COMMUNICATION FROM ARKAY OF KORENDOR
Date of reception: 16 October 1988
Love and light, my Terran friends. In the first part of my verbal tour of my home world, Korendor, I focused on its capital, Vrell City. Now, I shall attempt within the restrictions of this message to bring you around the rest of the planet. First, however...
If one reads the data on Korendor that I provided to begin the last part, one will discern that by any Terran standards ours is not a livable planet, nor would Earth be suitable for us.
Yet, we of Korendor find it an ideal world. If one envisions the great variations in conditions on Earth, one can well appreciate that life adapts itself perfectly to its surroundings. Just as a human being would be crushed instantly in the depths of the oceans, those fish and other creatures that are at home there would die almost at once on the seashore.
Do not, then, be misled by any statement that our environment is not hospitable to life. It flourishes in its abundant forms on Korendor as it does on your lovely world. Were you to see the vast multitude of species that inhabit this universe, the range would test your very sanity. Nevertheless, in God's kingdom all are equal, and in His great family all of us are brothers and sisters. "Human" is not the shape of the body but the essence of the spirit.
Eight billion people call my world "home". We are very different in our physical appearance from Terrans, but we are every bit as human. We are not perfect. We laugh, we cry, we know joy and sorrow, and, yes, we do on occasion also feel anger and hatred. These are feelings and emotions that, for better or worse, are a part of being human.
In short, as I said in my first message, if you come to us expecting to find the flawless, godlike beings of some "contact" tales, you will be sadly disappointed. We have our strengths and our weaknesses, but I believe that in this admission of our humanity, we will create far greater receptivity in your people for what we have to say. We do not offer our advice as neo-deities throwing crumbs to their inferiors, but as fellow human beings who have in our days met the challenges you now face.
The purpose of the preceding five paragraphs, though they might seem a wide deviation from the context of this presentation, is to demonstrate that on every planet where life exists, there you will find human beings of whatever appearance with all the imperfections that living imposes.
On those millions of worlds, there is much good, but there is also evil. Just as light must be accompanied by shadows, there is in the complexity of human existence a "dark side" of every person's nature. We of Korendor and the Alliance are here just because there are beings who have permitted the dark side to control their lives, and whose ways are contrary to the laws of the Infinite One, our God. It is my goal to make you aware of this presence, and by revealing my people as human, to make you know that you are not alone.
Returning now to the subject, my world is a place of extremes as is your Earth. Although somewhat warmer as a whole, we do know the chilling days of polar winters and the sweltering heat of our tropical summers.
You have an expression that says, "Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." Many years ago, we attempted to modify and control our world's weather patterns. After not too long a time, we realized that we are puny in comparison to the awesome power of nature. Do not feel inadequate if your efforts to do this inevitably fail. I know of no planet where it has been accomplished.
We have simply accepted that our climate is its own master, and have learned to live in harmony with nature rather than warring with it. Although it can be cruel at times, it usually serves us well.
Because of the lesser axial tilt of our world, the seasons are not as pronounced as on Earth, thus tending to create permanent zones of unlivable conditions. A band of approximately six degrees either side of the equator is simply too torrid for human life, except for enclosed habitations.
A wider belt from 6 to 20 degrees north and south is livable, if not especially comfortable. Much of this region is taken by what you would call "tropical rain forests". There are a few cities of hale and hardy souls who choose that sort of life (of whom yours truly is, needless to say, not one). Interestingly, much of this area has remained unexplored even in this day, although it has been meticulously mapped by airborne surveying teams. We prefer to allow it to remain a mystery, there being so little of that left.
From 20 to about 75 degrees are our "temperate" regions, in which the bulk of Korendian life exists. Over 98% of our world's people live within a band from 30 to 65 degrees in either hemisphere, and oddly enough almost 60% of the people are concentrated in the northern half, for reasons unknown.
If that seems to be a bit crowded, consider that Korendor's surface is over 7.5 times greater than Earth's, and 53.7% of that is land, or over four times your entire surface. Within the 30-65 regions lies 61.3% of our land area, or almost 2.5 times your total. It should be evident, then, that we are far indeed from reaching the point of overpopulation. That we group ourselves in cities is simply due to the inate human tendency to seek companionship. Perhaps it is some primitive tribal instinct, but we enjoy togetherness.
