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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:16 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Lessons in History

Chapter 30


XXX



So… is that why they made you president, Kryys,” Maria asked, “…because you saved the world from the disaster that Lieutenant Jasper created?”

“Oh, no! I was only twelve or barely thirteen at the time. But… the things I did… putting the threads all back in their original places… had consequences.”

“Consequences?” Liz queried.

Kryys nodded. For one thing, everything Lieutenant Jasper had done or owned reverted to what it had been before he ever traveled in time. He no longer was a rich man. Rhode Island wasn’t his personal estate, it was a small state. He never wrote any classic books or songs or invented anything. He didn’t own Microsoft, General Electric, and all the other major corporations… Everything he had done changed back to its original state the way it had been before he changed it.”

“Well, I would say that’s a good thing,” Michael said.

“Most of it… yeah,” Kryys agreed.

“Well, what wouldn’t be?” Tess asked. “I mean, the guy, like, screwed up the history of the world… its ecology, everything. You put it back right. That’s gotta be good, right?”

“Yeah, no question that it was what had to be done,” Kryys agreed. “But I… well, there’s something you need to know.”

Everyone in the group leaned forward slightly without actually realizing they were doing it.

“Before Lieutenant Jasper bought me, he was tricked into buying others.”

“Others?” Kyle asked.

“Yeah. Jasper made the mistake of telling Hosk the real reason he wanted the boy. This gave Hosk the edge he needed to cheat Jasper. Hosk told Jasper that it wasn’t a boy, it was a girl who could change into molecular form, and he sold him Mareeya.”

“Mareeya?” Alex and Isabel both gasped.

“Jasper brought Mareeya here and ordered her to fix the atmosphere, and she didn’t have a clue what he wanted. Mareeya had one gift. She was able to make the wind come up in a whirlwind, so she did that to see if it would do what Jasper wanted.”

“What did it do?” Rayylar asked.

“Nothing. Except make more wind. Jasper finally realized he had been duped. He went back to Hosk and threatened his life. Hosk pretended to be scared and regretful and said that he wanted to make amends, so he told Jasper he would sell him the “real” boy he wanted at a discount. He gave him Taz. Jasper didn’t even realize that Hosk’s ‘discount’ was ten percent higher than his normal price. He was too anxious to get back and get things fixed so he could enjoy the good life again.”

“Omigod!” Tess said, “And he gave him Taz? I don’t remember if Taz had any special gifts… Did he?”

“No,” Jeliya said.

“Well, he had one that no one knew about,” Kryys said. “He could make enough heat with his hand to melt metal. We only found this out after Hosk captured us. Taz escaped from his cell six times before Hosk figured out how he was doing it.”

“What happened to Taz?” Kyle wanted to know… “And Mareeya?”

“When Jasper realized he had been duped by Hosk for the second time, he was enraged. He immediately went back to Hosk and threatened to cut him apart if he didn’t get the boy he paid for. Hosk said he was so sorry… he pretended it was all a mix-up and a mistake and he had meant to give him the right one but had trouble telling humanoids apart. Jasper wasn’t one to be fooled with, but for someone not to be fooled with, he was easily fooled. Hosk gave him Drel and told him that he was going to throw in Jiba for free to ‘make up for his terrible mistake.’ Jasper told Hosk he didn’t want Jiba, but Hosk told him she could turn paper into gold. Jasper asked to see her do it. Hosk brought out a piece of paper and had Jiba change it.”

“She did it?” Tess asked. “We didn’t know she had any special gifts.”

Kryys nodded. “Well, Jiba is… or was… a bit of a special spirit. She turned all the paper Jasper gave her into gold, but not real gold, it was something more like fool’s gold, which is all she had ever made for Hosk, and that’s all Hosk thought she could make. Actually, she could change it to real gold, but she wouldn’t… not for Hosk and not for Jasper. She made it fool’s gold. When Jasper found out that Hosk had tricked him again and Drel couldn’t change into molecular form… and that Jiba was making fool’s gold, which he assumed was all she could make, he was so enraged that… that…”

“What?” Michael coaxed.

“He killed them.”

Everyone in the room gasped. Tess fell forward and put her face in her hands on her lap and sobbed. Rayylar tried to hug her, but he was crying, too.

“What… what about the others?” Michael asked… “Mareeya and Taz?”

“Them, too,” Kryys said quietly.

Jeliya buried her face in Kyle’s chest and Kyle held her as he wiped the tears from his own eyes. Alex and Isabel held each other and sobbed.

“But there’s more,” Kryys said.

“I don’t think anything else matters,” Kyle said, wiping a tear from his eye.

“This may… I don’t know,” Kryys said. “When Jasper went back to Hosk again, he took two thugs with him and some pretty nasty weapons. Jasper was not going to be deceived again, and Hosk realized that his larcenous life was actually in peril, so he finally turned me over to Jasper. Jasper demanded that he see me turn into molecules before he would leave this time. Satisfied that he had the right one, he brought me back, and the rest you know… except for one thing. When I put all the threads of time back as they had been, everything reverted to its former state…”

Everyone in the room looked up at Kryys, suddenly aware of the implications of what he was saying.

“And… and the children?” Rayylar asked.

“I don’t know,” Kryys said. “I just don’t know. I know that where Jasper buried them, there are no graves now. But where they went, I just don’t know. Maybe back to Hosk.”




<center>End of Chapter 30

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:20 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Wha?

Chapter 31


XXXI



On Xarius, the search for missing children did not stop when Max and Liz, Michael and Maria, Kyle and Jeliya, Alex and Isabel, and Tess and Rayylar left on the new granilith bound for Alyendis -formerly known as Earth- in the future year 7,278. Dan Klein and Diane Casey were working together with Shaqor, MayaSabriena and her sisters, and Jim and Kathleen Valenti several hours each day to try to locate additional children. Zorel, Ceelya, Jayyd, Alyyx, and several other rescued children were helping out, too, as often as they could. Zorel and Ceelya were on hand today.

“Shag, look at these symbols,” Dan said, as they poured over Hosk’s books. “I thought I was getting the hang of this Ghorish… hieroglyphic… chicken-scratched gobbledygook, but now I think I’m confused.”

“What’s the confusion?” Shag asked.

“Well, I thought Max and Michael and the others went into the future because their own children were all there… the ones still missing.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Shag said.

“Well… They can’t all be there if I’m reading this right.”

Shag looked at the book. “Wha…? Taz, Mareeya, Jiba, and Drel… all listed as new acquisitions…?”

“So I’m not imagining it or misreading it?” Dan asked.

Shag shook his head. “That’s what this book says… But the book we just went through said they were all sold to Jasp-Ard of Alyendis… two months before he lists them here as new acquisitions.”

“What do you think that means?” Dan asked. “Do you think he took them back?”

Zorel, sitting across the table, chuckled. “Not a chance, Dan! Hosk’s taking a slave back after a sale has been made is about as likely as Hosk sticking a flower behind his ear and turning into one of those ‘flower children’ from Earth’s ‘60’s that they have on your cable TV sometimes!”

Diane grinned. So did Dan.

“I don’t want to even picture that, Zorel,” Diane said.

“Me either,” said Dan, laughing. “Still, here they are, listed as new acquisitions a whole two months after they were sold to Jasp-Ard. How would Hosk have got them back? Is that possible somehow?”

Zorel thought about it and shook his head. “I don’t know how…”

“Unless,” Ceelya interjected, “this Jasp-Ard, whoever he is, gave them back to Hosk and didn’t ask for a refund.”

“Why would he do that?” Zorel asked. “I mean… yeah, Hosk would be happy to have them to sell again, but he would never give anyone back a single grronch of their money once he had it.”

“What’s that?” asked Dan “…a grronch I mean.”

“It’s like a Ghorish penny. It’s made out of something like… dried shebble dung.”

Shag was snickering. “Not exactly, Zorel, but I see the resemblance… and after a few thousand Ghors have handled it, the smell is a given, too.”

Diane and Dan both grinned. Jim and Kathleen chuckled.

“Does Hosk even have an ear… you know… to stick a flower behind?” Dan asked. Diane looked at him. “Never mind,” Dan said, shaking his head.

“Let me see that entry again,” Shag said. He looked at the entry carefully. Then he began to turn the pages of the book.

“Okay, so Hosk wrote that he acquired Taz, Mareeya, Jiba, and Drel two months after he sold them. Let’s assume this is not a mistake. See if you spot any of their names in here saying that they’ve been sold again.”

Everybody pulled in close to the book and watched as the pages turned.

“There!” Diane yelled. Several others spotted it, too, but Diane was the quickest to point it out and yell. “Mareeya was sold six months later to Frebel-Ish on the planet Merchenskazky.”

Zorel and Ceelya both broke out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Dan asked, looking perplexed.

“Frebel-Ish!” Zorel said.

“What?”

Kathleen explained, “Frebel-Ish is a very old, traditional Antarean fairy tale character. It’s like saying Mareeya was bought by ‘Mother Goose.’”

“Oh! Well… must be a coincidence,” Dan shrugged. “Different planet, different language… you know?”

Zorel and Ceelya both nodded.

“Weird coincidence, though!” Zorel said. “Really weird!’

As Shag turned the page, Dan gasped.

“There!” Dan exclaimed. “Taz Valenti! But I really do need to get a review on Ghor pronunciation!”

“What’s the problem?” Shag asked.

Dan turned the book around. Shag looked at it and shrugged. Dan turned it back toward Diane. Diane put her hand over her mouth, and her eyes opened wide. Shag realized there was something he was missing. He looked at the entry again but couldn’t see anything that looked odd at all.

“What?” Shag asked.

Diane read the entry, “Taz Valenti, sold to JekUnjeel…”

Shag shrugged. “So? Who is this JekUnjeel? Somebody you’ve heard of?”

“I’m sure it’s not,” Diane said. It’s got to be a coincidence.”

“Oh, oh!” Dan said suddenly.

“I don’t like the way you say that, Dan,” Diane said. “What is it?”

Dan pointed. Near the bottom of the page was another entry. “Drel, sold to ‘Doctor AyboLeet.’”

Diane looked at it. “Yeah… Okay… Why does that sound familiar?”

“You studied Russian at the Academy didn’t you, Diane?”

“Yeah, we all did… Omigod! Doktor Ayboleet!”

Shag was totally in the dark. “What? What have I missed?”

Ceelya, strangely enough, was the one who gave him the answer.

“I remember reading some Earth fairy tales and nursery rhymes, and JekUnjeel sounds a lot like ‘Jack and Jill.’ I don’t know the other one.”

Diane nodded emphatically. “I was sure that was a coincidence, but it’s getting too weird. In Russian fairy tales, Doktor Ayboleet is like our Doctor Doolittle. He talks to all the animals and heals all their ails. ‘Ay, Boleet’ means, ‘Ow, It hurts.’ ”

“Okay… that’s strange,” Shag said, the hairs on the back of his neck starting to tickle. “Let’s see if we can find Jiba.”

They didn’t have to look far. They found her on the very next page.

“Sold to Yaril-Yazan…” Shag said, turning slightly pale. The others looked at him questioningly.

“YarilyaXan,” Shag said, is a very important children’s storybook character on Xarius. YarilyaXan is a young girl who is very beautiful. But the vain wife of the king gives a large treasure to a wicked old woman who lives in a cave to kill YarilyaXan, because YarilyaXan is more beautiful and more popular in the village than she is. The wicked old crone uses her powers to put a spell on YarilyaXan and make YarilyaXan sleep forever. No one but the old crone can take the curse off, but she dies and never does, and the beautiful young girl lies sleeping hidden away deep inside the old crone’s cave. Eventually, a young hero comes along and finds a way to save her. He turns out to be the king’s son. The vain queen turns out to be an impostor who had paid the old woman years before to use the same spell on the real queen and to change her to look like the real queen so that she could take her place. The hero finds this out and proves it. Then he finds his real mother, the real queen, wakes her, and marries YarilyaXan, who eventually becomes the new queen, one whom everyone loves.”

“Okay…” Dan said. Both he and Diane were somewhere between being seriously amused and starting to get seriously concerned.

“YarilyaXan sounds an awful lot like ‘Sleeping Beauty’ …kind of,” Diane said. “There must be some universal themes anywhere you go! What is this planet? Land of the fairy tale characters?”

“It’s starting to sound like it,” Dan said. Mareeya was sold to someone on the planet Merchenskazky. When Taz was sold, Hosk wrote what looks like ‘Marsh-and-Scots-Key’ …I’d bet it’s the same planet, though. Look… here under Drel, he wrote ‘Merchen-Skazky,’ and under Jiba’s entry, he returned to writing it as ‘Merchenskazky.’ Can’t seem to make up his mind! Shag? What are the chances you could check it out with the spheres and maybe take us there?”

“Well…” Shag said slowly, thinking it over, “Zan and Michael would want to go, too, but… I think you’re right, Dan. We can’t wait. While they’re in the future, we should be saving these children here. I don’t think we should leave them in… wherever it is they are!”

Shag called for the Sphere of Visions.

“Let us see Mareeya Whitman on… Merchenskazky.”

In the mist that gathered, they saw a young girl sitting on a rock by the sea. She was looking longingly at the sky. It appeared to be Mareeya …except for one detail. In the room, not a word was spoken… probably, because no one knew what to say.




<center>End of Chapter 31

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:22 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Merschenskazky

Chapter 32


XXXII



As the individuals in the conference room of the royal palace on Xarius looked at the image of Mareeya in the mist created by the sphere, they were all speechless. It was probably a good five minutes before a word was spoken at all in the room…

“Chanad dro Agorna Sta!” Zorel exclaimed quietly, using an Antarian exclamation that has no equivalent in most other languages. “Oh, man! Wow! …if that’s for real!”

Ceelya sat with her mouth open and a look on her face that defied description as she stared at her older sister in the mist. Diane reached her hand out toward the image, for a moment forgetting that it wasn’t really there. She couldn’t resist the urge to try to touch it to see if it was for real. Even Shag and Maya were stunned. Despite all that they had experienced in 12,000 years of living, nothing had prepared them for this.

“Portal!” Shag said after a few more moments. “Take us to where Mareeya Whitman, daughter of Alex and Isabel, is right now…” Then he added, “But do not put us in the water.”

Shag stepped through the portal. Zorel quickly stepped through behind him, followed by Dan, Diane, Jim, Kathleen, and Ceelya. They found themselves on a beach beside the rocks. Due most likely to the roar of the surf, Mareeya did not hear them coming and had not yet seen them. Another wave broke on the rocks, spraying a mist of salty sea water over Mareeya and the newly arrived individuals fifteen or twenty feet behind her on the beach. Mareeya looked longingly up at the sky and smiled. Suddenly, a movement by Zorel caught her eye. In a flash, Mareeya was in the water. Within seconds, her head popped back to the surface… a hundred yards away. She looked at the new arrivals momentarily… then dove under the water again.

“Great, now what do we do?” Jim started to say, but before he could finish, Mareeya suddenly popped back out of the water, sliding gently and gracefully onto the rocks she had been on before. She smiled at her younger sister, Ceelya, then at the others but said nothing.

“Mareeya?” Ceelya half asked and half stated with awe in her voice. Reaching out her own hand hesitantly, she touched Mareeya on the arm then ran her hand down Mareeya’s side past her waist and gently, hesitantly, over the tail.

“Oh, Mareeya!” Ceelya shook her head and gasped slightly… “It is real!”

Diane reached out and touched the tail gently, convincing herself that it was real, too.

Ceelya hugged Mareeya, and Mareeya smiled but said nothing.

“Do you know me,” Ceelya asked. Mareeya nodded.

“Do you remember Kathleen and Jim and… and Shag… and Zorel?”

Mareeya nodded and smiled at them.

“Can you talk?” Ceelya asked her sister.

Mareeya looked up at the sky momentarily then strained visibly, making an effort to remember how to speak. She opened her mouth and then, after a moment, seemed to find her voice…

“Yes,” she answered softly.

Ceelya almost fell into the water with delight. She had been so afraid that Mareeya could not speak at all. She stopped and looked at Shaqor as a thought occurred to her…

“How are we going to take her back? Maybe she can’t survive out of the water here. Can she be changed back?”

Without giving Shag a chance to answer any of her questions, she turned back to Mareeya…

“How did this happen, Mareeya?”

Mareeya strained then spoke softly, “After Alyendis… I found myself back on Gadyslar. Hosk sold me to an old man who calls himself Frebel-Ish.”

“Like the story,” Ceelya offered. Mareeya nodded.

“Frebel-Ish, or whoever he really is, brought us here… to this planet.”

“Us? You mean Taz? And Jiba and Drel, too?” Ceelya asked. Mareeya nodded again.

“After we got here, he brought me to this beach. Then he waved his hand over me and changed me into this. Then he just walked away.”

“Oh, Mareeya! What did you do?”

“I waited for a wave to carry me into the water and swam away from the beach. Then… I just did what seemed to come naturally.”

“Do you know what he did with Taz or Jiba and Drel?”

Mareeya shook her head sadly.

“What are we going to do, Shag?” Ceelya asked.

Probably for the first time in at least a thousand years, Shag didn’t have a ready answer.

“I… I don’t know, Ceelya. We can’t take her back like this… We need to find this ‘Frebel-Ish.’ He should be able to change her back. Will you be okay here, Mareeya?”

Mareeya smiled and nodded. “I am fine. This is where I belong… for now…”

Then she added sadly, “But I look up at the sky and at the stars every day, and I wonder which one of them is Antar and if I will ever get to return home… I mean really home! I miss you all… and Mom and Dad…”

Mareeya’s eyes seemed to fill with tears as she spoke. “Find him if you can, Shaqor… please.”

Shag nodded and swallowed hard. “I will, Mareeya,” he promised. “I will.” Then he turned and called for the Sphere of Visions.

“Ask!” The voice said.

“Show us Taz Valenti, son of Kyle and Jeliya of Antar.”

A mist appeared on the beach, and in the mist they saw Taz. He appeared to be carrying a bucket of some kind filled with water down a hill. Shag turned to Mareeya again. “We’ll find them all, Mareeya… and Frebel-Ish, too! I swear it!”

Mareeya smiled. Ceelya thought the smile looked somehow different now. Before, it had been a sad smile. Now, there was the twinkle of real happiness in it.

“Portal!” Shag called. “Take us to Taz Valenti, son of Kyle and Jeliya of Antar.”

The portal appeared and Shag stepped through, followed by the others. They met Taz coming down the hill, carrying a bucket of water.

“Taz!” Jim said, stopping Taz where he was. “What in the World and Antar are you doing?”

“Can’t ye see he’s carrying a pail of water? That’s what he’s doing!” a voice said from behind the group. Jim spun around. A young girl was standing there.

“Don’t tell me…” Jim said. “You would be Jill, I suppose.”

“That’s right, and who would ye be?”

“I’m… nobody that matters to you. I suppose you think he’s Jack?” Jim said, pointing at Taz.

“My goodness, no! You are a most odd man! Jack fell down…”

“…and broke his crown,” Jim said. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the story.”

“Then why did ye ask? I had to get him to take Jack’s place while Jack’s head is mending from the fall.”

Jim stood there for a few seconds. He wasn’t quite sure whether he should strangle the smart-alek little girl or have his head examined. He felt totally ridiculous even talking to her. This couldn’t be happening.

“Taz, come with us,” Jim said, turning to Taz and ignoring the girl.

“I can’t.”

“What do you mean, you can’t? Just put the bucket down…”

“Tis a pail,” the girl corrected sassily. Jim ignored the comment.

“Come with us, Taz. We’re going home… to Antar.”

“I have to carry it down the hill,” Taz said.

“And then what?” Jim asked.

“I go back up and do it again.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s what I do,” Taz answered simply.

Jim didn’t have much patience for this. He grabbed Taz under his arm, set the bucket on the ground, and told Shag to call the portal.

“We can’t take him back like this,” Shag said. Whatever this Frebel-Ish did to him, he needs to undo it.”

“Then let’s find this Frebel-Ish,” Jim said.

“Let’s find Jiba and Drel first,” Shag said.

Jim knew he was right. Wherever Jiba and Drel were, Frebel-Ish had probably done something to them, too. The reasonable thing to do would be to find them first then find this Frebel-Ish and make him change them all back as they belonged at once. If Frebel-Ish knew they were onto him, he might make himself harder to find or disappear completely.

“Okay,” Jim agreed, “But I’m taking him with me.”

Shag looked at Taz and nodded, then he called the portal.

“Take us to Jiba, daughter of Tess and Rayylar of Antar.”

The portal appeared, and Shag stepped through. Jim followed him with Taz in tow. The others followed behind them.

Stepping out of the portal, they found themselves inside a large, dark cave.

“What the!” Dan exclaimed. Everyone looked around. At the back of the cave there was something… it was difficult to see what in the dark. Dan lit the cave with a lighter he carried. Though he never smoked, he always carried the lighter, which was a memento from one of his special ops missions. After the mission had concluded successfully, everyone had been given one, engraved with their names and the code name of the mission. Dan held the small flame up to see what was in the large coffin-like box at the back of the cave. It appeared to be made of glass. As he raised the light over the lid, Kathleen gasped. Then the others looked and gasped, too. The glass coffin contained a body… it was Jiba’s.




<center>End of Chapter 32

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:26 pm 
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YarilyaXan and Frebel-Ish

Chapter 33


XXXIII



Kathleen, Jim, Dan, Diane, Shag, Ceelya, Zorel, and Taz all gazed at the figure in the glass coffin. It was Jiba. She was only fifteen. Lying there in the glass coffin, she appeared perfect, beautiful, flawless in every way… in every exquisite detail.

“Is she… you know…” Zorel tried to ask.

Shag lifted the glass lid and placed the palm of his hand near her nose for several moments then removed his hand slowly and nodded.

“Yes, Zorel.”

Kathleen took Jim’s hand and held it.

“You’re sure, Shag?” Diane asked.

Shag nodded.

“Yes, she’s alive.”

Everyone relaxed. Jim let his breath out. He had been holding it but hadn’t realized it.

“She appears to be in some kind of deep sleep,” Shag said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her. If I had to guess, of course, I would say that Frebel-Ish had something to do with it.”

“I’d say that Frebel-Ish had everything to do with it,” Jim interjected.

Shag nodded. “You’re probably right, Jim.”

“What do we do now,” Ceelya asked. Can we take her back like this?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Shag said. “But I also don’t know how we can take her with us to find Frebel-Ish. We’ll have to leave her here till we find that troll and bring him back here to wake her up.”

Diane nodded somberly. Kathleen agreed. Finally, the others reluctantly added their agreement.

“Is this what Jiba is ‘supposed’ to do, Taz,” Jim asked, somewhat more gruffly than he intended to.

“Yes,” Taz said… “I think so…”

Taz winced slightly and seemed uncomfortable with his answer, but the answer remained in his mind all the same, probably due to the ‘changes’ brought about by Frebel-Ish.

