Little Cherine Book 12 - BPost067
If an alpha falls in love and is not loved, the alpha does not survive. There are times that this can happen and they write beautiful poetry and songs about such alphas.
How could it happen? Same-sex violence is not unknown among singles of the seven. Some, for instance, less educated and closer to acting instinctively, feel they can increase the chances of being chosen by moving from one group to another. They expect the single of their sex to move out of the group when they move in, but if friendships have been forged, they sometimes refuse to leave and both will try to damage in the other the organ that ‘smells’ the pheromone. Often they both get damaged and should an alpha happen to choose what is perceived as a unit at such a time, love will not be reciprocated by all and so a family unit will not successfully form and the six who did love will fall out of love. In such cases, sometimes the rage of the six can mean the death of the stranger who tried to force his way in. Not often though, as they are all still fairly close to the days of acting according to instinct and therefore can empathise with the needs of the stranger. However, the outsider will be sent away and somehow other groups can sense what happened for quite a long time, so that stranger remains an outsider for a long time, not accepted even by groups missing an individual of that sex.
Unfortunately for him, Vovnii did not succeed and Ivgos met Fezvii and Puiquaa and sensed they love each other. It also helped form another important lesson for him - and for us. The Reggheri females have more head hair than Terrans do. They do not trim it and the hair that falls over their faces is woven in and out of silver (for the young) and wooden (for the elderly) slitted frames, disguising them. Children only cover their faces with their hair, though they are allowed to add dried grasses and slim vines to give it more body. As I’ve indicated, all of us, including Ivgos, find the males attractive, their sensitive features making what is alien beautiful, so we presumed we would find the females even more exotically exquisite. The features of the females are not thin, giving the impression of sensitivity - luckily for them, since the males admire and are attracted by what is seen as strength in their females. I suppose that the females truly are more beautiful, if viewed from an evolutionary point of view. A pity men of our species are not attracted by whatever makes us females the best tools of evolution. I’d like to be solid and strong.
The Reggheri, all of them, cannot get used to the idea that so many people of differing species are visiting their planet. RT has a series of screens giving live pictures from all over their world and they cannot understand why anyone would want to visit those ‘unpleasant’ areas they stay away from. We think we have a reason for them not using all their planet. It is so odd that the only answer that makes sense is that they colonised this planet.
Most of the world, all of it that is distant from the huge mountain that carries the semi-desert plateau where they built their city, is lacking in a mineral they need. The lack does not seem to affect the plants, only the animals and the Reggheri. Any that stay in those lands for more than a couple of years find their skeleton disintegrating and bones snap because they grow brittle. We plan to experiment to learn whether seeding the soil will be beneficial or wipe out the species growing there.
Now the Inguel tell us that the massive mountain does not make sense (geologically). They briefly mentioned a chemical/mineral dissonance between the mountain and the rest of the planet. Although the lowlands surrounding the mountain have similar chemicals and minerals, it is likely they are covered by what has been washed down by millennia of rain and snow. For more detailed information, we’ll have to wait for them to finish their studies as they refuse to discuss it if they have to conjecture without knowing all the facts.
Craig asked to speak to Robert. “I do not have a healer and most of the gifts I had have been blocked. However, I do have perfect health and having been a Cherinian in the past, I can identify changes in my body that Normals could not. My unique situation could be exploited to prove or disprove certain theories. Have Freddie return two years in time and have me placed in an area rich with food but on the other side of the world. RT can then collect me one day before our arrival and my body can be examined by healers before I am healed. Won’t such an experiment provide useful information?”
“If we alter some of the parameters, we’ll get far more interesting information. At this time we are arguing the advisability of altering the mineral composition of the land - what if we do so in the Sparkler World? The Sparklers can jump with their World to another reality, stay there for five years, if the Inguel agree it is sufficient time for indicating how the mutations will affect the ecology, and they can return tomorrow. If the changes seem to be benign, Craig can volunteer to live there for a year.” I gave him a smile. “The Sparklers will monitor you so that any change that endangers you can be instantly dealt with. I’m sorry you will not have the opportunity to risk your wellbeing, but your offer to do so will suffice.”
He glanced at Ivgos before answering me. “I care what Ivgos thinks of me because he is my friend, but the only one that really matters is Candy. She has been my friend when everyone despised me - myself included. If there is no danger to me but I can help the Reggheri, it will mean something to her.”
