Leiyana and Sam have both had a very exhausting week. With the planning of their “Joining” ceremony, and Sam’s official recognition as a member of Shi’ann society, at the upcoming Emergence Day celebrations, they are both tired and in need of some couple time. Sam prepares their evening meal as Leiyana showers. They enjoy their meal outside on the patio, and she reminds him that they are to meet with Jerdon and a few council members the next evening. Sam is excited about this meeting as they will go over items that pertain to his official citizenship, and the ceremony in which Leiyana and he shall join their lives before the rest of the world.
It is a normal day for the two of them. Tea, breakfast and meditation. Hours later, they prepare to leave for the important meeting. Leiyana does not notice that Sam is watching her as she sets in deep thought on the edge of their bed. When he sets beside her, he places his hand upon the small belly bulge that is just starting to show. She looks in his eyes. They stare deep into each other, both sensing and reading the other. No words are needed.
Martark and Jerdon are host to a dozen people, most of whom Sam recognizes as Council members. Those gathered for this important meeting, all have a peculiar expression on their faces. Sam senses the hidden excitement that the attendees are harboring.
Charia and her mate Varthan are helping rearrange the main room’s furniture to accommodate the small crowd. Sam is very pleased and honored to see that Zoejara is in attendance. Her presence at this meeting causes him to wonder how his citizenship is viewed by the rest of the population.
Bentanh and Morian both embrace Sam and Leiyana. Morian rubs her hand across Leiyana’s belly, smiling as if she was the expectant grandmother. The nervous energy in the room, is mostly Sam’s. Everyone else acts as if they have gathered for a family meal.
After everyone is seated, to Sam’s surprise, Martark stands and offers the standard Shi’ann greeting. It appears that he will lead this meeting. Martark’s mannerism is different today. He actually seems very serious about the matter at hand. He stands before the others as a priest who is about to perform a sacred ceremony. He looks at Sam and begins, “Sam Smith, you have expressed your desire to join your life and heart to the Shi’ann people. You have come to this decision of your own accord. You have now lived among us for almost a cycle. I speak for all Shi’ann, and declare to you that we embrace you as family.”
Martark pauses, takes a deep breath and continues, “You arrived here as a man from another culture, another way of life, and another time. You did not ask for a life among this society, and yet from the time of your awakening, it has been evident to all, that you belong here, with us. Sam, we are your people.”
“Your presence here has provided a healing for us. We thank you for this. Your efforts towards our aspirations and our way of life is already becoming fruitful.” He winks at Leiyana, whose eyes are misty. “But there is more to your story than we have told you.”
Sam looks at Leiyana and then back at Martark. He tries not to dwell on the slight anger and fear that is rising in his gut. “What exactly have you not told me?” Leiyana reaches and takes Sam’s hand. He looks in her eyes and sees love and respect staring back at him.
Jerdon stands and moves to Martark’s side. Sam notices that today, his two father-in-laws seem to have changed roles. Martark today is playing the respectful and calm host. While Jerdon seems to be the nervous and emotional father, who struggles to keep his excitement restrained, as he prepares to speak.
“Sam, you have learned much of our ways and our culture. I assure you that it is not our practice to keep secrets or to be dishonest. The very first sacred word is ‘respect’, which we all hold very dear to our hearts. And yet, there is an important fact of your existence that we have purposely kept from you.
We ask your forgiveness for our omission, but also want you to know that the decision to withhold this certain information, was made with your best interest in mind. Shortly after you had awakened, we became concerned that you might have much difficulty in assimilating to our society, greater so, than we had first considered. You did not awake here with a blank mind, as we had expected. You arrived here with lifetime of experiences. During your time of culture adjustment, the Chief Council decided to withhold this certain fact for one cycle, so as to not give you a greater burden to bear. You needed to adjust to your new environment.” Jerdon speaks humbly.
“Excuse me Jerdon, you’re not sending me back, are you?” Sam laughs, as do the others. It helps to break the seriousness of the moment.
Then Sam looks at Leiyana and says, “Forgive my deflecting.” He gives her a fake smile to cover up his nervousness. Her eyes tell him that she understands.
Jerdon continues, “Though you have not yet been here for an entire cycle, the Chief Council has decided that it is time to tell you the full truth.” Sam watches as Jerdon takes a seat and Charia rises and faces him.
Charia cannot hide her excitement as she begins, “I was the first one to extract the life force pattern from the ancient remains. A sample was sent back to the city, while I continued to work at the northern site. That first evening, the entire team was exhausted, more so from the excitement than the work, but I could not sleep. Late in the night, I arose and began to review the data that we had collected from the remains. By chance, I wondered how closely this ancient life force pattern might compare to ours. It was then that I saw the marvelous mystery staring back at me.” Charia pauses more to catch her emotions than her breath.
“What?” Sam whispers.
“Sam Smith, you are our ancestor, we are your descendants.” Charia announces.
He is shocked by the revelation. As numerous thoughts run through his mind, he scans the faces of those in the room. Is this some joke? And yet, every face has a sincere and compassionate expression. So many things suddenly make sense to him. The deep respect that he has been shown, their honor and care of him, even every small kind action that he has experienced, makes sense, in light of this revelation. He remembers the night that Leiyana first told him of the marvelous mystery. This is why she was so excited to share the story.
“How is this possible? Are you certain? I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know what to feel.” Sam becomes emotional. He feels embarrassed, and put on the spot. Then looking into all of their smiling faces, he feels humbled, as if he has been given a great reward of which he is not deserving.
“For so long Sam, I wanted to tell you. I wanted you to know this great and wonderful news. Forgive me, my love.” Leiyana weeps as she speaks. He reaches for her and holds her in a tight embrace. He weeps with her, shedding tears of joy and astonishment.
As Sam clings to her, the others move about the room in soft conversation. Some move into another area. Sam can faintly hear the clink and rattle of dishes. The other guest are allowing the couple the uninterrupted time that they need. It takes Sam a few minutes to process this new information. Finally he stands, holding Leiyana’s hand.
“Do you know what this means?” He speaks to the small crowd. Sam can barely contain his excitement. “My children! They made it, they survived the war. At least one of them continued to live, maybe both. They lived on, they kept going, and they had families, children, my grandchildren! I have wondered often, what became of them. I went into the cryonics chamber not sure of their fate. I had always hoped for the best for them. And now...well, just look at all of you.” Sam’s tears continues as he remembers his two children.
The other guest begin to gather around Sam and Leiyana. Embraces and kind words are shared. Sam feels different embracing these people now. They are his people. He has a place among them.
Drinks and small food items are passed among the room. Several conversations begin between the others. Martark and Jerdon stand next to Sam and their daughter, offering toast and cheers. The important meeting has just become a cocktail party.
