Bewildering Stories

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The Bridge

Book II: Requiem for the Blue Planet

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 6, part 2 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 6: Troubled Times

part 3 of 3

* * *

Me’Avi, while Kalvin Vertraumer harangued one guard — the other guard standing just outside the door but getting ready to defend his partner should the Maestro physically attack him — managed to slip a repulser button into the lock mechanism of the door while she verbally abused that second guard.

“I am,” she yelled, “the et Sharma here. You take your orders from me not some traitorous computer program or some washed-up old man who used to be et Sharma. Get out of my way or I will have you all spending the rest of your lives washing shorts for Nambi Mud Wrestlers!”

The first guard, backing away from the Maestro, joined his companion in the doorway. They both stepped back quickly and the closing door blocked them out of view.

“Did you get it planted, et Sharma?” were the Maestro’s first words once the door was closed.

“Of course.” replied Me’Avi, “those idiots were so concerned that we might hurt ourselves that they never saw me put the button in. They will not stay out there long. Once they do a check on the door seal and are sure that it is completely closed, they will head for their quarters and some rest.”

“But, Me’Avi, if they check the door seal as you say, won’t they discover the repulser button and remove it?”

“If it were a standard repulser button, yes. But et Sharmas, who often have to deal with recalcitrant subjects, are issued some nice things that are not available, nor even known, to others. This particular repulser button molecularly inserts itself into the door frame and awaits the release signal. They won’t detect it.

“Now, everyone get busy and pack only those things that you will need for a two-week flight. Don’t take anything more than that. Each of you pick a partner. An et Sharma’s escape ship is not particularly large, and we will have to use the quarters in shifts. At least the escape ship is stocked with extra food and water, so we have no worries there.

“When we go out this door we will have only about two and a half minutes to get down the hall and to the ship. Anyone who does not make it will have to stay here. If we are to escape before Jonkil realizes what has happened and locks the ship to the Post, we will have no extra time.

“Once we are aboard the ship and beyond the system we will be safe from pursuit. Until then everything we do must be done at our fastest speed.”

Everyone in the room became very busy in gathering the few things that each felt there would be an absolute need for in the next two weeks. At the same time they collaborated with ones they felt best able to share quarters with. Me’Avi, since the rest were servants, chose the Maestro.

Soon it was time. Me’Avi et Sharma produced a small control device and activated the repulser unit hidden in the door frame. The door silently slid back and the group sped out of the room and down the hall as fast as they could run.

A hundred feet down the hall Me’Avi again used the control device that was built into every observation post. A wall panel opened and gave entrance to the et Sharma escape ship.

As soon as everyone was in the ship, Me’Avi, the et Sharma for the Blue Planet, already in the command chair, hit the release switch and, even as the ship was separating from the observation post, set the destination program for home, and sealed the destination into the computer.

Almost at the same time, but just a little too late to be effective, the control screen registered the command from Jonkil to halt the escape and return the ship to the observation post. Me’Avi, seeing that she had succeeded, so far, felt that she could relax just a little.

Jonkil, in the control room of the observation post, chuckled just a little to himself at thought of the relief Me’Avi et Sharma must have felt when he initiated the locking sequence too slowly. Right now she must be congratulating herself on her escape.

Hitting another switch on the control board he spoke to the two ships docked at the observation post, “Katia, Cyr, she will wonder if something is wrong if you aren’t after her pretty quickly. She knows that it only takes about four minutes to undock and break free.”

“Yes,” came Katia’s voice over the speaker, “we know, and we are on our way now.”

Jonkil watched the screen as the ships undocked and began their chase after the fleeing et Sharma escape ship. Somehow, their start was a little slow, and Jonkil — this time on a frequency that the escape ship would pick up — yelled out, “Alexei’s Pride and Harrigan’s Whelp, your start is too slow. You are going to have to accelerate at double your present rate the capture that ship. If they get away, they can alert the Galactic Council to our plans in only a matter of days. Go faster!”

