The Bridge: a New Beginning
by euhal allen
Chapter 1: Starting Over
The people of Earth have rejected the Galactic Council’s offer of aid in qualifying for membership in the Galactic Union, but some Union sympathizers have taken refuge on Dreamer’s World. Katia Harrigan, the Dreamsinger, is elected to be humanity’s representative to the Galactic Council, where she hopes to save Earth from being completely ostracized. Meanwhile, Katia’s children Sean and Olga pursue academic careers, while her granddaughter Me’Avi turns to politics.
This story takes place between part one of The Bridge, “The Dream Singer,” and part two, “Requiem for a Blue Planet.” The Bridge, part I, begins in issue 99.
Katia Harrigan Shapirov looked over at the smiling faces of the citizens one last time before boarding the ship that was to take her to the Galactic capital and her new position as the Minister from Dreamer’s World. This was not a position she had asked for, but one she had to accept since she was the Dream Singer, the hope carrier for the peoples she had led for so many years.
It was going to be hard to leave them, especially her children, grown up now and with lives, and, at least with Olga, a child of her own. Katia wondered when she would able to get back and see her granddaughter Me’Avi again. But, she knew, as she had always known, the cost of being one who charted a course for others, others who trusted her to ensure their lives and safely guard their futures.
Stepping into her ship, Katia called out to her ship’s computer, “It is time, Cyr. I hope you are as good a pilot as you were a Bridge.”
“Katia, I hope I am a better pilot than I was a Bridge. I was not really a very good Bridge, you know. And now as always you must clean up after my mess.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” said another, but very familiar voice. “The Dream Singer had to clean up a mess or two of mine, also.”
“Jonkil et Sharma, what are you doing here? You are supposed to be hard at work at Earth Station, working on your reports!”
“You don’t think that I would miss seeing you take your seat as Humanity’s first Minister to the Galactic Council, do you? No! Never. We have been through too much, old friend, for me to abandon you to that pack of wolves.”
“Thank you, Jonkil. Alexei and I always treasured your friendship above anyone’s but Cyr’s. And even then it was hard to decide which of you two was the better friend to us. I guess it was a tie. And now, to have both of you with me on this trip is more than I could have hoped for. It is too bad Alexei is not here to be with us.”
* * *
Olga Shapirov and her brother Sean watched as the ship, Alexei’s Pride, rose into the sky, taking their mother with it to her new life as the Minister from Dreamer’s World to the Galactic Council. It seemed, somehow, that they were always watching their famous mother leave them for some great new purpose. It seemed to them that Katia Shapirov was always in the eye of one storm or another.
“Well, Brother, you have a class to go to and Me’Avi is late for her nap. So, I guess we had both better get back to our duties, unless, of course, you would want to explain to Mother, even halfway across the galaxy, why we were shirking them.”
“Sister, we have never shirked any duty in our entire lives. Living up to her standards would never have allowed for that. I just wonder what is ahead for us. It looks like life is going to be a bit dull with her off at the Council and us here, going to school and living much quieter lives.”
“Shapirovs,” replied Olga, “don’t have quiet lives.”
* * *
Dr. Renaldo Melichson stood nervously in front of his first class in Sub-Quantum Mechanics and wondered how he would make his subject interesting for these Dreamer’s World University students. To make matters worse he had just found out the Sean Shapirov was one of his students. How would Mr. Shapirov make the change from the vibrancy of the Dream Singer’s songs to the dullness of his thin and reedy voice?
Dr. Melichson tapped on the lectern to get the class’s attention and, when it finally became quiet enough, began to speak. “Welcome to the class in this somewhat new field of Sub-Quantum Mechanics. Here we delve down to below the quantum world into the underlying energy core that supports everything above it. Here we see why strings — a term from long ago that we can’t quite seem to lose — seem to vibrate and what might come of causing those strings to vibrate in unison. To tune them, one might say, to play whatever song we wanted to hear.”
“You think,” came a voice from the back of the room, “you can get them to play a little Mozart, Doc?”
The giggles and titters started to come when another voice spoke out: “I think that when Dr. Melichson speaks we should be taking notes, not giggling like schoolgirls. After all, we chose to take the class, didn’t we? If we listen to the Doctor we might just learn something.”
The effect of the young man’s reasoning was immediate and Dr. Melichson, somewhat gratefully, spoke: “Thank you, young man. I hope this trip we take through the subject at hand will help all of us learn something. I shall certainly do my best to make that happen.
“And, your name is?”
“Sean. Sean Shapirov.”
* * *
Kran Xhelsher was finally on his way! As assistant to the Minister from Graszhni he would be able to see the workings of the Galactic Council first hand, start his way up into the mechanisms of the government, and seek to try his hand at making things come true for his people. Yes, it was a very satisfying thing that he was about to enter. And since he was only an assistant to the Minister, it was a safe place to work from, out of the limelight.