“Why is Jiba supposed to sleep? Why are you supposed to carry water down the hill all day long day after day?”

Taz couldn’t answer. He shook his head. “I… I don’t know… we just are. It is what we were made for.”

Jim didn’t know how to answer that. He shook his head. “No, Taz, it’s not. You are Antarian. You were made to be free.”

Taz didn’t answer.

As they spoke, in the flicker of the light, Jim caught a glimpse of another presence in the cave with them… The others saw it, too.

Jim spun around quickly to face the newcomer. It turned out to be a very old and very small man. He looked a lot like a troll… or perhaps one of the seven dwarfs.

“Great!” Jim exclaimed. “Now Rumpelstiltskin’s here!”

The little man burst out laughing. “Rumpelstiltskin? I’m not Rumpelstiltskin! I’m Frebel-Ish!”

Shag put both his hands in front of himself with the palms out in a gesture fully intended to indicate threat to the little man. The little man laughed.

“You can put your hands down. I am not going to hurt you.”

“Like you didn’t hurt her?” Jim asked, indicating Jiba.

“Her?” She’s not hurt.”

“You placed her in a deep sleep for… who knows how long,” Jim said. “That’s ‘hurt!’”

Frebel-Ish seemed perplexed then laughed again. He walked across the floor eyeing the group in the cave. “What do you care about her?”

“She’s Antarian," Jim said… "She’s one of ours. And even if she weren’t…”

“AN-Tarian! What’s this AN-Tarian again?” Frebel-Ish asked seeming to lose his patience.

“It’s what we are,” Zorel said… and what she is.” He indicated Jiba.

The little man seemed confused. “You are biomass replications… all of you? Did Hosk release you on your own with no owner? …No! No! I don’t believe it! Biomass replications do not respond the way you do. They… they are compliant! They are happy and satisfied in my world.”

“Biomass… what?” Jim said, looking at Shag.

Shag thought for a moment… “Frebel-Ish… or whatever your real name is… I am guessing that Hosk sold you these children and told you that they were biomass replications.”

“They are biomass replications,” the little man said. I saw them created. He made them at my request, and I watched as they were made.”

“Hosk must have run them back through his machine,” Kathleen said.

Jim nodded.

“That would make sense for a lot of reasons,” Shag agreed. “Hosk would want them to not have memories of their past, and this… whatever Mr. Frebel-Ish is, wanted something newly-created from scratch with no past…”

“Biomass replications,” the little man repeated. “Very compliant, very happy to conform.”

“Conform to what?” Dan asked. “What is this crazy world?”

The little man laughed again. “Not crazy! Happy! This is MY world! You see this planet? It doesn’t exist.”

“He’s certified!” Jim whispered to Kathleen.

“I have good ears, too,” the little man said. “Go ahead! Try to find this world when you are not here! You will not!”

“We did,” Dan said smiling.

“Mmm… yes…” the little man’s smile disappeared. “How did you find this planet? It lies outside the plane of reality. A space ship would fly right through it but would never see it. It reflects no light in the real universe…”

“And yet we did find it,” Shag said.

The little man seemed agitated. He did not enjoy riddles that he did not initiate or to which he did not know the answers.

“This planet is the planet of the Hjity.”

“What are the Hjity?” Kathleen asked.

“Not are… is!” Frebel-Ish said. I am the Hjity!”

“You? Zorel questioned. “You can’t be a whole race all by yourself.”

“Oh, but I am!” said the little man. I am the Hjity. This is my planet. Just me. I travel throughout the universe cataloguing stories… what you call fairytales,” he said to Jim… “and you call Scostya-Voya,” he said to Shaqor… “and you call Djictyyae Frebel-Ish… Tales of Frebel-Ish,” he said to Zorel… “Yes, I know! I can pull them out of your minds! Then I obtain biomass replications and change them into the characters from your stories. I live among them. I enjoy their antics… their beauty… Everywhere I go my world is… what you would call a fairytale. I created it to be so!”

“Amazing,” Jim said, beginning to feel somewhat impressed in spite of himself.

“Why is your planet called ‘Merschenskazky if you are Hjity,” Jim asked.

The little man began to laugh. “Oh… oh… ho… ho… ho… ho…” He shook his head. “That is the name I gave Hosk. My planet is whatever I call it! But you should recognize that name! It's from your home planet,” he said looking Jim directly in the eyes.

“I’m afraid I don’t,” Jim said.

“Wait a minute,” Diane said… “Marchen… that’s German for fairytales. And Skazky is Russian for fairytales.”

“Yes! Yes!” The little man laughed. Sometimes I call my planet ‘Scostyadjictyyae’ or ‘Mothergooseskazky’ or some other such nonsense. It doesn’t matter. My planet will be here whatever I choose to call it. And I can call myself Frebel-Ish if I wish to, because he is the teller of all fairytales.”

“Well, there is one little problem with your planet,” Ceelya said, stepping forward to face the little man. The little man became silent. He was unaccustomed to anyone stepping forward into his space so boldly.

“What would that be?”

“You bought Antarians from Hosk… slaves! Not biomass replications!”

The little man shook his head. “No! No! That is impossible! I saw them created!”

“No,” Shag said, stepping forward, too. “You saw a trick. Hosk used the machine to steal the memories of these young people and sell them to you as replications.”

Frebel-Ish shook his head, but more slowly this time. He was beginning to understand what had happened.

"Can you prove that they are AN-Tarian, Xarian? If you can…"

Shag nodded. "Wake her up."

The little man gazed at Jiba lying in her glass coffin… "I enjoy watching YarilyaXan as she sleeps. She is so beautiful. I can look at her beautiful face… I can touch her…"

"Don't," Jim said threateningly as the little troll began to reach a hand into the glass box. The little man stopped for a moment, then, with a sigh, removed his hand. He waved his hand over the coffin, and Jiba began to stir. She yawned, then her eyes fluttered momentarily and opened. She looked around then sat up…

“Where am I?”

“You are in your cave, my dear YarilyaXan,” the little man said. “You are waiting for the prince to come and discover the secret to awaken you.”

Kathleen stepped forward and took Jiba’s hand in hers… “Jiba, do you remember me? Do you remember Ceelya or Zorel?”

Jiba seemed confused. She put her face into her hands momentarily. Then she lifted her head… “Aunt Kathleen? Jim? Ceelya?” She looked at each of them then smiled. “What am I doing here… dressed in this long gown?”

“It’s a long story,” Jim said with a chuckle. “We’ll help you remember, though.” He turned to the man calling himself Frebel-Ish… “Satisfied?” The little man looked crestfallen.

Jim pulled Taz to him. “You need to undo whatever you did to this one, too.”

The little troll looked at Taz… “My replacement Jack! …Ohhhh… Alright…” He waved a hand, and Taz felt his head clear.

“Do you know who you are now,” Jim asked him.

Taz nodded.

“Who are you?”

“Taz Valenti.”

“What are your parents’ names?”

“Kyle… and Jeliya. I have a brother, Rayyn.”

“Okay,” Jim said, letting him go. “I was getting tired of holding onto you to keep you from going back and climbing up that hill for another pail of water.”

Kathleen snickered.

“What?” Jim questioned.

“You’ve been fighting that… and calling it a bucket. Now you said pail.”

Jim reddened slightly… “Fairytales are never gonna be the same again,” he said.

“There are two more,” Shag said to Frebel-Ish.

“Which ones?”

“A young mermaid girl…”

“Ohhhh… Not my little mermaid!”

“…and a boy, Drel, who is with Doctor Aybolit.”

The little man nodded.

“Portal!” Shag called. “Take us to Mareeya Whitman, daughter of Alex and Isabel of Antar.”

They stepped through the portal… and, one by one, fell directly into the sea. Shag was the first to pop back up. Mareeya was sitting on her rock and laughing with her hand over her mouth. She reached her hand out to try to help them onto the rock with her.

“Shornyatscha sphere!” Shag exclaimed.

“What’s that, Shag?” Jim asked, pushing his wet hair back and climbing onto the rocks. Jim turned and helped Kathleen and the others onto the rock with him.

Shag shook his head… “The sphere of the portal… sometimes you have to be very specific with it. It has a sort of twisted sense of humor. Somewhere in there, it’s laughing at us swimming out here.”

“Would it hurt us, Shag?” Dan asked.

“Naw… it would never do anything that would hurt me. Its favorite joke is to dunk me in the water. I can practically hear it chuckling to itself.”

“It likes you, Shag! Twelve thousand years of service! I guess it feels comfortable with that little joke. Ceelya can dry us all off… if she will.” Ceelya nodded and smiled.

Jim pulled the little man out of the water.

“Well, here she is,” Jim said. “Turn her back.”

The little man hesitated. “I want to hear her sing one more time,” he said… “She’s the best singer of all the mermaids I’ve ever had.”

Jim was about to insist, but the sound of a hauntingly beautiful melody stopped him. Mareeya was singing. It did not sound like a human voice at all. It was lovely, beautiful, almost angelic. The air all around them seemed to suddenly ring with the sound; and everything, even the surf, seemed to become quiet and listen.

When she was finished, Ceelya hugged her sister…

“That was so beautiful,” she said over and over and over again.

“Yes, it was,” Zorel said with genuine awe and absolute honesty in his voice. “Could you put that on a music ring?”

Kathleen hugged Mareeya. “Mareeya, if I had a voice like that…”

Mareeya smiled widely… “I’ll remember it… but I want to go home… as me.”

Kathleen nodded. Jim motioned to the little man. He waved a hand, and Mareeya’s legs returned. The little man apparently had the forethought to give her clothing, but it was a simple dress, too short, and tattered. Somehow, it seemed appropriate for a former mermaid.

Mareeya ran onto the beach, jumped up and down, wriggled her toes in the warm sand, and spun around and around, looking like a pixie as she spun in her tattered little dress. The others watched for a few minutes, as Mareeya celebrated the return of her legs and feet with a ballet in the sand. Then Shag called the portal.

“Take us to Drel, son of Tess and Rayylar of Antar… And sphere… Don’t put us out in the water if he’s anywhere near water!”

Jim and Dan both chuckled… then everyone stepped through the portal.




<center>End of Chapter 33

tbc…
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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:28 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Doktor Ayboleet

Chapter 34


XXXIV



Well, at least it’s dry land,” Shag said, as he stepped through the portal.

He may have spoken somewhat hastily; no sooner had they stepped out of the portal than a misty spray blew over the group.

“Are there geysers around here?” Jim asked.

Shag looked around. They appeared to be on a very small island in the middle of the sea. There was water all around them.

“I think this island’s sprung a leak,” Diane said, as another spray of water shot up into the air.

Shag pursed his lips tightly realizing the reality of their situation.

“Sphere! I don’t call this ‘dry land!’” he exclaimed, addressing his comment to nowhere in particular. Indeed, the group found itself on the back of a large whale that lay sunning on the surface of the sea. It only took a few moments for the others to realize this fact as well.

Diane sat down. “Oh…! My…! God! What do we do if he decides to dive?”

Mareeya smiled and patted the behemoth on the head. “I don’t think she’s going to do that. This old girl’s a friend of mine.”

“Oh, yeah…” Kathleen said. “You were a mermaid!”

“Well, I think it’s pretty cool,” Zorel exclaimed looking around him… “as long as she stays on the surface.”

“So where is Drel… and where is Doktor Ayboleet?” Jim asked.

-Jim had asked the million-dollar questions-

Shag nodded. “Yes, I would like to know that, too, SPHERE,” he said, emphasizing that last word. At that moment, the whale opened its mouth. It was gigantic. As they watched, a white-haired, elderly gentleman carrying an umbrella climbed out of the whale’s mouth and onto its back. He reached back and helped a much younger individual to climb up, too. The second individual appeared to be no more than ten to twelve years old.

“Drel! Are you alright?” Kathleen exclaimed at the sight of the boy.

Drel looked at Kathleen and smiled. “I’m fine. Who are you?”

“Da! That would be the question I would ask, too,” said the older man… “Kto vi… fcye?”

“What the blazes were you doing in a whale’s mouth,” Jim asked.

“Zoobnaya bol,” said Doktor Ayboleet. My assistant and I were taking care of our patient.”

“What? Soup bowl? What did he say?”

“I think he’s saying the whale had a toothache, Jim,” Diane said. "Zoob is Russian for tooth."

Jim bristled. “You’ve got to be kidding! What kind of crazy world…”

He was interrupted by the little man who called himself Frebel-Ish…

“My world!” The little man said with a very big smile.

“Yes, of course… I forgot! …Your world,” Jim said nodding.

Shag and Kathleen both laughed. Then Dan and the others began to laugh, too.

“My life is never going to be the same!” Jim exclaimed. Then, unable to help himself, he began to laugh, too.

With both himself and the boy safely on top of the whale’s back, Doktor Ayboleet turned his attention to the newcomers…

“Privyet! Ca’dyela?”

“Private cadillac…? huh?” Jim scratched his head.

Diane snickered. "No, Jim. He said, ‘Greetings, How’s it going?’”

Jim winced. “Oh! Cadillac’s… uh, just fine… I guess…”

“What am I saying; I’m losing my freakin’ mind!”

Diane laughed. “You’ll get used to it, Jim!”

"Losing my mind?"

"No… Russian! And this fairytale planet that Mister Frebel-Ish has created."

"I don't know, Diane! I'm sort of a reality based guy."

"Oh yeah! The guy who drives around with a pawgor hanging out the window of his car?"

Jim looked at Diane and started to smile again in spite of himself. "Okay, okay… so I've got my little eccentricities, too."

Jim turned to Drel… “Drel, do you remember who you are?”

“I’m Doktor Ayboleet’s assistant,” Drel answered. “We travel around making all the animals well…”

“But do you remember… No, I guess you don’t,” Jim said. “Frebel!”

The little man waved his hand over Drel, and Drel looked around him at his surroundings and at those present.

“Oh, wow!”

He smiled at his sister, Jiba, then looked at Zorel…

“Zorel! You’re here, too? Cool! You won’t believe what I’ve got to tell you about all the things we’ve done!”

“Yeah! Pretty cool!” Zorel agreed. “I want to hear all about it!”

“Did you guys come to take me home?”

Kathleen smiled and nodded. “That we did, Drel!

Drel grinned.

“Well, now I shall need a new assistant,” Doktor Ayboleet said to Frebel-Ish.

The little man nodded. “I will have to find someone new to provide biomass replications. And as for Hosk…” The little man didn’t finish this sentence.

“Can we send you somewhere through the portal?” Shag asked the little man.

Frebel-Ish sat down and put his arms around his knees.

“No, thank you. I will enjoy sitting here and thinking while Missy takes me home.” He rubbed his hand gently over the whale’s back and smiled.

Shag nodded. “Well, it has been… interesting! Thank you for your cooperation and… for showing us some of your wonderful and fantastic planet.”

Frebel-Ish smiled very broadly. The compliment seemed to strike a chord in him that he was unaccustomed to feeling, living alone as he did with only his biomass replications.

“Come back and visit! You must come back! You have not seen even the smallest part of what I have created here! I guarantee that you will enjoy it!”

“I have no doubt of that at all,” Shag said smiling.

Diane, Kathleen, and all the others nodded in agreement. Zorel was particularly enthusiastic.

Jim turned to Doktor Ayboleet… “How are you getting back? Do you intend to ride this whale, too?”

“Oh, no! I am traveling by air, as usual,” Doktor Ayboleet said.

Just then, a very large eagle flew over. Doktor Ayboleet called to it, and it settled on the back of the whale. Doktor Ayboleet climbed on…

“Da Svidanya, amigos!”

Jim grinned. “Amigos, now, is it?”

“I’m off to the Caribbean,” Doktor Ayboleet said. Someone has a problem with ze cucarachas in hees beard.”

Dan shook his head… “Don’t ask. I'm not.”




<center>End of Chapter 34

tbc…
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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:31 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



The Rise to Power of President Kryys Guerin

Chapter 35


XXXV



On the planet Alyendis, once known as Earth, it is the year 7,278, and Max, Liz, Michael, Maria, Alex, Isabel, Kyle, Jeliya, Tess, and Rayylar are there, in the future, searching for their missing children. Kryys Guerin, now 53 years old, is president -not of the USA… the USA, as such, doesn’t exist any more- but of the World, Alyendis. They have just learned that Lieutenant Jasper killed Mareeya, Taz, Jiba, and Drel forty years before, shortly after bringing them to Alyendis. Still in shock from this revelation, they learned that when Kryys replaced the threads of time around the planet, the deaths of their children were probably reversed; but Kryys has no idea what became of them after that. He knows that their graves are no longer there, and he suspects that they may have returned to Hosk’s hands.

After recovering somewhat from the shock of these revelations, the group had many questions for Kryys. If it seemed odd to Michael and Maria that Kryys was older than they were in this time, it didn’t seem to matter. Michael thought about it and realized that age was irrelevant. Kryys was -always would be- his cherished son. Nothing could change that, least of all age or years. Maria had already come to the same conclusion, not that either of them had considered even for a moment any other possibility. They simply realized that it was so.

“So… how did you become president, Kryys,” Maria asked, “…if it wasn’t because you saved the World from the disaster that Lieutenant Jasper created?”

Kryys raised his eyebrows slightly and opened his hands in an I’m-not-sure-I-really-know-myself gesture… “I was just twelve or thirteen when I put the threads of time back like they belonged, so I couldn’t be president. And putting the threads all back in their original places had consequences. Everything Lieutenant Jasper had done or owned reverted. He wasn’t rich anymore. Rhode Island wasn’t his personal estate. Everything he had done changed back to the way it had been before he changed it… and, of course, he didn’t kill Mareeya, Taz, Jiba, and Drel.”

Tess leaned over and kissed Kryys on the cheek. She whispered, “Thank you,” then gently wiped the tears she had left on his cheek off with her fingertips.

Kryys smiled back and nodded knowingly.

“Lieutenant Jasper, when he saw what had happened, ordered me to put the threads back the way they had been again.”

Maria gasped. “You didn’t… right?”

Kryys shook his head. “I escaped from Jasper and ran. Without money or connections, he had no resources to search for me. I decided not to reveal to anyone that I had been responsible for Alyendis being saved. It wouldn’t have mattered. Nobody remembered it being messed up except Jasper and me. Jasper left the planet while I did what I had to do. He didn’t want to be there if I destroyed the Earth with what I was doing. Since he wasn’t there, his memory somehow wasn’t affected by the changes that occurred when I fixed it, but all his riches and former actions on Alyendis were wiped out.”

“Where did you go,” Michael asked.

“I just ran at first. I got a little money doing odd jobs for people… raking leaves, shoveling snow, mowing grass… you know, whatever I could do and not look suspicious. I earned enough to eat. I slept where I could.

Maria gasped again. “Oh, Kryys!”

Kryys shrugged. “I survived. I did have a little bit of an advantage, though. There are some muggers who could vouch for that.” He grinned.

“I want to hear about it, Kryys,” Michael said. “What happened?”

“Well… I had been raking leaves and mowing grass all day, and I had seen these four thugs watching me. They knew that I didn’t have a home, and they followed me back to where I was staying. They surrounded me and started shoving me back and forth between them, demanding I give them my money and laughing. Then one of them pulled out a knife and plunged it into my heart.”

Maria’s eyes went wide, and she would have gasped again, but her breath caught in her throat.

“What happened,” Rayylar asked, leaning forward in his seat, his eyes almost as wide as Maria’s.

“I changed into molecules. Then I sort of took him apart molecule by molecule and released his molecules into the air. The others watched for a few moments then ran for their lives. I never saw them again.”

“They’re probably still running!” Kyle said. Alex grinned and nodded.

“Omigod, Kryys, that’s so scary!” Isabel said. “Weren’t you scared?”

“I guess not, really,” Kryys said. “It was more of an annoyance. I knew I could defend myself, but I was annoyed at being treated that way and didn’t like it.”

“Who would?” said Tess.

“Anyway, after that, I realized that I was going to need more than just the ability to survive, so I turned myself in at the police station and told them that I had been kidnapped from another planet and taken through time and didn’t know how to get home.”

“Did they believe you?” Jeliya asked.

Kryys nodded. “I guess so. Alyendis had been trading with other planets for over a thousand years already by then, so it wasn’t beyond the realm of believability. I told them about Lieutenant Jasper, where he was, and that he was the kidnapper. And they arrested him.”

“Did you tell them what he did to the Earth,” Maria asked, “…or what you did to save it?”

Kryys shook his head. “No. I kept that to myself, and Jasper never mentioned it, either, for obvious reasons. But it turned out he was wanted on a number of warrants already for other crimes, so the authorities were glad to get him. They just added kidnapping to his charges.”

“Good!” Maria said. “I hope he got put away forever!”

“Pretty much,” Kryys said nodding. “They had a lot on that guy.”

“What happened after that,” Alex asked.

“Well… I went into a government home for orphans for the next five years.”

Maria put her hands over her face, and tears welled up in her eyes. A huge lump caught in her throat.

“It wasn’t so bad, really. I studied, went to high school, got a scholarship to Harvard…”

“Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Just a minute!” Michael stopped him. “You got a scholarship to Harvard?”

Kryys nodded. Maria beamed. Michael seemed initially bemused… then he grinned. “Well, I guess you do take after your old man.”

Maria nudged Michael in the ribs with an elbow, smiling. “Get real, Michael! Roswell High may still remember you, but I’m sure it’s not for academic skill.”

“I was a pretty good artist,” Michael corrected.

Maria kissed him. “That you were… and are… And you were smart enough to marry me, so I’ll give you that.” She grinned.

“So you went to Harvard, huh?” Michael said to Kryys. “Did you… you know… do okay?”

Kryys shrugged. “I guess so… I was Valedictorian.”

Maria, already sitting on the edge of her seat, fell off with a thump onto the floor. Michael helped her up.

“What happened?”

“Sorry,” she said, turning slightly red.

“He was Valedictorian,” Michael repeated in case Maria had missed it.

“Do you even know what a Valedictorian is?” Maria asked.

“It’s the person who gives a speech at graduation… so?”

“And how does that person get chosen?”

“Everybody votes, I guess… like most popular…”

Maria nodded, “You made my point.”

Liz, always the studious one, the one who once said she wanted to be head of the molecular physics department at Harvard when she grew up, sat with her mouth open, unable to think of anything to say but, “Way to go, Kryys!”

“After graduation, I started my own law firm, got married, sold my law firm after a few years, then ran for Governor and after that for President…”

Maria stopped him this time. “I knew when I saw your son that he had to be… you know… he had Michael’s eyes.”

Kryys smiled and nodded. “I always said he had my Dad’s eyes.

“Where’s your wife?” Isabel asked.

Kryys smiled slightly, as though appreciating a memory. He looked down at the floor then up… “She died fifteen years ago.” Kryys stopped for a few moments to swallow a lump that had come into his throat. “The sad thing is, only two years after she died, we found a cure for the Vorian flu.”

