(30b) Addendum to (30)

The Mora Campaign (105-1120 to 106-1120)

Private Conversation with Misha Ravanos, Helia Sarina, and Lap'da

    Helia says, "What's up?" and sits down with Misha and Lap'da.
    Misha says, "We are discussing."
    "Discussing what?"
    "Whatever you like."
    "I guess we can't discuss the weather here.  It doesn't change, and it's only good to discuss the changes.  But the air is quite fine.  I remember my first exposure to it."
    Lap'da asks Helia, "Do you know how he expects to find this creature?"
    "I think he was hoping you'd lead us to the creature and then it would show itself.  Is this where it lives?  OK, is this location within 10 km of the site near where it lives?"
    "I don't know."
    "So why did you bring us here to find it?"
    "You were to come to the northern forest."
    "Oh, you just brought us here, and if we're lucky we'll see it."
    "Why did he come so far to look for it?"
    "He likes to go places and look at things, and this was something he'd heard about and this happened to be a good place to come and see if he'd see it.  He happens to be interested in many things.  He's interested in things that people do that they shouldn't be able to do."
    "Who says they shouldn't be able to do it?"
    "In most human worlds, there's a kind of rule that people can do this things and can't do these things, like people aren't supposed to be able to fly."
    "Humans aren't built for flight?"
    "Can you fly?" Lap'da asks Misha.
    "Not the way Helia flies," replies Misha.
    "How do you fly?"
    Helia replies, "Wings.  The easiest way to fly."
    Lap'da turns to Misha again, "Do you have wings?"
    "No." says Misha.
    "Then you can't fly in the way she does."
    Helia says, "Humans generally build machines to fly.  They don't fly under their own propulsion.  Some people they say can fly with a thought.  I don't even have to think, I just do it.  Kind of like a bird, I think if you asked a bird how to fly it wouldn't understand, well, if it could understand the question.  Can you fly?"
    Lap'da says, "I cannot fly."
    "Can you do things that the non-Janns people cannot do?"
    "I do not know."
    "Do you know what humans are supposed to be able to do?  Have you heard?"
    "Who says what they are supposed to do?"
    "There's lots and lots of... well that's the point of getting educated is to kind of learn what is and is not possible supposedly."
    "But how does what is and is not possible supposedly, affect what people should be able to do?"
    "I think that's one of the reasons that the boss is interested.  There's rules of what people should be able to do, and then people can do so much more and so many different things.  And I think it interests him to see if people can go beyond the supposed limitations of human... human-ness."
    "So why seek this creature?"
    "Because he feels that way about animals too.  He looks for animals that break the rules.  You know, every planet is different.  Your forest is quite extraordinary.  I don't know if it's singularly unique, but it's extraordinary.  I don't myself know of any other planets that have forests that are single organisms.  Now I would not be surprised if your forests could communicate with one another, and I was curious as to whether you could communicate with it.  To him that's ultimately fascinating because it's different, it breaks the rules.  At least bends them a little.  So a creature of which there is legend will always interest the boss."
    "So do you know what these devices do?  The ones that were taken out and planted?"
    "I think these devices are some of the ones he has that can measure extraordinary things."
    "Everything is extraordinary.  Nothing is the same."
    "Yeah, wouldn't it be boring if it was?  That's one of the things about Misha, Misha's different than you or I.  There's an old saying that variety is the spice of life.  Wouldn't it would be boring if we were all the same?"
    "Yes," agrees Misha.
    Lap'da says, "We could not be all the same."
    Misha asks, "Why is it extraordinary that we are all different?"
