The Bridge: a New Beginning
by euhal allen
Chapter 4: Pushing Outward
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.
Kalvin Vertraumer was inundated by the demands of those around him. There were the constant demands of his teachers to learn and mimic the great old masters of Earth; the continual demands that he, as the designated composer of the Requiem for Earth, show what he had so far written — demands that he refused even at the peril of making important people angry with him — demands that he show off his considerable talent in recitals and concerts for this cause or that visiting VIP. And finally, the demands of his body, a vessel that seemed to be overflowing with fatigue.
And, now, another such interview with another such VIP, the new head of the Melichson Institute and the upcoming grand opening of the Galactic Medical Data Center some weeks away.
“Good afternoon, Dr. Robinson. I congratulate you on the opening—”
“Young man,” replied the doctor, “when was the last time you slept a whole night through? You look like a faded picture of a faded flower!”
“Well, sir, my schedule is so full that—”
“Nonsense, young man. If you are too busy to take care of yourself, you are just too busy.” Then, reaching over to the intercom and pressing the send button, Dr. Robinson commanded, “Miss, call over to Melichson and tell them to open Concert Room seven and be prepared to answer some questions. The young Maestro has agreed to come inspect it for the opening ceremonies.
“Tell them also to alert my driver that we will be right out and to make arrangements for us at the night entry. This is a private business and we need no one taking pictures or yelling out questions.”
“Dr. Robinson, I haven’t agreed to go over to the—”
Putting his fingers on Kalvin’s lips, Dr. Robinson handed him an envelope from the Grand Minister’s office. Inside was a note from the Grand Minister herself.
My dear young sir,
I noticed the other day that you did not look well. We do not have so many people of great musical talent that we can afford to lose one to the demands of others less talented.
I have, therefore, asked Dr. Robinson to take you under his wings for a while and, in the guise of consulting you about the Grand Opening, take you to the Melichson Institute where you will be examined and a medical treatment, should one be needed, will be initiated.
“I think, young man, that both of us have been outgunned in this case and that — since I understand from my conversations with Grand Minister Shapirov’s late children — the Grand Minister’s instructions are not things that one is safe in disobeying.
“Lately the Grand Minister has shown a great interest in things medical. It is our hope that she will continue to do so. Shall we go?”
Within minutes Kalvin found himself poked and prodded almost beyond that which was bearable. He was then taken to a quiet, private room in the infirmary section of the Institute and, after a well-prepared meal, told to go to bed and stay there until he was awakened. That command coming, as it did, in combination with a hypo-spray sedative, was irresistibly carried out.
The next morning the Institute announced that Maestro Vertraumer was suffering from influenza and all appointments scheduled for him were now canceled or postponed, since he would be remaining at the Institute until he recovered. There would be no interviews or any further information released without Dr. Robinson’s express permission.
Meanwhile, at the request of Maestro Vertraumer, a piano was delivered to the sitting room in his medical suite, and he was allowed to medicate himself with whatever music he wished to play.
* * *
The people of the Clauzi system had never had a personal visit from a Grand Minister before. To have one come and, instead of bringing pompous politicians, have her bring much-needed medical supplies was even better. So, making herself available to the media — while Cyr downloaded all the medical information they had on their databases — Katia charmed and pleased all she met.
From Clauzi to Tkrona; Tkrona to Seldane: Seldane to Xorn — and so on — the pattern was the same. Katia charmed all she met and Cyr collected, sorted and indexed medical data. Then after each visit the data collected was sent by the most expedient means to the Galactic Medical Data Center.
Before long, using the ever-growing data, medical progress was being seen on a number of worlds where solutions to seemingly intractable medical problems were coming to light in the data from other worlds.
Such results only caused members of the Galactic Council to become a little awestruck by this person. She, as the Dream Singer, had rescued her people from oblivion; she had became an intrinsic member of many Council projects as Minister from Dreamer’s World; and now, as Grand Minister, she was guiding an expanding of the Council’s authority in the galaxy. At the same time she made whole peoples become hopelessly infatuated with her by her caring manner.
* * *
Katarina Ivanovna Pushkin came running into the village yelling, “The healers have come! The healers have come!”
Immediately the village erupted into the activity of bringing the sick who could be moved into the communal yurt and setting them in order of their perceived illness. Those who couldn’t be moved were identified by having a person stand in their doorways for the healers to see. Those in the communal yurt would be seen by the healers after those whose ills were gravest had been cared for. This was the method the healers had used the other times they had visited and the villagers were now well trained in its use.
Soon the healers, Olga and Johannes, came striding into the village. Going from each place of illness to the next they soon had done what they could for those in the worst condition. Then they headed to the communal yurt and began to help the ill and injured. They then ate a little of the food the villagers had brought them and went to the beds prepared for them to rest before continuing their journey the next morning.
Strangely, the healers did not wish to get up at dawn for their journey, but excusing themselves as being overly tired, returned to sleep until late morning. Then, turning aside the articles of payment they had always sought before, they requested an audience with the village council in the afternoon.
The communal yurt was full of very apprehensive villagers when the healers came in to see the council. Now that they had become used to the services of the healers, were they, as did all other strangers, seeking to force them to give up more of their spare articles to keep them coming? The atmosphere had an air of quiet frustration and mistrust.
Most of the council being women, Olga rose to speak. “We have been here now three times in our travels as healers. Always you have treated us with great respect and kindness. We wish to thank you for this and to request of you another consideration for our services.”
