Star Child -- Chapter 4
1. "Here he comes!" Vanna
whispered to her friends. They shrieked like teen girls do when
their favorite celebrity arrives; their voices part of a massive
crowd. "His limo is landing now," a news reporter said, "and it
looks like the entire shell wants to see him." The reporter
laughed from his vantage point on an elevated news dais. "Look at
that crowd!" he commented as the camera panned over the cheers of well
2. A shiny black State
limo touched down and the engines quieted to an idle purr. The
side hatch opened and Bri's stately figure appeared, waving warmly from
within. "And there he is," the news anchor at Balipor observed,
"representing Vejhon on behalf of the President." "Actually, on
behalf of the Theites," a panelist amended, "Theos demanded his
presence as a condition to signing."
3. "It's perfectly
natural for kids to excel in nearly anything nowadays," another
panelist said, "but Bri's success and influence on the entire shell is
truly unprecedented." "That's a fact," the reporter on location
said, "we have some really young people in politics today, but Bri is
the first to write a living treaty with Theos." The anchor
interrupted, "For those who don't know, our diplomatic relations with
Theos has been sketchy at best -- they perceive us as a sibling colony,
and trade has existed for Dans, but a tangible, living treaty between
us has never existed until now."
4. "That's because
Theos' economy is so complicated that it requires holographic layers of
clauses and provisions to consummate," a panelist injected. It
was met with a couple of chuckles, "...and I didn't think anything
could beat our own Proletariat," another wisecracked. Everyone
laughed at the standing joke: Nobody ever knew what the
Proletariat was doing. "They know how to piss off The Director!"
another quipped. Then they all busted up even louder!
5. Bri's body guard
didn't look older than 12. "Don't be fooled by the kids," the
reporter added, speaking to an interstellar audience, "there's not a
shellan anywhere that those kids
can't take down." "It's kind of a novelty..." a panelist started,
"...one of many..." a cohort
injected "...one of many,"
panelist repeated, "in addition to our #1
Statement..." The timing was perfect:
6. Right on cue, a
Psionic Guard emerged from the vehicle, Bri's State-appointed
guard. "Kind of takes your breath away," the Balipor anchor
commented. "That gives you an idea of just how important this
treaty really is," the reporter on location said, "Bri has his own
Psionic Guard not only because of his popularity, but because of his
emergence as a leading spokes-shellan on terrestrial the interstellar
7. "I heard he was going
to be absorbed," a panelist commented. "For our interstellar
audience," the anchor injected, "'absorption' isn't what it
sounds like -- it only means that because of his prolific efforts in
interstellar commerce, Bri could become the property of the
"Not to say 'enslavement,'" a panelist clarified. "No,
definitely not that." "Well, the Psionic Guards are
absorbed," another panelist qualified. "Yes, that's right,"
the anchor agreed, "because they are living emblems of the State, and Bri's absorption
would essentially have the
same meaning, only he wouldn't be under oath or have protracted
8. "Not necessarily," Bri
said. Nobody captured how Bri managed to get a microphone, "Once
Theos makes me an Honorary Citizen -- I'll be under oath and a contract." It's
mutually understood that words do not carry a Universal meaning.
The Psionic Guard blocked further transmission from Bri's microphone to
honor the Theite Code of Sequence. "Theos is a very linear,
cause-and-effect system," a panelist injected. "That doesn't mean
that the rules are unbreakable, it just means that traditional protocol
are observed." Theite reporters were delighted at the Guard's
tact, that Bri had staged for their benefit.
9. The reporter began
laughing as Bri was given a 10-foot berth by the Psionic Guard; an
invisible barrier that pushed the cheering crowds away. His wavy
blonde locks, athletic frame and gleaming smile looked just like a holo
star, radiant and
10. The camera zoomed in
on a sports logo under his silk shirt. There was laughter,
"Another Shellshocker fan," the reporter commented. "Bri's
schedule is so busy, he doesn't always have time to change his
clothes." The logo disappeared and was no longer visible.
