Gongonk Island, with its blue-gray Company buildings, and the Terran green o_he farms, and the spaceport with its ring of mooring-pylons empty since th_ity of Pretoria had lifted out, two days before, for Terra, was dropping awa_ehind. Von Schlichten held his lighter for Paula Quinton, then lit his ow_igarette.
"I was rather horrified, Friday afternoon, at the way you and Colonel O'Lear_nd Mr. Blount were blaspheming against Stanley-Browne," she said. "His boo_s practically the sociographers' Koran for this planet. But I've bee_hecking up, since, and I find that everybody who's been here any length o_ime seems to deride it, and it's full of the most surprising misstatements.
I'm either going to make myself famous or get burned at the stake by th_xtraterrestrial Sociographic Society after I get back to Terra. In the las_hree months, I've been really too busy with Ex-Rights work to do muc_esearch, but I'm beginning to think there's a great deal in Stanley-Browne'_ook that will have to be reconsidered."
"How'd you get into this, Miss Quinton?" he asked.
"You mean sociography, or Ex-Rights? Well, my father and my grandfather wer_oth extraterrestrial sociographers—anthropologists whose subjects aren'_nthropomorphic—and I majored in sociography at the University of Montevideo.
And I've always been in sympathy with extraterrestrial races; one of my great- grandmothers was a Freyan."
"The deuce; I'd never have guessed that, as small and dark as you are."
"Well, another of my great-grandmothers was Japanese," she replied. "Th_amily name's French. I'm also part Spanish, part Russian, part Italian, par_nglish … the usual modern Argentine mixture."
"I'm an Argentino, too. From La Rioja, over along the Sierra de Velasco. M_amily lived there for the past five centuries. They came to the Argentine i_he Year Three, Atomic Era."
"On account of the Hitler bust-up?"
"Yes. I believe the first one, also a General von Schlichten, was what wa_hen known as a war-criminal."
"That makes us partners in crime, then," she laughed. "The Quintons had t_eave France about the same time; they were what was known a_ollaborationists."
"That's probably why the Southern Hemisphere managed to stay out of the Thir_nd Fourth World Wars," he considered. "It was full of the descendants o_eople who'd gotten the short end of the Second."
"Do you speak the Kragan language, general?" she asked. "I understand it'_ntirely different from the other Equatorial Ulleran languages."
"Yes. That's what gives the Kragans an entirely different semanti_rientation. For instance, they have nothing like a subject-predicate sentenc_tructure. That's why, Stanley-Browne to the contrary notwithstanding, the_re entirely non-religious. Their language hasn't instilled in them _redisposition to think of everything as the result of an action performed b_n agent. And they have no definite parts of speech; any word can be used a_ny part of speech, depending on context. Tense is applied to words used a_ouns, not words used as verbs; there are four tenses—spatial-tempora_resent, things here-and-now; spatial present and temporal remote, thing_hich were here at some other time; spatial remote and temporal present, things existing now somewhere else, and spatial-temporal remote, thing_omewhere else some other time."
"Why, it's a wonder they haven't developed a Theory of Relativity!"
"They have. It resembles ours about the way the Wright Brothers' airplan_esembles this aircar, but I was explaining the Keene-Gonzales-Dillingha_heory and the older Einstein Theory to King Kankad once, and it was beautifu_o watch how he picked it up. Half the time, he was a jump ahead of me."
The aircar began losing altitude and speed as they came in over Kraggor_wamp; the treetops below blended into a level plain of yellow-green, pierce_y glints of stagnant water underneath and broken by an occasional lo_illock, sometimes topped by a stockaded village.
"Those are the swamp-savages' homes," he told her. "Most of what you find i_tanley-Browne about them is fairly accurate. He spent a lot of time amon_hem. He never seems to have realized, though, that they are living now a_hey have ever since the first appearance of intelligent life on this planet."
"You mean, they're the real aboriginal people of Uller?"
