[short story by Sha’Tara]
Once upon a time, well let’s just say, beyond time, there is a very pretty little world orbiting its only sun. The world is named Lahia. Much sentient life exists, better put, lives on Lahia. Some are bipeds, some quadrupeds, some are plants of various shapes and species. There are winged fairies and dragons too, if you want to call them that. All sentient life exists in perfect harmony here and it may surprise some non-Lahians to know that nothing and no one ever dies on Lahia. It is, as are most worlds deep in the galaxy, a self-healing and self-perpetuating system. Various kinds of leadership comes and goes on Lahia, mostly for the benefit of visitors, as the Lahians themselves rely on their sense of empathy to interact impeccably with one another. The horror of violence is unknown while any conflict that may arise is resolved instantly within the mind of those touched by it.
Today, which is Everyday, Lahia is being visited by alien strangers it has never encountered. These aliens arrive in a toy spaceship as the Lahians think of it. No one has used spaceships to travel since times before the end of time and the concept only exists in Lahian collective memory.
Lahians are a very calm and self assured people, that, by the way, including all sentient life on the planet. They are also impeccable hosts to all who visit their world. They gracefully accept the presence of the noisy, smelly, ugly contraption landed in a field outside their main city. A happy delegation of various sentience is assembled to go meet and greet the visitors. As always, music and dancing accompanies the delegates who form a small contingent of some three hundred sentients.
What comes out of the toy ship are bipeds, so the bipedal Lahians come forward to greet these strange looking aliens wearing not only clothes, but what appears to be armour and helmets. Noises emanate from the aliens and it takes the Lahians by surprise: a language they do not know. Deep remembrances are called forth and the language is deciphered. Much conversation ensues, most of which leaves the Lahians quite perplexed. These aliens, it seems, have come from a planet called “Earth” and call themselves humans. In reading their simplistic thoughts it seems obvious to the Lahian humans that these creatures are misinformed: they are not human at all and there is something terribly wrong about their thinking and deportment. They are looking at some of the Lahian delegation with thoughts of killing, of food, of eating!
A message is sent to the Lahian honorary queen Ishtar, impressing upon her the urgency of the situation regarding the landed toy space ship and its occupants. They impart to her the thoughts coming from the helmeted strangers and concepts such as killing, eating; of food, which can only be related to by invoking pre-time-end galactic sentient behaviour.
Ishtar appears, naked and unadorned except for her golden sash of office. She “speaks” to the aliens and asks them to remove their helmets, uniforms, clothes and return their weapons to the toy ship. After much arguing on the part of the Earthian aliens, they finally comply. The Lahian delegates are dismayed by the terrible stench and odours of non-life coming from the now naked Earthians each time they move. With a circle formed around them they are taken to a small pond fed by a waterfall and ordered by Ishtar to bathe themselves in it. Then she asks some of the boys and girls in the delegation to join they visitors in the pond and help them wash themselves.
This done, the aliens are taken to a knoll overlooking the city and there, as explained, they will attend a council at which they will be able to explain why they are on Lahia, and what their intentions are. Ishtar realizes the aliens are “hungry” – a form of ancient body need she can still relate to – and informs the aliens that they will be fed during the council session. Indeed, while questions and answers go back and forth between various curious Lahians and the leader of the Earthian delegation, these realize that they are no longer hungry and feel exactly as if they had eaten fully of their favourite foods. The leader, captain Alexi Manon, thanks his hosts, quite uncomprehending as to how they were fed.
Ishtar, a direct descendant of a forebear who had once inhabited the world from which these aliens claim to come, uses her remembrances to probe the minds of the aliens in deeper ways than the delegation would have ever allowed itself to use. To the Lahians, what Ishtar is doing would have seemed to be grossly invasive but their queen reserves for herself many prerogatives her people would not want to use and would in any case never have use for. That is why Ishtar is the honorary queen after all. If counting by time, she is the oldest of the Lahians and probably one of the oldest Galactic Elders.
She discovers many disturbing patterns in the alien minds and decides on a course of action. She asks the Earthian spacefarers to accompany her on a walk of a park where lovely, tall, golden stalks rise and wave in a light breeze. To the Earthians they look somewhat like sunflowers but taller and of much more graceful mien. No longer either hungry or even tired, the aliens accompany the lovely, long-limbed graceful queen, having some difficulty keeping up to her steps but not wanting to look childishly ridiculous by running beside her. She knows of their slight predicament but does not slow down. They enter the meadow of “the Goldens” as the sentience residing there names itself and a strange thing happens.
As the aliens approach the Goldens they turn they beautiful heads away and some begin to droop and wilt. Soon there is a trail of sickly Goldens through the entire meadow where the aliens are walking. Ishtar is satisfied. Her test tells her what she must do, even if it completely violates all the rules of alien life encounters since before the end of time.
“What is happening to the Goldens, my queen?” asks a Lahian delegate.
“These alien creatures are not human. They are diseased. They retain all the evils that before the end of time threatened to destroy our galaxy. They exude uncontrollable sexual lust; they are greedy, selfish, self-centred and filled with murderous thoughts. They see us and our world as an easy place to conquer, to exploit, oppress and enslave. They see us as their indentured servants and the captain has already decided that I will be his concubine. They possess weapons which they rely upon to accomplish their mission of conquest.
“Therefore I must do what has not been done on Lahia since time ended: I must banish these aliens, send them back to their toy ship and fling them out into space to fare as they may. Then I must send a message to all sentients throughout the galaxy that a ship full of very sick Earthians is travelling through, the name and description of the vessel, and a warning to not give them landing or any kind of sanctuary. They carry a poison, a disease, that could once again corrupt our worlds, and perhaps because we were foolish enough to care for them, our own corruption may well be irremediable this time.”
“As impossible as it seems for me to say so, my queen, but should we not terminate them?”
“No! Death is the poison! They carry death within them and if we kill them, that disease will naturally enter us and our children. Time will return and we will begin to die once again. Our children will become sick and violence will arise between species. Look into your remembrances, delegate, and see for yourself what it was like once, if you dare!
Ishtar, using a power she has not needed since time ended, orders the Earthians back upon their ship. In her mind she goes inside their primitive computers and wipes out all data concerning the ship’s voyages, noting that as she had correctly surmised these primitives still use “time” and “distance” as means to measure their progress. She removes herself from the ship and sends it off, knowing it would be lost forever. It saddens her deeply to have to use such ruthlessness but she knows too well what the alternative means. Time, and therefore death, to return to Lahia, and that with a vengeance, if the aliens are given safe sanctuary anywhere.
The Endeavor-Korov, as the ship had been known at launch on Earth would travel empty space, pushed away from sentient worlds by collective mind, going on until all Earthian life aboard has died. It would crash on a bare rocky moonlet, its parts gradually scattering until no sign of its existence remains.