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The Bridge

Book IV: To Qwell the Tide

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 4 appeared
in issue 161.
Chapter 5: The Great Tragedy

The Galactic Council has englobed the Solar System and cut Earth off from the rest of the galaxy. However, a large human population has taken refuge on a frozen planet, Starhell. They busily terraform their new world while struggling to keep it hidden from Galactic patrols.

Katia, who was Earth’s original Dream Singer, and Cyr, who was the Bridge originally sent to Earth by the Galactics, are now cybernetic personalities. They relinquish their roles as leaders of the refugee colony and become ambassadors to humanity’s mysterious benefactors, the Qwell’Na.

Ever since Earth’s englobement, the Galactic Council has been thrown into turmoil by repeated setbacks and confusion about its objectives. Me’Avi — Katia’s granddaughter, the last Galactic representative to Earth and a prospective Grand Minister — learns that the Galactics are small fry compared to two far more powerful races: the pacifistic Qwell’Na and the murderously xenophobic Skeltz.

part 1 of 3

Sanel walked into the room and spoke. “Have you decided yet? Our people are waiting, you must decide.”

Jerdal stopped reading and, looking up at his wife, smiled and spoke, “The deciding between two acts can not be hurried. Yet circumstances hurry it. We live, my Sanel, in a world of sand, a time of sandstorms. How can we try to make glass if we are blinded by swirling sand?”

“You, Husband, are the First Head of the Family Heads. You are the one the people look to for the decision. To fail them would only thicken the sand in the air. I will leave you now. You are the chosen one. You must decide.”

Jerdal turned back to his studying. Opening the volume he saw Book 1, Phrase fifteen: Destroy the fingers and the mind still counts: Destroy the mind and the fingers lie still. It was an answer. Should the soul of the people, the honor of the people, and the heart of the people be destroyed because the fingers wish not to act in accord with the mind?

Jerdal rose up and went to the window overlooking the crowd below. Putting both hands on the railing and leaning over he spoke. “Send the ships. The fingers of our world grasp at things unlawful to them. We thought when they left here that their leaving and having to deal with a raw, new world would make them see the right of our actions.

“We then thought that our bringing our homes here would divorce us from their actions, and our shame would be left behind.

“It has not happened. They shame us. We can no longer hide in our minds, ignoring the crimes of those who have become life takers. Send the ships and cut these fingers from our hands.”

There was no sound below. Each of those who had heard the words felt the great weight settling on their shoulders. The decision had been made and it would be carried out. The shame would be great, but less than the shame of inaction. Soon great ships thundered into the sky and out to the place that the Doors awaited them. Soon they would be in another place, doing shameful things that would burn their lives forever.

Jerdal returned to his chair and thought of the decision just made. It was a long time in coming and he had hoped that it would be made in the future by a different First Head of the Family Heads. That it was he that to had make it he finally recognized, but he had kept putting it off. As the Manuals said, Our minds play the game but our hearts betray truth. Now it was done and the mind again ruled his heart. “From this day forward,” he thought, “our hearts will pay for what our minds have rightly demanded.”

Why had it come to this? It started in those earlier times when Zornat sought the destruction of the Manuals.

* * *

Zornat had hated the schools all his life. They all taught the same weak drivel. The teachers would get up, spout sayings, and then confuse you by telling you that every answer you came up with was wrong. That was why he ran. That was why he spoke disquieting things to those who would listen.

Did they not understand that the “sharpest sword sheathed” lost its purpose? Did they not know that sand was commonplace and that one builds things of strength and beauty from the rare and uncommon? So he looked for the uncommon and found them not so rare. Many had little or no understanding of what the schools taught. They were those who minds did not, or would not, make themselves know the truths of the Manuals. They were fodder for conspiracy and rebellion.

