“His name is Lohman of the Avor’I,” said Michael. (The “h” was hard, much like “ch” in the Scottish “loch.”) “He works in the Company for Galactic Advancement, and he is an assistant to Balzo, who has the overall responsibility for our project. He has been briefed by Balzo, and he wishes to meet you and to pass on to you the information he has been given. I have arranged for you, Neil, to meet him tomorrow, in room 0B420, at the 110th revolution of our day.”
110 revolutions meant midday, or three and a half hours after our usual getting-up time. So after dinner, instead of going to bed Lily and I went to the library to find out as much as we could about the Avor’I.
And they were some species. Lizards in origin, but having adapted themselves to walking upright. Their reputation for getting things done was the strongest in the Galaxy, and it showed in their position in the per-head Galactic wealth list – third. (Who were first and second, I wondered?)
Morning, our time, came. Because of the time we had spent in the library, breakfast was late and a bit of a rush. Lily and I arrived at 0B420 with – by my best guess – six minutes to spare before the meeting.
Michael met us at the door. “Lily,” he said, “to speak with Lohman of the Avor’I is for Neil only, as Team Leader. Even I am not allowed to attend this meeting. Please wait outside with me.”
I went in, and saw a tall upright lizard, with dark green skin and wearing a bright orange robe. As he saw me, he smiled.
“Greetings,” said Lohman. “I am Lohman of the Avor’I of Avoran-2, and I represent the Company for Galactic Advancement.”
It was good that he was a speaker in sounds. For a start, it gave me plenty of time to reply. This was the first time I had been addressed in the formal Galactic manner. Our contacts with other species in the hotel, or in the ship’s parks, had always been informal. I had to compose myself.
“I greet you, Lohman,” I said. “I am Neil of the Humans of Sol-3, and I lead the Team on our project.”
“Well met, Nil,” said Lohman. That meant I’d passed the first test. It also told me that Lohman couldn’t pronounce my name. Why the translator didn’t compensate for it, I didn’t know.
“I have been asked,” he continued, “by Balzo, manager of the project, to tell u more about it. But it is best, I think, if u ask ur questshuns first. So fire away.”
(I didn’t know it then, but after his meeting with Bart Vorsprong, Balzo had studied human slang, and had started using it with his assistants, including Lohman.)
“Right. First, why are we going to Perinent?”
“Because it is a good place to do what u need to do. The Galactic force feelds there are – helpful. From Perinent, u can easily interfare in what happens on Earth. U will be able to Pull Hoomans from Earth; bad individals for punishment, good individals for training to be leaders. And u will be able to Push them back, when u need to.”
“Second,” I asked, “exactly what standards do we human beings have to meet in order to be accepted as Junior Galactics? Where is the finishing line for this project?”
Lohman looked fazed. He was an Avor’I – a competent member of the species who controlled more Galactic projects of consequence than any other. And he had been asked an awkward question by this, not so young, whipper-snapper from a species who, however talented, had not yet been admitted even as Juniors!
But Lohman knew what he was doing. Michael had told him that I had looked at the Galactic Association’s Statement of Principles. So he asked me if I had read those Articles – a nod from me – and how well I felt the human race currently measured up.
“Bloody awfully,” I said. “But the problems aren’t caused by us humans, but by the political species that are among us, and want to rule over us.”
Lohman thought, They still suffer a political sub-speshes among them, but they are almost ready to become Junors? Maybe they come nair to an Awakening. It is very, very unoozhul for all three Transishuns – Personal, Soshul and Economic – to occur at the same time. Indeed, only five speshes Awakenings have been recorded in Galactic history. Including the Avor’I.
Including the Avor’I.
He looked at me, and I looked at him, and he knew that I knew what he had just thought about, and that our two species had a lot in common.
And I knew that somehow, without knowing how, I had acquired some ability to receive thought. I had started a journey from being a mere transmitter towards making myself into a full telepath.
Our conversation continued. Lohman explained, among much else, how the proposal to admit us as Junior Galactics would be put forward by the project manager and consultant – Balzo and Bart Vorsprong. And that, after review and agreement by the top figures in the Company for Galactic Advancement, our admission would be ratified by the Board of the Galactic Association. Then the celebrations could begin.
Lohman eventually said, “We must move on. When u get to Perinent, u will take over a camp formerly occipied by a speshes called the Skobar. They are now Junor Galactics. U will have help from the Seraphim, but mostly u will have to do everything for urselves. U will have about one month of Earth time, before the project consultant, Bart Vorsprong, visits u to start the project ringing.
“There will be a project manager on site – Harv’I of the Elo’I. He is a good individal, but the Elo’I are a difficult speshes.”
And after a pause, and with a smile, “U must make ur own decizhuns, Nil.”
To which I replied, “Do I ever do anything but?”
We both chuckled. And so, it was time for the parting. “I wish u everything I wish for myself,” said Lohman.
I could find no better parting in reply than, “Have a nice day in a great Universe.”
After Lohman had departed, Michael and Lily led me to the hotel bar. I was exhausted. Fifty minutes’ conversation with an Avor’I had tired me more than a whole day’s walk in the park.
“Wow,” said Michael, “did you make an impression! Not always the right one, of course. But you did a great job; you made a bond with him. When Lohman gets off this ship – and he hasn’t much further to go – he will signal to Balzo, ‘These humans are special.’”
“Right,” I said, and then, “Are there any Skobar on the ship? If so, I want to meet them.”