The Bridge: a New Beginning
by euhal allen
Chapter 2: Collusion
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.
The President of Dreamer’s World University, Dr. Angelo Martini, was all smiles; the representative of the Zarkoff Conglomerate had just left his office and on his desk were the papers that would mean a new science building for the University. Indeed it would be a great increase for the University and a step up for Dr. Melichson.
Dr. Martini had not thought much of that wild professor and his unbelievable theories. But now, because of the little paper the Doctor had written, the Zarkoff people were going to donate a new building and operating expenses for it for as long as twenty years.
The only thing that bothered Dr. Martini just a little was that Melichson was to be the building chairman and was to have one-third of the building for his weird theories. Still, there would be ways, after the building was situated and the University had title, to shove Melichson aside and put a more respected man in charge.
* * *
Me’Avi thought about the summer ahead and her vacation time. First she was to visit Uncle Elif, and his lovely wife, Aunt Sora for the few weeks that her mother and her father were on their trip to study the Sub-Quantum Mechanics of solar phenomena in preparation for the later trip to catalogue the flare-ups of a star out in the Cernon Sector that seemed to be on its way to becoming a nova. Besides, they had invited that Dr. Melichson to go with them and guide them in their studies of that Sub-Quantum stuff. It would be boring.
Given the choice of going with her parents and visiting her almost aunt and uncle, Me’Avi chose the farm and the pony she had gotten to know the last time she visited Aunt and Uncle Felson. Ponies were always more fun than spending time in spaceships talking about stars; or, actually, listening to her parents and Dr. Melichson talk about them in those big words they used.
* * *
Charlie Phillips went out to check his green-bed and see how his tomatoes were doing. Tomatoes in Alaska were a bit unusual and everyone who had known Charlie thought he was a little crazy in trying to grow them there.
“Well,” thought Charlie, “maybe I am a little crazy, but crazy or not, I have fresh tomatoes here in the summer and canned ones the rest of the year. Someday people will be a bit more respectful to someone like me, who can grow tomatoes in Alaska.”
* * *
Katia sat waiting in Minister Xhelsher’s office and wondering why he had come out so strongly in favor of Dreamer’s World’s request for a requiem for Earth, adding the favor of building a new music hall into the request. Somehow it did not fit into the picture that Katia had been building up of the regular ministerial goals of the members of the Galactic Council.
The door opened and Xhelsher himself waved Katia to come on in and asked her to sit down. “Make yourself comfortable. That is the correct terminology for humans, is it not?”
“Well,” replied Katia, “yes, that is one of them. How unusual for someone on the Galactic Council to know such a thing, Minister Xhelsher.”
“Nonsense,” answered Xhelsher, “common politeness demands that one do one’s best to accommodate a guest as well as one can. And, here at least, you should forget the formality and just call me Kran. That is, if I may call you Katia? Now, what is so important that you can take time out of your busy schedule to call on me?”
“By all means... Kran. Do call me Katia. Formality can be such an inhibiting thing. Whenever it can be set aside, it should be.
“I came over here to thank you for your help in our requests for a Requiem. I also want to thank you for the suggestion and the support in gaining our people a new concert hall. It was very kind of you.”
Kran tilted his head back and began to laugh. Then, in the midst of that new, interrupting, burst of amusement he explained, “The Requiem and the concert hall are worthy things that will cost barely more than feeding the members of the Council a couple of times. Why shouldn’t it be done? Besides, I have my reasons for supporting such things. Reasons that I don’t mind telling you, if you want to hear them.”
“By all means, Kran, I would be most interested in hearing reasons that would encourage a Minister of a planet as far away as Graszhni to support our little request.”
“You know that I did not come here to be the Minister from my people, but to assist Brol Zhilzhten, who had the appointment from our government.”
“Yes,” said Katia, “I would like to extend the condolences of my people to yours for the loss of Minister Zhilzhten. It must have been a great shock to them, in suddenly finding that their assistant to the Minister had to become their representative. Not counting the shock it had to be to you.”
“Oh, it was a shock alright. I had turned down the appointment several times before Brol Zhilzhten accepted it. I only came here to get away from those who were still trying to have me become their representative.
“But the biggest shock came when I found out that Zhilzhten was not dead; that the whole thing had been a plot to get me here and force me by the inconvenient ‘death’ of our Minister to live up to my oath of office and step into a job I never wanted.”
Now it was Katia’s turn to laugh. “So,” she said, “you are going to mess up in your work as Minister to make them recall you?”
“No, our people’s concept of honor would not allow me to do such a thing. However, that honor will allow me to support things that are not important to my people, things that I can see as important. Already I have had a note or two telling me to do our people’s business and not spend time on things like a ‘song and a building’ of no concern to our government.
“But there are a number of such projects out there that I find interesting, even if they are not of great importance to our people. I am sure that I can find time to work with the Ministers that are sponsoring them. Besides, I tell our leaders that it is good public relations for me to support them. And, they always have the option of replacing me.”
* * *
Olga Shapirov stood on the bridge of their science vessel and watched the captain make ready for departure. Soon her brother, her husband and Dr. Melichson would be aboard and they would head out to the Kessler system and monitor the inconsistencies of that star’s radiation profile. This was important work that had to be done so that the plans they had for the next project could be finalized.
Also, Olga’s mother was to get them some information that was needed for that next project. Not sure of what that was, Olga, knowing her mother’s wide range of qualities and interests, had long ago stopped guessing just what Katia might be up to. The only thing that she knew for sure was that whatever it was, it was bound to be interesting and, most likely, troublesome for her children.
