October 21, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Tairiekie was smiling when they left Biological Systems. “I wonder if you can test them for aether use? I wonder what you’d call it, then, if you wanted to be accurate? Natural aetherics? Hunh, you’d think they’d already call it that, then. You don’t think Instructor Kaasmasik is wrong, do you? He wouldn’t be teaching us stuff that’s untrue, would he? Saydrie, what’s wrong?”
Saydrie, on the other hand, was frowning. “The idea of humanic aether fits with some teachings of the Three. The idea of the aether at all – it’s debatable. Some people believe in it, but some people pull up older passages in the writings on the Three that say that aether itself is, it’s tanechietta. Un-knowable, un-possible.” His throat bobbed as he swallowed. “I don’t know if I should be studying it, and I don’t know if I have a choice. I think – I think I need to go pray.”
Taikie shot him a look that was sharp and unhappy. “If you think you have to.” It was an answer so loaded, bolts should have been firing from her eyes. “I’m going to help Enrie work on her Library project.”
“I don’t have to, it’s just that all of this discussion of animals using aether –”
“Well, if they use it, they use it. I don’t think the Three are going to argue with a fact.”
“Taikie.” Enrie looked between her friends with some worry. “You were just asking if Instructor Kaasmasik might be wrong. Saydrie is saying that the writings on the Three say he might be. That’s okay. It’s just a question of temple interpretation versus scholarly interpretation. Something like the All-Thought school of Philosophy.”
“But Philosophy is abstract! Biology is concrete, it’s science. And aether, aether is Engineering!”
“And faith is faith, Taikie, and has rocks under it just as Engineering does.” Enrie made sure her voice was calm. “The whole weasels-using-Aether thing is a little out there. I’m surprised Instructor Kaasmasik is teaching it as fact and not theory. Or,” she wrinkled her nose, “was that theory and I just missed the magic words?”
“No.” Saydrie answered slowly. “No, he is teaching it as fact. It is strange, the subjects teachers here chose to discuss as fact. In the temple, that is, where I learned as a child, very few things were discussed as fact. Many were discussed as probable-facts, things that all evidence to date led to being true, but the Three, those are what we know are facts. Even the writings on the Three are subject to discussion and doubt.”
“That seems very scientific…” Taikie offered cautiously. “You question everything? That’s fascinating.”
It could be, and it bore examination. But it could also be complicated or messy. Enrie decided to send this conversation down another road. “Taikie, you said you had a plan?”
“Well, it’s more like the seeds of a plan. But the catalogues in each House library list all of the books on the appropriate subjects that are in the main library, too. And, I think, vice-versa, but that’s less important right now.”
“That…” Enrie pieced through it slowly. “That won’t give us the treaty, but it will tell us what’s missing.”
“And then I can play innocent and ask the librarian about it!” Tairiekie looked very pleased with herself.
Enrie wasn’t entirely certain it would work, but she smiled anyway. It was nice to be working with her friends again.