of attempting to sort out the questions of why I was who I was and what was to be done about it. The voices that spoke to me; the admonitions and exclamations; the desperate whispers in the void never fell silent. And so, in such a state, it was Reynald’s kind, unthreatening stillness; his inner peace that fed me. He had sought out the Iantheans because they were like him. They vocalized in sounds barely audible to the unaccustomed ear. I could hear them, but only because I was Nietzschean. Reynald heard them because his placid disposition was free to be receptive to the slightest vibration. Between them, I might have found much worse a place to hide until such time as The Consortium forgot my name.
If there had been anything on Ianthe that anyone would want, the Nietzscheans might have run the place down ages ago. It seemed such an easy mark. Of course, that would have had to have been before the Commonwealth lent them its protection and became the chief consumer of their only cash crop of infinitesimally small machinery. (Actually, now that I think about it, it would also be owing to the all hallowed wisdom and benevolence of the Commonwealth and its smiling human face that the only non-Iantheans ever allowed to colonize here were human. But that will be an endless howling digression if I am let, so let me not.) It was never clear to me how these, to all appearances, still somewhat primitive people had evolved into the preeminent engineers of nano-tech. Who did they sell it to before there was a Commonwealth? Did they invent it? If not, what then occupied their time before someone else did? And how, above all, did the technological acumen that seems to be written into the genetic code of this species become one with Ianthean mysticism to create this race of engineer ascetics? I have here before written that the Iantheans are techno-spiritualists. I have only just coined the term, but in truth, I would be hard-pressed to describe them any other way. All that they appear to live for, those that have not been co-opted and corrupted by the humans in the terra-formed zones, is to commune on some Zen-like level with the various processes of creating nano-components. I had always imagined that was why Reynald had gravitated to their environs. Like any other fine craftsmen or artists, it was never simply the skill that gave them preeminence, but the monk-like, all consuming focus, to the exclusion of every peripheral irrelevancy, that dominated their working hours, and ethics. Reynald wasn’t sure how to answer my questions concerning the Iantheans. Perhaps it was really that he wasn’t sure how to answer me. I hung on his every word because of the way in which he spoke them; softly and measured, with the thoughtful economy of breath that comes of knowing. My mother had done the same. But largely, his explanations seemed to me as puzzling as my questions; esoteric, and not for my understanding. I was often distressed by my inability to comprehend his teachings, despite my desire. Noting my frustration on many occasions, he would prophesy that the way of the peaceful warrior was not my path. That truth, he said, was unalterable, and that I needn’t worry, but that my spirit would tune to those aspects of his teaching that would be of use on my particular journey. I took great comfort in that. I had known no “good” men in my life thus far. I needed to believe that his presence had purpose. As for the Iantheans, I needed to believe that my presence among them had purpose as well. Between Reynald and the natives I remained, over my six-month stay, both wildly fascinated, attentive, and inexplicably calmed. Perhaps that was purpose enough.
To the average outsider, particularly a human one, the Iantheans appear standoffish and aloof. They are not really. They can communicate clearly in Common and even in English if they must, however they are naturally apprehensive about being in close proximity to anyone or anything that is not vigilant of, and in fact, responsible for the hypersensitivity of their nervous systems.