**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.**
Each of them sat at tables arranged in a semicircle creating a makeshift stage. Everyone enjoyed the breakfast Emma prepared while waiting for Staash’s promised performance.
Amazed and speechless, the humans sat in awe of the Sakum’mal as he recited an epic poem in his native language that recounted the history of his kind, though the meaning of the poem was lost on the listeners – except for Cristina and Alix.
Alix held Cristina’s hand. Both of them were moved to tears as Alix received some of the poem’s meaning from his connection with her. No one could tear his or her eyes from Staash as his voice lilted and flowed, as if her were singing in five distinct harmonious voices. He spoke of the legends and lore he was taught when he was very young. Then, when he finished, Cristina prompted for him to recite one of his poems.
The intense beauty of his native language captivated the listeners’ souls even if none of them except for Cristina understood anything he was saying. To her it was a revelation, spawning an epiphany about the construction of complicated musical progressions that blended fundamental tones and harmonics beginning and ending at the same time but within were allowed to evolve counter-rhythmically along many tangents. Even as she listened to the multiple layers of beautiful expression, ideas came for how to employ what she was learning, how to invent and create something new, something never before attempted – something she was certain Duae Lunae could perform.
Abruptly, to the mutual disappointment of all, Staash’s presentation ended. He turned to look toward Cristina who was still sitting at the nearest table beside him with her eyes closed, not wanting to permit any distraction that might prevent her capturing every part of the intricate tapestry of the alien’s multiple voices. Alix released her hand and stood. Then stepping forward he clapped his hands, prompting everyone else to do the same.
Staash frowned with his incomprehension of the need for clapping hands.
“It’s called applause,” Alix said as he approached. “You have seen it in the response of the crowd in the videos you watched.”
“Ah,” Staash said. “Wondered why? At times clapping matched the rhythm of the music but at other times it seemed to progress on its own unaccompanied until music began anew. Staash believed it was part of music, the crowd made own part of music.”
“What an interesting perspective!” Chase exclaimed. “Yes, the live performance of music is always different than a studio recording. There is always a level of excitement that is missing from something recorded live.”
“The audience shows their connection with the music and at the end, the random clapping and cheering expresses their gratitude for the performance. That is why I am clapping, now.” Alix repeated his clapping, as did everyone else. “As a performer you are expected to bow, like this,” he demonstrated. Staash immediately complied even as everyone else in the coffee shop stood, continuing to applaud.
“That was wonderful,” Emma said. “When you speak it is like a choir of voices singing in harmonic perfection.”
“I’m grateful for privilege sharing and receive appreciation,” Staash replied.
“It was quite good,” Neville confirmed. “I do not begin to fathom the meaning but the way it sounded was intensely beautiful.”
“Thank you so much,” Staash said, still rigidly adhering to what he understood was proper.
Cristina opened her eyes, her broad smile likewise revealing how much she appreciated what she had heard. She stood to embrace Staash as best she could as his bulk provided a huge challenge for her to wrap her arm around. “I loved it so much my words fail to begin expressing my emotions,” she said low enough so that only he could hear. “I understood it.”
“Staash is glad. Relieved you liked it.”
Immediately Neville, Mary, Chase and Julie surrounded them, patting Staash on the back which he had learned from observation of world viewer was a physically expressed compliment that was even possibly beyond a handshake but not as good as a hand shake along with a pat on the back. Then he received handshakes from Emma and Arnie who also took time to express their verbal emotional commentary on the experience his recitation evoked.
When everyone else stepped away and returned the tables in the coffee shop to the usual places and, having finished the breakfasts Emma prepared, they bused their tables. Aix took care of Cristina’s plates and cups, leaving her behind. She stared into Staash’s eyes so intensely that it made him wonder what was going on inside her mind. Still, she blocked his access.
“I want to write music like your poetry,” Cristina finally said.
“Staash teach you,” he offered.
“It not hard. Foundation of language you have. Rest is fun.”
“I understand its utilization of fundamental and harmonic tones. The breakdown for me seems to come from understanding how the message is conveyed. Your language has words but they are of lesser importance than the conveyance of the underlying tone of the message.”
“From limited time here, I observe utter dependence on words in your languages. Misunderstanding between people it causes,” Staash said.
“I think you’re right,” Cristina said. “Music transcends language, even for us. Music is a language humans have in common despite culture or their different words. Music may differ culturally but still it’s always music.”
“For Sakum’malien no distinction. Language and music is same. There is more, also – mathematics, you call it. All is integrated language universal. You understand?”
Cristina returned her chair to the table where she sat for Staash’s recitation. “I have a lot of questions about how your language works, but unfortunately, I don’t know where to begin to ask.”
“Other way, better way. Same with Sakum’malien – always better direct link. Uttered language for mass communication and entertainment, nothing more.”
Cristina smiled. “I need a lot of help, I’m afraid.”
Staash laughed after his own gurgling fashion. “Here Staash outsider – alone, odd entity. Product of race existing elsewhere but this world colony dead.”
“Surely your world knows by now others know the colony here is gone. It was eighty years ago.”
Staash nodded his understanding of the time interval.
“How would they react?”
“Despair. Beyond. Not sure what they do.”
“Would they retaliate?”
“Depends how received news. Might see pathetic misunderstanding. Sakum’malien nature not violent. They grieve loss. Every life cherished. Some want punish guilty, warding off adventurous expansions to our territories.”
“What if it was possible for those who were preserved to be resurrected?”
“Staash puzzled over resurrection you discussed. All were lost. Some bodies well-preserved,” Staash said. “Sakum’malien are dead. Nothing changes dead. Living again, would be infant if spirit comes present. Infant knows nothing, not Sakum’malien ways.”
