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The Bridge

Book IV: To Qwell the Tide

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 3, part 1 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 3: Starhell Standoff

part 2 of 3

Just then a Door opened into the Committee Room and Ka’Tia entered. Walking over to Olga and Sean, she surprised them with an embrace, one that they could feel. Then she shook hands with the rest of the Committee members and, finally, with George.

“Okay,” she said to the more than startled occupants of the room, “now what is this idea that Charlie had that is so important?”

Sean pointed to a letter on the table and Ka’Tia went over and picked it up and read it, surprising them again. When she finished it, having already sent it to Cyr, she, seeing the looks on their faces, said, “My Qwell’Na Family added in a capability to make my holoform somewhat solid by adding a controlled force field. It is some sort of sub-quantum technology thing and I don’t know exactly how it works, but I am enjoying a sense of touch again.

“Now, as to this problem you have with Charlie’s idea. Jo’Eya will meet with you in a day or two and give you the help you need. She will contact you when she has the information ready. OK? Good.

“You caught me at a very busy moment and I must be getting back. But, as you said, George, I couldn’t let Charlie down. But, this was Charlie’s last idea and so your little plot won’t work again.”

Hugging them all again she said “Goodbye” and disappeared through her Door, taking it with her.

* * *

With the Galactic Fleet enroute to Starhell the Door to Earth had become busy with the transfer of children and older ones to sanctuaries that had been built there in places that had become uninhabited. Other areas, like that in which Li Guo-fan had re-entered, were rapidly being re-civilized and were starting to produce things needed by others in the Earth-Starhell community.

All over Earth morale was climbing as people found that they once again had a future. Songs of the Dream Singer were rapidly being spread about in the communities touched by the returnees. Teachers from Earth’s many peoples, brought under the wings of the Oversight Committee; were educated as to perils and promises of the immediate future and then sent to merge their peoples’ lives and activities in line with the new governing power on the planet.

Some from Earth’s communities — the adventurous ones — made their way through the Doors to Starhell and joined in the work there; giving themselves over to the new and exciting future promised by that world.

Everywhere, the threat from the coming arrival of the Galactic Council’s fleet was a motivator to make them work long hours and buy into the new Earth-Starhell community. And, as the fleet grew ever nearer and the tension grew even stronger, the anger of that new community at the arrogance of the Galactic Council’s sentence upon their portion of mankind burned ever brighter.

Agents in the Cernon Sector and on New Earth circulated among the populace and found those disposed to condemn the actions of the Galactic Council. Some of them, those who qualified in various tests, were given the opportunity to see Starhell and Earth and feel the new spirit of their brothers in exile. Those competent enough in convincing others were sent back to their homes to become part of the growing Community of Man, using their skills to further decry the englobement of their ancestral home.

* * *

Kalvin Shapirov spent his days searching for the future artists and musicians in the Community of Man. And everywhere he traveled he ran onto a new feeling among those of his common ancestry. At first it had only been an occasional touch on his consciousness but, as the months passed, he found a pride of achievement growing among the people. “No other race,” he thought, “had circumvented the englobement process. No other race had answered with a resounding ‘NO!’ when they were sentenced to exile. It is no wonder that our people have begun to shed their dependence on the Galactic Council and start to define their own future direction.”

To Kalvin’s credit, back on New Earth, Michael Fellini’s new symphony, Overture to Man, sang out of courage and stamina and faith, especially the Starhell Movement. The music’s beauty and vitality, premiered over the galactic media, sent a resounding message of the resurgence of human pride and determination. The last movement, The Community of Man, integrated themes of the greatest musical achievements of composers, though long dead, still living and vibrant through their music.

All over the Galaxy there were those who now began to doubt that the Galactic Council was as perfect a body as they had thought. There were whispers of doubt as to the whole process of englobement as a method of protection for the peoples of the galaxy; whispers that, in seeing the new spirit and achievements and promise of Man, encouraged a wondering as to how many such achievements by those peoples were now denied them by the englobement process; whispers encouraged — sometimes started — by those agents of the Tunnel Worlds planted in those places for that very purpose.

