Welcome to Saturday Morning 5 Tom Mazanec At the door, a beaver Aesop guard lazily filed his teeth. Carisk took a deep breath and swallowed hard. His Aesop accent turned out to be similar to a Dutch accent to the Portuguese language of the Amazon Commonwealth. Since he was the one who figured out how to modulate the sanstring...no, the radio (think in Amazon dialect) signals from the Commonwealth for easy understanding, he found himself appointed a sort of ad hoc "ambassador" to the Amazon Commonwealth. Wim Lubbers, his Amazon counterpart, probably was someone who found himself in his position just as abruptly as Carisk had, although he had not probed into this aspect of his background. This was perhaps the biggest diplomatic job in his old world's recorded history. The Amazon Commonwealth had technology which was, as far as they could tell, as good as magic - perhaps the real military of the Commonwealth could kill everyone in Brasil with the push of a button. If nothing else, they could use the nuclear bombs so many other timezones seemed to have bitter experience of to turn his timezone into a poisoned desert. Since Carisk did not know if Aesop Domains functioned in this new world, even in this timezone, it was imaginable that Aesops could soon be rendered forever gone - extinct - vanished. Carisk thought about that... no more Aesops ever again, any more than the giant dragons of millions of years ago. Not one person of his kind anywhere. No wonder his friend Lemuel brooded so much. "Come in Carisk." "Here I am Wim. I hope that this exchange can be productive for both our timezones." "Carisk, I am going to have to get the worst over with in this exchange. We have 843 confirmed dead at your hands so far, and we are still counting cases. There are as many injured to various degrees. In almost every case, your aesops were the ones who initiated hostilities. What will Brasil do to recompense us for this?" "We could print and send you thousands of millions of pecunos, if you wished. Perhaps some collectors would want them. Or perhaps you could use them for toilet paper, if that is preferable. I would think a more imaginative reparation would be in order, however." "What do you propose?" "Many Aesops here were servants of individuals, corporations or governments. Many resent this, but some would certainly be willing to serve to help avoid a war. Would this be acceptable?" "We have machines to do virtually anything that your Aesops would be capable of doing. What do you have in mind as service?" "How about our very unique existence? Would entertainment be a possible service?" "Like live action cartoons, you mean? Interesting. I will pass the suggestion up channels. But I am not sure how much trust we can have in your behavior, after what we have seen in it." "Mr. Lubbers, have you heard of the Third Reich, and the Nazis who ruled it?" "I have heard several stories from the United Kingdom about them. I must say I find it hard to credit them." From what Carisk knew of Avalon, he found the tales very credible, indeed. "What the Nazis felt for Jews is an echo, a shadow, an afterscent of what the Avalon humans feel for Aesops. The Nazis figuratively demonized the Jews. The humans of Avalon literally demonized us. Any human who so much as spoke with an Aesop, even if many years ago as a child, was guilty of witchcraft and according to the Bible was not to be suffered to live. They actually killed and leveled virtually everything north of the Gr - the Amazon River. There were some snafus" great word, that "and a number of bridges over the river were left. So the survivors of our army - which had been twice as great as the one that so impresses you - had to fight south of the river. North America had drained its people into the war, and Aesop came from around the world to fight them. We evacuated every human close to the Amazon...the edge of the evacuation zone seems to be the border of our timezone. Any human found there would be presumed to be an enemy. If your people were in the same situation, would the death toll be less?" "Perhaps. There is so much my nation has to offer one such as yours...you seem to be almost a century behind us in scientific development. And I was a fan of animated cartoons as a child...I would like to actually see an Aesop. I will see what I can do. Can any animal become an Aesop?" "Any piloso." "What is a piloso?" "A boned animal with hair, whose females make milk." "We call them mammals." "Mammals. Wim, there is something else..." "Yes?" "We are now a grossly overpopulated country. We have a population of 150 million in an area like yours, which supports a mere 60 million. Many of them must eat meat... like myself. Before, many nations exported food to us - they did not like our liberal policies toward Aesops, but they liked Avalon's insanity even less. Also they depended on Aesop labor, and killing all the Aesops would deprive them of that even more than freeing us would. But now that is gone. We need all the help we can get to feed our population. Your help, and the help of other timezones that you can influence." "Why should we help you in this regard? We do not have that much excess food, especially excess meat." "If we are hungry enough, we might consider simply taking what we need from our neighbors." "Would you wish to die by a bullet? Or by a mushroom cloud, perhaps?" "Yes." snapped Carisk. "I would rather die quickly in battle than slowly starve to death!" A long silence. "I will do my best, my mongoose friend. But charity not guaranteed. Do you have anything to exchange for this, being as underdeveloped as you are?" Carisk felt his eyes itch. He was getting a bit tired of being reminded of how backward his world was. He decided to play a hunch. "Just because we are not as developed, we are more virgin. We likely have more plant, animal and mineral wealth still available than you are used to." "Maybe. I will mention that possibility, as well. I will have to report now to my superiors, and see what I am instructed. Tomorrow at the same time and frequency." "Over." Carisk took another deep breath. He had the distinct impression in these talks that the Amazon Commonwealth was no more eager for war than Brasil was. They seemed if anything to be a fairly peaceful land, before they were thrown into this mish mash of jumbled histories and societies. Perhaps they did not even have these nuclear bombs themselves...not that Carisk was particularly eager to find out the hard way. But the negotiations were going as well as could be expected. What looked like inevitable disaster a week ago, in the chaos of those first hours, seemed to be averted.