Sam engages Jerdon, asking questions. Jerdon explains that this revelation has not been made known to the general population. Only a select few physicians and Councilors were informed. Great effort has been exercised to keep this information secret, until the chosen time had arrived. During the upcoming Emergence Day celebrations, and Sam’s official citizenship ceremony, it will be announced to all.
After a time of conversation and drink, Sam decides he should take his beautiful and expectant lover home. A pregnant mother needs her rest. Zoejara ask to speak with Sam as the two as are headed out the door.
He faces Zoejara and she reaches for his hand. The room becomes quiet, as the elder Councilor speaks,
“Sam Smith, I remember speaking with you some time ago. Then, I sensed a great sadness in you. It is still present,” She searches his face, “though it does not control you as before. Your sadness is because of your great loss. You have lost your family, your home, your entire world. That sadness will stay with you, as it should. All of life’s experiences make us who we are, make us who we are becoming. The happy and the sad, both season us to enhance the flavor of life.” Zoejara’s eyes shine as she speaks.
“Dear Sam, you who have lost all, do you understand now? Sam Smith, you have returned to your family. You have come home.”
He bends down to embrace the Councilor. Zoey kisses him on his cheek.
She squeezes his hand and ask, “Tell me Sam, what was the name that you called your grandfather?”
Sam is puzzled as her question seems to be out of place. He smiles as he searches his memory and answers, “Actually, I never knew my grandfathers. But there was an older family member of whom I have very fond memories. My uncle, I called him Uncle Terry.” The memory warms Sam’s heart.
Zoejara speaks to the entire room, “From this day forward, Sam Smith shall be known as the One Before.” The room breaks out in cheers and applause.
Once quiet returns to the group, Zoey adds, “But I shall call him, Uncle Sam.”
It is two days now, before Emergence Day. The two of them are cuddled together on the couch thing, discussing the day’s activities, after their evening meal. Leiyana, at Sam’s urgent pleading, has refrained from work, and stayed at home. She has entertained a few guest throughout the day. Celebration planners have stopped in and some who came to offer their congratulations. Though Leiyana did not perform much entertaining, as her guest insisted in not allowing her to lift even a finger. Sam’s day consisted of time at the Com Center, and assisting his young friends’ preparations for their Emergence Day plays. To’mas and Felitra often request Sam’s assistance on their numerous projects, and they will continue to do so, for many cycles to come.
Sam has spent a brief time studying the very first Emergence Day. He was introduced to the holiday through the early weeks of his education. It is a three day annual celebration, in which all citizens participate. The holiday, he is sure, has evolved overtime. The Emergence Day celebration reminds him of the American Thanksgiving holiday. He laughs at the thought of the Ones Before wearing pilgrim’s hats.
“So, tell me, Doc, what would be your most memorable Emergence Day?” Sam ask.
Leiyana gives him a seductive smile and says, “The one that begins in two days.” She laughs and pokes him in his ribs.
He stretches back and lays on the couch thing and ask, “I would love for you to tell me the story of the very first celebration.”
She lays beside him, sliding in close to his body, “You have already learned of it in class.”
“Yes, I did, but I love to hear you describe things and tell stories. I’m your biggest fan, Doc.”
“Well, if I tell you, I may ask a certain favor of you, later in the evening.” She says with sexy eyes.
“Your wish is my delight, my dear. I love it when you talk dirty to me.” Sam laughs. “But really, tell me, I want to hear your version of the story.”
Leiyana begins to share the origin of one of the most important celebrations in all of Shi’ann history.
Within weeks of the initial contact between the cities, physical contact was made. Delegates from each community mixed and mingled among the others. Resources were evenly distributed, as well as they could be, considering the primitive means of communication and travel that were then available.
Surface structures were being built. The land provided much more materials and food than what had been previously allowed.
Living above ground also revealed illnesses with which the sub-dwellers were unprepared to combat. Many died during the first months, as the population struggled to adjust to their new environment.
Soon, a reliable communications network had been developed. This allowed for a greater ability to share resources, especially food and medicine. Still, with any report of the death of a citizen, the entire world mourned. Every person was considered valuable. All knew that survival depended upon each individual’s success. Humanity had abandoned its competitive spirit.
During the first few extreme weather incidents, some complained and sought to return to their underground dwellings. Council delegates from each city met, to address these concerns. A vote was set forth among the delegates. Would they all return to their earlier dwellings, inside their protective Mother Earth, or continue the struggle to live above ground? All voted to continue to endure the hardships of surface living for one complete cycle. The delegates would convene again, at that time, and decide if the citizens had improved their survival chances.
The early work of the Ones Before was evident within months of the partnership between the cities. New relationships formed, both civil and social, and brought about a productive and harmonious
atmosphere for all. Before the first cycle was complete, everyone agreed, a vote was not needed. The Ones Before had forged a new life above ground, to never again live in the shadows.
A week before the anniversary date of the emergence, inventory was taken of all their resources. They had done better than any of them had hoped for. To celebrate, a three day festival was planned. Each city sent gifts to all the others. During this time of celebration, all would cease from their work and enjoy the progress that they have made together.
Even in those ancient times, the children of each city were encouraged to participate in the festivities. A tradition of plays began, a reenacting of historical and mythological tales. This society knew the importance of their younger citizens’ place in society, as someday they shall lead the people. This also allowed the ancient stories and myths to stay alive and continue to enrich future generations.
The first celebration of Emergence Day is considered the official birth of Shi’ann Society. Feast, merrymaking and many life joining ceremonies occurred. The different customs and practices of each group were embraced by all. Neighbors learned new ways from each other and their differences were respected and even applauded.
The last day of the celebration was a somber and quiet day. Each city held memorials for those who had died since humankind’s return to the surface. Their deaths were viewed as sacrifices which allowed for the present success of their society. This custom is still practiced by all Shi’ann. The Ones Before shall always be respected and remembered.
Sam continues to hold her after she tells her story. He has been moved by the tale of courage and the sacrifices of the ancestors. The deep respect that everyone holds for each other, he thinks, is the most
noble and honorable characteristic of these people. These people? His people. Even the Ones Before are his descendants.
Later, as he drifts off sleep next to her, he creates a view of history in his thoughts. Scenes pass through his mind’s eye. His time before, then the nuclear war, five hundred years of rebuilding, then the Great War, three hundred years under the earth, over a thousand years since they returned to the surface, and they now live in the sky, they reach for the stars, the cosmos calls to them and they answer. We answer.
Day One of the celebration begins with a simple breakfast of dehydrated root chips with water, to symbolize the meager beginnings of surface life. Sam laughs and he calls it crackers and water, “a poor boy’s meal”. He spends a few minutes explaining “poor” to Leiyana. He is happy that she has never known a world that required such a word.
