FRESH WORLD: CHAPTER III

Exotic World

Written and illustrated by Adrienne Potter

 

 There stood a person, human in form, about five feet tall. It was light blue with even lighter blue patterns that looked part snow-flake and part nebula on the part of the skin that was visible. It was wearing a light-colored tunic that stopped at mid-thigh. It's hair was white, and as it stood there it reached out it's hands, palms up.

"Dab-nab-it! The translators are back at Othis!" cried her father frantically. "Irvana, go on your speeder and get them!"

"You go too Leena," commanded her mother in a stage whisper. They were all afraid it would run away. Leena and Irvana were back in five minutes, having scrambled frantically in her Dad's workroom for a translator and stumbled onto one as they stumbled over each other, then rushed back to their speeders. They found the alien where they had left it, hand's still outstretched, and Meltro standing where he was when they left, except he had also stretched his hands outward in an attempt to communicate. Irvana walked slowly towards it and though it's eyes got wider it didn't flinch.

She stopped, ten feet away. She saw that it had very thick, dark eyelashes over beautiful, clear, lavender eyes. It seemed to be a He. The translator was now functioning.

"Hello, "I'm Irvana," she said, pointing to herself.

"Yes, I know," he answered. "I've seen you in the forest. I saw you help an injured giltran."

"Oh, you mean the gelandian."

"No, it is a giltran," he corrected her.

"Okay, giltran." She saw that though he held himself straight and tall his hand was shaking. He was nervous, but courageous. "Don't be afraid, we won't hurt you,Ē she said.

"I know you won't," he answered. "We have watched you since you came and you are productive, non-aggressive, and harmless to our planet. That is why we let you stay."

"You mean others have been here before us?"

"Yes, but they were aggressive and harmful and we made them leave."

Irvana thought to herself, "Made them leave! As if they had a superior technology that could force out any invaders!"

"Is it alright if my Dad comes over and talks too?" she asked.

"Yes, it is alright, but the others must stay away."

"Dad," she called, turning half-way. "He says you can come but the others should stay where they are."

When her father came he introduced himself and again the boy said, "Yes, I know who you are, and I am Darak, but we don't have time to talk. I need your help. I have seen your droid heal Irvana. I need your droid to help my birth-person. She is injured, and she is dying."

Meltron looked at Irvana. "Does he mean his mother?" Sometimes the translators were too literal. "Oh well, it doesn't matter." He called to Ridge, "Com Mardee and tell him he's got another patient! We'll go with Darak and Mardee can used the tracking system to find us."

Irvana and her father followed Darak as he moved quickly, quietly, and smoothly through the forest. It was dense and jungle-like and Irvana had avoided this part, thinking it impassable. After ten minutes Darak moved some vines with his arm and passed through. They followed. Now they were in a vine-covered tunnel that wound left, right, left, right, and then became straight again. Suddenly it was pitch black, but the ground was smooth and they didn't stumble. Now there was a blue light ahead and soon they reached a large cave about fifty feet high with more blue light emanating from various niches in the walls. There was crystal on the walls that sparkled in the blue light and cast light reflections all around. Irvana let out a breath. It was beautiful.

The light cast shadows around numerous other blue people standing as though they had been waiting. Darak walked across to an opening in the stone and when they followed him inside they found themselves in another room, much smaller, where there was a woman laying on a blue, stone pallet, covered with blankets made of fabric similar to the tunic Darak was wearing. Her skin was much lighter than Darak's.

"Mardee will never find this place, Irvana. Please go back to the entrance of the vine tunnel and wait for him there." She immediately complied although she longed to stay and learn more. She studied the jungle-forest near the entrance to the tunnel as she waited for the MD. The trees were taller here, so tall that they let little daylight in, and there were more of those beautiful orange flowers growing at the foot of some thick bushes that had leaves like ferns which spread out from the stem as a flower would. There was also a bush with tiny white flowers on it that looked like little azaleas but smelled like lilacs and honeysuckle at the same time. It was dark, but the jungle-forest was beautiful.

