could consider our cats and dogs and other mammals as being related to us, but very few of us Terrans consider them ‘family’.
The Queen Tree is nothing like the mummy tree the colonist Eminixx used. As has been noted, the Qirwee, both of the male and female, have six brain nodes. Unlike us, their brains are outside the body and there are no direct links, apart from those of the nervous system. The more of these brain nodes that interact, the longer lasting are the streams of their thoughts, the higher the potential of their intelligence. None of the tool species have more than three, the smaller and more basic ‘models’ only have one or two. The Queen Tree has eleven! Since the Qirweens seem to be close to our average when all six nodes are operating, we expected the Queen Trees to be geniuses. They are very smart but the purpose of them have nearly double the nodes is so that they can achieve the same level of sapience as the rest of their family without needing the dryness. The Qirweens ability to think hinges upon the fact that the nodes each process only part of a thought and keep only a part of each memory, the rest being spread over the other nodes. It is a laborious and very slow way of solving the thinking problem. The Qirweens were only able to achieve sapience because they sought shelter in small caves where their body heat helped dry out the air, enabling thoughts to pass across nodes and memories to be collated faster. They make no mention as to whether the Queen Trees developed sapience because of them or whether the Queen Trees did first and thus they were able to identify the benefit of being in a dry atmosphere to their males and females, guiding them so that they also achieve sapience.
We, and that includes all the species, have tried to create scenarios that explain the existence of the Qirweens and their Queen Trees - we have not even tried to include their biological tools (maybe the Inguel tried and are not mentioning it). Nothing works. The Unation AI finds itself unsettled by this species and self-protection applets have forced it to set aside the need for an answer at this time. However imaginative we wetware are, the computers show all our ideas falling apart within a very short time - within just a couple of Queen Tree generations, which is very frustrating for us…and we don’t have applets to prevent us obsessing. For instance, here is an interesting fact - according to the files from Guhpan. The Qirweens, on their home planet, thought of an idea which makes a lot of sense. Why build rooms that are dry, why not concentrate on ways of drying the atmosphere of their planet. They created biological engines to do so and now a third of their planet is uninhabitable by them as they learnt that they cannot reproduce if they remain within a dry environment for an extended period and they also suffer as their skin cracks and becomes host to all manner of bacteria and spores. At the time the colonists departed for the experiment, the Federation was desperately trying to find a way to reverse the damage caused by the Qirweens’ need to be permanently intelligent as, once the balance was upset the ecology of the entire world worsened year by year. If they failed, it means we will have to return in time to ‘steal’ some families, take their solar system into a Sparkler World and have an Inguel terraforming team heal their planet. Until we know for certain what the truth is and whether we can return to save them, if it is necessary, the Ribbon Planet Qirweens are doubly precious to us.
I made the comment that I find it impossible to believe that nature would rely on one individual repeatedly surviving to start the family over again by cloning himself twice. I asked, what if an accident or a war caused the death of a Qirwee, would that family then be condemned? I felt very stupid once the obvious truth was pointed out. All the males and females created by Qirwee have his genes and so it means they could substitute for him - maybe less perfectly as they might not have had reason to keep all his memories and instincts, but they would survive. Still, I wonder whether they would have his determination, his willpower and love for his family that carries him past the edge of death. If he did not have a name I would call him Robert, protector of his family.
Jade listened to my endless bitching about how badly mother nature designed this species and their entire ecology. She was the only one not sympathising or teasing me and when she did speak, I liked what she said, the imaginative picture it painted in my head. “To me, mother nature does not sound like a mother, she sounds more like a child at school. What if each planet where a primitive one-celled bacteria develops gets a child-nature, sent to learn how to evolve life? If that is what happens, I bet the child-nature that evolved the Qirweens flunked her exams.”
We had expected we’d be spending years helping the Qirweens, but within days we were ready to leave. We returned to the ‘present’ and Freddie and the Unation snooped on the Qirweens. They are doing well and the majority of the Inguel are spending as much time as they can as souls, watching how they interact with their tools. When the Inguel realised a tool was being adjusted (mutated?) for more effectively ridding their land of the aftermath of the chemical sprayed by the Albaelits, they ignored the needs of their bodies, staying to watch each detail over weeks - so we had to send our healers to care for their bodies. No one was upset as we could understand their fascination and who knows where their learning will take them, what new biological tools they’ll develop to help all species.
Haikra affectionately rubbed his hand over the top of Ivgos’ silvery head and he chuckled. “It seems you will not be visiting this divide. It is amazing that their form of regeneration has provided them with the means to identify and counteract the poisons spread by the Albaelits.” Guhpan spun without emitting a sound, not wanting to open a discussion with Haikra that could lead to an argument. Haikra lent over so as to pretend he was asking Ivgos, “Healers were sent from Freddie to clear all the lands of the sterilising chemicals and yet, the island divide of the Qirweens was left untouched so that they have to do the job themselves. Do you think Cherine or Samantha would explain what their reason was?”
