Remembering Yesterworld – Science Fiction Novella written by Jim Lantern – Free to Read

REMEMBERING YESTERWORLD

Science Fiction

by

Jim Lantern

© Copyright 2015 by Jim Lantern, Timeglass Science Fiction

All Rights reserved

May not be shared unless approved by Jim Lantern via Twitter @TimeglassZone

Novella/short novel – about 43,300 words – equal to about 106 pages

Story Two of Trilogy…

Those stories are a trilogy – each one as a complete story, and all three as a complete story. They are included in my full-length novel – Once Upon Another Timeline – for the long version, which will soon be free to read at Timeglass Journal.

INTRODUCTION:

This story involves religion with some psychological and spiritual aspects, with mild alien erotica and romance. It is about humans who have the reincarnated souls of aliens who died on this planet during a long ago failed expedition. Now they begin to remember their past alien lives. Some memories are confirmed by recovering time capsules buried on this planet by the aliens during their expedition during the year before they died. This story compares some similarities and differences between the human life and the remembered past alien life of the main character. Part of the background story of this story is that a time traveler caused a time paradox resulting in an alternate history timeline, by trying to prevent the failure of the long ago alien expedition to this planet. Once upon another timeline, Earth was known as Mirandus.

Recommend reading: Wikipedia article “List of religious ideas in science fiction

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PART 1

Mirandian Year 1963 CE, May 12, “Mother’s Day” Sunday, 6:00AM

Planet Mirandus, USA, Kansas, Kansas City, Hawthorn Hills, Harrow House

As usual, I awakened on a Sunday without the aid of an alarm clock, before any other members of my family.

I looked at the poster-size calendar hanging on the wall near my bed. Each month included an artist’s concept of one of the planets of the solar system, of the star we knew by the name of Bracatus, the sun of the planet we knew by the name of Mirandus, third from the sun, with the sun for January, the moon of Mirandus for May, and a section of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter for July.

That was the second Sunday in May of 1963, Mother’s Day.

I realized then that I’d only have to attend the first grade of public elementary school for only about three more weeks. I had not enjoyed my first year of school at all, and so I very much looked forward to enjoying my freedom during the summer of ’63. My best friends lived in the Hawthorn Hills neighborhood, and all of them went to private schools. I had a few good friends at public school, but I was not well treated by the majority of students and teachers. Sunday school was worse. I had no friends at the church my family attended. I liked the pastor. But the Sunday school teacher, who taught the class for kids my age, I believed her to be insane, and she was passing her insanity on to the other students. I was not as easily hoodwinked as the others were. I did not fit in there. Where I fit in was a question that had been bugging me for some time.

That early on a Sunday, it wasn’t time yet to get dressed for Sunday school and church. I put on my robe over my pajamas, and then stepped into my house slippers. Quietly, I left my private bedroom, and then walked down the hallway toward the kitchen.

In the kitchen, I pulled a chair over to a counter, and climbed up on the chair to reach a large box of cold cereal in a cabinet. While up there, I also reached for a plastic bowl. I obtained a spoon from a drawer on the way down. A glass jug of milk from the refrigerator was next. Then I sat on a bar stool over at the breakfast bar. There, I added just a few large spoonfuls of real sugar to the milk and cereal in the bowl. My sister would sometimes ask me about how many truckloads of sugar I put on my cereal. It would be two more years before I’d be diagnosed with fluctuating blood glucose balance disorder, hypoglycemia, opposite of being diabetic. A genetic disorder. It tied in with my already diagnosed bronchial asthma and allergies.

I now in 2013 CE know of a group of scientists, who have Caeruli souls, alien souls in the spectrum of blue light, who are doing some unusual research relating to that. The theory is physical DNA memory was carried by the Caeruli souls from their Mercatorian lives into their Mirandian lives, to in turn have physical impact on RNA, which in turn impacts metabolism. What we know is most of the Mirandians who have Caeruli souls have the same physical health disorders. Especially allergies, bronchial asthma, and blood glucose balance disorder. Apart from that, most of them share a strong interest in science fiction. Normal Mirandians have Viridi souls in the spectrum of green light.

My regular routine for Sunday mornings. I had the usual cold breakfast before the usual hot breakfast. My father always fixed the hot breakfast on Sundays, so that my mother could have extra time to sleep. By 7:30am, dad would start fixing the scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, and orange juice squeezed from fresh oranges. Before having any of those items, my father and sister would split a grapefruit. That was their usual routine. I’d try, without much success, to avoid being squirted in my eyes, each time they would stab their spoons into a section of the grapefruit. My sister was getting much better with improving her aim, I discovered. Lucy, my sister, was born four years before I was. I had no other sisters, and I had no brothers.

Getting dressed on Sundays was a bit more complicated than other days of the week. School days were not really too difficult. I was free on Saturdays to dress for my own interests. On Sunday, I was required by my father to wear a three-piece suit, a tie, and very polished shoes.

My father, who was Michael Richard Harrow, was not just a basic Christian, but also a conservative Republican, and sole owner of the Harrow-Wells Oil Company. It was passed down to him from his father, John William Harrow, whose business partner was Robert Paul “Blackstone” Wells. They started the business with just one well back during 1935. John and Bob were killed during 1949 when their small plane crashed. However, the body of Wells was not found at the crash site . . . was never found. A local newspaper reporter remarked about the body of Wells, who was an amateur but very good magician on-the-side, had vanished. He had no wife, no children, so the oil business was legally passed down to my father.

My brown hair was real short at that time in May 1963 when I was age 7, so it was not necessary for me to spend much time getting it to look just right, unlike my mother and sister. My father didn’t have to spend much time fixing his hair.

There was no need for us to hurry to get ready. We would not need to be at the church until a few minutes before 10:00am. My father was the church treasurer that year. He would work on the financial books and relating paperwork while most of the adult members would attend their own bible study classes in the basement of the main building of the church. During that first hour, all of the children and teens would assemble in the basement of a separate neighboring building. There we mainly engaged in singing a variety of religious songs. Then the children and teens would attend Sunday school classes, a different room for each different age, on the ground level of the building. At that same time, 11:00am, the main church service for adults would begin in the huge auditorium on the ground level of the main building. That year, our church had about 300 adult members. I’m not sure how many children and teens. I’m not sure what kind of Christian church it was at that time. It’s name was the Well of the Souls Church. The majority of the members during 1963 were in the oil business or businesses associated with the oil business. Perhaps it was a coincidence with the name of the church. Perhaps not. A few years later, the pastor died of old age. The new pastor, a woman, changed the name of the church, and it became associated with the national and worldwide Unity Churches.

Until it was time to leave for church, my father usually read the newspaper. After getting ready, my sister would read the comics section, and my mother would search for any useful coupons. I would spend that part of the morning pursuing a variety of interests, and thinking about how I’d spend the rest of the day after attending church. We would usually stop and get hamburgers, fries, and malts, on the way home. Then I’d have the afternoon free to play outside, or play in my room, or watch sports on TV with my father. We usually went out for a fried chicken dinner. After that, there would be a couple of good shows on TV. For a long time, nearly every Sunday was like that.

By the way, Lucy Harrow, my sister, was a lot like Lucille “Lucy” van Pelt in the Peanuts comic strip, whose younger brother is Linus van Pelt. I don’t claim to be like Linus. Lucy, my sister, did refer to my best friend neighbor, Dean Charles Kay, same age as me, as being like Charlie Brown.

My father had some drafting tools, and would let me use them to do a lot of drawing in my free time. I liked to draw landscapes and maps, but the end results did not look like anything of this world. That Sunday morning, while dad, mother, and Lucy were dividing up the newspaper, I made a drawing of a small city surrounded by farmlands. While I worked on the map, I thought about the events of the past week at the public elementary school, and how it related to attending Sunday school.

Monday through Friday, I attended the O’Hara Elementary School at the Great Plains Education Center for students who lived in our area. Michael Harrow, my father, was the President of the Harrow-Wells Oil Company. He would leave the house every work day with his briefcase full of papers, and drive into Kansas City, Kansas . . . the office being only about four blocks west of his boyhood home in Kansas City on the Missouri side. I would leave the house at about the same time as my father, carrying my miniature version of his briefcase, full of homework and schoolbooks. I had to ride a school bus with children who were enthusiastically interested in the total destruction of my homework papers and drawings. At that time, going to school, I believed, was just like going to work.

It was ok to work Monday through Friday, but not on Saturdays, and certainly not on Sundays. However, Saturday mornings, my father would sometimes go to his office for a couple of hours, or go tour some of the nearby well locations of his company. He would often take me with him. Otherwise I was free to do most anything I wanted to do during Saturday afternoons, and evenings. Also, I was free to stay up as late as I wanted to on Saturday nights. It was a Saturday night when my sister introduced me to science fiction by talking me into watching with her the 1951 movie The Day Mirandus Stood Still. That was March 3, 1962, when it was broadcast on TV. NBC Saturday Night at the Moviespremiered in September 1961 when I was 5 years old and began attending kindergarten at the public school. I turned age 6 on March 5, 1962, which was a Monday.

Sunday school was becoming complicated, and more like elementary school work. From my viewpoint, I believed it was becoming a significant contradiction. It was my understanding that we were not to work on Sundays, reserving that day for praying and worshiping, and resting and relaxing. I’d often hear it described as “a day of rest”—but there was nothing restful about it. And I wondered, what about athletes in sports?—they certainly don’t get to rest! More and more, I was enjoying Sunday school less and less. I discovered it to be full of what I considered to be contradictions in logic. However, I still liked the sermons at the 11:00am main service. Rarely, children were allowed to attend the adult service with their parents, but because my father was church treasurer that year I got to attend the adult service with him a few times. I liked what the pastor was teaching the adults, because it usually made good sense. I didn’t like what the Sunday school teacher was teaching the students my age, because it usually made no sense at all. I believed something to be wrong with her mind.

I think perhaps the most outrageous claim ever made by that Sunday school teacher was that all of my friends, who did not attend that same church, even if they attended any other kinds of churches, and were good Christians, were all going to “fry in hell.” She claimed “Only children who attend our church can be saved and go to heaven.” When she made that claim, she clearly crossed a certain line. Her arrogance angered me. I told my girlfriend. Yes, I had a girlfriend at age 7. She lived in the house behind my house. Her father was the pastor at a Baptist church. She told him. He called the pastor of the church I attended. Then the pastor of the Well of the Souls Church eventually fired the Sunday school teacher who made that false claim.

There was also the teaching about all men created equal. Some years later, it would be changed to all people created equal. Even so, the focus was still on material and physical values, rather than the spiritual. Still, the people remained unequal in material and physical matters. The equality subject was and still is one of the greatest contradictions. No one is equal, unless perhaps they are all equally different. That I could accept. I then recalled an incident at the public elementary school . . . a couple of them actually . . . the week before that Sunday. At lunch, the cafeteria workers, who were adults, some of them parents of students there, served a smaller portion of food to me. I was told that big boys need bigger portions, because they are bigger. It never occurred to those idiots that the smaller students needed more food so that they could become bigger. Discrimination against size, being one of the oldest forms of discrimination. Likewise, flowers were being handed out to all students to take home to their mothers for Mother’s Day in 1963. The tallest, not just the oldest students, got first pick for the best flowers. What was left for me to choose from would not survive the bus trip home anyway.

Earlier the past week, I had to go to a new doctor for my allergies, and was told to stay away from flowering plants, anyway. Testing determined me to be highly allergic to certain pollens, grasses, molds, dusts, cat hair, horsehair, hay, and a few other things. New medicine had been prescribed. I noticed that it tended to heighten my senses. I had to take some of it that Sunday morning, just before we left the house to go to church.

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PART 2

We left the house about 9:30am, and got into my father’s Morris Minor station wagon.

It would take about fifteen minutes to get to the church from our house. The car had a full tank of gas. There would be no stops.

It was a warm, sunny morning, with only a few clouds in the light blue sky. A slight breeze out of the southwest.

My father could have driven west, into another community with a small commercial area, then north to our church. Instead, he drove north on the primary country road, out of our rural area, and then west on another primary road. I guessed he wanted to avoid traffic, and take advantage of the faster speed allowed on those roads. Our usual route. In the future, as our community expanded, the land we drove across would become a commercial area.

I had already told my mother “Happy Mother’s Day!” and gave her a card at breakfast. I made the card. I liked doing art like that. During the start of the drive to the church, I happened to ask, “Is there a Grandmother’s Day?” I really didn’t get a straight answer to that question.

“My mother and father, your maternal grandparents,” my mother told me, “are meeting us at the church this Mother’s Day. After church, we are going to meet them at a restaurant. Then we might all go to—” some kind of gardens or arboretum I don’t now remember the name of. She added, “That is why I had you take extra asthma and allergy medicine this morning. We will probably spend the afternoon there.”

Right about then, Lucy shouted, “Look, Thomas!”

“What?” I asked, “Where?”

She pointed, and answered, “The haunted house!”

It was an old, abandoned farmhouse. No paint. Falling apart. Windows broken out. Front steps and porch collapsed into a pile of rubble.

“It has been there for a very long time.” my mother remarked, “It was abandoned by the people who lived there, back when I was about your age, Thomas. The farmer died. His widow and children had to move to the city to live with his sister. Or maybe it was the widow’s sister.”

I looked at the old house as we drove past it. Something about it looked familiar. Of course, we had driven past it many times before, and my sister always pointed it out to me. It did not then look familiar because of that. Something else. Right then, I wasn’t sure what. It was built into the side of a hill with a slope of about forty-five degrees. Small windows could be seen at the ground level, which indicated the presence of a basement level. There were two levels above ground, plus a large attic area—which could be considered to be a third level. An attic room had a door that opened out onto a small sundeck. There did not appear to be any life on the property at all. I mean, even the grass and all of the trees were dead.

“How did the farmer die?” I asked my mother. I’d not asked that before.

“I remember the story in the newspaper.” she replied.

“A Sunday, in May, like this Sunday.” my father recalled.

“The farmer’s family was at church when it happened.” my mother recalled.

“Not our church.” my father said to my mother.

“No, Michael.” she replied, “One in the city. But I don’t recall which one. Do you?”

“No, Jean.” my father answered.

“The farmer didn’t go to church?” Lucy asked.

“He did.” my mother answered, “But then there was a church picnic during the afternoon. His wife and children remained at the church, while the farmer returned to their house to get a few more items for the picnic.”

“What was their family name?” I wanted to know.

“Taylor.” my father answered, “The farmer’s parents came to the United States from Germany.”

“When he returned to the house, from the church, to get more items for the picnic, he encountered intruders. A number of strange men. They had broken into his house. They attacked him when he entered his house. He died from his injuries.” my mother reported, “The sheriff’s investigation concluded it to be a burglary. The strange men had not gone there to murder the farmer. It was his bad luck he came home when they were there. His wife reported that they had taken all of her jewelry, including a very unique collection of emeralds.”

“The bad men got away?” Lucy asked.

“The intruders were never identified or caught.” our father answered.

But that was not the end of the story.

“Within a week,” my mother continued, “everything within about one hundred yards—the length of a football field—of the farmhouse died. The trees, plants, grass. Even the family pets, and a few farm animals. It was as if every living thing had been poisoned by something brought onto the property by the intruders. That is one of the reasons why the surviving family moved out. They had become ill, but after leaving the property they soon recovered.”

“Did anyone ever see the farmer’s ghost there, in the old haunted house?” Lucy wanted to know, “Are any of those stories really true?”

“It was during an electrical storm.” my father recalled.

“Some people in the area, just passing by, claimed to see strange lights on the property.” my mother reported.

“I believe it was nothing more than ball lightning.” my father said, “Just light playing tricks on the eyes during a storm. Wild imaginations. Nothing more. No ghost.”

“You should paint a picture of the haunted house, Lucy.” I suggested, “With a ghost peeking out a window.”

“I don’t like to paint.” Lucy replied, “What made you say that?”

“I don’t know.” I answered.

“It might be fun to see inside that old place.” Lucy said.

“You both better stay away from there.” our father warned us. “It is not safe there.” I don’t know why he bothered to give that warning. It was too far from our house to walk to or to ride a bicycle to.

“No picnic at the haunted house this afternoon?” Lucy joked.

“No.” I replied.

I thought about our own house. We lived in a single level house at that time in my life. However, my father had added a basement level—just a single room—with a fourth bedroom on the ground level above it. I remembered looking at a set of the builder’s drawings, as the construction was being finished in May of 1962—a year before that Sunday. The basement would be our storm shelter. The new bedroom would be my new bedroom, and my former bedroom would become a guest bedroom. The architect, or one of the builders working on it there, gave me a pencil and a sheet of paper. I remember I used it to draw a picture of a tornado threatening the house, with our family inside the shelter.

“What happens to a ghost in a haunted house, if caught in a tornado?” I asked, quite seriously.

“Is that a joke?” Lucy replied.

“No.” I told her.

“Then why don’t we let you out, and you can go back to the haunted house to ask one?” Lucy suggested.

“Enough of that.” our father warned us. “We are almost at the church.”

“Yes.” my mother added, “It’s time to think about more pleasant subjects.”

I was going to ask if ghosts go to church, but then realized it would be best to remain silent, to avoid becoming one. In the rear-view mirror, I noticed my father giving me the look. So I sat in silence, and looked out through a car window at the tall and narrow trees we passed along the road.

My father turned off of the country road, and then into the parking lot of the church. A man, standing just past the entry driveway, holding a big shotgun, stopped us.

“Good morning, Perry.” my father said to the man.

“Michael. Jean.” the man greeted my parents. Then he leaned down a bit further and looked through to the back seat of the car. “Howdy, Thomas. Lucy.”

“Perry.” my mother greeted in return for all of us.

“My turn to guard the lot.” Perry explained. “If any of those hoodlums from the city come here again, and attempt to vandalize our cars and church property, I’ll be ready!” Perry said as he patted his shotgun, and smiled.

“We’ll pray there is no trouble.” my mother remarked. “Especially on this Mother’s Day. Can’t you keep that gun out of sight?”

“If they’re watching, I want them to see we’re armed and very serious about defending our property.” Perry answered, “This one belongs to my mother. She just turned 90 today, and she wanted to stand guard out here with it!”

“Perhaps I should have brought my gun.” my father said to Perry.

“I have an extra gun in my truck, if needed.” he replied. Then he pointed and said, “Park over there.”

My father nodded, and drove over to the parking place.

Usually, out on the parking lot, before and after church services, I would overhear the adult members talking about a variety of subjects. They would bring each other up-to-date on the more interesting events in their lives during the past week. Most of the members of our church worked in the oil business, in offices, or out on wells, or a combination of both like my father. Again I wondered if that is why our church was named the Well of the Souls Church. Some of the oilmen also had their offices in Kansas City, and most of them being on the Kansas side. Others were located in Topeka, and Wichita. A few had offices in Oklahoma City, and Tulsa.

