Chapter 11 – Arrivals

Dear Matthew,

First, be sure to show this to Max, so he'll start believing I mean to stay in touch.

As you can see from the net stamp, I'm writing from hyperstate, and at a tremendous time-skew. I'm going to write it in pieces, over the course of the trip, but even so, the ship's computer tells me you'll receive this just about the time we made hyperjump. My new companions want to get to Philippia quickly, so of course it will take us weeks of ship time. I don't mind. It gives me time to adjust.

I have a lot to adjust to. They've started me on a new-fangled, high-speed rejuvenation, much more comfortable than the old ones (except that I am cavernously hungry), and tomorrow the lessons begin. I'll be teaching patharchy and learning psi in return.

Later. My first psi lessons are in telepathy. ...


"Everything has limits," Jeanette told him, "even psi. Telepathy has no range limit, but it has other restrictions. You can't contact someone unless you can sense them, or unless you've contacted them before. Then you can use the residual contact. But even the residual decays with time, or with relativistic effects."

"Like hyperjumps," said Isaiah, nodding.

"Right, or even in-system flights, if they're a few percent of lightspeed. You can break a residual by psi-conditioning, too."

"And that is...?"

"Artificially setting the values of icons in a given area. A psilencer is a special form of psi-conditioner."

"All right. What other limits?"

"The other important limits are psychological. If I can read you, you can read me, and just as deeply."

"Deeply. How do you measure depth of telepathic contact?"

"I'll demonstrate. Turn away."

They were sitting in Jeanette's cabin, Jeanette on her bunk, Isaiah on the chair. He wheeled away and looked at the mural she had put up – a panorama of the Timekeeper campus at Delphi, on Refuge, white buildings among fan-like trees, their severity pinked and softened by the light of an unmoving red sun.

"Clear your mind," Jeanette ordered. That was easy; he hadn't been doing much with it anyway. He waited.

Someone was behind him. Well, of course, but...

"That's the shallowest level. Presence. The feeling of We Are Not Alone. Clear again."

He closed his eyes. And immediately felt self-conscious. He cleared again, but the intrusive feeling stayed. He was under observation.

"I've turned it up just a little. That's the awareness level. The feeling of being watched. At a slightly deeper level, you can feel the state of consciousness of nearby minds."

Isaiah turned to face Jeanette. "How do I distinguish a genuine telepathic impression from my own fancies and subconscious inferences?"

"That's the trick, isn't it? Practice with a psilencer. Flick it on and off. The impressions that survive psilence are your own; the ones you can shut out are objective. Also, you do have to make an effort to receive. You'll learn to feel the difference."

"And what's the range? No, I forgot, there's no range."

"Well, at these levels, there actually is. The same as your TK range, whatever that turns out to be. A few meters. This is such simple telepathy, it's hardly different from any other form of psi. Now turn away again and clear."

Isaiah obeyed. The vivid impression of Jeanette's presence came back. Only now it was distinctly Jeanette. Before, he realized, it could have been anyone. "The identity level," she said. Calmly. Patiently. With a sort of benevolent detachment to her voice.

No, not her voice. In her face. No, his eyes were closed. How–? He suppressed the confusion deliberately. It was perfectly obvious where this delicate measure of her mood came from. "Empathy," he said aloud.

"Right. Facial expression with no face, you once called it."

"In my private thoughts," Isaiah said to himself. "At least, I thought at the time they were private. This must be why lying is impossible in telepathy."

"Right. You can verbalize anything you like, but the empathic tone will always give you away." Jeanette was not speaking. The verbal thought sped through Isaiah's mind like the recollection of printed words. There was no tone of voice. "Verbal level is next, of course. Sorry about the privacy. I picked that thought up when we were all linking out on the sea. You can be private at this level by just not thinking in words. Or by thinking in a language no one else knows. Lots of telepaths never take formal training beyond this level."

"Presence, awareness, identity, empathy, words," Isaiah recited in his mind. "What's next?"

Isaiah found he was imagining a piece of knitting. A bright orange scrap, skewered on the needles, lying on the bunk by Jeanette's knee. He was imagining it from Jeanette's viewpoint. Only he was not the one imagining it. "Sensory," Jeanette sent.

He opened his eyes. The imagining persisted, like a catchy tune that will not be dismissed. And it was overlayed. Jeanette was looking through his eyes, at her looking at the yarn. Each saw the yarn in slightly different shades; it looked redder to Jeanette. She picked the yarn up, and it felt rougher to her skin than Isaiah thought it would to his.