    Helia says, "It's not extraordinary as much as it's extraordinarily interesting and cool.  The fact is that god, the godhead, the creator, whatever you want to call it has seen fit that we are able to be all different one from another, and learn from each other.  I think people, the human race, the hivers, all of us that consider ourselves to be human in that we're thinking species, I think we're all extremely lucky that we are all different and can learn from one another.  Even hivers who look like as a race they should be all identical and all the same, they have unique personalities and talents.  What would be the point of a race where everybody's the same and nobody thinks on their own?  I think studying what makes each of us extraordinary, or our race extraordinary one from another, maybe that's the key to becoming something more that we are.  I mean, you're a human being, but I'm a half size human being that can fly.   And just that difference makes us so incredibly different from one another."  She turns to Lap'da, and says, "You grew up in this place, and it's seems to have given you a very different perspective on the world than the other humans.  There are things that one would consider a normal human experience that you don't seem to even have a mental capability of understanding."
    Lap'da replies, "There are things that are normal human experience that you don't have the words to understand."
    "You don't need words to understand."
    "You don't have the concepts."
    "You mean, your normal human experience, or do you mean every...?"
    "What is normal?"
    "That's the problem.  I think the human race throughout history has tried to explain what is normal.  I mean, just by having wings on my back and being short, you'd think I was a hiver sometimes, or worse, or something to be stolen and kept and not a human being.  Humans love normal, but we need different."
    "Well, my ancestors were not normal."
    "No, they chose to go into the forest when nobody knew what the heck it was.  Did they chose to go in or did the forest call to them?"
    "They chose."
    "Just for the hell of it?"
    Lap'da asks Misha, "What do you think?"
    Misha says, "I don't think they did it for the hell of it.  I don't see what hell has to do with it at all.  I believe they were choosing to leave."
    Helia says, "But, I mean, they chose to go on this mission, and they were part of this mission, and they chose to abandon the mission that they'd chosen themselves for, to go into the forest.  That's pretty extraordinary."
    "That is correct,"  Lap'da says.  He turns to Misha, "You see what I mean about the background makes the story different.  She is right.  Her statement is correct."
    Misha says, "OK, but still people rarely choose hell."
    Helia says, "Oh, 'for the hell of it' is an expression."
    "What do you mean?"
    "It actually has nothing to do with hell, come to think of it.  'For the hell of it' means you just do something because it's there to do, not for any, like, logical calm reason reason.  It's just that there's this choice, and that choice, and there's an old poem about two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I took the one less travelled by.  That's kind of a human nature thing.  Not everybody does that, that's an extraordinary thing."
    "So if they do things for the hell of it, that means they're doing it for no reason."
    "Except maybe that there's something inside them that either makes them more inclined to chose something different from most people, or they're more reckless.  Isn't it reckless to pick something that would not be normal, safe, and expected?  Most humans would think it was, but then we travel through space and that's not exactly normal, safe and expected either."
    "I'm afraid I don't follow your logic.  But that's OK."
    "It's OK.  That's kind of a hell of it thing itself," Helia laughed.
    Misha says, "Well I don't believe his ancestors chose their current lifestyle for the hell of it."
    "No, I don't think so.  I think that they got out of what they wanted to get out of, and they found themselves in a situation that they still didn't like, and so they went to find something better and they found something different, and it seems to have worked out for the best.  Would you say that's true, Lap'da?"
    "Mostly," replies the Jann.
    'Has it worked out for the best?"
    "For us, yes."
    "What happens if someone is born among your people but wishes to be like the other people on the planet?"
    "Why would they?"
    "The same reason that your ancestors were born on a planet and chose to leave it, and when they got here they chose to leave even though their ancestors would not have?"
    "Maybe their ancestors would have but they did not have the opportunity."
    "Are you saying they were driven out as opposed to voluntarily left?"
    "Is that what you think?"
    "I don't know.  I got the impression that they abandoned the people with whom they travelled to this world, and that the people in the cities consider that to be an aberrant behavior and they think less of you for it."
    "Does that matter?"
    "If I was of your people I would be concerned because they seem to think that you're not just other than human but less than human, because they consider you to be uncivilized and more like a beast than a human."
    "Does the Sheriff think that?"