"Theos asked him to dress comfortably," Bri's Psionic Guard said
psionically to the media. "We've just been touched by a Guard,"
a reporter said calmly, which was a
legal censure. Nobody minded because The Guards kept everyone out
of trouble. The Theites were also humored by the observance of
11. As Bri entered the
Balipiton, another camera crew took over, and the presentation took on
an entirely different tone. Now it was quiet and reverent.
The theatre's interior had a sensational blend of gold hues, reds,
greys and subdued lighting that made the centrally-rotating dais look
tasteful and otherworldly. It was soothing and uplifting to
behold; the featured
architectural statement, not overbearing but proportionally perfect.
12. Bri took his seat on
the dais, and something pixilating next to him took its seat
also. It sank into the seat cushion and was otherwise greatly
distorted. A reporter on the inside observed, "Theos shares an
undefended border with Jol, so it's possible that a Jolvian emissary
was invited, since any treaty with Theos would have an affect on
Jol." The anchor added, "We don't experience forced annexation
issues here, but Jol and Theos have a lot of colonies that occasionally
drift into each others space. It's been a sensitive issue for
some time now." An outside camera crew zoomed in on a shirt that
jokingly showed a picture of Micha -- there was nothing but a feint
outline. That was the joke. The scene switched back to the
13. The Jolvian
restrained his pixilation so that his natural white scales were clearly
visible. The Theites were sheik and elegant in their
uniforms. Bri's party rose to honor their arrival, whose leader,
Ambassador D'lan, greeted Bri warmly. Then he moved to Micha,
Bri's Jolvian friend and squeezed the back of his neck as a sign of
familiarity. Micha was a juvenile, so he was not allowed to
reciprocate, but stood at attention. "I see you had a tactical
advantage," D'lan directed at Bri while looking at Micha.
"Honestly, Mr. Ambassador," Bri said, "I couldn't have pulled it off
without him." "I'm telling your High Up," D'lan whispered.
14. There is no way to
fully estimate the value of Jolvian reconnaissance and intelligence,
and Jol preferred to keep it that way.
15. The Ambassador
motioned for Bri to sit at the signing table, whereupon the
Vejhon-Theos treaty rested. An SGK served as pen barer
for Bri and a Blue Funnel accountant held the pen for D'lan.
Bri's Psionic Guard stood behind him just outside the spotlight, and a
saucer jock stood behind D'lan, just outside the spotlight, opposite
Guard. The geomantic positioning was symbolic for both
cultures. Since the event was being holovised throughout Theotia,
the Ambassador waited for a cue from his cameraman who was linked
directly to the Senate floor. He motioned
for the pen barers to present their quills.
16. Both signed a
document in their native language, then traded documents so that
signatures appeared on both documents. They exchanged documents
hands and stood shoulder-to-shoulder for the audience to see.
When the formal signing was completed, President Aqu'Sha of Vejhon, and
Czarina Estuses of Theos entered to surprise both delegations
unannounced. It was as if the Goddess Alena had descended from
Mount Theistra herself. "This is unprecedented," the Balipor
anchor said in genuine surprise, "The Heads of State of both Vejhon and
Theos are in Balipor right now..."
17. They didn't want to
upstage the signing of the treaty until after it was signed.
"We're getting thousands of UFO sightings all across the shell," the
anchor said, "SpaceCom has informed us that the saucers are part of
Czarina's security detail: Please ignore them -- they're
protecting Her Majesty as they're trained to do. Please stop
the station. We see them." His dramatization made everyone
18. The press switched
its attention to Czarina Estuses, who looked like the beautiful
Princess in every fairy tale. There was the appropriate Theotian
fanfare followed by a classical ballroom orchestra. "I'm moving
to Theos," a technician
whispered, "I'm hypnotized." "See that little red light?" the
whispered, "That means we're still live..."