I moved so as to catch the eye of Ivgos. He asked me the question in a literal manner, amused by the game being played. I saw no reason not to add a twist to it. “Yes, either of us would be willing to answer your question Ivgos - but I trust you will not be asking it?”
As I’d hoped, he puzzled over it for a few seconds and then burst out in childish laughter. “Then I shall not.”
Haikra humphed. “Then may I?”
I gave him a sweet smile, knowing it irritates him. “Dear friend and father of Ivgos, why should you? Would it not be better you first examine what the Qirweens are trying to get rid of?” Suspicious of me, he did as I suggested and as an Inguel answered him, he pulled a face. He’d found out that we had healed the land of the chemicals, but the healers do not take away the chemicals, all they do is transmogrify them into a harmless alternative. Unfortunately, our healers had not realised that the new, harmless chemical, would taste awful to the Qirweens and their tools. It was why they were all so hungry, though none were starving, as they had to force themselves to eat what was to them foul tasting food. I liked that Haikra did not keep the answer to himself and only glowered at his family as they laughed at him. Ivgos must have felt the same way as me, for, despite him laughing, he went to sit on his lap, tolerating the rough caresses on his head as he in turn gently caressed Seuria.
Seuria gets very shy if she wants to speak when they are with us. It seems she is very aware of Robyn and feels she is at a disadvantage because she is not as intelligent (because of body and head size, her brain is much smaller). However, this time the idea that was dancing through her mind could not be held back and she asked Ivgos to set her down on the ground. She searched for a bare piece of ground between clumps of grass and when she found it she lowered her body so that it touched the soil and pushed herself in the direction available, paused and then pushed her way back. Her golden glowing eyes swivelled as she looked up at our faces, waiting for us to understand. She saw that none of us did, so she was forced to speak.
“Are instincts not formed from when we cannot think and circumstance forces us to learn through repeated experience?” We agreed with her and we felt how her mind brightened with pleasure. “Would not such instincts sometimes blind us to other possibilities once we are sapient?” Again we agreed and she could sense that now, all of us were interested. “What if the first Qirweens families and their Queen Trees lived in an area such as the one I just dragged myself through, would their instincts limit them to moving from east to west or from west to east without the possibility of moving in a circle?” The surprise in our minds, even vocally, stopped her, until Dommi sternly ordered us to keep quiet/calm for Seuria to complete her thoughts. Timidly she added, “When they move from east to west and arrive at a barrier and are forced to turn back, does it not mean they are using the land they most recently used? If they migrated in a circle, would they not always be moving on to land that has had the longest time to recover? Maybe…,” almost afraid to voice her thought, she added, “maybe they would never need another Qirwee?”
With awed delight, Robbie said, “Damn! Seuria has just invented the wheel for the Qirweens!”
She suffered for half a day and then Kirsten came to us and picked her up. She called to Ivgos and took the two of them to her home. “Freddie and I will go to stay in our apartment for as long as Seuria needs to remain here. Use our home, but go out, jump off cliffs to soar through the sky - Seuria, Ivgos can use his Cherinian abilities to fly alongside you. Climb the trees in the forest and play and love each other until everyone else has returned to normal. Ivgos, Seuria is not made for adulation, too much love can hurt her. It is up to you to be her guardian.”
Guhpan felt embarrassed for his people when he realised that they had unknowingly contributed to the problem of the Qirweens by creating an island shaped like a landing strip at an airport. To alter the island to a circular shape was not possible at its present location as it would need far more space. To create the island elsewhere would only add to the general instability and need for frequent adjustments to the climates of each divide, plus, in general, the air and water currents. The island would have to be at a corresponding position for them to maintain the misty conditions. Luckily a small adjustment of the shape partly solved the problem. Instead of the island being circular, like ‘O’, it would be more of an oval shape, like ‘0’. Some smaller islands would have to be removed or incorporated and whatever wild life had settled there would have to be moved, but it was possible. For a while, we had thought the island could not be adapted for the circular trek the Qirweens need and we’d have to decide that they would have to be moved back to their home planet - if there is space for another family. Although we now know that solution is not needed, it did help evolve a new set of debates about the Ribbon Planet. Many people feel that all the species should be returned to their home planets. They argue that a side benefit would be the influence on those who stayed home - most of it being an increased tolerance of other species. I don’t think it would work out that way, I think they would wither and die or be diluted and disappear as a society. The matter has been shelved for the near future. When they are linked as Cherinians by Ivgos, they can choose for themselves.
The suggestion by Arthur and my reply made me take a fresh look at the Reggheri problem. Since the elders joined us in Freddie, not many of them have made friends among the other species. There is one elder, named Liisutsii (sorry, but they do favour the sound of the letter ‘i’ in their names), whose genial attitude and wry sense of humour has earned him some friends. I asked the elders to meet me the next morning at a place that is close to the house of Lusalith.