When Beth wakes up, the Major is not by her side. She thinks she knows where he is and smiles. The previous evening, the Queen organized a great dinner in honor of their Earthly-Dalygaran guests and convinced her brother to come too. She seated him just beside the Major and the two quickly got along well very.
Nori still did not remember his first meeting with the Major, but as the Major told him who he was again, the two fencing masters could talk about their common passion all the evening long. As for Beth, she sat between her partner and Christopher. This one was sullen. Beth understood quickly what worried him. He thought of Earth and his lost partner. He had only Lucia left, his “little sunray” as he called her. A dinner was not the ideal place for confidences, all the more since the Queen had keen hearing and her son did not wish to hurt her. But Beth did not need long speeches. She could feel the sorrow lying heavily on the brand new prince. So both talked about their Earth all night. At least in these moments she could feel him relaxing.
Beth gets up and goes through the Palace corridors. It is always weird for her not to have to dress or wash. These machines self-maintain, if you don’t forget to give them fuel, food that is. She heads toward the combat room, and as she had guessed, she finds Nori and the Major duking it out. She observes them a few moments and decides to leave them to their occupation. After the dinner the day before, the Queen took them to the great terrace. There was a wonderful view from there of the town and its lights. Beth was sure the view had to be as astonishing in the morning too.
On the terrace she finds Christopher with little Lucia babbling in his hands and gazing at the morning view.
BETH: Wonderful, isn’t it?
CHRISTOPHER: This terrace is one of the rare places where I feel good on this planet. Usually, there’s nobody here at this time.
BETH: Oh, I’m sorry.
CHRISTOPHER: No, no, don’t be. I didn’t say this for you to go away. It was just an observation. I assure you.
BETH: Your little Lucia is adorable.
CHRISTOPHER: She’s all I’ve got left from Helena. And she won’t even remember her. She’s too young.
BETH: One day you’ll tell her who her mommy was …
Christopher does not give any answer and remains silent for a few minutes. Beth soaks up the view. She wants to be able to draw it when David and she will be back home. She wants Paul and Sylvester to be able see it too, even if it is only through her drawing. Christopher breaks the silence.
CHRISTOPHER: Beth, I don’t know if I want to stay here. I feel like a stranger in this world.
BETH: You told us you were isolated on Earth too. The other people didn’t accept you. Take time to adjust to this world. You gave yourself the goal of fighting the violence, for her.
And with a nod of her head, she points at Lucia.
CHRISTOPHER: Yes, that’s true. But I lack some… I don’t know how to say it…
BETH: You don’t feel you belong to this world, as if your presence was just incongruous. You’re having trouble just imagining yourself here even in the near future. You’ve got only one wish: to have your previous life back.
CHRISTOPHER: Are you reading my thoughts?
BETH: I was stuck on a planet against my will. And though I found others there, adorable people, I had only one wish finally: to go back home. Except that in your case, home is here.
CHRISTOPHER: I know. Now I’ve got a mother and a father who literally fell out of the sky on me. Their love is so intense. I just can’t handle their expectations…
BETH: Don’t talk nonsense. You need time, that’s all, and it’s natural. Your parents know it. And if I had a certainty about the Queen and the King, it’s that they’ll know to wait until you’re ready for this new life.
CHRISTOPHER: I’ve so much anger inside me, so much fury about Helena’s death. All this is so unfair.
BETH: You know what? I think your uncle won’t mind having a new trainee. When it comes to emotion management, he’s excellent.
CHRISTOPHER: He’s a fencing master.
CHRISTOPHER: I don’t want to learn how to fight. I just want to forget…
BETH: What you learn with a fencing master is, above all, controlling yourself and channeling your energy to a target. When I was stuck on that planet…
CHRISTOPHER: It was the Major’s planet, wasn’t it?
