Chapter 44 Destination: Gliese 581
Before I walk into the same dome I was forced to leave by Moro, I notice a tree, one of those “talking” ones. It keeps on showing me some symbols by protruding certain leaves and recessing the others. I stop by and shake my head.
The tree is so smart, it recognizes it as “no”, and gives me several more combinations of symbols with its hard, dark-green leaves, until I read the word “Gliese”. Then – “581”. Torn between mistrust and surprise I dissern another word – “Libra”.
Then the door of the dome slides open and I see Zumi. Delighted, I come to hug him. I’m so happy he is alive! His crystal-green eyes shine with intensity of love and care for me, and then he falls. I catch him right in time, and carry to the black stone, still by the wall in the same place.
The enchanted stone lights up with mesmerizing, intricate pattern. I can’t believe my eyes when some letters of my language appear among the colorful pattern, and I read “Libra” and “Milky way”.
Somehow I feel that I was chosen by the stone for something, and I have to keep it secret. All these unexplainable magical tricks of talking trees and stones would sit well with me, if it was not for a pregnant man, laying on the floor.
Zumi opens his eyes, and I caress his silky black hair, and hug him. I don’t know if I love him, or I’m just in shock.
“Let’s get this straight. You are a hermaphrodite. You got pregnant all by yourself. I could not impregnate you due to the fact that we’re both males, and also because we’re of different species. I had a better chance of impregnating a monkey.”
I’m very proud of myself for this revelatory lecture on reproduction and biology until I notice that my lover is not impressed, and the black stone behind us starts glowing luxurious purple. Then in that purple light a map of the sky appears. I recognize Milky Way. The map keeps on zooming in to a certain constellation. Again, again and again. What is that supposed to mean?
“Demi, you don’t understand.” Zumi takes a breath and sits with his back to the stone. “What you said is correct, but the ederi also have an option of getting pregnant from whoever or whatever they wish, as long as they are in love. I fell in love with you. Painfully, irretrievably… And it happened.”
“Allright, fine, then.” I frown, studying the constellation in the black stone, unable to recognize it. I’m not comfortable with a crazy idea of being a father, at all.
“No. It is not.” The ederi gets up, graceful and elegant, his intent gaze is focused on me, as if I have all the answers. “That kind of connection was prohibited by the council of old. Our ancestors believed it would muddy the pool of our genes…”
“I’ll say!” I grin and know that someone is coming here. The feeling of danger washes over me but I don’t have time to warn Zumi.
“I tried as much as I could not to allow to get pregnant from you, but… I got hit with poison by Moro. I believe at that moment my body responded desperately by accepting you as the father of my child, and…”
The door that seems to have been fixed since Moro broke in, slides open and Yasen walks in. I jump up, and Zumi gets so scared he almost faints again.
“I have been hearing communication between you and the black stone.” Yasen looks at me sternly.
Ok, I have a difficult decision to make. Tell him the truth and see him prosecute my lover for what we did, and not tell the truth when he possibly already knows. Is there a way out of this one, when the guy can read my mind?
“No, sir… I mean, yes… It was…”
Zumi leans against the wall, resigned to his fate. He starts shivering with fear and I can feel his state of mind.
At this moment Yasen notices the stone glowing purple. He goes there and studies the map still on it.
“This is constellation of Libra in Milky Way. What is the stone telling you about these stars, Domiarn? How hard is it to just answer my question?” Yasen turns to me, emanating power, and a clear determination to force everyone to submit to his will.
Oh… he means that question…
“I… The tree.. and the stone were telling me to… In other words, sir, I think I found Leozarit. She is on a planet of waterfalls, called “Gliese 581” Does that ring a bell? Sorry, I mean do you understand what I’m talking about?”
Zumi gives me a look of “Wow, you sure can spin a tale to distract him, but jeez…!”
Only I’m not spinning a tale. I really believe we found her between me, the animated tree and the friendly slab of stone over there in the corner.
“Gliese 581 is a red dwarf.” Yasen snaps with disdain for my astronomical ignorance. “No carbon-based life form can survive there. Izumrud, I have gathered some people to help me. I need you in the council room. Now!”
My lover is about to follow the order, when his face lights up.
“Sir, I believe he means a planetary system of Gliese 581, not the sun itself. One of the planets of that system is really a world of waterfalls. It’s called Gliese 581 e. I was there once.” A shadow of passing memory darkens Zumi’s face, and in a moment he chases it away.
“Oh… Then we must go there.” Yasen looks like a bird, just shot out of the sky. A minute ago he thought of us being inept losers, and all of a sudden we surprise him with good teamwork.
He says nothing else, and walks out, motioning us to follow.
I pass by Zumi, and briefly squeeze his hand in support. If Yasen only knew about our other teamwork, we’d be dead by now! The feeling of danger envelops me, as I run to catch up with our relentless leader, but a familiar voice of the Black Stone in my head gives me a calming feeling:
“It’s going to be allright. The child of the two men will be born. The Prophecy will save the civilization.”
We hurry to the other dome, where I took part in the first meeting. The lively trees around still talk to each other and some passing ederi by showing symbols and pictures in their foliage. The soft light makes everything look unusually calm, as if bad things never happen to this place, and there is no danger at all.
As if these forests and fields were never ablaze in fires of an alien invasion, killing everything in sight. The invasion, led by a man I call my boyfriend. Why did Kallitris ever attack this planet? Now I have paid for it with a brand of Crumbling Rose on my chest signifying my servitude to Yasen. Is there a sense to all this? Is there a pattern I should figure out? Is there a secret to be discovered?
What will ensure the safety of my lover? Will I ever be free? And what’s with this “prophecy” thing?
For a moment I can hear the sound of the ocean in the distance, and then Zumi pushes me into the dome.
Yasen is walking there and back around a group of ederi around him. He has already started talking without waiting for us, losers.
“… as I already said, what I called you here has become irrelevant in the light of the recent information from the son of Leozarit. He believes his mother is on Gliese 581e.”
The room erupts with the voices. Everyone seems to start talking at the same time.
“Yes, I know!” Yasen raises his hand, demanding silence. “But we have no choice. We must have Leozarit if we want to rebuild our civilization for Leot’s liking.”
I can see the faces of ederi around – some are full of angst, some express doubt, some look like they can’t stand any more of this pressure. Why? And who are these guys?
“These are military personnel, scientists, pilots, other valuable people that Yasen called from all the continents. He is putting together a crew to look for Leozarit.” Zumi answers my thoughts.
Apparently the Black Stone still blocks Yasen from reading my mind, but allows Zumi in. I must say, it feels sweet and cozy. Gives me hope. Because, obviously, having the guy own you and read your mind is double uncomfortable.
“Then why are they so upset?” I whisper, burying my face in Zumi’s soft hair, while everyone else is busy arguing with each other.