As we came closer it was discovered that the galaxy is alive! Noelle has given it a name that everyone accepted. We will be arriving at the ‘Fragile Galaxy’ tomorrow.
What I called suns are various organisms that glow, different species glowing in different colours. They do not provide any heat, only a faint light. The scientists think that any creature that emitted heat would be losing energy faster than can be collected and would be extinct by now.
Those that total over ten square miles must be in the hundreds of millions. We have identified organisms down to the size of microbes. Some of them, even among the very large, are difficult to see as they are almost transparent. We mapped the tortuous path of one organism that has a faintly reddish colour, is tube-shaped, but snakes in and out among the others, reaching from one side of their galaxy to the other and back again. There must be some symbiotic relationship we have not identified yet, for we see smaller creatures approaching it, touching for a while (the tube at that point turns a darker colour during contact) and then they move away again. The tube has extremely thin feelers that branch out in all directions and seem to fade away rather than end and all the other creatures carefully avoid touching them.
The more we examine the Fragile Galaxy, the less we understand it. Robbie has become anxious, almost paranoid about our inadvertently infecting it with any of our micro-organisms. The scientists agree with him, that even the largest and toughest looking planet-sized organism is extremely vulnerable and we have to be very careful. The Sparklers have delved as far back as they can into their memories, but have not found any reference to the Fragile Galaxy. The Unation asked for Freddie to open so that their spaceship can participate in the experiments. Robbie could have refused, but his drawn face showed he is facing a crisis internally. He asked that their leaders meet with him. He then asked that the leaders of all other species on board join the meeting.
“As Nicko would say, we have a management crisis.” He smiled, but his eyes did not relax. “Do you all agree that I have final say on what is allowed to happen while you are here?”
Sharipya spoke loudly, “Not just here Robert. We have accepted you as leader of all Cherinians.”
“Not all have Sharipya. It is besides the point. We have never defined what being a leader of Cherinians means. I am more interested in defining what I find acceptable. For instance, I have no wish to give any orders - to anyone. I prefer to tell you why I agree or do not with any proposed action and then as responsible leaders and Cherinians you make up your own minds.”
Their Admiral spoke on their behalf. “You disagree with our request to examine these creatures in our own ship?”
“For a reason. I have not tested your technology and it may be as effective as you think it is. However, I do know what I can do as the void. The energies I use can find anything down to the size of an atom and destroy it. For instance, the hull of your ship, you do presume that because it is exposed to the vacuum and cold of space, it is not necessary for you to disinfect it?”
“Are you claiming bacteria or viruses can exist in…” All eyes had turned to the screens as he spoke and the obvious answer cut him off. “Robert, you are right, we did presume. Do you fear we might be carrying an infection from our world?”
“An infection? What could be construed as being an infection? Would a flake of dead skin or scale be an infection? A hair? If the DNA information in them is passed through to one of those organisms, how might it affect them?”
Luigi spoke in a voice that reflected his emoting, filled with dread. “Anything that upsets the delicate balance these organisms have achieved could cause their total destruction. That would be genocide of a multitude of species! It would be a greater calamity than the destruction caused by the fire-world.”
As Cherine spoke, all talking stopped. “Dear friends, our Robert spoke of making decisions as a leader. I ask that you ignore what he said, for he was wrong. He does not speak as our leader, but as the voice of all life. He is the protector and he is obliged to protect all life. Luigi is right, these are not just a few organisms within the ecology of a planet, they are a multitude of species and for all we know some of them are sentient. I would suggest that until we are certain there are no sentient beings within the Fragile Galaxy, we treat it as a strong possibility and act with extreme caution.”
An Anadir asked, “If you are confident your platforms will not allow any exchange of matter, why do you refuse to allow them to enter the living space of these organisms?”
“Our healers advise us that the energy radiating from the shields of Freddie and the platforms are not harmful to us. They have not found the low radiation to be harmful to any organism, however delicate or microscopic. They have not reassured me that none of the beings you wish to study from close up will be harmed. Can any of the scientists do so?”
“No. Our experiments with your void energies are still at their infancy and as you say, our healers are more efficient. Does this mean you will never allow us to contact any of the local species?”
