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The Bridge

Book IV: To Qwell the Tide

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 6, part 1 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 6: The Grand Union

part 2 of 3

The Grand Minister, after waiting for the assembled participants to become attentive, started to speak. “Ambassadors of the Tunnel Worlds and fellow Ministers of the Galactic Council, we seem to have slowed down in our quest for a unified state of governance of our worlds. That is understandable.

“We of the Galactic Council, having been the ones who threw away the opportunity of helping instead of englobing those who later became members of the Tunnel Worlds. We have a past to live down. I believe that we are willing to do that, but our words must be backed by action to be trusted.

“You of the Tunnel Worlds have worked and lived in a secret way, invisible to the rest of the galaxy, and you now must learn to live out in the open, something alien to you. And that secrecy, as much as it was needed, makes it harder for those who have not lived in such a way wonder if you are still hiding things that should not be hidden. You also need to make many changes.

“You know, I have come to believe that the building of a great and unified galaxy, all living under the same rules and principles may be a goal that is too big for this assembly. Why do I say this? Is it because I am discouraged? No, but because I remember a proverb of my people, a saying of my world.

“Every world has them, these sayings. They are the wisdom of our fathers put into short sentences with long meanings. I am sure that each one here has a favorite from his or her own world.

“The one that I am thinking of goes like this, ‘One accomplishes little by running after the sun’. My father told me that proverb when I was very young and had decided that I wanted to sail my little boat across one of our oceans — if you could have seen the little boat that I had made you would understand why my father said such a thing — and I, of course, did not want to listen.

“When I put my boat in the water and watched it sink before my eyes I grasped the meaning of what my father had said. To sail across that ocean would take more preparation than I had made. The goal was too large for the effort I could have made at that time. I was running after the sun and I could not catch it.

“I want you to know that, years later, in a much better boat, and with much better preparation, I did cross that ocean.

“Perhaps we are running after the sun in what we are doing at this point. Perhaps it is time we looked not at what we want to do in the distant future, but what we can do now.

“I was recently talking with one of your ambassadors, who is also of a race that is a member of the Tunnel Worlds, Miss Olga Shapirov and she told me a saying of her people that I should like to repeat to you. It comes from one of their cultures — Chinese I believe they are called — and it goes like this, ‘Even the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step’, or something very much like that.

“We are surely beyond the first step, but we still have many steps to walk before we reach the end of this particular journey. We will need help in learning to think in ways that compliment each other, and I have an idea.

“I have asked that a copy of the Qwom-Sor Manuals be printed for each of the Ministers of the Galactic Council. I know that those Manuals constitute a starting point for the Tunnel Worlds in their interplanetary etiquette and that we of the Galactic Council do not know those precepts.

“I would ask that we of the Galactic Council be allowed to return to our homes to study them for a period of time. Then, when we come together again — perhaps this time in the great chambers of the Galactic Council, for it would be our privilege to be hosts in our turn — we will have a better basis for our deliberations.”

The applause was long and loud as the members on both sides of the room saw the wisdom of what had been said. All that was now needed was for the Qwell’Na to agree and let them go home.

The signal came from the Ambassador from Qwell and the Grand Minister recognized him.

As he walked out to the Lectern, to be joined by the Minister from Qwell to the Galactic Council, the assembled legislators grew unusually quiet. They all knew how, in reality, that it was the Qwell who, though they had not ruled, had guided them to this point in galactic history.

As the two Qwell’Na closed in on the lectern the audience gasped to see the appearance of Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich on the podium and also heading for the lectern.

The Grand Minister stepped aside and took his seat on the podium.

The two Qwell’Na conferred with each other and then with Ka’Tia. Then they each turned and left the podium and headed back to their seats as Ka’Tia stepped up to the lectern and began to speak.

“I am Qwell’Na. I speak for my adopted people. What has been said this day by the Grand Minister is wise. We of the Qwell’Na, as you know, have never sought rulership or prominence over either the Galactic Council worlds or the peoples of the Tunnel Worlds. We do not do so now.

“We will open the Doors to all of your worlds and you may go home and meditate on what you have and have not accomplished in the sessions that we have had here. We would suggest that the next session be initiated in no less than four months from this day.

“It is also our suggestion that neither the Diet hall of the Tunnel Worlds, nor the chambers of the Galactic Council be the place of meeting. Both have a past that is hard to not to be influenced by. For that reason, if it is pleasing to this assembly, we offer the planet known to us as Qwell Minor as a gift to this assembly.

“Already a great hall, with no past and no memories to cloud our thinking, is being built in hopes that you will accept this gift. Housing and places necessary for government business are also in various stages of completion. When this work is done — and it will be done well before four months from this day — all of the Qwell’Na will vacate the planet and none will return without the express invitation of this assembly. Not even the Ambassador from Qwell to the Tunnel Worlds or the Minister of Qwell to the Galactic Council will return without a specific invitation.

“The time of our guidance had come to an end. From this day forward we wish only to be, not teachers, but partners in the future of our combined peoples.

“It is yours to discuss and decide. You may accept or reject what we have offered.

“Mister Grand Minister,” she added as she faded from the podium, “the floor is, again, yours.”

The silence was stunning. Both sides, having just really come to grips with the truth that they had been quietly directed by the Qwell’Na were now stunned that they were to be let loose and were not now sure that they were ready for it.

Then, with the thought of going home and seeing their families for the first time in months, a pandemonium of exuberance broke out. It took the Grand Minister several minutes to quell the tide and restore decorum to the assembly.

