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The Bridge

Book IV, Epilogue: Into the Shadows of the Stars

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 6 appeared
in issue 163.

Chapter 1: The Dark Future

part 1 of 3

The Galactic Council englobes the Solar System to shield the galaxy from Earth’s culture of violence. However, a large, peaceful human population takes refuge on a frozen planet, Starhell. They terraform their new world while ingeniously hiding it from Galactic patrols.

Katia, Earth’s original Dream Singer, and Cyr, the Bridge first sent to Earth by the Galactics, have long been close friends and 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.

Me’Avi — Katia’s granddaughter and the last Galactic representative to Earth — becomes the Galactics’ last Grand Minister and, as the Galactic Council merges with the Tunnel Worlds, the first High Speaker of the new Galactic Assembly. She has long known that the Galactics are weak compared to two far more powerful races: the pacifistic Qwell’Na and the murderously xenophobic Skeltz.

The weary Qwell are eager to relinquish galactic government to a new generation. Katia and Cyr, now themselves both Qwell and human, retire to explore the galaxy in two old spaceships: Cyr in the Alexei’s Pride and Katia in the Harrigan’s Whelp.

Seeing no planet to sing their farewell song to, the great ship turned towards the far reaches of the galaxy and soon disappeared into the shadows of the stars.

In the system that it had just left a single ship, waiting until the super ship had gone, separated itself from the asteroid it had hidden in and headed for the inner worlds of the sector and civilization. It was not bringing news of joy.

* * *

Aboard the great ship the crew that had been awakened watched the media clips taken during their long time of sleep. The computer, programmed to skip times of inactivity, showed their traitorous brothers coming to help them and only finding the planet of death below them and the reaction that they knew would come.

Then came the long period of nothing, as if they had been forgotten and their revenge had meant nothing.

Finally came the lifting of the englobing field and the ceremony of the two races, one their traitorous brothers; and the other, their substitutes, the new brothers to the Qwell’Na. And at the end of those ceremonies, the greatest humiliation of all: the declaration that the Qwell’Di and the Qwell’Na were no more and that the humans and the Qwell were one people, neither being great nor small.

That finished, the sign of the shame of the Qwell, the home of the Qwell’Di, the bearer of the shame of open death, was sent into the sun and all those who had stood defiantly, openly, under the radioactive skies and died to memorialize the shame of their brothers were vaporized along with their world.

Then the great fleet of the enemies of their people left the system and went back to their homes, leaving the system cleansed of any shame and bereft of any sorrow.

The Captain of the great ship stood at the end and spoke. “Beam my word back to the system that was our home. Let the spirits of our brothers in the sun know that we have not forgotten nor will we ever forget them.

“So they have done and so it will be. The name of the Qwell is now the bearer of greater shame than ever. We will do as they wish. We had taken the name of the Di Dzho and now even that name, because of the burning of our world, carries shame. From this day forward we shall take and hold the name that caused terror to our enemies: we are Skeltz, the vermin of their greatest nightmares.

“By that name we will find a new home; by that name we will grow strong; and by that name we will make their nightmares come true. The past is gone and the future will be ours.”

* * *

Several weeks had passed and Ka’Tia wondered where Cyr was and what he was up to. Then came the message for her to meet him at a certain spot she favored on a planet called Earth.

Landing there she found Alexei’s Pride waiting. Shortly afterwards, Cyr’s holo-figure stood in the control room of Harrigan’s Whelp and waited for Ka’Tia to appear. She was not long in making that appearance.

“Cyr,” she said, “where have you been, and why the secrecy? Surely you don’t believe that coded messages to me get lost, do you? What is so important that you have to come here to meet me?”

“I find, Ka’Tia, that I know peace here. So much has happened here. It is here that we first became friends, and it is here that so much of those early happenings took place. And it is here that Seiji and Jonkil rest. And it is here that what was our future began its journey.

“What I have to show you needs a place that is peaceful to counteract the seriousness of the message. Watch.”

Ka’Tia watched as her screen lit up with the old system of the Qwell and she saw the slow gathering of the four great asteroids. She saw the joining of them into one great ship above the orbit of the destroyed planet. She saw that ship linger only for a little while before it turned and headed out of the system and into the stars. And she heard the words sent back to the long-gone spirits of the Di Dzho.

“Ka’Tia, the Skeltz are still out there with all their anger and hatred. And some day they are coming back.”

* * *

At first, in all the places that the Skeltz ship sought to end its journey its crew found either barren, unusable worlds, or worlds loyal to the new Galactic Assembly and part of either the Tunnel World’s or the Galactic Council’s territories. It was a shocking thing to them to see how great their enemies had become in the time they had slept.