Suddenly the transport was hovering above her, lights flashing, barely fitting between the trees. Mardee jumped out and followed as Irvana beckoned. Soon they were at the woman's side. Meltro had the scanner but quickly gave it to Mardee, saying, "She's lost a lot of fluid, I guess it's blood, but it's blue. Her wound is here." He pointed to a black sore about twelve inches long and two inches wide, starting above her knee and moving downward towards her foot. It was oozing a blue fluid. "Her pulse is weak and her body pressure seems low."

"Thanks," said Mardee. He continued scanning. "She has a massive infection and her body temperature is far above these others of her species. I need to get her back to medlab."

He turned to Darak. "Do I have your permission to take her to Othis where all my equipment and medicine is?"

"Yes, but I will come too," he responded. "Okay," said Mardee. He pulled a small, plastic item out of his medical bag that instantly telescoped into a five-foot stretcher, with a gentle popping sound. It startled Darak and he flinched but Irvana put her hand on his arm in a comforting manner. Darak stared at her, but said nothing. Together Mardee and Meltro gently lifted the injured woman onto it and began carrying her to the transport, with Darak and Irvana following.

As they flew over the mine she saw that Ridge and Dawn Anders were no longer there. They found them at medlab with Ariane, Almer and Kaylar. Almer was awake and they stared wide-eyed as the blue woman was brought in and settled on a gurney. Mardee went to work and Kaylar and Irvana acted as nurses. He checked Darak for the normal pulse and respiration of this species and quickly set up and programmed a stabilizer which regulated the patient's critical body functions.

He cleaned the wound with a sterilizer, a laser-like tool that killed any bacteria and removed dead skin at the same time. He recalibrated his skin melder for the alien skin and slowly sealed the wound. After asking Darak what fluids they took the boy gave him a flask with water in it, which Mardee purified, transformed into alien blood with an element transformer, and began giving to the woman intravenously, after verifying that she had circulation much like a human's. He then did a full-body purification to kill the bacteria that had permeated her system. Her temperature began to fall and her skin began to turn more blue, closer to Darak's color.

Suddenly her eyes opened and found Darak, then moved to the people around her. Darak started to shake as he held her hands, and tears rolled down his light blue cheeks. "Meezrshudjah," he said, although this is only an approximation of the actual word, which meant mother.  No wonder the translator used "birth-person" instead of the correct word, thought Irvana. The alien sounds were not in it's program. They were sounds she didnít think she would ever be able to copy.

He turned to Mardee, "Thank-you for helping Meezrshudjah. You saved her and now I am in your debt."

"No you're not," said Mardee gently. This is a freebie."  

"What is freebie?" asked Darak innocently.

"It means I don't charge for my services," replied Mardee.

"You are not a metabolic being," said Darak. "Does this mean you are not worthy of payment for skilled services?"

"No, it just means that I receive payment from my employers rather than from those who use my services.   But you can deposit everything you own in my inter-space bank account later if you want," he said with a smile, and Darak, though momentarily taken aback, quickly realized he was joking.  Mardee's programming correctly told him that Darak meant no insult. He was simply curious about the way these aliens functioned, for the truth was that they were the actual aliens and he was the native. This was his birth planet and they were guests.

Irvana's father interrupted, "Darak, I would very much like to talk more with you and with the leader of your people, but I know that your mother needs rest and so we'll leave you now."

He ushered everyone out of the room except Mardee, the patient and her son, and Almer and Ariane, who had all but been forgotten in the excitement of treating an alien life form.

The next morning when Irvana and her parents returned to Medlab the only patient was Almer. Mardee told them that during the night while Almer was sleeping he had left the room for only a moment to get supplies and when he returned the aliens were gone. It wasn't a problem because Darak's mother seemed to be in excellent condition. Their species seemed to heal rapidly so Mardee wasn't concerned, just curious about their desire to leave secretly and quickly.