"It'll be a scarf," she sent, "for Borne, for cold places. I had to find a color bright enough or he'd never wear it." And there was a wry flavor to the sending. She imagined him on some icy world, orange scarf wrapped around his neck, clashing horribly with some phosophorescent pink or green shirt, with two to four sleeves.

The next level is the conceptual. There, even language is not needed for understanding. Verbal thought flows four or five times as fast as speech, but conceptual telepathy is faster yet and cannot be measured, for there is no unambiguous way to quantify a flow of concepts.

But surely neurological studies put an upper bound to the bit-flow possible.

Yes, but there is no clean mapping from the number of bits to the number of thoughts. Who, indeed, can number thoughts?

Besides, is there nothing to thought but neurology? Is there nothing to telepathy but iconic overlap between neural processes? Mind-body dualism was a respectable position when last I knew the schools of Terran space, along with a fashionable pantheism and the objectivized qualia of Trito-Platonism.

There is a long, slow swing between Aristotle and Plato, west and east, in human philosophy. Someday, I will study it, and try to wrap my mind around the aliens' philosophies. I have dabbled a little already.

And Isaiah gazed with metaphorical vision down the halls of Jeanette's memory, picking up impressions of the duration and moods of her amateur reading in philosophy, now stopping to mull over a passage by Williams: "Flesh knows what spirit knows, but spirit knows it knows." So she had read some Christian philosophy.

Isaiah's own memory of that philosophical poet arose, and Jeanette remembered it with him, in the reciprocity of telepathy. A very old memory, she noted.

But often renewed, as I am renewing now. I am younger each day, now, and–

The line of thought ended at a wall of discipline. Isaiah would have broken contact, at least have retreated out of the empathic level, had he been able. Jeanette, her own walls flashing into place, released him.

"The next level," she said aloud, "below conscious memory, is unconscious memory. You'll need you mnemonic training to reach it. Just telepathic skill isn't enough. And finally, there's touching the id. That's rather wracking."

She spoke coolly, pleasantly, practically. And there was no reading her emotions now.

"Can one– Can one refuse contact?"

"Shield. Yes. That requires a lot of experience, including some in TK. Years, for most people." She smiled at him. "Maybe months for you."

"Thanks." Isaiah considered apologizing, but for what? He considered asking Jeanette if there was a code of telepathic conduct, but decided to wait.

She watched him consider, then said, "Now, try to repeat that trick you did at the dinner. Contact me. Just presence level is fine."


... I find telepathy easy to do but hard to master. James writes that no one has mastered the tongue. He's right, but mastering unspoken thought is even harder. There is no chance to rehearse before presenting, and you present more and more as you go deeper into contact.

Still later. Remember Edilberto's juggling tricks? ...


Isaiah sat in his cabin and regarded the object in his hand. It was a blunt-ended cylinder, matte gray, about the dimensions of a thick pen. It even had a little clip on one side. It also carried a great weight of history.

It was an ampsi, a psychic amplifier. Early versions of such devices had been quirky, cranky, inefficient ... but quite sufficient for the psi lords to whet their skills on. These psychic warlords had carved up Earth, then the Solar System, then, as their numbers grew, had struck out at the Terran colonies, starting the Psi War.

Now, you could buy an ampsi in any hardware store or mindsmith shop in Terran Space. Now, thousands of people had psychic powers equivalent to a psi lord's – his shipmates and their quarry for instance. Now, a third of the general population (including himself) had at least some smidgen of psychic power, and the other two thirds were protected by psilencers.

So was Isaiah. His little cylinder bore a three-position switch: ampsi, off, and psilencer, the last giving him a two-meter bubble of psilence. The cylinder also bore his name; ampsies became conditioned to individual users with repeated use.

Well, time to start using it. Isaiah had been sent to his cabin alone, to get acquainted with his ampsi and practice telekinesis. FX was sure he would get the hang of it quickly. In fact, he had gotten passage, in part, on promise of speedy learning. Time to start.

Mind still and attentive, he flipped on the ampsi. There was an impression of heightening, opening, such as he felt on leaving psilence. But already he began to perceive it as an experience in its own right, not the semi-hallucinatory hints he had known at first.

