Bewildering Stories

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The Bridge, II

Requiem for the Blue Planet

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 1, part 2 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 1: A New et Sharma
part 3

* * *

Jiang Yu-wei and General Chu walked about the ruins of what had once been the Forbidden City and Dr. Yu-wei pointed out where different parts of magnificent buildings had once stood.

Then, carefully, he pointed out how it had been scholars like him who had done the work of running the Empire, the day to day details, so that the Emperor and his court could plan the Grand Strategies of the Empire. It must have been somewhat successful, he had pointed out, because it had worked for thousands of years.

General Chu, slowly being convinced by the gentle scholar, countered that the old ways had been destroyed by the modern world and its weapons, that the old ways could no longer work.

“No, General Chu, the old ways were not at fault. It was the dissension in the country and the refusal of the government to accept new methods of industry that failed. The old ways had absorbed may new thing over the thousands of years of their existence. They could have, had the leaders not been stubborn fools, absorbed the new methods and new things again. It was the leaders who failed.”

“Scholar, I have a small collection of ancient writings. Perhaps you could read them and explain to me how those ways worked. Perhaps our people could learn them again. Would that be of interest to you?”

* * *

Janine heard the commotion and seeing the sudden flurry of action, headed towards the center of the village to see what was happening.

Francella, seeing her, came over quickly and said, “Just the type of person I have been looking for. You are so new here that you have not had time to collect things. So, you are fair game and I can confiscate your services before anyone else does. Please come with me, and hurry!”

“What,” Janine asked, “is happening and what are you confiscating my services for?”

Entering one of the buildings, Francella disappeared into a side room for a short while and reappeared with two small strapped carriers. “Some of the local tough guys,” she said, “are starting another war, and we have to leave here. We are going to Settlement B for a few weeks.

“I need you to carry these to the new area. This is Netty and this is Bart. Their mother is in communications and must delay her departure until the equipment can be broken down and packed.

“Believe me, their mother would rather be carrying Netty and Bart. They are so much lighter.”

Janine, grimacing as she adjusted the straps that held the two babies on her back, answered, “That may be true, but I bet the equipment smells better.”

* * *

The Galactic Council, having made its decision, allocated funds to have Katia Shapirov’s estate renewed and shined so as to reflect on its new stature as not only a Galactic memorial but as an institution of knowledge and study of government.

Only Katia’s personal quarters, where Jonkil and Cyr and the new Katia stayed, were left alone, left standing just as she had left them before her tragic last trip and that horrid accident.

When the remodel was done and the building shone bright in the sunlight they, after ascertaining that such things had been done on Katia’s home planet and were a part of her culture, staged a Beginning of Service ceremony.

It was broadcast all over the Galaxy along with videos of Katia’s life and work. Nothing was left out. They broadcast scenes of a young Katia and her early conversations with the Bridge; pictures of Katia’s parents strolling with her on the cliffs above the bay where the Bridge shone in the sun; stories of how she grew up and never lost faith in the Bridge, in Cyr; how she lived and died as both Katia Harrigan and Gloria von Seltzen while, at the same time, she, as the Dream Singer, organized her people.

It was all there, right up to the loss of her children and their friends, caught when a star they were investigating went nova days before it should have: right up to her death in that horrible accident and her entombment on the estate, near her living quarters. It was all there.

And in that private quarters, Jonkil, and Cyr, and Katia watched it all.

And Jonkil saw the tears in Katia’s eyes when the nova that killed her children shone, and he wondered how a hologram could cry.

* * *

Olga, knowing that soon the melting snow would reveal the bodies of Nerchenko and his men in the pass, hurried her people in packing their yurts and all their belonging so that they could move on to spring quarters in a distant place.

She was the last one to leave, staying with a select few to make sure that no trace of the village was left to indicate that Nerchenko was on the trail of victims he could rob rather than just be foolish enough to traverse the pass at the wrong time.

Then, without looking back, Olga and her men followed their people, erasing their trail as they went, to their new home.

Not long after they had gone, hunters seeking food, and looking for Nerchenko found his band of men, still frozen in the snow, at the middle of the pass. Sending scouts out to find out what was ahead, they soon concluded that their former leader had not been as wise as he had thought he had been.

Fools, they thought, deserve what they get. So they left them there as food for the wolves, taking only their weapons and those things not ruined by the snow.

* * *

Me’Avi et Sharma read the dispatch and groaned. “No, not here. Not now!” she thought. “How did life become so complicated?”

“Hocat,” she yelled, “have you seen this latest dispatch from the Galactic Council’s Requiem Committee?”

“Yes, Me’Avi et Sharma, I have seen it. I find it most interesting. Perhaps he will play for us.”

“Perhaps he will play for us! I don’t want him to play for us. I don’t want him to come at all. Isn’t there anything you can do about this? Isn’t there some form you can fill out that will put a stop to this?”

“I think it is not possible, Me’Avi et Sharma. The dispatch indicates that he has already left and he should arrive here in a few days. Faster if he was given passage on a fast ship.”

A small light on Me’Avi et Sharma’s console began to blink. She flipped a switch and said, rather sharply, “What do you want now?”

The voice that came back was rich and musical, “It is I, Maestro Kalvin Vertraumer. I believe I am to see a Me’Avi et Sharma, when it is convenient for her, of course. I have come to hurry the Final Report so that the Requiem For A Blue Planet may be played.”

Me’Avi et Sharma hit the switch, cutting the Maestro off, and sank into her chair. There seemed to be a slight pain forming in her head and she hoped it would just be merciful and kill her on the spot.

* * *

Jonkil, being organic as he was, was long off to bed and Katia and Cyr were talking in low voices so as not to disturb him with their late night remembrances.

“I was just thinking, Cyr, remembering, really, about when my parents and I used to use you to help us go places where they could show me things about that world that were so marvelous. It was a good time, Cyr, a good time.”

“Indeed, Katia, it was. Your parents were fine people. I was always astounded at how much they knew. They understood your people and I learned much from listening to them. I found out that some things are not stored on data pads.

“When they died protecting you I swore that I would protect you in their stead, even it I had to go against my programming. I had no idea how many times I would go against my programming because of you. Yet, I would do it all over if I had to.”

“Thank you Cyr, that is very gallant of you.

“Do you remember the books we would talk about? How the ideas would flow! Papa in his Irish brogue and Mama in her heavy Russian accent. They loved ideas, Cyr. And they helped me to love them too.

“It was them who gave me my first copy of my favorite book. You know, the one by Anne McCaffrey, the special one. I always identified with that girl. She was so very strong. She went through hell itself and came out the winner.”

“Yes, Katia, I remember them. I have to, after all, I am a computer, you know.”

“Oh, Cyr, you are so much more than a computer. You are a gentleman and a fine companion and a very wonderful friend. I owe you so much.”

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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