The head of the council stood and spoke, “You have always given us the fruits of your healing without robbing us. Many here are in good health, even alive, because of your skills. Ask of us your consideration. If it is not too great we will try to grant it.”
“My husband and I are getting older. We are no longer as strong and energetic as we once were. We can no longer continue to be traveling healers, for we have become tired and wish to live now in just one place. You are the people who have been most kind to us and we would seek refuge here with you. We wish to become part of this village.
“We do not have much in the way of belongings and would be happy to reside here in the communal yurt — should that be acceptable to you — until we could earn a yurt of our own. We would need little else except some ground to cultivate for our medicinal herbs and our food.”
In the back of the crowd came a voice saying, “Old Petrof’s yurt is still empty, no one having the courage to start cleaning it yet. It is a solid, well-built yurt with many years of use left in it. We could all suffer part of that work to give the healers a place. I would do so, my children are still with me because of their skills.”
“I, too, would help with that for what little I was able to give them last time they were here hardly pays the debt I owe for my mother’s life.”
Soon, many voices were clamoring for attention with something they could do to make the healers welcome and it was very evident that Olga and Johannes had found a home.
* * *
“Well, sir, I got out of where I was because my mother was always pushing me to become a leader. I like fixing things and don’t do too well with people.”
“Your mother is the leader of her people? And you were being trained to take her place?”
“Well, sort of,” replied Sean. “But I did not want the job and I have a sister who is good at it, so I got out when I could. I have been wandering around for weeks now. But, honestly, sir, I am good at fixing things.”
“You might be of use after all, if you can work on electronics. We have some that we found in the different ruins and if you can do something to make them work we can use you.”
* * *
Takeshi Kurihara sat dejectedly in the chair across from Jonkil et Sharma, “Why again must I not go to start working with the group under General Chu?”
“Because,” replied the et Sharma, “he will kill you, and we don’t have enough agents to send you in to be killed. The Grand Minister made it very plain that no one was to be sent into an area where there was a strong chance of their being eliminated.”
“I understand all that. But how did you come to this conclusion? I have been watching Chu for quite awhile and I haven’t seen anything that would indicate that he would destroy an innocent scholar who could help him solidify his position. He has been looking for just such a thing for quite a bit now.”
Handing Takeshi a folder, Jonkil et Sharma continued, “We have managed to do a Lambrough-Gordon psychological test on him — never mind how we did it — and have been able to see from the results that the good General is not stable himself. He must live in his position of power for several more years in order for him to become personally stable enough for the introduction of your project.
“However, not all is lost. There are several villages in the north of Chu’s area that can be developed in such a manner that you can travel from to Chu’s capital when he is stable enough. And the positive side of this is that you will have already gained a reputation as a scholar in those villages when you actually make your move into Chu’s area.
“Chu is paranoid enough that he will send agents to check on you, and you will need a background strong enough to satisfy those agents. Without it, even a more stable General Chu would kill you. Even with it and a gain in Chu’s personal stability, you would have only a seventy-five percent chance of surviving more than five years.”
Takeshi, examining the folder and reading the results of the L/G units, saw that Jonkil was correct and that he would have to go to the north and create a very solid scholarly reputation for himself. He saw that it would not be an easy task and that it would have to be very carefully done.
“OK, the results of the L/G are pretty conclusive. That means that I shall have to have a new addition to my learning program. I shall have to have training in small-village dynamics as well as the dynamics of Chu’s area. How soon can that be ready for me?”
“It,” replied Jonkil, “is ready now. You don’t think that people like General Chu are the only ones that we do Lambrough-Gordon tests on, do you? Your tests told us to expect this reaction from you.”
“You did an L/G profile on me. And just who authorized such a thing to be done?”
“The Grand Minister.”
* * *
“So, Cyr, let me get this straight; ROALS doesn’t, because it is linked to a Rejuv failure, make its final manifestation until the very last of the syndrome’s course. I will be, outwardly, OK until everything fails in the last few weeks, right?”
“Right, except there is no last ‘few’ weeks. You will have, maybe, ten days to two weeks before the termination process occurs. When the signs of Rejuv failure appear we will have to be out of public view almost immediately. And we need to be able to do so without fanfare or I won’t be able to make our other little project happen.”
“So, I have eight to ten years before the ‘termination process’ starts. That means I will only have time to complete about half of what I want to get done.”
“Yes, Katia, you need to start prioritizing your projects now. And, you need to start making unannounced visits to places in the Council’s territory so as to create a visible habit of quick inspection trips. Then, when the termination process starts, we will be able to get away without suspicion that something is wrong.”
“Then we have to make the Cernon sector a major project. That shouldn’t be too hard, though. Some of the planets there have started to produce real rewards in metals and minerals. We will just have to up the share a bit that comes to the Council and make the Ministers see a new source of revenue for their pet projects.
“That means, of course, a bit less for Starhell, but that can’t be helped right now, can it? Besides, once the science team there gets the Carrier Beam working well, we can make up the difference in a short time.”
“Don’t forget,” Cyr replied, “the medical supplies that you will be taking on your inspection trips. And don’t forget about me.”
“That’s right! I must get you protected as soon as possible. There are too many AI people out there just dying to tear into you and see what makes you so advanced.”
* * *
Copyright © 2011 by euhal allen