The Reception Room
As the cars arrive one after the other at the building where the two Smiths and the newlyweds live, it is easy to lead each group of people to the right lift. The room is officially on the top floor.
Beth and the Major are in the first car. What they discover when they arrive at the building is not what they had expected.
Rose plotted with Sylvester to surprise them with a room fully decorated. Beth thought she and the Major had decided on all the plans with the former Queen, but Sylvester had contacted her after Rose asked him for some help with David’s family who was supposed to organize everything.
As they get off the lift, they stop after a few steps. They gaze all around with amazed eyes. Everything that Beth and the Major wished for
—Everybody wanted to do something, you know, says Rose to the couple. Your mother contacted your family members and Sylvester contacted those of David’s. We fed a guest-wedding account with a part of our life cards, and so we were able to get all that you can see here.
The room is decorated with a number of floral arrangements, orchids mostly; the walls are covered with waves of nets of different light colors. There is a place for a buffet, a place for the tables, all round ones, and a dance floor as requested by the bride and groom. And the added decoration is so harmonious. Beth and the Major fall instantly under its spell.
—Candelabra? asks Beth.
On each table stands in the center a cold-light candelabra, and each one is an art-piece—to be given back after the reception. Candles are distributed among a jumble of branches, arranged in very sophisticated forms, each different from one table to another.
The eyes of the Major are suddenly attracted by something he recognizes on a wall. Hand in hand with Beth, they walk to it, and stay speechless. Just in front of them, “The Awakening”, just as Sylvester described it a short time before, and close by, another drawing.
—“The Shining”, announces Sylvester, as he sees his friends opened-mouthed in front of the two canvases. Beth and the Major are portrayed in a bright light, smiling at each other and holding hands.
—Sylvester, it’s…, begins the Major.
—It’s…, tries to complete Beth.
—Well, it’s surprising for you, as I can see, guffaws Sylvester.
—Touching, the Major finally succeeds to say.
—So beautiful, adds Beth.
—You two are the shining light of this day, he answers.
—Thank you, my friend. It’s your talent that is shining here.
And the Major hugs Sylvester.
—Yes. Thank you, Sylvester.
Beth gives him a kiss on the cheek.
Meanwhile, all the guests have arrived.
In a corner of the dance floor, there is a small desk, like in the District Hall ceremony room. William has taken place behind it. He makes some noise by tapping his fingers on the board to draw attention.
—Your attention please, he says a first time.
Some people begin to hush.
—Your attention please, he repeats.
When he gets silence, he says:
—Beth, David, there was a Master of Ceremony at the District Hall. You’re going to have one for your wedding reception as well: me. We, your guests, find it will be nice to have some animations, and you know me, Beth, animation is my thing.
Indeed, Beth and all her friends always could have counted on him as a bundle of fun.
—So in a few minutes, we’re all going to have a drink together. Many of the guests here haven’t seen each other for a long time, and some do not even know each other. So I declare open the chatting and greeting time.
Everyone can see that on the buffet area, some people are preparing glasses and bottles. Meanwhile, people start to greet the newlyweds and the other guests. It’s time for the two families to get to know each other.
Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain is a little nervous to have to present herself as Moira, Raymond’s wife. But as everybody seems to appreciate she is a children’s teacher, she relaxes, little by little.
“When you’re asked a question you don’t know how to answer,” advised them Very First Gold Ring Ray at their briefing, “make the person propose the answer to you.”
So, when someone asks her how old the children she teaches are, she answers,
—They’re the ones who are learning to read.
—So 6–7 years old?
When drinks are ready, there is no need for the Master of Ceremony to encourage people to take a glass. There is even a queue.
The atmosphere in the room is joyful. People seem really to enjoy meeting new faces and seeing again old ones.
Abeena and Christopher, who had disappeared for a few moments from the reception room, are back with little Lucia. As a child, she is too young to travel in time and become an anomaly. Even if she has come from Earth’s past, this fact has been canceled as it will be for all the Earthling guests this night. It is not really a matter of security, more a matter of ethics. Time travel is reserved for those who can understand the consequences and have the will to do it. As a Frigellyan child, little Lucia cannot volunteer to travel in time. So she stayed at the castle waiting for the guests to arrive. When they left her, Christopher said,
—We’ll be right back, sweetheart.
