Paul: Beth, you left just five minutes ago. Where are Mira and Reymo?
Beth: Home. A lot more time passed by where we were. And I need to talk to both of you.
Beth starts to tell the two Smiths what she’d just lived through.
Beth: Everything’s going too fast. I can’t do it anymore. This pressure on my shoulders, it’s huge. I wish I could be that carefree girl I was before my travel to Dalygaran.
Sylvester: Beth, you know that’s not possible.
Beth: I do. But I’m about to explode.
Paul: What did we tell you, not such a long time ago?
Beth: I have to let my mind get rest.
Paul: You’re a 25-year-old Earthling, living a life that no other Earthling from your era will ever live. This is already something difficult to manage, don’t you think? But so far, you’ve pulled through very well.
Beth: It’s because I have you two. Do you realize that my friends, my family have no idea of all this. I’ve got… two lives. And one of them…, I have to hide it from everybody but you. Maybe they were right on Dalygaran about my memory. I should better have forgotten.
Sylvester: You can’t. Remember: your memory regenerates spontaneously. You’ll end up remembering all this. You’ve got to learn not to push yourself too hard and give yourself some breaks. Isn’t that what you’re doing now? I know that from our viewpoint you just finished your breakfast, but how about putting some “fuel” again in this travel body?
Beth: Is there any brioche left?
The two Smiths laugh.
Sylvester: You literally devoured all of it.
Paul: You can have eggs, bread… honey. Maybe you’d like something more substantial?
Beth: A soft-boiled egg. With bread fingers. I’d rather appreciate that. What? Don’t you know what that is?
Sylvester: A soft-boiled egg, isn’t that simply eaten with a teaspoon?
Beth: A soft-boiled egg without bread fingers is not a soft-boiled egg. You can easily guess what bread fingers might be, guys. Look, you just have to slice bread into short sticks. Butter is sometimes put on it, but I don’t. When the egg is ready, you just have to dip your bread into the egg yolk. It is absolutely delicious.
Paul: Let’s go for soft-boiled eggs and bread fingers. How many of them do you want?
Beth: One will be enough.
Paul: 3 minutes in boiled water, is that it?
A few moments later.
Beth: I told you. There’s nothing better that a soft-boiled egg with bread fingers. That was excellent.
Sylvester: You’ve just yawned. You’d better have a rest now.
Beth: I’m expected… on Frigellya.
Sylvester: A small nap will help you get there in top form. If you’re yawning, it’s because you need to rest. Let your mind recover.
Beth knows that Sylvester is right. She needs to take moments of respite if she doesn’t want to go to pieces.
Beth: I’m going to sit in the armchair other there. May I have something to draw with? Once you gave me a notebook with real paper. There were one or two sheets missing.
Paul goes away and comes back with a notebook.
Beth: Yes, it seems to be the same one. No sheets missing though…
Sylvester brings her some soft coloured pencils.
Beth: I only need the black one.
Paul and Sylvester shuffle out the room quietly, leaving Beth to her drawing. When they come back, Beth is asleep. At the foot of the armchair lies the notebook and the pencil. Sylvester lifts them and opens the notebook. On the top page he discovers the portrait of a woman and a man. He is contemplating the drawing when he hears a familiar voice.
Beth: Did I sleep for a long time?
Sylvester: You were in this armchair for an hour. And you drew this.
Beth: The Queen and her son. They look like each other, don’t they?
Sylvester smiles and says, “Yes, it’s true.”
Beth: I have to go now. I’ve just got a little detail to settle.
And she pushes the square button of her revelator. Mira and Reymo arrive.
Beth: Coordinates! I’ve got an invitation from the Queen. You didn’t deign to tell me to which era I have to go?
Mira and Reymo remain speechless.
Mira: You don’t have the coordinates?
Beth: Who would have given them to me?
Reymo: Everything had happened so fast…
Beth: How right you are. I’ve got a regulator.
Reymo: Show it to me.
He can’t refrain a whistle of admiration.
Reymo: They gave this to you, didn’t they? He points with his look at Paul and Sylvester who are standing back.
Beth: They did.
Reymo: Can it communicate with our navigation tablets?
Paul: Sure. It’ll recognize any kind of coordinates. But be careful, Beth, this is instantaneous. As soon as the regulator receives the coordinates, you go.
Beth: Copy. Paul, Sylvester, see you soon. Mira, Reymo, I’m ready.
Beth dematerializes and rematerializes in front of a white double door decorated with sculpted motifs.
“The Palace doors,” she whispers.
The double door opens almost noiselessly. A man comes out to greet her.
“Lady Beth? The Queen is expecting you in the Honor Lounge. Will you follow me please?”
Beth follows him without a word. “Lady Beth,” she says to herself. “That’s new.”
As she arrives in the Honor Lounge, it’s the Queen herself who comes to welcome her with an embrace.
The Queen: My child, I believed for a moment you would never come. Mira told me you were visiting some friends. How about a guided tour of the Palace before anything else?
The Queen doesn’t wait for Beth’s answer and takes her by the arm to go and see the other rooms.
After quite an Earthling hour of sumptuous rooms and huge stairs, the Queen asks Beth,
“Before I introduce you to my brother, would you like a refreshment?”
Beth is not that thirsty, but she dreads so to meet the fencing master that she answers,
“Yes, with great pleasure.”
But the greatly feared moment is bound to happen.
The Queen: Beth, this is my brother Nori. I’ll leave you with him.
Nori: Pleased to meet you, Beth. My sister has told me you might need my help. Stress and emotion management, she said.
Beth: Listen. I don’t know what you can do for me. But your sister is very persuasive.
Nori: I know—he answers smiling—May I bring you to the fighting room?
They are now both in the fighting room.
Nori: Your revelator, deactivate it. I can’t fight with a picture. I need to see you as you are.
Beth pushes the triangular button.
Nori: Oh, I was not expecting that. This is…?
Beth: Dalygaran, and this is a man’s body.
Nori: You’re a head taller than me in this.
Beth: This is the only model. Only one size.
Beth: Believe me.
Nori: Before we start, I need to know your fighting level. Let’s begin.
Nori takes a stick that was on a wall nearby. It doesn’t take Beth very long to disarm him and the fight goes on with bared hands.
Nori: You’re excellent. Who taught you all these techniques, a Dalygaran?
Beth: Yes; Major Moon Crystal.
Nori: It would be a pleasure to meet him.
Beth stops and looks at him sadly.
Beth: It’s impossible. He passed away.
Nori: Oh, I’m sincerely sorry. I didn’t know.
Beth: It’s not your fault. Nori, this is why I doubt you can help me. I don’t want another instructor. Do you understand?
Nori: Beth, I don’t have anything to teach you about combat. Your instructor did a remarkable job and he had, I think, a remarkable protégé. Let me help you though. Stress or emotion management has nothing to do with fighting technique. This is something else: a work on yourself, on who you really are. Now that I know your fighting level, I have to tell you that you can’t afford to lose your head. Having such abilities makes you dangerous if out of control. A good soldier doesn’t let himself be overcome with rage.
Beth: I’m not a soldier.
Nori: Oh, Beth, I had only a few moments to speak with my sister. But from what she told me, you’re a combatant through and through.
Beth says nothing.
Nori: You have to learn to control yourself.
Beth: I need time. Everything has been moving too fast.
Nori: This is exactly my point; you are under immense pressure and you need to learn how to manage this. You have to take breaks too.
Beth: I started that.
Nori: Perfect. You have to empty your mind from time to time. Completely.
Beth: I sleep.
Nori: I said “completely”. You need to master some meditation techniques to achieve this. But all this is preventive measures. In combat situations, pressure may arise of itself. You need to turn it into a strength.
Nori: By losing your head during training and learning about what is involved, what causes it, and so on. You’re the only one that can really help yourself. I know someone who can make just about anybody fly off the handle. She’s going to help us. I mean, help you. Wait for me here, I’m going to get her.
Nori disappears for a few minutes and comes back with a woman.
Beth: What do you know. Mira, why am I not surprised?
Mira: Is she the one whose buttons need pressing?
Mira: I don’t have any time to waste on an Earthling.
Beth: It seems that your expert is chickening out.
Mira: You’re overestimating yourself, sweetie. I’m just not used to such a… primitive trainee.
Beth: I’m not your trainee. I’m your opponent. So come on and test how primitive I am. Come on.
Mira: Too easy. Take a stick and try to hit me.
Nori: You won’t match her on this field. She disarmed even me.
Mira: Really? This nasty, childish Earthling girl?
Beth takes a stick and rushes at Mira, shouting, “I’m not childish.” She stops the stick at the moment she is about to hit Mira right between the eyes. Then she lets go of it, dazed.
Mira: Nori, remind me never to fight with her. She’s fast and dangerous. Beth, you may think you’ve failed, but you didn’t hit me. That’s a beginning. You’re on the right track.
Beth: Mira, I’m so sorry.
Mira: Everything’s alright. But Nori, I think for now it would be better to use simulations.
Nori: Yes, it’s obvious.
Nori: Beth, everybody passes through simulations. Those I train I mean. You have to face varied situations and stresses to be able to react better later. But enough for today. Let’s begin tomorrow.
Beth: I wish to begin now.
Nori: I thought you understood that you have to take breaks.
Beth: I’m very fine. I’ve rested enough for today.
Nori: Really? We’re going to see about that.
He leads her to the room where the simulator is.
Nori: We’ve got to proceed with a few tests first. You’re in a travel body. The connection with your mind is not direct. Let me put up the sensors.
Nori works on sticking round pads on her hands, ankles and forehead. Then he goes to the console.
Nori: Do you see anything?
Beth: No, nothing.
Nori: And now?
Beth: Still nothing. Er, yes, I’m beginning to see something. Nori? Nori?
Mira’s voice: So, beauty, still ready? Let’s go back to our previous battle.
And so Beth is again with the Queen, the King, Christopher, Helena, little Lucia, Mira and Reymo, all facing the two masked men in the small house in Mesopotamia.
Mira’s voice: What happened on your own timeline can’t be changed. You can’t save Helena.
Beth takes no heed of Mira’s words and tries to intervene. She prevents Helena from getting between the flying needle and Christopher. Helena struggles and falls, breaking her neck on the corner of the table as she tries to save Christopher. She collapses and dies. Beth hasn’t reacted quickly enough; the Queen and Reymo have been hit in addition to the King.
Mira’s voice: You’ve made the situation worse. I warned you. Helena is still dead and two other people are paralyzed.
Beth is running now toward the two masked men, intercepting the other needles. Like the last time, she lands a massive punch on the jaw of the shooter and using her dematerialization ability chases the other who tries to escape. She is mad with rage again. Helena is dead. Helena died because of me, she thinks.
Then everything disappears. Nori takes off all the pads.
Nori: I told you. You weren’t ready. Let’s have a try tomorrow.
The next day.
Nori: You’re not looking well.
Beth: I had nightmares all night.
Nori: It was a simulation. You didn’t kill anyone.
Beth: It seems I could…
Nori: You don’t listen when someone tells you something. This could leave you vulnerable. But paradoxically, it is what will make you a better soldier than the others—not always doing as you’re told…
Beth: I don’t want to be a soldier.
Nori: If you say so. Nevertheless, you have to accept the fact that there are certain fundamental rules no one can break. Not trying to change what happened on your own timeline is one of these. As for the rest, you’ll know when to bend some and break others when the time comes. Yesterday, I would have been surprised if you didn’t try to save Helena. You’ll never make this kind of mistake again now—trying to change an already lived situation. But you didn’t succeed in channeling your rage. Just like the first time. It’s why I stopped. We’re going to do another simulation today. If everything’s fine, we’ll do another one. Your training will be achieved when you succeed in five of them.
Beth is willing to do anything to make this training session as short as possible. Unfortunately, it is only from the third simulation that her results begin to improve. Nori decides to give her a pass, but just by a hair, and with some reservations.
By her fourth day on Frigellya, Beth finally completes five successful simulations.
Unlike her days on Dalygaran, no free time was given to her in the afternoons. It was non-stop training. Afternoons were dedicated to meditation and relaxation. Four days on Frigellya and she’d only seen the Palace, thanks to the Queen, especially the fighting room, the simulation room, and her bedroom.
She is in her bedroom when Mira and Reymo knock at her door.
Mira: We know your training is complete.
Beth: Yes. It’s over.
Reymo: You don’t look satisfied.
Beth: What I did back on Earth, when I slapped that guy to the ground, I’m not proud of it. I was not taught to act that way. And it’s to remain loyal to the one who taught me everything that I agreed to come here. I don’t want to dishonor his memory anymore. I’ve got better control of myself now. But my mission today is to go and pick a plant in the Dalygaran past. Frankly, do you think all this is going to help me accomplish anything there? As soon as I finish this mission, I’ll give this body back, and that’s it. I’m not a Dalygaran soldier. On Earth I don’t fight. I draw.
Mira: Oh Beth, believe me, you’re not made to be stuck on Earth. I’m sure we’ll see you again after your mission for Dalygaran. And that’s why we’re going to show you our shelter, Reymo’s and mine. A place only us two know about and where you can go in case of trouble.
Beth: Mira, you’re not listening to me.
Mira: It’s what we have in common, Beth. Come with us.
Reymo and Mira take Beth to a room with several stools.
Beth: Are they transporter seats?
Reymo: Yes. You’re going to have to travel with us. We need to blur the tracks, so nobody can follow us.
She takes a seat and Mira enters the coordinates on her mini tablet.
They are now away. They arrive in a nice room, with just a sofa, a table and a huge screen on one of the walls.
Reymo: All our files are here.
He puts three fingers on the edge of the table and a console suddenly appears. The screen on the wall turns on.
Mira: It’s our HQ in a way. Come here if you need to. Don’t hesitate.
Beth: It’s very nice of you. I don’t know if I’ll come back here one day, so before I leave, I would like to ask you a question. When we were on Earth, in Mesopotamia, you told Christopher that suggestion wouldn’t work on me because I’m a bit like you. What did you mean?
Mira and Reymo hesitate. They look at each other without saying anything.
Beth: Oh, come on. You took me to your secret base. It means you trust me.
Reymo: She’s right, Mira. And she helped us find the royal couple’s son. We owe her the truth.
Mira: Yes, that’s true. Listen Beth…
And Mira explains everything she did in front of the Frigellyan High Court.
Mira ends her explanation with, “So that’s why you have abilities like ours, with our ancestors’ genes.”
Beth: Waow. So you’ve been manipulating my life all this time. Even my winning the lottery? I probably wouldn’t have reached Dalygaran without your genetic manipulation… I wouldn’t have known all these people. What if I weren’t there to pilot the travel body when the Major died? How will the planet have gotten rid of the epidemic?
Mira: We completely transformed your life, that’s true. But as we have seen, you seem to be the right person in the right place. You’re an alpha planet individual helping a gamma and a delta planet. It’s not only a matter of genetic manipulation. It’s you. How you behave with what has been given to you. We are lucky, lucky to have met you.
Beth: I thought you didn’t like me, Mira. I’m a little bit embarrassed now.
Mira: Don’t be. I never help people I don’t respect.
Reymo: And neither do I. Take care of yourself. You seem to think that your next mission won’t need any stress control. You never know what you’re about to discover. It will help. I’m sure.
Beth: Ok, maybe you’re right.
Mira: He is.
Beth: Ok. No more argument from me about this—she answers smiling. Before I go, another question. Is Nori going to forget me when I leave your time?
Mira: No, he’ll remember you, all his life I think.
Beth: But he’s not a time traveler, is he? He is in his era…
Mira: Do you remember when we first met? Reymo told you about a persistence filter he used on Earth not to be forgotten. There are such filters in every strategic building on Frigellya, and the Palace is one of them.
Beth: Is this room on a persistence filter too?
Reymo: It’s not needed. Only us two come here, and as time travellers we can remember anyone. Once you travel in time, you’re an anomaly forever. There’s something written on your molecular level.
Beth: I understand. Ok, I have to go now. I have to go to Dalygaran 500 gold rings before my era. Can you help me?
Mira: Wait a moment please. I have to run a conversion on the Dalygaran time unit as compared to ours. Here it is. Beth, remember: it’s instantaneous. Do I send the coordinates now?
Beth: Please do.
And Beth dematerializes.