Chapter 7 – Christopher

Mira: It’s the Queen, your mother. She’s been waiting for you for almost 50 Earthly years.
Beth: Go and open the door. Go…
So the man does, and the shouting stops. He stands inside the doorframe, speechless. Hurried steps are heard, and the woman plants herself just in front of him.
The Queen: Christopher?
The man: I’m sorry; this…, this is not my name.
The Queen: Christopher!
And she bursts into tears. She looks at her husband and says, “It’s him, it’s him.”
The King: Yes, it’s for sure. I can feel it too.
The man: What is happening to me?
Mira: Frigellyans have a special psyche. You’re feeling the filiation. It’s a deep bond between parent and child. Earthlings would call it love. Even if that’s not totally wrong, it’s something a bit different. Love is, after all, a consequence. You’re feeling your origin, what you share with them. It’s in your heart and your mind.
The man takes his head in his hands.
The man: It hurts!
The Queen: Oh my God, Christopher, I’m begging your pardon. It’s my fault. I might be too deeply moved. You might feel that too and as this is the first time since so long a time… You were just a baby. I’m… trying to calm down.

The King puts his hand on the Queen’s right cheek and talks to her in a soothing tone.
The King: We found him. Everything’s all right now. We can be serene again. Look at him; he’s in good health, he’s handsome. And strong. He looks so much like you. Don’t cry, dear, you’ll blur him. Your eyes must be able to see him.
The Queen lets out a tense laughter.
The Queen: You’re right. What a scene I’m causing here.

With her thumb she squashes a tear running down her husband’s cheek. She smiles at him. She knows he is as moved as she. They have always supported each other, and she knows he is right. Both hush and breathe deeply. They turn together to their son who has not moved an inch.
The Queen: Shall we stay here, or would you like to invite us in?
The man: Er, please, come in.
Helena, Mira, Beth and Reymo, who were standing just behind him, make room for the royal couple to enter. The door closes after them.
Helena: Madam, you’re his mother then…
The Queen: I’m certain. And you, who are you? And this charming little child in your arms?
Helena: My name is Helena and this is my daughter Lucia. I’m your… son’s wife.
The man: Really Helena, you believe this? You believe I’m their son?
Helena: I can see it. It’s obvious. Your father is right: you look just like her, your mother.
The Queen: You’re married then? And this child?
The man: I’m her father… even if I’m not her begetter. Lucia doesn’t have any father other than me.
The Queen: You’re forming a lovely family.
Helena: Madam, these people said—and she points out Mira and Reymo—that you want to take your son back home. But his home is here.

The Queen and King look at each other.
The Queen: We understand your attachment to the place you’re living in these many years. But allow us to invite you to visit our home. Christopher, what do you think?
The man: My name is Christopher then?
Beth: This is an Earthling name, isn’t it?
The Queen: Don’t talk nonsense, girl. This is a totally Frigellyan name. Obviously a rough translation due to the technology you use. In old Frigellyan this name means “sacred fire carrier”. This name, Christopher, has maybe a similar etymology on Earth?
Beth: I admit, Madam, I don’t know.
The Queen: In this case the discussion is closed. And you, my child, do you want us to let you alone with your wife so you can discuss what you wish to do?
Christopher: I would really appreciate this, yes.
The Queen: Would you allow us to take you in our arms first? We’ve been waiting for so long!
Christopher looks at Helena who nods her agreement.
Christopher: I think yes.

And they huddle up all three, a parent on each side of the son. After a time the mother and father step back from their son. He reaches for them with his long arms and draws them back into the embrace. His heart has spoken and recognized them. Now he knows. He is sure. Then he releases the embrace.
Christopher: Helena and I have to speak together now.

Just then the front door opens violently and two masked men enter the room.. Helena cries out in fright. Never in her life had she seen someone wearing a mask, and the sight of these was not likely to reassure her. The masks were absolutely hideous, as much from an Earthling as a Frigellyan viewpoint.  She and Christopher, along with the others, retreat to the back of the room, facing the door.

