Monthly Archives: July 2016

An Explanation for “There were Violets”

From “There were Violets” – about those last two lines:

… we feed upon the flesh of dead men…

For those who know me, or about me, you will probably already know what I’m going to write.  This is for those of you new to “my” philosophy.  I’ll try not to be overly wordy or boring, and I will explain.

Some 30 years ago my life intersected with non-Earth energies, or entities/people if you will.  This intersection resulted in a miraculous healing of a debilitating and worsening back condition, and a change of mind about… everything.

I call these people “The Teachers” and I’ve received some pretty amazing information from them.  I’ve also been faced with very difficult challenges upon which my continued healing and good health depended.  In other words, we’ll look after certain aspects of your life and you will accept us as your teachers and way showers.  Deal, take it or leave it.

So began a series of teachings that surpassed anything any earth-type teacher or leader could ever hope to accomplish.  But instead of allowing me to rely on them, these entities taught me the necessity of making up my own mind about literally everything.  I call it self-empowerment.  That means that when I think, say, write something, that is my truth – and that truth is subject to change without notice moment by moment, because there is no such thing as “the truth” as any observing person must know by now.  “The Truth” belongs to belief systems and it’s the kind of poison brainwashed believers (in any kind of system) or insecure adherents need to push on all comers.  I have no truth to give to anyone, I have dreams, visions, awareness, remembrances and observations as well as experiences.  That’s the extent of my truth. 

Now to the explanation: we feed upon the flesh of dead men.  Violets are truly beautiful flowers, aren’t they?  And where does this beauty originate?  As all Earthian beauty, or what man considers beautiful, it originates in dying, decaying or dead matter.  This is a truism, but not one that people usually like to link to their observation of beauty.  That link has often been made by both, poets and prophets, but not by “ordinary” people.  Ordinary people see the obvious: ugly, pretty, nice, disgusting, beautiful, horrible – the judgments flow one after the other non-stop.

Nothing wrong with judgments: only the dead cease making judgments.  To be alive means to be in a constant state of judgment, about everything.  The problem arises when the judgments are simply based upon belief systems rather than on honest observation.  Judgments are often misleading or false and give rise to bias which gives rise to some pretty terrible events and unbelievable cruelty. 

We feed upon the flesh of dead men refers directly to the worst, and terminal virus infecting this entire world.  The virus is predation. 

Predation (from Word Web dictionary) “An act of plundering and pillaging and marauding” and “The act of preying by a predator who kills and eats the prey.”

Predation is a fact of life so common, so ubiquitous here that it is taken for granted; in fact evolutionary “science” teaches that it is not just legitimate, but an absolutely necessary part of life.  As an Earthian you are not even allowed to imagine a world without predation.  The standard response is always the same: life grows from dead matter and that’s the way it is and must be.  The predator virus is so completely established here that no one questions it.  Dead matter is needed as fertilizer for new life.  That’s the Credo.  That’s the over-riding belief system.

That being the case, all the beautiful things that rise out of “the ground” on earth take their food from dead matter.  Violets feed on the flesh of dead men.  The earth is fertilized by death. 

Well, you’d probably think, nothing wrong with that.  Things die, we’re in a closed system, therefore the dead have to give life to the living.  We eat to feed our bodies.  Much of what we eat comes from the inanimate part of earth life, but much also comes from the shedding of blood of innocent sentient creatures man has declared himself the master and owner of. 

There’s a very serious side effect to all predatory life:  because it is completely dependent on dying, decaying or dead matter, the more life is desired, the more death ensues.  Cause and effect, no way out of the spiral.  Man, caught in this vicious spiral which is also called entropy, is expanding his numbers and for that more and more of the planet has/must die.  No way out.  If man reaches out to space to feed his numbers, then the nearest planets, then solar systems, will also fall into this insatiable maw and they too will die. 

According to The Teachers, and I have seen demonstration of this, real life does not depend on predation, quite the opposite.  Real life expands itself by feeding new life and nothing is ever threatened.  Nothing needs to die in a real world.  Predation is not a “natural” process at all.  It’s an op, a controlling feature of ancient forces man has been the slave of since inception and has little or no idea what, or who, these “farmers of worlds” actually are.  Without going into novel-length explanations, I can say this of man’s “authorities and powers and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” that they are fallen creatures and they are the ones who feed on lesser life-forms.  They are the original and real predators.  Man’s programming simply extends predation to this particular quite insignificant little world. 