Lunch is a communal meal in the various parks throughout the city. Sam and Leiyana join their neighbors by bringing a few dishes which are not as meager as their breakfast. After the lunch, the citizens together sing old songs and tell stories. A few musicians had brought their instruments. The music is festive. Sam feels like he is at an old fashioned family reunion.
The day’s main attraction is the many plays performed by the children. Leiyana is excited because of Sam’s assistance with To’mas and Felitra’s play production. They had worked on the stage props for weeks. He didn’t understand much of the mythological tale that they would enact. He describes the small bit that he has seen to Leiyana. She nods and tells him it is called “the Light of Peace.”
As they walk towards the theater, she explains the tradition and importance of the plays. The many myths which are shared during the celebration, all teach valuable lessons to the people. It is believed that the Shi’ann’s mythological stories were invented by the ancient ones, who told them to their children. Everyone knows that the stories are allegorical, but the lessons that they teach are as valuable as the Sacred Words. Leiyana says that she hopes to share with their children someday, the wonderful mythological tales.
“You said ‘children’, plural, more than one?” Sam squeezes her hand.
She stops and embraces him. After the long kiss, she resumes her position beside him, and they continue walking towards their destination.
“So how many do you want to have?” Sam ask, winking at her.
The theater closely resembles one from Sam’s past era. The half circle arena can seat thousands, and it is quickly filling. The late afternoon sun is shining through the glass ceiling, far above the city. It makes Sam wonders, what is the use of all of the stage lights mounted in various places throughout the hall. As the first production begins, the glass ceiling slowly becomes darker. The tint control continues until all sunlight is vanquished and the arena is pitch black.
With the stage dimly lit in various places, a small child walks from the darkness into the amber lighted center. The boy is dressed in flowing robes of gray, black and white fabric. He holds a staff that,
resembles a shepherds crook. He announces the first production, “When Four and Five became One!”
The audience offers applause. Leiyana tells Sam that this is a reenactment of a true historical event.
A narrator begins sharing the tale, with occurred hundreds of cycles ago, as props slowly roll forward. Two of the larger props represent sky cities. The narrator describes the power failure of City Four. The wind currents were moving the city out over the ocean. The city was slowly falling from the sky. City Five, which was thousands of sections away, began to travel toward the city in distress.
The stage props move and light up as the narrator continues to recite his script. Sam is captivated by the story. The children’s acting is impressive and could compete with any Broadway production from his time.
Those aboard City Five work to prepare their vessel to attach to the falling city. The actors use mini crane type machines to move into place what appears to be a large grappling claw. The narrator continues and tells that once the cities were joined as one, the long trip back to safety had begun. The two cites remained connected for several months, as repairs were made. Thus, Four and Five became One.
Leiyana whispers to Sam and informs him that the true historical records report that dozens of deaths occurred during the process of attaching the two cities. The children on stage though, enact the event without loss of life. The narrator concludes with, “All Shi’ann are friends. If your friend faces a challenge, help your friend.” The crowd applauds.
The lighting in the room becomes brighter and people begin moving about. While stage hands prepare a scene for the next production, Sam and Leiyana discuss the event just enacted. Then Sam ask, “Have you ever wanted to live on the surface?” The immediate look on her face is sorrow, but she lifts her gaze to meet his, and smiles.
“Yes, there was a time that I had made plans to move to a small tropical area on the earth. It was near City Ten.”
“What changed your plans” From her expression, he senses that this is a tender topic and wishes that he hadn’t ask.
She gazes at the ceiling, “Oh, sometimes life changes our plans for us.” Tears form in the corner of her eyes. He wraps his arm around her.
“I sorry, I didn’t mean to make you sad.” He whispers in her ear. Sam understands that she and Caltrim had planned to live upon the earth.
She squeezes his hand and says, “It is okay, Sam. Perhaps someday, I may ask if you would like to move our family to the surface, to live there.”
“You know, as a kid I always wanted to live in a rain forest, in the jungle, in a tropical area.” He winks at her. “I wanted to have a tree house, and live like Tarzan!” He laughs.
Leiyana laughs too. She realizes that his is trying to cheer her up. He does it so well. She gives him a puzzled look. “Tarzan?”
“Yes, I’ll be Tarzan and you will be Jane. You’re going to love my wardrobe. Tarzan only wore just an itty bitty piece of cloth right here.” He points to his midsection with both hands. “I’ll explain it to you later.” He kisses her.
“Yes, you must tell me of this Tarzan, later.” She says, and gives him a seductive look.
The lightening in the room is becoming darker. The next production is beginning.
The second play opens without announcement. Lights from various positions on the stage, change the dark from black to a dull yellow. The scene slowly comes into view. There are large boulders, representing a mountain, to the right of the stage. At the top of the make believe mountain is a flat surface. Four children stand on the mountain top, the “home of the gods”. The four represent the gods of mythology. The gods are attired in a fashion that reminds Sam of ancient Egypt or Africa. The mount top is lit up. Glittering stones and jewels in the mountain’s rocks reflect the bright spot lights. The rest of the stage is dimly lit, with silent props casting long shadows, waiting for the light.
One god, stands and looks down from the mountain. The young goddess waves her hand and the stage below becomes awake in light and activity. The stage, from center to the left, depicts two primitive villages. Some children pretend to till and plant the land. To’mas is a villager in one settlement, Felitra belongs to the other.
Sam whispers to Leiyana, “I didn’t know they were going to be on different sides of the conflict.”
“Shh!” She tells him with a late wink. Sam steals a quick kiss, and tries to remain quiet.
An off stage narrator describes the story, in between long breaks in the actor’s dialogue. The gods had
given light to the world for the people to live by. Soon the two villages argue and then fight over land that was considered more fertile. Sam was a bit shocked to see the play acting of a battle with sword fighting villagers. He looks around the audience and sees an expression of sadness upon everyone’s faces. It is amazing to him that they endure this story telling, as it is obviously painful for the citizens to view the violence portrayed.
Finally, all of the actors are involved in the battle. The gods watch in horror. After a few minutes of a very well-choreographed fighting scene, all actors lay upon the stage floor, as if they are dead or injured. The stage lighting lowers again, until it appears to be as dusk. All of the mountain gods appear sad and turn their backs to the battle scene. The thunder cracks and rolls.
“The gods who gave light, have taken it away”, says the narrator.
Two actors stand and dust themselves off in the now dim stage light. As the children move to center stage, a spotlight reveals them to be Felitra and To’mas. They stare in each other’s eyes for a moment. Sam is sure that they are struggling not to giggle. Then the two villagers drop their weapons and embrace. They weep upon each other’s shoulder.
“What shall we do now that the gods have taken away our light?” To’mas ask.