He looked at the aluminum paperweight on his desk. He was supposed to levitate it, following the examples of FX, Borne, Canorus, and Jeanette, observed from within, courtesy of Jeanette's telepathy. (Vivian and Daima were adepts of exotic and alien schools, respectively, and so deemed themselves unsuitable as models.)

Ampsi, telepathy, and expert mnemonic skills. It ought to be easy. It wasn't. After a dozen or so failures, Isaiah decided that some fundamental level of his mind simply didn't believe he could do it. He turned to his other exercise, a pair of dice. He had good hopes for this; everyone secretly believes they can control dice throws.

"Dicing," controlling random or chaotic events, was the other major division of telekinesis. Its theory was less well-understood than levitation's, and machinery could not duplicate it very well, but many people found it easier than levitation. Isaiah, for instance, threw a seven on the first try. He reminded himself this was the easiest throw, doubly reminded himself that statistical caution was misplaced here, and smiled at his dilemma.

He smiled more broadly when he threw a twelve at will, followed by a long string of other doubles. When he failed, he hunted out the lapse of attention or intention responsible. Soon, he was quite unsafe to gamble with in open psi.

He turned back to the paperweight. How had it gone? Hands without hands ... volition without nerves .... like typing or playing the piano, where you will words or music, not finger-motions. Now take away the fingers. Nothing up my sleeve...

The paperweight hovered about twenty centimeters above the desk. Isaiah gasped. It fell with a thump.


... As you see, there is little knowledge of psi that can be conveyed discursively. I've put most of it in a letter to you, and you are no closer than ever to being able to levitate. Even more than patharchic training, psi training appears to be a matter of inducing an experience, not conveying data. The hitch is that, after all the demonstration and encouragement from teachers – even telepathic teachers – in the end, you have to discover the experience for yourself. ...


"Now look into the box again," FX commanded. Isaiah closed his eyes and cleared his mind. Darkness. He waited. More darkness. He tried to recall the volitions he had seen in FX's mind as the latter projected a clairvoyant viewpoint into the box. An image appeared in his mind, but–

A gust of impatience puffed out of FX, damped immediately by a courteous will. "You're just remembering what I saw again," FX said or verbalized. Isaiah didn't bother to identify the channel of communication.


"Don't worry. We've barely begun. It takes some people months." Most never manage clairvoyance at all. Was that thought floating up from FX or was it Isaiah's own? It was so obvious, it hardly needed anyone's volition to form, so it was hard to tell.

FX dropped the telepathic link and opened the box – a plain white bit of origami folded from a a sheet of office paper. Inside floated a golden dodecahedron the size of an acorn, a bit of illusion FX had conjured as a convenient target for second-sight practice. Isaiah was grimly amused that he was supposed to use his second-sight to see something that wasn't really there.

"There. I've changed it," FX announced, "so don't bother remembering. In fact, I slipped something real in there." He must have caught Isaiah's ironic reflection in embryo. "Now, no memory, no telepathy. Just remember what I did. Not what I saw."

Isaiah cleared his mind again, recalled his telepathic view of FX's clairvoyant view, and tried to filter out the actual image. It was similar to telepathy; you attended to a void that should produce images.

"I feel your mind, shielded, and someone in the next cabin. Someone below on the engineering deck..."

"Stop. You're doing telepathy again."

Isaiah tried again and went into hyperesthesia. He could discern the faint glisten of FX's fingerprints on the paper box, he could hear his own heart and FX's, he could see a faint shadow of the object in the box, but he could not see through the paper. Of course.

The next time, he found himself performing enhanced noticing. Details swarmed into his mind. It was obvious to him how FX had folded the paper to make the box. The whole scene of FX sitting on his bed, the box in his hand, a swirl of bright clothing on either side, was etched in his mind, but he had no clue as to the contents of the box.

He closed his eyes again and regarded the darkness there, the "brain grey" color of neurons idling. Somewhere in the quantum noise of his own nervous system was the image of the object in the box. It only needed decoding. He had already learned to pick out the voices of other minds.

But objects had no voices. At least not to his mental ear. Not today. He sighed. "I promised I'd be a fast learner," he said.

"Yeah, well..." FX was a generous soul and so sat fumbling with his frustration, unwilling to lay it on Isaiah. "You probably need another teacher."

Isaiah shook his head. "You're the best available, here." FX was better at second-sight than Jeanette. Borne didn't know clairvoyance at all. Canorus was a great clairvoyant but a rotten teacher. Vivian's clair was all part of her system of auras, which they did not want to confuse Isaiah with. And Daima's clair was just plain alien.

