The General snorted again, puffs of purple dissipating in the air. Manuel noted that it had never drawn breath since the first contact. Vast respiratory capacity. Not necessarily lungs, no intake of air detected so far. Purple appears to be colour of native atmosphere, stored in respiratory system. Visibility of native atmosphere most likely shrouded. Probably perceives in a different visual spectrum. Radiation? Bio-field? Aura?
The next words interrupted his thoughts – “Then tell me, Steward Manuel, how do your people function?” The name Manuel sounded odd in the General’s guttural, clicking language. The creature had paused to carefully reproduce that name in deliberate, paused utterances. “I had to set foot here myself, at great risk, to see your City. My scanners, my probes, even my clairvoyant Seers, could not pick up anything at this location remotely. Now that I am here in person, I can see that you are in this dimension, yet not in it, as if you are simply in passing. You are not bound by a single flow of time as we are, your City appears to radiate a constant field of sorts that allows you to exist outside time itself. There have been no reports of anyone leaving your City, or anyone entering it. You do not appear to seek resources outside your City, and it also does not appear to produce waste. What are you?”
Manuel was impressed. This creature possessed a high level of sensory perception. Not only could it survive in the city’s atmosphere, it could also determine the nature of the City. If it was asking for more information, it was a mutual feeling Manuel shared. His people simply enjoyed gathering knowledge, pooling their findings into The Archives, a large, cubical tower close to the center of the City. It was the only structure that was black, like obsidian. Foreign knowledge there was kept separate from the other twin albeit still golden structure, The Chronicleum. The Chronicleum had translucent water from the River flowing down it, the water having no visible source and no visible end like Manuel’s cape, thin trails of the liquid snaking down and constantly changing paths as it slid down the building’s surface. While The Archives held knowledge of other races, often leading to discrepancies his people would overlook, for even knowing the knowledge would serve them no purpose other than fulfilling some trivial curiousity, the contents of The Chronicleum were absolute. They were written by the father himself, and his word was final. They always made an absolute sense, and were always consulted first, taken word for word without consideration, before information that could not be found in the Chronicleum would be searched for, at The Archives. Controlled questioning of the unknown was highly encouraged among the people. The father did set boundaries on how much they should question before the answers threatened to corrupt them, although this was yet to be known by Manuel. For one naive, childlike moment, Manuel felt a kinship of sorts with this vile visitor. Perhaps they did share some similarities.
“Correct. We require nothing. We are in control of it all. Time and space here, are viewed as malleable objects. This was ordained by our father, to keep us in a constant state of flux. However, your information is slightly inaccurate. We do not exist outside time. That would be impossible to make way for any form of existence. We simply do not move inside what you call time and space, but rather, we possess our own version of time and space. There are similarities, but ultimately they are different enough for us to exist on a different plane. In this particular field, you will have to – synchronize – to find us. Once that is accomplished, when you are within our vicinity, time is different for you, as it is for us. The field that you sensed being generated, keeps us moving outside your time. To everyone else, we are in every possible time period, all at the same time. By being outside your time, we are always there, and not there. This allows us to access any time period at any time should we choose to leave the City, and also vice versa should someone stumble upon us, such as your case.”
The General listened with interest, silent. Manuel had gained momentum, the slightest flutter of excitement in his being driving him on. It was a rare emotion, and he welcomed it. “At the core of our City, lies an inexhaustible power source. The River. It is the circulatory system of the City, flowing throughout the entire – metropolis – as you call it. It never ceases, it never wavers. This is the generator of the field you sensed. However, it also generates another field around itself. Even we cannot access it, and thus we know little about it. My father placed it there, along with everything else and us. We owe our existence to him, so there is no need to seek the mechanics behind it. To seek answers on our existence is to question our own existence. And there is no reason to question it, when we are very much clearly, undisputedly, here. If we ever start seeking for answers on that matter, we do not deserve to exist. I cannot tell you anything about how exactly we function, it is an unspoken to rule not to study ourselves like how you would study a contraption, but we have thrived as we are since the beginning. We are a peaceful, contented people. We see no room for improvements, no need for expansion. Anything else would be excessive.”
When it was clear Manuel had nothing else to say, the General spoke up. “Interesting. Very insightful. In more than one way. Not only did you not deny my vague assumptions, you provided enlightenment that I did not even ask for. You bared your secrets to me, about your father, your River. Either you do not consider me a threat, or you are simply foolish. I would have to presume it was the former, for you appear too intelligent for the latter.”
Manuel was lost on one word: Secrets. His powers of deduction could not figure that one word out. He pounced upon it, distracted for once, anything unknown was very interesting for him. “Secrets? Who, or what are secrets?”