Robbie grinned reassuringly, more relaxed now, and replied, “What if we perform a few experiments before deciding? For instance, when we were at our previous position studying the gulf, as my loves call it, I was interested to find that even in the void the area hardly had any energy streams. If it is true here also, then the organisms might be susceptible to the influence of void energies and we should proceed with great caution. If however this area is richer in the void, it would suggest to me that they are drawing on the energies, as do all planets, suns and beings that live there. We could then take the risk of approaching some organism that is temporarily out of contact with the red tube and other creatures.”
“That red tube, we are extremely interested in learning more about it.”
“When speeding up our films we have found a faint pulse beats along it.”
Robbie’s eyes lit up. “Like a vein? Do you think it supplies the system here with the energy it needs? Does that suggest the total sum of all we see is in effect one organism?”
“It could be, though that would make it the single largest organism throughout the universe. How does it communicate with its body, nerve impulses would take months or years to travel across. Robert, we are not ready yet to make intuitive leaps like you do. We need more facts.” Everyone smiled. The tension had lessened as everyone became interested in the conversation.
“Robert, we are at extreme range and we can only magnify to a limited extent before losing focus, but we think we have seen movement on the surface of the larger beings.”
“Probably they have their own parasites. Imagine, what if the parasites are the sapient species!”
As seems to happen with Robbie, he tries to get everyone to define what his powers are, what limits should be imposed on him and the conversation wanders off in other directions and the others leave before anything is decided. I thought we owed it to him to give him some small measure of comfort.
“I think Robert has demonstrated that in this case we should do as he asks and not contact or approach the Fragile Galaxy until we know more about them. We have left undecided the question my father asked you. He hates giving orders. Should he or would a request from him suffice?”
“Sam, not just a request, they should discuss it with me, I may be wrong. I will probably often be wrong as I don’t have a tenth of the knowledge the scientists have and there are many others here who are far more knowledgeable or experienced than I am.”
“Until you are proven wrong then Robert. We have to accept that your instincts are rarely wrong.”
“I would say his intuition is often wrong, I have watched him play backgammon with Alki. As protector though, I have never seen him err in the wrong direction. I’d rather heed his advice, even if he is at times painfully cautious.” Allan earned a smile from Robbie and all of us.
I asked, “Sol, have the Sparklers heeded Robbie’s request or have they flown into the Fragile Galaxy?”
Everyone froze, including Robbie, none had thought of them and since the Sparklers tend to go where they will, it was likely they had or were even presently flying among the denizens of the Fragile Galaxy. All eyes were now on Sol and she lightly blushed.
“Robert said we should not approach, long before arriving at this point, so we assumed that included us. The Sparklers are much closer than we are to the edge of the Fragile Galaxy, but they have stayed at a distance that is safe.”
“Thank you love, I forgot to speak to Solomon. Ladies and gentlemen, since we are gathered, may we declare this meeting at an end so that we can turn it into a social occasion?”
We are certain those of the Unation have very sophisticated gambling games and machines, but our primitive casino boat has proven to be the most popular venue. Robbie had to extend it so that the tables can accommodate the large number of players visiting there daily. It amuses our normal born Terran Cherinians from all the realities. They said that casinos usually bring out the worst in players, often drinking too much, taking drugs and bought sex are very popular as a sideline at such venues. With us everyone has fun and when they’re finished gaming, they usually end up at some table talking the rest of the night away.
Robbie has provided for more clubs and restaurants in our Tree House, the only reason they are not operational is because we will not allow him to split himself to provide the staff. One of the facilities was handed over to the Inguel for them to have a restaurant and meeting place of their own. They grew their furniture and décor (for some reason they have not rid the club of its windows) and sometimes their music can be heard in neighbouring homes. The Anadir liked the idea and also created their own club. We offered to help the Eminixx decorate a club for themselves. It has become popular for everyone to project as another species and visit their clubs. We cannot eat and drink their refreshments and sometimes we cannot breathe their air, but each club has food machines capable of providing victuals and drinks for all the species.