Later that morning Meltro found the equipment that had been missing carefully placed next to the work dome where they were stored. Ridge Anders also found his missing tools outside the mine and commed Meltro to let him know. Irvana was disappointed that Darak had left so soon and found this very interesting. 

Why had the aliens taken the tools? They didn't seem to have a need for them. And why had they returned them? And Darak had said that he saw the droid heal her! Was he there when she had her accident? There were so many questions to ask him. She knew she had to find a way to talk to him again, but her father had told her that it was best to simply wait and let them make the next move. It was part of the alien diplomacy procedures that Earth Force had developed after years of contacting new species. A visit to their cave might be seen as aggression, and that was the last thing they wanted.

Aggression was seen as the ultimate evil on earth after centuries of war had finally ended and the gene that caused excessive aggression had been researched and identified. Non-aggression was preached as the key to survival of the human race. Hadn't wars caused uncountable misery and suffering? Parents now knew how to raise their children to be non-aggressive through love, patience, sensitivity to their needs, and spending the necessary time to understand them. Of course there were still those who simply didn't care about the future, but if they became aggressive and overstepped their bounds there were police forces and police droids to deal with them. Dictators were no longer tolerated on Earth.

Irvana didn't have the patience that her father did and she found herself moving more and more towards the forest where Darak lived. Each day she and Leena moved a little further inside it and found it to be a place of wonders. They had actually seen for a moment the little animal like the one they believed was caught in their trap the day of Irvana's accident. It was very fast, so fast that if you blinked it was gone. It was almost as small as the gelandian, or giltran, but was long and thin. It reminded Irvana of a cross between a miniature cougar and a tiny wolf. It had sharp teeth and bright orange eyes and it's fur was black, but it was afraid of them so Irvana wasn't afraid of it.

There were many of the orange flowers growing here that helped her Asthma and Mardee had indeed found that they expelled a pollen that calmed allergies instead of making them worse. He was working on isolating the molecules responsible for it, and Irvana was now growing these flowers in her garden so more seeds could be extracted.

There was another flower that Irvana loved. It was sky blue, grew in clusters on vines, and had a scent like roses and lilacs mixed that she could smell from five feet away. There were also new plant specimens that she and Leena brought back for the Garcias to catalogue on the computer. Sometimes she and Leena and some of the other children helped enter the data because it was a huge task due to the huge amount of vegetation and life forms that they now knew existed on this planet.

One day as they roamed the forest Irvana had an idea. "What if we left a gift for Darak at the opening to the tunnel?" she asked Leena.

"But Irvana, what could they possibly want that we have? They don't seem to need anything."

"I know. I've been thinking about that. We'll just have to give them something that they don't need but that maybe they will want...like...," she thought for a moment, "...like ice-cream!"

Leena looked at her. "That's brilliant! But how will you keep it cold?"

"We'll just put it in a therm-pack and leave it there. Then we'll go back the next day and see if it's gone." A therm-pack was an insulated lunch box with a microchip that would keep food at a selected temperature, either hot or cold. Some had two sections, one for hot food and one for cold or frozen.

They went to the kitchen in Irvana's dome and asked Bethesda, the housekeeper droid, for a carton of ice-cream and a therm-pack. She complied without question, as she was programmed, and Irvana and Leena skipped back to their air bikes and set off for the forest. They left the ice-cream, giggling, with a drawing showing how to open the therm-pack, then they went home for dinner.

Irvana could hardly sleep that night and she talked with Leena on her wrist-com as they lay in their beds at night. Wrist-coms, like the cell-phones of the last century, were necessary at all times in case of an emergency and so they were activated 24 hours a day. Everyone, adults, children, and droids, had them but Irvana and Leena didn't abuse the privilege having been taught in Science how important rest was for their bodies to function well in the day-time. They knew that being deprived of sleep lead to loss of reasoning ability and creativity.

"Leena, do you think they found it already?" she whispered.

"Maybe. I dunno," she replied sleepily.