Roughnecks, in expensive, three-piece suits, with gold tie clips, gold cuff links, and very polished shoes, on Sundays at church services, were still roughnecks. It was their foul language, in those days, which helped me to separate those members in the oil business from those in various other professions. After all, their language wascrude.

I recall a few conversations that stood out…

“A hell-of-a-deal…” I heard one old, balding, short, fat man remark to a younger, tall, skinny man. “Paul Durand paid me a hell-of-a pile of cash for nothing! Just scrap iron and dry holes! It doesn’t fucking figure! He’s got a small steal mill.”

“Damn wells keep going dry.” the skinny man replied, “Durand is saving many of us from going completely broke, buying up all of our useless metal goods. I can understand that part of it. He obviously melts it all down and sells it. But . . . like you, I can’t imagine what the hell he wants with our dry holes. Maybe we’re the fucking idiots.”

“I swear there is a pattern to his purchases of dry holes! Damn! I wish I could figure it out! It is as if he is looking for something. What in hell could he be looking for? Buried treasure?” the fat man asked.

“Damned if I know.” the skinny man replied. “But it must be very important to him, or others he’s doing business with. I wonder who. At least Durand is not being a son-of-a-bitch about it. I got some usable dollars from him for all of my scrap metal. He could have got it all for much less.”

“Maybe the bastard should be paying better than he is now, and is just making us think we’re getting a good deal.” the fat man wondered.

I didn’t like hearing that kind of language. Those foul words. My father never talked that way. Not exactly that way, anyway. Following my father’s example, I never talked that way . . . unless I happened to drop something heavy on one of my toes or hit a thumb with a hammer by mistake . . . but then, no one would usually hear what I would say when I’d have one of those kinds of accidents. No one I could see, anyway.

At that time, oil businesses in the Kansas area were in fast decline, and it was getting rough for small operators. However, some of our wells, at least seven belonging to the Harrow-Wells Oil Company, were still pumping out a high volume of oil. Members of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association were looking to my father for guidance, as if he had some kind of special technique for making our wells produce more oil.

“Eventually, everything turns to shit.” I overheard a man with red hair tell my father before church one Sunday morning.

“Livingston.” my father greeted him in reply.

“What are we going to do about the salt water problem?” the clownish looking man asked my father.

“We must develop new techniques.” my father replied.

“Sure, Michael.” The red-haired man said, “New methods are costly, and unproven. They could cause more pollution.”

“Fresh water pollution is a major concern.” my father told the man, “But there are other concerns to deal with, too. The material shortages. Allocations. And you know we are getting into a political war.”

“Yes.” The man replied, “Those bastards will tax us to death.”

I would also overhear other adults in conversations along much more personal lines. My vocabulary was about average for my age then . . . but I knew enough to understand that what we children were being taught to be sins, a few adults were doing without much restraint, daily or nightly, Mondays through Saturdays. They only appeared to be sin-free on Sundays, by the way most of them dressed. Their words revealed their true natures. I often heard the excuse, “We are only human.” So it would seem, some were more human than others. Those who claimed to hold particular beliefs and a certain way of living, then did just exactly the opposite in the way they actually lived. More contradictions and hypocrisy in the reality of that time and place. However, our family practiced what was preached in that church . . . as much as we agreed with, anyway.

My mother and father went to the main building, an A-frame design, where the “adult” version of the truth would be presented. My sister and I went to a separate building for Sunday school, where the “young people” version of the truth would be taught to us. I believed there should only be one version of the complete truth preached to the people of all ages, in the same place and at the same time. I hated age discrimination. However, I did realize the exception should be babies and children too young to be able to sit quietly while the pastor is preaching and teaching. Somehow I felt older than age 7 that Sunday . . . not in body, but in spirit . . . and as if I were reaching a higher level of consciousness, which could have been caused by the asthma medicine, or something else.

Before going to the separate Sunday school classrooms for different ages, all of the “young people” would together go to the large basement room in that building. There we would sing a number of religious songs together. At that time in this life I did not like singing. I liked listening to other people sing, but I did not like to sing. Especially religious songs. I did not like the music, and I did not totally agree with all of the words. However, as I thought about Christ Jesus that Sunday morning, and was looking at the titles of all the songs in the songbook, I realized there is one kind of religious music that I did like, and even enjoyed singing. It was most of the Christmas music and songs, and I truly desired to experience the good feelings that music gave me. I especially liked the one with the words, “Do you hear what I hear?” Later on, that Sunday morning, my soul would hear and see more than any of the other members of that church.

I recall there was another reason for going down into the basement of that building. On our way to be seated, we would pass by a scale model of our church, as it would eventually become. They had not yet constructed a third building, for linking the main A-frame building to the Sunday school classrooms building. Construction was scheduled for the following year. I don’t recall what they planned to use the third building for. On the roof of the scale model, on top of the new third building, there was a slot for us to put our money in. I knew the money was for the construction of the new building. However, one of the Sunday school teachers liked giving us a childish explanation for the purpose of the money being put in there, as if we were unable to comprehend the adult truth. She referred to money in the model church as being our “hereafter allowance.” To me she once said, “The money goes to heaven to pay for all of the palaces of gold we will live in after we pass on, if good little boys put all of their spare coins in this little church every Sunday.” I recall she liked to talk about “streets of gold” in heaven, too. Maybe she actually believed it.

“You mean, the two quarters I just put in there now are in heaven?” I asked that Sunday school teacher.

“Yes.” Miss Croats answered.

“Open it. Show me they are not still there.” I challenged.

“If I do, then that means you have no faith. And little boys with no faith will find nothing in their account, if and when they get to heaven.” she warned me.

I squinted my eyes at her, and walked on over to where I was to be seated. Even at that age, I began to wonder if everything is about money. I concluded that money belongs to the physical world, and has nothing to do with the spiritual world. God does not need money and has no need for our money, I thought to myself.

After a grueling, full half hour of singing, we all went up to our separate classrooms. We had to march in a single file, “Like good Christian soldiers,” one teacher told us.

Christian soldiers. They did not know Lucifer lost the great war against the Realm of Heaven. Even if they did, they would have suppressed the truth. They still needed an enemy. There still had to be a source of willful evil and sin. The followers of the Christian faith had to blame someone for their ongoing problems. So Lucifer became the so-called devil, and Satan became the so-called devil, and the Prince of Darkness and Deception became the so-called devil . . . the three became one. Yes, the evil trinity became the single devil in the darkness of ignorance and the flames of hell on planet Mirandus. Onward Christian soldiers!

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PART 3

The classroom, which I was assigned to, was only about 18 feet long, about 10 feet wide, with a 9-foot ceiling. There was one door from the hallway into the classroom. As I stepped inside, one 10-foot wall was immediately right of the door that was at an end of an 18-foot wall. There was the one door-size window in the middle of the 18-foot wall opposite the door wall. Chalkboards hung on both of the 10-foot walls at each end of the room. Low bookshelves were built into the walls under the chalkboards. The outer wall was red brick. Inner walls were stained wood. The ceiling had one long florescent light fixture centered with the rectangular room. Furniture in the room was just one long table, with one chair at each end, and seven chairs on each long side of the table…

One teacher of course. Fifteen students, all present that Sunday.

Mrs. Smythe sat at the end of the table near the door to her left. “Be seated.” she ordered. “Be silent.”

I sat in the middle chair on the door side of the table, facing the window. Three students to my left, and three to my right. Seven across from me. The teacher at the table end to my right. One more student, at the table end to my left, who had scored the highest on the previous Sunday’s test, got to sit in that special chair. Most of the students in that room were seven years old, plus or minus a few months. Eight girls. Six boys.

The Holy Bible was not the only book in that classroom. We used bible storybooks with pictures, bible workbooks, and a number of other books to be used with the bible’s New Testament. There were different versions of the bible in that classroom, and the King James Version was only one of them. The other versions were worded differently, and in a way that was apparently intended to make theHoly Bible easier to read and understand. With most adults being treated like ignorant children, you can guess how they treated actual children. At that time, I didn’t have a favorite bible or preferred version. Looking back, I’d say the King James Version of the Life Application Study Bible, published in 1989, which I purchased at a store in Shreveport when I was there on a trip in 1991, has proved to be the most useful to me. There is also The Urantia Book, which I’ve read, and found to be the most accurate for the history of this planet, although I don’t agree with all of it. Mainly it’s a history book, of this world and the universe. The unidentified writer of that book claimsUrantia is the true name of this planet. Whoever the mysterious writer is, is nearly as well informed as the Ambassador to Mirandus. The authors of that book are identified and described by the writer as spiritual beings who dictated the information in the book to him.

Whichever book we were reading that Sunday morning, it was the usual routine for a particular paragraph to be singled out and read. Then the teacher would explain its meaning. After that, as she would say, “Now, turn to…”—and while all of the other students were turning pages, I would read on a bit further. I would find that her explanation might very well apply to that paragraph, taken out of context, but not to the other relating information in that chapter or section of the book. I discovered that some of her explanations conflicted with explanations in the writing at the end of each chapter or section. Then, in other chapters or sections, and in other books, she would contradict herself, and other books would appear to contradict each other—as perhaps the authors were not in agreement with each other. So many different “versions” of the Holy Bible, too.

I felt that in human form we might not ever be able to fully understand all of the complexities of the Realm of Heaven in the spiritual universe. I mean what Christians refer to as the Kingdom of Heaven, being the male-dominated religion that it still is. However, it should not be difficult to fully understand and live the simple teachings of Christ Jesus. Yes, Christ Jesus. Not Jesus Christ. After all, we don’t refer to King James as James King. Christ is a title like king, not a last name, not a family name.

I just happened to find a contradiction in what we were being taught on that Sunday. At the moment, I don’t recall exactly what it was, because there were so many I discovered that year. Age seven was an awakening year. I went so far as to boldly point a couple out to our teacher and the other students on previous occasions. This usually made nearly half of the students angry. On one occasion, my challenges made one of the other students cry. The rest of them, surprisingly, agreed with me, and then joined me in asking more challenging questions. At first, the teacher would allow the angry students to respond with their own answers, as if it were some kind of a debate. Their side fell back on what I called “circular logic”—coming from nowhere and going nowhere. Finally, the teacher would simply give the usual run-around answer “adults” liked to give “children” when they themselves did not know the answer.

I looked up to my left at the clock on the wall above the chalkboard. Class was about half over . . . thank God!

I looked across the room and out the window. I could see the church gardener, who was then watering some flowers near the window. That Mother’s Day was a warm day, but there were cool breezes and gusts of wind. I noticed the gardener wearing a green windbreaker jacket. He was hanging on to a weather-beaten straw hat. Seeing his face, I guessed him to be about 70 years old.

We were taking turns reading paragraphs from a bible storybook. It had pictures in it. Some of the color picture drawings reminded me of the Prince Valiant series in the Sunday newspaper color comics section, which my father and sister liked to read together.

I was not entertained by any of the religious stories at that time in this life. I was entertained by the kind of stories that presented in The Twilight Zone anthology series on TV, created by Rod Serling. I remember the introductions…

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.” ~ Rod Serling.

On that Sunday morning, I didn’t know that what would happen to me would have been ideal for a story in that unusual show. Words from the season one introduction…

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” ~ Rod Serling.

“Between science and superstition,” the truth was about to be unveiled. My own kind of Confirmation Day, like what the Mercatorians of the Common Faith experienced when they were contacted by Trinity Angels. What happened to them would be comparable to Christ Jesus coming to present day Mirandus.

Clockwise, on around the table, each of us would take a turn reading, even the teacher. About every third student would be stopped by Mrs. Smythe, who would then ask us if we understood what was just read. Then, she would go ahead and explain it, even if we claimed to understand it all. It was as if none of us could ever hope to understand it without her help.

I had just finished reading a paragraph, and realized I had just uncovered another contradiction. While the next student took a turn to read, I turned back to a different paragraph read earlier, which appeared to state the opposite of the paragraph I read out load when I took a turn. Or maybe it was the fine print explanation included in that version. I don’t recall now exactly what it was about. I continued to study it while other students took their turns reading paragraphs.

Time passed, and it was back to Mrs. Smythe to take a turn to read a paragraph. She was then in the middle of one long paragraph when she suddenly stopped reading.

Silence. Sudden silence. Absolute silence.

I briefly wondered if I had lost track of who was reading and whose turn it was next. I started to ask, “Oh, sorry, is it my turn to read again?” But then I was sure the teacher had stopped in the middle of the paragraph she was reading. So it wasn’t the kind of silence one gets after one has not been paying attention, and it is one’s turn to read again.

It wasn’t the kind of silence one experiences very early on a Sunday morning when most people are still sleeping, and no cars can be seen or heard driving out on the streets. It wasn’t the kind of silence one rarely experiences late at night, when the neighbors are quiet for a nice change, the family in the house is quiet, a dog isn’t barking somewhere, cats aren’t trying to kill each other to death and beyond, no planes flying overhead, the refrigerator can’t be heard running in a mad frenzy, the water pipes aren’t groaning, the fan is not on to circulate the air in the house, the wind is so calm for a change you wonder if the world is still outside the house, and everything is totally still. No, not that kind of silence.

It was more like the kind of silence one experiences in a cave that is totally dark. Yes, a cave. So dark you can feel the walls of the cave with every cell of your body and even with your ears. You can hear the silence between you and the cave walls, a kind of silence echoing silence.

I looked over at the teacher. Her eyes . . . looked strange . . . glazed over . . . as if she was dead with her eyes open.

I could move my eyes . . . turn my head to look around. However, I didn’t feel that I could get up from the chair, as if some kind of force, other than gravity, was holding me there.

No one in the classroom was moving. The eyes of the other students had the same look as those of Mrs. Smythe.

I could see out through the window. The old man gardener was frozen in his tracks. The water coming out of the garden hose appeared to be caught in a strobe light effect, with each drop suspended in the air on the water arc stream. Beyond the gardener, I could see a bird in flight near the building, and it was just a blur. Other birds appeared to be suspended in the air. Further, I was able to see a few cars out on the main road . . . some blurred more than others. It was as if time had stopped out there, as well as inside the classroom.

I looked up at the clock and noticed the second hand had stopped moving. I felt like I had become suspended in time, or existing between two moments of time. Even so, apparently, a different kind of time was passing for me, while normal time had stopped for everyone else. At that age, I did not yet know about the possibility of compressed time . . . that I was experiencing a compressed time eventbeing planted in my memory . . . that the flow of time had not actually stopped for anyone. My perception of timewas being manipulated.

Suddenly, the feeling of thunder interrupted my thoughts. No, not the sound of thunder. I didn’t hear it. I felt it. No sound. Even so, it was like the horrible kind of thunder that would blast me out of bed late at night during a disturbing storm. However, those included blindingly bright flashes of lightning. There was no lightning with the thunder I felt then. The feeling of thunder felt like it was coming from a particular direction.

I looked up to the southwest corner of the room, to the right of the window, where the window wall, the wall to my right, and the ceiling created the upper southwest corner of the room. There, three lines of three dimensions reached a common geometric point.

Suddenly, it was as if gravity tilted toward the upper southwest corner of the room, but nothing fell into that corner. Nothing moved. I felt the sensation of falling, but remained in my chair.

An image flashed through my mind . . . something like an aircraft . . . something familiar . . . flying at a very high altitude. The image viewpoint shifted to a view inside the aircraft or whatever it was . . . then focused on a large hole suddenly appearing in its side. I felt and heard the blast of depressurization . . . all the air rushing out of the craft. Even so, the air was not rushing out of the classroom.

Silence returned.

Abruptly, the three corners—being the upper left corner of the west wall, the upper right corner of the south wall, and the southwest corner of the ceiling—began to open up . . . and curve—folding outward . . . into a vast darkness that was absolutely black. It was as if a giant invisible monster was pealing open the walls and ceiling in that upper corner. However, I could not see this world beyond the opening. Instead, it appeared to be a complete void. Each corner formed a triangle of 45-90-45 degrees as the outward folding continued. Those three triangles together created a larger triangle of equal angles, and therefore equal sides . . . about three feet on each side as the outward folding stopped.

Three forming one. Equal angles, equal sides.

I felt it was important. It seemed like a problem in math . . . and at that time, math wasn’t my best subject. I was trying to understand the meaning of it with physical values, while the meaning was actually in spiritual values.

Three forming one. Equal angles, equal sides. Spiritual values?

“The Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit?” I managed to ask in a whisper, not expecting an answer.

Suddenly, a single point of light appeared in the center of the black triangle. Like a distant star . . . but then it was moving . . . slowing becoming larger . . . coming closer. Abruptly, the point of light separated into three points of light, each moving rapidly outwards on separate lines perpendicular to the center of the sides of the triangle. One forming three.

At the moment those points of light reached and touched the sides of the triangle, they vanished . . . and as those three vanished, a deep field of stars materialized inside the great triangle, filling the black void . . . with spirals of light, multi-colored clouds of gas mixed with multicolored points of light. Each point of light appeared to be flickering to a musical rhythm, but without me hearing the sound of the music. Thus, I watched and waited in more silence.

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PART 4

Gradually, I began to sense an intelligent presence. It slowly extended itself out of the triangle, and into the room, toward me.

I felt something touch my mind. Then, like turning on a light in a place that was previously as dark as a deep cave, I felt it make the connection to my soul . . . my Caeruli soul, a soul in the spectrum of blue light.

“Fear not.” it said. I felt its voice, as it spoke to my soul. I did not hear it with my ears, but somehow I sensed it to be a male voice . . . and something familiar about it.

“I know you.” I replied in a whisper. But before my words left my mouth, I sensed he already knew my thoughts. I could not see him, but somehow he felt familiar to me.

“We have met before, and we will meet again.” he replied.

“Who are you?” I wanted to know. “Are you Christ Jesus?”

“No. I am not a Creator Son.” he answered, and then informed me, “I am a Trinity Angel, also known as atriangel. Not a triangle. A triangel. As result of ascending transformations, I’ve been given elements of the Great Maternal Spirit, Great Paternal Spirit, and the Holy Life Spirit. Our Holy Trinity. I have for some time been assigned to this world as a Trinity Angel Ambassador. I am the Ambassador to Mirandus from the spiritual Realm of Heaven.”

“I knew you before that. Who were you?” I pressed the question.

“Long ago, far away, I was nothing more than what you were then and what you are now here after . . . a soul with a superconscious mind, within a physical body containing an unconscious mind and a brain containing a conscious mind with a subconscious.”

“I don’t clearly remember…” I whispered.

“In good time, you will. Those memories are deep within your soul. They will eventually surface.” the ambassador assured me. I noticed he had not really answered my question about his identity.