The Sparklers were only absent for a few hours our side. Everybody, including the Reggheri, went to visit and watch as the Inguel made their tests. They have reported no detrimental changes to the ecology so we built five simple huts within the area Craig is likely to wander in. They all include chemical sewerage so that he does not alter the ecology - he could do so even as a Reggheri. For the experiment to be valid, he has to eat the local food, so an Inguel healer changed his body. Now that it is too late, I envy Craig, he is to have a unique experience and even should others emulate him later, he will be the first to have lived as a Reggheri. His Candy is going to be very proud of him. Since nobody has mentioned it; Candy is admired and loved by many species. The Sprakil are considered a difficult people and to be loved by one (beyond profit) makes her very special. That she then chose to become a friend of Craig at a time when all species could barely tolerate his presence showed that not only is she a true Cherinian, but that she also is brave - not many would have dared extend a hand in friendship to him at that time. I do not think she will age, Candy is happy as she is and that is why she refuses to become six. I stay at eleven and refuse to become twelve or thirteen, even if I do become an adult for a short while now and then. I think of myself as eleven and I hope I always will. We are Cherinians and time-related age is not a valid marker for us. For Arthur: most Cherines are a permanent eight years old and it is just as well - even as a Cherinian with a healer, I doubt any Robert would survive holding a teenage or adult Cherine on his lap ten hours a day.
“Am I a nuisance, do you want me to leave?”
“Are you angry with me?”
“I bet you think I’m stupid.”
There are a large number of similar negative questions Cherinians never need to ask each other. There is also one other very important ‘positive’ question we never need to ask: Do you (really) love me? Thinking and writing about Candy made me think of the above. So many people have long lists of what they think being a Cherinian is all about. Very few of those lists include the little everyday things that make our lives so special. For newly linked Cherinians, living like this can feel as if they are permanently on psychotropic drugs. Even for someone born a Cherinian, it can at times feel unreal.
Solomon told us that one of the most difficult things the Sparklers have ever had to do was the effort they had to expend preventing their World from reacting to ‘wishes’ for Craig and his visitors. Even the Inguel who were mostly visiting for the sake of collecting data, could not help consciously or subconsciously wishing for certain data to be true so as to make it more interesting for them. Other visitors had their own ‘wishes’ and there were times the Sparklers felt they could not resist everyone. Helping and making dreams come true for others is one of the most pleasurable events in the lives of Sparklers. Robbie just had to tease. “Solomon, though you adopted the form of an elderly Terran male, which meant you should have been salivating every time you saw a sexy little girl, you never allowed your body to be a normal male body, suppressing its libido. If you had allowed your body to find girls arousing and you’d had to control yourself for all these years, blocking or rejecting the ‘wishes’ of visitors to your World would have been a piece of cake.”
Solomon smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling (with time he has become excellent at such tiny details that make him feel more natural to Normals, especially our politicians). “If I were to do as you say Robert, I very much doubt I would be aroused by little girls. I am more attracted by mature minds so I believe I would feel the same about their bodies.”
Robbie shook his head. “I knew you didn’t understand how it is for males. You have chosen to be an elderly male and that means you definitely would prefer little girls. I’m sorry, but you are well past the age when men can be attracted by mature women.” It did not take long for the other men to join in the teasing of Solomon. He knew he was being teased, but if you want those who are teasing you to enjoy themselves, you have to act as if you are taking them seriously - which I guess is a good way of teasing them without making it too obvious.
When I’d asked the RT Tellers to take over for us, I had thought it was a quick and easy job. Now I’m glad I asked them to handle it, they are a sharp group and I love the way they handle things as a family. The truth is, I could have missed out on a few of those chemical problems (as I did in their past) and the solutions. The idea of going to so much trouble to duplicate their planet in the Sparkler World, I’m not certain I would have thought of it. Not because I’m stupid, but because I would have been embarrassed to ask them to do so just for proving something so obvious. Sam was right and I would have been wrong.
Certain facts are now proven. The Reggheri cannot live on the rest of the planet, as they knew. Trying to spread the missing minerals only caused damage to the ecology and if they’d tried it on the planet itself we’d have had a major job cleaning the planet and re-introducing plants from the past. The plants growing close to the mountain sides have had thousands of years to gradually adjust to more and more of the minerals being washed down.
Ivgos played an important role in helping the One-lifers and the elders are now grateful to him for going along with them as a friend, and have told him he will be welcome to their Worlds whenever he chooses to visit.
Hettie asked us to turn the occasion into a formal diplomatic event so that the governments of Normals from all the realities can attend. Robbie guessed what she was planning and Eddie tried to hide his smile as Robbie told her he does not want this presented as a Terran success. He does not even want it to be thought of as a Cherinian success. On the first, she did not argue with him, but on the second she did. She is willing to have it described as a success by Cherinians of many allied species, but she insists it must be seen as a Cherinian initiative. She turned to me for my help when she sensed I was not taking a position against her.
“In a sense Hettie is right. The Reggheri only approached us in the hope of being helped because they had sensed Cherine as a new power. On the other hand, if we claim this as a Cherinian triumph, then it means we have to mention the help volunteered by Craig as something separate from our efforts. Hettie, I have a feeling that the Normals are not mellow in their attitudes towards him and he’s helped us by staying out of the limelight. Do you think a good marketing approach would help soften attitudes towards him?”
