Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project: Mother

This page Copyright © 2010, Karl Leffler
"I think Citizen Vetter would have approved of most of these monuments, especially those of his wife and Rachel Marsten, but anyone who's researched him at all can plainly see that he never would have wanted anything like this for himself. If he were alive today to see himself six meters tall and carved from stone, he'd beat the stuffing out of me. But I had to do it anyway."
- Jennifer Cetewayo, creator of the Founders' Monuments
- Comments at the dedication of Founders' Park, 1 Firstmonth 350 JR
- Inscribed on the base of Kurt Vetter's statue during the Quadricentennial, 1 Firstmonth 400 JR
26 Fourthmonth 395 JR - 18 August 2256 CE
Founders' Park, Forest Grove, Oregon
North America, Terra, Jeffersonian Republic

It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful world, for a vacation.
Terra, homeworld of the Humans, was much like Eyan, covered with life in bewildering variety, occupying the full spectrum of climate. Here in the middle latitudes in summer, Te'Hir could see colorful birds and insects, small mammals with bushy tails scrambling about in trees, and occasionally large thin-legged mammals with fur not unlike her own, some with forked horns sprouting from their heads. Small predators in a variety of shades, with mobile, triangular ears and long, furry tails, stalked rodents through the grass; small reptiles, with and without legs, sunned themselves on rocks and monuments. Some kind of fur-bearing creature with a wide, flat tail ambled about in the stream by the park's path, working on a dam made from mud, branches and small logs; glittering fish lurked in the pond the creature had created, making Te'Hir's mouth water. She considered harvesting some to share with her family, until she noticed a small sign - in Eyani script - at the water's edge which read: {No Fishing Please - Fu'May, Groundskeeper of Waters}
Obviously I'm not the first to get that idea, she thought.
The geology also reminded her of her people's homeworld. The hills and forests here in western Oregon were almost indistinguishable from her father's native North Hills, while only a few hundred kilometers east beyond the mountains were sweeping plains that could have been plucked from her mother's homeland. The gravity was slightly lighter than Eyan's, and the atmosphere just as rich - much lighter and richer than the Monticellan or Alexandrian standards Te'Hir had known most of her life. She felt she could run a hundred kilometers, with her mate on her back and her daughter in her arms.
The sun was shining in an utterly clear blue sky; temperature was 25 degrees with a gentle Westerly breeze, and the humidity was perfect - for a Plains Tribe Eyani whose father was half-Hills and half-Water. Her mate, Ri'Cho, was full-blooded Ice Tribe, and carried a three-liter refrigerating canteen on his harness, with a drinking tube and a cooler/humidifier around his neck and a wide- brimmed hat on his head, made with holes for an Eyani's expressive ears. Te'Hir wore sunglasses to protect her eyes from the sunlit glare of her mate's brilliant white fur. A week earlier, when it had been Ri'Cho's turn to choose the destination, she had been almost as miserable, and he just as comfortable, in the small (in astrographical terms) but entirely sovereign Alaskan Republic.
Their daughter, Tr'Cre, had somehow coaxed one of the small predators into reach and was gently stroking its striped gray fur, oblivious to climatic concerns; her tiny but fast-growing body combined the best of all four major Eyani types. Te'Hir flicked her ears at her mate in sympathy, and he returned a gesture of mock annoyance with an undertone of true affection.
She had never been happier.

The family strolled pleasantly through the park, enjoying the scenery, reading the plaques and monuments set about the grounds, stopping to record images of themselves in the historic setting. It was here, generations ago, that Te'Hir's nation was secretly born; here on these very grounds, the discoveries and plans were made that would steer the histories of six races and dozens of worlds.
As the family approached the center of the park, Te'Hir admired the statues of the Founders, so skillfully sculpted from the finest grade of na-ar, which the Humans called granite, quarried from the Operahouse Mountains of Monticello's South Continent - and which in this case, for millennia- long durability, had been liquified and alloyed with a sophisticated polymer, then cast in the rough shapes the artist required, before being finished with what amounted to a plasma chisel. They were arranged in a circle around an enormous, highly-polished column of solid basalt imported from the Lone Star System's meteor-battered planet Crunch, about which was deeply inscribed the Declaration of Independence for, and the Constitution of, the Jeffersonian Republic. The monolith was flanked by smaller, matching columns for each of the four Amendments. In chambers sealed beneath each respective column were copies of the documents, engraved by Shinto artists from New Israel, on thick slabs of solid titanium refined from the asteroids of Wilson's System, to preserve them, too, for thousands of years - even without the attentions of the Groundskeepers, Human and Eyani alike, who wore the forest-green uniforms or harnesses of their particular sect of the planet Alexandria's famed Order of Librarians. The core worlds and cultures of the Republic, Te'Hir thought, encompassed in a glance.
Of further significance, Te'Hir knew that this central monument, and the documents so massively preserved thereon and therein, were duplicated many times over, on every Member World of the Jeffersonian Republic. Scale-model replicas, of identical construction and purpose, could be found in hundreds, thousands, of public places - particularly in front of government facilities, and schools - on this world and many others. Bracelets, necklaces, and other forms of jewelry comprised of titanium wafers, micro-engraved with the same documents, were popular keepsakes, souvenirs, tokens of esteem, even good-luck charms. What Te'Hir's father so-accurately called the Republic's Highest Law was duplicated millions of times on colossal monoliths and incorruptible alloy, then scattered across parsecs.
The archaeologist in her was... satisfied.

