...toasted him with a glass of Blue Nun, kissed his cheek and left. He followed and called out as I walked away, “Are you returning to Freddie?”
“No. I want to be able to return you there within the same hour you left, so I’ll go visit friends.”
Vincent had agreed to remain as his invisible protector, so I really was not worried about him. The Teller family I visited spoilt me, taking me to a show in London and to fancy restaurants, one placed on the edge of a very high cliff and one that is situated at the bottom of the deepest mining shaft, kilometres under the surface. Without air conditioning I would have been steamed like the vegetables I was served and I sure was glad to have the comfort of being able to teleport out of there should I need to. On the third day I returned to Wilfred, spent a few hours with him and left for another reality.
Samantha waited until I’d hugged all her family, even her Robert, before she came for a long hug. When there is time for us to do what we want and there are no social pressures, the family draws back to allow the alternates (or split souls) time on their own. Samantha took my hand and jumped us to a tiny valley, rich with plant life, an ice cold stream running through it. I did not recognise the area but she let me sense from her that it is in Greece. I’ve seen photos of such places but never been to them.
When I sensed her, I paused as we walked along the stream and she turned to look at me through the curtain of hair that she’d let fall over her face, avoiding my eyes, even though she did not try to avoid my mind sensing hers. “A number of Teller families are worried about something and so are our friends, Terrans and aliens - yet I sense you have not been told.” She bit her lip and it made me smile and, at the same time, miss my loves more keenly. “Before I tell you, there is something else you should know - for it is equally important…and disturbing. Not all, but many of the Teller alternate families have been meeting. There was no intention of keeping it a secret, but it ended up being one because we were embarrassed, feeling that what is happening could be seen as reflecting on…,” startled, I saw a tear edge its way to the corner of her mouth. She wiped it with the back of her hand. “A number of Roberts are withdrawing from their Cherinians. In most ways they remain a part of their Cherinian community, but they no longer have the confidence to be their leaders.” She looked up, parting her hair so as to look me in the eye. “It is a result of what I started speaking of - each Robert compares himself to yours and they see themselves as falling far short of what he is. With the help of their family and friends, including all species who are in contact with us, they have struggled to close the gap…unsuccessfully.” I now saw the pain she’d been hiding. “No Robert should feel he is second best - and the differences between your Robert and all the others is too big to be ignored.”
For a moment I was too stunned to think and then a surge of emotion hit me. Quickly I squelched it, hoping she had not sensed my fury. I shut myself off and tried to think objectively. It was difficult, for I was being battered by a need to weep and complain that they are not being fair to Robbie. It was very tempting to personalise the attack by demanding of her why she had not used her brains to help her Robert. For me to do that to her would be doubly cruel, so I tried to find a positive answer. “There are two ways we can handle this - at first with just your family and then you take my place with all the alternates, or else we call them to a meeting right now.”
I was pleased to see her react as I would. She analysed what I’d said before replying. “Just my family - Sam, I choose so for the sake of my Cherine and other loves.”
“That didn’t sound very Cherinian of you, did it?” I chuckled. “Don’t worry, I’d have made the same decision and for the same reasons. Does this stream start from accumulated runoffs on the surface or does it spring from underground?” We stayed on our own long enough for our bond to strengthen and then returned to her home. When I saw their Alki had arrived, having sensed his Robert and Cherine would need his presence, I smothered him with a strong stream of love.
Robert was embarrassed. “I’ve shared from our Samantha and…,” his Cherine cut in smoothly, “we’re grateful for you wanting to help us. Sam, we’ve tried everything we can think of, what can you do?”
“I’m more likely to help you achieve what you’re yearning for by disabusing you of your system of beliefs. If you still need an example or two for you and your loves to help your Robert, I guess I can help there also. Cherine love, I won’t do more; if you are to take pride in what you achieve, you’ll have to take over, use your own imaginations to help Robert grow.”
Once they understood I intended taking them to the void, Dommi suggested a light meal to fuel our bodies. The meal over, Aganthi sat by me to hold my hand as I talked. “Have you received word of the spell used to bring us a live picture of Arthur?” I saw they knew about it. “Let me share with you what Arthur did.” They shared and I was disheartened when all of them missed the most important clue.
“I know!” Claudia called out, before I could tell them, her cheeks a bright red from her excitement. “He created a physical image of himself without help from anyone!”
