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The Bridge

Book III: The Starhell Mutiny

by euhal allen

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

Chapter 1: Great Confusion

part 2 of 3

* * *

Na’Eya, her time in the Mourning Suite completed, wearing the scarlet robe she had not taken off since the start of the Jo Dan, climbed the steps to the main part of the family home and walked into the common room where the family always was at this time of day.

Going to the middle of the room and standing on the Dais of Life she waited until she had the attention of all.

“Our grandfather Jonkil is dead. I have performed the remembrance ceremonies. To carry his memory and to bring honor to his life I now carry his name. I will be called Jo’Eya from this time forward.”

The family replied, “You carry the memory and honor of our grandfather. You will be called Jo’Eya from this time forward. It is so.”

Then Jo’Eya knelt and her father, Jonkil’s oldest son, came and removed the scarlet robe and took it to the fireplace and gently laid it on the fire and said, “Let my father become part of the air and the earth, his memory and his honor are held safe in the family.”

With that final good-bye accomplished, Jo’Eya left the Dais of Life and went to her room to sleep for the first time in many days.

* * *

As the former et Sharma of the Blue Planet, Me’Avi, finished her report, the Galactic Council broke into a pandemonium. Never had anyone gone against the will of the Galactic Council in such a flagrant manner. There were calls for the exhumation of Grand Minister Shapirov’s body and an expunging of Jonkil’s name from the honored list of et Sharmas.

Grand Minister Pwirkavi was speechless at this political catastrophe. Coming as it did right on the tail of the accusations from the Galactic Chronicler of misuse of public funds by Grand Minister Shapirov, it was almost too much to bear. Time and again he pounded his gavel on the lectern to demand quiet from the great body of legislators.

Eventually, the uproar stilled, he seized the first indication of reason and recognized the honorable minister from Qwell.

“Are we all children here that we can not think straight and so blame the wind for the tastes in our soup? We are ministers of our peoples, sent here to act with reason.

“The Galactic Chronicler, in seeking to dishonor a great Grand Minister, makes a case that numbers are too perfect thus there must be waste. And we, with our ears eager for blood, jump to believe. Does he also make it known that every project returned more funds to the Council than they spent? Does he state that this waste in the Cernon Sector returned some forty billions more to our treasury than was spent there? Such a misuse of public funds!

“Now, with these charges in our minds, we are told that we can blame Grand Minister Shapirov, dead and buried all these years, for what happens today, light-years from her tomb. If you remove her body from its place of honor and burn it, will it solve the problem a computer imitation of her is involved with?

“Is it not enough that you drink sour juice over her grave? When you listen to the Galactic Chronicler must you now urinate on her tomb in considering these new charges?

“You look at the surface the soup and say, ‘I see no meat, so there must be none,’ and you want to discard the soup as inferior. In that you are being foolish. One does not always see the meat in the soup until the soup is shallow in the bowl and it can be inspected.

“Jonkil the first et Sharma of Earth was retired in honor for his work, his many years of service to this very body. He was there, at Earth again, to help the new et Sharma to understand old records. So you would blame him for these troubles?

“Will you gather his ashes together again and beat him? While all this was going on, the things you would put to his account, Jonkil was dying. You would dishonor a revered public servant for things happening around him while he was dying? Is that reasonable? If it is then, take care that you are not dying while troubling things happen. Your name, too, could be dishonored.”

There was silence in the great auditorium as the ministers absorbed the words of the Minister from Qwell.

Then Me’Avi the last et Sharma of the Blue Planet spoke. “You say that Jonkil was dying. You were not there. I was there and I saw no sign of his dying. You are only seeking to protect him, and, in doing so, your own people.”

The silence deepened. No one had spoken in such a way to a Qwell Minister in more lifetimes than a person would want to count.

The Minister from Qwell stood silent for awhile. Then, once again, he spoke. “We are, as you know, a private people. We do not parade our ways before the galaxy. Most importantly we do not speak of our ways of dying outside our homes. To do so violates the greatest of our laws.

“Still, you make a point, and if the Qwell’Na were as the humans are, it would be a good one.”

After a pause, he continued, “But we are not as humans are. Be it said that no Qwell’Na would ever allow anyone to see that he was dying. Even more, no Qwell’Na would ever allow anyone to see him die, not even another Qwell’Na. If you had known that Jonkil was dying, the shame and the dishonor to him would forbid his name ever to be mentioned again.

“Let it only be said that we know that he was dying in those moments you spoke of, and that his death came shortly after. I will say no more. Already what I have said will cause me to bow in shame before my people.” With that he nodded his head slightly to the assembled ministers and said as he walked out of the great hall, “May they understand that what I have revealed was only to defend the name and the honor of my people, and may they forgive me.”

