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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
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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 wishers.  

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," the original 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 affairs."   

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 State."  "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 obligations."

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 genuine.        

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 their protocols.           

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 inside. 
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.  Micha grinned. 

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 the 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 again, shook 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 calling the station.  We see them."  His dramatization made everyone laugh. 

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 anchor whispered, "That means we're still live..."


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, the 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 wielded.   

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.


23. "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 ordered his entourage while pointing at his head, which meant, "Don't follow me psionically 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 State 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 attempted to locate or harass El Sha; she could visit them whenever she wished.  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 her.      

29. She smiled expectantly when Bri came into view and held her arms open wide in invitation.     

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 her lap.    

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 great mood..." he thought, "... 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 control.       

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 their parents.    

40.  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 lives within walking distance and he does stop by on occasion...like a ghost."  Her glowing 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 tatters.              

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 closer.

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 thoughts."  Bri could see that Kor's inexcusable alienation was hard to accept.  She loved Kor, but he didn't visit very often.  Psionically, she revealed, "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 wondered.     

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 liked, permanently 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 'love.'  'Lust' maybe, but not 'love.'"  He knew that she could read his thoughts; like any Vejhonian parent, she did not divulge everything she knew.      

50. She redirected her attention toward an aurora-like discoloration in the watershell and Bri followed her 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 she's 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 norm.   

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 volunteered concise 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 happened. 

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 suppressed an 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 my greetings 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...