Steve Jason was feeling somewhat lost in the immense campus of the Science University of Antsirabé, Madagascar. He had a growing feeling that he was the only American here, maybe the only white, in this crowd of colorfully dressed Malagasy students. Of course he did not understood a word of Malagasy language, and was to believe that all the smiles and laughter were about him and his ancient 20th Century style white suit. But of course this was perfectly not true.
Tired with the heat and sun, he finally went back to the low building allotted to the guests of the Malagasy 5th Colloquium on the Missing Planets issue, to be opened the next day of May 2081. The guests were arriving, and Steve was happy to find again his long date french friend Jean Delcourt, a nicely polite modest man and reputed exobiologist of the European Union, also dressed in a light colored ancient suit. Jean introduced him to his Chinese colleague Liu Wang, a slim woman with a simple blue robe, specialist in quantum mechanics in the Chinese university of Chongking. Steve had had many e-mail and video exchanges with Liu, but he was meeting her in flesh for the first time, and as it is often the case in such an occasion, he felt somewhat awkward while handshaking her.
They all three went in the French Café. Although Madagascar was proudly independent since a century, there was still some french customs and language used here. They all three went for the first time in this country, and exchanged enthusiastic commentaries about the magnificent landscapes, the charming Malagasy men and women, and the delicious fruits and food served at the restaurant of the university.
Octavo Miranda, a gentle Brazilian teacher in sociology, joined them, followed by Erzeran Kandahar, a tall and joyful woman who was nobody else but the famous Iranian engineer who designed the first quantum telescope, 16 years before. Octavo was dressed in an easy Caribbean style, even if he was perfectly European. Erzeran was wearing a long black robe, as it was still a common custom in her country. Steve was happy to meet again his old friend Erzeran. He was also involved in the quantum telescope project since its inception, but he since moved to the management of observations, and thus somewhat loose her of sight.
They all five sat around a table with cups of tea or fruit juices, and started to exchange news of their respective countries. They all perfectly knew them through world information systems and electronic exchanges, but to hear somebody from his own mouth was still so exciting. Liu was about to move into Tibet, for the Tibetan plateau was offering the best place on Earth for radio submillimeter telescopes, especially the Amnye Machen mountain range, a strange place they shared only with shepherds and hermits. She was very friendly with one of the Tibetan specialists of exobiology, Sangye Tcheugyal, but the latter was due to arrive only the next day. Tcheugyal was asked at the latest minute to make an important contribution to the colloquium, and everyone was astonished and expecting at him.
Steve discretely leaned toward Jean Delcourt. The new, although still confidential, somewhat transpired among the members of the world community of exobiologists, sociologists and engineers who attended the results of the observation campaigns with the new quantum telescopes. There was so much astounding discoveries with these incredible machines, that it was difficult to realize that the first observations were only 15 years old. And still more difficult to figure that the world was only to discover what they knew for only some weeks.
«This time, it is the public announcement, isn't it?»
Jean answered, with some quiver in the voice: «Yes, it is. This time it is. We are go. We all perfectly checked. But the evidences are very strong. It is obvious. But there are only some days we really understood what happened to the missing planets.
-Yes, you did? And how did you made it?» Everybody leaned towards Jean.
«There were documents. Nothing else than huge libraries, explaining all the things in details, in a very clear image language, and in a perfect order of conservation, just as if it was designed to await for us. We only recorded a minute part of an huge amount of data, but things are quite clear now. We know what happened, and it is really incredible and... and... I do not know how to say this, but...
-Please do, frankly asked Erzeran, with the funny pleading tone of Iranian women.
-I cannot, it is still confidential. The director board does not want the things to be spread before the official announcement. You understand...»
The four friends were somewhat disappointed, but accepted this necessary discipline, as they were warned about the sometimes disastrous consequences of such salvage announcements.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux (Unless indicated otherwise).
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