COMMUNICATION FROM ARKAY OF KORENDOR
Date of reception: 14 October 1988
Love and light, my Terran friends. My topic for this evening is rather less a message than a travelogue, and will be a brief description of my home world of Korendor, a subject on which I am always eager to expound.
To begin, I shall present for the technically-oriented two tables of physical data on my planet and its parent star, Korena. Skip by it if it's of no great interest. Note that in the charts, an "e+" in a number indicates an "exponent" or power of 10 follows it, whereas "(E=1)" means that the value is compared to Earth as a unit standard.
Note: Korendian days; R=Retrograde
I hope that the preceding data wasn't overly boring. It seemed appropriate to include that much information to create in your minds a physical planet, so that what is to follow will be envisioned based on that picture of the world.
It can be seen immediately from the data that Korendor is considerably different from Earth in many respects. The dominant factors are our gravity, which is over three times yours, and our atmospheric pressure which is twice yours.
These two conditions would make a stay on Korendor in your Terran form difficult at best, and then only with one in the peak of health. Most of you simply couldn't survive on Korendor.
For this reason, all visits to my world (other than by races accustomed to our planet's conditions) are via the conversion technique that I described in my message on Alliance technology, in which physically adapted bodies are created by the teleportal system. This is done even if travel to the planet is via spacecraft.
How different are we? If you were to see us in our native form, you might well think that we are one of the races associated with abductions. Our normal appearance is similar to that of the group actually doing it, although there are also many differences to be seen.
Under no circumstances do we come here in an unaltered form, just because Earth's conditions would be equally intolerable to us.
As to our actual appearance, Bob once described his Korendian form as "ugly" (and, to be fair, he similarly described his own Terran body when he saw a picture of it while in our form). Beauty, in your words, is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
Suffice it to say that our bodies are perfectly suited to our world, as are yours to Earth. Perhaps Bob will consent to add to the computer diskette on which these messages are recorded a description of Korendian physiology. I shall not go further into the matter, preferring instead to begin now the verbal tour of Korendor.
This first part will be restricted to Vrell City (pronounced "virell"). In the next communication, I will describe a little of the rest of my beautiful planet. And now, I welcome you to Korendor!
Whether one arrives by spacecraft or teleportal, his or her first steps on Korendor are taken in Vrell City. Although there are other spaceports and portal stations all over the planet, they are for the use of Korendians and visitors that are already registered.
This is standard procedure on all Alliance worlds. The capital city is the arrival point for non-residents of a planet, simply to permit centralized facilities for greeting and registering visitors, and introducing them to our worlds and their customs.
The Visitor Registry on each world is also connected to the Alliance data banks so that a guest's whereabouts are known in the event of an emergency or other situation that would require our immediately locating that person.
Under normal conditions, once the visitors are processed, they are then granted full, unrestricted access to the planet for the duration of their stay. The implant network described in Part Four assures that needed communication with them would be simple and quick, although no attempt is made to "keep track" of their whereabouts.
Usually, a pleasure visit begins with Vrell City itself, with our young people in the Guide Service assigned to take them wherever their whims dictate. An aerial tour is almost always the first thing on the agenda, since Vrell City has (quite rightly) become legendary throughout the Alliance as a place of spectacular beauty.
Although Vrell City is by any definition a metropolis, every effort has been made to maintain a rapport with nature. As one glides over the city, the eye is struck by the vast amount of space devoted to gardens and parks. No place within its 590 square miles is more than five minutes by foot from one of these botanical garden areas.
One also notices a conspicuous absence of traffic on the streets. Small electric vehicles can be seen plying their way through the city, but most travel is done by walking, or via the complex network of underground or overhead transit tubes that link most buildings. Intra-city portal stations also connect the major city divisions.
The layout of the city (and indeed of most cities on Korendor) might be described as clustered "wheels". There are 55 of these wheels, consisting of concentric rings of buildings with a large park/garden at the hub of each wheel. The number of rings varies, but the average is 25.
The architecture of the buildings is widely varied, but always in harmony with their neighbors and with the city's overall plan. We find much beauty in geometric designs, especially in long, graceful arcs and sweeps. Domes and spires abound.
Aerial walkways weave amongst the buildings, alive with people strolling alone or in groups. Some lean on the railing, engaged in casual conversation or simply watching the busy city below.
