Canto 31 – Gaijin
In Japanese the name Gaijin means “foreigner” or “gringo”. It denotes a barbarian who is too close to nature to truly ever understand the ways of the celestial culture of the dragons. It was an appropriate name for the planet. All who came there, even the dolphins and whales, were foreigners and off-worlders. The true culture was a secret deeply embedded in the planet itself.
Dr. Naylund Smith was an immortal. He had lived on 17th Century Earth and been among the first explorers to leave the planet in space craft stolen from the invading Tellerons. He had met the original Sylvani, and loved them as a people. He used his vast knowledge and medical skill to help them evolve into the people they were now. He and his young daughter, Sara, were standing outside the Celestial City of Kiro as the spacecraft Megadeath touched down on the plains outside the Dragon Wall. They watched the sleek war machine settle gracefully to the soil where no starship had been for nearly 800 years. It was with a mixture of emotions that he watched it. He knew that the ship carried what his daughter needed most. He also knew that it would bring an end to the peace and unspoiled beauty of the world of Gaijin.
“Daddy, are they bad men?” asked eight-year-old Sara. Her blond hair fell golden and beautiful over one eye. Her little-girl body was nearly lost in the graceful white silk kimono she wore.
“No, Sweet One. They are good.”
“Why are you so sad, then?”
“Because they bring the White Spider back to us. Things will change here. The Gaijin I love will be no more.”
“The White Spider from the stories? That should be exciting, shouldn’t it?”
The little girl put her soft hand into the gnarled old turkey claw that was Naylund’s hand. He was comforted by the gesture.
The starship touched down in sight of the Dragon Gate. The town was surrounded by an ornately carved wall that was shaped like a dragon’s body. The only entrance was through the Dragon Gate, the open mouth of an ornately carved Celestial Dragon. The city was secured behind the energy barrier created by the Sylvani Technology in the wall itself. Naylund would have to escort whoever was inside the space ship through the Dragon Gate, because he did not wish them to run afoul of either the Gate Guards or the ancient energies of the wall itself. Only those with proper chi, like himself, could pass through unchallenged.
He walked out to meet them.
The first down the starship’s exit ramp was obviously an Earther by heritage. His skin was pink like Naylund and Sarah’s skin, not yellow or orange like the Gaijinese. The boy that followed the man in the fedora hat, though, was a Nebulon, blue-skinned and yellow-haired. The boy looked Naylund directly in the eye, and revealed himself as a telepath by doing so. Naylund was not a Psion himself, but had come to know them because Sarah was a telepath, born of a Psion mother who died mysteriously during the birth.
“So,” said Naylund, extending a hand in a gesture of welcome, “welcome to the planet, Gaijin, Honored White Spider.”
“Why do you call me that?” asked the sharp-eyed man in the fedora hat. “I am Ged Aero. I am here because a Psion told me to come. I don’t know you. Why do you call me by that name that I’ve been hearing so much lately?”
“I hate to be the one to break it to you, Ged Aero, but by stepping out of that starship, you have fulfilled an 800-year-old prophecy. The people here will hail you as a god reborn. You are like Jesus Christ to them. You are here to teach them, and lead them out of their millennium of isolation.”
“Perhaps you are mistaken. What if I am not the White Spider you seek?”
Naylund laughed. “Shan’s Prophecy tells how you would speak those very words when you arrived here. The people would not follow a White Spider that never doubted himself and acted without reserve. Those are the qualities of a Black Spider. We have too many of them all ready.”
Ged looked the old man in the eye. Naylund could see something there he had never seen before. This man was a different sort of Psion. He was a changer, one who could change himself, and by doing so, change the worlds around him.
“Exactly who are you, old man?” asked Ged.
“I am Naylund-sensei. Naylund Charles Smith, Doctor, Adventurer, and Scholar. I am from Earth, but from long, long ago. Ged-kun, I will help you in your new role as leader of this planet. I pray that you will learn to love it as I do.”
“Naylund-sensei?” said the little blue boy, “who is this lovely girl?”
Naylund looked at the bright-eyed boy. He was a handsome child with the beautiful powder-blue skin of a superior race of beings. Naylund felt attraction to him immediately, though he had no idea yet why.
“This is my daughter, Sara Smith. I pray that you both will learn to love her too, just as I do.”