Looking down the corridor to the office complex assigned to his world, Graszhni, Kran found himself wondering why the door was standing open and why all those people were standing there. Sensing something amiss, he began a more hurried pace to find out just what the problem was.
One of the clerks standing at the door saw Kran coming and shouted, “Here comes the Minister now. He will tell us what to do!”
Kran, on hearing the clerk’s words, had a bad feeling about things and protested to those listening, “No, I am not the Minister. Brol Zhilzhten is the Minister. He will be coming along very soon. He will know what to do about whatever it is that is the trouble.”
The clerk gave Kran a strange look and then said, “Minister Zhilzhsten is already here. And, he is dead, Minister Xhelsher. You have to tell us what we must do now.”
* * *
Kenji Kurihara looked up from his work and thought, “Those old masters were really something. How in the world did their followers lose the meanings of what they had been taught? How did those ethical teachings become rules set in concrete so inflexible that they allowed others to destroy their whole civilization?”
He remembered his father Denzo’s stories about the old days, long before the Bridge and the escape to Dreamer’s World. They were tales about emperors and kings, class divisions and the constant wars over who should rule and who should have what. They had the guidelines but whenever a new ruler came to have the Mandate of Heaven, he did not always choose wisely which rules to follow, if any. It was the men who failed, not the precepts.
The study of Earth’s Old Far East had captivated Kenji and had become a problem for him, taking him away from his studies of galactic astronomical phenomena.
Somehow, though, they seemed to work with each other. The rules of the physical laws were, in some way, mirrored by the ethical laws of Kung Fu Tzu. The physical laws worked and so should the ethical. But they hadn’t and now they were living on Dreamer’s World and they had been forced to leave a much more exciting Earth behind. It didn’t make sense.
Kenji put his Far East philosophies book away and made himself start again on his course in star construction and mechanics, and soon, he was immersed in the wonders of laws that always worked and were always predictable.
* * *
Charlie Phillips looked at the print on the ground before him, a bear print about the same size as his shovelhead, and decided that it was time for him to be elsewhere. There was one thing that Charlie had learned in all his time in the Alaskan wilds, and that was never be in the close vicinity of a Kodiak with paws that big; especially if all you had for protection was a .44 Magnum pistol. It could stop a bear if you were a really good shot and had three angels at your back to guide your bullets.
Turning in the opposite direction to the way the tracks led, Charlie hurried around the area and headed for his cabin. He was almost there when something made him take a nervous glance backwards. What he saw almost froze him in his spot. Old big paws had been following him, was only a couple of hundred yards away and looking in his direction as if considering just which end of Charlie to start chewing on first.
Slowly moving his hand to the pistol, Charlie began to back up and try and get himself out of the bear’s sight as quickly and quietly as he could. It seemed to be the wrong thing to do, because the bear began to head for Charlie at a pace a bit faster than Charlie favored so he brought the pistol up and began to take careful aim just the way his old friend Sam had told him years ago.
“I’ll tell you, buddy, if you ever get in a position of having to go one on one with a bear with only a pistol, make sure that the gun is at least a .44 Magnum and don’t aim for the heart. Even if you get a perfect shot in, that bear will just keep coming and take you out before it knows it is dead.
“Nope, you have to shoot it right on the shoulder bone in hopes that the bullet will break it and his foreleg gives away and he tumbles over. Then you can shoot to kill. Yep, that’s what you can do, if you’re lucky. But, most of the time in a situation like that, you’re just dead.”
Charlie held his breath to calm himself and waited until the bear was just about thirty yards away before squeezing the trigger and sending a bullet on a collision course with the animal’s hurtling body.
* * *
Aboard Alexei’s Pride, Katia was considering some of the new bills that were to come up in the Galactic Council and trying to see how they would affect her people. Suddenly she noticed a point she needed to discuss with Jonkil.
“Cyr, tell Jonkil that I need him for a moment, would you. There is something in this one bill about a final report and its effect on Earth. I think I know what it is alluding to, but not even the Council could do that.”
“I can’t find Jonkil,” Cyr reported. “He doesn’t seem to be aboard the Pride, although how that could be seems impossible.”
“Of course it is impossible. He didn’t go out an airlock or flush himself through a toilet did he? Run a check on your internal sensors and see if they hooked you up right when they installed you.”
“My sensors are working just fine; they are always working fine, they just can’t find Jonkil because he is not on board.”
“Who’s not on board?” came Jonkil’s voice from the fresher. “I am quite sure that I am. Unless, of course, I am not quite all here. I shall be out in a minute.”
“You see, Cyr,” laughed Katia, “you have some sensors out.”
“All of my sensors are working well! Jonkil is not, no matter what he says, in the fresher.”
Just at that moment the fresher door opened and Jonkil stepped out into the main living area, and smirking just a little said, “You’re right, Cyr, I am no longer in the fresher, so your sensors are telling you the truth.”
* * *
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 by euhal allen