Back came Cyr’s voice with, “Yes, Jonkil, we know. We are starting enhanced acceleration now.”

Both ships seemed to jump forward, and, as the hours passed, the distance between them and the escaping ship began to diminish rapidly.

Aboard the et Sharma escape ship, the fugitives, with the exception of the et Sharma herself, began to fear that they were not going to make it.

Me’Avi, forcing the power level to the ship’s engines to a few percentage points beyond what they should be, began to count the distance they were from where the force globe was to be situated.

Seeing that the pursuers would not be able to intercept her before they passed that point, she began to enter some code into the communication array. Then, adding a little time to be sure that she had passed the correct point where the globe was to be, she sent the code out and watched, with a satisfied smile, as the great force globe surrounded Earth’s system and blocked any further pursuit of the escape ship.

Turning to the Maestro she said, “Kalvin I hope you have finished your Requiem, because no one is going in or out of the Blue Planet’s system for a couple of thousand years.”

* * *

Hurtling at terrific speeds towards the inside of the force globe, both ships had to execute unbelievably sharp changes, at incredible “G” force, in their courses to keep from crashing into the globe.

Cyr, communicating their success to Jonkil, admitted that it had been closer than he had believed it would be and that it would have been nicer if the et Sharma had sent those codes a little earlier.

Katia didn’t add anything.

Soon both ships were heading back to the observation post and Cyr, checking the initiating force module array was able to report that the Door stationed there was still operational.

About halfway back to the observation post, Cyr received an alert on the private line that he and Katia used for their personal conversations.

“Cyr, I hope you remember the promise you made on Feltus III. The time has come to fulfill it.”

“Katia, what are you saying?”

Katia’s holographic image appeared in the control room of Alexei’s Pride and, somehow, it was not the usual image; somehow it lacked the fire it usually projected.

The image looked up at Cyr’s control room camera and said, “I’m all alone, Cyr, I’m all alone.”

* * *

The two ships docked at the observation post and soon everyone at the station was in the control room. Katia, as usual, took charge of the meeting.

“The force globe, as you know, is up, and Earth’s system is cut off from the rest of the Galaxy. Since it is powered by the energy reaching it from our sun, it can stay there as long as the sun exists. However, the usual time that a force globe stays in existence is about two thousand years.

“Right now, with the stars cut off, those on Earth will, if they follow the path of other races similarly cut off, begin to degenerate to even lower levels than they are now and, after a period of time, die out. We don’t know why that happens, but no force-englobed race has ever survived the process.

“So, since we have a Door out of the globe, we will evacuate all of you, and all of those of our people still on Earth, to Starhell. That evacuation will start at this time and should be completed, now that the majority of our people have already been evacuated, within the next two or three days.

“Olga, Sean, Takeshi, Jonkil, Cyr and I will be the last to leave. We will set the observation post’s equipment and the observation buoys to send their data to the receiver at the Door and it will be transmitted to our new planet.

“All of you go now and pack your needed items and be at the port by seventeen hundred hours. A ship is already in system and will dock before then. Another ship is already headed for the convergent point for our people on Earth.

“If there are no questions, you are dismissed.”

* * *

Alexei’s Pride and Harrigan’s Whelp floated above a hill that overlooked the ocean on what had once been the Oregon coast. Below them was a small cemetery that contained the grave of Seiji the Martyr. Close by were the graves of Olga and Sean Harrigan, Katia’s parents.

Between them was a new grave that had just recently been dug.

Standing near were Takeshi Kurihara, Jonkil and Katia’s children, Olga and Sean.

Sean, confused, asked, “Mother, Cyr, why are we here? Who is this grave for?”

Cyr, his voice a bit shaken, answered, “When Katia had that accident on Feltus II, before her monitor flatlined, she made me promise that someday, somehow, I would bring her here to rest in this place. We are here today so that I can keep that promise.”

