Eucharist for a Sinless Mankind
by Bertil Falk
“Requiem for an Android”|
appeared in issues
248 and 249.
Chapter 3: The Building Stones of Sinlessness
part 2 of 3
Mother Saulcerite of the planet Bavaria is now a Cardinal and head of the Bureau of Salvation. She is well regarded and may become Pope. However, a new test awaits her: Brother Urbanus Collectus is assigned to aid her in the investigation of a newly discovered species near Betelgeuse. The species is sentient but has not tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Xäzyåwä certainly tried its best to grasp the meaning of what the two strangers, who had come in from the coldness of space, talked about. But the more Mother Saulcerite and Urban Collectus tried to explain, the less did Xäzyåwä understand. Their expositions were bewildering and only made Xäzyåwä more and more confused.
At last, the discussions were cut short, and Xäzyåwä contracted a severe ache in her thought-maker, the organ which is positioned at a spot that could be compared with the groin in humans and which turned out to correspond to a brain. Xäzyåwä shifted into a lower gear inside a somnambulistic capsule while Mother Saulcerite and Urbanus Collectus were placed in a “dining-room.” It turned out to mean that they sat on a special food-terrace, where they basked in the red sunshine.
“They don’t eat,” Urbanus Collectus cried. “They get their nutriment from the sun. That’s the explanation.”
“Of a lot!”
Mother Saucerite regarded the young Celibateur she was saddled with.
“Like what, for example?”
“They have no mouth. They don’t need a mouth. They don’t eat anything.”
“Holy Mary, Mother of God,” the Cardinal said. “But their bodies must be nourished in some way. It can’t be enough to bask in the sun to originate and grow.”
“I wouldn’t say that!” Urbanus Collectus said. “Do we know what this sunlight consists of? This sun may radiate everything they need. Remember Darwin? Adapting to the environment?”
“But how do they breed?” Mother Saulcerite drawled. “Through trepanation? Division? Cloning? Intercourse?”
Piously, Urbanus Collectus blushed.
“There are so many different ways of doing it. They may have their own way,” Mother Saulcerite continued. “What else is explained, in your opinion?”
“They don’t have to hunt. They don’t have to reap harvest. They don’t have to eat any living thing, whether fauna or flora.”
The Cardinal looked granular. “There may be some truth to what you’re saying, but it can’t be the full explanation. Maybe it’s part of the explanation, but there must be something else as well, something more fundamental! The simple reason is that sin is fundamental to the behavior of mankinds. Where is greed? Ill will? The widespread wickedness?”
“True, but at the same time, sin is a function of the Fall of Man,” the Celibateur said, his voice anxious. “Fundamental behavior, yes. But still something secondary. A side effect that comes up within Creation when it is completed.”
“When the serpent gets Eve to pick an apple and tempt Adam to eat it,” said Mother Saulcerite pondering. “How will we be able to squeeze this new sinless behavior to fit into our theology and our dogmas?”
“Do we have to?”
The Cardinal gave a start. Disapprovingly, she pursed her thick, toothless mouth, rubbed the thick carapace of her left paw against the upper side of her claw-equipped right paw and gave the young Earthling’s innocent, blue eyes a piercing look. “It’s absolutely necessary! Don’t think anything else. Our faith is what in mathematics is called an axiom.
“That God exists is an axiom. It cannot be proven, but that is what it is. Our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, Our Lord, has testified to that. Our inherited original sin and guilt is also an axiom.”
Urbanus Collectus almost shrank, cowering in front of the blasting eyes of the Cardinal. “Glory be to God on high!” he said, trying to ward off the piercing triangles of Mother Saulcerite.
* * *
When the oscillating space station struck its flag, as they said in the past, and hoisted the Jolly Roger, as the flag was called using another archaic expression, then Paxinterra knew what to expect. Space pirates were a trying species, as old as space trade. They not only space-jacked individual luxury space cruisers transporting rich widows through the universe, they also attacked space lighters and transport capsules carrying profitable shipping. All this tonnage was transported aboard puffing and blowing, slow, stinking old barges that were towed between solar systems at speeds often below the speed of light.
When they moved in slow motion from one star system to another, these heavily loaded old hulks fell an easy prey to lawless freebooters. On certain routes, these cargo shuttles had to sail in convoys light-years long.
The Federation was forced to put up escort probes to protect the convoys. Otherwise, trade could not be maintained between the various regions of the Federation. It was a costly arrangement, constantly subjected to debates in the Federal Thing, the artificial planet near Proxima Centauri, where the two decision-making bodies of the federal bicameral system were constantly in legislative session.
It happened very seldom that pirates strayed into the territory of the systems Sol and its neighbor Proxima Centauri, irrespective of the fact that they had a certain tendency to hang out in Sargasso Space, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, where they could wait in hiding for centuries without running the risk of being widely sought after.
But now they were within the orbit of Jupiter to capture tourist capsules. It was an occupation that is to the space-jacking of a convoy ship as the robbery of a blind senior citizen is to the robbery of a titanium bank surrounded by guards armed to the teeth, yes, from head to toe.
When Pater Paxinterra saw the white skull and crossbones against a black background, which streamed in an old-fashioned way from one of the antennas of the pirate, he realised that the tourist capsule did not stand a Jovian chance.