Beauty as we perceive it is but a tool to hide the depravity, ugliness and corruption of all that is predatory.  War is man’s ultimate enslavement to the predatory concept, and it is so vile that any even remotely empathetic, decent mind would utterly reject it in any of its forms and for any of its purported reasons to be.

Perhaps food for thought, and in closing, here are the first two stanzas of the famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, written in 1915 and the height of the madness now known as World War l. 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Next time you look at something truly beautiful, ask this question: could this beauty be possible without the death that lies beneath it?  Even if the beauty is that of a lover, or a child, think of those who came before and are now gone; who gave their “seed” to this beauty, and think further to what happens to beauty grown out of death, how quickly it too will age, wither, die and decay and how ephemeral new life will spring from its death.  How long must man accept such a skewed, debilitating and degrading system? 

If all other lessons were forgotten, this one I could never forget:  “As long as the problem of predation and death continues on your world entropy will increase and eventually it will be all dead – nothing new will sprout here, certainly no new beauty will ever be seen on its surface again.”

And how do I know these people speak truth?  I have seen their world, a world where “death” is gone, banished, unknown to their younger generations.  And how can this be, you will ask?  How about food, and living space if things just keep on growing? 

That is programmed earth-thinking limiting concepts.

Hint: how vast is space?  Where does infinity begin, and end?  There is your answer.    

There were Violets – a poem

 

IMG_0039

There were violets, I remember,
violets in the fields;
I remember well, violets.
They’re beautiful
I remember thinking.

It was easy, I was a child:
An innocent may walk
even past the gates of hell
and they cannot prevail.

The violets, I remember,
waved in unison
in a warm afternoon breeze,
smiling at me under the sun.

I wore a straw hat
mother made me wear.
Careful to keep it on, always
mother said,
I did not have to ask why.

I sat down among the violets.
They said something odd,
or so I thought
because I did not understand.

What does that mean,
mother,
we feed upon the flesh
of dead men?

 

The Blue Dragon: Epilogue

[Allow me to explain the abrupt end to this story.  Originally, my intent was to write another sci-fi novel but I simply ran out of time.  So it sat for a couple of years on the hard drive, waiting.  Then one day I decided to end it.  So I wrote the following epilogue, which is almost more of an epitaph, but what the hell.  At least, I got closure from these characters who haunted me to give them purpose and get them out of limbo.  So now they are free to travel space for eternity and no mere Earthian with some half-baked idea she can write a book may interfere with their adventures.  Of course, it’s possible that out there, i.e., here,  there may be another writer courageous enough to pick up the gauntlet so casually thrown, take this story and build it up to a proper denouement.  If you’re in the mood for it, if you have ideas firing off in that direction, by all means, go for it!!! 🙂 ]

__________________________________________

Epilogue

I could easily go on with this story.

I could, for example, describe the bonding ceremony, the excitement and cheering from the entire crew. I could describe the dress Thane wore, designed by computer and put together by Ship’s droids. So perfect, it resembled an extension of the beautiful Thane. I could write quite a few chapters on the party that followed the bonding. I swear, even the droids got drunk.

I could go on to describe the changes Thane’s love for the men wrought aboard Blue. Some were paternal towards her, some brotherly, some just warm and friendly and some expressed their romantic and sexual interests. She engaged each one impeccably, a beautiful healthy reed bending freely with the changing emotional currents she naturally set in motion aboard Blue.

I could write several chapters on encounters with deep space privateers, the space battles, the attacks, the dodging, the effects caused by Blue splitting into her separate modules. I would then have to describe the terrible loss of her medical module, number four, with sixteen members of her crew lost in its fiery destruction. Then I’d have to explain how Thane replaced the loss by winning over the medical staff of the captured pirate vessel that had killed Blue’s.