    "Then why does it matter what the city people think?"
    Helia sighs.  "Sometimes throughout human history when something's are going wrong, it's easy to blame a small group of people, particularly if they're defenseless, and sects and races and groups of people have been destroyed because of mass hysteria.  Because how can you as a group reach your potential when there's another group in direct competition with you for resources that are going to continually try to make sure that you never can do that because they're afraid of what you could be?"
    "No-one is in competition with us."
    "I don't know that the people in the city would say that."
    Misha asks Lap'da, "Have you reached your potential?"
    Lap'da states firmly, "Yes."
    Helia asks, "Completely?"
    "I have the potential to reach it."
    "And the ability?"
    "Do we?  Could we reach our potential, ever?"
    "I don't know."
    "From what you see.  I could potentially fly up as close as I could to your sun, but eventually I would fly too high to breathe and I would fall down and die."
    "Would you?"
    "If I was in control of my faculties, no, but it's a potential."
    Misha still doesn't follow her logic.  "Just to back up a little, Helia, you were worried that the city folks are in competition with the Janns."
    "I do think they consider theirselves in competition with them," Helia replies.
    "The Janns don't, I think because they feel they've already reached their potential.  They've already won.  What I think I've learned from talking to Lap'da is the Jann don't care.  They've already reached their potential.  It doesn't matter if someone stronger comes along and wipes them out."
    "That would be sad, though.  It would not be good to be wiped out, you and your ancestors and the children.  Wouldn't you not like that?"
    Lap'da asks, "How would we be wiped out?"
    "Normal human beings live to 100 years, say.  It was 800 years ago when the settlers landed on this planet.  Are there any Janns here alive physically from that point in time?"
    Lap'da ponders the question.
    Helia adds, "Physically like you or me, in body, not in spirit."
    "The cordie duhoodie didit.  Dah.  Carp."
    "Doesn't translate.  Yes or no.  Physical bodies from then.  Alive."
    Misha asks Helia, "What's the point of this question?"
    Helia replies by speaking to Lap'da, "You can communicate with these people, can't you?"
    Lap'da asks, "Which people?"
    "The ones that landed here.  If you cannot have a conversation with them, can you access their memories?"
    "I have learned some of their teaching."
    "Was it teaching like books and stories passed down from father to son, or...?"
    "There is some of that teaching."
    "Can you relive a memory that one of them had, like it was one of your memories, like you would remember what I said a sentence ago?"
    "Yes, or no?"
    "Crawnie amigan?"
    "It does not translate.  Yes, or no?"
    "You have not asked a yes or no question."
    "Yes I have.  In general the way knowledge passes from one human to another in the form of speech, recording of that kind of communication."
    "We live, we die, we pass on our knowledge through speech and through writings and through teachings."
    "Do you share your teachings without speaking?"
    Lap'da grins and shrugs.
    Helia continues, "Tell me something.  How many of your people are within 10 km of us right now.  Exactly."
    "I don't know."
    "Where is the nearest person?  Besides you."
    "I don't know."
    "Can you get them if you need to?  How would you call one of your people?"
    "I would have to search for them."
    "How?  Just randomly walk around, or do you have a different method?"
    "I would use what I know.  I would use the movements of the birds, the movements of the creatures, the pattern of picking of the plants, growth of the grass."
    "Can you send a message that way?"
    "Do you have mind to mind communication with your fellow beings?"
    "What do you mean by mind to mind?"
    "If I was a Jann, and I thought something at you, would you understand that thought without my saying words or using physical expressions?"
    "I don't know.  Have you ever felt you knew what someone was to say?  Have you spoken the same words at the same time as another person?"
    "How can you tell the difference?"
    "The boss thinks that there's a thing called psionics that you can measure, almost like an energy wave."
    "Psionics?"  Lap'da uses the Galanglic word.  "What is psionics?"
