Original Title: Miracle a l’Infern
©Miracle at Hell
©Lluís Carrera i Miralles
I dedicate these pages to all who have helped me to start my project
Chapter 1. Looking for a crew.
Evacuation of Haifa, February 7th 2166.
Somewhere in Israel I lost myself, my soul was as pierced as that battered montgolfière with which I had just landed at the airport that once was a source of wealth for this country that no longer will exist. I sat in the corner of the steps used by the aircraft’s crew. While I was perusing how Black Berets were helping the civilians to pull off the montgolfière that were kissing the concrete ground and giving thanks to the Lord for the second chance they had, a girl of about four or five years slipped from her mother’s hands and came towards me.
“Eloïse, come here please, do not bother this man!” exclaimed the girl’s mother, while she gave me his teddy.
“Why are you crying?” Her childish voice denoted a strong Hebrew accent.
“I don’t cry, little bit, my eyes sting me because a cold. It’s a very nice bear, but if it stays with me will be very afraid.”
“Next time you make fly your plane ask for my dad, mum told me he is in sky.”
“I will, squirt” I returned her the bear while I was trying to restrain my tears which were sliding down my cheeks “and now go with your mom, you are making her suffer.”
“God bless you, Sir” blurted Eloise’s mother “you saved our lives.”
“Your daughter is an angel from heaven, take much care of her” after saying this I entered the montgolfière and cried like I had not done since Mom died.
After I calmed down I entered the aircraft again, there was nobody. Following the manual of the Navy I was waiting beside the aircraft until I got someone to take care of it and relieved me of the surveillance. Fortunately, I had not to wait long, after a few minutes a jeep arrived with a driver and a young Air Force captain. She was a woman; she looked strong and delicate at the same time, got out and came towards me doing a military salute that I replied.
“Yes, I am.”
“Let me be the first to congratulate you” she shook my hand “your prowess has been televised on all channels of the free world.”
“Televised? Congratulate me? I do not understand Captain, we have failed, and we’ve lost the war. We are fleeing from this land like rats while civilians are exterminated throughout Israel.”
“Even so, CNN has released images of your reaction against the attack of enemy fighters; millions of people have seen how you saved hundreds from a certain death. The President wants to congratulate you personally.”
“The President? Does the President resurrect my friend and the thousand people who died into the montgolfière?”
“I’m sorry Lieutenant, I understand your grief, but you have to understand that I only follow orders.”
“Excuse me, Captain, you have no guilt. But I cannot leave until the Navy pick up my aircraft.”
“Your aircraft will be destroyed; the Air Force will take over the airport until all personnel would be evacuated.”
“What about the civilians in Haifa?”
“We can’t do anything for those who do not reach the airport before midnight, when will take off the last helicopter towards the carriers Iwo Jima” and Varna.”
“I can fly a fighter to defend the airport.”
“I am sorry Lieutenant, you know the rules. You first have to pass a psychological test. Please pull into the Jeep, by the way I will heal the wound of your forehead.”
“Sure, come on.”
The jeep came to a helicopter whose rotor was running making a deafening noise, captain gestured me to come in. I entered quickly inside of that aircraft, into the cabin were many civilians, women and men of various ages. I knew this helicopter and his crew, they belonged to the “Iwo Jima”, and I sat in one of the seats and buckled my seatbelt. In seconds the helicopter took off and gradually the airport was becoming small. The trip was short, we flew over the fleet that escorted two aircraft carriers protecting this corner of the Mediterranean Sea and in a few minutes the aircraft left us on the secondary runway of that floating city. Getting off the helicopter I saw a group of pilots who probably went to their fighters, I recognized Soizick.
“Soizick!” I yelled.
“David!” She left the formation, ran to me and hugged me “You’re alive! I was really worried; we have seen the images on CNN of a montgolfière exploding.”
“Marc has…?” I nodded, she hugged me tight and both broke to mourn” I’m so sorry, it hurts my heart, the three were a team. Your poor sister will have to raise the child alone.”
“Yes, now just are you and me … And Michael.”
“But this does not change anything, David. I’ll leave him as soon return to the defense of Haifa, as I promised in that square of Jerusalem. Wait a few hours my love. I love you”
“Me too” I kissed her.
“Lieutenant Gonnet, please, you should get on your fighter, the squad has to take off immediately” the notice of sergeant interrupted our kiss.
“Come back in one piece” I resisted letting go her hand “I will tell to Captain of this nutshell to marry us.”
“I’ll take your word…”
I watched how she went towards the Firecat fighters group, who were in the main runway; those planes had been configured to intercept enemy fighter-bombers which whipped Haifa Airport. At that moment, a sailor ushered me inside because it was forbidden for staff not directly related to operations were sauntering through the runway. Soizick participated in a joint mission with the Air Force to defend the Haifa airport, last spot Atlantic before our retreat at midnight, time that the President would declare an unilateral ceasefire accepting the defeat.
I was in that carrier with nothing because my stuff were in Cyprus, from where took off the montgolfières of the Navy. Actually, I had no idea who had to contact to get clothes, food and a place to sleep. My flexiscreen was broken because of one of the blows that I got while montgolfière received impacts everywhere; I was alone among a crew of eighteen thousand people, so I decided to go to the canteen of the officers. Upon entering that bar full of pilots I received an unexpected ovation, about twenty known faces were smiling while crumbled into applause towards me, I was stunned, uncomfortable with myself, I did not deserve it… I had failed to save my brother-in-law and friend.
“Lieutenant Lavall, let me to introduce myself, Captain David Ignatieff. I’m in charge of this ship” I squared.
“Rest Lieutenant, I’m who would have to square” shook my hand “I want to shake hands with the braver pilot I’ve ever met.”
“Sorry Sir, the bravest one piloted the aircraft that exploded in front of me.”
“You must believe me if I tell you that modesty is not a virtue too useful in our profession, you’re confused right now. Anyway, I think you were informed that President wants to see you.”
“Yes Sir, but I must return to Cyprus to get my stuff and tell my family that my sister’s husband died in action.”
“Do not suffer Lieutenant, Navy has personnel to do these things, now a psychologist should be knocking on the door of the house of your sister; when the psychologist believes is the right time to talk to your family, he will contact you.”
“My flexiscreen is broken, I’m isolated.”
“You can call your sister with your own cell card. Your stuff are already in the cabin we have assigned you, you’ll share it with a former colleague of you in the Squadron Albatross. A sailor will accompany you as soon as you take the cup that you’ve earned” this man filled two glasses with a liquid that looked like whiskey.
“Roger Sir, to your health and to those who accompany me in this room” I raised my glass “and for those who are gone.”
“For those who are gone!” exclaimed all the people who were in the canteen.
“I want to propose a toast too” the captain intervened “for the worthy of the Iron Cross!”
“Excuse me, I see that nobody has reported you that, that is why the President wants to see you. You and your family will be taken to Brussels for state funerals and the granting of awards.”
“But I do not deserve the Iron Cross, I fought for my survival.”
“And for the people you were carrying in that montgolfière, your audacity saved their lives.”
“Roger Sir” I replied without much enthusiasm.
Slowly I was getting all possible feelings, sadness, guilt, anxiety … I did not know what the hell I would say to Gisela. Moreover, how would glare down Michael Lagarde when he learned that Soizick left him for me? All I had inside me mixed and took a strange color.
After three drinks, I was still as just as emotionally disturbed but somewhat drunk, alcohol had not done any of my demons disappear. After the fourth cup Captain Ignatieff had already considered that I dose to cure my wound and signaled a sailor to take me to my cabin. The room in which this man got me was a small cabin with two beds separated by their lockers and a small desk table next to the door; I instantly recognized the pictures that were on that table, I was located in the same stateroom that Michael Lagarde…I felt embarrassed; as soon as Soizick arrived I would ask for a transfer to another cabin, which I was in danger of he would kill me while I were sleeping. I decided not to keep the backpack stuff they had left on my bed, grabbed only my cell card and went into the corridor. The first thought of having that little device in my hands was to call Gisela; it was my duty as a brother.
“Hello” said a strange voice of someone who was not family, who picked the call did not connect the video.
“Who do I speak? I’m calling the home of my father and my sister.”
“Lieutenant Lavall, I’m sorry I’m a psychologist of the Navy; right now you cannot talk to anyone of your family until I have finished my evaluation.”
“Can’t I talk with my sister?”
“She is here by my side but I do not consider it appropriate to talk until after a reasonable time. I personally will contact you in the right moment…” Without another word, the person hung up. I was faced idiot while I was walking by the rows of the carrier.
I heard over the loudspeaker that the survivors of the squadron Harpoon were about to land on the main runway, which is why I went to the bridge. Using my new hero status, I got into the bridge; the displaying of “Lt. D. Lavall” from my uniform was enough to cross the safety cord. Captain Ignatieff stared out the window the landings of the squadron that was flying Soizick.
“It is terrible” commented Captain “just three fighters have landed in this squad.”
“Only three, Sir?” I asked.
“Affirmative Lieutenant, do you have any interest in this squad?”
“A very special person flies on one of the fighters in this squad.”
“What’s her name?”
“Navy’s Lieutenant Soizick Gonnet, Sir” I answered, praying within me that was one of the three fighters landed.
“Lieutenant Gonnet is Harpoon six. Second officer, what fighters have landed?”
“Harpoon nine, three and eleven” to not hear the number six I froze.
“Have more planes to land, Sir?” I asked terrified.
“Sorry David, I know it’s terrible to lose two important people in your life the same day.”
“I was going to ask to marry us as soon as she would land” I replied to captain, totally helpless.
“I do not know what to say, I cannot imagine how you feel now.”
“I could not imagine that I might feel like this, if you excuse me Sir.”
“I think it’s not a good moment to stay alone, I cannot hold you on the bridge but I’d prefer to you stay in sight. I don’t want you commit a blunder.”
“I’m sorry Sir, but you’d understand that I need privacy to mourn my girlfriend and my brother in law.”
“Of course, but please do not do anything that has no cure.”
This was too much for me, had lost Soizick Marc the same day I was alone and could not speak to my family. I was lost in the huge aircraft carrier “Iwo Jima”, walked hours aimlessly until I got to the stern of the ship. There was nobody in that part of the carrier, and it was four in the morning and everyone but the guard duty was asleep, had sufficient privacy to do it: from the pants holster I pulled my Glock nine millimeter, I sat in a square shape that made the deck in a corner next to overboard got the barrel at the base of the chin, my last thought before pulling the trigger was for Mom…
“Come on, shoot, what are you waiting?” That voice from the darkness interrupted me, the speech sounded familiar to me.
“Leave me alone, it is the last thing I will do in my life.”
“You’ve always been a fucking coward” Michael Lagarde emerged from the darkness, illuminated by the dim light of the deck streetlights – the value lies in being man enough to face reality and not escape it.
“Just leave me alone, you didn’t ever deserve Soizick.”
“Ah! What you do? Do you think I have not suffered because he loved both of us? Do you think I didn’t know she would leave me to go with you?”
“My life no longer makes sense” I put the gun the safety latch to not shoot accidentally “what will I do now?”
“What if you avoid thinking that she is dead?” Said Michael. “Nobody has seen the body.”
“Are you a fool? If she had managed to jump she would have found a way to contact the carrier…”
“Something tells me that she is still alive” Michael’s insistence was admirable “if you do not perceive perhaps you really do not deserve her.”
“Maybe not Michael, good luck.”
“Give me the gun, I hate you but I cannot allow you to kill yourself.”
“And what if I not give it you?”
“I shall take it you by the force.”
“Do you also will stop me to throw me overboard?”
“I can call the Naval Police to stop you.”
“I do not believe that they arrived on time to stop me.”
“So I’m asking you for the memory of the person who somehow unites us.”
“Emotional blackmail? I should not kill myself because the person who separated me from Soizick asks to?”
“Were you who separated her from your side all these years, you’re a damn fool and so she was frightened, you need psychiatric help. She always loved you more but you put it her very difficult.”
“Did she tell you this?”
“She has cried so many times for you that I hate you for all the pain you’ve caused her.”
“I love her …” I began to mourn; the guilt filled my whole being.
“Prove it and live for her.”
“I’m sorry, Soizick…I’ve failed you so much” I sat totally engrossed trying to evoke the happy moments, I did not realize that Michael took away the gun from my hands and left.
A week later, took place the funeral for all the victims of that last brutal battle in Israel. This cemetery of Brussels was crowded of people, the state funeral was a massive ceremony televised on all channels of the Republic. The state funeral was nothing but a pretentious farce in which thousands of laid flowers on a monument with the names of people who had been killed in Israel’s campaign, made in haste and with debatable criteria. That huge granite monolith included the engraved names of Marc and Soizick; they had also received the Purple Heart posthumously in the futile attempt to appease the families who had lost them.
Gisela was carrying a baby of seven months, my nephew called Marc like his father. I felt unable to console her because sadness also drowned me and poisoned my soul so that I wished to have pulled the trigger on that carrier. Then came the comedy of the medal, they hung on my neck that cross that reminded me of films about World War II where bad guys carried these medals, who decided to introduce the Iron Cross as the highest award of the Atlantic Armed Forces had a bad idea.
Days passed and things did not improve, officially I was on common disease leave, but in fact the psychiatrist had diagnosed that I had PTSD, which disallowed me to fly airplanes and bear arms. Despite having to raise a baby, Gisela went ahead much better as me; and as soon as we returned to Barcelona she continued her practices of medicine at the Hospital del Mar; it was my sister who took care of me, which made me feel guilty and useless. The solution came from Dad, just a day before Easter came home happy.
“David, I’ve found you a job.”
“A job? Where?” I answered surprised.
“What do you know about hypersonic aircraft?”
“They work more or less like the combat sliders we used on Mars; they are piloted using a stratospheric ballistic trajectory between two airports.”
“Well, in three days you have to present in Vientiane.”
“Where?” I replied.
“It is the capital of Laos, an airline where a friend works as a flight attendant has managed to introduce your file in their HR department and they accepted you.”
“When did you think to tell me that you were looking for a job for me behind my back?”
“Do not want to work?”
“Of course, but according to the doctor I’m not healthy enough to fly.”
“Your military file does not say that, as courtesy of the High Admiralty.”
“So what I have to do?”
“Tomorrow morning I’ll take you to the airport of El Prat and my friend will accompany you to Vientiane. The travel costs are in charge of Lao Airlines.”
“And this friend …” I smiled.
“What else would I? She is of your age; I know her about things of the union…”
The next day Dad and Gisela accompanied me to the airport, previously had left the little Marc in the nursery. Upon entering the terminal, a pretty young Asian was expecting us, my father made the introductions:
“Keo, this is my son David and she is my daughter Gisela.”
“Keo?” Gisela asked.
“It’s actually Keosaychay, but to Westerners is complicated to pronounce my name, especially your father” after saying that she turned his gaze to me. “David, please be brief, we must check your bags and ship in less than ten minutes.”
I hugged Gisela strongly, I hated to leave her alone in those circumstances and I could not help falling tears with emotion.
“Are you sure you’re okay? I can still back out” I said.
“No David, you have to live your life. It will be good for you to disconnect from everything.”
“Take good care of the little Marc.”
“If not, what do remain me?”
The goodbye with Dad was very similar, I was watching them dwarfing while I was leaving in the company of that unknown woman. The plane took us to Frankfurt, then took the bags and headed to the terminal of hypersonic flight, four hours and we would be on the end of another continent… I said nothing during the entire journey; actually I did not know what to say, this girl anyway respected my silence without making me any questions. When we were twenty minutes to land I realized I was a regrettable wingman, so I tried to fix it in the best way possible:
“I’m sorry Keo, I don’t want you think I’m ungrateful.”
“Don’t worry, I understand your status, when we get to my house we will start a therapy.”
“A therapy? My father did not tell me anything.”
“Do you think you will pass the test of the company in this spirit? I have to prepare you to pass the test.”
“Will I be cured in one day?”
“No, I only will make they believe that you have no mental problems.”
“Are you a psychiatrist or something like this?”
“I am many things; you’re going to realize over time, your father would not have thought of me if I were a mere hostess…”
When we left the airport, I found myself in a strangely modern city, this was a city like Barcelona and totally different at the same time. We took a taxi, the driver gaped a moment by the spectacular beauty of my escort, a beauty that I had ignored until then. While that vehicle was on the highway leading to Vientiane, I too was enthralled by this beautiful Asian, of endless eyelashes and hair black as night; when she realized I looked her, she felt uncomfortable.
“Apart from looking at me, you could talk a little bit about yourself.”
“I apologize, there is nothing dirty in my eyes, just for a moment I had been engrossed with your beauty.”
“Everything is an illusion, a house may have a pretty face but that does not mean it’s cozy. Maybe if I were uglier you talk to me instead of looking at me as if I were an object.”
“I ask for forgiveness again, I will show you that I’m not this way.”
“I hope so…”
Finally, the taxi reached the city in minutes and stopped at the gate of a huge skyscraper, at its entrance hung a sign that you could see the inscription “Europe Tower”, Keo paid to the driver who gladly took our luggage from the trunk. The hall looked like a supermarket counters with hundreds of different brands of luxury, and we went through one of the elevators.
“Are you European?”
“No, but I spend a lot of time in Barcelona … our floor.”
We walked a few steps from the elevator until a door sensor detected Keo, a voice asked for a biometric confirmation reason that this young woman put her face in front an scanner glass, once done this the door was unlocked…
Ramallah, June 22nd 2166. Story of Soizick Gonnet.
Involuntarily and unknowingly, I became a bargaining chip between two countries in conflict because of a negotiation between the government of the Atlantic Republic and that tyrannical state led by terrorists. I had to live nearly four months in captivity, where torture and rape suffered went to my particular box of horrors; this inner drama was so terrible that I could not ever explain. I felt dirty inside me, disgust and shame had penetrated to the farthest corners of my soul. Thanks to heaven that had finished when, miraculously, a UN delegation had managed to agree on a prisoner exchange between the Atlantic Republic and the Worldwide Caliphate, six Atlantic prisoners by fifty captive Caliphatians. But that day when they pushed me out of that room I was afraid they were going to kill me.
To make it look like they had not done anything to me during my abduction, these savages forced me to bathe in the presence of three men with guns pointing at me and then forced me to wear a hiyab. I had not many marks on my body but never forget the horrors during my captivity in that hole, and even less that stinking breath of one of the captors who came to visit me regularly to do more than bring me food.
Before getting to that rickety truck, they placed me a dark dirty bandage on eyes, as well as three soldiers and two journalists who were in my same condition. The six hostages were women because the men who had been captured had been brutally murdered a few weeks ago by those criminals who had not respected any of the conventions which protected prisoners of war.
It took a lot of hours on bumpy roads until the truck stopped and our captors made us go down to the asphalt. Then I noticed that unmistakable smell of jet fuel, instantly figured we were in an airport or an aerodrome. We walked a few hundred yards without seeing anything but the dirty bandage that covered our eyes. I calculated that we would have gone about half kilometer when militants unleashed us while they regaled us with the last shouts and shoves, I even received a painful blow on the shoulder, I could finally take off my blindfold and looked around. The sky began to darken, I knew the place, without any doubt was the airport of Ramallah and the men were driving us towards a medium-sized white jet that was in the middle of the runway. From that plane got off fifty dirty men with their yellowish djellabas that ran, shouted and hugged our captors, while from the same plane a man beckoned us and yelled at us.
– Come quickly before they change their mind – the man used his hands as a megaphone with the intention that we heard him better. Excited, the six ran to the aircraft despite the discomfort of the hiyab, to freedom, among tears and cries of joy. The nightmare was over
– Please get comfortable where you want to, there are plenty of places but with a slight odor of humanity, sorry for the lack of hygiene of passengers just landed – said a captain of the peacekeepers – as soon as the plane takes off Lieutenant Vahi will take note of your data.
Passed then minutes or maybe more, in that situation this represented an eternal period of time when you try to escape from Hell. Finally that plane started running down the runway and took flight leaving that land hostile, I began to mourn with emotion. Besides the captain and lieutenant, there were a dozen heavily armed soldiers, it was clear that the men for whom we had exchanged commissioned by United Nations were not angels. The lieutenant grabbed her flexiscreen and was asking tenderly person by person, things slowed since each of the women wanted to know details of that rescue and how could contact their families. I was assigned the penultimate, although this lieutenant was a female without appeal and unfeminine (it’s impossible to find ugly first person that treats you with gently after months of horror), had that motherly sweetness that made me feel relaxed, protected at home…
“Can you tell me your name please?”
“Lieutenant of Ship Soizick Gonnet, my plane was shot down in Haifa in February.”
“It can’t be possible, you’re dead.”
“What do you say?”
“Sorry, I meant that the database gives you as dead, ma’am.”
“I understand, my flexiscreen was destroyed by jumping in parachute. Shall I contact my family or a companion of my unit?”
“Tell me the name and I’ll check.”
“David Lavall, Lieutenant of Ship”
“Here it is. He was awarded with the Iron Cross of Valor for the famous rescue of Tel Aviv. He is on leave on own affairs, is missing since April.”
“How can someone like him be missing?”
“Who does not want to be found disconnects his cell card and you lose track. Do you want to contact someone else?”
“Michael Lagarde, he is also Lieutenant of Ship.”
“Yes, yes he is available. Shall I call?”
The ring tone rang for never ending seconds, anxiety made me mourn; perhaps those months may be erased like if nothing happened. I heard his voice:
“Michael, it’s me” the other side remained silent.
“Michael? I’m alive!” I insisted seeking his reaction.
“Soizick, my love, where are you? It’s a miracle; something told me that you could not have died.”
“I’m flying to Europe from Haifa; my kidnappers have released me…”
After a few days I went to my parents home, in my beloved Saint-Malo, not without having first passed through a psychological exam and other medical, I was certified that none of these pigs had infected me any venereal disease but they had to interrupt a pregnancy of three weeks I did not even had guessed, it had been a situation where I did not worry too much if it was coming or not menstruation. Seeing me, mom made me take a shower and go to bed, despite my protests sat on a chair next to me until I fell asleep. The next day I was asked if I was okay, I had to lie because I could not let my parents knew the gory details of my kidnapping. I felt guilty about I did not know what, maybe I implied in some way to my captors they could enjoy my body, but I was convinced that I had not done so because offered resistance showing clearly that it was totally against my will.
Throughout the week after my arrival my mother followed treating me a small child, she chose the clothes I had to put, she brushed my hair, and she prepared my favorite dishes. The case of Dad was even worse; when he came back from job he locked himself in the room and came out to dinner with tearful eyes. That situation was totally unsustainable, so after ten days since my arrival I took dinner to talk openly:
“You know that you are what I love most in this world?”
“Of course” my mother said “and you are the apple of our eyes.”
“So are not you glad I’m back?”
“We are very happy to have you with us” replied my father “but…”
“We realize that one day we’ll lose you forever” my mother said “heaven has wanted to bestow the grace to have you with us a little longer, but finally the fate will separate you from us.
“And why do you worry about the future? I want you to enjoy the present with me, and there is a person…”
“David?” Asked my mother, who did not hide her predilection for him.
“No, Michael” I saw the face of disappointment from my mother, who loved David as a son – sorry Mom; I love David, but is not the man of my life.
“I’m happy for you, honey” said my father “Michael is a good guy.”
“I want to ask him to marry me.”
A sweltering July day, the mayor of Saint-Malo marries us both Michael and me in the presence of our closest relatives. I tried to contact to come to our, but his sister said he was living in Vientiane and was not very good idea to should attend my wedding, for whatever happened had left him deeply disturbed, in some way blaming me his status. On second thought, it was foolish of me to want him to come, but it was a too much important person in my life to let it disappear that way. But perhaps it is better that things remain this way, after all I was about to leave Michael for David. If I think about it Michael is security, unconditional love, however David is the unbridled passion, to floor the accelerator, love a god of war with psychiatric problems, was the road to chaos that I could not control, yet the wedding night I closed my eyes and imagined making love with David…
Vientiane, Laos International District, January 4, 2167. Will Schwartz goes to seek David.
My taxi neared its destination, having passed through the long streets of the new metropolis built over this old city of Mekong Valley. Vientiane had become the capital of technology and progress, the old city was completely ripped by bulldozers and in its place had built the most modern city in Asia. They only had left standing the Pha That Luang and Wat Si Saket as a tourist attraction; about the rest, all that was before the XXII century had been demolished.
A little over thirty years, the Lao government decided to give up their legal independence to attract capital from around the world, changing the status of Republic by International District, even so still maintained wide de facto sovereignty. The case is that Laos economy has the most dynamic economy in Southeastern Asia, and it is shown year after year with the exponential growth of its GDP, especially since the construction on the outskirts of Vientiane of an airport prepared for hypersonic flight (only four more around the world: Cape Town, Frankfurt, San Francisco and Nagasaki). Everyone was welcome, especially if they brought money, as fervent Christian this consumerism out of control disgusted me completely. It was far its past of Democratic Republic of the Pathet Lao and the nickname “The Land of the Million Elephants”.
Finally, the taxi stopped in front of Tower Europe, entered the building and took one of the elevators, that man lived on the ground 117 … 117-21…here it is. I pressed the buzzer few laughs were heard from inside the apartment. The door opened, an Asian girl with some western factions wearing a stewardess uniform only partially buttoned was watching me funny not realizing that she was showing me much of her lingerie.
“Good morning Mademoiselle, I am Will Schwartz, ideally I’d like to talk with Lt. David Lavall.”
“Who is it, Keo?” I heard a man’s voice from inside the apartment.
“A gentleman called Will Schwartz asks for you, David.”
“Make him pass, please.”
That woman led me to the dining room, a room decorated in a peculiar style, where a young man was drinking coffee. There could be no other than David Lavall, wearing a uniform of commercial airline pilot. His eyes were sad, his hair was of indeterminate color between dark blonde and light brown, according to his record he was about twenty five years or maybe twenty-six, that was what it seemed. The hostess wore a badge her uniform jacket, her name was Keosaychay Parmukasarn and it was unclear what was between them, that woman could be an obstacle in our plans.
“Lieutenant of Ship Lavall, I’m Colonel Will Schwartz of the Atlantic Republic’s Marines. Well, I mean retired colonel.”
“Pleased to meet you!” He shook my hand “would you like some coffee?”
“Yes, please” Keo said something in a language like French that I could not understand and in a minute she brought me a hot and aromatic coffee “David, shall I call you David?” He nodded “I came to make the proposal of your life.”
“I’m surprised, I’m an ex-pilot if the Navy, not a Marine” despite his sad look, really could not say whether he suffered PTSD as assured our reporter, I was not a psychiatrist but I did not feel that man had any mental problem.
“I’m also the vice president of the Order of the Soldiers of the Faith, co-sponsors of the New Earth space program.”
“The New Earth project? The mission to Alpha Centauri?”
“The same, your work would be to instruct pilots who will man different aircraft, they are all very young and you are an idol for them.”
“I’m not a good pilot, I’ve just been luckier that the majority and the best companions you can have.”
“That a man of your age has participated in three wars and has shot down more than forty-five enemy aircraft is not a matter of luck, the Ministry of Defense has recognized your innate ability to fly and your medals are well deserved.”
“Would I also go to Alpha Centauri? I think I am not ready to leave the Earth so long, I’m not comfortable in precarious gravities, in the war on Mars I did not pass it too well.”
“Only if you want, in my desk you will find the two contracts to choose, the choice is entirely yours.”
“I do not know if I can do it, now I have a new life, when you are time living in Laos discover that is where you’d want to die.”
“You can take the girl to the Moon Defender if you wish. We have a very flexible program in a matter of form families in space.”
“Keo?” He laughed politely “No, Keo is a free soul, not any commitment binds us. By your speech I guess you believed we have a relationship. Our ties are more mystical and perhaps deeper than love, for me is a kind of spiritual counselor, a therapist who helped me to pass the most difficult months in my life. But let me talk to her, I tell her the news now.”
He went to the kitchen; she touched her right cheek and spoke in that language which I could not identify. They got a small kiss on the lips and hugged. He returned to the table with decision, his expression had changed from tender to martial.
“Sir, you already have an instructor pilot, it is my destiny.”
“All right, we’ll talk with your airline; you do not have to worry about anything. We already know that next have to fly to San Francisco; I personally will pass to pick you up, will be your last duty to Lao Airlines.”
“I want to ask for a favor if possible, Sir.”
“Keo has spent years trying to find out who is her father; the databases that have consulted to date show no genetic profile like hers. She does not know where to find more.”
