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Jane Yambe



Maybe we weren't meant for paradise, maybe we were meant to fight our way through. Struggle. Claw our way up. Scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of lutes. We must march to the sound of drums...

Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3417.7

In a star system near the edge of the galaxy, the Ruling Council of Poseidonia was winding up a debate on whether to extend an offer to join with the United Federation of Planets. Arguments had been heated at times, and no member of the Council had escaped unscathed. Yet, it was becoming increasingly apparent that some type of a consensus was about to be reached.

Several years before, a contact had been made with a landing party from a Federation scoutship, made by a special emissary appointed by the Ruling Council. The emissary had been given the latitude not only to gather all available information, but the power and discretion as well, to make a decision on what should be done. Although two previous survey teams from the Federation had landed on the planet's surface prior to this contact, the presence of life had not been discovered.

At the time of this original meeting, it was decided that further contact would be discouraged. However, it was understood by the entire Council that this decision was not a final one. Chairing the proceedings was the very emissary who had made the original decision.


Captain's Log, Stardate 6601.2

Orders altering our course to the planet Poseidonia in the Atlantean system were received. Recently, the ruling council of the planet signaled their intention to apply for induction into the United Federation of Planets. We will take aboard a representative from the Council, and transport him to Starbase Six for a rendezvous with Federation officials. Because if the growing strategic importance of friendly planets in this quadrant, Starfleet Command has instructed all possible resources to be mobilized to insure the success of this mission.

An unusual request was made and granted to have ship's helmsman, Lieutenant Sulu, included in the landing party that will beam down to the planet's surface upon arrival. The request came directly from the Ruling Council of Poseidonia.


"Sure could use some excitement around here," remarked Helmsman Sulu to no one in particular.

Despite the many chronicled and almost legendary exploits of the United Star Ship Enterprise and her crew, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, much of the time logged in space was routine and uneventful.

Sulu studied the multi-colored lights on his console, but found nothing amiss in their familiar, ordered sequence of pulsating patterns. To his right, the ship's navigator, Ensign Pavel Chekov, appeared to be furtively examining an anomaly on his screen, which at second glance proved to be just a smudge. Glancing upward at the viewscreen ahead, Sulu noted little difference in the serene starscape, which of late seemed to change with the rapidity of a snail taking an evening stroll.

"So, Sulu, why are you this special honored guest?"

Leaning both elbows on the edge of his console, and resting his chin in the cups of his hands, Sulu tilted his head in the direction of the Russian ensign and said conversationally, "Ever read Greek mythology?"

"Of course I did," replied the young officer with a glint in his eyes. He had served next to the Asian helmsman too long to know that what Sulu had in mind was to tell a story. And Chekov was only too happy to oblige. This innocent and time-honored way of dealing with often monotonous stretches of duty was not unusual among the crew of the Enterprise, and so long as its pursuit did not interfere with normal efficiency, it was not discouraged by Captain Kirk.

"Since I've been old enough to read," began Sulu, "ancient history and the heros of Old Earth mythology fascinated me. I was particularly fond of the story of Prometheus, the Titan who braved the wrath of the gods in order to bring mankind the gift of fire. The introduction of fire and how to use it had brought tremendous changes to the lives of the early inhabitants of the planet Earth. Flesh, once eaten raw, could be cooked. Homes, once damp and cold, were now warm and toasty. Minds, once harnessed only to the task of mere survival were free to explore other topics. Metal could be forged, industry could be born, mass production--and space travel--just around the corner. All of this because of fire. All of this because of Prometheus.

"But what would have happened if Prometheus had failed? Or worse, had never been born? Would all of the progress made since been wiped off the pages of history for lack of a single man, a single accomplishment?"