I let Claudia feel I was proud of her. “Well done! It took us a while to realise what the significance of his achievement was, share with me his answer.” They all saw why I’d shared and Robert frowned at me. I grinned back at him. “That was my one and only justification offered for you to excuse your own blindness. Robert?” He tilted his head. “My own Robert has been just as blind as the rest of you. A few Roberts have complained to him about the differences and he coldly demanded they find their own paths. It must have looked as if he did not wish any to become as powerful as him, but it is not the truth. He would love for all of you to be as capable of protecting your realities as he is, so that he needs not feel he is responsible for everyone. Don’t even suggest he not feel that way - you know that even the possibility of any Cherine, Dommi, Aganthi, Wendy, Claudia or any other alternate of his loves being in danger would find the same compulsion drive him that he has for any of his loves. He may be in love with us, but he deeply loves all of you. He has shown he is willing to sacrifice himself for a number of alternates, so you know I speak the truth.” I sensed them all agree.
“My Robert was hoping each Robert, with the help of his Cherine and loves, would find ways to strengthen himself and his loves and that some of those ways would be new to us so that we also grow. Too many years have passed for him to hold to that hope, so he will not mind my helping you take your first steps.” I leant back with a tiny smile as I felt the physical warmth of Aganthi at my side. “I bet you are the same as most Roberts and tried to work out how Robbie becomes the void. Are you so lacking in imagination that no alternatives come to your mind? Let me start off by telling you of something Arthur told me in a private chat. He felt that a number of his health problems exist thanks to an excess of energy stressing him. Reading books about psychic healing, he tried imagining the energy flowing from him into the furniture, the floor or the walls. It helped slightly for a time. I hope I don’t spoil the point I want to make by reminding you that Arthur has no proof that the void exists in his reality, for him it could be something that only exists for us because he imagined it does. Anyway, he came up with the idea of imagining the extra energy that was causing his stress gathered into a ball, like a miniature sun, and he then sent it to the void where he imagined it make a tiny explosion. He hopes his void has some kind of species like the Sparklers so that they get curious and investigate him.
To return to you Robert, have you ever wondered how the Sparklers feed if the energy is only available once you become the void?”
“They can feed off it, but they could not manipulate the energy - that is why your Robert kept on jumping to other realities, before he taught Solomon how to become the void, to divert more energy streams to our part of the void. Having to rely on him for our Sparklers to feed was humbling - and I’m not the only one who felt that way. That your Solomon taught ours did not alter the way we feel.”
“As your Samantha has made clear, I’m impressed by how strongly you must feel about it. I mean, under normal circumstances, if I said something like this you would be bashing your brains to see where I’m taking it before I tell you. Okay, this is my hint - we’ll go to the void and you will imagine you can sense the energy. Once you can, you will then imagine you are able to push at it, blocking or moving it in whatever direction you want. Everybody ready to go?” Of course they weren’t. They needed to get over the shock and excitement - just the idea it may be possible had them trembling with anticipation. In private, I sent to Cherine that when they need to, she and the girls can also do the same.
She suddenly looked belligerent as she came to stand before me. “How could you do this to your own Robert! How long do you think it will be before all Talents learn how to manipulate the void energy.”
“So what Cherine? The same rules apply as with all the other powers. If any minority of Talents decide to use any powers in ways that will harm others, they will be stopped. Not even all the Roberts together can fight all the Talents, nor can they fight any Robert, as long as you Cherines remain strong.”
Samantha touched her Cherine’s cheek as she told her, “We all know how to collect void energy for creating our e-cars. How long Cherine before someone thought of doing as Samantha suggested?”
Cherine’s thoughts were not gentled by Samantha, but she made an effort to control herself. “Still, to do anything that places her Robert in more danger!”
Before Samantha could make excuses for me I answered, “I’ve done what you accuse me of many times and I will do so again and again. Cherine, I never do so if I do not at least hope it will show Robert how to strengthen himself so that he is safer than he was - and thus is able to keep all our loves and friends safe.” I tried to smile, but I felt too sad (I don’t know why). “My Robbie is safer every time any Robert grows. The way you reacted proved it for me.”