“I’m so sorry,” Isabel said, “I didn’t know.”

Kryys shook his head. “It’s alright.”

“Vorian flu?” Liz questioned. “What is that? I never heard of it.”

“Way after your time,” Kryys said. “…in your future. It’s an insidious, virulent form of influenza that began on the planet Vorus about twenty-five years ago. It killed hundreds of thousands of Vorians and spread to several hundred other planets before we found the cure fifteen years ago. Now it’s no more serious than a mild cold. But the toll it took before the cure was found was terrible.”

Kryys wiped the corner of his eye with the back of his index finger.

“To tell you the truth, except for my son and his family, I would give everything up to get back the life I lost, the chance to grow up at home with my real parents, my brother and my sister. Those are the things that matter in life. The rest is just… I don’t know…”

For a couple of awkward minutes, no one spoke. No one quite knew what to say.

“Well,” Kryys said after some time had passed, “that’s pretty much the story of my life. There’s not much more to tell.”

“I’ll bet there’s a lot there that you could tell,” Alex said. “You’ve been through a lot, and you don’t even think of it as unusual.” Alex smiled at Kryys, seeming to understand what lay behind the dispassionate face across from him.

Kryys motioned toward the inside door… “I asked my staff to prepare a special dinner. I hope you’ll join me.”

Maria and Michael both nodded. They looked at the others; they nodded, too.

“I can’t think of anything we’d rather do,” Michael said with a smile.

Kryys led the group to the White House dining room. For the next two hours, they talked about Antar and about Kryys’ rise to the presidency. It wasn’t nearly long enough for Maria… or for Michael. But it filled both of their hearts with a joy that they had not imagined. It would have to do. They still had to find the other children. Kryys, perhaps more than anyone, understood that only too well.




<center>End of Chapter 35

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:35 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



The Homecoming

Chapter 36


XXXVI



As the new granilith glided smoothly back across time and seven galaxies toward Antar, leaving streaks of starlight along its path, the group talked about Kryys and the other children, unaware that Shaqor, Dan, Diane, Jim, Kathleen, Zorel, and Ceelya had found the others already and rescued them from the fairytale planet of the Hjity.

But it was Kryys who commanded their thoughts at this moment.

“You know…” Michael said pensively, “We went to the year 7,278, and we know now that that was a mistake, because Kryys actually got there 40 years earlier, in 7,238. But we could still go to 7,238 and rescue him and bring him home. He would be… what? Thirteen years old?”

No one answered immediately. Finally, Maria broke the silence…

“But do we have that right now, Michael? I mean… he has a son who is grown and married. Kryys was married himself, and his wife died. He’s the President of… of all of Earth. Can we rightfully change these things? I really want to bring him back, too. God, you don’t know how badly! But I don’t… I don’t know if it’s right. Can we just undo his whole life? …Pretend that it never happened?”

There was a long silence. No one had an answer for Maria’s question. At end, it was Liz who spoke…

“I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but there are different ways one can look at it. What if we had gone to 7,238 in the first place? We never would have known what was in Kryys’ future, and we would have brought him home. Would that have been wrong?”

“No, of course not,” Michael said.

Maria shook her head, too, but clearly, she was still bothered by the question.

“Another thought,” Liz said, “…if we did go to 7,238 and rescue Kryys now, the future that we just saw would never happen. Can it be wrong to change something if it never happened yet?”

Liz was grasping at straws, but more than that, she was exploring the puzzle that is “time” and its moral implications. She wasn’t sure what she actually believed. But she thought that the questions should be explored. It was a mental exercise… but it was for Kryys, too.

“Besides,” Liz continued, “Maybe Lieutenant Jasper screwed up Kryys’ future, and by going back and rescuing him, we might be correcting it. Maybe Kryys was intended to have a whole different future. Isn’t that why Michael and Max rescued us after Earth was destroyed?”

The others were listening, but there was no absolute answer… none that any of them could provide anyway. Certainly, Max and Michael had not debated the “right or wrong” of changing time when they saved the World and brought Liz and Maria and the others back to Antar; but then, the option was to leave them all dead, since Kivar had destroyed the Earth, and that option didn’t appeal to Max and Michael at all. The case of Kryys now seemed more complicated… excruciatingly complicated.

“Couldn’t there be a problem with changing time,” Kyle asked, “when it was positive? I mean Kryys’ being President and fixing the threads of time, Jasper’s getting arrested… Those were all good things.”

“But did it ever happen really?” Liz asked. “If you think about it, we’re on our way back to our own time now, so what we just experienced with Kryys and his whole life there has not happened yet. It’s in the future… from where we are now and from where we are going…”

”I’m getting a headache,” Maria said sadly.

Unfortunately, all the justification in the world wasn’t enough. The logic of Liz’s arguments was clear and undeniable, but so was the feeling that there was something more… time sometimes did not seem logical, at least once it had been manipulated. And Lieutenant Jasper had manipulated it.

Kryys existed in another time now -maybe even belonged there- precisely because he had repaired the threads of time there. That very act was an act that belonged in that future time. Kryys himself explained it at the table when they were dining earlier… If he had never existed in that future time, how could the threads of time have been repaired, since it was he who repaired them? Once he fixed the timeline, he should never have been there at all, since he was not of that time; but if he had never been there, the timeline could not have been fixed. It was a paradox. Any way one looked at it, Kryys got left behind in the future when he repaired the threads of time.

Maria sighed.

“Let’s find Taz… and Mareeya… and Jiba and Drel. Then we can think about what is right for Kryys. I guess he’s fine for now… he’s the president, he’s got a son and a daughter-in-law… We don’t know about the others… They may need our help.”

Everyone realized that Maria was right. There was nothing that could be accomplished by beating themselves up, at the moment, over something that didn’t seem to have a solution. They would return to it later. There were others to think about.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

A scant few hours later, the new granilith maneuvered itself gracefully into the Jantoo-Bandy laboratory through the open sliding roof and came to rest on its anti-gravity repulsor lock system. Michael passed his hand over the handprint on his side of the console, and the engines settled into silence. He looked at the others and smiled slightly. It was a tired smile, one that carried with it some joy but also an overbearing burden. The others returned the same smile, and everyone headed for the ascension chamber to disembark.

The group transported down together then hopped into a waiting, open-top, lab hover car. Once the car had cleared the new granilith, Max touched a symbol on his wristband, and the ship settled to its usual long-term resting height, about three feet off the floor. The car then proceeded to the other side of the lab, where Varec and several other scientists were waiting for them.

Alex thought to himself that Varec seemed terribly happy to see them; but he didn’t know why this should strike him as at all strange. After all, Varec was always glad to see them when they returned and always happy. But something struck Alex as being different this time. He just couldn’t say what.

“Welcome back, Zan! Michael! Alex! Isabel! Kyle! Maria! Liz! Jeliya…” Varec went down the line, welcoming each one back in his usual friendly and thorough way. Then he motioned to someone waiting out of sight. They watched as several individuals emerged from the darkness into the light. Isabel gasped as she recognized Mareeya walking toward them with Ceelya. From the very beginning, Isabel had tried to maintain a certain stoicism in the face of what she knew in her heart might be disaster. She did not wish to be destroyed emotionally if Mareeya was not found alive; indeed, she had not thought that she would be so affected when they finally found Mareeya -assuming they found her, of course- but suddenly, without the least warning, tears simply began to flow from her eyes, and she sobbed uncontrollably as both Mareeya and Ceelya put their arms around her and Alex, whose eyes were not very much dryer.

“Mareeya… How? Where? Omigod! Let me see you… No… just let me hold you!” Isabel cried through the tears. Isabel had built a dike to hold in her feelings. No longer needed, the dike had broken, and the flood came pouring out in a torrent.

Tess, like everyone else at the moment, was watching Mareeya and Isabel when she noticed two more children emerge from the dark. They were younger than the children of any of the others of the group. It had to be… It could only be… Drel! …and Jiba! Tess ran across the remaining distance between them and, dropping onto her knees, scooped them both up into her arms, burying her face in Jiba’s hair as her tears ran down Jiba’s face and shoulder. Rayylar was right behind her. Tess kissed Jiba then Drel and hugged them both to her, rocking them from side to side.

The only one still missing was Taz Valenti. Kyle and Jeliya looked around in anguish, waiting to see if Taz would be there, too. Then another boy walked out. It was Zorel Guerin. Kyle and Jeliya’s older boy, Rayyn, who had been found before they left, was with Zorel… and with them was Taz. Zorel smiled, and Taz ran into Kyle and Jeliya’s arms.

If anyone had walked into the lab at that moment, they would have thought that some major disaster had just occurred given all the tears that were flowing. There wasn’t a dry eye in the whole lab, even among the scientists who were watching.

It was homecoming.



<center>End of Chapter 36

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:38 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



The Escapee

Chapter 37


XXXVII



The homecoming of Mareeya, Taz, Jiba, and Drel meant that the last of the children of the royal family and friends had been found. That night, they spent the night in their own homes… on Antar… except for Kryys Guerin. Kryys was still on Alyendis in the future year 7,278. But Michael and Maria knew that he was safe, and they had ample reasons to be very proud of their son. It wasn’t the same as having him home, but perhaps it was the next best thing. They still had not given up totally on the idea of bringing him back. But for now… This was as close as they would get to the night that they had all wished and longed for these past nine years.

The next morning, Max, Michael, Alex, Liz, Maria, Jim, Kathleen, Dan, and Diane returned to Xarius through the portal. The royal palace on Xarius still looked like a royal interplanetary day care for the children of the universe. As Max, Michael and the others walked down the hallway, they were greeted by the lilting musical “hello’s” of the “fern children,” who floated by, accompanied by their little “eyeball” friends playfully peeking shyly through their fronds. Most of the other children were still there, too. It would take time for all the children to be picked up or to be returned through the portal once they knew where to return each one. For now, all Shag could do was hire a sort of substitute mother staff to help take care of his new and unique brood.

Max, Michael, and the other Antarians met Shag and Maya in the conservatory, where they all sat down to talk.

“We’ve got a small problem,” Shag began. “Nothing to worry too much about I don’t think, but a problem nevertheless.”

“What’s that?” Michael asked.

“Hosk escaped last night.”

Liz and Maria both gasped. Michael leaned forward instantly in his seat…

“How?”

“Seems his Ghor physician sneaked him out and off the planet on his personal ship while everyone was asleep.”

“Physician! You mean that perverted quack that was here to rub anti-swelling ointment on his…”

“Yeah, that’s the one,” Shag said quickly, cutting him off.

“Well… we should be able to find him again,” Max said plainly. “Where can he go? Pretty much the whole universe is his sworn enemy now. I don’t know where he can hide. And he knows you plan to send Ghorbidfael through the portal to nowhere land any day now, so I don’t think he’ll go back there.”

Shag nodded. “Good point! Besides, I think the Sphere of Searches can probably locate him.”

“Unless he’s in a different time,” Michael corrected.

“Can he do that?” Maria asked.

“No… I don’t think so,” Michael said. “The new granilith was specially designed by Varec. The ability to time travel doesn’t exist in our time as far as I know except in the new granilith… or with the spheres…”

Shag called for the Sphere of Searches.

“Ask!”

“Find Hosk, the slave trader from Ghorbidfael.”

There was a moment’s silence, then the sphere answered, “Hosk is in sector 13X at these coordinates.” A star map appeared in front of them with coordinates indicated by a small bright light.

“Is he on a ship?” Michael asked.

“I cannot answer that,” the sphere replied.

“Why not?”

“Insufficient data… confusing data.”

“Is he on a planet?”

“I cannot answer that,” the sphere repeated.

“Okay,” Michael said, as he pointed at the lighted spot on the star map… “We go here and find him… wherever ‘here’ may be.

Max nodded.

“Portal!” Shag called, “Take us to these coordinates to find Hosk, the slave trader from Ghorbidfael.”

As an afterthought, he added, “and if he’s near water, we do not wish to get wet!” Max and Michael both snickered.

The friends all stepped through the portal and into the middle of a field of grass and flowers.

“Well, this is bucolic,” Max said, mixing the English word in with his Antarian, as he frequently did when talking to Michael and others who understood both languages.

“Say what?” Michael looked at Max quizzically.

“You know… pastoral, peaceful… serene.”

“Oh… yeah, it is,” Michael agreed. “I thought you meant like the plague.”

“That’s bubonic,” Diane said.

“Oh, yeah… right!” Michael nodded.

The group gazed at the flowered fields and the nearby woods. As they looked around, a group of seven little dwarfs emerged from the woods about a hundred yards away and marched back into the woods again a little further across the field.

“Tell me they weren’t just singing, ‘Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho…?’” Michael asked incredulously.

Kathleen nodded and grinned.

Michael and Max turned around slowly, taking in their surroundings. On the other side of the field was a very large shoe… a shoe with a smoking chimney… and a porch… and an old woman sitting in a chair on the porch peeling a bowl of rather small, poor-looking potatoes… or trying to, anyway! Children of every age were crawling all over her.

Max looked at Michael imploringly.

Michael shook his head. “Don’t ask me! I haven’t a clue!”

“I do,” Jim said… “And I don’t believe it!”

“Believe it!” Diane said. “It’s for real!”

“Why would Hosk come here?” Liz asked.

“Because,” Dan said, “this planet is out of synch with… what did that little troll call it? …the plane of reality? Hosk probably figures we won’t be able to find him here.”

Shag nodded.

“Well, where do we start looking,” Max asked.

“Obviously not in this field,” Michael answered. “All I’ve seen here is seven dwarfs singing ‘Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho’ and something that looks like the old woman who lived in a shoe and all her kids…”

“You got it,” Diane said with a smile. “That’s who she is.”

Michael looked at Diane… “You’re joking, right?”

Diane shook her head.

What is this? …Disneyland of the universe?”

“Something like that,” Kathleen nodded. “…the really exclusive version.”

“Sheese! How many children…?” Michael didn’t finish his question.

Kathleen was counting. “I think the nursery rhyme said, ‘…so many children she didn’t know what to do’ is all I remember… I see thirty, no… thirty-two… maybe more.”

“Now that’s a full house! …or should I say shoe?" Max said with a grin.”

"They're all biomass replications," Kathleen said, "so they're supposed to be 'compliant and happy' according to Frebel-Ish.”

"She doesn't look happy," Michael grinned.

“I guess we need to find ‘Frebel-Ish,’ Jim said. “He might be able to help us find Hosk if Hosk really is on this planet.”

Suddenly getting that uneasy feeling, Max spun around…

“Where the galaxies did you come from?”

The little man standing behind him laughed. “This is my planet! I am everywhere… when I want to be there.”

“Well try not being behind me when I don’t know you’re there!” Max said, regaining his composure. “It could be dangerous for you!”

The little man laughed but did not seem concerned.

Diane grinned… “Max, Michael, Liz, Maria, and Alex… meet Frebel-Ish.”

Michael looked at the little man for a moment and smiled slightly as though someone were trying to pull something over on him…

“Frebel-Ish? …The teller of fairytales? You might as well tell me he’s… Mother Goose!”

“But here I am,” said the little man.

“He’s not really ‘the’ Frebel-Ish,” Jim said. “He just calls himself that.”

Jim suddenly realized what he had said. “I mean… not that there really is a ‘real’ Frebel-Ish, but, you know… I mean… He’s not him.”

“I got you,” Max said. “So who are you?” Max asked the little man.

“I am the Hjity. I am whoever I wish to be.”

“Apparenty, he’s the only representative of his race, called the Hjity,” Diane said. “This is his planet, and he has chosen to turn it into a cosmic Disneyland for his own amusement.”

“Amazing,” Max said, looking around and nodding. “Why not?”

“Yes! Why not, indeed!” the little man said with a grin. “My characters are my companions! They keep me company! And I am never bored!”

Max shook his head and smiled. “Okay… We came here to look for a Ghor slave trader named Hosk. I don’t suppose you would have seen him?”

The little man smiled. “Oh, that I have! That I have!”

Michael and Max both perked up instantly. “Where?” Max asked.

“Right there,” the little man said, motioning toward the shoe.

“I don’t see Hosk,” Max said. “I just see the old woman who lived in a shoe and all her children.”

The little man smiled.

Diane and Kathleen both looked at each other.

“You mean…” Kathleen said… “Hosk is her… I mean, she’s him… Hosk?”

The little man nodded… “Hosk didn’t know that I knew that he had sold me Antarians instead of biomass replications. He came here looking for a place to hide. I needed an old woman for my shoe. I already had the children, so I changed Hosk into the old woman.”

Max, Michael, and the others stood staring at the old woman.

“Can we just leave him like that,” Maria asked.

Liz grinned, and Kathleen nodded her agreement.

“But…” Alex said. “…Isn’t that like against some kind of convention or something?”

“I don’t know,” Michael said. “I could look it up when we get back to Antar. “It might take me some time, though.”

“I suppose I will have to give him to you,” the little man said. “But can I keep him for awhile… just until I can get a biomass replication to replace him?”

Max looked at Hosk. He looked absolutely miserable with more than thirty children to feed and most of them climbing all over him. Apparently, though, he was compelled by the little man’s magic to perform the role in which he had been placed.

“How long will you need him,” Max asked.

“A few months… I don’t know.”

”Well, we didn’t bring him here, after all,” Max said. “He did come of his own will…”

“And he did ask to be hidden,” Shag said. “I’d say he got what he asked for.”

Max nodded.

“Okay. Just until you find a replacement.”

“Don’t feel you have to hurry, though,” Michael added. “We’ll send him along to his planet whenever you’re finished with him.”

The little man smiled.

“Come on,” Max said to the others. “Let’s go home.”

“Come back and see the rest of my planet anytime!” the little man said. “You shall be my guests… and my friends!”

He smiled. Somehow, the little man liked that word. It was a word he didn’t remember ever using before… Yes, indeed! It was a good word! He would have to remember that word and use it more often. He looked forward to the day his “friends” would come back so that he could use it again.




<center>End of Chapter 37

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:42 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Shadows of the Unknown

Chapter 38


XXXVIII



Back on Xarius, the group walked with Shag through the palace gardens and discussed, informally, the status of the rescue operations. Their own children had all been found, and of those, only Kryys was not home; but of the nearly quarter of a million other Antarian children, only a little more than half had thus far been found. Most of those had been reunited with their families in reunions that had brought tears of joy not only to the parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other relatives and friends of the children but also to those returning them. That had been largely Diane and Dan, though they had often had help from the others, especially Jeliya and Amy.

In the beginning, Kathleen had helped, too, but Kathleen had become such a celebrity on Antar in her own right since she put Hosk in the hospital that whenever she was with the others, she drew large crowds. It seemed that everyone wanted to touch her or kiss her or give her flowers. It was all very heartwarming, but she realized that it would take much longer to return all the children who needed to be returned if she was along.

As Max, Michael, and the others who had returned to Xarius this day walked through the gardens, Liz was surprised by a sudden whoosh of vapors and a flash on the path in front of them. She stopped suddenly.

“What was that?”

Shag grinned. That was another of the children we found on Gadyslar in the lower chambers. I think Max and Michael saw one the first day when they were down there looking for the Antarian children.”

“We did?” Michael asked.

“Oh, yeah!” Max said after a moment… “We saw something that looked like a ball of gasses… no telling what was under there. But we were looking for our kids the first time we were down there. You say you found this one in the lower chambers?”

“This one and six more like him…” Shag said… “or her… I haven’t a clue which one they are.”

Max and the others watched as the small ball of gasses expanded slightly, flashed, and emitted a bit of smoke. Then it stretched itself into a long thin funnel and arched over onto the grass beside the walk. From there, it flashed again and seemed to leap like an ember flying out of a fire, lighting on the branch of a nearby tree. There, it settled down and watched Max, Michael, Liz, and the others.

“Hi,” Michael said, waving at the little mass of vapors on the tree branch. As he looked, he thought he saw two small eyes… and below them, a smile. Michael smiled back.

“I hope they haven’t set anything on fire, Shag.”

“No… I think they’re either able to control that or their flashes are too brief. They haven’t been any problem except for trying to figure out what to feed them. For that, we had to search through Hosk’s books. He didn’t always get everything exactly right, though…”

“Yeah, I know!” Michael said grinning, “He planted the fern children in pots!”

“Exactly! …but somehow he managed to keep all the children alive until they could be sold,” Shag continued “…some of them for years.”

“So what did Hosk feed these… little gas puffs?”

“A soft form of a carbonized mineral.”

“So what you’re telling me is… you have a picnic and the others eat the food and these guys eat the charcoal?”

“Something like that.” Shag grinned. “But they like it powdered and mixed with a small amount of natural tar.”

“Gross!” Maria gagged, laughing. “I don’t guess they have much competition on the food chain!”

Shag laughed. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been to their planet. But we do know where their planet is now.”

“Well, that’s good at least,” Max said. “Any other species we haven’t been introduced to yet?”

“A couple… maybe three,” Shag said. “You’ll meet them.”

“That’s kind of what I was afraid of,” Max said joking. As they started to walk again, they heard a splash… then another. Michael pulled the tops of the bushes aside and peered over at the royal palace fountains on the other side, then he looked back at Shag and grinned…

“The dragon children have discovered the fountains. They’re diving off the second floor balcony.”


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

While Shag and the present group of Antarians were on Xarius discussing the rescued children, another meeting was taking place on the planet Krolus, the planet where the now infamous midnight ray originated.

Premier Strojis of Krolus had summoned Admiral Borkelis, his highest ranking Admiral into his quarters to discuss the Antarians' situation…

“King Zan of Antar and Shaqor of Xarius have done an excellent job of finding the children kidnapped by that renegade Ghor, Admiral. How long do you think before they find them all?”

“You mean if they find them all, don’t you, sir…?”

“Yes, of course… I… I merely wished to be optimistic.”

“We all do. I would guess that, if they continue to find and rescue the Antarian children at the rate they have been… and if they are lucky… possibly in as little as a week… two at the most.”

The Krolian at the head of the table winced. “That could be a problem, Admiral Borkelis.”

“Sir…?" Admiral Borkelis exclaimed with a tone of surprise in his voice. "Then no one has told the Antarians about…?”

Premier Strojis of Krolus shook his head. “No! They do not know about the side effect from the ray.”

“Shouldn’t we tell them, sir… so they can prepare?”

“How? Were we prepared, Admiral? …No. They’ll find out… if they are successful in finding all the children and returning them to Antar. …If not, it won’t matter anyway.”




<center>End of Chapter 38

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:45 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Danger from the Sky

Chapter 39


XXXIX



Back in the royal palace on Xarius, Max and the others continued their discussion of the best ways to search for the Antarian children who were still missing.

“You know…” Diane said, “It seems to me that, since we have Hosk’s books listing all the children he stole, we might ought to try to find the others after we’ve found all the Antarian children.”

