Beth and the Major are in their living room about to go to sleep.
—What are we going to do? asks Beth.
—Relax, answers her husband.
—We should have already had news from Sylvester.
—Maybe it takes longer than expected.
The Major can sense his wife’s distress, but has misinterpreted it. She is not afraid of mind-wandering. She’s afraid he’ll follow her again.
Mind-travels while awake and while asleep are very different. She usually would have clearly felt his presence by her side, but the night before she only confusingly suspected it once they both sat up in bed. By now, she has come to wonder who is ultimately following whom. She is starting to have more control on what she does during the night, experiencing fully-willed investigations. That’s how it’s happened the last few days: emotions or curiosity led her somewhere, and when she was in the place then she was able to more or less take control. What if the Major was with her when she spied on the research complex from where she stole the cure for Mira?
She didn’t plan to hide this forever; she just wanted to try to do something by herself without being given a solution or any advice. She wanted to rediscover the sensation of her first travels, when everything was new. She missed that time of discovery. And these night wanderings had been like a burst of fresh air until her husband, albeit unintentionally, intruded and ruined it for her. She knows these are unfair thoughts, but she can’t stop herself from having them nevertheless. And this idea that maybe it is the opposite, that she was the one who followed her husband is growing stronger and stronger in her mind. Because these were wanderings following a person through time like she did at the beginning. But why would he have chosen Rose that time? Can his concern for her be trouble for both of them in the long run? She is considering this explanation when someone knocks on their door.
Sylvester pokes his head through the doorway to have a look inside.
—I’m glad you haven’t gone to sleep yet.
—You were within a hair’s breadth of missing us, retorts Beth, more dryly than she would have wished. I’m happy you’re here, she adds to redeem herself.
—So, Sylvester, do you have good news for us?
—I spent two days on this problem.
—Two days? wonders Beth.
—That’s the advantage of working in the future. You can come back whenever you want. You know this.
—Yes, that’s true. I just didn’t imagine there was so much work to do…
—That’s because I didn’t just do a simple upgrade. This device was a real jewel, but it wasn’t adaptive. Now if your mind gets stronger, the inhibitor will be stronger too. Instead of a parameter entered in the device, it will take a measure. I had to find out how to measure mind strength. But there were some old Frigellyan devices to analyze this that helped me. And so, your watch can now block both of your minds, whatever their strengths. Well, it is supposed to, anyway. Here it is. You’ll tell me tomorrow if you spent a good night.
—Thank you, Sylvester, says the Major.
—Goodbye, you two. See you.
The Next Morning
Sylvester’s watch seemed to have been efficient this night. Beth could feel the relief of her husband when he announced he thought he went nowhere during his sleep.
When they took their breakfast, Beth devoured all the pancakes he cooked for them. When she realized it, she was a bit ashamed. But the Major was just happy to see her with such a good appetite.
Now she is asking him to go back to their bedroom, to try another mind-travel without a pill.
—I called Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe when I woke up this morning. The body has been ready since yesterday evening.
—Oh, Beth, you woke him, didn’t you?
—Well, maybe. He was a bit confused, that could be a sign.
—You’re so impatient.
—I am. That’s true.
—Ok, let’s have a try.
When they are both face to face, sitting on the bed, legs crossed as they had done the day before, he takes her hands and begins to send her all the positive waves he is able to. As soon as her mind is away, he delicately lays her down on the bed and lets his fingers run through her hair before lying down himself by her side.
On Dalygaran, Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe is happy to see the travel body open his eyes.
—Yes, it’s me.
—It’s weird seeing you in this body again. It’s like a trip to the past for me.
—I really need to get it all out. This body is the perfect one for it. I promise I’ll be gone for only three hundredths. And believe me or not, these are going to be the fullest three hundredths of my life.
And she disappears.
She materializes at the Great Cascade for a dive. She really enjoys being able to swim like a Dalygaran. This river is full of good memories, and moonfish.
Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe jumps when she materializes still a bit wet in front of him asking for a horse.
—I took the shuttle this morning. They are all in the meadow near my house. You can take one if…
—… you want.
When she arrives in front of the meadow, she can see three horses. One raises its head and comes to see her. Beth recognizes it: it is the one she raced at the Dalygaran celebration in her honor.
—Good girl. I’m not in the same body, but you know who I am, don’t you? she whispers, stroking the horse’s cheek.
The horse has no gear.
—Hey, how about bareback? she goes on, still speaking to the horse.
Beth has seen this in very old Earthling films. She tries to send the horse the mental picture of what she intends to do. She has to try twice before succeeding in sitting on the horse’s back. Then she asks for some quiet rounds of the meadow. The mount accelerates as it can feel Beth’s confidence growing. Beth guesses too late what it plans to do then.
—No, no, no, no, she shouts, as the horse gathers speed, to jump over the fence.
Beth concentrates to stay on the horse’s back and succeeds. The mind fusion is even stronger while bareback riding. She loves the sensation and has a really good time. The mount seems as happy as she is.
—I can’t stay for long, Beth says, her voice full of regret, mentally asking to go back to the meadow. She lets the mount choose the speed on the way back. It’s a succession of accelerations and slowing-downs. The horse stops in front of the fence this time. Beth opens it to let the animal in, after some last caresses and goodbyes.
Beth finally materializes in the combat room, surprising Very First Gold Ring Ray in a training session with her team.
—Beth, hello! Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe said you’ll be taking this body today, says the new Chief Commander in welcoming her.
Beth whispers something in her ears. Very First Gold Ring Ray smiles.
—Six, you said?
—Yes. I already did four with Major Moon Crystal. I’m more experienced today.
—Ok. Progressive exercise. First attacker please, here is your target, says Very First Gold Ring ray pointing to the travel body.
One at a time, she sends more attackers. Very First Gold Ring Ray observes Beth’s technique. She is amazed by her velocity and anticipation skills. At the end of the exercise, as they had before, all Beth’s opponents line up in front of her, putting their right fist in their left hand at their chest level. Beth knows what to do this time, and immediately puts her left fist in her right hand the same way.
—Thank you, she says.
Very First Gold Ring Ray has no time to give an answer when Beth is already away.
—Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe, I need an extraction pill.
—Did you go to visit the Supreme Commander?
—I only did physical exercises. It was what I needed today. I’m sorry. I have to go back to Earth now. I’ll come back soon, I promise. I’ll take the time to visit friends and family next visit. And talk.
—Pills are in the draw…
Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe stops speaking. Beth has already opened the drawer where he now stores the extraction pills she and the Major need. She takes a glass of water and goes immediately to lie down on a couch.
—Oh, this body lacks food, with all I made it do. See you.
When she gets back to her own body on Earth, it awakens the Major who had fallen asleep.
—Great sensations. I’m very happy. Thank you for your help.
—You’re more relaxed. I can sense it. I’m happy too.