At first they were few in number, hiding in the cracks of the world, but with the words of Zornat filling their souls and with the increasing of their fellow travelers, they soon sought the light of day and spoke more openly of their wishes. The louder they became, the more numerous they became, and the greater Zornat became in his own eyes.

“Call those who listen not to me the Qwell’Na, the Qwell of insignificance. As we grow greater they shall disappear. They, in their weaknesses, will rot away in their own sickness. And if they be the Qwell’Na, then do not we be the Qwell’Di, the Great Qwell, the Qwell of Stature?”

Then the quiet time came. The Qwell’Di departed to the second planet in the system and began to tame that harsher world. They learned much there. They learned that if they destroyed the old and the misunderstood, they could build the new and familiar. They learned that if they killed those creatures they did not find advantageous, they could advance those that they did. They learned that force was an argument to which few could long give answer. The learned that Force was a God that blessed them with power, and they grew to love it.

Hatred for the Qwell’Na, the Family that still stuck to the ways of cowards and weaklings, drove them to build vessels of war. Plans were made for the retrieval of their ancient home, and the destruction of the curse of the Qwom-Sor philosophy. The weak would justly die, and the Family would be united in a new and powerful way.

On Qwell the threat was known and spoken about. The answer to the threat was obvious: the Qwell’Di would have to be destroyed if the Qwell’Na were to survive. But they were still Family. To turn on Family, even to survive, was more than they could do. How does one destroy one’s brothers and sisters and continue to live in dignity and peace? It could not be done. And so the Qwell’Na prepared for their Jo’Dan. Each prepared his Jo Dan Bazj, his Remembrance Gift for those to follow, even though they knew that they would not be Remembered but scorned.

Then the ‘miracle’ happened. Their wisest persons discovered the secret to the Doors, and they would be able to escape to new worlds. The knowledge of the discovery was passed in only the most discreet manner and never mentioned publicly for fear that their wayward brothers, the Qwell’Di, would hurry their attack.

The debates started as to which world they should go to and how much they could take with them. And here their hearts were torn. To leave the home of their people and have it desecrated by the Qwell’Di would be shameful. To destroy it would be almost as evil as to destroy Family. The wise ones, in desperation to avoid the seemingly inevitable, went back to work on their discovery. The threat of death or shame for their people sharpened their minds and at last a possible solution was found. They would take Qwell with them.

The project would be unbelievably hard to accomplish. The power it took to move a mass such as a planet was staggering to the mind. The only generator that could produce such power was a star. And that was the generator they would use.

To do so would mean that they would have to encompass their system with an energy absorbent force field. It would mean thousands of units in orbit all around the system. It would also, because they did not wish their errant brothers to hurry their attacks, mean that the modules could not be placed until the last possible minute and then they would have to be in place almost simultaneously.

The modules were built and placed in groups at Door generators. Each Door was carefully programmed to transfer each module to a specific spot around the system. Each Door had to place its quota of one hundred modules in less than two hours. The whole system would have to be in place in under seven hours, half the time it took a ship to travel from the second planet to Qwell.

Before they could be positioned, the three focusing satellites had to be placed around Qwell itself. To obscure their use, rumors were set throughout the planet that those satellites were microwave transmitters that were to interfere with the systems of the Qwell’Di’s ships, making them unable to approach Qwell.

On Di, Greatness, the Qwell’Di name for their world, there was laughter at the stupidity of their enemies. It was simple to shield their ships from such a defense, and their confidence in their coming victory was like wine to them. “Let them put up those satellites around Qwell; let them have faith in their wisdom. That would make their fall that much further. Perhaps they would not all have to be killed, some might be useful as servants.”

Each of the Qwell’Di’s leaders spent time with his maps of Qwell picking out the estate he would claim after the world was theirs. The Qwell’Di women counted as theirs already the jewels and clothes that would come with the conquest.

The attack would come, the Qwell’Di leaders decided and announced their unequivocal rejection of the weakness of the Qwell’Na after the Festival of Greatness that celebrated the move to Di. They would celebrate their greatness, their strength, and their coming victory and then they would consummate their Festival with the destruction of their enemies and the reclaiming of their first world.

