The Four Peoples: (A Short Story)
The planet is called Quad Terra Houmanous (QTH), a world which seems to be the indigenous domain of four species of humanoids, whose ancestors came to this sector and were stranded on the world so far back they barely appear in the archeological record. Better known is how the four peoples, as they are called, came to inhabit their four present, distinctive forms.
Here, we are indebted to the work of the pachyderm-sapien (pachyderms engineered to sentience by the humans in the time before time) physical anthropologist, Dr. Kayaam Solomon. This planet and these peoples were his finds. Imagine, the only peoples in the known universe with a direct biological and genetic connection to the Humans of the time before time!
Anyway, QTH is a planet that is at least four-times the size of the average planet -- something that is not of insignificant interest to geologists and astronomers. The geography of this unique planet not only gave the original inhabitants the room and inclination (or inspired the inclination) to move about, creating different languages, dialects, cultures, religions, "ethnic groups" and "races," -- as is the case with all worlds with sentient life -- but the peculiar historical geography of this world allowed for the development of four distinct forms of being, of sentient being, a degree of physiological, anatomical, even biological separation to such an extent that the possibility must be seriously entertained that the people of QTH are, perhaps, four separate species.
If only we could have been blessed to be alive to see it! When the original inhabitants landed here, they must have been perfect physical representations of the Humans from the time before time. We are not sure what the Humans looked like, but the prehistoric artifacts of the vessels they used to get to this sector were clearly designed for beings of a radically different body-type than anything that is known today -- than anything that the people of QTH have become.
The director of the program pushed a button next to his right hand, lowering a large overhead screen. The assembled members of the Natural History Foundation began watching scenes from life on planet QTH. The director continued speaking.
Now remember, QTH is four times the size of an average planetary body. Each region inhabited by each of "the four peoples" is the size of one average planet. And due to this geographical peculiarity, these peoples were isolated from each other for several millennia. We think that the novelty of meeting each other was somehow so overpowering that it provided a check on their development of space flight and exploration. They are very advanced beings in many respects but primitive in this one area.
In the region known as Zoolongia reside the Homo-Aquatic people. On the view screen the members of the natural history foundation saw scenes of magnificent, incandescently lighted underwater cities. They saw a rich diversity of sea flora and strange underwater forests and animal life, including beings who were obviously the intelligent builders of the underwater cities, sculptors of their surrounding environment. They swam with their long, sleek, gray flipper-bottomed bodies, mixing easily with the less brilliant denizens of the sea.
"They breathe underwater?" a member asked stupidly.
They have little choice, the director said. The entire region of Zoolongia is water.
"But how...?" another member stuttered.
We don't understand how. Not just yet. We don't know how this region maintains its structural integrity. We don't know why the water doesn't just disperse over the rest of the surface of QTH.
The people of QTH, especially the Homo-Aquatics, are brilliantly skilled in the fields of genetic engineering , molecular biology, and even nanotechnology and related fields. They are far in advance of us in these areas.... which, of course, is almost to be expected of beings with the very blood of the Humans running through their veins!
This region used to be mostly land like the rest of the planet. But for some reason, tens of thousands of years ago, it suffered constantly rising sea levels, weeks on end of massive rainfall, flooding, and all the rest of it. Seeing the writing on the wall, the people modified themselves accordingly.
The screen went to another scene. A cloudless, sunny day. Very hot. Cool blue and green landscape. An outdoors bazaar.
Someone said, "Director. The magnification is too high."
The director looked up and behind him at the screen. No, that's right, he said.
Several members of the natural history foundation gasped.
This region is called Karamba-Barashra. Their ancestors on this world destroyed themselves with atomic war. Every man, woman, and child, as well as all other forms of life, in their entirety, was annihilated.
The land was bathed in Gamma radiation for centuries, perhaps thousands of years. Finally, when the cycle of life resumed again.... life came back, this time on a much, much, much larger scale! Trees. Mountains. river, lakes, streams, and oceans. Fish, fowl, and animals. And the people, the Barashrans. Average height for females is ten and a half feet, 650 pounds. For males the average is twelve feet, about eight hundred pounds.
The scene shifted again. This time the members looked at a the harsh beauty of a flat plains desert. Beings, who clearly had the light of intelligence in their eyes, who looked like youths seemed to be engaged in all manner of rough, playful wrestling contests and four-legged foot races. Each youth had four legs each. They seemed to be horses legs. They had long, thick necks and almond-shaped bald heads with a file of coarse hair running from the middle of their foreheads down to the ends of their backs.