* * *
Katia was not in a good mood. While she almost never argued with Cyr, there was one thing that she did constantly seek to get from him. It was information that she needed to continue with the plans that the little group of Earth devotees were developing to keep the Blue Planet from the fate of other planets that had not been able to profit from a Bridge program.
Cyr just ignored her requests for the information, alluding to some belief that the group would find the information without his help. It was almost as if it was internal in his programming to withhold anything that would further the progress towards the development of the needed technology.
* * *
Me’Avi loved spending time with Aunt Sora and Uncle Elif. Nobody talked about science things and she was treated as a princess at court. They weren’t really her aunt and uncle, and that, plus the fact that they could not have children, made them all the more conscious of her presence. Nothing, it would seem, was too good for her.
Also, the fact that in just a few years, when the La Scena was finished, and her uncle’s Captaincy was confirmed, the couple would be going on a twenty-year exploration voyage through uncharted regions of the galaxy and would not have time for their charge, made them all the more determined to make the most of anytime they could have with Me’Avi.
* * *
Kalvin Vertraumer was excited. His initial piece for the Requiem had reached the finals of the contest for writing the great symphony marking the passing of Humanity’s home into a historical curiosity. He had studied the works of the great masters and their requiems and had watched the holographs of the Earth and listened to the sounds recorded there. Now he was to play it for the selecting committee in competition with others who had also composed initial selections for the contest.
That such a young person would have submitted a piece for consideration was thought miraculous, considering the number of older, established composers who had entered the contest. That he was in the final selections and had an actual chance to win was unbelievable. Yet here he was, ready to play his piece for the committee.
Being so young, he was slated, out of consideration for the older, more experienced and more established composers, to play last. It had to be that way since none of the others would even consider waiting their turn for one so young. It was their undoing. Having heard all the others, Kalvin was convinced that his piece was much better than anything they had offered and so he was ready to go out and play with a confidence that made his fingers fly and his music soar.
Even as he played, those who had gone before him realized that, as good as their pieces were, they were being measured against genius, and they would go back to their careers while young Vertraumer would write the Requiem for the Blue Planet.
* * *
Dr. Melichson’s equipment finally made it aboard the science vessel and took up the entire volume of Hold C. But that was only the start, for then he and Sean had the job of setting it all in order for the measurements that were to be made; measurements that would give indications of existence, or non-existence, of the Sub-Quantum phenomena that the good doctor was so sure of.
Once the measurements were done, Dr. Melichson could come to some conclusion that would point to the future of the research to be done.
Still, it was a wonder to Dr. Melichson as to why, all of a sudden, so many things had fallen in the right direction for him. First, Sean Shapirov shows up for his classes and becomes his best student. Then came the friendship and sponsorship of Olga Shapirov and Johannes von Schweinfurt, who was Sean’s sister and brother-in-law and, so, also in the Shapirov clan. And that brought the grant from the Zarkoff people for the new facilities, tied to his work, at the University.
Now, here he was, going on the von Schweinfurt expedition to Kessler on this science vessel that, strangely enough, was commissioned by the committee in the Galactic Counsel chaired by Katia Shapirov. Dr. Melichson still could not see the strings attaching him to these events but he was very sure they would become obvious soon.
* * *
Katia Shapirov looked at the com-unit’s screen and smiled her most impatient smile at the President of Dreamer’s World University. “I am sure that Dr. Chelding is of eminent stature and would be suitable for many positions of great trust, but both the Zarkoff people and my committee have made the decision to entrust the new facilities only to Dr. Melichson. I am sure that you can understand that.
“Should anything happen to that trust, or to Dr. Melichson, to make it impossible for him to continue in the position, we will then decide, after consulting your people, of course, on the new director of those facilities. I hope that is understood.”
“It is quite well understood, Madam Minister. Under those circumstances the University will have to reconsider its acceptance of the new facilities. Dr. Melichson is quite a maverick in his field and some of his work tends to take him into the unproven and fantastic beyond good science. Dr. Chelding’s work is much more accepted and would represent the University with greater acceptance and acclaim.
“Perhaps the people at New Harvard would like the facilities and Dr. Melichson on their campus. We do have the option, Madam Minister, I believe, of ruling in our own court, do we not?”
“Yes, Mr. President, you do. And, by turning down the facilities and removing yourselves from that funding you will be ruling in your own court, as you say. That, of course will mean that we will have to exercise the same privilege of ruling in our own court.”
Picking up a folder, Katia continued, “I have here some legislation that will, in the exercise of good financial efficiency, bring about the merging of Dreamer’s World University with that of the very people you have recommended, New Harvard. The new combined university will operate under the administration and control of New Harvard. I have been assured that New Harvard has the greatest respect for Dr. Melichson and his work.
“I believe that the whole process could be completed by the new academic year. New Harvard has requested that Dreamer’s World University’s administration submit reports on the classes they used to teach, if any, so that they can decide if any of them could be used in the new institution.
“Now, about your objections to the new facilities under Dr. Melichson’s direction. Perhaps you could write up a report for the New Harvard people so that they can understand your position.”
“This threat, Madam Minister, is blackmail!”
“No, Mister President, it is politics, and it is not a threat. The legislation is already in committee and has been reported upon most favorably. That makes it a promise.”
“Very well,” replied a very shaken University President, “we withdraw all our objections to Dr. Melichson’s appointment and welcome his direction of the new facilities.”
“Now, Mr. President, you are playing politics. Let us pretend that this matter never came up, and I shall, as Chair of committee, lose this file somewhere safe and recoverable only by me.”
* * *
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 by euhal allen