Chapter 52 Navigating the Unknown
“Loving your own kind and discriminating against others is not love at all. Love can only be for everyone. The ederi understood that when you told them about the effects of their unfair law. As for feeding – they have a weaker form of your parasite, capable of sustaining the infant until it learns to process the energy by itself.”
We fly lower and lower, and I can already see the fields of red and blue anti-missile “flowers” all over the place. Hopefully, they will not be needed in the future of Ashtarma.
Relemill is watching the screen intently, no longer amazed at how much bigger the world really is, once you are not constrained by the earthly boundaries.
“Yeah, and what’s with this transfiguration? Can all the ederi do that?” I wonder aloud.
“Any intelligent species can do that. Transfiguration is not a magic trick. It is only a conscious desire to stick around after a loss of a physical body in order to help those you left behind. Some humans do that, too, but in your culture it is considered weird and unexplainable.” Eva’s face looms ghostly in front of the screen as she studies the picture.
I nod, and hug Relemill.
“Before you leave for Earth, I need to introduce you to my friends. Pieris, the leader of the Koms is aggressive in a cute kind of way, and Asmadis, the leader of the Blisps, is cute in a pathetic kind of way! They call me Tensartis, because they know me of my previous incarnations, or something like that.” I want to be cheerful and concentrate on the good times we’re going to have, but I can’t seem to shake off an odd, dark feeling.
“Demi, Kallitris is sending you a message.” Eva interrupts me. Her gaze is icy-cold. Yeah, well, she hates the sheirer, and she failed to do away with him! But you know what? I don’t care. She’s just a ghost.
“I’m sure it’s a message of bliss and harmony!” I smile, applying every effort to believe my own words.
Graceful and beautiful, Ari’s girlfriend shakes her head at my lack of insight and awareness.
I land Arileot14 right by one of the anti-missile “flowers”. It looks grotesque and colorful from here.
“It’s going to be kind of hard to breathe, so…” I turn to Relemill, hesitating to open the door of the ship.
“Actually your unethical boyfriend was conducting all kinds of experiments on me while I was sick, so he infected me with Sazarn 230 strain of parasite, like yours…I’m quite impatient to hold my breath for a couple of hours and see if it works!” The priest grins, and then starts laughing.
Really? Why am I not surprised?! Then I space out again, this time it’s a flash back to my childhood. I’m running in the middle of the night to search for a girl. Her father and Mevild can barely follow me, they stumble and fall in tall grasses, but I sense the girl’s trail, and I have a biosonar in my head. I can see anything in any environment.
“… he is really mad now, come on!”
This is Eva’s voice. Who is mad? What did she say? I shake off the vision to concentrate on what she is saying.
Next thing I know is I’m on Kallitris’s base ship. He is towering over me, and he is really upset. Yeah, that’s a downer! His piercing eyes glow white and blue, which would be quite spectacular, if I was not so shocked by a sudden teleportation.
“I have been calling you, and calling you. You get carried away with your stupid friends and that pisses me off!” Sheirer spreads his wings and sends streams of air in my face aggressively.
I notice Salix out of the corner of my eye. He is trembling, partially hiding behind me.
“Where is Iris? Why did you jerk me out of my ship, I was going to...”
“I ask questions here, and you have a lot to answer after cheating on me with that ederi scum!”
I open my mouth to retort, when Kallitris’s eyes flash metallic green, indicating he is absolutely furious, and Salix sends me the same message over and over: “Shut up, Demi, and do what he says before he kills us both!”
I’d stand up to my abusive boyfriend any day of the week, but I can’t argue with sweet, tender, permanently frightened Salix. He is my friend. We grew up together under the wings of this ugly tyrant, whose crimes are numberless and whose ethics are nil.
Kallitris growls and turns his back to us, studying the screens. They show needles of pinnacles in thin, milky mist. I’d think it’s a forest, if I did not know any better. For these are buildings. Where did I see that before?
“You’re lucky he did not hurt you.” Salix sends me a thought.
“Who cares!” I reply under my breath. I really wanted to see Asmadis, and spend some leisure time with Relemill. What now? What does he want? Why am I tolerating this?!
Sheirer snaps his fingers and the screens switch to the picture of vast starlit sky.
“I need you in my room.” He tells me, and leaves.
I hesitate, upset and uncertain.
“Just go.” Salix whispers.
And I do. I walk under the tall arched ceilings, and I enter Kallitris’s huge chambers. He is not happy, and he is not telling me anything. But we make love. It’s because he treats me like his property and I can’t resist it.
Several days pass in a dark cloud of his heavy negative mood. Well, they would be not “days” but the cycles of my own circadian rhythm.
Why would he be this way when everything seem to have ended well? I got freed, we helped the ederi fix their problems and he did not get killed. What the heck? I also realize that his base spacecraft moves quite slowly. He is taking his time. Why?
We’re going somewhere, and no one would tell me where. The erahis that serve him walk in, walk out, do not meet my eyes, and I can’t read their minds as I would with the humans. I can only receive messages if they send them to me willingly.
Finally one morning, which could only be called that conditionally, I wake up in his tight embrace, as always. He’d want me to be with him, and he’d take me as his own, but yet, he’d remain gloomy and distant. Why do I put up with that? Where is Iris? Did we just abandon Relemill on Ashtarma? Maybe it’s time to straighten things up. So I get ready to tell him that, when he gets up and leads me back to the bridge.
Salix is there, monitoring the situation, pushing buttons on the console, giving orders to other erahis. They all scatter as we approach.
“I’d put you both out of your misery, but I need you. Salix, brief him on what’s going on.” Kallitris snaps, and walks away, leaving me.
Did he just threaten to kill us both? And “him”? Did he just call me “him”? Do I not have a name? Why, you bipolar… advanced… dumbass…
I sigh, because I only think that, but never say. Glancing on the screen, I notice the same tall, shiny towers I saw before. There are countless needles of incredibly tall towers, a whole forest of them. It feels like we’re flying over them in a mist.
The erahi stands motionless behind me on his thin hairy legs.
“There is not much to brief you on. This is my home planet of Almaz. We see the main city of Narr. Kallitris wants to attack it as soon as we arrive. He wants you to lead the attack and start the bombing. We’re arriving in less than twenty hours.”
I turn to him, speechless. There is no way this guy is up to his awful ways so soon, right after I nearly paid with my life trying to save him from Leot.
“In twenty hours I could span about 3 million light years there and back, and stop at my hometown of Deikeren for a drink. We’ve been at it for days already. Your native planet is in the same galaxy as Ashtarma! We’re still in Coma Berenices! How stupid do you guys think I am?!” I say, feeling empty within, crushed and… logical.