Scattered Journals of a Turth Immunologist
—An autobiographical series written by Zinder ‘Odkodpoby and collected by members of the Ajika.
Aut: Rucu ‘Miystowoby
Dt: 990 A.T.
This preface has been written by Rucu ‘Miystowoby of the Aebrahnd Miethhas Ajika. Though we we recovered several of her notes while in Vale Reef around the planet-star of Tennu, I have reason to believe that less than half of her notes were ultimately recovered. I have forwarded our findings to the Naokia z Mihrob, but I do not believe her research can be considered concluded in any fashion with the amount of information missing.
This, in my opinion, can be attributed mostly to ‘Odkodpoby’s preferred method of note-taking. She was given an audio recorder by the Naokia, but At’Ypx has replayed for me all that was recorded on it before its return to the Naokia. Aside from the standard entries upon departure from Siyzim and arrival on Tennu, the device only recorded a handful of minutes’ worth of rustling—Ypx believes was a result of jostling around with her belongings while traveling.
Instead of using this recorder, ‘Odkodpoby used ink and paper to take notes. In light of this, we have ordered her notes in chronological order. Though she did use an antiquated method for unconfirmed reasons, she did clearly label each entry with a date, time and location.
Date: 19 Vea. 986 A.T.
Location: 139, 54
I landed on Tennu four days ago, on the 15th. In that time, specifically yesterday, the tribe moved. We did not move far—a couple kilometers at most as we moved east around the southern part of a ridge—it took the better part of an hour to pack and unpack once we had moved. This process is repeated every couple of weeks, I am told. I was surprised at how long it took the tribe to pack up their belongings—kets are notoriously minimalistic in terms of personal belongings and architecture—especially considering how often they repeat this procedure.
Their structures are small and light, and there were different but clearly ket-designed structures where we traveled to. The structures that moved collapsed relatively easy, but it took multiple kets to move each structure. At their next location I found several vertical structures a couple meters from the cliff edges. None of the kets I asked would tell me their purpose, instead focusing on setting up their dwellings. I did my best to provide assistance, as I hope to be a welcome member of the tribe for these three years.
In these years, I have a few theories to finish developing, test, draw conclusions, and perhaps rehypothesize. I am unsure if three years will be enough time to reach a conclusive end to any of my working theories, or new ones that may develop. On that note, for documentation I am here under the belief that kets are immune to the majority of infection methods that other Sentient Species are susceptible to. If this is true, I am unsure of the reasons exactly, though I suspect it is one of, if not a combination of, the following:
- No standard forms of viral delivery such as eye fluids, open mouthes, ears, or other typical openings
- No ingestion of contaminated products due to the lack of mouth
- Most forms of transmission that spread aerosolized fluids do not occur
- Touching of the face with hands is inconsequential
However, kets are likely susceptible to transmission through an open wound, though I am not sure how this theory will be tested. I may have to procure enough anecdotal evidence to approach statistically relevant conclusions. If this is not the case their rumored immunity may be do to something within their bodies—some blood function such as increased or specialized antibodies. Not only do kets have little no recorded contractions of diseases throughout Vale Reef, they seem to be immune to our (as in the rest of Omneutta) diseases as well.
Date: 6 Bos. 986 A.T.
Location: 922, -218
We settled some weeks ago into a small canyon of sorts. Of course, the mist is below the edge of the cliff, and the mountains continue up behind us, but they also bend on either side of the tribe. I’ve been told we’ll be moving up through the canyon as it inclines for an easier time of crossing the ridge between two peaks. Through this time, I believe that there is a larger-than-normal food source below us, as that is the cause of our moving along the previous ridges.
I have saught audience with this tribe’s Glean, the ket that keeps track of several generations’ worth of tribal memories. I want to see if there are any memories of viral spreads, or isolated cases of unknown diseases. If there are, I would hope that the pair would have some understanding of what caused the disease, symptoms, and perhaps even a cure. If any of these identifiers can be matched to known diseases elsewhere, this could validate some of my coworker’s thoughts—there are those who believe kets are just as susceptible as the rest of us but their culture masks how they contract and fight. I believe otherwise.
