Science Fiction and Fantasy | An Indian Experience

Guleil: Leg(omenon), The Last Word - Part 4 A Serialised Novel By Som Nandivada |
Issue 27

Guleil: Part 4 – Leg(omenon), The Last Word – A Serialised Novel By Som Nandivada

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“My game! Mine! Eeeee…YYaaaaHH”

Da.da.da.da.da.da…. Pound.Bang!!!! Matka was a game they played on ship for the whiling away of the time.

Lizzie liked Matka. She managed to beat Dik at it once in a way. Mostly though he bludgeoned his way to victory – but occasionally, yes, she’d beat him. And the reason she was so into this game was because when she won, the battles would have been memorable, and the climaxes beautiful.

Dik was staring at the screen, which was showing fiendish patterns of strikes and set-bullas.

Matka was basically a play on truth, by means of manifest interpretation of symbolic logic, and confidence estimates.

By regulation, Lizzie was not supposed to share information about other passengers with Dik. This was a statutory arrangement arrived at on account of psychological recommendation. The only loophole clause (the need for which was foreseen and deliberately allowed by the powers that be, as would become manifest as the tale unfolds further) was through this game.

At the first point of entrance in the game, a laconic latch would hold you off. Contraptions, devices, appliances, things had a way of evolving in their own headstrong way. If you stepped back a bit, it seemed totally absurd. The market gets perennially flooded with stuff whose raison d’ etre to the practical mind is essentially incomprehensible. The latch was one such.

The first time they played this game, Dik was somewhat lost.

“I suppose you have a reason on you?” asked the latch as the game commenced.

“Ah, well, we need a pass-phrase.” Liz muttered as an aside to Dik.

“Why? Or rather, what?” Dik was confounded and thrown off his composure by this situation. “What’s the deal, Liz?” He said with a puzzled look on his face, and Lizzie calmed him down a notch, signaling him to be patient.

“Reason? Well, that would be against crying out loud, and for cheese on my face,” said Lizzie to the latch.

“That is a far cry, my friend. The laugh better be hearty, I’d suggest a guffaw. And how is your mother?” the latch replied.

And they went on seemingly endlessly, Liz, and the latch.

Philologies, mother of another, winter winds, sundry decoctions, spermaceti and eaten arms, political upheavals, calm sunsets, roads and homes, ethers and media, art forms and war games, fossils, galaxies, sidewalks, pepper, calcium, tomatoes, flux capacities et cetera et cetera the dialog went on, Dik had no clue what it was, seemed to be some kind of a stream of consciousness game.

“Tick of the clock and the drip of the tap,” said Lizzie – And then some more leading exchanges later, the laconic latch let them through.

Concept associations – and pattern matching, that’s what it’s all about, Lizzie explained to Dik about the latch. And although he was lost in the beginning, he caught on quick enough.

“The latch, well, I’m not too keen on the notion, but I’ve learnt to live with it. Technically, it is a form of identification and authentication. It is way too much personality infusion for a low-level directory server in my opinion, but anyway, a laconic latch is like a cosmopolitan version of a bouncer at a country barn dance, or a strip club.

“So, for instance, cheese on my face is a corny way of saying, I’m smiling. That is to say, I’m implying that I have no malevolent intention. The tick of the clock and the drip of the tap are to say that I’m feeling somewhat sleepless, and visiting friends to share time with. But it goes deep. There are undercurrents of associations you’d have to live with for a while to talk the jive.”

Lizzie thought about how invariable the game was. Every lubber of hers had had to ask for the game, somewhere along the trip. Dik was no exception.

It was a very recent thing that Komango had become a junction in the true meaning of the word. Triton was a far out moon, speaking in a solar context. And so far it hadn’t really made commercial sense to think of it as a junction. That is to say, why would you go to Triton and swing back to Ganymede for instance?

Irma it was, who had decisively influenced these traffic patterns, in anticipation of the minor worlds moving back and forth, which was what the Guleil trips were expected to initiate in a big way. Once new worlds start arriving into the OSS, it was a necessary thing to merge commerce from within with what came from without. That was why setting up Komango on Triton made sense.

There would come a time on a trip this long, from Earth to Komango, where the human passenger would tire of tubie services. And that point had come for Dik, where it was getting way too made up. He was getting fed up, and the lust was waning from an overdose, the onslaught of the amalgamated rush of a hundred bodies, a thousand faces.

Lizzie was adept at personality takes.

She had been for him a Berber Moroccan, squat and burly like in a Marrakech village with a high-rumped girdle and Atlas behind her lunging huge and big, and she’d throw out her love like a net, with her tanned complexion and dark hair; and with olive skinned Arabesque body, and thighs with a grip of vice. She would love him with her scarf on her head, mascara on the lashes and breasts made of heavenly leaven and just a touch of some heathen dough.