Felitra begins moving through the wounded villagers. She stops at each one and helps them up. To’mas joins her in assisting the fallen.
“If we could journey to the mountain, we could plead and ask the gods to forgive us and return our light.” Felitra speaks as a matter of fact, as she always does.
“Then let us travel to the mountain’s top and beg them for the light.” To’mas stares at the mountain.
“But the gods live too far up, no one can climb that high. No one ever has.” She also stares up at the home of the gods.
All actors gather in a huge huddle, arm in arm, with faces turned down. The narrator begins again and tells of a mythical winged creature which lives in the forest. This beast is strong enough to fly to the home of the gods. The citizens of both cities will have to work together to capture one.
Trees and props which resemble forest brush roll into the scene, as the village buildings roll away. Several villagers search through the brush with ropes in hand.
The creature stands just beyond a few trees near the back of the stage. Sam had helped to construct this wooden beast. It is as large as a horse. It has brown fluffy feathered wings, four legs, with a face that resembles an owl. The Shi’ann call it “Garguth”. The children had laughed at the name that Sam had given the creature, when he bowed to it in jest, after its construction had been completed. “Oh Great Griffin, helps us in our time of need.” He had said to the beast.
Once roped and captured, the beast is brought before an actor wearing a long beard. The narrator explains that the ancient holy man enchants the beast to help them reach the home of the gods. Two of the people should travel upon the back of Garguth to visit the holy mountain. Each village offered a citizen for the journey. To’mas climbs upon the wooden steed and reaches for Felitra’s hand. Together they ride, as the beast rolls forward, towards the home of the gods. The scene causes Sam to think of an old western movie. Just a cowboy and his girl, riding into the sunset.
The rolling mythical creature travels up a ramp that is hidden from the audience’s view. Thunder rumbles and crackles so loud that many jump in their seats. The travelers have reached the gods.
The mountain top becomes engulfed in light. It is so bright that the audience has to look away.
The narrator describes the scene of the villagers begging for forgiveness and asking for the light to return. A loud thunder rolls again, and the narrator tells of the laughter of the gods. The gods are unable to forgive them. The humans must ask each other for forgiveness, and then the light will return. The female goddess offers two metallic items to the travelers. Sam already knows that these are a container of light, and a pole to place the container upon. The pole will be raised up between the two opposing villages and bring light again to the people.
As the children continue to act out the final scene, Sam considers the allegory and wonders if it represents the Ones Before as the gods, and the battle scene as the Great War. The darkness would then identify with the centuries of subsurface existence. The returning light, would probably be their society’s birth and their willingness to work together. Leiyana is impressed with his understanding, and explains that there are actually numerous interpretations of this story. Everyone is free to view it in whichever way they please.
Sam smiles, remembering his own spiritual search from his life before. He tells her, “One sees the truth from the place of one’s own journey, where ever that place may be.”
“But the message of the myth,” Leiyana adds, “is the message of all Shi’ann. It is a message of peace. That peace has become our way.”
He looks in her eyes, nods and says, “It is our way.”
With the end of the first day of celebrations, Sam and Leiyana begin the long walk to their apartment. They move from large crowded walkways to lesser traveled avenues. Sam mentions to her that walking is one of the many things that he enjoys about this society. Even with all of their great technological advancements, these people have chosen a practical and simple lifestyle.
Sam laughs, “We can journey into outer space, and yet we walk across town.”
Leiyana teases him, “Or we can run home?”
“Not in your condition.” Sam states.
“And what is my condition, my dear Sam?”
“You are in the condition of being my Jane. Me Tarzan!” They both laugh.
Many citizens still roam the walkways and streets. Temporary food and drink stations are in operation throughout the city. It appears that the festivities will continue for some time, but the two lovers have arrived at home. Then, Sam notices and points at the large object that is setting in front of their apartment.
Leiyana and he, both laugh at the sight of Garguth, standing on their lawn. Sam looks around for the culprits. He is sure that this is the calling card of the Dynamic Duo, but whoever left it here, is long gone.
As she examines the wooden beast, Leiyana is impressed with Sam’s work. “You are a craftsman, Sam. It is beautiful.” She reaches to the ribbon that is tied around the creature’s neck. “They left a message with their gift.” She hands the card size note to Sam.
He reads out loud, “To Sam Smith and Chief Physician Leiyana, we greet you in peace with open arms. We celebrate your life joining. We present this gift. It is our desire for your lives, joined together, to fly to the mountain’s top. May Garguth take you there.” Felitra and To’mas had signed their names, in the Shi’ann language, of course.
“What will we do with this large statue? Where will we display it?” Leiyana is grateful and overwhelmed.
“Well, maybe someday, my mate will ask me to move her to the surface.” He gives her his sly smile.
“And there, in our tropical home, I will plant a garden for her, and Garguth shall be the guardian of the flowers.”
“A lawn statue, yes Sam, I love the idea of a garden on the surface.” Leiyana’s eyes become dreamy.
She showers first this evening, as he prepares items for tomorrow’s activities. Tomorrow, they join their lives before all Shi’ann, as will many couples. The second day of emergence day celebration shall begin within a few hours. Until then, Sam will explain to Leiyana, the story of Tarzan and Jane, his version, of course.
This morning’s meal is closer to their normal diet, than the previous day. Fresh fruit in large slices are
enjoyed, in memory of the first crops that had been produced upon the surface, shortly after emergence. The ability to grow plants in the sunlight, was considered by the Ones Before, as societies’ wealth. Sam has already developed a strong appreciation for the fresh fruit and vegetables that the Shi’ann produce and consume.
The two lovers have planned for this day for many weeks. Today is their day. Before all of society, they shall be recognized as one life unit, joined in love. As they prepare to leave the apartment, Sam takes her in his arms, “Are you sure you’re ready to get hooked up with an older man?”
She laughs, “Your memories are older than mine, but actually, my physical body is a few cycles older than yours. Your biological form is not yet even six cycles old. So how do you feel about mating with someone older than yourself?”
“I thought I answered that question last night.” Sam says, with one last kiss, as they head out the door.
The Celebration Hall is decorated in very festive colors. The arena sized room is slowly filling. Dozens of Life Joinings will be performed, simultaneously. Each celebration is conducted with a small group of family members. Both families are represented in the celebration. Martark, Jerdon and Zoejara stand with Leiyana. Sam is attended by Hontel, Felitra and To’mas, “the groom’s party”, as he had explained to them.
A Councilor speaks to all those who have gathered, from an elevated platform in the arena. He explains the importance of strong and healthy family relations. Sam and Leiyana are both excited and hardly catch anything that is being announced. Around the room, many other couples are waiting for the speech to conclude, as well. All are eager to engage in their own ceremony.
Finally, another Councilor leads the collective group in reciting the Sacred Words. Sam looks in Leiyana’s eyes as they speak the words. They are both reading each other through this solemn practice. These words are the foundation not only of this society but also of their love and life together.
Each group now turns their attention to their own Life Joining ceremony. Jerdon, always the eloquent speaker, leads their ceremony. “The joining of two hearts and lives is a positive advantage for society. This joining represents an alliance between two families. Two healthy and happy families can encourage all of society to progress the path of the people.”
Those standing with each of the lovers, whom they represent, now turn to the other family members and embrace. Zoejara gives light hugs and kisses to Felitra and To’mas. The elderly Councilor laughs and smiles. She is enjoying the ceremony as much as the honored couple.
Jerdon continues, “A covenant is now established between this couple and their families. The promise of the covenant is to cherish, provide and protect each other, in respect and love, which are the first and last words, given to us by the Ones Before.”
Jerdon ask, “Do all those who are present, agree to support this joining?”
Everyone, in unison, answers, “We do.”
Martark and Hontel stand, both holding between them, a fish bowl sized clear glass container. Zoejara hands a smaller glass container to Leiyana. It is filled with the dark soil of the earth. Leiyana had gathered the soil from the tropical island. The one which she visits often.
To’mas hands a glass container to Sam. It is filled with a gray and chalky soil. Leiyana recognizes it from the memento that Sam brought home from the underground chamber, where they had discovered the remains of his previous body. She smiles, feeling honored that his memento is being used to seal their union.
Leiyana and Sam both approach the larger glass container held by their respective family members.
To’mas and Felitra speak together, “Two lives, two families join now, to become one.”
The couple, together, both pour their small soil containers in the larger one. The grains of sand and soil mix, just like their lives have. Sam looks into Leiyana’s eyes. She feels it, as well. They are one.
Jerdon announces, “It is so.”
During the celebration meal, many citizens come to embrace and congratulate all of the couples. Some even offer gifts. Sam’s historian friends arrive at the couple’s table carrying a large and heavy looking object. The object is wrapped in a thick cloth. The one that Sam jokingly calls Moe, sets the object on the table. The three men greet the couple and all who are seated at the celebration table.
Moe speaks, “Dear Sam and Leiyana, we offer this ancient artifact as a gift to honor and to celebrate your joining.” The man motions for Sam to remove the cloth. Once uncovered, Sam stares at the worn, chipped and cracked, very old, stone cross. Moe continues, “This object was recovered from an archaeological site. We estimate the artifact to be approximately seventeen hundred cycles old.”
Jerdon rises to inspect the object. “That would place it just before the Great War by a few centuries. It is amazing that it is so well preserved.”
The historian that Sam knows as Larry, runs his hand across the object and explains that at one time the artifact had engraved lines on its edges, “but they have been worn down by its journey through the ages. It was possibly mounted on an edifice. You can see the uneven breaks on the edges of its lower side.” Larry explains.
“It is a beautiful gift, and one so ancient, I am surprised that you did not wish it to be placed in a museum.” Leiyana says. Her eyes sparkle with gratitude, “We thank you for the gift. It shall be cherished.”
Martark rises to inspect it, being careful not to spill the glass of wine in his hand. “I never thought I would see an actual relic of the Kautz Empire. It is very impressive. Sam and Leiyana, this gift is an important piece of history.”
Sam interrupts, “It’s a cross. A symbol respected by many during my previous life.”
“Do tell my dear Sam, I am interested to hear all that you know of it. In the time just before the Great War, it was a symbol of fear to many of the earth’s inhabitants.” Martark sputters.
“Of fear? Well, that’s an unsettling thought. I guess a lot can change after so long. In my day, it was a well-known religious symbol. To many it represented peace, hope and forgiveness.” Sam tells the group.
“You say a religious symbol! I have studied the culture of the Kautz, and if they were religious, it was a religion of death and destruction. The Kautz were a great and powerful political force, a military force. They were known to rule areas of the earth with an unmerciful iron fist.” Martark looks in each of the celebrator’s eyes as he offers his description. “My historian brothers may be able to better clarify my studies, but it is believed that the Kautz were the leading faction that brought about the Great War.”
The historians each take turns sharing the history of the time in which the artifact had originated. Sam looks at Leiyana to see if she approves. He is not sure that this is a topic appropriate for a life joining ceremony. She seems as interested as he is. He is glad that she’s a nerd for knowledge, just like himself. The historians continue, with more than a few interruptions from Martark. All at the table listen to the tale, which is only known by a few in this present day society.
The two main factions that led to the terrible war were the Kautz and the Isms. The Kautz were the greater military power. The Isms had infiltrated many of the areas controlled by the stronger force. Each side had learned of the others ability to manufacture biological weapons. As the horrible weapons were being constructed, other factions in the world chose sides. Many nations joined forces with the Isms, as they had all suffered under the heel of the Kautz for many generations. Everyone already knows the ending of this story.
Moe brings the tale to a close, “This cross, as you call it Sam, was a symbol that adorned many of the machines of war that the Kautz used to rule and bring terror to the people. I suspect that many people not only feared the symbol, but hated it as well. It was a symbol that reminded all of their lost
freedom and their way of life. It represented the force that had ruled and then crushed their societies. It is interesting that you mentioned it was a religious symbol in your previous era. There are a few archaeological discoveries that lead us to believe that both the Kautz and the Isms, in the very ancient past, were religious cults.”
Sam thanks his friends for the gift and adds, “As Leiyana has said, we will cherish the gift from our dear friends. I believe it is the Shi’ann way, to respect the past, to respect our history.”
“Our history!” Martark roars as he raises his glass to toast his new son in law.
Sam thinks about how a symbol of love and peace could one day become a symbol of fear and hate. Then he realizes that mankind had continued their violent ways for thousands of years. The Great War had actually been fueled by ages and generations of misunderstanding and intolerance, of hatred. Symbols come and symbols go. All symbols are powered by the hearts and minds of the people who use them, who believe in them. Some use them to make the world better, and some use them otherwise.
After a few hours of music and merrymaking, Sam and Leiyana offer parting embraces to all of the other celebrators. Sam pilots a glider car for them this evening, instead of walking home. The couple has received more gifts than they can hold in their arms. Once home and with the gifts all unloaded, the two agree to shower, together. The celebrating continues.
This night, they both sleep soundly, at peace and in love with each other and the world around them, maybe even the universe. Drifting off to sleep, for no reason whatsoever, Sam remembers the red ticket that he had received so long ago, in another life. His red ticket to safety. Could they have ever imagined that he would end up in a place like this?
Day Three, and the last day of the Emergence Day celebration, begins. This is the most solemn day of the cycle. This is the day that all who came before and have passed, are honored and remembered. The couple had made preparations the night before. They begin the day, in silence, as the tradition has been practiced for centuries. Silence is observed until mid-morning, to honor those who can no longer speak.
After a quiet breakfast meal of sweet bread and tea, the couple prepares for a time of meditation. The sweet bread is symbolic of the yearning that each feels for their lost loved ones, the sweetness of the heart. The offering of tea in Shi’ann culture is considered to reflect the eagerness of the Ones Before to establish relations with each of the cities. To offer tea is to offer friendship.
Sam and Leiyana had discussed their next activity, in detail, a few weeks before. He has been teaching her how to read and write his language. She is an exceptional student, though she has often commented that “English is a confusing language, how can you ever be certain of the meaning?” He had laughed and told her, “Our ancient politicians probably invented the rules of the language. Oh, he who speaks with a forked tongue.”
They had agreed to write down the names of lost loved ones, in silence, before meditation. They will read the names, together in silence. They wish to carry the memories of these whom they have lost, into their time of mindful breathing.
He hands her the journal and pen. She begins to write names, as he looks over her shoulder. He would be unable to pronounce most of the names that she writes in English. Occasionally, she reverts to her own written language. He is actually able now, to read most of those symbols. She hands him the instruments.
Sam writes first the names of his two children. Next he list his brothers and other family and friends. She watches the letters and names form. He starts to close the book, pauses and writes in two more names, Caltrim and Beatrice, side by side. He closes the journal. She takes his hand and places it on her heart. He looks into her eyes. Her respectful gaze moves him emotionally. He wraps his arms around her. Together they remember those who have passed, in silence.
Immediately after their lunch at Jerdon and Martark’s home, they travel to a pod craft port. The day’s main activities, for the couple, will be performed at City One. Sam Smith will be acknowledged as an ancestor and citizen of Shi’ann society. Though he is a little bit nervous about giving his acceptance speech, he is excited to share with all, his gratitude and his insights into this wonderful culture. And though he is not sure that he will need it, he has more than a few pages of notes prepared in his journal, just in case.
As the pod craft comes within viewing distance of City One, he is again in awe of the massive edifice. Along with the many blinking and multi colored lights, the spires and high points of the structure are arrayed with flying banners. The long and waving flags are displayed in honor of the Ones Before.
“The winds of time transport their work through our generations.” Leiyana shares with him.
“As those winds of time, have carried me here, and brought us together.” He smiles and takes her hand.
The pod craft port of the hub city is flowing with people. Sam’s first thought is that the entire Shi’ann population have arrived to hear his acceptance speech. Public announcements had been made regarding Sam’s citizenship ceremony. He wonders how they will all react when they discover that they are all his descendants.
As they enter the Grand Hall, Sam stops and looks around. The room is much larger than when he first visited some months ago. His first visit into the Grand Hall revealed a room large enough to serve at least several thousand citizens. Today the hall appears to be able to accommodate at least four times that amount. Leiyana is surprised that he has still not learned of all their technological achievements. She explains to him that many meeting facilities can be enlarged or reduced in size, according to the need of an event. If it were not for the scheduled activities of the day, he would ask for a tour of the mechanisms which allow for the folding and unfolding of walls.
The waiting room that was prepared for them, reminds Sam of an actor’s dressing room. Drinks and fruit snacks are available as well as comfortable seating arrangements. Jerdon and two other councilors join the couple and explain the order of events.
A general greeting will be made announcing the remembrance of the Ones Before. Next Sam’s citizenship will be acknowledged. Then Charia will announce Sam’s ancient connection to the Shi’ann. He was told to expect a brief time of applause and celebratory noise.
This will be the first such ceremony ever performed among the Shi’ann. Though it is not required, the Chief Council had ask him to speak to all of the citizens. Sam acknowledges that he has prepared a few words to share. This ceremony will be broadcast to all of the cities. The entire world will hear Sam’s speech.
Jerdon shares a last minute request from the Chief Council. This request was first proposed by Zoejara. All of the other councilors agreed. Sam should lead the speaking of the Sacred Words in the closing memorial service. Sam agreed to perform this important ritual.
The Grand Hall is full with citizens still moving about to take their seats. Leiyana and Sam set in the room’s center, upon the Council’s podium. The stage is filled with seated councilors. The many rows of seats remind Sam of church pews or benches in a juror’s box. In spite of the large stage area, he thinks that it seems small compared to the vast hall. He views the thousands of citizens who are gathered. Many are staring at him. He is nervous and excited. The journal that he brought with him, is already being useful. He squeezes and bends it, in his agitated hands, without even realizing that he is doing it.
Someone off stage called to Leiyana. There is some commotion among a few citizens in the area just behind the stage. She rises, and tells him, “I think someone may need my assistance, I will return as soon as I can.”
“Should I come with you?” He ask.
“No, you should stay here and continue to abuse your journal.” She winks at him and walks off stage.
Sam tries to sit still and wait for the ceremony to begin, but within a few minutes, his curiosity causes him to inquire about Leiyana. A councilor leads him off stage by the rear stairway. They travel down a long hall and enter a waiting room similar to the one he was in earlier.
He finds Leiyana kneeling in front of Zoejara’s hovering chair. Zoey looks pale and weak. Leiyana and a few others are tending to the elderly councilor. Sam observes as well but he is too concerned to interrupt. He is worried about his old friend.
Jerdon is one of the ones attending to Zoejara. He rises and walks over to Sam to explain.“It appears she has developed some cardiac and respiratory issues. She will need to be transported to a bio center immediately.”
Sam joins the crew of people escorting Zoejara to a glider transport. Leiyana insist that she stay with Zoejara until she sees an improvement in her condition. Leiyana hugs him and apologizes for not being present through the opening ceremony. Sam agrees that she should attend to Zoey.
As Sam and Jerdon make their way back to the Grand Hall, he is told that Zoejara was to lead the opening of the ceremony. “Perhaps the excitement overwhelmed her.” Sam can tell, Jerdon is just trying to be positive. Zoey looks like she is in really bad shape.
The opening of celebrations begins with music. In at least a dozen locations scattered throughout the Grand Hall, groups of musicians play. Drums, flutes, and stringed harp like instruments fill the air with their songs. The acoustics of the room must have been designed by a brilliant engineer. All sound from each music stage seem to flow directly to Sam.
The musicians are illuminated by different colored lights, while the rest of the hall is dark and shadowy. The atmosphere seems sweetly charged and sadly mournful at the same time. Sam senses the emotions of the crowd. All gathered here today are in harmony in their celebration of life and in memory of their lost. He allows his thoughts and feelings to merge with all who are gathered here. He feels them. He is connected to them.
