The Bridge: a New Beginning
by euhal allen
Chapter 5: Priorities
The whole galaxy, watching the festivities and the celebrations, were not alarmed when the Grand Minister climbed into the Vari-Path mining vehicle and began to control it herself. It was a norm for her since she often would seek to drive all kinds of different conveyances on almost any world she visited. It seemed somewhat of a passion to her.
When she slumped over the controls and sent the vehicle into the path of an oncoming ore carrier, people watching from every corner of the galaxy froze at the sight; one that was played over and over again in the following days as the Galaxy mourned their fallen Grand Minister.
Cyr, in the control column of Alexei’s Pride, seeing what was taking place, dispatched a med-bot after the errant vehicle but it arrived seconds too late to rescue the Grand Minister. All it could do was, gently, carry her torn and bleeding body back to her ship for immediate insertion into a stasis module. Cyr brought the ship’s engines to full readiness and immediately took off for the nearest Galactic Medical Center that could have any chance of working with a patient so badly wounded.
It had all taken only minutes from beginning to end, and still it was too long, for Cyr soon reported to the Galaxy the even the stasis chamber had not been reached soon enough. The Grand Minister was dead.
* * *
The inquiry hearing held by the Galactic Council did, indeed, clear any and all involved with the visit of any culpability in the disaster. Still, Feltus III had truly gained a new and greater visibility in the Galaxy, just not the one that they had wished for.
It was Cyr’s testimony that shed light on the real causes of the tragedy, the Grand Minister’s headaches; headaches he had warned her about, at times pleading with her to check herself into a hospital and have her problem diagnosed and treated.
And, time and time again, the Grand Minister had accepted the advice and assured her friend that she would do so — right after she finished what she was presently involved with — something that never happened because she was never “not involved” in something. So, over the months the headaches got worse and her refusals to do anything about them became more adamant.
Then, just before her visit to Feltus III, she had actually given Cyr permission to find a hospital that specialized in problems like hers and contact them as soon as they finished their visit to that planet.
The Council, angered at the details of the incident, demanded of Cyr an answer as to why he had not informed them of the Grand Minister’s illness.
“I am, as you are all aware, Sirs,” Cry replied, “an Artificial Intelligence, a computer. As such I follow the requests of my employer. The Grand Minister required of me the absoluteness of secrecy in this matter. I followed her orders.
“I have existed with you organics for a very long time now, but I still do not really understand all of how you work and reason. I had many long conversations with my friend, Katia — and she was indeed my friend — about this problem, and she told me something that might suffice for an answer as to why I misunderstood the level of her danger.
“She once said to me, ‘Cyr, you can, unless you experience the reality of being an organic person, never really understand all that we go through and feel. For example, even among ourselves we have things that we cannot explain to each other; such as giving birth. No matter how many words a woman uses she can never really make a man understand what it is like. Yet, with any other woman who has done it she needs no words for they know already.”
“I knew the physical needs of the Grand Minister and I could see that she was headed for disaster, but I could not judge, in an organic manner, the true levels of importance in what she needed to do in comparison to what she wanted to do.”
It was an explanation that the Galactic Council did not like but could not argue with. They could only absolve all of negligence and declare the Grand Minister’s home on New Earth as a Galactic Memorial and make arrangements for her stasis pod to be buried there, in the garden that she spent so little time in but loved so much.
Cyr’s request to retire there in the Grand Minister’s villa and take care of the facilities for the Galactic Council was accepted, as was the request to station Alexei’s Pride at the nearby spaceport, sealed, as a monument the people of New Earth could visit to remember Katia Shapirov’s remarkable life.
* * *
The memorial service for the late Grand Minister was very unremarkable, as Cyr was always there to make sure that her instructions were met to the letter. A few friends only were to be there when the pod was lowered into the earth and the pod’s stasis unit switched off.
There was to be no great monument — Alexei’s Pride stationed at the local space port would suffice for that — and a simple playing of Mozart’s Requiem would be enough for any musical expression of grief. Then she was to be lowered into the earth and covered over with flowering plants.
The only exception to her wishes — insisted on by the Galactic Council in a secret memo transferred to Cyr — was that the pod be open for the cameras to take one last picture of her in repose for official records somehow needed by some regulation from the Galactic Archives. That was done only after Cyr was assured that the pictures would not be broadcast Galaxy wide during the service.
Only no one had mentioned that the pod would be open to any of those special persons invited to attend — a bit of a shock to most of them, but devastating to one in particular. That one was Jonkil et Sharma.