“When?” I inquired, “When will I remember?”

“Important key turning points during your present physical life on this world.” was the answer he provided.

“Why are you contacting me now?” I asked.

“You are now at a key turning point.” he answered.

“What…” I began to ask.

“You have been asking important questions lately, which I have become aware of through the prayer circuits, and spiritual communications from your indwelling spirit.” the ambassador told me, “Your level of awareness has increased to include knowledge of what you perceive to be contradictions and hypocrisy.”

“Yes.” I confirmed.

“And you want to know the truth about many things.” he said.

“Yes.” I confirmed.

“The Holy Spirit of Truth will always light the way for those who are truly willing, and desire to know the truth.” he told me.

“What Mrs. Smyth is teaching…” I began.

“Not everything she teaches is the truth.” the ambassador confirmed. “Even so, what she teaches she believes to be the truth.”

“I know.” I replied.

“There is vast gulf between believing and knowing.” he told me. “She is not deliberately lying. She is not deliberately engaging in willful evil.”

“What? A contradiction?” I asked.

“Not a contradiction.” he answered. “Remember . . . and understand.”

An image formed within my mind. I found myself looking down into a classroom . . . my classroom at the public elementary school . . . during my first week in first grade. From my viewpoint above, I could clearly see myself as I was then, sitting at a school desk down there. I could hear what was being said, there in that classroom.

As I wondered how this was possible, the ambassador said, “Your indwelling spirit recorded these events, and is now playing them back for you to see. These events could be played from the memory tracks of your mind, but if we were to use that method then you would be seeing these events through your eyes as you were then instead of a viewpoint from above.”

“I understand.” I said. I really did understand it.

“Now, remember the truth game…” he told me.

The students there put their desks into a big circle. The teacher’s desk was part of that circle. Miss Kanyon, who was my first grade teacher, was telling a story. It was a very short story of only about two hundred words. She whispered it into the right ear of the first student to her left. That student whispered it to the student on her left. In turn, the next student did the same, passing the story on to his left. And so it went, around the circle, clockwise, student to student.

“The circle of truth.” the ambassador said to me.

“I remember.” I replied.

“Now, observe carefully.” the ambassador advised me.

The story was repeated until it reached me. I was the last student in the circle, having been seated to the right of the teacher. Miss Kanyon asked me to stand up and tell the story out loud. As I did so, she rolled up a map, which had been pulled down to cover the story written on the chalkboard, directly behind me, where I could not see it. It was the original story. The story I was telling was somewhat different in key details. There was some common ground. As I was finishing the story, many of the students nearer to the beginning of the circle laughed at me. So I knew that something had gone very wrong. The students nearer the end of the circle began to question each other, and to accuse each other of lying or changing the story. It was a fact that the story had been changed, possibly several times . . . deliberately, or from simply hearing it wrong and then repeating it wrong. Even so, no one would confess to making the changes. Each student, who had passed it on to the next student, claimed to believe it was being retold correctly.

“I understand.” I told the ambassador.

“Imagine…” the ambassador said, in a voice I could still only feel—or hear with my soul, rather than with my physical human ears. “Each student positioned on the original circle, becomes the first student in a separate circle…” A circle of light appeared in the communications triangle of the ambassador in the upper southwest corner of the Sunday school classroom. There had been twenty-three students and one teacher in the circle of truth game. Twenty-four points of light appeared on the circle in the triangle. Outside of that circle, twenty-four circles appeared, each being connected to one of the twenty-four points of light on the original circle.

“I see.” I said.

“Stories are passed on from one generation to another . . . changed slightly with each retelling . . . distorted with the passing of time . . . distorted by poor memory, and poor storytellers . . . changes in languages, poor speaking, poor hearing . . . then poor reading and writing. There are those who would deliberately make changes for whatever reasons. Different customs. Different politics. Different religions. It all becomes a jigsaw puzzle of fact and fiction.”

“Our religion…” I began to inquire.

“Yes. In your mind, imagine an actual jigsaw picture puzzle of a picture. Any picture you like will do just fine. Imagine all of the pieces being scattered around the different rooms of the house you live in. Other children come to your house to play, to help put the picture puzzle back together.” the ambassador described it. “There is a problem. All of the pieces of the puzzle are face down, wherever they are found, with the blank side up.”

“What caused the pieces to become face down?” I asked.

“That is another story, which partly relates to how and why the original picture was broken into pieces and scattered. There was a great war in heaven, known as the Lucifer Revolt. It encompassed hundreds of inhabited worlds in the spiritual universe, and had some impact on the inhabited planets of the physical universe. You’ll learn about that from the memory tracks within your soul, from your indwelling spirit, and from me during a future meeting.” he told me.

“Ok.” I replied, “So, with the blank sides up, how could anyone put the picture puzzle back together, if they can’t turn the pieces over to see the other side?”

“It would become a very difficult and frustrating experience.” the ambassador answered, and then continued. “Next, imagine the children decide to paint their own pictures on the blank sides. Each child paints a different picture, although a few form groups. Some wanting to paint sky and clouds. Some wanting to paint land and trees. Some wanting to paint the ocean with waves. Imagine, attempting to assemble all of those different pictures, without ever being able to look at the other side of the pieces for the original true and complete picture. If you understand how difficult that would be, then just imagine the further complications caused by some of the children using scissors to change the shapes of the pieces, so that their pictures can be forced to fit together they way they want them to fit together. Even worse, they use the scissors to cut up and destroy pieces they don’t want, or believe they don’t need.”

“The original would be damaged, and some pieces lost.” I said.

“Yes.” the ambassador replied, “In each religion of every room in the mansion of Mirandus, there are still some original true pieces that can be reassembled. If one religion has more true pieces than another, then that does not necessarily make it any better than the others.”

“Mansions. You mean other houses.” I realized. “Not just this one house with many rooms.”

“Other houses.” the ambassador replied, and paused a moment as if to consider that. Then he said, “My old friend, there are other cities!”

“The kingdom of our Lord, Christ Jesus, is truly vast.” I remarked.

“So much of the Christian faith was founded upon the one death upon the cross, of the one life in the flesh lived by one Creator Son. It should have been founded more upon his simple teachings. The truth is about life, not death, not antilife. That was the Gospel—the Good News—of Christ Jesus.” he told me, “Mirandus, the so-called World of the Cross, is known of in the far corners of the physical universe and everywhere in the spiritual universe. Christ Jesus did not come to this world to live a short life in the flesh, then to die on a cross for the sins of humankind as a form of punishment and self-sacrifice. He came to this planet to liberate the souls of this world from the oppression of the Lucifer Revolt. It caused a quarantine to be placed upon this world, trapping souls upon this world and forcing them into reincarnations. Souls could not ascend into the spiritual heaven during the revolt and quarantine. It protected them from getting caught in the war within the spiritual universe, where souls could be destroyed by the fighting, a death from which there is no return. This happened to all inhabited planets in the physical universe. Creator Sons and Creator Daughters had to be sent to all of those worlds to terminate the revolt and free the souls. Then the quarantine was lifted. Even so, just as physical wars cause physical damage, which must be repaired after the end of the war, spiritual wars cause spiritual damage, which must be repaired after the end of the war. The Gospel—the Good News—is that we won the war, and we are all free. However, we have yet to repair the spiritual damaged caused by the great revolt. Sin and willful evil are kinds of damage yet to be repaired. Much of the Lucifer Revolt was against the existence of the Great Maternal Spirit and Creator Daughters, who created the ascension plan for souls to ascend into the spiritual heaven after living one life in the physical universe. Lucifer went so far as to deny their existence. It was Lucifer who planted the claim of only one Creator Son, to make it appear to be easier to defeat the spiritual Realm of Heaven, what you know as the Kingdom of Heaven, so that he could more easily convince others to join his revolt.”

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PART 5

“We’ve been taught that the Holy Bible has remained unchanged since it was first written.” I said.

“The truth is not measured by the passing of time.” he replied. “Between the years 1545 and 1563 CE, 400 years ago, at a city named Trent, a council of men decided what the Holy Bible would contain, what would be acceptable, and what would not be acceptable. The Gospel of Thomas, and the Acts of Andrew, were banned from theHoly Bible. Men persisted more with their own beliefs than with what was taught by Christ Jesus. From the beginning, the original Christian church has been fragmenting because of ongoing disagreements for what is or is not acceptable to them. There are many different kinds of Christian churches now. If the fragmentation continues, then eventually it will break down to the individual, one church for every person. That’s just the Christian religion. There are many other religions on planet Mirandus. Further, there are many inhabited planets.”

“So many believe…” I began.

“The truth is not a democracy. Because so many believe one thing does not make it true.” the ambassador told me, “However, it is a democracy that will help to rebuild the truth.”

“We must rebuild the truth…” I began.

“Yes, Thomas. But first, the carriers of truth must be reunited, and I have come to awaken the carriers of truth.” he informed me.

“Who are the carriers of truth?” I wanted to know.

“There are souls on this world, who did not come here directly from their creation in heaven. They came here from distant planets. Most of them came from the Interstar Trading Worlds of the Mercatorian Empire, an empire of merchants engaging in peaceful interstellar trade. Physically, they became trapped on Mirandus and died here. They have Caeruli souls, meaning souls in the spectrum of blue light. Their souls became trapped here because of the Lucifer Revolt and the resulting spiritual quarantine.” the ambassador reported, “Those who did come to this world directly from their creation in heaven have souls in the spectrum of green light, and are known as Viridi souls. This has nothing to do with the physical races of different colors of Mirandians, and I’ll explain more about that another time. The Viridi souls became trapped on this world, too. Even so, the Caeruli souls have experience and knowledge the Viridi souls do not have. Although the Revolt ended almost two thousand years ago, when the quarantine was lifted, most Caeruli souls have been kept on this world, while most Viridi souls have been allowed to ascend. I must now awaken all of the Caeruli souls, so they can share their knowledge of the truth. They are here to usher in a new age, an age of interstellar travel and trade. When they came to this world in physical form, aboard their great starship, it was for a different purpose. There was a mutiny. Their starship was destroyed. Even so, a few of them survived for about a year on the surface of this planet at a place known as the garden at the base of the stars. During that time, they buried many time capsules at different locations. The capsules contain information about their home worlds, their people, history, and detailed plans for how to construct a new starship.”

“Am I a carrier of truth?” I asked, “Do I have a Caeruli soul? Are you here to awaken me?”

“Yes.” the ambassador answered, “And to answer a few of your questions. But keep in mind, my time here for this visit is limited.”

“Mrs. Smythe is not one of the carriers of truth.” I said, “She is a carrier of false information, but does not know it . . . and so, that does not make her a bad person.”

“Repeating and teaching subjects that are not totally accurate, while believing them to be completely true, does not make a person evil or guilty of willful evil.” he told me. “Usually.”

“That is good.” I remarked.

“We have a just and merciful God.” the ambassador said. “Sin is a less serious crime, which results in limited punishment, and calls for forgiveness. What is known as willful evil is a much more serious crime, which results in the death penalty, the instant obliteration of the guilty soul or spirit, which is the ultimate permanent death from which there is no return.”

“I’m happy to know that.” I replied, “I’ve been wrong, sometimes.”

“Only willful evil will result in God’s willful obliteration of a condemned soul or spirit in the Lake of Fire.” he told me. “There is no such place as hell where condemned souls burn eternally. The end of a soul or spirit in the Lake of Fire is instant and permanent.”

“I remember flames . . . somewhere . . . but I survived.” I said.

“You are a will creature of time and space. You have a Caeruli soul, and therein a superconscious mind—that which you truly are, which is accompanied by an indwelling spirit for some guidance and for recording all of the events of your existence.” he informed me. “You have the freedom to make your own choices. Make the right choices and complete the race. For all who complete the race are winners of the race.”

“We are all different.” I remarked.

“You have a question?” the ambassador replied.

“Not everyone is created equal.” I said.

“All souls are created equally.” he began his explanation. “That means, in the same way, and by the same method. From the moment a soul is born—spiritually born in heaven with a superconscious mind, and then from the selection of incarnation, each soul and superconscious mind therein becomes unique by way of different life experiences. Each soul becomes personalized by the kind of choices made. Physical Mirandian human bodies, are obviously not equal. In that way, everyone is somewhat different.”

“We were not created in the image or likeness of God?” I asked.

“No, Thomas.” he answered, “People were not created to physically look like our spiritual God. There are many different kinds of intelligent creatures, who have souls, superconscious minds, indwelling spirits, and inhabit other worlds of God’s vast creation. If any part of Mirandian human existence is in the likeness of God, then it would be the indwelling spirit, which is, from one of several perspectives, an extension of God. The male-dominated Christian religion only teaches about the male side of God and the one Son of God. The truth is God is a Trinity Spirit Being, three together as one, and acting independently. The Great Maternal Spirit of God is for all female life. The Great Paternal Spirit of God is for all male life. The Holy Life Spirit of God is for all genderless life. At one time, during the history of the Realm of Heaven, there was one Creator Son. Since then, many Creator Daughters in addition to many Creator Sons have been created by God. You cannot look upon God in your present physical form and live, because of the kind of energy radiating from God.”

“Can I see you?” I asked.

“Yes. In good time, you will.” the ambassador answered, “Presently, this method of communication would make it difficult.”

“You said you are an angel…” I began.

“A Trinity Angel.” he said.

“Do you have wings?” I asked, “And a halo?”

The ambassador laughed. “No, Thomas. I understand why you would ask that question. I laugh because of the irony. On the distant planet, where I long ago lived a life in physical form, I had wings. However, I never had a halo. No, the angels of heaven do not have wings or halos. The one likeness to the Christian fantasy and that of a few other faiths is our common interest in all kinds of musical instruments, such as harps, which we make from supermatter. Some angelic beings do gather to play musical instruments fairly often.”

“Did I have wings?” I asked.

“No, Thomas.” he answered, “You, your superconscious mind in a Caeruli soul, were first born in a physical life form on a different planet than the one I came from. The people of your planet, named Langenth, were known as Landors. The people of my planet, named Skylor, were known as Aviacaels. There were others, from a planet named Aquamar, who were known as the Aquari. The people of those three planets together became known as Mercatorians. They traded with each other. Their home worlds, and colony planets, became known as the Interstar Trading Worlds of the Mercatorian Empire.”

The vast field of stars within the communications triangle of the ambassador shifted . . . and then showed three stars, more brilliant than the others, forming a 30-60-90 degrees triangle constellation . . . strangely familiar. “There was another world, which became our common home.” he told me. The field of stars shifted again. A number of brilliant stars formed a constellation in the shape of a cross . . . also strangely familiar to me.

“The star in the middle of the cross?” I asked.

“Yes. That’s the Cross Constellation, as viewed from the planet Langenth.” the ambassador confirmed. “The sun of the planet named Citra, a colony planet of the Mercatorians, which eventually became the capital planet and heart of their interstellar empire. You lived there, before you joined the expedition to this world. The sun of Langenth is one of the three stars of the Great Triangle Constellation, as viewed from colony planet Citra.”

“Did you came to this world on the expedition?” I asked.

“No.” he answered, without explanation.

“My name . . . was . . . I’m not sure I can pronounce it in its complete form . . . but there were initials . . . a name created from initials . . . MOT. I was MOT.” I remembered.

“Yes, MOT.” the ambassador confirmed. “The initials were a popular fad on colony planet Citra, known as fins. Frontier initial names. The family name was always the middle initial of a fin, and family names always began with a vowel. Your full name was Mutarus Tempus Omnia.”

“You had a name there, too.” I said.

“Yes, of course I did.” he replied.

“Your voice is familiar to me. I don’t hear it, but I feel your voice upon my soul, and it feels familiar to my superconscious mind.” I said, “But I don’t remember your name. Who…”

“Veritas Noctua Antiqu.” the Ambassador to Mirandus reminded me, “You knew me as Chief Veritas. I was the Chief of Interstar Trading Security there on colony planet Citra, which became the capital planet of the Mercatorian empire.”

“Yes. I remember…” I said, as my thoughts drifted back to that distant planet in ancient times.

“You were cleared for ascension.” he reminded me. “You were going to be sent home first. However, you came back here.”

“Terrantus Station!” I remembered those events, which happened between the end of my previous Mirandian incarnation and my present life. I referred to what looked like a massive wheel-shaped space station, but located in buffer-space instead of physical space. Buffer-space, the realm between and separating the physical universe and the spiritual universe. Souls and spirits passing between the two universes would have to pass through stations. Terrantus Station was the station for this planet.

“Yes, MOT.” he replied, “You came back here for a personal reason.”

“Marea Amor Exsequor.” I remembered, “My wife. A spiritual marriage.”

“That’s right, MOT.” he confirmed.

“I was Mutarus Tempus of the Omnia family from Langenth. Now I am Thomas Jefferson Harrow.” I said.

“Yes. MOT became TOM.” he confirmed.

“What became of Marea?” I wanted to know.

“Reincarnated one final time here on Mirandus, like you were. She is now known as Andrea Marie Sterling.” the ambassador informed me, “You will, in good time, be reunited with her.”

“Her final reincarnation.” I said, and thought about that. Then I asked, “How many times have our souls been reincarnated on this planet?”

“Between 400 and 500 times. Different for each soul.” he answered. “You are currently experiencing reincarnation number 451. You’ve had 451 Mirandian lives here on planet Mirandus after your Mercatorian life as a Landor from planet Langenth.”

“There is so much for me to remember.” I realized.

“In the nights to come, you will begin to have dreams, a series of dreams, unlike any dreams you have ever had before.” the ambassador told me, “You will find the answers to many of your questions within those dreams. Even so, not all of those dreams will remain within your Mirandian conscious mind memory upon awakening. Some will be placed deeper then others, down in the well of your soul. Those will surface more slowly, and may be revealed at key turning points during your present Mirandian life.”

“Very well, Ambassador Veritas.” I replied. “Then what?”

“Through the looking glass, TOM will remember MOT. You will become reunited with Marea, in good time. You will also become reunited with many other Caeruli souls.” he assured me. “There were 12,301 Mercatorians on the expedition to this world. A very few have been allowed to return home, and then to ascend into the spiritual Realm of Heaven with other Mercatorians. Most are still here, and alive in Mirandian form for one final reincarnation. Some are currently aboard Terrantus Station in buffer-space. One is missing. We are intently looking for that one, but that is another story I’ll tell you another time. I can tell you that the missing one was a stowaway aboard the Mercatorian starship, led the mutiny soon after arriving here, causing the Mercatorians on the expedition missions to become divided, and caused the destruction of the starship. Mercatorians, I mean their Caeruli souls on this world, now in Mirandian form, are still very divided. I need for you and Marea, and the others you will be reunited with, to help bring them back together. I must warn you there is a much greater common enemy awaiting your return to the stars. Their divide and conquer plan worked well against those on the expedition to this world. Caeruli souls on this world, in Mirandian form, must become reunited, in order to reclaim the Interstar Trading Worlds. The future can save the past, and the past can save the future.”

