There were two men.
They stood in hushed counsel beneath a breezy grotto’s overhung shade on a suburban afternoon.
This tucked away garden, like countless others, held an inner circle of some gravity: set stones and swept earth, at the heart of which blossomed a stone pillar, benevolently molded into the pious, if simplicate, depiction of a woman rejoicing in her evenpsalms, hands upturned in pursuit of a nurtured return in kind.
Worship of the pardoned whore remained a happy blight, not only on Israel 13 but throughout the solarium, a technical violation of the Eldarlvite Inscriptions and Statutes. But enforcement of such hair-split novelties long ago dissolved along with all the ancient arguments in their favor. So it came to pass that the subtle persistence of these cultish, pantheistic hideaways, scuttled everywhere among the strictly monotheistic Hebrite Solarium of the Infinite Genesis, was not so much an hypocrisy as the prejudicial combination of time and acclimation.
No one even remembered the whore, or the story that made her patroness of all hopers and sojourners, much less why her most devoted followers call her the mother of all gods. But hopers and sojourners there are aplenty. And so it came to pass that whoreshrines were the most normal and boring part of Hebrite life.
Institutional nuance aside, these arboritums peppered every community in the solarium and beyond. In his entire life, only Hebrites on diasporia ever dwelt more than a sabbath’s walk from these sacred circles of life, repair, reflection, and, as some plots might gesture, private converse. No matter the neighborhood, from the promenades of highest Zion Ultima on Israel Prime, to the tabernacling jubileers in the jungle farms beyond the last walls of Israel 13, the whoreshrines were common, fractal, and safe.
Mattering most, as mentioned only momentarily past, yet fleeted quickly away beneath an onslaught of world-building minutia, yet which dearly must pass your important consideration, and so must be mentioned again, is that it is not in all, save only in but one of these infinite hideaways, within its solitary yet boringly particular conglomeration of branches and vines in balmy sway, with the autumn light of three suns an august warmth among the shivering, golden greens, I tell you true as the news, that two men stood talking.
Now, “Slow down there hero!”, you are likely saying to yourself, and believe me, I understand.
Who would not not be hung up on the odd evening-and-then-even-twaining to thricing (but not dicing) the ordering of the lights in the heavens among Israel 13’s solar clustering?
While such may well be a question of pure reliquary to the less seasoned sci-fi fan, the challenge is that it is a fine line between providing enough explanations to what appear randomly generated fantastic things that you must believe with curiosity in order for my song to succeed, and waning my paragraphs yawnsome with exaggerated defenses to buttress your suspended belief in my song, as if you needed to do battle against all the worst criticisms in my own head. But do not children thrive most on pleasant seriousnesses?
So it is that it required the light of all three of these stars to grace Israel 13 with the cumulative type-M gaian embrace humans need to survive. Without them there would be nothing “M” about the endless chill that would have cursed the planet to the status of giant mining asteroid. But as it is, two of these suns are what we might otherwise call daystars. Blazing, micro-balls of hyper light, the two brothers ever race their courses in the sky, now alongside the sovereign as in the summer years, now stretched thin to the long, both ahead and behind as the darkless, longwinter nights comes.
Such things as the oddly uneven annuals of a three-sunned planet are the handicaps attendant man’s late entry to the Galacticum. Several millennia since joining the starborn, humanity’s successes have greatly, greatly exceeded the higher sentients’ typically cynical expectations. But not nearly so much as scoot to the front of the breadline and overcome the systemic-regulatory stasis of imperial politics, terraforming regulations, still more fees, and the extensive demand for the filling out of forms, many more forms.
True, Hebrites were not the only human tribe with such trials. Even on the verge of Great House status, no Sons of Noah could afford to be a chooser. Not even a King!
And, thus, Richard’s long absence.
And, thus, our two less than merry men, standing, in discourse.