Tuesday, July 21, 2009


(Detailed diagram of the Manage on Riesig forty years earlier when Mill, Ndege, Dodd, Prl, and Speranz were children living with emmas -- now abbas -- and their emmas; click on image to enlarge)

To begin reading this sci-fi novel or for background information, go to my Chapter One post from yesterday. Explanatory notes will follow, but terms first introduced in Chapter One will not be re-explained here.


Pyosz cried herself out at her abbas' crowded Manage while soup and salad were put on the table, along with a fresh loaf of Yoj's dark bread. Ehall, the first great-grandchild, was passed from lap to lap as they ate at the long table, telling stories about the abbas' five offspring to their partners and grown children. Ngall took her leave early because of the ferry commute to Pomar, and Ndege's family left not long after: The Sigrist could only leave watch if there was a substitute to sit in for a few hours.

Their neighbors, Rark, Danaan, their grown children, and Danaan's emmas Iro and Ektr stopped by from the Manage behind, bringing a cake. Rark actually pulled Pyosz onto her lap when she heard the news, saying "But you're such a good catch, she must have shu-shit for brains." Pyosz cried a little more and was persuaded to eat a small piece of cake.

Talk turned to the Lofthall, as it always did when there were two or more pilots in the room. Speranz's partner, Tlunu, was now head sinner, and fish run yields were dissected in boring detail. Pyosz felt like she couldn't change the subject because, after all, Tlunu and Speranz were going to inherit this Manage, it was as much theirs now as the abbas.

Lawa sat down next to Pyosz in the living room and said "Are you still headed for Yanja next week, then?" in a soft whisper.

"I don't know now. Would Szebel wait a while, you think?"

"Szebel has always been a mystery to me" said Lawa, glancing at Halling, her siba. "I remain astounded that Halling ever leapt into her bed."

"She used to scare the piss out of me when I was little" confided Pyosz. "Those ropes of pinkish hair reaching down to her ankles, and especially her breasts, the way she laced up her gilet so they stuck out a foot in front of her. I was terrified she'd turn around and knock me down with her bosom."

Lawa was choking back her laughter. Pyosz looked down at her own chest and said "I guess I received retribution for that prejudice. You know, Woalt is all bones, no curve at all on her."

"Woalt is a tool, and nobody builds their life around a tool, even a good one" said Lawa. "You had to get your first venture into love out of the way. Not many folks have the luck Halling has had. Most of us have to empty the chamberpot repeatedly until we're ready for an actual fresh start."

Pyosz did not find this especially comforting, except for the tool comparison -- she liked that. "Abba Halling, she never picked a loser?"

"Nope. Xaya, then Yoj, then Bux. Even Szebel was a good thing for her" said Lawa.

Yoj had drifted over near them, and sat down now. "Although you'd have had a knife held to your throat if you'd tried to convince me and Bux that Szebel was anything except a homewrecker, when Halling first told us. She wrote it in a letter from Yanja, can you imagine?"

Pyosz giggled, the first time she had all evening. Lawa said "Her hair, Szebel, I mean, it used to be bright red, like magma. It only went pink when white began mixing in."

"What kind of poor choices did you make with lovers before Halling and Bux, abba?" Pyosz asked Yoj. She wanted confirmation that she was not a misfit.

"Oh, lev" sighed Yoj. "I don't know where to begin."

"Well, how many sweethearts did you have?" persisted Pyosz.

"I don't actually know" said Yoj, shocking Pyosz. "At least half my sui, I think. But -- I was never in love with any of them. Not until Halling."

"I am -- was -- in love with Sey" said Pyosz, tearing up again. Lawa and Yoj exchanged a quick glance.

"And Bux" said Yoj. "She only had two before us, but they were both katt turds. Halling especially hated one of them."

"Why?" asked Pyosz, diverted.

Yoj looked uncomfortable. "She was -- inconsiderate in bed. Among other things."

Pyosz wondered what that meant. "Sey is the only one I've been with, you know, but I have wondered if she was all that good. For instance, she didn't like the taste down there. Whereas I really can't get enough, I have to say." She blew her nose loudly.

Yoj and Lawa were now both crimson. Lawa said loudly to Yoj "So, why didn't you fall in love, I wonder?"

"I didn't think anyone would ever fall in love me" said Yoj, sadness fleeting across her face. "I figured I was going to have friends and family but nobody would ever really choose me as their heart's desire."

This was so identical to how Pyosz felt, she stared at Yoj. "You, abba? How on earth could you think that?"

