**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.***
As the railcar approached the eastern station in Star City, there were only four passengers who remained seated. Upon arrival, Clare disembarked, silently saying goodbye to Cristina’s mind as she passed by. Alix waved good-bye; she reciprocated.
Cristina mentally noted the two others that remained aboard the railcar: the AE who had boarded at the relay station and one large man who sat toward the rear of the passenger compartment since the railcar left the station in Andromeda. Immediately, she suspected them both.
A few other passengers boarded the train at the station, preparing to leave the city. There would be a brief pause for passengers at the far station as the railcar was scheduled to go all the way to New Milan, a fifteen hour journey from Star City counting the interim stops at relay stations and the longer stops at Delhi, New Paris, New London, and the agricultural research institutes at Qad and another one near Emerald.
Cristina had been weighing the options, considering alternatives, not really mentioning anything but her initial concerns to Alix. She could tell that he was devising strategies as well. Even so she knew they were confident they would be arrested the moment they left the railcar if not arrested for not leaving the car at the next station. No option was too far fetched to consider.
Her entire reason for coming to Star City came into question. She needed to see her brother. She needed to understand the connection she felt, the meaning of the dreams she had. Everything that troubled her sense of peace was about Paul, concerning the trouble he was in.
Even if they could get off the railcar, she wondered if it was wise to involve Raven. Perhaps the authorities would be following them. Despite his generous consent, she did know whether it was wise to risk exposing him to the same danger that she felt was imminent.
The railcar left the first station and within a few minutes it slowed and arrived at the far station, on the west side.
“This is it,” Cristina said as she leaned over and kissed Alix first on the cheek and then on the lips.
“We’ll be fine. Don’t worry,” he said in response even if he only half-heartedly believed it.
As they stood up, for his part, Alix was prepared to act in an instant. He held onto Cristina’s hand not only for the comfort of knowing that she was beside him, but also for the execution of what he planned but hoped not to need. They headed toward the exit, expecting any second to be accosted. Then, when they exited the railcar they again expected to be surrounded by agents and arrested. Every step they took was with the anticipation of attack. They proceeded cautiously toward the station’s exit. Having long since been separated from their luggage back in Andromeda, they had nothing with them except the clothes on their backs.
Amazingly, there was no resistance, no reaction to them at all. No one seemed to acknowledge them. They went out to the street and stood there at a public transit stop waiting for the coach, which arrived within the few minutes. It was the norm for Starport.
“It’s like nothing ever happened back in Andromeda,” Alix said.
“That’s what’s bothering me,” Cristina confessed. She kept probing, seeking anyone that might be following them or monitoring their movements. If there was anyone, they were well out of the range of her senses or deftly concealing their thoughts. As inexperienced as she was with her abilities, she did not know how wide her range was but it did not comfort her that she could not detect anyone who knew about them. It made no sense. They had been approached in Andromeda and detained for questioning. The authorities pursued them for resisting arrest. They escaped only to be shot at and nearly killed by a couple of explosions. They should not have arrived in Star City without having someone waiting for them. They were fugitives, after all.
Because of the confusion she was still very apprehensive about going to Raven’s estate. What if they – the controlling forces that she knew nothing about but yet suspected – were monitoring her from just beyond her perception? What if they were lying back hoping that she would lead them to her accomplice? She could be setting Raven up for unwanted trouble. She did not want to do that at all. She activated her travelcom and tapped her earlobe and then her wrist to execute the holographic projection in her palm to call Raven but then thought better of it. Her implanted phone would surely be monitored.
“You’re really nervous,” Alix whispered.
“Where are they?”
“It isn’t like I have anymore of a clue than you do right now.”
“I know. It’s just…it’s making me crazy. I expect them to jump out at any moment, and maybe, we shouldn’t even be doing what we are doing. I don’t want anyone else to get into any trouble.”
“That’s just it. I’m not sure why we are in trouble. Yeah, so, we ran away but that was after they beat me…us, for no reason, really. Why did they want to arrest us in the first place? Because you know Paul?”
The stop for ‘The Crosstown’ was coming up. As the coach slowed, Cristina took Alix’s hand and led the way to the door. He helped her step down from the coach onto the curb. As Alix glanced down along the street he could already see the next coach for their connection approaching. “We’re really getting lucky.”