Her face had drawn tight as I spoke. “Samantha, even had he single-handedly saved all the Reggheri, they would not forgive him. If people like Hitler were considered monsters, he is something a hundred times worse. They still hate him.” She looked around to be certain she would not be offending any sensibilities. “You must have felt that even many Cherinians detest him.” She gave up on me. “How do you want this handled Robert? As an inter-species cooperation that includes Cherinians and Normals?”
Tina asked, “Can’t we talk only of human beings reaching out to help the Reggheri?”
Gently, Eddie explained, “Many of our species will interpret that as meaning Terrans.”
I cut in as quickly as I could. “Tina, that’s a great idea! Eddie, we must do that as often as possible so that Terrans adjust their way of thinking. There is little point in us being the only ones thinking of all aliens as humans. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before!” Tina’s blush changed to a flush of pleasure without any discernible difference to her skin, but I felt her heart and it was like liquid warmth flowing into me.
Some things sound great in theory but to implement them require an enormous concentration of brilliant minds to avoid it flopping like a badly cooked soufflé. Compound the problem by having to inspect the various uses of the term ‘human being’ in every language so that no unintentional meaning is given due to idiom or cultural differences. We did not bother checking with our alien allies, we trust them.
Some of us pretend the government leaders are not too keen to visit in Freddie because they find it boring that all we’ll be doing is going to the void. It would not be as diplomatic to state they find reasons of State to stay away because they are afraid. At least a number of them have come and are being hosted at small parties in the various spaceships and eco-niches by our alien friends. It reminds me of something that happened more than a decade ago. During a previous visit to our Athens home, we were asked to visit the void with a large number of guests. We were advised that many Churches came together to try and reduce their differences in the hope of reversing past divisions; the real reason was due to a reduction in the number of their congregations causing a negative impact on their cash flows - which panicked them. An idea expressed during their meetings won support by the majority - until we affirmed we are willing to take them to the void in Freddie, as requested. They had expected us to give excuses for not doing so and they could then use that against us and draw back some of their erstwhile supporters. We did not realise what was expected of us and how they wanted to use us, so we gladly agreed to take them. We not only enthusiastically told of what they would see but also sent, with our answers, photos of Worlds taken from our screens. No matter, we were soon thanked but told such a visit would no longer be required of us. We were not as surprised as we should have been at their response, but what did make us wonder was the fear they felt at the thought of coming with us.
We collected those who wished to be present and if anyone was upset that we included the Dalai Lama from each reality, they managed to block their emoting from me. Oh! Writing that gave me an idea for more Cherinians to find employment. Normals who can afford it and fear their minds being read could employ Cherinians to block them from everyone…well, almost everyone, there might be some Talents who can sneak in past a block. If so, they would have to do so without the Cherinian mind defender sensing them. Robbie just sent me a question that deflated me. He wants to know how anyone who fears having his thoughts read can trust a Cherinian to protect him, since such a mind defender can read their thoughts at will. I agree with Robbie, I would not trust anyone outside of my family. Since my Mind Defender idea died, I did not mind it being discussed at the taverna. We all wondered when we sensed Campbell’s amusement so we waited for him to speak.
“Samantha, since you have given up on your idea, would you mind me making it mine?” I gave my permission, since to refuse would betray a ‘dog in the manger’ mentality. He chuckled. “I am about to employ a large number of Cherinians and I admit to appreciating the irony. My future self is aware that this is the time this has been decided so he will now register a multi-reality corporation with very strict rules. For instance, all employees will waive their rights and empower the company to block their powers should they betray a client. The Mind Defence Corporation will have the right to defend the minds of anyone who can afford their services - and we will be expensive.”
Robbie cut in, “No Arthur, go ahead with your idea but you will not have the right to block the link or gifts of any Cherinian - not even if your judges are Cherinians. If it is justified, the Cherinian Council will do so, not anybody else. However, even with us willing to execute such a decision, you still have a problem. Anyone willing to risk betraying a client is likely to declare himself a non-Cherinian Talent and then we will not have the right to do anything more than block their link to us. Unfortunately it no longer automatically guarantees a loss of powers. If you or the Cherinians try to block a Talent, it could provoke other Talents into declaring war. If they unite they could become quite a powerful force.”
“What if we secure the approval of all parties - Cherinians, Ipohin, Independent Talents, Normals and Campbellites,” he pulled a face as he used our name for his group, “and an internal but independent Tribunal is created representing all the groups?”
Dommi scowled, so Robbie let her speak for us. “This will give the Talents the push that unites them into a group with their own leaders and representatives. Have you given thought to where this could lead us?”
