Bewildering Stories

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The Bridge, II

Requiem for the Blue Planet

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 3, part 2 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 3: A New Direction

part 3 of 3

Me’Avi et Sharma looked at the communiqué from the Galactic Council asking for a detailed explanation as to why the Final Report was not finished. Shaking her head, she wondered at the impatience of the Galactic Council. Jonkil and Cyr were only now arriving in system and she had been in conference with Maestro Vertraumer several times over his insistence on telling even more of his findings and how they would change the rewritten Requiem.

How in the world was she to finish the Final Report in the sea of chaos that was splashing wildly around her?

“Hocat!” she called out, “when Jonkil and Cyr get here I want no disturbances. If that crazy composer thinks he needs to see me, you take care of it. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Me’Avi et Sharma.”

“It had better be, because if it isn’t you will think that this outpost is in the middle of the wildest, most exciting system in the galaxy compared to where you will be stationed next. Do you get my meaning, Hocat?”

“Yes, Me’Avi et Sharma, I most certainly do. Maestro Vertraumer is, under no circumstances, to impose upon you and your guests. Not for any reason. It shall be as you say.

“And, Me’Avi et Sharma, the ship carrying your guests is even now approaching the docking facility. They request that you come aboard at your earliest convenience.”

“What,” yelled a somewhat harried et Sharma, “the records are here Hocat. They should be coming here to see me.”

“Excuse me, Me’Avi et Sharma, I explained that to them but they pointed out that Cyr was aboard the ship and that, unless you wanted to have anything you asked of him be done over recordable frequencies you would have to go to the ship to talk to him directly.”

Soon Me’Avi et Sharma was entering Katia Shapirov’s old space yacht, Alexei’s Dream, and sitting in the control room with Jonkil.

A soft shimmering started and then she was there, Katia Shapirov, the former Grand Minister of the Galactic Council.

Me’Avi et Sharma, astounded at the realism of the holograph, found herself standing and waiting for the image to speak.

“Hello, Me’Avi, it is good to see you again.”

Me’Avi, shocked at the words, could only answer with, “You remember me? How is it that you remember me?”

Katia replied, “I met you when you were a little girl. Just before your parents had gone on their last research trip. You were about five, I believe. Yes, and it was right before my own trip to Feltus III, and my accident.

“Cyr has it all recorded, and with Cyr’s help, how could I forget? You look so much like your mother it is almost like having her here with us.”

Me’Avi, still slightly in shock, could only repeat her words, “You remember me?”

“Me’Avi, my dear,” Katia replied, her eyes tearing up, “how could I not remember my own granddaughter?”

* * *

Pwirkavi, the current Grand Minister of the Galactic Council, was busy going over some of the many forms that were the curse of his office when his aide announced that the Galactic Chronicler wished to be admitted.

The Grand Minister shook his head in wonderment and asked himself how he would ever get this work done if he was to be continually interrupted like this?

“Show him in,” replied the Grand Minister, bowing to the demands of office, and to the knowledge that someday a Galactic Chronicler would he writing a history of his tenure in this office.

“Mr. Chronicler, how may I help you?”

“Grand Minister, I do not know how to say this. I have been researching the scientific research grants given out during Grand Minister Katia Shapirov’s tenure in office. I have found that, statistically speaking, too many ships were lost in scientific endeavors, and there is missing a great deal of equipment that was to go into the terra-forming efforts in the Cernon sector.”

“Just what, Galactic Chronicler, are you trying to tell me?”

“Well, sir, Grand Minister, statistically speaking, there are way too many irregularities in missing materials from, at least, the second half of Grand Minister Katia Shapirov’s period in office.

“Sir, it is not a small statistical error. Normally, a project will budget for a loss of resources in the eight to twenty percent range, according to the hazards and difficulties of the project. The losses in this time, the final years of Katia Shapirov’s period of office reach considerably higher than that figure.”

“Well, then,” asked the Grand Minister, “how much higher?”

“Grand Minister, some of the projects, the ones labeled the most hazardous, showed a loss as high as seventy-nine percent. None of the projects in the Cernon sector, during Grand Minister Shapirov’s tenure showed a loss rate of less than thirty-five percent. Those projects, under your tenure have, so far, shown, in the worst cases, only a seventeen percent loss.”

“Galactic Chronicler, Katia Shapirov, even though she was one of our greatest Grand Ministers, was, as you know, human. And, she was one of the humans who grew up on Earth before the demise of that world’s Bridge. As such, she, like others of her kind, tended to be a little impulsive and careless by Galactic Council standards.