I nearly did not go with them to the void because of my sadness. My curiosity got the better of me and I blocked my emoting and went with. They struggled and I had to egg them on and then, suddenly, Robert got hold of a stream and twisted it around like a hosepipe, energy whipping around like hot water, making the Sparklers dance as they fed. As soon as they succeeded, I danced once around the family to send them emote-kisses and returned to my body. I timed my jump and arrived in Athens, about a twenty minutes walk from the house.
Wilfred is a good listener. I don’t know why I started telling him about my last visit, after all, I’d brought him here so as to relieve him of all pressures so that he can recover his equilibrium. Sharing my problems was not part of the therapy I’d envisioned for him, but this once, just for today, I also needed some kind of therapy, even if it was just having someone listen to me as I speak. I can’t help wondering why it had to be someone who is coldly unemotional. Maybe it had to be someone like him so that I do not get flooded by his emoting in return. When I finished, he stared at me for a little while.
“Did you know it would work or did you consider it a logical outcome?”
“I didn’t know, nobody has tried it before. I don’t think it was a logical deduction - well, maybe it was, in a way. I know from my Robert that if he believes he can do something, then he can. Most Roberts have the impression that I see truths nobody else does, so he believed because it was me telling him he can. I was…” Suddenly I knew why I’d felt so sad. As with the rest of my family, we’ve always treasured the fact that Robbie has this crazy ability to believe whatever he wants and make it true for him. It was as if my Robbie is losing some kind of exclusivity which is important to my Cherine, my family and me. I cringed and hoped none of them had sensed my sadness and the reason for it.
Wilfred shook his head. “What his Cherine said to you…surely nobody can be that altruistic! I don’t know which to find less believable, you ensuring other Roberts have the same powers as yours, which could make them a threat for your family, or Cherine being that upset with you for betraying your Robert - by helping hers!”
I leant forward earnestly, “You are still trying to adjust to having a son who is older than you, so I can understand how you feel. Wilfred, you are not just the father of your Robert, you are partly the father of all Roberts. It is just as true for every single Wilfred, whether they can see it or not.” I realised I should not try to hammer the point home and sat back. “I’m going to ask your Rose to share with me. Either she has a gift or else she is wise in ways I am not. How is it that you seem so cold and unemotional and yet every Rose knows that her Wilfred loves her? I’d hate it if my Robbie was like you, I need to feel how much I am loved.” When I shared, all my loves were shocked at what I said - even Robbie. I felt he needed to stay on his own a while longer, but I was not in the mood to visit any more alternates of our family - by now they’d all know what I’d done and there would be an awkwardness as they struggle to prevent themselves from overwhelming me with their emoting.
I jumped to the Orati centre. I arrived three weeks after our departure. Efineh, Piri and Sebura were in Freddie, so I felt I was free to go off on my own. Samuel and his loves do not come to my room unless I send them a welcome, so I took my time. I had a shower, dressed in khaki pants and shirt, put on boots and even took the hat they’d bought for me and attached a knife to my belt. I jumped to the kitchen, hugged and let myself be hugged by everyone, asked them to prepare me travel food and went in the direction I sensed Samuel. As I walked out the door I saw his face beaming, a whopper of a grin welcoming me. I felt his ladies rushing to join him so I walked over slowly. We all hugged and then they pointedly stared at my garb.
“If you’re going looking for an adventure, I want to come with.”
Ataxia’s elfin face looked very determined so I answered her with a serious mien. “I don’t want an adventure Ataxia, I need solitude, time for thinking without interruptions. Do you think you could bear to remain silent, but be there for me when I need to talk?” I insisted she does not project her clothes so they jumped back to their reality to outfit her while I sat under the shade of a tree with a cold drink.
We’d been walking for three hours and I sensed she wanted to speak but was keeping to her undertaking. I glanced at her and raised an eyebrow and she instantly responded with, “I was thinking it is a pity you don’t have Skotos here.”
I shook my head. “It’s strange to think of him living on a ranch belonging to Arthur Campbell.”
“A number of horses were brought to Kinestasi, the traders from the highlands claiming that Skotos is their sire. I asked Samuel to buy one of them, she is black like Skotos and she’s a beauty.”
“Samuel pointed out that you’ll have nowhere to stable her when you return to Athens?” She nodded and I shrugged. “I guess you did not really want her or you’d have had a dozen answers for him.”
