REDWINE at DINNER
For Dinner: Shad Roe with Creole sauce, bread triangles
in anchovy butter.
Mood: Resigned. I get by with a little help from my friends.
Written in the Year of our Lord 3580, March 2nd,
Location: my apartment, St. VS-8000 Seminary, Havlinn.
I met S'yaaha'sli at the Father Brown Tavern where he was going
to treat me to lunch. I waved hello, and he waved his tentacular
trunk back. I sat down on cushions while he preferred to stand, of
course. I ordered the Shrimp Bordelaise. He had some Ganeshan
delicacy, that smelled very spicy, indeed, made my eyes water.
"So you are now the Cardinal's pet."
"No. But I doubt I could convince you of that."
"Off to fields far away. I just know you aren't being
sent to Ganeshan worlds. I could guess, but it's none of my business. I
suspect I will eventually find out, but it may be years."
"If you would use the Edenite
drive, you could break the lightspeed barrier. You wouldn't be limited
to slow relativistic travel."
"If you would mate every pretty female you saw, instead
of marrying or...in your case....taking an absurd vow of celibacy....you
would probably sleep much more soundly. To each their own incomprehensible
religious prohibitions, okay?"
His bright pink pelt glistened underneath his trademaster's
harness. For the thousandth time I wondered if a Ganeshan asteroid/trading
ship had come to Earth in the nineteenth, twentieth, or twenty-first centuries,
and no one believed in them....since they looked like pink elephants, only
six feet tall, with tentacular trunks for handling objects. If they
had, they might have caused some to swear off drinking, but not to report
the aliens in their midst.
(Imaginary dialogue: "Aliens have landed." "What
do they look like?""Pink elephants!" "Suuuure they do....sleep it
off, and I don't envy you the hangover you'll have....")
S'yaaha'sli unfurled his ears, a sign of pleasure. "Besides,
when you are dead and sainted, I will probably be alive on another planet,
after spending a few more decades in time-dilation. It gives the Ganeshan
viewpoint a certain....perspective."
"Are you scheduled to leave anytime soon?"
"I have another five of this world's years here. Then
I will rejoin a coreship and meet with a new community."
"I wouldn't ask....but you never know, I might not see
you again. How old are you?"
"327 earth-years old. By my own reckoning....how I measure
time personally....52 earth-years. The first human I ever talked to
was your father, back on Frey,
on the shores of Skidbladnir."
We reminisced. Finally he ended it with, "Father
Redwine....Clint. I think you're heading into a bad business. You're
noticably afraid---apprehensive. I have some influence among Ganeshan traders.
I'd like to give you this gift."
His tentacular trunk dug into a pocket on his harness,
and brought down a small crystal. "It looks pretty, but it also has information
encoded in it. If you show it a Ganeshan trader they will aid you....within
reason. It's not a blank check."
I smiled. "Given your tens of thousands of years of trading
among the stars, I'm surprised you even know what the concept of
'blank check' is."
"It took a long time to convey it. It sounded pretty preposterous
the first time someone explained it to me."
"Thanks, S'yaaha'sli. I really appreciate this." I held
the crystal up to the light, like a little prism. Most people couldn't
understand what we were saying, since we were talking in one of the Ganeshan
I spent the afternoon in practice at my dojo.
I informed John, the instructor, that it would be my last session for awhile.
I had dinner alone...and since I would be on a transport in a few days,
with who knows what kind of foods, I had a big dinner as well as a big
I was sleepy that evening, and the bed seemed lonelier
than ever. It's been lonely ever since the fire, but at least it
was familiar. Now, soon I will be shunted where humans were few and far
I was lost in an orgy of self-pity. Would St. Paul or
St. Patrick react this way? They would be blessing God for this opportunity.
But at least they knew men would be waiting for them at
the end of the journey. My task was to determine if the Lokiites
were men. were people, in any spiritual sense.
How many humans died in the Loki-Earth war?
Martyrs are made of sterner stuff than I....
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