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