The next day a new Minister from Qwell was sworn in before the Galactic Council.

* * *

The Galactic Chronicler was livid. The just-removed Minister from Qwell had sullied his reputation with his words. The Chronicler’s research had been done with care and was valid and accurate. That the Cernon projects had turned a profit had not been in his work for a simple reason. The request for it from Treasury had been ‘lost’ and the data had not been available during the audit of the sites and equipment in question. That problem had been noted in the report itself. “How,” the Chronicler wondered, “had the Minister from Qwell come to have it in his possession when it had been denied to the Chronicler’s office?”

Now the new Minister from Qwell, because of the privacy laws and traditions, refused to discuss anything the recently departed Minister had done or said. “To discuss such things publicly or privately with anyone would bring even more harm to the honor of the former Minister’s name and family. It could not be done.”

“The records have been made public by our former Minister and reside now on each of your desk monitors. Go to them with your questions. The government of Qwell considers that the subject is now closed and I shall speak of it, with anyone or at any time, no more.”

Members of the Galactic Council, checking their data screens, saw that the records in question were now available.

There was also an apologetic note from the Council Treasurer for the delay in providing the Galactic Chronicler the information he had, indeed, requested. “But,” the note continued, “the Chronicler’s request had come at a time when many of the staff at the treasury were on vacation on their home planet for The High Holidays that were celebrated only once a decade.

“With shortened number of staffers it was a wonder that the Treasury found the requests at all. When they had been found, the Galactic Chronicler was in the Cernon sector and could not be easily reached, so they had been sent to his office computer through the data transfer lines.

“The Chronicler, being overwhelmed by his other data from the Cernon section, seems not to have found them. Certainly that should not be laid at Treasury’s door.”

The Galactic Chronicler, sure that the data could not have really been available at his office, ordered his assistants to find the data and ascertain when it had actually appeared in the Chronicler’s office data bank.

The assistants confirmed that the data was present when the Treasury had said it was, but that the file was not clearly identified. It carried the designation of SECCERDAT, and nothing else and no one in the Chronicler’s office knew that the acronym meant Sector Cernon Data.

Then, just for his own information, the Galactic Chronicler asked what planets celebrated The High Holidays mentioned in the Treasury’s note.

“The only planet that has holidays with that designation, Sir,” replied his chief assistant, “is Qwell.”

* * *

Takeshi Kurihara sat in his office in the Control Cavern and mused over what he had seen recently happen on his video screen, a screen connected to the Galactic information system by a small Door in the Cernon Sector.

The Galactic Counsel’s pandemonium over the et Sharma’s report was expected. The dishonoring of Katia and Jonkil was also part of the projected possible cost of the Shapirov Project. What was not expected, never even thought of, was the defense of Katia and Jonkil by the Minister of Qwell. Why would those quiet and private people stand up for humans in any way? Even more puzzling was the question of why they would allow information about their death taboos to become public just to save Katia and Jonkil’s honor.

Flipping a switch, Takeshi hooked into the conference scheduled for the Oversight Committee. Seeing the orange light glowing on his board, he knew that Cyr was present and panning the room he saw Katia’s holograph appear and witnessed Olga and Sean’s entry. With the coming of Administrator Tinker the group was complete and the meeting could begin.

Katia, even though Administrator Tinker was supposed to be the moderator, started out by saying, “Most of those things on the agenda were here at our last meeting, and they will be here at our next. Important as they are, I think that our little surprise defense at this session of the Galactic Council brings up questions that need some discussion.

“What I would like to know is: who has been working with the Qwell’Na so that they would defend Jonkil’s and my reputation?”

“That indeed is a question that I would like answered,” added Cyr.

The answer came in blank faces. No one in the Project knew anything about any Qwell’Na involvement with them. The only Qwell’Na any of them had ever known was Jonkil, and he had never indicated that he had any dealings with his home world during his whole time as et Sharma of Earth.

There were not even any records of his ever going back to Qwell during his time as a servant of the Galactic Council. And, then when he retired, he, instead of returning home, as did most Qwell’Na upon retirement, he went to Dreamers’ World and spent his time at Katia’s estate.

No matter how the group sought an answer the defense of Katia and Jonkil by the Minister of Qwell, much to his dishonor, had no explanation they could find.

“There is another unanswered situation that needs to be talked over,” stated Katia. “I watched the projects in Cernon Sector very closely.

“We were working unbelievably hard to make them all break as evenly as possible. I am not sure that they did. So, how is it that those Treasury records show a surplus of forty billion? It seems a little strange that the department authorized to examine any document — the Galactic Chronicler’s office — somehow did not ‘find’ those records until after the Minister from Qwell had made them public.”

Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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