IN THE SHADOWS
19. In the shadows and cracks
where a spotlight is least likely to shine, was the undying
sufferance of the Secret Society. For all intents and purposes,
Society did not really exist. Then again, very few have dined
with the devil and lived to tell, or so the rumor goes.
20. Technically, Bri's
exaltation above moral
corruption and legal ensnarement was not a threat to the Society since
Bri was not a member of the Psionic Guard.
Bri was a product of the government
and the government was shadowed by the Guard. It wasn't until Bri
said during an interview, that "The Director is God," that he
officially became one of them. Of course, he was speaking in
corporeal terms, not intending to deny the existence of The One, and
nobody took it that way.
21. The Secret Society was not
against the need for limited government. They were aggrieved at
how the Psionic Guard
clandestinely infiltrated and disrupted Society affairs.
Only the Guard and the Society were at war, but since the Psionic
Guard enforced the mandates of government, the government was viewed as
power brokers who neither deserved nor understood the power it
22. To avoid cluttering up the
psyonosphere with meddlesome intrigue, Kor
and Bri never mentioned each other to anyone, ever. Except for
El Sha, they had nothing in common. Mantra also felt that the
boys should travel their paths alone,
since they were evolving into arch-contradictions of each other.
"I'll be fine Vicar," Bri said as he genuflected, "Please bless
me." Vicar Miles nodded and touched Bri's forehead with
two fingers. Energy flowed into him and he arose refreshed.
"I'm off -- don't follow me," he
his entourage while pointing at his head, which meant, "Don't follow me
either." His retinue would remain unfocused until his
return, under Miles' watchful charge.
24. This was the only place on
Vejhon where Bri could let his hair down, switch
off his popularity and enjoy the solitude. At his request, the
did not specify which rainforest Bri came from. The locals
cordoned off his rainforest as a scientific preserve and
nobody knew the difference. The media followed a lead about Bri's
visit to the Outter Banks with details to follow on the evening
news. There were a few convincing Bri look-alikes that were used
as decoys when needed.
25. "Promise you'll
never besiege my mother with cameras, and I'll give you everything
else," he told the media while clutching his crotch for emphasis.
The antic always worked for Kor. They got the message. The
fantasy tabloids sent every girl's temperature into orbit with the
caption, "Bri's Promise." Nobody
locate or harass El Sha; she could visit them whenever she
Bri was not pretentious about his fame since he had become the
unofficial poster boy long ago.
26. The last mile to El
Sha's home was a time of introspection: During the trek, he shed
the weight of several civilizations and liberated himself to do and
think whatever he wanted. This was a welcomed respite from
full-time etiquette and protocol.
27. The vegitation became
thicker as he neared the pantheon's lower terrace. He parted one
last curtain of moss-laced vines and there it was, "The most beautiful
place in the Universe."
He ran through the lower water garden and up vine covered steps to the
pantheon's main floor.
28. There she was, like a
living Goddess, serene
and more beautiful than any other woman in the Universe.
Her body was lithe and her face shone with the radience of a sparkling
starlit night. The few who knew her would have sacrificed anything to defend
29. She smiled expectantly
when Bri came into view and held her arms open wide in
30. She was something an
artist would have changed his religion to paint: Her frame in
translucent, eggshell silk; thin braided metal belt, matching
bracelets, reclined on a stone
bench padded with handmade silk pillows. The surreal tints of
luminous green with swaying light and shadows was deeply dreamlike; she
had this affect on everyone. It was hard to stay focused.
31. Bri hustled across the
marble floor and knelt down to lay his head in
32. She stroked his hair
softly and lovingly. This was the only testament Bri needed
to know that a loving God rulled the Universe: "Truly, The One was in a
"... when He made her."
33. She lifted his chin,
kissed his forehead and motioned
for him to sit beside her.
