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The Bridge

Book IV: To Qwell the Tide

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 6, part 2 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 6: The Grand Union

part 3 of 3

The tale was long and sad, but it was also filled with giving and honor. And many, those whose hearts understood before others, found themselves with tears in their eyes. Then it was over.

“The offer before you today is not a little one. You are being offered a place of respect as full brothers to the Qwell’Na. You have proven yourselves as their equal. No other race has shown the skill and perseverance in being themselves and seeking solutions to their problems regardless of the odds against them. Other races, when faced with englobement, gave up.

“The Qwell’Na had to go in and help them to the stage of civilization that would allow them to join the Tunnel Worlds. They never learned to be independent of the Qwell’Na. It was much the same with the Galactic Council worlds. Once the Qwell’Na solved their problem with the Skeltz, the Council tended to rely too much on their Qwell’Na advisors and bureaucrats.

“You have done neither. You refused to allow yourselves to be defeated as a race. The humans on New Earth, those who dared, set out and started human worlds in the Cernon Sector, seeking do discover challenges to conquer. Others of you discovered doors and used them to circumvent the sentence passed, creating a new future on Starhell, now Charleshaven, this world.

You have proved yourselves to be worthy and shown that within you lies a spirit of life that is much like those who would be your brothers. So the Qwell’Na ask you to be their brothers, to join Family.

“Do not be disturbed, though, thinking that you will have to adopt all that is Qwell’Na. They have proven that they can have Family that is different. They suffered generations of Qwell’Di before the Qwell’Di were lost. You are not Qwell’Di and you will be welcomed as Family, even with your differences.

“The decision is yours.” With those words, Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich faded out and they were left alone to themselves.

* * *

The Grand Minister stood before the Galactic Council and wondered how they would take his words.

“I speak before you today for the last time as Grand Minister. Though it was not a job that I wanted I have been honored that your confidence in me rarely wavered and trust in me is a gift that I shall always treasure. I thank you for that.

“I am getting older and slower, and it is now time for me to retire to my world and my farm. That has been my dream for many years, and my heart pulls me there more than ever. And, now is the best time to go.

“There are new and exciting times ahead for us all. Too exciting for me. Shortly some of you will be going to Harmony and working with your opposites from the Tunnel Worlds in creating a grand new future. You will do that better with newer, younger leaders. You will need leaders with energy and quickness of mind. Those are the qualities that will be needed by our peoples from this day forward.

“So, since it is the tradition that the outgoing Grand Minister suggest a successor, not that it often means much in our world of political tempests, I should like to point out that I feel that the most qualified person in the Council to take this job and run with it is one whom I have had the pleasure of working closely with for some time. She is not only the Minister from Humanity, and the granddaughter of Grand Minister Katia Shapirov, but she tells me, she is now a brother to the Qwell’Na. I would suggest that you put your trust in her, in Me’Avi Shapirov, Minister from Humanity.”

With that, the old man put down his gavel and walked toward the exit from the now silent chamber. As he walked a hand clapped, and then another and then the very thunder from the skies seem to invade the chamber.

Again, as ancient Council tradition required, the one nominated by the Grand Minister as his replacement, Me’Avi Shapirov, walked towards the podium and the lectern, pacing her steps so as not to ascend fully until the departing Grand Minister’s had left the chamber.

“Fellow Ministers, I am honored to have received the confidence of Grand Minister Xhelsher, but I think that there are many here who have more years and greater wisdom than I and I would gladly hear their names in nomination for this office.”

The Minister from Xorn stood and was recognized. “I have never been an admirer of Grand Minister Xhelsher, nor was I an admirer of Grand Minister Shapirov, and have often, as all of you are witnesses of, disagreed with both of them on their decisions. Too many times they were right and I was wrong. I would not want it to be said that an old fool like me can never learn.

“I think that I, too, shall take the same walk our Grand Minister has just made. It is time for me to play with my grandchildren before it is too late. Yet, I want my last act as Minister for my people to be one where I am, finally, proven right. I, too, would see Me’Avi Shapirov, Minister from Humanity, as Grand Minister of the Galactic Council and I would hope, in my remaining time, see her be the leader her grandmother was.”

* * *

Everything was new on Harmony. The quarters for the Assembly members were clean and airy and close to the great Assembly Hall. All over the planet there were areas of forest and lakes, with convenient lodges for those retreats needed by those seeking to escape, if only for a short while, the stress of responsibilities.

Entering into the Hall one was struck with the two mottos chiseled into the walls of the great lobby, mottos requested by the two legislative bodies before their adjournment at the Diet hall.

“Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” and “In a world of sand, glass can be made.” They were there to remind the Representatives that the journey they were on would be one of many steps, but that careful work would create something of lasting beauty.

The Assembly Hall itself was the last word in comfort and convenience with computer terminals on every desk and screens that could be both monitors for the computers and carriers of presentations that often were needed in sessions devoted to the intricacies of legislation. Added to that was the comfort that was provided. The atmosphere around each desk was conditioned to be as much like the member’s home environment as possible. With all of this the legislative body would be more able to stand the rigors of their positions.

Bedraggled from their reception and initial confusing week of moving into new quarters, finding offices, attending well spaced seminars on the equipment and facilities, interspersed with well prepared meals and excellent entertainment, the members were happy to, finally, get down to the business at hand.

At the start, a short ceremony was held to determine, by lot, a temporary Chair to get things started.