I could go on with the amazing tale of Zelleus’ past, how he revealed to Thane that he had found a kind of “fountain of youth” for lack of a better word, on a desert planet that had been abandoned because nothing of value was found there. How he described the changes he had seen in the twenty-six hundred years he had been a spacer. What happened to Thane when he took her there and she too partook of this substance.

I could write several chapters on Thane’s own exploits when she gained command of her own ship, the “Encore” and how she and Zelleus attacked the Van Dradden’s mining empire to find her long-lost “brother” whom, it turns out, was a family cast-out because he voiced opinions on business reforms. He was also the donor of the sperm, making him her biological father and her, heiress to a vast fortune. How she took over the Van Dradden Trade House with a single intent: to free all the slaves kept by that House, humans, Borgs, machines and worlds, and how she destroyed its trade monopoly, using the various laws in existence across the galaxy to do this legally, thus avoiding yet another trade war.

I could then go on with the cat and mouse game they played, skirting the Earthian blockade looking for an opening into uncharted territory and what happened when they did, in fact, break out into free space.

I could then write one chapter on how she and Zelleus gave up their ships to their faithful crews; how they used the Van Dradden fortune to re-structure Pallarti and make it a flower of culture and commerce before they disappeared forever from Earthian controlled space.

But I don’t have to do this because in some three thousand years you will be able to interact with these stories in your holovids. When you find this story, and you will, try to use judgment as to what is documented data and what is fabrication. Beware of the documented stuff – it’s quite untrustworthy. The so-called fabrications (what you now refer to as ‘fiction’), those, you’ll see, are priceless.

You ask why I say that? How primitive the Earthian mind remains! It’s simple: if history can be recorded as fiction, anyone recording it is free to tell it as it is, to speak the truth. Conversely, if it is “official” history, there is little truth there beyond mere statistics; what the “System” permits to be told and what information it permits to be disseminated through official channels. Hasn’t it always been so?

I am returning to my time now, to rejoin Zelleus and Thane, my biological parents, on our replica of the Blue Dragon.  

— Thaleus

_____________________________________________________

“Over the neural tap he felt a soft brush of presence. ‘Listening in again, my darling?’ he projected.

Yes, my love. You might as well get used to it. We’re in this together, for the long stretch.’

Yes.’

[Saul] smiled. For when this body he wore was long gone, his memories would ride another clone… and continue loving Virginia. The Wandering Jew and the Lady in the Machine… they would be a resource for the people, serving for as long as anyone wanted them around.

Immortality is service’, he thought.

They held each other in cool electron arms. And both of them imagined that they heard, faint and ghostly, in the distance, low confirming laughter.”

(from: Heart of the Comet by Gregory Benford and David Brin)

 

The Blue Dragon – Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Space has its Surprises

Suddenly the shower door opens and Zelleus stands there with a frozen grin on his face. He had intended to surprise the boy and teach him to be less prude about his naked body. But it is Zelleus who is struck speechless. For there, before him, stands the most beautiful young woman he would swear he had ever seen. He continues to stare as “Thane” tries to cover herself with her long slim arms while some of the escaping water splashes out to the floor or swirls around in a thick mist as it locates and moves lazily to the center of gravity.

Several seconds later Zelleus remembers his manners enough to close the shower enclosure door and turn away, leaving the new uniform hooked to the anchored chair. He swim-walks back to his office and sits down heavily, yes, heavily, even in what is practically zero g.

He shakes his head. “Son of a bitch, I don’t believe this! How do I… What do I do now?” He looks at his comrec. “Fat lot of good you’ve done me!” He unhooks it from his wrist and flings it at his velcro’d wall storage board. He breathes deeply, slowly, letting his jumbled thoughts find some kind of order in his mind.

“Ok, so that explains the damned attraction. But why did she lie to me? She didn’t know about the ‘no female’ rule, so she wasn’t trying to violate that. Oh well, maybe it’s as simple as finding an opportunity to save her life by me but not trusting that I and my crew would not violate her. So she kept up her charade until we sailed. Then she realized the crew was all male and became even more scared. So she kept up the pretense for as long as she could, until such time as it could no longer be possible. I suppose for the poor thing, anything I would do to her when I found her out would be better than what La Rosa had in store. So, I can’t blame her there.