Of that populated 61% of our land area, nearly 5% is devoted to the agricultural pursuits. Farming is a vast and highly advanced technology, but we do not abuse our land through overplanting. Under no circumstances do we seed more often than every other year, and in most cases it is every third year. The idle years are given over to the growing of high-yield grasses that are tilled under to form fertilizer for the coming planting.
Because we do not use meat or any animal products, we have no ranching or dairy industries. Our science of food synthesis is capable of creating "meat" of a quality beyond your finest cuts, with uncompromised nutritional value and none of the harmful contents of animal meat (the consumption of flesh is distressing to us in any case).
We grow fruit in abundance, many of which are similar in texture and taste to Terran fruits. One fairly new addition to the Korendian diet is the apple, which we imported from Earth, the only world in the galaxy where they are found in nature. Other fruits are similar to those you call citrus. We have no equivalents to bananas, melons, and so on, nor have our people found their taste desirable enough to make it worth cultivating them.
One form of farming that we have quite widely exploited might be called "aquaculture", growing foodstuffs in the oceans. We have developed several prolific species of (lacking a better word) seaweed, which provides an almost inexhautible source of fiber and pure protein. In processed form, we mix it with our grains to create the basis for some truly exquisite breads and pastry.
Another that you have so far only touched upon is hydroponics. Although we do not find wide application for it on Korendor, it is used extensively in our bases and large ships, to enhance their self-sufficiency. Our two lunar bases are capable of complete isolation from outside supplies because of their advanced hyroponics facilities. Earth would do well to develop this method on a large scale. You really do not have much room to grow things these days.
Getting away from the developed areas of my planet, we find huge spans of forest, several of over a million square miles each, and many in the tens of thousands. These are essentially untouched, although this was not always so. We had an extended period of random deforestation, because we found in wood an excellent material for construction on Korendor and elsewhere.
For a time, we were a primary supplier of wood products to many of the worlds in Korendor's region of space. Then, about a thousand of your years ago, we began to realize that in our heedless harvesting of our forests, we were setting ourselves up for an ecological cataclysm. Despite the enormous profit we were reaping, we reversed course, about twenty of our years short of irreversible disaster.
The signs were all there for many years before we took action. Slowly increasing air pollution from our use of combustion for energy, massively increased levels of what you call "greenhouses gases" in the air, all the symptoms of a world gasping on the very edge of environmental death.
When the change came, it was swift and certain. We banned exportation of any wood products, eliminated them for our own construction, and undertook a vast, world-wide program of planting new trees. We vowed then that never again would we interfere with nature's handling of its forests.
It was an action that caused great economic upheaval, but we created a new material out of vegetable fibers that, although it had none of the beauty of wood, was much stronger. In the end, this new material proved a far greater profit-maker. The Infinite One does have mercy for blind fools.
It was at this time also that we undertook a "crash program" to develop new sources of energy that did not rely on the combustion of fuels. Although it was not especially auspicious in an environmental sense, we went heavily into hydropower. We also exploited the uninhabited desert areas of the equator to construct enormous solar electricity stations to supply our power demand.
The development of practical nuclear fusion ended all these futile efforts to meet our rapidly-expanding power demands by natural forces. The limitless energy of fusion made water and solar energy obsolete, and, now free of partiality to them, we saw that in their own way they were as damaging to the environment as our earlier abuse of the forests. We had finally learned our lesson, and we learned it well!
As a stark reminder to all our future generations, we left several of those huge land-devouring solar energy systems in place, where they would be impossible to ignore by anyone whose course takes them across the equator.
They lie in disrepair now, unused and untended monuments to a plan that went awry because the consequences were not thought out. To that end, we have given them to posterity, so that our children and theirs will use wisdom in all their choices, rather than seeking the "easy way out".
One thing that a visitor from your world might notice is the conspicuous absence of anything resembling your mountains. It is a rare Korendian rise that reaches a mile, and our tallest is by your measures 8,730 feet in height.
Our gravity of course renders impossible the formation of mountain ranges such as the Alps. Indeed, the photographs of your world's mountains never fail to astonish our people. Most of us have never visited a planet of such spectacular heights as Earth possesses in abundance. The awe that they inspire makes us wonder even more at your lack of concern for the planet that affords you a home of such beauty, of such splendor, of such majesty.