“I remember . . . the Teznites!” I shouted. “The Mercatorians were at war with the Teznites of the Teznite Empire.”

“Yes, MOT.” Veritas confirmed. “You must help to reunite Caeruli souls. Recover the Mercatorian starship technology. Then build the first Mirandian starship. Do so in secrecy, because a common enemy is watching. Teznites have finally turned their attention to this planet. Even now, they are drawing their plans for a future invasion. Also, some Viridi souls have become possessed by demon Teznites, the spirits of dead Teznites who dwell in buffer-space. They are known to terrify buffer-space voyagers with nightmare images of eternal death in fire. The realm of buffer-space is also known as the hellfield. Starships can travel 666 times faster while in the realm of buffer-space than while in normal physical space.”

I understood all that, but my mind had shifted to another subject. “Are you saying we can’t trust the Mirandians who have Viridi souls?” I asked.

“Most of them are not evil. However, some of them are more easily won over by evil.” he explained, “Very likely, when they discover the existence of Caeruli souls and learn of their past, they will want to help Caeruli souls, while seeking Mercatorian starship technology with drooling enthusiasm. Their agenda will be different. You may trust some of them, but always with great caution. I will place a keyword phrase within the minds of all whom you may trust, as a means of recognition. This is for people who have Caeruli souls and other people who have Viridi souls. I am here to help light the way, is the approximate phrase, and it does not have to be those exact words. The key words are help light the way.”

“I will look forward to reunification.” I said.

“We have met before, and we will meet again. When we do, your memories will be clear and instant. Farewell, MOT.”

Abruptly, three points of light emerged from the midpoint of each side of the equilateral triangle, and moved toward the center of the triangle. As they became a single point of light, and then vanished, it reminded me of when our tube-type color TV was turned off, briefly leaving a glowing point of light at the center of the screen, slowly fading away. The equilateral triangle unfolded back into three 45-90-45 degree triangles in the upper southwest corner of the room. Then the walls and ceiling folded back into place.

Looking out the window, I could see the cars continue to drive down the main road. A bird landed in a tree near the window. The old man gardener then repositioned the hose, as the water continued to splash on down around the flowers. He briefly had an odd look on his face, as if a ghost had tapped him on a shoulder and gave him a chill.

Inside the classroom, the wall clock continued counting the seconds of time. The other students shifted in their chairs, as pages were turned. The teacher continued reading, and completed the paragraph she was on. Then she looked up and around, as if something was wrong. She glanced at the wall clock, and then briefly glanced at her own watch. The next student, to the left of the teacher, began to read the next paragraph.

Before it was my turn to read again, a bell rang out in the hallway.

“Class dismissed.” Mrs. Smythe announced.

Yes. Be assured. I was the first one out the door.

Sunday school. I didn’t much like it at all. As I was walking over to the main church building, looking for my sister and parents, and squinted my eyes in the bright sunlight, I had trouble remembering exactly what it was that had been bothering me about it all.

The students and teacher in that classroom were never aware of what had happened to me, between two moments of time. And because my memory of it was placed deep within the well of my soul, I could not tell my sister, parents, or anyone else about it, at that time.

The coming night would be different for me. In the past, I would turn on a light on the table by my bed, which had in it a blue light bulb. It was not that I was afraid of the dark, so much as having the fear of awakening in an unfamiliar place. It was like a lighthouse, as my ship was on a dark sea. However, on that Sunday night, I no longer felt the need for it . . . because the light within me had been turned back on, and it would save me from becoming lost again, or so I prayed.

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PART 6

It was the following Saturday night, when I first had a vivid dream about my contact with the Ambassador to Mirandus the previous Sunday. I believe the compressed time eventwas allowed to decompress during the dream. It was like dumping an entire book into my brain in a split second, instead of taking several hours to read during the normal flow of time. Memories of past events would surface within dreams and nightmares at night during following weeks. There is truly a vast gulf of difference between faith and fact, between believing something is true and knowing it is true. That difference, depending on how significant it is, can be a shock to the human mind, no matter how good the truth may be. Remembering the truth within a series of dreams can help to soften the shock of it.

Mirandian Year 1963 CE, May 19, Sunday…

The following week, I refused to go to Sunday school. It wasn’t that I was refusing to go to church . . . just Sunday school . . . but I gave the very strong impression my refusal included church completely. It then surprised me that my parents didn’t force me to go. Instead, I was allowed to spend that morning at the house of a neighbor, who wasn’t an active member of any church, but was known to be a good man and a good neighbor. Mr. Kay came from Chicago, and was a department store manager in Kansas City, on the Kansas side. Mr. Kay’s son, named Dean Charles Kay, who preferred to be called Chuck, same age as me that year, became one of my best friends at the age of 7.

The first Sunday morning, when I didn’t go to church, Chuck and I went to work, digging holes in a big pile of sand and rocks and dirt located by his front yard driveway. His parents, expecting to live there for many years, were in the process of improving the landscaping around their house in Hawthorn Hills. My house was at 7 Forest Drive with two driveways forming a half circle driveway, and the Kay house was at 9 Forest Drive with a normal single driveway. While Chuck’s parents did the yard work, which then involved planting some small bushes, Chuck and I played in the big pile, moving rocks, sand, and dirt.

As long as I live in this human form, I will clearly remember the smell of fresh dirt in the air there, mixed with the smell of fresh cut grass coming from another neighbor’s yard across the street. It is amazing that it did not trigger my asthma or any other allergy symptoms. However, my mother recently started taking me to a new doctor to treat my asthma and allergies. Doctor Frank N. Stein did a series of tests, and then prescribed a new kind of medicine. It worked fairly well. He was funny and had a great sense of humor. Each time he would see me, he would say, “There’s that little monster!” when greeting me.

Yes, I know. It was a Sunday, and we were “working.” I was digging a deeper, more vertical hole, than the one Chuck was digging sideways into the big pile of dirt.

“Hey, chuck. What are we looking for, anyway?” I asked.

“Treasure.” was his simple answer. He was missing one of his front teeth at that time, which made him sound a bit odd, and so he didn’t like to talk much.

“Hey, Chuck.” I pursued.

“Whut-iz-zit, Tom?” he replied. I let some of my friends call me Tom, instead of Thomas.

“It’s dark in this hole.” I told him, “I can’t see anything.”

“Ok. Wait-a-second.” He got up, brushed the dirt and sand off of his pants, and then ran over and into the open garage. Half a minute later, he came running back out. In his right hand he carried a flashlight.

“Good idea!” I shouted, as he switched it on.

Chuck leaned down and shined the light into the hole that I had been digging. “Gotta-go-deeper! Haven’t found-et!” Chuck determined.

“Ok.” I agreed, “You keep holding the light. I’ll dig.”

“I’m here ta-help light da-way.” Chuck told me.

Chuck’s particular choice of words caused a brief memory flash of the previous Sunday’s encounter I had with the spiritual being known as the Ambassador to Mirandus. I felt his words had special meaning. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Apparently something to do with trust. So I kept digging. I didn’t really expect to find anything. I thought we were just playing . . . just pretending to be looking for something.

When the hole reached the ground under the pile, I found something, and pulled it out. One of Chuck’s toy soldiers. It had been buried there when a truck came and dumped the dirt, sand, and rocks there.

Late that night, I began to have trouble sleeping.

Dreams, barely remembered upon awakening. Nightmares, which would never fade away.

In one dream, I was Tom . . . but in that dream, people with very strange faces called me MOT. I could see them through his eyes . . . through my eyes. One, in particular, had her back to me, as she called my name.

“MOT. Help me fasten my necklace. I can’t get this one hooked.” she said, not in Anglicus, but in some other language. Even so, I understood it.

“Ok, MEA.” I replied. So it must have happened before I got married to her and stopped calling her MEA. The fin, frontier initial name, for Marea Amor Exsequor. The family name is always the middle initial. MOT was the fin for Mutarus Tempus Omnia. MEA would have become MOA, if she were to take my family name in marriage.

I walked over to her. Marea had long brown hair, at that time, hanging down to her knees, with part of it in front, and most of it hanging down her back. I could see she was completely naked, even though her hair covered a lot. As I fastened her necklace, I felt her wrap her long tail around me, using her tail to pull me against her. I looked down at our feet, having six toes on each foot. I reached down and held her hands . . . noticing our hands of three long fingers between two thumbs on each hand. I looked into her eyes of vertical ovals . . . emerald green eyes, unusual for a Landor from planet Langenth.

“MOT.” MEA said, then asked, “Do you remember the night of the Three Moons Festival? We talked about the discovery of the new world…”

My dream of yesterworld faded at that point, before I could answer.

I didn’t tell Chuck, at age seven, that I dreamed about a girl, even though she had a tail and was from another planet. I’m sure he would have got a laugh out of hearing about a naked alien girl! Anyway, that was just a fragment of other relating parts in a series of dreams. It would be many years before I’d describe those dreams in letters to Dean Charles Kay.

Let me tell you about Dean Charles Kay…

At the end of the 1963-64 school year, the Kay family sold their house and moved away. It was a complete surprise to me, and possibly for Chuck, too. His father was promoted to regional manager of the department store chain he worked for. The promotion included the requirement if the Kay family being transferred to Washington, D.C. where the home offices of that department store chain were located then. The last of their moving vans pulled away from their house an hour after sunset. As the Kay family drove away in their 1964 Chevrolet family station wagon, Chuck turned on his flashlight and waved it in my direction.

As my family was also destined to move, the summer of 1964 was the last summer for our family at the Hawthorn Hills house.

Independence Day 1964 was the final time relatives and friends gathered at our home for that kind of big celebration. It included an afternoon picnic feast in the backyard and then shooting off hundreds of spectacular fireworks that night.

A week later, I got a picture postcard from Chuck, with a note on the back to tell me about the fireworks display he got to see there in the nation’s capital city. He also mentioned in the note that he wants to become a detective for his future profession, or maybe an FBI agent.

I mailed a reply letter to Chuck during the last week of July, 1964. However, I didn’t write anything about the strange girl, who I met during a summer evening when I was allowed to stay late at the Hawthorn Hills swimming pool.

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PART 7

Now, about Meg Stewart…

When she climbed up the ladder to get out of the pool, I thought she was naked. Instead of wearing a traditional, American, single-piece swimming suit, like most of the other girls there, she was wearing a two-piece bikini, which she brought from England. It was the the color of Caucasian tanned skin. The bottom part of the suit was so tight, it looked like it had been painted on. She noticed me staring at her with an odd look on my face, from where I was sitting at the edge of the swimming pool.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, as she was doing something with her shoulder-length dark-blond hair.

“Your swimsuit.” I answered, then asked, “Does it hurt, being that tight?” It was a sincere question.

“What’s your name?” she asked, as she walked around the corner of the pool toward me. “How old are you?”

“Thomas. You can call me Tom.” I answered, “I’m eight and a half.”

“My name is Meg. I’ll be eleven on August eleventh this year.” she told me, then asked, “So what do you know about women’s swimsuits?”

“I . . . uh . . . “ I tried to think of an answer.

“Does it hurt? It feels like THIS!” she shouted, as she reached down and pulled up on the back of my swimsuit. As she did so, she pushed me off of the edge and into the pool. Then she dove in after me.

“So that’s what it feels like.” I remarked, as I stood up in the shallow end of the pool.

“You don’t know what it really feels like, yet!” was the threat she made as she swam toward me.

My reply was to begin splashing her as effectively as I could.

“I like that!” she told me, “Splash me some more!”

This was not a normal girl. And her voice had an odd accent.

“You like being splashed?” I asked. I couldn’t believe my ears.

“I can smell the chlorine better when the water is being splashed like that.” Meg explained. “I love the smell of chlorine!”

“You do?” I replied, “Well, I guess I like it, too. I hadn’t really thought about it before. I never have any trouble with my asthma and allergies while I’m here swimming at this pool.”

“That’s because of the chlorine gas from all the chlorine tablets put in this pool.” Meg told me.

“What are you?” I joked, “A swimming pool scientist?”

“HA!” she shouted and laughed as she splashed me back.

“You want to have a splashing contest?” I asked her.

“SURE!” she answered, “But you’ll lose! And the winner gets to give the loser a spanking!”

“Oh, yeah?” I laughed. I didn’t take her seriously about that, so I countered with saying, “If I lose, then you can give me a kiss!” I laughed again.

I began to splash her more effectively. She began to back away toward the edge of the pool. As she reached the side, I asked, “Had enough?”

“Maybe.” Meg replied, “Do you want a kiss now?”

“I haven’t lost!” I splashed her some more.

“OK!—OK!—YOU WIN!” Meg surrendered . . . too easily I thought.

As she pulled herself up on the side of the swimming pool, and bent over the edge, I noticed her bikini bottom looked tighter than it did before. Without giving it much thought, I used my right hand to give her a playful single swat on her bottom. It made a loud BANG-splat sound, even though it wasn’t a hard swat. Even so, the sound made me look around to see if it got the attention of anyone else at the pool. Then I realized by then we happened to be the only ones in the pool area. A few people were out on the parking lot, talking as they were about to leave. The lifeguard was in the snack bar area. Sunset. The underwater lights built into the sides of the pool came on.

“There’s your swat.” I told Meg, “Are you happy now?”

“No, Tom.” she answered, “Do it again. I like the sting. Anyway, a single swat is not a spanking. You have to give me six of the best, and you have only given me one.” She sounded playfully serious.

Right then, I felt a sting on the top of my head. I screamed, and then went down under the water, where I brushed off whatever it was that was trying to sting me some more. After I got it off of me, I swam for the nearby ladder, and got out of the pool.

“What happened?” Meg asked me, as she climbed out of the pool and stood up by me at the side of the pool.

“Are you ok?” the lifeguard asked me, as he ran around the side of the pool. He heard my scream when I got stung.

“Some kind of an insect stung me on the top of my head!” I said to the lifeguard, and to Meg. Then I pointed to the dead thing floating on top of the water.

“That is a big insect!” the lifeguard observed, “I don’t believe I’ve seen one that big around here before.”

“Must be from another planet.” Meg joked.

Even though I knew she was joking, something about it triggered a brief memory of . . . just a flash image of something like an insect, but not a flying insect . . . not one with wings . . . more like a spider . . . but it also looked like it might be part monkey. A Teznite, I recalled, but exactly when and where I’d seen one of those aliens I did not yet have a clear memory. No. the dead bug in the pool was not an alien. It only reminded me of those horrible creatures.

“Whatever it is, and wherever it came from, it’s dead now. It stung you and it died.” the lifeguard told me. “You must be one tough kid.” He was sort-of joking, too, just trying to make me feel better.

I felt a bump forming on top of my head from the sting.

“We better go to my office.” the lifeguard told me. “I’ll have a closer look at it there. By the way, my name is William Stewart.”

“I’m Tom Harrow.” I said. We shook hands. Then I followed him, and Meg followed us into his office next to the snack bar.

William Stewart, who looked like he was as old as my dad, inspected my insect bite. “Doesn’t look serious. You’ll be ok, Tom, but show it to your parents when you get home. If it looks worse then, or looks worse in the morning, then you should have a doctor check it.” he advised.

“Ok.” I agreed.

“Do you need a ride home?” he asked. “I’m closing the pool in a few minutes. We can give you a ride.”

“Yes, Tom.” Meg said. “You should see my uncle’s sports car. It’s a convertible!”

“Your uncle?” I asked, and looked at the lifeguard.

“Yes.” she replied, “I’m Meg Stewart.”

“My brother, in England, is Meg’s father.” the man said, then explained, “Meg has been visiting for the summer. She goes home in a couple of weeks. Then it’s back to school for her.”

“Don’t remind me, uncle Bill.” Meg said.

“I have my bicycle here.” I answered the question about a ride home. “I can get home on it ok.”

“You sure?” the man asked.

“Yeah, no problem.” I replied. “Thanks anyway.”

I left his office then, and Meg walked with me out to the parking lot.

My bicycle was chained to a light pole instead of the bicycle rack.

“That’s a nice chain.” Meg said, as I turned the four digits combination lock, and unhooked the chain. “May I see it,Master Thomas?”

“Sure…” I handed it to her.

Meg wrapped it around her thin waist, twice, and then she locked it. “Fits perfect!” she remarked. “Combination number four-one-two-three.”

“You can keep it. I have another bicycle lock at home.” I told her. “It does look good on you like that.”

“THANKS, Tom!” she shouted. Then Meg gave me a quick kiss right on my lips, which surprised me. “Now you’ve been stung twice in one night!”

“Yeah.” I went along with her joke. “First the insect, and then you!” I was surprised I liked her kiss.

“Pain can be pleasure, sometimes.” Meg informed me, “But only if you are stung on the right end!” She laughed, and then I did too.

“Actually, I’d rather not get stung on either end.” I replied, “Where do you get such alien ideas?” I really wasn’t expecting an answer.

“Dreams, barely remembered upon awakening. Nightmares, which will never fade away.” Meg seriously told me. I never forgot that.

“I’ve had trouble sleeping lately, too, but it doesn’t cause me to confuse pleasure with pain.” I replied. “Are all girls in England bad like you?”

“I’m not bad, but visit me there someday and find out!” Meg answered.

“Sure. In about fourteen years. Maybe after college.” I said, “If I don’t die from this insect bite.” It still hurt some.

“If you live, come back to the pool tomorrow afternoon.” Meg invited me, and added, “I believe we have some unfinished business.”

“Ok, Meg.” I replied, as I got on my bicycle, and began to peddle off. “See you tomorrow!”

“Tomorrow!” Meg called after me, and waved.

But there was no tomorrow for Meg and me, and certainly not for her parents. Next day, at noon in London, when it was 6:00am in Hawthorn Hills, Meg’s parents were killed in a terrorist bombing at the restaurant they were having lunch at. By noon in Kansas City, William Stewart and Meg were aboard a military aircraft, which would take them to Washington, D.C. and then directly to London. I found out Will’s brother was an officer in a special branch of the British government, investigating the various terrorist groups threatening their part of the world.

Meg’s father, John Stewart, had two brothers, Andrew and William. Meg remained with her uncle Andrew. When William returned to the United States, he brought a letter for me from Meg. I got it from him at the Hawthorn Hills swimming pool. Her new address was noted on the envelope. In the letter she wrote about how she felt about the loss of her parents and of their murder. She further wrote about life, death, and her belief in reincarnation. She wrote, “My original parents were not of this world. In my dreams and nightmares, I know that I have lived many lives before this life.” Meg closed her letter by asking me if I would like to be pen pals. In reply, I mailed a birthday card to her, and noted that I would like to be her pen pal. I wrote about the Sunday school incident in a future letter to her. I told her about the Ambassador to Mirandus . . . and what I’d so far remembered about my past alien life from dreams and nightmares.