"I can't wait till school is finished tomorrow. Oh...I wish we could skip it."

"Can't do that. You know we have finals coming up," said down-to-earth Leena.

"I know...I know..." answered Irvana as they both drifted off to sleep.

Morning came in a burst of glory from Othgar's sun. This planet had birds but they all seemed to be tropical and exotic. In fact, everything about this planet seemed tropical and exotic, thought Irvana. The birds had red, green, orange, blue, or yellow plumage, and sometimes all on the same bird. Her favorite was a bright yellow one with turquoise blue under the wings that could only be seen when it was in flight. It had a beautiful song that she heard one day when one landed on a branch above her in the woods. The Garcias had let her name it and she chose Othgar Phoenix because it could always be seen flying at sunrise after a storm.

Irvana and Leena, who did their schooling together after their parents saw that they would actually work instead of talk, rushed through their studies so fast that the Nanny checked their work twice to make sure there were no mistakes. There was one, and Irvana quickly corrected it. Her mind certainly wasn't on her studies. She and Leena grabbed their lunches and ran out to their airbikes.

When they arrived at the tunnel entrance they were very disappointed to see the therm-pack was still where they had left it. Irvana picked it up. It felt different! She opened it. The ice-cream was gone! In its place was something that looked like pale-green pudding in a small stone container. She and Leena looked at each other, grinning.

Irvana dipped her finger in it while Leena, the cautious one, watched. She licked it. "It's delicious!" They had even set the therm-pack for the right temperature. These aliens were smarter than she had thought. Leena tasted it and loved it too.

"It's like ice cream and cookies combined!" she said, "with a touch of caramel. I wonder how they make it?"

They took the therm-pack home and put chocolate-chip cookies in it, then returned it to the tunnel-entrance. The next day the cookies were gone and in their place were two rough, brown balls. Irvana picked one up and sniffed it. It smelled good. She bit into it. Another treat! It was soft and spicy and tasted like chocolate and butter-mint. This time they had brought candy to put into the therm-pack. They each brought their favorite. For Irvana it was a Mud bar: chocolate fudge with marshmallow filling. For Leena it was a Tropian Air bar. She had brought a six-month supply from earth where it was imported from Tropia, because she knew she couldn't live without them. When you bit into it you felt nothing, like cotton candy that melted in your mouth, and yet it was smooth and creamy.

The next day the candy was gone and in it's place were two small, stone-like objects, smooth and hard. This was too fun! They each took one. It rolled inside their mouths and their eyes went big as it vibrated against their tongues, but they kept it in, though it startled them. Then they tasted a sweet flavor that changed every few seconds. First it was butterscotch, then strawberry, then orange--her favorite flavors! This was very interesting! And Leena's was different! First she tasted coconut, then banana, then lemon, which were her favorites. It was as though it interacted with the taste center of the brain and drew out what you liked.

This time they brought fresh raspberries and cream and left it there. The next day it was gone and in it's place were two of a shiny object that looked like some kind of fruit. It was pear-shaped, but it was rainbow colored. Irvana, always the first to try something new, bit into it. It tasted like a cross between an apple, banana, and grape. She ate the whole thing, and Leena ate hers too.

Suddenly they heard a noise behind them and both turned simultaneously. It was Mardee!

"I thought I'd find you two here," he told them.

"You're not going to tell are you?" asked Irvana.

"That depends on what you've been doing," he answered. They told him the whole story and it amused him.

"We didn't break the rules. We haven't bothered them and we haven't gone in the tunnel. We just left gifts...and they gave us gifts back," Irvana said. "What's the harm in that? It's what the ship captains did on earth hundreds of years ago when they visited new islands."

"Did you think that others in the colony might want to enjoy these new alien tastes?" he asked.

Irvana looked down. She hadn't thought of that. Then she brightened. "Then why doesn't everyone bring something as a gift? Then maybe they'll give us enough for everyone to try."