“It was like this last time. The Starport system in Star City is amazing,” Cristina leapt at the chance to talk about anything that was not about her imminent concerns.
“And it’s free.”
“It has always been.”
“Why isn’t something like this free everywhere?” Alix asked.
“I don’t know,” Cristina said. “I suppose that every city has something unique that makes it special, maybe even better than any other place in some way. Besides there is nothing free in government services. Somehow Star City figured out how to do it in a way that everyone can appreciate and not care to be taxed for it.”
“I guess I just never knew all that much about Star City,” Alix said. “No matter where you are coming from it is always a long trip just to get here. I guess the city is okay once you get here.”
Cristina wrapped her arms around his right arm, “I’m still really worried.”
“We have been pretty fortunate so far.”
“That’s what’s got me on edge,” she responded.
“On the edge is better than over the edge,” Alix countered, forcing a smile. “Pete always says that.”
“I really miss the guys. Maybe we should just head back home and explain everything to the authorities in New Milan.”
“I’m beyond ready to go home. I would have gone home two days ago, but I thought finding Paul was important to you.”
“It is, but I’m wondering is it really worth it – all the risk to everyone else?”
“If you don’t do this now, you’ll always regret it.”
She looked down.
“You know I’m right.”
“I know,” she admitted.
Alix looked up at the digital display for the streets, showing where they were on an overhead map display. “How much further is it?”
“Not far,” she said. “We get on the east bound coach at ‘The Hills’. Then it’s the seventh exit.”
“So we’re going there anyway?”
“It doesn’t make any sense to me, Alix. It seems like nothing has happened, nothing at all. No one is following us, no one that I can perceive. Everything is quiet in the city.”
“It’s almost eerie.”
“Yeah,” Cristina said.
When they reached their stop and exited from the coach, they were immediately picked up by another coach and delivered to a stop that was only a few dozen meters from Raven’s estate. They ascended the hill, while Cristina begged him to let her do all the talking.
“No problem there. From your description of Raven, I’m not sure I want to even meet him, let alone piss him off by inadvertently saying something wrong.”
Cristina turned and kissed him. “I don’t think I could have done this without you.”
Alix shrugged in response, and then added, “We’re in this together aren’t we?”
Cristina smiled as they reached the front door of the estate. She tugged on the rope and then they waited. She was just getting ready to tug the rope again when the door opened.
“Dom, how are you?”
“I’m fine, Cristina. To my knowledge The Master is not specifically expecting you. Did you make an appointment directly with him that perhaps he forgot to tell me about?”
“He knew that we were coming, but so should –”
“Very well, please wait here, I shall return promptly,” he said, interrupting her and then closed the door.
“At least he remembers you,” Alix offered.
“I doubt that he forgets anyone. He’s a special type of manufactured being, an organic android.”
“They used them to build all the translation thresholds, back when people still lived on Earth.”
Alix nodded as he realized, “He’s a DOMLIB, then.”
“You know about them.”
“Yeah, I heard some things about them, not always good.”
“Well that’s what makes all of this very weird. I spoke to him on the phone as well. He doesn’t seem to recall.”
Presently, Dom returned to the door. “Cristina, the Master says it cannot possibly be you.”
“He said that if it is you, then you would have certainly called in advance because you know how he is about appointments.”
“But I did call,” she protested, and then paused to glance at her chronometer. “It was about twenty-hours ago!”
“He said if it is really you, then you have not come by railcar. He saw a report on world viewer indicating you were seen in Andromeda at a club in town and there has been insufficient time for you to get here by railcar. So if it is truly you, then you have not come by that means. Perhaps you came by other means.”
“But that’s precisely how we came, by railcar. We came as soon as we could. I called Raven yesterday morning.”
“Perhaps the Master forgot. I do not recall the call either and I suspect I would have answered,” Dom said.
“You did! That’s what’s so very weird,” Cristina said. “I mean maybe Raven forgets a few things, but you remember everything.”
“The things the Master has forgotten in the past he sometimes wants to. But you are correct; it is rare. And yes, I remember everything.”