We went to the void to dance and while there, Robbie became the void and examined the area. No evidence of the Fragile Galaxy exists, so it is not surprising the Sparklers have never come across them throughout their long history. Sometimes the obvious stares us in the face and we do not recognise it because it is not among the list of answers we were looking for. During that visit, Robbie only noted that the energy flow in this area is slightly higher than it had been at our previous stop. It was only days later when he went to the void to think that he noticed an anomaly. We became worried when the night passed and he did not return. We could not contact him and that in itself always has us a little bit on edge, his not returning on time for breakfast was unusual and worried us.
Cherine had already called Vincent when Robbie appeared. His void form was beaming and after a quick greeting he asked Sol to arrange for Solomon to meet him in the void. As if we would meekly stay at home!
*I need to take you with me, something is happening and if it is what I’m thinking, this is a new mystery and very exciting.*
Without commenting on our presence, as if he took it for granted, he took us with him as he became/returned to being within/part of the void again.
Silently he manipulated the energy fields around us until we could all see them clearly. *I want all of you to look closely at what you are seeing and tell me if you notice anything unusual.*
Even though we knew there was something to look for we did not notice whatever it was that had grabbed his imagination. As would be expected it was Solomon who identified the new phenomenon, without realising it. He asked Robbie whether it is something about the flashes of energy being created, something unusual that is, that Robbie has noticed. His question electrified Robbie.
*You knew energy is being created? Where have you noticed it happening, under what conditions?*
*It happens everywhere, as far as I know. You had not realised?!*
*You are damn right I hadn’t!*
*It is easier to identify what is happening in an energy-poor area.*
*During your travels, have you noticed whether it happens in higher concentration in certain areas or is it totally random?*
*You misunderstand me. From our domain in the void we could not identify what is happening, though our Thinkers have long postulated the possibility. They felt it had to happen or else the void would cool down and die, with no energy left in it. The creation of stars, planets, galaxies, they all take and give energy to the void, but they do not return as much as they take. Even the creation of souls takes energy. The first time you brought me with you here, you manipulated some of the energy streams and since you ignored the signs of energy being created, we thought you were not interested. Our Thinkers were excited to learn that our theories are fact. *
Robbie was almost petulant. *Not interested!? Solomon, I even mentioned my concerns about where the energy could be coming from and whether we could be draining the void!*
*We thought you were concerned that more energy is being used than is being created by the source. I apologise for the misunderstanding.*
*Solomon, how much energy is consumed by the birth of a new sun, compared to what we use for Freddie?*
*We should be more explicit about what we are talking about Sam. When you speak of energy being used by the birth of a sun, you are talking of the net loss, after the sun has returned the major part of whatever energy it took? In that case, as an extremely rough guide, you could probably energise over ten million Freddies, a similar number of Kaleidoscope Worlds and feed another twenty Sparkler populations at less cost in energy, for a period in the tens of millions of years.*
*Does that include the energy used to move Freddie in time and to other realities?* Claudia asked in a shaken ‘voice’.
*It includes everything. The three biggest drains on void energy are the Sparklers, your Kaleidoscope Worlds and Freddie. We are the only users of energy that do not give anything back to the void.*
*The void presents us with many impossible questions Solomon. It seems to be without dimension, I neither expect to find it has any breadth, height or width. since it appears to go on forever in all directions and yet when I am here it has a ‘surface’ where all life is able to gather and this, an ‘inside’ where we are now - or are they both the same, different aspects of the same thing? If there truly is no limit to the dimensions in all directions, how can it co-exist with normal space that also seems to be endless in size? What about further planes of existence? The energy appearing here, where does it come from? If it is from another plane, then does that plane also receive energy from another plane or doesn’t it need to, is it able to create energy out of nothing?*
*I am curious about how you are able to become the void Robert. Not the mechanisms, I ask not of that. To put it another way; how would you react to someone telling you he is able to become space?*
*I wonder whether it would be possible?* We all laughed at his presuming he can try. It also scared us; what if he finds a way?