    Helia asks Misha to help her out here, but he can't add anything.  She continues, "That one's easier if you ask the boss.  Psionics is the ability to communicate or move things or make people do things to your will.  It's all non-verbal non-physical, mind to mind, or mind to matter if you're moving things.  That's what the boss is interested in."
    "So that's what he's looking for."
    "It's not all he's looking for.  It's something that he particularly finds interesting."
    "Can you show me this psionics?"
    "I don't have any.  Psionics are illegal where we come from."
    Lap'da laughs out loud.  "I will have to ask your boss.  Did he come here for psionics?"
    "No, not specifically.  I think he found it an interesting planet and an interesting place to stop.  Certainly the forests are interesting, I don't think he knew about Janns until we got here, and I don't remember whether he figured out about the beast from his books, or whether he figured out beforehand.  He just... he likes different things and interesting things.  I think he would like to explain human experience, the whole breadth of it, in a scientific way.  You don't think so, Misha?  I don't know, I think he'd like to explain things.  I don't think he understands that some things are not to be explained, or at least I think he hopes that he can explain the things that people think aren't.  He certainly likes looking at them and thinking about them.  Isn't that his main interest?  Looking at and thinking about things that would not easily be explained?"
    They look over at the Marquis.  He's still in his hammock, reading his book.
    Helia continues, "The boss is an extraordinary man."
    Lap'da asks, "And you are not?"
    "Well, an extraordinary woman.  I think people who go into space have to be extraordinary."
    "Great challenges..."
    "There are no challenges here?"
    "There are challenges everywhere, but if you're a person who doesn't like challenges you would not go into space normally.  Unless you were like, a marine."
    Misha asks her, "Didn't you say earlier that everyone was extraordinary?"
    "Pretty much everybody is, but some people don't want to be.  Some people want to be normal and ordinary."
    "Well then, aren't the people who go into space extraordinary because they want to be extraordinary?"
    "I think they're more extraordinary..."
    "There's less and more extraordinariness?"
    "Some people are more extraordinary, yeah."
    "How do you measure extraordinariness?"
    "You can't.  You can't just add it up like a scientist.  The boss thinks he can measure all kinds of psionic things, and understand it somehow by measuring it."
    "But if you can't measure it, how do you know when something is more extraordinary than something else?"
    "By what they do."
    "But isn't that the point of measurement?"
    "Yeah, I guess it is.  But you can't like give them a test and say you're more extraordinary."
    "Then how do you know they're more extraordinary?"
    "I don't know, because you know what?  Some things I think would be more extraordinary you would think would not be.  It's a subjective measurement, that's the problem.  I think the boss would like to make it a more objective measurement."
    "Why do you think that?"
    "Because I think he likes the idea of being able to do it."
    "I asked why you thought it."
    "Well, he goes out and tries to measure them.  I mean, there are things that just are, you know?  Why do I fly?  Well, I was born with wings."
    "He measures their extraordinariness?"
    "Isn't that what all the psionic research is?"
    "I don't know the answer.  I can't tell you what it is.  Is that what it is?"
    "Psionics is a way of being extraordinary.  A way.  Maybe by measuring that way of being extraordinary... I don't know, measurements always seem to be for their own sake, not for the sake of something else altogether.  In measuring how psionic somebody is, other than maybe warning somebody, because you remember we lost a guy on a planet because of psionic creatures, and maybe by saying there are psionic creatures of a certain power on this planet, and maybe nobody should go near them, would keep people away, but that's not human nature, but that's another story, altogether and I don't want to talk about... well we could talk about human nature."
    "Isn't that what we are talking about?"
    "Yeah, an aspect of it.  It's just everybody's different, that makes everybody..."
    "The same?  We're all different, we all have something alike."
    "You... and normally humans are a lot more alike than we are with the Janns.  The Janns are somehow extra-human, or not quite human.  Would you say that the Janns have evolved beyond the people that landed on this planet and live in the cities."
