It has been six days since Paul and Sylvester came back from their operation on Frigellya, and both of them are now very busy … with love. Nelly and Paul stick together constantly, as do Lucia and Sylvester, except for the nights. Sylvester still has to deal with the effects of physical contact on his psyche. Each day now he ritually knocks on Lucia’s door in the morning. The first time this happened, she got dressed at full speed before opening the door. Sylvester opened his arms, held her tightly, though briefly, and left a kiss on her forehead. The contact didn’t last very long before he began to shiver. Lucia told him that this would probably change with time and that there was no need to leave until it became unpleasant for him. They agreed on a time for the next morning, and since then, Lucia is ready when Sylvester knocks.
Every morning, they arrive hand in hand in the kitchen for breakfast. Paul, who used to be an early-riser, gets up later now that Nelly shares his life. It is with great pleasure that Sylvester and Lucia prepare breakfast for everybody, even for Beth and the Major, who have been asked to join them now for every meal. What matters to Lucia and Sylvester is just doing things together. And over the last few days they have done many: going together to the art museum, to restaurants, to the old library, to shops… But what Lucia prefers is to be with Sylvester in his studio. He started to teach her the basics of drawing, and she really enjoys it. It is like she can see his soul there, and he can see hers. In the evening, they chat together for a very long time before each goes to their bedrooms. And that is the way it goes now on the two Smiths’ floor.
Today, Beth and the Major have decided to go to Dalygaran to meet their friends and David’s father. When they arrive in the kitchen, they meet only Sylvester and Lucia.
—You’re not going over there with nothing in your stomach, says Sylvester, after the Major asks for travel pills.
—We had no intention of doing that, answers the Major, smiling. You two cook just killer breakfasts. Your scrambled eggs are so delicious.
—And your pancakes are the best I’ve ever eaten, adds Beth.
—Well, Lucia, it seems we have fans, teases Sylvester.
—Do you think we should tell them our trade secret? goes on Lucia.
—Secrets about eggs and pancakes? wonders Beth.
—Not about eggs and pancakes. About spices, clarifies Sylvester.
—Alien spices, announces Lucia.
—Yep, Beth, we make Earthly-Frigellyan breakfasts, says Lucia. You know, as Frigellyans and Earthlings are so alike, there is a real craze for Earthly things, especially cuisine, on my planet, er at least the one where I lived most of my life. Usually it’s more Frigellyan food than it is Earthly. Today, we’re Frigellyasing Earth food. As you can see, the result is great, isn’t it?
—Yes, that’s true, great flavor, answers Beth.
After having their breakfast all together, the Major asks Beth,
—Ready to go now?
—Yes. Sylvester, we’re going to need our pills.
—Go to the usual room; I’ll come and bring them to you.
As they both open their eyes on Dalygaran, each in their respective travel body, they are surprised to be welcomed by someone other than Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
—I’m Captain Very First Gold Ring Ray, Miss Beth Smith. I’m very glad to meet you. Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe apologizes for not being here. He’s got a lot of work to do at home, because he and his wife are receiving their daughter’s heart parents, that is, you. And he told me they’re a little bit behind with everything. I think it would be nice of you not to go straight away. He just left the Travel Center one hundredth ago.
—Pleased to meet you, answers Beth.
—Captain, says the Major as a greeting.
—By the way, Major Moon Crystal, you have to go to the High Command, to sign off on your resignation as Chief Commander, if this is what you really want.
—You shouldn’t doubt this. Is the process for my succession already launched?
—The High Command agrees on the substance, but wants a Major as Chief Commander. I must get a promotion to be able to apply for the position. Your father will…
—Very First Gold Ring Ray, leave me the honor of doing this for you before resigning. After all, I’m the one that put you up to it.
—I would be honored, Moon Crystal.
—Beth, I have to…
—Go! Don’t worry about me. I’ll find something to do before visiting our friends.
—Sure! Off you go! See you later.
And the Major dematerializes.
