Who Prays for god? - Sample Chapter

  • Published on

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


<ul><li><p>8/4/2019 Who Prays for god? - Sample Chapter</p><p> 1/7</p><p>Who Prays for god? Sample ChapterAriel awoke to the sound of raindrops splattering on the window, gentle, tapping</p><p>tentatively from the seaside drizzle that often accompanied the rising of Delta Eridani. A coastaleddy lingered offshore tossing moisture and clouds landward, but the effect was cooling and</p><p>pleasant. By the time the ceremonies began the sky would clear and the amphitheatre would be</p><p>dry, but the debate would have started hours earlier.On this exceptional day the rikka would be preceded by a rare period of report,</p><p>instruction, and discussion. Many of the learned ofLanta had been in frequent consultation with</p><p>shehama since the arrival of the humans, absorbing what they could of the data offered by the</p><p>dark life. As different as the Terrans were from other bright life the Kaalysti had encountered,</p><p>shehama was vastly more inscrutable, but in the millennia since communication was first</p><p>established understanding had evolved to the point where some hard facts, but not abstract ideas,</p><p>could be transmitted with little loss of accuracy. Part of the difficulty was the fact that concept of</p><p>what constituted knowledge was vastly different for the two forms of life. There was nothinglinear about the way shehama stored information, nor was it holistic; the closest analogy was,</p><p>strangely, fishing. Fishing where every cast produced a catch of the exact species, weight, and</p><p>size required. This made it extremely difficult for the Kaalysti and shehama to draw connectionsand conclusions from their correspondence. Everything from the distribution of galaxies to the</p><p>nature of space inside atoms was understood to many decimal places; however, why someKaalites chose to couple, or what shehama referred to as ixqatarli could not be remotely</p><p>translated. Nonetheless, bright life learned from dark life, and dark from light, and the exchangeswere often satisfying, always equitable and benign.</p><p>Months of collation had been brought to Lair-house Delta for dissemination and debate,</p><p>remotely by the other houses or kreskavia their infinity rooms, and in loco by the participants of</p><p>the rikka, particularly by one who might teach them about the aberrant behavior of their uninvitedvisitors. Samthe, Mother of Delta, was up early, preparing for the unprecedented dialectic and</p><p>rite. Soon after the night was banished by a struggling sun she stopped by Ariel's residence to</p><p>introduce herself to the one who had come so far.</p><p>Arrreilll, she began, doing her best with the human sounds,I am your host. Allow me to</p><p>extend welcome. Have your needs been met?</p><p>I am pleased to meet you.Yes, Mother. I find your lair-house beautiful and restful. Conducive</p><p>and invigorating for the tasks to come.</p><p>Samthe briefly closed her eyes in satisfaction.</p><p>We await with anticipation your input. After you eat please join us in the chamber adjacent tothe amphitheatre.</p><p>Ariel wondered what breakfast would be like here in Delta. She bowed and said, I will bethere. Mother, may I pose an inquiry?</p><p>Of course.</p><p>When the rikka begins, my Lair-house Mother will stand for me, correct?</p><p>Samthe replied without sentiment.</p><p>Yes.</p><p>Is this standard procedure?</p><p>Again without emotion, and not seeing the discomfort in her guest.</p></li><li><p>8/4/2019 Who Prays for god? - Sample Chapter</p><p> 2/7</p><p>No.</p><p>I have abilities in this area.</p><p>You are untrained.</p><p>Untrained by the Kaalysti. I was trained by huumaan masters on Earth. She worked hard</p><p>on the H sound: it was difficult to pronounce in her new language, but she didn't want to resort</p><p>to trilling.Samthe considered. She of course had read the dossier Moraine's instructors had compiled</p><p>on their guest and knew something of her alien education.</p><p>Trained with different tools in a different form. You are changed.Defiantly Ariel stated,</p><p>Correct.I am better, improved!</p><p>Without impatience or reprimand:</p><p>Still,untested.</p><p>What better place to test me?</p><p>Samthe considered. The decision had been made weeks ago, but the Kaalysti were</p><p>nothing if not open-minded.</p><p>This rikka is consequential.Of that I am certain, and I am in agreement. However, if I am to become a dylan of Lair-houseMoraine, should I not stand for myself?</p><p>True, but it is not your binding to Vhong that requires defense. It is the disposition of those whobrought you to us, their intentions if any, and how to proceed in the light of their actions that will be</p><p>defended.At that point Ariel had to acquiesce. To persist would be in bad form for an apprentice,</p><p>even though Samthe would never point that out.</p><p>I understand Mother. Will you join me in my morning meal?