This article originally appeared in Jump Point 10.9.
In the outer reaches of the Davien system sits the Banu Friendship Museum, which has celebrated the special relationship between Humans and Banu ever since its grand opening in 2838. The museum sees a steady stream of Human tourists and student field trips but relatively few Banu visitors. To attract and retain Banu visitors, the museum recently remodeled its gift shop into a Banu-inspired marketplace. Curator Orisaka also revamped the museum’s main exhibit, which provides a chronological account of the relationship between Humans and Banu, by adding large images of Jerry, the first Banu encountered by Humanity, near the exhibit’s entrance. Clearly visible from the lobby, Orisaka hopes their images will draw Banu to the exhibit out of sheer curiosity. While Jerry may be easily identified by many Humans, as their name and likeness are a staple of the Equivalency curriculum, the Banu, who do not culturally celebrate famous figures from history, have forgotten him completely. In Orisaka’s eyes, “Preserving and honoring the legacy of the Banu who brought us together falls squarely on Humanity’s shoulders.”
It was 3:13 SET on June 12, 2438, when Vernon Tar heard his ship scanners ping. He was searching for new jump points within a sector of Davien after previous trips had returned promising scans. Worried it might be another navjumper attempting to steal his discovery, Tar opened fire on the vessel. Only after those initial shots did he realize the ship’s design was unlike anything he’d ever seen. Tar relayed his coordinates and a brief description of his encounter to local officials who relayed it to the United Nations of Earth (UNE). Much to his surprise, the ship maintained its position once it became clear Tar was no further threat. Inside the ship that would be later known as a Defender sat Njeri, who the UNE would designate with the name Jerry. Later on, when Njeri learned that this was a close approximation of their Banu name as spoken by Humans, the Banu would embrace the title as a badge of honor and insist on being called it exclusively. The Banu didn’t flee because they also realized they had encountered a new species and hoped their discovery would be their ticket home and out of trouble.
It wasn’t professional ambition or scientific curiosity that brought Jerry into Davien, it was sheer survival. Jerry had been caught embezzling funds from their souli and fled to avoid the consequences. “Jerry was far from a criminal mastermind,” according to Natalia Gordillo, a member of the UNE’s hastily assembled diplomatic team who befriended the Banu and wrote the biography Jerry. While the Banu’s absence of traditional historical records makes aspects of her book almost impossible to corroborate, scholars still consider Gordillo’s book to be the definitive biography on Jerry as it is the only one written by a contemporary who knew them.
Published in 2447, Jerry became a bestseller and for many Humans was their first in-depth look at Banu life and culture. The book revealed fascinating specifics about soulis, the practice of divestment, the Banu’s relationship to time, and more. Yet, it also told a deeply personal and universal story about how Jerry felt out of place with their lot in life. Though a “deskbound” bureaucrat in their souli, Jerry dreamed of being a pilot and intended to use the embezzled funds to buy themselves a position in a respected exploration souli. When their essosouli sniffed out Jerry’s scheme, they panicked and fled in one of the souli’s ships, resulting in a multi-day chase that eventually, through sheer luck and some innate skill, led Jerry to discovering a jump into Davien.
Following first contact, the language difference made it nearly impossible for Jerry to communicate with the Human delegation of scientists and military officials led by General Neal Socolovich. Declassified documents now on display at the Banu Friendship Museum note Jerry’s affable nature and willingness to work with the TECH-Div team to understand each other’s language. These documents also describe a famous incident where a variety of food was presented to Jerry and they proceeded to eat everything, including the packaging around the sandwich and nutrition bar.
Additional Banu appeared in Davien two weeks after Jerry’s arrival. The delegation met with General Socolovich and spent the next few months breaking down the language barrier. This led to the first Interstellar Peace and Trade Accord ratified in October of 2438, which Jerry signed in an honorary capacity. In those intervening months, Jerry helped the teams working to decipher each other’s language and became increasingly fascinated by all things Human. When the Banu delegation was set to return home, they presented Jerry with the option to stay in Davien as an official envoy or return to the Protectorate without fear of repercussions for their crimes. Jerry returned to the Protectorate expecting to be celebrated for their discovery. The decision would be the biggest regret of their life.
Jerry’s souli agreed to let him finish his contract but treated him distrustfully. They reassigned Jerry to a new department where supervisors wearily watched their every move. In Jerry, Gordillo writes that Jerry had hoped their discovery would open up new opportunities for them, but their souli was uninterested in pursuing Human relations. Having spent a few months in a truly privileged and unique position working with Humanity, Jerry struggled to return to their old life. As soon as they were able, Jerry officially severed their ties to their souli and set out on their own.
Middle-aged and souli-less, a suspicious combination in the eyes of many Banu, Jerry started their own Human-relations souli but failed to land any contracts. In the time since their return, other soulis had quickly emerged ready to fill that role and Jerry learned that they couldn’t compete with soulis that could speak common fluently and had more extensive knowledge of Humans than they did. With their options and life savings dwindling, Jerry returned to Davien hoping their fortunes would turn. Upon their arrival, people swarmed Jerry asking for pictures. They figured it was because they were Banu but quickly realized that people knew their name and legacy. Jerry found the attention overwhelming yet exhilarating, telling Gordillo that their life changed once realizing that, “back home I was just another Banu but here… here I was special.”
Jerry would call Davien home for the rest of their life. They learned to speak common and traveled widely across the UNE giving speeches about Banu life and culture. They reconnected with Natalia Gordillo at one such event, which led to them writing their biography. Jerry died at their home in Davien on November 2, 2456, surrounded by Human and Banu friends. While their name may only be remembered by Humanity, their actions forever changed the universe for both Humans and Banu.