What Korendor lacks in mountains, it makes up for in rivers, and several are of truly heroic proportions. There are at least ten on the scale of the Nile, and three are a factor of five larger. The one that flows to the east of Vrell City is approximately equal to your Mississippi River.
Because we are a people who love the water, rivers are among our most popular places of recreation. Boating is a planetary pastime, and on any day the rivers are dotted with thousands of crafts of all sizes, both private and public. Tour boats run day and night, with people spending the hours aboard in sightseeing, friendly conversation or simple relaxation.
To answer the unspoken question, we do not "fish", because our respect and love of life extends to all animals of whatever form. We find it abhorrent to think that there are those who would capture and kill harmless creatures for "sport". This aversion extends to the brutal practice of "hunting", and races that engage in this savage ritual lead us often to wonder whether the hunted or the hunter is the lower life form.
As well as our rivers, there are thousands of lakes and inland seas on Korendor, many the size of your "Great Lakes", and some that on Earth might be labelled small oceans. Again, these are the sites for much recreation, and a home by the water is a high privilege.
In many places, cities have been located with a nearby body of water as an integral part of the planning. It is not uncommon to find a number of small man-made rivers extending from the core of the city to the lake, so that the people can use their "lunch hours" to enjoy the water. Swimming is a sport that we relish, and we feel deprived if the day passes that does not provide an opportunity to "take a dip". It is very difficult to express in words the union that we feel with the water and the creatures that share it with us.
Because water is such an integral part of our daily lives, we take very strong measures to assure that it will remain pure. The notion of using our waterways for waste disposal is utterly unthinkable to us. Although we have stringent laws governing this, they are never called upon because the people could never conceive of defiling their water. Korendians would sooner destroy their homes than befoul their world.
If this seems to you to be hitting "below the belt", let me just say that I have not yet begun to preach. In a future message, I intend to elaborate in painful detail on what Korendians think of beings who heedlessly do harm to their world. It will not be a harsh condemnation, but rather a chastisement from the "voice of experience". We know where you are because, unfortunately, we were once there ourselves.
Continuing our spotty tour of my planet, there are a number of natural phenomena that merit mention. One of these is a vast network of caverns extending for many hundreds of miles beneath the southern continent known as Markama.
Dubbed "The Caves" by a wondrously creative fellow (whose name is unknown, perhaps thankfully for the sake of his descendants), this is a fascinating day-trip for anyone who is interested in natural grandeur on a mammoth scale. The largest of the caverns could easily contain all of Manhattan, and are so high that rain often falls as the water evaporating from six underground rivers condenses into heavy clouds near the ceiling. Speaking of rivers, one of them enters the caverns from a 950-foot multi-cascade waterfall. This must be seen (and heard!) to be appreciated.
We have no concrete evidence to support any of the various theories as to what formed these caverns so many eons ago. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that during Korendor's formative years, an asteroid-sized ball of ice plunged into the soft surface and fragmented on impact, burying huge shards in a fan-shaped spray.
The planet then coalesced around them, and as internal forces began to heat things up, the ice-chunks slowly melted, leaving behind their enormous "footprints" for future man to look upon with wonder. And wonder we do!
Further south is a feature that leads us to praise the Infinite One that we were not around when it was created.
Visible from half a million miles in space, there is the impact crater we have colorfully named "The Eye of The Worldshaker". About 800 million years ago, a planetoid of at least 250 miles in diameter came straight at Korendor. As it reached the Roche Limit, it exploded and showered the surface with billions of tons of rock and ice.
The core, however, was iron, and it easily survived the blast and the brief trip through the atmosphere. Estimated to have been at least thirty miles in diameter, it hit Korendor with a fury that to this very day continues to send detectable shock waves through the planet, an echo that may continue for another hundred million years.
The contact created a roughly circular crater 85 miles in diameter, and 4.8 miles deep at its center. The top third of the meteorite protrudes from the center of the crater like a grotesque eyeball resting in its huge socket, thus its name.