In fact, little Lucia didn’t wait more than 5 minutes. Time travel trick. She “officially” stayed at the hotel to have a nap and be in good shape for the party, and was to be brought to the ceremony room by a friend using the District shuttle. Abeena and Christopher were supposed to go downstairs to get her, though in reality they just pushed the back wall of the fake lift to enter a corridor of the castle.
—Would you get us a drink? asks Abeena of Christopher.
He smiles at her and goes to queue for their glasses.
Abeena then notices Sylvester apparently on very good terms with a young lady. She walks up to them.
—Hey, look here, this is Sylvester, says Abeena joyfully, holding little Lucia by the hand.
Adult Lucia tenses up. She is hand-in-hand with Sylvester. He whispers in her ear,
—It’s gonna be ok. Don’t worry.
—Well, Sylvester, you’ve been hiding something from us! What’s the name of this young lady?
—This is Lucy. She’s my … fiancée.
—Glad to meet you, Lucy.
—Glad to meet you too, Madam.
Abeena bursts out laughing.
—Sylvester’s fiancée doesn’t need to call me, Madam. My name is Abeena. And this little girl is Lucia.
The kid points to Sylvester and says,
—Syvessah loves Lucia.
—Lucy, sweetheart, corrects Abeena. This is Lucy, not Lucia.
—Syvessah loves Lucia, repeats the kid.
And she smiles at the couple, pulling her future mother’s arm to go.
—Well, I don’t know what is with her today. No cuddles for you, Sylvester, apparently. Have a good time, both of you, says Abeena as she goes away, dragged by little Lucia, who just sees her father with glasses in his hands.
Lucia faces Sylvester and in a low voice she says,
—She recognized me.
—Of course not, she presented herself to you.
—Not mom, the kid. She’s me and she knows I’m her. She pointed at us when she said “Sylvester loves Lucia.” And she was happy.
—And she left us alone.
—She’s a part of “us”, Sylv. You see, I’ve got no memory of this day. But inside of me, I must have known all my life that you loved me because I saw us in love. I understand now, why my heart beat so fast when I saw you on the landing. Somewhere in my mind there was the Kid’s memory. I recognized you Sylv, even if I wasn’t conscious of it. It all makes sense now: why I didn’t pay attention to the boys here. I was just waiting for my prince charming. That’s who you are.
—Well, with you my life is really improving, from silly goose to prince charming. I’ll take the promotion, he answers jokingly.
As he stops talking his face becomes more intense. He whispers,
—Lucy, I think I’m ready…
He takes her softly in his arms, as he always does, and then kisses her tenderly. Then he steps back, and says triumphantly,
—You see, no shivering, only good feelings. That’s great.
Lucia looks at him, without saying anything, and then steps forward to kiss him back.
—Still no shivering? No bad feelings at all? she asks.
—Just very good ones. I’m so happy.
And they both throw themselves into each other’s arms, laughing.
—I told you you had to come to this wedding reception. This will be a wonderful day.
Then the voice of William rises again.
—Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the first dance? Today, we will experiment ancient dancing. Four of my friends are going to show you figures you should follow as I name them during the music. Patrick, Sarah, Emily, and Jonas, please, take your places on the dance floor, partners holding hands.
The two couples face each other at a distance of three to four steps. The music begins.
—The salutations: three steps and then bow, then three backward to your initial place. Easy, isn’t it? Now, the tap: partners hold each other’s waists, then three steps and tap left.
Each couple makes the three steps and taps their left feet in front of the other couple.
—Three backwards and tap right.
And so they move back and tap the right foot.
—The mill: partners holding hands, three steps and raise a hand in the center, four hands one on top of another and turn around. You see, nothing complicated. Who wants to try? Couples in two lines facing each other, please.
Beth and the Major are the first to take their place. In front of them stand Sylvester and Lucia. On their right, are Beth’s parents, and in front of them one of Beth’s aunts with the Supreme Commander, another surprise for Beth’s mother. On their left, Paul and Nelly take a place facing Christopher and Abeena. Other couples made of friends, aunts, uncles and cousins line up. And so begins the party, in a joyous and relaxed atmosphere. Free dances and choreographed ones follow one another.
After the starter buffet has been literally devoured by the guests, the music starts again. Beth sees her father alone in a corner of the room and walks to him.
—Hey, dad, what happened? You look worried.