“We’ve found a lot of them already just while we were looking for ours,” Michael said. “I guess you’re right, though… We probably can’t just stop looking after all the Antarian children are found. As long as there are any children in the book who haven’t been found, we’re sort of morally bound to look for them at least.”

“Was Antar the only planet he used the ‘Midnight Cloud’ on?” Kathleen asked.

“I think so,” Shag said. “He would steal two children here, a dozen there, two dozen somewhere else whenever he had the opportunity, but it looks like he didn’t get a chance to use the ray on any other planets after Antar.”

“Lucky for them!” Diane said. “I hope they realize some day what we did for them.”

Kathleen nodded.

At that moment, Kyle burst into the conference room. He was sweating and his eyes spoke volumes before he ever opened his mouth. Max and Michael were already out of their seats…

“Max! You guys need to return to Antar immediately!”

“Why,” Michael asked. “What’s wrong, Kyle?”

“Dragons! Space Defense picked up eighteen Dragon warships heading toward Antar!”

“Warships?” Max seemed stunned. “I thought Dragons didn’t use weapons…”

“They don’t,” Shag said. “But they do invade their enemies on occasion and overrun them. It can be a bloody massacre.”

Max turned somewhat pale. “Liz! Call the portal!”

Liz complied, too stunned to ask any questions. Max, Liz, Kyle, Michael, Maria, Dan, Diane, Kathleen, and Shag all stepped through the portal into the strategic defense chambers at the spaceport on Antar. The young Antarian at the CosmicView port console, a sophisticated piece of technology that somewhat resembled a radar but had far more definition and range, stood immediately and reported to Max…

“Eighteen warships are on a direct intercept course with Antar, Zan. We have identified them as Dragon…”

“Thank you, Vessto. I see them. Have they made any attempt to communicate with us?”

“No, sir! And our communications have not been answered, either. Sir, we have already scrambled Antarian fighters to intercept the intruders once they reach our space.”

Max nodded. “Good. Have our fighters hold in our space. No one is to fire a shot unless I give the order.”

The young tech nodded and contacted the fighter squadron, relaying Zan’s orders.

Michael was looking closely at the digital readouts in Antarian in the margins of the CosmicView port screen…

“They’re out 2000 par-scors. They’ll reach our space in about twenty minutes at this rate.”

“Shag,” Max said, turning to look for Shaqor. “Call the portal, please.”

“Where are you going, Max?” Michael asked.

“The command bridge of the lead ship in the Dragon squadron.”

The young tech’s eyes widened. Michael shook his head. “No, Max, you can’t! We don’t know what they’ll do to you! I won’t allow it!”

“You can’t stop it, Michael…”

Max paused for a moment to look at his lifelong friend… “But, Michael… thanks for trying… if I don’t come back…”

“The Hell you’re not!” Michael said, “I’m coming with you!” Before Max could protest, Michael had stepped into the portal with him. Shaqor rushed in behind them as the portal vanished. On the bridge of the lead Dragon ship, the portal opened, and Max, Michael, and Shaqor stepped out. A score of Dragons surrounded them immediately.

“Maybe you should have thought about this awhile, Max,” Michael said, as all three men raised their hands in defensive postures.

The Dragons stood their ground, but none of them advanced any further on the three men. For a moment, it appeared to be a standoff. Then one Dragon, an impressive-looking six-foot-eight individual who appeared to be the likely captain or admiral or whatever was in charge of the Dragon fleet, stepped into the circle between the other Dragons and the three men. Max swallowed hard but didn’t flinch. All three men held their stances… waiting…

The Dragon captain took another step… then another, bringing himself within striking distance of the three men. Still, they held their stances and their fire. Michael used his shoulder to try to wipe off an annoying drop of sweat that was coursing down his right cheek. The Dragon captain appeared emotionless. It was impossible to know what he was thinking… or planning to do. Michael couldn’t help thinking, as strange as it seemed at this moment, what a great poker player this guy would make. Trying to read him was like trying to read a rock.

The Dragon captain finally decided to speak.

“You are King Zan… of Antar. And you are Michael, the General. And you… you are King Shaqor of Xarius.”

Max wasn’t sure from the intonation if the Dragon captain was asking or stating what he already knew to be facts.

“Yes.”

For a moment, there was no indication of the Dragon captain’s intentions. Then he spoke again…

“We received your message… you have found and rescued some children who disappeared from Drago. Is this true?”

“Yes, it is,” Max said, nodding. He still had not allowed himself to flinch.

“These children… were stolen by Hosk, the Ghor?”

“Yes,” Max said again. “That is correct.”

There was another moment of silence. Then the Dragon captain stretched out his hand to Zan in an open-handed gesture.

“I think he wants to shake your hand, Zan,” Shag said.

Max’s muscles began to relax somewhat. He reached his right hand out and touched the Dragon’s hand… or claw… or whatever it was. It seemed huge compared to Max’s hand. Max laid his hand on the Dragon’s hand, and the Dragon immediately slapped his other hand down on top of Max’s, holding Max’s hand down tightly. For a moment, Max was too surprised to react. Then he realized that the Dragon was smiling… or trying to. Well, it was a smile after all. Max placed his free hand instinctively on top of the Dragon captain’s other hand, and all the Dragons erupted in cheers simultaneously.

Max desperately wished that one of his hands were free right now to wipe the sweat off of his brow, but he held his position -not that at this point he really had a lot of options- and allowed the Dragon captain to make the first moves. The Dragon squeezed Max’s hand, and Max squeezed back. It didn’t quite seem equal, all things considered. The Dragon could easily have crushed Max’s hand with no effort. Max squeezed hard but seemed to have little effect on the Dragon. The Dragon was satisfied. Their friendship had been established.

“We have come to take our children home,” the Dragon captain said. “Please take us to them.”

“They are on Xarius,” Max said. “Shag? How long would it take them to get to Xarius in their ships?”

“Six months… maybe seven.”

Max shook his head. “No… They’re ten minutes away from Antar. We take them to Antar. Then we bring the Dragon children to Antar through the portal.”

Shag nodded. “Sounds good to me. Let’s do it.”

At about this moment, the Dragon ships entered Antarian space and were immediately flanked by Antarian slipstream fighter craft. Two fighters pulled up in front of the lead Dragon vessel in an effort to get a view through the forward window. What they saw almost sent them into a tailspin. Zan stood on the Dragon flagship’s bridge. Beside him stood Michael on one side and Shaqor on the other. Zan saluted the slipstream pilots. They saluted back then proceeded to escort the unlikely visitors to a field at the spaceport.

After all the warships had landed, the captain of the Dragon flagship, who was also the fleet admiral, relayed Zan’s permission to the other vessels for the Dragons to disembark. They were escorted to the conference hall of the strategic defense armory. Seeing the Dragons passing the room where he sat watching his monitor, the young tech stepped out to look. He got one look at the double rows of fangs and serrated teeth coming down the hall and turned pale, stepping back several steps into the room and almost falling over his console.

After all the Dragons were accounted for and officially “welcomed,” they were taken by hovercar to the palace, one of the few places on Antar large enough to accommodate them all comfortably.

The Dragons seemed immensely impressed with the palace, its gardens and architecture. They seemed to want to see everything. Max hoped everything would still be in one piece when the Dragons left, but he decided to give them free rein as a gesture of good will.

“Admiral Grada,” Max said, addressing the flagship captain, “If you would like to come with us, we will go to Xarius to bring the children back here.”

The admiral smiled. Well, it looked like a smile anyway. Max took that as an affirmative. Shaqor summoned the portal, and Max, Shaqor, and the Dragon admiral stepped through. They found themselves on a nicely flowered walk near the Xarian palace. Almost as soon as they had stepped out of the portal, they heard “splash,” then another “splash” and another. Michael pulled the flowering bushes aside, and the admiral watched as Dragon children did dives and “cannonballs” into the palace fountains from the second floor balcony of the palace. The admiral laughed. There was no denying it was a laugh. It came from the gut and shook the admiral from his head down to the small, stubby tail that was, perhaps, a vestigial reminder of his presumably reptilian heritage.

As they watched the Dragon children, the admiral was surprised by a flash and a spark that suddenly appeared beside him and then leapt into a tree. He eyed the little ball of spinning vapors curiously.

“That,” said Shaqor, “is another of the children we rescued from Hosk’s slave cells. Come! I’ll show you some more!”

Shag took them into the palace, and they walked down the hall and through the atrium where the leafvian children were floating around under the skylight absorbing nutrients from the sun. The leafvian children were accompanied, as they always were, by their little Droufa friends, the “eyeballs,” who floated along with them peering shyly through their fronds. A couple of leafvian children floated by Max, Shag, and the Dragon admiral and sang out, “hello” in their hauntingly melodic voices. Max and Shaqor smiled. The Dragon appeared to smile, too. They saw the Growahnit children, the furry little Yerrik children, and the Yargishi children.

The Yargishi children especially impressed the Dragon.

“I have never seen a smooth rope that walks standing up before!” the Dragon admiral said. “It is amazing!”

As the Dragon admiral watched, a good-sized stain suddenly appeared on the palace floor ahead of them. Max noticed it, too, and was surprised. But he was not nearly as surprised at the first sight of it as he was when it began to move across the floor. It stopped about twenty feet in front of them and suddenly rose from the floor into something that looked like a small dark-skinned child. After it had taken its new shape, it began to change colors, alternating between dark and light, changing to green, then amber, and finally gold. It was hard to say whether Max or the Dragon admiral was more impressed.

“I told you that you would meet two or three other “special” children, Max,” Shaqor said with a smile. This is Jorvo, a Doradian child from the planet Dorad. His natural color is gold, but he can change to any of many colors and change his shape, even becoming nothing more than a stain on the floor. He’s quite hard to keep track of!”

Max nodded. “I can imagine!”

“That is an amazing talent!” the Dragon admiral said. “It must be immensely useful for his kind!”

“Come!” Shag said, motioning to Max and the Dragon admiral. There is another species I want you to see. Shaqor led them to the gardens again. He pulled the flowering bushes aside and smiled.

“I don’t see anything, Shag,” Max said. “…just your flowers.”

“Over there,” Shag said, motioning toward another fountain and a pond that lay further from the palace. In the water, they saw a small boy swimming. Then they noticed that it wasn’t just one. In fact, there were four small boys and five girls in the pond. They looked like children about 6 or 7 years of age, possibly even Antarian, until Max and the others reached the pond and got a good look.

“Shag!” Max said, “Are you sure this isn’t the work of that little guy that calls himself Frebel-Ish?”

“I’m sure,” Shag said. “They’re the real thing.”

“Mermaids?” Max asked incredulously. “I didn’t think they really existed!”

“Well, they’re not called ‘mermaids,’” Shag said. They’re Aquarians. Their planet is Aquarius. Their planet has no significant land masses… nothing bigger than a small island, so… this is what you get.”

Max caught himself staring with his mouth open and nothing to say. The Dragon admiral was quite impressed, however, not only with the little Aquarians but also with the efforts that Shaqor, Zan, Michael, and the others had gone to to rescue all these children and to protect them and make them happy until they could be returned to their homes.

“Let’s go find the Dragon children,” Shag said.

The three went back to the palace and took the grand staircase up to the second floor where the Dragon children were playing and jumping from the balcony. Shag opened the door, and the Dragon admiral walked in. The children turned to look at him and immediately ran to him. The admiral, unaccustomed to children himself, seemed somewhat bemused by the children’s attraction to him, but it was no surprise that they would be happy to see an adult -any adult- of their own kind.

Shag gathered all the Dragon children together and accounted for each one…

“This is what we have, Admiral. We rescued these 22 children from cells in the dark subterranean caverns of Gadyslar, the Ghor moon.”

Max and Shag were both surprised that this information seemed actually to move the admiral. He seemed to swallow hard and appeared emotionally affected, if only for a moment. He nodded, imitating the gesture he had seem the humans and Antarians use to indicate understanding.

The Dragon admiral told the children that their parents were waiting for them on Antar and they would all be going there to be with them so that they could go home to Drago. The Dragon children, never ones to seem unhappy and always good at finding ways to entertain themselves, were surprisingly ebullient at this information, jumping over each other, celebrating, and giggling.

Shag summoned the portal, and Max and the admiral escorted the children through. Shag followed behind them. The Dragon parents, waiting in the palace on Antar, recognized their children as each one stepped -or bounced, as was more the case- through the portal and into its parent’s waiting arms.

Max sniffed and looked at Michael who looked at Shag. Liz and Maria, who had joined them, were both wiping tears from their own eyes.

“I… I didn’t know Dragons could cry,” Michael said, his voice trailing off to a whisper.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

After all the Dragon children were reunited with their respective parents, the Dragons returned to their ships. The Dragon admiral squeezed Zan’s and Shaqor’s hands again in a gesture of Dragon friendship, then he squeezed Michael’s hands.

“You have given us much to think about, Zan …you, too, Shaqor. I cannot say what will come of our encounter, but I think that it is likely that our planet will never be quite the same. When the Dragon population on Drago hears of this meeting and what you have done… and of the amazing children that you have rescued and… well… it will give us much to think about.”

“You shall always be the Dragons’ allies, my friends! If there is anything that you need… we will be there for you.”

The Dragon admiral boarded his ship, and minutes later, all eighteen Dragon warships departed from the spaceport on Antar and headed out into the void of space. Twenty-two Dragon children -22 children of the universe- were on their way home… to Drago.




<center>End of Chapter 39

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:48 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



The Krolian Challenge

Chapter 40


XL



It was exactly nine days since the Dragons had left Antar with their children, and Max, Michael, Shag, Liz, Maria, and the others were celebrating a new milestone on Xarius. The occasion was a big one. The number of children -Antarian children at least- still missing had finally dropped below one thousand. To be precise, 989 Antarian children still had not been found; but this meant that 221,151 Antarian children had been found, and all of these had now been returned to their parents or relatives. Liz shook her head and grinned from ear to ear…

“Can you believe it, Max? All those children… and after nine years, none of their parents has died!”

Maria gasped and put her hand over her mouth. “Omigod! I never even thought of that! That would be so… so tragic, you know… if we got them back and they didn’t have anyone to go home to. I’m glad you didn’t say anything about that before, Liz! But now I’m going to worry about the ones that are still left!”

“You won’t need to,” said Michael. “I ran a list of families with children still missing this morning. No one was mentioned as having died.”

Max seemed troubled… “And no Antarian has had any more children.”

“What are you getting at, Max,” Michael asked.

Max shook his head and dismissed the comment with a wave of his hand. “I don’t know. Nothing I guess. Just a lot of coincidence.”

“Well, I’m counting the blessings,” Liz said, smiling broadly.

“Oh, me, too! You know I’m happy about it, Liz! I’m not complaining!” Max said.

Max smiled for a few moments. It was an honest, genuine smile, but it seemed to vanish quickly, as other thoughts inexorably crept back into his mind. Liz looked at Maria and shrugged slightly…

“He’s got a lot on his mind. He’s been thinking about the missing children a lot.”

Maria nodded. Max excused himself and walked off toward the palace media room, saying he had some research to do.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

Meanwhile, on Krolus, Admiral Borkelis was reporting to Premier Strojis on the progress of the Antarians’ search for the missing children.

“So… now it’s just 989 who are still missing…” Premier Strojis responded, drumming his fingertips on his desk without realizing he was doing it. His mind was on far more pressing problems than an idle nervous habit.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Do we know for sure that the ray will have the same effect on Antarians that it did on Krolians, Admiral?”

“It already seems that it probably has, Sir. Since the ray was used, no Antarian has had a child, and no Antarian has died.”

Premier Strojis nodded. “But we all know that that will change, don’t we, Admiral…”

“Yes, Sir.”

No one spoke for a couple of minutes. It seemed like an eternity to Admiral Borkelis.

“…Sir, maybe no Antarians actually would have died during those nine years…”

Premier Strojis shook his head… “And no Antarian women would have had children?” No, Admiral. Too much coincidence… Too unlikely… We both know it. It’s the Ionic Ray… the Midnight Cloud.”

“Yes, Sir. You’re right, of course, Sir.”

“I wish I weren’t, Admiral. This time I wish I weren’t. But when that last child is finally returned to Antar…”

Admiral Borkelis nodded… “The warp caused by the ray will disappear and everything will return to the way it was supposed to be. Many women will find themselves suddenly with child, and… and hundreds, maybe thousands, of Antarians will perish overnight.”

Premier Strojis balled his hand into a fist and pounded it on the desk in frustration…

“Dammit, Admiral! Isn’t there something we can do?”

“Short of telling the Antarians that they can never bring all the children home… No, Sir. Not that I know of, Sir.”

Premier Strojis shook his head and groaned, placing his face in his hands for a moment.

“That’s not the answer, either, Admiral. We aren’t sure what the long-term effect of maintaining the warp would be.”

“Maybe they would live forever, Sir!”

“Not likely, Admiral… Not likely. More likely it is a disaster of universal proportions just waiting to happen. Besides, they also would have no more children.”

“Well, Sir… It has been nine years!”

“I know, Admiral! I know! I would have thought something would go tragically wrong before now. Our scientists… believe that it’s long overdue, Admiral.”

“What is, Sir?”

Premier Strojis winced. “They believe that the fabric of the universe, the part that is sustaining the warp brought on by the ray, will eventually collapse, resulting in the sudden annihilation of the entire population of Antar… and possibly unknown repercussions throughout the galaxy, if not the universe.”

Admiral Borkelis was stunned. For a few moments, he didn’t seem to have anything to say.

It was Premier Strojis who finally spoke again, “When we used the Ionic Ray to rescue our own children who were being held hostage on Byagus, it was only a matter of a few days before we had them all back on Krolus, so the damage was very limited. But even after only a few short days, there were… unexpected changes on the planet.”

“I remember, Sir.”

“Admiral!”

“Yes, Sir?”

“Have Drayxanj Brex-Sanjor sent to my office immediately.”

“The molecular physics scientist?”

“That’s the one. We’re going to reopen our studies into the Ionic Ray warp. Maybe we may still have time to help the Antarians. After all, Admiral, it is because of Krolian technology that they’re in the trouble they’re in, isn’t it?”

“What do you think we can do, Sir?”

“I don’t know, Admiral… but there must be something!”

Admiral Borkelis nodded and left the office briskly.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

On Xarius, Max and Liz had just discovered that 400 Antarian children had been sold as a group package to someone named Huji-Bwi on a planet called Qravitor in System H19. Both Max and Liz, together with Michael, Maria, Shag, Kyle, and Jim Valenti had passed through the portal after checking the location using the Sphere of Visions.

Stepping out of the portal, the group looked around at their surroundings…

“Wow!” Michael exclaimed. “Well, let’s go get ‘em!”




<center>End of Chapter 40

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:51 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



The Army Of Huji Bwi

Chapter 41


XLI



Stepping through the portal onto the planet Qravitor in sector H19 of the known universe, Max, Michael, Liz, Maria, Shag, Jim, and Kyle stared in momentary disbelief at the task before them.

“Well,” Michael said after a few moments, “Let’s go get ‘em!”

That seemed simplistic given the difficulties they appeared to face; but then again, one has to start somewhere. Everyone fell in behind Michael and followed him. No one knew what his plan was, but they knew that no one had a better one… no one else had one.

The friends were on the top of a small hill, and in the meadow below was a small army. Michael knew, though he wasn’t really sure how, that this was the 400 missing children from Antar. The others seemed to realize this, too.

The army of Antarian children -mostly teens- stood its ground and watched, as Max, Michael, and the others made their way down the hill, which took about ten minutes. Finally, Michael stood face to face with one teen who placed himself in front of the others. For a moment, they stared at each other. The teen looked confused…

“You’re not from here… from Qravitor.”

Michael shook his head. “No. We’re from Antar.”

For a moment, a light seemed to flicker in the teen’s eyes, as though he remembered something. Then it disappeared.

“Who are you?” the teen asked Michael, while holding some kind of weapon in front of himself. Michael wasn’t sure what the weapon was.

“I am Michael… General of the Armies of Antar.”

The teen winced as though he had suffered a sudden pang in his temples.

“Michael? General Michael… and… Zan…”

“Yes!” Michael said. “You remember Zan?”

“I… I think so… I… Antar?” The teen seemed to suffer another pang then collapsed forward. Michael caught him before he could hit the ground and laid him gently down on the ground. A couple of other teens ran forward to check on their “leader.”

“What did you do to him?” asked a girl who could not have been more than fourteen.

Several others approached with the same question obviously on their minds.

“I didn’t do anything to him,” Michael said. “He just collapsed. Zan!”

Max was already at his side and checking the boy out. He placed his hands over the boy’s temples, and a greenish light glowed for a few moments.

The boy opened his eyes and looked at the two newcomers and their companions…

“I know you! I saw you on the VideoView!”

Max wasn’t sure whether the youth was referring to him or to Michael. The boy pointed at Jim. “You’re one of the Eluymerians who lives on Antar. You’re a friend of King Zan.”

Suddenly, everything that Michael had told him seemed to register. The boy sat up quickly. “You’re King Zan! And you’re General Michael Guerin!”

“I think he’s got his memory back,” Michael said smiling. Max nodded.

The boy turned and looked at his ragtag army of Antarian children.

“Soldiers, we have new leaders! General Guerin and King Zan of Antar!”

The children looked around. Though obviously confused, they did not question their appointed leader’s authority regarding the sudden switch. The boy turned back to Michael…

“What would you like us to do?”

“Well,” Michael grinned… “We’re going to march back to Antar.”

The boy looked confused again.

Michael smiled. “What is your name?”

“I am Sarnys of the Aluzian region.”

“Ah! Where Aluzian golden eggs come from!”

The boy smiled. “The golden eggs are our specialty. No one else knows how they’re produced.”

“Yes, I know,” Michael said. “And they’re quite good, too! Well, Sarnys, what I want to know is, why are you and these other… young Antarians… out here in this meadow outfitted as a ragtag army?”

“Yes! That’s what I’m waiting to hear, too” Liz interjected.

The boy, who appeared to be perhaps seventeen, looked around for a moment.

“We… We belong to Huji Bwi.”

Now it was Michael’s turn to look confused.

“Who is Huji Bwi?”

Sarnys looked around again, as though he expected an unwelcome visitor at any moment.

“Huji Bwi is… well, more of a what than a who.”

Michael looked all the more confused.

“Huji Bwi is… I guess you could say, a tyrant… a wannabe usurper. He wants to rule all of Qravitor. He already rules the western quadrant.”

“I take it not everyone on Qravitor would welcome his rule,” Michael said.

“No one welcomes his rule,” Sarnys replied. “He’s a tyrant… a lot like Kivar was on our planet before you defeated him. He turned us into his army. We’re supposed to march on the northern quadrant tomorrow and capture it for him.”

“You?” Michael asked, incredulous. “A ragtag army of 400 youths? Some of these kids I see are barely ten!”

“You haven’t seen the Qravitorians,” Sarnys said plainly.

“What do you mean?”

“They are… well, small.”

“How small,” Max asked.