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PART 8

Mercatorian Calendar Year 756, Citra Day 221 – Paumday, 09:00 LTZ

Capital Planet Citra, Agriculture Research Station 601

Mutarus Tempus Omnia usually began his day at 06:00 LTZ, presently about a half hour before sunrise at the end of the spring season. It was Citra Day 221 on the calendar for MC Year 756. He slept 3 hours later than usual for several reasons. He was up late the previous night of Granday—the last day of the week of 8 days. He expected to be up late into the night of the present day, Paumday—first day of the week. It was a Holy Day, which was once every three weeks, always on Paumday. There would be no breakfast meal on Holy Day. He would simply shower, dress, and then go with his family to the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple. Also, it was his birthday, born MC Year 742 on planet Langenth.

His Landor parents were father Montum Novale Omnia and mother Littera Aurea Omnia. He had two older brothers. Judex Bene Omnia, 7 years older than him. Dirigo Custos Omnia, 4 years older than him. One younger sister. Poeta Mirable Omnia, 4 years younger than him.

His family moved during MC Year 746 to colony planet Citra. His parents were assigned by Interstar Trading Authority and the Mercatorian Science Authority to manage Agriculture Research Station 601, noted on maps as ARS-601.

He was awakened by a timepiece alarm at 09:00 LTZ. He sat up in bed, and looked at a calendar hanging on the nearby wall to his right. The title of the calendar, World of the Geysers, referring to capital planet Citra, related to the pictures on the calendar pages. One large picture for each of the 12 months.

Mutarus momentarily rubbed his eyes of vertical ovals, as a few hairs of his eyelashes had grown long enough to tickle the sides of his nose. He thought about trimming them.

He looked at the fingernails on the three long fingers between the two thumbs on his right hand . . . then his left hand . . . as he wondered if he should trim them that morning.

He scratched behind his right earlobe, a small shell-like structure, fairly common among Mercatorians but with slight variations.

Examining the Citra calendar again, Mutarus focused on the first day of that week, Paumday, numbered as Citra Day 221. He didn’t have a calendar displayed for planet Langenth, where he was born, but that day was his official birthday for age 14. At that age he officially became an adult Landor, as years are measured on Citra.

Fourth rock from its sun, planet Citra has 456 days in each of its years. A year is 12 months, 38 days each, 4.77 weeks in each month, 57 weeks in each year. A week is 8 days. In order they are: Paumday, Maraday, Tresday, Jallday, Authday, Dromday, Raleday, Granday. Each day is 25 hours.

When the Aquari, Aviacaels, and Landors first encountered each other, they discovered they have some religious beliefs in common, from which they formed the Common Faith. It does not totally exclude any differences, which are said to belong to the level of individual personal preferences.

One of the teachings of the Common Faith, agreed to by the people of Aquamar, Langenth, and Skylor, was on the mind of Mutarus that morning. The teaching was that because their bodies are temples of an indwelling spirit, apart from the superconscious mind within the superphysical soul, maintaining the good health of their bodies is more important than maintaining the temples they build and use for praying and worshiping, public meetings, and other Common Faith activities. There is financial logic to that. If a member has become disabled or too ill to work, and has no income from work, then it is not likely that member will be able to give money to help maintain Common Faith temples, and the organization of the Common Faith. Thus, they agreed that keeping the members healthy and working must come first. So when a member would become disabled or too ill to work, the other local members would do everything possible to help restore the health of the disabled or ill member. The Mercatorian Health Authority would also play a role in that process.

Mercatorians pay a variation of taxes known as common use fees, when they are well and working, so the organization of Interstar Trading Worlds also put health care first. Common use fees helped to pay for such things as highways, as one example. Not all government is supported only by common use fees. As a merchant government, it does function like a business selling some products and services. It does provide a number of free products and services to citizens of its merchant empire with money from some business investments and profits.

Swimming in the cavern pools of Citra is known to be good for physical health. Therefore, Mutarus planned to spend the warm afternoon, of that last day of spring, maintaining the good health of his body by going to his favorite place to swim. Warm weather months were about to change into hot weather months there on Citra. He believed the outing would become a religious experience, of one kind or another, as he expected to meet someone at the secluded pool. A mysterious female, who he observed riding a lamivor near the Virgo River where it crosses the Valley of the Caves at the Palatium Caverns. He previously spotted her the last time he was flying his VisAla, a small 2-seat powered glider, over that area. She left a message for him in chalk on a big flat rock. She wanted to meet him there at solar zenith on Citra Day 221. Before the message, each time he spotted her, then landed to meet her, she vanished.

According to his schedule for that Paumday, Citra Day 221, there would be a birthday dinner for him just after sunset. It would be followed by the Holy Water and Fire Ceremony, as required by Common Faith Authority for when a person becomes an adult. That ceremony would be followed by activities and events relating to the Three Moons Festival, including a fireworks display expected to last for nearly a full hour. Also, there would be dancing, music, other kinds of entertainment, and the playing of a variety of games.

The Three Moons Festival relates to a rare formation of the three moons of planet Citra in the shape of a long triangle. Or an arrow, as some people have pointed out, pointing toward the AterMare Cloud, also known as the Dark Sea, in deep space. As the night would pass around Citra, the nightlong festival would be celebrated in every city and at every ground station.

The two best friends of Mutarus, known by the fins—frontier initial names—of JAC and MEA, would also be in the Holy Water and Fire Ceremony with him. JAC already became age 14 exactly a week before MOT’s birthday, and MEA would become age 14 exactly a week after MOT’s birthday. It was required for the ceremony to take place on the Holy Day nearest the 14th birthday, or when a person becomes an adult as years are measured on the person’s home planet if not on a colony planet.

The use of frontier initial names became a popular fad on Citra during Day 29 of MC Year 746. It reportedly began as result of a humorous interaction between a merchant-colonist, arriving from planet Langenth, and an officer with Interstar Trading Customs. The Landor was told to put his first name, family name, and second name, in that order, on a form. Thus, Genitor Datium, of the Orbis family from Langenth, entered his name on the form as Genitor Orbis Datium. The initials then spelled GOD, instead of GDO. The customs officer was heard, by many people in the area there, to remark to another officer, something about GOD coming to visit planet Citra. Others, doing the same with their names, as spoken and written in the Mercatorian Standard Language, also discovered pronounceable names with initials in that order, being the family name is always the middle initial. It so happens, that in the Mercatorian Standard Language, all family names begin with vowels. One person, in line that same day, protested about moving his family name initial to the middle, and was heard to remark that he did not want to have a vowel movement while standing in line. Quite understandable, of course. Anyway, the pronounceable initials become known as frontier initial names, because they were colonists and explorers and traders on the new frontier of planet Citra. They went so far as to do the same with “frontier initial name” to refer to it as a “fin.” It is possible for more than one person to have the same fin, but not all people on Citra use fins like nicknames. Most of the Aquari people, being the fish-like people from planet Aquamar, have single names. Therefore, the fish people can’t use fins. Quite sad indeed. Thus, it is, after all, just a humorous fad.

JAC is Jocale Chalybs Arcis of a Landor family from Langenth. His fin is pronounced as Jack. MEA is Marea Amor Exsequor of a Landor family from Langenth. Her fin is pronounced Me-ah. The fin of Mutarus Tempus Omnia is MOT.

MOT’s parents were devoted to the Common Faith while they lived and worked on Langenth, the home planet where they were born. Even though they were extra busy with their professions, ever since having been assigned to manage Agriculture Research Station 601 on Citra, they had not missed any Holy Day services. The services were held at the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple, being the nearest temple to ARS-601, about 10 miles southeast of ARS-601, which also is about 10 miles southwest of the City of Thrae. It is designated on maps as CFT-149, for Common Faith Temple. On the triangle of ARS-601, CFT-149, and the City of Thrae, the distance between ARS-601 and Thrae is about 14 miles.

MOT’s parents would be hosting the Holy Water and Fire Ceremony, as well as a party for the Three Moons Festival, at their home on the ARS-601 property. Just before those events, there would be a birthday dinner for MOT. They were expecting about one hundred guests.

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PART 9

Mutarus scratched his left ear, as he got up off of his bed and walked over to look at four educational posters hanging on the wall by his desk. Pictures and data of the three home worlds of the Mercatorians; Aquamar, Langenth, and Skylor. The fourth poster was for colony planet Citra, which became the capital planet of the Mercatorian Empire. He didn’t have the educational posters for the nearest three colony planets, Fornax, Glacialis, and Portus. Poeta Mirable Omnia, his sister, known by the fin of POM, had them in her bedroom at that time. She was using them as guides to produce landscape paintings of those environmentally hostile worlds. MOT would soon be tested on the relating data as part of a final exam for the past school year. It would be conducted over the Mercatorian Interstar Satellite Education Network, and he would use his MISEN home terminal as he had for most of his education that year. He would have classes with other students during the following year in the City of Thrae. A school year is all year long there, but with a break of 3 weeks every season.

Reviewing each of the posters in his room turned out to be a good mental exercise to help awaken him that morning, as well as to further prepare him for the exam, which was scheduled for Day 223.

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Aquamar

The planet Aquamar orbits one of the three stars of the Great Triangle Constellation, as viewed from colony planet Citra. It’s one of the three home planets of the Mercatorians in the Mercatorian Empire, an empire of merchants including the colony planets of the Interstar Trading Worlds. It’s the home planet of the Aquari.

Second planet from its sun, at a distance of about 98.75 million miles, there are 388.29 days in each of its years. Equatorial diameter is about 7,324 miles, with a rotation of about 22 hours per day.

Two thirds of its surface is ocean water. Hundreds of thousands of small islands are scattered around its mainly blue-green surface, as viewed from space. There are no continents.

Atmosphere is 70% nitrogen, 26% oxygen, about 3% chlorine gas, and 1% of other gases. The extra chlorine gas in the atmosphere is needed to support the immune system of the Aquari. This is also true of the Landors of planet Langenth, and the Aviacaels of planet Skylor. They are highly allergic to air pollens, and the extra chlorine in the air helps to counteract the impact of the air pollens. This is not as serious for the Aquari as it is for the Landors and Aviacaels, because the Aquari spend much of their time underwater, and the majority of their cities are located on the ocean floors in the shallow regions near islands.

Aquamar has one small moon, named Aurum, which has no atmosphere or surface water, but is rich in minerals. The Aquari have an Interstar Trading Worlds agreement with the Landors of planet Langenth to mine the minerals for them.

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Aquari

A native person of the planet Aquamar.

Aquari [singular and plural] may be described as being part fish and part sape. They have gills and lungs. They mainly live underwater in cities along the shallow regions near land. They can walk on land. They have singular names, unlike other Mercatorians with first, second, and family names. The average size of an adult Aquari is 5 feet height, 150 pounds. All of their food is grown underwater. They eat two meals per day, usually at sunrise and sunset.

They are able to travel into outer space, but it is the Landors of planet Langenth who brought the ability for space travel to their planet when making first contact.

Aquari are one of the three species together known as the Mercatorians of the Mercatorian Empire, an interstellar empire of merchants, which includes the Interstar Trading Worlds.

They are sexually compatible with Aviacaels of planet Skylor and Landors of planet Langenth for reproduction, resulting in mixed species.

Like all Mercatorians, they have Caeruli souls in the spectrum of blue light.

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Citra

Citra was the heart of the Mercatorian Empire, and by MC Year 756 became the official capital planet of the empire, with the City of Thrae becoming the capital city of that planet.

Citra is the name of an inhabitable planet that orbits the star located at the center of the Cross Constellation as viewed from the planet named Langenth. Citra became the first inhabitable colony planet of the Mercatorians. It has been jointly colonized by the Aquari from planet Aquamar, the Aviacaels from planet Skylor, and the Landors from planet Langenth. The Landors of Langenth were the first of the Mercatorians to venture into space, and to then make contact with the Aquari and the Aviacaels. Many colonists from Langenth have referred to Citra as “Yesterworld” because Citra—geologically—is what Langenth was like about a hundred million years in its past. It’s also known as the “World of the Geysers” as a tourist attraction. It’s an agriculture and minerals paradise.

Fourth planet from its sun, at a distance of 120.53 million miles. With an equatorial diameter of 7703 miles, the planet’s rotation is 25 hours per day. The measurement of hours. minutes, and seconds is the same on Aquamar, Langenth, and Skylor, as Mercatorian Standards. Three fourths of the surface of Citra is land. Like Langenth, all land on Citra is connected. There is a vast network of long, narrow streams and wide rivers, connecting millions of small and large lakes around the planet. None being large enough to be called a sea, and certainly no oceans. Thousands of active volcanoes appear on the surface. There are millions of underground rivers and bodies of water heated by geothermal activity, creating millions of geysers and hot springs. Atmosphere is 70% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 4% chlorine, 1% argon, 2% carbon dioxide, and about 2% other gasses. Viewed from orbit, the surface of Citra appears to be a mixture of mainly greens and yellows, with occasional reds in spots, and a vein-like network of blues.

40% of people on Citra are Landors, 30% Aviacaels, 20% Aquari, and 10% a mixture of those species—being reproductively compatible. Interstar Trading Customs and Interstar Trading Security determined 60% of Mercatorians on Citra are long term or permanent residents, a figure expected to increase as new colonists arrive every week, as it was during MC Year 756. 10% are short term residents, usually there to complete a job of some kind within a year. 20% are merchants or other people staying in hotels. 7% are tourists. 3% are students on field trips from their home worlds, attached to scientific expeditions for three weeks to three months.

There are 456 days in each of its years. A year is 12 months, 38 days each, 4.77 weeks in each month, 57 weeks in each year. A week on Citra is 8 days in the following order: Paumday, Maraday, Tresday, Jallday, Authday, Dromday, Raleday, Granday.

A Citra day is 25 hours. The measurement of the hour was created in ancient times on Langenth, and accepted by the Aquari of Aquamar and the Aviacaels of Skylor when the Mercatorian Empire of the Interstar Trading Worlds was established. An hour is 60 minutes, 60 seconds per minute.

Citra has three moons. The large moon is named Monstrum. The first of small twin moons is named Ausluma. The second is named Geminum. They have no atmospheres.

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Langenth

The planet known as Langenth orbits one of the three stars of the Great Triangle Constellation, as viewed from colony planet Citra. It is one of the three home planets of the Mercatorians in the Mercatorian Empire, an empire of merchants including the colony planets of the Interstar Trading Worlds. It’s the home planet of Landors.

Third planet from its sun, at a distance of about 97.53 million miles, there are 383.52 days in each of its years. It has a diameter at its equator of about 7,643 miles. Rotation is 25 hours, just like planet Citra, where Landors established their first permanent, open-air colony, as a joint venture with the Aquari and Aviacaels.

About two thirds of its surface is land. Surface water exist in small seas—being more than lakes and less than oceans, as well as a number of small lakes with a vast network of rivers that are long and wide. There are no actual oceans on the surface. It’s a mainly red-orange planet, as viewed from orbit.

Atmosphere is 70% nitrogen, 23% oxygen, 5% chlorine, and about 2% other gasses. The extra chlorine gas in the atmosphere is needed to support the immune system of the Landors. This is also true of the Aquari of planet Aquamar, and the Aviacaels of planet Skylor. They are highly allergic to air pollens, and the extra chlorine in the air helps to counteract the impact of the air pollens.

Langenth has two moons. Magnus, the largest, has a thin but breathable atmosphere—with limited exposure. Parvus, the smaller, has no atmosphere. Parvus is occupied by the Mercatorian Military Defense Forces, having bases there for manufacturing the most dangerous ammunition and weapons, and for training of special military forces.

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Landor

A Landor is a native person of the planet Langenth.

During their modern times, before space travel, they referred to themselves as sapes. In ancient times they were known as wolf people. They may be described as being part wolf and part ape, but with hair instead of fur. The Aquari of planet Aquamar began referring to sapes from planet Langenth as Landors, meaning people of the land. The Aquari are people of the water. The Aviacaels of planet Skylor are people of the sky. The explorers from Langenth accepted the Aquari term, and then after they returned to Langenth the people there began referring to themselves as Landors.

Of the Aquari, Aviacaels, and Landors, the Landors were the first to venture into space and to make first contact with the others.

They have tails of various lengths, to some extent relating to age. They have hands with two opposing thumbs on each, between which are three long fingers. They have six toes on each foot. Like Aquari and Aviacaels, they have eyes of vertical ovals. Average adult height is 6 feet, and average adult weight is 200 pounds.

Landors are one of the three species together known as the Mercatorians of the Mercatorian Empire, an interstellar empire of merchants, which includes the Interstar Trading Worlds.

They are sexually compatible with Aquari and Aviacaels and for reproduction resulting in mixed species.

Like all Mercatorians, they have Caeruli souls in the spectrum of blue light.

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Skylor

The planet named Skylor orbits one of the three stars of the Great Triangle Constellation, as viewed from colony planet Citra. It is one of the three home planets of the Mercatorians in the Mercatorian Empire, an empire of merchants including the colony planets of the Interstar Trading Worlds. It’s the home planet of the Aviacaels.

Fourth planet from its sun, at a distance of about 131.01 million miles, there are 515.17 days in each of its years. It has an equatorial diameter of 9,930 miles, with a rotation of 30 hours per day.

Half of its surface is land, in the formation of sixteen continents, most of which are covered by high mountain peaks averaging 58,000 feet. Its troposphere extends up to an average of 21,75 miles, which is about three times higher than the troposphere on Aquamar or Langenth. Skylor has multi-colored bands of clouds circling the planet from east to west in the upper third of its troposphere, making it appear to be like the planets known as “gas giants,” but on a smaller scale.

Fluctuations in the haze of the uppermost layer of its atmosphere, at an altitude of about three hundred miles, where nitrogen is almost nonexistent, the thin remains of atmosphere appears to touch the rings of asteroids and smaller rocks, in orbit. The rings were formed from three large moons, which broke apart long ago. Those ancient moons had atmospheres, absorbed by the planet when they broke apart, contributing to the upper third of the troposphere, instead of being lost to space.

The lower two thirds of the troposphere is about 70% nitrogen, 20% oxygen, 5% chlorine, and 5% other gases. The extra chlorine gas in the atmosphere is needed to support the immune system of Aviacaels, its native people. This is also true of the Aquari of planet Skylor and the Landors of planet Langenth. They are highly allergic to air pollens, and the extra chlorine gas in the atmosphere helps to counteract the impact of the air pollens.

Skylor is one of the three home planets of the Mercatorians in the Mercatorian Empire, an empire of merchants including the colony planets of the Interstar Trading Worlds.

