Caspian Babel: The Confusion of Tongues

By Teutonian travel expert Albis von Däniker

Featured in The Celestial Caller, 2869 Issue #7

I remember it with the utmost clarity: it was one of the clearest nights I’d ever enjoyed among the Caspians, when the tightly knit stars of the Inner Rim shone so brightly in the darkened sky, in such unfathomable numbers, that they lit the streets of Tarem like celestial streetlights. The galactic Deep Core was a glowing heart on the horizon, just beginning to rise as the small planet of Hatal-Om turned slowly in the dark. In my travels I have seen many heavenly spectacles—the swirling rainbows of magnetic storms on Azilay, luminescent, green clouds of airborne algae on Vehisipen, and countless others—but this was the kind that stopped a Sapien in his tracks, appealing to those ancient memories in our genes of starlit savannahs in the remote past. Perhaps the Caspians thought little of it, having seen such a glorious night sky since infancy, but I was no native, and that was a feeling I never wanted to lose, no matter how familiar I had become with Caspian culture and social customs.

I was not strolling down Khyringir Street for the heavenly view, however, nor had I traveled hundreds of light years from Magna Teutonia for the stargazing, as unrivaled as it might have been. No: I was in search of the best Telk soup the planet had to offer, which, as dedicated readers may know, is a special indulgence of mine. I’ve had lackluster versions of that Caspian staple food back home, but even when prepared by the most skilled of chefs, they could never hope to properly replicate the peppery, slightly bitter taste of Telk leaves grown in the alkaline soils of worlds like Hatal-Om. As such, I was on a mission, one that I had every intention of completing in the most satisfying way: filling my stomach to the brim with viscous greens that were blue, not green, and that cost little more than a few Caspian drachmae per bowl. So, I made my way down Khyringir, politely asking for the locals’ advice in their native Scythian tongue as to where I might find the best Telk soup in their fine city.

With looks of defeated disappointment each Caspian again and again told me that Telk soup was a luxury of the past; I knew that Hatal-Om was less homogeneous than it was when I had first stepped foot there years ago, but it seemed that foreign tastes had taken precedent. As I would quickly and bitterly learn, Telk was one of many arbitrary foodstuffs forbidden to the Shatarin believer, and its very presence on local restaurant menus was deeply, and unforgivably, offensive to those who observed such nonsensical dietary laws. The ethnic Caspians lamented the disappearance of their once beloved delicacy, all in harsh whispers. I have an impeccable sense of taste and smell, but I must admit my hearing is sub-par; when I asked if they might speak a bit louder to accommodate, they fearfully declined, informing me that it was rapidly becoming socially unacceptable to speak Scythian in the presence of migrants. They did not mean me, of course. They referred to the throng of foreigners just a few dozen meters down the road, who chattered in a cacophony of tongues of which I had no knowledge, and which, at that moment, I swore to never learn, despite my penchant for linguistics.

The intersection of Khyringir and Magkan Streets was like some sort of pedestrian border between two rival nations: one that championed liberty, free thought and a promising future, and one that was little more than a regressive attempt at returning to the dark ages. Across this cultural and linguistic threshold I saw few signs printed in the Scythian language; I recall only one specifically, printed in bold letters visible from afar: “Amsai skysenu tengken gaist—chyztechu khrijh,” that is, “Scythian is racist and obsolete—Xaztechuan is obligatory.” Evidently, it was nothing less than insensitive to utter the planet’s official language in the presence of those who couldn’t speak a single word of it, and who expressed no desire whatsoever to gain even the slightest shred of fluency. It seemed that unintelligible graffiti in foreign tongues was not offensive at all, however, and even those whose homes and shops it defaced were restricted from expressing any form of disdain whatsoever, as to condemn such vandalism was not only racist, ignorant and uneducated, but also an affront to alleged urban artistry. After all, what do the poor and disenfranchised have to comfort themselves, save art, however crude? Certainly free housing, healthcare, education, clothes, food, and extra spending money paid by the hardworking Caspian taxpayer are insufficient luxuries.

The Shatarins among the horde were the most conspicuous, as they always are: their faces concealed beneath hissing, triangular masks, the gaping, weeping holes left after the willful amputation of their ears, and most grotesquely, their sagging, undulating stomachs. Behind them, hidden on account of their diminutive stature, chirped unlettered Xaztechuans whose women were so swollen with litters of children that they looked like ticks bloated with taxpayer blood. There were other Sapiens whose nationalities I didn’t recognize, but not surprisingly, woven throughout the mass of unassimilated migrants were Communal community activists, wearing oversized, brightly colored shirts branded with their organization’s Unispeak name, Soldates da Toosamey. My Unispeak is limited (thank the Creator), but I’m told it means “Soldiers of Tolerance,” though tolerant of what, I couldn’t be sure. Some distributed flyers printed in a multitude of languages, while others fed the throng of welfare immigrants talking points to scream into PCBC news cameras. I had wandered into the middle of a protest that was rapidly growing violent, and what I witnessed sickened me so profoundly that, for the first time in my life, I was thankful to have been denied a delectable serving of Telk.

“Today’s protests call for the banning of the Hatal-Omese flag, which is a racist symbol of colonialism, slavery, intolerance, hatred, ignorance, backwardness, social injustice, selfishness, and pure, shameless bigotry,” one obese reporter asked a Caspian passerby, who stopped with a nervous look on his face; he nearly lost an eye when the camera came in for a close shot.

“The Xaztechuans over there are proudly waving Xaztechuan flags,” the Caspian reluctantly noted, because even his legitimate fear of social backlash couldn’t suppress his sensibilities. “What makes theirs any different?”

“Racist!” shrieked the reporter, shoving an accusatory finger in the man’s face. “A typical Caspian! You expect innocent, oppressed, victimized migrants to abandon their cultural identity all because you think your bigoted, uneducated, patriarchal, sexist culture is superior to theirs!”

“But I, as a Caspian, am expected to abandon mine?”

“Bigot!” the reporter screeched, and on cue a stampede of protesters descended upon the helpless Caspian, who disappeared beneath the barbarian crowd, which waved burning Hatal-Omese flags and brandished crude signs denouncing the Caspian way of life. The police did nothing to stop them. The officers stood uncomfortably in the periphery, with expressions that inspired within me a deep sense of pity for the men whose hands were bound by orders set by politically correct officials, but also disgust at their cowardice, for standing back idly while injustice swept through the streets of Tarem, parading itself as social justice.

My dear readers, this is not just an elaborate explanation of why the galactic Inner Rim has become an undesirable place for travel, even to the most adventurous of tourists. This is a warning to all those nations who have not yet fallen prey to the corporatist collectivists. The once clandestine collectivist takeover of Caspian worlds has now gone public, and their demographic subterfuge tactics now seem to have expanded beyond the point of no return. I am sure there must be some Caspian societies that are still culturally sovereign, and I write this as a plea to them all, wherever they might be. The only hope for survival is the implementation of the birthright citizenship laws that have protected the League of Arterra from the invasion of welfare immigrants whose countless cousins have already infested the Inner Rim. Be careful whom you allow to settle your worlds, for their children will one day vote for your future leaders, and they could very well strip your people of the objectivist values that unify you. Children raised in households dependent on the government dole will only seek more handouts in their adulthood, as their childhoods were built on a foundation of others’ taxes, and are therefore comfortable in their state of perpetual financial dependency. You will pay for their lack of contribution to society, generation after generation, until there is no more money to go around, and your society collapses under the crushing weight of those who demand everything but offer nothing in return.

And most despicably of all, you might find your most beloved national dishes have been banned, all because a Shatarin cashier at your market refused to sell you their ingredients. After all, her religious sensitivities are more important than feeding your family what they want. How racist of us to insist otherwise!

Joseph D'Urso

Aether Press, LLC, Miami, FL 33133