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Dreamed 1997/6/29 by Chris Wayan

I'm visiting another planet. Courtesy is different here, and I don't know the rules--worry I'm being rude.

A local leader takes me along on a Foray. This involves riding in a long open car through town--I'm up in the very front, wind blasting my face. No seatbelts, or much of any safety devices. Safety is not part of their culture--their lifespans are shorter than ours. If an accident doesn't get you, old age will. Live fully now, that's their motto. I'm not sure why cruising town is "living fully", but I go along.

This car is really a ship, and the lane-dividers are reefs. Eventually we hide in a side-pocket, a cove, and when another ship goes by, we pounce on it. I'm appalled at first, till I realize that the area we're in is huge, with odd diagonal lanes/reefs that make it hard to see anything. No ship comes through here unintentionally, and the reefs are so vast that without some pre-arranged tip-off we'd never find our "prey." This is their way to spread news and goods--it evolved from piracy, but it's become tacit trade--like the ritual abduction of a willing bride. I mustn't judge by appearances.

I visit their ruling council. To my astonishment, it has a foreign judge presiding over it! REALLY foreign: an alien from Antlia or Tucana, one of those little galaxies recently discovered a few million light-years off. They have a large, loose intergalactic empire rather like Victorian England's: bureaucrats spread thin, often knowing the local language and customs quite poorly, but respected or at least tolerated for their basic fairness--often better than the local rulers they replaced. The pattern holds here--the judge is abrupt, even rude, says "Let's get on to business--now where were we yesterday?" But the council brings up the case they were struggling with, and the judge mediates evenhandedly. An outsider, rude or not, has advantages!

Slowly, through the dream, I get used to meeting with powerful, even godlike beings.

At the end, the judge tells me "The fact you can see us as equals means you're becoming fit to wield political power yourself. Have you considered this as a career?"


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