"Because my aggie loved me imperfectly" said Yoj. "And my emma perhaps not at all. We learn what to expect about love from those first lessons with the people who bring us into the world." She had lowered her voice again, and glanced at Prl now. Pyosz was riveted. Voices rose in the kitchen.

"I'm telling you, that crackpot old sinner theory about them using the bone for some kind of mystical communication has been completely disproven by a biologist at the U!" Tlunu said in a near shout. "They ram levs on the weak spot, that's what the bulge on their head is for. I mean, how else do you explain them being avoided by leviathans? They're the only thing in the ocean that isn't gobbled up like crispy bacon."

"What are they talking about?" asked Pyosz.

"Hnisa" said Yoj. "Listen, do you want me to go get your diploma tomorrow? Do you want to go with me?"

Prl had ventured into the living room. "I'll handle it" she said firmly. "Are you ready to go home?"

"Yeah" said Pyosz, standing with a slight wobble. Lawa put her arm over Pyosz's shoulders and said "This silk is a knock-out. You get to save it for a public debut at another time, now. Maybe a dance."

Which brought grief into Pyosz's throat again. Prl collected Qala and Pyosz got her round of hugs and kisses. Outside, the rain had stopped. There was only one large streetlight between this Manage and the Genist's, at the school. Otherwise, they made their way by memory, drenched shadows absorbing all other light.

At home, Lawa made tea and Pyosz changed into her schmatta. Prl came into her room with her, uninvited, and hung her new outfit in the clothes press for her. They sat at the table with Lawa and Qala, sipping tea in silence. Prl finally said "I have a full roster tomorrow, but I can cancel things, tell me what you want."

"I want to sleep late and have some time to think" said Pyosz. "It's been weeks since I had a breather."

"I'll be around all day" offered Qala. Lawa added, "I can make dinner tomorrow for us, what would you most like?"

Pyosz thought for a minute. She wanted it to be something she hadn't made for Sey. She said "A cheese and potato pie. With onions. And shrimp, if there's any at the market."

Lawa knocked the table in confirmation. She and Qala offered to play cards with Pyosz, or listen to music. Music sounded especially treacherous to Pyosz at the moment. She was dreading going to bed alone, but her body was utterly exhausted. Finally, with a courage that made her lips tremble, she stood and went into her room, closing the door.

She cried herself to sleep. They could hear her through the wall, and discussed whether to go in to her. Prl said "She thinks she's dying. She needs to find out she won't."

"It's better it happened now than after they partnered and moved to Yanja" said Lawa. "It was inevitable, in any case."

"I'm going to bed" said Qala, standing abruptly. She hated gossip or anything that resembled it.

"Lev, the chickens" said Lawa, smacking her forehead. "Eks to eggplants she didn't put them away before she left for the restaurant."

"I'll help" said Prl as they headed outside.

Prl used her lunch hour the next day to go pick up Pyosz's diploma at the Dean's office. The Dean was 20 years older, an ossified reactionary who had no regard for life outside the University enclave and imagined herself to be leading Skene into civilization against the will of baser intelligence. She was also known to be a terrible gossip.

Next to sex and dancing, gossip was Skene's favorite pastime.

Prl accepted a cup of tea and settled herself into the Dean's chair. The Dean stepped to her door and informed the administration secretary that there were to be no interruptions "while the Genist is here", sending a ripple of speculation throughout all the nearby offices. The Dean closed her door and opened a cabinet to retrieve Pyosz's certificate, handsomely enclosed in a kelp-faux-leather folder.

"We sorely missed her at the ceremony" said the Dean, her face avid for Prl's explanation.

"She was torn about whether or not to attend" said Prl, opening the folder to look at Pyosz's name spelt out in gleaming leaf. Gold was less costly on Skene than leather. "All three of my emmas finally persuaded her it would cause less kerfuffle for her to stay with us."

All three of Prl's emmas meant the most powerful people on Skene had an opinion on the matter. The Dean seemed to be holding her breath.

"The fact is, this University is beloved to our family" continued Prl. "We support education above all, and -- well, tawdry dramatics and manipulation have no place in a matriculation. We all believed it quite possible that Sey would act out at the ceremony itself." Prl took another sip of tea as the Dean breathed out with a small gasp.

"Act out?"

"She was -- how to put it -- visibly enraged by Pyosz's decision to not participate in her scheme" said Prl. Yoj's head would explode if she saw how nimbly I can fabricate on the spot, she thought.

The Dean cleared her throat. "I'm afraid I have no knowledge of a scheme."

