Later that afternoon, Gabriel came to me with a mescap. “This is a reply from Balzo,” he said. “He did not wait for me to Pull it back, but one of his staff Pushed it. From Avoran to Perinent is a truly remarkable Push, for it goes right against the grain of the force fields.”
“Did you translate it?” I asked.
“No,” said Gabriel. “It was not necessary. Balzo must have a full-function message translator, for his message is already in English.”
He handed me a sheet of paper, and I read. I’ll leave out the [HEADERS] and the [TRAILERS].
[FROM]: Balzo, Avor’I, Company for Galactic Advancement, Avoran-2
[TO]: Gabrel, Seraph, Project Helper, Perinent-2
[CHARGE TO]: DSE/11619/BV
[ABOUT]: Progress on Perinent
Greetings, Gabrel. I greet also Nil, Team Leader of the Hoomans at Camp Two on Perinent.
I hair of ur progress so far, and it is good.
When Bart Vorsprong is with u in fifteen to twenty Perinent days, I shall be mostly at my base office. I will happily make some time then to meet with u by mescap.
To Nil: I hair u already make much good forward movement. Will u, if please, send to me by mescap a regoolar report? Each seven Perinent days would be good. My thanks.
I relay also hearty greetings from Lohman and Olgal.
[SIGNOFF]: Gabrel and Nil, may u enjoy the whole time all the pleasures u earn.
“He wants me to write him a weekly progress report,” I said. “I was thinking of doing it anyway.”
It took me much of Thursday to decide what to do, and to chat it over with Michael, Gabriel, the Tuglay and Harv’I.
“Right,” I said as I got up to speak after dinner, “I’ve decided to devote my Fridays from now on to progress assessment and reporting to Balzo. That means I want to hold a meeting after breakfast each Friday to work out where we are, and to get input from all of you. Tomorrow morning will be the first such. Then, you won’t see much of me for the rest of Friday – I may be with Harv’I, or perhaps the Cherubim, or writing in the Pedia room. But I’ll be back with you in time for the ride.”
And so the next morning, Friday, our ninth day on Perinent, I stood up and began, “What I’m going to do today is ask questions.”
I had asked John and Galina to record my speech – audio and video. They could now do so, thanks to Gabriel’s friend on Seraph, who had made five adaptors so we could use or recharge Earth appliances (European and Russian standard) from the local electricity supply.
“I want you all to think about these questions,” I continued. “When Bart Vorsprong is here, we will work out what we will do, based on the answers to them.
“We are here to bring our human species up to minimum Galactic standards. That means ending the bad political system, that allows criminal gangs to masquerade as governments, and to rule over good people unjustly and to their harm. And replacing it by a better way, a Galactic way, in which all individuals are treated fairly and justly; good people well, bad ones badly.
“We have, thanks to our Galactic friends, at least two sets of things we can do to speed this transition.
“First, we can Pull bad individuals – dictators, warmongers, violators of human rights, lying, thieving and deceiving politicians – here for punishment. We can submit them to the tender mercies of our friends the Cherubim and their Punishment Pit. And we can record their punishments, and Push that record back to Earth. So, good people will know that someone, at last, is starting to work on their behalf to avenge what the politicals have done to them.
“Second, we can Pull good individuals – those with humanity, honesty, integrity and leadership potential – here for training. We can submit them to the equally tender mercies of our friends the Tuglay.” Some laughter here from the Team, and a bow from Dum and Dee. “And afterwards we can Push them back, so they can lead or help lead the people of Earth into a new Galactic era of peace, prosperity and justice.
“Now, the questions. How do we pick the particular individuals to be punished? We can take less than four hundred – at least, until the first lot are dead. How do we make sure we get all the very worst? How do we find and track them? When do we Pull them – all at once, in a concerted operation, or one by one? How do we make the record of their punishment available to everyone on Earth?
“And more questions. How do we pick the particular individuals to be trained to lead the human race into the new world? How prominent should they be already? What, if anything, do we tell them before Pulling them? What, if any, message should we leave behind after we Pull them? How long will it take to train them? Should we Push them back all at once, or should we Push them back one by one, as they are ready? How do we make sure they are safe, and able to do their job, after we send them back?
“Yet more questions. How do we make sure the politicals don’t find out what we are doing? We have already made one security error – my fault, asking Jenna to send that mescap to her neighbours about Kenny. And how do we make sure the politicals can’t damage us, for example by planting a bomb among the supplies we Pull?
“And a final question team leaders rarely ask. What have I missed? Is there anything else any of you can think of, which has a bearing on what we should do?
“I don’t want you to try to answer these questions today,” I concluded. “Think about them, sleep on them. Let’s have an ideas session next Friday.”
I stopped. No-one moved or spoke for several seconds. It was John who spoke first. “I got all that,” he said. Galina gave a thumbs-up, too.
The others all seemed a little dazed.