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Aviacael

A native person of planet Skylor.

Aviacaels have back wings and wings on their legs. They are able to fly at high altitudes, even into the middle third of the troposphere. The average height of an adult is 7 feet, and average weight is 200 pounds.

When Landors came to planet Skylor and made first contact, some Landors at first believed they found the angelic beings of an ancient religion on planet Langenth. They actually appear to be a cross between birds and sapes.

Aviacaels are known for their honesty and integrity. They are trustworthy and reliable.

Most of their cities are built into the sides of high mountain peaks, such as caves and caverns therein.

Aviacaels are one of the three species together known as the Mercatorians of the Mercatorian Empire, an interstellar empire of merchants, which includes the Interstar Trading Worlds.

The Aquari of planet Aquamar, Landors of planet Langenth, and Aviacaels of planet Skylor are sexually compatible, resulting in mixed species.

Like all Mercatorians, they have Caeruli souls in the spectrum of blue light.

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MOT turned away from the posters after a few minutes.

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PART 10

MOT had been sleeping in old soft pants, which had been cut off to make shorts. He took off the pants, and then tossed them into a basket for laundry. Then he walked into a connecting room to take a cool, brief, wake-up shower.

The house was built into the north side of Flower Ridge Hill. Level 1 was completely underground. Level 2, the main entry level, was partly underground. MOT’s bedroom, in the loft, and the sun deck on the same level, was the top of 4 levels. The bedrooms of his parents, two brothers, and sister were all located on level 3. The base of the house was 80 feet across the front, and 32 feet into the hill. Along both sides, the partly rocky, partly grassy hillside was exactly 45 degrees from the bottom front to the floor line at the back of level 4. Full-length porches extended out 12 feet on the entry level and third level, with stairs up to the fourth level sun deck. Using materials from Citra, the house consisted of a TriTek metal framework, covered by varnished DeltaWood on the inside, and dark YellowStone on the outside.

MOT stepped out of the shower, and used the IRLdry chamber. It was like a towelless hand dryer that blows warm to hot air to dry the hands, except being large enough to dry the whole body within a couple of minutes.

MOT thought about the past ten years of living in that house at ARS-601. He recalled, when his family arrived two months too soon, he had to live in a room on the first level, while the builder finished the third and fourth levels. He remembered closely watching the workers. One of them allowed him to look at the drawings. That’s what caused him to become interested in architecture, and to select that for his major during the final four years of his education. He planned to then apprentice in architecture, and to follow that with designing homes for more Aquari, Aviacaels, and Landors coming to Citra. When JAC heard MOT talk about his plans, he said he would like to build the homes MOT would design. That surprised MOT, because he thought JAC had planned to go into geology or some similar field. The parents of Jocale Chalybs Arcis, who moved from planet Langenth to colony planet Citra, also during MC Year 746, were assigned the job of managing Mineral Research Station 914, noted on maps as MRS-914. It was believed JAC would follow in his father’s footsteps. MOT didn’t remember exactly what changed JAC’s mind. JAC did claim to know certain mysterious investors, who were willing to invest financially in his planned construction business, as well as the purchases of land for the future residential communities.

After MOT stepped out of the IRLdry chamber, he carefully trimmed his eyelashes. Then he trimmed the fingernails of his two thumbs and three long fingers on each hand. As he trimmed his toenails, six on each foot, he nearly lost his balance. MOT used his tail, almost as long as an arm at that age, to hold onto a hand-towel rack. At that age, his height was about 5 feet 7 inches, and he weighed about 150 pounds. Landors don’t stop growing until about age 70, and most at that age reach 7 feet in height. MOT wondered how tall he would grow to be during his Landor lifetime.

MOT glanced out through a small window, and thought he saw an ARS worker as he reached the top of the stairs to go over the top of the hill. The main buildings of ARS-601 were spread out on the other side of the ridge hill to the south. They included private living quarters for 26 long term personnel, and at that time only 20 were occupied.

The slope of the ridge, less than the hill, from bottom to top, was about 30 degrees. The ridge extended several miles east and west. The hill on the ridge only extended 1000 feet to the west of the house, and 100 feet to the east, with a 60 degrees slope at each end, covered by thick grass and statue-like rocks sticking up a few feet at various places. The north slope of the hill was about 45 degrees, and so was the south side.

MOT looked at his reflection in the mirror. He had the same kind of brown hair, and brown eyes, as did his father. Although the Landors partly resemble wolves, they do not have any fur. Landor females don’t have facial hair. Most males trimmed their facial hair almost down to the skin. MOT could see that his facial hair hadn’t grown much since he last trimmed it. He decided to not trim it that morning, and hoped it would make him appear to be older on his birthday.

Through the mirror he noticed a hand towel hanging on a towel rack. Normally, he would use a small hot air blower, built into the side of the wall to the right of the bathroom sink, to dry his hands. POM made the hand towel in a crafts class, then gave it to him as a gift during the first day of spring holiday celebration. His fin was included in the pattern design. Through the looking glass he could see it reversed. MOT had become TOM. He briefly wondered what the fin of TOM might stand for. Then he briefly wondered what kind of name TOM itself might be . . . Aquari, Aviacael, or Landor . . . or maybe even the name of an alien from a distant planet.

MOT walked out of the washroom and back into his bedroom.

MOT selected and put on a popular design of a leisure-work JumpSuit. It had short sleeves for his arms, a short sleeve for his tail, and long pant legs. Normally, he would wear dark blue, his favorite color. However, that Paumday morning, he decided to put on a light tan colored Desarae brand JumpSuit. Most of the leaders and some members of the Common Faith were required to wear a certain kind of clothing for special events, such as the Holy Water and Fire Ceremony. All could wear whatever they wanted for the normal temple services. Most local members dressed simply for comfort.

MOT decided to wear his casual sandals that morning. After returning from the Common Faith temple, he planned to change into a pair of hiking boots, being more appropriate for part of his afternoon plans. He would have to hike up the side of a ridge to reach an inner secluded cavern pool. Inside the cavern, the rock floor would be smooth enough, without debris, that he would not need any protection for his feet.

MOT walked over to his bedroom’s west window, and opened the dark wood shutters to look out. The sun was just then giving the narrow and tall trees to the west a golden glow. They were known as geyser trees, about 10 feet wide at the base, about 50 feet tall. Located about 100 feet to the west of the house, that long line of trees resulted in an effective windbreak. Those trees extended to the gateway in the northwest corner of the front yard. The front yard was a leveled and landscaped area of 200 feet from west to east, and 300 feet from the house to the north border. His mother, who was a horticulture specialist, designed the landscaping.

MOT recalled having been awakened during the night by the northwest wind, which sounded like a haunting howling ghost as it blew through the trees and the northwest gateway. It led to vast fields of green, orange, and yellow grains, which were part of the agricultural research projects. In those fields, to the west, northwest, and north, his father was trying to determine if certain grains from Langenth could be grown in the soil of Citra. Other fields, southwest of the south hill, were being used to test the grains from planet Skylor. Aviacaels, the bird people on planet Skylor, were known more for livestock and ranches than for agriculture and farms. They provided the finest leather in the empire. There were no fields for any agriculture products from planet Aquamar, because most of the Aquari foods were normally grown underwater. There were no fields for the grazing of livestock, because there were no farm or ranch animals at ARS-601. Other research stations included a variety of livestock. MOT knew his father was considering the addition of some livestock to the station there. Doing so would require obtaining an additional more powerful PowerShield to protect ARS-601 from Teznite raids. Livestock would make ARS-601 an attractive target for Teznites. Mercatorians had not been able to communicate with them. Teznites have no spoken language, so far as Mercatorians have been able to determine, and Mercatorians had not yet been able to understand their written language or symbols. Apparently they communicate with each other by telepathy or something similar. They were known to make clicking sounds, which might be a form of communication. The blood-sucking carnivorous Teznites—part spider and part sape, were also referred to as lamia, meaning vampires. At that time, in Mercatorian history, Teznites were the only enemy of the wolf people—Landors, the shark people—Aquari, and the eagle people—Aviacaels. Eventually, the Teznites would also become the enemy of the Mirandians on planet Mirandus.

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PART 11

Finally ready for the day, MOT left his room in the loft, and descended the spiral stairs to the third floor landing. There he heard the familiar sounds of family.

“MOT! You better hurry, or we’ll be late!” POM shouted from the hallway outside her bedroom, as he reached the third floor landing. Male Landors are rarely the cause of lateness, he thought to himself.

“Poeta Mirable Omnia.” he greeted. “Breakfast ready?”

“Breakfast? On Holy Day? You not awake?” POM asked.

“Awake enough.” he answered. MOT was joking about having breakfast on Holy Day, but she didn’t get it. Even so, she was known to have a good sense of humor, and she was very smart at age 10.

“Happy birthday, MOT.” POM said.

“Thanks.” he replied.

POM closed her bedroom door, and walked down the hall to the landing of the stairs. “Let’s go.” she told him.

POM and MOT descended the spiral stairs, POM in front of MOT, down to the ground entry level. As they walked into the entryway, they found their mother speaking with one of the research workers.

“I’ve adjusted the air vents, solar panels, and water systems in all of the greenhouses, as requested, LOA.” he said as he removed his thin windbreaker jacket. “It was cooler earlier, but it’s warming up fast outside now. I recommend wearing a hat out in direct sunlight, like this one.” He indicated his straw hat.

It recently became common for most everyone at ARS-601 to address each other by their frontier initial names. The fad of using fins became very popular.

“Thanks, SAL.” Littera Aurea Omnia replied.

Sator Lumen Aratori, age 70, came from Langenth. He no longer had any living blood relatives. He was the only survivor of his family killed during the historic Teznite raid on the City of Plerusque, the capital city of planet Langenth.

Plerusque was the former home of the Exsequor family, the last of the royal monarchies on Langenth. All of the old kinds of government, such as kingdoms, were peacefully replaced by the new world-wide merchant government. The idea of a merchant government spread from Langenth to Aquamar and Skylor, which resulted in the formation of the Interstar Trading Worlds under the Mercatorian Empire. It is thought of as an empire of merchants, but how it functions is quite different from any of the old empires.

Patres Naturum Exsequor was the last king, and his wife Vetustissima Materna Exsequor was the last queen. Like the family of SAL, they were also killed during the historic Teznite raid early in MC Year 746. The famous Exsequor jewels were taken by the Teznites during the raid, including samples of a new manufactured gem known asFireEmeralds. Nautus Draco Exsequor, their only son, was listed as missing and presumed dead after the raid. Some people believed he was taken prisoner, although Teznites have never been known to take prisoners. Marea Amor Exsequor, their only daughter, survived the raid. The last living princes of the former Exsequor monarchy. Title only. No authority. Likewise, Saltus Amicus Exsequor, her uncle, who also survived the raid. She came with him to colony planet Citra, where he immediately bought the Castle Hotel hotel and renamed it the Amicus Castle Hotel. Then he became the founder and commanding general of the Desarites, a private military force created for taking swift offensive action against Teznites. Previously, it was mainly a defensive war being fought by the Mercatorian Military Defense Forces, overseen my the Mercatorian Military Authority.

MOT recalled seeing a holographic photo of Amicus, in which he was wearing a hat similar to the one being worn by SAL.

“I’ll continue to monitor the greenhouses throughout the day, if you wish.” SAL offered.

“I’d appreciate that.” LOA replied. She designed the greenhouses at ARS-601, located just south of the ridge hill. Most of LOA’s work in horticulture research was done in her greenhouses. On that day, most of her time would be spent in the house kitchen, preparing for the festival, after returning from the Holy Day service at the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple.

SAL nodded, turned, walked out through the front doorway of the house, and then headed for the stone stairs to go over the hilltop.

LOA turned to POM and MOT. “Both of you ready?”

“Yes, mother.” POM answered for both of them.

“Happy birthday, MOT.” his mother told him.

“Thanks.” he replied. “Where is father?”

“MON is waiting for us over at the landing field.” LOA referred to Montum Novale Omnia by his fin. “He’s preparing the NavAir for flight.” It was their their small 4-passenger jet aircraft. Then she explained, “The VehLen 200 is presently not available.” She referred to their 4-passenger high speed highway vehicle. Then she said, “JAL took it yesterday afternoon to go to the City of Thrae. He is getting a part for the LanRov, while acting as the new supply chief for this station to pick up supplies in Thrae.” The LanRov is a kind of field service vehicle. LOA then finished by saying, “He stayed in the city overnight at the Amicus Castle Hotel. I’m expecting him to return early afternoon today. Some of those supplies are needed for the festival.”

LOA and POM walked on outside.

“Junctus Lucrum Aucupor.” MOT said. Then as he walked out and closed the door behind him, he remarked, “I feel there is something strange about him. I’m not sure exactly what. Something.”

“I don’t like him.” POM said, “He reminds me of the rutluvs shown in schoolbook pictures. The way he watches us. You know, like we’re going to be his next dinner.” The rutluvs are large carnivorous predatory birds, indigenous to Citra.

“Bird food.” MOT jokingly remarked, but still serious about the subject.

POM then changed the subject, and observed, “It is a beautiful morning.” She sniffed the air and looked up at the sky. “The air smells fresh, and like it rained last night.”

“I believe it did rain last night.” MOT said, as they walked toward a shucar parked near the northeast corner of the house. It’s a small low-speed open-top road vehicle designed for a driver and three passengers. “It was certainly windy.” he remarked. Then he noticed someone had already removed a protective cover from the shucar.

“It will be mostly clear today and tonight, with a slight cool breeze in the warm air tonight.” LOA reported the weather forecast, as they climbed into the shucar.

A paved driveway road marked the east border of the front yard, extending around the hill to the south, going to the dozen research station buildings. About midway, of the eastern side of the yard, there was a t-shaped intersection. From there, the driveway road extended one hundred feet to the east, then it angled to a point three hundred feet to the southeast. At that point, it connected to the major highway in the area. The north branch of the driveway road ended two hundred feet beyond the northeast corner of the yard, at the landing field, next to the landing and liftoff platforms, just past a control shack.

All aircraft on Citra were designed to land and liftoff vertically, so no runways would be needed for them. Also, spacecraft designed to enter the atmosphere, and to land and liftoff, would do so vertically. The large passenger and cargo shuttlecraft went to the spaceport in Thrae. Most spacecraft coming down to ARS-601 were BellStar shuttles from Space Station Aureola, or occasionally from an interstar trading ship in orbit. Both of the platforms at the ARS-601 landing field were 100 feet by 100 feet square. After landing, all aircraft and spacecraft were usually towed over to the parking field on the west side of that north branch of the driveway road. Passengers and cargo were moved by electric shucars to the station buildings, or over to the house.

LOA drove the shucar. She turned left onto the north branch of the driveway road.

“Has there been a message from JOB?” MOT asked, referring to Judex Bene Omnia, oldest of his two older brothers. He had no younger brothers. Just one sister, younger than him.

“A message came through late last night from JOB.” LOA answered, “Your father received the call. Interstar Trading Ship Frontier should be docking with Space Station Aureola sometime this morning. The Frontier is bringing more supplies, PowerShields, colonists, tourists, and merchants from Langenth.”

“When will he be free to come down here?” POM asked.

“Captain Jacu will grant surface leave to First Officer Judex Bene Omnia late afternoon of this day, if all goes well.” LOA answered, “JOB informed your father that he expects to be free to attend the birthday dinner, Holy Water and Fire Ceremony, and the Three Moons Festival. Even so, he might have to return within 25 hours, although he did not explain why.”

“What about DOC?” MOT asked his mother about his other brother. “Any messages from him?” DOC is the fin for Dirigo Custos Omnia.

“JOB was to meet with DOC at the University for Alien Environment Research before leaving Langenth. However, he didn’t mention DOC during his call to your father.” LOA answered, “There have not been any direct or relayed messages from DOC during the past 3 weeks.”

At the southwest corner of the landing field, next to the driveway road, was the control shack. It was large enough for three people to work in it, but only one person was needed to operate communications. From inside the shack, the blue and green landing field lights could be turned on for arrivals during the night.

LOA parked the shucar next to the shack. They got out and walked over to the NavAir.

MOT’s father had already powered up the aircraft. It had a low delta wing at the front, and a high delta wing at the back. Looking at it from the front or back, it would appear to be a biplane. The wings were bright yellow on the bottom and camouflage green on the top.

Although the NavAir was low to the ground, they went up a few short extended steps to enter it. LOA sat next to MON, at his right. POM sat in the seat behind her mother. MOT sat in the seat behind his father. MON pressed a couple of buttons to retract the steps and close the hatch.

MOT happened to notice, about that time, that they were all wearing the same style of tan-colored JumpSuits.

The swift vertical liftoffs of the NavAir had never bothered MOT. It was the sudden drop during the vertical landings that usually flip-flopped his stomach. He preferred flying the smaller VisAla, because it would glide down on a greater horizontal arc to a vertical landing.

As they were completing the vertical ascent to the desired altitude of about a thousand feet, MON announced: “I’ll be shifting to horizontal flight in a few seconds.” Then he added the unnecessary warning, “Hold on!” The NavAir then went into fast forward acceleration, but not enough to create an uncomfortable g-force. Strong shoulder straps held them secure in their seats.

The NavAir flew southeast toward the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple, a flight of only about 10 miles. Although not necessary, the Common Faith temple was shown as CFT-149 on a flight map displayed on a small video screen at the center of the dashboard. MON knew the way well enough without it.

About 2 minutes into the 5 minutes flight, POM leaned over to see out through the window next to MOT. She pointed and shouted, “Look, MOT, the Haunted Rocks!”

The rocks appeared to have been blackened by explosions from a fierce battle there, long ago, between Teznites and the first Mercatorian explorers on Citra. Apparently the Teznites considered Mercatorians to be invaders of their hunting grounds on Citra. The Teznites lost that battle and abandoned that base. After that, for a few years, it was a tourist attraction and camping location.

MOT, his two brothers, and sister, camped there when they were all last together during the vacation break of the previous summer. The strange sound of the wind, blowing through the unusual rock formations, kept them awake during most of the night, with its singing, whistling, and voice-like whispers. DOC, known to be a master storyteller, told them about Mercatorian and Teznite ghosts, continuing the battle there into the spiritual realm. MOT would never forget JOB’s remark, which fueled DOC’s story, that “Death is no excuse to stop fighting willful evil.” The ghost of a soldier is expected to continue the battle at the spiritual level. Teznites were considered to be evil. Many Landors on planet Langenth concluded the Teznites to be guilty of willful evil evil after their historic raid on the City of Plerusque, causing the deaths of so many Landors.