Sarnys used his thumb and first finger to indicate something about one inch in size. Michael and Max both seemed stunned.

“How… How did this Huji Bwi buy slaves?” Michael asked. “If he’s that little how could he even carry the money?”

“He’s very rich,” Sarnys quickly assured them. He doesn’t carry money, He pays with universal credits, and he has lots of them.”

“Oh, he has his own platinum card,” Kyle interjected drolly.

Sarnys looked confused.

“Never mind him,” Michael said, turning Sarnys back toward him again. “I take it that these Qravitorians that you were supposed to defeat are the same size as this Huji Bwi then?”

“Yeah.”

“Isn’t that sort of unsporting,” Max asked. “I mean… It would be like stepping on bugs.”

Sarnys shook his head. “No. Huji Bwi expects many of us to die in this attack.”

Michael and Max were stunned; Liz and Maria gasped.

“Die? What do you mean, ‘die?’ How?”

Sarnys turned suddenly pale. “I… I think you’re about to find out. Protect yourselves!”

Everyone ducked instinctively and spun around, looking for the danger. They saw nothing. Suddenly Jim yelled and collapsed onto the ground. Max ran to his side.

“What happened,” Michael asked, his voice showing some emotion.

Max shook his head. “I don’t know. His neck is swelling. I think it’s cutting off his breathing!”

Max placed his hands over Jim’s neck. For several moments, a greenish glow appeared. Soon Jim began to stir; then he groaned…

“Ooooh… That hurts! What the Hell happened!”

“I don’t know,” Max said.

Sarnys pointed to Jim’s shirt. There was something on it that looked like a big bee.

Suddenly, a loud voice boomed in everyone’s head, as though someone had turned on a loudspeaker. The message wasn’t coming through their ears; it was being delivered directly to the brain…

“I am Huji Bwi.”

Max looked closely at the bee-like creature. “Some kind of hornet. Must be extremely venomous.”

“All Qravitorians are,” said Sarnys. “That is why Huji Bwi expected a lot of casualties among our group, but he expected that we would win in the end.”

“And you will!” The voice boomed in their heads again. “Any creature that tries to stop my army will be dealt with like this one.”

Huji Bwi plunged his stinger again into Jim’s neck, and again, Jim lapsed almost immediately into unconsciousness, unable to breathe. Max ran to help Jim before it was too late, but Huji Bwi flew at Max. Max raised his hand. He didn’t have time to get off a power blast, but he was able to deflect Huji Bwi and swat him several feet away. When Huji Bwi regained control, he flew straight at Michael. Michael “swatted” him away, too. Next he flew at Liz, but at the last moment, as Liz raised her hand to swat him, he turned and landed on Maria’s neck. Maria gasped. She didn’t have time to prepare for this unexpected attack on her.

As Huji Bwi’s stinger arched over to plunge into Maria’s neck, a large hand smacked down on top of him. It was Kyle’s hand. Kyle removed his hand slowly, and everyone looked at Maria. She was okay. Max ran to Jim and placed his hands on Jim’s neck again. For a few moments, it glowed green. Jim gasped and coughed then opened his eyes.

“This is getting to be a habit, Jim,” Max said. “I’m afraid your neck’s going to be silver for awhile.” Jim just groaned. Kyle turned his hand over and looked at it then scrunched up his nose in a gesture of disgust.

“Guys, I really need something to wipe this mess off with.”

Liz began to laugh. She covered her mouth and tried not to, but she just couldn’t help it. Perhaps it was the relief.

Max and Michael laughed, too.

“I guess that’s the end of Huji Bee,” Michael said, making a pun on Huji Bwi’s name.

“You mean Huji Was, Maria said. Everyone laughed, even Kyle, for a moment. Then he turned more serious…

“Guys! Guys! Common!” Kyle said, “I don’t think we should be laughing… I mean… I just killed a sentient being or something…”

“Yeah, one that tried to kill us,” Max reminded him.

“And one that intended to sacrifice 400 Antarian children for his own vain glory and tyranny,” Michael added. “I wouldn’t forget that. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have a little trouble feeling sorry for Huji Bwi… or Bee… or Was… or whatever…”

The others all nodded. Michael was right. Whatever else Huji Bwi might have been, he was a cruel, despotic tyrant, every bit as murderous as Kivar ever was despite his small size. It seemed unlikely that any sleep would be lost this night over his demise.

“What do we do now,” Sarnys asked Michael.

Michael looked around for Liz.

“Liz, would you call the portal, please?”

“With pleasure!”

“Soldiers!” Michael harfed authoritatively… “Fall in line! Abooout face! March! Hup… Two… Three… Move it out!”

Michael smiled for the next ten minutes, as he watched 400 Antarian children march single-file through the portal to freedom.



<center>End of Chapter 41

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:55 pm 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Admiral Borkelis' Plan

Chapter 42


XLII



Premier Strojis of Krolus was in the offices of Drayxanj Brex-Sanjor, the preeminent Krolian molecular biologist. With him was Admiral Borkelis. They were aware that the Antarians had rescued 400 more children the day before. On top of that, Zan and the others had found and rescued 26 more just that morning from the planet Croblylix, so there were now only 563 to be found. Drayxanj would have to speed up his work if they hoped to discover any kind of possible solution to the Ionic ray dimensional problem before it was too late.

“I have yet to find any way to directly counter the… side effects… of the ray,” said Drayxanj Brex-Sanjor. “But that is not surprising. You have to understand that what will happen is not in reality a side effect of the ray. In fact, the ‘real’ side effect of the ray is that people who would have died during these nine years are still alive today. That is the real side effect. That they might die when the warp disappears is… simply natural. The disappearance of the warp will simply return time to its normal position after having had it -well, a segment of it anyway- on hold for nine years.”

“I understand that, professor,” Premier Strojis replied. “But that will be a small comfort for the Antarians when they suddenly lose thousands of people and when children who have just been returned to their families after nine years in slavery suddenly, in some cases, lose a parent or other family member unexpectedly who seemed healthy until they returned. Can you imagine going from slavery to guilt, thinking that you are responsible for your loved one’s death… just because you returned?”

“But they wouldn’t be…” Draxanj started to say.

Premier Strojis held up his hand. “I know. And you know that, too. But how do you expect these children to feel?”

Draxanj nodded solumnly. “I understand, Sir. I’m still working on it. If there is a solution, I will find it.”

“I know you will, professor. That’s why I put all my confidence in you.”

“Sir,” Drayxanj continued after a moment. “Although I haven’t found a solution, I have found a couple of… options.”

“Options, professor?”

“Well… look at this…”

Premier Strojis looked at Drayxanj Brex-Sanjor’s notes. His eyes widened slightly, and he nodded.

“Interesting! Quite interesting! As you say, it is not a solution… but it is a very interesting option!”

Admiral Borkelis nodded in agreement, as he read the notes. “We should present this… option… to the Antarians to see if they agree.”

“No,” Premier Strojis said. “Unfortunately, we cannot do that. To begin with, they are still not aware that any problem exists. And I’m not sure that they should be told. I fear that it could throw their civilization into chaos.”

Admiral Borkelis nodded. “That is a possiblity.”

“There is a second option…” Drayxanj Brex-Sanjor continued, which might possibly turn out to be a solution.”

“I’m listening, professor,” Premier Strojis said.

“Look at this,” Drayxanj said, turning the page of his notebook and pushing the notebook toward Premier Strojis.

Premier Strojis read the notes and smiled. He showed the notes to Admiral Borkelis.

“Yes… Yes! That could work!” the Admiral said. “At least, perhaps, it is an option that we must consider before any others.”

“Then it is settled,” said Premier Strojis. “How do we find this person… both of these people?”

There was silence in the room.

“Well, Admiral,” Premier Strojis said. “That will be your next challenge… to find and bring here these two individuals. I don’t know how you will do it, but I am sure that you will find a way.”

“Yes, Sir,” Admiral Borkelis said. But he was not at all as confident as the Premier had been. This would test the limits of his resourcefulness to their fullest.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

Early that afternoon, Admiral Borkelis sent a special dispatch to Antar. In it, he urgently requested a meeting with King Zan and Queen Elizabeth as soon as conveniently possible for them to come to Krolus. Having them come to Krolus was necessary, because even with the Krolians’ ionic drive, their fastest ship would not be able to reach Antar for a very long time… much too long to be of any help. But Max and Liz could come to him by way of the portal immediately.

Within three hours time, as time would have been measured on Earth, Max and Liz stood before Admiral Borkelis in his office. Michael and Maria were with them. Michael usually insisted on being along on any off-planet excursions undertaken by Zan. He felt duty-bound. But it was more than that, too. Max wasn’t just the king to Michael; he was family… a brother in spirit. Michael would never willingly allow Max to put himself in any possible harms way without him being along to save him if needed.

“Zan… Thank you for coming,” Admiral Borkelis said, giving him his hand to shake.

“We’re happy to be here, Admiral,” Max said. “And, I must admit, we wondered what the urgency was.”

Admiral Borkelis nodded and tried to appear calm and nonchalant.

“Zan, I… I apologize to you for this request, but I find that, in order to do something that I must do, I need… something that you have and I do not.”

Max looked at the Admiral but didn’t speak.

The Admiral continued, “Not that I want it permanently, you understand… only to borrow it for a short time… perhaps a few days.”

“What is it that you wish to… borrow,” Michael asked, feeling the need for caution.

“Your ship… the new granilith.”

For a few moments, there was silence in the room. Then Max looked at Michael. Michael seemed at a loss for words. The request had caught them both off guard. It certainly was not the ordinary every-day request. It wasn’t like he was borrowing a ladder or a favorite book… or even all of Liz’s Buffy tapes. It was the new granilith that he wanted to borrow.

Max tried to think of a reason -any reason- that he should say no to the Admiral’s request. But in the end, he shrugged and motioned with his hands in a gesture that seemed like a surrender…

“I guess it would be okay, Admiral. This is a… an unusual request… and a big one, you understand. I will have to ask Varec if they can prepare the ship for a journey. When would you need it?”

“Today.”

Max’s jaw dropped. The only person in the room with his jaw wider open than Max was Michael. Michael started to object, but Max held up his hand as though to say, “No! Don’t… It’ll be alright.”

Michael gave Max that “Are-you-sure?” look. Max nodded, but he was not really sure. He knew this himself, of course, but he had no reason to deny the admiral’s request. There was nothing else to be done. It was important that they keep the Krolians as their allies; and besides, the Krolians had repeatedly proven to be their friends since the rescues had begun. Indeed, allowing this unusual request seemed the only diplomatically acceptable course of action.

Max nodded and shook Admiral Borkelis’ hand. He tried to get a feeling for the man as he held his hand. He wasn’t sure, but he felt… he just felt… that the admiral was sincere and that his request was based on their friendship, not on deceit or treachery. The admiral was hiding something. Max could see this without even touching him. But in the end, every feeling that he got from the admiral was one of sympathy and caring, not treachery.

“You may borrow the new granilith, Admiral, for the time that you say. Do you wish anyone to go with you… to help?”

“That will not be necessary,” said Admiral Borkelis. “I know that you and General Guerin are very busy these days. I would not ask you to abandon such important affairs of Antar to go with me. I will be taking a couple of my trusted officers with me. You or your scientists can inform us on the details of flying the ship, and I expect that they will need to program our DNA to be accepted by the ship’s controls.”

“That will be done,” Max said.

“Then, Zan, my friend… I will call my officers and have them meet us here immediately so that we can return to Antar with you through your portal if that is okay with you.”

Max nodded. Fifteen minutes later, Max, Michael, Liz, Maria, the Admiral, and four officers passed through the portal to Antar.

Max took them straight to the Jantoo-Bandy lab. Varec was there, busy on a project. Max explained the situation, and Varec reprogrammed the new granilith’s control panels to accept orders from Admiral Borkelis and one of his officers, plus a second officer as a backup.

Within an hour, the new granilith was gone. Max stood and watched it leave. He felt a great sense of urgency… an odd sense of urgency… He wasn’t sure where this came from. But the deep feeling of emptiness that he felt was less of a mystery. The new granilith was gone.



<center>End of Chapter 42

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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:59 pm 
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The Alyendis Agenda and the Drax-ta-Kiya

Chapter 43


XLIII



The new granilith glided across the Potomac River and into the spaceport at Alyendis accompanied by military escort corsairs, the same small, space-worthy jets that had accompanied Max and Michael and the other Antarians only a month before. It was the year 7,278. Admiral Borkelis had taken the ship into the future.

Before going to future Earth, however, more than 5,000 years beyond his own time, Admiral Borkelis had made one other stop, only about a year in his own future, on a distant planet called Jeroglasst. It was a planet known to the Krolians only by reputation and then more as a myth than a reality. But it did exist, and Admiral Borkelis found it.

By taking the new granilith a year into the future, he had been able to take advantage of the future warp technology that Varec had installed in the ship, which allowed it to arrive in only hours at a destination that would normally take months to reach. It was a quirky reality that only Varec really fully understood. He had tried explaining it to other scientists at the most recent science convention on Antar, but none of them fully grasped the concept’s theoretical aspects. Trying to explain it to Max and Michael had been a lost cause. They just knew that it worked, and that was all they cared. Ironically, the one person on all of Antar who seemed to understand it… almost… when he explained it was Liz.

Stopping briefly on Jeroglasst, Admiral Borkelis had sought out a man known only as “The Drax-ta-Kiya,” which roughly translated as “the blind one who sees.” The Jeroglasstians had pronounced it “Drax,” as in “tracks,” “tah Kee-ah,” with the “ah” stressed. It had taken the admiral almost a full day to find the Drax-ta-Kiya and another to reach his house, which was high in the mountains overlooking a beautifully scenic valley. From the house of the Drax-ta-Kiya, one almost had the impression of being in an eagle’s nest looking down. The admiral had been surprised at the small size of the house of one so mythologized throughout so many galaxies. And yet, it was neat and well kept, with many well-placed decorative features, all from nature. This surprised the admiral, too, given that the Drax-ta-Kiya was blind.

That he was truly blind, Admiral Borkelis had absolutely no doubt. The Drax-ta-Kiya had white eyes with no pupils whatsoever. The admiral found it disconcerting to look him directly in the eyes and had found himself looking away from the old man more than once. Somehow, the Drax-ta-Kiya seemed to know each time.

“Look at me,” he had said to the Admiral. “That my eyes do not see is not a crime.”

Admiral Borkelis had been surprised, but he had told himself that the old man was probably guessing. After all, human nature dictated that most individuals would feel uncomfortable looking him in the eyes and would probably look away occasionally without meaning to. He was a good judge of human nature undoubtedly.

“Sit,” the Drax-ta-Kiya said, motioning toward a comfortable-looking if simple chair. The admiral sat. There was a momentary silence, as the Drax-ta-Kiya seemed to check the admiral out.

“The answer is, yes,” the Drax-ta-Kiya said.

The Admiral was surprised. “I haven’t asked the question yet. Besides, I have more than one question.”

“The answer is still yes, my son,” the Drax-ta-Kiya answered somberly. “It is yes to all your questions.”

The Admiral felt uncomfortable. He didn’t wish to offend the Drax-ta-Kiya, but he needed to be sure that the old man really knew what he was saying “yes” to.

“You wish to know if I understand…” the old man said, smiling, not waiting for the admiral to speak. “It is okay. Everyone wants to see with the eyes and hear with the ears. …Such a shame.” He shook his head. “There is so much to see that cannot be seen with the eyes… and so much to hear that cannot be heard with the ears. I could teach you…”

Admiral Borkelis shook his head. “Uh… No, thanks… I appreciate it… It’s just that…”

“I know. Your mission. You feel that you must complete your mission, and you believe that time is short. You are like all the others… in a hurry. Where will it get you? Time will wait.”

Admiral Borkelis wasn’t sure what that meant. Time, he had always known, waits for no man.

“It does,” said the Drax-ta-Kiya, “if you are one with it.”

The admiral found the old man’s habit of answering his thoughts to be very disconcerting.

“You wish to know if Antarians will die, as you know death, when the dam you have placed in the river of time is removed,” said the Drax-ta-Kiya. “The answer is, yes.” You wish to know if there will be many who die. The answer is, yes, if you consider more than a thousand to be many. You wish to know if the boy you will seek can change these deaths or prevent them. The answer is, yes, if he is in tune with the universe. But so could you, my son. Let me teach you!”

The admiral shook his head, too stunned to answer.

“That is a shame. There is so much that you could learn. You wish to know if I will allow you to return another time with another person. The answer is, yes. You see, my son, the answer is always, yes… One must only know the question.”

“I might have asked you if the Antarians would all live… not if they would die… How did you know…” the admiral asked.

The Drax-ta-Kiya smiled. “It didn’t matter. The answer is always the same.”

Admiral Borkelis found this disconcerting. The answer couldn’t be yes to both questions. He didn’t understand that at all.

“You see,” the Drax-ta-Kiya said, “The answer is, yes. They will live, because there is no death. There is only time. And time is not our enemy, not if we live in tune with it and as one with it. But you will seek the boy now. The boy will alter the flow of the river for you, and the Antarians will live. So again, the answer is, yes. But they would live anyway… because there is no death.”

“Thank you,” Admiral Borkelis said.

The old man smiled. “I know… You must go now. Yes, you are impatient, my son. But remember this. The river can be dammed, and the river can be moved… but perfection is achieved in allowing it to flow and learning to become one with it.”

“And in a thousand people dying?” asked the admiral. “Is that perfection?”

“There is no death,” the old man repeated adamantly, smiling. “There is only time… if one becomes one with it. There is no death.”

The admiral smiled. He would never understand the old man’s reasoning, but he was convinced now that the Drax-ta-Kiya was genuine. Whatever it was that the old man saw, he had given the admiral the answers he needed. The admiral knew what he had to do.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

At the spaceport on Alyendis, Admiral Borkelis transported down to the ground and was met by two young pilots, a man and a woman. He asked to be taken to President Kryys Guerin, explaining that he had borrowed the new granilith for a mission that he could explain only to Kryys. After some quick calls, the admiral and two of his officers were escorted to the White House in a hover car. The route over land and across the river, with no roads, seemed to surprise the Krolian admiral as much as it had the Antarians before him. When the hovercar entered the White House through a special door in the back, everyone got out, and the hovercar left, leaving them in a well-appointed, comfortable room, the admiral was impressed.

“I’ve got to have something like this installed on Krolus,” he said to his officers.

They both nodded.

Within momemts, Kryys came into the room, a small contingent of guards at his side. They stood on each side by the door, as Kryys walked in and shook the admiral’s hand.

“Have a seat! What can I do for you, Admiral?”

The admiral looked at Kryys, for a brief moment wondering if he was doing the right thing. He decided that he was.

“Kryys,” the admiral began, “I know that you were brought here through time, and I know that you and many other Antarian children were enslaved by the Ghor slave seller, Hosk. On Antar, they have now found almost all of the children who were kidnapped. There are only 589 who are still missing. For all I know, by now, they may well have found those as well.

I am a Krolian. It was the technology of the Ionic Ray created on my planet that Hosk used to cause this… mess… and we feel, on Krolus, that we have a moral responsibility, as well as a duty of friendship with Antar, to do whatever we can do to prevent something from happening that is going to happen which we believe will be a tragedy for Antar.”

“I’m listening,” Kryys said.

The admiral continued. “You know that, on Antar, it has been nine years since the children disappeared. Imagine that in nine years, no one on Antar has died… no one on Antar has had a baby. Time seems to have been contained in a sort of pocket. The children and everyone on Antar continued to age normally, but the aging they did was isolated from… well, what someone I met recently called the “River of Time.” They weren’t part of time as it flows naturally, so they didn’t die and didn’t have more children, but within that separate pocket of time, they continued to age separately from the universe as a whole.”

Kryys stopped the admiral. “What you’re trying to tell me, Admiral, is that Antarians who didn’t die in those nine years will die when the flow of time is restored as it was before. That is what you are saying, isn’t it?”

The admiral nodded. “Yes, that is what I am trying to say. I have been told that over a thousand Antarians will perish overnight when the flow of time is restored.”

“Unless I change it, you mean.”

The admiral looked at Kryys. For a moment, he almost thought he was seeing the Drax-ta-Kiya. Kryys seemed to have the same disconcerting habit of knowing his thoughts before he expressed them.

“Yes… unless you change it.”

Kryys thought for a few moments then looked at the admiral.

“Okay. I’ll go with you.”

The admiral was taken by surprise. He expected more deliberation from Kryys at the least.

“That’s… that’s good! Aren’t you concerned about leaving?” the admiral waved his hand around the room.

Kryys understood. “The presidency? Time will wait.”

The admiral looked at Kryys. He was beginning to wonder if he actually was the Drax-ta-Kiya. He certainly was beginning to sound like him. But in the end, he had what he had come for. He saw no reason to sit around and debate philosophy.

“Can we leave soon then?” the admiral asked. “I fear that, for the Antarians, there is little time left.”

Kryys nodded. “Yes… but you knew that that would be my answer, didn’t you?”

A brief shiver coursed up the admiral’s spine. Again, Kryys reminded him just a little too much of the Drax-ta-Kiya. The admiral actually liked the old man, but he found the similarities in the two disconcerting. In some way, he knew, Kryys and the Drax-ta-Kiya were kindred spirits, and the admiral found this spooky.



<center>End of Chapter 43

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:09 am 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



An Antarian Thanksgiving

Chapter 44


XLIV



After bringing the ship in and resting it securely on its anti-grav repulsors, Admiral Borkelis transported down. He still wasn’t sure how he was going to explain everything to Zan and the others, but he would tackle that problem when he got to it.

Max had received word from the Antar Space Defense Corps that the new granilith was on its way in to Antar; and he was already waiting at the Jantoo-Bandy linked science lab when Admiral Borkelis arrived.

“Admiral! I’m glad to see you back! I trust your trip was a success.”

The admiral nodded. “It’s been… an adventure, Zan! …a real test! …but I’d say a success, yes!”

“A test?”

The admiral nodded. “Yes, Zan… a test. …of determination… and will.”

The admiral signaled for the others to transport down. Within moments, four Krolian officers and one decidedly non-Krolian stood beneath the ship. Max approached the five men but was unprepared for what he saw. For a moment, he thought that his eyes had deceived him, but he quickly realized this was not the case.

“Kryys!” Max exclaimed with a deep gasp, but it was hard to tell if it was a statement or a question. Max looked at Kryys again and rubbed his eyes. He was having a hard time accepting that Kryys Guerin was actually standing there.

“It really is you!” Max took Kryys’ hand in his and squeezed it then put his arm around him, pulling Kryys to him. “I am so glad to see you! What in the galaxies are you doing here, though? I thought you had to stay and, you know… take care of Earth!”

“I don’t think they’ll start missing me for about 5,000 years,” Kryys said with a wry grin.”

Max laughed and nodded. “Good point! Well, I know someone who’s going to want to see you! And this is really going to be a big surprise! It was for me! Let’s go.”