BETH: Yes, it was. I launched completely into the physical exercises I was asked to do at the beginning. The tiredness helped me to forget. But when we started the combats, something else happened. I was learning something, I made progress and I had the feeling that I regained control of my life. The teaching of a fencing master is a real exchange. It feeds your body as much as your mind. You should try it. I’m sure your uncle’ll be glad to do this for you.
CHRISTOPHER: I don’t know…
They hear some steps and turn around.
THE MAJOR: Here she is. I told you she’ll be on this terrace. Last night, we promised that we’ll both come here before leaving. Good morning, Christopher.
The Major heads toward Beth and hugs her.
NORI: Beth, Christopher, it’s a pleasure to see you.
Still in the Major’s arms, Beth speaks,
– I was just suggesting to Christopher to become one of your trainees.
NORI: What an excellent idea.
CHRISTOPHER: Maybe I’ve got my own say?
NORI: Of course you have. May I suggest you just come one night after you put little Lucia in bed? If after your trial you don’t like it, we leave it at that. What do you think?
CHRISTOPHER: It seems reasonable to me. I’ll come and try. I promise. But, in the meantime, I have to change this young lady and then we’ll go see her grandparents. They’re mad about her…
Christopher goes away with Lucia in his arms, babbling with her.
BETH: So you two, did you appreciate your combat session?
THE MAJOR: You should have stayed, when you came to the combat room.
NORI: She came to the combat room?
BETH: Yes, I did and I preferred to let you two alone.
NORI: I didn’t see you.
BETH: Neither of you saw me. But he felt my nearness. It’s a Dalygaran thing. On Frigellya, you’ve got the bond between parents and children. They can recognize each other without having even seen each other for a long long time, as happened with Christopher. There’s this bond too on Dalygaran, but they’ve got the one of… of…
THE MAJOR: … love. When two persons are bound they can each feel the presence of the other, even if they can’t see each other…
NORI: You two, you’re really bound, that’s obvious.
Beth and the Major frankly laugh.
BETH: Yes, that’s true.
NORI: Beth, you had an excellent idea when you proposed to Christopher to become one of my trainees. This boy has totally fallen apart; it’ll do him good. And I’ve totally fallen apart too, it’ll keep me busy…
THE MAJOR: Nori, we’ll have to go back to Dalygaran. I’ve got a message from the Queen and the King to give to our High Command and I’ve got my report to submit about the epidemic that wreaked havoc on our planet. You’ll see us again probably. Our planets will certainly negotiate a sort of cooperation. We’ll see.
Nori holds out his hand to the Major, rewarding him with a “goodbye my friend.” Then he looks at Beth, not knowing how he should greet her. She comes close to him and hugs him. “Goodbye, Nori,” she says.
Major: Beth, let’s go to the shelter. I’ll follow you. At three. One, two, three.
They dematerialize at the Palace and rematerialize in Mira and Reymo’s shelter.
THE MAJOR: Sorry, we’re late…
MIRA: We didn’t have any difficulties finding something to do while we were waiting for you. Nori’s wife couldn’t have acted alone. We’re on the track of her network. This story will really end only when the network’ll be completely dismantled…
REYMO: Here’s our complete report about what we know today. Give it to your High Command at the same time as our sovereigns’ message.
THE MAJOR: Good. We’re going now. I need the travel bag that Mira told me about. This report is too big for our pockets. And no object can travel held in a hand; it would be lost during the dematerialization. It has to be fastened tightly to the body.
Mira puts one of her fingers on another invisible button and from a drawer that just opens she brings out the famous bag. The Major smiles at Beth’s surprise.
BETH: It’s only a backpack.
MIRA: Yes, and a backpack stays fastened tightly on the body.
The Major takes the bag that Mira holds out to him. He puts the report inside and then straps the bag to his back.
MIRA: Who’s got the regulator?
THE MAJOR: I do.
MIRA: I’ll send you to your planet, at your era, at the date and time you gave me yesterday, right?