That night they had a meeting with the other settlers and told them what Irvana and Leena had been up to and their plan for everyone to leave some sort of gift. No one was angry with them because it was such a sweet little idea and had been so successful, and they all agreed to try it. The Anders brought old-fashioned potato salad, something they adored, and the Garcias brought a moon-jello salad and chocolate cake. The Lus donated some fried chicken and twinkies, something they had taught their housekeeper droid to make, and Irvana's parents added stuffed pork chops, rolls with butter, and home-made fudge from a recipe that had been in the family for generations.

Irvana and Leena were given the assignment of delivering the goods, which they gladly did, all the while very impatient to see how it would be received. When they went back several hours later everything was gone, but there was nothing in its place!

Had their gifts been offensive? Did it make the aliens sick? Sadly they returned to tell everyone. Disappointed, everyone went about their daily chores, except the Garcias didn't go exploring because they had a lot of data entry to do. They were programming the droids to help them, but it was still a lot of work.

The day came to a close and Irvana was sitting on her garden swing as the sun went down through a pink sky and the two moons rose through the twilight. She heard a slight noise and turned suddenly. Darak had appeared out of nowhere. "Come with me," he said. "I have something to show you."

She followed him without question, fearful of offending or frightening him. He lead her into the woods and down another vine covered path, then up some stairs that took them straight through a mountain. When they came out the other side she was amazed at what she saw.

"We have done this for your people, but I wanted to show you first to make sure it would be pleasing. My people are very pleased with all your food gifts and want to know how to compile them." Irvana couldn't answer for a minute. All she could do was look around her. They were at the bottom of a canyon next to a large pool of water that glowed pale blue in the night sky. A tall fluorescent waterfall fell into it from 100 feet up in the air, and there were pink and yellow fluorescent flowers growing out of the cliff that gave everything light. Pink and blue stone slabs were set up like tables and on them were platters of strange-looking food that smelled different, but good. Darak's people were there watching her.

"It's beautiful!" she exclaimed. "Can I bring the others?"

"Yes, yes," Darak said, looking pleased. I will come with you."

Quickly she returned home and they commed everyone else, who dropped their evening activities to join in this alien adventure. Soon they were all back at the pool of glowing water, where they were invited to eat the alien food. Irvana tasted a little bit of everything. There was something that looked like spinach but tasted sweet, and another dish made of shiny, wet, red balls, like berries, but they were crunchy. There was more of the rainbow fruit and the candy that tasted like whatever you liked, and there was a bread-like muffin that was delicious. There were two dozen different dishes, some sweet, some mellow or salty, some bland but tasty, but all were pleasing to the tongue. They ate on dishes that were thin and shiny like mother-of-pearl, and used smooth, wooden tinsels. Irvana sat near the pool of water, eating and looking up at the stars with Leena and Darak.

"This food is incredible!" she said, "I've never tasted anything like it!"

Darak's face lit up. "We liked the food you gave us and so we wanted to show our appreciation. We want to be your friends. Not like the others who were here before."

"What others?" Irvana asked. She had been dying to know this.

"Five years ago another race landed on this planet. They were dark green and scaly, very large, and their language was full of growls and grunts, like animal noises."

"You mean the Pitorgans!" said Leena. "They're really awful!"

"Yeah," added Irvana. "Earth Force had a war with them already and won, and they're not allowed on any Alliance planets now."

"What is Alliance?" asked Darak.

"It's a union of planets and races who are friendly to each other," answered Irvana.

Darak continued, "Well these Pitorgans, as you call them, began to do explosions that made huge holes and disrupted the eco-system, so we could not let them stay."

"Probably testing their stupid bombs," said Irvana.

"Or mining for metals for weapons," added Leena.

"How did you get them to leave?" asked Irvana.

"We used our technology to disrupt the energy that powered all their equipment, so nothing worked except the ship. We sent an energy wave that soured all their food, and so they left in the ship, and we gave it a new destination for a deserted planet a year's journey away."

Irvana laughed, and his eyes lit up again because he had pleased her.

