Excerpt from Chapter One of Here Comes Earth: Destiny (Book II)
Dr. Mark Spencer
Anzio and I had joined Malatina of Lower House Gabloriel on another open-air veranda extending from a different part of the villa. The view was still incredible but now there was a pleasant breeze that gently moved the sheer white fabric draped from various colonnades.
We sat on a large ottoman type structure that was about the size of four king beds pushed together in a square. The outside edges had a low rail that propped up some of the many pillows strewn across the enormous off-white linen cushion. Flat on the firm cushion beside each of us was a tray with fruits and cheeses as well as a very pleasing tea.
Malatina sat on one side with her legs folded underneath her. Her attire was very different from the dynasties’; instead of wearing bland, form fitting clothing she adorned herself with various layered gowns. Today it was shorter but when we’d first met her in the Al-Drek Circle her hemline had dragged the ground as she walked around me for her initial inspection. I remember this distinctly because I couldn’t help noticing that even though she wore white, no dirt or twigs had marred her gown.
She changed her hairstyle as often as she changed her gowns. Today a thin braid crowned a head of long straight hair.
I had also never seen her wear shoes. Even now with her bare feet tucked elegantly underneath her I had noticed that her soles were clean – as if the dust of this world could not attach itself to her.
“So, this world it is yours?” Anzio said.
“My father and I frequent this planet and others know this and respect our desire for privacy. A literal translation from our language would say we are identified with this planet – although I’m not really sure that is sufficient to grasp the concept.”
“An entire planet?” I challenged. “Isn’t that a little excessive?”
“Mark,” she replied. “How can you say it’s excessive when there are billions of planets yet to be inhabited? The universe is so much larger than you can possibly know – you must be careful not to judge others based upon your own ‘limited resources’ frame of reference.”
She was right, of course. My life had been centered around prioritizing my personal resources so I could afford to eat, sleep, get an education, and keep a roof over my head – not to mention pursuing various social pleasures. My entire professional career had been based around studying how various cultures had distributed their own limited resources and the inequities this invariably caused. To start thinking in terms of truly unlimited resources was going to take some getting used to.
“Ok, point granted,” I chuckled. “But my planet’s current predicament doesn’t seem to fit into that category. We need to maintain our self-determination.”
“Why?” Malatina asked.
“Because that’s what makes us great!” I blurted out.
I’d put a lot of thought into this and there were a whole bunch of things I wanted to say – that I wanted Malatina to understand. I just hoped I could articulate it well enough to be convincing. She seemed very patient and that was a good thing. I was determined to keep explaining my position in as many ways as possible until we won her support – or she got tired of listening.
Her large smile was now bordering on laughter yet I didn’t feel made fun of. For me to be talking to her about the greatness of our society must be like Neanderthal man claiming the greatness of his people to the President of the United States.
“I know that must sound incredibly arrogant Malatina, but I believe there is something unique about us. I believe we offer great value to the galactic community but only if our spirit isn’t crushed. This is why our music is so special – it captures that spirit that might be lacking in the rest of your people.”
I didn’t necessarily feel that I’d made a lot of headway that afternoon but she didn’t throw us out of the place either.
As a matter of fact, the days drug on. We’d been assured that Semi and Ashima knew to wait for us in the ship but those days turned into weeks. We were given an incredibly lavish suit of rooms that joined on a huge den. Besides our sleeping chambers and separate bath areas, the common area included a large fireplace, refreshment bar, and dining room. There was also our own private veranda – I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in an Italian palace or mountain fortress. Anzio was no help as he thought that anything exceedingly lavish was by definition Italian.
We’d typically spend the mornings with Malatina on that same oversized cabana talking about anything and everything concerning Earth. We spent a lot of time on our history but we also talked about the daily concerns and living conditions of the current generation. She seemed particularly interested in understanding how competition played such a big role in daily life and she delighted in even the mildest stories of personal victory over adversity.
The afternoons saw Anzio and I on our own; free to roam the vast estate and grounds. We found an almost hidden mountain lake that was perfect for swimming and provided a great physical release from the pressure of our mission. It was also when we felt most comfortable voicing our private thoughts and observations to each other. There was no reason to think that our rooms in the villa were ‘bugged’ but there was no reason to think that they weren’t either.
We always shared dinner with Malatina in an intimate dining hall; well, at least as intimate as one end of a table that seated ten could be. The warm food was always on the table when we arrived and we never saw another soul our entire time at the villa.
Dinner was our time, however, to ask questions of her.
“What I still don’t quite understand is the relationship between the lower houses and the dynasties,” I said. “For example, how and why are you so much more advanced?”
“My but you ask interesting questions,” she responded. “We of the lower houses have been around much longer than the dynasties. We surpassed their level of understanding millions of years ago.”
“Yet you still acknowledge their existence and occasionally give them guidance or aid, if I understand the situation correctly. If your people have moved so far beyond them why still bother to have anything to do with them? Why are they important to you?”
There was something in Malatina’s demeanor that made me think I was on the right track. After a short moment she responded…
“You come from a primitive society Mark – I hope you don’t take offense, but you have said yourself that you live in a very competitive society. It must be very difficult for you to believe that a people would act out of the goodness of their hearts, yet we spare valuable time for the dynasties – is it so hard to believe that we have simplistic motives?”
Yes, I do come from a competitive society, but if anything it’s taught me to question everything. I still wasn’t getting anything close to the whole story here.
“Malatina, I’m not belittling your motives but you are far from a simplistic people. I think there’s more to it than that and I’d like to know what it is.”
“Very well, you are correct that there is more than one reason for what we do with the dynasties; this is true for everything in life. We occasionally help, in the limited ways we can, because they deserve the help and it makes us feel good to do so, but you are right that there are other reasons. It is also directed by The Accord that we oversee humanity.”
