Category Archives: science fiction

The Times After (conclusion)

   [Short story, by Sha’Tara]

For some time, Lon watched Reuben as he disappeared, then a cry from the orphanage made him turn and run to the ramshackle building.  Two of the adults were already there, calming the children and bending over one three year old lying on the ground, the little body thrashing, if feebly.  Sweet little Amri.

“What’s wrong with her, does anyone know?”

“Maybe something she ate.  The children are chewing on anything they can eat.  They’re all in terrible pain, Lon.

“I know, Maggie.  I agree, we need to move, no more delays.  We’ll get started right now, pack what we can, hide what we can’t carry and go.”

“Where?”

“Ruben said he’d go north if he was free to do so.  He walked west when he left, but you know Ruben – he’d do that automatically just to confuse anyone wanted to follow or track him.  I know he’d turn as soon as he was out of sight, but which way?  I wish now we’d gone with him.  We’ll have a quick meeting in about an hour and decide our direction, then we’ll just go.  We cannot stay here, there’s nothing left to eat, and the water is no longer safe to drink.”

Soon the miserable camp was stripped and obliterated of recent human habitation as much as was possible.  The children were lined up and given a rope to hang on to.  The meeting was short: they would go east; no reason why except a secret vote turned up a majority of two for an eastern direction. 

Lon was bitterly disappointed, he’d hoped they would try to follow Ruben, though he well knew that was impossible.  He left his message for Ruben and they began their danger-fraught quest for food and water.  Already Lon had violated one of Ruben’s warnings, to only travel at night.  Adults took turns carrying little Amri and the weaker children.  The rest of the children began to lose some of their listlessness as they noticed changes along the route.

Evening saw the group drop down into a small gully, to hide and for protection.  Kamal, one of the strongest adults, went off in search of water which against so many odds, he did find.  Everybody searched for edible plants and roots and some of the hunger was assuaged for a time.  Night came and the small fire was doused so it wouldn’t create a glow.  The people slept on the ground, in their old rags.  Dried grasses had been stacked to lay little Amri and two other sickly children upon and each had an adult companion to keep them cuddled and reassured.  The stars came out, harsh and bright, flickering like cold, unseeing eyes.  Unable to help himself, Lon who was one of the sentry detail, walked a short distance away from the fitful and fretting sleepers and looked into the sky, turning slowly as he did so. 

“Where are you Ana?” he thought to himself.  “You promised and you must know we are in dire straights now.  We need your help; I need you here.  Don’t let Ruben be right about this.  I’m desperately counting on you.  You know I’m a terrible leader and here I am, leader by default.  This is too much responsibility…”

Morning came early, gray and cold before the sun could rise.  The hungry troop stood up, drank some water, and took to the land again, walking in the general direction of the sunrise.  Everybody, even the children, walked slower, looking for plants and roots to eat.  Hopelessness more than sadness pervaded the group.  Who could blame them? 

Finally the sun was high enough to beam down some energy into their wasted bodies.  Laughter even erupted from some children as they noticed a butterfly.

“Follow it,” said one of the women, “it may lead us to some edible flowers, or even berries.”  There was a bit of a chase, but the children were cautioned not to interfere with the insect’s path.  Suddenly it rose up and they thought they’d lost it but it came down again to disappear behind a dip in the flat ground.  They came to the edge and looked down upon a miracle, a regular feast.  An entire embankment was covered in blackberries, more or less ripe. 

Lon cautioned his charges: “I know you are very hungry but these plants will hurt you terribly if you wander in them carelessly.  We have nothing to bind rips and tears in skin.  Please use extreme caution.  Do not be in any hurry, we will camp here.  There are many green things here, there must be water also.”

Kamal went out on water detail again, he seemed to have a knack for finding it, and he did find potable water – warm but quenching nevertheless.  The blackberries did not give up their bounty without bloodshed but they proved adequate to ease the group’s hunger.  That was a good ending to what had started as a very dismal day.

That night Lon had a dream.

It wasn’t Ana who came to him in the dream, but his older sister whom he had watched being gang-raped and die in one of the hunters’ camps.  She stood on the open ground, away from the camp.  He walked over to her. 

“Hello Lon, it’s nice to see you again.  I’ve missed you terribly.  I’m sorry I abandoned you in the camp but my body wouldn’t hold on any longer.  I knew you had survived and escaped.  How are you?” 

“I’m so glad to see you Nan, you have no idea.  I’m OK, but we’re in a very precarious situation here, the people I mean.  We need help.  The children are weakening; some are sick.”

“I know that, but things must take their course, Lon.  In a way it’s your own fault that things are this bad.”

“How can you say that, Nan?  How dare you!  I’ve done everything I could to help here…”

“From your point of view, yes, but did you listen to those who may have known more?  Did you listen to Ruben, or were you so worried about his wild streak, his atavism, that you refused to trust his better survivalist judgment?  Didn’t he counsel to take the group away several months ago when the drought started?  Didn’t you think he’d know where to take you all if you followed him?  Did you think that he was trying to gain control of the group and were jealous of him?  Weren’t you afraid he would break your rules when he deemed necessary to save lives?   I know you Lon.  You mean well, but you have never really mined those deeper aspects of your nature: the fearful, the coward and the user – those aspects of one’s personality that become the controller; which reside in your subconscious.  It’s those things that killed Ana, and have brought you to these straights.”

“What do you know of Ruben, or Ana?  How can you possibly know what’s in my subconscious?  How can you know anything if you accuse me of killing Ana?  I loved her!”

“Of course you did.  You never realized you loved her too much under the circumstances, and you strangled her.  She didn’t know because in her own way she loved you too, but you choked her those many times when you insisted she come away from her duties to be with you.  She was conflicted; didn’t know where to stand between your demands, and the needs of the people.  Oh yes, you killed her.  She was an empath, Lon.  If you had allowed her full freedom to live her nature she’d still be here, with all of you, and she’d be laughing with you tonight.”

“It’s a dream, just a dream,” said Lon in the dream, “isn’t it?”

“If you want, but it is much more than a dream.  I’m here to help, Lon, but you must do as I tell you – exactly as I tell you – when you wake up into your real world.  You will abandon any idea of leading this little group.  Someone much more suitable is going to appear during the coming day.  Your hopes for the group will be fulfilled, but not the way you hoped they would be.  When help arrives, this is what you must do: walk away north, into the wilderness, by yourself.  Do not turn back, do not come back.  Your own redemption or your death, await in the young re-grown northern forests.  You will meet some people there and they will teach you about real love which is compassion.  I will see you again, Lon.  Goodbye.”

He watched her fade in the pale moonlight and woke up drenched in sweat.  Immediately he began to shake violently.  He got up, stretched and went on a short run to warm up, all the while thinking about his dream.

“That’s not a dream, that’s a nightmare!”  he thought.  Then he saw the possibility that it had been a vision.  “Morning will tell, tomorrow will tell.  I’ll wait until help arrives, I’ll see.”

Strange times call for strange events.  By the middle of the next day, as most of the people were busy gathering berries, eating, hauling water or keeping the children in line, the very first event of Lon’s dream came to pass: Ruben returned from his quest.  He approved of the stopping place with a few nods.  Always somewhat taciturn, he was even quieter than usual.  Lon queried him.

“What brings you back so soon, and how did you find us?”  Ruben frowned, then started talking:

“A blind man could have tracked your group Lon.  Haven’t I taught you anything at all about being circumspect?  What’s all around you, any idea?  What lurks out there?  What’s watching?  What’s scenting the air?  What’s listening?  Anyway, I saw your sign, and read your message at the old camp.  Also, I smelled your smoke – it travels a long way in this light breeze.  But that’s no longer your concern.  I’m taking over guiding this little group, for however long it takes before we get the help we were promised.”

“Say that again?  The help we were promised?  What do you mean by that?”