"That is so cool! I mean, they probably didn't even know you were here and thought this planet was haunted or something."

"Yes, we were invisible to them. They never saw us!" said Darak.

"Invisible? How can you be invisible?" demanded Irvana.

"Come here and I'll show you." He beckoned them to follow behind the waterfall. Suddenly he was nowhere to be seen. Then just as suddenly, he appeared beside Irvana. She jumped.

"How did you do that?" she asked in wonder.

Darak looked amused. "My people and I are like the chanternon, an animal which adapts to look like its environment."

Did he mean a chameleon? Irvana looked at the peculiar patterns on his skin. He saw her looking at his arm and placed her hand on his wrist. As he did so, the arm she was touching disappeared, yet she could still feel it! What she was holding looked like a piece of the cliff wall behind the waterfall. She was astonished.

He saw her face, again amused. "I change my skin pattern to match whatever is around me."

"So that's why we never saw you," she exclaimed.

"Yes. We watched you many days and made sure you were not a threat before we revealed our presence, because we needed your healer."

So the discovery of the aliens had been deliberate.

"I was there when you fell off your air bike. I pushed you as you fell so you would land in the soft flowers and not be hurt too much."

"My gosh," said Irvana. It was true. She had felt like hands pushed her away from the rocks that day.

"But how did your mother get hurt so badly?" she inquired gently.

"It was an accident. She was hunting for granduka, those red berries that you ate tonight, and she stumbled onto a wild korhunk, and it gouged her leg deeply with its horn. They are rare but she had to kill it, and it took her two days to get back to us. By then her leg was infected, and though our technology is higher than yours, our medical skills are not because there has been little need for it. There are few accidents and almost no illness on this planet. There are powerful plants that make us strong..."

"...Like those orange flowers that cure my asthma," she cut in.

"Yes, and there are others too."

She wondered which plants he meant, but her father was calling for everyone to join him. Darak, Leena, and Irvana emerged from behind the waterfall and saw that all the colonists and natives were sitting on the ground in front of Irvana's father and a native who appeared to be their leader. He had the same skin characteristics but was as tall as Irvana's father and had golden hair. He seemed much older than Darak because his skin had wrinkle lines and there were others like him with golden hair. It seemed that as they aged their hair turned from white to gold!

"He is my birthman," said Darak. Irvana now knew that meant father, and that the translator couldn't pronounce the actual word. She wondered if they would ever be able to learn this language.

"And this is my smaller sibling," he said, pointing to a small boy who had come up to them, leaning forward and staring into Irvana's face from a foot away. He meant little brother, and apparently family words were not meant to be shared  in this language.

"You got black hole there," he said, pointing to a mole on her cheek, "but you very nice to see."

"He means that you are pretty," said Darak.

"Oh, I think he's adorable," answered Irvana as she scooped him up in her arms.

"Pretty alien likes me," he said to his older brother, as if he had previously been convinced otherwise.

Suddenly Irvana's attention turned to what was being said in front. "We accept you into our brotherhood as dwellers of this planet. We knew you would come some day, and now you are here, as the crystals have foretold." These words came from the golden-haired native.

Irvana was stunned. "What crystals?" she asked Darak.

"He means the crystals of our ancestors that foretell the future. They told us that some day some good aliens would come and that we would live together as brothers." This was amazing news to Irvana and Leena, and to the adults.

The native leader continued, "To show to the universe that we are one family and one mind, I, Beldan now link with Meltro Fastin through the essence of the crystals." He reached into a pocket of his robe and pulled out a cylindrical crystal which he placed in Meltro's palm. Meltro grasped one end while Beldan held the other and suddenly it glowed brightly. A pale blue light emanated from behind both of them and quickly spread to everyone on the ground. Irvana did a little jump as it reached her, because she suddenly felt it's warmth as if someone had embraced her very soul. Instantly she was seeing visions of some faraway place filled with rainbow light, surrounded by sunrise and twilight. She felt light as a dandelion seed, and then she felt herself floating through space, moving faster than a million lights towards a brilliant glow...