“Uh… Kryys,” the Admiral broke in, “There is something that you are going to need to do. I recommend it be sooner rather than later.”

Kryys nodded. Max looked lost. He had no idea what the admiral was talking about.

“Would you like to let me in on it, Admiral?” Max asked.

“No,” the admiral said plainly. “But I will. It’s not that I don’t want you to know. It’s just that, frankly, I don’t know quite how to tell you.”

“Just say it,” Max said. “I’m listening.”

The admiral nodded. “You must be wondering why I brought Kryys here… and why I wanted to borrow the new granilith.”

Max nodded. “I wondered. But I figured you would tell me… or Kryys would.”

“Yes, well, I needed the new granilith to go to the future to find Kryys.”

“I kind of figured that out,” Max said.

“I needed Kryys… or, I guess I should say, you need Kryys… to change some aspects of time.”

“Okay, Admiral, I guess I’m not really understanding that part. What aspects of time?”

“Zan, you are down to only 563 missing children or something like that…”

Max shook his head. “Wrong.”

“Wrong?”

“We found the last one last night… With Kryys here, all the children are home now!”

Max couldn’t help but smile, but the admiral turned pale.

“Zan, there is a problem. We were not sure at first, but I’ve confirmed it. Once all the children are back on Antar, every Antarian who would have died but didn’t in the last nine years will die. Think… think of time as a river, Zan. The ionic ray blocked it… dammed it… created a separate, alternate reality for Antar in which Antarians grew older but never died and had no children. With all the children back on Antar, the river will again flow normally. I have verified it. I know it is so!”

“I suspected something like this,” Max said. “I’ve been researching a lot of files in the library. I know that no one has died in the last nine years, and I know that no one has had a child. I had hoped the problem could be reversed… but without the deaths you’re talking about, of course. How many Antarians, Admiral?”

The admiral shrugged. “I don’t know. Over a thousand is what I was told.”

Max seemed stunned, but then he nodded. ”And you think Kryys can help?”

“If it’s not already too late… we hope so.”

“What can you do, Kryys?” Max asked.

“Well, I can redirect the flow of time slightly… maybe… just enough so that those nine years would basically be erased.”

“What do you mean… erased?”

“Erased… gone… never happened, at least for Antarians. Well, no, that’s not really true. They would have happened. Antarians just wouldn’t remember them, and I think, maybe, no one will have died…”

“Can you do this?” the admiral asked.

“I don’t know,” Kryys admitted. “I think so. I will know when I become one with the universe. All the knowledge of the universe will be in me then, and I will be part of it. But right now, I don’t know for certain.”

“You can turn yourself into streams of molecules or atoms, we’ve heard,” the admiral said.

Kryys nodded.

The admiral looked at Max, and Max looked at him. Neither was sure what should be done, but both knew what would happen if they did nothing, and that option did not appeal to them.

“Well,” Max said, looking at Kryys. “I hate to ask you to ‘split’ when you just arrived, Kryys… but could you…? You know?”

Kryys smiled. Molecules began to stream from his body, and a pure white light engulfed him. It was beautiful. The molecules swirled around and around the room, and little by little, Kryys disappeared. Finally, he was gone. For a moment, the room swirled with brilliant molecules. Then the molecules simply passed through the ceiling and walls and into the sky above. Now, Max and the admiral could only wait… and hope.

Twenty minutes later, Kryys began to rematerialize in the laboratory. He looked a little tired but not as tired as when he converted to molecules when he was younger. Back then he had gone to sleep immediately after rematerializing.

“Well?” the admiral asked, anxious to know what Kryys had been able to accomplish.

Kryys smiled. When I got there, time had already begun to flow again, so things would have returned to normal soon, and they still will. However, ‘normal’ has been moved over slightly now.”

“What exactly does that mean?” Max asked.

“It means that Antar has rejoined the river of time that flows through the universe, but no one who is alive now will die suddenly simply as a result of not having died during those nine years. Of course, people will begin to die again now, as is normal in the river of time. But I moved that part of time that would have carried them with it over slightly… about nine years.”

“Will that cause any problems,” Max asked.

“No, it shouldn’t,” Kryys said. “I didn’t stop time or dam it or alter it other than to move a small part of it over slightly. It will continue to flow normally where I put it.”

“Amazing!” the admiral said shaking his head. “Simply amazing! Well… I guess my work here is done. My goal has been accomplished. I shall return to Krolus as soon as you will be kind enough to send me back through the portal, Zan.”

“Thank you, Admiral. If I didn’t say so before, I want you to hear it now! Thank you… for all of Antar!”

The admiral nodded and smiled. “It was necessary. The fault for what happened was ours. We will be much more careful in the future not to let the ionic ray be stolen. We may even dismantle it.”

Max motioned to the admiral and to Kryys to come with him. A hovercar from the palace had arrived and was waiting for them.

Back at the palace, Max asked the admiral and Kryys to wait in the foyer while he looked for Liz. He was back with her in a couple of minutes.

“This is the guest I told you about,” Max said, stepping out from in front of Liz. Liz started to hold her hand out to the “guest” then saw who it was. Without meaning to, she let out a cry. First, she put her hands over her mouth… then she grabbed Kryys in her arms. When she had held him for a couple of minutes, she looked at him…

“Kryys, what in a universe of strawberry Sundays are you doing here? I mean… I’m tickled to death for sure, but this was so not expected! Maria is going to freak when she finds out you’re here!”

“It’s kind of a long story,” Kryys said. “But I guess I’ve got 5,000 years to tell you, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“What?”

“Well, I won’t become president until 5,000 years from now.”

Liz laughed.

“Oh! I so don’t want you to go back, Kryys! It would be so great if you could stay… I know Maria and Michael would love it if you would stay! But I guess you’d be an old man when you went back if we kept you here with us until we were ready to let you go.”

“Maybe I’ll just stay until I grow up. Would that be okay?”

Liz laughed again.

Kryys was smiling, but she noticed that he wasn’t laughing.

“What… What did you mean by that, Kryys?”

“Well, there’s a very good chance… a likelihood really… that what I did to the thread of time… the river of time… will have one other result.”

“What did you do, Kryys?” Liz asked.

Kryys explained everything.

“And what other side effect are you expecting?”

“Well, I am almost certain that once the river has resumed flowing for a while in its new position, reality here on Antar will adjust to match it. By that I mean that sometime… maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in a month… those nine years that everyone on Antar aged while they were in the alternate time pool will reverse, and the children will be nine years younger again. So will you.”

Liz was stunned. Max was caught off guard by this one, too.

“Well,” Liz said, “I’m always up for being nine years younger again myself… and I would so love to be able to raise my children… Oh, God, Kryys! If I really could go back and raise my children over! …Raise them myself! You couldn’t imagine… I mean… it’s wonderful that I’ve got all of them back, don’t ever think otherwise! But I can’t help it…” Tears began to course down her cheeks. “I still think about those sweet, innocent, impressionable, vulnerable little children I lost nine years ago. They depended on me… on us… and we lost them. We let them down. They had to grow up with that Hosk on some foreign planet in cages. Now they’re almost grown… and… and look at you, Kryys! You’re 53 years old! Even if you lose nine years, you’ll still be 44.”

“Well… maybe not. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think the effect of restoring the flow of time from the alternate time pool to the universal river will cancel out all of the changes in us. We’ll start back where we were nine years ago when we were on Antar. All my aging was done in the future, and it all happened during that nine-year time span on Antar, so I think… maybe… I would be six again.”

Liz looked at Kryys. “Would you want that, Kryys?”

Kryys shrugged and smiled. “I don’t really care to be six again, but I would love to have the chance to grow up with my own real parents. And as for the presidency, well… time will wait. I could grow up here. Maybe they’ll accept a degree from the University of CoruzAntar on Alyendis. I can go back and run again for president when I’m older. Who knows? Anyway, there’s someone there I really want to see again someday.”

“Oh, Kryys…” Liz said. “I don’t know what to say.” Liz hugged Kryys again and kissed him on the cheek.

The admiral grinned broadly and tapped Max on the arm.

“Oh… Yes! Liz… Would you call the portal, please. The admiral would like to get home, too!”

Liz smiled. “Portal!”

“Goodbye,” the admiral said. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again. It’s been… a pleasure.”

Liz waved. “Bye,” Max and Kryys both said as the admiral disappeared.

“Well,” Liz said with a huge smile, “I want to call Maria! Wait till she sees you, Kryys! She is so going to freak!”

Liz suddenly gasped. “Omigod! Do you realize what today is on Earth?”

Max thought a minute.

“It’s Thanksgiving,” Kryys said. “We still celebrate it in 7,278.”

“Kryys, you’re staying here for dinner. I’m calling Maria and Michael to come over here.”

Liz got on the phone and asked Maria to bring Michael, Zorel, and Jayyd over for a real Thanksgiving dinner. It was still morning on Antar, so there was still some time, if she hurried, to prepare a big meal. She would have some help from the palace kitchen staff.

“Max, we’re going to need a turkey,” Liz said excitedly.

“Oh, yeah… Sure! Like we have turkeys on Antar! I could shoot a few long-tailed golden zerpia birds in the park.”

“Don’t be silly. You and Michael use the sphere and go to Earth. Take Jim with you. He can shoot a turkey. I’ll invite them over, too. I’ll invite everyone! Get a couple of turkeys! Get three!”

Max looked at Kryys, and Kryys smiled. “It’s so good to be home,” Kryys said, then he broke into a wide grin.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

By four PM, Earth time, the first guests had begun to arrive… except for the Valenti’s. At Liz’s request, Jim, Kathleen, and Danyy had come earlier, as had Michael. Varec and Amy showed up at four PM with their daughter, Liz-JoLee, and Liz escorted them to the entertainment room, where they “met” Kryys. Kryys and Varec played a game of Jaht-Roo-Antar, which kept the guests entertained, as the cookie “playing pieces” went “poof” one by one until none were left. During the game, Alex and Isabel showed up with their daughters, Mareeya and Ceelya, and Alex’s parents, the Whitman’s. Tess and Rayylar showed up right after them with Jiba and Drel. Jeff and Nancy Parker and Phillip and Diane Evans showed up next then Diane Casey and Dan Klein. Kyle and Jeliya showed up with Taz and Rayyn, and Maria showed up with Zorel and Jayyd.

Maria had offered to bring a special platter that she had always loved as a child, and Liz had agreed. Liz remembered Maria’s Grandmother cooking it on Earth and had loved it, too. But besides that, Liz wanted to have everything ready to spring her big surprise on Maria and Michael.

Michael, Max, and Jim were getting cleaned up in different rooms in the palace after their little trip to Earth in search of turkeys. They had returned with three turkeys, as Liz had requested. Liz had supervised the food preparation until it hit the ovens, then she had left the cooking up to the palace staff so that she could be with her guests.

After the food was placed on the table, the guests were all called, and everyone took their seats. There were a lot of “oohs” and “ahs,” as the staff carved the turkeys up and placed the portions in front of the guests…

“Liz…” Isabel asked, “However did you get these birds all plucked and cleaned up so fast? I’ve got to hand it to you, girl! You’re amazing!”

Liz smiled. “Thanks, Iz, but actually, the guys did it all for me.”

Max, Michael, and Jim grinned.

“Did they stuff it, too,” Ceelya asked, noticing that the turkeys were stuffed with giblet dressing.

Liz nodded. Isabel grinned and reached over and peeled off a small, folded-over oval sticker that was still sticking to a piece of one of the turkeys…

“Are the turkeys on Earth wearing a new fashion accessory this year, or do they all come with little stickers that say, “Butterball?”

The guys grinned.

“Max, I told you to remove those stickers!” Michael said. Max grinned sheepishly, and everyone started to laugh.

“Sorry girls,” Jim said. “We didn’t have time to find three turkeys in the wild, so we got ‘em in the aisle… Hope you don’t mind.”

Liz grinned. Actually, she had known it from the beginning.

“That’s okay, guys. These are just fine!”

Everyone held their glasses up and toasted their agreement.

“Here’s to Max, Michael, and Jim,” Alex said. “They didn’t return empty-handed!”

“Hear! Hear!” was heard around the table.

Liz had placed Kryys on the same side as Michael and Maria near the head of the table, and neither Michael nor Maria had noticed him sitting there, since he was not across from them.

“We have a very special guest today,” Liz said, asking for everyone’s attention. “He’s the reason I wanted us all to be here today. The other reason is that last night, we rescued the last missing Antarian child and brought her home.”

There was a sustained applause around the table at this news.

“I would like you to meet our guest of honor,” Liz said, looking directly at Michael and Maria. She motioned for Kryys to stand. “The honorable President of Alyendis, Kryys Guerin.”

If a ghost had wandered into the room at that moment, neither Maria nor Michael could have been more surprised. Both of them almost choked, and they hadn’t even begun to eat yet. Maria was out of her seat and had her arms around Kryys before anyone could speak another word, and Michael was right behind her. Zorel and Jayyd followed Maria and Michael. Kyle called for a toast, and everyone raised their glasses to Kryys and his reunited family. There wasn’t a dry eye at the table, but everyone was happy… happier than they could remember being at any time in their lives.

The first official Thanksgiving on Antar was the happiest day any Antarian could remember. It was the day the last child came home.



<center>End of Chapter 44

tbc…
</center>




Have a great Thanksgiving! Remember the things you have to be thankful for! And I’ll see you here again. It’s not quite over yet! Gerry


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:15 am 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



With Love from the Children of the Universe

Chapter 45


XLV



It seemed that Liz had not been the only one on Antar to have the idea of celebrating “Thanksgiving” on this day. All over Antar, families were having big dinners and giving thanks for their reunited families. The newspapers and other media independently declared it a Day of Thanksgiving for the children of Antar. And there were a lot of calls for some kind of formal ceremony to honor Zan, Shaqor, Michael, Liz, Maria, and the others. Most Antarians wanted a special honor to go to Kathleen for putting Hosk in the hospital… It had been the “feel-good” moment of the last nine years, with the only happier moment being the day their children had actually come home. And today, they were celebrating that all over Antar.

Unknown to the Antarians, however, they were not alone in thinking that a formal ceremony for King Zan, King Shaqor and the others was in order. On quite a few other planets, kings, premiers, chieftains, and reunited families of children that Hosk had stolen had begun calling for the same thing.

No fewer than 24 planets, in addition to Antar, had already called for some kind of honor to be accorded to the heroes. These included Xarius and Krolus, Leafvia (the fern children’s planet), Droufenclar (the “eyeball” children’s planet), Yerrik (the “Ewok” children’s planet), Growahn (the piglet people’s planet), Yargish (the rope-like people’s planet), Aklat (Ee-l’wee’s planet), Orstos (the gas puff children’s planet), Dorad (the inkspot or golden children’s planet), Drago (the Dragon children’s planet), Herlos (Jyita, Ishtee, & Drobos’ planet), Aquarius, Finisi, Kirish, Dinuvia, Corshic, Nordos, Jyris, Gredore, Vindule, and Karis. Other requests were still coming in, mostly directed to the Krolians, whom everyone seemed to think had the best chance of successfully organizing such an affair… and perhaps a strong reason to want to.

Premier Strojis and Admiral Borkelis appointed a special committee on Krolus to look into it and to begin making plans. If it was feasible, they wanted it to happen very soon, in the hopes that it might take place before the Antarian children reverted to their younger ages again. No one was sure when that would happen.

Messages were dispatched to all the planets of the rescued children, informing them that Krolus would accept the request to organize the event and that details would be forthcoming.

Premier Strojis raised his eyebrows slightly in a look of half-surrender.

“Admiral, where on Krolus can such an event take place? How will we get everyone there from all the different planets? There are a lot of details. I fear that we have accepted what could be an impossible task, but… well, I think it’s a good idea, too.”

The admiral nodded. “I agree, Sir! It is a good idea… and I agree, too, it could be an impossible task. It will take weeks -maybe months for some- to get here. It seems likely that Krolus’ spaceport will be insufficient to accommodate all the spacecrafts. And there is another consideration, Sir.”

“What is that, Admiral?”

“The Antarians. We can’t just ask them to come to Krolus. Everyone on Antar is going to want to be there. They lost a quarter of a million children on Antar! And besides, if we're trying to make this a surprise for King Zan and the rescuers…”

Premier Strojis swallowed hard. “What do you suggest, Admiral?”

“The only reasonable place to have the ceremony would be on Antar, Sir, so that all Antarians could attend. As for how this might be accomplished, I’m not sure I know.”

“Well, Admiral,” Premier Strojis said, standing up, “I’m sure you will figure it out! I have a lot of confidence in you!”

“Thank you, Sir,” Admiral Borkelis said, wincing.

Sometimes being efficient and dependable had its drawbacks.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

Four days later, Max, Liz, Michael and all the others traveled to the Chanesio region of Antar’s south. Varec had told everyone that he was receiving a special honor there for his efforts to increase shebble longevity and that several eminent scientists from other planets would be attending. As the King and Queen of Antar, Max and Liz had agreed to go as a matter of state, but some of the others had tried to politely bow out. Varec, however, was not accepting no for an answer from anyone, and as the day arrived, everyone was there.

Michael looked around him then looked at Max with a sheepish grin.

“I remember this place.”

Max smiled. “Is this where you blew all the hair off the shebbles when you came out of hyperspace on that bike Varec and the other scientists gave you?”

Michael nodded. “The very place! It was right over there.” He pointed to a vast field full of shebbles on this side of the distant mountains.

Max noticed that Diane Casey and Dan Klein, who were standing beside him and Liz, seemed to have no idea what he and Michael were talking about.

“After we saved Antar from Kivar,” Max explained, “Michael made it his personal campaign to rebuild the linked science lab system on Antar and track down the scientists wherever they had been imprisoned by Kivar and free them. To thank him, they named him “Father of Antarian Science” and gave him that bike that can hit hyperspace. Michael used it on Earth to rescue Jeff Parker from the base.”

“You rode it on Earth once, too, Max.”

“They don’t need to know about that, Michael.”

Michael grinned.

The group of friends walked into the building where the ceremony was to take place. It was huge, probably the largest building on Antar, though hardly the most spectacular. Kivar had had it built before his reign of tyranny on Antar began. The building covered an area the size of two football fields and had been used to hide his ships and war equipment when he was laying plans to usurp the throne of Antar many years before. During that time, he had been pretending to be a friend of the royal family while he secretly tried to steal away Vilandra and stockpiled weapons and ships in this huge building in the isolated deep southern Chanesio region. Too late, King Zan had discovered the truth. He was overthrown and killed, along with Rath and many of his other loyal supporters, family, and staff. But that was all history now. Zan and Rath had been given new life on Earth as Max and Michael. Eventually, they had returned to Antar and, together with the populace and loyalists, had retaken the throne. The jah-ee had then taken care of Kivar’s banishment… permanently.

“Max,” Liz whispered as they walked in, “This place is so huge! And it’s packed! I had no idea that shebble longevity was so important… universally, I mean. I know it’s important here in the Chanesio region.”

Max looked around and then looked at Michael. Clearly, he found it a bit perplexing, too.

“Must be important to someone, Liz! I couldn’t begin to count all the people here! And they’re not all Antarian either.”

Michael looked around again. Somewhere, deep in his mind, he was beginning to feel just a little suspicious.

“I don’t know why, Max, but something here just doesn’t smell right…”

“I don’t see any Ghors,” Max joked; but he was starting to get the same feeling.

Michael didn’t have time to think about it any more. Varec had spotted them and was already whisking them into a hover tram to take them to a place he said was reserved for the “dignitaries and heads of state.”

Max, Liz, Michael, Maria, Alex, Isabel, Jim, Kathleen, Diane, Dan, Kyle, Jeliya, and their children were whisked to the back of the large building and onto a stage behind the curtain, which had yet to be opened. With them in the back were Varec and Amy. They also recognized a couple of the preeminent scientists from Xarius. King Shaqor was already there with Queen MayaSabriena and her sisters, JoLeesa and AnDasniya and their husbands. Shag seemed as perplexed as Max and Michael were.

Max noticed that the noise of the crowd on the other side of the curtain was becoming quieter… then someone began to speak. Michael looked at Max with a strange look…

“That sounds like Admiral Borkelis,” he whispered.

“That is Admiral Borkelis,” Max whipered back. “I’d bet on it! What in the name of cosmic science fairs is he interested in shebbles for?”

The curtain opened, and Admiral Borkelis motioned for Max, Michael, Shaqor, and the rest of the group to stand. There was immediate and thunderous applause, as the entire crowd, which must have easily numbered over a million, stood and cheered loudly. Max, Michael, Shag, and the others all looked at each other; and they suddenly realized what this was really all about. Maria put her hands over her face momentarily and blushed, but then she smiled. Liz blushed, too, but stood looking at the crowd as though she still didn’t quite believe it.

Admiral Borkelis called King Zan and Queen Liz to the front of the stage and proceeded to recount details of some of their “heroic” rescues. After he had finished, he motioned to the side, and many of the children they had rescued came out bringing flowers and gifts that they had made for them. The "children" ranged in age from about 4, in the case of a few non-Antarians who were kidnapped more recently than the Antarian children, to 22, which a 13-year-old Antarian would be now after nine years in slavery. Each one gave Max and Liz a kiss on the cheek, thanked them, and told them how proud they were to be Antarian or, if they were not Antarian, how proud they felt to have met and been rescued by the “heroic King Zan and Queen Liz of Antar.”

“Thank you,” Max said simply, his face turning slightly red. “I can truly say that whatever I did I would do it all over in a second for these children… and for the families who love them.” He turned and stepped back with the others. He was afraid to say any more for fear his voice might break.

“We have grown to love each one of these children as though they were our very own,” Liz added, stepping back with Max to the sound of thunderous applause.

Admiral Borkelis motioned to Shaqor and Maya, introducing them correctly as the Zasharn and Zashayn of Xarius and pointing out that King Shaqor and King Zan had conducted almost all of the rescue operations from the royal palace on Xarius and that Shaqor had hired “substitute mothers” to take care of the children on Xarius until they could be reunited with their loved ones. He also recounted details of some of Shaqor’s more memorable or heroic rescues. The crowd applauded thunderously again, and many of the children paraded by, one by one, to give them flowers, hand-made gifts, and a kiss on the cheek.

It might have been only the second or third time in his rather long life that Shaqor had found himself at a loss for words. He referred to what King Zan had said and agreed with him one hundred percent. Maya agreed, too.

“Our palace was very alive for a couple of months,” Maya said. “The children were a delight to have around. It has been 12,000 years since Shaqor and I have had children in the palace. I found it most… stimulating and wonderful.”