—Well, Beth. As Moon Crystal and you are now traveling together in these travel bodies, I’ve something to tell you. There is something you must know about your partner. I promised his father I would not tell the Major, but he said nothing about you. You’ve got to make sure the Major never uses the revelator to show his former Dalygaran shape.
—I don’t understand. Why?
—Because it will show a human being now. As you may go together on missions, even archeological ones, you might have to prevent him from making this mistake.
—He’s now displaying a human shape, mutters Beth, more to herself.
—When the Major came to propose my becoming Chief Commander, we first went to his father’s in travel bodies. The Supreme Commander asked to see me in my real shape through the revelator and Moon Crystal, er The Major, showed me how it worked. He demonstrated on himself. And what I saw was his Dalygaran shape fading under his human one. I’m sure, the revelator will soon show only the human one. The Supreme Commander made me hush and in private commanded me not to tell his son anything. This man has a will of steel. As long as his son was there, he showed nothing, but I can tell you, when we were alone, he let something break free. I realized how strongly he had fought to hide his feelings from his son when he released them in front of me, even if extremely briefly. I’m not sure why he did this; as I told you, on a mission it could be dangerous to believe something that’s not true, especially when it is about your own appearance. And maybe this’ll never happen. The Major would never try to show himself as Moon Crystal. But, as his partner, I’m now sure you’ll make it certain. This will never happen.
—The Supreme Commander might have thought he saw his son, the one he knew, for the last time. That must have been a shock, I suppose. Even if he knew this version of his son had no more reality.
—There’s something else, you know. I felt so much determination in him after that brief distress escaped him. He noticed I had felt it. He forbade me to ask questions. Even if he didn’t say anything, his look was enough.
—I don’t know what that means either, but I will be vigilant, about both of them. You have my word on that.
—I’m the one who should thank you, for you trust.
Very First Gold Ring Ray smiles. After a few moments of silence she says,
—If I may dare, I would like to ask you something…
—Well, go ahead.
—I would like to see you in the Pendula Room. I’ve never seen someone reach level-10.
—I was told few Dalygarans reach level-8.
—Oh, he didn’t tell you…
—There have only ever been two Dalygarans who reached level-8. Major Moon Crystal and before him, his father.
—No, the Supreme Commander?
—Yes, he was once younger…
—Level-7. Please, show me how you do this.
—Let’s go then. I’ll follow you.
In the Pendula Room, the Captain goes to the command panel.
—Ready? she asks.
—Ready, answers Beth.
Very First Gold Ring Ray activates the mechanism. As she did before, Beth starts calmly to be able to feel each pendulum. Then, she goes faster and faster as do the pendula themselves. She remembers suddenly how she loved this sensation. Anticipation is possible only if you can feel like a part of the system, if you are in a way joined to it.
As the Major did before, the Captain stops the mechanism when level-10 is reached.
—Well, it’s amazing. I’ve never seen this before. How can you do this?
—Oh, is this one of those abilities given to you by your few ancestral Frigellyan genes?
—Yes, anticipation is the ability I developed.
—Moon Crystal developed suggestion. I saw it. It’s powerful and surprising.
—Did he tell you how we got these genes?
—He just said it was a long story.
—He’s right. Maybe you would like to hear a summary?
—I’d really appreciate it.
—I was genetically transformed when I was inside my mother’s womb by Frigellyans who needed me to help them when I grew up. They needed my superior mind traveling abilities, which are greater than normal humans. That was what those genes gave me first. My abilities helped them find the royal couple’s son, lost on Earth since he was a baby. For the Major, I suppose the story is famous here now. He was given a body by two Epsilons on Earth as his mind was not able to go back to Dalygaran the day he came without a body to warn me about the last epidemic. And they made him like me for him to be able to travel like and with me. In very short, this is the story.
—Well, that’s … hey, you can’t just pop in like this without warning….
The Major who just materialized apologizes,
—There isn’t any way to warn you, I’m afraid.
—How did you know we were here? asks Beth.
—But you materialized here.
—Well, excellent observation Major.
—What? You mean…
—Yes, Very First Gold Ring Ray, it’s done. You’re a Major … on probation, but a Major!
— Congratulations, says Beth.