“Dead is dead,” Staash said. “Body contains spirit only. Unless human know ways returning spirit once departed.”
“Paul, my brother believes it’s possible.”
Staash shook his head. “Humans and their technologies no secret humans know restoring life to dead. Better to go back. Warn colony enclaves disaster coming,” Staash suggested. “Maybe, message persuasive enough, coming from voice not mine, someone learn ways like you wanting understanding Sakum’malien life and language.”
Cristina smiled. “That was what I’d hoped you did for your colony.”
“Listening they would be still live now,” Staash said. “Nothing change, but Staash here. Doubt they live undetected all eighty years.”
“So, Arnie needs to open the front door,” Alix interrupted. “Chase and Julie are going with Neville and Mary to crash at Arnie and Emma’s house. Maybe we take this upstairs.”
“Yeah you’re right,” Cristina said, taking Alix’s hand they followed Staash back upstairs. “Staash and I have been having a very interesting conversation. He thinks the objectives of The Resurrection will ultimately fail. Even if they are able to bring a Sakum’mal back from the dead, he or she will have no memories.”
Alix nodded, as she closed the door of their apartment behind them. “I’ve been thinking about the plans they had, what I know of them, anyway. I’m beginning to understand why Paul was trying to recruit Chase and you. His ultimate goal was to find all The Twenty-Four.”
“In almost every way that I can tell, each of us we are the same, just we have slight differences in our abilities. It goes well beyond the mere distinction of gender that makes us unique in that way. You have empathetic and telepathic abilities. I can slip through space and time and even cause things to ignite from a distance.”
“Chase has telekinesis. Julie can become invisible.”
Cristina nodded. “I’m not sure what other talents they have.”
“We discover our differences through experience and practice. The orbs seem to enhance that. What would it be like if the abilities of every one of us, each of The Twenty-Four could work in concert and harmony in order to achieve a common goal? I think that was what Paul wanted to do.”
Cristina tilted her head to one side.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it? We cannot accomplish what we must ultimately do alone or even in pairs. But how formidable could we be as a group? All of our talents brought to bear simultaneously, who is there to resist us? What is there that we couldn’t do? We could change the world to suit us.”
“Bring life to the dead?” Cristina chided. “I think not.”
“It was a recruiting tool, nothing more. I doubt anyone believed it was possible but they could enlist the aid of those who had remorse and sympathy for the tragic loss of Sakum’malien life, once they showed them the evidence.”
“Still, if it was the goal to bring The Twenty-Four together, what is our combined potential?” she asked.
“The question is how do we find all the others?”
“Neville has an idea.” Cristina said. “I don’t fully trust him, though.”
“Because he works for the Colonial Authority?”
“That has a lot to do with it,” she said.
“He isn’t like the assholes we have dealt with. He listens and he thinks beyond the regulations.”
“So there’s purpose in our meeting him now.”
“There’s purpose in everything we’ve done,” Alix said. “Was there ever a doubt?”
Cristina laughed. “Now you finally believe in your destiny.”
“Our destiny, you mean. I’ve been skeptical at times, but I’ve been willing to allow for the possibility there was some pattern or plan we were fulfilling. Now, I understand. It’s very hard to discount what’s obvious.”
Staash had been sitting, quietly listening. But then in the momentary lull between Alix and Cristina he interjected, “What happens to Staash?”
“We’re going to New Milan,” Cristina said. “We know more people there. We have better contacts. Chase might be better connected in Andromeda and it’s a lot closer but I want to be in New Milan, with our band, our friends. Chase has contacts there as well. So, it’s not like he cannot help us even from Andromeda.”
“We need to use those contacts to get the local media on our side. We need to lead them out to the cavern that we visited, where we found you, Staash,” Alix said.
“Except the Colonial Authority controls them. They won’t buck the system. They could lose their contacts and sources of information. Worse they could end up in prison.”
“We need to expose the harsh truth to one and all – get the masses behind us, seeking reform and openness.”
“Seeking the ouster of the powers that exist now and hold dominion over us won’t work.”
“To get the media to work with us we have to be sneaky – as sneaky as the Colonial Authority.”
“Don’t you think the media would benefit being free of control and authority,” Cristina countered. “Access to knowledge and information should be free to everyone.”
“You are sounding like Paul.”
“Maybe Paul has some of it just about right,” Cristina said. “There cannot be any change until the Colonial Authority is discredited and forced to accept the change – or overthrown.”
“What do you suggest in its place?”
“A free government, totally responsive to the people.”
“There has never been such a thing, never anything responsive to all people,” Alix said. “I’m not sure it would work, anyway. Human history had been about compromises. Forcing an entrenched government to turn over power has only come from revolution and usually violent wars.”
“We know it won’t be easy,” Cristina said.
“Hardly anything worth doing is easy,” Alix said. “My dad used to tell me that. It always pissed me off because he used it whenever I was about to give up on something because it was hard. But he was right.”
“We can’t let anyone parade Staash around,” Cristina said. “The real media circus will begin if we do that. It won’t be easy for Staash.”
“Staash tired learning about humans. Want go home, back life to normal,” he said.
Cristina nodded, and then she stood again and walked over to Staash and embraced him, almost able to touch her fingertips around his massiveness. “You have diminished,” she said as she stepped back.
“Sakum’malien live together, all things good. All share in life – alone only bad. Humans be alone can survive. Me, alone – die here, soon.”
Cristina lowered her head, “That’s what we must work on,” she said. “Nothing else supersedes that in importance.”
“Staash grateful, pretty lady.”