However, the Glean have not provided me an audience. Perhaps this tribe’s long history has complicated thigns. To be clear, the Glean is a pair of kets: an elder and a young adult. Much of the time they spend isolated from the tribe among each other’s company. I have enquired throughout the tribe and I am told this practice is where the elder transfers the tribe’s memories to the other. But this process takes the majority of their time each day, and what remaining time either have are usually spent gathering memories from the tribe. What use is collecting all of these memories if they’re not available?
But I digress. I came here to test my theories, and I have more than two years to do so. Other kets have been forthcoming with other information, and I should enquire if they have memories of disease. I have not been here for even a month, but they seem relatively ill-equipped to deal with infections or other diseases. If they were a concern, surely someone in the tribe would be devoted to studying medicine. Perhaps there is, and I have missed them. I have yet to include many of these negative findings and suspicions in my communications with the Naokia, though they will be present in my final report.
I hope it does not reach this point, but I do have a few vials of low-threat diseases from around Omneutta, as well as their cures. If I find a way that kets would be susceptible I may have no choice but to test my theory, with hopefully willing participants.
Date: 41 Bos. 986 A.T.
Location: 860, -588
As usual, I begin with a report on our whereabouts. We have moved across the ridge discussed earlier, and though we did settle for a night after the climb, the Garner carried a day’s worth of food up the ridge as there was next to nothing available on the way up. The climb was not terribly steep for most of the journey, but any travel is difficult when hauling a tribe’s worth of belongings, and I haul my own instruments.
We settled on the far edges of what would be a lake, and I was advised to procure any cold-weather clothes I had brought. We would be spending a couple weeks at the lake, not far from the edge where water trickled over. The experience of the last couple of days has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. As I was told after it began, Vale Reef’s rain seasons are periods of torrential rain that takes up the majority of a day, and often continues through the dark for at least several days. They are not seasonal—multiple can happen in a year or rarely none—and are a result of mist that has escaped from other celestial bodies in the area.
During this rain season, several layers of sheets, and if necessary sheer, are wrapped around the dwellings to keep inhabitants dry. Thankfully, this rain season has aligned with the latter portion of the cold season, so the increased “indoor” warmth has been a blessing. The unending rains filled the lake to the point that it looked full, and we were still a good distance from the water’s edge. However, the Garner still went over the edge of the cliff by the now-roaring waterfall. I followed to the edge and again was met with some ket—I could not identify who—in my head telling me not to be near the edge. The Garner came back with less food than usual. I found that odd, since there was food readily available and growing around the lake, but we did not eat that food. They were the same plants as those that were brought up, but we were not to eat it.
I sought an audience with the Garner, but much like my attempts to meat the Glean this did not play out to my satisfaction. I cannot access the food supply either, as it stays in the Glean’s possession until it is time to be eaten. I do not wish to subject unwitting kets to any disease, but releasing pathogens on food I know will be eaten might be my last hope at testing any of my hypotheses. I will continue to search for other methods.
Date: 32 Pwu. 987 A.T.
Location: 235, -653
We left the lake not long after the rains subsided. They had gone on for nearly four weeks, and without an explanation that made sense to me, we left the lake that was flourishing with food and moved on. We resumed our slow crawl of moving a kilometer once or twice a week and crept west this time. We are moving along to the south of Rock-Eater Sea, a location below the mist. I have seen the mushrooms called Rock-Eaters now and then, though I am told below the mist they grow into large trees capable of devouring rocks. But I cannot see this fascinating phenomena, though most kets do not as well. I know that the Glean view them as an somewhat of an invasive species, capable of reducing the land their food grows on. This worry extends to the rest of the tribe though only the Glean have seen the trees with their own eyes.
I am beginning to believe that the tribe is hiding information from me. More than two months after my arrival, I still have yet to enquire with the Garner about the history of disease and infection in the tribe. Though it may be that they require me to spend more time on Tennu and with the tribe to earn some sort of trust, the experiments I must conduct after this meeting assuming the most favourable conclusions will require the better part of two years to approach statistical validity and isolate any currently unforeseen variables. I need to meet as soon as possible.