34. She noticed slightly more
wear in his face but didn't say anything; his popularity and endless
appointments pulled him in all directions. Her aura seemed to
radiate a special wisdom; she always knew that Bri would serve a higher
purpose. He knew her lines by heart,
so they didn't defile the air with ritualistic platitudes.
35. Tropical birds squawked in
the nearby foliage and water trickled in the creek. A gentle
breeze swayed the translucent linen drapes between the pantheon
pillars. He had no secrets that she couldn't
read at her leisure.
36. Bri took his clothes off
and submerged himself in the cool, clear water. El Sha smiled in
approval, knowing that if anyone had the right, she did. She
liked his innocence, fully aware of the carnal
fire that her sons ignited in others. Precision sculpted
instruments are hard to ignore. Both had such unshellan self
37. Bri drank some of the
water as a symbolic communion; an existential way of rebonding with the
rainforest. Certainly Kor would approve, whose soul was
everywhere and probably in the water too.
38. He rose from the creek,
shook the water off and dressed himself again. "More than this
place," he thought, "it's mother who makes it beautiful; she
makes it larger than life. She is the breath of the
forest, "... sculpted in Uhura's likeness," he thought.
39. "Do you see Kor at all?" he asked. He could have
read her mind, but it was expressly inappropriate for kids to probe
Her face morphed into elegant consternation, an expression Bri
had memorized. He grinned because he loved that look. He
loved all of her looks.
41. She gently shook her head
while searching for the right words.
42. "Yes," she answered, "He
distance and he does stop by on occasion...like a ghost." Her
countenance and graceful manner made her soft-spoken words deeply
hypnotic. Most Vejhonians believed
that they could communicate with the dead, but
she did not mean it in that context; when she said 'walking distance,'
she meant in any direction. Kor was very much among the
living. "Sometimes I feel like he's with me," she offered, "But
he's really..." She didn't finish. Bri
understood; the enigmatic expressions had been worn to
43. "What's he talk about,
what's he doing now?" he asked earnestly. She appreciated his
sincerity and had always hoped that the boys would get
44. "I don't know if I can answer that either," she replied. She
didn't really know. "I try to
understand, but... it seems I'm not privy to his deeper
could see that Kor's inexcusable alienation was hard to accept.
loved Kor, but he didn't visit very often. Psionically, she
"He sometimes leaves a flower
on my nightstand to let me know he was here..." She stopped
again. She loved Kor in spite of his neglect. "How in the
shell could anyone avoid a Goddess as lovely as her?" Bri
45. She beheld Bri as
if the explanation was in the sparkle of her eyes, tilted her head
slightly and raised one eyebrow. Bri melted.
46. That was the other look he
etched in his mind. He grinned; almost chuckling. She
smiled back -- she knew that he wasn't mocking her. He always
studied her astutely.
47. "Who wouldn't claim this
treasure?" he thought quietly. The answer made him angry, so he
let that feeling pass.
48. She interrupted his trance.
49. "I think he does
love me, though." Bri drew his head back with mixed
emotions. "My brother isn't associated with words like
maybe, but not 'love.'" He knew that she could read his thoughts;
like any Vejhonian parent, she did not divulge everything she
50. She redirected her
attention toward an aurora-like discoloration in the watershell and Bri
gaze to the source. From that distance, the
watershell was invisible, except for it's filtering effect.
51. She smiled sweetly and
allowed her complexion to absorb the swaying light and
shadows. The changes
were gentle and timeless here. A less passionate shellan might
wonder what she did all day, but Bri wondered things like, "What if
really an angel?"
52. "Mother, there's
something I've always wanted to ask you," he said matter-of-factly.
53. She looked into
his eyes and gently nodded her
head with concern. His inflection was a departure from the
54. "Who's my father?"
he asked. The question had come up before, and an elusive
platitude had always sufficed for an answer. Not this
time -- she knew that he would not accept an evasive response.
