In the disembarkation room on Dalygaran, Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe is waiting for the travel body to liven up. As soon as he can sense a presence, the travel body’s eyes open.
– Would you mind, next time, letting me give you an answer? he says in a reproachful tone.
– I’d have liked to talk to you too.
– What are you saying? You talked to me, but you cut the connection.
– My friend, I don’t know how to tell you this without causing you a shock, but I’m not who you think I am.
– Don’t talk nonsense. And what’s this manner of talking to me. The last person to have addressed me as “my friend” was the…
– Major, interrupts the same.
– Yes, yes, that’s right…
– Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, it’s me. I’m the Major.
– Please, who would be able to play such a sick joke on you, on the day of his funeral? I assure you that it’s really me. I didn’t succeed in returning to Dalygaran into my own body, but I am… in another body on Earth. Those people, the ones who gave us a hand with Beth’s return, they’re Epsilons and they decided to give me a body. And here I am.
– Epsilons? A new body?
– And you’re the Major?
– What is your level in the pendula test?
– How many Dalygarans have gotten to this level?
– Who is the other?
– My father.
– I can’t believe it. You’re him? You’re the Major?
– Oh, bloody hell!
Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe takes the Major in his arms and hugs him strongly. The Major starts laughing and gives the scientist several pats on the back.
– You’re alive. I can’t believe it. You’re alive.
– Yes, my friend. And I still will be if you let me breathe…
– Oh, sorry.
The Major shows his right wrist to Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
– Any idea what this is?
– A revelator. Beth used it to show her Earthling look when she was here yesterday.
– Do you know how it works?
– To show your real appearance, you have to push the round button.
– Would you like to see my Earthling appearance?
– Yes, please, show me.
And the Major pushes the round button.
Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe’s surprise is such that he lets out a scream.
– Am I so ugly?
– Major, you should see yourself in a mirror.
The Major, puzzled, goes to the back of the room where there is a reflective window.
The moment he sees himself, he lets out an exclamation as well.
– Huh, who’d have thought? It’s me, really me, as I was before, not my human shape, but with my Earthling clothes. This revelator is really aptly named…
– You should push the triangular button now. You’ll appear in your travel body shape again. You’re supposed to be dead, and your funeral is planned for this afternoon. You’d certainly frighten anyone coming in this room by showing yourself as you were before.
The Major has just enough time to push the triangular button when the door opens on Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain with the baby in her arms.
– You were able to come, then.
She gives the child to her husband and goes to hug the occupier of the travel body. Then she steps back.
– You’re not Beth. You’re… embarrassed. She wouldn’t be embarrassed. Who are you?
– You may have a great surprise, says her husband.
– How’s that, a great surprise? What could surprise me that much?
– For example, if I say I’m the Major.
– This is very tawdry. The Major is dead, and we bury him this afternoon.
– I’m alive.
– Stop this! We’ll see who you are immediately.
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain, furiously takes the Major’s wrist and pushes the round button, as she saw Beth do the day before. She lets it go right away, shouts and steps back.
– You’re… You’re…
– Alive. I told you.
– But how is this possible?
– I was given a body on Earth.
– Humans don’t know anything about body technology.
– I don’t think they’re humans. They’re Epsilons.
– Epsilons offered you a body?
– They did, yes.
– It’s absolutely incredible.
– Yes, it sounds strange to me too. But let’s talk of something else. The baby’s born.
– Yes, yesterday, a short time before Beth left.
– She didn’t tell me anything.
– You saw her then?
– Yes, the Epsilons are her friends.
– An Alpha girl, friends with Epsilons. I always knew she was somewhat special, mutters Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
– Yes, she’s special, and she didn’t tell me anything, repeats the Major.
– I think she might have wanted to surprise you.
– But I knew you were about to give birth. This isn’t a surprise.
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain holds out her arms to take her child and comes closer to the Major.
– Major, this is little Moon Crystal.
– You can’t possibly have…
– Oh, yes. In your memory, for your contribution to saving Dalygaran.
– In my memory…
– Well, now you’re alive, I’d say in your honor.
– Poor kid.
– You don’t really believe what you’re saying. I can feel it, says Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain smiling.
– I’m… honored. May I take her a moment?