“I had a vision.  Saw a woman who claimed she was your sister.  She said that Ana had sent her.  She explained about your, well, character defects.  I already knew that, it’s partly why I had to leave, see?  Anyway the vision woman asked me to return to the group and be the guide until Ana and her people are ready and able to rescue and relocate those of the group who want it.  She said they’d all been waiting for you but you wouldn’t see it, so they decided to violate a bit of “prime directive” by contacting me.

You know me Lon.  You know I would not make this up – I don’t believe in any of this.  Somehow though, that woman, your sister, was very convincing. 

“Now you have to go.  Sorry, but it’s got to be short goodbyes.  Take whatever you want, or think you might need and head north.  She said Ana will meet with you when you’ve been gone long enough.  North, Lon, north.  It’s all waiting for your there.   Once my stint here is done, I’ll be tracking up myself – I won’t be going with Ana’s people, even if they’re only relocating the people to another part of this earth.  This, this land, this continent, is my world.  I belong here.

“I still don’t believe this, but irrational as it all is, I understand.  It’s not about belief, it’s the flow, just as in the wild.  All anyone needs to do is walk in the great flow of things.  The only time we must struggle is in opposition to those who do not walk in the flow of life.  That’s what gives rise to endless conflict.  I sensed your need to impose change and values.  You can’t wish, desire or impose non-violence anymore than you can stop a meat grinder by sticking your fingers in it, Lon. 

“I know this is harsh for you at the moment; you’re hurt and angry, but  you’ll learn.  The loneliness and the wild will teach you; the north, with its cold and its pristine snows will cleanse you and change you.  If you’re worried about food or shelter, observe the animals and the birds and learn: they’re the best teachers in the wild.  I’ll see you again, in the spring.”    

     

Advertisements

Do you understand the charges against you?

[short story – by Sha’Tara]

At first it just caused a bit of stir locally and I wouldn’t have thought much of it if I hadn’t been goaded by my brother to follow up on the case.  “There’s something here that needs exposure” he told me.

An unknown woman had been arrested for practicing medicine without a license.  Well, in the current wave of political uncertainty, and, OK, let’s call a spade a spade, craziness, that in itself should not have merited a packed court room.

But it did.  Let me tell you the story as I witnessed some of it, participated in some and as the rest was told to me by a source.

My name is Keith Darbour.  I’m a free lance reporter – my passion – but I hold “real” jobs to pay the bills.  Freelance reporting these days of national paranoia and corporate press ownership and control isn’t what it used to be.  I mean, hell, this used to be thought of as a free country.  I can tell you, that is no longer the case.  But I digress.  Back to the case.

As I said, the courtroom is packed.  “All rise.”  Judge Judy Kean sits at her desk.  There is only one item on her agenda today.  The defendant, a young, tall and slim woman with long wavy dark hair and exotic skin enters between two female guards.  She sits at the prisoner’s dock.  The prelims over, the jury having already been selected, both lawyers make their opening statements.  Basically, the State: practicing medicine without a license.  The defence: extenuating circumstances.

I’ll make my prelims short.  There was a bus accident.  Several people were injured, some seriously.  It was thought a child was even dead.  The defendant (so it is assumed at this point) arrived on the scene and provided first aid and more.  The victims, some now present in the court room as witnesses, claimed that she was able to reach inside their bodies, reset bones, stop haemorrhaging, heal severe tears in skin almost instantly and calm the rest.  Every person affected in the accident walked away healed.  Ambulances and police came, of course, but it became clear at the outset that none of the victims required further help, and many even loudly and vociferously refused such help.

The woman was arrested for healing, oh, excuse me, “practicing medicine” without a license and jailed.  Today is her trial.  Let’s see what comes of this hard to believe situation.  Let’s see how evolved we are, as a society, as a civilization.

Prosecution approaches the defendant and asks her name.

“Under your name rules, translated to the best of my ability, my name is A-125-04-H.  I believe your police erroneously entered my name as Alice Haley.  If you wish, I can use that name.”

“We want your real name, miss.  Can you give us that?”

“I did that, sir.  My name is A-125-04-H”

“Very well, please explain what that means for the court.”

“Certainly sir.  I am Android, series 125, batch 04, category: Healer.  That is what I am, and what I am programmed by my makers, to perform.  I was built to heal whenever I encountered damage to sentient life.  That is what I am and I cannot change that programming, even if I wanted to, which of course I would not.”

Judge: “Do you understand miss Haley what ‘contempt of court’ means? Do you understand that the court has authority over you here as long as you remain a suspect in a very serious crime?”

“Yes I understand that very well, but I must make a clarification to your claim of authority over me.  You have jurisdiction, but not authority, unless I grant you that right, and I must make it very clear that my programming prevents me from doing so.  Therefore I state: you have no authority over me.  Only my programmers do.”

Titters ran through the crowd.  The judge rapped her gavel, “Order.  Any more interruptions and I will clear this court.”  I can tell you she sounded very annoyed and her anger was barely restrained.

“Young lady, I have full authority in this courtroom, including over you.  I have the authority to stop this and have you returned to jail pending an appeal.  Is that what you want?  I won’t have people making fun of this court, or me, understand?”

“Yes, I understand of course.  What I don’t understand is why the truth appears to be such an obstacle to getting on with the facts surrounding my arrest.  Isn’t that why I’m here?  I tell you the truth, witnesses corroborate, and the judgment must be that I be set free.  My “crime” your honour, is practising medicine without a licence.  But it’s my nature to heal damaged life; my programming is my license….”

Gavel again.  “Stop.  You will not turn this courtroom into a circus.  We will have you tell us your real name or you will be in contempt and you will go to a psychiatric institution for observation.  Is that clear?”

Prosecution: “May I continue, your honour?”

Judge: “Yes.”

“Miss Haley, I’ll take that to be your maiden name, where do you live?”

“Galactic quadrant C-5, planet Abergani.  It’s all in my implant but there is no technology here that can read it.  I’m sorry, that’s the best I can do.”

“Do you do drugs, miss Haley?”

“I understand what your question means.  In that sense the answer is no, I don’t.  Androids do not ingest either for sustenance or self-pleasuring.  It would negatively affect our metabolism.”

“You continue to claim you are an android.  Does this mean you are not human?”

“Yes.  I am essentially a machine.  I am not human, as you understand the term.”

“Uhuh!” Turns to the jury with a sarcastic smile and a shrug.  Smiles from the jurors.  “How did you get here?”

“Best guess, an error or a miscalculation in the part of those who sent me out to help in a disaster in quadrant D-8.  This, according to my calculations, is quadrant Y-17, sol system X-092, and this is called planet Tiam-2, which you call “earth.  Oh, there’s been a disaster in a country you call Yemen – I should be going there now – may I be excused?”

Smiling broadly, the prosecutor states, “This isn’t a classroom, miss.  Just sit there and answer my questions.”

“But people are dying.  I could be saving their lives now.  I’m being conflicted in my response to programming.  Oh, wait.  I do not need to obey you, you are not human – only pseudo-human.  I can leave.”

“No, sorry but… where did she go?”

I need not add, the court exploded in complete disarray.  The defendant literally faded in front of over one hundred people who were all looking at her.  But that wasn’t going to be the end of it because some moments later “Alice” re-appeared.  There was slight smile on her small but perfect face.  She seemed completely at peace.

“I’m sorry about that interruption.  I just had to go and help.  It’s taken care of for now.  Please continue.”   I could barely hear her over the hubbub but finally everybody settled and it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

“How did you do that little disappearing trick?”

“I did not disappear sir, I cannot do that.  I simply shifted dimensionally.  It’s easily enough done over tiny distances like the circumference of a planet.  I only had to shift over half-way, manipulate your time, perform my duty and return.”

“Why did you not “shift dimensionally” and leave the jail then?”

“I did.  Many times.  If I may say so sir, madam judge, your world is in a terrible mess.  You must do something about all the pain and death your species inflicts on itself and on other life forms.  This is a very unhealthy state of affairs that will not bode you well in the near future.”