*Perhaps we should be wary of trying dad. When I was in the higher plane I knew it was more durable than the void. I was able to see how you affected the void and knew you could not have done the same to that plane. Perhaps normal space is even less durable, vulnerable to manipulation in ways that could cause it to collapse or create wormholes? What if the other end opens in the heart of a sun?*
*Robert, are you able to sense whether the Fragile Galaxy is drawing energy from the void?*
*I am certain it must be doing so, but I am not familiar enough with what I see to identify all that happens here Tina. I think it is important we find a way to answer your question, so I’ll have to spend more time here.*
*When you become the void, you do not also become the energy within it?*
*I don’t think so. What are you suggesting?*
*If you can identify with the energy, you might be able to sense what is being taken. After all, for energy to be drawn from here, something would have to be affecting the energy, same as gravity affects space.*
Robbie left us wrapped in a sphere of energies to try out Solomon’s suggestion. After a while we saw energies being split into their different frequencies and made to appear calm as if they are solid. We could not see anything happening, as it is was happening too far from us to pick up details. When the streams of energies resumed their normal paths, we knew Robbie is about to return. He did and took us back to the void surface for us to return to our bodies.
“Solomon was right. I need to spend some time with the scientists for them to identify which energies are being used. By the way, Solomon, we were not the only ones in the void as the void. I saw extremely faint signs of something that looked like very fine tendrils or hairs that waved about and drew certain energies to themselves. My first suspicion is that those were the feelers we saw from the red tube extending from normal space into another dimension.”
Robbie has a number of scientists who are able to come into his mind and see what he has seen. They identified many of the energies and argued about why it is the Fragile Galaxy only uses such a small range of energies. They asked Robbie to take them with him to the void for them to estimate over a period of time how much energy is being drawn. Tired but cheerful, he agreed and returned to us.
Cherine stopped disappearing with Lynda and it is obvious she is feeling deflated. We did not ask her why, just doing all we can to cheer her up. Robbie let everything else take a back seat while he spent time with her, sometimes going for walks or else just holding her in his arms. She finally confessed.
“For these last months I’ve been trying to strengthen Lynda in her searches for Arthur. I’ve been trying to use some of my gifts, those she does not have, to extend her range, but nothing seems to help.”
“Sam, I think you better delete the details he has placed in the diary. Not that I understand what he thought we could do about it, knowing where he is does not help, if we do not have the ability to find his reality.”
“I’d rather let him delete it. He might otherwise think I deleted it because we are not interested. I think what he did was a step in the right direction dad. At least Lynda knows where to search for him in each reality she finds and what time he is in. Even if she does not identify his reality, but finds realities that are close to his, that will be a big step forward for us.”
Tears slowly coursed their way down Cherine’s cheeks. “We have to find him now Robert. We must! He is suffering.” The protector in him cannot protect Cherine from her empathy. He fought within himself and offered her the best he could.
“Give me a couple of days to set things up for the scientists here and we’ll go to the soul eaters planet.”
We watched with dismay as he drove himself over the next two days and nights. The fatigue did not bother us; he was creating platforms for the scientists and splitting himself with large enough chunks for them to have the ability to judge and refuse should any try to encroach upon the outer parts of the Fragile galaxy. As an aside, we no longer object when he splits his soul for creating full platforms, as once their need is over, he takes back the parts he split from himself. When he does, the effect is almost magical, for in the meantime his soul has grown, compensating for what he did, and he becomes the most stunning soul I’ve ever seen.
Finally it reached the point where the others, Cherine included, were in distress because of him overextending himself. I was so angry though that the distress had to wait for later. He often glanced my way when stopping for a meal or coffee, but wisely did not try to question me.
“Most of the scientists have decided they wish to travel with us. The Unation and Inguel spaceships are also staying with us. Entering a pocket universe created or at the least partly within Meli’s mind has them excited. I promised we will be returning here so they will not lose out.” He grinned. “I guess they want to be able to return to their home planets and tell them that their entire spaceships, for a time, existed within the mind of Meli.” Everyone chuckled, some of them with a hint of embarrassment. He then said to me, “Let me have a cigarette and coffee, a nice hot shower and then Sam, you can tell me why you are ready to skin me alive.”
Our loves were already anxious that he had overextended himself and were unanimous in their belief that I was choosing the wrong moment to attack him on a matter of principal. In his bathrobe, wiggling his toes at Candy, he lit a cigarette, exhaled and looked at the other girls, not me.
“Lets make this easy for Sam. She is angry because I showed our fellow Cherinians that I do not trust them by splitting myself the way I did.” His eyes bored into mine. “Have I summarised it correctly for you?”