</p><p>I have already attended to that need,she said, but then added, remembering something</p><p>she read in the dossier,but I am honnorred.With that she bowed and left Ariel to her grooming and preparation. They really have</p><p>taken to that phrase she mused.Even though honor is well understood, they must find something</p><p>appealing in the English sounds. In the months with her people Ariel recognized that a</p><p>contemplative life doesn't exclude simple pleasures, or even humor, but like everything here</p><p>subtlety reigned.Ariel would not let a morning go by without her exercises, and she calculated that she</p><p>had time for an abbreviated routine. Her precision and reflexes improved noticeably every day</p><p>she practiced. Back on Earth she had hit a plateau years before her exodus, but her rebirth hadshown her a path to the higher peaks of martial arts. Besides, today a good workout would ease</p><p>her frustration over being excluded from the combative part of the rikka, so Ariel concentrated on</p><p>a short but intense routine. Nunthe had burned the coastal fog away by the time she had worked</p><p>up a good sweat. Satisfied, she took a quick shower, air-fluffed dry and put on a fresh robe, then</p><p>strolled over to the dining building, just a few hundred meters from her residence. The walk wasrefreshing in the sun-cleansed air, through a well-manicured jungle of tropical foliage to the</p><p>squat hall. Other dylans of Lair-house Delta, as well as visitors distinguishable by their attire,</p><p>were eating and talking quietly. She heard music playing softly; her ears guided her to twomusicians performing unobtrusively in the corner. In honor of the ceremonies these local artists</p><p>had composed a piece specifically for the rikka to come.</p><p>During her studies Ariel had learned something of the arts Kaalites enjoy, from theimpressionistic holographic painted sculpture to their speculative fiction to their extraordinary</p></li><li><p>8/4/2019 Who Prays for god? - Sample Chapter</p><p> 3/7</p><p>music. Typical of the culture the music was a mixture of delicately shifting harmonies and</p><p>implied rhythms. It required a split attention from the audience as it drifted in and out of focus.Conversations would periodically stop when a cadence closed a section, then musicians and</p><p>listeners alike proceeded to the next movement. Ariel recalled an Earth composer of long ago,</p><p>John Cage, who considered that all random sounds occurring during a performance were part of</p><p>the composition. His ideas never caught on, but in Kaalite music this was the norm, the soundsfrom the instruments influencing the listeners who were in turn directing the musicians: a far</p><p>greater harmony than the mere superposition of pitches. The fact that the concert was taking</p><p>place in a dining hall did not diminish the performance. In fact, it augmented the experience.Ariel wasn't sure how to participate in the concertit seemed to be something requiring</p><p>years of observationso she took some food and went to eat outside, au fresco. This was not</p><p>unusual: others we also taking their meal in the morning air. But she could still hear the music,and it sang volumes of the expansiveness of the Kaalite culture, knowledge, and investigation. It</p><p>stretched so far beyond what humans had ever achieved that, even if they weren't different</p><p>species, the chasm between them would be too great to bridge. The gulf between cargo cults and</p><p>space-faring nations on Earth paled in comparison. No wonder her dylans were completely</p><p>nonplussed by the actions of Fitzroy, so few were the points of contact between theoreticalphysicist and Neanderthal shaman, and the concert inside drove this home. The sounds from the</p><p>musicians came from an instinctual, almost racial, appreciation of the scale of the Universe, thepacing of geologic stretches of time, the contrapuntal nature of both the depths and limits of</p><p>knowledge. The inexpressible expressed by the wordless tones of the composition. A primate's</p><p>grunt said nothing to them, or her, anymore. Their collaboration with shehama alone gave theKaalysti a view of time and space that permeated their society and every fiber of their being,</p><p>seen in their dispassionate appraisal of problems, their lack of prejudice, and their devotion to</p><p>learning. Not that their lives were cold, passionless, devoid of pleasuretheir arts refuted that</p><p>notion. It was that the long view of the universe provided by their intellectual pursuits soenriched them that the mundane pastimes that Ariel knew on Earth held no appeal. Millennia ago</p><p>their superior technology and command of vast energies freed the Kaalites from the prosaic</p><p>necessities of life, and also freed them from mindless, escapist pursuits. Everything in their</p><p>extended lives was satisfying, from the bonding of ceremonial hunts to the discourse with darklife. The Kaalysti experience was rich and diverse beyond any Terran comprehension. For the</p><p>changeling, this expanse beckoned stronger than any siren's call.</p><p>Her meal over, Ariel walked over to the site of the rikka, about half a kilometerbeachward. Nunthe had triumphed, breaking through the morning coastal fog, and as the sound of</p><p>gentle breakers grew louder Ariel's excitement grew. She had learned so much, so much more</p><p>than she had ever thought possible, learned things that she had never imagined were learnable.As the waves spoke with increasing urgency her cerebration and steps quickened.