The crowd applauded again, and Admiral Borkelis motioned for Michael and Maria to come up. He recounted details of several memorable rescues that each of them had carried out and then motioned for the children to come in. The children paraded by, offering flowers, hand-made gifts, and a kiss on the cheek to each one… until the Dragon children appeared. One of the younger Dragon children recognized Michael as the one who had carried him out of the collapsed tunnels, and before anyone knew what was happening, he had bounded across the stage and into Michael’s arms. Michael smiled, and his face turned red. He patted the little Dragon on the back, as it wrapped its arms tightly around him and gave him what was undoubtedly a big “Dragon kiss” on the cheek. The crowd went wild with delight; and no one there was more delighted than the Dragons, all of whom took it as a sign of good things to come in their new relationship with Antar. Dragon Admiral Grada had a smile so big on his face that he could have swallowed a Ghor… if one had been present.

After Michael and Maria had expressed their thanks and love for the children, they returned to their previous places… with the little Dragon still holding onto Michael. In a moment, its mother came in from the back and removed it from Michael’s neck with a big smile. She gave Michael a totally unexpected kiss on the cheek that left him totally speechless.

Maria struggled to stifle a laugh. “You flirt! I’ve gotta watch you all the time!” she whispered to Michael.

If it seemed that Michael couldn’t get any redder, that would have been wrong. He did… and Maria and Liz were loving it!

Admiral Borkelis motioned for Kyle and Jeliya to come up. He recounted details of some of Kyle’s memorable rescues, especially the strange “football battle tactics” he and Dan had used. Admiral Borkelis was diplomatically careful not to offend the Dragons, since those rescues had been done on Drago when they were rescuing other children from the Dragons. The Dragons themselves nodded, however. It had not gone unnoticed among the Dragons that Kyle and Dan had used some pretty unusual… and exciting… battle tactics, and the Dragons were impressed by their innovativeness as well as their bravery and ferocity in battle. It was something they understood and respected.

A long line of children paraded by and gave flowers, gifts, and kisses to both Kyle and Jeliya. Jeliya had helped extensively from the palace on Xarius and from Antar, though she had not gone on any rescues other than the trip to future Earth, "Alyendis."

“Dan Klein and Diane Casey got to listen as the admiral recounted some of their amazing adventures on the fairytale planet, which the crowd found strangely interesting and appealing. Then the admiral motioned for someone to come in. It was the little man who called himself Frebel-Ish. Max and Michael looked at each other and wondered how in the universe the admiral had found him much less convinced him to come here. The admiral must be more resourceful, they decided, than even they had guessed. The crowd stood and applauded, which seemed to thrill the Hjity more than any words could describe.

"I am very happy I was able to return some of your children," the Hjity said. "I hope that you will someday come to see my planet. You will be welcome."

“'Frebel-Ish' is currently detaining Hosk for us," the admiral pointed out, "in a way, I might add, that Hosk finds most unpleasant… until we can send him away for good."

The crowd applauded again, and the little Hjity smiled broadly.

When the children paraded by and gave them flowers, hand-made gifts, and a kiss on the cheek, both Dan and Diane seemed to get misty-eyed.

"The opportunity to help Antar has been the highlight of my life… along with meeting Diane, of course," Dan said. "For my planet, Earth, perhaps it is a step toward the future… a better future in which we can be one with the universe and not set apart from it."

Diane gave Dan a quick kiss on the cheek and a smile, then she spoke…

"Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be here, out in the stars, but I never guessed how rewarding it would be. I just want to wish everyone, and all the reunited families especially, as much happiness as I've known since you welcomed me here on Antar. Being able to help find the missing children has made my life full and rewarding; and I want to say how proud I've been of Dan, too." Diane looked at Dan and smiled. "And Dan… the answer is, yes! If you ever want to ask the question again!"

Dan wasn't sure if he had heard right, but he wasn't taking any chances. He dropped to one knee right there… "Diane, will you marry me?" The crowd stood and applauded wildly, whistling and cheering.

Diane nodded, turning red. She hadn't actually expected this right here… right now… but she was clearly glowing, even if her glow was red enough now to stop traffic.

Admiral Borkelis called Alex and Isabel and Tess and Rayylar up and recounted some of the details of their trip to Future Earth, when they had gone to look for Kryys, Taz, Jiba, and Drel. Although the four of them had been away from Antar when the rescues began, they had worked on Antar since they returned, helping to coordinate the remaining searches.

Varec and Amy were the next to be called up.

"We had to ask Varec to help us plan this event," the admiral said, "so that it might be a surprise for King Zan and the others, but Varec and his wife Amy are also responsible for saving many children. Besides this, it is Varec who discovered that the children might still be alive, which led to the rescues happening at all. For this, we owe Varec a very special debt."

The crowd cheered and applauded then stood up and applauded some more, as children marched in with flowers, hand-made gifts, and kisses for Varec and for Amy. Both Varec and Amy were smiling broadly.

"This is what science is all about," Varec said… "Ultimately, it is about our children, for without them there is no future and no one to be concerned about the science anyway." Amy nodded.

Finally, the admiral was ready to call his last couple up. Craftily, he had saved this couple for last, because he knew the reaction he was going to get. He motioned to Jim and Kathleen. As they walked to the front, the crowd simply went wild. Everyone stood and applauded for what seemed like forever. Bouquets of flowers suddenly appeared throughout the crowd as if from nowhere and were thrown onto the stage to Kathleen, many landing at her feet, and a couple landing in her arms. The crowd continued to whistle as their emotions ran high. Finally, the thunderous applause and whistles began to quiet down, as people strained to hear what she and Jim would say.

Admiral Borkelis spoke first, recounting details of some of the rescues they had made. Nobody really needed to hear about the punch that put Hosk in the hospital. It was already well-established in Antarian lore. Jeff Parker had called it, “the blow for all Antarian motherhood,” and the media had picked that epithet up and run with it. Antarian mothers felt a special bond with Kathleen, Antarian fathers respected and admired her; and everyone admired and respected Jim.

Admiral Borkelis motioned to Danyy standing off at the side, and Danyy came in with the pawgor and joined his parents. There were gasps from the crowd, but no one left their seat. They all knew by now of Danyy and Jim’s relationship with the pawgor, and they were in awe of it. Spotting Jim driving with the pawgor hanging its head out the window was enough to make most Antarians’ whole day. Jim and Kathleen had true “star” status on Antar that many singers only wished for and dreamed of… and Jim and Kathleen never asked for it… They were just being themselves!

The children walked by and gave them more flowers, hand-made gifts, and kisses; and many of the children couldn’t resist patting the pawgor, too. The pawgor seemed to enjoy it.

Admiral Borkelis had the whole group come forward together then motioned to the side again. A number of people walked in. Some were parents of rescued children. They recognized Jyita, who came today with Ishtee and Drobos. She thanked them publicly for returning her children to her and for Max’s saving their lives.

Right behind Jyita was a tiny creature, not more than 15 inches high, who flew with dragonfly-like wings, evoking lots of "oohs" and "ahs" from the crowd. It was Ee-l’wee.

“In case you wondered,” the admiral said to Max and Michael, “how I got everyone here in time from the other planets, this fine little lady has a sphere like yours. And it was still no small feat!”

Max laughed. He knew that was true… and an understatement at the least.

As Ee-l’wee hovered in the air, the admiral motioned for the adult Leafvians and Droufas -the “ferns” and “eyeballs”- to come in. They floated in with their children, to the thrill and amazement of the crowd, most of whom had never seen a Leafvian or a Droufa before or even knew that they existed.

“The Leafvians and Droufas have prepared a special gift for all of you,” the admiral said. “They're going to sing a special song which they have composed in your honor.” Admiral Borkelis motioned, and the Leafvians began to vibrate, as a haunting, melodic tune filled the air. Their children joined in, and the hairs on the back of everyone’s neck stood up, as the haunting melody seemed to take over everything in the huge room. Then a new sound joined in. It sounded like an occasional drum roll with an occasional bass-like sound somewhat reminiscent of a bullfrog. Michael looked at Max, and both of them smiled. Liz and Maria and the others were smiling, too. None of them had ever heard the sound of the shy Droufas before. It somehow complimented the Leafvians' hauntingly beautiful melodies wonderfully.

The final part of the program was the official honors, which were bestowed on the rescuers, one by one, by the kings, premiers, chiefs, or other heads of the planets to which the children had been returned. First was the "Vashadis-liyar-shiyodo" of the Leafvians of Leafvia. The title, which roughly translates as "the one who floats above the others," is more of an honorary title than a literal one.

The Vashadis-liyar-shiyodo floated over to Zan and placed a light, almost translucent wreath over his head. He then placed similar wreaths on Liz, Maria, Michael, Shaqor, Varec, and the others. Then turning to the crowd, the head Leafvian said in a light, melodic tone…

"Our people have been touched by the caring that was shown for our children by your planet and by your King Zan and by the Xarian, Zasharn Shaqor and his people. We are giving you these shileis as tokens of our friendship. The shilei has several special abilities, which you will discover. It is highly valued on Leafvia for its beauty and for its powers. The shilei grows only in one place on Leafvia, and we give them only to our most special friends."

"Thank you," Zan said. Shaqor, Liz, Michael, Maria and the others repeated the thanks one by one.

The Droufa-bwoh of Droufenclar floated over to Max next, looking for all the world like nothing but two large eyeballs floating in the air. The Droufas, as Max and the others had discovered, do have bodies, including short arms and actual feet though no legs to speak of. However, their bodies do not reflect light, only the eyes do; thus, they look like floating eyeballs.

The Droufa-bwoh carefully placed a small medal on the shirt or blouse of each of the heroes then turned and spoke to the crowd in a deep, bullfrog-like voice.

"Droufenclar welcomes these new citizens. As they are one with this planet, they are one with us now also. Welcome King Zan, Queen Liz, Zasharn Shaqor, Zashayn MayaSabriena, Michael, Maria, Kyle, Jeliya, Jim, Kathleen, Dan, Diane, Alex, Isabel, Varec, and Amy. Welcome all citizens of Antar and Xarius."

The Droufa-bwoh floated over to the Leafvian Vashadis-liyar-shiyodo and proceded to place something on him, too. It was a different type of "medal," one that looked lighter, more like a flower.

"We also welcome these new friends, the Leafvians. Their children and ours have shown us that a special friendship and bond exists between us. The Leafvian reciprocated, placing a shilei over the Droufa-bwoh's head. The shilei settled on the Droufa's shoulders, which were invisible, and appeared to float in the air just below the eyes. Then the Droufa children joined their young Leafvian friends, seeming to hide behind them, with their eyeballs peering through the Leafvian children’s fronds as they floated together.

One by one, the other heads of state presented their gifts or medals to Zan and the others. Some of them looked fairly normal, at least for aliens, but others had never been seen before on Antar, and the Antarians in the crowd were amazed.

The King of Orstos floated in looking like a cloud of swirling gasses, much to the astonishment of the people in the crowd. But they were far more surprised when he suddenly seemed to explode, flashing and leaping the rest of the way across the stage. Behind him came seven little “gas puffs,” as Michael had called them on Xarius. Each one flashed and leapt across the stage, landing with great precision beside the larger one. It might have been great material for a circus act, only this was no circus. These were real creatures acting exactly as they were accustomed to acting on their own planet. The flash and leap was much easier and more time-saving than floating all the way there slowly. It was totally normal behavior for an Orstosian.

The crowd, and for that matter, Max and Michael, too, were surprised to learn that the “gas cloud” could speak. Its voice was about midrange, neither high nor low, but it had a crackling quality, like a burning fire. The crowd listened intently as it spoke…

“In the history of Orstos, no Orstosian ember had ever been stolen from our planet before these, and no Orstosian, whether fully grown or an ember, has ever left our planet for more than a very short time. It is understandable, perhaps, that the universe does not understand or welcome Orstosians. Perhaps they believe that we are dangerous… perhaps they believe we are too frightful to look at… but King Zan and Zasharn Shaqor have caused our planet to rethink our isolation. We now know that on Antar and on Xarius we have found friends… or perhaps I should say, friends have found us! What Orstosian would have ever believed that one of these little Orstosian embers, stolen from our planet and from its parents, would ever come home again… safe and unextinguished! This is truly a day our planet will remember!

Brulo, Kemada, Ceniza, Chispa, Humos, Yama, and Ascua, our seven stolen embers, are with me here today. They have told us of their experiences on Xarius and of the kind way that they were treated by Zasharn Shaqor, King Zan, and the others. They told us of the barbaric way the Ghor slave trader forced them to eat charcoal with no tar in it! Zasharn Shaqor learned that the embers needed tar with the charcoal and that the charcoal needs to be pulverized for these little ones. The Ghor did not care about these things!

They also told us of the barbaric treatment of the embers from other planets, including Antar, by the Ghor named Hosk.

King Zan… Zasharn Shaqor… and all those who helped our embers, we thank you from our ever-burning cores. We now know that, though the universe may be dangerous for Orstosians still, there are those like you out here who are special. My planet wishes each of you to have this gift, which we have been told is considered valuable to you. If we have been told wrong, please forgive us. We wanted to give you pure carbon, which is a delicacy, not these bluish-white by-products that are left after we have consumed the carbon… but that is what we were told.”

The Orstosian placed a large bluefire diamond, the most expensive and rarest variety of diamond in the known universe, in the hand of each person on the stage. Liz and Maria gasped. Diane and Kathleen were speechless. One of these diamonds would buy a house… and no small house at that! Two or three of them would almost buy the palace… if, of course, it were for sale.

“These are beautiful,” Max said. “These are very, very valuable in our cultures! Thank you!”

“Yes, thank you!” the others said. “These are simply… amazing!”

“They are everywhere on my planet. Sometimes we pay a contractor to clean them up and get rid of them.”

“Get rid of them?” Michael asked.

“They take them to a moon or asteroid somewhere and dump them. I am so sorry! I should not have told you this. Now you may not want the gifts.”

“Oh, no worry there!” Jim said. “One look at Kathleen’s eyes tells me she still appreciates it plenty!”

“We all do!” Liz said. “These are called ‘bluefire diamonds’ on our planet. They are several hundred thousand times more valuable than pure carbon.”

The Orstosian seemed stunned. “I cannot imagine why! It is like… preferring the pit of a fruit rather than the fruit!”

“I guess it’s been changed though,” Max said… “by some process.”

“Mmmm, yes,” the Orstosian nodded. “It’s what is left after we eat.” He still did not understand, but he was quite happy now, knowing that the gifts would be well-appreciated after all. “Perhaps,” he reasoned, “these carbon-based creatures, the Antarians, Xarians, and Earthlings, need to be fertilized occasionally.”

The event was long, but no one got bored this day. The 20-foot-tall Yargishis, who were slender enough for a man to put his hands around them, were a big hit, as were a number of other never-before-seen-on-Antar aliens. All the dignitaries recieved thunderous applause from the crowd, which was greatly enjoying this celebration… and it was a celebration!

And like any good celebration, there was a final act. For this occasion, Shaqor decided that it was time to follow through on his promise to the Ghors. Shaqor called the Sphere of the Portal and told the crowd that he was asking it to transport the Ghor planet, Ghorbidfael, and all the Ghors on it, to sector Q97 of the known universe. He quoted Hosk’s own words after he had told Hosk that Ghorbidfael would be moved. Hosk had said:

“Q97… That is… That is far from any other planets or civilization, Shaqor! It would take me three lifetimes -even with the ionic drive- to reach any other inhabited system… in any direction!”

“And that is precisely the idea!” Shaqor said. “Hosk is currently on the Hjity world. I will send him to join his planet as soon as Frebel-Ish changes him back.”

Shaqor noticed questioning looks in the crowd after he said this.

“You see,” he explained, “Frebel-Ish changed Hosk into an old woman with twenty or thirty children. He’s… well… pretty occupied at the moment.”

There was a lot of laughter in the crowd. Shaqor held the sphere up for everyone to see…

“Sphere, transport the planet Ghorbidfael… and its moon… to sector Q97.”

The area around the sphere began to glow. The glow became larger and larger then disappeared in the direction of Ghorbidfael. By now, every Antarian knew which star in the sky was Ghorbidfael. They watched… as one star disappeared from the Antarian sky. And they applauded.



<center>End of Chapter 45

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:18 am 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Oops

Chapter 46


XLVI



It had been two days since the big honors ceremony for the rescuers on Antar, and Dan Klein was in his office in Washington, D.C., near the White House, doing what he seemed to always be doing when he was there… more paperwork. But today would be different in one way…

There was a knock on the door of Dan’s office. At first, he didn’t notice. Then they knocked again. This time he looked up from his work.

“Come in,” he said, shuffling the papers around on his desk. “The door’s not locked.”

The door opened, and two men in suits stepped into the room. They were followed by another man… the President. Dan suddenly noticed and stood up to greet his visitor.

“Sir! Good morning! I wasn’t expecting your visit.”

The President motioned to the two men that they could wait outside.

“Good morning, Dan. I just thought I’d stop by and see how you were getting’ along over here since I appointed you to the new position. I got your reports, but I like to kind of face off with folks sometimes… just see for myself how it’s all movin’ along… if they’re happy… whatever. So, Dan! Anything I can do for you over here? Need any aliens rounded up?” The President chuckled.

Dan smiled. “No, Sir… Everything’s just fine, Sir! I haven’t found any aliens that needed roundin’ up yet. We’re goin’ ahead full steam with your project of gathering information about life out there in the universe… so we can make friends with them if we ever do meet them. You know… keep ‘em on our side.”

“Good! Good! I know a lot of folks think this alien stuff is a bunch of hooey, Dan, but we’ve gotta move forward into the future and be prepared for whatever may come along. It's a big universe out there. I like the idea of us being their friends and keeping them on our side if there is intelligent life out there… And there is some evidence, as you know, Dan, that there is. Maybe you should write up some kind of protocol… you know, how we would handle it if we met them again… how we would make them our friends… and…”

As the President spoke, a bright light suddenly appeared in the room. Something that looked like a mirror surrounded by white light appeared for an instant, and Diane stepped into the room with a book in her hands. Without looking up, she began talking while looking at the open book.

“Dan! I’ve got a book here with places we could go on our honeymoon! There’s this planet called Yxtiar with all these hot springs and…” Diane looked up. “Oops!” She immediately said “Portal;” and before one could blink an eye, she was gone again.

The President sat in stunned silence for a few moments. Dan didn’t speak either. Nothing he could think of right now seemed like it would get him out of this. He would just wait and see if the President noticed.

“Dan,” the President said after a few moments.

“Yes, Sir?”

“What was that?”



<center>End of Chapter 46

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:21 am 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Boom!

Chapter 47


XLVII



The President sat in stunned silence for a few moments. Dan didn’t speak either. Nothing he could think of right now seemed like it would get him out of this. He would just wait and see if the President noticed.

“Dan,” the President said after a few moments.

“Yes, Sir?”

“What was that?”

“What was what, Sir?”

“Come on, Dan. I know what I saw! Well… maybe I don’t know what I saw, but… I know I saw something!”

“I don’t suppose I could convince you that you got ahold of some bad pretzels, Sir, and…”

The President was shaking his head.

“No… I didn’t think so… Aw, come on, Mister President! You’re a Texan, Sir! You know a lady when you see one!”

“Yes, indeed, I do, Dan… and I’ll grant you, that was a lady… and a fine-lookin’ one, too! But what was THAT?”

“Oh… You mean THAT, Sir.”

“Yes, THAT!”

“That light… thing… and that…”

“Right.”

Dan nodded. “Well, Sir… That was a portal.”

“A portal? Like a door or something? To where?”

Dan just shrugged and pointed up.

The President sat for another few moments in silence.

“Dan, you’re movin’ ahead on this project pretty fast, aren’t you! I think you’ve been holdin’ out on me! I know I asked you to find life out there and make friends with 'em, but… you're taking this thing pretty seriously, aren't you?”

“Well, Sir… I’ll invite you to the wedding if you’d like!”

“You’d better! Now show me what that was that I saw!”

Dan breathed out. “Oh well, by now she’ll be checking the Sphere of Visions to see if I’m alone again yet, so…” Dan looked up… “Come on back, Diane. We’re busted!”

The portal appeared after a moment, and Diane stepped through.

“Dan, I’m sorry! I should have checked first. I didn’t know…”

“Mister President, meet my fiancée, Miss Diane Casey.”

“It’s a real pleasure, Miss Casey,” the President said, taking her hand and kissing it.

“Miss Casey, I don’t normally start off meeting someone and asking them right off where they’re from, but that seems to be the question on my mind right now.”

“Texas,” Diane said.

“Well, now, I don’t remember us havin’ anything like that… uh, whatever it was you came in here through… in Texas, and I was the governor of that great state!”

“Oh… well, I was born in Texas, Sir, but I live somewhere else now.”

“I gather that would not be around these parts, would it, Miss Casey?”

“No, Sir. It’s Antar, Sir. It's… another planet.”

The President nodded. “Maybe I should have those pretzels checked, after all, Dan!”

Dan laughed.

“So, Dan, you’re planning to marry this pretty gal, huh? I guess congratulations are in order then!”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“I gather that all those times when I couldn’t find you here you were up there?”

“Oh… I didn’t know you had been by to see me before, Sir! Yeah, well… you see, we had a little Ghor problem up there.”

The President raised an eyebrow. “Up there, too?”

“There was this Ghor named Hosk,” Diane interjected.

“Well, I know Al, of course… and his Daddy. But Hosk Gore? No… I never heard of him. Send ‘im to Florida,” the President said with a wry smile. That state's been known to be fatal to Gores."

“I’m gonna ignore that comment, Sir,” Dan said.

“Which one?”

“Both of them, Sir,” Dan said, keeping a straight face. He was biting down on his tongue and fighting a smile that was pulling at the corners of his mouth, but he refused to surrender to the urge or give the satisfaction of a grin.

"Miss Casey," the President said, "Just what is that… 'portal' thing that you came in here through? I never saw anything like it. What can it do?"

Diane glanced at Dan. Dan nodded that it was okay.

"Well, Sir… That's just what it is… a portal. It makes a doorway between two different places… like Earth and Antar."

"And it can take you anywhere?"

"As far as I know."

"You see, Sir," Dan said, "This is just the kind of technology we wouldn't want to fall into the enemy's hands."

The President nodded. "You're right, Dan! I don’t even want to think about what the Democrats could do with something like this!"

"I meant Iraq and North Korea, Sir, " Dan said, "…countries that are unfriendly to us… and terrorists!"

"Yeah… them, too!" the President said with a wry smile.

The President had a way of joking about things and a self-deprecating wit, but Dan knew him well enough to see through it… usually. And besides, Dan wasn't above making a little joke himself…

"Your old friend Senator Jeffors might join a party on another planet if he had the portal," Dan said.

"Hmmm…" The President nodded. "No, I still don't think that's enough reason to let them have it."

Dan gave in and chuckled slightly.

"Well, Sir," Diane said, "I'm afraid it wouldn’t do anyone any good if they did have it, even you. This portal doesn’t answer to anyone but Liz, not even to the President. Just Liz… and Maya and Shaqor, of course. I'm only allowed to use it by Liz's special permission."