“The Accord. That’s another thing that I don’t totally understand. Exactly who is The Accord and why does it control everyone?”
After sitting silent for quite some time she said, “I suspect that it will take your people many generations to have even a basic understanding of The Accord. The simplistic answer is that The Accord is everything; it is the known universe from its creation until now.”
“I know that that is less than the answer you are looking for,” she continued. “But for now, it will have to suffice. There is something else I must discuss with you and time grows short.”
Although there was nothing in her demeanor to suggest a sense of urgency, her words instantly put us on guard.
“Tonight after dinner, you will have audience with DanDreken of Erkandel Del Gabloriel,” she continued.
“DanDreken, he is your father, yes?” asked Anzio.
“Yes, and there are several things you need to know about him. First, understand this; he is not your friend.”
After a pause she continued, “He is also not your enemy. He simply wishes to perform the function required of him and then be done with you.”
“And what function might that be?” I inquired?
“The Accord requires many different things from us. Among others, Lower House Gabloriel has many times been given the responsibility of harbinger or messenger. I suspect that might be why your Coridian friends brought you here; in hopes we might spread word of your plight.”
“We also however, carry the burden of vetting the truth of our messages. DanDreken will have questions for you and you must answer him honestly and to the best of your ability. He will sense any falsehoods.”
“So if we pass his test,” I say, “he will help us against the Noridians?”
“No. DanDreken will not help you in any material way. However, if you satisfy his criteria he will pass you on to someone that could possibly help you.”
“So why are you telling us these things? It seems like a warning yet this would seem to be good news…?”
“Perhaps,” she replied. “But that remains to be seen. If you have any hope of impressing my father with your worthiness you must not appear cowed – and my father can be… intimidating.”
“Ah,” said Anzio. “Then this is something like a warning. We thank you for that.”
“I would not thank me just yet…”
After dinner, Malatina lead us into a large long chamber with a twenty-foot ceiling and columns around the sides fronting alcoves with various statues and frescoes on one side and large darkened windows that presumably looked out over the valley on the other. Anzio was immediately captivated by the frescoes and wondered over to get a closer look.
I had followed Malatina to not quite the center of the room and was preparing to ask her yet another question when a bright flash demanded our attention.
I looked up in time to see a man finish taking one-step. At least that’s what it looked like, as if he’d just stepped out of some hidden doorway to stand before us. For a few moments he was silhouetted by a bright yellowish light originating immediately behind him. The light wasn’t omnidirectional however; it shown in a widening beam up behind his head as well as down towards the ground. For a moment, from the shadows his legs cast, he appeared to be floating; but then the light disappeared and left him standing not ten feet in front of us.
“DanDreken, I presume,” I said before he could say anything.
Yes, I was probably being a little presumptuous and I risked making him mad by not showing proper deference, but I remembered Malatina’s words about not being cowed and like a lot of things I’d found myself doing lately I was just running on instinct.
“DanDreken of Erkandel Del Gabloriel I present to you Dr. Marquis Spencer of Earth,” Malatina said formally.
DanDreken’s inspection of me never wavered even when Anzio emerged from an alcove to join us.
After what seemed forever he spoke, “You seem different than other Earthers I remember.”
“How long ago did you meet them?” I asked.
Not only did he not respond, he didn’t even appear to consider a response or acknowledge my query in any way. I realized that when it came to gender differences the lower houses were no different than the dynasties; the men were tall but slight, dispassionate, and came across as somewhat arrogant – especially DanDreken.
“What do you remember of your origins?” he finally asked.
There was no attempt to be polite, no offer of a seat or refreshments. For the next 40 minutes we stood there while I answered DanDreken’s questions. At first, I tried interspersing a few questions of my own but he ignored them just as he ignored my attempts to get Anzio involved in the conversation.
I recounted everything I knew from my professional studies about the origin of man and I filled in many blanks with what I’d learned from the Noridians and Coridians. I watched him closely hoping to be able to verify some of these newfound revelations from our past but his face was stone and gave nothing away.
Eventually the questions ended and we all just stood there. DanDreken was silent, perhaps processing what he’d learned from us. I was slowly shifting my weight from one foot to another when I realized that Malatina was no longer with us. She had apparently departed while I was focused on one particular answer or another.
He broke the silence by issuing a command that we return ‘here’ at daybreak tomorrow.
Suddenly the light behind him was shining again and if possible even more brightly than the first time. The shadows it cast made DanDreken appear ten feet tall and the intensity of the light caused us to look away. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him take a step back into the brilliance and then disappear – taking the light with him.
I was still seeing an afterimage in my vision when Anzio spoke.
“What the hell do you think just happened my friend?” was all he said.
I didn’t answer; I knew it was a rhetorical question.
We soon returned to our suit and Anzio picked up a decanter from the bar area and poured both of us a glass of a fruity, slightly fermented drink we’d both become found of.
We were enjoying the silence, lost in our own thoughts, when suddenly I said, “I think I’m in the mood for a swim.”
Anzio gave me a questioning look; we were both tired and we had, apparently, a big day tomorrow.
Without saying a word, I nodded my head in the direction of the fireplace where neatly folded and set out on the foot table were the overly plush towels we always used to dry ourselves after swimming in our hidden mountain lake.
“I guess the night air it would do me good also,” Anzio replied.
Note: Book II: Destiny will be published soon! If you enjoyed reading Book I, Here Comes Earth: Emergence please consider leaving a review. Click Here or go to the book page where you bought the book and click on the word ‘reviews’ (or the number of reviews) next to the stars. Thank you, WLG
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