Judge, still not recovered from the shock of having a defendant simply disappear from the prisoner’s dock, then reappear a few moments later, stares at the defendant.  “Miss Haley, will you promise to remain here while I confer in chambers?”

“Yes.”

“In chambers – now, and I mean now.  No, no notes!”  (The following I got from the defence counsel later in the day.)

In chambers, Judge Kean:  “Can either of you explain this circus act to me?  Am I being made fun of here?  Who is the escape artist in the dock?”

Prosecutor: “My question also judge.  We’re being played here, question is, who’s behind this, and what’s the point?”

Defence: “Come on.  You saw it for yourselves.  She disappeared and came back.  She’s smart, sure of herself, rattles off information that’s obviously real to her.  What if she’s exactly what she says she is?”

Judge: “Is there a way we can prove it?”

Defence: “Two that come to mind.  Check the computer, what’s going on in Yemen.  How about we ask her to seriously cut herself and watch her heal herself?”

Judge: “Well, here’s the situation.  There was a bombing of a school in Yemen about half an hour ago.  There was apparently much carnage but after some minutes all of the victims walked out of the wreckage as if nothing happened.  They all refused medical help and went to their respective homes.  There is even a picture here of a woman walking among the ruins of the school but she’s wearing the mandatory hijab with which she covers part of her face.  Can’t be identified.  Doesn’t that sound a lot like the bus accident though? Same reaction from the healed victims.  OK, as much as I hate grandstanding, this can only be resolved with a demonstration.  I’ll ask her to cut herself and heal herself.  Let’s just see what her reaction to that will be.”

Judge re-entering the court.  “Thank you for your patience.  We will now ask for a demonstration that will tell us if the defendant is in fact telling the truth, or making a mockery of this court.  Alice Haley, please stand.”

The woman stood, still with that completely peaceful look on her face.  Waiting.

Judge: “I’m going to ask you to prove yourself to me, to the jury and this entire court.  I want you to take the knife that will be given to you and to slice your arm open.  Then I want you to heal yourself so we can all see.  Can you do that, “Android”?

Alice: “It isn’t a question of whether I can, or cannot.  Of course I can do that.  The problem is, self-harming is against my programming.  I cannot do it, however much I’d want to.  Someone else will have to cut my arm, and I will then demonstrate my healing skills for you.”

“Assuming you are telling us the truth, and we checked up on your Yemen story which seems to validate what you told us,  then I will ask for a volunteer to cut your arm.  Anyone?”

I can assure you there were no takers.  Who in any kind of right mind would walk up to a passive young woman and simply cut her arm open, just to prove a point?  Nuts, right?  I looked over the courtroom to see if anyone would have the courage to volunteer.  And I thought, well, that includes me, doesn’t it.   … Me…  Do I have the guts to do such a thing?  Come on, somebody, volunteer, I thought, but no one did.  So it was down to me, Keith Darbour, freelance journalist and private investigator.  I got up slowly.  “Seems like no one is volunteering so maybe, I mean, I think I should then.”

“Thank you.  Your name sir?”

“Keith Darbour, your honour.”

“Ah yes, I’ve heard of you somewhere.  You’re a journalist?”

“Yes your honour.”

“Would you come down here please, and do as you are asked to?”  I was in it now, couldn’t back out.  I was handed a wicked looking hunting knife – who knows where that came from! – and told to stand beside the defendant.  She looked at me and smiled as she lifted her left arm so I could grab her wrist.  I was shaking like a leaf in the wind until she put her right hand on my shoulder and suddenly everything seemed all right, normal.  I lay the knife on the lovely skin and slashed across veins and tendons.  There was no explosion of blood, just some clear liquid flowing out slowly.  She took her arm from my grip and wrapped her right hand around the “wound” and when she removed her hand there was no sign of the cut.  She was still smiling as if the whole thing was a bit of a joke.  Which to her it must have been.  Such primitives, she must have thought.

Judge: “Raise your left arm, please, miss Haley.”  She did and turned it around for all to see that there was no harm done at all.  She had never screamed, never expressed any pain, not even winced while I slashed her.  It was, well, amazing?  More, it was a revelation.

So what could they do but let her go?  They knew they couldn’t hold her in any case; that she wasn’t doing any harm, quite the opposite.  Now you’re probably wondering, assuming you believe this tale, where she is at the moment.  What can I tell you?  I wanted to interview her but she “disappeared” almost as soon as she was told she was free to go.  I tried to locate her through the Internet alternative media, looking for some weird news about mass healings somewhere, anywhere, but found nothing certain.  Rumours and more rumours, and huge “alternate facts” spin-outs from the court hearing.  Do yourselves a favour: don’t tune in the Alex Jones’ Infowars for information, he’s got hold of the court story and has gone deeper down his rabbit hole than ever before.
What do I think?  I like to think that she’s not only out there, healing people and teaching compassion, but calling more of her kind to assist her.  We could do with more of her kind practicing medicine without a license.  In fact we could do with more of our own kind doing the same thing because these days, really, it seems rather obvious that having the license and charging for services rates much higher than actually having any healing success.  By success I mean that after the medical coteries are done with you, you should be thoroughly healed, not become a crippled dependent on more “specialists” and drugs, ’til death do us part, Amen.

 

Meet Andrew Logan and Callie Brown

                                             [short story, by Sha’Tara]

Ever since his people had left him behind to observe human life on Earth he had wandered the city, learning the peoples’ ways, their mores, their languages, absorbing and analyzing.  Gradually, over a period of a month he had adapted his earth-human-clone body into a fully functional Earthian body complete with all the feelings and emotions attendant to a born Earthian.  He even gave himself a name, Andrew.  Andrew Logan.  Architect.  He liked the concept.  After all he was a scientist engineer and Earthian technology was at a very low level of development.  There was nothing in it he couldn’t understand and improve after a few minutes of study. 

What truly fascinated him however was the human body, its functions and those strangest of things: feelings and emotions.  He could make the tongue move and speak any language, making sounds was easy, mimicking any human or animal call, simple. He had quickly learned which foods to ingest to keep the body at peak performance and he could keep it awake indefinitely without any negative consequences.  But his feelings, that he did not understand.  Well, it was because he could not prevent them from manifesting; he could not think them gone or reason them away: they just happened and he was never ready for them.  The worst part however was that which followed the feelings; what the Earthians themselves called emotions. 

“I have never known hate,” he thought to himself, “it is a totally alien concept to me, but if I could hate, I’d say I hate these feelings, and more, these ridiculous emotions.  These things are completely unreasonable.  Surely they do not expect to ever develop a properly functioning civilization encumbered with such negative emanations from their brains and bodies?”

“Excuse me, sorry, I was texting.  Did you say something to me?”  The woman had stood beside him at the bus stop.  He was aware of her presence but he failed to realize he was speaking some thoughts aloud and could be overheard.  On his world people only listened when you were actually addressing them.  But here, they has an insatiable curiosity, from every sense.  They reached out to hear, to see, to taste, to smell.  They exuded sexual desire or conversely, revulsion.  Black and white they were.  No peaceful rest of mechanical neutrality.  No wonder they lived such short lives: they literally fried themselves in attempts to answer circular questions, and deal with circular emotions.   

She kept looking at him.  “I haven’t seen you around here” she continued, “Passing through?  Or moving to the neighbourhood?”  How to respond… oh yes, there is a standard appropriate response for everything: “I’m very sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your activities.  Yes, I’m moving in actually.”  He added to appear totally normal: “I’m looking for an apartment.  Nothing fancy, just a bachelor suite.”  

“That’s wonderful, Mr. huh?” 

“I’m sorry, I meant to introduce myself properly.  My name is Andrew Logan.  I am an architect.”

“Callie Brown.  Real estate agent.  I just finished going through the vacancy list in that apartment building across the street.  There are two bachelor suites, one available now, one at the end of the month.  Would you like to see them?” 