“I knew her, you know. She always seemed to want to do something, to move on to the next thing, to get things done; often, I would say, more quickly than was needed. Many of us could become exhausted just being around her.

“I have no doubt that these losses must stem from her pushing thing too hard, too fast. Still, it would be good to have the records complete and in order, so, keep looking into the situation and send me an update if new, relevant, information is unearthed.”

* * *

Li Guo-fan was soon firmly in control of the University and General Chu was quite happy and the more controlled atmosphere that Dr. Li brought to the school.

Just as an artisan had to show steady progress in his work, visible progress, so, now, academic students were required to also produce work worthy of recognition. For that reason many of the academic students began to leave the institution and General Chu finally had plenty of choices for clerk positions throughout the country; a situation that also pleased him well.

However, with Li Guo-fan in charge, the industrial students began to increase in number, and their progress was soon evident to the country as it began to be noticed that those students’ work began to make its way, at a good profit for the university, out into the countryside.

Yes, General Chu was quite happy indeed.

* * *

Me’Avi et Sharma was not happy. Jonkil and Cyr had found many of the “missing” records that were needed to put specific details into the Final Report, but they seemed to have a hard time “remembering” the other things that she needed most.

She was getting tired of hearing Cyr saying to Jonkil, “Of course I would remember it; I am, after all a computer. You just have to give me the correct reference under which it was filed. You can’t really expect me to find things without a reference do you?”

Then Jonkil would say, “Well, that happened so long ago I can’t really remember what it would be filed under. Let’s try this...”

And Cyr would churn for a few seconds and then spit out hundreds of pages of anything that happened to be filed under any reference that vaguely resembled the reference in question. That material then had to be slogged through just to get a small bit of data or two. Sometimes Me’Avi et Sharma wondered if Cyr and Jonkil really wanted to have the Final Report finished.

And Katia was even less help. Instead of being around to fill in blanks, it seemed that she wanted to be projected here and there on the Earth to actually “see” those places that were in her memory banks.

Still, Me’Avi et Sharma felt that progress was being made and so she sent a finish date to the Galactic Council. That meant that the quarantine modules could start to be placed around the outer system. Once in place and operation the great force globe could be created that would cut the system off from the rest of the Galaxy. Then these people could gasp their last in solitude and dignity.

The date now sent, she knew that whether she had a really comprehensive report or not, she would have to submit a Final Report by then.

It was very strange that Jonkil, Cyr and Katia seemed so shocked by that action.

* * *

Thomas Hiram Tinker read the order with alarm. They had only about eleven months to get Starhell ready for the final influx. That was not enough time under any circumstances. The food supply was nowhere near enough for that number of people. The doors were only half finished on this end.

What was Katia thinking in sending this order? He would have to notify the Cernon stations of this and try to get them to expedite their parts of the program. Some of them would have to be abandoned early and their equipment brought here.

* * *

The underwater Headquarters were abuzz with activity as each of the coordinating groups became aware of the need to speed up operations. Priorities had to be set. Skilled workers recognized and transport dates set. There would not be time now to take all those who qualified.

Then Katia appeared and in her presence everyone settled down to wait for her words. “We have worked many years towards this moment. We thought we still had a few years left to finish.

“Well, we don’t, and we can’t do anything about that now. The Galactic Council has approved that the Quarantine modules be placed starting in eleven days.

“Those modules, eighty-seven thousand of them, will be in place within forty-three weeks of the first one placed.

“Shortly after that, with the receipt of the Final Report, this system will be cut off from the rest of the Galaxy to the extent that, to those still here, it will seem as if the stars have all gone out. Even the radiation from the Sun will not escape through the force globe. Those left here will be expected to die.

“No race, once quarantined, has ever survived the period. We have to assume that we, were we to stay here, would be no different.

“The Galactic Council has been making these judicial decisions for so long that they just assume that no race can survive that period. They just assume that any race that refuses to become lambs in a galaxy of sheep, for the good of the galaxy, must be eliminated. They have consigned us to Starhell and, unknown to them, that is just where we are going.

“We know the plans and the steps to take. We just have to take them a little faster, that’s all. OK. Everyone knows his or her job. It is time to get those jobs done.”

Katia then appeared in the group where Olga was giving orders.

Olga looked up and, shaking her head, said, “I know, I know mother. She’s my daughter.”

Katia, grinning, “It will be interesting to watch when you tell her just what she has done.”

And with that, Katia Shapirov disappeared. There were other places where she was needed.

Proceed to the Table of Contents...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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