The Bridge: a New Beginning
by euhal allen
Chapter 3: Sowing Confusion
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.
Charlie Phillips was in his shed getting an early start in building the hot frames he needed to get his tomatoes to grow early enough to produce the fruit he wanted at summer’s end. He had already installed the insulating layer and the warm water piping that would underlie the hot frames.
“I don’t care if it is Alaska,” Charlie said to himself softly, “I am going to have some tomatoes this summer.”
And he did.
* * *
Me’Avi Shapirov did not presume to ride on the name “Shapirov” she had taken. She knew her grandmother’s reputation and knew that if she was going to be allowed to keep that name she had to prove worthy of it. Soon she became known as one of the brightest and best students in the school. Her classes — the hardest ones she could get — Galactic History, Legal Theories, Cultural Divergences, etc., were only the start.
She also signed up for the chess team and become in a very short while one of its best players. She joined the Governmental Affairs Club, and set herself on a fast and successful track to be its president.
Her school, which she had picked because it was one that supplied many student interns to the Bureaucracy, was soon quite aware that it had another such intern within its halls, one who was not only bright and capable but, with the name she had, one that would be allowed into the highest circles. In other words, Me’Avi was an asset to be used to enhance the school’s prestige to the greatest amount possible.
It was not unexpected, then, that Me’Avi Shapirov was slated, as soon as she qualified by passing the required courses, for a slot as an intern for one of the et Sharmas working for the Galactic Governance Council. If she succeeded there — and few doubted she would — her rise in official society could be a grand thing indeed for the school.
“It is all very simple, Threlnia,” Me’Avi explained to her roommate. “The biggest prizes go to those who play the game best. If I had talents in a field of science, I would have kept my father’s name. But I don’t.
“That means that I had to take my grandmother’s name. I have no choice in the matter, not if I am going to succeed. If I don’t live up to their promise, then those names, which seem to be keys for me now, will become weights that will make my failure all the heavier because I will not have lived up to their promise. This game is not a choice for me; I was born into it.”
* * *
The science vessel was once again on a mission to a variable star. The variations of the star indicated that it would go nova in something like twelve to twenty years, and that made it ideal for study. The present mission was to set up a system of scanning satellites in a number of orbits around the star as well as a coordinating station to gather the data and send it on a hyper-beam back to the university computers.
Olga and her husband were coordinating the satellite placements when Sean came onto the bridge. “I surely hope the calculations by Cyr are right on target, because if they are not we could wind up being in a very hot spot.”
“Well,” replied Olga, “we have to trust Cyr’s work, since the calculations were not something that could be allowed on the university’s computers. Besides you know what Mother says: ‘Cyr is the brightest computer I have ever run into, and that is said from experience, not prejudice!’”
“Yes, Olga, we all owe Cyr a lot. But if his calculations are the least bit wrong, we won’t be around to appreciate him.”
“You haf all the engines placed on za asteroids correctly?”
“Yes, Johannes,” replied Sean, “on the ‘asteroids correctly’ as possible. They are ready any time you want to start things off. But do me a favor and don’t tell me when you get this whole mess going. My part is done, and I would just as soon not know when things are happening. Then, if Cyr is wrong, I won’t have a chance to worry about it.”
“Sean,” said Olga, “you never change, do you? Don’t worry, we won’t let you in on the start of things. Besides, until we get these satellites in place and make sure that hyper-beam to the university is working perfectly, we can’t do anything. You know that’s one we figured to take the greatest time to do. And right now, our timing is way off, so why don’t you go down to engineering and fix something?”
“OK,” replied Sean, “since you are giving me a reprieve, there is a piece of equipment in engineering that does need a little work. I’ll see you guys later.”
Johannes watched until the lift indicator showed that Sean had reached engineering and then turned to Olga and asked. “Vy you didn’t tell your bruder vat is so? Ve are vay ahead of schedule on za satellites’ placement?”
“Johannes! I didn’t say anything but that our timing was way off. If Sean chose to think that we are way behind in their placement that is his problem.”
“Liebchen, you are naturally a woman who schemes. I tink it is von reason why I lof you.”
* * *
The scout ship carrying Dr. Melichson’s star students was cramped and hot. It was not meant to carry so many people, and it was not meant to carry cargo at all. The only advantage to it was that being overpowered for its size it was quite a bit faster than almost any other type of ship, and even with the extra bodies and the equipment needed to start setting up the labs on Starhell it was still twice as fast as the ship carrying the good doctor and his more extensive supplies and equipment.
