The Bridge: a New Beginning
by euhal allen
Chapter 6: New Headings
The notes came, sometimes in rushes, sometimes just wandering through Kalvin Vertraumer’s mind like fairies dancing in a sunlit meadow. They were nice, but they weren’t the right nice for the Requiem he was composing.
“How,” he asked himself, “could he compose a requiem for a planet that birthed such as Mozart and Beethoven and Händel and all those others whose music now enthralls a whole galaxy?”
It was a question he often asked himself. It seemed a question that had no answer, at least not one he could see.
“Their music lives, breathes fire while what I have written tiptoes like a shy maiden at her first dance. Even my major parts only cry out in anguish when stood against what they created.”
“Maestro,” one of his students said, “calm yourself. The Requiem, so far, is the greatest piece of music written today. You are our Mozart; you are our Beethoven!”
“Bah! I am not even your Zelenka!”
* * *
At first it was in and out, light and darkness, and long periods of nothing. Thoughts were started and never finished, only to start again in the next period of self-awareness. It was like climbing out of a very deep well only a centimeter at each step. And the centimeter leaps only glacially became closer and closer in time.
Then the pain started. Feeling was coming back into her body, her arms and legs aching but unmoving and unmovable. They screamed at her to work and then refused to obey her commands.
Her lungs began to take in greater and greater amounts of air, abandoning the more comfortable but shallow quiver that had been their habit over the years. And with each larger breath she felt her chest give way more and more grudgingly, until it finally accepted the need for movements long forgotten.
And always, in the light periods, when she was aware, there was the voice of Cyr, calmly and carefully helping her to find herself and direct herself to climb up and out of the black, silent world she had been in for so long.
And she would try to blank out his voice and sink back into the comforting blackness, away from the pain, away from the light that was so blinding. But, he would not let her. He urged, and nagged, and commanded until she found it easier to seek the light than fight against his words. And, then, she woke up.
“Cyr, is it done. Can I sing now?”
“Almost,” he replied, “with a little training in the use of your new eyes, voice and faculties, you will sing again.”
* * *
Tinnel et Sharma of Jurzell walked through the halls of the great building that housed the Grand Minister’s office for his interview with the Grand Minister himself. His thoughts were on the rewards he would receive for all that the official reports said that he had achieved. Perhaps he would be the new et Sharma for Earth, now that the old fool, Jonkil et Sharma, was retiring. It would, indeed, be the crowning achievement of his career to write the final report for that doomed world.
Already he was thinking of the em Sharmas he would interview to become the next sacrifices for the furtherance of his career. “Perhaps,” he thought, “I shall just keep Me’Avi em Sharma in my employ. Her Shapirov family name will open even more doors for me.”
Soon he was sitting in the reception room of the Grand Minister’s office, waiting for that person to finish with whomever was with him at that moment. One can only imagine his surprise when the current visitor to the Grand Minister turned out to be the very em Sharma he had been thinking about.
Tinnel et Sharma of Jurzell stood as Me’Avi em Sharma came out of the Grand Minister’s office. In a rage at the thought that his em Sharma would be interviewed before him, he said, angrily, “Why are you not in your office on Jurzell? I gave you no time off to be a nuisance to the Grand Minister. You have no business here and will be severely reprimanded in my next report to the department.”
At that very moment the Grand Minister stepped out of his office and said to the departing em Sharma, “Me’Avi, my dear, I wish your grandmother, Katia, could see you now. I know she would be very proud.”
Then, turning to a very shocked Tinnel et Sharma of Jurzell, he said, brusquely, “Ah, yes. You, Tinnel et Sharma of Jurzell, are next. I believe we have some very interesting things to discuss.”
* * *
Olga wept bitterly. “Sometimes,” she thought, “this project of saving Earth asks too much of a person.”
Her heart, pained and empty at the loss of Johannes, killed in the last raid by the village’s numerous enemies, she only now fully understood her mother’s anguish at the loss of Alexei so many years ago.
Still, they had known the possibilities and had accepted the costs. She would go on, doing so because it was the right thing to do and because Johannes would expect it of her and because the village people would need her guidance for some time yet.
She lay the flowers on the grave and as she turned to go she said a final good-by. The village was moving to a more secure spot, one that Johannes had found not too long before the savage raid that had taken his life.
It was at a nearby hot water spring — one that could power a technology unknown to the villagers — that Johannes had installed a door that could be used for their escape, should that become a necessity.
* * *
Sean looked at the pile of paperwork on his desk. “The curse of governing is always the same, some kind of paperwork is always demanded even in a small place like this,” he said to himself.
