The Ghosts of Eden

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Session 21

The Joyous Venture arrives at the Ocean (pronounced Ossian due to Swedish influence) OTS. The crew take a space-plane to the space-port and are unexpectedly joined by Komiko.

Neu Bayern is run by the Neu Bayern Europa Colonial company (along similar-ish lines to the East India Company) - the principal share-holders are the Europa and Oceania governments. The colonists are mainly from Pacific Oceanian Islands, Greek/Turkish Aegean Islands and the Swedish Baltic. The Ocean colony was founded 45 years ago and colonists are still arriving. Around five years ago the pentapods were determined to be sentient. Most of the colonists live on 1,000 foot colony ships. The Forethought research facility is on Aztlan Island but presumably was not initially set up to study the alien sentience since it pre-dates the discovery that the pentapods were intelligent. Robert observes that an active program to seek out and engage with alien intelligence is apparently missing from the Forethought portfolio.

The crew considers whether other sentient races might have been overlooked given humanity's history on both Eberhavn and Ocean. So far as it is possible to ascertain the encaphalisation ratio for intelligence seems to hold for alien species (although the crew admit the possibility of a hive mind where it might not work) however sufficiently little anatomical data is available for alien species that it would be difficult to pin-point likely races simply from a data search.

The crew take with them their usual survey equipment, first-aid kit and a roll-out digital display loaded with encrypted images from Beekhu and Eberhavn. The crew plan to show some of these to pentapods should they meet, in particular they single out the "Masonic" eye within a pyramid as a recurring motif.

On the shuttle to the research facility the Robert chats with the pilot. He explains that there are a lot of gold deposits on Ocean of which people were unaware when the colonisation effort started (hence why the Neu Bayern Europa company was allowed to start up its experiment in government-directed colonisation). As a result there is also a lot of gun-smuggling (for protection against pentapods) being funded by external companies presumably in an attempt to undermine the existing order. The company at Ocean is run by a mixture of second generation Oceans in middle management with the upper echelons flown in from Earth. In general the native Oceans are anti-pentapod while the incomers are pro-pentapod.

The crew are startled to find the entire research facility assembled to meet them on arrival. The are greeted by Professor Astra Zeng who leads the facility and who "discovered" pentapod intelligence. The others are Dr. Zhukov: Oceanographer; Dr. Solomon: Meteorologist; Dr. Chris Moon: Marine Biologist (surface waters); Dr. Meri Advani: Marine Biologist (deep waters); Megawatti (Meg) Singh and Boris Anandasangaree: technicians; Cassiopeia Pasht and Earl Stardust (no really!): Coxwains; Martin Wright: Pilot; and Achmed Kemal and Rolf Stern: Security. The island is arranged as shown below:

It transpires that the research facility is under the mistaken impression that the crew are a specialised first contact team for the pentapods. The are not altogether happy when they discover the truth although they remain friendly enough and consider Robert's opinion, at least, to be of value to them in contacting the species. Dr. Moon is particularly friendly.

They know relatively little about the pentapods: they have successfully waved to them and had the gesture mimicked back. However generally contact between humans and pentapods involves pentapods climbing out of the sea onto boats and throwing spears at humans (presumably there is a fair amount of reciprocal behaviour although this is not discussed). The pentapods are known to be hermaphrodite. There is an annual mass spawning ceremony. The currents take the larvae out to sea and they return to shore as groups of warrior youths some (undetermined) time later. These warrior groups are known to hunt on land and on the large floating "mats" effectively by holding their breaths. The researchers are unclear what exactly they hunt although there are no mammals on the moon. They wear armour and use poison-tipped spears although the researchers think the poison's real purpose is to act as an anti-verdigris. The only metals the pentapods have access to appear to be copper, gold and alloys of these.

The researchers have not attempted scuba diving with the pentapods since the first casualty and are unsure of the effect a submersible might have. Komiko orders Robert not to go into the water and chase squid. Robert strongly suggests that some sort of "trading" arrangement be attempted by the research base. If they can determine something the pentapods might value then these could be left as gifts on a raft, or island they are known to frequent. This could be monitored remotely or the researchers could simply check on it regularly to see if anything was taken. After some discussion it is agreed that metals and plastics are likely to be of value. Plastic is considered safer since no one wants to get involved with arming the pentapods. Robert suggests that plastic decorations pre-formed to resemble a gold/copper alloy chain loop thing that pentapod wear might be a good start.

It is agreed that the following day the crew will be taken to a medium-sized raft. Miho takes a look at several maps and charts of the area. She notes the current position not only of the raft they intend to frequent and the pre-dominant currents in the area but also of known pentapod "settlements".

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