Harrigan’s Whelp slowly settled closer to the earth. An opening appeared in its side and a silver cylinder was lowered down and placed within the grave. The strains of Mozart’s requiem, one of Katia’s favorites, fell softly on their ears.

Those standing around, realizing how Katia would have been liked it that they were all there at this spot she had loved so much, at this time when she could finally rest easy, found no shame in the tears flowing down their cheeks.

As the requiem finished its final notes the earth, force pushed, flowed lovingly over the silver cylinder, hiding it from sight.

Cyr, indicating that Olga, Sean and Takeshi should board Alexei’s Pride, soon began his journey to Starhell and their future. Harrigan’s Whelp would follow in a few moments since the Door was more efficient in transferring one ship at a time.

Jonkil stood looking at the stone they had set at the head of Katia’s grave. It was such a simple inscription:

Katia Harrigan Shapirov
In The Earth She Loved

Jonkil’s thoughts were interrupted by Katia’s voice from her ship. “Jonkil, I have something for you. Katia wanted you to have it if the right time ever came for it to be given to you. Cyr and I feel that now is that right time.”

Out of the ship a small, golden filigreed box slowly settled down into Jonkil’s out stretched hands. It was a box that Jonkil had seen in Katia’s quarters many times over the years and he knew that it had been one of her most prized possessions.

“Katia, I cannot...”

“It is all right, Jonkil. I know. You will stay here for what you have to do next. That is not bad, you know. She would have told you that there is no better place to rest.

“I must go now, Jonkil. Others depend on me, though I wish it were not so. Good-bye my friend. May your journey be peaceful.”

Slowly Katia’s ship rose above the trees and, then pointing its bow to where the stars used to be, quickly vanished into the night.

* * *

The next morning, Jonkil opened his pack and brought out the Jo Dan replicator that his people used for the necessary task ahead. Laying it on its side he inserted the power modules and the instructional program that he had made for this time.

On Qwell, dedicated instruments atop a scarlet building received a hyper signal from the unit and, after identifying the sending unit, linked it to a partnered replicator within Ne’Eya’s Jo Dan recipient’s chamber, and then began recording yet another Jo Dan.

Na’Eya, not knowing how long her grandfather’s Jo Dan would last, triggered the mechanism that would monitor the stimulant level in her blood and inject any that was needed to keep her awake, for it would be a act of greatest shame to sleep before Jonkil’s life had reached its completion.

Back on Earth, Jonkil set the replicator on Katia’s new grave, and initiated the sequence that would lead to the final rites.

Soon there was a little building setting quietly on the spot and Jonkil, much weaker now, still carrying Katia’s box, struggled up and made his way inside and sat, back against the wall, on the little padded shelf that was there for him. Once he was there, the replicator restarted and, after sealing the little building, produced a table next to Jonkil’s bed. Soon, food and water appeared so that Jonkil’s passing would be a little easier.

Jonkil, now alone and in his Jo Dan resting place, finally had time to pay attention to Katia’s box. Opening it carefully with his palsied hands, he saw a book. Slowly he reached in and lifted out the old, coverless, book and, after a while, he, sure that Katia would not have given it to without a reason, began to read.

It took him, in his weakened state, three days to read the book. Then, smiling, he put the book back into its box and, touching a little button on the replicator, he made one last trip outside to place the box next to Katia’s headstone. Caressing the stone, he said, “Thank you Katia. Now I understand.”

Gathering what strength he could he made his way back into his Jo Dan and lay down on his bed and gave in to the demands of his tired old body.

Sometime later, Jonkil’s body temperature indicating that the time was right, the Jo Dan flared into a brilliant and flaming light that consumes all that lies in its glow. The brightness continued but for a few minutes and then went away, leaving only a new covering of ashes on Katia’s grave.

To be continued...

Proceed to the Table of Contents...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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