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with Thurien, it meant that the potential was there for a joint Ganymean-human
culture to come about as soon as the circumstances were propitious, without
suffering the setback of Minerva's destruction and all the consequences it
would engender. So, after everything, the mission was back on track, for
precisely that result had been its whole purpose. The only problem was that as
far as Hunt could see, it wasn't likely to happen while he was still around to
see it.
A Lambian came in and informed them haltingly that the lander from the
Shapieron was down in an open area not far away, and the Giants who had come
with it would be arriving shortly. As the Lambian was about to leave, Eesyan
and Showm were ushered back into the room, accompanied by Laisha. Eesyan
nodded to Hunt in a way that conveyed it had been a worthwhile gesture, and
then went with Showm to join Monchar and the two Shapieron officers. Laisha
came over to Hunt and Danchekker, chuckling in the way of one who had just
pulled off an enormous practical joke. "Wonderful!" she told them. "Kles was
just too . . . how would you say?"
"Amazed?" Hunt offered the Jevlenese word.
"More than amazed. Was like his face is going to fall off. Wish you had been
there. You see, all his life he has had . . . Interest? Fascination?"
"For the Giants of old. Then, to see them real. . . . It was like in his
dream. You understand?"
"I think so. " Ganymeans had been causing more than their fair share of
astonishment all-round in the space of the last few years, Hunt thought. One
of the other Cerians said something that Hunt didn't catch. Laisha turned away
and began talking with them.
Hunt got up from the chair, yawned, stretched his arms, and moved over to one
of the windows. Below was a paved court bounded by a wall of narrow stone
columns like an enormous balustrade, through which two gates guarded by
sentries gave access to a larger outer area. A railed fence on the far side
ran in sections between square pillars surmounted by statues. Beyond was a
wide street lined with stubby gray trees and buildings of massively square
line and proportion, echoing the style of the furniture in the room. A
twin-rotored helicopter type of machine was moving slowly above the rooftops.
Everything seemed solid and gray. The type of city, Hunt thought, that a
designer of early twentieth century battleships might have conceived. He
wondered how typical this might be of what was looking like becoming the
future home that he was going to have to get used to.
Just about everything else that his former life had been built around and
toward which it had seemed to be heading was suddenly irrelevant. That was the
fact, he told himself. Get used to it. At least he didn't have relatives who
were all that close, or dependents to burden his conscience.
What alternatives were likely to present themselves in place of all those
things now? Obviously they could look forward to a permanent special status
here, with a reasonable expectation of enjoying just about anything that it
was within the power of Minerva's rulers to grant. Hunt could certainly think
of worse ways to start a relationship with a new world. "Never say, it can't
be done because," was another thing his dad used to tell him. "Always say, it
could be done if . . ."
With the Cerian-Lambian rivalry seemingly defused, the Shapieron here as a
scouting ship, and a little Ganymean know-how thrown in, the program to move
Minerva's population to Earth should move ahead rapidly. Helping to develop
the physics needed for the requisite technologies would make an ideal role for
Hunt that alone could keep him usefully occupied for the rest of a lifetime.
Seeing Earth as it had been would be a fascination in itself. Pioneered by a
race that was already spacegoing, it would avoid the perils of being buried in
people before they developed the means of expanding outward, giving it the
kind of head-start that had benefitted Thurien. Definitely not all bad, he
decided. Which was just as well, considering.
A movement nearby caused him to turn his head. Danchekker had collected a cup
of the Lambian brew and come over. Hunt eyed it undecidedly. "What's it like?"
He had been too strung-out by the effort of trying to keep up with events to
have an appetite for anything himself yet.
"Quite agreeable, I have to say. Reminiscent of strong, sticky tea with honey.
Also, an undertaste of what I recall vaguely as being not dissimilar to Irish
whiskey, which should be to your liking." Danchekker took another sip and
joined Hunt in his contemplation of the world. "All very solid and imposing,"
he commented. "Immutability in stone."
"It reminds me of some of those old black-and-white newsreel clips of winters
in Russia," Hunt said. The difference was that Melthis wasn't far from
Minerva's equator.
"Little concept, it would appear, of throwing up trashy piles of work pens
purely for the purpose of maximizing short-term rentals. It seems somewhat
odd. One would have thought that with migration to Earth being the race's
single-minded objective, expressions of permanence would be low among their
traits. An unconscious collective desire for security and a long-term future
manifesting itself, do you think?"
"Could be. At least, all that's more likely to happen now." Hunt had the
feeling that Danchekker was perhaps unconsciously expressing similar
assurances himself. Hunt went on, "And you and I and the Ganymeans are hardly
going to be short of work to do in the middle of it all. Just imagine, Chris,
the whole Earth as it was. All those early animal forms that you've speculated
about and tried to reconstruct for years, walking around, alive and
Danchekker's expression lightened a fraction as he continued staring out
through the widow. It seemed that aspect hadn't occurred to him. Several
seconds went by before he answered. "A fascinating thought. Fascinating
indeed. . . . It would certainly help with some of the notions of evolution
that I've been reconsidering. The same genetic programs expressing different
adaptations to varying environmental cues. The Thuriens have a completely [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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