The rest of the core vaporized on impact, peppering the crater walls with steel globules, and blasting metallic spheres as far as 3,000 miles from the site. The cloud of vapor and dust that was blown into the air spread around the planet. For a thousand years it obscured Korena's light before finally settling. All but the most stubborn life-forms were extinguished.
We look back now at this event, and try to stretch our imaginations to fathom those minutes so long ago, and end in a prayer of gratitude for life.
Another item of interest on a colossal scale is "The Greeting". Many centuries past, long before our people had developed space flight, we wondered at the stars that dusted the night sky, and envisioned travellers "out there" who might be looking for a refuge from their journey.
In order to signal to these unseen visitors, our people, working with a technology equivalent to yours of the 18'th century, undertook to build in white stone a smiling Korendian figure with an open hand raised in welcome.
In order to be visible from far out, they surmised, it had to be big. They made it big indeed! From the top of its head to the tip of its toes, the figure extends for 233 miles. Its upraised arm is 78 miles long. Massachusetts could comfortably fit into its torso, and Rhode Island into its head.
In order to make the shape clearly visible, the stone was laid in a line two feet high and 300 feet wide. When the framework was done, crushed rock was dyed and used to "color" the figure and give it substance.
Although the figure used only half the stone employed in building your Great Wall of China, the task was truly a prodigious feat. Sadly, it was built on the far side of Korendor from Vrell City, and it waves its welcome only to those who make a special journey to see it. It would have been wonderful to have its smile to greet our guests.
Oviously, comparisons will be made between "The Greeting" and the "Nazca Lines" in your nation of Peru. Let me say in response that the construction of enormous images is a very common practice around the galaxy. We have no information at all on the reasoning behind the Nazca figures, but usually these projects have some religious significance for the people who decide to undertake the task, and they are primarily the efforts of culturally primitive societies.
In the case of "The Greeting", however, the sole intent was as a huge signal of welcome to potential space travellers. The builders made this very clear in their lengthy records of the construction. Our people wanted to say "Hello" to whoever might be up there. They chose to do it on a grand scale, but then, that IS the Korendian way!
There are many lesser but equally interesting places to go. The Museum of Flight, mentioned briefly in part one of this world tour, covers six square miles with exhibits containing air and space crafts from the very earliest days of manned flight over 800 years ago.
Over 35,000 vehicles of every imaginable configuration are lovingly cared for by people whose lives are dedicated to the freedom that flight represents. Most of the crafts are Korendian, but a separate campus of buildings is devoted entirely to ships donated by other Alliance worlds.
Many flights each day are given in the ancient crafts, for the stout of heart who want to experience what their grandfathers' grandfathers felt as they watched Korendor slip away below them.
To be sure, most of these "oldies" are still years beyond your present jet aircrafts, but to Korendians used to the security afforded by our modern disc-ships, riding in these antiques is an adventure that is safer but no less thrilling than a skydiver's first jump.
On a planet where risk is all but nonexistent, anything that offers one a few moments of excitement, and even a smattering of fear, is welcomed with the avid anticipation of a six-year-old awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus.
However, you would not soon entice one of us to board your amusement-park roller-coaster rides. What you find stimulating would in all probability reduce us to white-knuckled catatonia. Facing danger is not unknown to us, but as for doing it for its own sake, we will pass on it, thank you very much!
One last place that comes highly recommended, given our well-known love of things botanical, is the Tropical Garden, a veritable paradise for the devotee of the plant world. Within its five square miles are contained over two million species of trees, shrubs and flowering plants from a thousand worlds. The most mundane are there, as are the most exotic.
An aquatic section contains almost 300,000 different water plants. The desert display contains about 100,000 varieties of plants found in arid areas of Alliance worlds, including many that take their moisture from the air and need no external watering at all.
Several hundred species from Earth have been included over the years, from the lowly dandelions and daisies to the most exquisite of roses and orchids.
There are many other things and places that I could describe, but for the moment, we must move on to more important topics concerning your world and the many difficulties it will be facing in the months and years to come.
I hope that one day I might be able to welcome you aboard a Korendian ship for the journey to my world, so that you might share for yourself its countless marvels. This is a goal that I and my associates strive for with every fiber of our beings.
Help us, please!
Va i luce, and peace be yours.
I Am ArKay.
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved