over which they began wearing altered, but still very human outer garments. This had the effect of making the Iantheans all look like similarly deformed humans with small heads, long arms, and pleasantly expressed, noseless faces, the only part of their anatomy to remain visible, that and their fragile, hyperdexterous, multi-digit hands. And this is how they would appear when among humans in the terra-formed zones once a steady commerce between the races had been firmly established. The Iantheans designed, manufactured and supplied superior nano-technologies to an insatiable universal market. First among their consumers were the humans, which in large part explained the bourgeoning human presence on Ianthe itself. It was a cultural vocation. They all did it, and in a million years no portion of the population could have successfully crossed over into the field of clothing design and production. It was not of their species. It was as foreign to the socio/spiritual bent of their entire people as honest gamesmanship is to the Nietzschean. In order then to maintain productive and efficient contact between worlds, the human manufacture and sale of protective garments to fit Iantheans became a necessary and rather lucrative industry. Among the Ianthean minority who trafficked in the terra-formed zones, the novelty of ornamental aesthetics grew in proportion to the human ability to serve up fashions just as quickly as an Ianthean could convince himself that he ought to have a bright green jumpsuit with yellow stripes as well as a blue one and shoes to match. In the terra-formed zones, these wildly intellectual and spiritual creatures gave over to a newly born sense of vanity and even competition with no regard for taste. They had none. Outside the zones, Iantheans in all their nakedness went on about their affairs in the whispering stillness of their living and working places. However, even there, it was not uncommon to see a native whom dressing had made either modest or proud who now preferred a gaudy suit of clothes and a permanent reduction in sensory perception to the natural state wherein they had lived – “before the humans got here.”
Reynald was a diminutive man with a huge spirit. He was a human, but as a devotee and master of several martial disciplines, he had trained his cardiovascular system to metabolize the nitrogen-heavy air enabling him to live freely outside of the terra-formed zones. In this regard, he had become like a Nietzschean, whose lungs will extract the scant requisite minimum of oxygen needed to sustain our durable physiology from any combination of latent gases, provided it’s present among them. It was quite literally into Reynald’s hands that I fell the evening I came to town, staggering delirious through the door of a local Ianthean café, my last stop and hope in my flight from the hired guns of The Consortium. I imagine my logic at the time, if it were such, was that the mostly human manhunters would spend little time searching for me where the air was unbreathable except with the help of costly apparatus. I must confess it was hardly a conscious, much less rational, choice on my part, leastwise one that I only vaguely remember making. By that point, a swift breeze could have swept my legs from beneath me. An honest analysis would argue that nothing more than a simple trick of fate left me unconscious in the arms of a teacher and a friend. I was seventeen, alone, and unclear. And I was in desperate need of both.
I lived with Reynald for six months, studying knife fighting, and availing myself of his extensive library; data mostly on applied religion and pre-Commonwealth philosophy of many strains. I was an abominable student, “lacking discipline and stillness” I was told, as if it were news. The knives he gave me I carry still, but have never yet learned to use with any degree of skill that might suggest my ever having been tutored by a master. Reynald never seemed to mind my truant nature. I think that as he had come to know me he must have realized that there was little chance of my achieving a greater stillness, not then. I was too wild, too wanting, my heart and head constantly attending to the task