With huge eyes she stared at me and then asked, “Can I return for a few minutes? I promise I won’t talk so much when I get back.”
“You won’t find me here…” as her eyes lost their glow, I added, “I’ll be at Kinestasi’s palace.” She threw herself at me for a quick, ecstatic hug and jumped. As I listened to the insects and wild life lazily enduring the late morning heat, it dawned on me that my blues were gone, I felt warm and happy.
Unless it is an emergency, out of politeness I never arrive within the palace. I jump to the street before his main entrance, giving time for his guards to notify him of my arrival. For some reason, even after sharing so many experiences with us, he still needs a minute or two to compose himself when he knows I want to meet him. Is it possible that he still, deep inside, thinks I have something to do with the Fanged One? Lol. At least the Orati don’t worry about me being the White (Good) Demon anymore. If they think I’m a demon, they qualify it by claiming me as their demon.
By the time the gate opened for me, Samuel and his entire family had arrived. I grinned as Ataxia came straight to me and took my hand. She named herself well, she has a naughty sparkle to her, but in a good way, and she is so bright and full of life that I sometimes wish she could split for our family. I’m greedy, just like a kid, I want all the best sweets for myself (okay, I’m making fun of myself, but I really do love her).
Kinestasi guessed we’d come for the horses so he toyed with us, discussing everything he could think of until Thina asked directly.
“The horses? Yes, it is said they are the descendants of Skotos and they look at us with great pride, for they know that we know of Skotos, the horse that travelled with Samantha four hundred years into our past so as to protect her.” Smirking, he asked, “You wish to see them?”
“Yes please.” As he led us, Ataxia made her way to the front. “Kinestasi, the black female, she is still for sale?”
“You shall have to ask Samantha. When the serviced mares have more than one colt, it is the custom of the highland people that the owner of the stallion is given one horse in payment. I was wondering whether I should ask one of you at the Cherinian Centre to take the horse to the home of Samantha for her, so you have solved my problem by coming today.”
Ataxia didn’t say a word, aloud or mentally, she just turned back to stare at me with those lovely big eyes of hers filled with anxiety, until I gave in with a smile. “What are you going to call her?” She squealed with joy and ran to give me a big hug and thank me.
Almost shyly, Ataxia asked, “When you were still trying to decide a name for Yuming, you mentioned the name ‘Daiyu’ and said it means ‘black jade’ and that black jade is a rare colour of the magnificent stone of heaven. It stuck in my mind and since I can’t very well call her Black Beauty, I’d like to use the name Daiyu. Is that okay with you?”
“Why can’t you call her Black Beauty?” I stared at the horse, impressed by her.
“Because I’m not that brave.”
“Everyone would make fun of me and say I haven’t got any imagination.”
I laughed and then answered, “Why are you asking me? Shouldn’t you be asking her?” I nodded at the horse. “The two of you are going to have to live with whatever name you give her.”
Ataxia took a lump of dark brown sugar from Kinestasi and as she held out her hand she asked, “Do you like the name Daiyu? Will you be my Black Jade?” Daiyu was not going to let anything as uninteresting as a name stop her from gobbling up the sugar and Ataxia’s laughter echoed in the stalls as she wiped her hand on her jeans.
I sensed that Ataxia wanted to emulate my trip with Skotos when he was given to me - and when I felt butterflies in my tummy, I asked her whether she would like to walk, run and ride Daiyu on her own so that they bond. Samuel did not respond in any way, at least, not in my mind, but her loves did. When I let them see I’d egged her on because of the fear I’d felt, they were silent for a while and then agreed I’d done the right thing for Ataxia.
I’m not as brave as I like to pretend I am. As I watched her ride out of the gate I thought of asking Vincent to watch her for us, since he is the only one she would not sense. Then I thought of how she is feeling because we’ve shown her our trust and how she’ll feel when she learns we did not trust her as we’d pretended to and I was forced to the decision that my fears are my problem, not hers. It seems her family made the same decision. There is a certain emotional piquance to such moments that highlight the wonder of life and love.
I waited until Ataxia arrived, sensed how the trip had affected her, shared their joy and outbursts of love and a meal and returned to Wilfred.