I do have the equipment to test any resistances present to the diseases I specifically brought that would be present in samples of blood alone, but this experimentation would be problematic. I would need to run tests to isolate environmental factors in the results to screen against them in the blood tests. This alone would take a few days and would require the instruments to be still. I would also need to power the instruments, as I have saved my small photo-voltaic generator for emergency use. The ever-present mist has rendered charging of the generator slow, so I have resorted to physically powering my instruments in limited usage. Running blood tests would take more time, and I would need many samples.
I have asked around if I might be permitted to find a place to set up my instruments for weeks at a time, venturing down below the mist myself or finding some above-ground plants, but this seems to be out of the question. I will bring this to the council soon. The tribe and the Naokia agreed to this research opportunity, but I have found little opportunity here. I have often wondered why they would agree to have me here if they did not intend to let me complete my research.
Date: 22 Apu 987 A.T.
Location: -343, -356
I had to wait weeks as we crossed over the short land bridge, and then made a settlement at the base of the mountain that holds the gateway. The same gateway is critical for both the first and second Day of the Gate, as members of the tribe trickle up and down the mountain all day to have time with the gate to themselves. Other than the council being around the Gate as the light of Astran shone through it first thing in the morning, there seems to be no order as to who goes up when, and no fight over this either.
This is clearly a day and ceremony of religious or philosophical importance, but there is no leader to direct or guide it. Each member of the tribe takes it upon themselves to get up and down the mountain, just as they take it upon themselves to find time to commune with Haket or any other religious practices they have. But I have not and apparently will not be instructed in any of these.
Alas, that is not the point of my writing. I did meet with the council, and finally after several months I will be allowed to pursue my research. We have identified two spots that I will use as a makeshift residence and research station throughout half of the year, one east and one west of the Gateway as the tribe loops around Tennu. Tomorrow I will begin the two day trek to the western location, and after we cross the land bridge in mid-Tauvas we will have another two day hike to the eastern location. Before they make camp at the Gateway each time two kets will return to my location to help transport the lodging, which I will pack and unpack on my own.
It was implicit but clear that there is little trust bestowed upon me by the council, and I wonder if granting me the ability to pursue my research gets me out of the tribe, so to speak. No one will have to keep watch over me. They do not trust me to stay above the mist; their only warning is that I will not make it back up. It is vague and foreboding, and I do not know if I trust myself not to go down either. But I do not trust them either—I still have not spoken to the Glean. This was not an issue according to the council when I voiced my concern.
I have yet to relay this mistrust to the Naokia, and have been careful to accept what the tribe allows in terms of research. I know the funding for this research opportunity was not easily procured by the Naokia, and in addition to my great personal and professional desire to see the research through, I feel a deep obligation to not waste this opportunity. I need to prove something right or wrong while I am here.
Date: 46 Tau. 987 A.T.
Location: 172, -475
After several repeated attempts this morning, my communicator seems to have no functionality. My technological prowess is low, save for my ability to get centrifuges spinning. I communicated last week at the normal time and have not communicated since. The research had been going smoothly, albeit not well since my last journal in early Evtuvas so I had postponed my practice of that in favour of more research time and regular contact with the Naokia.
I was only at the western location for a handful of weeks after my last writing and I have no significant updates since that date that were not documented already in communications. I met with the council again on the day following the Second Gate day before the tribe set out, and I am still without any knowledge of the tribe’s history in terms of disease and infections. I have not had the opportunity or willpower to open a wound on a ket, nor the desire to ask. They have been relatively willing to provide blood samples. I have gone through almost a dozen in the last few months, and will go through more once I get set up on the eastern side of Tennu.
Perhaps any incremental discoveries will be noticed at a later date when I have a full data set available. Analysis of the blood I have gathered so far has not made any clear revelations to me regarding any antibodies that are known. I may have to separate samples or attempt to reproduce the blood and introduce small quantities of the pathogens I had been saving to see how the blood reacts on its own. I do not see anything readily apparent in the blood to indicate any known antibodies naturally exist, but my knowledge—albeit limited—of Kettlah physiology does not lead me to believe some organ would produce any.
Traveling across the planet-star to procure more samples has been relatively easy, even as the tribe moved to the extreme northwest reaches of Tennu while at my previous location. This side of the planet-star has a smaller loop for the tribe to work around so reaching them should prove easier. What has been difficult is procuring food regularly. I still have not yet traveled to the Undergrowth, though I did mention in my last journal my joy at finding the flora tucked in a canyon between between Vanishing Pools and Cut-Serpent Valley. In hindsight I was likely a couple days from traveling under the mist.