For her daughter's benefit, Te'Hir named the people the statues represented. There was Kurt Vetter, the Dreamer, portrayed with one of the furry-tailed predators sitting at his feet. The Human male, whose contempt for affected formality was worlds-shaping legend, wore his customary lightweight boots, jeans, and plain one-piece ‘tee' shirt with a single pocket. An antique (by Te'Hir's standards; merely ‘classic' by the Founder's) pistol was holstered at his hip; a rolled document, which Te'Hir knew to represent the very Constitution she had sworn, as a full Citizen, to uphold, was in his left hand. His right, empty, first finger extended, reached out to a place in the sky where, every summer solstice, would appear Tau Ceti, the star about which orbited Monticello, the first world settled by the Jeffersonian Republic. His face bore an expression of determination, hope, and triumph. Citizen Cetewayo's comments were insightful; Vetter had never in his life struck such a pose, and to create the statue, the artist had studied hundreds of images of the man most directly responsible for the creation of the Jeffersonian Republic.
Next, to Vetter's statue's right, was his mate Lynna Bjolnir, the Warrior. Even by Eyani standards she was an impressive sight, tall and lean, eyes and stance conveying intelligence, confidence and competence. Te'Hir had long ago learned that most Humans considered her extraordinarily beautiful, and that the famous sculptor who created these monuments complained that her own work did not do Bjolnir justice. The Human female was portrayed in partial battle-harness, a pistol similar to her mate's on one hip and a ‘midsword', almost identical to the ones Te'Hir and her mate wore now, on the other. Some kind of antique, rapid-fire cartridge weapon was slung muzzle-down from her left shoulder. The thumb of her left hand was hitched through the sling, while her right carried her helmet, the removal of which allowed her long, straight hair to fall free. Her face showed the satisfied fatigue, and her body the honorable wounds, of a righteous battle, hard-fought and fairly won - and a wry amusement that belied the sculptor's self-criticism. Unlike her mate's, Bjolnir's statue was based on an historical moment; it showed her as she was aboard Vetter Aerospace's secret starship Aldrin, shortly after the bloodily legendary Escape from the tyrants of Terra, on the first day of the first year of the Monticellan calendar. With a chill, Te'Hir realized that right over- (she consulted her map-) there, Bjolnir had led her forces in a delaying action against attacking Federal troops, buying time for that experimental starship to launch. She had been the last person to board - which, technically, made her the last Founder to Escape Terra, beating Mirabushi Ltd.'s Fuki Maru by seven minutes. Neither she nor her husband ever set foot on Terran soil again. Both were entombed - or, perhaps, enshrined, despite their instructions in that regard - at their home on Monticello's West Continent.
Except for the mated pair of Vetter and Bjolnir, together in memory as they had always been in life - and one other pair, whose relationship was less intimate but nearly as significant - Te'Hir knew that the statues were in no particular order, and that none bore precedence. A few of the statues were, like Bjolnir's, based on historical events, but most were artistic composites like Vetter's. Next in Te'Hir's view was Thomas Jefferson, the Founders' Founder, as far removed from Vetter's and Bjolnir's time as that pair was from Te'Hir's. Much like Vetter, he was portrayed with a rolled document in his hand, which Te'Hir knew to be a Constitution very similar to her own; that of Vetter's original nation, upon which the Jeffersonian Republic's version was largely based. Like Vetter, Jefferson looked hopefully into the future.
Robert Heinlein, the Prophet, was next, in robe and slippers such as many Humans wore in the comfort of their homes. His eyes sparkled, for all that they were polymerized granite, and his face beamed with laughter that Te'Hir expected to burst forth at any moment. Another of the little furry predators sprawled forever unconcerned at his feet, amid several pre-electronic books and a small statue-within-the-statue in the stylized form of a rocket. One hand was hitched into the belt of his robe, while the other held a cigar.
Teresa Hadley, the Healer, was shown in her long doctor's coat, from the pockets of which protruded several old-style datapads - terribly bulky and primitive compared to the handputers Te'Hir and her mate wore on their wrists - and equally-antique medical and scientific implements. Her face was one of modest accomplishment, not yet grasping the full import of her species- changing discoveries.
Hans Tallenbeck, the Builder, stood in his one-piece ‘coverall' working clothes, which the sculptor had somehow shown stained with sweat, grease, and metal shavings, and decorated with small punctures and tears and frayed edges. A cigar was clamped in his blocky jaw and his work- scarred hands were on his hips, one clutching a datapad like Hadley's, the other a very ordinary- looking wrench. The face of the man who built the first starship gave the impression of one who wanted to chew someone out for incompetence, but couldn't find anyone so qualified, and therefore couldn't make up his mind to be mildly disappointed, tremendously proud, or simply amused.