"You are the one with the best teaching skills," FX remarked. "Pity you're not precognizant, eh? Then you could teach yourself. What do you think the problem is?"

Isaiah's gaze wandered over the cabin as he pondered. The walls were plastered with prints by Escher, surreal holograms by Sullivan, and posters of famous stage magicians. The furniture was littered with bolts of cloth that FX and Vivian were working on. They both loved cloth. Even their pillows on the bunk bore satin covers.

"I'm trying to learn a perceptual skill," he said, "and I don't seem to be able to get enough distance from my other perceptual skills."

"It isn't really a skill," FX said with a sort of soothing flippancy. "It's just a trick."

"That's probably part of the trouble. I learn best when there's a methodical procedure to follow."

"Oh, God!" FX exclaimed in mock exasperation. "You're one of those tedious people who has to learn meticulously how to be spontaneous!"

Isaiah stared back at FX. "Yes. I am. Can't be helped."

FX sighed. "Well, let's try guessing Rhine cards."

******** we've arrived at this odd system wherein I tell FX how to teach someone like me and then he teaches me. So far, my "clairvoyance" amounts to abnormally good guessing, no actual visualization of the target. I've also developed my sensitivity to psilence into a psi-sensing talent like Joel Steves has. That may be my real door to second-sight.

They are teaching me non-psychic skills, too, sometimes together with the psychic ones. ...


Canorus leapt past Isaiah, aiming the heel of his hand at Isaiah's jaw. Isaiah leaned away from it. Canorus landed and bounced back, aiming a kick at Isaiah. Isaiah faded away from before it and tried a chop of his own. It came nowhere near the Melior, who had followed his kick up into the air and was swinging around for another blow, combining the forces of muscle, weight, and TK. Isaiah evaded again.

Isaiah had wondered if Canorus would use the karate training to vent his temper, but no. Instead, the Melior leapt and flew and kicked and struck as in a dance, with the proper concentration. Isaiah guessed that Canorus looked sullen at other times because, then, he was wasting time not moving.

"Engage, dammit!" Canorus said, puffing only slightly as he landed on the mat. They were in the lounge, now empty of furniture except for the matting. Canorus had touched Isaiah only four times; in all the other attacks, he had melted away. But Isaiah had hardly even tried to touch Canorus.

"I'm trying. But all my reflexes are built on akido. And I never trained against people who fly."

"Why don't you fly?"

"What do you mean?"



"With your TK, of course."

Isaiah stared blankly. "But isn't that a different skill?"

It was Canorus's turn to look puzzled. "No. You just lift yourself." He rose a few centimeters and hung in the air as if nailed there. "Do it."

Isaiah stared at the floor a moment. Nothing happened except that a shallow dent appeared in the padding.

"What are you doing?" Canorus demanded.

"Pushing on the floor."

"What? Why?"

"To push myself off it."

The Melior snorted. "That's not how it works. What's the biggest thing you've hoisted?"

"By TK? Borne."

"Did you feel any reaction force then? No. Just lift."

There was, in fact, a reaction force, but it applied to the ambient gravitational field; you could detect TK with a sensitive graviton spectrometer. Isaiah had known that. So why had he tried to push himself off just now? He sighed, looked down at his own body, and lifted.

And fell over backwards.

"You let go," Canorus remarked.

"Mmh." He tried several more times. Adding hysterical agility just meant he landed more gracefully.

"Right, well, you've got to work out that balance problem," Canorus said. "Let's try plain karate again."


... After a session with Canorus, I feel I've talked to him more than in the preceding day, though he says no more than at any other time. He talks by acting.

Though I'm not in common time now, I watch a service on my own sabbaths. ...


On the fifth day out, Isaiah asked if he could use the lounge in the morning tomorrow. No one objected. When they asked, "What for?" he answered, "I'd like to watch a church service." No one asked further.

That day was Sunday, by Isaiah's personal clock. By outside time, the date was either a meaningless idea or, given a few simple conventions, minutes after their moment of departure from Carmel, on a Tuesday. But since it was Sunday for Isaiah, he wanted to attend church as best he could. He was feeling a bit homesick.

Wisper gave him a selection of Earth-based shows from last Sunday. He picked one from a Concordate church in England.

