COMMUNICATION FROM ARKAY OF KORENDOR
Date of reception: 24 May 1989
Love and light, my Terran friends. In the first part of this two-section historical outline of Korendor, we went from the beginnings of my world to the end of the "Mechanical Era", a span that brought us to about 1,500 of our years ago.
As in the last message, when you see the word "year", unless I specify otherwise, I will be referring to a Korendian year of about 4.53 of your Terran years. And now we enter the "Scientific Era".
With the advent of electric power, Korendor fairly erupted with progress. Where formerly the bulky mechanical sources of energy were our sole supply for manufacturing and so on, this new force provided a simple way to create all the necessary energy at a single location and distribute it as needed.
It must also be added that during the first years of adapting this power to our world, quite a few incautious Korendians were "shocked" to discover electricity's potential for danger. However, as experience taught proper respect for it, fear of it vanished and the entire planet was electrified in about 20 years.
Lighting was the first large-scale application, being the simplest. Later, the electric motor revolutionized every phase of our lives, and the complicated arrangements of mechanical drive trains vanished. It was a passing that was noted with no tears whatsoever.
And then came the next phase, as fundamental a development as the force of electricity itself, when science invented the vacuum tube and the field of electronics was born.
I wish to note that if this sounds suspiciously like your own past, it is because nearly every planet's course of cultural and technological evolution is the same. The forces do not change, and the ways they are used are dictated by the natural laws. Our histories are alike because there is little room for variation.
With electronics came the unison of the world through communications. Gone were the sound stations and the heliographs, replaced by the wires that carried voices thousands of miles.
Strangely enough, although the business community rapidly adapted the technology to their needs, for over 10 years after it was introduced, no real effort was made to create a telephone system for the public, and anyone who desired to use the "voice wire" went to a central station at a prearranged time for a few moments of conversation.
Even more astonishing is that when a home network was finally initiated, public apathy almost killed it. Only a massive advertising campaign finally convinced Korendor of its benefits. We look back now and just shake our heads in complete disbelief.
Accustomed as we are now to the incredible advances in communication that give us instant access to anyone anywhere, this seems almost archaic. It is difficult to reflect that there was a time when the technology that we take for granted did not exist.
In the last few decades, science has given you what would seem a miracle to your great-grandfathers. The next time you hear someone "bad-mouthing" science for its contribution to the weapons of war, reflect on what a very small percentage of the total that it represents, and put their arguments into the necessary perspective. In most cases, at the source of the attack is a narrow mind far more interested in creating heat than in shedding light.
Back now to my topic. Within a few years the principle of radio waves was discovered, and Korendor became an open book to its people. For the first years it was used solely as a source of news and information, and nothing that even suggested entertainment was broadcast.
When the programming did expand, it was almost entirely devoted to live transmissions of concerts and drama. In this day, the variety available "on the air" is astonishing, but many forms known to you do not exist on Korendian radio -- comedy, "talk shows", DJ's and contests come immediately to mind.
Our tastes in entertainment may seem elitist, but quality is the mark of civilization, and nowhere is it more prominently displayed than in a world's choice of entertainment.
Nor is there advertising in any form. Our broadcast stations are all publicly owned, and financing is by donations, which are always far more than ample for programming of the very highest caliber. It has been that way since the very beginning, and as you say, "If it works, don't fix it".
Television followed radio by about ten years, and again was essentially a cultural outlet. The added dimension of sight made its application far wider, and it became an excellent teacher for our educational system, in and out of the classroom.
However, don't visit Korendor, turn on your visiscreen receiver, and anticipate soap operas, live sports or "sit-coms".
The last major advancement of the "Scientific Era" was flight. When we took to the air and sampled the freedom that it provided, it became a passion that every Korendian shared.
Toward the end of the Era, the number of personal aircrafts surpassed that of ground vehicles, and small vertical-takeoff crafts could be found at most homes. Children became pilots. The air was almost a second home.
Flight erased the last boundaries that still existed on our world. The concept of nations was forever gone as Korendor united into a world devoted to peace and plenty for all its people.