"Well, good, glad to hear it's not being bandied about and possibly sullying the name of the University, then" said Prl. She leaned forward confidentially and said "And, of course, I'm telling you this for your ears only. I know your reputation for discretion." That last sentence was not actually false.

"Of course."

"You see, the last term Sey was really struggling to pass her courses. Once she got into the advanced academics you offer here, her cleverness was no match for actual intellectual demand. Pyosz spent literally hours every evening and most weekends helping Sey, trying to reteach what she was failing to grasp in class. Sey refused to admit her difficulty or bring it to your attention, ask for help, although I and Yoj both strongly urged her to do so." Prl's face was a mix of empathy and disappointment.

"Ah, um, I had no word from any gakusha that Sey was -- that her marks had dropped" said the Dean, clearing her throat again.

"Well, Pyosz turns out to have a knack for teaching. Funnily enough, going over things with Sey actually deepened her own comprehension, so she wound up simply sailing through her exams." Those exam papers would bear that part out, at least. "But Sey got tired of facing her own limits. She'd begun an affair with another student, Woalt, which Pyosz knew about, of course, and didn't mind. Pyosz's focus was on her degree, always has been." Might as well introduce Woalt to the story, it was likely the Dean had heard that much.

Which she had, Prl could tell by the flicker in her eyes. If people think Pyosz knew about it, then there was no chance of her being pitied as a cuckold.

"Woalt, however, was not the kind of student Pyosz has chosen to be. She knew a number of cramming tricks, mnemonics, you know what I mean, whereby you can regurgitate hastily memorized information well enough to pass a test, but a week later, it's vanished like morning seafog. Sey decided to pursue Woalt's example as the less demanding path. And, if that was not enough -- I don't want to get anyone into trouble..." Prl trailed off and held up her empty cup.

The Dean almost knocked over her chair getting to her feet. She refilled Prl's cup from the pot on the side table. Prl said to her politely "Two spoons of sugar this time, please." She stirred her cup for a minute, and the Dean said "If you're not choosing to lay charges, I can, um, hear you out. But if there's actual wrongdoing -- "

"I know, you're honor bound. I suppose I must leave it to your judgment. I don't have any proof, mind you, but Woalt's family has considerable disposable income and connections. And Pyosz heard gossip, which she insists was never substantiated, that Woalt and Sey managed to get their hands on exams in advance of their distribution. Pyosz said it's possible they scored 100% accurate on those tests. But they were in classes she wasn't taking, so she's having trouble believing it of them." A trouble Prl herself didn't have, her tone implied.

It was, in fact, likely that Sey had scored 100% on one or more exams simply through her own merit. Prl was taking a permanent shit on the scholarship of a young person about to make her start in life. I have only one child, and she is all the world to me Prl reminded herself as justification.

The Dean leaned back in her chair, her face aghast.

"Pyosz confronted Sey about what she'd heard, and Sey didn't exactly deny it. Eventually Pyosz demanded that Sey come to you, come to her gakushas, and ask to retake the tests. As a way of verifying her ability. Sey became -- well, I had to go into the room because she was screaming in such a frightening way. Pyosz told her that if Sey did not make matters right, Pyosz could not continue being intimate with her. Sey stormed out of the Manage, yelling she'd expect an apology from Pyosz at graduation itself. Or else." Prl stopped to finish her second cup.

"And that's why -- my word. I noticed Sey was agitated at the ceremony, kept watching the door. As did Woalt, actually. I -- Thank the stars you kept Pyosz from crossing her path" said the Dean. "How is Pyosz today?"

"Sad but I think relieved" said Prl. "Which says a great deal right there, doesn't it? At any rate, Sey is free to go find employment now with Woalt's familly's little business, and Pyosz has been promised a mathematics commission by the Vetriste Guild whenever she wants it. I expect eventually she'll be a gakusha here herself."

The Vetriste Guild tidbit was news to the Dean, Prl could tell. A signal honor, and something the U would want to mention in its annual report.

"More tea?" asked the Dean, daring to put one hand over Prl's. Prl squirmed inside but did not pull away.

"I'm afraid not, I have consultations all afternoon" said Prl with a shy smile. She stood, tucking Pyosz's diploma into her bag. "I'll have to invite you for dinner some evening, with the emmas, now that there's no risk of it being seen as me seeking favoritism for my child."

The Dean's face flushed. "I look most forward to it. Please tell Pyosz we welcome her here any time. And -- there will have to be an investigation about the other, Nan Genist."