“Look, go back to him and tell him this. It’s certainly me. You know that already. And say that, I know who he is, who he really is,” Cristina said.
“Are you sure?” Dom asked. “I recall the last person who learned his true identity and made it known to him met with an unfortunate incident.”
“Just tell him you’re certain it’s me and I know who he really is.”
“As you wish,” Dom said, even bowing slightly, and then closed the door once again.
“Do you really know who he is?”
“At this point it’s sort of a bluff,” Cristina said. “I have some suspicions, though. It will anger him, maybe enough for us to get past the front door.”
Promptly Dom returned opening the door and allowing Cristina and Alix inside, at least to stand in the foyer.
“Was it any clue that I might have yielded?” Raven said as he floated out of a room at the far end of the hall.
“I reasoned it out, the timing, the birthdates.”
Raven approached the foyer.
“Raven, this is my friend Alix.”
“Well met, Alix,” Raven said as he offered his hand. “So, which one of you is it who manipulated a fold?”
“What is a fold?” Cristina asked.
“Okay, well, I will assume it was Alix, then,” Raven stared at him, making him extremely uncomfortable.
“I’m not familiar with that term, other than taking two sides of a sheet of something and pressing them together.”
Raven laughed. “I am speaking of time, or rather a perception of the passage of time. Since you are obviously here as Dom has confirmed and he never makes a mistake, and to me you appear to be who you claim, I must deduce that since I have no recollection of any prior conversation with you about your coming, then you must be early, earlier than your call, which now I’m expecting in about four hours.”
“You’re saying this is yesterday?”
“No, this is today,” Raven stated. “It’s my today. However that does not mean it is your today. It could well be even earlier than your yesterday. I doubt too much earlier because as impressive as negotiating a fold is, doing it for any interval longer than a day or a two requires some understanding of astral physics and projecting to a point in space and time where the destination was.”
“That’s what Alix was saying earlier,” Cristina said. “I didn’t understand it then, either.”
“The world around us is always in motion, revolving on its axis, orbiting our sun and gradually following its orbital path around the hub of the galaxy.”
“Yes, and I must say I’m very impressed. Your knowledge of astral physics is unanticipated,” Raven praised.
Alix smiled in response. “I studied physics in high school and did a term report on the orbits of the other planets in this solar system. And I studied the electromagnetic spectrum and how it relates to music before I dropped out of the conservatory.”
“You must have done a good deal of research on your own. Your knowledge is well beyond orbital trajectories and the audible range of the EM.”
“Everything is music to me, Raven,” Alix said.
Raven chuckled. “You know, I won’t debate that issue with you because in a very real sense you are completely correct. Music is certainly one of the foundations. Of course, there are further complications.”
“There always are,” Alix said.
“What you haven’t considered is plotting courses and trajectories for dealing with extended intervals of years because there is a slight movement of the galaxy as it seems to be moving away from other galaxies but it is believed that all the while it is orbiting a theoretical point in space/time where everything began,” Raven explained. “The farther one would travel in time, the greater the complexity of the calculations of the space coordinates.”
“Is that possible?” Cristina asked.
“What is not possible? If you lack imagination then the answer seems to be ‘everything’. But as long as you can dream, there is nothing that’s not possible.”
“That’s very close to a quote from a book my father used to read it to me,” Cristina interrupted.
“I’m impressed. I’ll bet you were very precocious as a child.”
“I imagine everyone with the attributes was,” Alix said.
“I’ll bet you know the author,” Cristina suggested. “I’ll bet you know him really well.”
“We have shared many things,” Raven said rather evasively as he glanced toward her, suddenly wondering what Cristina might sense directly. He knew she possessed the skills of a telepathic empath. For one of the few times in his life he was concerned that someone could read his mind without his knowing it.
“I love that book. I always insisted my father read to me from it.”
“The author, Hunter is the third or fourth wisest man I have ever known,” Raven said, more than anything as a way of diverting her thoughts.
“Why the hedging?”
“Well, I knew Terrence Phillip Harper personally.”
“The chief architect,” Alix said. “The father of the photon processor…the man who synthesized organic memory cells.”
“Again, you impress me, Alix.”
“Sometimes I read when we are riding on the railcars on tour,” Alix explained.