“But what about me? How come, with my damned so-called intuition in human nature and my sophisticated scanners I didn’t detect the subterfuge? Now that pisses me off. It’s me I’m mad at, not her.

“Fine, so she can fool me, us… humans, but our scanners? That’s some trick. That really is some trick. What else can she do? How did she get those skills? Is she an augment? How could she be, an orphan, an outcast with no connections to anyone with money…

“Now that’s an interesting thought. Yeah, she’s an orphan, an outcast, sure. But why was I so eager to create a link for her to the Van Draddens? Where did that come from? Damn Zelleus you’re a total idiot. It came from her. She ‘fed’ you the thought because she is a cast-out; she truly is a bastard child of those slimes. Either her mother or father, or both, had her augmented in vitro. That’s why her “family” was hunted down and taken from her. They wanted to eliminate her as a possible claimant to their fortune, but they hadn’t yet figured out how to do it. No, wait. They couldn’t kill her. Someone was protecting her, hiding her. Her “brother” – the one who gave her the Cyborg dog. When he disappeared, she hid in the only place she knew she’d be less likely to be found: in La Rosa’s extensive slum warrens. And these men who followed us in the B&B… they weren’t after me but after her. Hm.

“So, I found her just as she was at the end of her rope, with nowhere to turn.

“Now the Stasi-1 Diamond question: who is the “brother”? Where is he?

“Oh damn. I should not have left her in my quarters alone with her fears. What can she be thinking now – that I’m going to flush her out into space?”

He rushes back to his private quarters. They are locked. He palms the door open but no one is inside. He queries Ship.

“The one called Thane is in observation module five, captain.”

“Thank you Ship.” He propels himself down past a maze of tunnels to the aft of the Ship. Carefully, he approaches the observation bubble. Thane, wearing the new uniform that fits her slim figure comfortably is floating in the bubble, one foot anchored to a ring below her. Her pale face is turned to the fiery light show accompanying Blue Dragon’s fugue flight. She hears Zelleus and when she looks at him she bursts into tears, sobs wracking her body in spasms.

He approaches her and puts his arm gently around her shoulders.

“Shhhh, stop that now, please. No harm is going to come to you here, trust me on this. Besides, I promised you my protection.”

She stops and wipes her face, her tears reflecting the alien outer lightscape, floating gently “down” to the center of gravity. She looks Zelleus full in the eyes.

“Yes you did promise that. But you also said if I screwed up big you’d kill me. I lied to you to save my life…”

“Please tell me your real name.” He asks as gently as he knows how.

“I’m Thane, pronounced “Thanee” but spelled with only one e. So I didn’t lie about my name… only about the pronunciation.”

Zelleus gives her a powerful, warm hug. “That’s right, Thane {Thanee}, you did not lie about that. And you did not lie about your gender either, not directly. Has anyone ever asked you if you were a man or a woman?”

She shakes her head, “No one.”

“For the record, then, fine. I’m not a monster you know. I have rules, certainly, but common sense must always override rules. Conditions change, requiring adjustments. Sometimes difficult ones, sometimes complicated, sometimes quite funny.” He smiles at her and hesitantly she reciprocates.

“How would you categorize this particular changed condition, Thane?”

“I think it qualifies for all of the above, Zelleus. Definitely all of the above. I don’t even know if I should apologize to you, or laugh with you.” Her smile expands to fill her face and he holds her even tighter.

“I like this Zelleus, but can you ease up some?  I can’t breathe!”  She gasps out the words. 

“Sorry girl.” He gently relaxes his bear hug. “A live woman crew aboard Blue Dragon – never thought I’d see this happen… He steps back from Thane and looks at her.  What now?  Do we continue the pretense with the crew? They are bound to know something’s not quite as it should be with you. I have sensed this already. What if one of the men grabs you and feels you? It’s going to happen. You are much too pretty and attractive to fend off their interest. By the way, how did you keep those (pointing at her breasts) from being so conspicuous?”

“With great pain, using tensor bandages and very loose, shapeless coveralls.”

“How did you manage to lower your voice close to that of an older boy?”

“So long ago as it seems now, in a private school I got singing and voice lessons. They taught how to pitch your voice for effect. I guess I kept some of that.”