"Well, that's good to know, actually," the President said. "That means it couldn't fall into the wrong hands and be misused. And yes, Dan, I do mean Iraq and North Korea and terrorists and… Say, Miss Casey, didn't you or Dan say something awhile ago about a 'Sphere of Visions'?"

"I think I mentioned it," Dan said.

"What kind of ‘visions’?"

"Anything you ask it to ‘see’. Just like the Sphere of Searches can find anything or anyone."

"Anyone… even O s a m a b i n L a d e n?"

Dan looked at Diane, and Diane shrugged. "I guess."

"Do you have permission to use those spheres, too, Miss Casey?"

"Temporarily… yes."

"Can your sphere find O s a m a for me?"

Diane shrugged. "That… seems like a humanitarian request, I guess. I could try it."

Diane called for the Sphere of Searches. "Please locate O s a m a b i n L a d e n."

After a short wait, the sphere answered. "I regret that I cannot locate this person."

"Why not?" Diane asked.

"Millennia ago, most of the universe was mapped by systematic benthuric crystal quatrilation. This information is recreated in my memory so that I can locate anything I seek. This planet, however, was never mapped by systematic benthuric crystal quatrilation, so I cannot give you a location for the one you request."

"Maybe the Sphere of Visions can see him," Dan suggested.

Diane called for the Sphere of Visions. "Show us O s a m a b i n L a d e n?"

A misty apparition filled part of the room; and in it, they saw a tall, bearded man wearing a robe, sitting in a very comfortable, western-style chair, drinking Pepsi-Cola, watching TV, and reading Time magazines.

"Are you sure that's b i n L a d e n?" Dan asked.

"It looks like he's in a cave," Diane said. "It could be him."

The President opened the door and called his two secret service agents in. "Can either of you gentlemen tell where this is?"

They looked at the apparition intently.

"No, Sir," the first one said. "It's in a cave somewhere. And that's b i n L a d e n. What is this?" The agents walked around the apparition, touching the mist with their hands.

"The cave is deep, Sir," the second agent noted. "The walls are covered in places with a type of moss that grows only below 300 feet… and only in a few places in the Middle East. Afghanistan is one."

"That could be helpful. Okay. Miss Casey, could that portal take me to where O s a m a is even if Earth hasn't been qua… qua… quatri… whatever that mapping was called?"

"I don't know. Portal!"

"Sir, Don't!" Dan warned. "It could… it would be dangerous."

"My boys can go with me. One Texan against a bearded pervert with a dress on and a few assassins… That sounds like pretty good odds to me."

"Sir," the second agent said. "I have to agree with Mister Klein. "It would be dangerous… even with us along."

Diane looked at Dan. "There is another sphere, Dan. We've never used it, but it activated itself once without being asked to and saved all our lives on the ship. It's the Sphere of Protection."

"And you can use it?" Dan asked.

"Liz gave me permission to use the spheres temporarily. She didn't specify which ones."

“…Sphere of Protection!"

"Ask."

"Can you protect these men if they go somewhere where there might be danger… on Earth?"

"Yes. But their weapons will not work while they are protected."

"I guess the crystal quatrilation mapping isn't needed except for specifying location," Diane said. "Are you sure you want to do this?" she asked the President.

"Sure as rain!"

"Okay, then. Sphere of Protection, protect these men until they return. Portal, take these three men to the one they seek. And Liz! Please don't kill me!" Diane added.

The portal appeared.

"What do I do… just step through?"

Diane nodded. The first agent held his hand out in front of the President and stepped through before him. The second agent followed the first one. Then the President stepped through. O s a m a b i n L a d e n sat watching TV, looking the other way, and somehow didn't notice the new arrivals. The President walked up behind him and casually leaned over the back of his chair.

"BOO!"

B i n L a d e n jumped and spun around quickly then began calling excitedly. Within seconds, the room had filled with bearded terrorists carrying Soviet era AK-47's, all pointed at the three men. A look from their leader, and they began firing. Bullets came like rain from every part of the room toward the President and the two secret service agents; but as each bullet traveled through the air, it lost velocity, seemed to melt in mid-air, and dropped to the ground as a puddle of molten lead. The terrorists continued firing until their bullets ran out, but none reached the three intruders. O s a m a b i n L a d e n still sat in the chair, from which he had not moved since the intruders had first arrived.

After the bullets stopped flying, the President leaned over the chair again. "Did I say, 'BOO,' Sammy? I'm sorry! I misspoke. I do that a lot, it seems. I meant, 'BOOM!'" He smiled then stepped back through the portal into Dan's office with the two agents.

The terrorists were running every which way. Some of them decided it was a good time -as all times were- to lavish praise on their "leader."

"O s a m a, you have inspired us all! Songs will be written about how you faced down our enemy today and frightened them away. You never moved! You never ran! You are truly a leader of leaders!"

O s a m a smiled slightly then winced. "Okay! Bah-le, Bah-le, Bah-le! Get out now! I want to be left alone! …Not you, Ali. You stay."

The others all walked out, bowing and still lavishing their leader with praises.

"What do you need?" Ali asked. "Why didn't you stand up to face our enemy?"

O s a m a looked around. The others appeared to have gone. "Bring me a clean robe, and shut up."

Back in Dan’s office, the President was grinning like a cat that had just chewed the tail off of a mouse. The two secret service agents were a bit unnerved. The first agent leaned over to the other one and said in a hushed whisper…

“Are you going to report this, Jackson?”

“Report what?” Jackson asked. “They’ll think I was drinking on duty. Nothing happened… You going to file a report, Derrick?”

“About what? Nothing happened.”

Jackson looked back at him. “Right. That’s what I thought.”

“Dan,” the President said, “That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I better get these boys back over to the White House. I think they’ve been in the sun too long. Congratulations on your engagement! You couldn’t have chosen a more delightful lady! Miss Casey, it’s been a real pleasure! I hope I’ll be seein’ you around from time to time. I’ll put you and Dan on the White House social list. Well, it doesn’t look like you need my help over here, Dan. Looks like you’ve got everything in hand… uh… under control…”

The President turned and motioned to the secret service agents, who escorted him back over to the White House. Dan was alone again with Diane.

“Well, Dan… Do you?”

“Do I what?” Dan asked.

“Have everything in hand?”

Dan put his arms around Diane and pulled her up to him as their lips slowly came together. A couple of minutes later, he answered, “Yeah, I do now.”



<center>End of Chapter 47

tbc…
</center>



The preceding chapter was intended to be enjoyed as parody and humor and as a part of this story and does not intentionally either endorse or disparage any person… well, except for one specific infamous cave-dwelling troglodyte, but that is another story. All references to politics or political persons are intended to be neutral and enjoyable by persons of any political persuasion and should not be assumed to imply anything but good-natured humor. Smile! :)


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:24 am 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Don’t Make Me Hurt You!

Chapter 48


XLVIII



Max and Michael were out making the rounds, as they often did, keeping morale up in the kingdom, checking to see what might be needed, making sure that the kingdom ran smoothly and everyone was happy. Liz and Maria were preparing lunch for Kyle, Jeliya, Dan, Diane, their children, and themselves in the palace, and Diane began to relate the details of what had happened to her and Dan on Earth. Liz stopped momentarily and put her hand over her mouth…

“Omigosh! You mean… you looked up and he was just right there… in front of you?”

“Yeah,” Diane said, her voice trembling. “The President! The President was in Dan’s office!”

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t have time to think. I made a hasty retreat. When I got back here, my legs were like jelly. You can imagine! I wasn’t sure I would be able to stand up. I thought, Omigod, Dan is just going to kill me when he sees me again… and how is he going to explain this to… you know, him?”

“Oh, Diane,” Liz said in a hushed tone. “What did he do? What did YOU do?”

“I used the Sphere of Visions to see what Dan would say.”

“Well don’t keep me in suspense!” Liz said.

“He handled it pretty well. He kind of tried to make a joke out of it, you know… then he just told the President that it was a portal, and when the President pushed for information about it, Dan told me to come on back. He knew I would be watching with the sphere.”

“You went back? Weren’t you scared?”

“I was jelly, Liz! I thought I would die! You can’t imagine. I didn’t know what was going to happen! But it was my own fault. I should have checked first. It’s just that nobody ever came to see Dan before when he was in his office.”

“Did he… Did he ask about the portal,” Liz wanted to know.

“Oh yeah! He was very persistent!”

“What did you tell him?”

“That it was like a doorway between two places… in this case, our planets.”

“Did he, like, freak? I mean… he didn’t call out the secret service or alien task force or something…?”

“No. That would be Dan. Dan’s in charge of all that now. I thought Dan would kill me, though. Well, not literally, but I thought I would probably wish that he had after he finished with me. You know what he said?”

Liz shook her head, her eyes opening wider than usual.

“He just said, “Mister President, meet my fiancée, Diane Casey.”

Liz was prepared for something -she didn’t know what- more traumatic. She fumbled the spoon she was stirring with and dropped it into the Grelligo soup. As she tried to fish it back out, she asked…

“What did the President say?”

“He just said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Casey…’ Then he told Dan that he was moving really fast on this project.”

“What project?”

“Something about seeking out other life in the universe and trying to make friends with them if they found any. He told Dan that he didn’t mean he had to marry them.”

Liz laughed. “What did Dan say?”

“He told the President he’d invite him to the wedding.”

“Ooh, well, Diane, maybe they’ll give you a nice wedding gift.”

“Yeah, well… I assure you that’s not what I had on my mind!”

Liz laughed again. “I’m sure it’s not.”

“Did the President ask how the portal worked or anything about Antar,” Maria wanted to know.

“No… Well, he asked a lot of questions, but mostly about what the spheres would do. And he asked me where I was from. I told him Texas.”

Maria and Liz both laughed. “Yeah, and he believed that?” Maria asked, “…after you came in through the portal? He probably thought you were an alien!”

“Oh, he did! He said they don’t have anything like that in Texas, and I told him I was born in Texas, but I don’t live there anymore… I live on Antar now.”

“And I suppose he knew where that was,” Kyle interjected with a laugh.

“No. And he didn’t ask me to point it out either… not that I could have… It’s too far away to be seen from Earth. He wanted to know if the Sphere of Searches could locate O s a m a b i n L a d e n for him.”

Liz fumbled the spoon again and dropped it back into the Grelligo soup.

“What did you do?” all three seemed to want to know at the same time.

“I… I thought you might kill me for misusing the spheres, but it seemed like it was a humanitarian gesture, you know… not like a terrible request, so I gave it a try, but it didn’t work.”

Liz looked concerned. “What do you mean it didn’t work?”

“Well, the sphere said that a long time ago… millennia ago… the universe was mapped by… what was it called? Crystal… quadrangle… systematic… something or other…”

“Systematic Crystal Benthuric Quatrilation,” Liz said. “SCBQ.”

“You know about it?” Diane asked, amazed.

“I read about it in the history books somewhere… or maybe it was one of Varec’s science books in the lab.”

“I wish I had your memory, Liz! Anyway, yeah, that’s exactly what it was. But the sphere said that Earth was never mapped that way, so it couldn’t pinpoint a location. Anyway, apparently, the other spheres don’t have that problem.”

“Oh?”

“We used the Sphere of Visions, and it showed us b i n L a d e n in a cave somewhere. Then the President wanted to use the portal to go there…”

For the third time, Liz found herself fishing the spoon out of the Grelligo soup, but she finally realized she had been stirring the soup the whole time they had been talking and it didn’t need to be stirred anymore. She rinsed the spoon and put it in a pot.

“My God, Diane, what did you do?”

“I sent him to b i n L a d e n .”

Fortunately, Liz had already put the spoon down.

“You didn’t!”

Diane nodded. “…him and his two secret service agents. And Liz, I hope you’ll forgive me, but… I used the Sphere of Protection to protect them.”

“Well, Diane… What else could you do? Why wouldn’t I want you to protect them?”

“Maybe you didn’t vote for him,” Kyle said wryly.

Liz threw a wet washcloth at Kyle, who didn’t duck quite fast enough in spite of his football-honed reflexes.

“Maybe I didn’t vote at all, Kyle. Maybe you didn’t either! We aren’t exactly registered to vote on Earth! And if we were, I wouldn’t tell you who I voted for!”

“Yeah, yeah! Don’t get testy about it!” Kyle laughed. “I know… he’s the President and all. I wouldn’t want old Ben Lardo to get him whether I voted for him or the other guy.”

Seeing her chance, Liz grinned, “and who would the ‘other guy’ be, Kyle?”

Kyle sat for a moment, thinking. “I don’t know… Janet Reno?”

“Oh, Kyle!” Liz exclaimed exasperated, “You’re worse than I thought!”

“Well, like you said, Liz, I don’t vote there now. I don’t really keep up with Earth politics. We’ve had our own problems.”

Liz nodded. “Okay… truce?”

Kyle tossed the washcloth back. “Truce.”

“So he actually went to where b i n L a d e n was?” Kyle asked.

Diane nodded.

“I’ll bet you would have given anything to be a fly on the wall of that cave and see what happened,” Kyle said.

“Are you kidding! The first thing I did was call the Sphere of Visions back so I could watch! You don’t think I would miss it, do you?”

Kyle laughed. “I’ll give you points for thinking fast. What happened?”

“The President sneaked up on O s a m a sitting in an easy chair watching TV and said ‘BOO!’”

Kyle choked and began to laugh. “You’re kidding me! That’s what he said?”

“I swear it Kyle… on all that’s holy to me! He did!”

“I wish I could have seen that,” Kyle said between fits of laughter.

Diane continued, “As soon as he said it, all Hell broke loose. O s a m a began screaming in Arabic or something, then all these bearded guys come running in shooting AK-47’s…”

“How do you know they were AK-47’s?” Kyle asked.

“I was in the FBI, remember Kyle? I know something about weapons!”

”Oh yeah, that’s right. You would.”

“How did they get away?” Liz asked.

“The Sphere of Protection,” Diane said. “The bullets the terrorists fired just slowed down, melted, and fell to the floor of the cave in little lead puddles… all over O s a m a ‘ s Persian rugs.”

“Oh, I’ll bet he loved that,” Kyle said.

“You could never imagine! Then the President leaned over his chair again and said, ‘You know what, Sammy?’ -He called him Sammy!- ‘I made a mistake when I said, BOO! I meant BOOM!”

Maria giggled. “Did the secret service agents arrest O s a m a ?”

Diane shook her head. “No, their weapons wouldn’t work either while they were under the sphere’s protection. After the President said BOOM, he and the secret service agents stepped back through the portal. I didn’t understand everything the terrorists said in Arabic after they left, but I caught enough to know that O s a m a said something about needing a clean robe.”

Kyle laughed until he had tears in his eyes.

“The President said that he was going to put Dan and me on the White House social list and he hoped to see me around again. And he said something about maybe coming here some time if he was invited.

“I’ll hide the pretzels,” Liz said.

Kyle looked at her and grinned. “Liz! You?”

Liz shook her head. “It… It was just a joke, Kyle! Forget I said it!” She turned somewhat red.

“I thought it was jellybeans he liked,” Kyle said.

“No, that was his father, the other George Bush,” Maria said.

“You mean there are two?” Kyle exclaimed. “I thought he got reelected.”

“Kyle, I’m gonna throw this washcloth at you again…” Liz threatened. “And Maria, that was Reagan who liked jellybeans.”

“Oh,” Maria said. “I knew it was someone. Well what did Clinton like?”

Kyle smiled. Liz passed the washcloth through the water and held it up while shooting a threatening look in Kyle’s direction. Kyle noticed…

“A good smoke, Maria. He liked a good smoke,” Kyle said, grinning.

“What’s a smoke?” JoLeesa asked, joining the conversation.

“You know,” Zorel said… “You remember when we were on Earth and there were some people with little paper sticks in their mouths that were on fire?”

“Oh, that. Yeah, I remember you pulling that big brown one out of some big guy’s mouth and stomping on it and telling him that his burrito was on fire.”

“Well, I thought it was,” Zorel said.

Kyle was laughing hysterically. “That was a cigar, Zorel… That’s what Clinton likes.”

“Kyle! Don’t make me hurt you!” Liz said. “I can see where you’re going!”

Kyle was grinning mischievously.

“Kids,” Liz said, “Why don’t you go over there and sit with your Uncle Kyle. If he says anything you need explained, he’ll be glad to explain it.”

Maya, Leesa, Andya, and the others all crowded around Kyle. Suddenly, he didn’t seem to have much to say. Liz smiled.

“Well, guys,” Maria said, “Lunch is ready! Anyone who wants to eat had better get to the table.

Everybody made their way to the dining room. Maria grinned and looked at Liz. “Sometimes you’re awesome, Liz!”



<center>End of Chapter 48

tbc…
</center>


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 Post subject: Children Of The Universe
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:27 am 
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<center> <<<<<>>>>> Children Of The Universe <<<<<>>>>> </center>



Acts Of Future Past

Chapter 49


XLIX



It was about 1 jodari after mid second cycle on Antar, 2nd Cycle 51 or 2’51 as most on Antar would say, about an hour after sundown, and Maria and Michael were preparing for bed. Maria was gazing out the window into the early evening moonlight with a nostalgic, emotional look.

“What you lookin’ at?” Michael asked.

Maria shook her head and smiled. “Oh, I was just thinking about when the kids were younger and they would be playing out in the yard there catching flash bugs and asking to have campfire cookouts and stuff. I was thinkin’ about how much we missed out on during these last nine years.” Maria rubbed a couple of tears out of her eyes.

“Well, if the Krolians are right, sooner or later, we’re gonna get those years back again. We just don’t know when it’ll happen.”

“Or if it’ll happen,” Maria said. “The Krolians are going from a very limited experience after all. And it’s been almost two weeks already…”

“Yeah, I know, Hon, but I still think it could happen.”

Maria took one last look out the window and sighed deeply then climbed into bed.

“Look out there, Michael. Look out the window at the flash bugs lighting up the night and the moon shining and tell me you don’t remember.”

“Of course I remember, Maria! You know I do!” Michael pulled the covers off and stretched his body across Maria’s to look out the window. His well-toned abs and arms seemed to ripple in the moonlight as he stretched. Maria made a mental note to ask Michael to look out the window more often when she was in bed.

Michael looked at the flashing bugs, called jaras droosh, and the moon above the trees then returned to his place in the bed. Maria was smiling.

“You remembering something else, Maria?”

“Yeah… something not so long ago, though… something else I just realized I’m missing right now.”

Michael looked at her face and slowly began to grin. Slowly, but deliberately, his lips met hers. Maria put her arms around Michael and rolled him over on top of her as they kissed. Then she pulled the covers up over their heads…

“What you doin’?”

“Wrapping you in my cocoon with me,” Maria said seductively. “It’s just you and me, Spaceboy. Now turn me into a butterfly or something.”

The night suddenly seemed to sparkle with the brilliance of the flash bugs, as the gentle waves of the Golden Sea just beyond the trees moved in and out, in and out… caught up in their graceful, eternal ballet.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

In the palace, Liz was standing on the balcony watching the flash bugs and the same bright moon shining on the rippling waters of the Golden Sea not so far away. And she, too, was remembering. Max walked up behind her and put his arms around her.

“A kyrin for your thoughts.”

Liz smiled, but there was a sadness there, too. “Do you think the Krolians might have been wrong about everybody reverting, Max?”

“I guess we won’t really know until it happens,” Max said. “But give them credit. They’ve been pretty accurate about everything so far.”

“Do you think we’ll remember these last nine years, Max… or will we just forget everything? In some ways, I think it would be better to remember and in some ways, I think it wouldn’t. I mean… I don’t want to forget all the good that’s happened… how everyone has worked together to rescue the children and all the good it has done in bringing Antar closer to so many other planets. But then there are the kids. I wouldn’t want a six-year-old troubled by the memories of all the bad things that happened… in some cases, when they were older. Alyyx would be seven again, but right now he’s sixteen. He and Jayyd went through a lot together when they escaped and ran from Hosk on Gadyslar. They were inseparable. They may even be in love. The others went through a lot, too. I wonder if they’ll forget everything…”

Max nodded. “The Krolians promised us that there was someone who could explain it all to us when it happens. They seem to think it will all work out. I think we can only trust and pray that they’re right. Admiral Borkelis said that most people would have no memories of these nine years at all, at least at first, but some might remember some things, especially as time goes on. He seemed to think that the memories would return to the children as each one reached the same age they were when the event happened to them in the alternate time… and that adults might remember sooner.

Liz turned and looked again at the bright moon above and the flashing of the flash bugs. In spite of her concerns, she couldn’t help but smile. Max noticed and wrapped her in his arms. For a while, they stood there on the balcony, embraced, watching the lights of the night and the night reflections on the softly swaying Golden Sea nearby. Then Max picked Liz up in his arms and carried her to bed.

Across the city, on the other side of CoruzAntar, Alex and Isabel were sitting outside their home on a swing together watching the stars and the flash bugs light up the night. The stars had always belonged to Alex and Isabel. Isabel smiled and laid her head on Alex’s shoulder, and Alex put both arms around her, pulling her closer. As he did, he looked into her eyes and saw the stars shining back. Alex allowed his lips to touch hers, lightly at first, then more sensually. At some point, the swing ceased to swing, but neither one noticed.

It was a night of stars and moonlight and the twinkling brilliance of the jaras droosh all across Antar, a night like none in recent memory.


<center> <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> </center>

Michael awoke to find Maria looking out the window again.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Maria said, smiling.

“What time is it, Maria?”

“It’s two hours in the first cycle.”

“Nine o’clock! Geez! I overslept!”

Michael and Maria frequently mixed Antarian and Earth times together in a way that only they could understand. Maria spread herself out over Michael.

“Now I’ll never be able to get up,” Michael said.

“Do you want to?”

Michael shook his head and smiled. “What were you looking at out the window?”

“Just the kids. Max and Liz brought Alyyx and the girls over early this morning to play with Zorel, Kryys, and Jayyd.”

Michael nodded and looked out the window. He lay back down with a confused look on his face.

“Maria… you remember when we were on our moon and Jim said that that rock he was sitting on made men want to kiss the girls?”

Maria laughed. “How could I forget?”

“Well, you remember how Alyyx Evans reacted after that every time Jayyd smiled at him or was near the rock?”

Maria laughed again. “He ran like a scared puppy!”

“Well, not anymore! I’m gonna have to speak to Max about that kid of his!”

Maria looked out the window. Maya, Andya, JoLeesa, Kryys, and Zorel were playing hide and seek in the trees, but seven-year-old Alyyx and six-year-old Jayyd were nowhere to be seen… at first. Maria looked further then spotted them… sitting on a log just inside the edge of the woods… arms around each other… kissing.

Maria looked at Michael and her mouth dropped open. “I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself. Where do you think he -both of them- got that idea?”

Michael shook his head. “You got me!”



<center>End of Chapter 49

tbc…
</center>


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