Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 29

I had to split this next section so it would fit.  I'll finish it next week.

      “Right on time as always.” The man climbed out of the pool, dressed in only a set of trunks and dripping wet. He was still funny looking to Deborah, but now that she met him up close, she knew why. He was too normal. Far too normal looking, as perfectly normal looking as anyone could be, and that made him stand out. She thought on this a moment as he padded towards them over the stone floor tiles of the natatorium. Yes, that was it, he was just too normal looking. “It is good to see you again Lakinde.”

      “Don't call me that,” L’lorne said.

      “Oh?” Ritch 'arrd, as that was who the man was, looked at L’lorne curiously for a moment, then looked down at himself. “Terribly sorry, I'm not exactly dressed for this meeting.” He held one hand up to his shoulder, then swiped it down. Clothing folded out of nowhere and covered his body, the water, wicked away with the same brush. He now stood there in casual, but still quite professional clothing. He looked up at L’lorne again and frowned. “A block, I see. I had hoped you had gotten over that by now.” He shrugged. “Well anyway, I take it this must be Deborah Ignigus.” He bent down on one knee and held his hand out. “Pleasure to meet you.” Deborah did nothing. “I won't hurt you, I promise.”

      “You can trust him on that,” L’lorne said, never taking her eyes off her teacher and former lover.
Deborah hadn't considered that Ritch 'arrd would try to hurt her, but she wasn't sure she wanted to shake his hand, or even speak to him. It appeared, however, that she would have to do at least one of those, if not both, so she grabbed his hand with hers and they shook gently.

      “Well then, now that we're all acquainted, let us sit down and have a little talk, unless you want to get to the meat of the matter Lakinde?” L’lorne said nothing. “Very well then,” he gestured to his right, and upon turning Deborah saw three rather comfortable looking chairs and a table rising up out of the stone floor. Not through a hole in the floor, but through the floor itself, leaving the stone tiles intact as they finished raising up.

      They sat without taking their eyes off each other, with L’lorne and Ritch 'arrd sitting directly opposite of each other, forcing Deborah to take the third seat in between them. She suddenly felt as if she had been placed there on purpose, as a kind of prize or, more likely, a game piece. It had been obvious for a while now that L’lorne had intended to use her in this way, but only now did it begin to occur to her that perhaps Ritch 'arrd meant to do the same thing. Exactly how, though, seemed to elude her.

      “Would you like a drink?”

      “Um, yeah, a soda.” Deborah said this haltingly as three glasses rose up through the top of the table, as if they were growing out of the table.

      “I got it,” L’lorne said, and as the glasses finished growing in front of Deborah, a liquid began to fill without being poured from anything. A straw and ice formed as well and Deborah only after a moment of consideration, took the glass, afraid it would simply melt away in her hand.

      She took a careful sip and smiled. “Wow, that's better than the real thing.”

      “I was never a fan of that flavor,” Ritch 'arrd said. “I prefer the lime flavored one.” He turned to L’lorne. “Tea as usual Lakinde?”

      “Stop calling me that,” L’lorne said. She had a cup and saucer already in her hands, her own glass sitting quite unused on the table. Deborah couldn't remember when or where L’lorne had gotten the cup and saucer, but figured she had seen enough things created out of nowhere today, so she didn't bother questioning it.

      What she did question, more with a glance than anything else, was the name Ritch 'arrd kept using. “Lakinde?” she finally imitated.

      “Ah, I see, using the old name again are you,” Ritch 'arrd said to L’lorne. “I'm sorry Deborah, I imagine I was confusing you a bit. Unless she objects, would you care for me to explain it to you?” L’lorne said nothing and Deborah nodded, so Ritch 'arrd continued. “It all comes back to the structure of her name. You see, in her language, Lcorn L’lorne translates literally to 'she who dreams of stars.' Lovely name isn't it? And very true in her case. After a while, however, I decided she had done enough not to need to dream of stars anymore, so I gave her a new name. Lcorn Lakinde, she who is master of stars. And she very much is, wouldn't you say so?”

      L’lorne sipped at her drink, ignoring Ritch 'arrd's question. “Well anyway,” Ritch 'arrd continued. “I imagine you have many questions, even ones you don't know you have yet, so be my guest and ask away.”
Deborah shifted her jaw for a moment. She actually hadn't planned to ask any questions, she was just there to watch him and L’lorne duel with each other, so it was quite a surprise to her when one spilled out of her mouth. “Why did you kill my mother?”

      Ritch 'arrd's face took a down turn and frowned. “Yes, your mother. Allow me to say this,” and he looked right into Deborah's eyes. “I am very sorry about what happened to her. I know her loss hurt you very deeply, but there is nothing I can offer you to ease that pain except this apology.”

      Deborah listened to him carefully, watching his eyes, the movements of his mouth, the way his body shifted, when it did, and tried to determine if he was actually telling the truth. The apology wasn't enough, not yet. “Why?”