I sent out an impression of a hand stopping Campbell. Surprised he turned to me, looked into my eyes and then nodded, letting me answer her. “Dommi, I have given some thought to this and there are both positive and negative probabilities to consider. One of the positives: the Talents becoming an organised group is to our advantage in the long term. In the short term they will upset the illusion of balance we are happy with at present and it could cause a setback in our relationship with the Normals. The first consequence of them organising themselves will be a list of demands they’ll make on all the other groups.” I bit my lip as I thought about it. “Most of their demands will be the obvious ones, but I will be interested in seeing what else they want.” I looked at Robbie as my thoughts caught me by surprise. “You do realise that once they are organised, over time they will ossify, become conservative and new Talents will not join them. They will grow in number until they decide to organise themselves so as to have more leverage and with time they’ll grow to resemble the prior group. This is like looking at myself in mirrors facing each other, reflecting my image in each other endlessly. This is wonderful!” Shocked, they stared at me as they sensed my emoting and then Robbie quickly grabbed and held me to him. He waited until I calmed down.
“Why is it wonderful?”
“It’s like we are all on a conveyor belt, being carried to an unknown destination. Where we are, the Ipohin will be. Where they are, the Campbellites will be and where they are, the Independent Talents will be. Continually they will take each others’ place as they follow us. The danger is that each of the groups will tend to fossilise at various times, stalling the conveyor belt or knocking us off it. With new Talents pushing at us, we will all be forced to continue evolving or else there will be such wars as we cannot even imagine, with entire planets or solar systems dying. Arthur, can you see the early signs of what I see, already happening to your group?”
“I’m not certain how much of what I see is just the reflection of changes in me.”
Nobody seemed to have any more thoughts to contribute, for everyone was too shaken by what I seemed to be prophesying and one of those rare silences occurred as we thoughtfully looked at each other for reassurance. Dommi gave a start, in privacy checked with Meli, then with Cherine and then with Aganthi. Their rising excitement proved she had thought of something they agreed with and considered important.
“Mr Campbell, the Mind Defence Corporation must not block their clients, they must only run interference. That way the client maintains full privacy but the defender senses any effort to intrude.”
Campbell, and us, needed a fuller explanation so Dommi demonstrated, using Aganthi. Campbell was told to try and sneak a look at her thoughts or memories. As he did, she let him sense how she sensed his attempt and all of us were left with our mouths hanging open at how easily she had protected Aganthi. Campbell left us to our meetings with the government leaders, on Earth, as he wanted to lay out his game plan in detail - as if he doesn’t trust his future self to think it through as efficiently. J
When Dommi realised what an important contribution she has made to our gifts and to our safety, while also feeling how impressed all of us were, she emoted feelings that gave the impression she wants to cry. Robbie cancelled all meetings and we returned home so as to spend that afternoon and night showing her how much she is loved (it is not accomplished through sex only - emoting and cuddling is more important). I expected her to make herself younger for our loving and am still puzzled as to why she aged herself to about sixteen. With Robbie, a hint of nostalgia could be sensed, but Cherine was ecstatic and Dommi slept with Cherine lying on her while Robbie curled up against her.
As a temporary convenience, Freddie set up hundreds of screens on stilts, spreading them all over the land so that all guests can see from close. Certain of the screens were reserved for our official guests and our family split up so as to see to the comfort of our guests and answer their questions. I wished I could have joined the group made up of our close friends, Alki, Allan and so on, or else, to be with the multiple Dalai Lamas. Instead, I ended up with a group of East Europeans. My ‘infamous’ luck still holds. They were the only group to drink heavily, ask hundreds of funny questions so as to turn the appearance of the Reggheri Worlds into the subject of dozens of gruesome jokes, most of them having to do with death. My family still frown at me for laughing so wholeheartedly with them.
The One-lifers watched the Worlds of the elders take their pre-agreed positions in the void on our screens and they were finally convinced they had lost their elders. Just as they began to grieve, the elders appeared by them. The Worlds remained on the screens and the young Reggheri were badly confused, even though everything had been explained at least ten times. Like children, they needed to be consoled and promised that their elders will never leave them. By this time, the government leaders from all the realities had been returned home (clever of them to leave early, as they might have had to listen to us use the One-lifers as examples of how governments can cripple their citizens).
The day arrived when we went to the taverna for breakfast and the elders materialised, surrounding us. Not long afterwards, the young Reggheri arrived, silent but emoting awe.
Riivjii crossed the space left open between the elders and us. He gestured in greeting. “Samantha, now is the time for me to keep my word. How?”
“Faiiis?” I felt his answer and made damn certain he sensed how I responded. Flattening my voice so as to hide how deeply I was affected, I explained, “We will have to go to the void as souls. Solomon and Robert will help you split off a part of your soul and then they will transfer him to the new soul, leaving you most of the Faiiis who never was used after his death. Riivjii, I have a question, but you do not need to answer me, answer to the Faiiis who is to be.” I paused. “Can you think of him as your child and love him? He will need a parent.”
