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Vasrin could be called the most paranoid continent of the five. Its reason for valuing education above all is that ignorance breeds war. For this reason, Mrenia and Vasrin do not get along very well at all. Mrenia is the warring continent; drites are trained as soldiers. A select few come to Rineni to be a part of the continental army. These are special drites who have learned to use their skills in ways other drites have not. In contrast, Ilirie—the land of the free—is very peaceful. This may be partly due to the fact that they value creativity and the dritian religions in their multitude. They exile criminals to Mrenia, which takes the criminals apart to study them and prepare their military.
    Cjele is the social continent. Gossip reigns supreme, and everyone knows everything about everybody. Wavelengths are not allowed to be concealed in public, so that drites could get used to the sight of emotions coursing through a fellow drite’s body. Lastly, there is Rineni, the central continent. It could be called the capital continent, for it holds the most bustling cities. A value is placed upon politics, so most politicians (including Bateny) hide their wavelength screens in order to not have drites judge them by their emotions.
    Bateny is a sort of anomaly when it comes to the Rinesch continents and their values. He is Vasrinian, but has always had a fascination with the rineschei politics. It is most likely why, in the end, he was chosen to become Vasrin’s delegate. They knew he would do an excellent job, simply because he loved to observe people and use reasoning to come to conclusions.
    Now Bateny isn’t sure about representing the entirety of Vasrin, but he does it because he loves the continent he is from. How can one drite speak for an entire continent? He doesn’t know, but he makes sure to visit Vasrin every once in a while to gather opinions from the people. He picks a few addresses at random from various parts of the continent, and goes to ask them about their opinions. The people of his continent are reasonable enough not to slam the door in his face; they know who he is.
    Delegates, in the way we use the word, are elected by the people. However, the drites use the word “delegate” a little differently. A delegate is not elected by the people; rather, there is a test to see if a drite is sociable and drite-minded enough to perform the duties set upon them. The Council then reviews the tests, marking them, and selects one drite from each continent to be the voice of their people.
    Bateny has long reflected on Mrenia and its soldierly outlook. Why did they agree to send a delegate to represent them if all they cared about was the security of their continent? He supposes it is because they wanted a say in how the world was run. The continents used to run themselves, years ago, before Rinas was globalised. Now they’ve got satellites circling Rinas, to bring them all together in ways no one had ever thought of before. Some drites believe that this is calling attention from outsiders, but there are no outsiders. Bateny sees that as humorous, that there could be outsiders. It’s ridiculous.
    How could there be any outsiders if they have not found water on any planets? Absurd, ridiculous notions.

Bateny is called for an emergency delegate meeting the next morning. As he rushes out of his and Anis’s living compartment, Anis figures he must be late for a meeting he forgot, but really he wasn’t told about this meeting. He is moving quickly along the moving sidewalks, all the way to the delegate building; he doesn’t even say good morning to Janias. An emergency meeting has never been called. This is serious.
    He throws the doors to the meeting room open, where only two of the five delegates are seated; he is the third. He takes a seat and tries to stay silent, but he can’t. Bateny is too curious.
    “What is going on, do any of you know anything?” The words spill out of his tonal region without precedent.
    Pernelle lets out something akin to a sigh. “We will be briefed on the situation in a moment. We are waiting for Dienis and Lelia. Vazen is here, as you can see.” So Rineni’s own delegate is not here. That is odd. How has Mrenia’s delegate come so quickly, though?
    Vazen makes a noise to alert them that he is going to speak, much like a clearing of the throat. “Yes, Vazen is here and can speak for himself, thank you, Pernelle. As I was going to say, I am here this quickly because this is a military emergency.”
    Pernelle and Bateny look at him simultaneously—Bateny has forgotten to latch his wavelength meter shut in his hurry, revealing him to be shocked.
    “How do you know that?” he asks, and turns to Pernelle. “I thought you said we did not know anything. I thought you said we would be briefed on the situation in a moment.”
    “As I said,” the Mrenian delegate interrupts Pernelle. “This is a military emergency. Mrenians are punctual, not that you would know that, Pernelle, and we like to know things right off the bat so that we will not be surprised when war comes. This is going to be war, mark my words.”
    Bateny feels a chill take over him, as if it is windup season and he is running low on energy, needing a twist of a key in the hole on his back to power him up quickly. “War? Tell me everything you know, Vazen. Please.”
    So before the briefing even takes place, Bateny and Pernelle are alerted to the fact that there is something odd and foreign headed for Rinas, like a ship in the air.
    “But that is impossible! That is insane, absurd! Vazen, are you sure?” Bateny cannot believe it, foreigners are entering the stratosphere. The very same outsiders that he declared were not real. He should have known, though. There is a saying in Vasrin; speak of the Niejet and they shall appear to destroy you. “Do you know how many there are—that is, outsiders?”
    Vazen shakes his head. “We could not tell. Either way, we must prepare for war. They could be deadly.”
    Dienis and Lelia enter the room at that moment, their clothes not appearing as splendid as they normally do; They are dressed in trousers and pull-on shirts. Lelia is wearing a blouse rather than a shirt. Bateny himself only had time to change into a pair of pants and a shirt, and this is not appropriate delegate attire at all. Normally, delegate attire is very extensive; the male attire consists of trousers (in any pattern, though pinstripes are common), a button-up shirt with a collar, a waistcoat, socks, and dress shoes. Pocketwatches are commonly carried.
    Females wear dresses, unless they prefer to dress like the males for convenience. The dresses are often in many patterns, with varying necklines, sleeve lengths and designs, and skirt length. Commonly, skirt length reaches below the ankles, though some are known to wear skirts to the knees. The shoes are normally boots, with either a pointed or round toe depending on the design of the drite, and there is a small heel for style.
    The Ilirian and Rinenian delegates take a seat and ask for a briefing, but no briefing comes from the Council. Vazen instead takes it upon himself to inform them of the assumed danger. The delegates look at each other, terrified. What should be done? Vazen stands, his hands upon the conference table. “I say we should send the military to the calculated landing spot, as a citizen of Mrenia as well as its delegate.” His voice is firm, almost stern and a little condescending. Bateny stands as well, determined to throw in his two cents.
    “We are going to scare them if we do that. There is going to be a severe lack of communication between us. We cannot afford to act like fools and cowards. Please, listen to reason.” Bateny is practically begging them now; he knows that jumping to conclusions will only serve to cause fright and panic both on the sides of Rinaschen and foreigners alike.
    Vazen’s military background does not allow him to yield in the face of danger, which he considers this situation to be. It is, to him, an invasion. Lelia speaks up in a slightly slower and dreamier tone, interrupting Vazen, who was about to speak. “I believe that Bateny is correct. Sending the military will only make us appear hostile to the foreigners. Let us welcome them, with open arms.” Not a surprising answer, coming from the Ilirian delegate.
    Dienis slams a hand on the table. “The civilians will not welcome them with open arms. They are going to see that airship coming and there will be mass mayhem. And let us not even question what will happen if they are dangerous, as Vazen says! We must be prepared, we must have the military up and ready.”
    Pernelle shakes her head. “As you are split down the middle in terms of decisions, it is now up to me to decide this and break the tie. We shall compromise. Us delegates will go to welcome the foreigners with the military hidden. The civilians will be alerted to this, to allow them to feel safe, but the foreigners will not know. It is our goal, our duty, to protect our citizens. We represent them, and we know what is best for them. All in favour?”
    “Xjesel,” murmur the delegates in unison to signify agreement, much like the word “aye” in English. Pernelle sits and makes a noise like a sigh of relief.
    “Oh, and Bateny,” she says suddenly, “your wavelength meter is unlatched.”

