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Journal Entry 00100 287 000 Geographic Public Spaces


Geographic: Public Spaces

Journal Entry 287 / 00100

Anar, Ring 20, 00100

December 24, 1984

Jack walked to the balcony and stood looking out over a plain that
the Pendorians had admitted had no name. Just a number. A location.
0,21x42,76. Jack had memorized it. It was important to know where one was,
after all. Where one stood.

Which was more than he could say about his relationship with the Human
girl they had given him as a guide. She was the most perplexing creature,
he had to admit. Lovely enough that he wasn't completely comfortable
talking to her. Such women never wanted to talk to him on Earth. He had
become a real adventurer, once, because he wanted to attract women. Now
he knew that he had become an adventurer to get away from the world that
had women in it. He preferred to be alone. He liked it that way.

But the view here was magnificent. Plains like this did not exist on much
of Earth. One had to travel to Canada or perhaps some segments of the
Soviet Union to see untrammeled stretches of open land like this. He had
shot a single roll of film just to get a feel for this land. And to think
that there was so much of Pendor unseen by Human eyes. The Pendorians had
promised Geographic aid in visiting and representing the surface of Io,
Ganymede, Mars. Jack wanted to be a part of the future where Geographic
was taking pictures of every corner of the universe. The Pendorians had
given him that opportunity.

It was too bad that he didn't like them.

"Jack, Atalie would like to know if you're ready to go out."

Jack looked up at the ceiling, a gesture he had seen the Pendorians use to
address the AIs. The voice had come from somewhere to his left rather than
overhead, but still Jack looked up. "Yeah, I'm ready," he said slowly.
"Ready as I've ever been."

He walked to the door and shouldered his vest loaded only with the
electronic camera that the Pendorians had provided him with. No sense in
being limited by film when these things had clearer lenses, took better
pictures, had more effective zooms and never ran out of film. Part of him
missed the ritual of film care. But the better part of him knew not to
worry about it. The people back home would get the important stuff. The
pictures. That was his job. It was what he had been sent here to do.

The door opened to reveal Atalie. He was the only one among the Terrans to
get a Human guide. He wondered what he had done to deserve the privilege.
She was of average appearance as Pendorians go. As Humans go she would
get more than her fair share of attention. That was one of the things
he had noticed on Pendor. Ugly seemed to be as rare as unicorns. More,
even, since he had seen unicorns on Pendor.

"Where are we going today?" she asked.

"I am going for a hike in the Rocchodain. Lisanne is looking in the
far woods and Christiane is checking out the locals. I want pictures of
where you all live."

Atalie looked puzzled. "But I live here," she said, pointing down at
the floor. "Not in the High Inn, but you know what I mean."

"I suppose I do. Do you never go out into the woods? Walk around, take
a look at what there is to see?"

"I have people like you to do that for me," she said with a smile. Jack
frowned, and she returned the frown. "Something wrong?"

"I was just wondering where the Pendorian sense of curiosity went." He
stepped passed her and walked towards the SDisk. He felt some alarm at
being in a building with only one exit, a building that was dependent on
a steady supply of power, and one that would kill everyone inside if that
power failed. But the Pendorians assured him that Shardik's home had been
up for decades without a failure and that the levels of redundancy built
into any floating building were so great as to make such fears absurd.

"Mine went into you, Jack," she replied with a grin. "Besides, don't
you like me?"

"I like you well enough," he said, reminding himself that he had come here
to keep his hands busy taking pictures rather than seducing the natives.
There was something in the Pendorian demeanor that made him uneasy,
something unhealthy about their acceptance of things the way they were.
"Anyway, I have my link," he said, holding up the small device the size
of a large calculator. "I'll call you if I need help."

She nodded, her own expression fallen as he walked away. Jack swore
under his breath. He was not obligated to her. She was doing her job well
enough. He stood on the SDisk, already comfortable with this technology,
and said, "Take me down."

The sun blazed bright overhead. Even with his wide-brim hat he winced
at the brightness of it. Such brightness early in the morning had to be
unhealthy for someone. He wasn't sure how the Pendorians had adapted. But
they had well enough. The sun at high noon all day long was one of the
worst things about Pendor.