"They and the Jeel cannibals, whom we are doing our best to exterminate," h_eplied. "You see, at one time, the dominant type of mobile land-life was th_hing we call a shellosaur, a big thing, running from five to fifteen tons, plated all over with silicate shell, till it looked like a six-legged pine- cone. Some were herbivores and some were carnivores. There are a few left, i_emote places—quite a few in the Southern Hemisphere, which we haven'_xplored very much. They were a satisfied life-form. Outside of a volcano o_n earthquake or an avalanche, nothing could hurt a shellosaur but a bigge_hellosaur.
"Finally, of course, they grew beyond their sustenance-limit, but in th_eantime, some of them began specializing on mobility instead of armor an_egan excreting waste-matter instead of turning it to shell. Some of these ne_pecies got rid of their shell entirely. Parahomo sapiens Ulleris is descende_rom one of these.
"The shellosaurs were still a serious menace, though. The ancestors of th_resent Ulleran, the proto-geeks, when they were at about the Java Ape-Ma_tage of development, took two divergent courses to escape the shellosaurs.
Some of them took to the swamps, where the shellosaurs would sink if the_ried to follow. Those savages, down there, are still living in the sam_anner; they never progressed. Others encountered problems of survival whic_ad to be overcome by invention. They progressed to barbarism, like the peopl_f the fishing-villages, and some of them progressed to civilization, like th_onkrookans and the Keegarkans.
"Then, there were others who took to the high rocks, where the shellosaur_ouldn't climb. The Jeels are the primitive, original example of that. Most o_he North Uller civilizations developed from mountaineer-savages, and so di_he Zirks and the other northern plains nomads."
"Well, how about the Kragans?" Paula asked. "Which were they?"
Von Schlichten was scanning the horizon ahead. He pulled over a pair of fifty- power binoculars on a swinging arm and put them where she could use them.
"Right ahead, there; just a little to the left. See that brown-gray spot o_he landward edge of the swamp? That's King Kankad's Town. It's been there fo_housands of years, and it's always been Kankad's Town. You might say, eve_he same Kankad. The Kragan kings have always provided their own heirs, b_elf-fertilization. That's a complicated process, involving simultaneous mal_nd female masturbation, but the offspring is an exact duplicate of the singl_arent. The present Kankad speaks of his heir as 'Little Me,' which is _airly accurate way of putting it."
He knew what she was seeing through the glasses—a massive butte of flint, jutting out into the swamp on the end of a sharp ridge, with a city on top o_t. All the buildings were multi-storied, some piling upward from the top an_ome clinging to the sides. The high watchtower at the front now carried _elecast-director, aimed at an automatic relay-station on an unmanned orbite_wo thousand miles off-planet.
"They're either swamp-people who moved up onto that rock, or they'r_ountaineers who came out that far along the ridge and stopped," she said.
"Nobody's ever tried to find out. Maybe if you stay on Uller long enough, yo_an. That ought to be good for about eight to ten honorary doctorates. An_aybe a hundred sols a year in book royalties."
"Maybe I'll just do that, general… . What's that, on the little island ove_here?" she asked, shifting the glasses. "A clump of flat-roofed buildings.
Under a red-and-yellow danger-flag."
"That's Dynamite Island; the Kragans have an explosives-plant there. They mak_itroglycerine, like all the thalassic peoples; they also make TNT an_atastrophite, and propellants. Learned that from us, of course. They als_anufacture most of their own firearms, some of them pretty extreme—up t_5-mm for shoulder rifles. Don't ever fire one; it'd break every bone in you_ody."
"Are they that much stronger than us?"
He shook his head. "Just denser, heavier. They're about equal to us in weight- lifting. They can't run, or jump, as well as we can. We often come out her_or games with the Kragans, where the geeks can't watch us. And that remind_e—you're right about that being a term of derogation, because I don't believ_'ve ever knowingly spoken of a Kragan as a geek, and in fact they've picke_p the word from us and apply it to all non-Kragans. But as I was saying, ou_aseball team has to give theirs a handicap, but their football team can bea_he daylights out of ours. In a tug-of-war, we have to put two men on our en_or every one of theirs. But they don't even try to play tennis with us."
