Author : Michael Varian Daly

~About a million miles out from the planet, space began to quiver and distort.

After a few seconds, the Susapan scoutship Illaun dropped into normal space. It was small by Susapan standards, twenty six miles on its axis, a bit over seven at its widest diameter, its smooth ovoid surface a mother-of-pearl swirling.

But only a half dozen Triads called Illaun home, so there was plenty of room.

Noseemateemah, voted Captain for this voyage, checked the instruments, wrinkled zir’s massive brow.

“No electromagnetic activity whatsoever,” zee beamed to zir’s shipmates. Zee received collective Dismay/Confusion.

“There should be at least a basic technology available,” beamed Kashiatosopate, Illaun‘s XO. A collective Sigh went through the ship.

“Blind landing,” was the Group Thought. An atmospheric shuttle was activated.

“I’m going down myself,” beamed Noseemateemah. All knew zir well enough not to waste time debating the matter.

Close in, biosigns were detected. Noseemateemah chose a spot nearest the largest grouping, a community of about six hundred or so clustered on a temperate coastline.

Saamerah looked up from reweaving her fishing net to watch the spherical shuttle land upon the beach. She kept sewing while observing.

A seam in the sphere opened and out came this huge being, somewhat pyramid shaped, with six flexible looking arms around its thick midriff and walking on..Saamerah counted, ‘seven, eight’…ten legs. She estimated the creature weighed a quarter ton at least, though it moved quite gracefully.

It stopped in front of her, held up all its arms, palms out.

“Universal sign of friendship,” she thought. She stopped sewing and responded in kind.

The creature looked at her with a pair of wide green eyes, made squawking sounds with its lipless mouth.

“I do not understand what you’re saying,” said Saamerah.

“Ah, thank you,” said the creature in Saamerah’s tongue. “I am Noseemateemah. Is this Dirt?”

“Dirt?”, she said. “Not sure what you mean.”

“Is this the world called Dirt?” Noseemateemah said.

Saamerah thought for a moment, then laughed.

Noseemateemah recognized amusement. “Why is that funny?” zee asked.

“Earth,” said Saamerah. “This world is called Earth, which granted is a word for ‘dirt’”

Noseemateemah turned a bright purple. Saamerah though it a lovely shade.

“Deity, I feel like a fool.” Zee bowed slightly. “My apologies, friend.”

“No worries, Noseemateemah,” Saamerah smiled, “It’s an obvious semantic mistake.”

She extended her hand. “My name’s Saamerah, by the way.”

Noseemateemah gently grasped Saamerah’s hand. “Greetings, Saamerah.”

Zee then looked around. “What happened here?” zee asked.

“What do you mean?”

“The cities? The civilization? Where did it all go?”

Saamerah heard some distress in Noseemateemah’s tone and felt a kinship for this odd looking being.

“Got rid of all of it,” she said.

Noseemateemah’s eyes got even wider, which actually amazed Saamerah, and zee’s mouth hung open. “Got rid of it?”

Saamerah laughed again, felt a bit guilty about that.

“Oh, we have buckets of tech, just not here.” She gestured around. “Only a few hundred thousand Small Earthers like me live here. The rest, about two billion or so, live on the Orbitals on the other side of Sol.”

Noseemateemah made a trilling sound that Saamerah swore was laughter.

“Deity Bless, I nearly had a stroke.” Zee huffed a great sigh. “I was worried.”

“So, what brings you to these parts, friend Noseemateemah?”

Zee’s lipless mouth curled up in an actual smile.

“This was our home world once, about twenty thousand Solanums ago,” zee said, “Some of us got nostalgic and wanted to see what was going on with the old place…”

Noseemateemah looked straight into Saamerah’s eyes, “Cousin.”

It was now Saamerah’s turn to gawp.

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