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"Tamalatong Night"© 2006 Stephen Turner
I'm on my way to the primeval continent! Unlike Earth, the Sonsuangians don't name their land masses, rather relying on adjectives to distinguish between land mass or major region, so there is the vine or Vineland continent...(it tickles me to call it by the latter, which alludes to Leif Erickson and the Nordic discoverers of America,) which I'm on, the volcano continent, the varble breeding region and the primitive continent, which, like Africa and Australia, has extensive desert area and a stifling climate. There must be something about heat and the suppression of the human desire to excel, because the continents that would correspond to the primitive continent on Earth also produced a very bucolic culture. I also understand that the people in the northern region of the continent are far more advanced than those dwelling in the central and southern regions where they haven't even developed written communication yet!
It's odd, since these landmasses are often as lush as they are sparse, that just the opposite isn't true. The expedition will try to reach the central interior of the continent where we will meet up with a friendly, agrarian, and apparently very influential, tribe for further cultural contact for the Science Council and initial contact for me! I'm taking my sound gun cum radio telescope with me, as I stated before, along with the quantum amplifier and the remote I managed to salvage from my shuttle before it was co-opted. I should be loaded for bear with that duffle! It's a shame I couldn't disconnect and make portable the direct-duplicator from the ship for the journey, or even for general use at home. A DD, as we called it back home, can take the photons of an intense light source, say a sun or powerful, constant-flowing or fast-pulsing artificial light, etc., and utilize it to make solid objects virtually out of thin air! All they were, essentially, were particle converters, using a superlative source, that arranged the converted particles into a molecular pattern through electromagnetic inducement. If the light source was flawed, then, unfortunately, so was the object to be rendered, so sources had to be tested strong! That could come in very handy both here and on the expedition. I tried convincing the people back in Sevuasong to allow us to use the shuttlecraft, but they couldn't think of a way of fashioning the mirror necessary for launch. I guess that would be a little out of the range of Sonsuangian technology at this point....the Sonsuangians, extraplanetary spacecraft and radio telescopy aside, still haven't quite got the hang of precision manufacture, and still rely on the artisanship of a few masters to make their scientific instruments. Something as big as a plano-parallel launch mirror is still a big order for them....
"'Sevuasong Afternoon' Painted by Ralph Krimson" © 2004 Stephen Turner
Dr. Blueskin, I Presume...?
As I write this, I am sitting inside a tent made from a ramie-like fabric, coated with a sort of latex for weatherproofing, on the outer fringes of the central part of the primitive continent, and to somebody unfamiliar with this planet, this place is a visual wonderland. This is where the ornithoid life on this planet is! It never fails!: A primitive, socially underdeveloped continent, if it isn't entirely arid, is always going to have areas in it that do a good approximation of paradise! The vegetation here is even more exotic to my eyes than that of the vineland, with iridescent coloring in the stem covering on the larger, tree-like plants, showing a large variety of leaf-types, sizes and functions. However, I still haven't seen any true trees! No wood-producing fruit bearers, though the natives do have a method for turning some of the stem-pith into an arboreal substance resembling wood...actually sort of a petrified wood. Perhaps trees did exist here once, otherwise, the natives would have no reference to base their process on.
But what really has me fascinated are the flying creatures that apparently exist only on this continent. These things almost look like penguins with their non-feathered and rather slick flesh, and they possess arms with little three-fingered hands, apart from their wings, and pedal extremities like those of snails, though they glide rather swiftly on land like jellyfish do undersea on this "foot". The most haunting thing about them, though, is their eyes. They have large, dark red eyes that make them appear spirit-like at night, set as they are in the ashen flesh of their heads. They range in size from average for a common Earth pigeon to about the size, larger or smaller, of a human male. The presence of the hands makes an observable culture a possibility. They definitely converse in some fashion, and it isn't all mating calls! In fact, that doesn't seem to be the case at all!
In the camp we set up, about fifty miles from the tribal village, there is a great unseen nest of these creatures, and upwards of thirty of them will surround our tents and lean-tos from roughly twenty yards away each night and chatter amongst themselves. Previous expeditions to this continent from the vineland have yielded reports of communal cave dwellings of these creatures that seem to be lit from within, but it was said that the creatures themselves made further investigation of those caves impossible. This unquestionably bears looking into!