Soon, under the guidance of a relatively obscure and inexperienced representative from a Tunnel World, the Assembly was ready to begin the work of choosing a more permanent Chair and setting legislative rules.

Gaveling the hall to order, the new Chair, wanting to exit his new job as soon as possible, and having listened to the talk of the other Representatives over the past week, called for nominations for the office of Assembly Chair.

The choice was an easy one. There was only one person present who was not only an acknowledged scholar of the Qwom-Sor Manuals and their ethics code so long used by the Qwell’Na and the Tunnel Worlds, but also an acknowledged expert on the ins an outs of the Galactic Council, having been its Grand Minister for an extended period of time. That she was now Qwell’Na did not hurt her qualifications.

Soon, no other nominations being put forward, the call was for a vote on the nomination of Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich to be the Assembly Chair. It was interrupted by the nominee herself as she sought to have a little say in the matter before the votes could be counted.

“Fellow Representatives, as you have so generously recognized, I am Qwell’Na and it is the rule of our people that we do not take positions of leadership in governments, so, in respect of that code, I must decline your kind trust.”

The Chair then recognized the Representative from Xorn. “The last time I stood in such an assembly in the Council chamber, I made the mistake of mentioning that I had made many mistakes in my career as a Minister of the Galactic Council and stated that I was retiring from that position.

“My people, feeling that I had finally done something really right, sent me here with the admonition that the retirement I wish would not be granted to me until I had done a few more things that were right. This is my chance to do one of them.

“The Qwell’Na, in their final statements in that assembly of notables stated that they no longer wanted to be our teachers but our partners. Very well, Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich, a partner is one who takes part. Live up to your people’s words.

“Had I been unfortunate enough to have had the curse of Temporary Chair drop on me, I would now rule Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich out of order and continue on with the vote.”

The Temporary Chair, about to follow the advice, noticed that another Representative from the Qwell’Na, First Head of the Family Heads of Qwell, Representative Rondol, wished to be recognized.

“Fellow Representatives, I concur with the wisdom of the Representative from Xorn. We Qwell’Na are very ready to live up to our words and would be more than happy to support this Assembly in its call for our sister Ka’Tia to accept the office in question.”

Fortified in his intentions and seeing the escape from the office he had been forced to take, the Temporary Chair ruled Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich out of order because a vote had been called for, though assuring her that the Assembly would assuredly hear her after the vote had been taken, and called for an immediate vote on the nomination.

Shortly after, having declared Ka’Tia Shapirov da Laich the new Chair of the Assembly, he handed her his gavel and said as he headed for his desk, “I think you may speak to the Assembly now.”

* * *

The two fleets met in the cold dark space just between the two systems that were their homes. Slowly the two fleets merged into one and Doors opened between the ships and crews exchanged until both fleets had members of both races.

Then, in solemn assembly viewed by those on their home worlds, the representatives of the two races adopted each other into their Families and spoke of the traditions of their heritage. And then, in formation, the ships headed for the final duty of the day.

Other ships had already programmed the englobing satellites to shut the system down just as the combined fleet arrived, to let the stars re-emerge in the skies that had for so long missed them. Next the ships’ crews set up the great energy generators and positioned the three satellites around the planet. Then they backed off from the system and waited for the appearance of the fleet of their brothers.

As the fleet arrived the great englobing field ceased and the fleet entered the system and went to the planet of shame, Di.

The announcement went out to the viewers of both peoples, “Today we come with our brothers to erase the symbol of our shame. Today, the lives we have comforted and helped are greater than the shame we have suffered. Today, we are no longer Qwell’Na and Qwell’Di, but just Qwell and Human, a full Family of brothers.

At that moment the energy satellites were initiated and great streams of sun power began to flow into the satellites around Di. Soon the planet and its gruesome contents were on the move.

The fleet backed off and joined the others already there.

So it was that they watched the world of shame and death follow a path into its own star and saw the shame of the system’s past carried away with the flash of Di’s passing.

The deed done and the passing of shame now over, the fleets set out for their homes and left the system to know the stars once again.

* * *

On Qwell, a young girl and an old woman sat together, watching the events happening so far away and yet, somehow, right in that room.

“It has been so long Katia, I had never hoped to see it, and now I have.”

“My name, as you know, is now Ka’Tia. That has not changed.”

“I don’t understand, we have only split our names because of the loss of our brothers and the shame of their actions. That is all past. To split our names now would only remind us of that hurt. So now, I am Joeya.”

“Yes, you are now Joeya and I suppose my granddaughter will be able to call herself Meavi from this day forward. I am sure she will be pleased with that.

“But because we seek to forget the evils of the past does not mean we should forget the honors also. It was once the custom of widows to split their names in honor of the loss of their mates. That is a good custom for one who does not want to forget one deeply loved.

“Alexei was not just my husband, he was my friend and confident, and it would do no honor to his memory were I to become Katia again. I will honor Alexei and I will be known as I am, as Ka’Tia.”

* * *

In the dark and cold room, the voice, again, rippled 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 sings. Let us sing with it.”

There was movement in the system as four great, rocky, asteroids began to shift, and with long silent drives starting, they headed for a converging point at the orbit of the home planet.

Meeting there, the asteroids, their crews awake and working, merged into one great ship.

Seeing no planet to sing their farewell song to, the great ship turned to the far reaches of the galaxy and soon disappeared into the shadows of the stars.

To be continued...

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Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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