Earth’s et Sharma, following the small crowd into the room where the pod was, hoped that, after a brief glance at the pod, he could quickly leave the room and head back to his office. It was not to be. As the crowd parted in front of him he saw Katia’s still face and found himself reeling in pain as he ran from the room.
Some in the room glanced at each other and made remarks that the et Sharma must have been quite fond of the late Grand Minister. Others mentioned that he was Qwell Na and the Qwell Na had some strange ways about them. Then, since the service was starting, they turned their attention to that and let Jonkil’s strange behavior flee from their minds.
Jonkil et Sharma lurched and staggered out of the building and made his way slowly back to his ship where he could lie down and recover. It would take a long time.
* * *
The Galactic Council, following the late Grand Minister’s recommendations installed Minister Pwirkavi as the new Grand Minister to serve out the rest of Grand Minister Shapirov’s term. And, as usual, since few actually wanted that job, Minister Pwirkavi recognized that he would be Grand Minister for a long time.
Still, burdensome as it was, the new Grand Minister, having worked closely with Katia for several years, and as one who had truly appreciated the greatness of the former Grand Minister, determined to do his best to live up to her expectations of him.
* * *
Back on Dreamer’s World, Cyr, now left alone and having only the normal things to do that come with managing a household — even a large one such as the former Grand Minister’s — was soon busy directing the slow and delicate operations need to save his friend’s life.
The pod that had been the funeral pod was not all that such a pod normally was. It was instead, as planned, a modified med pod that kept Katia in a tight medical stasis that did not show above the funerary stasis that was turned off when the pod was buried.
Nor was the funerary vault normal in its function, for when the pod was let down into its cradle and the cover put into place, hundreds of connections were already in place and working, with Cyr monitoring them all. Soon small, carefully selected areas were released from stasis as tiny amounts of medications began to flow into those awakened cells and make small, but intrinsic changes in their make-up. It was a process that would be done over and over again in the months and years ahead.
In other places, nerves were traced and connections identified and small devices inserted when the time and need was ascertained. Slowly, Cyr, monitoring in picoseconds but working in minutes, began to interrupt the terminal process that had held Katia in its grip and find ways to make her body work again.
* * *
Me’Avi em Sharma did not attend her grandmother’s memorial. To those who mentioned it to her she just replied:
“She never had any time when I was being honored; she just went on with her work. I guess, being a Shapirov I can do the same. Besides, I am em Sharma, and I have work to do.”
And work she did. Tinnel et Sharma of Jurzell was as demanding a superior as he was lazy, indolent and incompetent. He had already ruined the careers of six em Sharmas with his demands of them and lack of respect for them. Now he was going to put this new upstart in her place.
Me’Avi was not a Shapirov for naught. She was truly her grandmother’s offspring and Tinnel et Sharma soon felt her influence in ways he had never thought of before. With her efforts in full swing the ratings for the et Sharmate of Jurzell began to climb to new heights.
With each new quarter Tinnel et Sharma began to look better and better to the home office and he was beginning to enjoy the taste of praise he had never known before; praise that came from the efforts of his assistant. But with changes to certain of the official copies of documents that went to the capitol that was not difficult to correct.
Tinnel et Sharma of Jurzell had known for a long time that if something was documented and the documents were duly filed at headquarters, then they were the final proof of anything that happened.
It just so happened that such knowledge was not absent from his em Sharma. And, she knew that the copies of the unaltered documents she sent to “Uncle” Pwirkavi would be sure to find the correct places in her career files, as well as in the headquarter’s files. And she was right.
* * *
Slowly Cyr guided connections into place and then removed them. He injected small bits of substances here and there and then injected things to counteract them when their work was done. Bit by bit he fought the menace that sought to end the life of his friend Katia.
Had he not been who he was, a computer with a personality, the slow pace of all the organic processes would have driven him mad with frustration. But computers don’t get frustrated, not because they’re patient, but because they don’t know how to be impatient.
So he plodded on, letting the limbs wither — he could not save them — and concentrating on those areas that held the keys to future vitality, to the torso and the head. And, had he not been monitoring everything in picoseconds he could not have saved them.
But save them he did. Working directly with the life processes, making little changes here and there to Katia’s metabolic processes, he beat back the damage done to her body by the last rejuve she had taken. Then, with enzymes and nutrients and medicines he began to urge his friend’s body to make the repairs still possible and to start the climb back to sentient life. It took many years.
Then the day came when Katia once again heard her name being called:
“Katia? Katia! It’s me. It’s Cyr. It is time for you to start waking up.”
Copyright © 2011 by euhal allen