To see them?  How strange that she would ask that.  If she showed him the apartments’ numbers, he could see them.  Surely there was no need to actually take an elevator and walk to the suite to verify that it was there; that what he saw was what existed at that number!  He put it down as another of their strange sayings that do not mean what they say: “Have a chair.”  “Take a seat.”  “Rain check.”  “Do lunch.”  “Night cap.” “Would you like fries with that?” as if he’d somehow forget to state exactly what he meant to order and needed a reminder.

“Sir?”  She had a pleasant voice, and by Earth standards was quite young (he estimated she’d be twenty-eight years, three months and four days old, born at four-thirty-eight of the morning, give or take a couple of minutes, he was quite certain he was “in the ball park” to use another of their nonsensical expressions.)  She was also very pretty, so his body kept insisting, and he felt embarrassingly attracted to her, wanting to get closer, to touch, to feel her.  Frighteningly powerful urges tugged at his brain. 

“Yes.  Do I address you as Miss, Ms., or Mrs.?”  She had a very attractive smile, again as his body eagerly told him. 

“You can just call me Callie; no need for any formalities.”

“Thank you Callie.  Yes, I certainly would like to see the apartments, thank you very much.”

As they rode up the elevator he felt her trying to expose herself to him.  He wondered again, as he had since the very first day he’d felt those attractions, if these people felt that way about each other, why did they hide themselves behind clothes?  Why did they offer so many things that were highly desired, or prized, yet never gave them away to those who wanted them?  He had concluded that there was something very wrong with this sentient life.  When he communicated his findings to the orbiting ship he’d been granted an extended tour of duty.  Of course: he was, after all, Doctor Los, senior analyst.  

Before the decision to actually land an observer on the planet he’d participated on several abductions.  His people had been trying to understand Earthians for many earth years in order to present information to the High Galactic Council as to whether these sentients, now on the verge of developing functional star drives, could safely be allowed to roam outside their solar system.  The problem with abducting the creatures and performing experiments on them is that it did not answer the critical questions.  Because of their primitive brain functions they went “off the charts” when discovering they were on a space ship.  Some got violent.  Some went into cardiac arrest or catatonic and most of the young females, those who didn’t “lose it” as they termed it, just wanted sex with “the gods” as they thought of them and experience “great” sexual orgasms.  All of them had to be time-wiped before being returned to their world. 

We need someone to interact with them as one of them, on their own world, in their own natural environment; on their own terms.  So as senior scientist of the Tholian crew he’d volunteered. 

And here he was.  In a residential apartment building, rising through several floors with Callie Brown to “look” at an apartment.  He wondered then what she’d think, or say, if he told her he already knew exactly, in every detail, what the apartment looked like from extracting the location number in her cell phone?  He let the thought pass, the elevator stopped and they exited to walk down a hallway to apartment 1823.

She pressed four keys on a keypad in the door, inserted a metal key and after two green lights began flashing, opened the door.  “Old fashioned, I know, but residents like this system, harder to break in.”  He stood inside the door, scanning the place.  “Go ahead, it’s OK, it’s vacant.  Wander through, have a good look.  It’s compact and practical.  Now for the terms, it’s $2100 a month plus utilities, or you can purchase a package that includes everything, furniture, utilities, maintenance, telephone, TV, Internet and comprehensive insurance for $2600 a month.  With current market conditions in the city that’s actually a really good deal.”

She had moved very close to him as she talked, now touching just slightly.  Their bodies pulled at each other like magnets.  He enjoyed the sensation.  He moved against her.  She turned to face him, looked up into his eyes, and urgently began to undress him.  He saw the bed in her mind, she lying on top, waiting for him.  He brought himself back to the moment and as she undressed him, he did the same for her.  Soon they were both naked and she walked to the bed, sitting on the side, then deftly lifting her legs and lying prone on it. 

“You’re not from around here, are you Andrew?”  She smiled more, slowly spreading her legs, inviting him.  “Who are you really?”

“We are Tholian analysts from a distant galaxy.  We analyze and grade sentient worlds for the Greater Galactic Council.  I’m performing an in-depth planetary consciousness analysis.”

“That’s like, an alien?  You’re an alien, Andrew?”  She didn’t feel to him as much shocked as excited.

“Yes.”   

“Oh God, my lucky day or what!”  She actually giggled like a young girl.

He stared at her nakedness, her vulnerability, and felt a powerful urge to go down on top of her and meld with her body.  He understood that without the clothes he was naked; that his body was male, and that she desired him to join with her in hormonal polarity.  He also realized that he felt a need in his body to join with her, a nascent but powerful “sexual” need.  By the thoughts in her mind, his erection was all she could think of at the moment.

“It’s how we reproduce” she said as she guided him inside her, “and it’s also the greatest source of pleasure we can ever experience.  But I want this one to blow all the others away!  Are you up for it?  Score: visitor 1, home team 1, we have a tied game?”  She laughed at her own joke then it began in earnest.

Still breathing hard, he said, “I sense that you want a child to come from this union.  Please assure me that I have the correct interpretation of your feelings?” 

“Oh yes, how I wish I could have your child, Andrew.  Unfortunately I can’t.  Something haywire with my reproductive system.”

“That’s not a problem.  These bodies are very simple.  I’ve by-passed its objection to the impregnation.  You will have a child.”

“Oh boy, now you’ve really scared me.  What will he look like?”   There was that shallow concern about visual effects again, as if how one “looks like” could possibly have any relevance to one’s life.

“Oh, he’ll have a perfectly normal body but with a slower physical growth rate and much higher IQ than you are used to on this world.  You see, we look exactly like you, we are not some strange looking green blob monstrosity of your quaint imaginings.  We are humans, just billions of years in your time future.  Now please excuse me for a moment, I need to contact my people on the ship.”  He watched her for a few moments as she settled down on the bed, fluffing her beautiful brown hair over the pillow and closing her eyes with a deep sigh of perfect contentment. She brought her right hand to cup her breast and ritually thumbed her nipple.  Such simple creatures, he thought.  If only they knew they were within a hair’s breath of qualifying as angels… if only they could see the truth of it for themselves and act accordingly.

“I’ve entered into a life-relationship with an earth woman and given her a child.  I’ll require another tour of duty extension as I’ll have to remain somewhat longer to see her through her short life and guide the child in our ways.  Please begin proceedings for clearance for her and the child when she is near her natural termination date, to locate both aboard ship.  She will require full body transplant, of course.  I will cover any energy costs.”

“Yes, Doctor Los, there will be no complications.  We can get all the energy we need from the planet’s sun and satellite.  Give us your coordinates when the time comes.  Have a pleasant stay.”

The years of bliss passed quickly for Callie Brown, years that were but mere days for Andrew Logan, or Doctor Los.  He continued his analysis of Earthian consciousness, and with so much more at stake now for himself.  Though it was such a short time, he learned to love “his Callie” as he called her.  Whatever she wanted, he would have given her, but she just wanted a small house in the country, with a garden.  Here she raised Andrew Junior who grew very slowly by Earthian standards.  She was happy with that.  “It makes it seem like I have so much more time this way.”  She also said to him one day, “It’s as if I never had any other life but this one.  I feel so undeservedly blessed, Los.”  (She began calling him Los so as not to create confusion between him and Andrew Junior.  She didn’t want her son to get used to being called “Junior.”)

Throughout that time, the greatest gift he could give her he withheld from telling her of, that she would be given the choice to enter eternal life, eternal youth, if she wanted it; if she chose to join with the Tholian crew and make Tholia  her new home world.  Andrew Junior, their son (such an atavistic concept) would also have to make a similar choice. 

“She loved simple things…  One morning she wasn’t feeling well.  The next day, she was gone.” (paraphrase from “Meet Joe Black”)

 

The Story Teller

 

                                                       [a short story—by Sha’Tara]

So, as I was saying, I crewed with Abraham, on the old Windsong, you know, and as luck would have it…

“Hey, wait a minute, did you say Abraham? I thought the Wandering Jew died when his ship’s hull was breached by a meteor and the computers failed to sound the warning in time.  They found the records in the wreckage.”