The foreigners are set to land in a few days. That is what the calculations have told the delegates; they are making all of the preparations in anticipation of the alien landing. Bateny finally goes home after a very long day of planning and preparation, where Anis is waiting for him after completing her homework and studying. She stands as he enters the door, and rushes to take his briefcase and coat—the coat is not just a formality. Since drites can feel, there are nerve receptors built into the metal surface of their skin—they feel the cold. This is because they must regulate their temperatures for fear of breaking down in extreme cold or heat.
    Windup season is almost upon them. The drites are dreading the coming darkness; they were lucky enough to get two days of light in a row, and they do not know how much longer the light will last. Anis is happy for this because her gearshift day is during the windup season. She wonders why her father chose to have her built during windup season, but does not deign to inquire.
    “Are you alright, Father?” she asks instead, seeing Bateny’s wavelength meter shift somewhere between extreme nervousness and terror. What could possibly make him so scared? They walk over to a couch and sit down.
    “I am fine, Anis. There is something I believe I should tell you, since you are my daughter and my assistant in the delegacy.” Bateny pauses. “I do not wish to frighten you, my child. Please understand that.” Anis grasps her father’s hand.
    “Tell me. I want to know, and I shall not be scared. I am able to handle this.” She is certain that she will be able to take the news, whatever it may be.
    “… Anis, tell me, have you ever wondered if there was life outside of Rinas? Has anyone ever spoken about that with you?” Bateny is sure he has never spoken to her about it.
    “We discussed it once in my educational facility. Why? Are there foreigners approaching Rinas?” The young drite is perceptive for her nearly seventeen years of life. She stands abruptly. “What are you going to do?”
    “Sit down, child.” She does as Bateny commands, and anxiously twiddles her thumbs together. Bateny sighs and continues. “Yes. There are foreigners approaching Rinas. Concerning what the other delegates and I have decided, we are going to greet the foreigners ourselves, whilst the military hides, ready to fire on command if the foreigners are dangerous. In any case, my dear, they are going to land in a few days. It is no use worrying about them at the moment. I just wanted you to know.” He emits two clicks, signifying a smile. Anis can see from his wavelength meter that he is scared, and nervous. It seems like fear and anxiousness have been permeating the atmosphere of Rinas. Everyone is either  afraid or nervous these days.
    “Thank you, Father. I appreciate that you told me greatly.” She emits two clicks and then pauses, an idea running through her circuit board. “Father. I have a very serious question for you, and I would appreciate it if you considered it.”
    “What is it, my child?” Bateny is not going to lie; he is curious.
    “May I come with you to greet the foreigners?” She twiddles her thumbs more nervously. “Please?”
    Bateny sighs. “I shall ask the other delegates. If anything, I will suggest that all of the assistants come. But you must not say anything.” Anis sees a hint of slyness creep through his wavelength meter. “I am sure you will want to see Deni.”
    Embarrassment courses through Anis, and she slams the cover over her wavelength meter. “Father, I requested that you not tease me so. But thank you. Thank you so much for the opportunity.” Bateny stands and emits two clicks.
    “You are most welcome, my dear.” He does not tell her what he is thinking; he will be glad to have his daughter’s company in the company of strangers. No, the delegates are not strangers, but his daughter is more familiar. Perhaps the foreigners are like drites. Perhaps holding hands will be a show of compassion.
    He can only hope.


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May 2012

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