“The Elo’I,” he said, “are an interesting species. They come from a very hot planet, several hundred of your degrees Celsius. But they can survive, with some difficulty, on cooler planets like Perinent or Earth.
“The Elo’I are spacefarers on their own account. Unlike most Galactics, they do not use Naudar’I ships except in extreme need. They love to explore and to joy-ride, and in the past, they have caused through their exuberance problems on many planets, including Earth.
“Recently, the Elo’I, seeing that they are poorly regarded in the Galactic Association, have turned over a new leaf. Harv’I volunteered to be project manager here, in order to help repair the damage caused to you humans by his father, Jahw’I. All of us on the project believe that Harv’I is sincere. He is an exceptional individual.”
A pause, then, “What do you think of the Judaeo-Christian religion, Neil?” asked Michael, looking at me and chuckling.
“I lost it at age sixteen,” I replied.
“And yet, Neil,” said Michael quietly, “you are about to exchange pleasantries with the son of God.”
It was my turn to chuckle.
As we got towards Harv’I’s house, it became very hot. “Do not worry,” said Michael. “In the place where we will sit to meet Harv’I, the air-conditioning is good.”
We reached the small pavilion opposite Harv’I’s house, and sat on something like a swinging sofa. From the house, perhaps twenty metres away, a being came slowly out.
He looked as much like a penguin as anything else. He was about a metre tall. His head was roughly the same size and shape as a human’s, with eyes and mouth resembling saucers, like a Max Ernst god. His body was ovoid, his arms tapered to hands much like human ones, and his legs were remarkably short compared to the rest of him. His colour was black, though, all the time, flecks of fire flicked through his frock. A wave of heat wafted towards us, but was visibly deflected above our pavilion.
“Greetings,” the being said, in perfect English. “I am Harv’I of the Elo’I. You know my role.”
“I greet you, Harv’I,” I said. “I am Neil, and you know my role too. But it is for you, first, to tell us the story of your father’s visit to Earth.”
“Well done,” murmured Michael. “Putting the onus on to him, without being offensive.”
“I accept,” said Harv’I. “But it will take time. So” – and, at this point, he sent a telepathic picture of me as a child – “I ask, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”
Remembering early 1960s children’s TV, I guffawed.
Now Harv’I had learned English, in order to talk easily with us. But he was also a telepath. As he told his story, as well as the words he spoke I received flashes of his thought. Many of these I saw as pictures, others I felt as thoughts or emotions in my mind. Harv’I’s communication was very rich; and my telepathic receiving abilities were improving. That was a good combination.
“Once upon a time,” said Harv’I, “the Elo’I – my race – established a colony on the planet Sol-2, which you call Venus.
“My ancestors found the planet uninhabited, so they took possession, and built a colony. The colony flourished for a while, but then, suddenly, contact was lost. All this happened more than a hundred of our generations ago.
“We sent missions, but they found nothing. Venus is a perfect planet for us – we breathe in carbon dioxide, like the plants on your Earth, and we enjoy hot temperatures and high pressures. Yet there was no colony, and there were no identifiable relics.
“Many generations passed. Our understanding improved. We became full Galactics. Then my father Jahw’I, an archaeologist, determined to visit Sol-2 to try to find out what had gone wrong.
“But his ship suffered a mechanical failure, and instead of landing on Sol-2, he crashed on Sol-3, your planet Earth. He landed in what you call the Sinai desert. He was hurt.
“Now, the Galactic Association maintains beacons on all habitable planets in the Galaxy. Someone who crashes on a habitable planet, if they can find the beacon, can summon help. There were – still are – four such beacons on your planet Earth. At that time, the nearest beacon was in a place you now call Jericho. My father knew where it was.
“But the beacons cannot be activated by anyone who is not physically near. So he had to journey to Jericho. Now, we Elo’I have many strong powers, but moving our own bodies from one place to another, without assistance, is difficult for us. My father was injured, too, and your planet is very cold for us and has little carbon dioxide.
“My father still had a limited ability to move around; he had a personal mover, which had not been destroyed in the crash. But it could not take him to Jericho. For that was about 700 of your kilometres, far beyond the mover’s range.
“So he sought help from the natives. But he had only one means of communication, telepathy. He had to find a human telepath; but they were few. The one he found was Moses. And Moses was a full telepath, both transmitter and receiver.
“My father saw that he could use Moses’ tribe to take him to Jericho and the beacon. So he impressed Moses with a display of some of his powers. And he sent him to Egypt, to find his tribe.
“Then my father maintained telepathic contact with Moses, even when he was many kilometres away. That, of course, is against Galactic law – an invasion of privacy. But my father reckoned that you humans, at the time, were hardly more than a Level Zero civilization – so he could get away with it.
“Then he used his powers to help Moses and his tribe escape from Egypt. They reached my father in Sinai. To make himself impressive to them, he clothed himself with emissions of smoke and fiery heat. I can show you myself how we Elo’I can raise a pillar of cloud and fire, but not right now – I am not prepared.”
“I look forward to that,” I said.
“Then,” continued Harv’I, “there were the burnt offerings. The main purpose of these was not food – though we Elo’I can take food on cold planets in many ways, including roast sheep and goats. My father’s real purpose in ordering burnt offerings was to ease the cold. And the carbon dioxide from the fires – along with that breathed out by so many people around him – made him more comfortable.
“My father tried to teach your ancestors a little of the Galactic way, but he mis-estimated. Of the ten commandments he taught you, the first four were to establish his own rule over you. The last six were aimed at individuals of Level One civilization, going towards Level Two. But, your ancestors, having not yet quite reached even Level One, could not easily be induced to obey them.