Looking down from the NavAir, after POM brought the Haunted Rocks to his attention, MOT noticed something reflecting sunlight. He tried to focus on the source to see if he could possibly identify it. He guessed his father had noticed something too, unless it was a coincidence that he lowered the altitude of the NavAir to only about 100 feet as they approached that area. MON did not make any comment about it right away. Neither did LOA. MOT said to his sister: “I see them.”

POM replied: “I see the big rock we camped next to.”

MOT repeated, “I see them.” He pressed his face against the window.

“You see ghosts of dead Mercatorian and Teznite soldiers down there, MOT?” POM asked, with a hint of humor.

MOT could see alien creatures, who had been digging in the ground where a smaller rock had been moved out of the way. He could see well enough to know they are not Mercatorians, and clearly not Teznites. He somehow got the impression they had not yet found what they were looking for. He saw one of them hold something reflective up to the sunlight again. Perhaps binoculars, used to give the NavAir a closer look as it approached. It looked like the creature had hands with four fingers and only one thumb on each. It had no tail MOT could see, and neither did the other one, who was standing near it. They both looked up at the NavAir when it flew over. They had alien eyes of horizontal ovals.

“Ghosts. Perhaps not of the past, but of the future.” MOT said to POM, answering her question. He wasn’t sure what caused him to say that, except that he felt a strange connection to the creature holding whatever it was up to the sunlight. Their physical forms were alien, but perhaps not their souls. Then he told POM, “I believe they have Caeruli souls . . . souls in the spectrum of blue light.”

MOT didn’t believe his sister and parents noticed the two alien creatures as they flew over the Haunted Rocks in the NavAir.

MOT guessed POM probably thought he was joking with her about them.

Apparently MON was listening, and finally did remark, “Maybe you saw some Mercatorian soldiers, or even Desarites, on a training mission, down there at the ruins of the old Teznite fortress.”

“Surely not any tourists camping there.” LOA said.

Tourists, MOT thought. Or explorers from a distant place and time.

For time travelers, of a kind, answers can come before questions.

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PART 12

Mercatorian Calendar Year 756, Citra Day 221 – Paumday, 09:45 LTZ

Capital Planet Citra, Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple CFT-149

It didn’t take too long to get to the temple. Only 5 minutes in the NavAir. Of course, they could have reached it in about half that time, but MOT’s father didn’t want to waste the expensive fuel to gain only a couple of minutes.

The NavAir dropped like a rock at the beginning of its sudden decent toward the temple landing pad. That’s when MOT was again convinced it’s a good idea to not have a large meal before going anywhere in the NavAir. The reason why members of the Common Faith would not have breakfast on Holy Day was more biological than religious. It was normal for Mercatorians, especially Landors, to have meals after public meetings, rather then before. However, some meetings included meals or some snack food with a variety of beverages.

The jet air breaks kicked in, and safely brought the NavAir down to a soft vertical landing, blowing up a small amount of dust.

MOT’s sister climbed over him, opened the hatch, and jumped out. MOT used the extended steps. His mother and father came out next.

A landing pad attendant greeted them. “May I tow your NavAir over to the parking field?” He was new to that volunteer job there. A Landor from Langenth.

“Yes.” MON replied. “I’m Montum Novale. This is my wife, Littera Aurea. My daughter, Poeta Mirable. And my youngest son, Mutarus Tempus. We are the Omnia family, from Agriculture Research Station 601.”

“Welcome to the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple, MON, LOA, POM, and MOT.” He referred to them by their frontier initial names. He was quick to recognize them, and obviously very enthusiastic about using fins. “I’m CAP, the fin for Caelus Pomum Adamas.”

CAP hooked the NavAir to an electric towcart, moved it off of the landing pad, and over to the parking field.

Another attendant, also a Landor from Langenth, who they already knew to be Eloqu Vespera Eaden, who did not use a fin, gave them a ride in a shucar designed for a driver and up to five passengers. She took them over to the main entrance of the temple.

MOT found out Caelus and Eloqu were two of several volunteer workers at the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple, students from a school in the City of Thrae, and both of them about a year older than he was at that time.

“Thanks for the ride, Eloqu.” LOA told her.

“I’ll be here when you are ready to leave.” Eloqu said.

Caelus Pomum Adamas and Eloqu Vespera Eaden began their adventure as volunteers at that temple. Soon they would begin training to become Common Faith missionaries. They would be sent to a distant planet, where they would leave their mark on the religious history of its people. The Bracatus Mirandus Expedition would leave time capsules buried on planet Mirandus during Mirandian year 37,988 BCE—Before Common Era. Thousands of years later, during Mirandian year 1823 CE—Common Era, a Mirandian farmer, under direction of a Trinity Angel Ambassador, would locate one of the time capsules. Within it he would find documents describing the Common Faith, from which he would create and establish his own different version. In 1978 CE, a member of that church would create a science fiction TV series partly based on the war between the Mercatorians and the Teznites. Where do science fiction authors get such bizarre ideas? From their alien souls, of course. Another member would write a nonfiction book about ancient aliens visiting Mirandus long ago. By 2012 CE, the church the farmer founded would have nearly 15 million members worldwide. Millions of more members than the newer Spiritual Universalist Church, started during 1956 CE, which is nearly identical to the ancient Common Faith of the Mercatorians. It’s founder had the Caeruli soul of Vocatus Novalis Animarum, who would go on the Bracatus Mirandus Expedition as the commander of the religious mission.

POM jumped out of the shucar as it came to a stop. She rushed over to the right of the main entrance of the temple to visit with friends, her age, who were waiting for her. She did not get to see them often in person. Any regular contact with them was over the Citra Communications Network, the CCN terminals, which included video. Many of the colonists lived far apart, but would meet at temples on Holy Day, or in the cities when getting supplies and conducting other business.

MON and LOA walked together over to the left of the entrance, and were greeted there by some of their friends. One of the large men, standing near there, carried a TAR-GET rifle. One of the new rifles, designed by Doctor TAR and Professor GET. Telum Rudis Armatus is a Landor male born on Langenth, assigned to colony planet Citra as a civilian engineer working for the Mercatorian Military Defense Forces. Gladius Talionia Eruditus is a female Landor born on Langenth, assigned to Citra also as a civilian engineer working for the MMDF. Their TAR-GET rifle is made to also fire special designed FireEmeralds, not just standard bullets. The man, who carried a TAR-GET rifle there in front of the temple, MOT knew to be Maniplaris Xiphias Auxiliatus, a Landor from Langenth, another civilian engineer working for the MMDF. He retired from the Mercatorian Military Defense Forces as a major, and was usually referred to as “Major X” by the soldiers who knew him.

“On guard for Teznites, MAX?” MON asked him.

“Yes, MON.” he answered, “A raid is not likely today, according to local military intelligence and Interstar Trading Security, but it’s best to be prepared.”

“I agree.” MON replied. “Chief Veritas convinced me to order a more powerful PowerShield.” he referred to Veritas Noctua Antiqu, Chief of Interstar Trading Security on Citra. “I’m expecting the shipment from Langenth to arrive today. I’ll have it installed by the start of tonight’s festival.

MOT walked on into the temple. He didn’t see anyone out front who he wanted to talk to.

To the right of the entryway, stairs descended to the temple offices, classrooms, and what Mercatorians agreed to refer to as public relief rooms—having toilets in separate compartments designed for use by male or female Aquari, Aviacaels, and Landors. To the left of the entryway, stone stairs ascended to the balcony seating, and the choir area. MOT went up the stairs to the balcony.

At the top of the stairs, a long section of the balcony extended ahead of MOT. To his right, a shorter section along the front wall of the temple, connected to another long section of the balcony along the west wall. The choir set everything up on the other short section of balcony along the south wall.

MOT turned to the right and walked to about midway on the short north balcony. Then he looked over the edge, down into the ground floor area of the auditorium. The center aisle, from entryway to the stage at the back, was as wide as the open space between the west and east balconies, about eighteen feet. Seven fountains were located in the center of the center isle, evenly spaced apart, each with a base—a water reservoir—with a diameter of about six feet, around center pillars that were about eighteen inches in diameter and about fourteen feet tall—up to the balcony floor level.

Some members were standing or kneeling at the base of the fountains, while praying. Most were doing so silently, as was considered appropriate by the Common Faith for that location and purpose. However, one was so loud he could just about be heard in the next star system. MOT knew of the kind. Most Mercatorians understood how prayer actually works. A few of them liked to put on a show. Even so, it was understandable for one to lead others in a prayer by speaking the words instead of just thinking the words.

A few members, up on the balconies, were also praying silently or at least in barely heard whispers so as not to disturb others. As they prayed, they tossed coins down into the water fountains.

There were 7 fountains. The Mercatorian Common Faith has the Holy Trinity, which is the Great Maternal Spirit, Great Paternal Spirit, and the Holy Life Spirit. In short, the Ma, the Pa, and the Xe—pronounced “Z.” There are seven master spirit elements, produced by those three. The Ma alone, The Pa alone, the Xe alone, the Ma plus the Pa, the Ma plus the Xe, the Pa plus the Xe, and the three together. So there was one water fountain for each of the seven master spirit elements.

Although the Common Faith of the Mercatorians never needed any money to exist, the organization of the Mercatorian Common Faith needed money to exist, and to be able to function effectively on the home worlds and the colony planets. God has no need for money. Mercatorians know prayer and worship is not dependent upon money and temples. Mercatorians believe the physical body is the temple of an indwelling spirit, apart from the superconscious mind within the superphysical body of the soul. Therefore, that gives them the ability to pray and worship anywhere and anytime, even everywhere and all the time. As the conscious mind and the physical body does the physical work of the physical world, the superconscious mind and the superphysical body of the soul does the spiritual work of the spiritual world. One of the functions of the indwelling spirit, as a companion and aid, is to relay prayers. Mercatorians know fellowship is within the realm of communication, and is therefore not dependent upon the gatherings of members at temples or other public meeting places. Even so, there may be justification for holding regular meetings of members at mutually convenient locations and times, and taking up collections of money from members to support the organization. When the Aquari, Aviacaels, and Landors discovered that they have common ground in religious beliefs, from which they formed the Common Faith, one of the agreements had to do with how money would be received from members and handled. They all agreed it should be in coins, and that the coins should be purified in holy water. Therefore, the seven water fountains were created for the purpose of receiving and purifying the coins. MOT suspected there was also a health reason for purifying coins, having passed through so many unwashed hands.

MOT was not a believer in religious rituals. However, he tolerated rituals and did not speak against Mercatorians who believed and engaged in them.

MOT noticed an attractive young female Landor, probably about age 15. A year older than him, he guessed. She was demonstrating her skill and special technique for tossing coins into the fountain by using her feet—holding coins between her toes. She had removed her sandals. The hair on her head was cut shorter than most females her age. Her style of clothing was more casual than usual, and had a festive kind of look. A colorful halter-top exposed her back, and a short skirt exposed her legs. What surprised MOT was how well she then used the end of her tail to grip and so accurately toss coins into one of the fountains. Doing so caused her wrap-around skirt to be lifted up, revealing her very tight-fitting underclothing. MOT recognized her underclothing to be a kind of swimwear. Like him, he guessed, she must be planning to go swimming after the morning service. MOT wondered where. He would have asked her, but he already had plans, and he doubted she would be going to the same place as him anyway.

MOT briefly looked up through the skylights, of the top third of the A-frame temple building, at the clear blue-green sky of Citra. He wanted to be outside, somewhere else. He wanted to be at the cavern pool.

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PART 13

Most of MOT’s friends, who were not there that morning, had to work at part time jobs, help their families in other ways, or study for school. They would usually attend the afternoon service at the temple as an alternative. Work was permitted on Holy Day, especially within a growing civilization upon a colony planet. Although Citra became the capital planet of the Mercatorian Empire, it was still considered to be a colony planet.

The evening service of that Holy Day was canceled. Instead, the Holy Water and Fire Ceremony, being conducted at ARS-601 after sunset would serve as the evening service for members of the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple who wanted to attend.

MOT heard that the morning service for that Holy Day would be short, and no classes after it, mainly to give members more time to prepare for the Three Moons Festival.

The choir interrupted MOT’s thoughts then, as it began singing on the balcony above the stage. Some other people, on the balcony with the choir, began to play a variety of musical instruments.

By the end of the first song, everyone became seated. MOT realized then, that his mother and father, who usually sat near the front of the auditorium, had joined him on the temple balcony. POM, who usually sat with her friends in another area, also sat with MOT on the north balcony. MOT guessed the family sat together that day partly because of it being his birthday, and partly because of the subject of that Holy Day’s service.

During another but shorter song performed by the temple choir, the temple leaders walked out onto the stage from the back-stage room, and sat down on prearranged chairs.

The Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple was named after Bene Ecclesia Animas, a Common Faith leader who founded that temple location. The Animarum spiritual family was then assigned by Common Faith Authority to manage that temple location. A “spiritual family” is formed by members from normal families. They usually include six members. A grandfather figure member, a grandmother figure member, a father figure member, a mother figure member, a son figure member, and a daughter figure member. Usually not related by blood to each other.

Vocatus Novalis of the Animarum spiritual family, was the Pa Vates Praecelsus. His chair was first right of center from his viewpoint. Originally of the Auctorum family, born MC Year 692 on Langenth, he moved to colony planet Citra during MC Year 746. Then under direction of the Common Faith Authority he created the Animarum spiritual family, and was assigned to the Bene Ecclesia Animus Temple. He became its paternal spiritual leader, the Pa Vates Praecelsus, a High Seer, the highest male leader at the temple.

At that time, Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple was without a Ma Vates Praecelsus. The former being Vivere Lumena, who was called away on a mysterious mission for the Alta Auctoritas Praetor. Although her return was not expected anytime soon, her chair was placed first left of center, and no one else would be sitting in it. Originally of the Occulta family, born MC Year 696 on Langenth, she moved to colony planet Citra during MC Year 746. She joined the Animarum spiritual family, assigned to the Bene Ecclesia Animus Temple. She became its maternal spiritual leader, the Ma Vates Praecelsus, a High Seer, the highest female leader at the temple. Then she became a mission planner for special investigations agents of the Common Faith Security for the Common Faith Authority, recalled to planet Langenth during MC Year 755, assigned to oversee a special mission.

Validus Dego was the Fa Vates Praecelsus. He sat in the second chair right of center. Originally of the Oceanus family, born MC Year 714, he moved to colony planet Citra during MC Year 746, joined the Animarum spiritual family, assigned to the Bene Ecclesia Animus Temple. He became its faternal spiritual leader, the Fa Vates Praecelsus, a High Seer. He was also the Temple Treasurer. He appeared to be focused on the fountain nearest to the stage. He waved to an attendant, off stage right, and gave a nod. A moment later, the attendant turned off the flow of water to all of the fountains. That resulted in the auditorium become quieter, but made any other unwanted noise much more noticeable. Some members could be heard whispering, and then they became silent.

Venia Saga was the Mo Vates Praecelsus. She sat in the chair second left of center. Originally of the Argentum family, born MC Year 716, she moved to colony planet Citra MC Year 746, joined the Animarum spiritual family. She was assigned to the Bene Ecclesia Animus Temple as its moternal spiritual leader, the Mo Vates Praecelsus, a High Seer. She was also the Temple Secretary. She scanned the faces of the members in the auditorium, and then those she could see on the balconies.

The chair for the So Vates Praecelsus was also empty. Bene Tangere, the former youth leader, left with Vivere Lumena, apparently to play a role in her mission. Originally of the Excubius family, born during MC Year 735 on planet Langenth, he moved to colony planet Citra during MC Year 746. Then he joined the Animarum spiritual family, assigned to the Bene Ecclesia Animus Temple. He became its soternal spiritual leader, the So Vates Praecelsus, a High Seer. He was overseeing the male youth group at the temple. Then he became a special investigations agent for Common Faith Security of Common Faith Authority during MC Year 755.

Virago Danta was the Da Vates Praecinthia. She served as Choir Leader, and she rarely sat in the chair reserved for her on the stage. Instead, she usually sat up with the choir, and she did so that morning. At that moment, she was still praying, silently, with her eyes closed. Originally of the Usus family, born MC Year 736 on Langenth. All of the Usus family except for Virago were killed during the historic Teznite raid on planet Langenth. Having a natural talent as a singer, Virago was adopted at age 10 by a small family of musicians and singers, known as the Cornu Tympana Cantors, and then began traveling with them. She was able to complete her basic education by using a small personal portable MISEN terminal between performances. The MC Year 750 interstellar tour ended at the City of Thrae on planet Citra. An unrecorded personal tragedy, apparently as bad as the loss of her family on Langenth, resulted in her remaining on Citra. She legally became an adult at age 14 during MC year 750, at which time she left the family of traveling musicians and singers. On the first Holy Day of MC Year 751 she joined the Animarum spiritual family, assigned to the Bene Ecclesia Animus Temple. She then became its daternal spiritual leader, the Da Vates Praecelsus, a High Seer. Her singing experience resulted in her becoming the Temple Choir leader.

The Pa Vates Praecelsus stood, and began the service by leading the temple members in a prayer. Vocatus Novalis remained standing in front of his chair after the prayer.

The Fa Vates Praecelsus briefly stood. He thanked everyone for the many coins tossed into the water fountains that morning. It was already known that an assistant would clear out the fountains and count the coins after the service.

The Mo Vates Praecelsus, who did not stand, thanked all the members for their excellent attendance as she looked at a record book, which she held on her lap.

The Da Vates Praecelsus then directed the choir and led the temple members in the singing of a short song.

Vocatus Novalis then began speaking to the members. “There will not be a full sermon this morning of this Holy Day. Instead, I have some important news about the discovery of a new world. But first, it is time, once again, to review the Common Faith Articles.” He appeared to close his eyes a moment, as if to focus on an internal image of the articles, and then began to review them. It was perhaps a somewhat abridged and modified version from his own memory. There are actually more than ten, and from time to time they get rearranged and rewritten by the Most Highs of the Common Faith.

“Article One. There is one God, who created the spiritual universe and the spiritual worlds therein, and the physical universe and the physical worlds therein. The one God is a Trinity Spirit Being, the three existing as one, and the one existing as three—being the Great Maternal Spirit, the Great Paternal Spirit, and the Holy Life Spirit. There are seven possible master spirit elements from combinations of these three and each one separately.

“Article Two. As there is a Father there must also be a Mother for Creation to be possible. Therefore, God is the Great Maternal Spirit for all life that is female, the Great Paternal Spirit for all life that is male, and the Holy Life Spirit for all other kinds of life without gender.

“Article Three. As there is a Son of God, there must also be a Daughter of God. There is more than one Creator Son, and there is more than one Creator Daughter. There are many Sons and Daughters of God. The exact number is not known to us. However, we believe that for each inhabited world in the physical universe there is one Son or Daughter of God. One Son or Daughter of God is assigned to each inhabited world. This does not include inhabitable colony planets like Citra, but only those planets where higher intelligent life forms, such as Mercatorians, originated. Trinity Angel Ambassadors may be sent to all of the inhabited planets including colony planets.