—Well, I’m… I’m…
—Of course I am, Moon Crystal.
—However, they refused to register my resignation immediately afterwards. As I am the one who asked for your promotion, I will have to be the one who validates the end of your probation. One moon more to be Chief Commander. I’m sorry.
—Don’t be. All that’s happening to me lately was inconceivable a moon ago. Maybe we can use this last moon to do a proper succession, even if I know you’re now busy on Earth…
Major Moon Crystal watches Beth.
—I know you, David. Do this as you feel it must be done…
—Oh, I don’t want to…
—It’s ok. Beth knows me well, Very First Gold Ring Ray. I will do it my way. And this will be my last military action on behalf of Dalygaran.
Silence takes over for a few moments, until Beth speaks,
—You didn’t explain how you found us.
—I tried something… I used the bond.
—We’re on the same space-time, and as we’re bound, we are able to feel the presence of the other. So I wished to find you, Beth, and that was it. As soon as the machine found the track of our bond, I materialized.
—Wow, says the new Major.
—Wow, says Beth.
—Maybe it could work when you two use the tandem travel?
—The first time we tried, he lost me…
—Yes, but maybe the instructions to the travel body were the wrong ones. I wanted to follow you. I have to follow the bond. This is slightly different… That being said, may I ask you, what you two are doing here, in the Pendula Room?
—I just wanted to see someone reach level-10, answers the new Major.
—I’m surprised you never tried to reach level-10 yourself, adds Beth.
—Who told you I never tried to? he answers.
—Yes. At the very beginning of our relation, when there was only one travel body. One day I came here and tried. I reached just level-8.
—“Just”, repeats the new Major amused.
—That’s why I’m sure I don’t have the anticipation ability like you, Beth… Anyway, my father was part of the hearing for your promotion, Very First Gold Ring Ray. At the end of it he asked to see you, Beth. Alone. I don’t know why, but I felt it was important. Father and you will join me thereafter at ours friends’. Father is invited too. He must be back home by now, so you can go. As for me, I’m going to our friends’. Good-bye, Major.
—Moon Crystal, Beth, good-bye.
—Er, good-bye. I’ll go see your father, David.
Immediately after materializing in front of the Supreme Commander’s door, Beth knocks.
—Come in! says the Supreme Commander.
Beth complies and asks immediately before he has time to greet her,
—You wanted to see me … alone?
—Don’t worry, my child.
And he walks toward her to hug her.
—Father, tell me, what’s the matter?
The Supreme Commander asks point-blank,
—Did she tell you anything about my son?
—Very First Gold Ring Ray, my son told me he left you with her. Did she tell you something about him? I hope she had.
—I don’t understand.
—If she didn’t, I would reconsider her future nomination as Chief Commander.
—Are you talking about the revelator thing?
—So she did, says the Supreme Commander relieved.
—Yes, you forbade her from telling your son, but didn’t say anything about me. She thinks it’s a matter of safety, I know this, as I travel with him and can prevent his making a mistake…
—That’s great. My son was right. She’s the right person for his succession. But I had to put her to a test because of … er…
—Your son told me everything. She was in love with him. You’re now sure that despite this past, she will act professionally.
—I wasn’t as sure as he was when he presented her application to me.
—A father’s mistrust, I guess…
—It took a long time for my son to find … love.
—Our love is strong, Father. I hope we’ll find a means so you can come to our wedding. The one with my family and friends, I mean. The party will be organized on Frigellya. They already thought about a trick to bring everyone there without their noticing a change of space-time.
—Let’s talk about this later, shall we? Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe and Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain are waiting for us. But, please, I would like you not to say anything about our conversation to my son.
—Find an excuse. I will tell him myself … after the wedding. I don’t want him to be worried about his “transformation”. I want him to be happy. Please, it’s not so far now. Do this for me.
—Er, yes, Father. If this is your wish.
—It would be really great if Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe and Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain could come to the wedding too.
—My child, this will be my wedding present. I will find that means.
Beth hugs the Supreme Commander.
—Let’s go see the others, my child.
—Let’s go, Father.