The Calm refers to the period of 0.8 cycles lasting between the [Great Collapse]?
and the happening of the [Qirel Encounter]?
, and all that followed in the dreadful wake. It is the greatest time of peace we have ever known. Surrounding this period is much strife and distress throughout the known systems, as the (with hindsight, inevitable) approach of the orbital wars gained momentum. And yet, for 0.8 cycles there was something akin to peace, a curious, almost impossible dream-like time of prosperity and universal good-will.
Our history is marked only with war -- many a writer has remarked on how we do not measure our time with peace. Consequently, amusingly few reports or questions were raised at the time of the Calm. Many a wit has opined that the people were too busy with their celebrations and relaxation, to wonder of where this gift had been sent. In '', the much-debated (their authenticity is an issue outside of this report) memoirs of [Mikhail Un]?, comes the following enlightening passage.
- Today I was visited by a boy belonging to one of my keepers. He sat with me, and asked of the old times, of the mighty expanse of our people, the out-stretched hand of power and influence that marked us among the stars. He spoke of empires and majesty. I laughed! The boy, this young fool, sought to take heed and guidance from my experiences, with not a single dec of wit or wisdom within him!
- What does an empire mean to you? Towering spires of gleaming marble, sun-kissed spires of majesty; or a wavering skeletal pile of rapacious and self-glorying obsession? The broken bones and sweat that made our city walls do not rest; they wait! Those walls do not protect those within, they merely surround, marking out a hearty feast of death for the predator. Is their revenge upon us, those who so foolishly believe it is our right to live in peace -- that sickening word! How may we rest so, when we are bedded and surrounded by the remains of our forefathers? Peace is our most grand and insipid of charades, sought by those to whom the rolling dice of life can only crush them, may not be dodged, controlled, played to their liking.
- I was most vexed by the boy. Perhaps it may earn me some ire from his protector, but it was soon that I tired of him, throwing him against a wall for the silence it would bring me; a gesture in remembrance to a great, lost friend. He would not have seen, of course, but still, it brought me a smile to think of him, toasted with the crumpling of that boy into the corner of my room. Before that, he brought me pause and concern, asking of the carving upon my left palm. I explained it was the symbol for the ending of the Calm, representing both its end and a reminder that it must not be allowed to come again. He knew not of the Calm! The boy had no conception of that time, of the gain in birth, the lack of death. My nausea returns now, not as strong, but a reminder of my loathing, the sheer disgust that boy conjured in me. Never had he known war! The brightness of his eyes, the up-turned curve of his smile made it clear how never had he eaten from the flesh of another, felt their last breaths warm my cheeks as I chewed through them. This time is a lie! I dread now that another time like the Calm is upon us. This cannot be! Those who understand are so few. Besides myself I count mere hundreds of those who remember as time was before.
- Worst of all to me is the ashes, the foul taste of the blackened dead, the scorched and marked bodies that roll down hills and vales toward me. I do not invite them! They come to me, some protesting, some already aware of the inevitability that comes with emergence into this life; that inevitability is I! I did not seek out this path, yet I must walk it, and walk alone I must also. Without the culling, we lapse into pursuit of the ass, chasing our own tails around, suckling at ourselves. We must not spend our lives curled-up as a foetus, feeding off ourselves, in denial of the path ahead! I fear this will happen again, as before, should the Calm return. Must I be the expeditor? Must I be the instigator? As before, so I will again play my part, taking a modest allowance of history's legacy as my only reward. So many more names should be along-side mine. Perhaps this time, there can be the fairness that was denied so many good bodies before. We bridged worlds, we brought balance. The Calm is the festering lagoon that brings down any who do not move swiftly through its grasp, a sinking sand of atrophy and apathy; yet we bridged that swamp! A return to that sucking hell must not be. The path does not lie that way. Fools, all!
As noted prior to the quotation, the legitimacy of the journals is certainly questionable. There is a majority agreement however, that the familiarity and intimacy with events and persons shown throughout the memoirs, suggests the accounts themselves are true enough (in intent, as believed by the author(s?) at least) and a most interesting account of the time.
Therefore, regardless of the question of authorship, we remain with this interesting and rather contrasting opinion of the greatest, longest period of peace in recorded history. Is is true that the death toll was markedly low, with intentional death such an incredibly low figure as to set unbeatable records; a demonstration of the beatific nature of the time. That the period before was not as this, and the many cycles that followed, as bloody as they were, serve to mark out the Calm all the more.
A natural societal phenomena, drug-induced lull, or something more sinister? We may never know. We only hunger for such calm and happiness again, as well we might.