Short SciFi: Rebirth Of The Hzaighlans - Part III
As they sensed civilization taking root in the world around them, they willed the creation of another sphere, this one around the island itself. It bent light so that the island was invisible from the seas and even from the air. Should any ship venture into the sphere, it would be imperceptibly nudged back out of the zone, even though its instruments would confirm that they are sailing in a straight line. Amanda was able to penetrate the sphere and reach the shore since she was floating just with a piece of wood, and was not distinguished by the sphere controllers as anything but flotsam.
Although they were masters of their environment, the Hzaighlans were also prisoners inside Hzaighla. They could not physically venture outside their zone of isolation, as the millenia of intellectual pursuit had left their bodies weak and ineffective in self-defense. They also had no taste to applying their minds towards the development of weapons, and therefore would have no hope of surviving on the outside. The zone of isolation was also directly related to the number of Hzaighlans. Their population had to be held steady at just over six thousand, with all of them concentrating on the zone, in order to maintain it at its current strength and diameter.
They had long wondered about what to them was the mysterious lands outside the spheres. That was why they were so taken aback when they were able to make such vivid contact with Amanda. At first they believed that they were able to communicate with her because of her proximity. She had been the first human to wash ashore in millennia. But after further study, the Clerics decided that the distance was not the most significant factor. They had been able to reach Amanda because she had so successfully blanked her mind. In the long torpor after her large meal she had taken her mind, which had already been stripped of significant input and complexities, into a state of extreme simplicity and calm, exceeding that even of a newborn Hzaighlan. Once she had lowered her mental noise level to such a low frequency, the ongoing attempts by the Hzaighlans Clerics had been able to focus in on her in an instant.
There was so much more than Amanda wanted to know, but she realized that the Clerics had not so much communicated to her as they had planted in her mind the necessary information that she required. It was almost as if they had planted Hzaighlans memories in her mind which were now accessible to her whenever she wished. When she wondered about a particular thing, she was always able to find the proper answer within her own mind.
She began to access the voluminous information about their advanced skills, but it was so technical in nature that she could understand little of it. She then began to think about the history of the Hzaighlans, the succession and development of the Sphere Clerics as the spiritual and benevolent guides of the Hzaighlans. She had noticed that there were no animals in Hzaighla. The Hzaighlans synthesized directly into their systems any nutrients they required. The Hzaighlans truly seemed to Amanda as being gods on earth.
Amanda soon fell to sleep from her mental exhaustion. When she awoke, a bright golden sun was high overhead the transparent walls of her chamber. She heard Hzhedycha's voice in her mind welcoming her to another day, and asking her to join the Clerics in the courtyard when she was ready. Amanda rose to her feet, stretched and then followed the same path which had led to her room, back to the courtyard. This time there were twice as many Clerics, and they were joined by other Hzaighlans that did not wear the red headdress. They were full of questions, and again Amanda readily allowed them total access to her mind. She did not feel as inquisitive as the previous day, however, as she felt that the Clerics had already planted in her mind all of the information she would ever want to access. She just had to have the time and the inclination to do so.
She learned that the Hzaighlans without the headdresses were the secular authorities of Hzaighla. They probed her mind about the logistical arrangement of life in the outside world. She regretted that she had only been a simple sailor and had little knowledge of the organization of world cities and the economic configuration of the nations. Soon, one of the secular Hzaighlans announced to the others that it was time that Amanda be introduced physically to all the Hzaighlans, who had been so curious about her.
The prospect of meeting all the more than six thousand Hzaighlans alternately pleased and scared Amanda. She would love to get to know more of them, as she had found them all pleasant, gentle and considerate, but she worried about an information overload when six thousand minds tried to probe hers all at once. Hzhedycha instantly grasped this worry, and communicated to the secular authorities that these meetings should be held in small groups as to safeguard the integrity of Amanda's mind. All present swiftly agreed, and several of them left to make the arrangements.
One of the first groups she met were the top novices from the Academy of the Sphere. They were Clerics in training, and thus were in the process of ascending to the highest level of Hzaighlan society. Their finest student was a youth named Hzithijo and the others seemed to follow his lead. These teenagers like all of the other living Hzaighlans had never been outside the Sphere and were very curious as to the outside world. They kept asking her mind to produce images of the cities she had seen, of every detail she could remember of all those strange devices like telephones, televisions, computers, cars...
Amanda was beginning to understand the limitations of the otherwise formidable Hzaighlans' telepathy. Each Hzaighlans had to address another in a deliberate manner in order to establish a link. They were not all universally linked to each other, but had to follow a specific procedure to maintain individual contact. Naturally, more than two parties could share in this communication, but it was a purposeful and specific selection. She had noticed that when more than a dozen or so Hzaighlans were all trying to comprehend her mind, the rate of confusion increased and no more Hzaighlans could access her. She really did not need to worry about the prospect of thousands of Hzaighlans minds cascading on her, but it was another demonstration of the consideration they were extending to her that her slightest concern became their policy. The limitation of the number of Hzaighlans she could communicate with was not a failing of her own mind, although Hzhedycha had told her that the Sphere Clerics were directly subduing her mind so that they could continue contact with her. She had noticed that the limitation of a dozen or so even applied when they were in contact with each other. They were still far from the universal consciousness that they had attempted to establish for so many centuries.
The next few days were spent in meetings with small groups of Hzaighlans. She only met with each group for just a few moments, allowing them to access her thoughts, and then the next group was brought to her. At the slightest sign of fatigue, Hzhedycha, which had taken on the role of personal supervisor and supporter, would cancel the rest of the meetings and allow her to rest until she was refreshed.
She was taken on tours of the great city and shown vast machines which generated energy beyond her comprehension. She saw Hzaighlans designing and constructing tiny enhancer machines, developing them continually to perform more and better functions. Since she had no ability to synthesize nutrients directly into her blood as the Hzaighlans did, she learned how to command the black crystal in her chamber to prepare familiar meals through the power of her thought. They tasted just the way they had tasted at home, since they had been created directly from her own memories.
A moon had passed and Amanda had settled in well to her new life in Hzaighla. She was treated with the utmost courtesy by all the Hzaighlans. The thought of returning home had crossed her mind once in a while. She missed her mother, but she knew that the Hzaighlans would be happy to comply with her wishes and whisk her away back home immediately, so she tried to hide that thought from them. They were far too considerate of her to think that they were not fulfilling any of her wishes, and she did not want her visit to this wondrous city to end just yet.
She had been worried about the illness which had struck Hzhedycha. Disease was virtually unknown in the meticulously controlled environment of Hzaighla, thus the medical arts had not kept pace with the other Hzaighlans achievements. However, Hzhedycha and many of the other Sphere Clerics had contracted a consumptive ailment which had made them very weak and listless. Apparently, this disease was spreading throughout the Hzaighlan population at large, and all the experts in Hzaighla had been trying in vain to find the cause and the cure.