—Oh, this is your wedding, sweetheart. I don’t want to bother you with an old fool’s doubts.
—You never bother me, dad. Please, tell me.
—It’s stupid, it’s only a sensation, you know.
—What kind of sensation?
—It’s bigger on the inside. You know my passion for architecture. This room, it shouldn’t be so large according to the placement of the lifts in the building… You see? It’s stupid, how could it be bigger on the inside… But there is something else. He leads her to one of the windows.
—You see the red light over there. It’s the highest building in this area. I thought it was demolished yesterday. I must have mistaken the date.
—Hey, here is my wife, the Major says joyfully as he approaches Beth.
Beth rushes toward him and says in his ear,
—Dad senses we’re not where we’re supposed to be. I want to tell him the truth.
—Are you sure?
—Remember at the edge of time, ? I’m sure we can trust him.
—What are you two plotting? asks Beth’s father seeing them whispering while looking at him.
—Dad, we’ve something to show you. Let’s take the lift.
As the three enter the lift, instead of choosing a button Beth just pushes the wall in front of her, and it opens on a corridor.
—What kind of lift is this?
—Dad, this is not a lift. Come on, follow me.
Beth heads toward the gardens of the castle.
—Where the hell are we? We just went out into a … castle? And these plants, they look strange.
—Dad, what if I told you we’re not on Earth?
—Obviously I’ve no idea where we are. Not on Earth? Are you kidding me? David, you’re not saying anything…
—I think we should go to the fountain and sit on the bench, suggests the Major.
The trio walks to the fountain in silence. When Beth’s father sits, the Major begins to talk.
—Do you mind if I call you father?
—It’s unusual, but you’re not an ordinary guy. I’ve already noticed that… But please, go on.
—Father, your daughter and I, we’re travelers, space travelers. And this place is a planet we visit quite often.
—But only minds can travel…
—The lift is what we call a transporter. It brought us here from Earth.
—Dad, as David said, we’re on another planet. Its name won’t tell you anything, it’s far from the knowledge of 25th-century Earth. It’s much farther than Proxyterra, in another pocket of the universe…
—And in two seconds, you’re going to tell me that David is not human?
At the same time, Beth answers, “He isn’t” as the Major says, “I am.”
—Well, it’s complicated, concludes Beth.
—Oh, I can see everything now. You just told me we’re not on Earth. I’m not sure I can be surprised again tonight.
—All right. I’m an alien mind in a human body.
—I should have hushed. An alien mind in a human body? You occupy the body of someone human. You’re a parasite then?
—Hey, Beth, that’s ok. I think now we’ve begun, your father deserves the whole story. Tell him from the beginning.
And so Beth does, supplemented from time to time by the Major and interrupted by her father on many points:
—Moon Crystal is not a nickname?
—What? You were offered a man’s body!
—You traveled in time.
—They dared transform you!
—You saved the planet.
—Your father is the Supreme Commander?
—You took her on a mission?
—You were abducted?
At this point Beth omits the meeting with their daughter.
Beth finishes the story with the operation on her two friends here, in another room of the Earthly-Dalygaran territory.
—You know almost everything now.
As her father stays silent she begs him,
—Dad, say something!
—Beth, I just realized I have no idea who you are…
—You’re angry with me?
—What? No! Of course not. I’m proud of my daughter. But, Beth, you’ve lived all this for more than one year. You gave it to me in what, fifteen, twenty minutes? Can’t you imagine what a real shock this is?
—Please don’t be, sweetheart. David, when you told me earlier, “Trust me, what we lived through, Beth and I, is just unbelievable,” I was far from imagining just how true this was. And even if I noticed you were someone special, I had no idea of the life you had before.
—Meeting Beth changed my life.
—Oh, I’m sure about your feelings. I’m not an empathist like you two, but I can recognize true love when I see it; and my children, your love shines obviously, especially today.
Beth and the Major smile at him. Beth’s father keeps his head down for a while, thinking. When he raises it again, he looks at them with a grave face.
—Beth, David. I don’t know if I will be able to keep such a huge secret. Do you think your friends, the Epsilons could wipe out this part of my memory?
—You want to forget, Dad?
—Not exactly, sweetheart. I don’t want to put you in danger. Maybe one day I could blunder…
The Major clears his throat and says,
—Beth told you we gained abilities because of a few alien genes we both have. I’ve got one that can be helpful to you.