“I think most people believe Harper contributed directly to our achievements but also many if not most of our problems and present dilemmas. So the jury is out as to his overall wisdom. Despite knowing him very well, in his latter years I despised him while still respecting his quick mind and all of his scientific accomplishments.”
“Who were the others?” Cristina pursued. “Who was there any wiser?”
“People you probably never heard of. Lao Wei taught me martial arts when I lived in Taiwan for a few years. I was studying advanced Chinese Mandarin there. He is by far the wisest man I ever met.”
“And the others?”
“Well Hunter, as I have said. But also my dearest friend of all, Brent Woods.”
“I don’t recognize the name.”
“And he would be curiously flattered that you don’t.”
“He was an obscure author in the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries. We met by accident, literally – although I have learned through direct experience there are no accidents? He saved my life that first occasion and then many times after. The situations always occurred in very unexpected ways. I think what I respect the most about him is he truly and honestly does not care at all about money or fame. He does whatever he feels is necessary to help his friends through their personal crises. Including Lee Anders Johnston, a popular Country musician of the late Twentieth Century.”
“Johnston was a poet in his later life,” Cristina said.
“And an theorist,” Alix added. “He contributed greatly to the understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum.”
Raven chuckled. “Lee claimed he sucked at poetry, but still he took stabs at it. Brent said he sucked at it even worse than Lee. Whenever he did what emerged surprised him. Early on, Lee set some of Brent’s verse to music and they became hit songs. One of them won a Grammy.”
“A prestigious award of the time, I assume,” Cristina said.
“It meant you had arrived in the mainstream of popular music culture on Earth,” Raven explained. “In America, anyway.”
“I think I might like Brent,” Cristina said.
“Yes, you would. And I’d bet you could talk about writing lyrics.”
“So, back to our present situation. You don’t know how early we are?” Alix asked.
“We can look at the holographic displays for our phones,” Cristina suggested.
“I have often wondered if the nano-circuits would endure the transition to remain a viable reference?” Raven pondered.
Cristina tapped her earlobe then her wrist.
“It’s the fourteenth, 6:47 AM.”
Raven chuckled. “Well, the conditions of the shift in space and time have no effect on the implants. You are exactly two days and five minutes early.”
“So, what happens in two days? Do we collide with ourselves?” Cristina asked.
“How could you? You’re already here,” Raven said.
“We have created another event stream,” Alix explained. “We carry on as we are because this is how it is. We arrived earlier than expected, before we called. So two days from now there will be no one to arrive when originally expected because we are already here and have been for two days.”
“Precisely right,” Raven said.
“Wait, when I spoke to you on the phone you said a few odd things.”
“My dear Cristina, I cannot speak for what I will say to you in the near future, but I know what I might be feeling under those circumstances. I do not like deceiving friends. I will carefully parse words to avoid it. Because you are already here, when you call to ask permission to come, to me we will have discussed all of this already. I doubt I will say anything other than something vaguely true without revealing the full truth to you.”
“But we just arrived here, so how would you know about all of this before this ever happened? I mean, well not you but the future you?” Cristina pursued.
“That’s just it,” Alix attempted to explain his understanding. “We entered an event stream where this set of circumstances is possible. So of course, it connects directly back to what we have already experienced in our shared past.”
“You’re saying we did exactly what we needed to do.”
“Being us we had no alternative,” Alix said with firm conviction. “We caused this event stream.”
“This is giving me a headache,” she complained. “Especially this early in the morning and after riding a railcar all night. Trying to sleep en route is like finding a comfortable place in a small linen closet.”
Raven sighed. “I have always hated traveling, regardless of the mode of transportations. But my suggestion for the headiness of your situation is to just accept it as I have. I’m prematurely your host for the next couple of days. Dom, please make the necessary preparations for their accommodations and meals. I’m taking them to my study. I have a pitcher of tea in there, so we should be fine. Just bring them some glasses.”
“As you wish, Master.”
When Cristina entered the study she went immediately to the couch where she sat before and settled there in front of the simulated fire that was raging brightly in the fireplace. Alix cautiously sat down beside her, and then as Raven hovered over the same rocking chair where he always sat when entertaining guests, Dom returned with glasses for them and poured everyone ice teas from a pitcher.
