Gods of Sagittarius – Snippet 26


“Please,” said Heterochthonatrix Rammadrecula, gesturing toward a broad bench against the side of the chamber. “Make yourself comfortable. Would you care for some refreshments?”

Occo shook her head. Then, after an instant’s hesitation, moved over and perched herself on the bench.

“Are you aware that a lateral shake of the head is almost a universal negative indicator for intelligent species?” said the heterochthonatrix. “And a vertical nodding motion is almost as universally a positive indicator. The only exception among the major starfaring races is the Vitunpelay.”

More from a desire to be polite than because she actually cared, Occo said: “What do they do instead? Reverse the gestures? Nod instead of shake, and vice versa?”

“They have no uniform rule. Sometimes they nod, sometimes they shake — the gestures can mean either one. And there seems to be no logic to the choices they make. Experts I’ve consulted think the Vitunpelay do it just to be contrary.”

Occo wondered why anyone in their right mind would bother to consult experts over such a picayune matter. Who cared why Vitunpelay did anything? The species was at least half-insane.

“We’ll have to exterminate them eventually,” Rammadrecula continued, in that same oddly cheerful tone of voice. “But enough on that. So tell me, Gadrax-whatever-your-name is — and please note that I do not inquire — why did you come here?”

“As I just explained to your associate — ”

Rammadrecula made a rude noise. “Please! I heard what you told Proceeds-With-Circumspection. Who, I might mention, is my subordinate, not my associate. Surely you don’t think me so obtuse as to believe for one moment that a gadrax on a mission of malevolence would waste her time on a pesthole like Cthulhu” — the hetero-chthonatrix paused dramatically, rearing back in her posture — “unless she had reason to believe the Old Ones or their demonic antitheses were somehow involved. To put it another way, the gadrax does not — as she so shrewdly misled my subordinate — believe for one moment that the perpetrators of whatever rough deed caused her to assume gadrax status — and please note that I do not inquire as to the nature of that deed — are actually ‘unknown miscreants.'”

She rose up from the bench. “So! My response is clear. I must provide you with all possible assistance, no matter the cost. To do otherwise would allow my enemies — I can state with assurance that the ranks of the Envacht Lu are infested with them — to accuse me of dereliction of duty. ‘How so?’ you ask.”

In point of fact, the question had never once crossed Occo’s mind.

“It should be obvious,” Rammadrecula continued. “I am a scion of the Flengren Apostollege. I should rather say, was a scion of the Flengren Apostollege, for naturally I abandoned all previous affiliations when I pledged myself to the Envacht Lu. Nevertheless! There are many who insinuate that I retain those relations and allegiances. Given the well-known stance of the Flengren Apostollege concerning the identities of the High and the Low, were that true I should naturally be inclined toward thwarting your mission, even to the point of ensuring your own destruction. For — clearly! only a lackwit could fail to see this! — your mission at least calls into question that aforementioned divine ipseity.”

She lowered herself back down onto the bench. “As I said, my course is thus clear. I will assist you insofar as possible.”

Occo tried to grapple with the Heterochthonatrix’s reasoning.

Bresk was still neutrally connected. <The technical term Humans use for this unsane behavior is “paranoid.” The concept is itself not sane, since it presupposes that beings who worry about enemies may not have any enemies at all. Which is preposterous, of course, since everyone has enemies. Still and all, in this instance I think the term could be applied. The heterochthonatrix inhabits an alternate mental universe where people care what she thinks.>

Bresk’s assessment was probably correct, Occo decided. The question which remained was: how to extricate herself without producing unnecessary tensions? As witless as Rammadrecula might be, she was still an Envacht Lu official. To arouse her antagonism could lead to awkwardness.

“I thank you for your offer of assistance, Heterochthonatrix Rammadrecula, and rest assured that I will call upon that offer as soon as I determine my course of action. For the moment, though –”

“Don’t be vacuous!” said Rammadrecula. “The nature of my assistance is obvious. Since I am an expert on matters involving Humans, and since Humans are clearly at the center of this affair — why else would you have come to Cthulhu? — I will provide you with an introduction to the official in charge of their prison. They call him the Warden, by the way. He thinks me to be his friend because I possess a definite interest in Humans although in my cunning I have disguised all traces of my actual antipathy toward the species. They are fascinating, yes; but ultimately repulsive. However, I do not believe we shall find it necessary to exterminate them.”

“But why would I wish to meet the . . . ‘Warden,’ you call him? I see no reason I would have any interest in a Human prison.”

“You don’t, as such. But you will be interested in what has happened there a while back to some Human prisoners. In the course of your report to my Ebbo associate, you made reference to ‘unknown weaponry.’ Am I correct in assuming that the term was a nugget of honesty in a sea of dissemblance?”

<Be careful!> warned Bresk. <That’s a trick question!>

Occo thought her familiar was giving the heterochthonatrix too much credit. She thought Rammadrecula’s remark derived more from conceit than subterfuge.

So . . .

“Yes,” she said.

“Well, then! Examine the recent destruction of some Human prisoners — and see for yourself that only ‘unknown weaponry’ could be the cause. One moment, please.”

Rammadrecula leaned to her right and spoke. “Proceeds-With-Circumspection, provide the gadrax with an affiche for Warden Chadwick. Nothing elaborate. Just a statement of my full confidence in her and a request for his assistance in her investigation.”

Looking in that direction, Occo got her first glimpse of the Gawad murkster. The crustacean was at the bottom of a large aquarium in the corner of the chamber.

The glimpse was a fleeting one, however. Within less than a minim, the flickering haze hid the creature from sight again.

The Ebbo’s voice came into the chamber. “Yes, Heterochthonatrix. What size bribe should I include?”

Rammadrecula looked at Occo, shaking her head. “Humans! They’re quite corrupt, you know. Almost as bad as Paskapans.” Then, speaking in the direction of the murkster: “The usual. We don’t want the Humans to think there’s anything special about the gadrax’s mission.”

She turned back to Occo. “Godspeed, Gadrax. If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘God’ is the Human superstition that there exists some sort of undetected and undetectable supreme being who has created everything and oversees the workings of everything despite having left not a trace of evidence to that effect. You can see why I do not foresee any need to exterminate them. The imbeciles will surely do the work themselves.”