Chapter 3 - The Return Letter

    "C'mon boy. We've got no time to waste," Harold exasperatedly yelled to Artie.

    Artie tried catching up, but he couldn't beat the old man's apparent zeal for wherever or whoever this letter was going to. He had mentioned a tribe or a name or something, Riich-ri, but Artie had never heard of it. He wasn't sure how embarrassing it would be to not know. Was this something that he had glossed over in History class? Or Foreign Cultures or Language? If he asked who they were, would Harold ridicule him?

    Who am I kidding, he'll ridicule me anyway, thought Artie.

    "Who are the Riich-ri, sir?"

    Harold stopped dead in his tracks.

    "The Trial of the Riich-ri was one of the best court cases of all time. It's a long story that I'll tell you on the ride there, but a bunch of them got real snobby back in the day, and as a punishment, a majority of them were sentenced to species-wide memory loss and confinement in one of the quietest areas in the Milky Way. None of them were allowed to know that anyone else was out there." Harold quieted a bit, but his enthusiasm still shone through. "That's what makes this letter so interesting. One, to send this, at least one of the Riich-ri must have rediscovered the rest of us. Two, they must have found the mailbox on their planet, atop the tallest mountain. Three, and this is the kicker. Notice where this letter is headed."

    Artie looked at the envelope. He still couldn't read the script written on it, but he had worked in the mailroom long enough to tell the destination from the sticker that Harold had put on it.

    "Oh wow, that is a pretty quiet part of the universe." Harold paused a bit to let Artie think it out.

    "Wait, is this letter going to the Riich-ri?"

    "It is! Good job, boy. THAT means that the Riich-ri have already had some correspondence with someone else, and this is a return letter. And that thought, is absolutely terrifying."

    Artie's brain took a left off a cliff. "Wait, why is that terrifying?"

    "I think I used the word 'snobby' to describe them earlier. That might have been a bit of an understatement. Perhaps 'malicious' would be a more appropriate word."

    Artie gulped. This could be the beginning to an end, he thought.

    "Luckily for us, they were more like trolls than warriors. Certainly nothing on par with the Rabbin."

    Artie calmed down a bit. He was worried about that. He wasn't sure how well the universe could handle another race like the Rabbin. While they excelled in the arts, mathematics, sciences, and pretty much every type of civilized thought there was, they were also very good at conquering... everything. He, as well as everyone who had ever been even slightly aware of culture, knew of the Rabbin and how they affected everyone, from his own culture, to that of The Hiss.

    As they climbed into the spaceship, Artie's mind revolved around the letter. It was surely an important document. Maybe the leader of the Riich-ri was going to get it. What if it was going to a secret organization? What if they really would destroy everything in their path? Artie figured that at the very least, he and Harold were spared. The Rabbin had spared the Intergalactic Messenger System, enhanced it in fact. Maybe the Riich-ri would do the same.

    A thought occurred to Artie. "Sir, if the Riich-ri are getting the letter, who sent it?"

    Harold handed it over to him. "It says that it's from a "Chekhov MacGuffin", who lives in "Egg #12". Obviously, that's not a real place, and I would put money on "Chekhov MacGuffin" being a pseudonym as well. But that just helps deepen the mystery." Harold drove on, humming.

    Artie had never seen Harold so happy, or even content, as he was now. Overall, it was odd to see anyone this content in the face of this apparently menacing tribe who had recently regained such valuable knowledge.

    Artie didn't care that much. He lived for moments like these.

    This is why he became a mailman, after all.

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