– Of course, she answers.
– Could you just push on the triangular button of your revelator, asks Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe. Someone else may enter the room.
– Oh yes, that’s true. It’s even weird for me to appear in this shape now.
He pushes on the triangular button and takes little Moon Crystal in his arms.
– Look at you. You’re the spitting image of your mother.
– Do you think so? asks Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
– Oh, it’s obvious.
– Does your father know you’re here? she asks.
– Not yet. I’ve got to go as quickly as possible to the High Command, for an Extraordinary Council to be held.
– The second one in two days, emphasizes Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe. Beth’s return with the morning star had already caused one.
– I have to go.
The Major gives little Moon Crystal back to her father just nearby and gets out of the room to take the way to the High Command. The couple watch him leaving.
– Do you know what this means? she asks her husband.
– He can be our daughter’s heartfather.
– Eh, this is a good idea. What do you think he’s going to do now?
– We’ll see.
– Is there anything else you can see?
– No, there isn’t.
– He’s found Beth. He’s on Earth!. With her!
– Oh, and you think they…
– I’m sure.
The Major arrives in front of the High Command building and knocks on the door. He does not wait for an answer to enter and stands right in front of the same protocol officer as Beth had the day before. He does not burden himself with explanation and pushes immediately on the round button. The protocol officer lets out a scream and holds a tablet to the Major. He taps on the screen for a while, then shows the results to the totally dumbfounded officer facing him, and pushes the triangular button to regain in his travel body shape.
Then, as he had done the day before, the man asks to speak to the Supreme Commander.
– You must hold a High Command meeting and invite the Great Council members, for an Extraordinary Council, Sir.
And again he has to say,
– As a Protocol Officer, I insist, Sir. I invoke the emergency procedure, Sir. All right, Sir… In the Council Chamber.
The man raises his head and addresses the Major.
– The hearing starts as soon as the quorum is reached. You know the way.
When he enters the Council Chamber, the Major notices that the quorum is almost reached. He had preferred to go directly to his father’s, instead of to this room full of people, but he knows that this audition has to be held first. A matter of protocol…
– The Supreme Commander is busy with the funeral arrangements of Major Moon Crystal. He won’t come to this hearing. The quorum is now reached, we can begin.
This is the High Council President himself who runs the meetings in the absence of the Supreme Commander.
– Ladies, Gentlemen from the High Command, Your Excellences, I come to demand the cancellation of Major Moon Crystal’s funeral.
– What? How dare you?
– He’s not dead. Well, I mean, I’m not dead.
And again he pushes the round button, and then quite quickly again on the triangular button in front of the big opened eyes of the audience.
– You’ve just seen what’s called a revelator working. It has shown you who I really am. And each of you, if you switch on the screen in front of you can notice that Major Moon Crystal was authenticated on our security system, less than one hundredth ago. I can do it again in front of you if you wish.
The Great Council President stands up to rummage in a cabinet drawer nearby. He brings out a tablet and holds it in the direction of the Major. The Major comes to get it, goes back to his place, and does the authentication manipulation again. He shows the result to the audience. On the screen: his identification file.
An incredulous murmur spreads in the room.
– The Supreme Commander has to be informed. You accept this charge?
– Of course, answers the Major.
– Ladies and Gentlemen, the meeting is closed. We’ll hear from Major Moon Crystal later.
The Great Council President comes close to the Major and says,
– The Supreme Commander is in his apartments. Make haste!.
The Major nods and takes the way to the Supreme Commander’s apartments. Standing in front of the door he knows well, he knocks.
– Come in, answers a familiar voice.
The man at the back of the room freezes. What he can feel at this moment is a deep bond, with such intensity. He turns around vivaciously and stares unbelievingly at the man who remain standing in the doorframe.
– You? In your travel body? How’s this possible?
– Don’t just stand there! Come into my arms, my son.
And the two men hug for a long time.
– I thought I’d lost you. And here you are, in perfect health and cured.
– I was lucky. Well, rather, I had a second chance.
– What do you mean?
– You know I sent my mind to Earth?
– Yes, you delivered a message to this Earthling… Beth, am I right?
– You are. She is the only other person who knows how to pilot the travel body. I had to try to make her come back.
– You put your last strength into this.
– Yes, but finally, it’s thanks to her that I received another body.
His father raises his eyebrows and with a glance encourages his son to go on.
– Father, she traveled through time and spoke of what happened to me two months before it really happened to… two Epsilons.
– Yes, and they used these two months to build a body that they then offered to me the evening I went to Earth. I could feel I hadn’t any strength left. I let myself be snatched in this body, and I stayed unconscious for a while.
– So you’ve got a new body.
– An Earthling one.
– And what are you going to do now?
– I don’t know. This human body is… disconcerting. The emotions in there are… multiplied tenfold. But I… I…
– You’re alive. And this Beth has already warmed up your heart, my son. You brought her to the Great Waterfall pond. Never had you brought anyone there. This was where you used to go with your mother, where she taught you how to dive from the footbridge. It’s where you go when you need to soothe your mind. You really thought I didn’t know where you’d gone when you vanished all morning?
The Major smiles and answers,
– She needed to soothe hers.
– You know she came here yesterday. And after her hearing, I went to consult her memory sample. I wanted to know more from the woman to whom my son entrusted the future of our planet. You know what I saw… and I know what you’ve done.
– I’m not finished. I’m a man who’s now growing old, you see, and it happens I’m clumsy. I’ve inconveniently damaged the record. Nobody could have a look at it anymore. I admire the self-assurance you showed in front of the Great Council, my son. And this girl might be quite exceptional so that the two most brilliant minds of this planet went to a great deal of trouble to help her go back home without her memory being wiped out.
He raises his hand as his son tries again to answer.
– I’m still not finished. Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe was heard too. He told us that he held back the pill the Earthling didn’t take and that he hid her ability to use the travel body. He added that you tried to reach her as soon as he told you everything.
– But that’s completely untrue…
– If we had to follow the law as it is today, he’d be applied a dismissal and an exile to the other side of the planet.
– I can’t let this be done. I’ve to be heard too.
– You will. And you’ll say nothing.
– My son, the law is about to change. And as all our laws are retroactive to the day after the Gold Ring rise from the current year, Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe will have committed no fault, ultimately. It will be useless to inform the Great Council with another version of this story. This won’t help Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, nor anybody else on this planet. You made a choice in all consciousness my son. This could not have been easy. Don’t ruin all this with vanity. We should have changed this law a long time ago. We’ve simply delayed too long. This Earthling, by her actions, has already blown up the last bastion of holdouts inside the Great Council. I have the assurance of this. The means we have today allowed us a better evaluation. We’ve to study each case, if there will be such in the future. I’m sure your mother would have approved.
– I miss her so much.
– I know my son. I know. I miss her a lot, too.
Silence lingers for a few moments. Then the Major speaks again,
– Father, there’s something else I wanted to tell you. I…, well, we… Beth, she recognized me. She saw me in this human body, and she knew who I was.
– Oh, she didn’t content herself with warming up your heart, she opened it too. And it looks like you let yourself open up, my son. The bond is woven by two.
– Father, I was… almost dead. And I woke up in a body with such new… sensations. One of the first things the Epsilons told me is that they were waiting for the return of Beth, who’d gone to search for the morning star. They told me they had the certainty she wouldn’t come back before having succeeded. And about that, I had no doubt. I’m even sure she shortened the time between her departure and her return as much as she could. This is what I would have done too.
– You entrusted her with our planet. You wouldn’t have done that if you didn’t believe in her.
– Father, she’s so… disconcerting. She’s able of high maturity, like during the trainings, yet she can be so childish at times. But when the Epsilons opened the door and I saw her, I wanted so much that she should recognize me.
– You heart has spoken my son. You only have to listen to it.
– That’s what I did… but it all happened so… fast.
– You have never thought of anything but your work, my son. You threw yourself, body and soul into it. You chose to treat your sorrow that way. But your heart needed warmth. And you silenced it for such a long time. You couldn’t ignore it this time. You live in an alien body on another planet now after being close to death. So live at last, my son. You’ve waited enough… This Beth, you should introduce her to me.
– I’d like to talk with her.
– Do you want her to take this body again?
– No. I want to see you two, together.