Alix started to replay the events of the escape from Andromeda in his mind as Cristina explained, “They arrested us.”
He interrupted. “We escaped because of a trick I learned from the orb. We took an armored vehicle. We expected that they were waiting for us to arrive at the station to depart Andromeda. We evaded them until they locked in on our position and they started shooting at us and setting off explosions around us.” Alix shuddered as he mentally relived the event.
“You wanted to escape from that situation?” Raven asked.
Raven chuckled, “Of course I would.”
“I didn’t know if it would work, but it was something I had done before when I played with the orb. I knew I could be somewhere else in a thought and I hoped that by holding Cristina I would take her with me.”
“You shifted, beneath the veils,” Raven clarified.
“Yes,” Alix said. “I mean I guess you’d call it that. I did it before but on a lesser scale.”
“Is that all?”
“Where we were was fine inside the armored vehicle for a while,” Cristina said. “Then they started attacking with more powerful weapons.”
“An armor piercing round…it exploded just as we shifted again,” Alix said.
“So, you shifted twice?” Raven asked for clarification.
“Yes, the explosion was so close I felt the heat from it as I grabbed hold of Cristina’s hand and suddenly we were sitting aboard the railcar.”
Raven listened intently. Then after some moments for consideration, he looked directly into the young man’s eyes, “Tell me, Alix, what was different about the two shifts?”
“I’m not sure,” Alix said.
“They were not the same.”
“They did not feel the same, no. I figured I was a lot more scared the second time.”
“What were your thoughts, the first time?”
“We needed to get away from the people who captured us.”
“What about the second time?” Raven prodded.
“I really wanted to get out of there, make everything different, and change what was happening. We were in trouble. The authorities were after us. We were fugitives…I never wanted to be that in my life, having to live in fear for the rest of my life, always running away.”
Raven nodded. “There was a very profound difference in your mindset. I assume you do not know how to fold time even though it is a very small step from being able to shift position beneath the veils.”
“Obviously we traveled back in time, whether Alix knew he was doing that,” Cristina stated.
“The concept of traveling is probably not the best term for it. Traveling suggests there was some interval for the process. In this case it was instantaneous. I believe relocating or repositioning in time would be more accurate.”
“This is the past, though,” Alix confirmed to his mind’s peace.
“It depends on perspective and aspect, does it not? For you it is; for me it is the present. It is as I indicated before. As impossible as that might sound, it is the only explanation for how you are here and your chronometer says the date is two days from now. You claim you spoke to me yesterday but that has not yet happened.”
“I’m not comfortable with being in the past.”
“My dear Cristina, what my friend Hunter said more eloquently than I could have is that, if anyone can do it, then it is possible. I have done it many times,” Raven revealed. “Knowledge is powerful, having all knowledge is merely omniscience, but there is the illusion of omnipotence.”
“Do you have that kind of power?”
“I sought to possess all knowledge for a time,” Raven revealed. “I suppose that in a way I was following my heritage, learning the fallacy of my father’s quest. He desired power and realized at some point that information was really the means to gain advantage and obtain of the level of power he sought. It is a very short step from seeking information alone to delivering someone close to omniscience but certainly not to the omnipotence that my father really sought. Knowing everything would of its curious nature make someone inherently impotent.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“To know every possible outcome would restrict you from doing anything that might lead to an undesired outcome. Since in any event stream there will always ben an undesired potential outcome…”
“I see,” Alix said. “That’s astute.”
“It’s why we’re human, not gods,” Cristina offered. “Both you and your father sought to be godlike, but ultimately failed.”
Raven chuckled. “Where were you when I needed your insight and advice?”
“In your future,” she said.
“Obviously,” he responded, but then, after a pause, he continued. “I understood it was an ideal state of being my father sought. He was dealing with the absolute aspects of life and nature. But that did not deter me from a similar quest. At an early age I began to perform tricks that I had acquired in the process of learning to manipulate the universe around me. They amazed my father.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong in my assumption,” Cristina prefaced. “But if we have gone back a couple of days, then couldn’t we go back further in time?”