Even though Sulu knew that Prometheus was only a character in a myth, he had taken some time as a boy to indulge in this sort of "idle and fanciful" speculation. On quiet nights, he would leave his homework on the study console in his bedroom, and climb a ladder to the balcony upstairs to catch a glimpse of the stars overhead. Now as helmsman aboard a Federation starship, he required no balcony to travel the night sky. But the same little boy who had taken those "flights into fantasy" was still there. And it was this little fellow who posed questions about the story of Prometheus on the bridge.

"That is all well and good," answered Chekov, "but vwhat has that to do with your being invited to this planet?"



The botanical research party from the scoutship, Paul Revere, was led by the eminent botanist, Doctor Colin Rogers McNeil. They had hoped to locate and examine a species of plant thought to be related to the powerful Minerva species so common to the star system around Cygnus III. The Minerva plant had recently made headlines in several psychological studies on Humans, and showed some potential as a kind of tranquilizer in the treatment of various disorders of the brain and central nervous system of several other races in the Federation. Until this time, its natural range was thought to be restricted to the planets around Cygnus III. But Doctor McNeil had contended that species such as the Minerva plant were capable of independent evolution and development on systems perhaps lightyears away.

In pursuit of this hypothesis, he dropped everything he was engaged in at the time, and rushed to Poseidonia via the fastest means of transportation available, namely the scoutship Paul Revere. Three members of the ship's crew acted as his assistants. One of them was a recent Starfleet Academy cadet by the name of Hikaru Sulu.

There was no intelligent life on Poseidonia, according to reports by two Federation survey parties. The third research party was well into the task of gathering and recording planet samples when readings indicating the presence of an unknown lifeform were received.

"Can you tell me where the signal is coming from?" whispered Doctor McNeil cautiously.

Consulting the tricorder on his shoulder, Ensign Sulu softly replied, "Readings indicate one, non-humanoid entity at approximately three hundred meters, near that rocky outcrop, to your left."

"Is it moving?" asked McNeil, peering intently and seeing nothing.

"It appears to be stationary," replied the Asian. "I think it's waiting, sir."

By this time, all work in progress came to an immediate halt as the members of the landing party pondered this surprising development. However, before any sort of discussion or decision could be offered, the entity began to move rapidly in their direction.

"It's moving!" exclaimed a startled Ensign Sulu, dropping into a crouch.

"Set your phasers on stun," ordered McNeil hastily. But before the words left his mouth, the alien was already upon them, having traveled at amazing speeds.

The last thing Sulu recalled before lapsing into unconsciousness was the sensation of being simultaneously dropped into a raging bonfire and drilled into the ground.

A thin wisp of blue mist formed over the bodies of the landing party, congealing with each passing second. About the time the prostrate forms of McNeil and his group completely disappeared from view, the mist appeared to rapidly dissipate, and the air temperature seemed to fall. In its wake was a small, male humanoid figure.

Stepping nimbly over Doctor McNeil and around the bodies of the two other landing party members, the figure made his way to the spot where Sulu had fallen, tricorder in hand. Bending over the Ensign, the figure firmly grasped the back of Sulu's shirt, and proceeded to drag the body of the unconscious Human a short distance away. Then, using a considerable amount of skill and agility, the alien propped up the Human into a semi-upright sitting position against the side of a nearby boulder. Stepping back and wiping the palms of both hands together, the alien slipped easily into a seated position in front of the Human and waited.

It was not long before one of the cool, cool breezes that traveled along the surface of the planet succeeded in rousing Sulu from his artificially imposed sleep. His nose twitched at first, wrinkling slightly from the breeze's playful touch. Then his body stiffened slightly as he arched his back and stretched, raising both arms over his head, stretching again. After that, his arms returned to his sides and he placed the full weight of his body on his palms, pulled his legs up to his chest, knees bent. He tried to recall where he was.

"Groggy, so groggy," he thought to himself. "An alien sighted. Not Human. Coming! Heat, intense heat. Disoriented..."

His eyes didn't want to open, so he rubbed the back of his hands against them, forcing the lids to yield, and found himself looking into an alien face.

"Who are you?" Sulu asked, unsure if he was really seeing all of this. Getting no immediate answer, he repeated again. "Who are you? Do you have a name?"