—Suggestion, clarifies Beth. He can suggest something to you, and you will just obey. You won’t be able to do otherwise.
—You’ve got this power?
—But usually he refuses to use it. He says huge power needs to be used with caution.
—I will only use it if you ask for it. So you can remember who your daughter is and be sure you will never be able to talk about it, except with us.
—Let’s do this, son. If you call me, father, I will call you son. No problem with this?
—Not at all. So you want me to forbid you to talk about what you just learned here?
The Major takes a breath and looking straight into Beth’s father’s eyes he says,
—What was spoken in this place today, from the moment we got through the lift to the moment we’ll go back at the party, you can’t talk about with anyone but us.
—Yes. Believe me, Dad, this is powerful.
—Do we go back now? People must have noticed we’ve disappeared.
As they arrive back in the party room, Beth’s mother rushes to them.
—Where were you? All three of you vanished for almost 30 minutes.
The Major looks at Beth’s father intensively, before answering:
—It was just 5 minutes.
—Yes 5 minutes.
The Major says softly in Beth’s father’s ear,
—Now you’re sure.
—David, your father is adorable. We had several dances together. And look, now he is with my sister again. Come on, darling, let’s dance together now.
When her parents are spinning on the dance floor, Beth says to the Major,
—You didn’t use your suggestion ability on him, did you?
—You know me well, Beth. He just needed to be reassured.
—But you used it without hesitation on my mother.
—He needed to be convinced. He’s your father; he thinks like you. But he doesn’t know me as well as you do. Now he thinks he is unable to talk about this. He will keep all this in mind without stress. And we have no explanation to give for having disappeared 5 minutes. This is our wedding day! Rules are flexible today, he answers joyfully.
—Oh, Major Moon Crystal, you’re more and more human, she teases him.
—I know, he answers in a low voice.
—Look over there. Your father seems to be getting along well with Auntie Isabel. She’s my mom’s oldest sister and she is a widow, too.
—I’m so happy to see him having fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him smiling so much at a reception. He usually intimidates the ladies he dances with. You know, his position and something distant in his behavior…
—He’s discovering humanity today. Maybe you should talk to him in private a little bit. I remember how you were shaken by human emotions your first days on Earth.
—I intend to have a conversation with him anyway.
—Is there anything wrong? worries Beth by the sudden change in her husband’s tone.
—If I find a moment to talk with him, there won’t be.
—Ahem, says a voice behind them.
They turn around.
—Nori! Are you enjoying the party? asks Beth.
—Well, I’m really not a jolly fellow, but I have to say I appreciate your ancient dances. I’ve found a partner when a couple was needed, your witness, Beth. Rose?
—Yes, that’s her name.
—I’m not sure I’m her first choice; well, actually, I’m sure I’m not. When she asked me if I’d dance with her, I could hear in her voice that she was somehow . But she’s really a kind person. She’s one of your trainees, David. We chatted a little bit. I told her I am a fencing master, too. She asked me if I would come to your room one day. That’s strange because, I thought about it after this Benedict had spoken, David, and I wanted to talk about it with you. Nobody needs to know where I’m from really, but would you mind if I come from time to time, before or after your class. I need to get out of this … castle, he says, lowering his voice.
—It would be a great pleasure. Having another top-level partner will help me not get rusty, now that Beth is pregnant.
—Well, you’ve lost no time replacing me, teases Beth.
—Nobody could replace you, Beth. You’re unique in your ways, answers Nori softly.
—What a flatterer you are.
—Thank you, Nori. After the baby is born, how about a combat among the three of us?
Nori laughs out loud.
—It’s the beginning of your pregnancy, am I right?
—Yes, this is a matter of months.
—It’ll be with great pleasure. Well, the main buffet seems to be ready. I’m ravenous. See you later. And he rushes to the buffet area.
Beth and the Major have no time to say anything else when William appears with a question.
—Hello. What do you think about the party?
—You’re doing a really good job. That’s a great idea, those ancient dances.
—Yeah, but most of them are danced in pairs, and as I’m the one giving the instructions, I can’t dance. So Suzanne is alone. I asked Benedict if he would mind being her dancing partner today. He accepted. He is a nice guy. Well, I’m going to eat a bit with her. See you.