Well, obviously he hadn’t yet eh?  Can I get on with this? As I was saying, the Old Man called his commanders to his cabin one day, that is, those of us temporarily out of fugue, and he said, “You dogs listen, and listen good.   I don’t have a lot of time left, no matter how much fugue I take, and with rats like this crew to command, not much of that allowed me or I’ll find my ship boosted and me shackled in the hole or looking at the stars without a face visor. Here’s the deal, and it will explain why I felt the need to hire a pack of criminals like you for this trip. Our manifest states we are hauling arka-brite to the smelters on Ita. You know this. What you don’t know is, we’re going renegade. Are you hearing me?”

We all nodded silently, looking at the floor, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“What, no argument from you pirates?   Fine. A couple of sleeps ago, I had a dream. There was an ancestor of mine with the same name I have. He too was a wanderer. Seems he was looking for his home and his god, so the dream said, spoke to him and promised him this home if he would do whatever he was told to do.   Fugue dreams can get very detailed, and often very boring, since you can’t get out of them. This one was interesting. This Abraham turned from his ways and began to follow the directions given him by his god and messengers, or angels or whatever you call them.   We’ve seen enough of these in our travels, not a problem to accept this possibility is it?  Still no comments?  Very well.  

“What I found interesting is that my ancestor stopped questioning everything. He basically did as he was told and he had a pretty good and interesting life all around. Women, battles, hobnobbing with some king in a place they called “Egypt” or so it sounded.   Then he had cattle that grazed on rolling green lands—I saw these in the dream—and he lived in tents that billowed in the wind. It’s my understanding that the god wanted Abraham to have children who would inherit the world they were on at the time and didn’t much care how those kids were “begotten” as the saying went, if you get my drift.”  

Old scar-face actually winked as he said that. Must’ve been a pretty exciting dream for him to demonstrate feelings!  He continued:  

“I couldn’t make out whether these people had ships, but it seems they actually didn’t. I know, sounds far-fetched but who knows the kinds of events that happen to worlds over time? In fact, if I understand the dream, they walked, yes, with their own legs, from place to place. They didn’t even use exoskeletons. Gravity must’ve been pretty low to be able to do that. Didn’t mention equipment either, so best guess, they were able to survive on it without suits. What else… oh, yes, in what I saw of it, this world had biological life all over it: things like live animals, plants, and open water, lots of open water in some places. I saw the sky: it was colored a light-blue. Now that makes for an interesting kind of world.  Best guess, I had a dream about Old Earth.”

Somebody chuckled a bit too loud.  Old scarface looked around until everbody stood rigidly at attention, stone-faced.

“Well, you rats, I have a mind to find that ancient world of my ancestors and if I can black-market our manifest to my smuggler friend Hino the Zealous for a half-decent payoff, we head out.”

I remember then saying, “Uh, cap’n, apart from the fact that if we’re arrested after high-jacking a load of arka-brite from Arka Corp we’ll all hang so to speak, do you have coordinates for this planet of yours?”

“I will have. I intend to do exactly what my ancestor did. Not for nothing they sneeringly label me the Wandering Jew. I am Jewish, not that it means anything anymore, but it did in those times, apparently.   My plan is simple: I intend to enter into fugue shortly and return to the dream. I intend to contact that god and get the coordinates from him. Since the planet was given to my ancestors, then it’s also mine.   Logical. If my people are already on it, then I’ll retire there and you can have the old Windsong. Lots of parsecs left in her yet. We’ll give her a facelift, change her name, registration, and off you’ll go boys.”

“Sorry to interrupt cap’n,” our computer analyst and programmer Bryxt cut in, “but you intend to enter fugue while connected to a brain scan?”

And as you space dogs know, it’s the only way to reconnect to the dream sequence, and totally illegal because in most cases, it induces what has come to be known as “gap” sickness, an incurable condition of acute paranoia caused by jumps.  Jumps is the only way to get around in space unless you want to spend eternity looking at the same stars.

“That’s what I mean to do, damn space admin’s rules or the consequences. If I come out addled, the ship is yours that much sooner, so what’s the worry? Toss my body out and we’ll be square.”

So, to make a long story short, the cap’n entered fugue connected; came out apparently sane and sound with a smile on his scarred leathery face that spread from ear to ear.

“All right you useless worms, contact Hino. The coordinates are in the computer. As soon as we’re cleaned-out and paid, we head out. A little adventure, that’s what a man needs at the end of his journey.   Space can get so damned boring after a while.”

We sold our cargo to the smugglers and entered worm hole TF-068 using a pirated ship’s signature from one of the smuggler’s barges and after some unexpected and bone-jarring jolting came out among the weirdest groupings of solar bodies I’d ever seen. Our computations had wiped out in the boost—hell, old Windsong was never meant for that kind of torture: she was a freighter, for Ajax sake! Of course we should have realized our cap’n had lost it when he gave us his plan, but you know, the captain is the man and if you want to survive space, there is but one rule: do what the man says once you’ve had your say.

We scoured that area with what was left of the ship’s computers working, found nothing, nothing at all. We were years looking, scanning, probing, sending surface craft to promising worlds until enough didn’t come back we couldn’t risk that anymore. We used up all our surface probes, most of which never responded. Those that did only increased our despair. This system we had tumbled into refused to make the least allowances for biological life, let alone human life.

Sanity was the first and greatest victim in our situation. We argued and fought with what little energy we had left. Most wanted to mass-launch the last jumpers and sling-boost equipment or crash land WindSong even to take their chances upon a particular world that seemed quasi-adequate for some sort of survival. Radioactivity was high but they argued they could beat it. Anything to get off what had become our prison on dying Windsong.   Anything to get away from the totally mad Wandering Jew who now spent his days hooked up to the brain scan that didn’t work, trying to recall his stupid dream. When he disconnected to walk among us, he had tears in his eyes, but they weren’t for us, for having stranded us. He didn’t see us, or hear us either. His tears were for his damnable dream. He began to talk to his ancestor’s god out loud and we shuddered, giving him wide berth whenever we heard him pleading, demanding, cursing, sighing. Off the chart, he was, poor bastard. We even felt sorry enough for him not to boost him out the air-lock.

From a healthy and happy crew of 68 men, we were whittled down to 31 emaciated ghosts wandering through the ship’s corridors when the damned angels appeared.  

“So that’s how you got back?”

That’s what’s so sick about the whole thing. I woke up here, right here, in this pub. Alone. No crew, no ship, nothing to my name, just old memories.

“What did space admin have to say about your story, man?”

Just a story, home boy. Bar tender, did that earn me another round before I return to the Heritage II?

“You from the Heritage? Hell’s bells, I should’ve known! We’ve been had, he’s one of those story tellers.   “

And all of you so sure you could spot a storyteller, eh? And also a shape-shifter, friends. That old man you made your little bets with before I joined your group was none other than myself and it’s time to pay up.   Better luck next time boys.

I could have been anything.  I could captain my own cruiser.  I came out of the Academy with top ratings, family money, prospects, offers, the works. Space is infinite. The number of ships that move through this one universe alone would be considered infinite. Possibilities endless. But despite the less than glamorous conditions of spacing around from galaxy to galaxy as a story-teller, you can’t beat it. It’s not only that we exist as double-agents, spying for corporations or this and that tin pot dictator or emperor searching for traitors, princes hunting for concubines and wives belonging to opponents; even indulging in sleuthing on the side—you know, to relieve the boredom between gigs—but there are other compensations.