"Name?" A question formed on the alien's face. "Oh, a name." He paused. "I'll take a name from your thoughts, Hikaru Sulu of the Federation scoutship Paul Revere," he said. After another short pause, the alien said, "Why don't you call me Prometheus."

"So, you're a kind of emissary?" Sulu asked.

"Exactly," said Prometheus.

"And you read minds," Sulu added, his eyes narrowing slightly as he considered the situation.

"I have chosen to read yours," said Prometheus. "And I have been selected by my people to make contact with one of the lifeforms who came down from the stars."

"But why me?" Sulu asked as a look of confusion and bewilderment formed on his face.

"I chose you because you do not look like the others. You are different," the alien said slowly. "I chose you because you are different."

Sulu was taken aback. It was extremely rare these days that he or any other Human would ever be singled because of the color of his skin, the texture if his hair, the angle of his eyes. Mankind had grown beyond race discrimination. It was by random coincidence that he was the only member of the landing party of Oriental extraction. Such a difference was ignored in most societies in the twenty-third century. Of course, it had not always been so. Ancient Earth history was full of examples of peoples mutually branded as "different" forging bonds and alliances, but it was also full of recorded incidents of violence and discrimination. Sulu shuddered as he remembered how Colonel Green had led a genocidal war against those of Japanese heritage in the middle of the twenty-first century. However, being a member of the Human race during this enlightened time, Sulu was admittedly surprised.

In preparing for this first contact, Prometheus had gone to considerable trouble to assume a form as close as possible to those of the Humans (as they called themselves) to lessen any initial shock they might have over his sudden appearance. To do this, he had relied on a series of early reports and observations made of the two previous Federation survey parties. True, the observations had been made from a distance, and no one had actually "met" a Human. However, there was plenty of information available. And it was this information that Prometheus had studied.

While the existence of life on other planets was commonly acknowledged on Poseidonia, the sight of the first Humans had been somewhat of a disappointment. No one, of course, believed that other lifeforms had to follow the same evolutionary pattern as life did on Poseidonia, but there had been hope. And it was a bit unsettling to discover that the Humans resembled an indigenous and unintelligent species of Poseidonia instead of resembling the Poseidonians themselves. Some of this disappointment was reflected in the reports.

Humans were reported to be anywhere between 0.85 klonos and 1.15 klonos in height and about 94 to 282 umnos in weight. They had pinkish skin and "fur," most of which was confined to the tops of their heads. Early reports also indicated black feet, but this was later proven to be false. Because they had little or no hair on most of their surfaces, Humans wrapped themselves in tight membrane-like coverings. Blue, red and yellow-green coverings were quite common, as was black. The "fur" came in a few limited shades red, black, yellow and brown. Males had short fur and occasionally were observed to have some fur on their faces while females had no facial fur and the fur on their heads was generally longer than the males.

Filing through these early observations, Prometheus attempted to come up with a composite model of a Human after which he planned to pattern himself. What Ensign Sulu saw that day was a combination of these reports and personal choices on the part of the Poseidonians as to what would be pleasing to the Human eye. Peering closer at the alien, Sulu beheld a slender, male humanoid about 1.55 meters tall and approximately 43 kilograms in weight with uniformly pinkish skin, a bushy shock of white hair, and friendly looking green eyes. The alien had attired himself in a red shirt, black pants, and black boots. But he had the silver trim of an officer on his sleeves, and wore a command, rather than an engineering insignia on his shirt.

Despite the care and trouble the alien had made to approximate the appearance of a fairly serious-minded comrade-in-arms, Sulu could not help thinking how much Prometheus reminded him of one of Santa's little elves, and he smiled broadly. Believing his characterization a success, the alien smiled back.

Sulu's smile faded, and he turned his attention to the bodies of his companions nearby. He asked Prometheus, "What about my friends?"

