A Voyage to Šenauer 11/12 '23
Consider the world of TERRIS…
TERRIS is so distant from its sun that its surface is almost entirely snow and ice. Its hardy inhabitants are firm believers in democracy, but their politics are of a very agressive sort. Every citizen has one vote, which must be cast according to the will of the last person to defeat that citizen in a government-scheduled martial arts tournament. There is therefore a great deal of societal emphasis on learning how to fight. Hardly anyone will publicly admit to having an interest in any science not directly related to their combative skills. In secret, however, many people of Terris learn other ways to improve their world, and they teach these subjects to others in private. It is considered impolite to wonder who provides the hydroponic gardens and fusion reactors necessary to support life on Terris.
The martial arts academia of TERRIS have promoted the discipline of encoding secret knowledge, encapsulated in the elegant form of haiku. Its masters study their opponents and craft a haiku that captures their ki. It has been used by many a tournament winner to turn the tide of a bout, the rival's haiku spoken before a final blow is landed.
The spymasters of TERRIS now seek to apply this at a grander scale, sending spies to other worlds to understand them and return the haiku that capture's ki of an entire world.
Thus a single pilot known only as Akasora has been sent on a pod for the journey that may cover many lives. As such, Akasora is secretly an artificial intelligence in an android body, given rigorous neural training to take all he observes and transmit back the haiku that will grant TERRIS advantage over the many worlds in the galaxy.
Unbeknownst to his masters, Akasora has already captured his homeworld’s ki in just such a haiku:
Frozen ballots cast,
Warrior's dance shapes the vote,
Secrets beneath snow.
He sets out to ŠENAUER which requires no great expenditure of fuel, arriving there, his study of the planet reveals…
ŠENAUER retains aspects of a feudal society even though it is far more urban than agricultural. What land does remain under cultivation belongs to just three noble families with roots in Šenauer's ancient history. Each extended family is quite inbred, and they have taken their characteristic features as signs of their nobility. Hence the Brada clan strives to breed for ever more prominent chins, the Uši family aims to have the world's longest ears, and the Obrve pride themselves on extravagently large eyebrows. Appreciation for these features is not universal, however, and indeed Šenaueri frequently insult each other with rude nicknames referencing their exaggerated parts. One trait that well serves any inhabitant of Šenauer is a (metaphorically) thick skin.
Through his neural pathways, the ki of ŠENAUER emerges as:
Feudal traits adorned,
Mockery veiled thick.