All was done as planned and though Faiiis has the physical appearance of Riivjii, as the Sparkler healers only had a cell of Riivjii’s body, he does not seem to have noticed, or else, it does not matter to him. He has spent ten days with his people, here in Freddie, and is now to spend a month or two with me before he is returned to his home planet - where he will finally be given the chance to become part of their community and maybe have a family of his own one day.
Chapter Three Hundred and Eighteen
I’ve been a true child who doesn’t want to miss one moment of joy. When we returned to our Athens home I invited Faiiis to join us so that I don’t miss one minute of the time he is to spend with us. Allan offered to let him stay at their home. It is just as well, as the media have kept me busy, so they kept him company, helping him grow accustomed to our ways.
I was interrogated on a chat show by the audience. How it works on this kind of show is this: the audience are interviewed and they give a sample of what questions they want to ask the guest. Mostly those who think up the nastiest question get chosen. The host only moderates and controls the flow so that there are no dead moments, they don’t care how upset or hurt their guests are made to feel, as long as it ensures high ratings. Some of those in the audience have built up quite a following of their own and sometimes earn more from being nasty than from their normal jobs. The best of them do not hold a job as they need to investigate each guest they’ll question and learn enough about their interests to avoid sounding foolish. One such ‘professional amateur’ is known by the name Deissia. She is about thirty five years old and is a Normal.
Deissia asked me, “Would you agree that us Normals have responded responsibly to the request by Cherinians that we all limit the growth of our population? I believe we have actually achieved a negative growth - both Normals and Cherinians?”
She’s had her fun with me before, so I was not going to naively take her question at face value. My problem was that I had to be seen to be answering quickly and with enthusiasm. The only reason for her question that made sense to me at that moment was my belief that the help of the RT Teller family with the Reggheri had brought them to the front again and she was going to repeat the accusation of us increasing ourselves by over thirty odd people and souls - the souls part being very important. Most Normals make a show of accepting what we did with an attitude that is meant to give the impression they are doing so with indulgence as they ‘know’ we are not perfect. I like it that they do so. Since Deissia is just as aware as I am of the above and I had no time to worry at it, I accepted I’d have to let it happen.
“The answer is that all of us, by that, I include the Normals, the governments, philosophers, Cherinians, are amazed. Yes Deissia, we are proud of our species - as you probably know, the Unation achieved the same and have held to it for a very long time. What is not so commonly known is that they took a much longer time to achieve what us Terrans did over half a century.” She should buy me a box of chocolates for being so generous in providing her with extra ammo, but I did not see a spark of gratitude in her eyes, just the triumphant glow of pleasure as she sprung her trap and bettered her position among those of her ‘profession’.
She sounded like a school teacher as she said, “The only way we can succeed is by considering each birth important. The old approach of ‘what difference will it make if I have one more child as I so desperately want’ are gone. For us poor Normals who cannot claim the right to exemptions, it is heartbreaking to see how you, Samantha Teller, probably more of an icon for Cherinianism than Cherine herself, exempt yourself from the rules. You don’t even do so because of a deep driven need to have a child, you bring about the creation of a new life, a new soul, for sentimental reasons!”
“Faiiis?!” She didn’t bother answering me, her eyes glittering, suddenly nervous as she sensed a hint of the anger I wanted her to feel. I took a deep breath and plunged in, aware of the white water ahead. “Did you really think I was being sentimental? I wonder what you’ll think when the Reggheri are helped to triple and quadruple their population.”
“What? You will what?!”
I gave her my big-eyed earnest look. “You are aware that when the birth rate drops below what is required for a species to survive, it cannot recover on its own and dies out? Deissia, are you advocating genocide - because we certainly have never done so, and not helping them with our healers would be tantamount to committing genocide. I believe it is, or should be called ‘sin by omission’?” I sensed her and my rage was as cold as an iceberg. “Were you hoping to justify an extra child for yourself by having an entire species exterminated?” She could not hold it in anymore and turned vitriolic, spewing out the poison that drives her for all to see. She said they are crippled, retarded children, not much better than animals and only the elders deserve to be saved since they now have their Worlds in the void and won’t take up any space where normal people live and maybe we should let them stay there where they belong. Anybody want to bet that I was all sweetness and love? No losers amongst those who know me. She still doesn’t understand what hit her since I did not use one swear word and my voice remained low and sounded ‘friendly’ while I shred her, dissecting her for all to see.
