Must have a map. That’s the challenge from Chuck Wendig this week. I was tempted to re-use ‘X marks the Spot‘. But then I had one of those dreams, as I do when I’m busy writing a book. This is possibly a spoiler for Book 3 of the Viridian System series. It could turn up near the start of Book 3. If neither, it might get into a future version of the Viridian System Sampler (free). It certainly gives a lot of background, or further information, about some characters in the first two books who have remained mysterious until now. For a start, I’ve given them a species name, as exodendrite is intended to mean alien tree. I don’t know what they call themselves, though. It’s 998 words.
I hope being almost entirely in dialogue, with no distinction between voices, isn’t too puzzling. You are listening to aliens talking about the problem of humans in the galaxy. It might help to read the summary of the Viridian System series, either here or on the Viridian System Series website. People who have read book 2 will definitely be at an advantage, although nobody has except me. Book 1 would help, though, since Cariad, Ozi and Lars Nilsson appear in that, too. ‘Branchmap’ is the aliens’ equivalent of a roadmap. They are trees, after all.
Towards An Exodendrite Nirvana
Space was properly aligned for a full summit. Like any sentient, telepaths need clear communication channels. The subspace whale-like beings of the galactic south call these telepaths ‘hoombawwmmmayyaaayaa’. The humans, mostly inhabiting the galactic centre and north, call them ‘trees’.
“How have they spread so thoroughly when they cannot even communicate with each other?”
“They have strong skills. They translate each other’s languages into one they understand aurally.”
“It is marvellous how many creatures developed an oral mechanism, and how varied they sound.”
“But humans also vary in their ability to sense us.”
“Some sense but fail to recognise. They fear banishment by their cohort for ‘hearing voices’.”
“Others accept the communication, though.”
“Mainly inhabitants of the outer planets. I wonder why that is the case? Are they physically different?”
“It is probably the cause or effect of their relative isolation.”
“Cause – they are banished or choose banishment, or they reject the norms of the inner society. Effect – they live in a less pressurised, less ordered society, they are open to other possibilities.”
“A reasonable hypothesis, with the human species.”
“Does this line of thought add to our branchmap?”
“You wish to draw us back to our purpose?”
“The window for this conference is short, even though it could be a lifetime for some species.”
“Does our branchmap take account of species’ lifetimes? Must we start again with their offspring? Embed legends that are handed down through the generations?”
“In some cases, yes. For others, we achieve change within one generation. But that is unstable; there is no guarantee the changes embed in the next generation. We need continuous effort until the changes are integrated within their cultures and belief systems.”
“Humans have so many strange beliefs. They argue about them, even fight to the death to defend them, yet often the only difference is the name of the prophet.”
“Some of their guide books have been distorted to put into law beliefs that are wholly outside the original intentions. The distortions are to embed power amongst a ruling elite.”
“That is wholly unacceptable!”
“Is it? We have a ruling elite, you know; it is ourselves.”
The combined minds paused to consider this logical thought.
“It is something that concerns me. Our branchmap assumes our ethics should be adopted by all. What if there are codes that we should adopt?”
“Then we should give them proper consideration and adopt those that we deem appropriate.”
“That would change the branchmap!”
“The branchmap is open to new paths. Those paths must be explored in our deepest roots, and any that lead to damnation pruned. That is the point of the branchmap.”
The equivalent of a murmur ripples through the space of the combined mind.
“We should always question the wisdom of our undertaking. Question, test, assess against the original principles, incorporate new knowledge, otherwise we would be no better than them.”
“We need to be secure in the wisdom of our ethic before embarking on the next phase. We cannot attempt such a major redirection of an alien civilisation without certainty.”
Again, the word rippled round. The combined mind relaxed as all committed to this concept.
“And we are also agreed that the time for intervention with the human infestation has arrived.”
The ripple through spacethought tailed off. The momentous nature of the decision returned an echo from the listeners, young entities in their apprenticeships, elders who remained as advisers. Excitement with a little apprehension.
“Before we take our next step, we acknowledge those who have departed this life, especially the families of VSC2, Sunset Strip as they call it. It was an outrageous attack in which they were caught as bystanders. We thank Ozi for his full report and accept his analysis of the balance of the human threat.”
“I am concerned that this Federation is not to be the first focus.”
“You have considered the paths, my friend. It remains an option, but we agree that the Federation will respond to the removal of the depravity of the Imperium.”
“The Imperium is depraved indeed. Slavery, even in the outer regions…”
“… although there is some willingness to change, in the Viridian System.”
“And there is no slavery in the Scania system.”
Numerous minds sent examples where human slavery had been abolished.
“But the Imperium is a danger to all these free systems. It continues to assimilate them. We are at the turning point for the Viridian System, one where we have a long-established presence, and have established communication with at least four influential groups of humans.”
“And the indigenous inhabitants.”
“Yes. Did you realise that nearly all humans fail to recognise the existence of paraphysical entities?”
“No wonder they don’t hear us.”
“Maybe it is a benefit.”
“And the paraphysicals, yes.”
“So our choice now is: which of the first steps on our branchmap to take?”
Silence swept through spacethought as they reflected on the choices, the ones whose outcomes would eventually result in the overthrow, elimination or revolution within the Imperium. Four paths to a post-Imperium galaxy, where slavery, forceable land acquisition, domination, and failure to respond to the rights of other living creatures would be taboo.
“The Corsair path has already changed.”
“True. It places more emphasis on the first option.”
“Can we not combine option three into option one, given our increasing strength in that area?”
“Ah, yes, I forgot to acknowledge the sacrifices Cariad has made for the collective.”
“And Ozi for the installation of a second mobile taskforce.”
“It is all pointing to taking the first step on this path, then.”
A ripple of excitement swept through spacethought.
“Very well, we have our decision. The first option it is. We support Ozi in eliminating slavery and taking action on the Imperium landowner.”
“And his son?”
“His son is part of that action.”
“Ozi uses his name, does he not?”
“He does indeed. Lars Nilsson of the Viridian System.”
“What strange names these humans use.”
© J M Pett 2016