"Unhurt," the alien quickly replied. "Do not fear for them. They are only unconscious as you recently were. It must be so, as this meeting could only be between you and I."

Seeing an expression of doubt cross the Human's face, he added, "Believe me. I will restore them to you in time. Trust me." The alien then smiled again, raising both arms upwards in a pleading manner, and Sulu believed him.

Once the formalities were over, Sulu and Prometheus settled down into a more comfortable, cross-legged sitting position to pursue their conversation.

Not only the exchange of dry facts and figures about their respective planets, peoples, cultural development and technologies, but also their own particular and personal feelings about life and what made it merciful were conveyed in their telepathic conversation.

Poseidonia was the fourth planet from its sun in what was known as the Atlantean system, located near the edge of the galaxy. A class M planet, its surface had been known to Federation scientists for many years, but a thorough exploration of the surface had been delayed due to its remote location on the far edge of the galaxy. Over three-quarters of its surface was covered by oceans, and it was from these waters that the planet had received its name. As on Earth, life began in the sea from simple one-celled plants and animals who reproduced by cellular division. Eventually, species diverged, developing both a male and female form. One of the species was the ancestor of Prometheus.

But unlike Earth, reproduction in Prometheus' people was only made possible when the male and female came together at the age of puberty to form a permanent, lasting bond as one total organism. This organism, comprised of two separate and individual personalities, took the responsibility for the bearing and raising of the young over the remainder of its life span. Prometheus and his people also had bodies, but they were not distinguishable to the Human eye in their natural state. And their form and its functions were alien to those of all known races, one factor in their being able to escape Federation detection.

Furthermore, they possessed the ability to mimic any object--animate or inanimate-- on their planet for considerable periods of time, another factor which had concealed their existence during previous visits. Finally, the third factor which played a part in the reports which had suggested an absence of intelligent life, was the lack of physical structures--ruins or otherwise--which might point to the existence of a people and civilization as they were known. For despite the fact that Prometheus and his people had inhabited the surface for thousands and thousands of years, they had made little, if any, changes in the planet's natural topography. The sum of the evolution, technology, culture and wisdom were, instead, housed in the collective consciousness of the people, forming a vast, unseen library holding an infinite number of invisible, as well as some as yet unwritten volumes.

Watching Sulu reel mentally from the sheer wonder of it all, Prometheus said kindly, "I guess there are still a few surprises left in the universe, Ensign."

The emissary chosen by the Ruling council to make contact was an exception to the norm in more ways than one. Not only was he unusually young to be tapped for the kind of responsibility he held, but he was a living example of a biological abnormality which occurred from time to time. A flaw in his cellular coding prevented him from successfully completing a bond with a female of his kind, blocking his natural transition into adulthood and the continuation of his line. This flaw did impart to him one benefit. It gave him more freedom to concentrate on matters of the mind because he was spared the need to exert the kind of energy needed to complete the successful bonding of a male and female. At the time of his appointment, there had been some talk of sending an older, bonded member of the Ruling Council to make the decision. But the body was well aware of the heavy importance this decision would have on the lives of its children, so when the time came for the votes to be cast, the Council elected its youngest, but most astute member.


High above Poseidonia, the captain of the Federation scoutship Paul Revere paced his bridge.

A malfunction in the ship's transporters prevented him from immediately dispatching another landing party to investigate why no further reports had been received from either Doctor McNeil or the three members of his crew since their initial check-in over three hours ago. Ship's sensors picked up four humanoid figures on the planet. But they also indicated the presence of an unidentified lifeform in their vicinity. And if that wasn't enough, his engineer had just informed him that repairs would take yet another two hours.

"Two hours! Damnation!" he shouted to himself. It was moments like these when he speculated why he'd ever joined Starfleet. On the other hand, the question was just about as ridiculous as the statement that "man was not meant to fly."


