Literary Challenge #9 : Shore Leave
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Join Date: Dec 2007
01-09-2012, 10:05 AM
I would like to begin by offering you a saying among my people.
Rho’quay sha’an iyrnan re’sa k’arqui
. The universal translator on board the
—the shuttle I borrowed from the
—translates it this way:
Beings go afar but still are living on.
I do not believe the translator has yet mastered the subtleties of Ea’an syntax.
By coincidence, your message finds me on leave, as well. The
is currently at Deep Space 9, undergoing routine maintenance and equipment upgrades. Hence my use of the
. I have taken the opportunity to return home.
I was also, again like you, given the chance to do something special.
After the environmental collapse of our planet, after the survivors fled into space, and after two centuries of waiting and working for some stability in the biosphere, every Ea was given a certain span of time—one Ea’an day, or roughly one point four Earth days—to spend on the surface. Moreover, to limit the impact on our recovering world, no more than ten of us (excepting, of course, those who were actively engaged in ecological healing) could set foot there at any given moment.
I chose to spend three hours walking in a broad, wooded valley on one of the smaller continents, slightly above the midway point between equator and south pole. There were three other Ea on the surface at that time.
Up until joining Starfleet, I had never been on the surface of a planet (aside from a few small moons). I am still awed by the experience. I doubt it will ever become familiar, and perhaps not even comfortable. On a starship or station, you are enclosed. There is a limit you can touch. You are a clear point on a map. On a planet, you are unnoticeable, a tiny thing within something so much larger than you can imagine. The sensory experience alone is overwhelming.
It is curious. My people have devoted themselves for centuries to the restoration of our home. It is ever present in our thoughts. And yet, I am not uncommon in feeling an edge of fear on its surface.
Our world has become the focus of our greatest hope. And, it is the symbol of our greatest failure.
I walked beneath a canopy of tall trees, along a light, crooked stream for a short time until I came to a tumble of rocks at the foot of a high ledge. A few had fallen into the water and were covered by a deep green moss. On one of these stones was the body of a small
—an animal roughly equivalent to a Terran fox.
I cannot say whether he died from a fall or had been killed by another animal.
I sat beside him and, together, we watched the sun set.
I did not stay to honor him or, by witnessing him, to give his death meaning. He did not need me for that. If anything, it was the reverse.
I believe I now have a better translation of the saying I began with. It is:
Everything dies, but life goes on.
There is also an addendum sometimes attached:
Rhi’va nol’qui t’sal
. Which means:
And clichés last forever.
I would like you to consider something. If you have the time, I would like you to join me here. You can travel easily to Deep Space 9. From there, I can arrange for a shuttle from the
to be available to you. I think you may enjoy, as the humans say, “getting away from things.”
I will be looking forward to seeing you again.
Shalnah arq’al ohn pa