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Abruptly the officer wheeled about and snapped his fingers for the Negro and
the runt who came bounding back through the flood to scramble into the
helicopter. The blades turned, beating down fists of air on the water,
rustling the fronds of the huts. Then they lifted off, and disappeared beyond
the trees.
They could only have been in the village ten minutes.
Later I asked Kayapi what would have happened if the runt had gone as far as
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the taboo hut.
"We kill them maybe."
"Kayapi, you know what those guns can do?"
"I know guns, yes."
"You know carbines, rifles, pistols, Kayapi. Guns that fire once or twice or
three times. You don't know those guns.
They shoot kai-kai times in this space of time." I snapped my fingers as the
officer had snapped his.
Kayapi shrugged.
"Maybe we kill them."
"Why did you hide my things in the jungle?" I demanded.
"Was it not right, Pee-air?"
"Yes. In fact it was right."
"So."
"But my reason would not be the same as your reason, Kayapi."
He stared at me, shook his head, and laughed.
"Tomorrow, Pee-air, you must meet maka-i. We all meet him together."
Preparations are going on for the dance. But it will be a dance through two
feet of water. Some of the nearby jungle is deep water already six feet, or
worse, where the land slopes down.
And this village is on something of a slope. God knows how deep the water will
be in a few weeks. How high is that bloody dam? Thirty or forty metres?
The ants are going crazy, swarming through the branches. Iridescent blue
morpho butterflies, the ones that get made into ornaments plaques and plates
of blinding blue flutter above the waters. Red and orange macaws scatter
through the trees, propelled by their own screeches. I saw a couple of
alligators scuttling near the village this morning.
Fish are wandering into the jungle. They'll soon be swimming through the
branches.
But enough talk of nature. Description for its own sake means next to nothing.
The Xemahoa know that. Nature here isn't 'pretty'. It isn't a picture, a
landscape. It's a larder and a glossary. And I fancy it's more important as a
glossary than as a larder, to the Xemahoa mind. Macaws are first and foremost
feather-number creatures.
Kayapi came to me just now and confided what they're expecting from the
pregnant woman.
Those White Robes would have crowed with delight.
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Or shrunk back in horror!
They expect their maka-i 'God' to take on flesh and blood inside her. It's the
Christ thing all over again.
So that's what Kayapi meant about the maka-i baby coming 'when it was time'!
That's why the woman has been high on maka-i through her pregnancy.
God knows what condition she must be inl Her nose must have half rotted off by
now if the mess that the Bruxo's own nostrils are in, is anything to go by.
And God knows what the genetic consequences may be!
SEVEN
DESCRAMBLED TRANSCRIPTION FO EXHANGERS WITH LEAP FROG
"
"
T PLUS DAYS
3
14
HOURS
30
MINUTES
MISSION CONTROL HOUSTON
"You're closing nicely. The object maintains a steady rate of deceleration
relative to
Earth. I tell you, we'd be pretty scared if it wasn't. There'd be a hell of a
hole someplace in Wisconsin otherwise! The size estimate is still one nautical
mile diameter. You should expect visual acquisition soon."
PETR S TSERBATSKY
"Surely that would depend on its mass. The hole in Wisconsin."
MIKE MCQ DALTON NAVIGATOR
(
) "You think it's a balloon some joker has blown up and tossed us to catch?"
TSERBATSKY
"An expanded structure maybe. An interstellar ramjet scoop. I am just
speculating."
PAULUS S SHERMAN MISSION COMMANDER
(
) "That's possible, Mike."
TSERBATSKY
"Or it could be a hollowed out asteroid. Both suggestions are feasible."
MISSION CONTROL
"Distance forty, that's four oh, nautical miles it's closing at a relative
velocity of two hundred and decelerating one-ninety-nine . . .
one-ninety-eight "
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DALTON
"So we're moving nicely backwards? Maybe we can hitch us a ride the rest of
the way home. Stick out your thumb, Petr!"
TSERBATSKY
"I never can appreciate this transatlantic frivolity. This is perhaps the most
significant moment in
human history. The first meeting with extraterrestial intelligence."
DALTON
"Anybody making first contact by playing that nude auction show back at us has
just got to be joking "
MISSION CONTROL
"Distance, ten nautical miles closing at one-seventy-five . . .
one-seventy-four . . . Cut the chatter, will you, Mike?"
T PLUS DAYS
3
15
HOURS MINUTES
5
SHERMAN
"I can see it! There's a half moon profile out there sidelighted by sunlight.
It has to be a globe. How's the quality of the picture?"
MISSION CONTROL
"There's a bit of glare. Will you move the camera over to the right?"
SHERMAN
"How about this?"
MISSION CONTROL
"That's better. We see it now."
DALTON
"What's it transmitting right now?"
MISSION CONTROL
"The movie of the Manson Musical. A New York station put it out last week. No,
wait a bit. That transmission's just stopped . . . They're transmitting our
rendezvous diagram now yes it's the rendezvous diagram, check. Now it's
stopped. It's coming again . . . no  they've changed it now. A new diagram. It
shows your flightpath intersecting with theirs. Diagram's changed again. The
scale's large now. There's Leapfrog and the Globe. The Globe is a perfect
circle. Leapfrog's a small triangle of dots. A dotted line connects you both."
DALTON
"Do we cut along the dotted line?"
MISSION CONTROL
"Another change new diagram. Showing Leapfrog sitting on the very outside of
the Globe.
They want you to land on them. Distance is five miles now, relative velocity
fifty . . . forty-nine "
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SHERMAN
"Good visuals now. How do you read the pictures?"
MISSION CONTROL
"Fine. Will you prepare to land on manuals?"
SHERMAN
"Wilco. The Globe's shining like it's made of metal. A high albedo. No
apparent irregularities. Not a rock body I'd say so the idea of a hollowed-out
asteroid is a no-no."
MISSION CONTROL
"Landing plan's being rebroadcast. No fresh developments. Distance is three
miles. Relative velocity thirty . . . twenty-nine "
TSERBATSKY
''It makes me feel like a flea. Such size, and moving under its own power!"
SHERMAN
"Houston? I'm going for a short burn to slow down the rate of closing. A
point-five second burn . . .
now."
MISSION CONTROL
"Telemetry reads your distance as two miles, Leapfrog. Relative velocity now
nine now eight point five."
T PLUS DAYS
3
15
HOURS
28
MINUTES
SHERMAN
''Landing probes making contact now. We're down."
ISERBATSKY [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]