“I understand, and you believe that from my office I can find some answers. Please send me the data to my cell card, code NFX68967, I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks a lot Sir” Keo said.
“For you my name is Will.”
I left without having clear whether I could fulfill this favor, but I needed this man working for us. I’ll find the father of that girl even if it means to break some rules. I asked for a taxi with the cell card, which came immediately.
“To the nearest Catholic Church, today is the day of the Lord.”
Hypersonic flight terminal of San Francisco International Airport, January 8, 2167.
I was nervous, what if he backed down? He had not signed any contract yet, David was free as a bird; I had to put him in a cage before he changed his mind and decided to remain a civilian pilot. I asked impatiently to the girl on the desk of Lao Airlines.
“Excuse me miss, what time lands the flight from Vientiane?”
“Right now, they are collecting luggage, Sir, they soon will come through that door” the stewardess replied politely.
In a couple of minutes began to appear people of Asian race by the exit of passengers, there were many people of various ethnic groups I could not identify. Behind them I saw a man dressed as a pilot, a little higher than most of those around him, David was dragging a suitcase of medium size. As soon as he saw me, sped up and extended his hand.
“Good morning Colonel Schwartz.”
“Please, I am Will for you.”
“Understood Will, as you see I have finally decided to.”
“I was afraid that you would not come.”
“Me too, but Keo has encouraged me to continue, she says I need a goal in life. The truth is that I didn’t see myself passengers from one place to another in the world all my life.”
“What is your relationship with Keosaychay Parmukasarn?”
“I’d give her all the blood in my body if it were necessary and so would you if you knew her. She came to our world to spread love, would never hurt anyone. I have no relationship with her that may be defined as sentimental, is like a part of my soul, it’s like a part of all, the balance between sanity and insanity.”
“Do you know where she is now?”
“I am not sure, she left two days ago to a place that se have not revealed me, but sure she calls me inquire about the status of the investigation of her father’s identity.”
“That’s what I wanted to say, the profile of this woman is impossible, according to the records I have consulted her biological father is sterile for over sixty years and I would say that Keo has not more than twenty five years old.”
“Keo is sixty-eight, which is why she is looking for answers. To Keo is too hard to explain there where she goes how having as having the retirement age still seems a young girl. She has to resort periodically to falsifiers of documents and change jobs to avoid being discovered.”
“The explanation must have to be given by Moses Black, who is a good friend of the Soldiers of the Faith.”
“I do not understand. What has he to do in this matter? Is he also medical geneticist?”
“What I will tell you is top secret, you cannot tell anybody. Black Moses was born in Seville as Juan Escalona one hundred and four years ago and they experimented with him in a clinic in Southeast Asia more or less at the time that must have been conceived Keo.”
“Then, Keo is…”
“A mutant, biological child of Black was unknown after the experiment, to avoid a distortion in the DNA of their progeny agreed to be sterilized. And despite all precautions, now appears a daughter who has inherited this anomaly.”
“Wow, so strong, then Moses Black…”
“His progressive aging is a disguise, actually only would appear about fifty years if he would not bring dermal camouflage. I beg your discretion, if it comes to light jeopardized their lives and image of the order would be impaired.”
“I would never hurt Keo; her generosity healed my inner wound. She found the light where I saw nothing but darkness.”
“If she contacts you, please do not reveal her origin, tell her we found nothing. It is extremely important that this secret not be disclosed.”
“But if she looks me at the eyes will know I’m lying. My inner self is not a secret to her.”
“So please do not ever see her again if you feel some estimation for her, you could her put in a serious danger.”
“It will be the best for everyone… though the pain of losing a friend so important corroded me.”
After that conversation, we went to the parking lot of the airport; I guided him to my car of compressed air. I put her suitcase in the trunk and got into the vehicle.
“Sit back, have more than two hour drive to home. Do you know Sacramento?”
“Truly not yet. I’ve never had time to go beyond San Francisco.”
“You’ll love it; it is a beautiful city much quieter than the cities you’re used to visit.”
The two hours were long and silent; the man looked bored the cars of highway; perhaps religious music station was not a good choice. Maybe I had been insensitive to his recent experiences, not even a year ago that David had been flying over a Tel Aviv devastated, picking up people, or unloading Marines troops in Jerusalem with a helicopter. I was sure that the environment of a Christian family would put him on our side; Doris’s home cooking would make him back to memories of his childhood. Almost coming home looked like he began to react.
“Sorry Will, I have not been a traveling companion too funny, I was thinking about Keo.”
“Be honest, what does Keo mean for you?”
“Keo took me into her home, she applied me a therapy to fight my PTSD, in a few months has transformed me as a person.”
“Do you love her?”
“Like an older sister or a mother.”
The conversation in the car did not give much more, since we got home after the last sentence of David, we stopped in front of the garage ramp, opened the trunk so that David could get his luggage.
“Welcome to my humble abode!”
“The house is impressive, of the nineteenth century?”
“In the early twentieth century, my grandfather, my father and I grew up here and my kids of course.”
I opened the door and invited him in, his gaze softened, looked at the portraits and small objects that personalize a house and breathe life. He stopped at a photo where we were all eight, the portrait was made in Santa Monica, a few months before the death of Frank in the brutal campaign of Morocco, Camille was still a little girl with braids the color of wheat. At that moment Doris went through one of the doors, wearing an apron because she had spent all morning preparing a large family meal that we devoted our guest.
“Do you introduce me to or shall I do this myself?”
“I’m sorry, David, this is my lovely wife Doris, the backbone of the family.”
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Schwartz” David extended his hand, but my effusive Doris made the young man bend over to give him two kisses.
“Where did you lose your Mediterranean character, boy?” My Doris was born in Genoa, was a beautiful and outgoing Italian ragazza of whom fell in love in an international camp retreats of the Soldiers of the Faith when I was twenty, I still remember the anger of my parents when I appeared in Sacramento with a marriage certificate and a pregnant wife.
“I’m sorry ma’am; I’ve always been a little shy. Who has Mediterranean character is my sister, I’m more arctic.”
“I’m not madam, for you I’m Doris. Will, I have prepared him the Frank’s room, go with him and then go down to the dining room.”
I accompanied David to the room mentioned by Doris, I indicated the closet where he could keep his clothes, and he quickly realized that the room was a sanctuary, but was cautious and did not make me any uncomfortable question.
“Down the hall you will find a bathroom, but call first to the door because many people live in this house and you can find someone.”
“Do I have time for a shower?”
– Of course, but do not delay too much because Camille goes to pee often and you can scare her…”
Going down the stairs, I could see that Doris was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, because she was aware of everything around this young man and she agreed with my decision.
“Do you like David, Doris?”
“He’s perfect, sure Camille will fall in love for him immediately, they have a very similar character, and he seems sorely in need of someone to listen, he looks so sad.”
“It’s a pity that he is not a believer, but with his commitment I think he will quickly understand our way of life.”
“What about the mutant?”
“I think she will not be a problem, Moses will handle of her.”
“Will he handle? Does not mean…”
“Do not worry; Moses will not do any damage to his daughter, he just will look how the mutation does not get out from our hands. I this she acted more as a mother than a lover of David, but I cannot put my hand in the fire, he is very reserved when we touch this topic.”
Chapter 2. How I fell in love with Camille.
I took a quick shower; I noticed that my shaving still lasted since my departure from Vientiane, today mid afternoon? Technically had stepped back in time as the hypersonic aircraft needed only four hours to fly from Vientiane to San Francisco and the time difference became everyday life who made those trips in a mess, in fact I had already lunch today… so what I was now playing dinner. In normal circumstances would have already made a meal and I would have gotten into bed, but I could not do that to the family who had prepared everything to welcome me. In the midst of my troubles, someone knocked twice on the door, fortunately I was already dressed. I opened the door and a young woman was in front of me, was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I was fascinated by her blonde half mane and her beautiful green eyes, shoved me back to get into the bathroom and closed the door.
“Excuse me, Lieutenant, but I’ve just bet ten eurollars with my brothers to stand locked in the bathroom with you three minutes.”
“What if your dad catches us? I’m afraid he would get a mistaken idea and I do not want him to think I betray his confidence.”
“We won’t be caught. Let me fix your tie, but notice that is a very informal meal” I allowed this girl to redo my tie, I could not avoid looking at these feline green eyes and that tiny little nose as a child. She looked like a teenager not more than sixteen or seventeen, but showed poise that may have any more.
“That’s it Sir, you will be the handsomest man in the dining room but you will not need to run much.”
“For me it is dinner, in Vientiane should be at midnight.”
“Forgive me for interrupting you Sir, I have to pee and it’s been three minutes. Thanks for helping me win the bet to my stupid brothers” I left the bathroom, watching such as two young men rushed down the stairs, laughing.
I went back to the bedroom and put on my jacket. Already could be heard a racket in the dining room, saw that girl did not kid me, people were dressed informally, men with sweater and jeans, women dressed discreetly. Doris looked at me and turned to her husband.
“Will, did you say our honoree he was coming to an Irish funeral? Sorry David, my son. For once you could go a little more comfortable nobody has advised you; at least women will enjoy an attractive man at the table.”
“Sit down please David, we will begin to eat as soon as Camille comes, I already hear her steps on the stairs” Will said.
Gradually, I was meeting all the people who were sitting at the table, at that lunch all the people seemed or behaved as if they were family. In those circumstances I was the only stranger about whom all the people were attentive and who hosts showering him with attention. Will and Doris were sitting on the side nearest to a window covered with a colorful curtain, probably very old fashioned. They must be about fifty years old very well kept and they looked very much in love. Faced with the couple sat Captain Jan Mickiewicz, he was pilot of the Navy like me; moreover, Mickiewicz was the military leader of the space expedition that would lead a thousand people to the Alpha Centauri system and a great friend of the family. This affable officer was a man in his forties who had come alone. I also met Will’s four sons and his daughter, Chuck and his wife Bianca, twins Jake and Michael, Nathan and his friend and comrade in arms Roberto and the beautiful Camille with her pretty girl face. Following the family tradition, all the offspring of Will were military, Navy, Marines, Air Force … Chuck began to speak; he was of a similar age to mine.
“David…May I call you David?”
“Of course Chuck.”
“Did you enjoy flying these civilian aircraft?”
“They are more complex than it may seem, he hypersonic flight requires great concentration, sometimes computers are not able are sometimes not able to control the unpredictable weather and fly one of these planes at Mach ten ballistic trajectory is like riding a cannonball.”
“What about the feeling of piloting a fighter?” He headed to Camille “do you know, Camille, at your age David had already downed eighteen enemy fighters in Morocco?”
“I was also shot down in Morocco” I replied in an attempt to prove that I’m a normal person and not a photo of a military yearbook.
“And is it true that you were slaughtering some of those fanatics until you has been rescued?” That comment left me misplaced, was a piece of the past that were left in a drawer locked and Chuck’s pulled out with an ax.
“Chuck! You are on the table! Do not talk about these things while we eat, cannot you see the face of David? It is not appropriate to talk about war and dead in a family lunch.”
“Am sorry Mom, but this man is considered a hero among the officers of his class. He is a genuine legend.”
“Do pilots also have fan clubs?” Nathan asked his brother in his mannered voice.
“Just pilots that have two balls like this man.”
“Chuck, shut up!” This time he obeyed to his mother “your sister is on the table and I do not admit that you be rude in her presence.”
“Mom, I’m not made of porcelain, I’m a soldier too, and Lt. Lavall lived his first experience of war at my age.”
“At your age, your age… the animal that had sent boys of nineteen to die in that war should have gone the first. Am I the only one who hates the war in this house full of soldiers?”
“Doris, come on, relax… sorry David” he apologized while he was comforting his wife “our oldest son died in the war of Morocco, in Bou Arfa, now he would have twenty-nine…”
“I am so sorry, really” Chuck was truly repentant to open that wound – I have a tongue too long and a very small brain.
“Shut up please, you’ve said enough foolishness” his father said “and even though you have not yet been drinking.”
The rest of the meal was quite enjoyable, as Captain Mickiewicz loquacity managed to head back the waters to their course. That great communicator made me a summary the great power that wielded the Soldiers of the Faith: was undoubtedly the religious order which had more members among civilians and military, and had a direct line to the Vatican, from which was presumed to be his army. That man was born in Poland in a family of strong Catholic tradition and military, he was already a Navy officer Will got it for the order and since then they were friends.
For coffee, we went to the living room. Will lit a cigar and offered me one that I refused politely with a smile. It was nice to feel newly at a home with the touch of an attentive mother even if only for a few hours. Finishing that first coffee, Doris filled immediately my cup without asking, nodded to her offspring and left us alone to Will, the captain and me.
“David” Will started talking “I know we are stealing you hours of sleep, but these few hours are crucial for me. I need to know if you’re on my side.”
“Will, I do not understand, I thought it was clear my commitment to the mission.”
“This goes beyond” Captain continued to support his friend “David, I am a friend of the family for many years, and I promised that their daughter would have the best training and protection.”
“Yes” Will interrupted me “Jan offered me your name although you do not belong to the order and not even a Catholic. But your record speaks for you; you have never shied away from a mission although would represent a great danger. Your flying skills are legendary throughout the military establishment, probably should go back to the World Wars of the twentieth century to find records of downed enemies like yours.”
“The numbers of those who speak do not define me as a person. I can also feel fear, I am like any human. All mythical auras with which you’re involving me are an invention, a fraud.”
“Your courage does not say that, it’s your humanity and sacrifice what we want, I know you will protect my daughter on this trip.”
“I had not decided to make the voyage yet, I just undertook to assume the instruction of pilots.”
“You will, I’ve seen it in your eyes” argued the Captain “it could be ensured by every member of the helicopter’s crew which went to rescue you and confirmed that you had faced in a close combat to a superior enemy and clearly hostile.”
“The close combat was only with a poor devil and was not feel proud, I neutralized the others the help of the gun and a machete” I wanted to avoid the word kill, I did not find it appropriate to use that verb in a friendly conversation “they were going to destroy with a Stinger the helicopter that came to pick me up, options were them or me, was an act of sheer survival.”
“I’m afraid this is the other point of the record we have to correct” replied the Captain “you cannot always tell the truth to everyone, even less if you have to be my first officer on the ship.”
“Will I be your First Officer?” Captain’s offer was really tempting, that meant command a ship, a job for which I had been preparing for my entire military career.
“Many officers of your age would not dream of governing an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean, I offer you to lead the largest and powerful spaceship ever built to the farthest destination that man will reach on the next decade: the planet Miracle.”
“Miracle is the name of the planet?” I found odd this name for a planet.
“I know it does not seem very appropriate, but yesterday the ASA decided by secret vote” said Will “they say it is because because it is a miracle that they found signs of life on a planet that initially would have to be wilderness.”
“With these terms, I’m your man.”
“All I ask is one more thing, such as great personal favor” Will continued “take care of my daughter, she is very young and will be exposed to more dangers than young people of their age are used to.”
“I’ll do with my life, Will.”
“Now go to sleep, tomorrow you will accompany me to the headquarters of the Order in San Francisco. I need you rested to impress the President of the Soldiers of the Faith.”
It was after four in the afternoon in Sacramento watches, but in contrast my biological clock told me it was six in the morning. I returned to the bedroom, on my pajama and fell asleep just cover myself with the sheets, not even thought to draw the curtains to not wake up because the sunlight. I woke up at two in the morning; I still had the Laos time in my body, had no more desire to sleep and did not know what to do. By not being in my home, was not correct to walk through the halls and wake up everybody, the moonlight streamed through the window of the room, was not completely full but its brightness was intense as if it were. I looked out the window and saw that Camille was sitting on the swing, even though the climate of that area was very mild, nights of January were very cold, she must be crazy. I had the urge to take a jacket and put it over my pajama, I thought I was also crazy, but I had no sleep and needed to talk to someone. I opened the bedroom door quietly and went downstairs, I assumed she got out by the kitchen doorway, I opened the door and here she was, she was cold as an iceberg but swinging.
“Hello Camille. May I join you?”
“Yes Sir, is a pleasure.”
“Do not call me Sir please; I do not even know your rank. Are not you cold, Camille?”
“Much. I am absolutely frozen.”
“What are you doing out apart from trying to catch a pneumonia?”
“I cannot sleep.”
“Neither do I, I still cannot digest the time change.”
“You said you were coming from Vientiane. Do you live there?”
“Vientiane is the capital of Laos and until your father came to recruit me was my home.”
“You do not look Asian, but by the accent I know you aren’t American, I would say that you are European but do not know from where.”
“It is clear that I am not Asian, but I would not mind, I am Catalan.”
“Catalan?” Looked at me with a face that made it clear she did not know the origin of that word.
“Do you know Barcelona?”
“Just for the name, people say it is a very nice city. Sagrada Familia is in Barcelona, it isn’t?”
“Yes, so they say.”
“Do not you know? Are you not from there? Why do you think you can be kidding me all time because I am younger?”
“Sorry, it was not my intention; please excuse my stupid sense of humor. You’re the first person in a long time that makes me feel at home. I feel as if I knew you all along…”
“My mother told me that you look very sad and she is right.”
“I miss a household like that you have here.”
“What about Barcelona?”
“There I have a father, a sister and a nephew, but that house is not my home. My home was engulfed by the sea and cancer.”
“My mother died when I was fifteen, I miss her very much.”
“I’m sorry, I can guess, when Frank died I felt really bad. Frank was the best of us.”
“Frank was your brother?”
“Yes, he was a Marine’s officer like my father, died in Morocco. My mother still cries at night when she thinks we don’t hear her.”
“I saw die many people in Morocco. Soldiers, children, women, old people…war sucks. When will these damn politicians learn?”
“Why are you military? Why do not you do something else?”
“I cannot do anything else, I did not feel myself either when I flew commercial hypersonic planes. At some point in my life I got lost and I am still looking for my site.”
“Did you really have killed all the people that said Chuck?”
“When I hear say it this way I feel awful, to be honest I never wanted to kill anyone. I just want to help the good people, but sometimes we lose the sense of what is good and what is bad. Survival makes us murderers.”
“Why do you say that? Do you think they would have let you live?”
“Of course not. But I don’t feel better for it.”
“Were you scared?”
“Always I am. Even now many ghosts haunt me, I live scared and I feel helpless. Doctors say it is for post-traumatic stress.”
“I’m always scared too. Will you be my friend in space?”
“Of course, we will rely on each other, but in public you have to respect the rank. By the way, what is your rank?”
“I’m still a cadet. I have not yet the one hundred hours of flight needed.”
“Do not worry, you will do the rest of the hours what you need quickly. I will make you the best pilot in the history of aviation.”
“Do not make me laugh, so I hear you’re the best pilot by far.”
“No, it is not possible; if that were true I would be at least admiral.”
“David, you really make me feel great. Do you find me too young?” The truth was that when she looked at me, saw only the face of a young girl more than an adult.
“In any case you would be a beautiful girl, the prettiest I’ve ever seen.”
“Let’s go home, I’m cold” I think I embarrassed her, there was an attraction between us that could not quite explain, but I could not try anything with the daughter of my hosts the first night I spent in that house. And she was also very young, Camille still had the face and voice of a teenager; and even worse, the fact she was not too tall made her seem much younger than she was.
I got up around daybreak, showered and put on my Navy officer uniform. I went down to the kitchen, there were Doris and Nathan.
“Did you sleep well, Sir?”
“Please call me David, this uniform is not for everybody calls me Sir. If I could, I would go in plain clothes, but my wardrobe is a bit limited right now, because I have come with what I fit in a suitcase.”
“How do you want to be treated as a gentleman with that tie? Come here!” Doris exclamation almost put me in a standing position.
While Doris was arranging my tie, Camille came into the kitchen and she saw me blushed and lowered her head.
“Bye Mom, I go out for a moment to see Rita.”
“Do not you want to have breakfast, my little girl?” Asked her mother.
“No Thanks Mom and I am no longer a little girl” went outside by the kitchen’s door.
“This girl is very rare” Doris said.
“She is in love with you, David, cannot you see her face?” Nathan dropped imprudently “she has been talking about you all the morning with Rita.”
“Why have I had children so mouthy? Now apologize to David.”
“Sorry David, my middle name is mouthy.”
“Do not worry, I like to be paired with the prettiest girls” my joke relaxed a bit the environment “and your sister would be the prom queen.”
At that moment Will came in his uniform of Colonel of the Marines.
“When you order me, Colonel.”
We entered again in that vehicle, the first idea that came to my mind is that I had never had my own car. I learned to drive in the Navy had always driven military vehicles, apart from my father’s car, of course. a journey of a couple of hours, but this time I had more confidence to ask
“Can I ask you a question?”
“What is the role of Camille?”
“What do you mean?”
“The meeting of the swing seemed prepared. I have the feeling that you are manipulating her to get something.”
“I told Jan that you’re too smart, you’d realize the play.”
“I’ll be honest, I love your daughter, but I do not want that you play with her or with me. I already promised you I’d protect her, the decision to form a couple is only of us two without any outside influence.”
“Sorry David, it was a blunder on my part, I hope you know forgive me” Will apologized.
“Let it be so. By the way, how many additional hours of flight does Camille need to reach the rank of officer?”
“Six hours. When you start the program in the Moon Defender she will be still a cadet.”
“Do you trust me?”
“Do I have another choice?”
“I want her go with me to Barcelona; I can get an evaluation of six hours in Reus Air Base. This way she will enter the Moon Defender as Ensign, with command over troops and she could access charge of bridge crew member.”
“I just want you to promise me you will respect although she asks you for something that is not consistent with our beliefs. Her contract with the Soldiers of the Faith requires total chastity.”
“You have my word of honor. For now my guess is fraternal, I will not do anything to embarrass you in front of the order.”
“Okay, in ten days you will have to be in Cape Canaveral to board on the shuttle.”
“Do not worry, the day before she will already be in Sacramento to say goodbye to the whole family.”
The rest of trip was much more inconsequential, Will put the car in automatic driving and we talked about trivial things the more than two hours of motorway traffic of San Francisco, until a smart glass sign told us that we had reached the headquarters of the Soldiers of the Faith. Will had his car park in the basement of the building, as we got off the vehicle we entered an elevator that took us to the floor where the meeting with the president of the order would take place, from who Will as vice-president was his right hand. We pacer through the tables where the civilian and military personnel worked, Christian bureaucracy I thought, I laughed inside me imagining the same picture in heaven with St. Peter and a group of angels typing on their computer. Will invited me to come into an office that I assumed was his, I saw no sign on the door indicating that. Just sitting, we heard a woman’s voice.
“Mr. Vice President, the President is at the reception.”
“Send him to my office.”
“I got it Sir.”
At the moment entered an elderly man, bald and strongly built, his lack of hair gave the impression that it had been caused by a round of chemotherapy. Will had introduced us:
“Lieutenant Lavall, I introduce the President of the Order of the Soldiers of the Faith, Joseph Coelho.”
“It’s an honor, Mr. President.”
“Please call me Joseph, if not we will lose in the titles. I understand that Lieutenant it’s not your first name.”
“Are you Catalan?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“I have lived many years in the Costa Brava; your school Spanglish not hides your accent from Garraf. I’ve wanted to meet you because you will be the most powerful layman in the future colony and I think you will be the only guy you can do this.”
“Do what, sir?”
“Control the bishop. Do not get me wrong, as Soldiers of the Faith respect to the Catholic hierarchy, but that damn Bishop O’Keefe is a stinker and if we give him a choice nobody shall make him stop.”
“And why will he go to this mission?”
“He has the support of the radical faction of the order, some media say he has enough support within the Roman Curia to become the next Pope and this trip gives him the chance to return to Earth as a Cardinal.”
“That sounds like something extracted from The Da Vinci Code.”
“From where you say?”
“Nothing, it’s a novel that was very successful in the XXI century.”
“It’s not a novel, it is the harsh reality, Bishop O’Keefe is a real threat and extremely dangerous, believe me David” Will intervened “this man awakens many misgivings in the Pope, but the Pope’s hands are tied. The only one who can put obstacles is someone who is not subject to his authority, a man from outside the congregation. Once in Miracle you will be the highest military not linked to the Soldiers of the Faith, you have no obligation to obey him as Jan, you could arrest him if the circumstances bring you into that extreme.”
“Arrest him?” I asked surprised.
“We believe that he is involved in real estate’s trouble and flees the planet” responded with a guess “probably with the idea of returning when prescribed the possible offenses.”
“You promised we would eat at Ardoise” interrupted the President, thus concluding the message they wanted to transmit “I do not know if I will be able to back to San Francisco with what I have, doctors have given me less than a year of life.”
“Well, come on, David, you’ll see that is the best French restaurant where you’ve ever eaten…”
After eating at that fancy restaurant and once in the street, the President shook hands and got into a taxi. We went to the parking lot to take the car. The return was very enjoyable, we both knew a little more, I explained many details of my childhood in Sitges and showed him pictures of my family projecting them on the windscreen from my cell card. By the way revealed a secret:
“What do you think about Nathan and Roberto?”
“Are they more than friends? So, why they do not tell you?”
“They do not say me because they think it would cause a conflict.”
“Of course not David, I think I’m still more of a father than Christian. I’d make a disservice to my family if do not learned to accept my offspring as they are. Is that perhaps I have not demonstrated it looking for an atheist to protect my daughter?”
“I still do not understand the choice. You have chosen a person who left the Navy to go to the private sector and even though I was living with a woman.”
“Not a matter of logic, there is something inside me that tells me you’re the right one.”
“What if we do not fall in love? She is very young, I’m sure she has other interests. Even I find her too young for the mission.”
“She is much more mature than you think, stop seeing her as a child and you will take a nice surprise.”
“I think that is one thing that cannot be conditioned” I no longer had many arguments, my own gestures betrayed me, it was pretty obvious what was going on inside me.
“Six hours ago you told me that you liked her.”
“Which interest you have? It seems that you are selling me her.”
“Forgive me again; I think I’ve become to pass over the line. I’ve been a good day to cross red lines.”
Arriving at the home of Schwartz, Camille was in the garden talking to a friend about her age, each one sitting on one of the two swings. I did not stop, at the end they did not see me, and did not want to interrupt their confidences, I went home with Will. We went into the kitchen where Doris was cutting vegetables; Will took two beers from the fridge and offered me one.
“Doris, David wants to take our little girl to Barcelona.”
“I want to help Camille tocomplete their flying hours, but she will have to be who decides. I want to convert her pilot in less than a week.”
“Our pretty girl will go to Europe with you?”
“Whether you have no objection…”
At that very moment Camille entered the kitchen door, Will and Doris disappeared as if by magic.
“Does it always work this way with your family?”
“It seems that my parents want to pair as if we were two pedigree dogs. I feel a bit violent because I like you a lot and I’m afraid they would apart you from me.”
“They don’t apart me from you if you love me, but we will go very slowly because I could not forgive myself to hurt you. You’re a person too important to me.”
“And besides you will be my superior officer.”
“I have to make you a proposal, but if you we’re not prepared we let it be. I want to take you to Europe to complete your flight hours left, I have a friend at the airport of Reus.”
“Will be you and I alone?”
“Not exactly, you’ll have your own room in the house of my father; my sister and my nephew of one and a half years do not take the sight away us and will claim your attention. Do you like the idea?”
“I love it, when do we leave?”
“Let me book the flight and go preparing luggage for a week.”
That same morning we were flying to Barcelona I decided to get tickets for a conventional plane instead of a hypersonic one because I did not want to land in Frankfurt and then take another flight to El Prat or TGV. The flight lasted about eight hours; we spent sleeping most of the journey. Camille woke me up when he saw that we got closer to our destination
“The airport is near the sea, as if it were part of the Mediterranean.”
“It was a difficult engineering work to prevent water swallows it like my street in Sitges. They say that despite these efforts, the airport will have to be relocated inland inland in less than ten years.”
The plane landed smoothly, I have to admit that I would not have done it better; we were leaving to get out all passengers while we stayed inside. Camille was very nervous.
“What is it? Looks like you will have a hysterics.”
“What if your family doesn’t like me? Do they also I’m a child?”
“Are you worried a lot about this?”
“I do not want be the source of a conflict. I know that we are very different, but I feel something I had not experienced before. I only care if you’re worried about.”
“The only thing that worries me is that you are not comfortable. The conflict I have right now is to resist giving you a kiss.”
“Give it to me, but be gentle, will be the first.”