The "wheels" are in turn part of much larger rings that have as their hub the vast Capital Complex, wherein all of Korendor is governed. This single area could contain your city of Los Angeles with room to spare, yet there is no sense of bigness, because here also there are many gardens and parks to break up the "big city" image.
Beyond the "outskirts" of the city is the forest ring, a 13-mile-wide belt of deep green dotted with meadows where people and wild animals frolic together in joyful play and communion. These forest creatures are not tame, but neither do they fear us. They know that we afford no danger to them, and we are therefore simply accepted as cohabitants of their lush green world.
Beyond the forest belt lie the residential clusters, laid out in the same basically circular configuration, and always carefully designed to be in perfect harmony with the surrounding countryside. When a tourcraft is seen flying low over the homes, the visitor is always greeted by energetic waves from adults and children alike. We all want our visitors to feel welcome.
Once past the residences, there are what seem to be endless miles of farmlands, with row upon row of grains, greens, and fruit trees of a hundred kinds. Automated equipment tends the fields, with the deft precision of the farm's computer. Very little manual labor is required, although our people love the land and the soul-satisfying experience of working it as it has been done for countless centuries. Whatever physical work is done on the farms is by choice, not necessity.
Harvesting is also by unmanned machines taking their direction from the "farmouse" computers. The useable part of the crop is removed, and the remainder is at once pulverized and returned to the soil, to nourish the next planting two or three years later.
Visitors watching the traffic from the city are always puzzled by the constant flow of "trucks" that seems to come from out of nowhere. If one follows them back toward Vrell City, at the perimeter of the residential areas, one will see both trucks and road disappear into the mouth of a tunnel, inconspicuous below the branches of several large trees. Once the truck enters, a sliding door quickly closes to prevent the entry of inquisitive animals and children.
There are 150 of these tunnels for commercial traffic, and over 1200 more leading to the home clusters, all for private vehicles. Some of the tunnels extend over fifty miles, and all merge into a vast complex of underground passages that link every part of the city with all others. The absence of surface vehicle traffic is due entirely to this underground road system. In our cities, the surface is reserved for the people, unless a vehicle cannot reach its destination by any other means.
About five miles beyond the forest belt to the northeast, Vrell City's spaceport commands attention. Let us travel along with the visitor as the tourcraft approaches its outer edge. Crisp dialog between the Guide and Port Control quickly places the small craft into a standard pattern for cruising over the busy facility.
As we glide over the vast areas of parking for the thousands of crafts that come and go daily, we see a wide variety of designs. There are winged ships, triangles, a few odd geometric shapes, but the majority are variations on the traditional discoid format. The size range is astonishing, from small personal crafts to several mammoth ones half a mile or more in diameter.
There are three runways for the benefit of winged airborne ships that require a running start. Most, however, are capable of vertical flight and go in orderly progression from a number of defined "departure columns" until they reach the assigned altitude for breakaway to their destination. Those ships headed for space continue upward and out. Similarly, all incoming ships enter "arrival columns" for their descent to the port.
As we watch, one of the half-mile leviathans rises from its station and moves silently toward its column, where it hovers awaiting clearance, and then tilts on edge and is gone in a flash of acceleration far too fast for meager human reflexes to track.
Our overflight continues as we follow marked lines on the surface that delineate the tour corridor over the port. Many gardens and park areas are scattered about the facility, in use by thousands of people relaxing or waiting for their ships to arrive or leave. Most acknowledge our tourcraft as it passes overhead.
A winged craft moves onto a ramp leading to a north-south runway. We crack the side window open, to listen for the anticipated thunderous roar. The ship begins its takeoff roll, accelerating rapidly, then noses into a steep climb and arches southward. There is no noise, no smoke. The Guide explains that the vessel belongs to a museum in the southern hemisphere that maintains and flies antique ships using hydrogen-oxygen rockets and ram-jets.
The lack of noise is due to full silencing that renders them all but inaudible beyond a few hundred feet. As another of them heads to the runway, our Guide says that these are carrying a group from Vrell City going to the museum, and suggests that the visitor avail himself of it if time permits, to see the long and fascinating history of Korendian flight.
If we're on a typical guided tour, our craft leaves the port toward the city. Once it crosses the city-side perimeter of the forest belt, it banks toward the "nerve-center" of the Korendian government. Fast messages clear the little vehicle to enter the controlled airspace over the Capital Complex, and a moment later the flight ends in a spacious reception area.
