portrayed the scene many times: the misty plain, the grid marked
out to plan the excavation, the shapes of buildings emerging from
the strata.... and the faces of astonished men and women,
examining artifacts of impossible age, dug out from ground which, a
short while ago, was known to have contained nothing but featureless ice
possibility of it all being a hoax was soon dismissed. To
have fabricated such a site, burying fake artifacts on this scale,
would have been pointless and impractical to an insane degree. But
what was the alternative? The Sunnoad instructed his agents to follow
all clues wherever they led; one of these agents, who
also happened to be an archaeologist, rummaging in the ruins of a
similar anachronistic site, accidentally put his hand through an activation
beam and unleashed the broadcast mental warning which brought on
The telepathic warning
lasted 57 minutes. During those minutes every man, woman and
child on the planet heard the recorded message in nen's mind, and the truth dawned on
the people of Syoom, that they shared their world with a race
which could manipulate time.
That was one fact which could be gleaned straightaway.
Further details would follow as millions of hearers sorted out their memories
and began to understood more of what their minds had received. It
was an almost wordless message, uttered so long ago, by a creature so
ancient, that nen's extinct language was unrelated to any living tongue.
Being wordless, it relied on the direct communication of ideas, and that
was not easy, for the sender's mind had plainly not been human.
Nevertheless, nen had been Uranian, evolved on the same world as the
modern Nenns. The ideas, images, expressions were not wholly
unfamiliar. And one part of the message was
verbal: a name: THE QUONIANS.
the message, were a race of humanoids similar to the Nenns of
Syoom in appearance but very different culturally. They were
an ancient race, surviving relatively unmodified through several Great Cycles.
They posed a threat to other cultures because -
And here came a
very sharp, clear part of the message, the main point of the warning.
The only trouble was, the idea was so new, it
could hardly be taken in at one mental gulp.
heads ringing from the warning, the people of Syoom tried to resume
their normal lives. Gradually, as the days passed, a sense of
normality did return, but the extraordinary experience remained the
chief topic of conversation, debate and investigation. Moreover
the issue was kept alive in any case by the arrival in Syoom of the
Quonian scouts were humble and apologetic regarding their presence on Syoomean
soil. They came on their gleaming white skimmers, their white
eyes peering around at whatever they saw, fascinatedly, as though
they saw more than anyone else. They asked diffidently whether the
Kalishan Voice had been heard. This question was met with
puzzlement until one Syoomean guessed that the Quonians were referring
to the broadcast warning. That, evidently, was called the Voice
of the Kalishan, a malicious mind - so the newcomers alleged -
hostile to the peacable Quonians. The Kalishan Voice was encased
in a cubical probe which was programmed to follow Quonian civilization
on its journey through history, and to spread slander about
All that the Quonian newcomers wanted, they said,
was to be allowed to settle and mingle with the Nenns of Syoom.
Surely there was enough room for a few hundred thousand more people, in
the 400,000,000 square mile vastness of Syoom. Quonia itself, they
said, was an over-rigid society which had expelled them because of their
adventurous spirit, a spirit wth which Syoomean culture must surely
When asked where Quonia was, the Quonian visitors became
cagey. They vaguely admitted that the place was "somewhere in
Fyaym". (Of course, by strict definition, a civilization
cannot be "in Fyaym", but in loose everyday language a hitherto
unsuspected area of Syoom surrounded by Fyaym can be "somewhere in
All this time, people were continuing to reflect
upon their memories of the 57-minute Voice of Kalishan.
In fact the whole Copper Era (2,961 Uranian days; a little over 10 Earth
years) was a kind of race between the warning Voice and the
persuasiveness of the Quonians.
During the last third of the era, the Voice began to win
Triumph of the Voice
It began to be noticed that more and more people were
not only "seeing things from the Quonians' point of view" in the sense
of sympathizing with their social and political situation, but were
literally seeing their environment as if it were Quonia: a land of
different geography and traditions. To bolster this illusion,
physical objects continued to be found which should not have been in
Syoom at all, and yet which could be proved to have been there for
aeons. These objects consisted of Quonian-style buildings, coins,
works of art.... as if they had been smuggled back across Time, to
give a false pedigree to the current Quonian presence.
The terrible thought occurred to the Sunnoad and his
advisers, as well as to many other high-placed Syoomeans: what if the
Quonians were able to alter human history in their favour? What if
that was what they were preparing to do?
On the other hand if they could do this, why had they
not already done it?
Quonians were pulled in for questioning under
hypnosis. It was found that they did not possess true time travel,
but were able to take advantage of certain "cul-de-sacs" in Time - areas
which were out of touch with the lines of causation, and could be
altered without paradox. Quonian artefacts were sent to these
areas. The operation was fantastically expensive; the revenues of
Quonia had been mortgaged to the hilt to finance the great
deception. Perhaps as a side-effect of the tampering with time,
Quonians also seeped their world-view into the minds of the people
As soon as the plot had been uncovered, it lost its
force. Little further action was necessary; the truth was
broadcast, and the defeated Quonian invaders were allowed to leave
unmolested for their own country. (Many eras were to pass before
they were heard from again.)
>> The Zinc Era
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