—My Queen, would you mind taking my arm so I can lead you to this impertinent buffet taunting us?
—Let’s go, King David. I’m ready to eat a mammoth.
—Very ancient and extinct animal. Huge one.
—Oh, big hunger then?
—Yes, I’m starving.
Soon, everybody is sitting at a table, eating. Parents and witnesses sit at the newlyweds’ table, situated right . Rose sits near Beth, and Sylvester near the Major. As it is a table for eight, there is room for Lucia who takes a seat near her fiancé. Lucia is on the right of the Supreme Commander and Beth’s mother on his left. Beth’s father is between Rose and his wife.
—Is everybody enjoying the party? asks Beth
—It’s perfect, sweetheart, answers her mother. The food is excellent, and this is a good idea, these ancient dances.
—Well, it’s not easy when you’re alone. I’ll hopefully find someone accommodating who’ll accept to dance with me. Everybody here seems to have a designated partner, objects Rose.
—I’ve learned that William asked Benedict to dance with Suzanne for the evening because he is busy with his Master of Ceremony duties and he can’t dance with her himself. He didn’t want her to be alone. Isn’t that lovely?
—He did that? asks Rose.
—Yes, he told us, David and me.
Beth and the Major can feel Rose’s relief.
“So that’s it,” Beth thinks. “She’s got a crush on Benedict.” She turns her head to Rose and smiles at her.
They have hardly finished their plates when William’s voice calls people to the floor for another ancient dance. As everybody at the table gets up, Paul and Nelly approach and stop Beth and the Major.
—I’m exhausted, says Nelly, whose belly obviously shows her pregnancy.
—We’ve decided to go, adds Paul.
—You don’t want to wait for the wedding cakes? asks Beth.
—Bring some home for us, suggests Paul.
—I really need to sleep. I’m sorry.
—Don’t be. In a few months, I’ll be like you, answers Beth. See you two tomorrow. Well, this morning … according to the clock.
—Shall we join the dance? asks the Major
—I’ve got a question first. What’s up with your father?
The Major knows it is useless to try to hide his concern from Beth. He sighs and says in a low voice,
—I think he plans not to go back to his body.
—Beth, I’m his son. I know how he is. Sometimes he forgets it. Furthermore, in his situation I’d probably do the same.
—If I were a widower with my only child living on a distant planet about to have a baby, what do you think I would do?
—You would want to be at his side.
—You see. It’s why he needed a human body. Not to come from time to time, but to stay.
—Are you sure you won’t get all worked up? Although we’re living here we’re heart-parents of…
—Do you think we really see her growing?
Beth stares at her husband. It has been a long time since she had seen him so irritated.
—You’re right; we don’t see her as often as we would if we were living t … she ends up answering softly.
—Beth, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…
—That’s ok, David. Today we promised to support each other. Remember: I will always stand by you. Do you want me to come with you? To speak with your father, I mean…
—Beth, we’ve already both disappeared for thirty minutes.
—Yes, you’re right, he says smiling. One of us out of the room has less chance of being noticed, you know.
—When the ancient dance is finished, I’ll let you go with him. I think I have to chat with Aunty Isabel anyway, and she winks at him.
It does not take much time for the music to stop, and William announces some free dancing.
Beth walks to her aunt, and the Major takes his father by his arm.
—Father, we have to speak.
—Son, what happened?
—I need to talk to you, but not here. Follow me.
They both go to the lift. As he did before, the Major pushes on the back wall so they arrive in a corridor of the castle.
—Well, son, would you…
—I’ll lead you to the Great Terrace. You’ll see, there’s a fantastic view.
When they arrive, the Supreme Commander gazes in front of him.
—It’s beautiful, he whispers.
—I love this place. Beth loves it too.
—Son, you have something you want to say.
—Father, you chose a human body for my wedding day. I know you could have had a new travel body. If you had asked, they would have accelerated the manufacturing.
—How could you know that?
—I have good relations with the new Chief Commander. Don’t look at me like that. She worries for you. Occupying a human body exposes you to human feelings. And you know that once felt, they stay yours forever. You did it against the advice of the High Command.
—She told you that too?
—Not her. You’ve got friends there too, and they’re worried about you.
—I want to be able to feel like you.
—You want to become human like me, definitively, am I right?
—I need to understand you, son.