And then, after a hundred years of the Era, everything ended.
To the people it is known simply as "The Cold Death". There is no way we can ever discover why it was allowed to cause such suffering, or why its danger was ignored. Foolishness, possibly, or over-confidence. Whatever the reason, we were not prepared. Our astronomers saw it coming, and we were given ample warning. They made repeated announcements of the vast dust cloud sweeping through our system, and they told us of its course that would plunge Korendor into its heart. The people ignored them. How can dust hurt us? In our prosperity and peace we had no place for predictions of doom. The scientists' alarms became more dire with each passing day, but they went largely unheeded.
It happened abruptly. The daytime sky darkened, and the early winter air chilled. We saw our folly, too late. There was no time to prepare. In twelve days, the day became as night. With the loss of Korena's light, the descent into killing cold took its merciless toll. Within thirty days, surface air temperatures fell as low as 100 degrees below zero on your Fahrenhreit scale.
Civilization was destroyed in a frozen wasteland. Underground research facilities became sanctuaries for the people who could get to them. Above, as much as a hundred feet of snow and ice buried our world, once a vibrant place of life and beauty, now cold, white and silent, a stark ghost planet haunting an endless night.
Life within the underground was severe. It survived through will power. A small group of aqua-humans managed to enter the facilities by the sea before their watery dominion became too cold for them to live. With their teaching, we developed hydroponic gardening, and life, harsh though it was, went on.
As time passed, we found solace in mindless but diverting games that at least shut out for a time the hell that was our world. We found "busy-work" to occupy us.
For seventeen years we remained in our holes, each day praying that God would wake us from this nightmare, but each day growing more certain that this was to be our eternal tomb.
And then, almost as suddenly as it began, it was over.
Sensors detected the increasing air temperature, but for three days we knew nothing of it, until a periodic check of the recorders brought the news to the technician. He returned to the others, eyes filled with tears, his lips bearing the first smile of joy he had known in those many years.
On the 160th day of the thaw, when the ice and snow that had blocked the exits finally broke away, we left our shelters, and emerged into a world of hot mid-summer sunlight, the heat rapidly melting the last ice. The air was tainted with the pungent odor of decay, as its winds blew over a lifeless world. Our hearts broke anew. Korena's welcome sunlight could not erase the darkness of death. All that we knew was a memory. Families and friends, all forever lost to us.
It was with sorrow that we began the long task of rebuilding our world.
Many days passed. Long-dormant seeds took root and sent their blessed green into the air to savor the light. Man and animal fared not so well.
There remained of our two billion people about 40,000. Of our aquatic brothers only 800 still lived. This handful carried on their shoulders the most monumental and seemingly hopeless task that Korendians had ever faced—starting over.
The first sad duty was disposition of the countless dead. The only choice was cremation. The process required two full years as we roamed far and wide in our search. Time and nature aided us by reducing most of the dead to skeletal remains, their bones cleaned by the insects and small scavengers that had somehow found refuge during the deadly winter, and now multiplied as if to make up for lost time.
Other animals appeared as we made our way around our world, and we knew then the reluctance of God to allow any disaster to have no resolution. Deep natural caverns had been the homes of many species for those long years.
We found these caves, heated by the warmth of the planet's core, alive with simple plant life that had adapted over the ages to use heat and weakly phosphorescent rocks for the light that green plants require. Moist air from deep within the caves brought them water. The herbivores survived on this plant growth. The predators survived on them. God does indeed care for all His creatures "great and small".
Our faith in Him reaffirmed, we set out on our mighty mission.
Through the years that followed, through seemingly unending obstacles, we persevered, and then succeeded, and at last flourished once more.
Repopulation became our goal, and the next hundred-plus years saw our efforts toward that end rewarded most richly. Even as we were bringing new life to Korendor, we were rebuilding our sciences and technology, and the quest to know new things resumed with an intensity beyond our fondest hopes.