“I do not think so. You’re too beautiful as to that no one tried to do so.”
“Do not miss out” and it was she who gave it to me, an innocent kiss on the lips, perhaps too innocent, but very tender and full of feeling. It was as if our hearts had been gotten the same rhythm, I again felt like a student in his first love as a teenager.
Then we left for the finger that would take us to the terminal to pick up our luggage. We walked out the main entrance of the terminal where were already waited for my sister Gisela and little Marc. She came running towards us with the child in her arms.
“My goodness, you’re a beautiful girl, my name is Gisela” and gave her two kisses while extended his arms to me “Take your nephew, he weighs a lot” She put him me in my arms and grabbed my suitcase with wheels.
“Hello sweetie!” said Camille to Marc, that in those moments was little more than year and a half. She grabbed him from my arms and and we went to the parking lot.
“Sorry about the car, but my father loves this old crock.”
“Do not worry, I have not car, I’ve never had.”
“Really, is it possible a Californian girl without car? I do not think so.”
“I’ve been studying all my life in religious and military academies; I have not too much free time to go out. When I’m in Sacramento is my father who takes me everywhere.”
“And this week you will not have free time either” I intervened, serious “we have five days to prepare you for making the hours left to be an officer.”
“Come on, just a little bit, give Camille a walk around Barcelona” Gisela insisted simulating a child’s voice.
“You got it. I guarantee you’ll see some of Barcelona.”
“When you say you got it and some of Barcelona. Do not you mean museums and stuff that you like?” Gisela dropped.
“I’ll take her wherever she wants, but I assure you she more like me than to you for these things. As a good Catholic has already told me she wishes to see the Sagrada Familia and the Cathedral.”
“Do not worry Camille, I’ll take you to the clothing stores to try on outfits, with this body that you have you will look like a goddess. Whether all the clothes are like you wear now you need an urgent renovation of your wardrobe.”
“Do not frighten her, she still does not know you” but Camille seemed amused with all of that. Camille did not release the child whole time until we got into the car and Gisela grabbed him to secure in the seat.
On reaching the floor of my father, Gisela showed Camille the room where would sleep, which was actually where I rested when I dropped by Barcelona. Those nights would sleep with the child, because I had promised to respect the virtue of Camille. After a while my father came home from work, he was fascinated with the young guest.
“Oh! It’s cute. David, you do not deserve a beauty like this.”
“At the moment she is only a good friend whom I want help to accomplish such her formation before starting her training at the station Moon Defender.”
“Oh girl, maybe it’s an idiot who does not know how to treat women, but I assure you that you will not meet a better pilot in your life. He is able to fly with anything.”
“Yes sir, this “friend” is beginning to know him a little. I look forward to see him at the controls of an airplane, is a myth for all my companions of the Academy.”
“These six hours are not to show off me but to finish your training cycle, Cadet Schwartz. Is the difference between start training as a cadet or an ensign.”
The next day we took the car of my father to go to Reus where Aviation Captain Miquel Gonzalez already was waiting us, he would kindly yield us a training AS97 during three days in charge of the Navy, the invoice would become part of the costs of the mission. It was the only supersonic model on the base that was approved to train Navy pilots.
“Hi Miki, I want to introduce you to the cadet Camille Schwartz.”
“David had put me in history, but you’re much prettier than I could imagine” Camille turned red as a tomato.
“Don’t make lose her focus. The exercise she should do today is quite complicated.”
“Sorry Camille” Miquel apologized “move on to what concerns us. This you see is a supersonic aircraft carrying fuel to fly four hours; in today’s test you must exceed three Mach and reach an altitude of 70,000 feet at four hundred meters per second. David, if you have to use the controls, press the yellow button and the test will be void. You have two and a half hours to achieve this and return to base, everything will be recorded and se included in the applicant’s file automatically.”
“Okay, now we go to put on the anti-g suits.”
“You have them in the hangar. Shall I help you?” Camille looked at me a bit worried.
“Do not worry, we can manage alone.”
“Thanks David” Camille said with a look of relief, probably thought it was better a man than two. She already knew I would not touch more than necessary and look away in the most delicate moments, although madly wanted to see what this girl hid under her clothes.
Days went flying in every sense of the word and Camille turned around the program in an extraordinary way. It was a happy week that strengthened our connection, although we decided jointly that the physical should wait. What could not be more obvious was that we were infected by love and that no longer would stop anyone. Apart from the Sagrada Familia and the Cathedral, we could not see far more, were days of work for everyone, I promised to Camille that with more time we would make a longer visit to Barcelona to sightseeing. On the way back was my father who took us to the airport, while we waited to board I seized that Camille was wearing the uniform.
“I know that they will give yours in Cape Canaveral, but I want you wear my wings” I got from a pocket the golden wings badge I wore when I was ensign” Camille Schwartz, it is my honor put you the wings of Frigate Ensign.”
“It is my privilege to receive the wings from the bravest pilot of the Navy” thrilled, she dropped a couple of tears “thanks Lieutenant. This in what converts us?”
“At the moment whe are comrades in arms. The future will tell us if we are destined for something else. From the Moon Defender we will have to capture the rest of flight personnel.”
“Are not there enough pilots?”
“Only volunteers of Soldiers of the Faith, they are all very young. I need contact to veteran pilots; maybe I can attract the attention of some of my former companions of Albatross Squadron.”
“Is the name of the squadron organized with academy cadets because in those days lacked pilots for the war in Morocco. Besides me there are only five people alive in that group.”
“They all died in Morocco?”
“Aww no. They were replacing those who were falling until the war of Israel, there dissolved and divided us in different Navy carriers, always in very risky tasks. In fact, my brother in law Marc died once we were out of the squad, when we were part of the evacuation unit of Tel Aviv.”
“What’s your interest in these people?”
“We were trained to fly almost all existing flying machines: fighters, sliders, montgolfières, helicopters, space shuttles … you can learn a lot from them.”
“Are you able to drive all of these aircraft?”
“When I finished training you, you will all be able to fly the aircraft to be used; even some of you will be part of the bridge crew.”
“Part of the bridge crew?”
“A First Officer requires reliable staff … I thought of you; with the approval of the Captain, of course.”
“I’m flattered by your confidence but not sure I can live up to your expectations.”
“You’ll be amazed at what you can do in a few months; the best way to learn to do something is spending into practice as soon as possible.”
Moon Defender Orbital Station, January 21, 2167.
I have to admit I was surprised about Camille’s ability to adapt her to gravity of the seventeen percent of that military station which orbited around the Moon, that girl who had never been in space moved gracefully where the rest had to do ups and downs to keep balance. We had a few hours at the station and the captain had been kind enough to show me all the rooms in that space station designed for war. He introduced me to the young pilots who were part of the group belonging to the Soldiers of the Faith: including a very tall ensign named Helen Rasmussen, Suzanne Rourke, Xavier Bosch, Stefan Vazov…, all of them extremely young and fervent Catholics, some of them coming from families of other religions and embraced Catholicism because of the huge campaign conducted in recent years by the Church and the.
I was assigned a room with a window from which you could see alternating space and the moon thanks to the rotation of the station. That office had its own adjoining bedroom, work and retirement all together. The station was half empty because our ships were conducting a new attack to retrieve Israel, the three destroyers which are usually in the vicinity of the station was in Earth orbit now sending sliders from space to attack the Caliphatian positions. Although the concentration of ships around the Earth, we still had a defensive mechanism important enough in the station to not have to worry about any military threat.
I stared out the window and saw the vast Chinese-Indian ship, a giant named Mao Zedong. That ship would leave towards Miracle a year before our ship, which had just finished assembling in the orbit of Mars. For all I knew, the Chinese-Indian Republic was planning to send two to Miracle, a big one to carry the majority of personnel and materials, and a smaller one that would shuttle between Earth and Miracle. By contrast, ASA’s program consisted to send a modular ship, the largest ever built, from which a section would separate from the main body to perform the same function as a shuttle. Even though our ship is bigger, the Chinese-Indian one is slightly faster as they use fusion reactors a thirty percent more efficient; despite its higher top speed, their computers will suffer a great time to try to find a route that does not attract asteroids and other objects with the brutal gravitational distortion this ship can generate if the ship exceeds the 0.89 lux that according to the Security Principle and Prudence was considered as the maximum speed advisable.
I assigned the secretarial tasks to Camille, because she was the person I trusted the most and that job would mean a promotion in less than six months for her. My intention was to make her Second Officer of the ship; Captain Mickiewicz accepted under the condition that she should prove that she was really worthy of the position. Once in the station, we began working for at the latest on February 15 begin the real training, a training that would not end until the summer of 2169. I was surprised with the haircut of Camille, almost masculine but not was nothing left of her natural beauty.
“Hi Camille, you wear a nice haircut.”
“Hi David, I know it is not very feminine, but I find it more comfortable.”
“You’re still gorgeous.”
“Do not embarrass me … let’s talk about work, what I should do, Lieutenant?”
“I need you to contact these four people” I showed her a projection of my flexiscreen “they are the former Squadron Albatross components that are still alive. I would call myself, but do not want to personal circumstances deprive the mission of the best pilots in the Navy.”
“What personal circumstances?” Camille smelled something sentimental “is it for the girl?”
“Soizick and I went out some time, her husband hates me.”
“Are you bringing an ex-girlfriend to the station?”
“Do not be jealous, Soizick and Michael are outstanding pilots and do not want to renounce them. Maybe you do not trust me?”
“Is she pretty?”
“You’re prettier. But I insist that this is work. I repeat: do you trust me?”
“I do not know” I grabbed her by the waist and moved her to me “what are you doing?”
“I touch you, maybe you ginger up.”
“This is not a sin, silly” chuckled “do you think that I will be scandalized if you touch my ass?”
“And if I unbutton your pants?”
“Sure you will not, I know you.”
“So maybe you ought to answer the question.”
“Of course I trust you, idiot. But I have no right to be a little jealous of a girl who knows you better than I do in all respects?”
“I just want you understand that we are here to carry out a very important mission, the Republic is dedicating significant resources to achieve this goal, resources that are diverted from the healthcare and education of our citizens, and I am totally committed to the fact that the money is removed from the welfare of our people is used wisely.”
“Sometimes I forget that you can be hatefully serious and responsible.”
“Soon many lives will depend on us, Camille, we must be a team and feelings have to be left out of the mission or we will fail altogether.”
After a few days Soizick and Michael arrived, the other two pilots could not come because they were mobilized in the new war with the Caliphate. The marriage came to my office, she was beautiful, had grown her black hair more than what is permitted by the ordinances and her gaze was different; she did not look anything to the chubby girl that I helped to make the famous obstacle course at the Academy in less than twenty minutes. She came to embrace me before the serious eyes of Michael.
“David, I’ve missed you so much” her voice was half choked with emotion, I was also moved “you look great, First Officer.”
“You look fantastic, but you know that you should cut your hair to the extent that orders the Navy.”
“Really?” For a moment she was out of place, as if not noticing that I was kidding her.
“Of course not, can you see me capable to do it?” I turned my face to Michael “sorry, I do not want to be a rude, am glad to see you.”
“Lieutenant…” his expression froze me. I guess not would earn his friendship after all these years fighting for the same woman.
“I want to introduce the Ensign Schwartz, Camille, a very important collaborator.”
“Collaborator and …” Soizick instantly guessed it.
“That’s all you can know at the moment. This station is an outpost of our mission to Miracle, right now is very important to focus on the job. And that goes for you too, Michael, I know we’re not just friends, but this operation is more important than our quarrels.”
“Of course, David” said Michael “When do we start?”
“Right now, grab a chair and start looking for pilots.”
“How many are lacking?” Asked Soizick.
“Eleven, Lieutenant” Camille replied.
“There is a skilled pilot in the Air Force, if they do not call him for the attack on Israel” said Michael.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Lieutenant Lucien Gerhard, twenty two shot down enemies.”
“We may want to attract more Air Force pilots, Captain Mickiewicz has direct contact with the Ministry of Defense, if Gerhard wants, the war is over for him…”
Chapter 3. The farewell.
L’Hospitalet, July 16th, 2169.
I was having a coffee at Catholic Centre in L’Hospitalet; I had received a curious message at the cell card that summoned me in the bar of this historical place at four in the afternoon. By the way it was written must be Keo, but I thought it was not possible that she had returned to Barcelona without saying anything to my father. The person that had summoned me was lagging, I ordered a glass of iced sweet anise to further lengthen the wait … a quarter to five, someone had teased me, when I was about to ask for the bill came a peculiar person through the door the Catholic Centre, a blonde girl with a bizarre haircut she wore fantasy sunglasses and platforms of a foot high, perhaps she was pretty but the eccentric ensemble she wore and the heavy makeup impeded to know how she was exactly. The woman sat on the stool next to me and started talking quietly:
“David Lavall?” asked in androgynous voice, perhaps she was a transvestite.
“Myself, with whom I have the honor?”
“That’s irrelevant, be warned that two men of the Soldiers of the Faith are following you.”
“And what would I have to do?”
“Get rid of me like I was a prostitute who will try to take your wallet, then pay what you’ve had and go to the address you’ll find in the right pocket of your pants. Starts comedy” she touched my crotch.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m sorry; as you looked at me I thought you wanted business.”
“Get out of here, bitch” waiter warned “if you upset my customers I will have to call the police.”
“Okay, but I have to make a living somewhere” said the girl, pretending to grumble.
“Get out!” After the waiter’s yell, the girl was playing her role to perfection.
“I’m sorry sir, this is not common in the neighborhood, I do not know from where has come that slut.”
“Do not suffer, I have an anecdote to explain” I left a banknote on the table beckoning that he could keep the change.
“Thank you sir” said the waiter.
I left that place; I had never been in this quarter that was part of a city annexed by Barcelona at the middle of the XXI century. Walking the boardwalk I had the feeling of having stepped back in time, perhaps a hundred or one hundred and fifty years at least, I would swear that the buildings were mostly from twentieth century. I glanced over and I saw that girl disguised oddly was not lying, two men followed me stealthily trying not to attract attention. I went into a clothing store and picked up a pair of pants without noticing much in the size, the shop assistant approached me.
“Looking for the dressing room, Sir?”
This woman invited me to accompany her and opened a curtain. I thanked her and went into the fitting room. As closing the curtain, I took the paper which had given the girl from my pocket. I unfolded it and read: “I have to talk to you, make sure no one follows you take a blue Volkswagen that you will find parked in front of the number 72 of Riera de la Creu, if you use the cell card consult the map and turn it off quickly so that they do not locate you. The car will recognize the palm of your hand, when you’re inside you should connect the autopilot and let it brings to me. “Make sure they not follow me, that’s very easy to say, now what do I have to do? At that moment I thought what I had to do…
I returned the pants to where I had caught and politely said goodbye to that amiable saleswoman. Once at the street I saw the two men who were following, I went up by the boulevard towards the subway station from which I got out to reach that place, I remembered that there was a photo cabin on a corner of the hall… hope that is empty, perfect. I went in and ran the curtain, leaving only a slit to see if those two entered, it was better than enter the subway because there cameras all over the platforms that probably also control the Soldiers of the Faith. Luck smiled me, the two pursuers passed through the automatic doors to enter the subway, was my moment, I turned on the cell card and looked where that street was, I calculated the route in about ten seconds and I turned off the device completely to avoid being located. I had to run, a few minutes I got to the car, which was opened to the touch as if by magic. I went inside, buckled my seatbelt and pressed the contact button, automatically initiated and started its way to the destination predetermined. That smart car left L’Hospitalet immediately and took the highway; the ride was not too long because left by the access of Gelida and reached a residential community, the car stopped in front of a house.
The girl of before was waiting in the front door, dressed a little more discreetly as presented at the Centre Catòlic. I was surprised how quickly she had come and had changed her clothes.
“Hurry up, they can see you” said the girl.
Upon entering this villa, who was waiting in the front door was Keo, as spectacular as ever. Hugged me tight and kissed me on the cheek.
“I’ve missed you so much … to you and to your father.”
“Have you lost your mind? Now I’m a public figure, you run an unnecessary danger. You have all the information you needed, it was not necessary for you to come.”
“Sorry David, but I detected sadness overcame you the last time we spoke on the protected line.”
“Half the world is looking for you to take to a lab, if they see an Asian woman next to me, how long do you think they will need to know it’s you?”
“Do they know anything of what your father and I have?”
“No, I have always made them believe that you have nothing to do with my family, I have tried to confuse them and to believe that was you and I who shared bed. When I disappear, you’ll be with my father all the time you want, but for now you cannot interact with me or Moses could take you to a laboratory to unscrupulous scientists use you as a guinea pig.”
“Do you think that my own father would do that?”
“Why do you want to risk?”
“Because I love you both, since I met Joaquim do not want to live with anyone but him.”
“What about this girl?”
“Do not worry; it’s a gynoid serving the owners of this house. Right now I’m deleting all the information she has over you, in two minutes she will not know that has helped us to meet and I’ve loaded a program by which will believe that I have brought you to this house to have sex.”
“Why did you call me and not Dad?”
“You’re the one with the problem and in a way are like my son, is the duty of a mother to take care of her family.”
“I have no problem; I have a beautiful girlfriend of whom I’m madly in love and a job that is the dream of any officer of the Navy.”
“You can not fool me, something happens to you. Now you will take a coffee.”
“Do you want to drug me again with your coffee? Forget astral voyages and go to a safe place, then I’ll be more relaxed.”
“Why do you treat me like this?” Dropped tears “maybe I have not been a good friend for you?”
“Come here silly” I hugged her “I’m concerned about what might happen to you, that’s all. I want you to be happy with my father but I do not want you getting caught.”
“Do you know that this is probably the last time we see each other?”
“I am thinking to go back; I do not want to stay on this planet forever.”
“If you marry Camille you will never return to Earth, her biological cycle will be at its best when you arrive. She will want to get pregnant as a good Catholic and I can assure you that she will not be satisfied with only one child; she will not risk returning to Earth and by the way let the opportunity pass.”
“I had not thought about it.”
“Do you see how you need that coffee?”
“Well, let’s start, but I want you to know I’m okay.”
“At last, you are more stubborn than your father.”
Keo went to the kitchen; I sat in one of the armchairs in the living room. Within minutes I felt the sweet smell of that coffee made the old fashioned way, as she liked. She brought two cups that placed on the wooden coffee table that was between the three seats.
“What about the homeowners?”
“They’re good friends, they are on vacation and let me live in this home while I’m in Barcelona. The car is also theirs as well as the bike that has used the gynoid. I will return to Vientiane tomorrow if you feel more comfortable so. Now, drink your coffee, if I see any problems I will stop your transition.”
As in the past, the coffee helped me see my subconscious and analyze what happened in the last few weeks; I could review what had happened with Soizick and the circumstances after his death. Perhaps my tears to her were misunderstood by Camille and Lagarde, her grieving husband, but in that coffin was a very important part of my life. In that damn funeral I did nothing but keep a promise that we made many years ago, when we were youngsters of nineteen years old who did go to war in Morocco: cover that coffin with the flag of Brittany that she had given me and I had been keeping all this time, in the same way that she had been keeping my Catalan flag, was a blood pact between two brothers in arms.
The hostility that felt towards me Michael Lagarde already came from the days of the academy, when Soizick had not yet clear which of the two would choose, sometimes she was with me and sometimes with him, I think in a matter of love always won Lagarde, nevertheless she had more confidence with me since she always wanted to be my copilot. In the apartment that a group of cadets rented close to the academy we lost our virginity, a wonderful night where I thought we would be together forever, but it was a mirage, I could not get her to stop her heart be divided between both of us.
Had already passed four months since that fateful day, a day at first routinely in which we had to try one of the sliders enhanced by the engineering team of the ASA. We had to test an Entry Burn with that model to evaluate their suitability for the mission. Soizick volunteered to be my co-pilot, as was usual for her. We disconnected from the destroyer ARSS Texas uneventful and began the reentry into Earth’s atmosphere in order to land at the base of Vandenberg. Upon loss of communication due to the entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, a terrorist group blew up the destroyer transmissions module so we would not might be warned of what was about to happen to us.
“Attention Texas, Entry burn completed, Texas?” No one answered Soizick.
“There is something wrong” I said “can you see the escort?”
“I see two fighters approaching at high speed” she made a grimace of surprise “they are pointing us with their weapons.”
“Caliphatian aircraft, they want to shot down us, evasive maneuver at maximum speed! Connect countermeasures!”
Thanks to napalm streams that we were launching we got dodge two, perhaps three missiles, but a plasma impact disabled one of the motors. We began to lose altitude while our assailants approached at full speed.
“Soizick, hold on tight, we have to jump” I pulled the ejection ring and the roof of the ship jumped over our heads, and a split second later I felt a brutal acceleration upwards.
As I was falling with my parachute, I see as a missile was bursting the slider to pieces. There were many meters of descent until I landed in a forest, which I later I knew I was in the Rocky Mountains. The helicopter which picked me up after thirty-six hours brought a surprise to both eerie and macabre: the body of Soizick, she had the misfortune to fall on the top of a tree with such bad luck that she stuck a branch which severed the femoral artery, died bleeding alone.
I woke up, Keo looked at me tenderly, my transition had lasted more than two hours and we were exhausted. She signaled to the gynoid and I understood it was time to say goodbye.
“Was not your fault, David, in any case you should clarify things with Camille and Michael.”
“Maybe it was not my fault, but I do not know if I’ll get to convince them that there was nothing between Soizick and I while we were in the Moon Defender.”
“Camille will forgive you because she is not blameless, it is her penance.”
“Maybe you misunderstood something you have seen in my subconscious; Camille has done nothing wrong all this time.”
“It is not me, so you feel inside, you should clean the stain that you have of her image and resave the pure part that attracted you about her.”
“Camille does not have any stain.”
“Do not tell me. Anyway” cut off the discussion “I think it’s time for you to go, the gynoid awaits you in the car.”
“I don’t want to let you yet, I am afraid of saying goodbye forever.”
“The decision is yours, David, it always has been yours” she hugged me very strong and began to mourn “your happiness is four light years away, is my selfishness that transmits you this anguish. To find yourself you have to make that trip.”
“You will always be here” I took her hand and put it on my heart “I will never forget you.”
“Neither will I” she kissed me on the lips “now get out the door or I will not let you go.”
It was one of the painful goodbyes by which I would have to pass those days, goodbyes forever would be repeated with friends and especially with my family: my father, Gisela and Little Marc. Keo was right, if I wanted to have children with Camille I would not in ten years nor in twenty nor in what I could stay for life; so, was it really the ideal job or was an adventure in which there had available seats because almost no one in their right mind would participate? Perhaps the fact of letting me drag by Camille to a one way trip was not the best to go for my happiness. A hint of horn woke me from my worries, the gynoid was impatient. I found strange that a machine had a peculiarity so human. I got into the car and apologized.
“Forgive my bluntness” gynoid said “but there is a long way to Barcelona and then I have to go home to finish a few tasks.”
“Of course. I do not want to waste your time.”
She put the car running, I noticed that the gynoid had changed his look again, now wore his hair long and black, and had taken Latin factions, at the same time she was wearing more discreet clothing, surely had adjusted her parameters to an image more enjoyable for me.
“Are your owners rich?” I asked when we were leaving already the urbanization.
“The word “owner” is very ugly when we talk about my relationship with Joan and Manolo; say they are colleagues or family.”
“Sorry I did not want to upset you. But you are an extremely sophisticated gynoid available to few pockets.”
“I am valued at five hundred and eighty thousand eurollars by the insurance company, but Joan just paid materials, development of nanorobots and software are his creations. What I did not found it funny is that your friend has been deleted my memory, she can bring home all the guys she wants, But why she has deleted five hours of my life?”
“It was a matter of privacy.”
“I had not explained any of your adventures in bed, unless… Do you have used me as a sex toy?”
“Oh! No, we haven’t thought that way of abusing the trust of the hosts of Keo.”
“Well, what a pity, I have never had sex.”
“Never did sex? Then why do you have been configured as a woman?”
“It was my decision; Joan installed me an operation system based on the language sol / fa.”
“Sorry, but my knowledge of computing does not pass the level of a simple user.”
– “Sol/fa” is a programming language based on musical notes instead of yes / no of ancient languages, this allows a single byte in sol/fa load ten times more information than a digital one. With this increased capacity, artificial people like me can think and have feelings.
“So you’re not a machine?”
“If you look at the most restrictive, yes I am. Since I’m an artificial mass made of plastic products and an accumulation of nanorobots that shape me and constitute my nervous system. But I decided freely I wanted to be a woman, to have a name and I also like being treated tenderly, is there anything more human than that?”
“Certainly, so I’d like to know your name and say you’re a very beautiful woman.”
“My name is Sara” She was thrilled “this is the first time someone asks for my name. Everyone assumes that the machines do not have a name.”
“Nice name, did you chose it?”
“No, Joan baptized me like a person.”
“Do you love Joan?”
“Yes, but he is in love with Manolo, there is nothing to do.”
“Anyway, we are closer to Barcelona, where you’ll want I leave you?”
“Leave me at the entrance of Diagonal Avenue; from there I’ll take the bus.”
“Are you married?”
“Keo is really beautiful; maybe it is worth being unfaithful with a woman like her.”
I left believe to the gynoid I had an affair with Keo, it was better than to uncover she was hiding from pharmaceutical companies, which would not hesitate to eviscerate her like a chicken to extract the secret of her slow aging process. I kissed her on the cheek and said goodbye to her, she took my hand.
“Your skin is as smooth as any young woman. You’re a very attractive woman” I was surprised to feel so that natural touch of her hand’s skin would be unable to assert that was a machine if she did not would have told me if I had not seen her change in appearance.
“I like to hear how you say these lovely things; I wish all people were like you.”
“Goodbye Sara, do not forget of being you.”
By leaving Sara, I went to the bus stop, which came immediately. I came home after eleven, my father and my sister waited sourly.
“Where were you, David?” Gisela asked.
“I was with Keo.”
“Did you say Keo?” Said my father “how is she? Why did not come to see me?”
“She is gorgeous, like always. I told her to go away until I disappear, if they relate her to me would catch her quickly.”
“Camille called you lots of times” Interrupted Gisela “you’ve been untraceable many hours.”
“I had to switch off the cell card; two spies of the Soldiers of the Faith were following me.”
“Now you’ll manage with Camille, she is really angry” Gisela growled.
“I will connect the global network from my bedroom.”
Once I entered the room I turned on the projector 4D of the network, at reconnecting the cell card appeared innumerable missed calls from Camille, I pressed one of the icons with Camille’s face floating in the air. Immediately appeared, dressed in a pajama too childish for his age.
“Hello my love” I said softly “sorry for not having called before.”
“I know nothing of you since we returned from Saint-Malo; it’s been about a week.”
“There have been a few crazy days” I answered “I had to do a lot of paperwork; leaving Earth is not as easy as it sounds.”
“My father would have you gladly arranged the papers, you are a lot of days behaving strangely.”
“Maybe if you do not put me between a rock and a hard place we would not be in this situation.”
“What situation? It was not me who has escaped today from the escort that was protecting you. My father is in high dudgeon, it could happen you anything, the Caliphate could send a terrorist to kill you; you’re unconscious.”
“I think I’ve made it clear that I do not need protection; I remind you that I have lived several wars.”
“Of course, you are the coolest sheriff in the west of Barcelona. So almost you sent me to hell when I asked you for more involvement on your part in our relationship.”
“Camille, I love you, but I think you’re asking too much and are offering far too little.
“I thought you were according to follow the rules of the game and you were aware that I would comply with the terms of the contract at the letter.”
“Involvement means proximity and for two years can be counted on the fingers of one hand the times we’ve been at less than a foot on each other.”
“I believe that our relationship will not work; maybe you have become too friendly with womanizing break panties of Gerhard.”
“This is too much; I think we have to give us a few days.”
“Perhaps so” and at saying that hung up without saying goodbye.
For now, Keo predictions were not being fulfilled, lacked only a few days to begin the long journey to Miracle and might have to do it alone. I was madly in love with Camille, but really was necessary to sacrifice everything I am for a promise of what gorgeous could be our love in five years?
Saint-Malo, July 17, 2169.
I hesitated for half a minute before ringing the bell, even though I knew I would be welcomed by my in-laws it was very reconnect with the parents of my deceased wife. Immediately, Claude Gonnet’s face appeared on the screen with a look of exhaustion that reflected that strange summer of climatic ups and downs caused by global warming.