“My father ordered Moses to build an ark, in which the tribe could carry him to Jericho. He ordered it just large enough to hold him and his mover. And he had it lined with gold – a comfortable bed for an Elo’I. His heat was much diminished, so the porters could carry the ark without being stewed. But he could still create the pillar of fire when he wanted to – either above the lid of the ark, or, at need, a few metres away.
“He led Moses and his tribe north-east. When they were hungry, he used his powers to provide them with food. But he was very strict with them. His survival depended on their being obedient, all the way to Jericho. So, he killed those that disobeyed him.”
“He gave them quails and manna, but his manner made them quail,” I opined. Michael smiled. But Harv’I seemed too intent on his story to notice the pun.
“When they came east of the Jordan, opposite Jericho,” continued Harv’I, “my father realized they could not take possession of any part of the land you call Israel, without great force. So, he held them in the same place for many of your years. In this time, he made the tribe into a ruthless military force.
“Eventually, they crossed the Jordan – in this crossing, again, my father used his powers – and they reached Jericho. He made them march seven times round the city, on that fateful day, for a very good reason. They would be so tired that evening, that my father could leave the ark undetected, use his mover to take him into the ruins of Jericho, and find and activate the beacon.
“He did all this. Until his rescue, he remained hidden in what had been Jericho, but kept in constant telepathic contact with Joshua, the new leader. So the tribe continued successful in their military exploits. They conquered and exterminated virtually all those they attacked, taking their cattle and their other possessions. Once the rescue party arrived, though – led by my uncle Danl’I, for we Elo’I always rescue our own – the tribe were left to their own resources. That is why their military might gradually became less and less.
“A postscript. My father worried that what he had done to you humans could be criminal under Galactic law. Militarizing you and making you collectivist would be very serious charges. You are, even now, far less peaceful and individual than is usual for a species approaching Junior Galactic status.
“So, a while later, my father, with a family of friendly Cherubim, returned secretly to your Earth. They found and destroyed the remains of the crashed ship. And they replaced the beacon, whose records could have been used as evidence against my father, by a new one. It was this visit that your Ezekiel saw.
“There was suspicion of us Elo’I within the Galactic Association, over what had happened on your Earth. But my father could not be positively identified as the guilty one. And so, no charges were ever brought against him.”
I was amazed. So – as some suspected – God really had been one of the bad guys, after all?
There is a huge difference, I thought, between, on the one hand, “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal,” and on the other hand, what Jahw’I then caused the tribe to do. In response to this thought, I received a telepathic grimace, with an apologetic tone to it.
But I had some more specific questions too. “Harv’I,” I asked, “how did your father do the things which are recorded in our books, to bring Moses and his tribe out of Egypt to Israel? Water turning to blood? Plagues of frogs, gnats, flies and locusts – not to mention swarms of dying quail? Boils? Selective deaths of cattle and of Egyptians? Thunder, hail and darkness? Parting the Red Sea and the Jordan? The sun stopping?”
“We Elo’I can do much,” replied Harv’I. “We can change the local weather easily enough. That accounts for thunder and hail, locusts and quail. We can exploit any large enough fault under the ground to make an earthquake, so causing seas or rivers to ebb for a time, or destroying a city. But some of the things in your bible must have been misrepresentations by your recorders. Unless my father had, as a few Elo’I do, unusual powers he did not tell me of?”
“And what of later events?” I asked, turning to Michael. “Were you Seraphim also involved in stories related in the bible? Did Gabriel, for example, really visit Earth to announce the forthcoming birth of Jesus?”
“No,” said Michael. “I myself never visited Earth, until I went there to pick up you and the Team. And, if Gabriel had been there before, I am sure he would have told me. Furthermore, about three thousand of your years ago, the Galactic Association declared Earth to be off limits to visitors, to avoid a repeat of what Jahw’I had done there.
“It is actually quite normal for species not yet Galactic to experience dreams or visions of Galactic species, especially of those who will later become their Helpers. I think this must have been the origin of your tales.”
Our conversation continued, but eventually I decided it was time to impose some structure. “To practical matters,” I said. “We all of us have responsibilities to drive our project forward. Let me summarize where I think we are.
“In about twenty or twenty-five days, Bart Vorsprong, the project consultant, will arrive here to help us plan in detail what we will do. Until then, we have two main responsibilities. One, we must establish a routine for the camp, which will work not only for those here now, but also later, when we have Pulled many people here for training. And two, as many of us as can must learn to Pull and to Push.
“As part of the routine, Harv’I, you and I must establish communications with each other. We should meet face-to-face regularly. I suggest that I come here to talk with you once a week – that is, about every seven days.” Harv’I signalled assent.
“On top of that,” I continued, “is there a way in which we can exchange messages without meeting? Do you have Pedia access here, Harv’I?” “Yes,” he sent.
To Michael, “The Pedia database we have is a local copy, yes?” A nod. “So we can add to it, without anyone trying to change or delete what we put in?” Another nod. “Then I suggest we establish an article in the Pedia for the exchange of messages between Harv’I and me.”
“Done,” signalled Harv’I. “Look up my name in your Pedia, and you will find it.”
“That was quick,” I said. Harv’I transmitted a sweeping bow.
Soon, it was time to part. “May you have much warmth and happiness, until we meet again,” I said.
“May your god go with you,” replied Harv’I, with a telepathic smirk.
Good, I thought. Harv’I did have a sense of humour after all.