“You are asking me to speculate on Alix’s abilities and the general possibilities of the universe. Everything is possible! Hunter said it and I don’t dispute it. Whether Alix or perhaps you could accomplish it is another matter.”
Cristina reached over and grasped her boyfriend’s hand. “We could stop what happened right before we left Andromeda.”
“Perhaps, but that sets up all sorts of quandaries that makes even the most learned men and most visionary thinkers have swirling confusion in their thoughts,” Raven suggested.
“Well, actually those are most often self-nullifying,” Raven said. “Changing something in the past modifies an event stream to which the future is thereafter attached. But it is suddenly a very different future than might have been expected before. Depending on how far back you go to change an event, the changes may be more dramatically expressed, but always it is always along a new path.”
“And the closer the change is to the present the less deviation is possible but also the less the impact on everything around it.” Cristina offered.
“What do you propose we do?” Raven asked as he focused on her eyes, knowing she intended something.
“Just some thoughts –” she began to say.
Alix interrupted, “Personally, I might just sit here and wait for this to become the new variant as we will have by then come here a couple of days early and eventually everything will be the same as it would have been anyway.”
“Except that you got here before the authorities could detain you,” Raven countered. “And from what Cristina said it has something to do with Paul.”
“That will not change what we are. We will still eventually become fugitives, “Alix said. “If we make it back to Andromeda, or maybe even call ourselves and explain what is going on…”
“Would you listen?” Raven asked. “Either of you?”
“I know you wouldn’t. The premise is too far outside of your prior experiences.”
“How can you be certain?” Cristina asked.
“Even if you listened it would create yet another event stream, using Alix’s particularly apt terminology. So it would not appear to affect you and Alix of the here and now, but instead create yet another instance deviation from the expected events. You would follow that stream because you created the novelty. But there would also forever be an Alix and Cristina trapped in this present and uncertain scenario,” Raven paused for a few moments before continuing. “One likely outcome of calling yourselves would be that the couple you are in Andromeda of the here and now would think it a prank call of some raving lunatics. It would be just as it was in my day,” he stood up from the chair and floated over to the imitation fire and waved his hand before it. “If it were but real I would have one very, very hot hand.” He left it there for emphasis, allowing the flames to tickle it. I’d be blistering my skin by now, in a lot of pain and perhaps even entering a second degree of burn. Leaving my hand in the flame, as it appears to be, my flesh would rapidly deteriorate until it became cooked, and then charred and blackened. At that point my pain might have turned into brief agony, but I assure you immediately afterwards it would become numbness. That is what it feels like to burn alive.”
Both Alix and Cristina stared at their host.
“Have you endured that experience?” Cristina asked. “Or was that intended to diverting our attentions.”
“I never say anything that is unnecessary, not anymore,” Raven proclaimed. “Look, here is what I know. I can save you a lot of aggravation in the process, if you listen. Of course you could remain here and continue to create thousands of scenarios until one might sort of work out as you intended. But then you’d end up replaying that fiasco many times before the overall accumulation of frustration becomes a critical enough mass to forego any future attempts to change events in the past to suit your tastes and desires.”
“Okay,” Alix said. “I think I follow that.”
“This is what I know,” Raven shared. “People from the future do not routinely call people in the past, not so much as it is impossible but that rarely would work out favorably. According to what you have told me about your version of my future, your brother Paul is apparently on his way to arrive on my doorstep tomorrow morning. He will thwart the authorities attempts to subdue him and will come here for my help.”
“Which you will not do.”
“Why would I get involved in his lunacy?” Raven asked.
“Maybe we can change some of that,” Alix proposed.
“How?” Cristina asked.
“I don’t know yet. I mean we have to think this through. Maybe it is not ‘us’ that we have to change but Paul or his situation.”
“No, the problem is you shouldn’t be involved,” Raven suggested.
“We are or rather were…will be – I guess,” Alix replied.
“I understand that, but I will not participate. It’s not my battle,” Raven said adamantly. “When he arrives here, begging for help, he will already be a pursued fugitive. It is far too risky for any of us to be involved with him. Look where just knowing him has already gotten the two of you.”
“He’s my brother. I have to do something.”
“We have to, “ Alix expressed his support.