Now Kalvin, carefully following his wife’s directions on what type of artistic endeavor would most impress the populations of the galaxy, had succeeded again on another of the worlds in the Cernon Sector. That success had come in the person of a young human artist named Joshua Mitsui.

His design, after encouragement from Kalvin to put it forth, had won the commission for creating the monument celebrating the unity of the races making up the Galactic Council. It was to be placed on the quadrangle in front of the Council building.

From that moment, on every human colonized planet that Kalvin visited, there were no shortage of artists clambering for his attention and patronage. And, surprising even to Kalvin, many of those artists were beyond excellent. Kalvin had the feeling that he was almost seeing the beginning of a new Renaissance.

* * *

Jo’Eya sat in George’s office and listened to the engineer’s description of the problem and the need for a solution. Then she said, “It is not impossible. We have done it before. We have saved the equipment in stasis should it ever need to be done again. But, we do not understand why you must do this. The fleet has it orders not to start anything unless your people provoke them.

“You have no intentions of provoking them so there is no need for this process.”

“Jo’Eya, our people have been disrupted by Galactic Council decrees for well over a century. We have been englobed by Council decree. We know that when the fleet arrives it will want to land on our planet and re-establish Council Control over our people.

“We can’t allow them to do that. They must not, for the morale of our people and the future we seek, we can not bow to them. You say that we are the race that will bring into question the Council’s practice of englobement of races that are considered dangerous the galaxy. I hope you are right, but if we fold under the presence and pressure of the Council’s fleet, we will be giving truth to their view that humans have lost their vitality, and we will render a death blow to the new spirit of the Community of Man that we are trying to promote.

“If we arm ourselves, a thing many of our people feel is the right course, and attack the fleet, we will prove to the Council that they were right in labeling us dangerous.

“If, however, we solve this problem before us and manage to take this action, the whole galaxy will realize that, though we are not allowing ourselves to be aggressive, we are also not powerless to defend ourselves. This is the only positive solution. You have helped us before and you say you have not regretted it. Don’t stop now.

“We will solve this problem with or without your help, especially now that you have told us it is possible, but if you deny us the help we need, you will become one more race that we can’t trust.”

“How,” replied Jo’Eya, “can you say such a thing. We have given you a great deal of help in making your goals come about. You could not have made the progress you have in terraforming Starhell without our help. Have we asked for anything in return? How can you accuse us of being anything but trustful?”

“Have you asked anything from us in return? Yes, you have. You have asked us to be some mythological race that your people have dreamed up in order to salve your conscience from some misdeed in the past.

“You have become a people of do-gooders that have formed a vision of the galaxy that you feel is best for all. You have become the ultimate philanthropists spending your capital to create your dream. But have you ever wondered if your dream is the same as our dream? Or the same as the dreams of the other races you have rescued from the decrees of the Galactic Council only to become dependent on you?”

“I will,” said Jo’Eya, standing up and heading for her Door, “transmit your words to the Family Heads. It is they who must decide on this matter.”

* * *

Standing in front of the Family Heads, Jo’Eya finished her report, adding, “We must have been wrong about the humans. What has been said is the...”

“Truth,” interjected the First Head. “It is the Truth, Jo’Eya. It confirms that they are indeed the race we have looked for all these generations. A race that cannot stand and make decisions for itself can’t become the new energizers of the galaxy.

“Look at the Tunnel Worlds. They each have their own planetary governments. Each of those governments sends representatives to the Diet. There are great differences among those races and each has things that they do better than others do. Have they put forth those things that they excel in for the betterment of their civilization?

“They do not unless we encourage them. We supply a bureaucracy for them and a Secretary to the Diet. Do they ever really disagree to that bureaucracy’s suggestions? Rarely, and never with much enthusiasm.