On his private Sunday, Isaiah sat alone in the center of the lounge, watching the service on the big wall screen, reading the responses aloud from the subtitled excerpts from the Book of Common Prayer. While the priest was reading announcements about a soup-kitchen fund drive and a church-basement supper, he realized that the door was standing open behind him. Jeanette and Borne were peering in.

"May we come in?" Jeanette asked.


Borne stepped to the furnisher and produced two more seats, flanking Isaiah's. They sat down just as the distant congregation stood and hummed busily among itself.

"What are they doing?" Borne asked.

"Greeting one another. It's part of the ceremony."

"Oh. Is there a secret handshake or something?"

Isaiah smiled. "No. There are no secrets in Christianity."

"Oh," said Borne in a what-fun-is-that? tone. "What's happening now?"

"Borne, give Isaiah some quiet," Jeanette told him.

"I don't mind," Isaiah said. "The priest is reading the homily."

This was a short sample of moral advice. Borne's attention wandered from it. "What's that?" he asked Isaiah. He murmured this time, though of course it was just as much an interruption.

Isaiah followed Borne's gesture. He was pointing to the image of the crucifix over the altar. It was done in a late 22nd-century style, all white, the figure of Christ erect and robed, slightly stylized features gazing out calmly, the nailed hands appearing to be raised in blessing or holding the cross up rather than the other way around.

"A crucifix. Surely you saw them on Carmel?"

"I saw the plus-sign logo–"


"– all over the place, but I don't remember the man." Borne was still murmuring.

"The man is Jesus," said Isaiah in a normal voice. "You've heard of him, haven't you?"

"Sure. The prophet you worship. What's he doing with his hands?"

"He's not a prophet. He's the Savior, the Son of God." Borne didn't react. The high titles sounded ceremonial and therefore trivial to him; he was waiting to hear what Christ was doing. "His hands are nailed to the cross." Now Borne's eyes filled with alarm and confusion. "Do you know what a cross is?"

"Your logo. I figured the plus sign stood for self-improvement."

"Oh. Well, that's a good guess, but no. It's a torture stake. The Romans used them for executing criminals. Christ was executed by being nailed to a cross, on a trumped up charge of treason."

"And that's your logo? Why?"

Isaiah opened his mouth, then shut it again, trying to pick one answer from the many possible ones. "Because he died voluntarily. To save the world. You never heard this before?"

Borne shook his head. "He never noticed it before," his sister amended. "I suppose you could count on one hand the times Borne has voluntarily entered a temple."

"There was Nguyen's funeral on Varkard," said Borne.

"I still don't think that brings the total past five," Jeanette answered.

"Well, I'm an Air," Borne said, as if that explained something.

"What?" said Isaiah.

"Airs aren't big on organized religion. You know, the alchemical element? Fire, Water, Earth, Air?"

Jeanette sighed in the manner of those who wish to dissociate themselves from embarrassing relatives. "Oh," said Isaiah. He now recalled what Borne was talking about. The anti-psychic denominations on Carmel weren't the only people to confuse psionics with the occult. In the hundred years since Isaiah left, superstition had had a renaissance in Terran Space, and a new form of divination, based on alchemy, had replaced astrology as the favored method of fortune-telling for a culture that had expanded outside the circle of the Zodiac. It shared only its name with the chemical telekinesis that FX practiced and called "alchemy."

"What's your element?" Borne asked Isaiah.

"Carbon, mostly, or so I'm told. Sorry, Borne, alchemy for me is like organized religion for you. I gather you're both Templars?"

Borne and his sister both nodded and shrugged. The family resemblance in the gestures was almost eerie. Nominal Templars only, Isaiah gathered.

"Are you interested in religion?" he asked Jeanette.

"Yes. That's part of the reason I went to Carmel. And intruding here was my idea, I'm afraid."

"You're entirely welcome," Isaiah reassured her. "Excuse me," he said, as the choir began singing. He leaned forward a little in his chair. "What's–?" Borne began, then stopped at a flicker of psi from Jeanette. Isaiah supposed she had given him the telepathic equivalent of a nudge in the ribs.

After the choir finished, there was a dedication ceremony for a new batch of Sunday school teachers. Isaiah's interest flagged and Borne took the opportunity to ask, "Save what world from what?"


"You said Jesus saved the world. Which one? From what?"

Isaiah glanced at Jeanette. Surely she would have answered Borne's questions during that telepathic nudge, if she could. So neither of them knew much Christian doctrine. Well, that was hardly surprising. Templars, even nominal ones, were accustomed to thinking of religious matters in terms of ceremonies to be performed and art to be savored, not truths to be believed.