    Lap'da smiles and says, "What do you think, Misha?"
    Misha says, "Do I think that the Janns have evolved beyond the settlers?  In some ways."
    Helia asks Lap'da, "Could I ever become like you?"  She thinks for a moment, trying to rephrase it in more Jannish terms.  "Could I ever become more a human of your kind than a human of my kind?"
    "I don't know," replies Lap'da.
    "If you and I had a child, would it not be very different from you or I?"
    "Everybody is different."
    "Yes," says Helia slowly, "But while you are genetically a human being, it seems that your mind and your thinking are different from the human beings I've certainly experienced, and the other human peoples I've experienced.  I haven't experienced as many as the boss, but the boss seems to think that too.  And so I wonder is if you and I had a child, would that child be more like me, who is much closer to the normal of the human experience, and normal human thinking, or would the child be more like you in how it thinks, and what it can do?"
    "I don't know."
    "How can you be so certain that the people in the city wouldn't try to destroy your people, or destroy the forests?"
    "Why would they do that?"
    "Because somebody goes out and cries 'witch,' and they decide the best way to get rid of the witch is to burn them out."
    "And what of the Sheriff?"
    "Do you consider the Sheriff to be more like you, or more like somebody from the city?"
    "He's different from everyone."
    "He's like both."
    "Everyone is different."
    "Then if I understand you, you have some -- let's call them extra-sensory powers, or abilities -- that boss isn't going to measure, but that makes you and your people -- your people as a group different from normal human beings.  Misha is very close to normal human being.  He looks like a normal human being, and he generally acts like a normal human being, in terms of standards.  I would be considered extraordinary because I have a physical attribute."
    "Because you do not see everything as a weapon?"
    "Do normal human beings see everything as a weapon?"
    Lap'da looks pointedly at Misha.
    Helia says to Misha, "Do you see everything as a weapon?  Everything?  How would I be a weapon?"
    Misha says, "If someone tried to take your wings away, what would you do?"
    "I don't think I'd let them."
    "So if I convinced somebody to take your wings away, you'd be a weapon."
    "Wow, that's pretty twisted.  That's actually kind of normal human thinking, actually."  Helia laughs.  She then turns to Lap'da.  "It's you not understanding rock-paper-scissors.  Why don't you understand that?  Misha was amazed because he says he's never known of humans that didn't understand it."
    Lap'da then says, "How do you make fire?"  He tries to ask her about the details of how to make fire out by rubbing sticks.  The conversation seems pointless, as he continues to ask her basic questions about fire, heat, and soft vs. hard wood.
    As Helia says, "It's not a skill that I've learned."
    Lap'da says, "Why?  How can you not understand it?"
    "I understand the theory, you rub the sticks together and you get heat, and the heat could start things burning."
    "But how could you not know...?"
    "Can you make fire from the sticks?"
    "I am asking you how to."
    "I could read a book and tell you."
    "Explain to me."
    "But I have not learned that."
    "Why have you not learned that?  Everybody should learn that."
    "Do you know how to jump between stars?  Do you know how to calculate the speed and the trajectory and exactly where to leave when you come back?"
    "How will that help me make fire?"
    "Well, your being able to make fire from sticks is as important to me as my being able to do that is important to you."
    "And how is that?"
    "Exactly," says Helia.
    Lap'da tries once again to make his point.  "But I ask you how to make fire, and you can't give me a straight answer that I can do."
    "But I don't know, I've never learned.  Can you teach me?"
    "But everybody knows."
    "No, they don't."
    "Why, is it not a fundamental thing?  Is it not everything a normal human would do?"
    "How did you make fire before this thing you waved?" says Lap'da, referring to the lighter Helia had produced earlier.
    "Ah.  I never had to."
    "We did not need fire where I grew up."
    'Why?  Everything needs fire."
    "How do you cook?"