The opposing groups look at each other in silence. Then, the masked individuals begin to speak.
Mask1: Do you see which one he is?
Mask2: It’s dark. It might be the second from the left. I know the others, except the two girls there and the baby.
Turning to the royal couple, he asks, “But we are searching for a man, aren’t we your Majesty?”
The Queen: Who are you? What do you want?
Mask1: We want your son. If he doesn’t come by himself, we’ll paralyze you all, and we’ll take him with us anyway.
Mask2 takes a kind of injector out of his pocket.
Reymo whispers to Beth: “This contraption shoots out thin needles containing poison.” And again, as quietly as he can: “You’re in a machine.”
Mask2: Enough whispering! The son comes with us or everybody will get a dose. This is very unpleasant.

The Queen: He won’t help you. As monarch, I forbid him.
Christopher: I beg your pardon. You’re my mother for about 5 minutes and you already have the claim to forbid me something?
He furtively winks at her.
The Queen: Before being your mother, I am the Queen, and you may obey the Queen.
Christopher: Never, I will never obey an authoritarian shrew, even though a Queen.
And the Queen aims a blow at him. Christopher rubs his cheek while shaking his head. He starts to find his mother’s acting talents dubious. As for her, never had she been called a shrew before; the slap let fly from her hands unexpectedly…

Panicked by the sudden turn of events, Mask2 begins to shoot and hits the King first. The Queen and Christopher, having noticed nothing, go on arguing to create a diversion. Helena sees the injector aimed again. She authoritatively hands the baby to Mira and stands in front of her husband just as a needle flies. She is hit and collapses.

Profiting from the situation of confusion, Beth charges into the two Masks, standing in the path of each flying needle.
Too angry to remember the fighting lessons of the Major, she lands a vengeful punch on the shooter’s face, knocking him to the ground —she is in a man’s body after all, even if her revelator shows a girl. She materializes in front of Mask1 as he tries to run away.
Beth: If I were you, I wouldn’t move unless you want your jaw crushed like your mate’s. Put your hands behind your head. Walk in front of me. We’ll go back to the house. Don’t you dare try anything…, I’m irritated.
Mask1 looks at the number of needles stuck in Beth’s body in disbelief.
Beth: What a surprise, eh? Hold on, I’m going to show you something.
She pushes successively on the triangular button and the round one.
Beth: Dalygarian travel body used by an Earthling. Your needles struck a machine.
Reymo: You shouldn’t have done that.
Beth: What?
Reymo: Show him who you really are.
Beth is about to answer but she sees Christopher kneeling and holding Helena in his arms. He is crying.