I even had me a date with a blue-skinned Andromedan dancer last time through there and it didn’t cost me anything but a little story I made up on the spot. It would have been worth it just to watch her purple eyes dilate and hear that universally renowned laughter. I might tell you about that sometimes, but not this trip. My feelings are still too closely associated with it, especially the part where I was caught with her “in fragrante delicto” and trying to explain to the *Genoba that I had imbibed a bit too much Andy beer and was under the delusion she was an Andy goddess I had come to propitiate. He almost bought it… almost.  

Anyway, next time is next time. I have to board now, before my pub acquaintances discover the old man I claimed to have shape-shifted into was an old wino I found outside the bar and bought for a bottle of cheap rot-gut. So, I live my life on the edge. Why not? I’m young, not even 150 years old, galactic standard time, with a whole life, and more if I play my cards right, ahead of me begging for adventure.  Crazy?  Maybe, but if I stayed out of all the illegal, banned or dangerous places, where would I get my stories, and my money?  My very first commander, Light Leeta, would remind us at each enemy encounter, “OK people, remember, move to kill, move to win.  Live hard, live fast, live to live another day.  Go!” As the last surviving member of that motley crew, I can say this: it worked for me.

*Genoba, for those of you not familiar with the two or more dozen major Andromedan lexicons is the owner of a very high class, very exclusive Andy brothel, the kind that unless you’re royalty, or a member of the Family, you want to be sure you steer clear of.  The name itself isn’t originally Andromedan but followed an ancient family from Old Earth.  I know, nobody believes such a place did exist once upon a time but I have stories about it.  Another time.  I’ve got to board my ship, my actual destination to be given while in fugue.   They never give your destination until secured on board in case you get scanned and your coordinates lifted from your brain – everybody knows that, right?  OK wild and weird, here I come ready to live another day!   

 

 

Interplanetary Intercourse

“You know our first navigator’s got to be a girl who will—”
“She will be,” Rydra said. (Babel-17, Samuel R. Delaney)

I’m not asking the world be sane,
Pointing at his naked loin, she says,
nor am I asking you be either:
That would be complete waste.
All I want now is sex from you,
Great sex, if you can manage.
She fondles him, watches him grow:
It has potential, much, I like.

In turn he ogles her, full taut nipples
Pushed out from cone-shaped breasts,
Pointing to either side of his face.
With hungry fingers he reaches,
Touching, rubbing, twisting lightly
Keeping his eye on that serene face
And on her legs: they were swift,
And deadly, the Martian women.

But she said, she liked.  It was
What they’d call on earth, an omen.
She wouldn’t hurt him, her desire
Would rule her movements and
It was for him at the moment. Yet
I am insane, she knows, he thought
To enter the Martian’s cabin, naked.
What will she do, once done with me?

Fear washes pale beneath red lust,
Ask her, it said, ask her, before
You bed her and she takes your mind.
Is she a member of the stranglers?
Would she kill him to complete
Her needed orgasm before orbit?
He’d heard some needed it,
It opened their minds to space
It’s how they became navigators
So went the myth, never dispelled. 

Bullshit, he hears himself say,
She’s just a woman, needy like me
Naked, like me.  In lust like me. 
He reaches his muscular arms
Full around her slim, firm waist
Draws her tightly to himself,
His breathing loud, his heart a hammer
His chest pushes against her
He enters her and both scream.

Ah, best I’ve ever had, he hears.
Are they his words, in his head
Unrehearsed – is he alive then?
They are her words from her lips:
Alive, unrehearsed, spoken to his ear.
You please me immensely earth man,
You live for me. I’ll want you again.
Now I must connect to navigation:
We depart, quick, do not say a word,
I mark you, I find you, later.

 

The Gathering

                    [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

The Ancient surveyed the group with his mind.  “I see we are all gathered – let us proceed.  Agenda, please, Orija.” 
 
Orija closes her eyes and intones: “This Great Gathering, ninth of a series of ten, is called to decide the fate of Earth as it is called — or that part of it that lies within our jurisdiction.  It is the only item on the agenda.”
 
“Very well.  Begin.  I recognize Volarian Mosl as the first delegate.”
 
“The Volarians are, hm, have been, quite uncomfortable with the energies emanating from the Sol planet.  We are proposing a terminal solution before the discomfort spreads further.  It is known to us that some Belgelian great houses have offered limited space folding capabilities to a segment of Earthian humans who claim descendance from those known as the Nibiruans.  We know the Belgelians are ready to establish space stations in the vicinity of earth to entice Earthians to train as crew for their trading vessels.  As a result of this technically illegal move, we of Volar have been forced to strengthen our shields against the possibility of a sudden eruption of Earth humans — whom we consider to be corrupted beyond redemption — within our space. 
 
The situation among my people is volatile as we have not had to deal with outer world aggression in long ages.  Even our oldest mages cannot remember the days of war.  We are asking, once again, and for the last time, that this august Gathering do something definitive to resolve the issue of Earthian aggression.  We will not wait for another Gathering.  If nothing is done now, our space guild will take action as it sees fit to protect both our space and our trade routes.  Since our worlds are closest to this potential source of galactic war, our solution may be the final and complete eradication of the Earthian cancer.  Our scientists have developed a fast-acting virus that will wipe out the Earthian pseudo-humans completely but leave the rest of that world essentially intact to heal itself in time.
 
“Thank you Volarian Mosl.  Your position has been made abundantly clear to us.  Who else wishes to express thoughts on the Earthian problem?”
 
“I, Jessik, ambassador for the autarch of Narssis wish to express our thoughts on the matter?”
 
“Yes, ambassador Jessik, you may speak freely.”
 
“Thank you.  I have a question to pose to the gathering.  Regarding the Earthian pseudo-humans, as a species evolved on only one world, with limited intervention from outer world peoples, can it be said here, before this august gathering, that over the time we have watched and studied them they have been freely given all the necessary information needed to move in a direction,  or should I say, to develop in a way consistent with that of the rest of the Galactic family?  My point is this: can any Earthian claim that we, in some way, failed to give them all the necessary support to develop their minds and their hearts in accord with the Galactic aim of cooperation and mutual support for the sake of all life as we know it?
 
This is of paramount importance to us Narssisians as adjudicators of the Galactic Code.  Once Earthians discover the workings within the Galaxy after leaving their planet, they may be legally instructed by their galactic sponsors to put in a planetary claim that critical information was withheld from them and  further claim that whatever crime they could to be charged with, such as genocide or planeticide, would not apply since they were ignorant of the basic requirements of the Galactic code?”
 
“The question has been heard and entered.  Would the Guardian Angels respond to ambassador Jessik’s question?”
 
“We are the Angels of Aglamar, guides and guardians of all newly-evolved intelligent, sentient and self-aware species within the galaxy,” responds in perfect unison a chorus of voices from unseen entities scattered throughout the Gathering, “We fully understand the question and our response will be truthful and final.  
 
Since the beginning, the Earthian pseudo-human species has been observed, guided, taught and shepherded by the very best of our specially trained Guardians.  Nothing was held back from them.  Many of our agents went and lived on Sol planet Earth as teachers.  It was not unexpected that the earlier Guardians would be treated unfairly and unkindly by the fearful, hate-filled creatures.  It was however quite unheard of that this treatment would continue and intensify.  After waves of persecution of those who heard and obeyed the teachings of the Guardians, it was decided not to send any more.  We chose instead to contact Earthians through the use of thought forms, or visions if you prefer, awakening empathy in some of them.  It was our thought that Earthians would be more likely to listen to their own.  But again experience gained on other worlds failed us here.  They did not listen.  No, let us rephrase that: they emphatically refused to listen to the wisdom expressed by their own teachers.   
 
They used the knowledge brought to them to develop an inhuman form of technology that made them insensitive and brutish.  What limited knowledge of the good we sowed among them over the millennia was apparently and for all practical purposes, lost.  Few there are of Earth who today understand even a little of what life is about.  We have made plans with the Galactic Space Guild to attempt a rescue of this remnant. 
 