On the planet below, Ensign Sulu was grappling with a problem of his own. He was becoming increasingly aware that despite his careful training to the contrary, he was beginning to regard the alien Prometheus as a Human. And these feelings were gradually mesmerizing him from an awareness of the passing time, as well as the fact that he and his companions had been knocked into unconsciousness by an alien whose story had not been verified and whose very existence was known only to Sulu. Fighting the attraction of the winsome and endearing smile, the reassuring glances, and the appealing personality of the alien who had named himself after one of Sulu's childhood heroes, the young officer realized he had already lost the battle. For in the interim, the Poseidonian had reverted back into his natural, virtually invisible gaseous state. But in the Human's mind, Prometheus and the image he had taken remained perfectly clear.

It was far easier to tap Sulu's mind for the information he sought by using a kind of telepathy, which had worked far more smoothly when he returned to his natural form. And Prometheus had done so. But there was another reason for changing back: Prometheus was becoming afraid. Each and every passing minute he spent with the Human reinforced the idea in his mind as to what contact between their two respective peoples would really mean.

Prometheus saw the two ways of life almost diametrically opposed. And this vision greatly disturbed him.

Contact between his people and those of the Federation to which Sulu belonged would be on the positive side, bring new knowledge, new ways of living, and new ways of thinking. This was to be expected. Conversely, contact would shake the very foundations of life as it was conceived to be on Poseidonia. For throughout its evolutionary history, its people had developed a life philosophy and orientation which stressed the "essential equality" of all things.

As an example, Prometheus would never place himself in a heirarchy above any rock, tree, bush or animal on the surface of Poseidonia, because they were all linked together by virtue of coming from the same chemical "stew" which had given birth to them all. Under this scheme of thinking, all things were equal. All things were made from the same components, and developed within the same system with a part and purpose in turn, which was a part of a larger, more infinite design.

Throughout their lives, for generations upon generations, the people of Poseidonia had subscribed to these beliefs. And a stable climate and remote location, which had discouraged intrusion from other systems, served only to reinforce and perpetuate these ideas. Humans, with their notions of fighting nature, the elements, other animals and even themselves, represented the opposite extreme. And when the two sides came together, Prometheus was becoming increasingly certain that the casualties would be higher on his side.

It was ironic, he thought bitterly, that I took the name Prometheus from the Human. For after his namesake introduced fire to his people, he had set them on a direct course for Poseidonia.

In the darkness of his mind, Ensign Sulu was aware of thoughts not his own, rushing in and out. He sensed a flood of foreign ideas, emotions and arguments, exploding in all directions. It was a strange sensation. He no longer saw the face of the Poseidonian before him, but that didn't seem to matter. He was certain that the thoughts were the alien's, and he was compelled by his own sense of compassion to respond to the feelings of doubt and spasms of pain.

He heard his own voice declare firmly, "There is always a good side and a bad side to anything, my friend. Fire made it possible for man to grow, learn, discover, build, create, reach out for the unknown--including the stars."

And although he heard no reply in those cerebral caverns, feeling the alien had heard, he added, "How can you say that the price is too high?"

For an instant, he saw a vision of the Poseidonian pacing back and forth, like an ambivalent father-to-be, wondering if the baby would be a boy or a girl, even considering flight from the waiting room to avoid the uncomfortable uncertainty. But somehow, Sulu knew that Prometheus would not leave. He knew.

Aware of Sulu's attempt at support and his eavesdropping, Prometheus acknowledged the Human, saying, "Solve this one for me, my Human friend. I am like you, but I am not like you. I can't be like you. I can never become you. But I feel so close to you, and part of you...feels like part of me."

Not really expecting an answer, Prometheus continued, "Why is this? Since all of my life I have believed that the only way two separate and distinct individuals could feel this way is by joining as my people do when they mate. But by fate's decree, I am unable to combine with a member of my own species. And by another, I am prohibited from joining with you. Even if I were of your kind, Hikaru Sulu, I would not be able to join in such an intimate way as this with you. The blood, bones and flesh would stand between and separate us. The joinings of your people pale in comparison to those of mine. We are too different, my alien friend. Our peoples are too different, too."