It was also, at the far edges of those systems, that they learned of Doors and how their Qwell brothers had used them to defeat their early fleets. Then the anger in them burned even brighter. They had not been defeated by superior weapons and superior people but by their weak and cowardly brothers using trickery and stealth.

It was not until the tenth system that they learned, through the capture of a ship that would later turn up as colliding with an asteroid, the true extent of the rule of the Galactic Assembly.

Knowing their numbers and computing how long it would take to gain numbers sufficient to destroy that enemy, the leaders of the people were convinced they had to make a hyperspace jump far enough away to be well beyond the reach and knowledge of their enemies for many generations.

Then, and only then, could they find a new home and begin their path to revenge.

* * *

Ka’Tia, High Speaker of the Assembly, looked out over the crowded Hall and thought of the things she had to say. It would not be easy, but it had to be done.

“People of the worlds, united here with the hope that the legislative body in this room can rule and guarantee peace for us for the foreseeable future, I have unpleasant news for you.

“The enemies once vanquished and englobed in our last great war are still with us. They will not be attacking us in most of our lifetimes, or even the lifetimes of our grandchildren, but they will be coming. Let us now show you how we know this.”

The media file showing the creation of the great ship and repeating the message of the leader of its crew shocked them all. Confusion and panic were the first reactions to the message. Then, under the patient hand of the High Speaker, tensions were calmed and a peace of sorts restored.

Then came the second shock of the evening. Ka’Tia, speaking somberly and slowly, made her announcement, “The problem before you will have to be worked on by all of you. Plans will have to be made for events far in your future; events that may not even happen, and certainly will not happen as they are envisioned.

“Yet, those visions will have to be seen and the plans made, for how else can our people meet the possibilities of this great threat?

“And these visions and these plans will have to become a reality without either myself or Cyrnon da Laich. We have become tired, and our minds, quick as they are, can no longer show the agility and the creativity needed for the future that we face. It is time we retired, and we are very ready to do so.

“In fact, this very speech I am giving tonight is my last as High Speaker of the Galactic Assembly. When I leave this Hall in a few minutes it will be to my home now in orbit around Harmony. Both Cyrnon and I will be heading to our retirement home in the Cernon Sector and there we will stay for a while.

“Now,” she said as she slowly faded from sight, “as I leave you, you must not grieve, for you have not the time to do so. You must choose a new High Speaker.” And she was gone.

Seeing the need for some direction, the Ambassador Prime of the Tunnel Worlds made his way to the lectern and brought the Assembly to silence. “Well, fellow members, it seems that our future is now in our own hands, and we have no real apparatus to point the way for us.

“Yet, if we are to accomplish our purposes here and if we are to prepare for the events High Speaker Shapirov-da Laich spoke of, we do need someone to take a lead for us.

“I must confess, it is too much for me. I am willing to guess that most of us feel the same. The High Speaker must preside over the completion of the structure of the Galactic Assembly, the merging in some form of the two galactic governing bodies, and plan for our response to the threat just shown to us. It is really too much for me.

“But, there is one who, not here at the moment because of the illness of her husband, who has shown the strength and the knowledge of her forebears, the courage and the wisdom of her people and, I believe, she could get us started on the long road ahead of us. I would see the Grand Minister of the Galactic Council Meavi Shapirov become High Speaker of the Galactic Assembly.”

A week later, the new High Speaker, contacted at her quarters and requested to appear at the Assembly Hall of the Galactic Assembly as soon as possible to accept her new position, was standing at the lectern and taking the oath of office, repeating the words with tears in her eyes and a tremor in her voice.

The Grand Judge of the Assembly administered the oath saying “I Meavi Shapirov ...”

And she repeated the words, “I Me’Avi Shapirov ...”

* * *

The music sounded all over the Assembly ruled galaxy. It had been his greatest contribution to the legacy of music given to the galaxy by the humans, and it was played as his own Jo Dan modified at his request, privately as was tradition, on a hillside over looking an ocean on a far-away Blue Planet.

First came the now famous Requiem for the Blue Planet as the first movement of the work, followed, as if it were the second movement, by the beautiful Starhell Symphony, and finished by the new, being heard for the first time, Song of Rebirth that completed the story of Humanity’s rise to its present position of trust and respect in the galaxy. And it became a tradition to always play the three together from that day on.

Shortly afterwards, Harrigan’s Whelp landed at the spot and Me’Avi Shapirov stepped out to look at the ashes that had been her husband. She stooped and put her hands into the still warm ashes and whispered to him, “I do love you still. You were the only one who could always make me laugh, and you were the one who always understood my tears.”

Then she turned back to the ship and boarded it, meeting her mother in the control room.

Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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