"Earth. That is to say, the Terran races. From death."

Borne and his sister looked blank. "But people still die," Jeanette said.

"But they won't stay dead. Christ's resurrection–"

Music burst out of the screen again, a chorus with lots of enthusiasm but little balance. Isaiah picked out the voices of adults, children, and dogs. Looking back at the screen, he picked out a couple of apes, too. "Ah, this must be the youth choir, or something like it."

"Oh! They've got neo-dogs," said Jeanette. "I thought Christians didn't admit neos."

"Some don't, most do. It's the same with AIs. The Resurrection Soldiers, for instance, certainly admit neo-beasts and intelligent machines. Few denominations exclude neo-humans."

Since Isaiah clearly wasn't trying to enjoy the youth choir's singing, Jeanette felt free to continue. "What about aliens? Do Christians accept them as members?"

"Not often. Most denominations feel Christ became human to redeem humans. If ETs need redemption, God performs other acts of redemption for them. They're not children of Adam."

"Neither are AIs and neo-beasts."

Isaiah smiled crookedly. He and Jeanette were recapitulating some very old arguments. "No, but they learned of good and evil from Adam's children. They're in the same trouble we are, so the same salvation is open to them."

"What trouble is that?" asked Borne.

"Wickedness and futility," Isaiah answered.

"Aliens have their troubles, too," Borne said.

"Yes, but they aren't our troubles. Humans and all the other Terran races form a single family, with its own set of family problems. Do you want Christians to send missionaries to the aliens? I thought missionary work was the most unpopular thing we did, with Templars."

"I think," said Jeanette, "that the most unpopular thing you did was not join the Temple." Isaiah answered her wry smile with his own. "Why didn't you?" she asked.

"Doctrine. The United Temple unified itself by down-playing doctrine, insisting that they didn't insist on any theology, just offered a set of high ethics and beautiful rituals."

"What's wrong with that?"

"Nothing as far as it goes. But Christianity's oldest name is the Good News. You can't spread the Good News if the news isn't important. Some Christian groups did join the Temple. They're almost all gone now."

The youth choir stopped and the scripture readings began.

"I'll shut up now," said Jeanette. "I promise."

"Don't worry. I can always start the program over."

Jeanette shook her head, keeping her promise of silence. They listened to a chunk of Zechariah and a passage from Luke. The congregation on the screen stood for the gospel reading, so Isaiah did too. He also joined in the responsive reading of a psalm, the recitation of the creed, and the Lord's Prayer, wondering uneasily if he was showing off to Jeanette and Borne.

The program for the service was displayed on one side of the screen. When the word "sermon" lit up, Borne rose and said, "Well, I gotta go. Navigation check coming up soon." He fled.

"I'll go now, too," said Jeanette. "Thanks again for letting us butt in. Can I see you later? We need to plan a little about these dinner talks on Philippia."

"With pleasure."

She smiled and left. Isaiah sat back to listen, but he absorbed very little of the sermon. "Witnessing," he said to himself. "I haven't had a chance to do any witnessing for a century. I hope she didn't know it was witnessing. I mean, I hope she didn't think I was just being officially Christian..." He trailed off, wondering what exactly he did mean. He had known since he had first loaned her his skills back on Carmel that he was attracted to her. For the first time, he began to wonder what he wanted to do about it.


... I haven't had as much time as I'd like to study this ship's machinery, between taking psi lessons and giving patharchy lessons. Now the voyage is nearly over and I may never see this ship again. I don't know how much longer I'll be associated with these TSTO agents. It depends on what happens on Philippia. As the old saying went, I'll write when I find work.

Yours in Christ,



The Will o' the Wisp jumped out of hyperstate a couple of million kilometers from Philippia, off the local ecliptic. That was good aim. The ships of a century ago averaged ten times that distance. The ships Isaiah had helped build on Carmel still averaged three times it.

Isaiah occupied himself with such technical details as long as he could. But in a few hours Philippia would loom blue and white below him, space would become sky, the planet become ground, and his acrophobia resurface. He strapped himself in with the others and put a hammer-lock on his thrashing emotions. "After all," he told them silently, "think of all the more realistic things you could worry about. Like the trouble I could get into on Philippia with TSTO's prize loose cannons."

On to Chapter 12, Philippia
Back to Chapter 10, Table Talk
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2013