The gull-wing doors open with a soft hiss, and our visitor steps out, to be met by another Guide. As they leave, a gentle rush of air tells them that the tour craft has departed as silently as it arrived. A short walk brings them to the registration office. A quick check of Alliance records determines the level of clearance held by the visitor, which establishes where in the Complex he or she is permitted to roam without an escort.
At this point, unless the Guide is specifically requested to remain, the visitor is free to wander thoughout the Complex. One "must-see" is the Vrell City Historical Museum, containing a splendid variety of displays on every aspect of the city, from its inception to the present day. This alone could occupy at least two days for the person wishing to thoroughly explore every fascinating and informative exhibit.
Should the pangs of hunger strike, there are over 500 restaurants located around the Complex, offering a rich and variegated menu of Korendian and other delicacies, the latter for those guests that are able to travel about our world in their native form, and prefer the cuisine of their home planets. Every such race is represented by its own specialized dining facility.
Lodging is cared for by the 230 "hotels" in the Complex, again with many specializing in catering to the needs of alien visitors who prefer the furnishings or decor of their own world to the typical Korendian trappings. In all ways we want our guests to feel at home on our planet, and to leave with pleasant memories of their stay and the desire to return again and again.
Although much of the complex is devoted to the running of Korendor, a substantial section is involved in the Alliance-related operations of which our planet is the Sector Capital. It is in this capacity that the vast majority of visitors from other worlds come to the Complex, since of course the inner workings of planetary government are of interest mostly to its citizens. We are proud of Korendor, but we can't expect aliens to share our feelings.
One of the major features of the Complex is a combined museum/library of Alliance history, inasmuch as Korendor is privileged to be one of the Founding Worlds of the UWA. This facility alone draws over eight million visitors each year, and affords a veritable warehouse of information for researchers and students.
Even with the considerable wealth of resources to be found within the Complex, the average visitor will after a time grow weary of the place. A call will fetch a Guide to bring him or her out into the city proper, with its vast array of cultural, educational and scientific attractions. Usually, the Guide is no longer required. From the moment that a guest arrives on the streets of Vrell City, he or she is one of the Korendian family.
There is no place in the city, nor any time of day or night, that the visitor can't find at least a dozen citizens eager to assist in finding places of interest, or to help arrange transportation, or simply to provide friendly companionship to lessen the feeling of being a "stranger in a strange land".
One might easily spend many days touring Vrell City's thousands of points of interest. If the visitor is inclined toward music, there are twenty major orchestras and over 200 other institutions devoted to music in its many forms. You would be interested to know that many of your own composers are known on Korendor.
Dance is well represented, but as might be expected, those forms such as your ballet are unknown on Korendor, due to our planet's high gravity. Our dance is more in the nature of what you call "interpretive".
Art is one of our passions. There are 320 permanent art exhibits in the city, and on any given day, at least fifty temporary shows or travelling displays. Sculpture, painting and photography are equally enjoyed, and we delight in bringing to Korendor the artworks of other Alliance planets, so that we might share in their cultures and their concepts of beauty.
The Alliance being a technocracy, science plays a central role in our way of life. Over a thousand facilities in Vrell City reflect this, exhaustively covering every aspect of technology and pure science. Principal amongst them is the Institute of Science, comparable to your science museums. Within its multi-building campus occupying ten square miles, brings to Korendor every facet of scientific knowledge from the entire Alliance.
Another fascinating place to spend a day (or many days) is the Alliance's World Center. This mammoth facility, half again larger than the Institute of Science, is dedicated to offering in a single location the entirety of the Alliance.
Each of its over 740,000 planets is fully represented here by an exhibit that uses photography, computer data files and samples of the planet's art and culture to bring the visitor into an intimate rapport with it and its people.
One very popular feature is the network of rooms that allow the visitor to experience via holography and environmental conditions exactly what life on any of the worlds is like.
You might be interested to know that Earth has recently been added to the roster, although you aren't (yet) an Alliance member. This was done to satisfy the intense interest in your planet that has been generated by our activities here. It has become one of the most widely requested experiential-room programs.
Beyond these major city sites, there are many thousands of smaller places to visit -- restaurants, shops, entertainment centers, libraries, the entire retinue that forms the typical city's lifestyle.
The one thing that is conspicuous for its absence is any form of in-city residential facility other than lodging for guests. The city is a place for business and pleasure. It's not a home.
In the next part of our brief tour of Korendor, I will present a world view, and introduce you to "the rest of the story".
Va i luce, and peace be yours.
I am ArKay.
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved