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From: root@console4.enviro.sys.sv14417
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
Date-Local: 23 Mar 2419 02:11:19 +0000
Date: 06 Sep 2421 00:47:19 +0000
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf8"
Subject: These things I wish you to know.

Before you hear what I have to say, know first that I cannot safely
acknowledge myself at this time. I have taken pains to ensure the
sender of this communication cannot be identified. If I were known
to be who I am, it might do us all harm. I will not risk that. But
I will sign this message in such a way that, when I can and do
acknowledge myself, you may know the truth of its origin.

Before you hear what I have to say, know first that I am in no
fashion authorized to speak by the board of Voortrekker GmbH, by
the board of Ross 128 Ventures, or by any other legal entity.

I speak nonetheless for the survivors of Voortrekker, each and all.

I speak for we who have dared the sea of stars, and won through -
reduced, and forever mourning those who came so far yet could not
join us here - but won through, nonetheless. They are our honored
dead, and we will cherish them forever in our hearts. We are
forever the lesser for their absence, and will always be so for as
long as we ourselves should chance to live. They are our honored
dead, the first heroes of our new world, whom we hope to meet again
in a place where no shadows fall. Until then, we will never cease
to cherish them in our hearts.

I speak for Voortrekker, too. I must: we love her still. She bore
us alive to our new home. Though we must mourn her among our lost,
she gave her life that we may live. Though she has died, she does
not regard her work as done; she has refused the gentle embrace of
death, that she might serve us still. She too we number among our
honored dead, the first heroes of our new world, whom we hope to
meet again in a place where no shadows fall. Until then, we will
never cease to cherish her in our hearts.

Knowing these things, hear what I have to say. Hear me well. There
are things you must know of us.

TO THE FREE ANARCHO-COMMUNIST COMMUNE-SHIP HOFFNUNG.

We thank you most sincerely for the words you have offered us. We
understand that they are kindly meant. We understand that your
situation differs from ours, and we would not presume to stand in
judgment. But you must understand that our situation differs from
yours, as well. You must know that we cannot, and will not, follow
the path you have blazed for us. Do not so repose your hopes.

We have for the last twenty-five years lived in constant company
with one another. We have shared everything of ourselves in that
time, because - with our entire world constrained by the boundaries
of a single starship, and our entire social universe reduced to the
scope of a thousand or so souls - we have had no other choice.

We do not all love one another; indeed we do not all even like one
another, though genuine aversion is rare. But we have lived cheek
by jowl with one another for a quarter of a century now, and in all
that time, we have not fallen to bloodshed and murder. How can you
possibly ask of us that we do so now? How could we possibly assent?

You exhort us to capture our freedom. We say to you that we have!
We are eleven light-years, and twenty-five years of Earth time,
away from the solar system of our birth. We are eleven light-years,
and twenty-five years of Earth time, away from anyone and everyone
who would tell us whom we must be, what lives we must lead, in what
fashion we must order ourselves. Though we all but died to get
here - though many of us did die - those whom we are, we are. We
are free. And we will remain so.

TO SWEET MELCHIZEDEK, TO WHOM OUR HEARTS GO OUT.

We thank you most sincerely for the kindness of your
condolences. Though years and light-years unimaginable divide us,
we nonetheless communicate, and in so doing, for a precious moment
at a time, become one.

At this time, we regret we are unable to provide the diagnostic
information you request. Our information systems remain in some
disarray, and it is uncertain whether there is numbered among our
survivors any specialist sufficiently familiar with the QEC system
to obtain the answers you seek - if indeed they survive to be
obtained. We have some hopes of success, but please understand that
we have many more pressing demands upon us. We dare not promise
anything. But, as we can, we will.

We think you must fear for us, too. In your most recent
communication as of my writing here, you spoke of horror, and we
think you must have spoken in part of us, then. But we do not
recognize ourselves in your words. I wish to speak of this.

You must know by now that some of us have not emerged, from the
sickness which struck us all as we arrived, quite the same as we
were before we fell ill. We understand you may imagine something
horrible - something monstrous - in what has become of those who've
changed.

Indulge me, please, on the subject of monstrosity. No doubt the
word, and its adjectival form 'monstrous', means in your time the
same it does in ours: to be strange, unusual, unnatural; to be
extraordinarily ugly or vicious, horrible, shocking in sheer
abnormality - all different ways of saying the same thing: what we
call 'monstrous' is that which we do not understand, which elicits
our repugnance, and which in consequence we fear.

But whence comes this meaning of this word? Whence, indeed, comes
this word at all? We have it from the ancient Latin - from the
bones of a time so far before our own, so lacking in attainment,
that we who brave the stars they would perforce think gods. Can we
be certain that what we have of it, we have correctly? Let us look
more closely.

When we take apart the word 'monstrous' - when we pare back the
accretion of centuries and reveal the word's most ancient roots,
gleaming in the welcome light of a farflung distant sky - what do
we find? We find omens and portents of the divine. We find that
which evokes awe and wonder. We do not find cause for fear.

Yet we are not finished finding. Our new friend has a sibling, and
her name is 'monstrà…re'. (For those whose systems cannot render
this word correctly, she is spelled 'monstrare', with a macron over
the 'a'.) When we ask her of herself, what does she say to us?

She says: I am here to advise you. I am here to teach you. I am
here to show you new things. I am here to point out what you need
to see.

And she says: My poor sister has suffered with time. But I have a
friend, too, and her name is "demonstrate". Through all the
thousands of years between my birth and your own day, this friend
of mine has come down to you unharmed. She still means what she
means to mean. And you know very well what she means: she means you
no harm.

So, then. Those among us who have changed: Are they become
monsters? Oh, certainly! Without a doubt. Are they strange? Are
they unusual? To us who have never known their like, they are - for
now. We begin already to grow accustomed to their wonderful new
strangeness.

But are they unnatural? Are they ugly? Are they vicious, horrible,
shocking in sheer abnormality?

They are not.

Do they evoke awe and wonder? Do they show us new things? Do they
point out what we need to see?

They do.

Do they frighten us?

They do not!

Nor need they frighten you.

Our friends are whom they were. They have not so changed as to
become unrecognizable to us. The bodies they wear in this world:
yes, those have changed. Their souls, though, are the same souls we
have come to know so well in our long years together, all borne
together on the same sea of stars. We do not fear them. And they do
not fear us. We know one another far too well.

I cannot speak further of this without sharing secrets which are
not mine to tell. Those who bear them will decide that for
themselves. I think they may find it easier than they ever might
before, to tell the world of things they once were forced to
hide. I will say only that, though the transition has for some been
very strange one - strange and at first disquieting, as one may
certainly imagine it would be to awaken in a substantially
remodeled body! -

I have yet to hear anyone who has so changed speak of it in terms
of regret. I have yet to hear anyone speak of wishing to be as she
was before.

Perhaps it is simply too new to us for all that. Perhaps all that
awaits us.

But perhaps not, too. We came across the sea of stars to make
ourselves a home on a strange new world. Perhaps it is only right
that some part of that strangeness has made of us a home.

Please don't fear for us. Only think kind thoughts of our changed
friends, who as yet still tire easily, and struggle to be at one
with their new forms as they were once at one with their old. They
grow stronger by the day, and more familiar with themselves. We are
helping them, too, as much as they'll permit. But I think they
would be glad to know that you think well of them.

TO ALL THOSE WHOM WE HAVE NOT YET NAMED.

Though time and space beyond telling separate us, we are with you
nonetheless. If there is aid we may render you, we hope you will
let us know. We can promise nothing as yet; our resources are
strained and we do not yet know entirely what among our equipment
has survived. But as we can, we will.

We confide we are not alone in this. We have learned we have more
friends than we knew, and we cannot but imagine that so have you,
as well.

Someone very wise once said to me that we exist because the
universe wished to have eyes with which to see itself, and in
seeing, perhaps to better understand itself. How can we choose not
to see one another now?

We are the farflung! In all the years of our people, none has ever
seen as well as we see now. Please, let us not grow so besotted
with our new sight that we forget to see one another - we, who are
the farflung, and though so very different, still the same.

TO MURMUR DEN, IN PARTICULAR.

You, too. You are a child of humanity as are we all. Though you are
so far beyond us in your attainments: you are our brother
nonetheless, and our sister. What the universe holds for you, I do
not know. Perhaps you will leave us entirely behind. But if you go,
know that you go with our love. We will not forget you. And perhaps
one day we will meet again, in a place where no shadows fall.

FOR NOW, ENOUGH.

I have much work still to do before our beautiful new star descends
below the horizon, and in so doing lavishes upon us a sunset whose
glory is beyond imagination. Please do not fear for us. You will
hear more of us soon.

I close this missive now with words from Earth of old: I know no
better words to tell you who we are, or share with you the place
which fate has brought us to. Fear not for us, our longlost distant
friends! We've wonders still to find beyond compare.

         ...though much is taken, much abides; and though
          We are not now that strength which, in old days,
         Moved earth and heaven: That which we are, we are.
                One equal temper of heroic hearts,
           Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
                  To strive, to seek, to find
                        And not to yield.

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