Kalai vanakkam! I’m releasing this piece during my (mostly) hiatus, rewritten from a recent Pikatron Monthly, prior to updating my newsletter page with newer issues from the previous few months. This piece ties into fiction I’m researching the Tamil language and culture for, and in part serves as the basis for the final book, due in early 2023. I hope this time of pandemic sees you all safe and well. Enjoy.
Got a call from a contact of mine, GK. Saru. No idea what their location or even species is, but they’ve been reliable in the past, never gave me a bad lead, and enabled me to see some pretty strange ***t along the way in this crazy but fantastic job. My name’s Meenakshi. Meenakshi Sukhavati. I was born in the rebuilt and now almost utopian Sri Lanka to Singaporean Tamil parents.
Oddly, they didn’t insist on getting me married off despite my looks, but always respected my preferences and never gave a peep when I joined the Agency instead of home life or Academia. My parents are weird. Both are religious nonbelievers and raised me as such. My father has been a politician, a pairasiriyar – a professor – and in his youth, an actor and activist. My mother is a planetary engineer, and her family was directly involved in part of the reconstruction of the Indian Subcontinent and thereabouts after the Broogh bombarded Terra in -200, leaving tens of crores dead and rendering much of the region uninhabitable for decades.
I work out of my office in Chennai, in rebuilt Tamil Nadu, India district, today a major shipping hub for the Tellusine Majesterium, the second great and bountiful human empire in the Local Galaxy, centered in the Sol system. This assignment, my cover is as a tour guide for some Kai’Siri celebrity, Than’yidre Dunori thaan Vuul kron Vokka, a performance artist for a popular show involving some pretty gladiatorial content by Tellusine standards. Kai’Siri are nuts, but they produce many of the finest soldiers in the Local Galaxy and their plasma-sculptures are a thing to behold.
So today I must head out after downloading the needed files and apps to my wetware drive. I’m to meet Than’yidre and plan our move in this investigation and show her the finer points of some of Terra’s oldest surviving cultures. I select the perfect sari for the occasion, a bit formal, even for me, but strictly for business. I make sure at my mirror that neither the sari nor the bindi I wear are too ostentatious, appropriating my own culture, “too Tamil for Thou.” Excellent. Satisfied, I step outside to take advantage of the morning air and walk to the local teleport terminal connecting to the spaceport.
If the information from GK. is correct, then the Solar System is in big trouble – trouble that needs stopping before it starts.
To be continued…