THE MAJOR: Let’s go. Beth, you’re going to follow me this time.
MIRA: Coordinates are ready. You give the start.
THE MAJOR: Beth, to follow me, you just have to focus on me. Your destination is near me. Do you agree to try?
BETH: Sure. Of course I do.
THE MAJOR: Mira; Beth, at three. One, two, three.
The Major and Beth dematerialize and rematerialize hardly five minutes after their departure from the disembarkation room. Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, still there, jumps.
STAR: I’ll never get used to this. Did you find something interesting during your investigations?
BETH: I succeeded!
BETH: We travel by following each other now.
THE MAJOR: It’s a technique to be sure to arrive at the same place at the same time.
THE MAJOR: I am sorry, my friend, I have to go to the High Command; this report cannot wait.
STAR: Beth, David, Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain wishes to know if you’re available to stay with us this evening. I’ll come back in one hour.
And he shows them the tablet with the Earthling time.
THE MAJOR: We didn’t use many of our twelve hours.
BETH: We can stay here, then?
THE MAJOR: Yes. You don’t need to come with me to the High Command, you know.
BETH: Are you sure?
THE MAJOR: Certain.
BETH: Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, may I go to see Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain now?
STAR: Of course, what a question. You can say hello with the communicator before you go.
Beth contacts Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain. When the communication is over, with a large smile she says: “She’s waiting for me.”
The Major and Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe have no time to respond when Beth is already away.
STAR: She doesn’t change, hey?
THE MAJOR: Oh, my friend, I can assure you she does. Not in all things, effectively. It’s my turn to go now. See you later.
And the Major dematerializes, leaving Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe alone.
Beth rematerializes in front of the door of her former hosts. She knocks. Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain opens the door immediately. She hugs Beth. “I’m happy you two can stay for dinner tonight. Come in.” The door closes on the two women.
FLOWER: So tell me…
BETH: What do you want to know?
FLOWER: Well, you, the Major, you two, come on!
Beth bursts out laughing.
BETH: We’re a couple like any other…
FLOWER: You’re not like others. He’s a Dalygaran man living in a human body and you a human woman travelling in a Dalygaran body. Are any people aware of this on Earth?
BETH: Only two Epsilons.
FLOWER: I’ve heard of that. What are two Epsilons doing on your Earth?
BETH: They told me they were looking for me, and that they’d found me. Today, they’re protecting me, but I don’t know what from. All I know is that they help me each time I need it. They’re adorable with me.
FLOWER: And with the Major?
BETH: There was tension between them at the beginning. I think it’s over now.
FLOWER: And you two, I mean the Major and you, when did you know you were bound?
BETH: The day of our reunion. I recognized him as he was in his human shape.
FLOWER: I knew it!
BETH: You knew what?
FLOWER: Come on. That he loved you. You couldn’t have recognized him if on his side he didn’t want you to. He opened his heart to you and you were ready to receive it. A bond is a two-way street.
BETH: I was very angry with him though. I thought he betrayed me. I slapped him.
BETH: Yes, I’m not very proud of this. And a few moments later, after he had explained, we kissed.
FLOWER: You were meant to be together.
BETH: Why do you say that?
FLOWER: It is obvious. This man only lived for his work, and then one morning he brings you to the Great Waterfall.
Beth smiles at the memory of this morning.
BETH: He taught me how to swim and he showed me the moon fish.
FLOWER: He omitted to tell his hierarchy, who was furious with him as I was told. Major Moon Crystal, the most upstanding man on this planet.
BETH: Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain, were we the only ones, the Major and I, not to have noticed anything?
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain starts laughing too.
FLOWER: I guess. You’re together now. That’s all that matters.
BETH: Yes, it’s the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time.
FLOWER: Are you going to get married?
FLOWER: Did you talk about a wedding?
BETH: I confess, no.
BETH: How’s that, why?
FLOWER: Bound people don’t get married on Earth?