“If you realised it, why did you do it then? Are you becoming what you hated, the politician who sees himself as a father figure?”
In a serious tone he rejoined, “Don’t the Eminixx consider me Father of all Cherinians?”
“Bullshit! First of all, you are not the Father, Alki and Nicko are. Secondly, since when do you accept appointments of that sort? You know their description of you as Father is in accordance with their own culture and does not apply universally.”
Cherine sent me the sensation of being tickled for a moment and realising Robbie was teasing me I flared up for a second and then relaxed, amused despite myself. I was still worried though. “Why did you do it dad?”
“Because I don’t trust them.” It felt as if my heart (one of them at least) was about to stop. I could not hide my dismay. He gave a huge grin, picked up Goldi and caressed her as he spoke to me.
“Have you ever watched the scientists at work? They have rules, precautions they have to take to preserve our ecology or that of their area. They get so carried away, lost within their theorising, their excitement, that they do not even remember to protect themselves. Do you know how many times I’ve had to interfere to save your precious animals and plants, or those of their ecology?
Not one of them would do anything to deliberately put the Fragile Galaxy at risk, but they are human Sam, even if they are Cherinians, and they will act first and think later. They are just like a bunch of kids!”
I twisted my lips as if having bitten a lemon. “Until that last sentence you were making sense. Because a lot of what you said, your motives were based on facts, I’ll let it go, but dad, you are worrying me. Please think about it clearly and examine your innermost thoughts and reasons. Please, for your sake, be certain you are not allowing yourself to think as Normal politicians do.”
He could have made a very obvious joke in reply, but he only nodded, mentally sending me a promise. Now he let his exhaustion show and leaning back shut his eyes. Quickly we did whatever we could to strengthen and fill him with love, since that is the one medicine that helps the soul recover and grow faster than any other.
When he was asleep I jumped to my Tree Home and let the tears I’d held back, flow. None may come to another’s home, not even to console, without an invitation. They are not even supposed to show they know how I feel, since going there is a way of asking for privacy. Cherine ignored the unspoken rule and sent me her love and a few words. *Never think of him as a burden Sam, not even a burden taken gladly. I know you are weeping because he tried to prevent us from being angry with you and it has filled your heart with love for him. Soon as your weeping is ended, take the time to rejoice my love.*
The next morning Robbie did not awaken. Dommi made everyone get up and go for breakfast, telling us to keep our minds and emoting quiet and gentle, happy if possible, so that he feels good. Cherine stayed by him and the rest of us took turns, laying on a bed and reading or sometimes just looking at his face that was gentled by sleep and marvelling that he fills us with so much love. None of us sensed exactly when Vincent appeared, our attention drawn to him as we felt his sadness.
“Dommi, Cherine, Noelle and Irene, take him to the void. Goldi, be there to charm him, he needs to be charmed.”
When we saw his soul we trembled at how fine he had cut it. Without a word Cherine rushed off and collected a part of his soul from one of the platforms Robbie had created for the scientist and letting it fall apart in normal space, she brought the sliver and reunited it to what was left of him. She watched him, evaluating whether it would be necessary to destroy another platform. She decided against it and joined us in sending him motes of love. It was not long before our friends, relatives and alternates joined us. We only allowed them to gift him with minute amounts of motes, as having too much of other souls will change him. We were sending our own motes, but most of what we sent were from his slivers. After all, a Robert with too much of our personalities would be impossible to live with!
R: Thank you love, I haven’t enjoyed a comment of yours as much, for a long time.
Meli has over time inspired us with a dread of the soul eaters and we found excuses, Robbie needs time, we need time, anything to get out of facing the moment. At such times our lover is unbelievably tender and patient; none of that nonsense I’ve seen among Normal adults who make patience just a little beyond what suits them, and then they force their children to face what they fear without preparing them properly so that fear can be faced without traumatising their tender souls. Robbie did not patronise by telling us not to fear and so on; instead he waited for each of us (sometimes it happened in groups) to be ready. He recognises that once we are the ones ready to talk about what frightens us, we will listen to his words and accept his soothing caresses. For the first time ever he vowed to us he will not go to the planet - not even a teeny bit of his soul. What he said made sense and reassured us. He pointed out that these creatures, whatever they are, are not aware there is anything else. They think their planet and sun is the total universe. To allow them to discover otherwise could lead them to finding a way out someday.
