Beth stretches, happy. Never had she experienced feelings of such intensity with her human body; this alchemy of Frigellyan and Dalygaran abilities has endowed her with sense perceptions she didn’t even know existed.
Intense, surely, was her night with the Major. She even says to herself that the word is weak, yet she cannot find a better one. Then they come, suddenly: wonderful, magical, passionate…She turns around in the bed to face him. She discovers him with eyes open.
– You’re awake?
– Just now. By a wave of satisfaction pulsing from the Earthling just near me…
– It’s happiness, not satisfaction.
– Well, let’s say a satisfied happiness…
They tussle while laughing when the doorbell rings.
– Who can that be? grouses Beth.
– Are you going to let it ring?
– I feel like it.
– I think the people behind that door really want to see you. Even if I don’t know Earthling customs very well, I would say this bell is insistent.
– All right. I’m going.
Beth dresses at top speed, putting on pants and a t-shirt at hand. She goes out of the room shouting: “I’m coming.” When she opens the door, she cries out in surprise.
– What are you doing there?
– That’s no way to talk to your parents, answers her mother, with a stiff tone.
– I… I wasn’t expecting you…
– That I can see. You’re not even combed, and in such an outfit!
By reflex, Beth looks down to check how she is dressed. ‘Bloody hell,’ she thinks embarrassed.
– Rosemary, everything’s ok, says Beth’s father. If you both could, for once, not…
– Yes, Dad. Come in, don’t stand in the doorway.
She kisses her father. She kisses her mother.
– I think we forgot to say hello, Beth says, staring at her mother who doesn’t answer.
– Beth, your mother has been trying to call you for two days. With what happened two months ago…
– As you said before, everything’s ok.
– It looks as if you’re not alone. Could you introduce us to the person with whom you shared this bottle?
Her mother points at a bottle of Chardonnay barely started and forgotten on the table.
– He’s still here I assume.
– Er, yes, he’s still here. Wait for me. I’m going to get him. He’s a little bit shy.
When she enters the room, Beth discovers the Major on all fours, looking under the bed. In a low voice she asks,
– What are you doing exactly?
With his back still to her, he answers with as low a voice as she,
– I’m looking for my… my…
Then he straightens and looks back at Beth.
– Your t-shirt. It’s called a t-shirt, she answers while taking off the one she is wearing to give it back to him.
She takes hers from the armchair quickly and puts it on.
– David, those are my parents. They are in the next room.
– I heard.
– They’re waiting for us.
– I understand.
– For a first meeting you shake the hand. Everything will be ok.
– Don’t be so anxious.
– You don’t know my mother.
– Indeed. So, I’m shy?
– You didn’t come out of the bedroom.
– I was bare-chested.
– We’ll avoid this kind of detail…
– Ok, ok, I was just kidding.
– This isn’t the right time.
– Are we going?
– Let’s go.
The two young people get out of the bedroom. The Major can feel the tension between the mother and the daughter.
– David, these are my parents.
– Pleased to meet you, he says.
Beth’s father comes close to him and they exchange a warm handshake. Beth’s mother extends her hand, that the Major shakes more gently, inclining his head and accompanying his gesture with a,
Then an embarrassed silence sets in in the little living-room/kitchen. Beth decides to break it,
– You must be dead tired after this long travel. Don’t stand there. Do you want to drink something?
– Given the time it is, a good meal would be appreciated, retorts the mother.
– What time is it then?
– Almost noon, answers her father. We weren’t able to take the first shuttle…
– There were no places left, adds the mother.
– I’m going to see what’s in the fridge.
– So young man, are you from around here? asks the mother.
– No, I’ve been here just a short time. I’m starting a new life. Your daughter helps me out a lot.
– A new life?
– Rosemary, leave this boy alone.
– But I…
– Please, answers the husband.
Then addressing the Major,
– If we let her go, you’re going to be cross-examined for real.
– Mothers can do this too where I come from, he answers with a light smile.
Then his eyes suddenly cloud over.
Beth, still near the fridge, feels a great distress seizing the Major’s heart. She reaches out to him, takes his hand, then faces him and sends him all the tenderness she is able to. They end up forehead-to-forehead, silent.
– You’re not alone, she whispers.
Beth’s parents sense something happening, but cannot understand anything.
– Everything all right? asks the father.
– Beth and I have to… speak… alone, answers the Major.
– David,… starts Beth.
– We need to speak.
– But,… protests the mother.
– She and I.
The Major’s voice intensifies. Beth’s father speaks,
– What if we just go to eat downtown? Let’s leave these two in peace, he says to his wife.
– All right, the mother answers, while Beth stares at her, dumbfounded.
She even adds,
– But this time, dear, you won’t avoid it. We are going to the giant aquarium.
– It’s Saturday. It’ll be full of people, answers her husband in a plaintive tone.
– Have you ever visited the giant aquarium, David?
– No, as I’ve said, I’m not from here.
– Let’s all go together. Let’s meet up after lunch. Rendezvous point in front of the entrance at 3 o’clock?
– All right. Will you come back here after? asks Beth.
– We weren’t sure we’d find you, dear. Our luggage is at the Blue Star. We booked for the weekend. We go back Monday, early in the morning, answers her father.
– See you later, you two! says the mother.
And they leave the flat.
Beth turns to the Major.
– Well, I can’t believe this. It’s completely crazy. My mother… She has… She hasn’t…
– I could feel her irritation when I asked to talk with you alone. And then, pshht, it disappeared.