“I am ready to return to Freddie, Samantha. It will probably take me years to get used to the wonder of being brought back to life and having a son who is an adult, but I don’t feel as if I’m about to fall apart anymore.” I felt he wanted to hug me, but is too inhibited, so I hugged him. We returned to Freddie.
Everyone is amazed, stunned and a little frightened. It is ironic, for in the past I often grew afraid when he assumed for our good or because he was in a playful mood. Now I and everyone else watch him plan for a multiplicity of Dream Dancer alternates with awe, but without a hint of fear, and then he expresses a wish for something he cannot achieve and we are a little frightened by his ability to wish for something impossible - and his daring to ask us to try and find a way for his wish to come true.
Another first! Arthur communicated with us without using his computer! He wrote on a paper and held it up for us to see. In answer to what I’d just written, he asked, ‘Would I ever fear any of you?’
We had planned to go directly to the Dream Dancer system, but requests from friends, Terrans and other species, Normals who are travelling with us, all ask we allow their own governments, scientists and media to come with. Surprisingly, the most insistent are the Terrans from our reality. Nobody can give a reason (the temporary insanity of DD churches is not an explanation) that accounts for the fact that Lusalith is loved by many of our Normals - more than in any other reality. She has appeared on some chat shows, but I think her gentleness and caring ways touched the people she met and stories about her spread. It also helps that she never refers to herself as a god. Dommi says she thinks most people are horrified that she was taken from her family, made into an orphan and her parents ‘burying’ her so that she is left without anyone and then made to bear the burden of responsibility for her people while still a child. Dommi may be right, for our people did rejoice on her behalf when they learnt we ‘invited’ her.
Arthur, just to keep you up to date, we are at our Athens home and this [ad]venture is turning into a real biggie, like it was for Cherine’s inter-galactic birthday trek. A very small but vociferous group have formed who claim that moving the Dream Dancer solar system to our reality will unbalance our universe and it will implode, killing all of us. They seem to think you want to turn us into instant protean soup. They funny part of it, is their insistence that they come with us. On another front: Robbie became very upset and is blaming me! Reports started to come in about Freddie’s and R.T.’s arriving at all the realities to transport the majority of people. He thinks I asked Freddie to arrive before we made the decision to have our future selves return to help so as to create a paradox. I wish I’d thought of it - even if I do it now, it will be Robbie who thought of it.
We have learnt from the previous time and all the volunteers who remain on planet will also search for pedofoes, whether hidden deep underground or not. The volunteers have been deputised by local law agencies so that they can be prosecuted without being freed on a technicality and so as to prevent us taking them to the prison planet. I think they care about the second point more than they do about the first - governments and Normals have not changed that much. We will, of course, keep a watch on all we bring to Freddie or take to the Sparkler World.
Arthur, this has been one of our nicest trips, with everyone, even Normals and non-aligned Talents behaving themselves (for us, ‘behaving’ themselves includes their emoting). Sometimes I think of how becoming Cherinians and so sensitive to the emotions of others has changed us and I wonder what you’ll think of us once you are here.
We arrived by the DD system ten days after Lusalith did. I can now tell you of what we arranged as I trust you can keep your assumptions from interfering for a short period. Lusalith will have told her people what it is we intend doing and she’ll ask they split into two camps - half arguing in favour and half against. Whatever is decided, the split will happen. If they decide to stay in our reality, their alternates will return to their ‘home’ reality. If they decide to return, then their alternates will become a part of our reality. We don’t mind which of the two occurs, but because of adopting Lusalith as our god, we hope they vote to make our reality their prime reality.
A lot of our guests wanted to wait in whichever Freddie brought them, so as to see an entire solar system wink out of existence and then wink back into its place again. Others found the idea of seeing the system suddenly appear in the Sparkler World more exciting. The latter also chose well, for the system appeared in their sky (they saw it from the equivalent of a platform in space). It then disappeared so as to arrive in the same space in our reality. It stayed there for two hours as the Dream Dancer populations voted. The majority voted to stay. We then had to rush to transfer them to a few Freddies and then we jumped back to their home reality. There was much weeping, and not only among the Dream Dancers, when we arrived to the beautiful sight of the Dream Dancer solar system in place. As soon as we arrived, Lusalith II and millions of her people arrived in Freddie. She trembled as I placed my arms around her. We’ve brought her and the prime Lusalith to the taverna as we feel they need to talk to you. Be nice Arthur, they have the unpleasant duty of staying to be welcomed by literally thousands of politicians from all the known alternate realities before they’ll have time to themselves. It will blunt the wonder and joy they need to feel, but we cannot avoid it.
