The Detached Regularity
by Ken Poyner
The migration of the Olomong has been studied in tensile depth by several fiercely competitive species. Why an entire race — capable of space flight, philosophical mathematics, and conjunctive economics — would still seasonally migrate is unknown. No one can throng a guess.
At an environmentally determined time, they pack their scant luggage, gather in formal linear clans, and along the lines of social relations buy tickets on immense high windowed trains running north. They have the technology to make both ends of their spacious planet fully hospitable: environmental accommodation is within the output of their geometrically precise economy. But they leave a world blissfully half vacant, and move south to north, north to south: carrying an entire world's heritage, leaving half a world vacated.
Olomong on colonies on their irregular moons do not migrate. Olomong occupied with season spanning interstellar flight seem to have no migratory urge: they are as happy in one place as in any other. If you ask them why they do not seethe to migrate, they click their beaks in dismissal and treat you as though you had quizzed them on the length of their clawfully reticent toes.
Maintaining the migration takes more than at first it would seem. To leave enough space to allow for a transiting population, mating must be controlled: carnal knowledge is matched to seasonal patterns, pushed into a window that takes limited advantage of limited fertility. This is neither happenstance nor cordially scientific. They build their common decency against weather patterns, crop their fecundity with a moral code that closes the procreation window enough that the population can abandon, in mass, huge regions of their planet and remain, over time, stable.
Off-world, there is no such restriction, and licentious behavior amongst the Olomong has been everywhere observed. Families grow larger, and even pair bonding is abandoned at times for interchangeable relationships; in rougher environments, atypical modes such as self-replicating harems, prostitution, or sex with the under developed, sympathetically emerge.
So, multiple species have noted how, with this barn door solid species, regimentation can work with bilateral efficiency in a restricted environment, but goes astray once the social unit is removed from its normal confines. Olomong parties off-world are notorious. More than a few researchers have been taken up, have observed too closely, came back to consciousness later on an aging space station in a quadrant light years away from where they last remember taking notes.
But on return to their home world, the errant Olomong settle back to their pattern of effective limited mating, their omnipresent migration. What perhaps was once the scourge of trade routes through half of the capitalist galaxy, can be found in his red cap and open vest, sitting on his luggage while one or two family members formally strut excitedly about, waiting for the door to the train car that matches his prized ticket to roll up, slide with advanced mechanical efficiency enticingly open. He will look like any of a thousand chattering Olomong, almost brazen in his conformity. He will board the train as though walking into his own kitchen to discipline the refrigerator.
And, as the train begins lugubriously north, he will be staring no more than straight ahead, loving no more, no less, the land he is leaving than the land he is going to. He will understand the pure simplicity of his broad brush tides. How we envy him.
Ken Poyner lives with his power lifter wife in the lower right hand corner of Virginia. His latest work can be found in Menacing Hedge, Corium, kill author, Metazen, Full of Crow and the ever present elsewhere.