    "You don't always have to cook.  We have not been cooking much.  We walked through the forest and you showed us things to eat, and they're good, and we eat them.  This is the first I've known that you know how to cook."
    "But you saw fire, right?  Your people had fire?"
    "No.  The other people brought fire."
    "All civilized people have fire."
    "Not all civilized people need fires, not all civilized people have them."
    "But how can you manage without knowing how to make it?"
    "It's not needed."
    "We had everything we needed without it."
    Lap'da thinks he's made his point.  "Exactly," he says.
    Apparently he hasn't.  Helia asks, "Exactly what?"
    Lap'da says with emphasis.  "Rock, paper, scissors," as Misha and Helia talk between themselves.
    Misha asks Helia, "Why do you tell him you don't need fire?"
    Helia says, "I never needed fire."
    Misha asks, "What do you mean you don't need fire?"
    "I could go home and never build a fire and be perfectly fine and happy and have a life."
    Lap'da asks calmly, "Do you get the point, Misha?"
    Misha replies, "The point?  Your point?"
    "No.  I must say I don't."
    Helia says, "But your ancestors knew how to how to do it, why did they forget? That's not what one would expect from humans, that's very different.  Just like being able to fly is very different."
    Lap'da says again, quietly, "Rock.  Paper.  Scissors."
    Misha says, "No fire.  No rock-paper-scissors."
    Helia says, "At one point your ancestors knew how to play rock-paper-scissors."
    "Yes," says Lap'da.
    "They chose not to teach it."
    Lap'da says, "I ask you how to make fire from these sticks.  These are the rules, you must make it from these sticks.  You produce a lighter.  You ask me to play rock-paper-scissors.  I produce a flower."
    Misha laughs, and says, "So your point is that neither of you know how to play a game?"
    Helia says, "But I could go find out.  So could you.  But your people at one point knew how to play it.  It's unusual in human cultures for that to go out of the culture.  Like Misha said, everything's a weapon."
    Misha laughs, "What's that got to do with rock-paper-scissors?"
    "With rock-paper-scissors something always wins, because it's like a weapon.  Paper wraps around rock, the rock bashes the scissors, the scissors cut the paper."
    Lap'da says, "Exactly.  We were tired of fighting."
    Helia asks, "So what would you do if the people in the city decided that the Janns were bad and had to be gotten rid of?"
    "What would they do?"
    "They could come and burn down the forests.  They could go through the forests and try to hunt you down and kill you.  They could take your little ones away and try to teach them to be like them."
    Lap'da says, slowly, "That is... not going to happen."
    "They will not."
    "How do you know?"
    "I know."
    "You will not allow it, you mean."
    "I am not sure.  It will not happen."

    There is a break in the conversation.  Then Lap'da says.  "A question is easy to answer if you only know as much as the one who asks it."
    Helia says, "That's true.  Could I become like you?"
    "I don't know."
    "If I became like you would I want to stay here?"
    "You would be different."
    "Would I be rooted to this place?"
    "I want to stay here."
    "Could you leave?"
    "Could you travel with us and be happy?"
    "I don't know."  Lap'da pauses.  "Yes"
    "I think you would like space.  I think you would like other planets.  I think you'd want to come home again."
    "I think my ancestors were tired of travelling space."
    "Yes, but your people as they are now are not like your ancestors.  Perhaps like I travel as an ambassador for my people, it would be good to have a Jann travel."
    "Did you know my ancestors?  Do you know them?  Will you know them?"
    "I don't know them."
    "Then how can you say that I am not like them?"
    "I think your ancestors had not yet encountered the forest."
    "Before they came here, they hadn't."
    "I think being here, and being part of the forest, has produced a profound change, so you are very different from your ancestors when they came here, but yet you are of them.  I think we will all be changed when we leave the forest."
    Lap'da says with a smile, "The background changes the story."
    "Exactly.  I think if you can go from place to place to place without changing and growing, you are already dead."