She had not done her homework as thoroughly as she’d thought and by compounding her error by going into a rage and saying the unspeakable, she paid for it by dropping way down in the ratings - but I also came out of it looking the worse for wear as many criticised me for being so ruthless with her. First of all, my own family were highly critical of me. They insist I could have made my points so gently that nobody would have looked bad and thus avoided provoking her into a senseless rage. They are right, but I’m not that gentle. If a stranger has the chutzpah to tease me, even if they are slightly sneering, I’ll let it go. If, however, I’m attacked or someone hopes to benefit by making me look bad, they’ve given me the right to hit back - at least as hard as they tried to hit me. If the mind of the attacker is vicious and vitriolic, I will not use my Cherinian gifts but I consider the abilities of my mind to out-think them, if I can, is a fair duelling weapon.
I did not know that Allan, his girls, Tasso and family and Faiiis were watching. From my sharing with Eleni, I saw that they all froze for a moment out of embarrassment that a Terran could say such things, not looking at Faiiis. Allan chuckled, “Samantha just proved that Faiiis is far more intelligent than that crippled woman - he chose Samantha to help him while she thought to get the better of our Sam!” Faiiis listened to them as they joked but kept his questions for the next morning when we’d be together.
Since it was a nice morning, I took him to Kefalari and had a Baked Alaska while he drank a thick chocolate drink spiced with red pepper. He smiled, “This is good.” He was projected as a Terran and the waiter was listening, so I imagined the owner adding it to the menu and it becoming a great hit. My imaginary sequence amused me.
“I liked what Allan told you last night and I want to add that I’m glad you came to me with your challenge, even if you irritated me at the time.”
“It was not me Samantha, he called himself by my name and disguised himself to appear to be me, but I would never have done what he did. I would have tried to solve our problems on my own.”
I blushed and concentrating on my sweet I actually ate the alcohol soaked sponge cake, which I hate. I also hate it when I’ve been stupid. I should have thought of it; of course they must have been more mature as a species before they became dominated by their ancestors. I sipped at my iced coke as I tried to stop myself from allowing my excitement to take over. With Faiiis suddenly a stranger and an equal, I was about to ask him his opinion in an uncharacteristically very diffident manner, when he cut me off with a question of his own.
“What you told your people, it is true? My people are dying out?”
“It would have been true if Riivjii had not pretended to be you and attracted us Cherinians. Faiiis, I want to ask you a question. You are aware of what your people are like now? Do you find them childish?”
“In some ways childish, in others, naïve or innocent - including those they call the elders.”
“During your previous lifetime, did your people know of the void and souls?”
“We questioned the fact of so much knowledge and energy used in creating personalities being wasted by them not existing after death, forcing us to begin from the beginning again and again, endlessly. Nature is wasteful, but where it is, it is so for a reason. We could not find a reason to justify nature in this case.”
Shyly, I asked, “If we return in time to the period you lived and collect souls as people die and we bring them forward to this time, we could double or triple the numbers of Reggheri while your mature personalities would also strengthen your people. Should I suggest it?” Quickly I added, “If you agree, we should only collect those who died before they aged, from accident or disease. The elderly will be too set in their ways.”
I asked the host of the chat show to invite Deissia and me, explaining it is urgent they do so as we will be leaving soon. They juggled their shows and we were on air within that week. I faced Deissia, who was placed on the front row once more, which is reserved for the top questioners. Her hostility was laced with her own fears and wary hopes as she stared at me during the introduction. The station had reassured her I was not going to humiliate her again. She, and the audience were startled when the host asked me to speak and I could feel the excitement as everyone realised they were present at an important change in the usual format of the show. I almost felt sorry for Deissia when I sensed how bloodthirsty the audience was, like a crowd watching the blood sport of gladiators, convinced I was there to destroy her ‘career’.
Without the host knowing what I intended, I went to stand before Deissia and extended my hand. “Let’s mess with the format of the show, Deissia, will you join me as a guest? If you wish, you may return to your golden questioners’ chair once I’ve had my say.” Unprofessionally, she glanced at the cameras, saw they were on her, and gave me her hand for a moment as she joined me.
“Everyone, I’m certain, will recall our last meeting, when I reacted to your questions with hostility. Deissia, I was not angry with the questions you asked, it is your talent and duty as a questioner to find the vulnerabilities of any guest who dares to take this seat and I don’t only consider your role important for the success of the show, I see it as reflecting an attitude that Robert has encouraged from before he became a Cherinian. Without fear or threat, we must question ourselves and each other, for the human mind is insidious and has ways of cloaking its real intentions so as to achieve what it secretly plans for.
I reacted as I did to your questions for a number of reasons. First of all, I carry a sense of guilt with me as I resented the Reggheri choosing me, for I forgot that it is an honour to be chosen by another to help. Secondly, I am mostly a Greek in my way of thinking and we have a strong sense of hospitality. To speak of them the way you did while Faiiis is here as my guest was offensive to him and therefore to me - maybe to all of our species. Thirdly, like a child, I had simplified your role, graciously allowing that it is your role and duty to ask the embarrassing questions, but expecting you to do so with a sweetness of mind. That was foolish of me. For any questioner to think of the difficult questions, which are the ones worth asking and answering, it requires a certain degree of hostility in your attitude. Deissia, the moment that hostility is given free rein and your questions are couched in terms that are offensive, then you are no longer providing a service to the person you ask the question of, nor to the public who are watching.