Their wings resemble those of earth penguins, only much better developed and articulated and they seem to be able to attain heights of about a half a mile with little effort, but cannot maintain it longer than fifteen minutes if they're from the larger variety of the breed. This ought to be an extraordinary trip!
"Sonsuang & Guonsang"© 2004 Stephen Turner
"The Quonosang System"© 2003
Sonsuangian Cuisine Al Fresco
One of our party was kidnapped by the group of ornithoids of humanoid size! It happened while the camp was asleep. There is no doubt about it, since the trail that was left fit the shape and size of the larger ornithoid monopods, and we will mount a search! We are definitely going to probe those mysterious caves! We brought ten sound guns with us, and there is a receiving radio-telescope back home; we have radioed for reinforcements since there are only twelve of us here and this search could encompass miles, so we should have backup in three days.
The search started immediately after the discovery of his missing, the signs of disarray in his tent betraying a less than willful departure, and nobody knows what the creatures could possibly want with him. Some among our camp have put forth the possibility that he could be the potential or actual victim of avian carnivory, or, given the possibility of ornithoid sentience, what could be construed as cannibalism! Perhaps he's to be the central figure in ritual sacrifice....perhaps a high ranking female of the species wants to dabble in a little cross-species dalliance....who knows? There is a never-ending stream of speculation around camp about it, understandably, (and I thank the Fates that there's a lexicographer here that helps me to understand the general buzz.)
"Sevuasong At Dusk"© 2004 S.T.
This search has been going on for a week, Earthtime, or three and a half Sonsuangian diurnals.
The cavalry has arrived, and the people that had put forth the cannibalism and ritual sacrifice theories have been proven right! We found the remains deep in one of the caves, stripped to the bone! It was a fresh kill, perhaps one diurnal old. We also found hundreds of other skeletons, presumably of nearby natives that ventured here or were abducted! We are now eighty strong, and I think that Sonsuang is about to see a major large-scale reversion to meat-eating! Scores of the ornithoids have been hunted, killed and cooked since the discovery of the corpse, which is actually a Godsend, since most of the local vegetation is inedible, but you can rest assured, dear reader, that vengeance had a lot to do with it!
The Sonsuangians and I figure this has been going on here as long has this continent has had the two lifeforms living side by side, and it hasn't been particularly lopsided a cycle, either. Being more obviously sentient, the primitive Sonsuangian natives of this continent have been eating the ornithoids probably longer than the reverse. It's altogether likely that the bird-creatures, being intelligent themselves, and eventually finding themselves on a par with the natives as far as resources, witnessed the natives engorging themselves on their brethren and applied eye-for-an-eye justice, thereby perpetuating a cycle that hasn't stopped for who knows how long!
By the way, the ornithoids do have more humanoid level lifestyles than flying Earth creatures!: They hollow out whole small mountains and set up communities dedicated to propagation, food acquisition, game playing and simple ceremonies surrounding the capture and consumption of Sonsuangian native flesh. The caves were illuminated by sconces filled with an gooey oil of a paraffin like consistency...all very Gregorian! On Earth, there were enclaves of devil-worshippers, but few of these people ever lived it on a day-to-day basis as a fully immersed way of life, at least not in MY era. If they did, they were almost certainly considered insane. This, on the other hand, is scary! These creatures are the real thing! It's a case of the whole nine yards: high level carnivory, what most people would consider a kind of cannibalism or eating of a sanctified creature, of which the Sonsuangian humanoids would certainly be counted, kidnapping, somber lighting, ritual sacrifice, coupled with an eerie sense of single-mindedness. It just may be part of their nature as creatures rather than sentients, but the presence of cognizant traits such as verbal or pre-verbal communication, altars, carved dwellings...all the trappings of a primitive society, make their guilt very palpable!
My party has decided to take, as prisoner, as many of the ornithoids as we can handle as protection against future attacks. We will surely bring back at least one of them to the Vinelands for study. Some of the others will be presented as peace offerings to our target community. Experts in our party predict that this will go over hugely with them, greasing protocol and bargaining like graphite. We may, however, have to keep radioing back to the Vinelands for reinforcements, for we are sure to be followed and kept under constant surveillance by the brothers of these creatures. We still don't have the full picture on the extent of their resourcefulness....
No incidents for the past week aside from trying to control our own party vis ŕ vis these ornithoid creatures.
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