This region is known as Equitane. The Equitanians are probably the most skilled of the QTH peoples in the use of nanotechnology. Back in their prehistory there was a strange virus that descended over the land and killed every living thing, plant, animal, sea life, the people, all living things. But for some reason, which even they do not understand, horses were completely immune.
So, the Equitanians transferred their intelligence, their languages, their culture, all that they were and hoped to be into microscopic memory-relay devices and implanted them in the horses.
It took a long, long time. It had taken hundreds of thousands of years. But eventually the Will of the People asserted itself and their race burst forth once again... in a slightly different form to be sure. But they made the journey sucessfully with all of their memories intact!
One more time the view screen flickered and presented another bit of scenery from the domain of the fourth of The Four Peoples. The members of the natural history foundation saw a scene in which everythng on the ground was crumbled, pulverized, smashed into dust. The ground itself was scored through with chasms like open wounds. One wondered how anyone could live here. But, of course, no one does live here -- not on the ground anyway. The angle of the picture changed and the members of the foundation were treated to a breathtaking sight of a city in the clouds. The buildings, at first all looked like glass. But no, they were the consistency of diamond! And there were all kinds of diamonds comprising the buildings: red, blue, gold, orange, silver. Under each cloud dwelling, basically a city block, there was a silent, emission-free propulsion system. These... cloud-compounds could be relocated anywhere at will, it seems. But most glorious of all, of course, were the people, the glorious, beautiful, winged, hoof-footed, claw-handed people, flying by their own wing or on top of flying lions and flying horses. Extraordinary!
This is the region of Braimor, the director said.
"Is the whole region like that? A pulverized ground and cities in the air?" a member of the natural history foundation asked.
Correct, the director said. This region was prone to relentlessly constant earthquakes, which did not cease until the entire ground area of the region was pulverized. In fact, the seismic disturbances are ongoing to this very day. So the Braimans adapted themselves and their civilization for a life in the more stable skies.
There were a few more presentations, but there was little doubt about who would take the Grand Prize. Finally the moment came and the award for "Discovery of the Century," announced the director of the Natural History Foundation, goes to Dr. Kayaam Solomon for his discovery of planet Quad Terra Houmanous (QTH) and its most unique peoples, peoples with an actual biological and genetic connection to the original.... Humans! The assembly erupted in applause and got to their feet. Dr. Kayaam Solomon, full of false modesty, acknowleged the applause and slowly made his way to the podium to accept his plaque, enhanced status, and make a speech he had worked on for months prior. He would start with the line "Oh my, I don't know what to say. This is so unexpected..."
The Supreme Commander of Armed Forces turned off his view screen. He had a mole in the Natural History Foundation who had installed a hidden camera. The Commander had notified the Emperor of these developments before the proceedings at the Natural History Foundation had concluded. The Emperor had summoned him.
One half hour later the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, a re-engineered, two-legged crocodile (of a species genetically engineered to sentience by the Humans) named Rapthor stalked into the Imperial Throne Room. The only other person in the room was the Emperor.
"Majesty," Rapthor said, falling to one knee and bowing his head.
The Emperor sat on his throne chair with his back to Rapthor. "I've watched the transmission, Rapthor."
"And your orders, Majesty?"
The Emperor swung around to face his subject. He was a cyborg. His natural half was a gorilla (genetically engineered to sentience by the Humans in the time before time) and his other half was a titanium sculpted copy of the other half of his body.
In a voice that combined the feral and the robotic the Emperor said, "Arrest the entire Natural History Foundation and detain them indefinitely. Have Dr. Kayaam Solomon executed."
"And the planet QTH, Majesty?"
The Emperor lifted a blood-red book, called The Crimson Book, and started reading aloud from it. "All that is mine belongs to me, and shall not be given over to another. You shall set up no gods before me. You shall know no other gods except Me. You shall bow to no gods except Me. You shall give me all your devotion. To do any less is the most grievous sin."
The Emperor closed the book. Then he gorilla-growled. "Commander," he shouted, gorilla-like. "As for the planet..... INVASION...... EXTERMINATION!" and then in a purely computerized, robotic voice of his cybernetic half he buzzed, "Kill... Them... All!"