My name is William Elliot Stone. I am a wanderer from the planet XP-3618, which is called the Earth by its inhabitants. It fact, we have always been considered to be lucky enough to be born in the most prosperous part of the visible universe. The people from the Earth have long ago solved the problem of survival, and now each of us is responsible only for personal development. In short, my nation enjoys its life, but the same could be said about our neighbors in the universe. The series of horrible intergalactic wars remained in such dense antiquity, that today no one but Know-it-alls even remember why those were fought.
Frankly, I have never asked my Know-it-all (of course, I have it) about that. Why? There are always a lot of much more important problems lying on the wanderer's path. You have to be ready to solve those, if you took it into your head to become a cosmic rarities hunter. Millions of kids dream about it before going to sleep, but almost all of them grow up and just become normal people. In the future, only a few of them will be ready to leave their cozy houses to run around the universe in search of various outlandish things that galleries are filled with.
The galleries are the most favorite pastime of the inhabitants of the visible universe. Wild, abandoned planets are examined by the wanderers far and wide, and the artifacts worthy of attention go from them to the popular collections. Do you think it is the quietest occupation in the world? And it is only a lucky chance that my platinum card grows heavy from finding to finding? That can be only said by a person who has never skedaddled from a stone eater that decided to diversify its diet, or had never been caught in the rain in the South Cross. Microscopic creatures are hatched out of that rainwater when in protein medium. The creatures parasitize in humans and multiply with such incredible speed that one can quickly turn into a living swarming ball.
Therefore, to wander over the universe is impossible without Know-it-alls. These miniature devices contain all known information about the world in their memories, and only a few dare to land on unfamiliar planets without their advice. For example, I got my Know-it-all after the first successful space jump that I made at my own risk. The singing Aldebaran crystal (a terrific rarity!) barely covered its purchase, however I have never regretted buying it.
Even now, in one of the most difficult moments for me, I depend on the help of my Know-it-all. It doesn't matter that it lost the ability to talk with me many days ago, because it is impossible to replace or remove the sketches it made from the bottomless memory of my high-tech friend. The Know-it-all was a silent witness, able to show the truth about the accident that befell me and the related events. It dispassionately and clearly recorded both my guilt and guiltlessness, while separating one from the other.
The sun has almost risen, which means I have to leave my parents' home in the middle of a blossoming apple orchard to go to the people who undertook to judge me. To judge me, El Stone, a lucky man, in many ways a typical inhabitant of the problem-free Earth, who got into the most untypical situation one could imagine. Those people think they know already that I am guilty, that I have become a different, dangerous and unpredictable creature.
Maybe, they are right, though. But it all began so smoothly: in my advanced hyper-plane, in a classy suit and in a great mood with me, I made another jump without coordinates (the wanderers often allow their hyper-planes to choose the direction by themselves – our best finds are made that way), that ended with a head-on collision when exiting hyperspace. "It is impossible!" I thought, stunned, turning the machine at the last second. I pulled the mode switch and then fell into the darkness, which seemed to last for an eternity. And only the Know-it-all, that was nearly smashed during the fall, faultlessly recorded all of my adversities, but unfortunately I found out about that fact too late...
To be continued...