Tales from the Mission Universe

From the Sourcebook for the Roleplaying Game…

Context.  Really this is 100,000 years from the books, but was written in a more naive mode.

Gagat Chi’ was the luckiest being in the whole universe, or at least,  so he thought now.  He would get to go to the home world, possibly find  the girl of his dreams, and marry her.  Super.
Wonderful.

Thing is, he was lost.

The I’Drothen enjoy a premier position in the galaxy.  A sort of  reptilian, cold blooded human, with scales and ridges etc.  , but they  all look very different.  Like dogs look different from each other but  are still dogs.  (Maybe not Chihuahuas).  Anyhow, the I’Drothen are like  humans in that they enjoy nuclear families, except at holidays when  no-one could be said the be truly enjoying their mother-in-law, and like  mixing with humans because they have common interests and common  arguments.

Unlike Humans, the I’Drothen tend to fall asleep  if out of the direct sunlight for anything over an hour, and tend to  just shut down until about midday.  It’s an entire species of students  from the Humans point of view.

I’Drothen enjoy many of the  benefits of being a robust species, they travel in the Garden, use Warp,  and can navigate Wormholes.  Humans can do all this too, and meetings  between Humans and I’Drothen who have not “discovered” each other yet,  can be amusing, especially when each representative of the species  thinks they are the only one who can do these things; usually followed  by a flurry of papers with “new” theories of common descent.  Life is a  constant disappointment for these budding anthropologists, as we will  see.

Although Gagat Chi’ was lost, he wasn’t too worried.  All  he had to do was retrace his steps to somewhere he knew, and the garden  would show him the way home, he was sure of it.  Being young he and his  pedal bike had decided to take a shortcut.  Well, we say “and his pedal  bike” when what this means is that Gagat Chi’ decided to take a shortcut  in the garden against the express wishes of his bicycle, which although  only equipped with linear processors, nevertheless knew enough not to  get lost in deep space.  It berated him for about an hour until he  turned the volume down.

His sat next to his bike on the bench  kindly provided.  It was inscribed, “In memory of Chido Pung, purveyor  of live reptiles, ejected 12/07/6066HA”.  The apple tree shading it  loomed gently and an apple dropped off.  Gagat was bright enough to  catch it before it hit the ground, and although human food gave him  hives, he set about it with gusto, popping the whole thing in and  crunching it up vigorously, hives or not, apples were good, and one does  not refuse the bounty of the Garden.  The saying goes, “If one is tired  of fresh fruit, one is tired of life”.  This certainly can hold true in  the Garden, which does not permit litter of any kind.  In consideration  of this Gagat looked around for a leafy lawn and a shed.  The Garden  would certainly welcome a bit of a grooming if the prompting of unlooked  for fruit was anything to go by.

Inevitably he saw just across the way a small shed, immaculately kept, and just beyond it, a lawn in need of raking.

And this was how the explorer from a distant back water planet, who  thought he had in fact stumbled in to a very large garden indeed, which  at least had the merit of being accurate, and was himself lost along a  with a slight female companion of a young age and a petulant look, found  the erstwhile Gagat Chi’, raking a lawn and putting, very carefully,  all the leaves into a wooden compost bin.

The stout fellow, a  standard human middle aged male in all regards except for the  extraordinarily large handlebar moustache he sported, looked on in  interest as the strange creature bent down and picked up the last leaf  which had floated away in the breeze.  The little girl picked her nose  industriously, and surreptitiously wiped the result on the trousers of  what would very shortly turn out to be her uncle.  He was hardly in a  position to notice this as he was engrossed in the observation of the  monster gardening, and in any event, he certainly hadn’t seen any  portion of his trousers except the belt without taking them off first  for a number of years.  The little girl, having finished her current  mining operations, decided that nothing interesting was going on, and  that she should make some sort of a contribution, which she now did.