Date: 25 Vea. 987 A.T.
Location: 598, -149
I have been more negligent than I anticipated in terms of keeping recording in leu of communication to the Naokia. I still have my extremely detailed experiment logs—of course—but I have written sparingly in the months since I left this exact spot. I don’t know how the kets do it, truthfully, coming around an entire planet-star every year in these two neat little loops. I understand the tribe enough that after a ket grows up and is considered an adult, they leave. A fair amount eventually return here, and some kets come here from other places, but there is an oddly balanced disparity in the tribe. Though most kets will live to roughly twice my age, there are few who are my age within the tribe.
Regardless, I write for other reasons than ramblings about the tribe. The results from introducing pathogens to blood were mixed, in a word. On the same sample separated into three vials where each was introduced to the same pathogen, one showed no infection with pathogens present but non-effective, another became infected, and one showed signs of infection but the pathogens were removed from the blood in a matter of hours. Trials persisted with these odd results when repeated with different samples of blood, samples from the same ket taken months later, and all with different pathogens.
I cannot think of or find an explanation for this phenomenon. In a related experiment, I isolated specific cells in the blood that had become infected and introduced them to blood that had either not been infected or become infected and destroyed the pathogens. In both cases, the infected blood cells assumed or became whichever type they were mixed with. I cannot procure any organs or body parts of kets to procure my own blood—to see if this ability is within the body’s production methods or is part of the cell itself. I also cannot figure out why the same sample from the same ket taken at the same time and split regularly turns into three different results.
I had a working theory earlier this year when I was on the eastern side—I have not written since testing this—that this ability came from some protein absorbed from the flora native to Vale Reef. To my best understanding, all that grows above the mist grows below the mist as well, though there is variation. I have been told by the Glean that there are small early-growth spores of Rock-Eaters above the mist, but I have not seen them. This is to say that I procured samples of every variety of flora I could find native to Vale Reef, in their surface variants, to see if I could identify any pattern or antibody present in the flora themselves. Not that I have isolated any pattern or antibody in the blood. I may have no choice but to go below the mist.
Date: 24 Bos. 987 A.T.
Location: 598, -149
This is the 7nd(sic) time I have written; I am trying to write every four days while under the mist. It can be hard to keep track of the days through the mist. The tribe was right, I cannot return above the mist. Though the food is plentiful and nutrient-dense keeping my body in good condition, I do not have the willpower to make it through vertical climbs. I came down to procure samples of the nutrient-dense flora to see […]
[…] I cannot make it up. To the northeast is a short climb that I can make some days and a small incline, but above is a much larger and steeper climb. The southeast has another of these ridges. I have not made it up there. […] west is a series of climbs and inclines.
[…] manage to get up there, clearly below the mist. From there, I might be able to see sloping up to the surface. I know that there is a smooth decent in both Rock-Eater Sea and Cut-Serpent Valley, and I could find them on a map, but I did not bring my map with me. I know that I cannot cross through to Rock-Eater Sea due to the land bridge, perhaps there is another way around that I do not recall.
[…] do not know […] last wrote. […]
My only hope of reaching the surface again may have been the way I came, and passed up. […] I am in a small valley. […] side there is a vertical climb. The way I came […] not as steep as the other way, but still too steep for me.
Zinder’s body was found, lifeless and holding onto the last journal entry. The journal itself has not been recovered—all previously documented journals were found as loose pages across Tennu. In some cases these pages had been recovered by members of the tribe. The writing on the last two recovered journals was illegible in many spots, especially so on the last journal, where the date was impossible to decipher, and the location was not written.
We were unable to find the location of either of the camps mentioned in the notes, as well as any of her personal belongings. She died with only a vial of ket blood and an inkwell on her person. This means we were unable to recover any of her allegedly numerous volumes of experiment notes. Unfortunately, her trip to Tennu seems to have been fruitless. Perhaps her discovery of how the blood reacts separate from the body will lead to more research, but it seems no definitive conclusions can be drawn, especially in regards to the flora.