Beth: She’s…
Christopher: …dead.
Christopher lets his pain erupt. His mother kneels beside him, holding the baby in one arm and wrapping his shoulders with the other.
Mira is taking care of the King.
Reymo: These needles are paralyzers against Frigellyans, but they’re apparently deadly for Earthlings.
Beth pulls off the masks of the two aggressors, who are now sitting on the ground with their arms still behind their heads.
She becomes enraged: “You killed someone!” She punctuates this last word with a huge slap to one of the two men, who tumbles to the ground under the violence of the blow.
Reymo: Beth!
Beth: What?
Reymo: Calm down. You are not mastering your strength anymore. Is that what they taught you on Dalygaran, to slap people to the ground?
Beth: I…
Suddenly the memory of her fight with the Major comes back. Her fury turns into a tremendous sadness.
Beth: No, I don’t think the Major would have approved. Even if what these people did is awful.
Reymo: The Major?
Beth: My fencing teacher.
Mira: Go on that way and you’ll cruelly deceive him…
Beth: He is no more of this world. The epidemic raging on Dalygaran took him away not long ago.
Christopher: Did you love him, like I loved Helena?
Beth: I… I don’t know. All I know is that I miss him. I missed him as soon as I left Dalygaran. We parted on somewhat bad terms. But I really felt like seeing him again. It’s no longer possible now.
Christopher: What am I going to do without her? I don’t want to be alone anymore.
The Queen: My son, from now on you will never be alone again. Do you want us to organize a ceremony for Helena?
Christopher: Yes, but not here. Let’s go. Let’s head to this planet where I was born.
The Queen: Are you sure?
Christopher: The people here rejected both of us. No one will miss us here. But I would like to know: they, why did they attack us? Why do they wish to harm us?
The Queen: The war is over up there, but consequences remain. We have virulent opponents aiming at the throne. Your father and I have to abdicate in about a hundred days. Our reigns can’t exceed 50 Frigellyan years and here we are. We’d like you to consider the possibility of succeeding us. Even if the planet is new to you.
Christopher: Is it to prevent me from succeeding you that these two came here?
Mask1: People won’t vote for a stranger.
Christopher: What did you fear then? It was not necessary then to prevent me from going back. What does this mean, vote?
The Queen:  Monarchs are elected on Frigellya. They have to receive the people’s approval to reign.
Christopher: Helena is dead because of this business of succession? Listen to me, clowns; I swear I won’t be a stranger to this planet for long. I have about a hundred days to know it and to become known. I’m the royal couple’s son and I have motivation: to neutralize people like you. I want to make of Frigellya a world healed from violence, a violence that still seems to threaten it. And if I’m not elected, I will work tirelessly for peace. I want a better life for my daughter.
The King: My son, be certain that your mother and I will support you unreservedly. Merely having you has been a huge gift. Losing you was heartbreaking. Finding you again is such a relief. We won’t fail our parental duty again.
The Queen: We had you very late, you know. I even thought I would never have a baby when, miraculously, you appeared. Very soon after we had you we had to hide you, to protect you. It’s how you arrived here. If I hadn’t made a mistake in copying the coordinates, it would have taken less time to find you.
Christopher: Mother, obviously you never stopped searching for me, father and you. I just wish the reunion could have been less… tragic.
The Queen: Your wife gave her life to protect you.
Christopher: But I would have survived. She shouldn’t have…
The Queen: I know my son, I know. But she didn’t think about herself. She thought about you. That’s what spouses do: they think about each other. She left you her child. Your child. The one you cherish in your heart.
And the Queen, who all that time had Lucia in her arms, tends the child toward her father. Christopher hugs his daughter.
Christopher: Let’s go.
The Queen: Mira, this child is an Earthling. You’ll have to include her profile so she can enter our security bubble and use the transporter.
Mira:  I have to take a blood sample, Madam.
The Queen: Well, what are you waiting for?
Mira and Reymo bustle about so that everybody can get back to Frigellya, including Helena’s body.
Christopher: Lucia is going to age faster than the other children on Frigellya, isn’t she?
The Queen: She’s young enough for us to try to act on her biological clocks and her metabolism. She risks having to take treatments all her life, but her metabolism so modified will allow her to have a growth like ours. Don’t worry my son, we’ll do all we can so Lucia feels at home with us. As soon as we arrive, we’ll take her to the best doctor.
Christopher: I hope it’ll work. I’m going to help Mira and Reymo.

The Queen comes close to Beth.
The Queen: My child, your abilities are surprising. Your speed is incredible, but you have to learn to control your emotions. With your strength, they are your worst enemy.
Beth: Madam, I’ve never been in a battle before. I am not… excusable for what I did. I hope I will never live through such things again. I am not a soldier.
The Queen: You took the right decision though. And without any hesitation. As soon as you saw them, you didn’t miss a needle. You’re gifted.
Beth: But I’m out of control sometimes, that’s true.
The Queen: I know someone who could help you. My brother. He’s a famous fencing master. He taught Mira and Reymo.
Beth: Madam, I have another mission waiting for me.
The Queen: Believe me my child, with our quickness, only a few sessions will be necessary. You never know what can happen to you during a mission. More self-control could only be very useful. Promise me you will consider having some lessons before you go.
Beth: I… I don’t know.
Mira comes close to Beth and whispers: “It would be very impolite to refuse.”
The Queen: Mira, you’re not trying to influence Beth I hope?
Mira: Influence Beth, Madam? This girl is…
Beth: … impossible, as it’s been said. Ok. I accept.
Reymo: The transporter is ready. Are you following us Beth?
The Queen: You’ll be expected in the Honor Lounge. Let us take a little lead. I’ll announce your arrival, so that you’ll be allowed to come in. Go to the Palace’s Great Door. In your human shape, preferably.
Beth; All right, Madam.

And so they all go, leaving Beth alone in Mesopotamia in the 6th century BC. Before going to Frigellya, she makes a decision: she has to see the two Smiths.
And she dematerializes.


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