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A Noble Race Of Men

Authors: John Pasiakos
Categories: John/Helena
Show Year: Y1
Rating: 2
Date: 2004
The Alphans encounter sorrow on a new planet.
Average Rating: 5.0/5 (based on 2 reviews)

"The translation is coming along nicely John. Finally, we will be able to understand what he says next time round through the computer translator", said professor Victor Bergman to the pensive commander John Koenig. Victor, as always with his thinning hair disheveled, had that rare look of exasperation on his face. Gone was that look of childish exuberance that he so often exhibited when he came across new discoveries and new challenges during the long voyage through the universe on the Earth's rogue natural satellite.

"It's alright Victor, at least we will learn something, perhaps the reason for all this", said Koenig, showing around with his hand. Dr. Helena Russell had remained silent all this time, her beautiful features contorted from the pain and anguish she must have been feeling. Alan Carter was unusually quiet as well, trying to come to terms with what he saw all around him.

Klendar appeared once again in the vast auditorium as if from nowhere. He stepped behind the pulpit and with an air of respect took his hat off ... He cleared his throat and waited as if he expected absolute silence from the audience. When he started, his voice was strong and confident with a touch of a melodic quality, pronouncing the words of an unknown language that sounded like Arabic to the Alphans. He had a look of satisfaction in his face as if his reciting abilities could make any fidgety listeners more attentive. The sterile, mechanical voice of the translating machine came to life, playing the part of a strange chorus, echoing Klendar's short speech in a pattern recognizable by the Alphans.

"Welcome to the department of Antiquities and Language Appreciation. My name is Klendar and I will be your exam interlocutor. Today's language examination is on a poem by Derack called "A Noble Race Of Men". Written in the fifth millennium, after the great plight of the Adoris people, it seems quite appropriate for our times. Please listen to it and submit a full analysis together with your justifications through the keypads in front of you. As always, you are not allowed to write anything down of the poem itself, so listen carefully."

He waited to see if his words had made an impression and started reciting imperturbably:

"I remember once
A noble race of men
Had an ear for the calls from the past.
Never letting the tides of providence slip away
They tackled conformity there and then
And learned from past fallacies that last
To torment the future
And in the annals of space and time
Smudge the soul with blemished desires.
I remember once
A noble race of men
Were married to morality
And danced to the rhythm of righteousness
Like bees on the crimson petals of aster.
They painted the skies
With the color of thoughtful deeds
Sworn to protect the innocent,
Never forgetting the lessons of history,
Unbiased from the eclipse of protestation
And the loss of character,
They strove on and climbed over the slopes
Overcoming the mighty cliffs of intolerance.
What happened to that noble race of men?
As I look at the great vistas of civility nowadays,
Dire, bedlam and great loss I see.
In the midst of this Terra Incognita
That I inhabit with the rest of you
Fires I behold consuming the bile and hatred
That were born in the midst of a once
Noble race of men

Neither applause nor praise came to pay their dues as he finished with the reciting. It was as if a deathly silence had fallen, as if he was talking to ghosts that silently went on haunting the vast amphitheatre. He looked poignant as he turned around and disappeared as silently as he had come.

Alan Carter, the chief Eagle pilot, had never felt more depressed in his life. Happy-go-lucky by nature, the handsome Australian looked grave and disappointed. "What a waste!" he said. "What a complete waste! To think that perhaps this planet could become our home! It seems to me that perhaps people are alike all over and not just in appearance, as is the case with the people on this planet and us, but psychologically as well."

"It seems that way Alan", said Helena, turning around to face him. "It seems to me too that technology is not the epitome of civilization. It is just a tool that could be used for good or evil purposes. Perhaps love and kindness and moral values are the answers to our cosmic plight."

"Maybe you're right Helena", said Koenig wearily, "but, philosophy won't make it easier for us to fathom what really happened here. It might remind us though not to make the same mistakes in the future as our people did back on Earth or as these people here on this planet. If they had truly listened to this poem, then perhaps they wouldn't have come to this. "

"To think that people who love poetry and arts, culture and philosophy could do such a thing!" mused Victor loudly, shaking his head. It could happen to the best of us. Perhaps teaching shouldn't be about just memorizing facts and figures, empty words on paper but about making better people as well; people who will respect and show tolerance and love and understanding towards each other."

Commander Koenig's commlock beeped and as he answered it the voice of Cano was heard. "Commander, you should take off in the next five minutes if you want to make it back to Alpha. The moon will be leaving the system of Pentaris in two hours so I suggest you step on it."

"OK, Cano, will do, Koenig out". As he placed the communication device back to his belt, Koenig motioned to the reconnaissance party towards the exit of the building. Scientific equipment was immediately gathered and everyone made for the Eagle waiting a little further down the complex.

As they were boarding the ship, different thoughts occupied each member of the landing party. They had their hopes raised as the moon had entered the Pentaris system a fortnight before. A computer scan had shown some inconclusive life indications from the fifth planet of the system and commander Koenig had decided to have a closer look. They had had their hopes dashed before but this time it was a bit harder on them. As the ship blasted off, the party of four was lost in their private reveries. Little banter was exchanged among them as the ship headed sky-high and disappeared behind the clouds in the sky.

It was a vast auditorium. Empty though as it was, the chairs half destroyed, the walls dilapidated, a relic, it reminded nothing of a once prestigious learning center. Through the battered walls one could see the utter devastation in the distance along with the rubble of the once huge metropolis. The same picture could be observed all over the planet. For in a moment of thoughtless retribution klendar's people had brought upon themselves the mighty fires that a now dead poet had feared so long ago.

Klendar appeared once again as if from nowhere. He stepped behind the pulpit and with an air of respect took his hat off ...

"Welcome to the department of Antiquities and Language appreciation ... Today's examination is on a poem by Derak called "A Noble Race of Men ..."

"I remember once
A noble race of men ...

The holographic device, perhaps due to a cosmic irony, would go on projecting his image, addressing a long gone audience, ad infinitum or at least until its radioactive heart started to decay and finally die. And that would come long before the first seedlings of grass sprouted once again in the midst of the ruins of a noble race of men.

Copyright (c) 2004. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

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