The Gathering Edge – Chapter 17

Arak ek zenorth
En route

In which there is breakfast.

I wonder if Vepal renamed the ship when he acquired it, and if so what “arak ek zenorth” means. I suspect we’ll find out at the dramatically appropriate moment.

Vepal’s been on this mission a long time. When he set out, Miri still lived on Surebleak and Val Con was not yet a Scout. Which means he could be the Yxtrang Ambassador mentioned in Agent of Change — but if so, everyone in that story had a vastly inflated idea of how much influence he was able to wield. Perhaps he isn’t, though; maybe the Ambassador to the Unaffiliated Worlds is just one among many. It’s not clear yet what “Unaffiliated Worlds” covers; it could be anything from “everybody who isn’t the Yxtrang” to “only small worlds with no ties to a larger political grouping”.

This chapter answers some questions I’ve long had about the Yxtrang, like how they maintain their population, and why Temp Headquarters is so named. I’ve remarked before that the Yxtrang commanders seem to be more interested in backside-covering than in the best good of the Troop, and that’s confirmed here, but it’s also pointed out that the soldiers were never made or trained to deal with decisions about the Troop’s overall mission; that was left in human hands, to keep the soldiers under control, so when they were stranded without any human commanders they had to make do with the limited abilities they’d been allowed.

I think perhaps my mistaken idea about the ambassador’s mission was right, in a way. Chernak and Stost, and their cargo, are what he’s looking for — he just doesn’t know it yet. They might be what he’s looking for in another way, too. They’d be someone he could talk to, the way he can’t with the Pilot and the Rifle.

And it occurs to me: the kind of out-of-the-way places the ambassador’s mission seems to be taking him to might have some overlap with the kind of out-of-the-way places Bechimo‘s crew are considering as their next destination.

In the chapter’s other scene, a show of trust from the captain to the pathfinders: In requesting their assistance checking over Spiral Dance for traps and anomalies, she’s not only recognizing that they possess useful skills but expressing a confidence that they will use their skills appropriately and give an honest report of what they find.

And very nearly a slip, when she mentioned getting Joyita to run the numbers. The crew has been putting in some effort to keep the pathfinders from realising Joyita is not a flesh person, which is reasonable until they know how the pathfinders will react. (And likewise, they haven’t introduced Bechimo at all. Which means that if the pathfinders do decide it’s necessary to take the ship by force, they’re going to be in for a surprise.) I’m not sure, though, whether the details Joyita’s attending to, like the book and the fresh shirt, are part of that effort or just something he does for himself, to give himself shape.

I think this is the first time we’ve seen Joyita’s bracelet, but that doesn’t say whether it’s new or if it’s always been there under the sleeve. I’m going to speculate, anyway: Building off my earlier hypothesis that the rings represent each of the crew that Bechimo and Joyita are responsible for, I’m going to guess that the bracelet represents Joyita himself and dates to when, as it was put in an earlier chapter, he became his own person.

3 thoughts on “The Gathering Edge – Chapter 17

  1. Jami Ellison

    I was wondering about Joyita’s rings and bracelet. Interesting theories. I wouldn’t be surprised if you are right. And what does it mean? That one becomes more “real” through relationships with others?

  2. Ed8r

    PA: what “arak ek zenorth” means.

    We were introduced to what it means in Chapter 11, when the Pathfinders hear the repair bug being jettisoned. Chernak’s comment appears in the short paragraph that follows:

    “Arak ek zenorth,” she said. “Honor and glory.”

    Jamie wrote: And what does it mean? That one becomes more “real” through relationships with others?

    Well, have you ever read the story The Velveteen Rabbit? I believe the question you posed is its whole premise.

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