 The next thing she knew she was laying on the ground looking up into the face of Mardee and the worried faces of her parents. Darak, Beldan, and his mother were standing next to them, but they didn't look worried. They looked more in awe.

"You entered the dreamworld," Darak told her.

"You passed out," explained Mardee.

"This is a very rare occurrence," said Beldan. "Once in two hundred years the crystals affect someone this way. Tell us of your dream vision please," he commanded politely, as if she had seen a movie and should now reveal the plot.

"Well, there were beautiful lights, all pink and yellow and blue and violet, as if the sun were rising all around us, and I moved through space so fast that it became a blur and I was moving towards a brilliant light, but then I woke up."

"Yes, the droid gave you an injection that interrupted the dream vision," said Beldan.

"You mean this is supposed to happen?!" asked Kaylar. "She didn't pass out?"

Mardee was listening carefully. "Yes," answered Beldan. "On rare occasions certain special individuals possess a gene that allows the crystals to interact with their spirit mind and tell them the future. This is what was happening to her. We thought that the gene was found only in our species but now we see that it exists also in yours. If the dream had finished she would have seen tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or next century. This is how we knew your people would come someday. It was foretold by a crystal seer, such as Irvana."

"A crystal seer," thought Irvana. What a strange new title! What a strange new world!

"I want to finish my dream," she said aloud.

"I'm sorry, but I cannot allow that," answered Beldan. "If you touch the crystals more than once in a month it can cause damage. Your gene spirit must regenerate."

She realized at once that he was right as she drifted off into a deep sleep and awoke the next morning in medlab, where Mardee had transported her the night before and watched over her throughout the night. He only needed sleep when he did self-maintenance.

"Good morning your holiness," he said, teasing her about her new title of seer. "I brought you here to make sure there were no ill effects from the crystals that mugged you last night."

"Very funny, Mardee. And I feel just fine, especially now that I know I'm some kind of interplanetary prophetess. Except the only thing I foretold were rainbows and sunrises which always happen anyway."

"Now that I know about the crystals, we'll let you try them again next month and see what you see," he assured her.

"Probably I'll foretell what kind of cereal will come on the next starbase shipment, or if the next episode of my favorite show, "Star Princess" will be a rerun or not."

As the days passed the natives visited more often and had even shown Irvana's father their own farms, which fascinated him. They didn't need droids. They had created plants which cultivated themselves and needed little maintenance. They had designed a nearly self-sustaining eco-system that was much more energy-efficient than theirs, although it wasn't on so vast a scale. It was meant to provide only for themselves, whereas the Fastin's farms would feed several starbases, a dozen starships, and their own people.

Irvana waited impatiently for the day when she could try the crystal again, but when that day came she awoke with a feeling of foreboding that slightly unnerved her. Nevertheless she prepared for another crystal ceremony. This time they all went to the large cave of the natives, including the other colonists who decided they weren't going to miss out on this event.

Beldan brought out the cylindrical crystal. It wouldn't activate until two people held it. Again, he shared it with Meltro and the blue light emanated from them and reached to the people around, touching Irvana and probing her heart gently. She felt light as a feather and saw the rainbow lights, and then...

She shot through space and all the universe became a blur as she raced towards the brilliant light. Then suddenly she was there, and nebulas spun around her as rainbows did a starburst from the center of the light. She saw her dead grandparents, her great-grandparents, and ancestors before them, all glowing with love. Then they were gone and she saw her children and grandchildren, full of hope that turned from white to gray. In an instant she was back to Othgar, but it had suddenly gone dark. She saw fire and explosions, heard screams, felt people running, felt pain, saw the flash of laser weapons, saw the lizard faces of the Pitorgans, and then she saw...

nothing but blackness.

Read Chapter 4 

Excerpt: "It's him!" cried Irvana. "I saw him in a slave camp! He's much older now, and he's thin and pale and sad and angry!"

 

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