Prl knew there would be. It would produce no evidence, because there was none to find, and Sey already had her diploma. But the story would be all over Riesig by nightfall, and Pyosz's withdrawal for a few days would be viewed as discretion, not shame. Now all she had to do was concoct a version of this conversation that her emmas would buy, a much more problematic task.

"I leave it to your discharge. You've never failed this University yet." She pressed her hand into that of the Dean and left.

At the Manage, meanwhile, Pyosz had not emerged from her room. Qala knocked on the door and offered lunch, hearing only a pitiful "No, thanks, I'm not hungry" in reply. She turned the knob and entered. Pyosz's face was swollen, her eyes almost shut. The chamberpot had been used and there was some other funk in the room as well.

Qala waved her hand in front of her face and said "You need to air out in here."

"What's the point. No one else but me will ever be in here" said Pyosz.

Qala sighed and sat down on the side of the bed, breathing through her mouth. "You're giving up, then."

Pyosz didn't answer.

"Honey, I know what it's like to feel this desperate."

"I don't want to hear about all the lovers you had who didn't work out" Pyosz said meanly. "I got all that rah-rah from abba last night."

"I wasn't actually thinking about lovers" said Qala. She waited.

"What, then?" asked Pyosz, in spite of herself.

Qala clasped and unclasped her large, lovely hands, looking at them instead of Pyosz. "I left home -- Exploit -- with a request that I never return. The Lofthall became my home because I had no place else to go. Until Yoj and the rest claimed me as family, which took several years. You don't know what it's like to be unloved, not really."

Pyosz sat up. She'd never heard this. "Why, abba? What on earth could they hold against you?"

Qala really didn't want to say, Pyosz could tell. She leaned forward and pressed her forehead against Qala's shoulder. "I'm sorry if I'm prying. I hope you know I love you with all my heart."

Qala finally looked at Pyosz, her eyes wet. "I hope you know it back. You're not prying, I brought it up. It's just -- I guess I still feel some shame."

Pyosz came closer, putting her arms around Qala's thick trunk. Qala said softly "Thing is -- it's a little different on Exploit. Not all islands are identical. And in my family, for two generations or maybe more -- well, I was the first Y to come along."

"So?" asked Pyosz. "You can't mean..."

"Yeah" said Qala.

"That's -- it should be against the law!" said Pyosz hotly.

"Perhaps it is" said Qala. "But children don't know the law, and even if they did, when their emmas reject them, a logical child figures it must be for a good reason."

"I can't believe you had to grow up with that" said Pyosz, her own misery suddenly in perspective.

"I still encountered it, occasionally, even as an adult" said Qala. "But this family thought I was worth handing kids over to, and then Lawa came along." Her face slid into joy, revealing laugh lines which were her basic state. "Lawa adored everything about me. I had to wait until I was 40, but she was worth it. Anyhow, what I learned is that when you don't know what to do, you do what's habit. You keep busy, you act like you make a difference, and eventually the next step becomes clear."

She turned to look at Pyosz. "So...you can have another hour in here to lick your wounds. Then you're getting up and emptying that chamberpot into the privy while I make you a plate of food. Even if it's only ikan and apples." Pyosz grinned reluctantly. "Once you've eaten, we're cleaning the chicken house, it's overdue and it requires no thought to scrape down guano. If you want to do it in silence, I'll oblige you. If you want to talk, I'll listen. When we're done, you can take a hot soak and eat Lawa's dinner, having done something productive with your day." She patted Pyosz's knee and stood.

"Where's emma?" asked Pyosz, pushing back her quilt.

"She went to see the Dean. If I know Prl, the damage she's doing right now to Sey will last the rest of her life" said Qala grimly. "She's more like Yerush all the time." Yerush was Bux's aggie, and a legendary figure for reasons good and not so good. Pyosz wanted to ask more, but Qala was rapidly exiting the room and its stench.

Moving her body did improve Pyosz's spirits, more than she wanted to admit. After dinner, she left Prl to her paperwork and walked down to the abbas' Manage. They had the table covered with materials to plant seedlings for the next wave in the spring tillage. Pyosz sat down to help them. They were almost done when the radio buzzed. Halling glanced at the clock and said "That'll be Mill, this time of night."

When she answered, she spoke in an undertone for a minute. Pyosz knew she was telling Mill about her break-up. She felt suddenly sick to her stomach, as if the realization was hitting her all over again. Halling talked with Mill for five minutes, then handed the phone to Pyosz. "She's on the private frequency, so we've only got another seven minutes."

