a science-fiction adventure game

Chapter 5: Renmasa and
the 'ren' Honorific

Standing up behind his desk at the front of the classroom, Mr. Katha raised his hands up and down, as though fanning the room might somehow calm the restless energy of his students and get them to focus.

“Settle down, kids. Okay,” he cooed. He waited a moment and then again, “Settle down.”

Perhaps reluctantly, the classroom finally quieted.

“I know you’re all looking forward to the food and gifts and the fun of Renmasa-terenu, but we still have to get through the rest of today and tomorrow before the celebration begins.”

He felt, more than heard, the hushed murmurs and dissident groans of disagreement from the twenty-two children in the room. Like most Letarri students, they were generally good and attentive, almost genetically predisposed to appreciate the little bits of comfort and convenience that they had after the hardships faced by their forefathers.

“So,” he continued. “Let’s talk a little bit about it. What do you think?”

Jihn, always ready with a quip and brimming with the empowerment of his recent eleventh birthday, wasted no time at all.

“I think it’s awesome! No school for five days!”

The class all but erupted into cheers.

Mr. Katha smiled good-naturedly and waved a hand again to calm the room again.

“Okay, okay,“ He looked squarely at Jihn and nodded. “True. We get a nice reprieve from the usual schedule around here. But what else can you tell me about Renmasa-terenu?”

The silence overflowed for several seconds.

“Come on,” he said encouragingly. “I know some of you know more.”

A few bits of fidgeting and shuffled feet followed.

“Alright. Well, is it a religious holiday or a cultural holiday?”

“Cultural,” came the answer. It was Jenella ren Jiraz. “Only the Letarri celebrate it.”

Mr. Katha pointed a finger of approval at her. “That’s right, Jenella. What else?”

“It was to escape the Annex.” Came another voice from across the room, earning another pointed finger. Reyis ren Keterek.

“Yes. Good! Tell me about the Annex.”

Reyis was normally quiet, but he spoke up just a bit now.

“The Rynan Collective was expanding into the space of Letarr, and the population was divided. Many were afraid of what was going to happen, and felt that they had to accept the new government and rulership. But a group of Letarri banded together and pooled everything -- their money, their work, their resources -- and they built ships to leave the planet and find a new home.”

“Yes,” Mr. Katha replied. “That might not seem like a big deal today with daily shuttles going back and forth between Teratha and Pelonnes and off-world transport being huge business, but 300 years ago space travel was considered a pretty special thing. And interstellar travel?” He gave a low whistle. “That was beshi azail. Deep blue hero stuff.”

Jenella raised her hand. Mr. Katha nodded at her.

“Yes, Jenella?”

“My parents say that the journey was filled with hardship, and that the Letarri in the First Migration didn’t really know if they’d find a place to live. Is that true?”

“Sure. They built a small fleet of ships, and they were able to sustain themselves enough to survive, but it was hard living. There were a lot of people living in these confined spaces. Every vessel was built to serve the purpose of survival. They had very primitive tech when it came to creating food and water. Close quarters meant disease could travel quickly. And this went on for years because these ships didn’t have advanced engines or drive systems.”

He took a sip of water from the glass on his desk before continuing. The room remained surprisingly focused and nearly silent.

“Everyone knows the Song of Ter-Avendir, right? Terrible captain. Crew who wouldn’t think for themselves to get out of danger. It’s a parable now. We use it as a lesson. But it was a real ship and the things in the song really happened. It was tragic at the time, and the tale was handed down and became a song many years later.”

Another student spoke up.

“But why didn’t they make the ships better?”

“Well, they had to finish and launch their exodus before the Rynans came into power and put a stop to their plan, because that was a very real danger, too. They had very little time, and so their ships had very few comforts.”

“And then they landed on Teratha and Pelonnes, right?” asked Janella.

“Yes,” Mr. Katha nodded again. “And it’s that landing that we now celebrate as Renmasa-terenu. Renmasa literally means ‘First Migration’ in Old Letarri.”

He gestured around the room as he continued. “And that’s why you, and Reyis, and Alerin all have the ‘ren’ honorific in your names. You’re all direct descendants of those who travelled among the stars to escape the tyranny that would soon consume Letarr.”

“It’s just a name, though, right?” asked Jihn.

Mr. Katha chuckled. “It’s been many generations since the honorific was bestowed. It won’t get you a better education or a better job or a better spouse. The people who arrived during the Second Migration -- Talmasa -- were just as able to work and contribute and help build a new life as anyone from the First Migration. For the most part, those in Talmasa had an easier trip, a preset destination, safer vessels... In fact, many of them were able to get here by paying their way on transports and cargo ships to get free of Rynan influence.”

Reyis ren Keterek spoke up again.

“But we’re not really free here either, are we, Mr. Katha?”

The teacher smiled wryly. “We’re free in that we have our own school, and many of us have our own homes, and we have jobs. And there are some who have ascended to wealth and power despite our refugee origins. The people of Teratha and Pelonnes tolerate us, and they try to be understanding of our culture and our ways, but I think we all hope to one day find a new home. One where we don’t have to feel like unexpected guests in someone else’s house.”

Mr. Katha clapped his hands together and briskly walked around his desk and tapped his command screen.

“Now,” he said, tapping his command screen. “Let us carry on with the fundamentals of fractions and decimals.”

The class grumbled a bit, and the good-natured Mr. Katha carried on. He couldn’t possibly foresee that thirty years later, young Reyis ren Keterek would lead the Letarri people on the next great mission to find a new home among the stars.