“How old are you, Thane?”

“Pallarti years, twenty-two, almost eighteen Standard Terran.”

“Have you thought about what you want to do now as the only female crew aboard Blue Dragon?”

“As much as I’d hate it, you could quarantine me, claiming Ship’s auto-doc diagnosed an unknown virus in me that could be contagious, and has the potential to become deadly. After all, they all know where I come from…”

“It’s a good idea, but it wouldn’t be my choice. I have a better one.” He turns away from her and seems to fight with his emotions. He turns again to face her.

“I’ll make you a proposal, a bargain, that will allow you to continue to function aboard Ship, as my mate, my second in command.”

“Pardon?”

“I propose an official bonding, Thane. I see no other way to keep you aboard, free to move around, to work and to avoid most unwanted attention from the men. Notice I say “unwanted” because I won’t claim exclusive rights to you. Official bonding is a legal contract only. If you should find another member of the crew more appealing, or you should fall in love with another, I think I am open enough to put your feelings first should such a condition arise. Being the only woman aboard, it would be wrong for any one man to deny you choice of partners, one… or several, when you are ready for such an experience. We could work out the details of this arrangement after the bonding. You can see, though, why you need to bond with me – you will need my protection and aboard this ship at least, I can guarantee that. Is that clear enough for you?”

“Zelleus… you… me…” She heaves a deep sigh and as she lifts her hand to cover her mouth, he takes it in his. She leans into him and turns to look at the light show created by Blue Dragon’s flight through time-space. “Thank you,” she whispers.

“No need to thank me, Thane.”

She smiles at him. “Oh, sorry, I wasn’t thanking you. I was thanking Blue!”

He replies in a mock offended tone, “Oh-oh. Well, wonderful! I save her life – twice even – and she prefers a machine to me.” He rolls his eyes away from her, still mocking, “I should’ve known I’d rue the day I laid bare my feelings to anyone, particularly a dame.”

He listens to the freed girl’s voice in her laughter, the freed woman enjoying every moment of the release her discovery has given her.  She signs again and says, 

“Zelleus, I know the bonding does not mean I have to be the faithful wife in a monogamous relationship. At least they had the sense to get rid of that stupidity in most Sectors. But if I am to believe my heart, I think you will be my first mate. Probably not my only one, but definitely my main man. I have been keenly aware of my growing love for you. I denied it because I saw no way I could ever make you aware of my feelings. With you, aboard Blue, I can, for the first time in my life, be myself. You know what’s truly funny? I don’t know who I am… You’ll have to help me discover myself.”

“That won’t be a problem. I have my methods. I’ll scan your surface for natural dangers or enemy bases. Those I’ll avoid or blast out of the way. Then I’ll locate your most desirable landing places and drop down for a deeper inspection… I think I’ll definitely do that landing solo.”

Blushing and laughing again, she turns her face to him and closes her eyes in the completely innocent and trusting invitation of the young, inexperienced woman to the older man. He kisses her lightly, on the cheek.

She opens her eyes in some alarm.

“Later, Thane. Later there will be time for more. I want to savor this beginning with you.”

1-Stasi Diamond: the most precious diamond formation ever found by man – mined on the brutal and cruelly cold ice world called Stasi

The Blue Dragon – chapter 5: Open Space

It took all of nineteen and a half hours of intense negotiations with contractors and port authorities for Zelleus to get clearance for take-off. Mech working platforms, scaffolding and droids pull back and leave Blue Dragon hovering in her own anti-grav field as the gaping doors roll back, filling the hangar with a deep smoky purple of fading evening Pallarti light. The ship moves slowly forward jetting on thrusters. It settles at a jaunty angle to the sky on the nearest launch pad. As soon as the hangar doors close the massive torch drive engages and in a roar that was probably heard as far as a hundred miles beyond the port and even farther at sea, Blue Dragon lifts off on her secret destination, a fiery arrow aimed at alien starry fields.