When Pya was first settled, Skene had a single satellite in orbit which enabled the two distant places to communicate with each other, but only 15 minutes at a time at a specific hour before the satellite moved out of range. Since then, other satellites had been launched, and it was now possible to call Pya any time of day or night. However, these radio conversations were on an open frequency, which meant anybody could listen in. Mill used the old system to speak with her family in private.

"Hey, kiddo, I can't believe you've been treated so shabbily" said Mill, her voice full of empathy. "Next time I'm there, I'm going to accidentally drop a load of raw compost on wherever she's living."

"Fine by me" said Pyosz. "How are things on Pya, S'bemma?"

"Warming up. Apricots have hit the markets, and we're eating them three meals a day" said Mill.

"I don't think we've got any here yet" said Pyosz.

"Of course not, we're hoarding them all" said Mill. An old joke, which some Skeners believed was true. "Listen, I have a proposition for you which I was going to make before I heard about your -- change in status. But you might like it even more now. The capriste on Saya Island, our nearest neighbor, old Ferk, remember her? Well, she's seriously ill and they're flying her back to the hospital on Riesig tonight."

"What's wrong?" Night flights were only done in emergency, even now that the air time between the two locations had been reduced to seven hours.

"Not sure. But bad. Anyhow, we need somebody to take over care of her goats and bees, keep the tillage and chickens alive, and hopefully organize harvest of her orchard. It might be for the whole summer, and it's back-breaking work. Her herd is about 100 right now. But you'll get paid at the end, you'll have a chance to eat our good Pya food and visit us as much as you want, and, well, I wouldn't ask if we didn't really need you. Or somebody you can recommend, maybe." Relief workers on Pya were in short supply; everybody was already doing as many different jobs as they could squeeze into a day.

"Did my emma put you up to this?" asked Pyosz suspiciously. Or the abbas.

"Are you kidding me? Prl will try to have me prosecuted when she finds out, you know how she feels about your visits here" said Mill. Which was true, Prl had always resented Pyosz's time on Pya. There was some old tension between her and Mill, since they were children living in this Manage together. "Truth is, I haven't mentioned it to anybody in the family yet, and I'd appreciate you not doing so, either, until you make up your mind. No sense getting yelled at before there's a reason for it."

Pyosz believed Mill, who was often brutally honest. And she was right, her Skene relations would have a conniption if she went to Pyosz for the summer instead of taking a job in Skene.

"Anyhow, we're about to run out of time. I'll call you back late morning on a public line to give you more details. You think about it. Oby sends her love, and you get an address for that compost dump for me." There was abrupt static. Pyosz pushed the off button.

"What was she telling you?" asked Bux, looking at her keenly. Pyosz was not very good at lying to the abbas, but she did her best.

"Ferk, the capriste on Saya Island, is seriously ill, don't know with what, and she's being flown to the hospital here tonight. Mill wants me to go visit her tomorrow. We used to go see her when we were kids, play with her goats and roam the island. She's hoping I can get more information from the curandera than Mill might over the radio, me being a local and all."

"That's too bad" said Yoj, who was also examining her face. "What did you mean, what was Prl putting her up to?"

"Oh" laughed Pyosz casually. "Mill offered to dump offal onto Sey's house next time she's here. From 30 meters, she said, so Sey can't leap up and reach her." Leviathans of size could eject themselves from the deeps and reach an aircraft, but the magic safety zone was 30 meters or higher.

Her abbas laughed dutifully at the weak joke. Pyosz knew it was not enough to throw them off the scent. Part of her brain was buzzing with the idea of having Saya Island to herself, of haring off and not having to face anybody's sympathy for months, until the break-up was old news. But she forced her attention now onto dealing with the abbas. She sat down at the table and said in a serious voice "You know, emma went to see the Dean. She said to pick up my diploma, but Qala implied there was another agenda, something to do with getting back at Sey. Emma wouldn't talk about it at dinner. And here's what I really wonder about: Qala said emma was more like Yerush every day. What does that mean?"

Her random throw produced a near tidal wave. All three women looked instantly tense and speculative. During the conversation that followed, they were occupied with keeping some sort of information from Pyosz, which meant they were no longer trying to discern her own concealment. She left after half an hour, wishing she could hear what poured out of their mouths once she was gone but glad to have the walk home alone. To think about a summer of work on Pya. Milking 100 goats twice a day, how hard could that be? Ferk had done it, and she was almost as old as the abbas. And Saya Island was beautiful, with its own woods, a hot springs, just a short ferry ride to Koldok. She imagined telling her friends about having to herself an entire island that was almost half the size of Riesig.

