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Exile   By: (1918-1997)

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The Dome of Eyes made it almost impossible for Terrans to reach the world of Tepokt. For those who did land there, there was no returning only the bitterness of respect and justice!

The Tepoktan student, whose blue robe in George Kinton's opinion clashed with the dull purple of his scales, twiddled a three clawed hand for attention. Kinton nodded to him from his place on the dais before the group.

"Then you can give us no precise count of the stars in the galaxy, George?"

Kinton smiled wrily, and ran a wrinkled hand through his graying hair. In the clicking Tepoktan speech, his name came out more like "Chortch."

Questions like this had been put to him often during the ten years since his rocket had hurtled through the meteorite belt and down to the surface of Tepokt, leaving him the only survivor. Barred off as they were from venturing into space, the highly civilized Tepoktans constantly displayed the curiosity of dreamers in matters related to the universe. Because of the veil of meteorites and satellite fragments whirling about their planet, their astronomers had acquired torturous skills but only scraps of real knowledge.

"As I believe I mentioned in some of my recorded lectures," Kinton answered in their language, "the number is actually as vast as it seems to those of you peering through the Dome of Eyes. The scientists of my race have not yet encountered any beings capable of estimating the total."


He leaned back and scanned the faces of his interviewers, faces that would have been oddly humanoid were it not for the elongated snouts and pointed, sharp toothed jaws. The average Tepoktan was slightly under Kinton's height of five feet ten, with a long, supple trunk. Under the robes their scholars affected, the shortness of their two bowed legs was not obvious; but the sight of the short, thick arms carried high before their chests still left Kinton with a feeling of misproportion.

He should be used to it after ten years, he thought, but even the reds or purples of the scales or the big teeth seemed more natural.

"I sympathize with your curiosity," he added. "It is a marvel that your scientists have managed to measure the distances of so many stars."

He could tell that they were pleased by his admiration, and wondered yet again why any little show of approval by him was so eagerly received. Even though he was the first stellar visitor in their recorded history, Kinton remained conscious of the fact that in many fields he was unable to offer the Tepoktans any new ideas. In one or two ways, he believed, no Terran could teach their experts anything.

"Then will you tell us, George, more about the problems of your first space explorers?" came another question.

Before Kinton had formed his answer, the golden curtains at the rear of the austerely simple chamber parted. Klaft, the Tepoktan serving the current year as Kinton's chief aide, hurried toward the dais. The twenty odd members of the group fell silent on their polished stone benches, turning their pointed visages to follow Klaft's progress.

The aide reached Kinton and bent to hiss and cluck into the latter's ear in what he presumably considered an undertone. The Terran laboriously spelled out the message inscribed on the limp, satiny paper held before his eyes. Then he rose and took one step toward the waiting group.

"I regret I shall have to conclude this discussion," he announced. "I am informed that another ship from space has reached the surface of Tepokt. My presence is requested in case the crew are of my own planet."

Klaft excitedly skipped down to lead the way up the aisle, but Kinton hesitated. Those in the audience were scholars or officials to whom attendance at one of Kinton's limited number of personal lectures was awarded as an honor.

They would hardly learn anything from him directly that was not available in recordings made over the course of years... Continue reading book >>

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