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.
Arriving at the Galactic capital, Katia soon found herself in an office with a large staff doing her bidding while she sought to accustom herself to her new position. Chaos seemed to be the norm, and quiet was a memory of some unreal past.
Katia looked up and, seeing no one, just said, “Yes, Cyr, I can take a few seconds if it is important.”
“The observatory at Earth has just notified Jonkil that an avian type flu has started a major outbreak in several areas around the planet. Most of the governments have refused to recognize its existence and could do little if they did recognize it. The recent round of wars have left many of them barely able to govern, and they have no resources left to react positively to this epidemic.”
“How many, Cyr?”
“There are no real hard and fast numbers, Katia, and I would hate to give bad figures.”
“How many, Cyr?”
“You won’t like this, Katia.”
“How many, Cyr?”
“The best estimate we have is between two hundred seventeen and three hundred million fatalities at this moment. It is probably more than that. One might expect it to reach half a billion before it is over. But that is not the greatest damage. The worst part is that health care professionals are being decimated by this flu, and when it comes back next season few will be alive to fight it.”
“We have only lost a few. Most of them made it to safe zones. Katia, there may not be any reason to keep them there much longer.”
“Cyr, Earth is our real home, we cannot let it die, no matter what the Council’s policies are.”
* * *
The colonel walked into the general’s tent and stood at attention until his presence was recognized.
“Yes, Colonel, did the attack go off well?”
“We captured the objective, sir,” replied the colonel. “We captured all of it as ordered.”
Raising his eyebrows at the news, the general asked, “Casualties?”
“None, sir. None yet.”
“What do you mean, ‘None yet’?”
“The enemy, what few there were of them, were all dead. They had an epidemic over there, sir. All those in the front lines were dead. But they weren’t the only dead. There are bodies everywhere over there. For three miles back there are bodies.”
“So,” replied the general as he turned back to the map on the back of the tent, “their epidemic did our work for us. Too bad for them. Very well, Colonel, thank you for the report and you can go get some well earned rest.”
Turning around again and expecting to see the colonel leaving, instead he found himself looking down on the colonel’s body.
* * *
Kran Xhelsher had known that he would hate the job of Minister from his planet. That was why, despite continual urgings from the leaders of his world, he always turned down the job. Now that he had the position he hated it even more than he thought he would. There was no time to examine things that should be examined. It was “look at the bill,” do little or no research, and make a decision. Things that affected the lives of the peoples of the galaxy should be better thought through.
Now, with this new twist of events — Brol Zhilzhten had been seen by some of his family celebrating at a government party — he hated it even more. They had set him up and he, because of the oath he had taken and the curse of being honorable when his word had been given, made him hate the position even more. The only honorable way out was to gain a position of greater honor, and the only job that met those criteria was that of Grand Minister, a job even worse than the one he had.
Of course, he could shed his concept of honor and do his job badly and inefficiently and force his removal. It had been done by others, true, but never by one of his world and certainly never by himself. No, he had to continue in this unhappy position and hope for a miracle.
* * *
Jonkil et Sharma watched in pain as the planet below him wrestled with a disintegrating civilization. Perhaps he would have to write the final report on the world after all. And now, because the end seemed to be coming, the station was inundated by media persons wanting to catch and broadcast the tragedy to the residents of the galaxy.
Jonkil et Sharma holed up in his office and made it known that he had no time for the media and sent Hocat, his assistant, out to answer their questions and assign them screens that they could record from. It was a good thing that Hocat was involved in the project and would only let those media ghouls see what they wanted to see and not those areas that still gave Jonkil et Sharma some reassurance that those people could be the ones he was seeking.
* * *
On Dreamer’s World the media reports caused consternation and anger. Their people on Earth were dying and the media was making, as they were wont to, a circus out of it. Surely it was not the desire of the Galactic Council to allow the suffering and pain to continue to be cheap entertainment.
The leaders of the planet contacted their Minister and instructed her to find a way to treat their people in a more civilized and dignified manner.
* * *
Grand Minister Fellegninat rapped his gavel and called for order in the Council chambers. “This body will now recognize the Minister from Dreamer’s World. Minister Shapirov, the floor is yours.”
“Grand Minister Fellegninat, fellow Councilors, and, indeed, this meeting being broadcast, peoples of the galaxy: My people are in great distress at the terror and plagues and chaos that are destroying our first home, Earth. Yet it seems that it is not enough that it is happening, but that it is an entertainment for those who have minds sick enough to watch it.
“Our people, who have gifted this civilization with the beauty of our music — music created mostly on the planet now being desecrated by the violence and sadness of that world’s present situation — would ask that the show be stopped. It is not a civilized thing to watch a people die, it is even less civilized to stand by and see that death made a spectacle for all to see.
“Council members, tell the media to stop, let our Earth go quietly into history, remembered not as the horror show of the century but as the place where our music played free.”
“This body,” intoned the Grand Minister, “now recognizes the Minister from Qwell.”
“This unkind and unacceptable thing of watching the deaths of others is an evil thing. It is a thing that my people — the Qwell-Na — would never wish to see. The death of anyone, even if not accomplished in dignity, should be accomplished in private.
“In addition, the gift given to us by this people, their music, has made our lives more enjoyable and of greater worth.
“It is my understanding that humankind has a tradition that soulful music — a requiem I believe it is called — should be played as a part of their death ceremonies. It would seem that, instead of watching their deaths, we should listen to their requiem for that world.