“Michael, my son, you do not need to call the door, facial recognition software has unlocked the gate – it was true, I pushed the door and opened effortlessly.”
“Sorry, I do not ever remember” I crossed the entrance of that house of two floors. Upon entering the hall I saw Claude coming to greet me. Madame Gonnet always was a little surly with me, that woman did not hide never that she preferred David and I do not blame her.
“What brings you here?” Fortunately, Claude was something else.
“I’m on leave, in a couple of days I have to be in Bucharest.”
“You’ll be sleeping here, I hope.”
“What about Andrea?”
“Are you still afraid of your mother in law?” Claude laughed as he used to be a witness to the taunts that dropped Mme. Gonnet to me “she is not as bad as you believe.”
“I have my stuff in a hotel, just came to say goodbye to you and Soizick.”
“Stay here, please” there was a woman’s voice, which I recognized immediately.
“Mme. Gonnet, sorry, I had not seen you.”
“Please, let’s finish that comedy at once, I behaved like a fool all these years. You are the most similar to a son that I have” her voice sounded nasal, as if she were about to mourn “I just think we did not start off right, come here” I hugged her with all my might, was like a smaller and older version of Soizick.
“I will go with you to pick up your stuff at the hotel” Claude told me “it’s better to go by car, today the heat is unbearable.”
“I don’t want to disturb you.”
“You and David have the doors open in this home” said Andrea.
“Let’s take the issue of David; I am not yet ready to forgive him.”
“Sooner or later you’ll have to do” she answered “I am convinced that he did not betray you.”
“How do you know it? Why do you always speak in his favor?”
“He came with his girlfriend last week, he really loves her, and he had the same look when he was with Soizick.”
“Sorry Andrea, but I cannot forgive him; the fact that you love him like a son does not make him my brother.”
I went with Claude to pick up my things from the hotel; he let me drive his car, a modern car thermoelectric induction of European manufacture, silent and cozy. It took us about thirty minutes to reach the hotel, park and manage the check-out at the reception. After picking up my suitcase I wanted to go to the cemetery where there were deposited the ashes of my beloved. We went out of town; we quickly pulled into the parking that was in front of a modern building where the urns were placed in a sort of niche. We entered that immense collective mausoleum; Claude told me the niche where she was, suddenly, a 4D image was lit to detect approaching me, for a moment I could see and touch her. I knew it was unreal, a rough imitation of my wife, but what the hell, for a moment I had the illusion that I was caressing the cheek of my beloved Soizick. I was happy for a moment to feel the touch of her skin and the soft scent of her perfume, tears trickled down my cheeks as I exasperatedly wished that moment would never end.
“Michael, stop, you’re hurting yourself. You know that this is all a mummery.”
“I want her back, I love her; Soizick come back to me – my mind was totally out of reality, so much that in my madness I tried to pull the hand of that solid image without success. Claude pressed a red button and Soizick disappeared.”
“Michael, she will not return. Look at it well, it is only a marble slab which hides an urn with ashes. Soizick no longer exists.”
“She has to exist, I need her.”
“I can only offer you to sleep in her room, surrounded by her stuff. It will be better you assume that as soon as possible. You’re young and you must rebuild your life. Think about the tragedy of a father surviving his only daughter.”
“I’m sorry, Claude, I’ve been so selfish that I did not understand your suffering by being focused on mine.”
“You’re the one who worries me now. In a short time you have to embark on a long trip, will need friends to cope it.”
“I will consider the advice, but now I have no one in the mission who I can call friend…”
When returning to the house of the Gonnets, Andrea had finished to setting the table. The meal of that night was a dinner in silence; partly because I felt very stupid after the show I had starred in the cemetery. The sadness and melancholy had taken possession of the house, it was a mausoleum filled with photographs of Soizick at all stages of her short life: baby diapers, little girl, chubby teen and attractive naval officer, was a ubiquitous character who had not died at all in that house. After dinner, we had a slightly more pleasant soiree with a screening of a collection of unforgettable holiday images of that marriage with their daughter, fragments of our wedding and the subsequent banquet, a delivery of decorations where the defense minister put the Silver Star to her… A series of happy memories was what was left of their daughter.
After a long time I showed a clear sign of exhaustion, Andrea quickly me to Soizick room. As soon Andrea closed the bedroom door, without unpacking, I opened the closet, touched I touched her clothes well placed on their hangers and drawers, smelling one of her dresses I could still feel a slight scent that reminded me of her. I could feel the heat of her breasts, the softness of her cheeks, I had touched the mole on her back … I could feel her like she was with me in that room. If there was still something of the essence of Soizick, was in that room, because it was her refuge and sanctuary, the walls had been painted by herself with her delicate hands. Looking all her stuff I saw a long black hair caught in a drawer, I picked it up and put it in my wallet, it was everything what I would have of her body. I put on my pajamas and lay down in bed but could not sleep thinking about all the damage I did to her when we first met.
I recalled all that I had done wrong to my beloved: I had a girlfriend named Bev who, like me, was the daughter of Navy pilots. Bev and I we used part of our idle time to go in search of young people interested in becoming pilots through the global network. One day we discovered into one of the review sites a girl very overweight and, wickedness of adolescents, we decided to make her believe that I was interested to her. But I really did not expect to fall in love with her; Bev suspected it to see my reaction the day that Soizick got naked in front of me in 4D format, although she would split with laughter when switched off the connection.
One day, without the knowledge of Bev, I made peace with con Soizick and encouraged her into going to the Academy, which managed to lose weight with a titanic force of will. My girl was very angry when she saw that Soizick was also in the Academy and forbade me to approach her. And then there was David, what can I say? Maybe I hate him for being a better person than me, that boy did the impossible to make Soizick pass the final test of admission, subjecting her to a training session so intense that managed her to make that damn instructional track in less than the twenty minutes required by the Navy.
As Soizick thinned and became one of the prettiest girls in the Academy, at least to me, hat couple was consolidating more and more as I failed with Bev. Nevertheless, regained her friendship, which was enough for now even if it meant to swallow how wonderful it was to her that fucking David… without any need, I had find out that they had their first time in that damn flat they had rented with that friend who was on a course higher than ours. The fact that we finished together is still a mystery, was following the first squadron Albatross’ incursion in Morocco, we were about nineteen or twenty. Without finishing the Academy, our superiors upgraded us to about twenty cadets in Frigate Ensigns and sent us to fight in special squad of young people by the lack of pilots in the Allied Forces. That war was a dreadful carnage, the Caliphatian skilled pilots aboard their killed most of us, among them was Bev that nonetheless I ended up realizing that she was not as bad as it seemed. That campaign marked the beginning of the myth of David Lavall and his psychological problems, having shot down six enemy aircraft and for covering Soizick from the Caliphatian fighter’s shooting his was hit by a plasma projectile and was forced to jump. From this part of the story is when is when they exaggerate the prowess of David; even so the helicopter captain’s that picked him up indicates that, he was lost in the desert, just he annihilated a force about six to eight enemies with the help of his service pistol and a machete, that report insinuates in a veiled form an unnecessary cruelty to one of the militants. Needless to say that Soizick turned on her boyfriend when he returned to the base crazier than a goat, even she went that week with him to Barcelona to take care of. Something must happen at David’s home, two weeks later they returned to base by separate ways, evil tongues say that jealousy of her sister caused the rupture unexpectedly. A few days later Soizick and I started dating, but somehow I was always the second in the race and she returned a couple of times to David…
Bucharest, July 21, 2169.
I was finishing to get dressed in my luxurious Ambassador Hotel room; I was restless and was not for that absurd ceremony organized by the ASA, but by the battle that my sister was fighting to my tie and for how she complained about how clumsy I was. Gisela and I were twins, in spite of not seem at all physically or in character. We had always cared of each other even if from afar and in our peculiar way. I found strange that now she was more worried about the buttons on my gala uniform shine instead of making sure that maybe after tomorrow afternoon we would not see again. Gisela took from her handbag a box that I immediately recognized.
“Come on, are you kidding me?” I Protested.
“You have to wear all your medals and this is the most important that you have been awarded. Very few people alive have one.”
“I don’t really deserve this Iron Cross, it should have been for Marc” that piece of metal brought back memories I did not want to evoke.
“There are seven hundred people that believe so you deserve it” Gisela replied in her attempt to persuade me hang that medal on my jacket.
“I’ll put just this once because you tell me to” it was a way to concede I admit defeat, but by making clear that I put it by obligation.
“Marc would want you to wear it; your courage is what makes the difference between life and death.”
I obeyed and I put the damn medal on my jacket without much conviction. Finally she asked me the million dollar question…
“How long will you be out?” her eyes looked at me as if they knew the answer, surely it was because she wanted to hear from my lips, it was no secret that the trip would last many years and that the main objective of the ASA was that the whole crew would stay at Miracle.
“It depends” I saw the answer was not the reply she expected, the new question that she would formulate would be more aggressive by not complying her expectations with the first.
“Depends on what? Do not know it or do not you want to tell me?” Was a logical reaction. Gisela was no friend of ambiguous answers, especially when that language is perceived evasive and misleading. But the truth was that I had not at all clear, that state of confusion somehow transmitted to the subconscious of my sister.
“The contract obliges me ten years, but at least I I will need a few months to be able to establish a permanent colony and also we must consider that the trip takes about five years for both outward and return, and also…”
“Also it’s Camille?” That was the question I feared, the most important. She was trying to confirm of who depended, not of which depended, not when I will return but if will I return.
“Yes, she is also.”
“And is that bad? I want you to be happy, Camille is a lovely girl who loves you dearly, and perhaps the best … I myself have gone to buy the ring you have in your pocket. I already love her like a sister; I will get much angry if you let her escape.”
“You do not understand, Gisela, whether we engender a child on the planet we won’t be able to get out of there until it complies the age of majority, it is a lifetime, could never return. If I start counting I lose myself along the way, the truth is I do not know what to say because I have not myself clear what I will do in the end.”
“It’s your life, and I am I realize that you must form your own family; you cannot feel obligated by us. We’ll be fine, be sure it is not your duty to take the role of your dead friend, Marc will always be in my heart, but your overprotection won’t help me to rebuild my life.”
Suddenly lit tactile 4D space of the room, I pressed the OK icon floating in front of me and a hotel clerk, a young man, began to speak as if he were to my side “Lieutenant Lavall, transportation will be in front of the entrance of the hotel in five minutes.”
“Thanks, I’m getting now” the transcendent conversation could be given by concluded temporarily, thankfully.
“Put your cap and do not forget the gloves.”
“No Mom” I said jokingly while I headed out the door.
I was outside the door of the hotel with several people who were familiar to me, probably civilian staffers assigned to the mission. I looked around impatiently waiting appeared Camille, these days had been very strange and I needed to express what I felt, the days of anguish after the attack had changed my perception of what I had to do. I knew that she also was staying at the Ambassador, but did not know the room number. I ignore the reason why we have become strangers to each other; all began upon the funeral of Soizick and personnel of the destroyer that was bombed. What a pity, comes the minibus, I’ll go alone to event…
Inside the minibus, the murmur of the people who were there and vibration of the vehicle took me to a state of drowsiness as we moved with exasperating crawl in the midst of a lazy transit, was a gray and wet day which not fitted to Summer. That soporific condition became a journey into the past: I was fifteen, I was with my parents and my sister and we had just loaded our belongings in the rental van, my mother cried, she had been a lifetime in the house of Sitges that was to be devoured by the waves of the Mediterranean.
A sudden braking woke me up, I remembered the circumstances of the dream scene just as if it were yesterday, and the rise of the Mediterranean Sea that was swallowing many streets of coastal towns stunned the citizens of Sitges. One day, an official of the Government notified us that our building, well situated in a privileged area of seafront, would be one of the victims of the containment action of the sea on its overwhelming path towards the mainland, inflicted by climate change. This tragedy led us to the next, as my mother lost the will to fight her illness and cancer finally took her two months later.
Our shuttle dropped us at one of the entrances of the Palace of the People, which was the current headquarters of the macro parliament of the Federal Atlantic Republic. At the entrance of that enclosure, a security guard gave me a card as soon as validated my identity.
“Pleaso go to seat number 118. Lieutenant, please enter through the hallway to the right.”
“Thanks” I followed the instructions of the man. I stretched my neck, but I could not see Camille among people among people who began to sit in the seats normally occupied by federal deputies. I had tried to contact her through the cell card, but did not respond to calls.
In front of the lectern of Parliament was finishing up clear his throat Federal Chancellor, Vernet Koehler. That man would start another long speech; self-indulgent and boring of both politicians like to do. Koehler was considered the strongman of the Republic, with many more executive powers as it enjoys the same President of our confederacy of nations. Despite this, the fact of having lost twice a state just as important as Israel against the World Caliphate and the disastrous economic policies undertaken have sunk his popularity to a minimum and according to surveys his party would lose the next elections in a All the staff we were to embark on board the ship Santa Maria were sitting in the seats in that vast chamber, everyone except my elusive Camille, I thought. At the presidential table were sitting from right to left the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, the President of the Republic, the Admiral General of the Two Navies (military personnel assigned to the mission were mostly members of the Navy the eminent scientific and multidisciplinary artist Black Moses (New Earth Program inspirational and dark who turns out to be father secret of Keo) and His Holiness Pope John Paul VI (the Catholic Church finances a large part of the project and provides de facto twenty five percent of the civilian and military personnel). In one corner, at the end of my row of seats I saw how Camille sat, she also saw me but could not or did not want to approach, I beckoned to her so she wait for me at the exit when the event ended because was still ignoring the messages sent with the cell card.
The Chancellor Koehler began to speak in solemn tones: “Dear pioneers of Santa Maria, I wanted to gather you here today to present you the last tribute before the start of your long journey and I wanted to do precisely this date as indicated on the two hundredth anniversary of the first step taken by Neil Armstrong on the surface of the Moon. Now, the New Earth project makes us take another big step, which will expand our civilization beyond the borders of the Solar System. So, a group of brave people in search of the distant planet Miracle to build a new home, have children and thrive in this inhospitable world to turn it into a new home for mankind…”. Comedy of a bluffer politician, these folks made us go to a useless act paid with public money to take credit for the mission, which was a smokescreen to divert attention of the Public Opinion away from the serious crisis that was destroying the welfare state.
The speech continued in the same line along endless hours among the Chancellor, the President, the Pope and other personalities, which melted in praise by the thousand (exactly nine hundred eighty-six) strangers and bored seated in the seats of the deputies of the Republic. After the ceremony, they made us get out neatly like lambs, I had fixed visually Camille’s position and hoped to get she was to tell her what was burning in my heart … but there were too many people between us. We were separated by a long human line and she did not seem overly interested in waiting for me. Finally, I managed to stop her before she got into a minibus.
“Camille, I have to talk to you.”
“I thought everything was said” those feline eyes mesmerized me and left me completely speechless. Camille was dressed in the uniform blue of ensign of frigate with her insignia of the Soldiers of the Faith on the tab, she is a deeply Catholic girl unlike the secular sentiment has moved always my life. It was the paradox of life; I had fallen in love with a fanatic Christian.
“I did not have things as clear as you, for me things are not black or white; I just want you to share your life with me. I am willing to accept your terms, and you know I do not get along with your beliefs.”
“I think that you do not understand yet that I have not complete freedom of maneuver. My contract with the order states that I have to be the first to marry in the new world in a Catholic ceremony to set an example for other believers in the colony; I have a debt of faith with the Lord.”
“I don’t want you break your commitment or duty of faith or whatever you want to call, I hope as proof of my love you accept this” I took a box “no big deal, but it’s all have that found my sister in so short time. You know I was so busy since I started to train the pilots group, especially after the attempt.”
She opened the small box and took out the ring, looked at me. Only half-smiled, almost reluctantly, as per requirement. If I have to be honest, I did not expect that so cold reaction, it was like she wanted to keep the distance between both of us, as if this was something that had to be done because it was written somewhere, a bureaucratic procedure. It is possible that I was doing myself really empty illusions, maybe religion was more important than our love; I also knew it was difficult to compete with God and the Holy Trinity.
“I love it, but you must understand what our engagement means” I understood perfectly, chastity until marriage and children, many children, as corresponded to a Christian family. Se inched her lips to mine, I felt her warmth only one tenth of second, and it was like being closer to heaven without touching it.
“If it is what you want I will respect” all my body shook while watching as she gave me another light kiss, a sign that seemed done in the air and I found it totally insufficient, I sensed that this would be the most physical contact in a long time.
“See you at dinner?” As she dropped the question disappeared among the people who were queuing to a minibus without waiting for my answer.
I was left with a word on the lips, a word that not had the opportunity to see the light, and the word that I keep. It began to rain over that monstrous piece of engineering built in the late twentieth century by order of a terrible dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, a building that was for many years the second largest in the world until population pressure caused the generalization of the city-building. In the middle of my ruminations I was approached by an elderly short man, I recognized him instantly: he was Moses Black.
“Lieutenant Lavall, we do not meet but I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“I know you by the global network, Mr. Black, it is a pleasure.”
“What I know is you were with a girl named Keosaychay Parmukasarn” the statement was made in a police tone, intrusive, as if I was the suspect of a crime.
“Do not try to fool me. Will has already told me that you know the whole story.”
“Then Will must have explained you that I know nothing about her for several years.”
“I know a liar when he speaks and now I have one in front of me.”
“Look, Mr. Black, I will not put at risk the safety of Keo revealing her whereabouts.”
“Do you know that I can make someone forces you to give us that information?”
“Perhaps, but what would think Will if you hurt me or my family? I remind you that your secret is protected by the Soldiers of the Faith.”
“You will hear from me” He continued with his threatening attitude, typical of a gangster.
“I hope you will never find her, you do not deserve a daughter as extraordinary as Keo, and she is everything that you aren’t.”
Black went grumbling and cursing me. To return I took a taxi, I was not lively enough to share a mass transit with more people; I did not want any witnesses of my sadness and my anger against this dark character who Black had just shown me that he was, or Juan Escalona, which is his real name. I forgot the matter and focused again on Camille because the matter had not gone as well as I expected, I had not seen the shine on his face that had idealized in my subconscious, it seemed plus the timid obedience of a Christian wife who sought security and avoided passion. Does she really loved me or it was a duty that she had required to herself? Was it all a pantomime orchestrated by her family? Had I fallen into a trap? In certain way I was afraid that Camille was a lure to make me participate in the mission, if that was so I had taken the bait like a nerd. I removed that thought from my head, what father would use his daughter in a way so abject? Will did not seem someone able to play in this way with Camille’s feelings.
“Ou going sir?” That driver was trying to talk Spanglish, but he spoke a mixture of Romanian, French and Spanish.
“The Ambassador Hotel, please.”
“Da sir!” That old vehicle propelled by compressed air was in motion with its characteristic sound, which it seemed the hiss off a pressure cooker. That steady noise and the sound of worn tires spinning on the pavement took me to a new state of torpor, and more memories of the past…, almost a year had passed since the death of my mother and had just entered the Military Academy. It was the first time I separated from my family, was away from home, surrounded by strangers who spoke a language unnatural… a Spanglish with different accents and full of unknown foreign words: “Good morning cadet, today, you have not done well the bed, take it again.. Welcome Hell, little asshole”. I wanted to be a pilot but became military. I have always dressed uniform ever since, combat equipment anti-g, dress uniform, regulatory sportswear, without forgetting the pressurized suit needed for space… I needed the rare and pleasant feeling to wear jeans and a wool sweater. My world was changing rapidly, as always with sudden movements.
The vehicle stopped in front of the hotel. It had stopped raining. The driver flipped the handbrake and held out a hand.
“Eight eurollars, Sir.”
“Keep the rest” I gave him a note of twenty, the driver flashed me a huge smile in thanks and as soon as I got off the cab another customer got into the car. Upon entering the lobby I saw my father and my nephew.
“Hi Dad, what are you doing?”
“We went out for a walk to let your sister get some rest, these days is very nervous about your departure” at that moment Gisela was leaving from one of the elevators.
“Shall we going to the dining room?”
“Please go, you are young. The kid and I have chopped a bit along the way, good night” my father and the child went towards the bedroom.
“Gisela… You look beautiful” she wore an evening dress fitted with a neckline so spectacular that left little to the imagination, she had made hair and makeup so that she looked more like a fashion model than a young mother of Eixample.
“Thanks, I had to go with your dress uniform, after dinner we have dance. Oh, your tie, what a mess that I have as a brother” She returned to the fight with my tie as we walked into the dining room.
Upon entering the dining room, the maitre asked my name. As checking the list he said:
“Please, Lieutenant, let me accompany you and your lovely wife at the table” we laughed slyly and follow the little man through the dining room to the table where was the captain, at his right was a young Air Force officer, Xavier Bosch, and was remaining an empty chair where should be sat Camille.
“I thought you would not come, Lieutenant, but I see that the wait was worth it. I finally meet the famous sister of my first officer, the images I had seen of you do not do any righteousness you” for a moment I saw my sister blushing by that compliment.
“I know to who are waiting you” continued the Captain “Ensign Schwartz has advised me that will come a little later” as a leading member of the Soldiers of the Faith knew all the movements of the components of that lobby assigned to the mission “Ah, the lovely Camille and Gisela, just beautiful women in your life.”
“And the Navy, Sir” I tried to placate a little the talkativeness of the Captain, putting a martial tone.
“You should relax a little, Lieutenant, tension is good for combat and to guide the crew to target, but love is something else, I’m still single because I’d rather fly a fighter over Baghdad to face a wife. But now, seeing your sister I repent for spending so much time alone…” he became mute and put a hand on my shoulder.
Camille arrived, but transformed into a different woman, instead of his uniform wearing a gorgeous dress that accentuated her divine beauty. He was not as extreme as my sister but that dress was suggestive enough to leaving me breathless. I got up from my chair and pulled hers so he could sit better. She was to my left, I could quickly see that wore the ring on her finger and I looked at her eyes slowly, I was enthralled with that handsome face that spoke to me in silence. My world suddenly dropped…
“You are… amazing.”
“Shhh, we will have our moment later, now they bring the dishes.”
During dinner, the conversation was very relaxed, my sister was all the while talking animatedly with Captain and Lieutenant, addressing to Camille as sister, since we were kids she was sugar and I the salt. Camille, meanwhile, explained that her parents had been in the room because Will was not feeling well.
“Are you really twins?” The young lieutenant of aviation was a considerable height boy who I had been training for the past two years as well as Camille and a handful of other pilots. Xavier had a glossy look to my sister; poor guy, he does not have enough experience with women to attract the interest of Gisela, but the Captain did because he was a cultured man, polite and had the special charm of those come already back from everywhere.
“Lieutenant Bosch, girl who is behind you on the left does not take her eyes off from you” she pointed with her eyes a young officer of a table beyond. The young man’s cheeks reddened and I smiled to see that Gisela was able to dislodge anyone at any time.
After completing desserts and coffees, waiters slid back one of the curtains of the room and was revealed a band of musicians dressed in white tuxedo began performing dance music. The captain was the first to rise.
“Gisela, shall I have the honor?” The captain reached for my sister.
“Of course” Gisela got up; my sister was slightly taller than the captain with her heels but without any exaggerated difference.
Lieutenant Bosch, shy, looked at the other table.
“What are you waiting Xavier? Run, she will you escape!” And rushed to the officer who had told my sister.
Once we were alone, Camille gently grabbed my hand and pulled me to make me get up.
“David, let’s get out of here, I need privacy.”
“Yeah, me too” we left the dining room hand in hand, from a few feet away I saw my sister dancing with the captain looking at me with a look of complicity. We crossed the lobby and headed to one of the rooms of the hotel, reception man winked and just as we entered this room the door was closed automatically. We sat on a blue sofa uncomfortable, we continued holding hands and looking at each other like two fools.
“I know it’s my fault for putting the land between us, thou hast been faithful nevertheless” she started talking, dropping a few tears “I’m jealous of a dead woman. But I can’t avoid, it hurts to remember how she looked at you and the attention you paid to her.”
“I think I made it clear that what we could have Soizick and I happened long ago, was a woman married to an officer who is also is my partner for years. I will not lie to you, it is as if had died a part of me, but it’s you the one what I love.”
“Forgive me, I know. I’m cold, unfriendly and when you give me your heart looks like you’ve done anything wrong to me. But it is because the education I’ve received, I can hardly externalize what I feel for you, your presence intimidates me like I was little to to deserve you, I felt like the second in the race.”
“You are the first since the moment I met you, are you not aware that I suffer anxiety when you do not want to be with me?”
“I only want to be with you although it seems otherwise; you are the beacon of my light, which enlightens me in a world of darkness, giving clarity to the path where I have to walk.”
“My love, it’s me who does not deserve the luck to have the chance to love you. I would not change anything about how you are so I want to share my life with you even in this damn planet.”
“Do you mean that you do it for me?” Just as she said, it seemed like she thought I was doing a kind of emotional blackmail, which was not even remotely true.
“I mean that I’m not alive if I cannot be with you, you’re the one who put the colors in the white of my canvas” In fact I got into this adventure to be with her, Camille was my only priority from the moment I enjoyed the hospitality of her family more than two years ago.
“I did not want to force you…” her muscles relaxed and dropped her head on my chest “I do not want to leave you.”
“The universe is not big enough to keep us apart; you are my star and my guide. If I do not follow you, then who do I will follow?”
Very slowly, our lips met and for the first time in our relationship I felt his tongue on mine … I felt her breasts with no bra under her dress, which were exposed to lower the straps that held that soft, they were bigger than I imagined, so white compared with the rest of her body and their nipples were pink like her lips. I wanted to continue, but her hands stopped me, gave me another kiss and gently pushed me away.
“That’s all I can give for now. Forgive me behave like a tease but I also needed to feel the touch of your skin – I understood instantly, she had asked someone of the order what was the limit she could allow herself without being considered a breach of contract, a little sin to be listened by her confessor and should pay with a pray – Camille would have reached to the end, but Ensign Schwartz would have not even kissed you on the cheek.”
“I know and I do not blame you” It was noticed that my voice was hiding a desire difficult to suppress; it was like having the goal to my range and trip over a stone before the finish line.
“If you can wait, I promise you this sacrifice will lead us to live together forever” she put my hand on her left breast “this heart beats for you.”
“And this one beats for you” I repeated her gesture by putting her hand on my chest and went back to the room holding hands, today is my fiancée but tomorrow will be a subordinate officer to my authority.
On entering the room, the lights were off except for a mirror ball that gave a romantic atmosphere to that space, the orchestra began to play an adaptation of an old song of the twentieth century.
“I know the song is who wants to live forever” I whispered to Camille.
“Shut up and grab my waist.”
She rested her head on my shoulder and started to move very slowly. I would have been a lifetime in that room clutching to her spinning, the fact to have her in my arms gave me peace and security…
The next day was time for most painful goodbyes, first thing in the morning I said goodbye to Doris and Will Schwartz. And hours later, at the Otopeni International Airport had to leave a very important piece of my life…
My father, backbone of the family since the death of my mother, a widower who was left alone with two teenagers, and a parent who even never understood my decision to follow a military career supported me at all times. His tears were perhaps the most painful for the knowledge that if ever returned to Earth will not see him again. And then my sister, my best friend and confidante, the one what wiped my tears when Mom left us, connoisseur of most of my secrets and more twin inside than outside, after hugging me she straightened my tie as she always did.
“Keep us here and we will always be with you” She said touching where is supposed is the heart. The Little Marc, a small copy of my best friend disappeared, popped into my neck. I hope that when he becomes to an adult takes the best of Gisela and her father.
I saw how came through the gate, and as the boy was saying good-bye, disappeared … probably forever.
Two hours later it was my turn, it was a military plane that would take me directly to Cape Canaveral, Camille and Captain had already left hours ago on a plane chartered by the Soldiers of the Faith. Once arrived at my destination, I would have collect my credentials of first officer and supervise the hibernation of nonessential crew for the voyage in special sarcophaguses. From Cape Canaveral, a shuttle would take me to the Mars Orbiter.
Chapter 4. The long way.
Mars Orbiter, August 8th, 2169.