“We have heard from the representatives of the Qwell’Na and now, before we can leave for our homes, we must consider their advice.

“First, it has been suggested that, after a couple more pieces of business, we adjourn to our worlds and prepare for a second session in four months. Knowing how you all wish to go home I will not ask for discussion but just for a vote on the motion. If it the vote is no, we will then be able to spend the time discussing what we should do.

“All in favor?”

It was unanimous and the session was then set for the appropriate date four months hence.

It was then recognized that everyday government had to go on, so the legislative group from each world was called upon to send only a small number of representatives to the unifying assembly so that the others could continue on with necessary business.

The Ministers from the Cernon Sector planets then, unitedly, moved that, regardless of the preference of the Qwell’Na, there should be a representatives from that people in both delegations, “After all,” they stated, “the Qwell’Na can’t be partners if they aren’t present.”

There were no dissenting votes.

“That decided we must now determine where we are to meet. There are three places, the Diet hall we presently occupy, the Council chambers used by the Galactic Council, or the new meeting hall on Qwell Minor. Since the suggestion of the new hall on Qwell Minor is already before us it would be simpler to put that one forth first and then each of the others. The one with the most votes will hold the next session.

“First, the new hall on Qwell Minor, all those in favor.”

Again it was unanimous.

Then as the Grand Minister was about to call for adjournment the Minister from the Solar Union sought recognition.

“Mister Grand Minister, I would like to amend the recent question.”

“The Chair recognizes the Ambassador from the Solar Union.”

Olga, standing at her desk, continued, “It would seem that since the Qwell have offered the planet known as Qwell Minor to this assembly without strings that this assembly might consolidate that new start by choosing a new designation for that planet, one that would harmonize with the goals of this legislature. By removing anything of the past we can assure ourselves of a more completely new start.”

It was discussed and a name chosen and embraced.

So, Harmony, with its grand Assembly Hall, became the designation of the future capital of the galaxy.

* * *

In the dark and cold room, the voice, again, rippled its ancient call through the frigid air, echoing against the far walls, “Sings the star of our hearts?”

Out of the darkness came the answer, “The star of our hearts yet cries, ‘Rest still more’.”

* * *

The months passed quickly. The Qwell’Na functionaries, returned by request to the offices they had vacated throughout the territory of the Galactic Council, and, after stilling the remnants of the chaos left from their departure, took the job of training others in those positions.

The time would come, they told their students, when they would no longer leave their homes and families to care for the needs that could be cared for as well, by others.

Throughout the Council worlds, Qwell’Na were recruited to instruct the Ministers in the lore of the Qwom-Sor, giving them at least a minimum of understanding of those Manuals. For many of the Ministers working for the minimum of understanding was the hardest work they had done in years.

Those in the Solar Union, thanks to the help of their Chinese members — long influenced by their classical scholars — an understanding of the Manuals and their ethics was made rapidly.

Even George, who, being an engineer, liked things done efficiently and according to understandable methods, found the Manuals to his liking.

Soon the leaders of the Solar Union found themselves sequestered on Charleshaven and waiting for the long promised meeting with Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich.

Olga and Sean stood next to their niece and daughter, Me’Avi Shapirov, the Solar Union’s Minister to the Galactic Council. “What do you think that your grandmother is going to say?” Olga asked her.

Me’Avi, looking puzzled, said, “I don’t know. I am still having trouble in believing that she really is my grandmother and not some virtual impostor.”

“You read the book she gave us, didn’t you?”

“Yes, she told me that she read it when she was a girl and it was still her favorite. It helped a lot in explaining things. Cyr helped, too. But it is still difficult to accept it all.”

There was a stir at the front of the hall as Ka’Tia appeared and moved to the lectern. Soon it was quiet and they were ready for her to start her presentation.

“You know that the Qwell’Na have singled you out as being what they call the ‘Brother Race.’ What you do not know is why you have been so designated. The information that I am going to give to you today must remain with you. It must never be talked of other than within this group or with your Qwell’Na brothers. That is, if you accept them as brothers.

“If anyone here feels that what will be discussed today will be too much for them to keep secluded in their hearts they are now invited to leave.”

No one stirred and then Ka’Tia indicated that the screen on each of their desks had the text of an oath of secrecy that was binding and that must be signed by everyone there before the meeting could continue. Everyone signed.

The story that Ka’Tia told was enhanced by pictures on the great screen above and behind her. It was a long story of Qwell’Na and Qwell’Di and the shame of the outcome. They saw that shame motivate the Qwell’Na to serve others to pay for the deaths of their brothers.

And they saw the search that the Qwell’Na put on for a race that would be like them in many ways. A race whose mental quirks were such that they would be able to understand the Qwell’Na in thought. They sought a race that they could help as they would a brother for until they could find brothers to stand in the place of the Qwell’Di they would never be a whole people.

It was a story of the training and cajoling of recalcitrant races that finally became the Tunnel Worlds.

It was the story of the guiding from within and behind of the Galactic Council until it was strong and sure in its rule over this portion of the galaxy.

And it was the story of the discovery of the “brother race” that had many of the attributes of the Qwell’Na but lacked the direction. Here the story became more and more personal as they saw the Qwell’Na first hide them from the Galactic Council, and then, when they had been finally discovered, make sure that their et Sharma was Qwell’Na.

They saw the real story of Cyr, the Bridge, and his efforts to help the people, their people. They saw the nation’s reactions and the anger of the people toward The Bridge. They saw the life of Katia Harrigan, the little girl that never forgot her friend and how she was a key in the events that fell into place in the years that followed.

Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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