Nora Gaines, the Captain, diminutive even by pre-Republic Human standards, nonetheless projected a presence and power that was somehow captured by the self-effacing sculptor. The first Human to travel faster than light was portrayed in her shipboard jumpsuit, grasping a pole from which flew in actuality the red, white and black flag of the Jeffersonian Republic, stirring gently in Oregon's clean summer breeze.
Another pair of polymerized granite hands gripped the flagpole: those of Elaine Bowditch, the Pioneer, mission commander for the Monticello Expedition. Wearing a jumpsuit much like Gaines', the larger, older, plainer woman's face conveyed barely-contained tears of joy. Bowditch gazed up, as did the commander of the Expedition's ship, at the flag of their nation. The setting was significant, Te'Hir knew; it was a precise reproduction of the moment when that flag first flew over sovereign soil, very nearly four Republic centuries - two and a half, on this world - before. The image was familiar to nearly every living Human, and majorities of five other species; the ancient recordings were exactingly preserved, transmitted without comment or embellishment on nearly every holo and video channel on half a hundred worlds, on every carefully-calculated anniversary of the Founding. It was the moment when Gaines and Bowditch had joined hands, stepped in unison off the ramp of the landing craft Galileo - launched from the very first starship, XSLS1, JRS Enterprise - and walked a hundred meters to the top of a little hill, to make history.
The next figure-
Suddenly, Te'Hir stopped and said to her daughter in Eyani, {Wait here a moment, Tr'Cre.} Taking his daughter's hand, Ri'Cho watched silently as his mate walked over to the six-meter-tall statue of Rachel Marsten, inventor of the Marsten Interstellar Drive - and the Marsten Device for interstellar communication, the Marsten Detector for interstellar navigation, and the Marsten Gun, the immensely powerful faster-than-light energy weapon which, generations later, was instrumental in the defeat of the invading Terran Empire. Sculpted with yet another datapad in her hand, her face wore an expression of self-effacing wisdom, as though the legendary genius considered herself unworthy of her own abilities, yet pragmatic enough to employ them. Pausing at the base of the scientist's statue, Te'Hir stared at the granite face of her favorite Founder.
Many Jeffersonians felt special affinity toward one or another of the Founders. Members of the more primitive Eyani tribes, learning of the Founders and how they were revered, often mistook them for gods - but Jeffersonians had largely outgrown superstition, and saved their reverence for those who had earned it.
Veterans of the Republic-Empire War, especially Marines, naturally held particular regard for Bjolnir the Warrior, portrayed here as she had been a bare hour after leading the first Jeffersonian soldiers to the first Jeffersonian victory. Navy veterans revered Gaines the Captain, who among her many accomplishments had commanded the first interstellar warship, CMX1 JRS Independence, on that same deadly day of Escape... and on some other notable occasions. Bowditch the Pioneer was fondly remembered by the Marine Corps' and Navy's peacetime incarnations, Te'Hir's own Exploration & Colonization Service and her mate's Space Patrol, for that Human had written The Book on settling new worlds. Physicians, of course, paid homage to Hadley the Healer, who like an Eyani warrior-myth had done battle with, and vanquished, a host of intangible foes that had preyed upon her people for longer than even their history, beside which the Eyani Scrolls of Memory paled.
Everybody loved Jefferson, except a handful of eccentrics and revisionists. Heinlein was less likely to please all of the people all of the time, but he had their respect; he had, as Vetter himself said, "written the books on how to write The Books."
Spacers in general honored the memory of Marsten the Genius, but there was a certain kind of Jeffersonian that held for her a particular and awestruck love. Thus far a small and very select group, Te'Hir was honored and humbled - even after interesting times, and the birth of her beautiful daughter - to be one of them. They were the Deeps; those who had gone Beyond, where none had before, seeking out new worlds upon which to scatter their descendants as seeds of racial immortality. They quested so far from their homes that, looking back, the light they could see from the stars under which they were born was often many times older than they were; and at such dreadful distances, their only way home was the all-but-holy fruit of Marsten's intellectual labor.
Rousing, Te'Hir used all six limbs to climb easily onto the statue's shoulder, gently planted her full-hands on its granite cheeks, and gravely kissed it full on its granite lips.