On Qwell that announcement was received with both anger and relief. The anger came from the thought that Family would even discuss the destruction of their brothers, or, worse, the enslavement of them. Relief, because the date set was just beyond the time set for the completion of the equipment that was to give them their escape.

No race is devoid of fools and the Qwell’Na was no different that any other in that respect. It was only too bad that this particular fool was placed high enough to be a danger to his people.

Most of the Qwell’Na, not knowing the actual plans of the Family Heads for their escape to safety, were still preparing for their Jo’Dan, especially as the Qwell’Di bragged more and more of how some of their enemies would be servants. Death was preferable.

This one person, his name one of shame forever, knowing part of what was actually planned and loose of tongue, spoke openly to a friend of how surprised the Qwell’Di were going to be when they ran into the ‘real’ defense that the planet had. As sometimes happens, his words were caught by media devices and were out in the open before they could be stopped. The Qwell’Di were monitoring all the media on Qwell and the words soon were heard at that people’s command center.

In remorse over his terrible slip, the person of loose lips chose to show his contriteness by the greatest possible sign of shame, poisoning himself and dying in public, thus erasing his name from any and all Qwell records. His body was immediately shrouded and removed from the public eye by members of his Family; members in hoods that concealed their identity. From that day forward, neither his name nor his existence would ever be recognized, only his crime.

In this he complicated matters, since, as this person was known by many as a lesser light in the bureaucracy of Qwell, many of the Qwell’Di were prone not to believe his words. But when he chose to die as he did, in the utmost of shameful ways he sealed his words as ones of truth, and the Qwell’Di began to accelerate the plans for the invasion.

Only by working frantically and with dangerous haste were the wise ones of the Qwell’Na able to complete the preparations for the escape. Even as the Qwell’Di fleet was starting out for their attack the Doors were placing the generator units around the system. Even when the fleet was halfway to Qwell the generators started to come online. Soon the magnificent arcs of energy were seeking the focusing satellites and the great opening to another place was beginning to form.

In the last seconds before the planet disappeared from the system, a missile headed out of its atmosphere and towards the enemy fleet. Then, in a show of power that humbled even the Qwell’Di, their ancient home world and its satellites and the power grid, ceased to be in the system and they had only the missile to contend with.

Knowing that the Qwell’Na would not be attacking them, they captured the vessel and found only the body of the one who died in public. Shocked at the insult to them, they sent it on its way into the sun that the system might be cleansed of its filth.

Back on Di, the mathematicians, knowing the mass of Qwell, tried to figure out the power it would take to make a planet into a spaceship and move it. The numbers made no sense. They suddenly realized that their brothers on Qwell, in their weakness, in their flight, had the power, had they chosen to use it, that would have quashed their fleet as if it were of paper, and they were glad that the Qwell’Na were gone, even as they vowed to strengthen their weapons for the day that they would find them again. Next time the outcome would be different.

* * *

In its new system, the planet was once again a part of a Family as it chose an orbit much like the one it had traveled before. And the wind still blew, and the waters still filled the rivers with their rain and the people, no longer preparing for their immediate Jo’Dan, began to live as their people had lived for the span of their existence.

The schools, now of greater worth since they taught the Manuals, and the words of the Manuals When the clawed Ferenet flies the Rossal hides had proven a protection for them. They had hidden and they were safe.

Some though, scorned ones, thought that it was another little piece of wisdom that better captured the truth of the recent past, One who does not wish to contend with evil denies its existence. The debates were long and fervent, but never angry. The conclusion was always that the future could only reveal itself by its existence. In time, in their place of safety, even the debates ceased as new things were discovered and new arts were developed.

It was not to be that way forever; but until a change was forced, the Qwell’Na dwelt in peace and were happy to do so.

Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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