Despite what we read in the books by Anne McCaffrey, thanks to Arthur, I should point out that when on Earth we have searched the internet, asked shops that specialise in science fiction books and magazines, even rare out of print publications, whether they have a story about a planet of soul eaters. We tried to be inventive in describing the story and yet nothing was found that is remotely close to what Meli knows about her planet. Our search took an amusing turn when Robbie mentioned that the story sounds like the kind of story Japanese science fiction readers might enjoy and we tried translating (for our faxes) our request. We received the weirdest and often worst stories we’ve ever read and our home is now full of a lot of Japanese rubbish and our heads are filled with another language. I suppose that is the only positive aspect of the whole story.
Us girls had never realised the effect our funk would have on other Cherinians. I guess we expected them to view us as little girls who are being unreasonably afraid. It soon came to light that none of them think of us as children anymore and they admire us, considering us far braver than we are in fact, so our fear touched off a mild panic in them.
Shamefaced we confronted them and explained. Some were reassured while others who had not been as nervous, suddenly became afraid. It took a week for the dust to settle and everyone to be soothed.
Throughout all this, Haven was very sweet and uncharacteristically tolerant of our fears. Jade made a point of keeping her company and they earnestly whispered, until we sensed Jade is satisfied and relaxed again. I wondered but did not ask, as whatever they are hatching is bound to be known soon. The days passed though and neither of them did anything or revealed their secret.
Since the purpose of our next trip is to help us find Arthur, it was only natural he was a lot on our minds. I am able to recall the diary word for word by picturing each page in my mind, but that is not the same as reading the words. I took time off from my studies and reread all from the beginning. Something was not right, a nagging feeling that we have made a presumption that does not make sense. I was very pleased when I saw Cherine also read the diary. I was sitting on the brow of a hill watching the animals grazing in the distance, my thoughts flitting about when Cherine arrived. She sat next to me with her arms around her knees and we enjoyed the view for a while.
“Sam, have you any idea what is bothering you about the diary?”
“No. I think it has something to do with Arthur.”
“I realised that. I’ve noticed that when you write you often say ‘x’ time passed, a week or months. When you do that, how does it affect Arthur? Does it mean he spends a week or months waiting for you to write again?”
I laughed and kissed her, hugging her tightly to me. “That is it! So simple once you pointed it out!”
She laughed. “Why not explain it? What is the answer to my question?”
“No time or very little time, passes for him. Cherine, if I do not write for a year and then write, there is no loss of time for him. I sometimes don’t write for days and find he has carried on and described what occurred here so then I know he made it happen - though there is the possibility that he does not know he is doing so and thinks he is only writing what he senses from me…from us. He does not do that very often anymore. I need to work out what is actually happening.”
“Perhaps he makes the assumption that whenever you write is the time he is linked to.”
“Why not when we are back at home? There we are no longer synchronised.”
“We aren’t here either Sam. If we can age by years while for him it is a day, then it means that here, in Freddie, he can synchronise to your writing, not to the amount of time we live here.”
“When we chat, his assumption is synchronising us? Wow!” Cherine laughed at the dismay in my eyes. “It’s not funny Cherine. If we don’t want him to age it means I must not write for long periods!”
She grinned. “It would not help, he would then write on his own. You want him dictating what we do?”
“Yes.” Surprised she waited for me to explain. I thought about it for a while. “Cherine, if I write about our going to the soul eaters world we could make a mistake, get killed or even worse, release them into our universe. Arthur is a softie. He wants an interesting story and might make us suffer a little, for the purpose of making his story more interesting - adding a bit of spice - but he would never allow any of us to be killed.”
“I see. So we are going to Meli’s pocket universe just for the adventure?” God but she can make me feel so stupid at times. “He has shown us Sam that he cannot write us into his life, we have to find our own way to him. You let him write for us and the whole trip could be a waste of the only chance we have of finding him.”
“If Robbie is right.” I added, pulling away from her, my mind bleak. “If anyone gets killed or…Cherine I will be to blame.”
Cherine jumped to her feet emoting great excitement and called for Robbie. He jumped to us and waited to hear what has her so het up. She grabbed him and clambered up to be held in his arms. Her eyes blazing with joy before his, she told him.