“I would suggest that, because of the momentousness of these happenings to the people of Dreamer’s World, a new requiem be commissioned to mark the occasion of their passing. When the final report is received by this Council and the passing of this people is noted officially, then would be the time for that music to be played in their remembrance.
“Let this people choose their greatest musical genius and let that person compose this music. Let the passing of this people be noted for that which their lives are noted by the people of the galaxy, by their music.”
“This body now recognizes the Minister from Graszhni. Minister Xhelsher, you may speak.”
“I believe that the Minister from Qwell spoke in wisdom. On my planet, too, this viewing would be unacceptable. And many on my world have found their hearts lightened and their hearts happier from Earth’s gift of music to us.
“Let those on Dreamer’s World hold a competition to find the musician most suited to create this music — this requiem — and I would also suggest that we of the Galactic Council go one step further in that we should also commission an architect of this people to design and build a great new music hall wherein this requiem shall be first played.
“How could we honor more their gift to us than by seeking a place and a person to make more of it for us?”
* * *
Franco stood and looked at the little row of graves resting in what had once been his back yard. Five little graves marking the fact that he had once been a father. Now, looking down at the open grave he had just placed his wife in, he thought he had once been a husband, also.
Now he was a true gravedigger, for none of them had been like the shallow holes that many were digging for their dead; holes that allowed the packs of wild dogs to dig up their loved ones and scatter their bones over the countryside. His children, and now his wife, would rest safe and well. It was his last gift to them.
Soon he too would join then for he felt the starting in him of that plague that had taken his family from him. And, he wondered if anyone would put him in a shallow hole that barely would cover him.
Picking up his shovel he began to fill in Maria’s grave when the shot rang out and he, instead, joined her at the bottom of the hole.
“Check the house and see what might be useful to us. And hurry, we have more places to visit today.
“You, fill in that grave. We want anyone coming along to think it was the plague.”
* * *
Renaldo Melichson sat at the table and thought that he had not had such an enjoyable evening in a very long time. He wondered why he, not a social climber, had been invited to dine with Olga Shapirov and her, equally famous, husband, Professor von Schweinfurt?
Olga, smiling just a little, asked, “Are you asking yourself why you were invited this evening, since we have never before socialized.”
“No,” replied Melichson, “I was wondering why I was invited when I have such a reputation as a confirmed wallflower and bore?”
Olga and Johannes could not help themselves and doubled over with laughter.
“Wallflower you may be,” Olga answered, “but certainly not boring. You were asked because we, not social lions ourselves, wanted to hear about your work. My brother Sean is in your class on Sub-Quantum Mechanics and has told us some very interesting things.
“And, “ Melichson replied, “if I interest you enough you just might be able to swing a little grant money my way to enhance my research efforts. Just why would you, astrophysicists, would be interested enough in my research to shoot grant money my way? We are dealing with different ends of the material universe.”
“Yes,” replied Olga, “but Sean has told us of your illustration of dimensional mechanics and the rubber sheet. He did not get it very straight, but he got it straight enough to make us a little curious. Perhaps you could enlighten us a little with that illustration.”
“Yes, but it is actually not mine. I comes from Dr. George Bennett, a man in my field many years ago. Then they did not have as many resources as we have today, technically that is, but Dr. Bennett overcame that with the workings of his mind.
“I have the illustration almost memorized so, if you don’t mind I will just start with Dr. Bennett’s work and we can go on from there should you want to:
“Energy in matter can be thought of as grabbing a rubber sheet with your hand, and scrunching it up. The tighter you scrunch, the more energy is stored. Space is the rubber sheet, the strong and weak forces are your hand.
“If you squeeze really hard, the rubber sheet extrudes through your fingers in funny shapes — these are like the additional dimensions at tiny scales. Pushing in on one dimension causes the rubber sheet to squirt out through another finger opening.
“The trick, then, would be to align not the atoms but the dimensions. Not in a crystal, but in a Bose-Einstein condensate. Near absolute zero, atoms smear into each other and become a single atom.
“Push all at once on a thousand fists, and all the space-sheet pops out in another direction at the same time. If the new dimension has a different energy content than the old one, you’ll get a release of energy along that dimension’s axis.
“Since each particle has its own form of dimensions built into the quantum particles, you now have the ability to transmute matter — any matter that can be reduced to a condensate — with a huge potential to release energy at the same time.
“That’s Dr. Bennett’s illustration and that is what I am investigating. Is it something that would interest you in divesting yourselves of some grant money?”
“I have a question, Dr. Melichson,” replied Olga, “the illustration mentioned transmuting matter — what I would like to know is — could what you are describing transmit matter?”
“So,” countered Melichson, “so you too watched those old science fiction classics when you were young. No, what I speak of would not do that particular thing. I am sorry.”
“Actually, Dr. Melichson, I watched those old classics not terribly long after they were made, if you count a few decades as not very long. My husband and I have had rejuve treatments twice now. The last time the treatments even made it possible for me to have my daughter, Me’Avi.
“We understand the problems surrounding a matter transmitter, but we were wondering if the technology you are researching might, in some other way make it possible to move matter quickly from one part of an area to another?”
“Yes, theoretically it might be possible to match dimensions in such a way that you create a pass-through, a ‘door’ so to speak. But that type of technology may only be barely possible. Certainly it would take a very large grant to even consider researching those possibilities.”
“Za grant iss yours, Dr. Melichson, if you research chust zos tings. It iss very large, and comes from a source you must keep zecret. It comes from a section of the government and is backed by za Dream Zinger, herself, Olga’s mama. You vould, in essence, be vorking for Katia Shapirov.”
* * *
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 by euhal allen