He looked around. The town of Rocchodain was, in their own words, one of
the most modern. It had brick-lined roads and brick-finished buildings.
The brick came in multiple hues of red and brown, giving the town a
festive appearance. A fountain, a simple geometric fountain that would
not have been out of place somewhere in Rome splashed water promiscuously
in the middle of the town. The town square was actually circular with
the road extending for about a half-mile in either direction. There were
no power lines. It could have been a set out of a picture book and Jack
mused that that may well have been from where the town's designers took
their cues. A motorcycle hummed by slowly, its electric motor making
almost no sound at all. The rider waved peacefully.

Jack waved in response and turned about, heading towards the sea. It was a
day's walk if one stuck to the road. He had no intention of doing so. He
was going to walk to Incorporation Field, as the Pendorians called it,
and keep going. The link, he had learned, would lead him to the nearest
SDisk if he asked it to and there seemed to be SDisks hidden in odd
places within the territory.

He followed the footpath along level ground for six miles or so, not
far at all, through absolutely sylvan woods of beautiful, tall stands
of oak and pine that must have grown without Human intervention for
centuries. He nibbled on a handful of the trail mix he had picked up
yesterday, still feeling odd after these months that he didn't have
to pay for anything. He understood how it worked, at least somewhat,
but there was something wrong with the lack of exchange or at least the
inequity of it. Still, as Lisanne had pointed out to him, "Why would
anyone want green slips of paper in exchange for food?"

The path was well-maintained by a loving hand and was wide enough for
two Centaurs to walk side-by-side but was clearly not meant for vehicular
traffic. He broke out into a wide, rectangular field that showed few signs
of recent use although he had been assured by Atalie that the field had
never been busier. There had been several releases just recently although
one of them, the Dolphins, had not been conducted here, obviously.

There was a whirl of grass in one corner which Jack took as a sign of
recent vehicular traffic. The hill sloped gently at an angle and Jack
could see twelve large posts at the highest corner. He took out his camera and started taking pictures. This was what the people back home wanted
to see, he thought with a grin. There's nothing here to see but this is
the place where Pendorians are made. Or 'decanted,' as they say. He was
sure that Xing would get pictures of the actual factory. Maybe he could
get a copy of the warranty?

He chuckled to himself. After a few hundred clicks of the camera he put
it away and continued on his journey spinward. There was a trail here,
too, although it was smaller and less distinct; a foot trail used only
by the locals, not by the people who did the decanting.

He walked on for several hours more taking more pictures as he went along.
The trail was well-tended if not well-used. It started to go up and he
crossed several streams, stopping at each one to take a drink. He had
been assured by the Pendorians that there were no local equivalents
to cryptosporidia to give him a surprise. He could drink the water
without fear.

He crossed over a low ridge that was part of what the Pendorians referred
to as "The Rocchodain Mountains," although here they were little more
than a collection of hefty hills. He had seen the map though, where
they ran in two parallel ridges for tens of thousands of miles. One
the far side of the second ridge from where Jack stood lay the ocean,
and on that side there was a segment hundreds of miles long that was as
flat as a tabletop. That quality gave it its name, "Marbletop Ridge."

As far as he knew there was nothing to stop him from getting there in
one day. He had planned on climbing up to the Marbletop and getting some
picture of the Great Ocean.

The air was crisp and cool. It wasn't quite what he was used to but it
was comfortable.

Realizing that it had been a few hours since he had taken his last picture he unlumbered the camera and aimed it down into the vale that separated
the two ridges. It couldn't have been more than five kilometers in width
but it was filled with open spaces and meadows. From where he stood
her could clearly see a single, straight cut in the treeline running
parallel to his course. The Spinward March, the Pendorians called it,
although nobody quite knew what the name referred to. It went all the
way from Shardik Castle at one end, past Rocchodain, on through a vast
mix of wildernesses and climates until it reached the Tangent Arcology.

But he was here at this end of the road to take pictures. He panned the
camera across the terrain before him, watching for anything that might
be interesting to the people back home. Panoramas were all fine and good
but he knew that he had to find something more. Not necessarily today,
but soon. He wondered how the editors back on Earth were taking all the
data they were being sent.

