*It was obvious the indigenous creature was in an expiring condition,* wrdlgrp expressed matter-of-factly to the processing agent handling his arrival.
*Not the issue, wrdlgrp-sln,* the processing agent xtsm shunted back reviewing wrdlgrp’s record of transit. Their forenodes mutually engaged, the experience was made clear to xtsm. *I still do not understand why you intervened. It is forbidden. You know this as a condition of transit to an uncontacted planet.*
Still noded, wrdglp revived a moment for xtsm; the sheer terror of the gangly creature as it was attacked by a sleek predator; the panicked prey’s flailing form so unadapted for the environment; the predator honed in and ready to feast.
xtsm rejected the rationale. *It was a natural event. Exactly why many of us choose to transit to uncontacted worlds. To behold the untouched. But you touched, wrdgrp-sln. You initiated contact. With a sentient.*
wrdlgrp did not try to deny. There was no denying. When noded, two were one. xtsm was wrdlgrp. Except xtsm had not been there. Had not, in the moment of the sentient’s gravest shock at being attacked, felt the wholeness. Because of that wrdlgrp could not let the creature come to harm, such a beautiful, wild creature. That was why wrdlgrp loved to visit uncontacted worlds, experience the vitality and variety of essence. And this sentient’s essence had filled wrdlgrp in its moment of near expiration. *It is beyond explanation. I recognize my wrongness. Understand the need for sanction.*
*Sanction is warranted. Five cycles.* xtsm relayed and disengaged forenodes.
wrdlgrp left the transit control and began sluicing home through the complicated native currents of the red-star world. Five cycles. Forbidden to transit to any uncontacted planet for five cycles. Though he accepted the sanction, it would be difficult. For the creature wrdlgrp had saved on the yellow-star planet had recognized its otherwordly savior. When wrdlgrp had phase-shifted to deter the predator, contact with the sentient was made. It was not like being noded, but there was a flash of recognition for wrdlgrp. The sentient knew. Even through its terror. It knew.
Rejoining the homepod, wrdlgrp expressed the sanction and accepted the sympathies, annoyances and indifferences of the pod. It was to be expected.
What was not to be expected was the image of the sentient that would not go away. The vision of that far-away world. The creature so foreign, so unlike wrdlgrp, but its essence so strong. Its name might just haunt for five cycles. *miranda.*