      “Why, that is the question isn't it?” Ritch 'arrd leaned back against his chair. “That would require me to tell you about my people first. May I?” Deborah nodded.

      “My people, long ago, before even Lakinde's universe was born, lived on a world only slightly unlike yours. It had far more water and far less land than this one, but the water it did have wasn't very deep in many places. As such, my people developed as an amphibious race, capable of breathing both water and air as required.” He held his hands up to his neck and pulled them back revealing several slits. “This nature,” he continued, recovering his gills with a gesture. “Allowed us to use the most of everything we had on our world. In time, we developed many of the same technologies and sciences as your people have developed, and more.

      “We also developed a great and beautiful culture, one based on the most important element of any civilization: The teacher. Ritch 'arrd is not my name, incidentally, but my title. I am The Ritch 'arrd, The Great Teacher of my people.”

      “Helps when you're the last one,” L’lorne said with a bit of venom.

      “I suppose it does, but I earned that title long before my people ceased to be. This,” he held out a pendant of the same twisted metal that L’lorne wore, only it was a pretzel shaped circle instead of a t shape. “Was given to me by the last Ritch 'arrd, when I had earned it. Lakinde has a proper title as well, one I had long ago as well. She is The Tar 'nisl. I never liked that when I was Tar 'nisl, so I never insisted that she go by it, but nonetheless, that is her title.

      “My people went on to own a glorious empire, one that long after it fell, when my people decided to escape the corporeal, still burned in the memory of the galaxy in which we lived. Your people were there as well, conquered by mine early in our history. It was believed then, and right up until the end by many, that we should help elevate all the species we dominated, so educating your race was the first thing we did.”

      “Second thing,” L’lorne said.

      Ritch 'arrd nodded slightly. “She's right. My people were a bit arrogant about themselves. They believed that our biology was superior to all others, and when they came across a species, the first thing we did, was to make their biology match ours.”

      “Mama,” Deborah said, remembering the creature her mother had been turned into by the scientists under Ritch 'arrd's direction.

      “They converted the entire species, and any who resisted were simply killed. Then they were reeducated, and became yet another branch of our great empire.” He partly smiled, then let it fade away. “I did not agree with the method, as it ignored the fact that we weren't perfect biologically, but I was not Ritch 'arrd then, nor even Tar 'nisl, so my opinion was ignored. When my people left the galaxy behind, their offspring continued on for a time, until it ran into a race more ruthless and advanced than even my people, and were wiped out for all time. They simply couldn't adapt any more.

      “By then I had joined the Order, and had long ago surpassed anything my people could have ever dreamed of. I spent a great deal of time looking for a student to share what I had learned with, and eventually, after many false starts and half successes, I came across Lakinde, which eventually led me here.”

      “To start all over again,” Deborah said, imagining an entire race of modified humans walking, or maybe swimming, around the world.

      “Actually, not quite,” Ritch 'arrd said. “My goal is not to convert your race into something like mine, though you did see several early attempts. No, I have a wider goal in mind.” He stood up passed his hand through the air. Above them a field of stars began to appear. “I came here because of Lakinde, of course, but I also saw where your people were going. Which wasn't very far, I'm afraid, too much in fighting and selfishness to truly accomplish something great. Right now, it will take your people a 1000 years to get to the stars, and in 10,000, they'll barely control a small corner of the galaxy.” As he spoke, the star field pulled back to an image of a galaxy and a small loop of green appeared over part of it.

      “I decided that while I was here, I would help your people actually achieve something great. So I've been changing the way you're educated, to start. Individually, the next generation will be four times smarter than the current one. In five generations, every member of your race will be geniuses. But that isn't enough.” He turned to Deborah. “They'll be smarter, but they'll also be more greedy, more selfish, more, well, human than ever before. So I wanted to introduce a way to make them less so. Using my own genetic material, I started a project to slowly introduce genetic modifications to your people, and encourage cooperation amongst them. The first phase was to create a group of 'super soldiers' for your military. After a while, they would find that more subtle modifications work better than complete conversion, and they'll incorporated it into their regular soldiers, who will spread it to their families and eventually, your people will begin to reflect a new, better version of humanity, the one you all strive for but never actually achieve.”

      The green line on the galaxy expanded outward, growing to fill nearly half of the galactic disk. “In 500 years, you'll have growing and fruitful colonies amongst the stars. In a thousand, your people will be one of the great powers of the galaxy, perhaps even greater than my people at their height.” He spun around back to Deborah and the sky vanished, replaced by the ceiling of the natatorium.

      “But none of this matters to you.” He walked over and knelt down in front of Deborah. “I could speak to you about my grand ambitions for your people until I was blue in the face, as they say. I could give you excuses and try to convince you that what happened was for the good of all people, but it would matter little to you. It doesn't matter because you lost your mother, your home, and the only life you've ever known.” He bowed his head, almost in shame.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn L'lorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. What kind of person is The Ritch 'arrd? What does his human form look like (in your mind)?
4. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
5. What do you think of Ritch 'arrd's overall plan?

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