—Father, I know I’m becoming more and more human. I know what the revelator showed.
—Oh, Very First Gold Ring Ray told me nothing. I bet you asked her. But when I used the revelator on myself that day, she was surprised and you didn’t let her ask any questions. Why? That I could show up under my Dalygaran shape was not a secret. You made me understand there was something abnormal. Back on Earth, I contacted Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe. He put the revelator on the male-travel body wrist again before my return. As it was in its usual place, he asked no question. And so the next time, I took advantage of being alone to push the revelator in front of a mirror and I saw. My Dalygaran shape was hardly visible, but not my human one…
—You’ve always been excellent at deciphering people, my son. I feel so stupid.
—You’re a father. And I will be one soon. But I’m still and will always be your Dalygaran son. Being human doesn’t stop me from being able to think like a Dalygaran. It’s just that I need to be human … for my child. She will be human.
—Moon Crystal, forgive an old fool. I was not sure of my plan today anyway. I planned it, that’s true. You know me well, son. But today is not the day. Today is about Beth and you, not about me.
—But you’ve made your decision, haven’t you?
—I have. I want to be at your side, son. You’ll need someone to look after this child when you’re Moira and Raymond, when you’re on archeological missions. Someone available and who won’t ask questions. You’ve got a destiny. Let me help you.
—The child arrives in nine months, father.
—So this is the time I have to say goodbye to my world.
The Major does not give an answer. He gazes at the view. His father puts a hand on his shoulder.
—I know what you’re thinking, son. This is not a sacrifice; it’s just a move. I can’t move in my original body, that’s all.
—I know, father. I know. But knowing does not make things easier. Even if I were sure I would make the same decision in your place. But I’m not you. I’m your son. You know my choice was easy; it was between living and dying. . This is not a simple move. This is a journey of no return…
—This is my choice.
The Major looks at his father in silence. The Supreme Commander can feel confusion and distress in his son’s mind.
—Hey, everything ok here?
—Beth? How did you find us, asks the Supreme Commander.
—He sort of called me. Dalygaran abilities combined with human emotions. We’re able to sense ourselves even at rather long distances. Will you be going home tonight? she asks point blank of the Supreme Commander, who can’t hide his surprise.
—Great, she answers.
She hugs her husbands and he lets her soothe his emotions.
—We’ll talk about this later, ok? We’ve got to get back to the reception, she whispers in his ear.
They kiss before parting. Then Beth announces,
—Aunty Isabel is waiting for you, father. The ancient dances will begin again soon. Let’s go.
After some dances the presentation of the wedding cakes is announced.
Fragrant Flowers from Isadora Plain says in her husband’s ear,
—Do you think that these travel-bodies can take the extra weight?
—They’re machines. They auto regulate. You can eat all of those beautiful cakes without consequence.
In front of them they can see many mini cream and fruit cakes displayed on several round levels, one above the over. The bottom level is the largest, the top level is the smallest.
—Look at these colors. If they taste as great as they look, we’re going to really enjoy it.
—I’m sure we will, Moira, says Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, smiling at his wife.
—The sparkling things over there, is that champagne? Beth told me about champagne. It’s alcohol.
—Would you like to try?
—I don’t know. I tried wine and I didn’t like it.
—Maybe this one will be different.
—Maybe. There is no other way to know than to try, is there?
—No, there isn’t.
—Well, us attending such a reception, that’s not going to happen again so soon. Let’s experiment all that can be experienced. Raymond, I’ll have a glass of champagne.
—Your wish is my command, Madam.
As the two Dalygarans head toward the table to get champagne, William’s voice announces,
—A glass of fruit juice for the bride, please.
Beth and the Major now take place in front of their wedding cakes. Raising their glasses, they talk one after the other to their guests.
Beth: As I said, I won’t drink champagne tonight.
David: But I will, and it’s my first time.
Beth: We hope you enjoy the reception.
David: And that you will enjoy it till the end of the night.
Together: Thank you,
They tilt their glasses to the cheers, and move to aside to let their guests take some mini cakes.
The evening goes on, with eating, dancing, and even singing to the music.
As time passes, people seem to be less lively, so William decides it is time for the confetti battle.
When Mira understands what it is about, she looks for Moira and Raymond.
—You can’t stay here. Confetti is supposed to stay on people’s hair and clothes, and you’re morphed, they won’t show on you, she says as low as she can. We have to go. Now. No time to say goodbye.