As Angel Guardians, it is our intent at this juncture to withdraw ourselves from any further involvement with that species of pseudo-humanity.  Sadly we conclude they are lost.  There is nothing more we can do to awaken their lost sense of empathy.  We regret to so inform the Gathering.”
 
“Ah, thank you Angel Guardians of Aglamar.  The darkness of deep sorrow clouds our thoughts.  Do we wish to continue this Gathering?”
 
“Representative Weill-Straat from Qobel.”
 
“Yes, representative.  Qobel is recognized.
 
“Qobel resents the implication that Earth is of no value.  We have put much energy to develop a plan for adding Earth to our inter-planetary trade franchises.  Qobellian trade ships are orbiting the planet, out of the range of their scanners and shielded, of course, and await the results of several delegations sent surreptitiously to many of the greater Earthian trading houses which they call Capitals, Banks and Corporations.  As always we are advocates of free trade.  We believe that the Earthians are uniquely adapted to the concept of trade and understand its function better even than some Qobellians, to our shame.  There is a native trait in the Earthians that renders them immune to any suffering their trading may bring to life, including the life of members of their own species.  They understand the value and necessity of trade.  In fact, one of their most admirable traits is their willingness to sacrifice any number of lives for the benefit of trade and to go to war to protect and enhance trade on their world.  To us, the Earthians demonstrate the only hope for further advancement of civilization. The wish of Qobel is that we be given a free hand to fully interact with Earthian trading houses.  We wish, in fact, to enter them as trading partners.
 
“Thank you, representative Qobel.  Your request is entered, though you may realize, causes a great strain on this Gathering.  Please re-think your position in regards to the Earthians and present it at our final Gathering on this issue.  Is there anyone else here who wishes to address this issue?”
 
“Yes, I would please.  My name is Luenia Echabak.  I am, huh, was, from Earth.”
 
“Luenia Echabak from Earth.  You are recognized and may freely address the Gathering.”
 
“Thank you.  I wish to say something profound on behalf of my world but after listening to the delegates, I am afraid my voice will seem rather small, frail and distant.  Perhaps even confused.  Yes, I am confused.  I wish to speak for Earth but everything said here about the people is, sadly, quite correct.  They have been given all the knowledge needed to live up to the demands of the Galactic Code.  I know because my tribe lived according to the code and we were happy and healthy for long years.  It was because of our adherence to the Code that my tribe was enslaved and finally destroyed.  Earth was an abundant planet.  No one ever needed to go without either food or shelter.  It was known, even to the technos that peace was better than war – but never quite as profitable.  It was known to all that health was better than disease, but also not as profitable.  It was known that cooperation was superior to aggression, but again, not as profitable. 
 
I have a complaint to voice at this Gathering and that is, when the predator/prey concept was introduced to Earth, where were the Angel Guardians then?  Did you not know that such a concept would bring horror upon a world designed originally to be a simple paradise of loving interaction between all the species of life upon it?  Or did you know but choose to do nothing to prevent this deadly poison from being brought to us?  My people revered all of life.  We did not kill for we found abundance of food among the plants of the wilds.  We never experienced hunger or lacked for anything.
 
I will tell you what happened to my world and to my people.  Both were given free will and free choice much sooner than they were able to understand their implications and responsibilities. The freedom came before the knowledge was given.  So it turned to lust and degradation.  When the knowledge was finally introduced, it was too late.  The poison was burning in every heart and every mind.  Only those scattered in small tribes in deserts, mountains or small islands on the seas escaped for a time.  But it came to them also, and when it did, they died by the millions.  I myself was a victim of the earliest of earth’s techno civilizations. 
 
Perhaps it is not entirely the Earthians’ fault that they are as they are.  Perhaps they are not redeemable, and certainly this Gathering cannot pay heed to Belgelian and Qobel desires to take advantage of their inhuman traits, their lack of empathy and their innate greed.  Better to let them destroy themselves and cause their planet to simply go to sleep under them, holding back her seasonal bounties until all surface life is gone.  Perhaps that would be the most compassionate thing to do. 
 
To bring them out of their world at their current state of understanding would be to plunge the galaxy in endless wars.  They are a mindlessly competitive species. To allow them to proliferate more would be to increase the level of suffering the many must endure to support the luxuries of the few.  There is no balance on Earth.  What love there is, if it can be called that, is of a sexual or parochial nature – and predatory. 
 
Since those of us who were willing to demonstrate a better way; who would have made a difference, are not wanted on Earth and since the Angel Guardians have decided to abandon their efforts on behalf of those who were once my people – but are no longer – I don’t know what else to say.  I am not condemning; I am not accepting.  I am simply allowing.  Please understand I do not seek redress, vengeance or justice for myself in this.  I only wished to share my awareness and experience.  May this Gathering act wisely in this grave matter.”
 
“Thank you, Luenia Echabak, ambassador for Earth.  Your thoughts are felt and understood by the Gathering.  We weep and mourn with you.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Earth humans are a pretty smug species.  That such as the above could actually be taking place, seems of no consequence here.  It’s business as usual.  That over 30,000 innocents die each day of preventable causes is acceptable collateral damage for the sake of free trade.  “The spice must flow” as is said in Dune (the reference is from the Dune books science fiction series by Frank Herbert).  Whatever the cost, resources must flow to the factories, and the goods must flow to the stores and from thence, to the homes to be turned into garbage.  That such garbage and effluent require the living sacrifice of 30,000 innocents – mostly babiesyoung children and their mothers – each and every day, is cool with most.  It is not shocking revelation, just more “so what”.  And once again this world stands on the brink of nuclear war, and what’s the general reaction to this real danger?  Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die…?
 
Do we possess the knowledge to make our world into a paradise but simply refuse to do so?  Are we without empathy for those who suffer and die because of the system we support for our selfish ends?  Are we doomed?  Are we an irredeemable species marked for eradicationIs there no longer any choice, or are we simply unwilling to pay the price necessary to make the required change? 
 
And what is that price?  What does life demand of us?  Of me in particular
 

The Planet Seekers

a short story  –  by Sha’Tara 

            Last day of school. Last day of formal training. Jerry Colmack, ignorant of most current political trends and protected from the endless wars they engendered, did not fully understand the reasons that had forced him to become a professional dreamer. From his viewpoint, it had just been an easy way to avoid boring and confusing calculus, physics, geometry, not to mention the hated regimented sports and enforced military training. Not that he wasn’t thoroughly versed in all the sciences, particularly astronomical physics and space navigation, but this knowledge had been absorbed subliminally to impinge upon his consciousness while in out-of-body flight as a unit of superconscious energy…

            Nevertheless, as his Mentor was fond of saying, in life there’s no free lunch and now, just when he was developing an unabashed admiration for the fairer sex, he was likely to be chosen to explore for habitable planets. Damn! he mumbled, then rebuked himself. After all, TRAVEL was what he had trained for since the age of nine, his great dream.

            But there hadn’t been girls in his dreams then, just his heroes of earliest space flight within his solar system, and now, there were! Particularly, there was Sylvia—lithe, dreamy, with laughter as clear as a mountain brook, black eyes reflecting life’s effervescence and long dark hair worn straight and free, henna and apple-spice, tickling the cheek, filling the air when she bent over you to examine your work, share ideas or whisper… Sylvia…

            “MISTER Colmack, may I have your attention, PLEASE!” The voice thundered, shattering his mood. The Mentor was a large man with a voice to match.

            “Uh, sorry Mentor, I was dreaming.”

            “There is a time for dreaming and a time for listening. All right, everybody. This is your last day together. Soon, you will be assigned your respective duties. Don’t fail your school.” and in a gentler tone: “Don’t fail yourselves… Jerry!”

            “Mentor?”

            “Please come with me. The Inspector wants to see you.”

            As they crossed the main corridor, he saw Sylvia leave the Inspector’s office. As she stood to attention with her back against the row of green lockers, she bowed low to the boy’s Mentor and stared at Jerry. Her face registered that she wanted to see him urgently. He even felt her trying to mind meld but he shrugged helplessly and discontinuing the effort, she turned away down the hall towards the main exit door.

