John Thiel, The Return to the Green Galaxy, end
They had learned that the Overlairinans considered their place of origin to be aptly described as the Green Galaxy. That impression of it had come from their own minds. It was an impression that had been had rather than the way they really viewed their own origin-place. So now, when asked where they were going, Captain Whist replied, "Going home now, back home, back to the Green Galaxy, back where we came from and belong. And if any says we're not happy to be going there, it's improper of him so to say. We're hale and hearty, returning star rovers."
And they got their ship aimed, through diligent astrogation, and programmed and that fixated, back on a different course for the star Sol away off in the midst of the Green Galaxy, where plant life was so necessary for the sustaining of life, and where by far the greatest amount of the plant life was green.
"We've seen a different form life can take," the captain said. "Always thought there must be different ways of being life, when I looked at stars and thought how different things must be there. Different things, different life. Perhaps that's why we went out here, to find some of the different life forms that accounted for how different things were from us."
"We're far out," said Castigoine, a speculative scientist and observer aboard their ship.
"Why, man, the dwellers in Highest Heaven would be happy to be where we are," the astrogator told him.
"I imagine the trip has paid off," opined the captain.
"One thing we know for certain," said Bergeron, the computer specialist. "We've seen far space. We're seasoned starmen. But now it's ho, for the Green Galaxy! As we've learned to call it."
And as a fact, the impressions they had been expressing as they headed toward this remote space had been transformed by the time they had spent there. They were now missing the very Earth they had been laughing at so voluably in the earlier incarnations of their flight.
They used the Trinity Effect in entering the range in which their own galaxy was found. This consisted in three prime crewmembers standing in arrangement in three crucial spots on the controls. It meant something to them as spacemen. They actually had a lot of ceremonious ritualism to their journeys. It was a glorious reentry into more familiar territory. But there was a bringdown happening to it that they couldn't identify. When they were able to look around they had what appeared to be an extra crew member. He looked and dressed like them. But he was talking at odds with their ceremony.
"Let's see, we've kept a fix on Sirius," Hogan, debarkation specialist, said. "Ryan, did you keep the atoller focussed?"
"Right on Bringham. I was looking for an Emerygate Filter."
"Say, RYAN, where'd you get the roccocco name?" Akinnis asked.
"He's always wondered about you," Hogan said. "Oh, say, do we have a visitor? People in here talk a mighty rough language, son."
The visitor identified himself as one from the realms they had left. He had wanted to get a closer look at the Green Galaxy. Then, he agreed, perhaps he'd stop calling it that. Did others of his kind have a similar interest? Yes, some of them did.
"They aren't after chlorophyll or anything," Akinnis opined. "They're after our rear ends!"
"We'll have brought a potentially dangerous observation back to our native planets," Captain Whist said.
"If you ask me, our terrestrial globe can sustain it," Simony Jake said. He enabled the radio, and the radio operator, Bots, began to gain a radio contact with Earth. "Earth isn't too afraid of the terrors of the vastness. What the hay, they've seen a few sights before this time."
"We can't use that. It isn't acceptable," the extraterrestrial said. Not that he was an extraterrestrial yet, he wasn't on Terra. And they would see to it that he would not be landing there with them if they could help it. The being was too strange for that sweet sphere.
"What do you mean, you can't use it?" Rocannon said testily.
"It's being told to go away. That's not very usable."
"Well, I'd hate to see you using something you COULD use," Whist said.
"Some difference in your language and ways," the extraterrestrial not-to-be said, rather merrily. The radio incoming was rather inconclusive. Bot switched over to a broadcasting radio station. He picked up a dj broadcasting hits and a song began about a man who was too inhibited to keep up with his woman, who was similarly too inhibited to know the right way to behave.
"I don't think we could afford to have a lot of you among our kind," Whist said.
"It's not necessary to see your world," the being said. "We are just interested in the tenure, or texture, of things out here. You have gotten us interested in taking some of it in."
"Then that's capital! You can look at space all you want," Whist said.
As they discussed things, the music was becoming more audible. The crew felt their minds being searched by beings who were waiting to appear in their midst to discover what they thought of their music. The radio voices said in sixfold harmony,
If you knew how it stood with me
When I pretend it's some other way
You'd know why I do something else
When it's time I should have my say.
But you're not likely to reason it out
When you keep going through that cycle of doubt
And you know what I'm talking about, Fannie Mae.
There were other songs like it, and more music that kept up in other ways with the current trends in thought. The state-of-the arts thus gleaned did not seem all on the level to the aliens, who withdrew. And their one visitor said, "Then, in order to avoid bothering you, I shall disappear again." And he did just that.
"I will almost miss seeing him," Jake said.
If their giving of information had been treasonous, the additional information gotten from the radio had neutralized it. Which shows that a little information can be a dangerous thing, but a lot of it can be malarky. If there was to be real conflict, it was doubtless still a long way off.
The intelligences from far space followed them in until they were almost in the Solar System, sometimes asking questions about what their own feelings for these familiar things were. But by the time they entered the Earth's orbital range, the intelligences were gone.
"Now we'll never be able to describe them," bin Leyden said.
"See how green it is down there!" the captain said. "That's our plant life, sure enough."
There was a sudden vast fusion far beneath them. But the astrogator said it was the undistributed elements of numerous thunderstorms.
"Well, I'm glad it wasn't one of those Final Bombs," Jake said.
They descended. "It's grass," the captain said. "Green grass."
Copyright © 2002 by John Thiel
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