Beth and the Major can feel the stress of their Dalygaran friends, and see them literally running out with Mira. Beth walks to Reymo.
—Morphers, says Reymo in a low voice. They would have confetti on them but morphers will only show their fake shape. Confetti is not stored as a possibility in our program like rain can be. They would appear as having no confetti at all on them.
Beth’s mother just arrived near her daughter and asks,
—What happened? I just saw some of your friends leaving the room almost in a run.
—They got a call. Their baby has a bad fever. A doctor has been called for. My wife knows the town well, she will help them go to their hosts, answers Reymo.
—Oh, I’m really sorry.
Reymo nods. Then he gets a handful of confetti on his head.
Beth puts a hand on her mouth, hardly keeping herself from laughing. Then she asks,
“Where are the bags?” while gazing through the room after them and finds them easily.
The bags are stored in many buckets now installed on the buffet table, where people can take their “ammunition”.
Baby Lucia, who fell asleep in her father’s arms just after the desert is awakened by the screams and laughter.
Abeena comes with a handful of confetti and lets it fall on Christopher’s head. Lucia roars with laughter, and jumps from her father’s knees. It is easier for her to pick up what she can from the floor, and she throws it at Abeena, who kneels to give the kid the rest of the bag. Lucia takes confetti and throws it over her head giggling and spinning around with arms spread.
Meanwhile, Beth has gone to fight with some of her cousins. The Major and his father are watching all this human mess, surprised, until finally one of them gets covered in confetti. They look at each other, and almost run to the buckets to pick up bags. Then they throw big handfuls at each other, laughing like kids, and like everybody else in the room.
When the buckets are empty, people pick what they can from tables, even from their neighbors. The reception room looks like a multicolored battlefield now.
—Well, now that you’re all awake and in a good mood, we are going to do the chain, announces William. It’s easy. Two lines please. The bride in one, the groom in the other, each at the front. Hold your hands. Each line follows the leader, the bride and the groom. You must do what they do. If one jumps, you jump, if one steps aside, you step aside. Ready? Music!
At some points William gives instructions, like “stop, wave, change of direction,” and when the groom chain arrives behind the bride’s, he announces: “Fusion! Beth, you’re the only leader now.” After a while he says, “Form a circle, bride and groom in the middle, spin around them … change direction … stop, bow to them. Until the music stops.
—You can applaud yourselves.
After some other dances, the Supreme Commander goes to see Beth and his son.
—My children, I have to go. I’m beginning to feel exhausted, and as I’m not in my … well you know. I’d better be careful.
Beth hugs the Supreme Commander.
—Goodbye, father, she says.
Then it is the turn of the son. The Supreme Commander finds Reymo quickly.
—I would like to go back, he says.
—Follow me, answers Reymo.
In the lift, he pushes the back door.
—Mira is in the garden with the other two Dalygarans.
—Mira didn’t want them to leave with a bad feeling. They still had time. She let them visit the castle and the neighborhood.
When Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain sees the Supreme Commander, she says,
—This garden is so beautiful, don’t you think?
—Yes, very peaceful too, he answers. My children, I’m sorry you had to get out so suddenly.
—We understand we couldn’t stay. We’re glad to have been able to be part of it. Thanks to you all, says Star Shining in the Vastness in the Universe.
—This was a wonderful day. Really.
—Shall we go to the transporter now? asks Mira.
The three Dalygarans look at each other.
—After a last glance from the Great Terrace, answers the Supreme Commander much to the two others’ delight.
—Follow us, says Reymo.
Meanwhile, in the party room, people go on to say goodbye. Seeing this, Sylvester asks Lucia,
—Don’t you want to go?
—I’m not tired. Are you?
—I’m not thinking about sleeping, Lucy. I’m thinking about us … alone … in the same bed … room.
—Let’s say good-bye to our friends.
After an hour, around what should be five o’clock in the morning on Earth, Beth and the Major are spinning alone in the middle of the dance floor. Everybody has left.
—It seems even the best things come to an end, whispers the Major.
—I know. We should go home.
—Abeena suggested we could stay in our room at the castle.
—Yes, we’re in the future and we really need some calm around us, don’t you think?
—One day or two?
—You and me.
—We have a deal.
And they kiss.