He had the zoom turned down when a glint caught his eye. He turned the
camera back to it and tried to find it again. As he did, he found two
Pendorians, two Centaurs, one male and one female, walking through a
meadow unconcerned about anything. Walking just a few yards behind them
was a menacing, metallic lion done entirely in hues of polished silver
and gold which waved its head back and forth as if sniffing the air for
something. The presence of the robot, which he took to be a security
measure, made him wonder if he was in any danger. There were wolves and
similar creatures out here he had been told but so far he had seen little
sign of anything larger than a badger.

He watched them through the camera, occasionally snapping an illicit
photo, as they sat on the ground and ate lunch. He heard his own stomach
growl and fished out one of the sandwiches he had brought with him.
Momentarily putting the camera aside, he ate in silence.

It was, he reflected, a strange culture that allowed a man to walk out
of a city and in less than half a day be so far away from civilization
that there were no power lines to see, no airplanes to hear, no factories
to smell. He didn't know if there was any part of the Earth where one
could do just that. Maybe Siberia. Or Alaska.

He ate more of the trailmix and drank from his bottle. He needed to
find a stream soon to refill it. He picked up the camera and searched
for the couple he had been spying on earlier.

He found them. Kissing. The male, a blond fellow up front with a
white-haired horse's body, was fondling the female, his hand up her
blousy, open shirt. When he pulled back for some air Jack could see
that he was a black-haired beauty with a cream-white body, breasts like
grapefruit and a smile that could blind. They went back to their ardour.

Jack watched, fascinated, as they tossed aside their shirts and played
on the grass. He found himself breathing a little quicker as he watched
the male roll over in the grass, the fem with hands and forelegs pulling
herself over to his massive erection. She took it in both hands-- it
needed both hands-- and stroked it, kissed it, licked at it with her
tongue along its massive length. It was only slightly smaller than her
arm, and the head flared into a massive knob that Jack thought looked
surprisingly like a pale, fleshy gasline filter from an old car.

The mel Centaur was clearly enjoying what she was doing, because his body
writhed on the ground with every movement of her hands and every kiss of
her tongue. Jack clicked more photos as she rolled over onto her belly,
squat on the ground, and the mel took up position behind her. They seemed
to have trouble achieving penetration, but obviously he managed to get
inside her because his whole body sunk on top of hers. Jack panned back
to her face to see her eyes shut and a smile of need on her lips.

The mel was a vigorous example of his species, and as he wrapped his
arms around her torso and humped away at her, Jack found his right hand
straying down to his own pants to hold the lump that had swollen there.
Without even thinking about it, he unzipped himself and pulled out his
painfully hard erection. As the Centaurs made love he stroked himself,
trying to keep the camera steady with the other hand even as he approached
climax. The two down in the valley were obviously enjoying themselves;
although they were too far away from him to hear, the desire on their
faces told him all he needed to know. They were close and so was he.

He came first, leaving his seed on the ground, watching as the two down
below came as well. He snapped more pictures as the male withdrew his
massive shaft from within her. Even on a body as large as hers Jack
wondered where he could hide such a thing. He supposed that it didn't
matter much; apparently they had succeeded.

As he watched through the camera, he could see an odd expression of regret
on the fem's face and the male obviously trying to soothe her. It wasn't
guilt as far as Jack could see. He doubted that Pendorians experienced
post-coital guilt. He would probably never know what it was about.

He shook himself and cleaned himself up. He knew that some of the pictures
stored in his camera would never see the light of day in Geographic but
he'd have them pressed into some kind of transportable media to take
home to Terra. He knew of at least one person who he could sell them
to and he assured himself it wasn't really bestiality if they were both
intelligent, thinking creatures.

A flash went off overhead. He looked up only to see a wide, straight
shadow progressing across the field. He hadn't thought he been out
that long but that had to have been the first flash of night from the
shadow ring.

He pulled out his link and opened the clamshell that covered the display.
"Take me to the nearest SDisk." The display lit up and an arrow pointed
in a direction back the way he had come. A distance of 625 meters was
illustrated on the bottom.

He followed its directions to a large, flat stone no more than knee high
that sat in the middle of a clearing. He had been told Pendorians like to
hide their teleporters as natural formations and this was clearly one of
them. He stepped onto it. "Take me back to my hotel." The forest vanished.


The Journal Entries of Kennet R'yal Shardik, et. al., and Related Tales
are Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Elf Mathieu Sternberg. Distribution limited
to electronic media not-for-profit use only. All other rights are reserved
to the author.


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