Every human aboard is safely strapped either in bunk harness or in command chairs. Thane, at the insistence of Zelleus, and with some raised eyebrows from commander Natak and his assistant, the one-legged Josef Virkof, sits in the Second’s chair. Despite the containment field being at maximum the chair’s special fabric wraps around the slim Thane, almost covering his entire face. He tries to lift his hand to push it back so he can see the star field growing brighter but he is solidly pinned to the chair. Moments later the ship erupts into flame as she passes through and out of atmosphere. Then the pull lessens and the scene is one Thane can never forget.

Stars, bright, large and so clear as he has never imagined, surround Blue Dragon. He notices they are of various colors, some even having strange shapes. He learns later that these are just an optical illusion of tightly packed groups yet to be exploded into new systems.

He scans computerized visuals and sees the long torch flame shorten, then disappear. Then comes the test: zero g. His stomach revolts violently to the change and a bag appears before his face. He throws up. The others laugh. Now he understands why no one ate at their last meeting and they had looked at him knowingly when he casually ate a tart made of some fleshy blue fruit. It was to be a long time before he tried that pastry again.

As the ship begins to rotate, a sense of gravity is returned and he feels better. Josef comments on his complexion.

“Well Thane, I like those rosy cheeks better than that waxy complexion you served us before,” then looks around and winks. They all know his rosy complexion is due to momentary shame at demonstrating his ignorance of space travel exigencies. There were to be many more embarrassing moments, mostly in moving from place to place without becoming an unguided missile reminiscent of a bouncy ball. There would be many bruises from collisions with walls, port frames and even other human beings. As well as bathroom incidents, fortunately these always in private. But as with all things petty, these would become faded memories as life aboard Blue became predictably work, work and more work.

Zelleus had the Dragon retrofitted on Pallarti, certainly, but only on those aspects that could not be attended to in deep space. Most internal repairs and changes not of a critical nature to take-off and immediate serviceability were relegated to the crew during the interminable fugue days of post-light speed. When not strapped into a sleep harness, at work or on break Thane would find certain parts of Blue with bulging visual observation ports. Here he would sit and ponder what his eyes saw and what his mind absorbed and translated for him. He would think, not only of the future, wherever Zelleus and Blue were taking him, but of his own past, that due to fugue effect seemed so distant, and see himself as a dimly remembered other person. The only person he could not forget was his brother. And a plan began to evolve in his mind.

There were no longer stars in his field of view. Just strange lights, complex and both frightening and attractive. He was repulsed by their clashing, barbaric nakedness in what should have been dark, empty space. At the same time he was pulled to them until he’d find himself stuck to the transparent plasteel bubble, as if his body would pass through and become one with the wizardry demonstration of arcane lighting, not as something so fast as to appear instantly, but more as a lazily moving display of undulating wet paints, observers or hitchhikers along Blue’s trajectory. ‘I can’t get my mind into this,’ he would think, ‘what am I that I can pass by light’s presence and leave it behind?’ ‘What does that make me, us?’

Thane also spent much time going through human history in the vidrecs-1 aboard Blue. He pondered the concept of human expansion throughout the galaxy. He analyzed his previous understanding of space as man’s final frontier. So it had been called long ago, first as conjecture in ancient earth literature and entertainment media. Then truly so as the first great torch ships, with complements of humans in fugue sleep numbering as high as ten thousands in some, finally lumbered off from their construction orbit around earth’s moon to seek “strange new worlds and new civilizations.”

The worlds were found, and so were the civilizations which were promptly dismissed, barely noticed or trod underfoot, for they were mere lowly life-forms: primitive cellular organisms, plants, insects, reptilians and not much more. These were quickly catalogued as useful or inimical and treated accordingly by the Earthian invaders. There is no question that Earthians are the masters of space, at least in their inhabited and claimed sectors of the galaxy. Whatever they find out there is for their use. If whatever else is out there disagrees with that assumption, let it fight back.

The credo of Earth conquered space could read thus: “Mine until someone can take it away from me by force and over my dead body.”

But space is no longer the final frontier. We are certain now about the existence of possibly countless other dimensions. And to confuse the picture even more, human scientists have established proof of the existence of other universes, sometimes referred to as “parallel” universes. On worlds dedicated to scientific discovery, ostensibly protected from undue political influence and the ever-present threat of war, worlds such as Orthopterris and Gallilei Prime, research into ways of crossing into such parallel worlds or other theoretically infinite dimensions are on a feverish, competitive course. So the information tells him.