Goldi handed over with relief. You were nice to her so it was not your fault, I think she was nervous, afraid she’d say something that would turn you away from us. Still, she did well and she had a lovely night last night. When the two gods returned, the Muyzith took them over and helped them through the official ceremonies and the signing of treaties. It has been agreed that neither side will have embassies on the planets of the other and the Muyzith, as advisors, will receive and pass on any communications. Lusalith II agreed that the prime Lusalith speaks for her planet also, simplifying things for everyone. The Terran officials did not have the courtesy to make the same offer - I am making fun of them, nobody expects anything elegant like that from our governments.
All Freddies and R.T spaceships returned their guests and we are back in orbit around our home planet. We learnt that the future Freddies came from intervals of a hundred years, which means the furthest from us in time came from about three thousand years in our future - it seems we did so, so as not to get too bored with having to experience the same things again and again. When the Normals learnt the above, it blew their minds and fervently wished they had been more aggressive in asking questions before they’d departed. By the way Arthur, there was a gap much larger than a hundred years between two of the Freddies, but they did not volunteer any information. My future self who refused to even give me a hint is not exactly my favourite person right now!
I love my other half who is in R.T so I would have asked to visit her anyway. We did the usual bonding stuff and then, with a glass of cream soda to keep me refreshed, I spoke - and I felt their growing excitement. I suggested they invite Lusalith II to be the god of their spaceship world. Samantha has felt how great is my love for Lusalith so she knows that she too will love her Lusalith - and her family eagerly want to share. I sent to my Cherine, asking they bring both Lusaliths to R.T.
I drew prime Lusalith to my side, deliberately leaving her alternate on her own. Without delay, Samantha took the few steps needed and enclosed her within her arms. She pulled back, stiffened slightly so as to make the moment slightly formal and said, “Lusalith, you have loved and been loved by my sister Samantha and all Cherinians travelling within Freddie. Now there are two of you and the prime must remain with Freddie. If you see enough of Samantha in me for you to love me, I then invite you to be a part of our family and god of R.T.” Both Lusaliths were overwhelmed by emotion. They cannot weep, but both of them trembled so violently, their eyes turned so pale, that we grew worried. With a cry they rushed to each other and hugged.
Because of the way they felt, Samantha and I were left to sit on our own with the two Lusaliths. ‘Mine’ explained. “We are shamed and have betrayed the love you’ve shown us. These days, since Arthur called for us, the emotions have been too strong, one following the other so that they have shattered the controls we placed on ourselves when we became gods. Our love for our people had given us the strength to cling to whatever controls remained…but then your sister Samantha invited my sister and there was too much beauty flowing from everyone into us. To save what we could so that our people are not abandoned, we have done something unimaginable - the need and yearning, it forced us to invite the other. There are no stories of such betrayals among our people so we do not know how to heal the pain and loss of honour we must have caused you.”
“Lusalith love, what are you speaking of? What pain? What loss of honour?”
“Each of you has invited one of us. For us to invite each other, it was as if we spurned your love. Samantha, imagine your Robert had invited you and you then responded by inviting and giving cause for you to be invited by another. Would you not cause pain and loss of honour to Robert?”
I came to my feet, standing by the table. “Lusalith, please stand.” She came to her feet and I pulled her to me for a long hug. Samantha followed my example, but I sensed her eyes on me, as if wanting to ask what it was we were meant to be doing. I pulled back so as to stare into the eyes of Lusalith. “Because this is new to both of you, I think you have misunderstood the implications. Have you not noticed that every time we meet alternates, we hug and commune mind to mind and heart to heart? What we do is not a betrayal of our family, to the contrary, we are strengthening our family - just as the two of you have strengthened the bonds between your Samanthas and their families. It could be that the strengthening of the bond goes beyond just the two Teller families. It feels to me as if the bond has strengthened the ties between all the inhabitants of Freddie and R.T.” I felt I had spoken the truth. All who love and are loved by Samantha, after our sharing, I too love those she loves and feel they love me. Everyone confirmed I’d spoken truly and both girls were soon free to rejoice without any shadows of guilt to mar this special day for them.