“Robert. We have found Arthur! He is here with us!!”
“What!? What are you talking about!? Where, here?” Boy, when he uses such bad grammar it means he is really rattled.
“Here Robert. He is here before us, has always been, but we never noticed!” She gave him that brilliant cheeky smile of hers that makes his heart lurch. “Don’t you see it?”
Totally bemused he spared me a glance and saw I am just as lost as he is. “To be honest, I don’t my love.”
“Put me down.” He did so. She took his hand and pulled him to me. “Shake hands and greet Arthur.” She burst out laughing at our emoting and expressions.
“Sam gave the game away by mistake Robert. You know how Arthur sometimes writes without us writing and what he wrote happens? Sam just admitted that if she writes, then she is responsible for what happens to us.” By now she was hardly coherent as she doubled over with laughter. Robbie gave me an amused glance to check my emoting tallied with my facial expression. My knees felt weak and I sat on the grass. When Cherine came to me I hugged her to me.
“Thank you love. I just wish you had not got our hopes up for nothing.”
“You had a lesson to learn Sam and…”
“She knows Robbie, she is smart enough to understand.” She cupped my chin in her slim fingers and stared directly into my eyes, as if trying to enter my mind through them. “Samantha, we will get him. I promise.”
There you have it now Arthur; Cherine has promised. (And I wrote that piece, not you - so there! You can do nothing about it.)
Within our reality, but not in our time (about ten years earlier) we came to a stop outside the disturbance that is the opening. Before entering Robbie had agreed to provide the scientists with a platform for them to investigate the phenomenon. They filled the platform with equipment and they were let out into normal space.
When they returned they provided him with a printout of the area they had mapped. Somehow they had captured the way it affects normal space and the opening can be seen.
“The opening is not static Robert. It changes shape and size constantly.”
“Within what parameters?”
“Not dangerously so Robert. If you can wait, we would suggest you leave us here for a few months. Freddie can jump forward in time and we will be able to give you a better picture of what is happening.”
“I doubt that months would be long enough. I’ll come with you in the platform and jumping back in time we’ll travel forward in tiny jumps so that you can map it properly.”
They jumped back a thousand years and could not find it. After searching they gave up and jumped forward by five hundred years. Still nothing. They jumped to a hundred years before our presence in Freddie and still nothing. Robbie upset the scientists by jumping back and into Freddie.
“We will return, but not with one platform. As we did with the fire-world, I will create much smaller platforms so that we have hundreds of them. I would suggest they ring the area in a sphere shape so that we record the appearance of the pocket universe from all angles and with all the equipment we can use. Solomon, Sparklers should be with to watch for any changes our equipment cannot record.”
“You are expecting something dramatic?”
“I have no idea what to expect, but at least I now know the date, within months, of when it appeared.”
“How did you work it out?”
“Logic. I think it appeared at the time Meli was born, or just before.” Meli cringed, still unhappy with our going to visit her nightmare world. Everyone else stared at her with wonder.
Slowly, jumping day-by-day, Robbie carried all the platforms past the arrival of the pocket universe. He then jumped back and waited, everyone ready and equipment recording. The sphere of platforms were in two layers. Those with only equipment close to the point of arrival and those with the scientists further out. They had complained and pleaded, but Robbie refused to listen.
Seeing the stars and platforms on the opposite side became difficult, as if under water, everything wavering and dancing, but there had been no reason to fear as there was no aftermath evidence of violent reactions. As he relaxed, ready to allow the scientists to move in, a searing light flashed across and then it imploded. All platforms close to the event instantly disappeared. Robbie used his powers as the void to fight for the scientists and Vincent joined him.
The loss of equipment set us back, but everyone was just grateful to be alive. They analysed what their remaining equipment told them and spoke of new knowledge that will revolutionise many theories.
We were not concerned about their excitement. We watched as our two pacifiers, Noelle and Irene, held themselves tightly against a shaking Robbie. He’d thought for a while that he was losing a few of the occupied platforms and was berating himself for being foolish.