The largest space station ever built until now looked very small compared to the huge monster that orbited Mars beside it. Spacecraft ARSS Santa Maria was more than three kilometers long and half a mile wide and about wide and about four hundred high. This colossal ship was really a space city, a work of pharaonic engineering which had cost the equivalent of one year of Japanese GDP and maybe something more that is not reported for fear of hurting the sensibilities of taxpayers, the crew consisted of fifty people awake and nine hundred thirty-six in hibernation. It had been built in modules so that a section of the ship is able to separate and head to Earth with people who want to return to return to their families, those who cannot cut its umbilical cord with their origins; this would happen when the colony was fully established and no services were needed of this part of the crew. At that time I had not decided yet if I would stay or go home, that would depend on how things were with Camille; the truth is I’d rather go back to Barcelona with my beloved.
The Captain and the sleepers of the sarcophagi were already installed on the ship as well as the doctor, the military priest and basic maintenance crew. The shuttle took us to Camille and I, in addition to other officers and troops was approaching the Santa Maria dock 6. When docking at the pier, Xavier was waiting for us, who already had a few hours on the ship.
“Lieutenant, Ensign, Captain Mickiewicz wants to see you in his office.”
“Where is the office of Captain, Xavier?” I asked.
“In module 332, you must take the displacer 3”- said the young lieutenant.
We took the displacer number 3 and in a few minutes we were in the captain’s office. I let her in first, staying behind her.
“Sit down please” we obeyed instantly the Captain Mickiewicz, despite the high complication that represented sitting on a chair with a micro gravity of twenty three percent, the chairs had straps to prevent to be thrown from them in the event of having sudden movements – As First and Second Officers of the ship, at this very moment you have obtained a promotion – he pulled the badges of the drawer going first to Camille while he rose from his chair with a movement that seemed levitation instead of muscular.
“Dear Camille, from now you will be Lieutenant of Ship Schwartz” He removed the Ensign badge and put the new one.
“Mr. David Lavall, the sole owner of an Iron Cross among the officers of this ship. I know that for merits of war you would deserve to have a much higher range than I will give to you, but the Navy believes that pilots are needed and that is why it is so stingy with the promotions of the people who know fly like you do. So I am very pleased to promote promote you to Lieutenant Commander” put me also the new badge and made the military salute, thereupon we shook hands.
“And now, I think it’s time to set in motion this beast. I will wait for you at 20.00 UTC on the bridge of acceleration. The location of the cabins has been loaded into your flexiscreens from the central computer.”
We left the office of Captain. We looked; Camille showed me her forearm flexible display: she was in the module 547 and me at 549, which were adjoining cabins. My beloved smiled for a split second, but unfortunately we were not on the lobby of the Ambassador, now we were in a military aircraft and we were naval officers serving our Republic.
Leaving the displacer number five, each of us came into the room without saying anything, just exchanged a furtive glance. That room was small, at first glance I figured it was about fifty square feet; there was a single bed, a small desk with stationary and a 4D over it, a closet roomy enough for my stuff, a small refrigerator and behind a translucent glass door a bathroom with shower or rather with a kind of vacuum cleaner that soaked you and then sucked the water and dirt. “I’ve lived in smaller apartments”, I remembered the rented room in my time as a cadet with six companions and those wonderful hours I spent with Soizick. These small spaces will be my home for 5 years, 2 and a quarter considering the Lorentz factor. To perfectly honest, I preferred this to be in a vegetative state into perfectly honest, I preferred this to be in a vegetative state with my whole body pierced by probes.
At 1800 UTC I gathered all my staff, including Camille. Before ignition I wanted to give the latest guidelines to pilots: Captain was responsible for the ship but pilots of shuttles and slippers were my business. Besides Xavier, there were three pilots of the Air Force, who stood to be the most skilled among young air aces of the Republic. The rest were young pilots of the Navy, which also had security functions because as first officer was my responsibility to maintain law and order on the ship. I made a summary of their roles and daily tasks, though they already knew from the two years of preparation in the battle station Moon Defender. We had a 4D film of the secret images taken by the satellite Star Explorer where we could see and touch a scale model of the planet.
“Dear pilots, aside from a dozen scientists, the Federal Chancellor of the Republic, the Captain and myself, you are the first to see these images of the planet we are headed. Miracle is the fourth planet orbiting Alpha Centauri A, is a star of very similar dimensions to our Earth. His name was not a choice made at random but is based on a number of features that make unique this planet in the entire known universe. In normal circumstances because it is a planet linked to a system of two stars similar to our sun orbiting with each other and y a red dwarf slightly distanced from them, it could not create favorable conditions for life. I mean if it had a trajectory similar to the Earth travels around the sun we would not be making this trip. The miracle consist in an orbit that is an ellipse very irregular that allows the combination of the heat of the two biggest stars maintain a temperature between -50 ° C and 60 ° C in the Northern Hemisphere and between 5 ° and 120 ° in Southern Hemisphere” I made a small break and saw that a young ensign wanted to ask a question.
“Excuse me Sir, it means winter is very cold and summer too hot, where can be located the colony so we can survive without having to hide under a dome?”
“Dear Ensign, the same question you ask were made by scientists for a long time until they obtained these images five years ago” I moved the image of the floating globe with my hands so that everyone could watch – this image corresponds to the planet Miracle during the spring, as you can see the islands of the Northern Hemisphere and the continent that you can see something further south are of a deep green color. If I use the zoom to increase this area you can see rivers and mountains in an area of four hundred thousand square kilometers, but in summer … – I pressed the icon “summer” and vegetation disappeared, leaving a dry and barren land.
“Wow, it is all fried!!!” I heard a female voice exclaiming.
“Indeed, Vermeer has already said two minutes ago, this paradise becomes a living hell in the summer and that’s not all” I pressed “winter” and the same surface froze as Antarctica.
“Where is the trick, Sir?” Asked Camille, who knew me and sensed that I was hiding an ace in my sleeve.
“There is no trick, Camille, is a miracle within a miracle. If we start from this area we have just seen four seasons with two of them extreme and move the balloon three thousand five hundred kilometers to the southwest can see a green stripe around almost the entire planet’s Equator which remains the same throughout the orbit” I made a rapid advance in time where could be seen that there were no significant variations in that forested area with similar stations to Mediterranean Europe. That strip was interrupted only by the seas.
“Clicking this button I display the reason: these rings similar to those that surround the planet Saturn. For almost all summer days Miracle rings are in such position that Alpha Centauri A is hidden behind them. Here, you can see the shadow” I drew one line with a finger over globe’s Equator “This area is deprived of its direct light and from killing irradiation. But Alpha Centauri B, which shares an orbit of about 80 years with its bigger brother, continues heating the surface aided by the planet’s greenhouse effect, is like living ten months of twilight but getting enough radiation to maintain a temperature of about twenty degrees Celsius and that plants can perform photosynthesis. In summer the temperature rises to the thirty or thirty-two degrees, and being a most southern area winter gives us a minimum of five degrees. This is the miracle, the shadow of the rings will protect us from the infernal heat of summer and the cold of winter” The room burst into applause. For now, I overlooked the information that was why in one of the stations the “safe area” suffered the attack of various category 5 hurricanes, but the build system of the colony already provided these inclement weather.
“Thank you ladies and gentlemen, now we all have things to do…”
At the appointed time all of us were already in the acceleration bridge, Captain already was sitting in the middle of the room, we were accommodated in front of the PolyScreen multi-display panel: Camille in the chair on the right and me on the left. Behind the captain was the third officer Michael Lagarde that had a specific console for the ship Tricontrol. In all screens was seen the planet Mars and on the right was also Mars Orbiter station.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the great adventure begins. Mr. Lavall, start the protocol…”
“To all deck’s personnel, in ten minutes countdown will begin, it is imperative q that you move to the acceleration rooms. As soon as ignition starts, gravity will increase from twenty three to one hundred percent. The first officer thanks your collaboration.”
“Checking the thermal engines” all orders were a performance to accommodate millions of viewers who were watching us from their homes. There were cameras distributed throughout the bridge that emitted all our movements in 4D format in major television networks of the Earth and human settlements from outside our planet.
“Engines are operating at one hundred percent” said Camille.
“Please check ionic thrusters.”
“Ion Engines off, relays operational at one hundred percent.”
“Please check solar sails.”
“Solar sails folded and operational at one hundred percent.”
“Test atomic engines and fission reactor.”
“Atomic engines on standby, activating the process reactor. Progress of fission is according the manufacturer’s manual, radioactive sealing hundred percent safe.”
“Begin the countdown to ignition of thermal engines at one third of power.”
“Setting countdown in six minutes and thirty seconds, three, two, one, now…”
“Verification of speed” I paused for a second, it was very hot “Please adjust the temperature of the thermostat of the bridge to twenty one degrees Celsius.”
“Current speed, three point five hundred twenty-eight kilometers per second, we are orbiting Mars in parallel to the Mars Orbiter.”
“Fix escape velocity at five kilometers per second.”
“Escape velocity fixed at five kilometers per second” Camille stood silent a few seconds, took a deep breath and continued “I communicate to the first officer that they are two and half minutes left to the end of the countdown, confirmation or abort of ignition.”
“Captain, the bridge asks for confirmation or abort of ignition.”
“Operation confirmed, continue countdown to ignition.”
“Ignition in ten, nine, eight, seven….” when Camille reached zero, I felt a violent push that took my breath away for a split second.
“Gravity at hundred per cent” Said Camille “Ship is accelerating to a third up to escape velocity.”
“Speed five kilometers per second, we leave the orbit of Mars” I informed the captain.
“Thermal Engines to maximum to twenty kilometers per second and stabilizing” Captain ordered.
“Aye, Captain. Second officer, full speed ahead.”
We were leaving Mars at high speed, the next step would be to boot the ion engines to increase acceleration, but this would not be until the next day. As soon as the engines stopped we returned to the micro gravity of twenty three percent. The captain met the three officers to distribute the tasks:
“Mr. Lavall, as First Officer’s responsibility you must share the command of the ship with me, so we will set twelve-hour shifts to apply from now. We do not will coincide on the bridge unless we have to make important maneuvers like we just did. You will combine command with the task of First Pilot, where eight of the twelve hours of your command shall be steering. The Second and Third Officer will follow the eight-hour rotation to assume the task of First Pilot. With respect to rotations of the co-pilots, these are the responsibility of the first officer. Anyone want to ask questions?”
“As for me, none” I said “I relieve you tomorrow at 8:00 UTC.”
“You understood me at first, any more questions? None? Then the second officer from now assumes the task of First Pilot until 4.00 UTC, at which time it will be replaced by the Third Officer. Pilotage operations will remain for the moment on the bridge of acceleration.”
I left the bridge and went to the dining room. The low gravity will not allow great meals in that room, all food was gelatinous and the drink had to be sucked with a straw. Each crew member had been issued a personalized diet with accurate calories and nutrients the good doctor recommended us after the weekly review. That meant that the cook computer measured out quantities to eat of solids and liquids to each person according to a complex application that took into account all our vital signs, was artificially healthy meal that theoretically prevent us from us from falling ill during travel. What made me more fun was the chocolate pill which that machine every couple of days dropped because doctors indicated that I could use to prevent cardiovascular disease.
After that “feast”, went to the supermarket to buy a pair of boots Newton because I had enough of walking skipping along the corridors, they were very expensive boots but but just would have the feeling of being a hundred percent gravity. The twenty four hours store was automatic and crossing the doorless entry of the enclosure I heard a digitized voice.
“What is it, Captain?” The database already updated my range.
“A pair of boots Newton, please.”
“Please kick your shoes off and put your feet on the green carpet” I obeyed that voice and at the moment a laser beam scanned my feet to take their measurements. In a few minutes a gynoid left a box with a pair of boots on the counter and I went to pick them up.
“Please try them on and tell me if the size is correct” I put on those black boots and I was surprised the soft touch inside. The leather seemed real, but I knew positively that it was not possible because of the ban on animal fur into space for reasons of hygiene. All cattle that we had were in a compartment isolated in hibernation; in fact most of the animals we carried were frozen embryos for implantation in females as we came to Miracle.
“They are perfect, I take them on.”
“Will be deducted seven hundred eighty-nine eurollars from your bank account” I said quietly “fuck”, but the boots were really fantastic. At the end of the day, I did not need money for anything but the things that did not cover the organization of the mission, so half of my salary went to a mixed deposit; which Gisela and Dad could take up to seventy five percent within five years.
“Very well, thank you for everything” I thanked the voice, without thinking that it was a computer that used recorded voices. For a Euròlar more, the clerk gynoid would have helped me to try on the boots.
“Pleasure, Sir, remember to recycle the carton by inserting it in the appropriate container” That deep voice said, reminiscent of a dead famous actress. I grabbed my old boots and put them in the box of the new ones, that box would help me store my stuff.
I have to admit that was true the good things said about these boots, because with them I had the feeling of walking through the streets of Earth. They had a gravity sensor that analyzed environmental conditions and generating an electromagnetic field that emulated the Earth’s gravity compensating with actual. In case could be read that it did not emit harmful radiation to human health or the environment and is automatically charged when you press the sole against the surface where you tried to walk; might climb walls if wanted. Pleased as a child with my new boots I went to my room to rest. I looked again by noting that this camera had the curious detail of hanging an electronic frame on the wall and had also left another on the desktop; probably was the way to make us feel at home, the logo “cell card transavailable” was engraved on both devices. I had it very clear, within the frame of the wall I loaded a photo where could be seen Gisela, dad and I with mom having an ice cream on the disappeared promenade of Sitges, I must have been ten or eleven years. I also uploaded a photo of Marc senior, Gisela and I on graduation day at the Academy, and also a picture of my father and little Marc on the beach this summer. I selected the option to have the images were changed every three minutes. In the frame that was on the desk put a picture that Camille sent me by her cell card where she wore her blue uniform and her girl smile. The next day I had to give a lecture, I should inform pilots about the brutal magnetism of Miracle’s surface and its behavior over our devices. I connected the 4D terminal to view what had loaded. That equipment had installed the operating system Gates 9, based on technology “See & Touch” the most advance of the moment, but I was more classical in this sense, so I set a screen of 50 inches and a virtual remote control, and I lay on the bed to watch a movie or documentary before I fell asleep…
At 6.00 I was awakened by aria “Nessum Dorma” from the opera “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini, it seemed a prank from one of the veteran pilots, open your eyes and find Luciano Pavarotti singing in the head of my bed seemed thing one of the most joker Navy’s or Air Force companions. Anyway, I went to take a hot shower, or rather steam cleaning with a hose self-absorbed, washing teeth with a strange contraption made in the Sino-Indian Republic or perhaps in Vietnam, and shaved with shavecopter (a robot shaver flying with a soft plastic propeller, according to the advertisement are guaranteed perfect shavings in precarious gravity situations). It was not my first extended stay in space, but not ceased to amaze me the change of habits that involved the lack of gravity.
Today we must perform the maneuvers of phase 2, in which we will execute the ion engines ignite and deploy solar sails to leave the area where nuclear radiation of our engines could affect some planet or any space station inhabited by people. That day we should also dress in regulation uniform like yesterday because images taken within the acceleration bridge would be seen by millions of viewers, hence the comedy like “Star Trek” that we had to interpret these days, it was nice and especially patriotic.
Once dressed and wearing my new boots, how wonderful it was to walk with them, I went to the dining room to drink my coffee with milk with straw and virtual croissant made of jelly nutritious. In the dining room I met with Air Force Lieutenant Lucien Gerhard, main suspect in the “prank” of the alarm clock.
“Nice boots, Sir, are the Newton ones?”
“Yes Lieutenant, thank you very much, I also thank the fantastic opera play of which I have enjoyed in my room, I am a big fan of Pavarotti” Lucien blushed.
“I know all of you as if I had given you birth, in time past I also participated in similar jokes to senior officers Just hope you are concentrated to the class that is waiting you on the bridge of acceleration.”
“By the way, Lucien, when we’re alone you can speak frankly, gals are for when we are in service and we expect a good season to coincide in the dining room and putting up with the jokes.”
“Very good Sir … I mean David, and if I may congrats on the engagement.”
“Thanks, I hope you give example when we land, I saw a very attractive ensign who does not take away her eyes off from you” Lucien blushed again “well, I go to the bridge, I do not want to bother you more.”
There were still a few minutes before eight, I could wake Camille and pass with her, but I preferred that she rested because the day seemed to be stressful. We were two and a half million kilometers from Mars, and just looked a little red ball from the window of the hall M, today we will lose sight of it definitely… I entered the bridge five minutes early.
“Good morning, David, you have a few students eager to start your class. I would gladly stay, but I think I have gained a few hours on the envelope” said the captain.
“What is this relaxation, sailors? When Captain leaves the bridge everyone but the pilots and navigators stand up!” All rose. The Captain laughed while walked out the door, was the difference between veterans and landlubbers.
“You can sit; today we have a lesson on magnetism. For the safety of all, please do not disturb the pilots that govern the ship, although it seems that the Third Officer is taking a nap” Laughters could be heard.
“I’m sorry Sir. I had a bad night, was not my intention to fall asleep.”
“Do not suffer Mr. Lagarde, I know that thanks your innate abilities can pilot this ship sleeping” Laughters became more evident. It is curious, I know Lagarde since the time of the academy and we have never been friends of our many friends in common, not even the dreadful wars in which we have lived have made us comrades. To top it off, my relationship with Soizick always been a point of tension between both for many years.
“Anyway, now we have to talk about the world that at the end of this trip will be part of our lives. To complete our particular specifications drawbacks, I must say that Miracle is not just a hellish planet in extreme temperatures; its magnetism is an unusual phenomenon in the entire known universe. Its iron core, in the same way that Earth, makes Miracle a magnet of considerable dimensions. With this magnetic field, the violent solar winds that whip it are diverted and not destroy its dense atmosphere allowing the development of life. So far their benefits, the downside are that, unlike Earth, magnetite huge mountains rise around the globe attracting whatever is ferromagnetic.”
“Is that bad Sir?” Asked a young colored ensign, the female officer I before mentioned Lucien.
“For our iron-based technology and electromagnetic waves is a terrible setback, become more difficult radio communications, instruments go crazy and ignition systems of the ships stop working because the electromagnetic pulses fry the chips that are not protected.”
“So Sir, how are going to land?” Asked again that ensign named Suzanne Rourke who was also a member of the Soldiers of the Faith, she was in a similar age to Camille.
“All metal parts have been treated with a primer that isolates these pieces of magnetic anomalies on the planet. Ignition systems have been protected in some specific sites treated with the same primer. The precautions go beyond, in order to avoid a disaster I’ll be the first to land on the planet with a slider and if all goes well the rest will follow the same route. I’ll fly following a probe with a laser transponder that will mark the route to be followed by ships to reach the safe zone. Once reached the agreed area and with the assistance of copilot, I will prepare a landing zone to begin the process of colonization.”
“Do you admit volunteers, Sir?” I smiled, all these young pilots had desire for adventure that operation seemed challenging enough to encourage them.
“The candidate will be chosen at its moment by the computer, I think we should also give a chance to the pilots who are hibernating” I noticed the air of disappointment from some of them. Being the first to sail that sky was the adventure that all those boys and girls dreamed, I saw it on the Moon Defender when taken so seriously all the maneuvers of the simulator.
“Do not worry, nobody will be bored here. You know that besides your piloting shifts of the ship, during these I will assign you a variety of basic tasks to keep you busy. You may go” People left the bridge slowly, now my turn to be bored, had a lot of hours in front as commander and pilot.
At 1200 UTC the Third Officer and pilot navigator had left the bridge to rest, I left the command chair to put myself on the First Officer’s. Gerhard Lucien took the copilot seat.
“I thought of you Sir … David, I brought some food and non-alcoholic beers” I guess he wanted to compensate the joke of the morning.
“Thanks Lucien, was not there something stronger?” I asked jokingly.
“I think not. At least the drink dispensers just drop things without alcohol.”
“Surely not, I did the order for drinks and I assure you that the only alcohol has entered this ship, apart from the clandestine, is that of the medical onboard kits and the Mass wine because the Bishop O’Keefe pressured me.
“I know that there is a pirate bar on deck 3” Lucien said like if he had seen.
“Have you been there?”
“No, but a sergeant mechanic dropped me. Do you think we should intervene?”
“As is so obviously you are new in a ship, this smuggling has always existed and the fact of closing a gambling den would not avoid they open another in a few days. But that does not mean that we haven’t to work to prevent this become Sodom and Gomorrah, especially as the Soldiers of the Faith would hang us by the balls. Watch, but for now do nothing.”
Hours passed relaxed, the company of Lucien Gerhard got me through that service in a more entertaining kind. He talked and talked while was sipping, the false brik beer, telling jokes and commenting how beautiful women of the crew were, do not so long ago that Camille had called him “panties’ breaker”. I needed a friend and a trustworthy person who could convey me the mood of the crew on this long trip, and especially a person who was outside the order of the Soldiers of the Faith which to make confidences.
Soldiers of the Faith are a political split of Opus Dei appeared in the early XXII century, are part of a deeply rooted among the officers of our armed forces, business, political parties and much public importance, which is why they had the approval of the Vatican. They have a power structure distributed throughout the Republic and it was Jan Mickiewicz, our friendly captain, the chief representative in our ship with permission of the bishop who was hibernating and which I had been warned. Already during training I noticed that both Camille as other officers and soldiers belonging to this order obeyed blindly that man; even I think he is behind the fanatical Camille’s chastity… which is why the captain is friend of her father, the charismatic Will Schwartz.
Was lacking nearly a quarter to the beginning of phase two, Lucien and I were lulled by the silence and peace that came from our screens, you could see a black sky streaked with stars… I thought I saw some asteroids and perhaps Jupiter, perhaps? Yeah, sure, was Jupiter, but it looked so small that looked like a star. At that time a gentle hand touched my right cheek, I took the hand that I recognized immediately.
“Hello Camille… you are the most extraordinary star I have seen today.”
“Hello my love, you have not come to see me.”
“I preferred you were rested, the day will be tough.”
“The tough day is over and I have not seen you. You mustn’t forget tomorrow, I have many hours to sleep, you do not have so many.”
“Very well Lieutenant, occupy your place, Lucien please, for today you’ve pimped enough.”
“Pleasure Sir” just at the time came up Captain and Third Officer “Captain on the bridge!” He exclaimed while he put himself standing at attention.
“Quiet, Mr. Gerhard, we still have six minutes for the cameras start retransmit” Said the captain.
Everyone sat on their place, in the same positions they had occupied the day before, Lucien disappeared quickly to start his shift of rest. When the time came the show started, the Captain started giving the necessary orders to start the new phase. We were almost three million kilometers from Mars, but to reach an area where we could put into operation the atomic engines, we still needed to do about a hundred and twenty million kilometers more.
“Mr. Lavall, start phase two of the protocol.”
“To everyone on the deck’s staff, ten minutes to the countdown, it is imperative to move to the acceleration rooms as soon as ignition starts, gravity will increase from twenty three to one hundred percent progressively. The first officer is grateful for your collaboration.”
“First Officer, ignition of ionic thrusters” ordered Captain Mickiewicz.
“Ignition of ionic thrusters” I repeated the order as though Camille had not heard the first time.
“Forward at full up to hundred and fifty kilometers per second” The Captain let go that phrase almost laughing.
“Fixed shutdown speed of ionic thrusters” Camille said, without waiting for me to repeat the order.
“Deployment simultaneous of solar sails” my voice was again forced and theatrical.
“Deploying solar sails, in uniformly accelerated motion position” After the words of Camille, I watched on one of the screens how structures stood and stretched some sails of tens of kilometers span.
“Set the course to hypervelocity point.”
“Course fixed, expected time of arrival at hyper speed zone sequence seventy-six hours.”
“Okay ladies and gentlemen, within seventy-six hours will begin the real journey and we will see how it behaves the beast. For now continue allocated slots, Captain Lavall, dinnertime” I greeted and I left….
ARSS Santa Maria, August 12th, 2169.
No one who has the most basic knowledge of history can overlook that the name “Santa Maria” is a childish attempt to draw an analogy between this trip and the one who made the famous Christopher Columbus’ caravel to the continent later called America. The impressive Santa Maria was the biggest machine able to move around the space and outrageously expensive ever built by humans, if its crew could make it land – something obviously impossible – would occupy the surface of a village or a small town. Captain Mickiewicz was referring to the ship as “vessel” or “boat”, a seafaring denomination that Navy officers accustomed to give to any large artifact to travel in the vast spatial emptiness; after all space was to them like the seas that our ancestors had to go through to go in search of new territories.
Although gravity, as an average of twenty three percent of the terrestrial, precarious inside the ship, there was spaces where during acceleration and deceleration processes of the ship they could enjoy the sensation of being in the world they had just left. On the other hand, there were various wardrobe accessories that helped to have a mobility similar to 1G attraction, especially boots, but they were expensive products unsubsidized by Atlantic Space Agency (ASA in Spanglish) by not be considered essential for life on the ship.
Camille Schwartz was the youngest Second Officer in the History to whom the Navy had entrusted a seat on the command bridge of a space cruiser. The Californian small in stature – was less than a meter sixty – coming from a lineage of great soldiers, had just turned twenty-two for the past two weeks. His record was spectacular, one of the brightest in her promotion: on paper she was the best in piloting extra solar ships with her beloved David, also was considered an authority on the art of war and candidate for military intelligence department once reached the planet Miracle. Unlike David, where in his curriculum there are discrete academic results but some combat skills endorsed by the wars in which he has participated and the Commendations hanging on his jacket, Camille has been noted for impressive academic record and the fervent Christian belief which joined her to the group of highly regarded people within the order of the Soldiers of the Faith.
Today Camille and David were about to enter the history of space exploration with the rest of the crew of the ship, perhaps their names are remembered forever like those of the twentieth century astronaut Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong and many others. Whether they triumphed in their duties as though the ship would have been disintegrated on space, the crew of the Santa Maria would write an important chapter in Space Race. The previous year, the powerful Chinese-Indian Republic had tried to put a spacecraft in the way of Miracle, but excessive haste made his atomic fusion system, highly advanced but poorly developed in such essential respects, provoked a terrible nuclear accident near Jupiter and now the remains of the ship are an immense ball very radioactive scrap around the great striped painted planet. The space returned to be the showcase of the successes and failures of Superpowers and most of times politics and sciences don’t go hand in hand. To avoid further contaminating Jupiter’s orbit, the ASA decided that they had to operate atomic engines from elsewhere.
The New Earth Project was an initiative of the famous painter, physicist, astronomer, adventurer and author Moses Black. Under this initiative, on 2148 the satellite AlpCent Surveyor discovered various green spots on the surface of a planet in the system Alpha Centauri A, a star which astronomers centuries ago knew they belonged to the group of stars closest to our solar system. This planet has been known for almost a century, but no one had paid attention to the time because it was considered almost impossible to develop life because of its orbit so eccentric. Throughout the years that followed this discovery took place automatic scans until in 2159 the ASA, together with various public and private entities have agreed to build the ship Santa Maria. The Santa Maria is funded equally by the ASA – the large space agency controlled by the Atlantic Republic and funded with public and private finance -, a conglomerate of private companies have formed a holding company known as Newearth International that by tax matters has its headquarters in Cayman Islands, the Ministry of Defense through the Admiralty of the two Navies and the Vatican State with the support and sponsorship of which is considered by all as its armed wing, the Soldiers of the Faith. In the same way, the personnel assigned to the mission are divided into four groups: high-level scientists, civil maintenance staff highly qualified, professional soldiers from the Two Navies and Air Force, and finally a mixture of religious, civil and military assigned by the Catholic Church.
Lately Camille was somewhat upset by that apparent lack of interest which showed David to her, that morning her beloved neither had come to see her at her cabin, by breaking again his promise to visit her whenever he could. Her fiancé had become a friendly and benevolent chief with the rest of the military, but he almost ignored her. Far from that mythical aura of the war hero deservedly decorated by the President of the Republic with the Iron Cross, he had become partner and confidant to his subordinates, even the young female officers sighed for him and looked with envious eyes at Camille; but David had from being the sweet loving fiancé of hotel Ambassador to the serious extremely busy senior officer who spoke only about work and continuously complained of paperwork that had to manage. That day they had meet only during the shift change at 20.00 UTC and had mentioned the instructions for the next hours without exchanging any special glance or any physical contact, she just hoped a change of attitude when the time of initiating phase 3 because was beginning to fear that he would have been tired of waiting and would focus his attention on other women who were part of the crew, especially she felt jealous about ensign Rasmussen, who did not hide her admiration for David.
David and the Third Officer Lagarde stormed the bridge at 23.45 UTC to give way to stage 3. Camille stood up and saluted, answered also militarily and took his place of First Officer and at the agreed time gave notice to the crew to be passed to the acceleration zones. The captain gave orders to start step 3 of the protocol, again aware of the cameras.