But once again, Sulu was able to cross the darkness and into the mind of the Poseidonian's, and he replied, "It doesn't have to be that way, Prometheus." Recalling the history of his Terran ancestors, Sulu admitted, "Once, it was thought on my planet that the differences between people of different skin colors was too great, and that they would never be able to live together in peace. Once, it was thought that the ideal world was one where people were as much alike as possible, all their differences combining in one large melting pot. But it was not our differences that kept us apart. It was our beliefs about them." Then the Human smiled, catching a vision of IDIC, the Vulcan philosophy as explained to him as a youth. "You and I are not alike," he told Prometheus. "And I agree that we can never be alike. But that is the beauty of it."

The Poseidonian was silent for what seemed like an hour, and the tension in Sulu's stomach grew. No longer could he share the alien's thoughts, although he tried. Both of them were now alone. Sulu, by himself, and Prometheus, in his self-imposed solitude. Teetering on a mental tightrope high above two ridiculously small barrels of water, Prometheus was gradually becoming aware of a third alternative: delay. Delay would give both himself and his people the time to fully go over all the consequences of contact with other peoples. It could also ensure that the opportunity to go over any doubts from several angles.

Heart content for the first time since he had met the Human, Prometheus bowed his head and decided. And in his mind's eye for the last time, Sulu caught the image of the Poseidonian and saw in the alien's face that Prometheus had found peace. Gladdened for the alien on one hand, but restless with anticipation on the other, Sulu waited with bated breath.

Finally, the alien spoke. "Go back to your ship, Hikaru Sulu. I will restore your comrades to you as I promised. Go back; return to your people."

Then Prometheus broke the contact, and he...was gone.

Moments later, Sulu found himself trying to shake the cobwebs out of his body with the other members of the landing party. The anxious beeping of one of their communicators brought them quickly back to reality. Sulu seized the communicator and responded, "Ensign Sulu here. Sorry to worry you. Everything's all right."

After quickly checking to ascertain there were no serious injuries and that the samples they had gathered were still intact, Doctor McNeil ordered the landing party to make preparations to depart. "Landing party ready to beam up," he said crisply, partially to disguise his disappointment that the specimens they had found did not appear to be related to those of the Minerva variety.

Within seconds, they heard the familiar hum of the transporter beam, and they took their leave in a shimmer of twinkling lights.


"You're smiling, Mister Sulu," observed a slightly bemused Captain James T. Kirk of the helmsman during a quick stroll of the bridge.

Turning his head in the direction of his captain's voice, the crewman in question lowered his eyes slightly and blushed. During his tale, interested eyes from all over the bridge had gravitated to his station. And, despite the fact that Sulu had tried his best to ignore all the attention, it was impossible not to be excited by the prospect.

"Vwell, go on," prompted Chekov impatiently.

"True, I was disappointed initially when the Poseidonians chose to reject further contact with the Federation, but my personal admiration, esteem and respect for Prometheus--an individual coping with his own fears and prejudices in order to make a gallant effort to deal with not only what could be the end of an era, but also the end of a way of life that had lasted for millennia--was...considerable."

Now, on the precipice of that change, Sulu was more convinced than ever that he had been and soon again would be in the presence of a Titan, the kind of which had populated the stories of his youth. And in thinking that, his expression formed one of childish delight. Shifting his gaze back up to the viewscreen, he reflected that in his term of service in Starfleet, he had been privileged to know two such men: Prometheus, and the man who occupied the command chair of the Enterprise.


Some distance ahead, on the surface of Poseidonia, the former emissary of the Ruling Council was excavating the memories of what had transpired since he had made contact with the Human, Hikaru Sulu, several years ago. Soon after his return to the Council, and in years since, a continuing discussion that was to culminate in the events of today had begun. It was not that his colleagues disapproved of his decision to delay contact with the United Federation of Planets, for it was generally agreed that they would have done the same. What was in contention was if the decision really "closed the book" on the whole subject (to use a Terran expression Prometheus had picked up from his telepathic contact with Sulu), or if it was merely a temporary delay of the inevitable.