“Your engineer friend was right, the Tunnel Worlds are too dependent upon us. Should we do the same to them as we had to the Galactic Council, disappear, the Tunnel Worlds would collapse into a group of squabbling planets not knowing where to put their next step.

“At the same time the Galactic Council has become petrified in its ways. It has done things the same way for so long that it no longer understands the need for change, the need for progress. It has became to dependent upon the bureaucracy supplied by us and, had if we had to wait a century or two more before disappearing, they too would not have survived as a government.

“The humans have changed that. They, through their own efforts discovered the carrier beam technology; they, through their own efforts, used that technology and foiled the englobement process; something no other race has done.

“Your grandfather was right. This is the race we have been looking for. Just look at the solution they have come up with in this situation. They have recognized that by using carrier beam technology they could defeat the Council’s fleet, much as we defeated the Skeltz. But knowing that, they have sought to find a more civilized way to respond to the fleet.

“They also saw, and rightly rejected, the concept of the Council’s re-imposing its rule over them. They have realized that they can’t allow anything but acceptance as absolute equals in the galaxy if they are to survive intact as a people.

“So, the solution that they have come up with — and they are correct that they will solve the problem without us, for their people are very close to the answers they seek — is one that will impress the fleet, and the Council with the power of their science and the peacefulness of their intentions.

“You will, Jo’Eya, bearer of Jonkil’s memories, go back to Starhell and assure them that the details of the technology they need will be delivered to them within days. Assure them that it is not a matter of purposeful delay but a matter of translating the material into a form that will fit their technological language and that there will be plenty of time for them to make use of the data in the manner they have chosen.”

“I,” she replied, “will go. And, I thank the Family Heads for their patience with me and for their explanations that have enlightened me. My grandfather would thank you also.”

* * *

Ka’Tia, given a view of the exchange between the Family Heads and Jo’Eya, suddenly realized how true the words of the Family Heads had been. Even when she was Grand Minister she had wondered at the lack of others in the bureaucracy than Qwell’Na. She had tried to interest the different races in the offices but had usually had to, finally, give a vacant position to a Qwell’Na because of their availability. Still, because of her relationship with Jonkil, those decisions had not really been something she had questioned too hard.

Putting that together with her observance of the obvious influence of the Qwell’Na in the Tunnel Worlds’ government, she could see how the need for a race of people with a little more stubbornness and energy could be a good thing for the galaxy.

Yet, there were disturbing memories of lectures from her father about the propensity of humans to become overbearing toward others, even those of their own race. The phrases “white man’s burden” and “manifest destiny” popped into her mind from those early lessons from her father.

If man was going to be forced to take a new role in the galaxy, and that was what it was beginning to look like, someone would have to make sure it was really one of an equal, as George had said. Man would not long stand being treated as inferior, and he must be prevented from assuming the position of superior. It would be someone’s job to bring that about. That someone would have to be, of necessity, the Qwell’Na. She hoped that they were up to the task.

* * *

The Grand Minister received the report gladly. The researchers had succeeded in creating a carrier beam that could send up to three kilograms across the galaxy. They were wondering if the Council had a preference for its first use.

Immediately the Grand Minister called in the head of the Council’s research division and told him to replicate the equipment and send it to the fleet, in parts if he had to. Then he sent for the supervisor of the media division and instructed him to find a good, lightweight, transmitter and send it to the Council fleet and establish a real-time communication with the fleet and be ready to broadcast the approach and the actions of the fleet in its first contact with Starhell.

Then, he took a couple of pain relievers and got ready for Me’Avi’s visit that was sure to come. She, he knew, would question, most loudly, the broadcasting of such information before she and other Council members could spin it in a more desirable light than that which might come across uncensored.

Still, there was progress in that it now took only two pain relievers to get ready for Me’Avi.

Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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