Tuesday, January 25, 2011

By Way of Introduction

The tree-dwelling Dinkles of Upper Hippotulamulia may be the most unique of the sentient species on Lutranean B.  The entire known population dwells in a single tree in the Ephulusian Plains. Only a handful will ever leave the tree’s branches.

With an average height of only two inches, the Dinkles are also considered the smallest sentient species in the world and, potentially, the entire universe.  It is a mystery how such a small brain cavity can hold a brain complex enough to conduct intelligent thought, though no one has been sufficiently interested in this mystery to bother traveling all the way up to the Ephulsian Plains of Upper Hippotulamulia to find the answer.  One popular theory was that the Dinkles had been faking it for the last 2000 years, but it has since been discovered that extensive “faking it” is one of the more sophisticated behaviors of sentient beings.

A more alluring mystery, which has drawn effusive speculation but, again, no serious academic study, is how a sentient species has come to live entirely in a single tree.  The debate is fuelled by the fact that the Dinkles live in the sole tree within 100 miles of its location.  Some claim that the Plains were once a forest inhabited by a flourishing population of Dinkles.  Warring Dinkle tribes battled over issues of seemingly important philosophical merit.  A relatively weak and fearful species, war strategy centered on night raids with the intent of burning down the opposing tribe’s tree.  Today the lone tree in the Ephulusian Plains houses the victorious tribe.  This theory has been promoted without much physical evidence, but it is commonly accepted on the basis that it is a fun story and rejecting it would require one to come up with another theory.  The Dinkles have developed the world’s most sophisticated sprinkler system, perhaps evidence of adaptive war technology or, perhaps, just the misallocation of public funds.

In the tree the Dinkles can provide for all their physical needs.  Tree nuts and bird eggs make for a complete diet, and they have chiseled storage tanks out of the tree branches to store water.  The leathery leaves of the hippolucamus tree are sown into clothing and the holes dug in the trunk are shelter enough for the mild winters of the region.

In this environment, the Dinkles have developed strict population controls.  They consider it imperative that they eat all of the tree nuts to prevent new trees from sprouting and hosting rival tribes, but excess population can lead to hunger or even starvation.  Perhaps as part of the effort to control the population, up to a half dozen Dinkles will “parachute” out of the tree branches and wander bewilderedly across the plains in baggy blue pajama pants.  If we knew their destination it may provide us with important insights into Dinkle culture, but those that have attempted to follow these Dinkles have all quickly lost interest.

The Dinkles, though sentient they may pretend to be, do not appear to be planning for the doom that awaits them. Detailed analyses and blind guessing have dated their home at several thousand years old and in its final days. It is, in fact, much older than anyone could have imagined.  Unfortunately for the Dinkles, no one yet cares.

But they will.

This is a story of how a lazy and obstinate young Dinkle called Sneaux nearly caused the premature destruction of his species and his world but managed, in that sequence, to have learned a thing or two about the meaning of life, and had some time left over to save the universe—at least, the worthwhile parts of it.

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