I had to preface our talk with an explanation so that everyone understands why I asked for you. After our last meeting I returned to find my family very angry and disappointed in me. They claimed I had not acted as a Cherinian. I am still arguing my case with them as I can get very stubborn if I think I’m in the right, but I was more concerned about how Faiiis was feeling. In my mind, the Faiiis I’ve known was the equivalent of a thirteen year old and I expected him to feel hurt by what had been said on this show. When I met him, what I learnt should have been obvious to me from long before. The Faiiis we have now is not the same Faiiis who was sent to challenge me. He is the Faiiis who was born and lived his life before the elders were created. Faiiis died a mature and fairly elderly man.
This discovery has led to an exciting idea. We are returning in time to watch over the Reggheri at the period before they invented the means for creating the elders. Those who die while they are young enough to be flexible, but old enough to have acquired some wisdom and maturity, we will bring back. I had thought to triple the existing population, but Faiiis asked that we only double it. He hopes to meld the ancients into the existing One-lifers so that something new grows out of them. I think that while I am hoping to see a stronger and more pragmatic society, he is hoping for more wisdom. Perhaps we can achieve both.
Deissia, there is a lesson for both of us to be learnt from these people and since you helped cause this to happen, I would like to invite you to join us as my guest.” Comment: Before Freddie departed, Miss Deissia had already received a number of invitations as Gold Chair Questioner for shows after our return.
During the trip, Deissia and I had a few conversations I found interesting. Whenever we have a guest of the family, that person sometimes becomes a friend of one of us, regardless of who they were invited by. In this case it seemed the opposite was going to happen. Deissia and I did not discuss the original fight we had and yet Empathia and Haven continually brought it up, finding some point to pick on, making her cringe - makes me wonder why I never made her cringe, is Empathia more intimidating than I am? I only interfered to rescue her whenever I sensed the girls thought I should.
I had just rescued her and we were walking close to the area of our swamp. At a spot where the ground had broken off when the swamp was created there now is a gentle cliff of about ten metres height, which is just high enough to give a nice view. We stood without speaking as I sensed her simmering but trying to control herself. I wondered if what I was about to say would have the effect I aimed for.
“Deissia, please stand next to this tree.” She did so, looked at the rough bark and then looked at me. “I can sense a great anger inside you. Here is what I want you to do - let it go, pretend the tree is the person you are angry with and shout and swear at it.”
Tersely she asked, “Is this some kind of anger management?”
“No, something more important. I’ll leave you on your own if you promise not to cheat and do as I ask. Trust that I have a good reason and no wish to make you look foolish - I’ve done it and it led me to the thoughts I will share with you afterwards.”
I partly lied. I could not see her, but I could sense her emoting. She did what I asked, but not as I asked. She was self conscious and it embarrassed her but at least she tried. It was good enough for what I had in mind. As to whether she will understand what I tell her, that would depend on her willingness to be open and learn from me - which is not that likely.
I caressed the bark lightly, loving the scent. “A lot of people spend their lives doing what you just did.” I grinned as she tried to work out who, assuming I spoke of a category of people. “I’m talking about people you know, maybe even you, yourself. Let’s sit on those rocks while we talk, Maria is sending us some cookies and cold drinks so we might as well be comfortable. Deissia, people mostly fear people. Because of this, most of us pull away from confrontations, even when we are in the right. You, on the other hand, have chosen a career or hobby that specialises on confrontation. It sets you apart from the majority. If experience has taught me one thing about being confrontational, it is that I must never forget I am confronting a human being, a person with feelings and fears. The moment I disengage and only take into consideration my feelings, needs, wants, then I am, inside me, turning them into objects…”
“You brought me with on this trip just so as to lecture me because of our fight?!”
“It has nothing to do with that! I wanted to give you some tips that hopefully may help you become the best in your field.”
Vindictively she spat out, “Oh, so you’re the expert! I should become like you so as to be the best Questioner?!” She stood up and did what hardly any visitors do, despite our asking them to. She called out, “Freddie, can I be returned to my rooms?” He obliged.
I finished the pastry I’d been eating, packed and sent everything back to Maria. As I was about to leave, I patted the tree. “It’s okay, I don’t think she would have understood.”
I sensed Robbie behind me as he answered for the tree, “Are you going to blame her or examine what you said and look for a better way to get your message across?”