The second reason was that scout ships occasionally disappeared. This one, headed for the Cernon sector, somehow never made it there and was marked down as another scout lost on a mission.
Reaching Starhell, the students were disembarked at the great spaceport cavern. They and their equipment were soon installed in the labs and quarters specially built for them by the people evacuated from a plague-ridden Earth and brought here to start mankind on a new future.
The students busied themselves in setting up their equipment and looked forward to the arrival of Dr. Melichson and the start of the research project that was the real reason for their presence on Starhell. The ship that was to bring Melichson was due in just a few short months. They needed to hurry and get their basic labs ready for the new equipment that was coming with the doctor.
* * *
The media were besides themselves over the news that Grand Minister Fellegninat had been nominated as Eminent Krordan of his planet. Columnists argued whether he would leave his office of Grand Minister to assume his planet’s highest religious office. They were all waiting in anticipation when the doors opened to the conference room and the Grand Minister’s answers to their questions.
The pomp and ceremony over, the crier stood forth and announced, “Grand Minister of the Galactic Council, Grellenick Fellegninat of Skorsha!”
The Grand Minister came forth. Looking around at the media he had been wrestling with for years, he began to speak.
“Gentle Ones, it is good that we together again are brought. To you I give felicitations and good will. We have had many interludes of gentle conflict in this room, and I shall remember them with fondness.
“Yes, I am leaving the office of Grand Minister for, to me, a greater office in service for my people. I leave with some regret, since I have not accomplished all that I would have wanted to. But still much has been done.
“My final act will be, as is by tradition demanded, to put forth to the Council a nomination for a successor to my office. Many I have talked with, and they, like me, have old grown in their offices and seek retirement to their homes. They have declined the honor and suggested that I someone younger and with more energy should nominate.
“Looking around the Council, where should I a younger one find, who the needed qualities has? The candidates must have experience as ones who their people led have. They must be ones who hard decisions made have, decisions that courage and fortitude required have.
“Of all the younger ones, and she is over one-hundred years old — the rejuvenation techniques have been good to us all — she is the only one truly ready for the office I leave. I shall nominate Humanity’s Minister to the Galactic Council, Katia Shapirov, as my successor. Then shall I go home.”
With that done, the Grand Minister turned and left the room for his last appearance before the assembled Ministers of the Galactic Council.
* * *
On Earth, the wars were dying down as the great nations disappeared and little dictators sprang up in areas where there was a population that could support them. Harsh as they were, they were better than the chaos and murder that ruled outside their territories where gangs of humans fought each other for the tiniest scraps of food.
Only where there was some type of physical barrier or groups of extended families could there be a start of some semblance of civilized activity, allowed by an obvious show of defensive strength that convinced others to find easier prey. There a small start to a better future could be made, and there an amount of sanity in human relations could be found.
It was from some of these groups that new citizens for Starhell were contacted, convinced and transported away from an Earth largely devoid of hope.
* * *
The ship still had months to travel when George woke up, angry. Minister Shapirov had tricked and betrayed him and made him a prisoner on this ship. Then, when he got to Starhell he would still be a prisoner with only his prison changing. The outrage of it all was unconscionable.
On top of that, they had crammed his head full of the knowledge of engineering. He was a physicist, and to make him an engineer was an insult to all that he had accomplished in his academic life. How was he to finish his work on the Carrier Beam?
Worse yet, his mind was starting to be just a little fond of the puzzles that engineers actually solved, and he found himself thinking of formulas, material strengths, and building techniques, things he had at one time thought worthy of lesser intellectual talents. Still they were interesting puzzles, and perhaps there were items that could be integrated into the solving of Carrier Beam technology.
Now, carrying all the knowledge of his former life and, because he had added the equivalent of a doctorate in engineering, he could see so much of what he had known as a physicist was a basis for a new world of practical application. It excited him. Perhaps this new knowledge might give him the tools to go beyond theory in making the Carrier Beam something more than an intellectual curiosity. It could, perhaps, have practical uses he hadn’t thought of. “After all,” he thought, “without the Carrier Beam I would just be a bit of dust in a melted wreck of a skimmer back on Dreamer’s World.”
Soon, he was involved in unpacking crates of equipment and supplies and connecting things in ways he had never thought of before. Now with his two specialties he was looking at advances in his project that he would have thought years off just recently.
It was then that he mentally thanked Katia Shapirov for her vision and for having the courage to make sure that vision had a chance of coming true, even if it had been a little rough on an engineer named George.
* * *
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 by euhal allen