It had been some time since he had become the leader at Newtown, and under his direction it was growing stronger all the time. Soon they would be able to send scouts out greater distances in order to recruit new members and make the chances greater that they could be a viable center to rebuild a civilized society.
He picked up the special key from his desk and used it to lock a drawer that he hoped not to have to open any time soon and then put that key in an upper drawer, under some files and returned to his everlasting paperwork.
* * *
Takeshi Kurihara looked at Jonkil et Sharma as the old man spoke. “He looks so much older and so very tired. It is a good thing he is retiring and letting someone else carry the burden of being et Sharma.”
“Takeshi, I have a feeling that you’re not giving me the attention that I need you to. Please, pay attention since what we are talking about is vital for your success.”
“I am sorry, sir. I was just thinking that you have earned your retirement, and that is a good thing that Katia’s granddaughter is your replacement.”
Jonkil et Sharma sighed. “Yes, you are right, I have earned my retirement. But Me’Avi Shapirov is an ambitious young lady, determined to prove herself. She is as intelligent and as stubborn as her grandmother was. And she has no loyalty to the preservation of Earth.
“She must not find out about the Shapirov project, because it will interfere with her writing the Final Report and delay her possible future elevations in the government of the Galactic Council. Having her as et Sharma will carry a great danger to all of you.
“She is the reason we are letting you work on your project of upgrading General Chu’s society to something better than a simple dictatorship. The latest tests we have run on the General still do not bode well for your project — really, it is too soon — but with Me’Avi Shapirov as et Sharma time will be a valuable commodity and you will have to work quickly if you are to succeed.”
* * *
Me’Avi em Sharma opened the hand-delivered envelope with some internal excitement, because she was sure of what it contained, and notes of only the greatest importance were ever hand delivered. And, this one was from the Grand Minister, himself.
Reading the enclosed assignment form from the Grand Minister she found that, as had been hinted to her several times recently, she, Me’Avi em Sharma, was, on receipt of the document she held, promoted and ordered to proceed to the Blue Planet to become the Galactic Council’s new et Sharma in residence. She would replace her grandmother’s old friend, Jonkil et Sharma and she would write Earth’s Final Report. It was a substantial boost to her career and put her on a path to surpass even her grandmother’s greatness.
* * *
Finally, Maestro Kalvin Vertraumer finished the paperwork that, after being submitted to the correct offices of the Galactic Council, would allow him to go to the Blue Planet and see the world that had produced the composers that had written such great and lovely music over the millenniums.
Next, he took out some old brochures he had borrowed from the University Library. They detailed the places where the greatest of Earths musical giants had lived.
There, with that world before him to inspire him, breathing the very air the great giants of music had breathed, walking the earth they had walked, he would be able to put the finishing touches on the Requiem.
* * *
Jonkil looked around the observation station that had been his only assignment from the Galactic Council for all these years. Now he would be leaving it and heading for Dreamer’s World and Katia’s last home. That would be difficult, since the pain of Katia’s death had not lessened despite all the years since her terrible accident on Feltis III. To be in her home, around her things, would surely increase the pain he felt.
But there he would spend time on the Shapirov Project, doing what he could to save the beautiful blue planet below and its people, whom he had come to love. That was something he owed to himself and to Katia.
To do that meant shorting time he owed to his family and his own people. But if he was right about these people who had been so long in his care, the end would be worth the price. It had been so long since his people’s quest had started. To be, possibly, near the end was thrilling to contemplate.
“It is strange,” he thought, “that Katia’s granddaughter, Me’Avi et Sharma will be taking my place and writing the Final Report for Earth.”
Me’Avi, he knew, would be very diligent in her research for the report. He would need to be very careful to edit the records of his work here. Certain things had to become very hard to find, and certain instructions had to be given to the others on the post so that she would not be able to complete that Final Report too soon.
Above all, the viewing screens must never be allowed to show the areas coming under control of the Project. At least those areas were under the direction of Hocat, the First Assistant for the post and a supporter of their goals for the people below.
* * *
Katia practiced forming her holo-self again and again, each time coming a little closer to the effect that she wished to create. She wanted to do it perfectly, for her friend Jonkil et Sharma would be visiting soon, and she wanted to put on a performance that would be worth the look of astonishment that would appear on his face when he first saw her.
“Cyr, how is my timing now?”
“You have mastered it, Katia. You fade into sight in less than half a second. And, you have your old voice back so completely that Jonkil will be shocked, and then he will be astonished, and then he will be overjoyed.”
“Yes, I believe you are right, Cyr. And, best of all, he will be present — our old friend will be present — for our new beginning.”
Copyright © 2011 by euhal allen