Those who have been invited onto the Council of Philosophy decided this would be a good time for a meeting. In the past, when friends met to discuss matters of mutual interest, the place was only of importance in limited ways - that it has coffee or alcoholic drinks available, for instance. As soon as those friends gave themselves a title, such as, Council Members, they became more demanding. Hettie was asked to arrange for hotel rooms and a conference room. Dimi, tongue in cheek, asked whether they wouldn’t prefer to stay at his father’s safari camp where they could also enjoy the presence of wild life. It was explained to him that a conference room is more conducive to deep thought as there are less distractions. He shared with us and Wendy told him he should have pointed out that inspiration is more important than deep thought. He kicked himself and pretended to ask Robbie whether he could go back in time to embarrass them with Wendy’s comment.
We don’t usually take part in their debates, we don’t even sit and listen, unless we are asked to by one of the council members or we hear that something we find interesting is to be discussed. This time they asked for Robbie. “We have invited Professor Garry McMonigal, the author of The Future History of Cherinianism, to join us and he has requested, as a favour, that you take part in the debate. We suspect he wishes to argue some of the points he has made in his book, but once that is done with, you need not remain with us.” Robbie waited for one of us to either warn him to stay away or not, but none of us have read the book, so he took a chance and agreed to be present during the first day.
We all had the same idea and had our AI companions get the book and put it on screen for us to read. This was one of those few times Robbie joined us and we sensed he liked a lot of what he read. There are a few points where the professor does not agree with Robbie or Robbie and us and he made note of them, hoping his subconscious will prepare the arguments for him - it really irritates me when he does that as it is only an excuse for his doing nothing to prepare sound arguments and then, afterwards, he complains about him not being a good speaker. I have a feeling this debate could turn out to be important for Cherinianism and I can’t understand why his instincts are not forcing him to marshal brilliant arguments according to his beliefs.
“Mr Teller, a pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise. Professor, you are Australian? I’d expected a Scotsman.”
“From Perth. My name was made up by a recent ancestor. We, of Perth, are very different from the people of Sydney…”
“I have been to Perth a couple of times, in our reality and elsewhere.”
“Oh yes, that time Samuel King frightened all of you. Luckily our Perth is more civilised - without having the kind of population pressures so many cities have. It was kind of you to agree to join me at this debate. I believe you chose the setting? My daughter was envious when she learnt I am coming to this hotel as it is impossible to book a room.”
They are at the hotel in Dar, which the government still keeps private for us. “Should you agree to bring her as my guest, please let our embassy know and everything will be arranged.” Robbie grinned. “I promise to stay away, so your daughter will be safe.”
The professor laughed. “So are you - she would try to charm you, but she is now twenty four years old. A pity we did not meet about twenty years ago? Who knows, we could have been related by now?” A big tick for the professor from us and Robbie relaxed and became genuinely friendly.
It has become a tradition that Akiard kids (from four years old, onwards) stand guard at all meetings in Freddie and this was the first time (officially) they do so on Earth. They are sheathed of course, but it is only to cater to the fears of the local governments. Since the first Akiards, the Akiards have lived in Freddie without a sheathe. Whatever organisms they had that could be a threat to us we get rid of when they are brought to Freddie as babies and they are alien to our organisms but also hardy and can resist the worst of ours. The Akiards do not like being this close to the beach or any large body of water, but they did not allow anyone to sense their unease. I still have a link with them, even though they are a new generation, so I can sense what others cannot. By the way, it does mean that all generations of Akiards also have the same sensitivity to me once they’ve become part of their entity.
Allovi, an Inguel philosopher, chaired the meeting this time. After the greetings and introductions, he said (emoting a slight amusement), “Since the request by Professor Garry McMonigal to have Robert Teller join us, we have all been eager to hear what arguments the Professor wishes to challenge our leader with. Professor Garry McMonigal, you have the floor.”
“This is an honour I am not certain I deserve. Mr Teller, I have studied those serious alien and Terran articles I could find that examined yourself and Cherinianism. I have immersed myself in the tellings by your family a number of times and have shared experiences of the re-enactment of the meeting between yourself and Cherine in the Sparkler World. I do not claim such studies give me a special understanding, but I wished to let you know, in advance, that I do not lightly put forward my questions.