About 1,000 years ago, the "Early Space Era" began, and Korendians began their everlasting journey into the infinite realm of the stars.
The 400 years that followed the Cold Death were devoted primarily to bringing Korendor back to its former greatness. It took that long to recover from the utter devastation that the tragedy exacted upon our world.
That accomplished, our scientific efforts were directed once more to pure research. Nuclear power was one of our major successes. We found a great many peaceful uses for it—and one not so peaceful application that, thanks be to God, we never used.
As the years passed and scientific knowledge expanded, we harnessed the higher forms of energy. We discovered the most potent source in nature, the binding energy of the atomic nucleus, so powerful and difficult to control that even today we use it only rarely.
On our world, travel was a matter of hours to the farthest reaches, then of minutes, yet we longed to go "where no man has gone before", beyond the sky into the eternal blackness of space. However, our scientific minds assured us that travel beyond our world was a fantasy reserved for dreamers.
On Korendor, stagnation started to creep over us like a cloying, stifling blanket, and boredom began to take its toll on our spirit and drive. Finally, our technology at last found the wherewithall to venture forth into the unknown, and the probes began much in the same way as your early space program progressed.
About 2,900 of your years ago, our first probe left our world and flashed into space. Man of Korendor became man of the universe.
Satellites followed, then manned ships, followed a few years later by trips to our four moons to establish rudimentary bases to prepare for the next phase—interplanetary travel.
The nearest planet in our system to Korendor is Korenhal, the fourth of the twelve. It had long been an object of fascination, gleaming intensely in our evening skies. Spectroscopic study determined that its atmosphere was very much like Korendor's, with the usual gases, water vapor, all the proper ingredients for potential life.
Three crafts were built and made ready, and the long, fateful journey was under way. The little fleet was 282 days into its trip, about 10 days out from Korenhal, when the crew sent back the most momentous words ever spoken.
"They're coming up. They're almost here. My God, we're not alone! Korenhal is inhabited."
These words will live eternally in our history, the excited outcry of an ecstatic crew captain making the first contact with alien beings, people from another world. We had found others than ourselves with which to share the vast universe. God had given us companions.
Those people proved to be much like us in many ways. They went through the Cold Death, but had survived more readily, because they were accustomed to greater cold, being farther from Korena, and because they had payed heed to their astronomers and had prepared. They taught us many things.
They were in some ways beyond us in technology, including space travel. They informed us that shortly after the Cold Death they sent probes to Korendor to determine if anything was there, and finding nothing they wrote us off as a lifeless world, and returned to matters of their own planet.
One of these matters was a brutal, devastating global war that was waged some twenty of their years after they recovered from the Death. It decimated their population and paralyzed their civilization. They were only just then recovering from its effects and going back to the greatness of the pre-war times, including the exploration of space.
More expeditions travelled to our sister world, and they in turn came to Korendor. Trade was established, and in the years that followed a strong bond of friendship, and then brotherhood, was forged between our worlds.
Over the next few centuries, we joined in exploring the several other planets in our system, establishing bases and exploiting their vast mineral resources. Then, while our brethren of Korenhal continued the reconstruction of their society, we of Korendor turned our gaze outward to the stars.
About 1,500 of your years ago, we set out into the depths of the unknown. A crew of about 500 brave souls with no ties to Korendor boarded a large ship, and with the full awareness that it was in all probability a one-way journey, they began their greatest adventure.
Their departure was a cause for joy and celebration, even knowing that they would never come home during the lifetimes of anyone at the ceremony, if indeed at all. As the flaming trail of its huge boosters shrank into the early evening sky and vanished into the glow of our moons, the impact of this event was felt, and most went back to their homes with tear-filled eyes.
Our most powerful radars followed their progress through our system, and beyond its outer limits, until at about a quarter of a light year (using your standards), we lost them forever. This was at once a poignant and a joyous moment, because we of Korendor had sent out a dust-mote into the endlessness of space, a speck bearing 500 of our best, with a mission. Their names and their life stories are a part of our history.