After a few minutes of being captured by the harmony of the music, Sam forgets his nervousness over his speech. He evens forgets why he is here, in this place. The music and emotions of the room have carried him to a meditative state. With the last note of music still humming against the walls, the main lights become brighter. Jerdon stands to address the crowd.
The Councilor begins with solemn words explaining the reason for their gathering. He recounts the work of the Ones Before. As he works through a list of past accomplishments, large video screens light up across the Grand Hall. Names begin to scroll down the screens. Sam is able to read most of them. These are the names of all citizens who have died during the last cycle. With each name that is listed, groups of people stand. These are the families of those who have passed.
After the list of names have stopped scrolling, slow and sad music begins again to play. Many other citizens now stand and embrace the family members of those who have joined the Ones Before. There is weeping, many hugs and some laughter as stories are shared of those who are are being honored. Sam thinks of his children and of the ones he has lost. He wishes Leiyana was here beside him.
The time of mourning has ended. The stage lights brighten. Music plays again, but the tone is no longer sad. The rhythm is upbeat and encouraging. Several people are moving around the stage, and Sam notices Hontel, making his way to the front of the stage. Surprised and curious, he watches his friend. Hontel appears to be nervous. Surely they are not going to let him address the crowd? The poor man may faint, he thinks. Sam will have to remember to joke with him later about not being able to wait until he can be a councilor. And then, Hontel steps up to the podium.
The arena falls silent as the speaker begins with the customary greeting. Sam is still curious about his friend’s presence, as he believes this portion of the ceremony is for his citizenship announcement. He has been trying to avoid looking at the crowd because every time that he looks out, it seems everyone is staring directly back at him. As Hontel shares his credentials and names his position at the Bio Center, Sam allows his gaze to roam once more across the thousands of faces which fill the hall. They are all looking at him, and smiling, of course. He grins as he thinks of a new name for these, his people. They should be called the Smiling Shi’ann.
Hontel begins telling of his personal involvement in the reconstruction process. The young man had been involved with the process for more than two cycles. He shares facts that Sam is hearing for the very first time. Hontel was one of the few who were present when Sam first awoke.
He draws a few laughs from the crowd as he explains the look on the face of the Chief Physician when Sam first spoke to her. He then even attempts to mimic Leiyana’s expression. Sam laughs too and realizes that his own love of humor has rubbed off on his friend. Hontel speaks about administering the interpretation device. A few more chuckles echo through the hall as Hontel admits that the technology had not been used in so long, very few knew how to apply it. The young man even admits his fear in performing the task.
Hontel then turns to Sam, “Samuel Phillip Smith, our most esteemed guest, we welcome you to join with all Shi’ann in society and in life.” There is applause for a brief moment and then Hontel continues.
“There was a time that Sam told me that he had two friends.” He pauses long enough to allow the laughter to end. Sam’s joke has now been heard by more than a few citizens.
“I am fortunate to be one of those friends.” He looks at Sam with a respectful gaze.
“Sam Smith, look before you.” Hontel waves his hands towards the audience. “You have many friends now. Your presence among us has brought a great gift which will continue to progress the path of the people. Not only has your gift of fertility enhanced our society, your friendship and your laughter, enriches us all. We all embrace you as our brother and our friend.” Hontel walks toward Sam. Sam rises and hugs his friend. The Grand Hall is filled with applause.
Finally, after a time of noisy celebration and applause, Sam takes his seat. He insist that Hontel join him by taking the seat that Leiyana has vacated. While others are moving about the stage, Sam tells Hontel that his speech was great. “You are starting to sound just like a councilor.”
Hontel blushes and tells Sam, “I was really nervous, I was not sure that I would make it through the entire speech.”
Sam pats his friend on the back, “How did they ever convince you to get up there and speak?”
With a sincere smile Hontel tells him, “I requested to speak. I wanted to honor my friend before all of society.” Sam blushes this time.
Charia approaches the podium. It’s time, Sam thinks. She begins speaking without an introduction. She shares the long version of the archaeological work performed at the underground facility. She provides dates and time frames of the work’s progression. She mentions names of colleagues who were also involved. Finally she tells of her night time research when she had the idea to compare the ancient life force pattern to that of the Shi’ann.
“The two life force patterns, Sam’s and ours, are a match. Sam Smith is ancestor to all Shi’ann.”
The audience begins to stir. Awes and hums and mumbles are heard, then Jerdon stands and continues the announcement. He clarifies the report and offers the reason for the withholding of this information. Within a few minutes the entire hall has broken out in applause and cheers. A noise begins as a quiet chant and then grows to a harmonious song, “The One Before, the One Before, the One Before...”
Sam stands before the great audience. He opens his journal and sets it open upon the podium’s flat
surface. He looks out at the thousands of faces. He takes in a deep breath and begins. “I was as surprised as all of you are when I was told just recently, that I am an ancestor to all of you. It was just a few weeks ago, that I looked forward to this night, this celebration. At that time, I was expecting just to acknowledge my citizenship with all of you. I look out now, and I am humbled. I am humbled to be joined and connected to all of you.” The audience roars with applause and Sam thinks that it may take longer than he had imagined to get through with this speech.
As the noise of the crowd is fading, Sam searches through the pages of his journal, he finds the red paper slip and takes it in his hand. He had picked up the red material from a textile production facility. It is not an exact representation, but it is close enough.
Though he has a few lines of notes written to help him with this portion of his speech, he walks away from the podium. He moves closer to the edge of the stage. The room is silent now. The audience watches, unsure of Sam’s actions. Sam lifts the red ticket high above his head for all to see.
“So long ago, on a very terrible and sad day, I was given a red paper ticket.” He waves the ticket around.
“In the world that I come from, tickets were used to allow you an entrance into a place or an event, or to board a vehicle. And tickets had a cost. We had to use money to purchase a ticket. Money, of which you know nothing, was also made of paper. The symbols on the paper money represented a value. That value had been determined by our rulers and our governments. How foolish we were in those days, to have used paper to purchase paper.”
Sam lets out a quiet laugh. The audience does not. He realizes that he speaks more to himself than to the crowd. The concept of money is foreign to them. The fact that they did not catch the joke, makes Sam very happy.
“That terrible day was the beginning of the nuclear war which ended the world that I knew. The ticket was given to allow me a chance to escape to safety. Due to the extreme circumstances of that day, the ticket was never ask of me. Many people died while I was allowed to live. I’ve carried my red ticket with me for a very long time. It has become a symbol of value to me. It was purchased with the lives of some many others.”
Sam turns and walks toward Jerdon. “The red ticket has allowed me passage on a journey that’s lasted longer than any before or since have known. The journey carried me through the ages, to arrive here, with all of you.”
He hands the ticket to Jerdon and says “Sir, I have arrived safely. I am grateful to all of you for my life.”
Back at the podium as the applause dies down, Sam takes a quick review of his notes, and realizes that he doesn’t need them anymore. His nervousness is gone. He stands before his family.
Sam begins, “Shortly after I awakened here, I began to grieve for my lost loved ones. I was in a state of shock for a while, realizing that everyone and everything in my life was gone. I felt lonely and missed the people in my life. I missed my home.” As he speaks, Sam remembers the past. Even now, he still longs for all those whom he has lost.
“As I have lived among all of you, often I have experienced moments that reminded me of my home before. Moments that reminded me of the people who I loved. Everyone here, has made me feel accepted and welcomed. I have come to feel at home here, with all of you. I have learned that home is not a place. It is the people who we share our lives with. I am proud to share my life with you. This is my home.” Sam spreads his hands out to the audience. The crowd stands in applause.
“If I were to tell others, perhaps the Others, who the Shi’ann are, and what makes their existence so special in the universe, I would say that they are a wise and kind people. I would tell that their ancestors suffered a great darkness but that in each generation these people have reached for more light.
I would tell of the respect for all life that they hold so sacredly.”
Sam turns and faces the many seated councilors behind him. He walks among them, looking in their eyes, as he continues speaking. “I would say that these people live in balance with all things. That they are a people who are more than fair towards each other. Personal freedom is assured for all. Every life and voice matters. I would tell that they are the keepers of their brothers and sisters. That they are a people of peace.” Sam looks at Hontel and nods.
Sam approaches Martark and takes his hand, “I would say of this great society, that their many variations of lifestyles and customs, do not divide or hinder them, but rather enrich them, and make them better and stronger.”
He moves among the seated councilors and reaches for Charia’s hand, “That they are a people of science, and of great hope.”
Sam turns to Jerdon and places his hand on his shoulder. “I would tell of the noble character of this intelligent and benevolent people. That these people have ushered in a new age for their entire planet. An age where every endeavor is for the good of all, to progress the path of the people.”
The applause continues for several minutes. Many cheer, many laugh, some cry tears of joy. As Sam watches his people in celebration, he says to himself, “Truly, the meek have inherited the earth.”
The many citizens are making their way to the Hall of Sacred Words to conclude the Emergence Day celebration. Sam can barely take a few steps at a time, as he is stopped to receive hugs and greetings.
It seems that his celebrity status just received a huge boost.
He is almost to the entrance to the Hall when two familiar voices call out his name. The dynamic duo are zig zagging through the crowd to reach him. The children almost topple him when the hug him. Both are telling their stories of convincing their parents to allow them to attend the ceremony here at City One. Both are also excited over the revelation of who Sam really is.
Sam takes their hands and continues the journey in the Hall. He ask them, “So how well do the two of you remember the sacred words?”
A matter of fact Felitra answers, “You know that we know them by heart.”
Sam smiles when he considers a slight change of plans.
The vast hall is crowded with citizens. Sam stands in the center area of the room. To’mas and Felitra are on either side of him. They are waiting for all to find a place to stand and become still. Finally, with a signal from Jerdon, Sam begins. “The Ones Before gave us these sacred words to direct our society and our lives, to direct our dealings in relation to each other and our environment.”
Sam pauses to look across the room into the many faces. “I am one who came from another place and time. Before I had even heard mention of the Sacred Words, I witnessed them in action. All of you, my brothers and sisters, live these words in your dealings with each other.”
“The first word ‘respect’ was shown towards me from the moment that I awoke here. During my time among you, all of these words have been revealed to me by all of you. These Sacred Words have now become the foundation for all that we are and for all that I am becoming. Each sacred word, by itself has the power to transform a life or a society. All of these words together have the power to change a dead and dying world into a paradise, and the power to change a broken people into a vibrant and hopeful race.”
Sam continues, “Now we shall honor the Ones Before.” He takes a step backward leaving Felitra and To’mas alone in the center arena. The two children join hands and together they begin to lead the people through the sacred words.
Sam enters the room and sees Leiyana and a few others gathered around the bed of the ancient and honorable councilor. Zoejara appears to be asleep, or worse, he fears.
Leiyana whispers to the other physicians that they have done all that can be, for the moment. “The patient should be allowed to rest now.”
The others leave the room. Leiyana prepares to leave when Zoejara speaks just above a whisper, “I wish ...to speak... with him.”
Leiyana strokes her patient’s arm as says, “Zoey, you need to rest. Once you are stronger, you may speak with whomever you desire.” Leiyana is not yet aware of Sam’s presence in the room.
“Sam...has come to see me...I will speak with him...then rest.” The councilor speaks the words through difficult breaths.
Sam walks up from behind Leiyana and places his hands on her shoulders. She slowly turns around and embraces him. He can see her tears and feels the sadness in her body. He looks in her eyes and nods his head and whispers, “Give me just a moment with my friend.”
Leiyana agrees and heads toward the door, while he walks up to the bed and reaches for Zoey’s hand.
Zoejara opens hers eyes and gazes at him. She is passing, he can sense it. She seems so much smaller without her hovering chair. Her eyes already have that faraway look. He places his hands together and greets her in a whisper, “In peace with open arms.”
“My uncle...Sam...your journey has been...over... a great distance of time...so happy I am...to have met you.”
He responds, “I am honored to have met you, Zoey. I am happy to be here with all of you.”
“You will...continue...your work. The others... need you.” The old councilor fights for every breath.
Sam thinks that she speaks of his communications work and says, “I had a lucky break with the message.”
“No...different... work. You must continue...teach them...who we are...where we come from...you... the one before.”
He starts to speak but she lifts a few fingers of her small frail hand to stop him. “We have a...successful...society...but we have...needed you. A gift that you...brought us. We see traces...of your character... in ourselves. Truly, your goodness passed...into us. I am so glad to...have known you...before I leave.”
“That’s a beautiful thing to say, thank you. But don’t think that you are going anywhere just yet. I need my friend to continue to guide me. I still have a few primitive characteristics to shed.” Sam tries to hide the sadness in his voice.
“An era ends...I am tired...a rich and full life...I have known. You continue...a new era.” Zoejara closes her eyes.
“I will let you rest now, Zoey. I will visit you tomorrow, when you are stronger.” Sam whispers and then bends down and kisses her on the cheek.
With her eyes closed she says, “The lessons of history and...the efforts of today...together build... the bridge... to all tomorrows.”
She moans, open hers eyes for just a second and tries to smiles, “Sam...help...build the bridge.”
Sam tries to hide his tears from her and fails. He stands there until he is sure that she has fallen asleep.
He wipes the tears from his eyes and heads out the door to join Leiyana.
They both visit her room again, before leaving the bio center, but Zoejara is not there. She has already joined The Ones Before.