Among the most vocal parties to the discussion were members of the Council who were also parents. "My fellow Council members," one had said. "The people of Poseidonia may be able to keep our system, our way of life and culture intact during this generation, but what about the future?"

"Sooner or later, another party of aliens will come, perhaps not from this Federation, but posing the same questions and consequences," another had said.

"Our children have not yet learned the fear and apprehension we have through our experience," yet another argued. "Despite all attempts we make to suppress the knowledge of these visitors from the stars, someday one of the children will hear of it. And that child will search the heavens from that day forth, driven by the longing to know that which we have hidden."

Through the debates that followed, the nagging question which had hung over the minds of all was: "In the end, will it be any different?"

Poseidonian knew from Sulu's mind that cultures and societies on other worlds had tried to preserves ways of life in the face of such change before, and they had lost. The Human's own ancestors, many times removed, had feared contact with other nations which they foresaw would destroy their society as they knew it. So they attempted to prevent this by closing all the ports to foreign ships, and banning their people from traveling abroad on pain of death. But, the day did come when they were compelled to reopen the doors to their country. For while they lived behind the walls they erected, their neighbors developed the new changes, the new technologies, the new sources of power that Sulu's ancestors were not in a position to withstand.

And Prometheus had concluded, "In a universe subject to constant change, as this one is, change is inevitable."

Then Prometheus had shared one of Sulu's childhood memories.

Great-grandfather Toshiro was waxing poetic before a crackling fire in the hearth. Sulu's father had just lost a job to an advance in technology, and had been bemoaning the incident. The elderly man regarded his grandson with a withering glare, emptied the contents of his pipe into the fire, and said, "Change is like a river pining for the sea. It is a double-edged sword of the sharpest steel. Depending on where you stand, it is capable of bringing great good or great evil. But as an opponent, it is too formidable and too powerful for one lone man to successfully tackle."

One of the elder Poseidonians had cried out from somewhere in the depths of his soul, "But what of perfection? We have always been happy just as we are. We have been at peace with ourselves and our environment. Can Humans truly say the same?"

Prometheus had paused before replying, "Maybe perfect, however beautiful, is not the lot of we who inhabit this universe." And he added hopefully, "Besides, there may just be another form of perfection we have yet to discover."

Prometheus' recollections of the Ruling Council's debates were interrupted by a young page sent to bring him before the Council. "Your excellency, it is time."

"Thank you. I come," replied Prometheus to the child.

Heading toward where the Council had gather, Prometheus mused to himself that when his namesake on Earth brought men the gift of fire, he had started a true revolution. Fire brought the alternatives, possibilities, and changes which would begin to sever the connections between man and the forces that created him.

No longer would man be resigned quietly to his fate, his destiny forever shaped by forces he could not see and could not control. But, from that time on, he would never really ever be satisfied. For in one bold stroke, man unknowingly eliminated the possibility of finding perfection in anything, because nothing could ever be perfect long enough. And pushing away at the confines of his would into the solar system and into the galaxy, man bequeathed to his children his dissatisfaction.

Prometheus remembered being both amused and saddened when he had found in Sulu's mind the dreams his people had in finding a Nirvana, Shangri La, or Paradise. The theme had been a persistent one; the Poseidonian had noted that throughout Humanity's written and oral history, perfection had been the ideal.

Looking into the future--that of Humanity and of Poseidonians--Prometheus thought absently, "They will never find it again, will they? And we shall never have it again."

His faraway demeanor attracted the attention of a fellow Council member who radiated sadness as Prometheus passed. Mentally, Prometheus sighed deeply as he took his place among the elders of the Ruling Council to await the arrival of the Federation landing party.

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This story can be found in printed form in ORION ARCHIVES 2229-2265  THE BEGINNINGS1
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