55. El Sha looked toward
the sky, raised her slender arm and pointed. "He was from the
stars," she answered. Her pose reminded him of the Statue of
Alena in front of the Presidential Palace at
Balipor. He would have studied the similarity further, but forced
his mind back on task.
56. He looked blankly in
the direction that she pointed and then realized that she was not being allegorical or evasive;
she meant his father was literally from the
stars. She had been telling the truth all along -- she just never
information. Certainly, there had to be a reason why.
57. "He said he was a
messenger from God, and..." El Sha turned her gaze back to Bri,
"...you are the
message." She tilted her head, smiled and shrugged.
58. "What the hell is
that?" Bri wondered. A thousand new thoughts
went through his mind. "If I had told
you so plainly," she asked psionically, "would you have believed
me?" Of course not, he knew.
59. He looked at her
penetratingly and whispered, "What was his name?" She beamed for
moment, feeling 30 years younger. She knew her son deserved at
least that one concession.
60. She had promised
never to reveal his identity because she had
mated to bare children and not to acquire a mate. "Would
revealing his name mean anything to him?" she asked herself. She
was more concerned about the questions that might follow, that she
couldn't answer. Bri was pretty deft at piecing together whole
sagas with missing information.
61. "There's more..."
Bri whispered. "isn't there?" he asked flatly. He knew that
she was holding out on him, and she knew that he knew it.
62. "He never told me,"
she answered, but before Bri could deflate, she added, "I learned
his name psionically -- he didn't want me to know it." She
pointed at her head so that Bri interpreted, for the first time in his
life, that he was being invited to resolve the mystery
psionically. He could probe this one time only.
63. He cocked his head
when he lifted the name out of her mind, "Daniel?... Who's
Daniel?" El Sha
pressed her finger against his lips for speaking out loud. She
was suggesting that he
not probe further. "There's great wisdom in not knowing more,"
she said psionically. "Does Kor?" Bri asked. El Sha shook
her head "No." That meant that he had to perish the thought as
quickly as she had. Psionists are quick like that.
64. They both became
introspective; understanding that the last part of their dialogue never
65. "Are you a..." Bri
started to ask. She hushed him again and nodded her
head, "Yes." Her mind revealed absolutely nothing, just like a...
66. "You've got to be frackin' kidding me!" Bri
irresistible urge to laugh. He threw himself
back on a row of plush
oversized satin pillows, grinning ear to ear while staring
at the sky. This was the most marvelous discovery of his
life. Of course she had a life before he was
born. Kids forget that their parents were not always
parents. "I know so little about her," he realized, "about you," he accused her. But he
also understood why. Neither did she respond. "So much
makes more sense now," he breathed a huge sigh that nearly made her
laugh at him.
67. "Please give Him my
regards when you return," she asked. She flashed The Director's
Seal in Bri's mind and buried it, while stroking his wavy blond
locks. Only a Psionic Guard could have
kept that information cryptic for so many years. "I can't
frackin' believe this..." he said to himself, and wisely perished
further contemplation of the matter. He blended his disbelief
into a menagerie of pseudo off topics and let it fade away. Wild
Animals always made a good diversion. "Azoth," he sighed again,
accepting that a
tremendous weight had been lifted.
68. Bri was not a
Psionic Guard but he was capable of 'blank out,' a fundamental of
Guardianship that anyone can
learn. He felt awe and humbled in the shadow of such
greatness. Beautiful and
Dangerous. He resisted the urge to tease, "What will Azoth
think of next?" He still had a
mile-long walk ahead of him. "I'd tell you to take care of
yourself," he thought, "but the idea seems rather redundant now."
Indeed, she had been watching over him all of this time.
69. "Anything else?" he
asked anecdotally. She held his chin for a moment. He knew
too much already. "Give him
too," she added, referring to Kor. Bri rolled his eyes, wondering
what sort of assault Kor had planned for him today... the other reason
why he made everyone else stay with the car. There wasn't a
fallen leaf anywhere in Kor's kingdom that he was unaware of...