"Don't the other natives make their own firearms?"
"No, and we're not going to teach them how. The thalassic peoples here in th_quatorial Zone are fairly good empirical, teaspoon-measure, chemists. Well, no, alchemists. They found out how to make nitroglycerine, and use it fo_lasting and for bombs and mines, and they screw little capsules of it on th_nds of their arrows. Most of their chemistry, such as it is, was learned i_rying to prevent organic materials, like wood, from petrifying. Up in th_orth, where it gets cold, they learned a lot about metallurgy and ceramics, and about forced-draft pneumatics, from having to keep fires going all winte_o thaw frozen food. They make air-rifles, to shoot metal darts."
The aircar came in, circling slowly over the town on the big rock, and le_own on the roof of the castle-like building from which the watchtower rose.
There were a dozen or so individuals waiting for them—the five Terrans, thre_en and two women, from the telecast station, and the rest Kragans. One o_hese, dark-skinned but with speckles no darker than light amber, armed onl_ith a heavy dagger, came over and clapped von Schlichten on the shoulder, grinning opalescently.
"Greetings, Von!" he squawked in Kragan, then, seeing Paula, switched over t_he customary language of the Takkad Sea country. "It makes happiness to se_ou. How long will you stay with us?"
"Till the Aldebaran gets in from Konkrook, to pick up the rifles," vo_chlichten replied, in Lingua Terra. He looked at his watch. "Two hours and _alf … Kankad, this is Paula Quinton; Paula, King Kankad."
He took out his geek-speaker and crammed it into his mouth. Before any othe_ace on Uller, that would have been the most shocking sort of bad manners, without the token-concealment of the handkerchief. Kankad took it as a matte_f course. At some length, von Schlichten explained the nature of Paula'_ociographic work, her connection with the Extraterrestrials' Right_ssociation, and her intention of going to the Arctic mines. Kankad nodded.
"You were right," he said. "I wouldn't have understood all that in you_anguage. If I had read it, maybe, but not if I heard it." He put his uppe_ight hand on Paula's shoulder and uttered a clicking approximation of he_ame. "I make you one of us," he told her. "You must come back, after the wor_tops at the mines; if you want to learn about my people, I'll show you wha_ou want to see, and tell you what you want to know. But why not stay here?
Why bother about those geeks at the mines; the Company treats them much bette_han they deserve. Stay here with us; we will make you happy to be with us."
Paula replied slowly: "I thank Kankad, but I must go. Those on Terra who sen_e here want me to learn for myself how the workers at the mines are treated.
But I will come back—in a hundred, a hundred and fifty days."
Kankad's opal-jeweled grin widened. "Good! We'll be waiting for you." H_urned and introduced another Kragan, about his own age, who wore th_quipment and insignia of a Company native-major and was freshly painted wit_he Company emblem. "This is Kormork. He and I have borne young to each other.
Kormork, you watch over Paula Quinton." He managed, on the second try, to mak_t more or less recognizable. "Bring her back safe. Or else find yourself _ood place to hide."
Kankad introduced the rest of his people, and von Schlichten introduced th_errans from the telecast-station. Then Kankad looked at the watch he wa_earing on his lower left wrist.
"We will have plenty of time, before the ship comes, to show Paula the town,"
he suggested. "Von, you know better than I do what she would like to see."
He led the way past a pair of long 90-mm guns to a stone stairway. Vo_chlichten explained, as they went down, that the guns of King Kankad's Tow_ere the only artillery above 75-mm on Uller in non-Terran hands. They climbe_nto an open machine-gun carrier and strapped themselves to their seats, an_or two hours King Kankad showed her the sights of the town. They visited th_chool, where young Kragans were being taught to read Lingua Terra and studie_rom textbooks printed in Johannesburg and Sydney and Buenos Aires. Kanka_howed her the repair-shops, where two-score descendants of Kragan riever- chieftains were working on contragravity equipment, under the supervision of _cottish-Afrikaner and his Malay-Portuguese wife; the small-arms factory, where very respectable copies of Terran rifles and pistols and auto-weapon_ere being turned out; the machine-shop; the physics and chemistry labs; th_ospital; the ammunition-loading plant; the battery of 155-mm Long Toms, buil_n Kankad's own shops, which covered the road up the sloping rock-spine behin_he city; the printing-shop and book-bindery; the observatory, with a bi_elescope and an ingenious orrery of the Beta Hydrae system; the nuclear-powe_lant, part of the original price for giving up brigandage.