To get out of harm’s way, shocked passengers were already streaming into the teleporter, and soon the viewing salon was empty. Father Paxinterra was just about to urge the two Cardinals to do the same when the lights went out.
“We’ve been paralyzed by space pirates,” a cool voice explained from a kind face that floated in the air. “Unfortunately, we see that three passengers are still aboard. We wish you a pleasant trip.” The imaginary face disappeared and the three wise men lost consciousness.
When Paxinterra woke up he found himself sitting in an almost recumbent position in a body-adjusting chairbed that modelled itself to his physical motions. The Cardinals Mervil Tojas and Björn Personit were already awake. Through the window, Paxinterra saw coffins and cinerary urns solemnly slipping past.
“We are in the plague graveyard, where the victims of the space pestilence of the 28th century were consigned to oblivion,” said Mervil Tojas as he saw Paxinterra’s perplexed expression. “Earth is in that direction.”
Paxinterra followed the forefinger of the Cardinal and saw the beautiful pearl that was Sol, warm and alone, glowing far away.
“What are we doing here?” Paxinterra asked. “Why did they not leave us and the tourist shuttle after plundering it?”
Björn Personit nodded understanding. “It seems that we are the booty they were after,” he explained.
“Not you, only he,” a graceful voice sounded.
An undressed lady, who looked like a cut-out of an artwork by Virgil Finlay that Paxinterra had seen on a visit to the Louvre, stepped out from somewhere. Her body seemed to consist of black dots of small stars and she was sprinkled all over with grains of sand glittering with silver. She was partly bald-headed on the right side of her head according to fashion, but she wore on the other side of her head unfashionable long flowing hair that in a light yellow way reached down her back to her waist. Her dim light blue eyes were fixed on Björn Personit without losing sight of the two other prisoners.
There she was, Virginia Vaginia, the terror of the space bays, the legendary pirate queen, who had kept herself fresh for centuries by dashing about in the universe in her pirate ship at speeds close to that of light. In that way she had avoided the battle of the 32nd century by diving into the speed of light and resurfacing again in the 33rd century. When, after a row of successful coups, she unfairly appropriated a more modern old tub, she was chased once more.
Then she disappeared again into another century by putting the ship in high gear and stepping on the gas, as they say with an outdated expression. In that way Virginia Vaginia had for centuries been a real pain in the ass of the space patrols of the Planet Police. At other times, she had lingered very much in the background like a legend, only to flare up in the full sense of the term, when it was fitting.
The legend said that Virginia Vaginia had become a pirate because she was disappointed that her fiancé, a theologian, had abandoned her and been ordained. As a result she had remained untouched by any man.
“Only he,” she repeated, and now Mervil Tojas and Paxinterra saw that Björn Personit was white as a sheet.
“So, we meet again, Virginia,” he said, his voice strong, but they realised that he had to make an exertion to control himself. “You’re as beautiful and attractive as you’ve always been.”
While he spoke, the color returned to his face. What a moment ago had been as white as a sheet was now scarlet red. Obviously, strong conflicting emotions struggled for supremacy within the otherwise calm Cardinal.
“But you have changed somewhat,” replied Virginia Vaginia. “Your peaches and cream complexion has a touch of parchment and has matured.”
Sudden clear-sightedness dawned on Paxinterra. The legend was true. A candle dawned in Cardinal Mervil Tojas’ mind as well. Björn Personit was the legendary man responsible for the breach of promise that had made Virginia Vaginia a pirate.
“Good God,” Mervil Tojas groaned. “We’ve been kidnapped because you two have to settle a matter that happened thousands of years ago.”
Björn Personit, whose complexion was now stabilized at a middle position between the two extremes of sheet-white and scarlet-red, stationed himself with his back turned to the floating coffins. He shook his head. “It may seem so for you two. But to Virginia and me it is different. For us, what happened thousands of years ago is something that happened yesterday.
“Virginia with her fast space trips has surfed on the effects of Einstein’s theory of relativity. I, without aging, was floating about dissolved in my constituent parts as if ice-bound in an ethereal state of a stationary continuum, because my teleportation from the subterranean caves of the Vatican to the Luna was interrupted. Well, you know all that.”
Of course! Both Paxinterra and Mervil Tojas had been involved in the mess caused by the Personite’s resistance to the salvation of androids. And they both remembered when Carolus Brainflower got Teresia Nightmare to release Björn Personit from the preserving grasp of timelessness.
“I was fully convinced that you had died long ago,” the rejected woman said. “Ever since I heard that you had survived and been brought back to life, I have looked forward to this moment.”
To this moment!
What was her intention?
Mervil Tojas looked through the vista window as if he searched for an answer there. Instead of a reply, he saw the swift stream of golden coffins, gleaming sarcophagi, pitch-black sepulchral urns, poisonous green tombstones, neon-red obituaries and occasional corpses, who in an eternal stream passed by out there in the silent emptiness that was the plague victims’ restless resting-place.
It was a funeral procession of slowly bypassing satellites that in an eternal whirl covered their spinning orbits around this monumental columbarium at the center of the graveyard. It functioned like a burnt-out, pitch-yellow sun, surrounded by all this death rotating in a Ferris wheel of grief, a macabre maelstrom like a parody of a solar system.
Mervil Tojas let out a shudder he could not suppress. For what purpose had Virginia Vaginia brought them to this godforsaken part of the solar system?
* * *
Copyright © 2008 by Bertil Falk