Their target was a small world a very long way from Korendor, a world from which odd radio signals had been intercepted over many years. Theirs was a "state of the art" ship, driven by our highest technology of the time, and capable of a speed that approached that of light itself. Nevertheless, it would be over a century of our years before they reached their destination.
This small world harbored advanced civilizations in those long-ago times, cultures that its people refer to even today, although they have long since gone into the annals of history. They bore names such as Atlantis and Lemuria.
At a future date, I will describe in detail the mission of this ship to a little blue world known as Earth, and tell of the successes of its adventure, of which we were to know nothing until we came here thirty years ago and found their long-buried records.
Returning to Korendor's past once more, progress in space exploration continued with almost reckless abandon. Several tragedies accompanied those efforts, but we forged on, because the price of breaching the limits of the unknown is oftentimes the supreme one.
As our technology expanded and we set our sights ever more often to the stars, Korendor bravely entered the "Interstellar Era."
As we spread outward to the nearer stars, we found that in His universal plan God had included life wherever it was at all possible. Civilizations were found at many stages of development, from primitive stone-age barbarians to awesome cultures far beyond our own. We learned from all of them, and applied the lessons to our own ways.
For about 300 of your years, we continued to establish our presence in space. We formed relationships with 30 civilizations in our immediate neighborhood at about our social and technological level. Our small community prospered, and we were allies in every sense, but still we had no official unison.
And then our scientists forever changed our lives. They gave us the access to "Sub-Space".
Trans-dimensional travel! Vast distances reduced to mere moments. It was beyond our wildest dreams, but like all entirely new concepts, it had its numerous failures. So frequent and seemingly unavoidable were they that for years we doubted that we could ever master the technology.
Many ships left on an experimental flight and vanished, never to be seen again, perhaps to reappear in some remote part of the universe or into the heart of a star.
Fifteen years passed before we had achieved a fair understanding of the awesome complexities. Pilots required long, intensive training to be able to handle the ships, until computers took the reins and made it all manageable.
The programming of these computers was at best tedious and "touchy", and the less precise the trip must be, the better. As a compromise, we chose to set up breakout points beyond the outer limit of a system and go in under a conventional drive. It took longer, but solved many problems and saved many headaches.
With this hyper-drive technology, we set up daily trade routes with our thirty allies, but we had every desire to go outward to vastly more distant places. Hundreds of ships were built to address that goal, and with our allies we radiated away from our little group, contacting new races and making new friends.
And then we discovered that not all of our cohabitants in the universe shared our ways.
In a sector of space located in the direction of your constellation of Orion, we re-entered space normal and proceeded into a promising systems of worlds about a star very much like our own Korena. We were greeted -- with weapons.
Mere minutes after we passed the outer reaches, we were confronted by a large and hostile fleet that opened up on us with thermal devices. Several of our ships were damaged, but we made an emergency exit without losing anyone.
A conference was convened to formulate a plan of action. Some with a military background suggested returning there and cleaning the enemy out. Others suggested that our abrupt appearance may have been misinterpreted as threatening and the fleet was simply defending the system.
The consensus was that the latter view was rational, and we decided to forgive and forget, while placing the sector off limits to further travel by our people. Our policy would then be to ignore the region completely unless the hostility of its inhabitants spread beyond the sector. We also agreed that further excursions into uncharted regions would be done by armed ships.
Within 50 years of refining the sub-space technology, our retinue of worlds numbered over a thousand, with trade routes and other close relations with the majority of them. This ushered in our world's transition into the "Galactic Era".
Korendor's influence during the years that followed our entry into this era spread far afield, and we explored a radius of several thousand light years, concentrating in the direction of the galactic center. The knowledge gained in our many contacts with other races expanded our understanding of God's universe at a pace that fairly overwhelmed our ability to absorb it.
Science became our driving force. The things we learned as we travelled were adopted into our daily lives. Our cities became glistening gems set in the natural beauty of our world. As time passed, Korendor became the one place to be seen by all. We had become as one with our world, and together we grew into magnificence.