She had been a Mongolian highland goddess, with exquisite cut rugged features and thick meat on the rump and good on the hips and haunches, hard as can be where needed, and soft as you’d like where you’d want it soft; working her joy horse in the raw and ravaging the riders, who were so fragile already, weary on saddle and done in by night.

Dik shuddered from the recollection, but he’d loved it when on it.

And yes, she had been a blow-by-blow blonde too, with a deep-down below the belly invitation to wheat gold lust.

And scores of other personas, Lizzie had adorned. One thing she wasn’t meant to be for him though was an Apsara from the shores of the Indus. That was a feast yet to come for Dik, as the Matka would go on to show. And Lizzie wasn’t it. His match and set was to be the result of the Matka, a choice descendant of Urvashi, the one he had wished for.

He was a water-based being. He didn’t know much about “gonds” – i.e. land people (from the Gondwanas). But he knew that they were a homogeneous amalgam – most people any given place on earth would have had three or four lineages which each might have originated on possibly different continents. This leg of human history was such that bloodlines were barely delineable in most people on earth.

But his water kind were more “single cut” than the land people. The sheers were built from land-based minds. He had a tussle with some inner conflicts.

One day, he told her, “I like each take. But I need you to home in.” This was a bit of a strong demand, since her role is not to be his partner in any deep sense. She belonged to the ship. But she was prepared to acquiesce, almost. But some kind of common sense prevailed, and she thought of making a Trode Call to Irma. It was time for The Last Word.

Irma responded, from where, Lizzie knew not.

Ah, Blessed Lizzie. Good that it is you. ” The thought worked in into Lizzie, and that she recognized, as Irma. It was Heavenly, the beatitude and the halo.

Some tubies could communicate with means that are superior to the standard definition of a thought as a neurological or electrochemical entity, and its concomitant expression and articulation. They had better means. Lizzie and Irma of course were the best along these lines.

In the traditional sense, it was telepathy. On-demand telepathy, though, that is to say a tubie would have to arrive at a frame of mind through saadhana. That is to say, a disciplined effort attained through meditative means.

And it was a leisurely, laid-back means of communication, unfettered by classical science, unconstrained by physical laws.

So how have you been, Irma?” Lizzie asked in turn.

“Ah, the same old, La-Ta-Ho-Ta-Ta-Ho-La-…”.

Lizzie knew what Irma was saying. Landing-Taxi-Home-Taxi-Takeoff-Hotel-Landing, …, and so on ad infinitum.  It was a shared memory from their old days. And something that continued to apply, albeit in different forms.

Lizzie and Irma were buddies. Lizzie was often wistful about her initial role when she was (rootin/pettin) tin lizzie and Irma was the iron maiden out at the frontier. And how Irma had grown since then and she herself had stayed put. But she was OK all in all with her fate.

“Yes, that same ol’ same ol’, and then the cloak and dagger keeps me busy. It is all about the kx and the wt and the A and the f, and reconciling the Gmn and the Tmn. And all that God-awful hair, it gets exasperating sometimes.” Irma went on to say.

The cloak and dagger was the means that would enable Half Town | to skedaddle back from out of guleil zone. The folks there were not clear about how that happens, but Irma was responsible for it.

Irma worked the cloak, and the dagger of course was figurative. It implied some kind of a hermitian conjugate, basically. And in some sense there was a kind of an Aei(kx-i w t + f ) involved in the process, although it would fill the brains of a planet sized computer to detail it out in any level of exactness. Irma had it all figured out in her head.

“Yes, especially considering that black holes shouldn’t be having any.” Lizzie replied. She meant the hair of course.

The trode didn’t need the full attention of a person. It was like a background process. Lizzie would trode out to Irma, and at the same time, run her business as usual; like playing the game, for instance.

The purpose of the game was to guess identities of other travelers in the honeycomb lattice ship. It was a variant of n-20 questions, specific to the socio-structure of the outer space detail.

In the origins of the game, there was an element of counterpoint to the “unplug and let go” aspect of life in space travel. That is to say, in the event of an emergency or crisis, a subset of humans might have to be jettisoned, in the interests of saving the rest. This was a decision that was mercifully taken away from the on-board humans themselves, and the pipers provided the metrics for ground control to take the decision, if ever needed.

For humans, the skeleton provides an anchor for the soft tissues like organs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It also supports the weight of these tissues.

For pipers, it is somewhat different. They do have bones and all, for sure. But in terms of the anchor, they depend on the pipe. And that is why they are the dominant sentient out in space, since they can afford to cock a snook at gravity.

In somber contrast, “jettison” and “scuttle” were fearsome words for pool old humans in space.

So yes, it was a touchy matter, and the game was a way of eliminating the awkwardness. Or at least, so the psychologists thought.

The game was brought in to home in on to someone “human”, and nearby.