“He’s got a bicycle Uncle Geoffrey.” She said in a loud clear voice  that could have probably been heard for several light years.
The  reaction of both parties was somewhat different.  Gagat Chi’ for his  part dropped the rake and bolted for the shed, screaming about monsters.   On the other hand, Uncle Geoffrey bolted for another bush dragging his  niece behind him, screaming about monsters and how one should not alert  them to one’s presence.

Silence reigned supreme.

After a short while it occurred to Gagat Chi’ that littering the grass  with its own rake might not be taken lightly by the Garden, and that if  it were not, the consequences, being spaced, were likely to be  undesirable.  And so it was that Uncle Geoffrey, who had regained some  of his composure, and was creeping back into observational range, was  only slightly surprised to see the monster come out of the shed, pick up  the rake, and carefully replace it in the shed, and shut the door.  He  then seemed to have a conversation, totally incomprehensible of course,  with his bicycle.  Bit gone in the head obviously.

Gagat Chi’ was having a conversation with his bicycle.
“What do you mean you understand what they said?  They’re monsters,  look at them, no scales, they look like each other and they’re  horrible.”  The bike thought about this for a moment.

“They’re humans.”  It said, patiently.

“What?”

“They are Human Beings, the I’Drothen know about them.”

“We do?”

“Yes, they’re Garden users too.  Though judging by their reaction,
they don’t know about us.”

“I’m sorry, cycle, what’s a Human?”

When two species from backwater planets, who have never explored  before, well, not since colonisation, meet each other in the Garden, it  is inevitably technology that comes to the rescue.  Translation and  education happen because the only way to survive in the Garden is to  become educated enough to obey the Rules.  Meetings in the Garden  inevitably turn into “How to not get ejected into deep space without a  suit” and since educating one species another inevitably leads to common  ground, even with a bicycle translating, common ground is found.

Thus it was a short time later that a reptilian hand caught an apple  core about to hit the ground, and wagged a five jointed finger at a  little girl with ginger hair and a peter pan collar, before his bicycle  said;

”Remember no litter at all; the Garden is very intolerant of it.”  The little girl nodded and smiled.

“So,” said Uncle Geoffrey, “Warp drive’s old hat, eh?”  He waited.

“No, no,” replied Gagat Chi’ through the bicycle, “Warp drive is still  useful, the Garden does not choose to have a door to every world, and in  any event, some doors you would not want to open, while other doors  that seem as if they should be there are not.”

“And the old garden is sentient, what?”

“Ah, well, we don’t know, no-one researches the Garden, remember, it doesn’t tolerate it at all.  Didn’t I say that?”

“Yes, yes, jus’ wondered if anyone had come up with any theories.”
Theories about the Garden abound, from the sublime to the patently  ridiculous and probably correct.  For example, one Sirithi professor  thinks that the Garden is a shared hallucination generated by people who  have spent time mucking about with Hyperspace.  Since this is banned by  international treaty on pain of pain, this seems somewhat unlikely as  it is estimated that there are millions of users every day of the  Garden.  On the other hand, some of the I’Drothen and Human commuters  think that this is the “underground” system of a very advanced and now  extinct, for reasons unknown, race, and that the perception of the thing  is a shared hallucination because it is otherwise too complex for  normal minds to perceive.

Other, clearer thinkers have said  that the Garden is a device to enable various races to subscribe to a  shared hallucination of space travel if they want to, and some races are  less social than others so they cannot use it or perceive it.  While  this thinking has the great merit of being clear about the possible  desire of races to share a means of space travel using something as  flimsy as a hallucination, it also has the even greater merit of being  totally wrong.  Gagat Chi’ was about to come the closest to the truth;  or at least “A” truth about the Garden that anyone has come in a long  time.

“I think, sometimes, that the Garden makes everyone  believe it is a hallucination, because it is so very real, and so very  strange that people need to believe it isn’t what it seems to be.”

“Verra deep that.” said Uncle Geoffrey.  “Total rubbish of course, bound to be a hallucination or somethin’.”

The little girl sucked on a lollipop she had found growing on a bush, and wisely said nothing

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