“I know that, Cristina,” Raven said. “After he comes here, which you have told me he will do, he will continue until the authorities find him and incarcerate him. Or the affiliated local cell of The Resurrection may find him and seclude him for his own good as well as theirs, which will be like a prison for him in its way.”
“Has anything like this ever happened before to you?” Alix asked.
“What?” Raven asked.
“You sort of indicated that you played with time to correct past mistakes.”
“And it never worked out. It’s a waste of time, more time than you could ever possibly know.”
“Why did you do it?”
“I wanted to save a friend,” Raven looked away from Alix and Cristina. He wandered toward a window and suddenly parted the heavy drapes that normally shut out the light from the outside.
Quickly he turned then met the solemn stares of incomprehension from his guests.
“It would be a very effective test for those who bear the attributes except that you persist in wearing the protective UV lenses…”
“Now, I understand,” Cristina said. “I thought it was an odd quirk until now. Like maybe you somehow felt compelled to bring sunlight from outside into the room for however briefly.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because you’re eccentric,” Cristina allowed.
“And the difference between insanity and eccentricity is the ability to afford someone to take care of you at home so that others don’t need to see how crazy the world has made you.”
“You have Dom to look after you,” Cristina said.
“Yes, and I have prevented the authorities from confiscating him for the general good,” Raven was quick to point out.
“Your perpetual friend who spares you from the mundane chores of existence.”
Raven smiled with subdued wryness. “It has never been except for always. If you figure that riddle out, you may eventually know the truth.”
Cristina closed her eyes and focused for a few moments, trying to sort through everything she had just learned and applying it to the knowledge of the orb. Then faintly, she heard a voice, a voice she had heard previously that awakened her from a dream. It was a mental voice as it lacked timber or volume. Yet, she heard its plea, then, “Help us!” Still, hearing did not mean she understood it.
“You said you were coming here to find Paul. We know he will be here tomorrow. I will send him away. He’ll be a wanted man before that. The authorities will be relentless in pursuing him. According to what you told me they accuse him of killing a man. Even if I believe it was a purposeful execution, I know what Paul or for that matter any one of you can potentially do, I do not doubt the accusation.”
“I just need to see him and talk for a few minutes. Maybe it won’t matter much, but I think I know something that he doesn’t and it might persuade him to reconsider,” Cristina requested.
“The Resurrection intends some craziness about bringing a sand-morph back to life,” Raven said as he shook his head.
“If it is possible,” Alix said.
“What may prove impossible is the remedy afterwards,” Raven said. “There is the unknown variable, whether anything resurrected will have memories. If it does not, then it can be trained to learn our languages, perhaps. However, if it does retain memories, The Resurrection will need an empathic person to interpret.”
“That’s why they need me, then,” Cristina said.
Raven nodded slowly as he looked at her. “That is why they are so desperately interested in you. It is why Paul needed to approach you with his personal pleas. You see, empathy is something that all of us have as potential, but you possess the ability at the forefront of your being. You can feel with precision what others feel, sharing the experience, the pain and the thoughts associated with existence. That is a very rare gift, indeed.”
Alix looked to Cristina seeking some confirmation. She nodded in response. “It is also why I can talk without talking.”
Raven smiled, “Telepathy may be associated, but it is not the same thing. You do not need it in order to know how someone feels.”
“Can you read my mind,” Alix asked her.
“Sometimes, especially when your emotions are strongest.”
He looked away.
“I don’t make a habit of intruding.”
“But you have?”
“Never intentionally,” Cristina insisted. “I respect privacy, especially yours.”
“Well I don’t want you in my head. I have enough issues in there already.”
“Fine, I’ll try harder,” Cristina snapped back.
“Look, I just want for this nightmare to be over. I want to get back home, record new music and go back on tour and never again have to worry about sand-morphs or what Paul’s up to.”
“That potential may no longer be possible,” Raven interjected. “According to what you are telling me, Paul will become something beyond the mere man. That demands to be dealt with. If this is not handled properly there may be a grand witch-hunt for everyone with the attributes. Likely as not, it would spread to include even the Couriers. In so doing, the Colonial Authority would guarantee not only their demise but also the end of human culture and achievement.”
To Be Continued In:
The Attributes Book Two