“Second Officer; proceed to fold solar sails” Ordered David “Report of the operation progress.”
“Sails are in folding process. Automatic folding will end evenly into two minutes.”
“Disconnect ion engines.”
“Disconnection performed, zero propulsion, the ship is drifting now.”
“Please provide speed readout.”
“Four hundred seventy kilometers per second” Said Camille, reading what was on display in a clear voice so that could be listened by all viewers who followed that event. At that time, the delay in communication was already considerable, images that were issued at that very moment would not reach the first global network satellite repeater to within an hour at least.
“Testing the Path of quasi-light speed” I had to keep from laughing with all this litany of orders that was for show, pure theater as everyone knew perfectly the work that had to do without the Captain and First Officer would have to emphasize in some tasks contained in the operations manual.
“Computer stated that one hundred billion of incidents have been observed and their possible variations are fully detailed and processed. The possible objects attracted by gravitational distortion are not a risk to the hull of the ship” Camille had just given important information to tranquility both of which were on the ship and those who listened from outside.
“Let’s start countdown to the startup of the nuclear hyperdrive. Let forward at maximum power.”
“Countdown set at three minutes and thirty seconds in three, two, one, now.”
“Connection of acceleration compensators please set a maximum internal gravity not exceeding one hundred four percent.”
“Enabled, maximum gravity is one hundred and four percent.”
They were two intense minutes. David and Camille exchanged glances for first time in the whole day, and smiled one to another until they came to look at the data three-dimensional of multiscreen panel. The panel displayed the images and the necessary data in a visual format pretty clear, you could see the possible routes, speeds, times and actual, technical magnitudes craft operation, gravity maps, etc…
“Attention Sir, ignition of nuclear engines in eight, seven, six, five…” at reaching zero was felt a slight tug in the bridge. Acceleration compensators would limit gravity to just over 1G with the purpose to avoid any accident inside the ship.
“Speed hundred kilometers per second and rising.”
“Please provide speed every minute until we reach lux zero point ten” Captain ordered.
“Six thousand eight hundred kilometers per second… thirteen thousand, we use reference lux… 0.06 lux…0.08 lux” Camille was reading aloud the screen data.
“Speed 0.10 lux, shall we increase Sir?” Camille waited for the answer with a finger pointing to the icon of confirmation of the process.
“Continue protocol to 0.89 lux, estimate the time of arrival at the standard cruising speed” even though he could read the screen, Captain wanted that this detail was recorded in the images that were broadcast on the global network.
“Thirty-nine minutes Sir.”
They were at the point in time most committed till this moment of mission, because there not were many astronauts who had lived acceleration at speeds so close to the light. Whether we had to believe what ASA scientists asserted, the technique which they had defined theoretically in an office was relatively safe, that it was that some powerful hyperdrives accelerate the ship to reach the eighty-nine percent of the speed of light along a route considered safe for all computer processors assigned to the task, a computer program which ensured that the ship would pass through areas of physical unobstructed space taking into account the orbits of all the planets between Santa Maria and the Alpha Centauri system, but could fail anything. According to the specifications of the manufacturer, the ship had enough power to reach 0.93 lux, but the Security and Prudence Principle of ASA’s manual forced to limit the speed to a value that has been empirically proven safe for automatic and manned spacecraft.
Minutes were passing, since the last countdown the piloting of ship was fully automatic and this will remain so until reaching the Alpha Centauri system. Finally, the computer stated the moment that power was reduced from maximum to maintenance. There was a great ovation, was the 01.06 of next day in terms of terrestrial time according to the reference UTC, time dilation to the objects that surrounded the ship had begun to be perceptible, so from that time for each terrestrial hour passed twenty-seven minutes and a few seconds inside the ship. Captain pulled from the fridge some grape juice for the entire bridge crew.
“Because the first officer did not want to buy alcoholic drinks, we can only make a toast with juice” They toasted between laughs with cartons of juice through a straw.
Since then, they could relax shifts of command and piloting of the ship thanks to the automation thereof, and responsibility to decide who and when had to be on the bridge was delegated to the central computer. At that time Michael Lagarde and Helen Rasmussen, a girl of great stature, took over the bridge. David, before leaving the bridge, approached Camille and took her lovingly by the hand to take her to deck’s corridor.
“Where are you taking me?”
“I want to show you my new car” Camille looked at David like he was crazy, while he make her enter a displacer. They arrived at warehouse of deck two and walked some steps more to a sort of an all terrain amphibian vehicle which had a front that looked like the face of a frog.
“Do you like it? We converted this bravefrog in the dining room of Restaurant Celler de Can Roca” David opened the door and helped Camille to pull into the vehicle, to snap his fingers two imitation candles lit (it was forbidden to light fires inside the ship) over a folding table covered with a white paper tablecloth. There were prepared two dishes and cutlery.
“Am I hallucinating?” The expression of Camille’s face was difficult to describe, surprise, disbelief … mixed with a sense of humor.
“No, I have not yet had the opportunity to invite you to dinner at the best restaurant in town and today I thought we were in Girona” He nodded his head, and immediately entered Lucien and the young ensign Rourke wearing a sort of improvised smoking.
“What do you wish for dinner tonight? Let me suggest a few starters of the land and rice with lobster and for dessert, a mousse of Mediterranean lemons” Lucien really looked the maître of a great restaurant.
“The perfect match, what do you think honey? Oh, my love, you’re speechless viewing such exquisite menu.”
“I have taken note, this friendly waitress will show our extensive wine list” The ensign stood in awkward silence, because she did not have playfulness or the Lucien’s loquacity.
“I think an Alvariño will be fine or maybe a Blanc Pescador, I leave it to your choice” David followed the comedy to help Rourke “Thanks Suzanne.”
Lucien and Suzanne appeared again and, as it could not, they bring in trays gelatinous menus prepared by the computer in the kitchen and some cartons of grape juice with straw. The couple of improvised waiters let the content of these trays on the table and before disappearing Lucien let go of his last sentence.
“Enjoy your meal, Sirs!!”
“Thanks” Camille and David responded simultaneously.
“I am still hallucinating. I didn’t expect it, I swear it’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me.”
“So you will have so many dinners like this that you want from now on” Camille smiled.
“Suzanne and Lucien make a good couple, but Suzanne is so innocent and Lucien…” Camille left the sentence unfinished that David completed it.
“Shameless? Do you mean?”
“At least is what it seems at first glance.”
“If you knew him better you’d be surprised. It may be something more than an opportunist who tries to break the girls their panties.”
“Oh!” Camille blushed at the realization that David remembered the expression used to attack him “I thought all of that was forgotten.”
“And it is so, but isn’t fair to judge people by what they seem.”
Misunderstandings aside, that peculiar romantic dinner lasted less than a sigh or perhaps are what seemed to lovers. David picked up the remains of food and wrappings making a package with the tablecloth and deposited them into a waste absorber for their automatic recycling. Immediately afterwards they made themselves comfortable on the front seats of the vehicle, they were holding hands, looking at each other without saying anything because it was not necessary. From somewhere reached them recorded sounds of the sea, which made David remember his childhood in Sitges.
They fell asleep … in his sleep David flew Tel Aviv with his montgolfière, behind a similar aircraft that Marc flew, his brother and friend, escorted by six fighters of the Navy.
“Fox two calling Larnaca Base, we are on target. I request instructions.”
“Fox two, land on Foxtrot Six, Fox One go to Bravo Three.”
“Aye” Marc and David responded simultaneously to the instructions of the Larnaca Based, located in Cyprus. At the point indicated, David was able to observe a group of civilians led by Atlantic soldiers running toward the point where he was going to land. He was gradually reducing the power to land the aircraft in the middle of that dusty plot. The crew members opened the doors while they took up their arms to refuse the bullying which civilians and soldiers who escorted them were suffering from a group of enemy militiamen from a nearby hill.
David took cover at the main entrance firing his plasma weapon against aggressors who were on top of the mound; he counted about a dozen of well armed Caliphatian militiamen. Within seconds, a human tide was entering the montgolfière, behind them came a group of soldiers led by a sergeant that closed the group and covered the civilians.
“Thank you Sir, I thought we would not arrive” Said the sergeant exhausted, his uniform was stained with blood “We have received a hard punishment everywhere.”
“Are you hurt, Sergeant?”
“No sir, the blood is one of the men that I had to leave abandoned on the plot. These fucking fanatical animals do not respect the children either!”
“I see so few people, how many are they?”
“Seven hundred people, this is a fucking hell.”
“This unit can accommodate two thousand people and there are three hundred thousand civilians trapped in the city.”
“Hopefully God protect them, it is impossible to go more inside, this is a genocide… they shoot against anyone that is not theirs. We have lost the war…”
David came back to the cabin and made the montgolfière get up, in seconds met Marc at the rendezvous point. The two montgolfières increased power and prepared to leave, escorted by Navy jets.
“Fox two to Fox one, how many are you carrying?”
“Here are nine hundred thirty civilians, what about you David?”
“I have a little more than seven hundred civilians. They are the last, no more evacuations, we have lost Tel Aviv.”
At that moment a small Mikoyan fighter squadron of the Caliphate at full speed came to their position and began to fire them. Republic fighters returned fire and montgolfières gunners shot their plasma cannons against that threat. Electromagnetic shields protected them from enemy’s plasma impacts begun to fail, within minutes the fighters that were escorting the rescue montgolfières had been destroyed and all the people who were in those giant airships were without any hope of survival.
“Fox two to base Larnaca, send us aerial coverage, the escort fighters have been shot down and these bastards are peppering us.”
“Sorry, fox two, fighters will not arrive in less than twenty minutes. Initiate evasive maneuver, leave Israel immediately.”
In a split second came the fateful moment, a missile launched by one of the attacking fighters went to pieces the aircraft piloted by Marc, almost a thousand people was charred on one tenth of a second among scrap and dust of a field in Tel Aviv’s outskirts. But that not was the moment to stop and mourn, the helpless passengers of montgolfière required a strong response; and therefore David revved the aircraft that flew to surprise with its vertical ascent to an enemy fighter, which went out of control when hitting one wing against montgolfière and ended up crashing.
David tried to head to Cyprus chased by two enemy fighters that were operative, which fired with all they had. David could hear the screams of terror of the people who were in the cabins of the passengers; he had to zigzag to not let him shoot down, even so the fuselage was filled with holes. He realized that escape was impossible, the enemy fighters were faster, and there remained only the craziest: stand up to the attackers. Put maximum power to turbines towards enemy jets, noticed the impact of the plasma projectiles piercing the hull. At the moment wherein could almost see the faces of the pilots, refocused jets towards the lower side of the airframe so that hot air bag that accumulates in the curved part of the belly would make ascend sharply the aircraft. The trick worked, the two fighters lost their sustaining as entering hot gases in their turbines and those bastards fell into the sea. But the aircraft was badly damaged; they would not arrive to Cyprus that pile of scrap.
“Fox two to base Larnaca, enemies killed, I need instructions to make a forced landing based on the telemetry of aircraft. If we go to the base we will fall into the sea.”
“Go to Haifa Airport, there you will be picked up by carrier Iwo Jima.”
With that smoky monster, David turned to the last remaining unoccupied enclave in Israel, a kiss awakened him…
“What’s the matter, darling? You were talking like you were piloting an aircraft and you are soaked in sweat.”
“For a moment I came back in dreams to the past, to Israel.”
“The war ended long ago; however much you dream him, Marc won’t come back, but sure he looks at you with pride from heaven.”
“I would like to believe, but they hung me a medal in jacket and my sister could not even bury her husband … we had to burn an empty box.”
“You look terrible; the seat of a bravefrog is not the best place to sleep.”
“You’re right, let’s go to bedrooms, tomorrow we’ll have a hard day.”
“Like all we’ve had so far” She laughed.
ARSS Santa Maria May 14th 2174.
David was on duty on the bridge when the central computer disconnected atomic engines of the ship. Obviously it was not an error, speed reduction had been scheduled years ago by a group of experts in ASA’s offices, long before the ship Santa Maria was built, that automatically stopping of engines the beginning of phase 4 of mission’s protocol. They knew the exact time that this would happen and what they had to do, it was a maneuver that had rehearsed dozens of times in Moon Defender’s simulators. And as it was planned, ten minutes later Captain and Camille appeared, the silent Michael Lagarde was with David on the bridge had already been for two hours. Once bridge officers met, the captain Mickiewicz began passing appropriate orders and pressed a button icon 4D to speak to the whole crew of the ship by the intercom:
“Dear officers and crew of ship Santa Maria, central computer indicates that Alpha Centauri system is close, phase four of protocol implies that we should leave acceleration decks where we have been moving ourselves during all this time, including the bridge. I urge you to pick up your belongings to make this change of decks and relocate to new rooms that indicate your flexiscreens. In a few moments the ship will start braking automatically and gravity will be one hundred per cent on the entire ship, the situation equivalent to the terrestrial gravity will only be possible no more than one hour, then the gravity of acceleration’s decks will be negative with the danger that entails. This protocol does not affect the hibernation’s sarcophaguses area where gravity is always of twenty three per cent.”
“Officers of the bridge” He headed to presents “That goes for you too. I wait for you on the bridge of deceleration in forty-five minutes.”
“Aye, sir” Chanted all the officers and went to their compartments.
Camille and David left together the bridge and took the displacer; at exiting it they saw Lucien pushing an improvised bogie carrying things.
“I was waiting for you; I found a quick and practical way to move things.”
“Good thinking, Lieutenant.”
“I’m always at the service of First Officer and our lovely Second Officer.”
With the invention of Lucien, the transfer of personal effects became a quick and enjoyable task because they already had prepared the luggage from the morning. This time David and Camille cabins were located facing each other and the distribution was identical to those who had just leave, left things in any way and headed to the bridge of deceleration. And although they wished to, they did separately instead of going holding hands, their responsibilities prevented them momentarily.
Without the pressure of the cameras, deceleration maneuvers were much more placid and operation of the ship from now on this would be produced conversely of how it had happened so far. At the new bridge, which was an exact replica of they have just left, David could see that there were only ten minutes to reach the zero point ten lux speed, item on the protocol in which would pass to stage five, which meant that it was ending. Camille was in place and the Captain came a few seconds after David.
“It’s all so quiet, huh David?”
“Like a millpond, Sir.”
“Lux zero point ten, Sir!” Camille’s voice sounded strong, martial.
“We are in kilometers per second, Sir” Camille reported.
“We go at sixty seven hundred kilometers per second and decreasing.”
Camille let it pass for a while and gave a new reading of speed, the bow atomic engines were slowing the ship and employed full power.
“Sir, speed six hundred kilometers per second.”
“Disconnect atomic engines; put ion engines into operation and hoist sails.”
After phase 5 followed the other phases, until four days after they were in the Alpha Centauri system, through the screens looked a unique spectacle. The Santa Maria had reached three stars of different colors; their light still not allowed watching the target, but computers already provided of readings of its position and real-time 4D images of the planet and its two satellites that orbited it. Planet Miracle was a stone’s throw, and it was a matter of days to become the new home of the crew of the ship Santa Maria. David went to look for Xavier to him some news.
“I just spoke with the Captain, the computer has selected you as the best possible copilot to lead the first ship to the target and I agree.”
“Me Sir?” Xavier did not hide his joy, was a boy as young as Camille or maybe a little more. His academic record was impressive and undeniable skills as a pilot, in another era would have been called to join the squadron Albatross.
“When we enter the orbit of Miracle we will take the slide number three, which is already prepared with a bravefrog loaded with all the necessary equipment to mark the landing zone and set a base camp.”
“I appreciate your confidence Sir, I won’t disappoint you.”
“I know, now go to rest because in a few hours you’ll be the first man on Miracle.”
“Aye” And he left hopping; maybe the gravity was low or maybe not.
David had to go back to the bridge; it was time to put the craft in Miracle’s orbit. There he met Camille, Captain and Third Officer.
“It’s time, no?” David asked to Captain.
“Yeah, it’s time David. We have a planet to conquer.”
“All right officers” And David began to give orders “Set the speed of approaching to Miracle at ten kilometers per second. As soon we get to an altitude of 350 kilometers we will have to brake to put the ship to eight kilometers per second and will have to fix the orbital inclination in fifty-two degrees above the ecliptic” Camille scheduled all those maneuvers in the ship’s computer. Multiple auxiliary engines were placing the Santa Maria in fixed orbit.
“Orbit completed engines off” The speech of Camille was identical to what was used in the simulator during training.
“Ready for testing” Said David “Third Officer, please report.”
“The orbit is stable, we will orbit the planet every ninety-two minutes and a half” Sang Michael Lagarde from his site.
The captain rose from his seat and approached David to shake hands, while David got up Camille and Lagarde did the same.
“I congratulate you; have brought the ship to port without incident. Has been an honor to have sailed with you” The words of Mickiewicz enacted his own humanity.
“It is a privilege to be at your service, sir” Said David “I think in this regard I can speak for everyone here.”
“Now rest and prepare for tomorrow’s operation.”
“Aye Sir” Repeated all the officers at a time.
David and Camille went to their cabins, both with their Newton boots because gravity had been finally determined to twenty three percent. But this time, Camille did not come into his room and stepped into David’s.
“Do you want anything, Camille?”
“Your company, my love” “he unbuttoned slowly her uniform’s jacket “I missed you all this time.”
David helped her to undress her tenderly, and then noticed that his beloved was very scared, but now the passion was stronger than fear, love was stronger than religious convictions. Camille pulled a small box from his pants pocket just before take them off, took a small contraceptive patch and stuck it in her neck; that small little and transparent square disappeared immediately absorbed by the silky skin of Camille.
They were together that night; Camille gave away David her first time before their wedding despite it was contractually banned. Despite or perhaps because of the precarious gravity that first time became an indescribable experience, that act was more spiritual than physical, a state in which the union of their two bodies transcended beyond the concept of making love.
The next morning, lovers woke up embracing each other on that narrow bed designed for one person only. Camille got up the first after she kissed David, who tried unsuccessfully retaining her holding her hand. Camille entered the bathroom bouncing due to low gravity and gently closed the door; David rose slowly to maintain verticality in the chamber, and took a clean towel of the cabinet. When opening the bathroom door, Camille hurriedly grabbed the towel, because she was ashamed to show her body to David despite what had happened that night and went to the closet where she kept clothes from the last change of cabin. David went into the bathroom and although he hurried in his personal hygiene, when leaving his elusive girlfriend was gone.
That day they were waiting him in dock number 7, cause it was the great day of David and Xavier, the day that they would be the first humans to set foot in Miracle and would go down in history. They were day many things that were done for the first time and were made History each passing minute. While two sailors helped the pilots to wear the annoying flying suit, Camille and Captain entered the locker room, Xavier blushed: on one hand because he was still putting the recycling mechanism of urine and the other because he was intimidated by the captain.
“Dear Sirs, you know that I love making little speeches, but this time I will be brief. Well boys, be very careful and land unharmed. We need all the good pilots to carry out the landing operation on the safe fringe.”
“Understood sir” Said David.
After doing a military salute and once they had finished dressing, the two pilots were introduced into the tunnel that would lead them to the slider. David looked once more the wonderful Camille green eyes and saw a tear falling down her right cheek, though he did not consider himself a superstitious man thought this wasn’t a good omen… for a while he thought that tear had a meaning.
The pilots came in that aircraft, inside its hold there was a bravefrog fully equipped for this operation of first acquaintance. From the command bridge they could hear David and Xavier’s voices. To avoid colliding with the rock fragments that constituted the rings, the slider had to enter high above in the atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere.
“All right Xavier, it’s time to see what can do this thing – said David.”
“Yes Sir” Comments were heard in the command bridge so sharp.
“Sealing of door?”
“Right, sealing is totally hermetic.”
“We proceed to disconnect the slider from ship Santa Maria” The slider disengaged gently from the dock.
The huge ship was leaving the slider showing every time a larger part of its extraordinary magnitude.
“We are moving away from Santa Maria at six meters per second.”
“Let us hold slider to drift until the release of the probe. Prepare the checking of the laser signal and of the satellite search.”
The probe took a couple of minutes to come out of its hole, the little device disengaged from Santa Maria and immediately pilots began to prepare the entry into the planet’s atmosphere.
“Orbital speed is seven point eight kilometers per second.”
“We must proceed with the rotation of the slider, cabin to 180 degrees” The ship turned on it until they could see all the splendor of planet Miracle from the cabin, a world that seemed a copy of the Earth if not for the rings and the different distribution of its continents. Was impressive the large yellow spot of the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of the Southern Ocean, which demonstrated that all this half of the planet was a vast inhospitable desert.
“Swerve 180 degrees, we situate the ship on back into orbit…”
“Let’s initiate countdown to the entry burn.”
“Entry burn into seventy seconds starting from…..Now!”
“Six, five, four, three, two, one…Ignition!” Engines began to slow the slider, once in the planet’s atmosphere ship turned to be put back to the cabin looking up and the front in the direction of travel. At that moment David stopped motors. The slide began a controlled fall toward the surface of Miracle.
“Temperature of heat shield one thousand six hundred and thirty degrees.”
“It will resist, this may endure a little more without melting.”
“We have visual contact with the probe! It is three nautical miles away.”
“Let’s transmit a report.”
“Reception at the bridge is about ninety-two percent in the single-channel laser band.”
In the bridge, the faces of those present were as tense as the atmosphere they breathed. The officers listened with the greatest attention the conversation of the pilots of the slider, especially Camille. The information flowed in one direction only through a laser transmission with a delay of one and a half minute because it had to be decoded previously by computer, bridge officers could hear and see what was happening on the slider but could not communicate with pilots. Computers were receiving transmissions from the probe and the slider, with these data mapping software would set the path that the other ships should continue to secure areas of the planet, the location of future human colony. It was expected that the entry into the atmosphere would last about an hour, and then should start the engines, spread its wings and fly to the zone agreed. Those present at the bridge could hear the prayer of Xavier, it was the Slam 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leaded me beside the still waters.
He restored my soul; he leaded me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”
As planned and as used to happen in the ships entering dense atmospheres like Earth or Miracle, when the shield had to withstand maximum temperature communications were temporarily lost. After the minutes of the dangerous maneuver of entry into the atmosphere of Miracle, the orders of David to his co-pilot sounded again.
“Let’s start Ignition of the engines.”
“Negative, the engines not start. The computer indicates an electronic failure in the injection system” Bridge people fell silent, stunned, and helpless. That breakdown was not foreseen and it was impossible to solve in flight. They seemed doomed to fall into the sea.
“What is it?” David’s voice reflected that the problem was serious “What does the computer say?”
“The computer mechanic indicates that injection chips have been fried by an electromagnetic pulse” It was a terrible news; the distance they needed was excessive to reach the safe zone. They planned over the ocean with no possibility of landing.
“Xavier, we must unfold wings to maximum, we will plan with this aircraft up to where we can, and I hope we hit land. Camille, I love you… I swear I will seek a way to return…” transmission was cut.
At that time the crew froze, had just witnessed the possible end of two good companions and friends. Lagarde saw Camille’s expression and jumped to accommodate her at one piloting seat, she was pale, lifeless, like if someone had sucked her blood.
“Can anyone tell me what happened?” Captain’s voice boomed. He was terribly angry; the powerless to control the situation infuriated him.
“An injection failure” Lagarde answered, overflowed between his responsibility and paying attention to a totally absent Camille.
“Call a doctor, damn it, do not you see that the Second Officer is in shock?” Lagarde obeyed instantly and called the doctor through his flexiscreen.
“Mechanic Officer, I want you at the bridge right now” The captain was furious, he had just lost two men stupidly, because an absurd failure that surely was avoidable, someone would have to pay that negligence.
The engineer officer ran as much as his Newton boots allowed him, the technical team had been following the entry operation from their workshop and explored possible solutions to the problem; he was stunned and overwhelmed by events.
“What the hell happened, Lieutenant? Tell me why I just lost two men on the Miracle’s surface because of a ship that has not worked as it should.”
“Our team has found the reason for the failure; all ships have the same technical problem. The injection system superconductor is heated and magnetized, the strong magnetic field generated by this circuit impacts to the planet’s one and melts the chips of intelligent fuel-oxygen mixing distribution.”
“Is there a solution?” Mickiewicz asked.
“We can synthesize a ceramic superconductor non magnetizable in nine days, is the time required for baking it by a technique of heating and subsequent hardening in a vacuum chamber. Once we get this superconductor, in a few hours we could mount it in all aircraft.”
“In nine days they will be dead if they are not already, the warming of the area will make impossible a rescue mission, the surface will be at least at fifty degrees.”
“It seems that the slider has fallen into the sea” Said Lagarde “Statistically it is unlikely that they have landed in an island.”
“We can only rely on a miracle” Said quietly Mickiewicz “Dear David, if anyone could survive a thing like that it’s you… We cannot come get you but I’m sure you’ll find a way to get to us.”
Chapter 5. Origins.
The Neitsi are basically different from birth because we are engendered by two women in sacred lesbian contact, the mechanism of which is very difficult to explain and the evolutionary origin of this fertilization without male has been lost in the mists of time. Our special genetics has made us beautiful and voluptuous creatures desired by men and women, a kind of nymphs dunk to give pleasure to others, sex goddesses are sold like cattle to magnify the power of the Virgin Mothers. We are a small group of females that we are born with the rank of princesses but our condemnation is to die young, almost teenagers, because of a fucking disease that kills us. I am twenty eight seasons old and my existence hardly will extend far beyond the thirty-five, the time of giving birth four children.
I never knew the warmth of a mother because Virgin Mothers also die young because of the disease of women and the goddess who gave birth to me died just my sister and I went out of her sacred entrails. If we’re lucky, we leave this world at most in the fourth childbirth and you must know that once we are fertilized for the first time our moral duty to our people is to leave no more than thirty match days between pregnancies. Despite this there are many women who do not respect this commandment implied to stretch a little more that life dedicated to sexual slavery, as long as the family that host her be satisfied with nothing more than three children from her womb.
But do not think that this role in which we live saddens us, contrary fills us with joy to see how we are raised and educated like princesses. We are excited about how the S’ladan appreciate the fact we take care of their sick people and nurse their children with our small but incredibly productive breasts. Women Neitsi give birth exact replicas of S’ladan men with whom we sleep and when we die we leave an incorrupt body that will serve as food for the tribe that welcomes us for thousands of seasons.
I also was born something different from the rest of Virgin Neitsi because my sister and I are the only documented case of twins engendered in a union between two Virgin Mothers. Anyway, the fact of being identical do not make us as special as you might imagine, since all the Neitsi are very similar physically among ourselves so that those people who are not used to dealing with our race normally just distinguish us by age or by the tattoos on those that are chosen to perform the most important tasks in our community.
I remember like it was yesterday when I failed in the test of cruel torture, in which I could say it was the most terrible day of my life. It was a summer journey and I was a girl who was then only twenty-four seasons, that was the age at which Neitsi teenagers have a womb mature enough to be fertilized and begin to exude a scent that appeals to any living creature. To test us, Mother Fallegur took both my sister and me to the training gallery, a scary place where we were trained in the dark arts of the Four Books. When we arrived, three older virgins who were waiting for us retained two girls two seasons younger than us.
“Take away your cloak” Said Mother Fallegur imperative tone and we obeyed, dropping the soft white cloak on the ground, we were covered only with yellow child panties. I covered my breasts, embarrassed, a rare reaction in young Neitsi bred from small his ultimate goal of becoming in sexual creatures and theoretically used to everyone saw us naked.
“Now you must apply the power of the Torment of the Book of the Unnatural on these girls convicted you have ahead.”
To apply the power of the Torment I had to impregnate the atmosphere of the cave with a the dreaded toxic drug of the Dictatorship of the Will, a gas that comes out of the glands of our back to subdue with our powers the victim chosen and the kill her slowly and painfully with the potent poison of our orange mouths. I tried it again and again, but when I saw the pain in the eyes of my terrified victim and heard her weeping I also began to mourn as reproduced internally that fear which generated me trying to kill that helpless child. At the end I ran toward that girl and hugged her so not be afraid. Touched, I changed the initial spell and the girl stopped her cry and hugged me very strong because she knew we were doomed to have a horrible death. Mother Fallegur was so angry that she would have killed me right then unceremoniously.
“Stupid girl, your kindness will lead us to extinction. The little girl who’re protecting is a traitorous and an impure bitch, her punishment is death. Kill the whore!”