‘Where is Zelleus taking us?’ wonders Thane as he works his mind through the data during long periods of otherwise repetitive, often boring, repair and maintenance work. Thane is shy and seldom ventures opinions unless he feels the obvious must be stated. This he does in such a self-effacing way that no one is ever annoyed by his intrusions. Sometimes he is even asked for input on complex problems involving space probabilities. When he admits to having an opinion most usually listen.

After many “days” of their cross-sectioning travel, Zelleus, for the first time, invites Thane to his private quarters. Although captain and owner of the ship, his quarters are no different that those of the crew. Perhaps somewhat larger, but most of that space is taken by private research equipment. Thane is served a specially brewed “beer” by a droid then motioned to sit. He positions himself lotus-fashion on a chair, hooks his toes in the “grav hooks” and waits. Zelleus stretches back on his velcro’d webbing. He surveys Thane. There is a look in his eyes Thane has not seen before.

“What’s the most burning question you have for me, Thane? One you’ve been wanting to ask since we sailed from Pallarti, but have not dared?”

Taken aback, Thane looks away. How to phrase his question? Will the captain be offended?

“Why are there no women crew members on Blue, sir?”

“I’d really like it if you’d call me Zelleus when in my quarters. Would you?”

“Yes s… I mean, Zelleus. I can do that.”

“Good. Another pointed question about an obvious point by Thane, huh? Well, it needed asking. Took you long enough. Yes, on most starships they try to have a fairly equal number of men and women. The idea is that as romantic attachments are made, there will be less jealousy if everyone can have somebody. Thane, I can tell you of a certainty that humans are certifiable idiots who learn nothing until it’s forced down their stinking throats. They refuse to accept the fact that their primal motive energy is from feelings, feelings that burn into wild emotions and cause havoc wherever they go.

Over the millennia of their existence they have evolved complex, convoluted, often utterly senseless and idiotic systems to force their feelings into semantics, mind-altering beliefs, mathematical equations or scientific theories. So much of this and less of that, combined with such and such, with this removed will give you thus…”

He raises his voice, and his arms. “It’s all bullshit, Thane! I don’t have female crew simply because I cannot afford the certain and inevitable complications. People “in love” or otherwise concerned about each other beyond the team effect become careless of their duties aboard ship and less effective. I have observed time and again that one of the reasons I overcame a much more formidable enemy was because the people aboard that ship were of many minds as how to deal with me. I would inevitably find out, under interrogation, that the confusion resulted from deep concern for loved ones aboard ship. Those with serious emotional attachments were usually for running away. The others would want to attack, willing to take greater risks.”

He stands, imitating the buzzing of an insect. “I’m a wasp, Thane, single-minded and deadly. I am a unit with my ship, first, then my crew. This feeling goes into the crew also. They know their survival depends on single-mindedness. When I brought you aboard I never thought to appraise you of this. To me you were just a boy in desperate need and I wanted a companion, friend if you will, who would be different than all the men in my crew. Since I could not bring a female aboard, I thought perhaps you would serve that role.”

He notices Thane being startled by this admission. Also, a rare trait in him, he begins to fidget uncomfortably and blushes deeply.

“At ease, Thane! I’m not asking you to perform sexual favors for me here. I’m speaking of your “presence” – your healthy youth, your innocence, your open-mindedness, your willingness to serve without question, and your intuitive intelligence. I’ve watched you Thane. I know you are different from the rest of my crew. And I’ve noticed them taking an interest in you too. I can easily imagine some of them thinking how good you’d look in a woman’s garb. I have those feelings too, you know? I didn’t have them when we left Pallarti or I wouldn’t have taken you on board. But here, in fugue time, things shift. Perspectives change.

As if suddenly changing the subject he asks, “Ever heard of Atamine?”

Thane shakes his head, ‘no.’

“We have developed a drug, affectionately called “Tammy” by the men, that we use on these voyages without female company. With the visual aid of a female holo of choice you enter into the fantasy of sexual virtual reality with her. The drug has no lasting side effects. All that remains of the experience after some three hours of sleep is a pleasant memory. But it remains a real experience nevertheless.