    Misha says, "That's a good trick if you're dead, going from place to place."
    "Yeah," says Helia, "But you know what I mean, don't you Misha?  I'm not saying every place is going to produce some kind of profound change in you, but just by going to different places and learning, we'll never quite be the same, and if we return home people may notice it.  They may not, but we probably will, that we're different from when we left."
    Lap'da says, "But our ancestors went to many places."
    "And they chose to stay here."
    "Maybe I should have my people come and settle here.  I think my people would enjoy your people.  I think your people would enjoy my people."
    "Perhaps.  But perhaps the settlers would have to leave to give us room."
    "The settlers would not enjoy that.  Do you think the settlers may have to leave one day?"
    "They are restless.  They keep changing things."
    "That's a human nature thing."
    "But they would do better to change themselves and keep things the same."
    "Humans have a love-hate relationship with change."
    "This place has been the same."
    "Except for a small place on my home planet, it's mostly the same.  We like it that way.  It's comfortable."
    "It's never the same, but the place does not change."
    Misha asks, "Isn't that the meaning of the same?"
    "Is it?"
    "That which doesn't change?"
    "Is it?  Everything changes..."
    Helia breaks in, "And yet everything stays the same.  It's an old saying.  Fashion's like that.  It goes around and around and the same kind of ideas keep coming back."
    Lap'da says, "The forest is here, the forest stays here."
    "Yes, but someone could get rid of the forests and then what would happen?"
    "They would not get rid of all the forests."
    "I don't know, it seems like it's an easy thing to kill a forest, why couldn't you kill all of them?"
    "Why would you?"
    "Me?  I wouldn't."  Helia remembers Misha's point about taking her wings away.  "Although hypothetically I could be pushed to the wall and wish to destroy the forests."
    "Do you think you could?"
    "It seemed very easy for the original settlers to kill one."
    "Could they kill another?"
    "I think the forest has learned and it might be harder, but they could."
    Lap'da asks Misha, "What do you think?"
    Misha says, "I think the settlers have learned."
    Helia says, "I don't know if the settlers have learned anything.  Some of them seem to be... like settlers.  I think they know better than to try to kill the forest because they know they depend on it."
    "How is that not knowing?"
    "But it's a cost-benefit thing.  If they thought there was a reason that killing the forest would be good for them they might try it."
    "Isn't everything a cost-benefit?"
    "So they've learned."
    "Humans learn hard."
    Lap'da says, "Perhaps that's why they had to kill a forest."
    Misha laughs, "That's what he said earlier.  I think he said earlier every lesson was expensive."

    The conversation lightens.  Helia asks Lap'da if they have anything like ice cream, and predictably he doesn't.

    Lap'da asks Misha, "So, do you understand that the background changes the story?  It does not just change small things, it changes the entire story.  See how she sees the story, how you see the story, and how I see the story?"
    Misha nods.  "I understand all that."
    "How the Sheriff understands the story?"
    "Well, no, I don't understand that.  In fact I don't really know how you understand the story.  I understand it's different.  Is that your point?"
    "Perhaps.  Do you think it is?"
    "But we already knew that," says Helia.
    Misha says, "Not as well as we know it now."
    "He's right," smiles Lap'da.

    Lap'da brings the subject back to practical matters.  He asks Helia, "So who do you think is influencing the Sheriff?"
    Helia says, "I think the Sheriff has his own priorities and his own desires, and the Sheriff influences the Sheriff."
    "Then who suggested you should be up here out of the way?"
    "Somebody may have suggested it to him, and he thought it was a good idea."
    "I don't know.  There is something politically going on, that we may be pawns of."
    "Aren't we all?  Why was I chosen to lead you here?"
    "Can you tell me that?  Do you know?"
    "Is there someone that would tell you why?"
    "I don't know.  Maybe the Sheriff would, he chose me."
    "Why do you think you were chosen?"
    "I don't know."