Her mind was made up by the time she got home, but she kept mum. Prl noticed Pyosz's altered mood and felt a flicker of irritation that her own child got more comfort from her abbas than from her emma. Lawa whispered to Qala "Your prescription seems to have worked." Pyosz went to bed early and sat up with her notebook, making note of questions to ask Mill, then a list of what she might need to pack.


Ek -- unit of currency on Skene, in coin form. The average salary on Skene is 15 eks a year, but this does not include the allotment given by the state of equally divided amounts of food, cloth, compost, construction materials, kelp plastic and paper, and other essentials (allotments differ in Skene and Pya, based on resources). No one pays rent or utilities, although fines are levied if water usage is abused, such as not recycling grey water, failing to collect rain water from gutters, or putting dirty runoff into the system used for drinking. Fees are also charged for shipping freight, for attending the university, for labor involved in construction or utility repair, postage, and comadrona (midwife) services. Ferries, public schooling, medical care, and other public services are free but paid for by a flat 10% tax against all cash income. Barter, which is the bulk of Skene economy between individuals, is not taxed or recorded. Ek coins are gold; half-eks are silver; tenth-eks are brass. A limited number of platinum two-ek coins are in circulation. Purchases which are smaller than a tenth-ek must be made up in credit or barter.
Gakusha -- Scholar or professor at the University
Hnisa -- A large air-breathing ocean animal which may be a porpoise introduced to Skene waters by early colonists which has mutated somewhat to deal with leviathans. Its meat is highly prized on Skene, but they seldom are caught in sinner nets.
Ikan -- A kind of fish with small, limber bones which is pounded flat, flash-fried, and fed to children as a daily source of calcium; also popular as traveling food. Children eat ikan when they won't touch anything else, and it is offered to those who are ill along with broth and sliced apples.
Nan -- Honorific for any adult, used with their name or title
Shu -- Indigenous life-form to shu, a greenish-grey lizard-like creature that is 2 feet long when grown, mostly land-based but can also swim. It has a bite that is mildly venomous, producing local swelling and pain, plus fever and sometimes retching in children. They live in rocky areas, especially near the coast, but are also prone to infest the upper areas of building and are drawn to fruit trees. They are repelled by the smell of human urine and thus avoid privies. They are omnivorous, aggressive, reproduce swiftly, and seem utterly unable to learn -- they will launch themselves in attack at any other living thing despite size difference or witnessed assault on their kind. Considered vermin, they are killed on sight. Early colonists brought out cats from their biological store, breeding them for size and human loyalty, and eventually they became known as katts. Almost every Manage on Skene has one or more katts in residence to control shu. Public instutitions like the Lofthall or the U have a dozen or more katts, and Pomar (with its fruit orchards ringed by rocky cliffs) has a population of hundreds of katts, some of whom are allowed to breed uncontrolled in order to supply the rest of Skene with kittens. Female katts are called malkins, males are called toms when it is necessary to discuss breeding; otherwise all are katts. On Pya, katts share shu-patrol with owls, who do their hunting at night while katts are locked indoors.
Saya Island -- A long curved island immediately west of Dvareka in Pya and the "pod" for which the Pea Pods are named: South of Saya are 14 small roundish islands which look like peas falling from a pod. A chain ferry connects Saya to Koldok on Dvareka and three other Pea Pods, including Arta Island where Mill and family live. Saya has rocky elevations at either end, one holding the goat barn and hut plus a few trees, the other end holding the mineral hot springs, a planted orchard, and bee hives. Immediately east of the orchard is a native woods, which drops down into the saddle of Saya, a grassy plains ideal for grazing.
Schmatta -- Nightwear, a long gown of wool (for winter) or linen (for summer). Usually plain white.
Sinner -- A pilot who uses special aircraft to fish the ocean or harvest deep-water from above the surface, a skill evolved to avoid leviathans. Also the term used for the aircraft itself, which is large and relatively slow-moving. Specialized sinners are also used to haul freight and large numbers of passengers. They are powered by solar panels on the upper surface of stubby wings, and use downward-turning jets to land. Sinners are protected in their ocean-going endeavors by smaller, highly agile aircraft called lighters. Sinner pilots wear a uniform of mustard yellow. The uniform of lighter pilots is said to be robin blue, because robins on Skene (actually a native life-form more reptilian than avian) are a bright blue closer to the color of robin's eggs on Earth.

© 2009 Maggie Jochild

No comments: