As the Major opens his eyes back on Earth, he discovers Beth sleeping in the armchair just in front of him. He smiles, gets up, hesitates to caress her cheek. She looks so peaceful. He doesn’t want to wake her.
Hearing some noise, he heads to the next room where he finds the two Smiths. One of them is drawing. The other is attempting to readAs the Major opens his eyes back on Earth, he discovers Beth sleeping in the armchair just in front of him. He smiles, gets up, hesitates to caress her cheek. She looks so peaceful. He doesn’t want to wake her.
Hearing some noise, he heads to the next room where he finds the two Smiths. One of them is drawing. The other is attempting to read.
– Could you tell the songbird over there to stop whistling while I’m trying to read, grumbles Paul.
The Major looks at both of them amused.
– Did you draw this Sylvester?
The Major points at a sheet of paper where a landscape under the stars is sketched.
– Yes, and Beth did this one.
The Major discovers on a big sheet, two portraits facing each other: one of Major Moon Crystal of Dalygaran, and the other of David Crystal of Earth.
– These are my two selves, he mutters.
– David, I’d like to clear up a point with you, intervenes Paul, who has let his reading go. About what you told us before, about betraying your country?
– You seem to know so many things about Dalygaran, but apparently you don’t know the emergency procedure in case of a new meeting with an alpha-level being: the language acquisition is garnered via memory scan.
– We know this.
– Perhaps you don’t know we keep a record of this memory sample for consultation purposes. It’s how we knew she was travelling with the aid of a gas system. And I’d detected a few anomalies: some deletion traces and, even more surprisingly, the beginning of a regeneration phase.
– So you knew at last she couldn’t forget anything.
– Yes. And I chose not to tell the Great Council, so she could go back to Earth.
– You think they’d not have allowed her to go back?
– She was an alpha being in a gamma world. She had to either forget or stay. As a serviceman, I committed high treason.
– And you’d have been sent to the exiles’ planet, wouldn’t you?
– There aren’t too many people there now, are there?
– I’d have been the only one…
– Eh, so you’re chattering, you three, says Beth as she enters the room.
– You should have woken me, she gently reproaches the Major. Did you come back a long time ago?
– A few…
– Minutes, completes Sylvester, who suspects the Major might not to be very comfortable with Earthling time yet.
– I’ve got news from Dalygaran. Thanks to Beth, the epidemic is in check. And I have a proposal that The High Command gave me before I came back here.
– Really? says Beth with a voice full of curiosity.
– We’re the only two people who know how to use the travel body, and another one is being manufactured. They want you to test it, and then we could be the exploration team while others learn how to pilot them.
– What are you saying?
– Beth, they are offering you a body. I mean another one, not the one you already know. That one is mine now. And henceforth, it’s the only one I have there. If you agree, they will make the necessary adjustments for it to be female-gendered body this time. And we will finalize the last settings together.
Beth is stunned.
– So that’s how I…
And then she hushes. It is about her future, but it is the future nonetheless. She remembers her heartdaughter in her military overalls. She might speak of this to these three once she is officially named heartmother. In the meantime, she chooses silence. The Major feels her trouble and says,
– Take your time to think about it. Do you want me to let you discuss this amongst the three of you, without me?
– I… I don’t know. Could the two of us live like that, here and there at the same time?
– Beth, says Paul, we can always find a solution. Logistics are mere details. Make your choice according to your heart.
-Yes, I have.
– You… you accept?
– Yes, silly. I saved a planet, found a king’s son, travelled through space and time, it’s all so… exciting. And between the two of us, the one with more experience with the travel body in actual mission is me. Maybe I could teach you a thing or two, she taunts him.
He smiles and says,
– I know, impossible.
– But tell me, what’s this story of a king’s son?
And Beth starts to tell of her adventure, leaving out the moment she hit mask1. Sylvester and Paul, knowing the story, don’t react to the omission. It is not their role to tell the Major about the troubles Beth encountered. She will do of her own choice when she is ready. Beth goes on, telling of her visit to Frigellya, only speaking about her meeting with the Queen and the tour of the palace. Then she goes straight to the quest for the morning star. Here she skips the episode about her heartdaughter, the young Moon Crystal. There is still much to tell. Everybody is listening to her silently.
When she is finished, it is the Major who speaks again,
– As a first time travel experience, you’ve had a real baptism of fire. I regret not having been by your side.
– She’s gifted, isn’t she? says Sylvester.
– Oh, I already knew that, answers the Major with a smile.
– Would you fancy a walk? Beth asks the Major.
– Could we go to the park?
– What? You know the park?
– The shopkeeper put up your drawing in his store.
– Let’s go to the park then. Are you coming with us, guys? she says addressing the two Smiths.
– Oh Beth, you really don’t need us. Off you go, hurry up, answers Paul.
– We’ll stay at my place tonight, specifies Beth. It’s just near the park. We’ll call you tomorrow.
– Sounds good to us.
– See you tomorrow.
– See you tomorrow.