Half an hour before the ship from Konkrook was due, they had arrived at th_irport, where a gang of Kragans were clearing a berth for the Aldebaran. Fro_omewhere, Kankad produced two cold bottles of Cape Town beer for Paula an_on Schlichten, and a bowl of some boiling-hot black liquid for himself. Vo_chlichten and Paula lit cigarettes; between sips of his bubbling hell-brew, Kankad gnawed on the stalk of some swamp-plant. Paula seemed as much surprise_t Kankad's disregard for the eating taboo as she had been at von Schlichten'_pen flouting of the convention of concealment when he had put in his geek- speaker.
"This is the only place on Uller where this happens," von Schlichten told her.
"Here, or in the field when Terran and Kragan soldiers are together. Ther_ren't any taboos between us and the Kragans."
"No," Kankad said. "We cannot eat each others' food, and because our bodie_re different, we cannot be the fathers of each others' young. But we hav_een battle-comrades, and worksharers, and we have learned from each other, m_eople more from yours than yours from mine. Before you came, my people wer_ike children, shooting arrows at little animals on the beach, and climbin_mong the rocks at dare-me-and-I-do, and playing war with toy weapons. But w_re growing up, and it will not be long before we will stand beside you, a_he grown son stands beside his parent, and when that day comes, you will no_e ashamed of us."
It was easy to forget that Kankad had four arms and a rubbery, quartz-speckle_kin, and a face like a lizard.
"I have always wished that some of your people could come to Terra, to study,"
von Schlichten said. "I was talking about it with Sid Harrington, only a shor_hile ago. He thinks it would be a good thing, for your people and for mine."
"Yes. I want Little Me, when he's old enough to travel, to visit your world,"
Kankad said. "And some of the other young ones. And when Little Me is ol_nough to take over the rule of our people, I would like to go to Terra, myself."
"Some day, I am going to return to Terra; I would like to have you make th_rip with me," von Schlichten said.
"That would be wonderful, Von!" Kankad exclaimed. "I want to see your world, before I die. It must be a wonderful place. A world is what its people mak_t, and your people must be able to make anything of your world that you woul_ant."
"We almost made a lifeless desert, like the poles of Uller, out of our world, once," von Schlichten told him. "Four hundred and more years ago, we fough_reat wars among ourselves, with weapons such as I hope will never even b_hought of on Uller. Our whole Northern Hemisphere, where our greatest nation_ere, was devastated; much of it is wasteland to this day. But we put an en_o that folly in time; we made one nation out of all our people, and swor_ever to commit such crimes again, and then we built the ships that took u_ut to the stars. But I want you to see our world, and some of the othe_orlds that we have visited, I think you would like it."
"I know I would. And with you to tell me what the things I would see meant… ."
Kankad was silent for a moment. Then he spoke again, changing the subjec_bruptly.
"I hope Paula will pardon me, but isn't Paula the kind of Terran that bear_oung?"
"That's right, Kankad. I never bore any, yet, but that's the kind of Terran _m."
"I like Paula," Kankad said. "She has come all the way from Terra to help us, and to learn about us. Of course, the Kragans don't need that kind of help, and the geeks, who would stick a knife in her as soon as she turned her bac_n them, don't deserve it. But she wants to learn about us, just as I want t_earn about Terra. Von, why don't you and Paula have young?" he asked. "_hink that would be fine. Then, Little Paula-Von and Little Me could b_riends, long after the three of us are dead and gone."