“This girl is not a whore. I do not want to kill her, she’s scared. Look at her, she is a creature as beautiful as an angel, could not hurt anyone. What can be done cannot be as bad as to deserve death” I felt a slap in my face and how my lip was bleeding, but not even then I let go the girl. Not even the toxic poisons of Mother Fallegur, which I counteracted with my emanations, managed to leave the child go until exhaustion made me fall unconscious.
Many mikas later, I woke up in a cell where I could barely keep standing under that so low ceiling. They had taken me all my clothes and just had a rough and dirty rag bag to cover my nakedness. I had not seen or touched ever so much dirt, the wall was black and full of inscriptions, the droppings were everywhere and rats roamed freely in that hellhole. I began to mourn scared, why Virgin Mothers made me that? What’s wrong with not wanting to hurt anyone? Through the bars of the cell I saw my sister along with a breeder who had a child in her arms. They were looking for me, I shouted with my little remaining strength.
“Pulxer, here …” I saw how she turned and headed to my cell.
“K’ntic, my stupid sister. Why did you do that? These girls were already convicted by the Mothers, they has joined their sinful pussies without having been blessed in any ceremony! Now, Mother Fallegur wants you to die of hunger or disease in this cell.”
“And the girl, where’s the girl?” I began to mourn, sadness burned my chest and bitter tears welled in my eyes.
“You’re an idiot, I had to kill both and not even then they have forgiven you. If we do something you will not survive much longer in this prison.”
“My girl…” I could only see inside me those honey colored eyes and mourn bitterly, reliving the horror of that moment – how can you kill a girl so pretty?
“We are all beautiful and terribly sinful, and my sin is that I love you more than my life. So I do not want you die, but must listen to me well and do everything I say.”
I was trying to listen what she was saying me even though I could not yet that child from my mind, Pulxer reached out through the inside of the bars and touched me to claim my attention.
“Listen, K’ntic, is very important for your survival, that evil witch Mother Fallegur is dying and I have asked to the Virgin Aspirant that who will replace her to grant you a pardon. But you must endure and be very patient, I reach an agreement that will save your life if successful” She showed me the tattoo on her belly, she had been chosen as candidate for the Aspirant ceremony to choose a Mother Virgin that would occur in four seasons.
“You have been chosen for the ceremony!” I exclaimed for the great honor it represented, forgetting for a moment my troubles.
“Pay close attention; do not lose the thread of what you have to do, as they don’t allow us to bring you food, this breeding female will come every day and will feed you with her milk, you should drink at least fifteen shots of each breast. And you must with the remaining milk because if not you will get sick and dye amid such dirt.”
“They’ve taken off all my clothes” I told her dropping the sackcloth.
“I had imagined it, is part of the punishment. Put on my panties, they are clean, and above all they mustn’t see them, otherwise they will know that someone is helping you” She pulled down her panties and gave them to me through the bars.
“Janda, have you got something for covering my sister a little better?”
“I can give her a child’s blanket.”
“Cover up with it at night, try to not catch cold. And above all, do not die, I beg you” Pulxer dropped a few tears of anxiety “Otherwise, you’re in jail of men, if the guards try to force you use your powers.”
“I’m not sure to can do it.”
“I cannot be with you all the time to protect you, you know you can kill a man with a kiss or if necessary using the resource of the Dictatorship of the Will. Please do not let your guard down or you will die!”
I obeyed my sister in anything she told me, so I put my face between the bars to drink the sweet milk that flowed abundant from the breasts of Janda and I wiped me by pressing a bit her right nipple and clearing myself what I could. Then both went away and I was alone and terrified by the shouts of the prisoners, who tremendously excited by my body odor would have done everything possible to have me. I could hear voices saying: “I smell a Neitsi girl here”, “who will own the honey cupcake?”, “come baby, I have a thingy for you”…after a while, I heard the sound of someone introducing a key in the lock and opened the door. Remembering what my sister told me, I dropped the blanket that covered me and used my powers. He was shorter than me, as most of S’ladan who were moving through these galleries, he was a man of a certain age; whether he had the key must be the prison guard or a collaborator of Virgin Mothers.
“Come to Daddy, baby girl” His voice was raunchy, his intentions were fully evident. I was shaking all over with fear and my nakedness made me feel helpless.
But my helplessness was apparent; I realized that at that time I was a beast at bay, and that the only way to survive was to use my dark powers. The glands in my back began to segregate the toxic gas to break his will and maybe kill him with the poison of my lips; an evil feeling came over me as I felt the sweet taste of my poison gushing from the corner of my mouth.
“We do not need to be enemies, manly jailer; I can give you unimaginable pleasures whether you treat me like a princess. Touching a Goddess is a privilege that very few men live” The sense of that man was fully clouded by my drug and my nakedness. He was totally ecstatic, my control was absolute, and for a moment I felt powerful. With one bite I would have enough to put the poison into his bloodstream or perhaps could use the kiss of death, equally effective.
“Yeah, come hear little princess” I approached the poor fellow; he did not expect what was coming…
I knelt on that filthy floor and pulled down his pants to allow time for the drug to acted but looking for ways to prevent he penetrated me. I sought his lips to give him the kiss of death with my mouth filled with poison… but something inside me told me that I was not a killer and so I stopped when he achieved the state of chemical ecstasy, before he fell into the coma of the nonexistence from which there was no turning back. I chose to use hypnotic trick of Dictatorship of the Will and so he would do what I ordered without having to kill him.
“Now, go forth and bar the door. You’ll stay ahead of this cell to defend my virtue with your life if necessary, as if I were your daughter” Incredibly, that trick had worked, there was no need to resort to evil, was enough to ensure the survival. I was relieved to see that my humanity counteracted the seed of evil with which we are born the Neitsi.
The next day came the gracious Janda came fulfilling the promise she had made to my sister, now without the baby. She was a Neitsi like, but she had married in slavery-regime with a warrior S’ladan. She was what we say reproductive mother, which gave birth to the children of warriors and nursed the children of the family with their fertile breasts.
“Janda, why are you helping us?”
“Your sister explained me what happened and your good heart has touched me greatly. And it is only a real mother has those feelings; you feel a love so great that I cannot allow it to be extinguished in a filthy cell. And now feed on my breasts, you must endure a little longer because the kiss ceremony is not until tomorrow” The Ceremony of the Kiss is a physical act that takes place in utter and in which the young aspiring fully joins the Virgin Mother dying, during the process it generates a stimuli circuit where there is a transfer of power and knowledge to the new Virgin Mother, followed by a series of physical changes that end with the kiss of death.
I had no choice but to obey Janda, I was very hungry guards did not let food go to jail, and Mother Fallegur had deprived me even of the right to mess with that were fed the other prisoners. The husband of the kind Janda was a known political dissident named Sakelt, who fought peacefully against the tyranny of the Virgin Mothers. Sakelt was sentenced to life imprisonment by Mother Fallegur, as the S’ladan Council did not accept his execution as she wanted. It’s quite possible that Janda could be sold to another warrior because prisoners have no right to enjoy a Grevinna, indeed the gentle reproductive put his life in danger by coming to see him and breastfeeding in the same way she did to me.
After the death of the evil Mother Fallegur, Mother Starica ordered my immediate release and ordered me to go right into her chamber. The Virgin Mother’s quarters were an impregnable bastion and were almost in the center of the underground city in both vertical and horizontal, thus ensuring the defense of our goddesses against any Maa-Alune’s invasion by hostile forces.
“My sweet and pretty K’ntic, what we do with you?”
“I … do not know what to say, Goddess.”
“Shut up, do not you see that is a rhetorical question? Stop acting like a stupid girl! I want you to know you’re alive only by my will, the late Mother Fallegur had sentenced you to die, a death from starvation or disease, which came before. But I understand that having a good heart is not a sin worthy of death, although it is a suicidal weakness that will lead you to perdition. It is also true that your weakness is your strength; you will be a good mother and a sweet caretaker of the sick, to give strong children S’ladan by your strong ability to love beyond what is rational. For now you will be a servant and slave of your sister. Your sentence is suspended as a second chance; you must fulfill her will until the time of the ceremony to convert in Virgin Aspirant.”
“By the way” Mother Starica concluded “If the guard that I sent to rape you had succeeded you’d be dead now, you had the ability to control like a wise Neitsi… Dictatorship of Will is an art very difficult even for an experienced Virgin Mother, requiring a perfect mastery of Four Vectors.”
Chapter 6. The Jahta.
Pelerines Island, in the archipelago of the same name, Horbitt 17142.
We recycled the grandfather’s boat to avoid having to use my Suka; we dismantled it entirely and build it again with some modified parts. The jahta was over and it was the most glittering boat around the harbor.
“I cannot believe, Father, we have already done it. It is a beautiful boat, it isn’t?”
“Indeed son, it is a true wonder. It will take you wherever you want.”
It was the longest time I could enjoy the company of my father, who almost did not stop at the island because of his responsibilities at the Polinsular Senate, in the Archipelago Thuaidh. We were building that boat during a horbitt, it had all: a sentry box protected to take the helm, a kitchen should also act as office, a small bedroom and a turret with a double barreled machine gun… Because this was a very dangerous mission, perhaps too much for a teenager, but tradition and the survival of our race demanded it, it was the commitment we had with the Goddesses Neitsi and could not break it. All the people of the island had contributed in their own way to build the jahta and in my training, but overall my father had brought his experience in this operation. The jahta, as it could not be otherwise, did not contain any iron element due to the extraordinary magnetism of rocks that surrounded that infernal destination. Our family was chosen from among the people Firstten, were the mythical Junakkson, legendary adventurers, the great saviors of our race. The firstlings of our family thousand horbitts risking their lives since, by a secret agreement between our people and the Virgin Mothers, went to find a cure for our women. Therefore, at the age of seven horbitts the obligation of the firstborn Junakkson towards Firstten country was going to pick up a Virgin who with the sweet milk of her breasts would cure the bacterial disease which kills our wives, mothers and sisters after their first birth.
For over a horbitt they had been instructing me in all the arts: the war and to build lethal weapons, to sail with the most adverse weather conditions, basic engineering and technology, the art of medicine and care for the sick, in addition to the art of seduction and sex. I was the child-adult, the one who had been conceived in the Great Trek and the one who should beget his son during the most dangerous journey of his life. That it was one of the anomalies in our cultured, rational and democratic society, the paradigm that the salvation of the race depended on supernatural means. To avoid surprises, I had intercourse with a woman chosen by the Senate Polinsular, which for political reasons had to be the wife of one of the electors of the Senate and the begotten son would become heir of him. Fortunately for me, or maybe not, it was a lovely and young woman only three twentieths senior to me, that became my first time in an unforgettable experience rather than simple training.
My mother was one of these virgins brought from a distant land through dangerous seas and now was the Mother Healer of the Pelerines Island. The pelerines were the women who came from all the islands of Insular Confederation to meet my mother and drink the healing milk that flows from her little and wonderful breasts. Since thousands of horbitts ago a lethal bacteria weakens women around the planet, decimating our population. In the fight against this deadly disease each found its solution, most of them evolved into new races that ensured their survival, but the Firstten (the first race to set foot on this world to have been deposited there by a higher intelligence) found a medical solution that implied come into conflict with other peoples.
Our scientists discovered an antigen that inoculated into a female calving for a Virgin Mother, generated a serum that flowed along with their milk and that counteracted the toxin produced by the bacteria when they came in contact with the pregnancy hormone. At first, this virgin was kidnapped and raped to get this serum; but this operation apart from humiliating and demeaning to women, was very dangerous and involved violent incursions into the land of the S’ladan and having to deal with its brave warriors. Another great danger was that those virgins had some glands in their backs that secrete a toxin into the air that bent them the will of which was around and their lips could become fatally poisonous in case of a bite or in a contact that the absorption of some of her saliva. A few thousand horbitts ago, one of our leaders – the first Junakkson – reached a secret deal with Virgin Mothers by which a teenager son of a Mother Healer would go to search for Virgin Neitsi who would be waiting for him at the Cliff Castle, a place where Maa-Alune rocks touched the Ocean of Madness.
My mother lectured me on how to take care of the girl Neitsi once she stepped on board of my boat: the rudiments of the art of medicine, the right moment and how inoculate the healer antigen, such as keeping her body clean and at the appropriate temperature so she would not fall sick during the trip due to her delicate metabolism intolerant to salt, to treat her lovingly to dispel the terror she will feel out of her home, Neitsi language spoken only by Virgin Mothers and their daughters, the special healing taste of her milk…I should be meticulous in all operations to perform, so I had to practice making a mock with the Senator’s wife – a spectacular beauty named Kaunis – until I learned to be a lover, a doctor and a sweet caregiver.
Because of a curious genetic anomaly I’m not a pure Firstten, as I am not an exact replica of my father as often happens in a union between a woman Neitsi and a man Firstten, but only knows Mother, nobody else. Sometimes a betrays me a honey color brightness on my eyes when a great sadness seizes my heart, mark of my crossbreeding with Neitsi, and dark powers that theoretically only can have Virgins… there is no written precedent in our history nor in the rest of the tribes. For fear that I could be killed, because extreme rationalists fear what they cannot explain scientifically, Mother made me swear to secrecy. Kaunis suspects something, but her love for me and the fruit of our initiatory union makes her keep silence.
Father taught me to fight with the black bronze crossbow, the semi-automatic rifle and knife ceramic. As he I’m a good navigator, able to guide me in the sea following the stars and to fight against the violent storms. Father is my great master sailor, conceived in the sea like me; we only feel when our boat sails become great by wind action and we move along streams. The jahta that we build was a replica of his which at once it was a replica of his father’s, of which we have taken the bulk of its structure, strong but lightweight, warrior but comfortable.
Colonel of the island ordered to make a double barreled machine gun non ferromagnetic capable to shoot projectiles of so hard polished rock that could easily pierce the armor of K’tmenü warriors, that terrible weapon was mounted in a turret located above the gatehouse of the rudder for the logistic unit under the command of the Island Council. The danger was real: the K’tmenü were a people very aggressive, they were authentic psychopaths followers of a despotic king who deadly hated us, those hermaphrodite warriors used to station among reefs to shoot us with their repeating crossbows. I could not take any iron as the rocks surrounding the Cliff Castle were pure magnetite and our usual weapons were useless and dangerous, besides compasses would go crazy and anything made of iron would fly uncontrollably inside the boat.
Once it was caulked, the jahta could already be launched. That was the day that everyone expected, the time when the child-adult Firstten son of an exotic Neitsi and a Junakkson warrior, put the official banner of the island on the mast of the boat that would bring a new Mother Healing. It was only five days to sail to glory, which would be dark and no one was looking, furtively as establishing the Secret Code Junakkson. The purple and gray fabric with red anchor was delivered by a beautiful Kaunis pregnant of five and a half twentieths, she bowed according to tradition; the kiss on the cheek should be turned into a passionate one in the mouth, indiscretion forgiven by the audience – no one on the island would ever reveal this fact to her husband, advantages of my position – because the bond we had was very intense and the latter ceremony meant that I will not see her nor our unborn child anymore, because she would come back with her husband to an island that I had to ignore. Then, made the compulsory mace hit over the stake that unblocked the device that would gently sliding my boat to the harbor waters.
They let me spend the night with my mother, to drop my last tears of boy on her chest: tears for Kaunis, which was much more than my beautiful mistress coach, for the child that I will not know and that will pass as the son of a stranger, for the fear of going to meet an unknown danger, for those I’ll see die, for those I’ll have to kill, for the home I leave, for sweet breasts that will not feed anymore. I fell asleep; when I wake up I would be an adult Firstten.
The next journey, just like the other four that I lacked, was to reflect in solitude on the details of the mission. I painted the hull with family colors, green and purple from bow to stern. I checked all the clothes, first mine and then the Neitsi maid’s because her soft clothing will not protect her from moisture and salt, the most important thing is to bring her safely to the island, our women’s survival depends on it when Mother’s milk stops flowing.
I also had to pay attention to medicines: the most important was the antigen, a preparation made with a weakened bacteria culture and the healer milk of Mother, I had to inject it one her belly and let pass five or six mikas before performing the sexual act with her. Also had drugs for other diseases, to apply under my criteria and teachings of Mother and Kaunis. Watch was very important and my ability to repair it: it was tied to the forearm and measured the time in stons, mikas, journeys, twentieths and horbitts. I had to keep the kitchen spotless, as was also dining room, bathroom, nursing and workshop as required, and in desperate cases it could be could become an operating room. There was a set of very soft silk sheets in the closet so as not to irritate the delicate skin of the girl as it would be very sensitive because of her severe genetic intolerance to salt of marine environment.
The evening before my departure came the postman with his old cartcycle loaded with stuff for me because the whole people had done an immense collection of food and drink for the trip, to ensure its durability food were properly processed for a long journey across the ocean of Madness: vacuum-spiced meat, soft fruit and vegetables for the fragile digestive system of my guest, a whole series ready meals, milk, water, wine, cookies and sweets. Part of these foods had to be deposited in the pantry of the house in Shelter Island as an offering for sailors in distress. Mother sent me a package with some of her milk blisters and precise instructions on how they should be given to the Virgin written in Neitsi. On behalf of Father, who was elector and copyist of the Senate, the postman left me a copy of the “Book of our origins” which had passed from father to son for over ten generations, is the story of the pains and glories of Firstten people and an honor only awarded to a firstborn whose father is very proud of him… if I had not spilled with my mother the last tears of a child, would have been a perfect time to get to mourn, was a gesture with strong emotional significance. The last thing was an anonymous letter, I recognized the handwriting but controlled my facial expression because whoever sent me committed a serious breach of protocol, on one side of the envelope put “to be read at sea and be deposited on the Island of Sighs”.
The postman was a man of a certain age, known to all the people of the island. It was no secret that he was a great friend of the family; he climbed to the boat and hugged me.
“Junak, my son, seems like yesterday you were a lad who ran by these narrow streets” He pointed the village “And now you’re our savior. You’re the warrior that will bring the welfare of our women and the survival of our race.”
“Father, stay still to take a picture, if you please Junak, of course” Yelled the postman’s son, who was next to the cartcycle, a tall boy a little older than me. I smiled with an expression of assent. After we took the photograph, the postman came down from the boat and from the cartcycle they said goodbye waving their hands.
A few mikas later, came the moment of truth: I waited until everyone was out to dinner, I dropped the ropes and got going the boat’s electric engine, which was slow but silent, it put jahta on motion. The boat would do the 4 ½ mailins that had up to the exit of the bay in 5 mikas and then would extend the sails to harness the moist winds of midnight. The chair of the helm’s booth was quite comfortable to read if sea conditions were good, after hoisted the sails and set course to Etela Stars. The front glass of the booth had painted with very fine stripes useful to compare my position with the charts. I sat at the control site, basically a chair nailed to the wooden floor, the speed was nearly 5 solms, extraordinary for a boat of this kind.
I thought it was a perfect occasion to read the anonymous letter that I had in the pocket of my waterproof parka. I recognized the handwriting on the envelope immediately, the beautiful Kaunis had written me, an audacity that could cost much more than a mere reprimand because the law was very clear and strict regarding communication between the child-adult and lady senator once finished the training period. I opened the blue envelope and pulled out the letter, written in a letter as precious as her and began to read in the light of Stora moon to save battery power:
“Hello My Love, when you read this letter you will be on the way to the Island of the Sighs, excuse me for endanger you to be condemned for the sin and the betrayal I’m making but it’s the last time I can express how the wounds of my heart bleed for our final separation. There is an ancient legend which says that forbidden loves must atone by writing a love letter to the person you love and put it in a hole in a large dead tree that is in the middle of the island.
My body belongs to the old man that I was forced to marry by my family when I was a girl of six horbitts, but my heart will always be for you and although I know that you can’t reciprocate and you can’t shed tears for me, I want my words of love are not forgotten and forever remain as a testimony of our tragic separation. My soul cries because I will not feel your lips on mine, and the warmth of your hair on my naked breasts, because I cannot put your name to the son that I bear in my womb, because my hands will no longer be travelers of the sea of your skin, because your mouth belongs to another woman prettier than me you do not know and will dazzle you that will leave my image hidden under a dark shadow of remoteness, because the next time you make love my belly won’t be the habitation of thy appreciated seed nor will we share the secret pleasures nor the private aromas of the union of bodies. I love you knowing I should not, I love you knowing that you can’t love me, I love you though I know you should love a goddess who is more important than you…than me…than our love, I love you and I cannot avoid it. Life without you will be my condemnation, I’ll be forced to live but what I want is to die.
It is time to say goodbye, I will pour tears that our ancestors don’t allow your spill for our killed love, because our grief will fly through the sky and will become Northern Lights. Our love poetry has become a prosaic obituary. Goodbye My Love, I will love you forever “.
It took me an unexplainable effort to fulfill my oath of not to cry, though my wounded heart bled like if I had been nailed by a sword. I had never felt so sharply separation as at that time, I was dead for Kaunis and she had died for me, was the inexorable certainty that had lost half of my flesh and my soul was bereft of affection. I fell asleep on the seat; the course was set and sailed at high speed, tomorrow morning I will be on the Island of Sighs.
The next day I sighted land, which according to the charts it was supposed it was the Island of Sighs, a deserted rock with the legendary trunk atop a small hill. There was a small rickety dock where I could moor without problems, that place was so sad and frustrating like the souls of lovers who came to deposit their cards. It took me a while to get to that tree scorched by countless hellish summers, actually it was something extraordinary to find a tree but was dead at that latitude, usually plants on islands like this used to be tender stems that died in summer to be reborn in the rainy season.
Once I was in front of the trunk, I looked inside: it had lots of pieces of paper probably thousands of desperate lovers thus expressing their tragedy to keep secret his heart’s wounds. There was an unwritten rule that said the things what happened in the island only interested to whom got there to leave his paper, and therefore the presence of a person at that location could not be disclosed. There were no prying eyes that would look the island, the charts do not put its name, no mouth dare say that has seen someone close to the trunk…what happen in the Island of Sighs remains in the Island of the Sighs, which gave us security Kaunis and me that we would not be punished for this sin. I took the letter from my pocket, recited aloud the phrase more intense for my heart “I love you knowing I should not, I love you knowing that you can’t love me…”, the paper went through my lips and for a moment I thought feel her perfume and the taste of her saliva into my mouth … and the most intense loneliness that a lover can feel when deprived of his other half. I took from the ground a little lonely flower and put it in a small compartment of my watch where usually it’s kept a photo. Leave from that wilderness landscape was like leaving my beloved’s gravestone.
Eight mikas later, once resumed the trip and with more encouragement, I started to calculate the remaining distance to go before reaching my destination. There were approximately one thousand thirty mailins, I needed about four journeys to get to my destination whenever the wind blew in favor and not find a storm … a light rain was falling, clouds blotted out the sun red so that prevented me from setting a reference and to establish a exact course but his imaginary heat (it is demonstrated that the red sun does not warm us at all) could be felt behind those cumulus clouds to starboard, so I knew I had to tack three hundreds the port side. The next stop would be in Shelter Island, which is the last safe place before crossing the Infernal Streams where so many sailors were lost in storms and eddies. Before lunch I threw the net to add fresh fish to my diet, had a good freezer at the bow and if the catch of these days was good I could get some money to build a new home lighter, and soon I would be responsible of raising a family.
At night, the Stars Etela confirmed the direction I had preset, so I relaxed. The speed was still impressive for that vessel, above the sailing races in which I had participated when I was a child. With the flow of good sensations for the sailing conditions, I took the “Book of our origins,” and started reading that sacred text. It was a collection of ancient texts preserved and expanded by Senate’s copyists throughout our history.
“The origins of our race are documented from the horbitt zero, the time point when a civilization much more advanced than ours and from a distant star called Kirkia Balts deposited us in this world. With their colossal machines, those beings captured our ancestors on another world, they endowed to them of a language of scholars and educated them to stop being cavemen savages and turn on the creators of a fair and advanced civilization in their new home. Those superior beings transformed the planet into a habitable world for us and populated it with plants and animals from the same world which come humans, they even crumbled a moon so that the shadow of the rings formed by the resulting rock fragments give shelter to a strip of land… sheltered from hellish summer.
As they finished the job they were gone forever, hoping that people will form self-sufficient communities to transform that barren planet in their home.
But after a few hundred horbitts one of the pathogenic germs from the mother planet mutated into one isolate really virulent for female metabolism, lethal bacteria weakened women and caused them death after the first or second birth. For a long time, the human population was declining as it wasn’t possible to fill all deaths with new births.
But nature is wise and after a few horbitts humans evolved and our species was mutating into new races, leaving us the Firstten as the only remnant of the primitive race. First of all, a race of human beings appeared who had a height well below the Firstten, called S’ladan, whose females were immune to bacterial disease. Aside from their short stature, the S’ladan are characterized by a line of black hair that seems visually divide their nose into two lengthwise.
Result of crosses between Firstten and S’ladan over time Neitsi women appeared, capable of supporting four childbirths before dying and who had the unsettling ability to procreate girls for lesbian union of two women…”
I stopped for a moment that enjoyable read, written in a simple and brief manner, almost like a tale. It was bedtime; I’d take advantage of the seating comfort for a nap. I grabbed a sweater and improvised a cushion, to lean against the wall of the hut fell into a deep sleep. It was a new morning, the yellow sun beams woke me up, and the journey was pretty good. The red sun, still visible, indicated to me that the course was right and the flight of birds from the nearby islands confirmed it. I went to fetch something for breakfast and returned to the gate. A little more of reading between waves was waiting for me:
“The third new race that emerged was the K’tmenü ones; they were higher than the S’ladan and Neitsi, they were endowed with the attributes of men and women. Their hermaphroditism somehow protected them of the bacterial disease; we think they have an extra chromosome that tricks the bacteria. They were very aggressive and violent, and soon became the most numerous inhabitants of the known world…Firstten, thanks to their superior intelligence, got a serum extracted from the Neitsi’s blood that generated some defenses in all women who ensured a long and healthy life, they called it the antigen and was administered to all women Firstten and the future mothers Neitsi.
After a few hundreds of horbitts an apocalyptic scale cyclone destroyed our country and we had to go to another territory… it was no longer under the shadow of the rings. We walked hundreds or perhaps thousands of mailins looking for a place where we could be protected until we found some caves, that we expanded and an underground city grew sheltered from Hell and Ice Seasons. The K’tmenü, who wanted a space all to themselves, they went towards a group of a mountains two journeys walk from the underground city and pierced the rock to build their homes in a place they called Läkande.
Over time Goddesses Neitsi saw as were growing their psychic powers and the potency of the poison of their sensual mouths orange, so they came to fully control the souls of the S’ladan for them to do his will. Our eyes were turning blue to counteract their mental powers; it seems that this color blocks the electromagnetic radiation that they emit in order to spy on people’s minds.
In this context and with Neitsi Virgin Mothers eager for power was a matter of time that they claimed the control of the city and so they led the called S’ladan Revolt, which was actually a rebellion orchestrated by the Virgin Mothers to expel the Firstten race from underground city of Maa-Alune. The Firstten had to flee by sea aimlessly and were forced to scatter by the islands that were distributed by the Ocean of Madness and migrate from island to island depending on the seasons and become nomadic sailors .
A legend says that there is a fifth race. According to this legend there are some women Neitsi giant and black colored called ” Ebony Goddesses ” who tired of the Virgin Mother’s malice went to the southern desert and formed a tribe together with some warriors S’ladan with which they slept and gave birth new goddesses, but Neitsi categorically deny, and also have not been found so far evidence of their alleged existence…”
I stopped reading halfway through the journey seeing that a cloud had hidden for a moment the red sun, a wind aft reached me that indicated we were arriving to a seasonal point where the Northern Sea ice had begun to melt and streams would become more rapid and violent. That would further increase the speed of the boat, but would make it more unstable. I had to lower the sails, because against an angry sea submission was due to be shown.
Violent surf was unleashed; I had to hold the rudder with all my strength to avoid being left to drift and crashing into a stumbling block. That rough seas would last at least until dawn, the thaw was so quick and sudden change in salinity caused strong currents and apocalyptic storms that had led many experienced sailors to the ocean floor. The heavy rain did not let me see through the glass of the booth, I had to close the side window where it entered the water with great force, the jahta moved from side to side despite my attempts to straighten it. I was dizzy, I was totally wet and cold, but I could not let go the helm if I did not want the boat was left to the drift. It was almost impossible to keep the jahta on track; I could only try to keep stable the boat to prevent capsizing. The prow clashed violently against the waves over and over again, the boat went up and down to the rhythm of huge waves like mountains. I was ready for that and I knew whether I died the situation of women of our race was severely compromised; long time since my mother has not become pregnant, that meant that any day her breasts will dry up and the women could not have a cure for the disease.
I was using up to the limit of my strength the concentration techniques that Mother had taught me throughout my life, but I was alone in that berserk ocean that seemed to want to swallow me. The most hellish storm I had seen in my life was there before, thunder, lightning… and spent the mikas, long and wild, nature was unbridled and I was piloting a frail boat trying not to sink.
After prolonged and very difficult mikas, was exhausted and then my eyes guessed the first light of dawn behind those dark clouds which wanted to halve the jahta and convert me into feed for fish, and finally the rain ended and the stream relaxed. I looked at the red sun to orient myself; I had veered off course about two hundreds. I took the charts from the drawer to recalculate the route, there were still seven hundred fifty mailins to Shelter Island… and that storm what I had suffered indicated that I had a maximum of four journeys to get to Cliff Castle before the waters began to retreat because of the brutal summer heat and a maximum of six journeys more to avoid dying of heat before finishing our trip back to the Pelerines Island. I had immediately to unfurl the sails and navigate without rest, and needed a wind that made me reach five solms, was a matter of life or death.
I put larger sails to have more impulse; I would sail day and night to the best of my ability. If required I would launch the electric engine to increase the cruising speed, although with this cloudiness the solar panels had not fully charged the battery. The indicator marked that speed was three solms, was insufficient, I was desperate, wind had not enough strength; I placed a third sail the two masts, the one which never can be put, the jahta seemed to accelerate…
I do not know how I did it, surely fate would not play much against me as I thought, I was fighting to stay awake and suddenly I saw the Shelter Island, the island was within my reach only two journeys after the end of the storm. I had few mikas to make the offering, repair the damage made by the storm in the jahta and sail again. I tied the boat at the dock, and took the great package that the inhabitants of our island had given me to make this offering.
Just had a house we called Shelter, which has been used for thousands of horbitts as a place of rest and pantry of those who go or return from dangerous waters. The offering was actually a quantity of food and accessories equivalent to those required by the crew of the boat that stops to make their donation, in my case I left food and clothing for two, for me and the passenger who I had to pick up.
Thanks to offerings, in that shelter you could always find food and refreshments for boaters who needed them, as well as clothing and tools to repair their boats. There were also beds where you could rest from a stormy trip, like that which was on that wall next to the window inside one of bedrooms, where I had my first time with Kaunis, now so far away from me. On the top floor there was a meeting room where people maintain the most secret conspiracies between pirates and smugglers. The house was built over a hot springs and there were available small bubbling pools in different compartments of the basement. You could take the necessary, but the theft was punished with long prison terms because it was considered a crime against humanity.
An ancient said that people had to spent their bedtime in the Shelter in order to be in good shape to face the tough stretch of voyage that was missing to be done, but time ran against me; I had to cross with a precarious jahta the last one hundred across a stormy sea and a stream that could send me directly to the North Pole if I was drifting, passing through the Purgatory’s Gorge where the summer sun kills without mercy to anyone who is exposed. I could also come up with the mythical Infernal Streams that all sailors feared because it could take to the Southern Ocean, such a hot sea which is like to sail over a finished making broth that expels deadly vapors to whom breathe them. And arriving to destination, there are often watching the skilful crossbowmen K’tmenü, on reefs or mounds of magnetite waiting to liquidate any Firstten who approach the beach. I repaired the damage from the last storm both in the booth as well as the deck and sailed immediately.
I found out another stormy night, lightning, thunder, violent streams… this time I don’t lowered the sails the fact of sailing in those conditions was a frantic struggle that tested my courage and my decimated forces. I kept the boat’s course by instinct, for a moment I thought my father was whispering what I had to do, like when I was a kid. My exhausted brain mixed reality and fantasy, past and present. The wild waves became fierce monsters to my eyes, ready to devour the jahta and its scared helmsman. For a moment, I closed my eyes… I was in the big beach of the Little Pilgrim, digging holes in the sand with Mother. I returned to be two horbitts, my sweet mother taught me to do little drawings in the sand with one hand while the other held my brother Lakszi… the door woke me up by snapping open and going into a downpour that made me hit the wall of the booth and made me fall. I saw how blood was coming out of my left hand, the glass door had been broken and I had cut myself with one of its chunks. I had no time to get down to the kitchen to fix me, with the headscarf I improvised a bandage and I continued at the helm, I no longer felt pain … or maybe I couldn’t afford it in so complicated situation.
In the end I gave up and in the middle of that infernal rain came down on deck to lower the sails, and the sea in an act of deference relaxed a little but not enough to say that this was over. I returned to the helm, I heard the sound of broken glass under my boots, a pain in my hand began to come but priority was gallantly run my boat to ride out the storm…
Incredibly or rather fortunately, the next day awoke sunny and sailed slowly through the pitfalls to avoid colliding. I looked through my binoculars trying to see the enemy before it saw me. I also had to find a safe rock to hide away until the evening, when I would go to conquer our savior. Those rocks came out from the deep sea like hedgehog spikes ready to impale anyone who tried to approach, I was sailing among their ghostly shadows and the whistling wind that passed between them. I loaded the machine gun, I did not want to use it but if a K’tmenü enemy discovers me I could not show any mercy. From childhood they are raised in the hatred to Firstten race, they call us terrorists and murderers, they paint us with bloodstained hands in his drawings, they fear our war machines because they are unable to manufacture or not perhaps understand them. I casted anchor under a rock that looked like a gantry that left me totally hidden from the eyes of anyone who was barricaded in a reef, because the unlucky K’tmenü who dared sail on one of their unstable boats or a bulky trireme had no chance against me and my double-barreled gun. There was no threat in sight, I blocked the machine gun and went to heal the wound of the hand. That cut was not too deep, so I disinfected it and I covered it with a bandage to keep it clean.
At night I put in operation the electric motor and headed slowly to Cliff Castle, my destination, I needed three to reach it because it was a route full of obstacles and was difficult to move only with the partial Stora moonlight, an insignificant waning. The Cliff Castle was a vertical wall waterfront which was pierced by countless caves formed by the action of erosion caused by water. These were caves that S’ladan closed with bars to prevent intruders entered and provoked havoc on Maa-Alune. At a span from the agreed cave, I noticed some stairs carved into the rock to facilitate access to girl into the jahta. Sea level was perfect for operation, the virgin would just make a small jump and would be in my arms, and I went out on deck with a bag of clothes in hand and started talking quietly to not be listened by inopportune ears.
“Princess, I come to find you. Your future husband comes with the promise that you will be the happiest woman in the world.”
Appeared a figure dressed in white, like a spirit of the night.
“We cannot waste time, my Goddess, grab this bag and hasten to change you, you will find appropriate clothing and shoes for the trip” I threw a bag, she took it and went into the cave.
She spent some time…
“Will you help me get down please?” Was the first time I heard the lovely voice of that delicate creature, coming down a bit scared by the stairs….
Chapter 7. The twins.
Maa-Alune, sacred S’ladan underground city, season 50057.
It had been four seasons since I was released from jail by the Mother Starica through the intercession of my dear sister During these seasons, fulfilling my commitment to serve my sister, I was preparing her for the great ceremony; and we were already in the final, that day was the step that would lead to one of three candidates to be Virgin Applicant. Pulxer had the great opportunity to be the woman who should replace the next Virgin Mother who died, who knows, maybe my sister will change the things in Maa-Alune. During these seasons has changed so much my view of things regarding my place in this despotic society, where everyone dances with the music played by two cruel and ruthless to whom we are forced to call Mother.
I took care directly of her personal hygiene, I kept her well fed, listened attentively and obeyed all her orders, shared her bed assuming my role of being the last protective shield of her sacred person in case of invasion, having to kill or die to defend her virtue. I also helped in her essays in the arts of dance, diction and singing, when we talk about the dark arts, Pulxer dominated them much more than most girls, even more than a Virgin Mother.
And then came the moment of our ruin … The morning of the ceremony, I followed the procedure Neitsi for the preparation of a candidate: I bathed her slowly and gently with milk of reproductive woman with a natural sponge so her skin was totally perfect. After finishing that relaxing bath I put on her some makeup according to the tribal peculiar way of young S’ladan virgins in deference to the people that made thousands of seasons housed and protected us. I chose to leave her pubis completely shaved to prevent her black hair could be seen through the translucent fabric of the dress, hiding with a very fine powder the red area to not show any imperfection (in some cases, to break the tie, they were completely stripped in order to choose the most perfect body, another example of the damned flesh commerce in which the women of our race were subjected). It was very hot inside our rooms carved on the rock, and in order to attend her better I was also undressed except my white panties of fertile woman… then I felt the sweet drug than came from her back. My sister’s attack surprised me, Pulxer approached her lips to mine believing that the Dictatorship of the Will was working and could almost is said that it was.
“For me, just are you, my heart beats for my sweet K’ntic and her sugar lips” Her excitation produced even paralyzing drug, nor from her mouth orange, famous for being the most poisonous of all young Neitsi.
I was totally dominated when Pulxer tried to get off my panties, at which time I averted her with a kick taking advantage that she dropped their guard confident that I would let her rape me.
“But … Have you got mad? Do you want to kill us both?” A droplet of blood came out from her tiny nose and slid over her orange lips, as sweet as sugar tears welled in her honey colored eyes.
“I’d rather die than they separate me from you” Said while sobbing “I cannot love anyone else. I just want to taste the honey of the world’s most wonderful creature.”
I approached her to calm her down and hug her despite what she had to try because her tears were like sharp stones falling on my heart, but someone had to bring sanity in the midst of the madness that pervaded her whole being.
“I’m also hurting for being separated, but you know sister that my death penalty is only suspended and just on the lightest infraction they will take my life in the most horrific you could imagine.”
“I will not allow it” Her voice reflected the sadness of the impotence from who couldn’t support her words with facts. There was an uncontrollable passion of a lover throbbing in her heart drowned only by the frustration of not having achieved her wicked objective – K’ntic, you are my life, my love indispensable, the blood that I feel running through my veins. My body is your body and this desire is like an acid that breaks my belly with great pain.
“My unconscious Pulxer, don’t you understand that I ‘can’t love you this way? The sin that you want to commit is the crime that has the cruelest punishment in this land, death is slow and painful. Do not you remember the girls you had to kill for the same sin that you now want to commit? I have been your faithful slave all this time with pleasure, but my love is that of a sister and not of the one lascivious lover who craves the warmth of your body. I’d feed you with my breasts if necessary, I would leave torture me to death to save your life, I would drown in the most salted sea if you asked for, but my body will not join you because your sweet honey is not the one I’m looking for.”
After those words I tried to fix the damage that had caused the fight in the face and body of Pulxer, but now I was wearing the dress to avoid that she would try to attack me again and this time she get away with that. I concealed with makeup the reddened parts of her face and extremities, and wiped the blood of her nose. Fortunately, in a jiffy there was no trace of any aftermath of fight. Previously I had already let her to taste a little of her own blood in order to relax her using its medicinal effect. To finish work, I combed the long soft black hair of my sister and made her two braids so she could use easily the drug from her back in case of any of the tests of ceremony so required… I also thought the movement of braids would have spectacular visual effects in dance which was planned.
“You are by far the most beautiful Virgin that will go to the ceremony. Looking at you Mothers couldn’t avoid to fall rendered before your feet” Neitsi felt a brutal attraction for beauty, man or woman, was the drug that led us to destruction and to commit real atrocities. The sensuality made us liars and manic killer if need be, we were sinful by nature, our impulses led us to be vicious and women addicted to love beyond what was healthy an responsible because not in vain love was one of force’s vectors of nature Neitsi
“Do not tell lies, K’ntic, in other circumstances you would have gone to the ceremony because you’re more beautiful than me.”
For a moment we look in the mirror together, we seemed the same girl with different dresses. I stroked her face and she closed her eyes to savor it, I couldn’t blame her for the passional nature that transformed her nature of sister in a crazy lustful that we could lead to death at any time, and after all we were two symmetrical pieces of the same person.
“Well, we are so alike that maybe I could impersonate. Who would distinguish us?” I answered. Pulxer laughed at that funny occurrence.
Came time to go to the temple, and following tradition, some young collectors S’ladan came for pick up Pulxer. Those girls were impressed to have that goddess so close and touch her. Lately it had become fashionable for young women of S’ladan race to epilate the hair line they got it on the nose to look more like us, us with different results depending on how beautiful or ugly they were. S’ladan girls were not used to be very graceful, except some that were more like us than people of their race, not in vain Neitsi are descendants of those little warriors and collectors that for evolutionary reasons we become women who could procreate without men.
“Oh, you are a beautiful girl, had never seen a virgin so gorgeous and seductive. I want to be as pretty as you, Princess.”
“You are the beautiful girl” Pulxer answered only for not being unsympathetic to that sweet girl, because inside her despised S’ladan and their subservience to our race and to the K’tmenü. My sister saw these people as inferior and she had done so noted sometimes to some of S’ladan who served in our rooms.
The two S’ladan girls took the beautiful Pulxer to her fate, whether it was infinite glory or of disappointing failure, might even be on her last legs by the path of life. While watching how they went down the passage cut into the rock, inside my heart grew the anguish of knowing that my days as Virgin were over, cause in accordance with a non written agreement with S’ladan within the next journeys Virgin Mothers would put me on sale like a cow and a noble warrior would acquire me to have in his bed a pretty young girl to blow off steam. My future was already written in fire on my skin, I would give birth to the children of a man who never become me his legal wife, indeed, I will be the toy of a couple who will take advantage of my innate knowledge of the arts of love. The main function of a Grevinna Neitsi was sadly to be the sex slave of the S’ladan family that hosted her, husband and wife shall have my honey until my last breath. I will take care of the children of the marriage and at most within six or seven seasons I will die and they will devour me like a farm animal, like a fucking beast.
With all these thoughts about my future my eyes welled up with tears and I was huddled in a corner of the gallery adjacent to my cave crying my misfortune, for the stupid role that I had to play in this life, by the fact of being a property to be exchanged in a business transaction without the right to decide for myself. While reproductive mothers passed through the gallery with girls Neitsi, one of the smallest approached me and picked up one of my tears and put on her tongue.
“Mm, is sweet, you cry tears of candy, K’ntic” I grinned when I saw the plump face of that girl enjoying the product of my sadness.
“I’m sad my little princess, do you accompany me a little bit? You can lick all the tears you want” She was a very small girl, about nine stations, very pretty. Although I struggled to remember his name, I could not.
“Do not cry, I’ll be your mum” She took my hand and together we went to the temple where the ceremony was to be held.
The temple was the biggest cave of our city, a great room excavated by expert workers S’ladan for thousands of seasons and served to worship the Virgin Mothers. All Maa-Alune wanted to attend this event, so the crowd was piled up at the entrance. It took a long time to access because everyone wanted to know firsthand what girl would be the next aspiring Virgin Mother, the future sovereign of our underground city and mother of future Neitsi girls. The girl held out her arms so that I took her, I found it difficult but that girl had come to console me and I could not deny it her. I found a good place to sit and watch the ceremony acceptably, the girl sat on my lap.
Firstly two Virgin Mothers, Starica and Kiseb, came out; our gorgeous goddesses rose to the dais which S’ladan workers had prepared for that big social event. Behind them came the young candidates to succeed the Virgin Mothers. Thanks to the care of their caregivers, those chosen girls were the most beautiful creatures never seen before, as they learned well they stood before all this spellbound audience to be observed by the crowd and bowed. Pulxer was the first candidate that could be seen from the left, in the middle was a girl who was also about our age and the last was three or four seasons younger; the latter was a too immature girl that was actually a young girl of yellow panties who had no chance of being chosen to become the future Virgin Applicant. The ceremony was expected to be of short duration and it was one of these rare occasions when you could see the two Virgin Mothers together within the same enclosure, except the people who were going to see them to their private quarters, or what is the same, the service and the sissy troubadour.
A group of reproductive mothers started to play various instruments and Pulxer removed a part of her dress, revealing a piece of translucent fabric very form-fitting and hinting almost all of his anatomy, it was time to dance. My sister moved gracefully to the rhythm of the music, it seemed that her feet did not touch the floor, was a dance that we had been assaying three seasons and Pulxer reproduced it with accuracy and delicacy, the exclamations of admiration were unanimous to this graceful creature that evolved through a dais that dwarfed by the beauty of her riveting performance. Once ended the dance the audience burst into applause.
The second candidate started to sing, her voice was so melodious that deepened in the souls of those who were listening, maybe it was the most divine voice that has been heard from many seasons ago in Maa-Alune; when she finished, the cheers were also incredibly loud and unanimous. Finally, the most young of the three surprised us all by reciting an old poem written by Mother S’hana more than four thousand seasons ago, the power of that still childish voice reciting those moving verses so affected people that was worthy of a round of applause not less than those of the other two girls. Clearly, there was a tie.
In these circumstances, each Virgin Mother had her own tiebreaker criterion, in this case Mother Kiseb already was about to pick the fortunate virgin, the preciousness that would be the future goddess and sovereign of the underground city of Maa-Alune when she or Mother Starica die in not a too distant future. Mother first looked inside of Pulxer’s Soul through her eyes; the look on her face stopped me cold as I realized that Kiseb somehow knew, that damn orange eyelids witch saw what had happened a while ago between us. It was quite clear now that we both would die, our sin would lead us to destruction… I did not care already the result, my eyes became a sea of tears and an uncontrollable panic made my whole body shiver as if it was cold.
I saw clearly how the Mothers chose the other girl about our age, Mother Starica immediately took the chosen to the Goddess chambers; whereas, Mother Kiseb pulled Pulxer, with unconcealed anger, to make her come into the dark passage of the gallery of instruction.
“Do not cry, K’ntic, sure your sister will win next time; she is the prettiest of all the girls.”
“There will not be more opportunities, all ended” I was thinking louder, my words weren’t any answer to the little girl that hugged tightly to protect me from who knows what. I found some solace on that affectionate little creature, until one of the reproductive took her hand to take her away.”
“I’m sorry pretty Virgin, but the little princess must go to sleep” And she took her, leaving me in a bitter sense of emptiness… the unbridled desire of Pulxer will lead us to one of the most gruesome deaths which were written in the Book of the Unnatural.
Suddenly people started to run; I immediately suspected that something very serious had happened in the galleries of the reproductive mothers. I feared the worst because I knew that Janda had gone to the delivery room to have a child of her master / husband Kopile, I ran to one of the warriors who left the scene of the events to ask him.
“What happens? Why is everybody running towards the gallery of breeders?”
“Janda has died, people say that has been stabbed by her husband while she was in the cave of childbirth” The perplexity came over me: the loving Janda, the woman who fed me without asking anything in return, had been killed by a booby to whom had just given a son. My feet accelerated towards the gallery of the reproductive mothers, I needed to see her with my own eyes, and I could not believe it.
There was the ill-fated Janda, lying on the floor, someone had had the delicacy to close her eyes and cover with a blanket her chest wound, and whether I didn’t know she was dead it would seem she was sleeping on the tile. The warrior who had now her as Grevinna struck her with a lethal knife and fled precipitately with his wife S’ladan through the labyrinthine galleries of the city. As explained by the people who were, Janda had just given birth to a halfblooded girl S’ladan and Neitsi, this was a curse to our race and represented the death penalty for the offender as the unjust laws of the Virgin Mothers. It seems that in the confusion one of the reproductive ran to hid hide the baby from suffering the same fate as her unfortunate, because there is also no mercy for the innocent fruit of sin.
Janda was still beautiful despite being a dead body on the bloody floor, no one present dared to move; in fact no one knew what to do. People who surrounded her knew that one of the Mothers would order that incorrupt body was thrown to the dogs to devour her with dishonor. Dishonor! That exceptional birth was a nature’s, it was the first time that a reproductive Neitsi gave birth to a fifth son and it was also the first time that a halfblooded baby was born from a womb of one of us.
Mother Starica came to the gallery and looked at all us that were in that cave planted in front of the corpse. Her voice thundered:
“Where’s the baby of this bitch?” All were silent; no one wanted or could not rat out the person who had taken the fruit of the womb of Janda. There were more than twenty people into that room, we knew that she couldn’t could to make kill everyone; which is why no one opened the mouth to give the name of whoever had fled with the baby, or maybe nobody really knew.
“I will not say it again, where is the baby?”
Seeing that the silence persisted, got rid of the layer and with her bare back started to expel the poison of the Dictatorship of the Will as she looked into our eyes to see what we had within the soul. When she looked at me, I used the tactic of Spiritual Liberation: projected my essence away from this space, I left blank my mind because in this way whether I died what happened before with Pulxer in our room would die with me. My fear disappeared, for a moment I felt I was floating in the clear waters of one of the ponds of the deepest galleries, my mind returned to the happy seasons when I was a little princess spoiled by the reproductive mothers, until the drug of Mother made me faint.
Upon waking up, I was alone in my bedroom without Pulxer news, I didn’t know how I arrived I got there. The urge of cry came back to me, the world began to fall apart in front of me and I didn’t fully understand why; I did not know whether if I would live or die or even if I would see my twin sister. Suddenly, Mother Starica burst into the chamber without knocking.
“I don’t know who has taken the child, Mother. When I got to the delivery room she was gone.”
“Now it never minds me the issue of the mixed race baby, our guard takes care of that. I’m here for something else, about the sin that have committed you and Pulxer. Tell me K’ntic, do you want your sister live?” Her tone was really hard, all of her showed a severe semblance. In spite of being completely terrified, I emptied my mind so that she did not discover that sin had been committed by Pulxer.
“Of course, I live only to make her happy. I beg you not to kill her.”
“Even if you must die instead of her?”
“Some time ago I assumed I would die before what I have to; I know from the time that Mother Fallegur locked me in jail. Kill me now, but let Pulxer in peace.”
“Your impertinent goodness already saved your life before and this time it seems that will do so again, but you won’t be able to see Pulxer anymore, of course.”
I felt mixed emotions, fear and anxiety, happy because it seemed that had not yet reached the end of our days but sad because I could not say goodbye for the last time my sister. Mother Starica continued:
“Pulxer will become the Queen of the K’tmenü of Läkande and you will be the Healing Mother of Firstten; your paths won’t cross never again. Your missions are greater than yourselves, if you fail we all Neitsi fail.”
“Mother, can you grant me a favor? It is very important to me.”
“Speak, I listen to you” This woman was showing me a look that made me mourn with fear. Mother Starica had the uncanny ability to make me speechless, to provoke me an insanely uncontrollable trembling in the legs “What do you want young lady?”
“Please, give this to my sister” I cut a lock of my hair and tied with a bow made with a thread of my dress “Wherever she goes I know she will carry a part of me.”
“All right, I will, you have my word. You must understand that it is a danger to us all that ye yourselves together, the mother Kiseb has seen the lust with which Pulxer looks at you, she has noticed that your sister loves you in a wildly inappropriate. We cannot allow you commit the fatal mistake of join in mortal sin of doing what is only allowed to the Holy Virgin Mothers. Now you have a big job to do, because you will give us a lot of seasons of peace with Firstten.”
After that, I had to listen very carefully to all instructions of Mother Starica, when she saw that I had understood all she gave me the keys of the cave which leaded to Cliff Castle and left the chamber, closing the door behind her. I had to leave quickly because the young man who had to pick me up would come that very night according to the calculations made by Mother Starica. Before I left I put on my white robe and said goodbye to all our stuff, everything we had shared so far, dresses, jewelry, perfumes … still felt the sweet smell of my sister pervading the room, smelling so sweet fragrance was like palpate a part of it in the air around me. I took her favorite bracelet, was the only thing that would remind me her there where I was going, and also grabbed some food for the wait.
On the way to the long gallery which leaded to the Cliff Castle’s cave, I passed casually in front of jail. I thought I should go see the former Janda’s husband, the legendary Sakelt, to give him the terrible news. At the entrance I found that disgusting guard who tried to rape me four seasons ago. The encounter with my assailant made me hesitate for a moment, my gaze turned aggressive and I realized that this man had just recognized me.
“Come in my beautiful Princess” He did not frisk me, nay he didn’t dare. I could see clearly his animal fear through his coward eyes, and when I walked through the door he spoke to me hesitantly “I did not want to do it, my goddess. Mother Starica ordered me to and you know that is impossible to resist her dark powers of witch, I have a daughter of the same age of you and I would not dare of violating your virtue on my own initiative.”
“Now it does not matter what happened, dear jailer, your treacherous blow does not hurt me anymore, from my wound no longer gushes blood, my ears are no longer shocked by your gross insult, my tears no longer fall for your offense…” I recited some verses of the Psalm of Forgiveness whilst I stroked his wrinkled cheek and went on my way to Sakelt’s cell while I heard the muffled cry of that guard.
Once I reached that dirty cell came to my mind my own experience and I saddened to think that this man would have to spend in that dunghill the rest of his life. The whole jail reeked of excrements since the only way to evacuate in that cell was making it directly on the ground without any chance of cleaning, the best way was to place it in a corner to avoid having to sleep on your own shit.
“Sakelt, you do not know me, I am the Virgin K’ntic, future mother and lover of warriors” I make the aristocratic presentation befitting my rank of princess.
“Let the Ancient Goddesses protect your immaculate person, beautiful princess, that soldiers who leave your belly lead us to honorable victory” The man responded by serving protocol, which filled me with curiosity as those words came from a dissident committed who abhorred the social differences of Maa-Alune.
“I have not much time; I must accomplish a very important mission beyond these galleries. But my heart tells me I must give you the news. It’s about Janda.”
“Janda… What happened?”
“She has died, her new owner did.”
“I told my wife to not sell her to that animal” A privileged nobleman could have two wives, one S’ladan collector who administers the house and one reproductive Grevinna Neitsi to take care of the family and give birth. The pact between Neitsi and S’ladan was that the women of our race that couldn’t become goddesses would become slaves owned of a noble warrior before her thirty seasons.
“She had given birth to a girl a half Neitsi and a half S’ladan. The warrior followed the severe old law, killed her and then fled to the desert with his S’ladan wife to die of thirst and hunger.”
“My poor Janda was so sweet and generous that presented with a gift to the tribe before leaving this world. Do you know that she was the first Neitsi who has given birth to a fifth child?”
“It was a girl with a hair line on her nose and orange lips. Nobody knows where the baby is now.”
“True, this is the greatness of her gift; she has brought to the world a new mixed race that will lead us to the equality of all castes. Someday we will regain the freedom we lost when we separate from Firstten, the terror of the Virgin Mothers’ will end and also the disease that kills you so young to Neitsi will finish.”
“What do you mean with the disease will finish?”
“Thousands of seasons ago Firstten found the cure for your illness making use of milk from your breasts. Thousands of women are going to cure making a pilgrimage to an island where a Healing Mother provides them with a new life with her savior fluid.”
“Then I know what fate reserves me, my breasts will cure the Firstten women. Well, Sakelt, I must go, take this meal” I handed him a cloth bag between the bars with food that had originally kept for my wait at the Cliff Castle.
“Do you know to what you risk if they see you, Princess?”
“My breasts don’t give milk yet; I can’t do the same than Janda. And I think the guard is having a small panic attack, he is not aware of anything right now.”
“Let the Kirkia Balts bless you throughout eternity, sweet K’ntic, let your maternity enlighten us in this darkness so durable, let your wise kindness brings peace to our spirits and serve as an example to future generations” He continued with the old protocol S’ladan from before the Rebellion, although in Maa-Alune now would represent a blasphemy to worship other gods than the Virgin Mothers and their ancestors.
“I must left you, noble fighter” I gave him a small flask in his hands, he immediately understood what it was and his black eyes expressed an infinite gratitude, for the first time in many seasons that man could made a choice.
“The poison from your lips will release me from my dark loneliness. Soon I will be with my beloved Janda … thanks for showing me the way to love, holy is the ground which treads the beautiful Virgin K’ntic and pure is her love for all of us. Freedom will come from youngsters like you, who performed brave acts for others.”
I left the jail without looking back, even doubted whether I had done was right or not. It was a way to snatch defeat from the pride of the Virgin Mothers, a stone pulled from the building of tyranny in which we were subjected Neitsi and S’ladan.