            An old man stood by an open door, holding its shiny brass handle as if for support. He waved them in a Spartan office.

            “Inspector.” The Mentor bowed low. Jerry did the same.

            “Mentor; graduate.” He gave a short bow of acknowledgment then turned a piercing gaze upon Jerry. “Graduate Colmack, your reports are highly favourable. As there is so little time, I am going to acquaint you with your first assignment in the quickest possible way. I need not go into details. Your preparation and training will fill in the gaps.” He handed Jerry a thin folder. “Memorize these instructions before your departure.”

            Departure! He trembled involuntarily. This was it! The culmination of years of training, of enduring the taunts of those who knew nothing of dreaming. “Hey, dreamers, when you gonna get a real job? They should burn down that fancy bedding place of yours! What are the chicks like in sex dreams? What’s space like, spaceball? Bullshit, hogwash! Waste of tax money!” He had heard every kind of derogatory remark, been physically abused and made to feel as if he was responsible for the mess the world was in. Scapegoats, that’s what he and the small select group of his peers were. But it was worth it. He held his orders. He would TRAVEL!

            The old man continued, “We now have our cryonics facility fully functional and totally self-maintaining, safely installed one mile underground and served by a fusion generator brought to peak efficiency by the newest computer advances: a combination of chemistry and biology; sentient software. Your shells can now be preserved indefinitely. We are ready to send out our first seekers. You know the task: to locate proper colonizing planets for those who want to leave and start new colonies where there is fresh air and space to grow.” He looked at the smoke floating past the stained windows and sighed. “Graduate Colmack, are you ready to enter upon your greatest adventure?” The question, to Jerry’s surprise was neither rhetorical nor condescending. He really was asking!

            What could he answer? He didn’t want to sound too eager… or frightened, and he was indeed ready. He would take the jet lift down and enter the cocoon which would hold his physical body. While in deep sleep, prompted by auto-suggestion, his etheric body or ‘consciousness’ would rise out of his physical body and the sealed cocoon to float unimpeded to the surface. With the power of pure thought, he would leave the earth’s atmosphere. Using a technique developed during previous experiences in super-conscious travel, he would fling his energy consciousness across the time/space boundaries that had confined his race since it had come to inhabit the solar system. Out—into the great void, and to other worlds, other star systems, perhaps even other galaxies, probing, searching, for that one special world. Alone? Would he have to do this by himself? “Yes sir.” he answered simply, and added, somewhat self-consciously, “although I thought that perhaps I would have had a few days to see my family again…”

            “I am sorry, Colmack, but your family at the moment is behind enemy lines, so to speak. Revolutionaries have cut communications between this sector and the Van-Mond hills. Perhaps when you return, things will have settled a bit.  Listen, Colmack. We need you now. Earth, as a sustainable eco-system, is dying, understand?”

            “I think so. Must I attempt this by myself, sir?”

            “Shall we tell him, Mentor?” He thought he saw a twinkle in the Inspector’s eye.

            “Yes. It is time.”

            “Your file indicates you have developed a psychological bonding with a female member of the Institute. Give me her name, please?”

            Jerry reddened, fumbled with his folder, uncertain. Had he committed some sort of indecency, violated some rule? Was this a trick to test him, or embarrass him? What about Syl? Had she been grilled about their feelings for each other? For that matter, what were her feelings? At seventeen, he knew practically nothing about girls, and in many ways, Syl had proved experientially his senior by years, even though she was his age… What did the Inspector really want?

            “Sir?”

            “Her name, Jerry?” His voice had softened.

            Oh, what the hell… “Sylvia Domona, sir…”

            “Thank you, Jerry. You’ve just confirmed our choice. Sylvia is already on her way to cryonics. She will precede you in space by some twelve hours. You will locate her, join your consciousness with hers and together, we hope you will accomplish the miracle we will be waiting for. To avoid explanations and possible embarrassment for her, she was not told whom we would be sending up with her. It will be up to you two to make the adjustments and develop a mutual plan of action. Now remember the basics, boy. In so-called ‘space,’ your pure consciousness will link up with every part of the universe. You will ‘feel’ the stretching and gradually lose sense of self until you find your target and re-enter the ego-field. Remember the law: If you find a suitable host body on a habitable world, you must wipe all memory of your temporary presence from its mind before you withdraw. You must cause no psychological or physical damage. Your presence must remain undetected by the sentients. You must find such a world, one preferably younger than earth by a million or more years, without life harmful to humans, you understand? You possess more than ample knowledge to determine this, if you hold tightly to the disciplines taught at the institute and practiced in your brief training excursions within the solar system. Maintain your current physical sexual orientation at all costs. Enter only a male-type host. Sylvia has been likewise cautioned. Do not attempt a mind-meld with a hermaphroditic sentience. Man may have been such in his earlier stages of development but cannot return to that evolutionary period. Establish the ‘base,’ as per your instructions.

            Remember: you are under oath to return to earth, and your earth bodies… whatever your feelings. Likely, you will soon find life in pure consciousness superior to life in the physical shell and will probably not want to return, but keep in mind that once your task is fulfilled, you will have that choice in any case. Do not forget us, son. You are our only hope.”

             He cleared his throat. “A couple more things. You have already encountered other disembodied entities or forms of consciousness. You know they will try to attach themselves to you or try to sway you to join with them. That is one of the reasons we decided to have Sylvia accompany you and vice-versa. If the attraction between the two of you is strong, you will be able to tear away from the seduction of these creatures, if we may call them that. You will remain aware that only upon your return to earth will you be able to fulfill the physical attraction burgeoning between you and Sylvia.” He looked keenly, though not unkindly at the embarrassed teen-ager and continued. “Miss Domona rates the highest of all her peers in psychic awareness and intuition and your powers of observation and rationalization are unmatched, making you the perfect pair to attempt this preposterous, though I believe, not impossible, task—space travel and colonization using only the pure energy of the cosmos to carry individuality in consciousness throughout the universe.

             “We’ve done everything we could to eliminate danger, loneliness and fear and to ensure your safe return after successfully locating at least one suitable world. Now, if I may express an old earth saying: God speed to the both of you.”

            For the first time, Jerry felt a kinship to the old Inspector. He looked at the lined face and into the deep-set blue eyes under thick, graying eyebrows. His eyes involuntarily watered as he extended his hand to the man who had been responsible to single-handedly convince the Ruler, the ‘Max’(assassinated two years ago by his nephew who now held a shaky reign threatened on all sides by vindictive revolutionaries led by the Max’s son) that dream travel was not an aberration deserving mind re-orienting, but could become an opening to the planets of other star systems, under proper guidance, instruction and containment.

            With reluctant authorization and funding from who knows where, he had founded the Institute, recruited trainers and trainees, and been instrumental in developing the biological computer that would “man” the cryonics facility. Yet, in the beginning, his plan had been but a ploy to save the minds of young children who registered out-of-body experiences and were being rounded up to have their minds re-trained for possible use as spies.

            Of this and other political tricks and risks, Jerry remained blissfully ignorant by design. His task was not to resolve earth’s surface problems, but to open an escape route to habitable worlds in far-flung star systems within the Milky Way, the greatest adventure ever attempted by man.

            As he walked boldly and proudly to a waiting heli-craft, all he could think of was the line borrowed from an ancient sci-fi anthology: “Tomorrow, the Stars” and he added “and Sylvia!”

            How fitting that man’s new quantum leap in evolution would be harnessed to the greatest motive force known among the race: romance as expressed by the mutual attraction between a man and a woman. Would a planet in the Tau Ceti system some day possess a sacred book that would speak of its Genesis, and remark upon the beginning of its human race via a “Jerry and Sylvia,” with its God represented as an old Inspector in rumpled gray suit, striped tie and twinkling blue eyes under bushy eyebrows? The answer to that question is even now out there, in the stars…