The Gentle Wazeau - Part 1
The Wazeau are an orderly bunch. No one rocks the boat and no one is ever upset or unhappy. But you know what they say, scratch beneath the surface of any society and you might find that the well-ordered, smooth-running World is not all it seems.
NEVER ABOVE The words are drummed into the Wazeau from the earliest of times. ‘The above holds danger, you can’t survive there. Only home-level and below are safe. The levels above are empty of minerals. They are dry. They can no longer sustain life. Now there is only home-level and below.’
Wake-time started the same as any other in the warm, dark cavern of home-level. Responsible elders mixed chemical soup and activated the arc-shards. Mild amber light spread throughout home-level. Homesteads stirred into life.
Before long the whole area was alive with movement and thought-sound. Eons spent below ground had stimulated development of the telepathic communication that was essential for the well-being of the group. The noise that audible speech would have made in those vast, echoing, sound-amplifying caverns would have been intolerable to the gentle Wazeau.
Mal and Kai didn’t want to stir from their comfortable sleep-pits. It was warm and quiet during the rest-time which passed as night for the Wazeau. They hated the harshly-lit learning zone where they had to remain still and silent, and could only respond to direct questions.
Their Protector shook each in turn, its mind-voice becoming more insistent with the passing mini-segs. ‘If you don’t get up soon, I’ll call a Prefect and there’ll be no meal-serving for you this wake-time.’
Mal and Kai knew this was an idle threat; there was no way in a million micro-segs their Protector would call in the Prefect on them. The shame would be as unbearable for the Protector as it would be for them. Such a loss of cone would be unacceptable.
Nevertheless, the youngsters reluctantly stirred from their comfortable pits. Over time the rock had been softened and shaped by the chemicals each Wazeau emitted while sleeping. Every crease and bump on their soft boneless bodies was reflected in the granite; this made the pits so comfortable.
They were both growing quickly, but Mal had recently outstripped its best friend following a growth-spurt. It was almost, but not quite unheard of for a Wazeau to grow so large so quickly, but Mal remained a gentle well-behaved youngster, so the change was barely noticed by the elders.
Kai, the larger of the two since their formation, was now puny beside Mal. Kai wondered when its own growth-spurt would begin.
It was widely known throughout the home-level that Mal was the clever one. Kai wasn’t.
Mal was precocious, wise beyond its segments, a prodigy. Mal was fast on the uptake and could understand the most difficult concepts. Mal had a wonderful memory too, never forgot an important fact and always helped Kai with lessons; and Kai needed lots of help.
Kai had different assets. Loyalty, speed, stamina and strength were just four of them.
The Protector had laid out the first-meal; a semi-solid mixture of nutritious mineral gloop. Kai wolfed it down, but Mal, as usual, took time.
‘Soon we’ll be able to eat true-solids,’ mind-thought Kai, ‘Imagine that. Solids, just like the matures. Then we’ll be fully formed and ready for the tunnels. No more learning zone and we can eat whenever we like. Lovely.’ Kai was also renowned throughout the home-level as, ‘The Hungry One.’
Mal cone-waggled patiently but kept its thoughts to itself. Mal allowed Kai to drone on about their upcoming maturation and solid food ---If only you knew, thought Mal to itself, ---But now is not the time.
The friends shuffled the short distance to learning-zone. All the way there they touched fore-appendages to ensure that their thoughts could not be overheard.
‘What’s first today?’ Kai asked, who could never remember the timetable and relied totally on Mal to keep things like that in its cone.
‘Mineral Composition of Igneous Rock Formation at Different Levels and their known Concentrations,’ Mal replied impatiently. ‘Really Kai, it’s the same every first-session of every first-seg. Why can’t you remember? You can be such an empty-cone.’
‘Why should I remember when I have you to do it for me?’ Kai’s cone colour lightened in amusement.
‘Why is it always Mineral content?’ Kai asked after regaining some self control. ‘We know all there is to know about flipping mineral content. What’s so important about mineral content anyway?’
‘Lay help us!‘, sighed Mal, calling to the ancient Wazeau Gods for patience. ‘You’re such an idiot sometimes. You know very well the importance of minerals. Without them in the right balance and volume we harden up and die – you dimwit.’
Mal moved its appendage closer to Kai’s cone to emphasise the point. ‘The more we understand about minerals and their various locations, characteristics and sources, the better it is for us all.‘ Mal paused for a moment before adding to itself, ---and anyway, I have another reason for learning about minerals.
Mal’s cone darkened. The young Wazeau was having difficulty hiding its feelings and hoped that the colour change would go unnoticed.
Kai, although slow in some things was lightning fast in others, picked up on its friend’s change of mood. ‘Oh Lay! What have you done?’ Kai thought, gently touching fore-appendages with Mal again so only its friend could hear.
‘You’ve done something wrong haven’t you? We’re going to get into trouble again, aren’t we?’
Kai lived in permanent fear of being punished for wrongdoing. The main punishment for youngsters usually involved loss of food privileges, and Kai was ‘The Hungry One.’
‘Shush,’ insisted Mal, ‘We’ll chat about this later. Cones have pick-ups you know.’ Mal mind-pointed at the nearest tutor whose cone was turned towards them; it looked suspicious.
They found their places and sat in silence to await the arrival of the Principal.
End of Part 1