</p><p>Now I can demonstrate what I've be taught, she thought, show them the connections I've</p><p>made, show them that I am worthy to be accepted into the Lair-house . Ariel remembered</p><p>somethingVhong had said to her, near the end of her training:The rikka can give an account only of your understanding. Your adaptation, if it exists, will be</p><p>self-evident.</p><p>The Kaalysti prized adaptation, synthesis over rote-memorization, studied response overreaction, as evidenced by the ceremony to come, testing her and using her abilities to solve the</p><p>problem of their apparently dangerous visitors. She had the chance to prove herself, and it</p><p>excited her.</p></li><li><p>8/4/2019 Who Prays for god? - Sample Chapter</p><p> 4/7</p><p>I can help, I really can. And when this is over there's so much more to learn; I can't wait.</p><p>I've never been so hungry for knowledge. Insatiable, really. Is this what true freedom is, the</p><p>freedom to pursue your intellect without some kind of thought control? She wondered as the riba-</p><p>lined path led her to the pebbly beach.</p><p>S'linda, the name given to the amphitheatre by Lair-house Delta, emerged from the</p><p>vanishing mist, its rock sides speckled with the sun-scattered dew. A single word, cokke, wasetched into the landward wall; the Kaalysti were not much for sloganeering. Cokkemeant relish</p><p>the hunt, but by that the architects didn't mean a p'trrr. The way the letters were spaced indicated</p><p>that those who entered were to vanquish the unknown through study. Ariel was now completelyliterate in the written language of the Kaalites, wherein the spacing of the characters carried as</p><p>much detail as the characters themselves, like the empty spaces in paintings or the rests in music.</p><p>The engraved word encouraged her as she drew near.An unerring instinct of time passage brought Ariel and all the other participants to the</p><p>sea-sprayed amphitheatre virtually at the same moment. S'linda was not a huge structure; neither</p><p>was it restrictive in size. Its concavity was open to the Sea of the Red West and it arched</p><p>gracefully outward, embracing the foam. The horns of its sweeping crescent shape were capped</p><p>by two magnificent globes, adornment enough in their geometric perfection. Dylans of manyhouses filed in through many lentil-capped gaps in the gray-black basaltic walls that made up the</p><p>space, surfaces intricately laced with detail work, the ubiquitous art/technology that transmittedand received information and power.</p><p>Positioning themselves in the tiers of seats in predetermined ways steeped in history,</p><p>fraught with implication, and heavy with import, the assembled denizens of lair-houses near andfar prepared for the rigors to come. Anticipation was in the air; not the chatter of a tribe of</p><p>monkeys waiting for a referees pistol, but a low meditative hum. Resolving a contradiction the</p><p>multitude of staunch individualists would work as a finely tuned single unit, wringing out one</p><p>aspect of the problem after another without the intrusion of ego. Points would be taken withoutaffront, superior observations and intermediate conclusions accepted by the recognition of their</p><p>veracity. Then, when all the evidence and arguments had been presented, the rikka would</p><p>culminate in the ritualized ancient combat that signified, not alpha stature in the group, but</p><p>preeminence of one idea. Yet despite the time-tested virtue of the technique, all knew it would bea dialectic like no other.</p><p>Ariel took the position assigned to her byVhong; the Mother herself was only a few steps</p><p>away. The two's proximity indicated that they would present their case first, called the loej. Othermembers of Moraine were scattered about the amphitheatre, but their positions would change as</p><p>the debate progressed. Initial grouping depended on argument, not house, and as the discussion</p><p>points waxed and waned people would move, their new relative location as much of thereasoning process as their words. The combat stage was empty.</p><p>Damn! I should defend myself! she thought for the hundredth time. Listening to those</p><p>attendees near her, she had the distinct impression that people of Lair-house Delta were a tiny bit</p><p>more loquacious that her dylans of Moraine. Not that they could be called talkative, but there wasa difference akin to regions in the United Holy States of America: think Mainers compared to</p><p>citizens of the Boston/Philly/Richmond megalopolis. And she had noticed the flatterzunge of</p><p>Kaalite laughter back outside the dining hall and sporadically elsewhere. Not that her people atMoraine were somber, just subdued compared to the residents of and visitors to Delta.</p><p>Ariel suddenly felt eyes on her. She turned to see Lree about 25 meters away, up two tiers</p><p>at 224.7 degrees anti-clockwise, watching her. He closed his eyes briefly as she returned his</p></li><li><p>8/4/2019 Who Prays for god? - Sample Chapter</p><p> 5/7</p><p>gaze. Lreehad taken his southwest position as assigned, but true to his nature he set himself a</p><p>little bit off mark, not enough to be insubordinate, just enough to be distinctive. His largerstature physically cast him apart, and Ariel decided it was he who chose to put a small distance</p><p>between himsel...</p></li></ul>