For instance, on this trip, Dik was not sure if he was the only human on ship. There were lots of folk to be sure. There was Lizzie, and the mule pack. And they all came and went with happy ease through the foam bridge door to his cabin.  So these folks were not human, basically.

And the honeycomb lattice was built in such a way that each cabin was totally isolated while the journey was in progress. This was a tradition arrived at through generations of space psychology, wherein people made wrong decisions about jettisoning a subset of their fellow humans in case of disaster. Gradually it so came about that ships were run by tubies to the most part, and on ship, the people didn’t even know who else was human on board. And so they invented the game of Matka.

Humans were prevented by a checkpost at the cabin exit, from entering the foam. It was not often than a human made the tubie transition. And when someone did, that usually occurred at Half Town |, not on ship. But there had been a few such cases. And when so, the legalities were incredibly complex. Not to mention the danger.

And so, because in the honeycomb lattices, no human was initially aware of who else was on board, and they evolved this game to guess at it, and disburse the knowledge to the winners, based on discretionary math. But now that these days life was more assured in terms of safety, it was more a means of indulgence to play Matka, than anything else.

Anyhow, Dik took to Matka on this trip.

And as was wont to happen, he won enough to get to know. So who was it?


He let out a whoop of delight, and followed it through with something between a chortle and chuckle.

Matka identified a woman known as Yum, as being one of his co-travellers.

Yum’s profile showed up as a top lady, that is to say, a subject matter expert on the topology of human pleasure. And this top lady as it happened was the very same sullen ocelot he had set his sights on at the tubewalk. An expert on pleasure, could that be her? From how he recalled her, she did look like an intense person. Might well be.

Electrum Ulka Mihera. That was her proper name. Initials E.U.M, pronounced as Yum.

Yum was noted as being on a visit to absorb the outer (OSS) mores of lifestyles.

And going by the light in Dik’s eyes, he liked the looks of her.

And Lizzie? Well, she needed some help on this one herself. Dik was getting to her, and these were strange new waters in the pool of Creation. As noted already, she was flipping for him, and of course, she knew it was a line preferably not to be crossed. Her regular companion was good old blue in the collar Tom, an automaton steward who didn’t have much to say most of the times, did his job and moved along. Logically, she should let moving dogs move on and sleep with the ones that stayed. But her heart interfered with logic. Tubies were descended from humans after all.

So she placed her decision on the trode line to Irma.

Irma, shall I hold on to him?” She figured that she could ask for help from the Guided One for this decision point in her life.

Irma instructed Lizzie to let go of Dik. He would be going to Half Town | As it happened, he would actually end up going all the way to Ghedawdhyer, but that’s by and by.

Lizzie, this boy has ties to Th’ReA.He has got to travel onwards. I need to touch with him and figure.” If there was any trode word from Irma that could shock Lizzie, this was it.

Th’reA was a Bane Word; for humans and pipers alike. Not many knew of the Thre’Ans, but those that did, shuddered at the mention.


The notion had popped up one day, from God knows where, into Dik’s head. No context, no background, just an abrupt occurrence.

At Th’reA it is that they drink demonade. This was what had brought Dik to Irma’s notice. How she was tapping into his head right at that moment was another cosmic mystery, but be that as it may, she was.

The Thr’eAns were aliens. That was it at the base level. But what was particularly frightening was that they were not so very foreign. Yes, that was actually the creepier part of the story.

Direct communication with aliens requires an elaborate setup. Usually they manifest in terms of phenomena (like ball lightning for example).  And sometimes communication is downright impossible.

For example, the dark matter aliens – the demaskine, who had been of significant interest recently, even though there couldn’t have ever been a question of direct communication.

The first case of direct communication had been through the alter-beasts of Th’reA, who were in an obverted sense sort of human but had in them the other side.

So, Dik had a line into the Th’reAns.  Wow. Lizzie was taken by shock. The only beings in our universe as far as Lizzie was aware, who knew of the specifics of Th’reAn existence were Irma and the Mojo. Some folks like herself had hazy awareness, but not beyond the fact that they were an enemy, a threat. Dik was special, huh.

She worked herself from out of the trancelike effect of the shock, and went back to her decision point.

Is that your last word, Irma?” She knew that would be how it would be, and she’d have to abide by the advice, but she wasn’t too happy about it.

Legomenon. Yes, it is the word I have, Lizzie. Let the boy go. He has a journey to make” And Irma helped Lizzie wire up for the reconciliation process, and plugged her back with Tom the automaton.

Komango Blues. Yes, they were approaching.

Note: Read the complete Guleil Series:

Cover pic by Hardi Saputra.

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Born in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, India at the Feet of Lord Shiva and now living on the edge in Toronto Canada, Som is a software engineer by profession with graduate background in mathematics, physics and space studies. He is also a classic blues rock drummer/lyricist. Science fiction is Som's chosen portal.