The task complete, Te'Hir hopped easily to the ground, spreading the impact on all six appendages in the soft, warm grass, exulting in the lighter gravity. Several onlookers stared in puzzlement: Humans a majority of course, on their own homeworld, but many Eyani; a small group of scaly Nikar tourists, holoing everything (Oh, tangles! thought Te'Hir. I'll be in half the news in the Republic by this time tomorrow, thanks to those snagging paparazzi); a trio of not-quite-birdlike Siv, constantly preening each other, likely on their mating-holiday; even a lone Chikaran, small and hairless, possibly the first of his kind to visit here, in a hovering chair that supported his frail body against more than twice the gravity for which it had evolved. (I, of all people, should go make him welcome, Te'Hir thought, whether they're taking my picture or not.)
At least two of the Humans, though, nodded in understanding. Over the last ten Republic years, what she had just done had become a spacer's tradition - and more than words often passed between those entitled to the ritual, and those who presumed they were. The other spacers did not challenge Te'Hir, however. Even across the species barrier, her face was well-known in those circles. Ears fluttering in embarrassment, she rejoined her mate and cub, gazed at the statue for a moment, then led her family over to make friends with the diminutive, round-headed alien.

The Chikaran turned out to be female, and one of the first real historians her slowly-healing world had produced in almost too long. Given her world's new and expected status, it was natural she would come here; she would likely be quite the celebrity when she got back. Founders' Park consisted of much more than monuments. The entire National Archives, at least as far as documents, images and recordings were concerned, were duplicated where Vetter Aerospace's administration building once stood. The billion-odd surviving Chikarans were likely very interested in what Sanwi, here, would have to report. Meeting in one of the most significant places in Human history, the two non- Humans exchanged contact information, and a promise for an in-depth interview of one of the Saviors of Chikar (somehow, on hearing the title, Te'Hir refrained from screaming... or murdering her smirking mate).
Well, Te'Hir thought, I suppose I'd act much the same way if Gl'Dek, the Hero of Red Island, wandered over to chat with me... except Uncle Dekkie would give me a good swat if I acted so silly. But I didn't really do anything at Chikar! I'm an archaeologist, for Hr'Gen's sake! I just made a few historically-inspired suggestions...!
Then the Eyani had a mischievous thought: ‘Savior of Chikar' she wants, eh? I'll send her along to Monty. I told him I'd repay him for ‘helping' me with all that publicity.... She grinned, barely showing her teeth, as she imagined her Human friend's reaction to finding himself in the spotlight for a change.
After several minutes of otherwise pleasant conversation, the family continued walking through the park. A few hundred meters along they reached a small lake where fishing was allowed; one part of the shore for Humans with their cunning apparatus, another for Eyani, who needed none.
The family relaxed on the warm grass, eating in comfortable silence as the sun and breeze dried their fur. Presently Tr'Cre finished her trout, groomed, and asked in English, "Mama? Why did you kiss the statue?"
Te'Hir looked down at her daughter and smiled, her ears rising to vertical. What a lovely cub, she thought, with such beautiful golden-white fur, and her father's bright blue eyes. Tr'Cre, like most offspring of mixed Tribes, enjoyed the evolutionary adaptations of both parents, including stiff doses of Hills and Water Tribes on her mother's side. Throughout the family's globe-spanning vacation the youngster had yet to discover an environment in which she could not make herself at home. The cub was quite bright for her age as well; lately Te'Hir had made a habit of speaking to her daughter in Eyani, while having her respond in English, then switching every few days, the better to teach the cub both tongues despite her being raised on Human worlds as a Subject of the Republic. My people should mate between our Tribes more often, Te'Hir mused, if our cubs come out like this!
She finished her own fish and cleaned her hands and mouth, then turned to look at her mate. Ri'Cho met Te'Hir's eyes and raised his ears in a smile - he knew why his mate performed the odd ritual. He had watched her create it, and sometimes participated himself... for he was a Deep, too.
Following his mate's examples, he said in Eyani, {Tr'Cre, would you like to hear a story?}


Continued in the next excerpt....
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