Beth; It’s not a duty. We could just live together, that’s all.
FLOWER: So, you’re not going to get married…
BETH: I didn’t say that either.
FLOWER: It’s hard to understand you…
BETH: Well, we just never talked about it. Everything happened so quickly these last few months.
FLOWER: Things seem to be so different on Earth…
BETH: Yes, David and I have to find a balance, according to what we’ve become: he a little more human, and I a little more Dalygaran.
FLOWER: Well, from only seeing you two here, it seems you deal very well with it.
BETH: We support each other when needed.
FLOWER: You’re both radiant.
BETH: Oh stop it, and rather tell me where my heartdaughter is.
FLOWER: Your bedroom is now hers. She’s sleeping up there.
BETH: May I see her?
FLOWER: Sure, what a question.
And the two friends go upstairs in silence. Beth looks at the Dalygaran baby who will one day be this all-grown-up young lady she’d met in the past. “She looks so much like you,” whispers Beth. “Everyone’s saying that,” answers the mother in a low voice.
“Let’s go downstairs.”
Back on the ground floor, the two women carry on with their conversation. Each one in her turn tells the other her life, her wishes for the future; Beth wants to know how many moons it takes for a Dalygaran child to start walking, then talking. She would like to be there for her heartdaughter’s first steps. Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain wishes it too.
The conversation goes on a while, until Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain states, “Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe won’t be long now.”
Half a hundredth later, there is a knock on the door.
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain goes and opens it. It’s the Major and his father.
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain’s communicator rings just at this time. Beth answers it as Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe appears on screen.
– Hi, Beth. I called to tell Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain we’ll have one more guest this evening.
– I think she knows now. They just arrived.
– Oh. I was delayed by my chief who wanted to know if you’re satisfied with the new body. I told him I will ask you the question tonight. Well, I’ll hurry up. I’ll close the center and come.
Meanwhile, Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain makes the Major and his father come into the house.
– Madame, I thank you very much for receiving us, says the Supreme Commander addressing Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
She bows her head and shyly answers,
– Supreme Commander, it’s an honor.
– You’re quiet indulgent with an old man who imposes himself in your home like this.
– Father wanted us for dinner too. So Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe thought it would be a good idea to be all together.
– My child, it’s a pleasure to see you again, says the Supreme Commander to Beth, heading toward her to hug her.
– While we wait for Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, how about some refreshments? proposes Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
All of the guests agree.
When Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe arrives, everyone is joyfully chatting, a glass in hand. He is warmly welcomed by everybody, and his wife brings him his favorite drink. The chatting builds even more.
– Tonight’s meal is my parents’ treat, proudly announces Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe. They came to bring us my favorite food. There’s always too much of it. I’ll go reheat enough for all of us. I’ll be right back…
Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe has been out of the room for a very short time when Beth, the Major and the Supreme Commander freeze.
As Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain asks what’s happening, Beth gets up and goes to the front door. The Major follows her, questioning his father with a look. The father nods. He’s going to stay with the civilians.
“What’s happening?” repeats Fragrant Flowers from Isadora Plain, a hint of fear in her voice.
“Don’t worry my child. We’re going to know it soon. Meanwhile, you stay here with me,” answers the Supreme Commander with a firm, yet soothing voice.
Outside, a surprise is waiting for Beth and the Major.
MIRA: Sorry for the furtive scan, I had to make you come out of the house. We couldn’t in all decency land in the dining room. I can’t go any further either. I’m at the edge of the security bubble…
BETH: Mira, what happened?
Mira turns around and gives a sign in the direction of a grove. Two outlines stand out and get closer in a hesitating pace. It is Beth who recognizes them first.
BETH: Paul, Sylvester, what are you doing here?
MIRA: We evacuated them at their demand; it was an emergency. We went away with all their material belongings and personal items. They had to leave no trace. We’ve got your bodies too. We couldn’t abandoned them there. I’m afraid you won’t be going home tonight…