– She and I, you said, with this imperative thing in the voice and she didn’t even protest.
The Major shrugs his shoulders.
– You’ve never experienced this sort of thing before, have you?
– What do you mean?
– Someone suddenly changing their behavior under your… suggestion…
– Listen, I know my mother and I can say that usually, you would have been exposed to a biting backfire. She would have answered you something like, “If our presence bothers you young man, just leave.” I could hear her.
The Major raises his eyebrows.
– And here, she agrees to let us alone without flinching. It’s just incomprehensible. And my father, not even surprised, as if it were natural she agreed to get out. That’s too many quirks, I think.
– Have you got an explanation?
– Maybe. You know I owe my abilities to the presence in my genome of Frigellyan sequences.
– No, I didn’t know it was something Frigellyan. I just knew the two Smiths made me like you.
– When I was in the Earth’s past, in Mesopotamia, I heard Mira telling Christopher, as he was trying to chase us away, that it wouldn’t work on them. It only works on humans.
Christopher was used to people doing as he told them. He didn’t know it was one of his species’ features. You may have this ability now. In any case, it would explain what happened here with my parents.
– And does it work on us too?
– No. Our Frigellyan attributes immunize us. Since I went to Dalygaran, every time I develop a new skill, it is after an emotional rush. Speaking of emotion, can you explain to me this great sorrow that came over you a while ago?
– My mother… I thought of my mother… I lost her when I was a teenager.
– I’m sorry…
– It was an accident. I was with her. We were riding horses and she had… a loss of the psychic bond. As fate would have it, her horse bolted just after. She fell harshly on some roots and didn’t survive her injuries. I stayed beside her… until someone found us. I wasn’t able to do anything for her. Not a damned thing. We were told later it was the beginning of a disease that was the cause of the bond loss. It would have been easily cured if there weren’t this…
Beth takes the Major in her arms.
– Shhhhh. I understand. The emotion you felt, and my mother about to do her show of offended woman must have been the trigger…. Welcome to my world.
– If I really have this ability, I’ll have to learn to master it.
– Well, it’s a practical thing to have.
– Beth, abilities, or skills, however they’re called, sometimes imply responsibilities, especially these kinds.
– You sound just like Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
– He’s a wise man.
– You’ll see. It works almost by itself.
– The mastering of new abilities. It’s like there is an on/off button in our heads. You’ll be able to use them at will.
– All this is really new to me. It’s like emotions. Here, they’re so… intense. I’m having trouble … managing it all. I’ve been here for two days and we’ve already… We’ve already…
– We’ve already had a wonderful night.
– Yes, that’s true. But on Dalygaran, we’re all empathists. We all learn early to show what we wish to show. Now here, I’m totally overwhelmed.
– You’re in a human body. You’re one of us now. And we all live more or less with a volcano boiling on the inside.
– Anyway, thank you. Thank you for having sent me so much soothing earlier.
– I… I’ll always be there for you.
They hug for a long time. As they part the Major says,
– Beth, when I said we had to talk before, it was also about the questions, about me. Your parents took us by surprise. But here, I not only need an identity, but a story, a past… We have to decide what we want to and can say to your parents and other people we’ll meet. The simplest method is to stay the nearest to the truth, without revealing it.
– Ok, so let’s think. You said, “I’ve been here a short time and I’m starting a new life. Your daughter helps me a lot.” Why would you start a new life?
– I nearly died.
– That’s a good reason.
– My job, no need to change it. Serviceman. And I stopped after almost dying.
– They will want to know where you served.
– In the Special Forces. I’m not allowed to talk of what I did, or where I did it.
– Actually, that’s easy. And now what are you doing?
– I don’t know yet. I’m searching my way after a trauma…
– All this sounds perfect. We have to decide where we first met. We’ll be asked.
– We need to get away from the truth this time.
– Yes, I think “on a distant planet” wouldn’t sound too credible.
The Major laughs. Then, as though he is thinking aloud he says,
– What unites us are space travels.
– In that case, let’s say we met in the space travels museum.
– Why not?
– This is a place I often go to.
– So I was there too.
– Yes, and you were admiring a canvas depicting Proxyterra.
– Yes, it’s the world where Earthlings’ minds go first. We struck up a conversation. I told you I’d personally seen it. And you told me you’ve just arrived in town. You bombarded me with questions about my experience.
– Really? I’m curious like that?
– Earthling space travellers are scarce. We’ll say that you’re trying to know if I was fantasizing or not. Job conditioning. Does this suit you? Actually, I was not pleased with this, and I even got angry. Then, to apologize, you offered me… hold on… this little object here–I bought it two months ago. This is an Aquarian crystal. A copy, of course. I love these crystals. And you told me,
– May the brightness of this crystal light up your heart forever…
– What? No! It has to be credible.
– Listen, it doesn’t matter. I think the story of our meeting is not so bad, do you?
– Yes, it suits me. For the rest, according to the questions, I will improvise.
– As you wish…
– Beth, the two Smiths told me they will take charge of creating me an existence on Earth. We have to discuss this with them too. They will have to give life to my “past”.
– We totally forgot to call them.
– We were caught in bed…
– … by my parents.
And they both start laughing out loud.
– I’ll call the two Smiths. Then, we’ll eat. And we’ll go to the giant aquarium to meet my parents.
– At your command, Madam!
– There’re eggs and milk in the fridge, orange juice in the cupboard, pizzas in the freezer. Dismissed!
– What’s that, “pizzas”?
– Soldier, we’ll have to finish your training.