I kept my back to him and tried to keep my grin out of my voice. “Damn, you’re right. You know what, I think I know the best way to get the message across to her. I’ll change her to a little girl and then get Robbie to explain to her. With his little-girl-magic, he can’t fail.” Robbie was fast. Before I could move his arm went around my waist and as he pulled me to him he laughed. He tossed me onto his shoulders and with my hands on his cheeks he walked around the swamp, examining it as we both listened to the girls indulging themselves with light teasing (persiflage) of me.
When we returned to the taverna, Sebura brought little Piri (recently rejuvenated to ben at her home-planet-age) and told her to stay by me. He walked off without explaining himself, but we felt he was annoyed and we wondered. When we realised he was approaching the door of Deissia I guessed he was angry on my behalf. I had to respect his right to make a fool of himself, so I withdrew.
Deissia only answered the door when she heard the voice of a man. As she opened it a crack, he told her, “I am Sebura, an Orati rider.”
She quickly opened. “Come in.”
He stared until she grew nervous and then said, “She made you angry, she is like a demon. I know what it is like and warn you, Samantha will not stop until you stop fighting her. It is the only way.”
“I’m not fighting her, she is attacking me!”
He frowned. “She is not attacking to hurt you, she wants to teach you something. Maybe you do not need to learn it, but let her - you don’t have to use what she teaches you.”
Her voice, was heavy with sarcasm, “As she permitted you to choose what you want to use?”
He sat and leaning forward stared at his hands. For the first time he reached out to ask me a question telepathically. I sent back a smile, very pleased with him, and confirmed he is right. He looked up at her and his look of wonder and surprise confused her. He shook his head. “All I had to do is tell her I did not want her to be my teacher and she would have stopped! Ayee, she truly is a demon, for I did not see it.”
I gave up on Deissia and so I was truly discombobulated when I sensed my loves make way for her the next morning. She stood with hands on hips, as if she were a stern teacher come to test me. “I’ll give you one day. If I say no afterwards, you leave me alone.”
“There is nothing for you to say yes or no to, all I wanted was to show you what drives me in case it can be of use to you.” I came to my feet, sensing the turmoil in Sebura, for he thought I was being a demon again, for why else would Deissia have decided to allow me to teach her. “If my philosophy works for you as I hope, I look forward to the challenge of crossing swords with you as the Golden Questioner.” This time I took her to my apartment.
“You’ve shouted at a tree and I would love to have you shout at a number of people; someone who is strong and someone who is fragile, but I don’t think you can draw from yourself the anger on demand. Can you imagine what it would be like to rage at someone strong?”
“I don’t need to, I have done so with you.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment - whether you meant it as one or not.” Candy appeared and she stood before Deissia. “Can you imagine doing so to Candy…looking into her eyes as you do so?” As I’d hoped, she looked and disliked the thought of shouting at our sweet Candy. She was given a dazzling smile and Candy left. “Imagine you are broken hearted and you cry your eyes out to a statue and later, to a sympathetic woman or man - your choice. How about you win a lottery and you are excited, but all you can do is share your news with an empty beach and the ocean? The direction I want to lead you starts with these questions and since we cannot test them in reality, please imagine how each one would make you feel.
What I’m talking about is not just a Terran trait - not even just a human one. Have you ever watched a cat or dog playing with a rubber bone? Our Bitsy growls at it and tosses it around as if he is a vicious being. However, faced with a real mouse, he keeps a safe distance while he threatens with growls and barking. I find it amazing that we treat non-sentient things, from animals to rocks, as if they are sentient and can feel or receive our emotions. Early man took this one step further by allocating divine powers to inanimate objects. Then they sculpted them to represent their gods and somehow the sculpted items, whether statues, totem poles or other forms of worked stone and wood, acquired in themselves divine powers. We even incorporated these almost-instinctive needs into our religions and modern technology. Religions? How about the kissing of icons. Modern technology? Have you noticed how it is almost all of it female? Our cars, planes, ships, yachts, even our computers, all females. ‘She’s a beaut!’ or ‘she’s fast!’ or ‘wow, she’s sleek!’. All of it is natural Deissia and as we become aware of what we are doing, a lot of it is half tongue-in-cheek, for we have this marvellous ability to be amused by our failings and eccentricities - but the other half is in earnest, especially if we don’t recognise it.
I’m going to digress for a moment. Did you know that there are many people who need to express an emotion but cannot, especially to another person, yet they find themselves pouring out their heart to aliens? Our species tend to choose the Sparklers, Elipians and Anadir as confidants because they seem to resemble us without being Terrans, therefore not being perceived as being critical of our faults. Some think we choose them because of their nature, which is perceived to be sympathetic and kind, yet those qualities are true of all aliens who have become Cherinians. Candy opens herself to Iziko, of the Sprakil species. That looks odd to most people because all they see is a fierce looking and very alien creature and sometimes even Cherinians forget to sense what a lovely person he is.