The Universal Economics system was introduced in the middle years of this era. Created by a cadre of brilliant economists, its benefits were so very apparent that within a year it became the way of life on Korendor. Within a decade, UnEc spread throughout most of the planets in our trade routes.
Spurred by the advantages of a single, unifying financial structure, trade between worlds became a powerful impetus to Korendor's economy. In an effort to address this new market, we made errors in judgement that came far too close to creating a disaster born of greed. However, I have cited this in an earlier communication, and will not further mention it except to state one more time that uncontrolled growth and development place a dangerous burden on a world's natural resources. Take care!
Our probes into the heart of our galaxy continued, and we tended to focus our interests in a rather narrow "beam" of travel toward the core. As we neared that awesome place, we quickly discovered the sparsity of new worlds and civilizations, we fanned outward from our established paths.
Literally thousands of worlds came into our scope, and on many we found new races of beings of a diversity that truly left us in awe of God's ability to adapt life. Some of these we found to be indifferent, some unfriendly, and a few actively hostile. Most, however, were enthusiastic about joining with us in the pursuit of our wonderful dream.
Eventually, the vastness of our stellar realm brought us a realization. "The Universal Era" swept upon us.
Although many of the worlds within our "sphere of influence" seemed quite content to look to Korendor for their guidance, it became obvious that the every-expanding number of worlds made effective governance, no matter how loosely carried out, a task too large for a single world to undertake. A entirely new approach was needed.
The First Conclave of Masters was proposed, and invitations were sent to 200 of the most advanced planets. Of these, 150 accepted, the remaining 50 declining for a variety of reasons, none of which reflected adversely on either Korendor or the Conclave, it must be said.
The 150 worlds dispatched their Elder Masters to Korendor, and the Conclave commenced.
Their goal: unity.
This momentous event took place in Vrell City 655 of your years ago. After many long, wearying days of negotiation and compromise, the Conclave drew up a document, a pact so important that it is forever preserved in a veritable shrine in the Hall of Archives on the planet Alandra.
From the Conclave there came the Pact of Alliance, the foundation for the United Worlds Alliance. In the third message of the first series, dealing with Alliance government, I quoted the soul-stirring phrases of the Preamble to the Pact. These eternal words of courage, compassion, hope and love are committed to memory by every person on every world blessed with the good fortune to be in the Alliance. Allow me to repeat them here.
WE, the divers planets of the vast realms of space, under the omnipotent guidance of the Infinite One, do hereby ordain that from this day forth, the divers worlds shall be united in the bonds of Alliance, Friendship and Beneficence.
I have said this before, but it cannot be said too often, that only when a society knows and reveres its history can it hope to walk into the future with a sure step. The nation or the world that neglects or forgets its past cannot survive.
The uncertainty of the future will inevitably overwhelm those who do not know the security and continuity of their history. In your nation, where being "modern" is an all-consuming passion, you eagerly reject your past, and consign your heritage to oblivion. "Now" is all you know. "Then" does not concern you. You travel alone into the the unknown, without the comforting hands of your ancestors to reassure you in your journey into the days to come.
I fear for you, my Terran friends.
With those observations, I shall end this discourse. We have arrived at the present day in our all-too-brief study of my world's past. It has not been a history of unalloyed happiness, but rather one where both joys and sorrows have been our lot.
We do not envy those worlds where there is only endless bliss. These are not places where the fullness of life is experienced. The people of those worlds will never know the depth of feelings and emotions that combine to create the wholeness of the human essence. They will never know what it means to be truly human.
I am truly blessed by God to be a Korendian, to have known all of what life can offer a race that can feel and share feelings.
You share with us that blessing, my Terran friends. Yours is a world of complete humanity. Do not reject it. Learn of it, cherish it, give thanks to God that He has honored you with a race that has known every emotion, that has felt every human feeling.
Then shed a tear for those who never will.
Va i luce, and peace be yours.
I am Arkay.
© 2008 Robert P. Renaud -- all rights reserved