The men who wish to partake of this experience must first agree to the cost, that comes from their credits earned by position and time spent aboard ship. Participants are then slotted for it one at a time, by first come, first serve basis, not seniority. One chamber aboard ship, when not in combat duty, is allocated for this. The man’s experience is monitored by Ship computer and logged. Only the captain and the man himself may access that information. That section of Ship’s memory is automatically purged upon entry into any field over point five gravity, in case the ship has to land.

The men may talk about their experience with one another, certainly, but they are not permitted to share Ship recordings of it with one another nor can they make a personal recording of it. This is simply to prevent the temptation to pilfer such information to sell to that ever hungry for gossip and porn media blight you find on almost every world. Now there’s a bunch I’d like to introduce to my lasers…”

“Why would the man want to review his experience with the sex drug?”

“It’s an interactive program that builds on the experience. The man can make changes to the program to touch on some physical or emotional aspects that were missed in the previous encounter. For example, he may want the same woman, but younger, older, more, or less, experienced. He may want more aggressive behavior on her part, or more passivity. He may want to experience it in a different era. He may want more than one woman. He may want the relationship to grow into a bonding, a family on some world of choice. It’s an experience with unlimited possibilities. But the bottom line, Thane, is that it greatly reduces cases of violence from the inevitable spread of homosexuality in an all-male closed environment.”

“So, with our crew of forty-six, if every man signs up, how long would it be before the first man gets to use this program again?”

“That’s the “x” factor Thane. If the next scheduled man is busy his slot goes to the next in line, then he gets his turn when free. Some men take longer in the experience than others. Six men per twenty hours is average. So you see the cycling factor is not so long. If it were, I would be willing to create two such holo-rooms for the crew, of course. But Blue Dragon is not a cruise ship and I don’t want to turn too much time to entertainment.”

“Interesting, Zelleus.” Thane looks directly in his captain’s face, waiting for the next obvious question.

Zelleus sighs deeply and opens his arms, then his hands, gesturing. “Look, do you want to sign up for this experience, Thane? I can slot you in and your first trial is free.”

“Oh” gasps Thane. “I was almost afraid you’d ask me. I don’t think so. I… I’m inexperienced in such things and haven’t thought about sex that way. Maybe in time I’ll change my mind. Thank you for offering.”

“What do you mean by ‘that way’ Thane?”

“What I mean is, I always thought that when I had my own encounter, it would be from love sir, I mean Zelleus. I always believed that some day I would meet that particular person and we would fall in love. Then we would commit to one-another and it would be wonderful.”

“You disappoint me, Thane. You seem to lack in powers of observation here. Let me challenge you on this point: give me one example from the adults you have observed in your own life, of a successful romantic relationship, one that lasts through according to the words spoken at the official bonding ceremony?”

Thane blushes, now truly embarrassed. “I can’t Zelleus. But I still believe it’s possible for me. It’s my dream. Do you think it’s so stupid, to want love, to want to be sure about someone?”

“No, it’s not. And maybe it has to happen one day to someone we know. Why not you? I’d say of all the people I’ve met whose stories I’ve heard, you deserve it most. You truly are a good person Thane.”

Zelleus looks at Thane critically: “You haven’t been taking care of yourself lately, have you, Thane? I think maybe I’ve been working you too hard. That uniform is a disgrace and your hair needs a serious wash. I am going to get you a new uniform. Meanwhile I want you to use my shower facility here and clean up. I have a very good shampoo there I’m sure you’ll like. Give it a try. There is a new razor there too. Feel free to use it, although I still don’t see any growth on that pretty face of yours.”

“I… Yes Zelleus. I’ll do as you say. Thank you.”

After Zelleus has gone on his search for a proper uniform, Thane enters the man’s cubicle, undresses and begins a thorough shower, hooking his feet in the stirrups in the floor to keep from floating up. He methodically shampoos his long hair and looks at the razor but does not pick it up.  He remains in the shower enjoying the sensation of the misting field of warm water over smooth skin, a luxury he didn’t remember ever having known…

1-Vidrecs: video recordings, also known as Vidlibs, recordings for library records.