1.

Dear Commander:

Landed safely. No problems

with life support and the moon 

was not the problem we anticipated.

There is life on this planet 

and judging from the size and 

apathy it is viral

and spreads quickly. All precautions

will be taken. More later.

 

II.

Dear Commander:

Today I secured my observation post.

Everything is so far as we predicted.

 

III.

Dear Commander:

There is too much air on this planet.

And water.

And sun and sky.

False-made structures tower over trees and seem

to be an effort to conquer this space

but the local species have not managed to do this.

Not yet.

I sympathize with them.

We also come from a place with too much open sky

and in space, if you look into the void

you feel as dizzy as they must be

so small and yielding

on the moving surface plates of their home.

 

IV.

Dear Commander:

Today I saw a great mass of water.

It has the same H2 O1 formula

as ours, though it is full of

salt and living things.

According to my translator, the ‘humans'

(that is what they call themselves)

have given this mass the name “O-shan.”

I was afraid.

It reminded me

of the empty spaces

through which I traveled to reach this place.

It was also filled with stars

that lived and died with the toss of the water

and the angle of the sun.

I feel for these humans. They are so small

in a world full of endless things.

 

V.

Dear Commander:

How pretty the stars are

from beneath such a thin atmosphere.

Look–

like diamonds in the dark–

 

VI.

Dear Commander:

The language adaptor

works well.

I am learning their modes of speech

and how to translate their documents

(bouks?)

and outer thoughts.

These humans!

Like insects that make their own shells.

They seem always to be in a hurry

to be together and to be alone.

They make machines that move them even faster

but where do they go?

 

VII.

Dear Commander:

I am concealed, listening

to a male human tell a female

stories of his battle injuries. The

fearsome Byke was a great foe

of his and did him much damage.

My observations lead me to believe that this

is some kind of sexualized ritual, intended to interest

the female in a potential mate.

I know I must be neutral to observe but I feel

dirty.

Is this planet so barbaric

that they must flaunt blood & wounds

in order to succeed?

In any case

she does not seem impressed, or aroused.

 

 

VIII.

Dear Commander:

Let me tell you of the trees.

An ingenious gas exchange system

working in tandem with the carbon producers

much like our Targoliths but without the required maintenance.

Elegant, efficient

Perhaps they could be adapted to our world?

I’m sending a sample with this report

a small treeling, some soil, a few of the indigenous

mineral deposits it requires.

On a more personal note,

I can’t help but admire

how they are always reaching

up, and out, to the sky, each other.

They smell how life smells

in the true old places.

 

IX.

Dear Commander:

On closer investigation

it seems that these ‘men’

or 'people’

or 'humankind’

are no more than a collection of

faults and qualities

which what’s more

seem to switch places

depending on circumstances

and the angle of the light.

More information will be forthcoming.

They bear closer inspection.

I have particular interest in the naming

of their offspring

and the choices

they think they make. 

 

X.

Dear Commander:

The populace seems to know

the basic laws of nature, or

“physics,” “math,” and “music"

in one of their tongues

(they do so many strange things with phonetics–

in one (Englis) the /ph/ becomes /f/ –why?).

Yet there is so much they don’t know.

I haven’t seen a trace

of the Rigraxian Thesput,

or the Golden Truth of Tkrn.

Not even the most basic theorem of the Glandular Maxillry!

For creatures so advanced they are shockingly stunted.

Future missions may need to switch from Observation

to Confrontation.

I admit the temptation is there

but I learned the lessons last time

and will not interfere.

Not yet. 

 

XI. 

Dear Commander:

Earth is stronger in faiths and powers

than most other Z* class planets

with their scientific development.

Religion influences too many of their decisions

and hampers their progress in all things.

It is irrational. Dangerous.

I know this

and I am glad we abolished it in our home

and yet

today I saw a dark-haired girl

kneeling in the grass behind

a building with broken windows

she knelt and stretched her arms to the ground

for some time

and when she rose there was

a beauty in her face I’ve never seen before

as if the trees were breathing through her

and the sky was soaking up her light

and even the building was…was…

there is no word in our tongue.

The moment passed as she stood

and the building

was just a building

and she was one of the ants

that walk this surface

and put invisible ghosts before science and fact

but for a second in my heart

there was doubt.

Is this their power?

Is this how they’ve climbed the ladder from ooze to being?

There is a secret here

that I cannot touch.

I can only breath it

in the dappled shade of trees.

Commander

tell me–how did one girl

change the color of my sky?