    "Why do you think the Sheriff wants us out of the way?"
    "Does he?"
    "Apparently we're supposed to be out of the way for something."
    "It was not his thought.  It was someone else's thought."
    "Don't you think the Sheriff agreed if he did that?  Going along with it?"
    "Did he go along with it?"
    "We're out of the way."
    "Are you out of the way?  You are here, are you out of the way?"
    "I don't know.  What are we out of the way of, is the question."
    "You were to be taken to the northern edge of the forest.  You are there."
    Misha says, "Therefore we are out of the way.  Except for the fact that not all of us came here "
    Helia says, "Maybe it's time for us to go back and see."
    Misha says, "We came here to find the animals."
    "Do you think we need to worry about it?  That we're here and they wanted us here?  What happens if you go back?  But even though we came here ostensibly because the boss wanted us to."
    Lap'da asks, "How long would it take you to get back from here, if I left you?"
    Helia says, "I don't know.  How would I find my way?  There's the question."
    "We came north."
    "Do you have a compass that shows us which way to go.  That's right, we do.  Did we come directly north?"
    "We went around bushes, but we are directly north."
    "Were you supposed to leave us when you got here?"
    "Why did you stay?"
    "Because I was curious.  And you asked me."
    "Will you take us back?"
    "I said I would, if you want.  To your ship, or the buildings?"
    "Can you lead us to our ship from here?"
    "Without going back to the buildings?"
    "That would be interesting!  It would be rude to the Sheriff, but in a way it would be good."
    "What about your friend?  What do they want from him?"
    "You think they want something from him?  He's a very good engineer.  He's an extraordinary engineer.  It wouldn't surprise me if those sensors went off around him -- but then I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't."
    "Did I hear that one of you was going to run back?"
    Misha says, "Ed's already left."
    Helia asks, "How long would it take to fly there?"
    "To fly there?  I don't know."
    "How long would it take to walk there?"
    "I don't know.  I am curious whether you had plans to meet him there."
    Helia says, "Could we get there faster than he can?"
    "I think so."
    "How?  I thought he was taking a direct route?"
    "He is."
    "OK. Then I repeat my question."
    Misha asks, "That there's a route faster than the direct route?"
    Lap'da says, "It did not take us as long to come here as it will take him to run, the way he runs."
    Misha asks, "Do you know a route that is faster than the way he runs?  Than the way we came?"
    "Maybe.  I know routes that's faster than his route."
    "Are you saying he's not taking the route we took?"
    "No, he is not."
    "I see.  Actually I don't see.  How many days will it take him to run?"
    "How long does it take him to run a thousand kilometers?"
    Misha says in surprise, "We've travelled a thousand kilometers?"
    "As you measure it.  But that's because we haven't travelled a thousand kilometers.  He will."
    Misha asks, "Is there a way to find him?"
    "Yes.  The same way I would find one of my people."
    Helia says, "Perhaps he should be told it's farther than he thinks."
    "Perhaps he should learn for himself?"
    Misha says, "We should speak with the boss."
    Helia agrees, "Absolutely."

    Before they can get up, Lap'da says, "Meaning depends on background.  How out of the way are you, really?  Why did the Sheriff chose me to bring you to the edge of the forest?"
    Misha laughs, "Obviously because you can get us here."
    Helia asks, "Can you aid us to get back in a day?"
    "How fast can you get us back, if you walked with us?"
    "How fast do you walk?  What is fast?  At the pace that we took, it could take as long as it took, or less, or longer than your friend would take."
    "I don't think our friend will appreciate finding out that he's on an extremely long journey when he thought he was not."
    "It's a useful lesson.  He will learn from it."
    "I don't know that it's a lesson that he needs to know right now.  Other people count on him."
    Misha says, "It would be more expedient to teach him the easy way."

    Misha gets up to tell the Marquis what they've discovered.  He ponders that the Marquis might have a lesson to learn...