The question among the scientists was whether what happened is because of Meli, reflecting in real space what occurred in her mind, or was it the other way around. None of us had any doubts. Meli created the planets. We do have a different angle to the reason why this planet is wrapped up and placed here though. We think that because she disliked and feared the soul eaters so much, she banished their world from her mind. Meli says she hopes that is the reason, but despite it being here it does also remain in her mind. Lovely confusing stuff that allows many opinions and I doubt we will ever have a definitive answer.
Robbie insisted on entering the mini universe on his own as the void. He reassured all of us that he will stay away from the planet. After all, the soul eaters are not what he is interested in, he wants to learn about the space the planet is in and how it relates to our universe. He is convinced it will provide clues for finding Arthur. Haven refused to give in and insisted he take her with. Her own people (of both realities) tried to convince her she should obey Robbie, but she refused to listen. When they suddenly stopped arguing with her I got curious and with a little gentle persuasion I persuaded Jade to tell me (for the diary) what had happened. Haven attacked her people, also those of the Unation from her reality. She coldly told them that if they are prepared to depend on Robbie for the future of their people, the least they should have done is demanded to go with to offer him whatever protection they can. One of them countered that none of them, including her, has any unique powers capable of helping him and they would be a hindrance rather than a help. She gave him a withering look and said it could happen that by sacrificing her life she will buy him a vital second or two, helping him survive. Jade admitted to me that the two of them made a pact not to allow Robbie to be alone whenever he goes into the pocket universe.
Robbie is used to this kind of mutiny, but he gave in because Cherine did not demand to go with. If she had done so, he would have refused, as he would have taken her need to be with him as a sign that her intuition warns her he will be in danger.
Just before they left, Meli reminded him she will be there and he should try to sense her. He had not thought of that and stared at her with brooding eyes, worried, but unable to demand she stay away. With a sigh he closed his eyes and left with Haven.
If Haven had expected to be on their way immediately, Robbie soon set her right. She was tense, but he danced with her until she relaxed and sent back motes. He made certain she feels how much he loves her and how anything bad happening to her will hurt him. Once she recalled that their ties are primarily of love, they were ready and Robbie called Vincent to him and becoming the void took them with.
He spent a long time, being very careful of his choice of energies, mostly collecting all the dark energy the Ii used. Though it will take a lot of power to enter through the opening he does not want the soul eaters to sense him and invisibility is more important to him than fighting power. There is also an energy he uses almost as a dye so as to colour other forces such as gravity (disturbance of space) and he took a supply of that with.
Vincent moved into normal space in a shaft of his own, staying apart from Robbie so as to watch. He was to stay at the opening, almost half in and half out so that he can guide Robbie out if he has any problems.
Freddie was able send us their images, two shafts of controlled energies in normal space. We saw Vincent move into position and then Robbie with Haven moved through what looked like a lip of darkness that cut them off from us.
Despite the awesome power of his energies, Robbie felt as if he were trying to move through thick molasses. The deeper he got the more it seemed to resist him. He could already see the planet and worried that any flare of energy will be seen. He did not try to rip his way through violently, slowly pressing until suddenly he felt all resistance disappear.
He wanted to call to Meli, find out if she were there with them, but he reasoned that if the creatures that lived here feed off souls, they might be able to also hear any communications between souls.
*Robert, I can see you in my mind!*
Gently he cautioned her, *Keep silent Meli mou. Only talk if you have to.*
He turned his attention back to the area he had just traversed. He was hoping he’d be able to see Vincent or even the glimmer of stars. All he saw was a stygian darkness that did not look different in any way from anywhere else. He had to break his own rule.
*Meli. Did you see where we entered from?*
*Ignore anything else we do, keep yourself aware of the way out or else I’ll never find it again.*
The first thing Robbie did was speed off, away from the planet. He covered enormous distances, far bigger than should fit in the size of this universe and yet he did not sense any difficulty or barrier, not even from the direction he’d entered from! If he could not exit from there, he worried that they may be trapped. He reversed his direction and soon as he could see the planet in the distance he decided to try and enter the void. He did not know whether he could and if he could, he did not know whether the void would be of this universe or ours.
I hope you enjoy reading this story of fantasy, adventure and love - and should some of it be true for our reality, I hope you will love our Cherine.
Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου(Alexander Zenon Eustace)
24th December, 2019