“Article Four. The Realm of Heaven is in the spiritual universe and includes spiritual worlds therein made from supermatter and inhabited by spiritual beings. It is apart from the physical universe and physical worlds therein made from matter and inhabited by physical beings. As there is matter, there is antimatter. As there is life, there is antilife. We believe the origin of willful evil is antilife beings crossing over from the antilife universe to harm life in our universe.

“Article Five. There is a realm named Parma de Caelo—meaning the Shield of Heaven, otherwise known as buffer-space . . . and known to some as the hellfield, I’ve been told. It separates the spiritual universe and the physical universe. The physical life forms of the physical worlds in the physical universe cannot pass through buffer-space to enter the Realm of Heaven in the spiritual universe, because organic matter is burned up by SlipField waves in the realm of buffer-space, unless it shielded within a ship or protected by FireEmeralds that absorb the deadly SlipField waves. To enter the Realm of Heaven, a soul or spirit made from supermatter must leave behind its physical organic body made from matter. Interstar trading ships and star ships are allowed to pass through buffer-space, in order to shorten the time of voyages between the physical worlds of the physical universe, allowing a speed 666 times faster than in normal physical space. Even so, some voyages between star systems are so long, cold sleep hibernation chambers are needed. It is known that the demon Teznites live in the realm of buffer-space, and are known to terrify voyagers with images of eternal death in fire. However, the realm of buffer-space is not a place for eternal punishment. Our merciful God has created the Lake of Fire to be a place for executions, to put a permanent end to souls and spirits who have been judged guilty of willful evil with refusal to repent, by instant obliteration. Sin is like a misdemeanor crime calling for limited punishment. Willful evil is like a capital crime calling for the death penalty.

“Article Six. There is a spiritual life after the death of the physical body, when the superphysical body of the soul carries the superconscious mind to the first Ascension and Transformation World, also known as the First Spirit World, in the Realm of Heaven. The ultimate reward is not simply the luxury of lounging around in the Realm of Heaven for the balance of eternity. Instead, with ascending transformations completed, and having achieved Trinity Angel status, then all who may be qualified, and who may desire to do so, may be sent on Word of God Missions to new physical worlds in the physical universe, being those worlds yet to be created and inhabited.

“Article Seven. While evolution does take place on all inhabitable physical worlds where physical life exist, it is God who set the evolutionary processes in motion. It is God who plans the end results. God created souls in the Realm of Heaven, and gave them superconscious minds, to become Will Creatures in physical bodies on physical worlds. Some of the planning is delegated by God to Creator Daughters and Creator Sons. The energy of the cells of the physical body produces the unconscious mind and therein the id. The energy of the cells of the physical brain produces the conscious mind, subconscious, and therein the ego. In advanced lifeforms such as Mercatorians, the energy of the cells of the superphysical soul produces the superconscious mind and therein the superego.

“Article Eight. For souls to ascend, to return to the Realm of Heaven, to return to their Creator, is the goal and the norm. Even so, reincarnation may, can, and does take place upon physical worlds, under special circumstances such as Word of God Missions.

“Article Nine. Because of the indwelling spirit, something which is apart from the superphysical soul and the superconscious mind therein, something which is a gift from God, something which may serve as a guide, we have the ability to pray and worship anywhere and anytime, even everywhere and all the time. As the conscious mind and the physical body does the physical work of the physical world, the superconscious mind and the superphysical soul does the spiritual work of the spiritual world, under the guidance of and with the companionship of the indwelling spirit.

“Article Ten. The concept of the family is a gift from God. The marriage of the flesh is for the life of the flesh, and the marriage of the souls is for the life of the souls, even after ascending transformations if so desired. The Mercatorian wedding ritual may include the marriage of the flesh, and the marriage of the souls. As we have found the Mercatorians—being the Aquari, the Aviacaels, and the Landors—to be biologically and sexually compatible, our superphysical souls and superconscious minds therein are also compatible. As the Great Maternal Spirit is equal to the Great Paternal Spirit, we accept all female Mercatorians to be equal to all male Mercatorians. We consider our children to be the hope of our future.”

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PART 14

Having completed the Articles of the Mercatorian Common Faith, Vocatus Novalis paused for a few moments, scanning the faces of the members in the auditorium and looking up to those seated in the balconies. He then continued, introducing a subject that had recently become the topic of rumors and was generating great interest.

“Now, with the recent discovery of a distant inhabitable planet to be officially announced later today, our Articles of the Common Faith take on special meaning.” He used a foot to press a button set in the stage floor. Then a podium, made out of a clear composite material, slowly rose up out of the stage floor. Light fibers delivered an image of text to the top surface of the podium, only visible to him. He continued his report.

“The inhabitable worlds of planetary star systems were all created to in good time be inhabited by a variety of intelligent life forms. Beings with eternal souls, who could pray to God and worship God through their indwelling spirits. The Creator Daughters and the Creator Sons draw all souls into the Realm of Heaven. Standing at the door into eternal summer, they desire to let in all souls who will open their hearts and minds, knocking for entry.

“That, which we currently are, exist within the conscious mind and the subconscious mind therein, generated by the energy of the cells of the physical brain. That, which we eternally are, exist within the superconscious mind of the superphysical soul—a body made out of supermatter. Here, now, we are also of unconscious mind, generated by the energy of the physical body—the cells of bone and flesh. The unconscious mind is the animal desires and instincts within each of us, needed for survival here in the physical universe. The unconscious mind does not survive the death of the flesh, the transition into the spiritual universe. The end of the flesh is the beginning of a new, unique, novel adventure, an eternal expedition. The Trinity Mind of God encompasses all souls and spirits, to include unlimited life, opportunity, and progress. The vast treasures of an amazing future are there for each of us. Our future generations shall know the divine source of our joy, good will, and even our humor. Our Common Faith is a religion to be lived, not simply spoke of. It is a way of life. There is a vast difference between believing in the truth, and actually knowing the truth. Increasing happiness is the reality experienced for all who become certain about God.

“Then came Confirmation Day . . . the arrival of the Trinity Angel Ambassadors from the Realm of Heaven to each of our inhabited home planets . . . which was followed by the arrival of the Trinity Angel Navigators, making it possible for our interstar trading ships and star ships to enter and pass through the vast realm of buffer-space. It was the day our faith became fact. Yes, I’ve heard the conspiracy theory that the Trinity Angels are actually aliens of this universe, who have taken advantage of our Common Faith as a means to control us and our access to buffer-space. Of course, I know in my heart, mind, and soul, they are who and what they claim to be.”

The Pa Vates Praecelsus stopped speaking, as he pressed another button with a foot. Then an image of the Praeclarus Spiral Galaxy flashed from the end of the light fibers in the podium, up to a large overhead screen hanging down from the edge of the choir balcony. The singers and musicians had moved to empty seats on the side balconies where they could see the screen. Then, controlled by voice command, the images changed and shifted as Vocatus Novalis continued.

“There is, or was, a place within the Praeclarus Spiral Galaxy, officially named the AterMare Cloud, also known as the Black Sea or the Dark Sea. It is believed to have formed out of a dense area of collapsed stars interacting with each other. Since it was first viewed by great astronomers on Langenth, followed by Skylor and then Aquamar, many lifetimes ago, the AterMare Cloud has been located in the Meridianus Ridge of the Austrinus Arm of our galaxy.

“As you see, the Great Triangle Constellation, formed by the stars of the three Mercatorian home worlds, and the other constellations of our colony planets, are located near each other along the same arc of the outer edge of the Austrinus Arm.

“Located near the Meridianus Ridge, between the Mercatorian Empire of the Interstar Trading Worlds and the AterMare Cloud, is the home world and colony planets of the Teznite Empire, which the Mercatorians are at war with.

“A starship expedition to the AterMare Cloud has not been possible, for several reasons, some more obvious than others. However, SlipField TeleProbes were sent in the past to penetrate that black cloud. For the most part, those were paid for by Interstar Trading Authority and the Mercatorian Military Authority. None of those probes survived long enough to transmit any data back to our worlds. Further, the Mercatorian Science Authority and Mercatorian Space Authority had no information on any worlds in or beyond the AterMare Cloud, toward the center of the galaxy from the Meridianus Ridge, because the cloud blocked the view of astronomers. They have especially been interested in finding inhabitable worlds along the inner edge of the Austrinus Arm.

“Suddenly, during the past three Citra weeks, since the previous Holy Day services here, rumors have been spread across the Interstar Trading Worlds about the AterMare Cloud. Some claimed it to be changing. Others said it had vanished. A few reported new star systems had suddenly materialized out of the black cloud, with new planets forming within one Citra week. The most professional and reliable sources report that the newly discovered star systems have existed on the inner edge of the Austrinus Arm for about six billion years, and are just now being revealed as result of the dissipation of the AterMare Cloud. The gravity wells of the black cloud stored up and then released time—compressed time—in such a way that it appeared whole worlds had been created and made inhabitable by God in just a few days. The concept of compressed time was presented to us and explained by Trinity Angels, Ambassadors and Navigators.

“Amateur astronomers claim to have confirmed that the AterMare Cloud is no longer visible, that they are now observing distant star systems and planets. The professional astronomers are so far remaining silent. And, so far, the officials of the Mercatorian Science Authority and the Mercatorian Space Authority haven’t responded to any of the questions put to them by the Alta Auctoritas Praetor of our Common Faith Authority. However, just this morning, I became informed, by way of message from the Alta Auctoritas Praetor, that Admiral Servare Morum Aquarum intends to make an official announcement this date. It is expected to be carried live, using SlipField communications technology to send the broadcast through buffer-space, on the Interstar Trading News Network, about an hour after sunset of our local time zone.

“The Alta Auctoritas Praetor later directly informed me that one particular planet, within one of the discovered star systems, is believed to be inhabitable, and might already be inhabited by intelligent life forms. This is an unprecedented event, discovering a strange new world, far beyond the Meridianus Ridge. A petition has been put forward by the Mercatorian Sciences Authority to name that planet after the astronomer brothers who discovered it. I’ve been informed their names are Mirandus Novum Astrus and Bracatus Terram Astrus. The third planet from its sun is the planet believed to be inhabitable. It is to be named Mirandus. The star, the sun of that planet, is to be named Bracatus.

“Some of you here now are obviously not from my home planet, Langenth. Some of you are obviously from Skylor. And I’m happy to welcome new members of the Common Faith to this temple, who are from Aquamar. I know that some colonists here have parents from different planets, such as a father from Langenth and a mother from Aquamar, or a father from Skylor and a mother from Langenth. The Common Faith Authority, and the Mercatorian Health Authority, long ago concluded that the Aquari, Aviacaels, and Landors are compatible, reproductively and for other sexual interaction, resulting in the birth of mixed species . . . as well as new social activities. We all stand together as Mercatorians within the Mercatorian Empire of the Interstar Trading Worlds. The Common Faith authority has accepted all of this as being the Will of God, and it has been confirmed by the Trinity Angels, Ambassadors and Navigators, sent to our home planets from the Realm of Heaven.

“There are still some Mercatorians, who believe in the total science of evolution, as being completely without divine creation. They believe the Aquari sprang from fish, the Aviacaels ascending from birds, and the Landors climbing up the ladder of evolution from sapes, without any divine participation in the process. They do not believe the Trinity Angel Ambassadors and Navigators came to our worlds from the spiritual Realm of Heaven, but are really aliens from another galaxy or another universe. On the other hand, some people believe the spiritual universe is reality, and our physical universe it a kind of artificial reality created by spiritual beings for their entertainment. Our bodies are like land vehicles, and the drivers are our souls. Further, there are some Mercatorians, who believe the geologic and other scientific records of evolution are totally false, and God created all life instantly. The Common Faith brings together the extremes of creation and evolution, making religion and science mesh perfectly. We say, God created and set in motion the evolutionary processes for physical life forms, with a particular plan and goal in mind. We say, God instantly creates our souls, spirits, and superconscious minds. We say, let that which is physical be physical, and let that which is spiritual be spiritual.

“Now, I can’t imagine what kind of life forms inhabit the planet to be named Mirandus of the Bracatus solar system, but if they are anything like us, like Mercatorians, having eternal souls, then we should contact them. We should invite them to join our Interstar Trading Worlds, and our Common Faith. It has been a long time since Mercatorians have encountered any new aliens, other than Teznites.

“I’ve also been informed that the Mercatorian Space Authority, the Interstar Trading Authority, and the Mercatorian Military Authority, have been working together to improve our SlipField technology, under the guidance of Trinity Angel Navigators, and will construct a new kind of starship for an expedition to the new world. The Alta Auctoritas Praetor has petitioned the Interstar Trading Authority, to allow space aboard the starship to include Common Faith missionaries on the expedition. We must go there, as it is surely the will of God for us to do so. Let us pray to do the will of God…”

Vocatus Novalis led the members in the final prayer, and then closed the service. “May God’s light shine on each of you to help light the way” He then returned to his chair.

The singers and musicians began returning to their balcony.

Venia Saga stood and briefly reminded the members about the dinner, Holy Water and Fire Ceremony, and celebration of the Three Moons Festival, to take place at Agriculture Research Station 601 and be hosted by the Omnia family who manages that station. However, not all of the temple members would go to ARS-601 that night. Most of them would likely celebrate the Three Moons Festival in the City of Thrae.

Validus Dego then stood and confirmed the cancellation of the morning classes, which usually follow the service. That would give members more time to prepare for the festival and other activities. He then dismissed the temple members.

Virago Danta then directed the choir in the final song, as members exited the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple.

As his parents, sister, and MOT departed, his thoughts became focused on a distant, mysterious world. A seed of the future was planted within him.

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PART 15

Mercatorian Calendar Year 756, Citra Day 221 – Paumday, 12:15 LTZ

Capital Planet Citra, Agriculture Research Station 601

The return trip to ARS-601 from the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple was uneventful for the Omnia family. MOT barely noticed the flight as his mind was on the recently discovered distant planet. Already he was imagining what it would be like to go on the expedition to planet Mirandus.

The Omnia family was back at their home about 10:45 LTZ. The family had an early lunch at about 11:00 LTZ. Then for an hour MOT helped his father, mother, and sister with some of the preparations for the birthday dinner scheduled to occur at sunset, to be followed by the Holy Water and Fire Ceremony, and then the Three Moons Festival.

Up in his bedroom, MOT put on his swimsuit, and then the same tan JumpSuit over it. Instead of his sandals, he put on a pair of hiking boots, which would be needed for the climb up the valley ridge to the area of the caves and caverns. Then he left his room in the loft.

In the kitchen he packed an insulated box with some snack food and beverages for the afternoon outing. Then he checked his timepiece. It was time to leave.

Outside the house, MOT put the insulated box into a shucar. He climbed in to sit in the driver’s seat, and then started the electric motor.

As MOT drove the shucar over to the landing field, he was wondering what his two closest friends would be doing that afternoon. JAC and MEA. He wanted to spend the afternoon of his fourteenth birthday with both of them. But then a certain event changed his mind. MOT believed they had other plans, anyway. He would get to see them that night at dinner, and for the Holy Water and Fire Ceremony. He expected them to also stay for the Three Moons Festival.

MOT never really expected to ever be more than just good friends with Marea Amor Exsequor. King Patres Naturum Exsequor and Queen Vetustissima Materna Exsequor, the last of the Landor royal monarchies on planet Langenth, made Marea Amor a real live princess. After the death of her parents, who were killed during the historic Teznite raid on Langenth, her uncle, Saltus Amicus Exsequor, brought her to Citra. She became far removed from any kind of royal environment, but she was still a princess. Even so, she never really acted like MOT would have expected a princess to act, and that made it easy for him to be friends with her. She was more like a tomboy.

MOT was about to meet someone, that afternoon, who was anything but a princess. A female from another planet. Vox gave the impression that what was on her mind most of the time was sex. Kinky sex. With a truly warped sense of humor.

MOT arrived at the landing field and parked the shucar. His father was on the other side of the landing platform. He appeared to be replacing one of the night signal landing lights. MOT waved to MON, and he waved back.

MOT walked toward the VisAla aircraft. It was a special gift to him from his parents, brothers, and sister on his previous birthday. He had a year to learn how to fly it with someone in the passenger seat. At age 14, as of that day, he could legally fly it alone, anywhere he wanted to. Occasionally, his father had already allowed him to fly it alone over any area of the ARS-601 property, and the undeveloped lands in the region.

The VisAla was painted bright yellow all over. MOT and MON talked about repainting it with camouflage colors, but hadn’t got around to it yet. The odds of encountering any Teznites in that region were considered to be quite low, at that time. MON believed the Teznites lost interest in the area, since it no longer included any of the food sources the Teznites prefer. If he were to add livestock to ARS-601, then no doubt their interest would be renewed.

MOT inspected the small front bi-wings, then the larger rear bi-wings, a total of four wings on that small aircraft. Next, he checked the tanks for the liquid propellant. Finally, he inspected the three hover-props. Everything checked out ok. He was ready to go.

The VisAla was parked on a small stone slab, a short distance from the much larger landing and lift-off platform. The VisAla could lift off from the stone slab.

That model of VisAla was a less expensive version for manual start. MOT had to pull a cord three times to get the starter motor running. Then he climbed up into the cockpit and sat in the front of two seats. He put the insulated box of snack food and beverages into the back seat.

MOT switched on the main power for the instruments, and the motors of the three hover-props. The starter motor was used to start the motors of the three hover-props, and then was turned off. He checked the control stick and pedals. After that he closed the canopy, and then began the slow vertical liftoff. At about 1600 feet up, the craft reached its standard flight altitude for that area. Then he tilted the props, two of the three only slightly, and the third to horizontal. He headed northeast at about 60 miles per hour. The flight would only take 5 minutes to cover the 5 miles from ARS-601 to the Palatium Caverns. Then it would take him nearly 10 minutes to hike from the landing location to the cavern where he expected to meet the strange young woman.

MOT felt a slight vibration in the larger bi-wings at the rear, which was caused by a steady crosswind blowing out of the northwest. He carefully adjusted the proper controls to compensate. It was a smooth flight from that point on.

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PART 16

Mercatorian Calendar Year 756, Citra Day 221 – Paumday, 12:20 LTZ

Planet Citra, Virgo River at the Valley of the Caves, Palatium Caverns

From the air, the ancient dry riverbed within the Valley of the Caves, broken by the flowing Virgo River, which there cut across the valley below MOT, looked like a giant X. It marked the location of the Palatium Caverns.

MOT cut the power to the forward prop motor, and then the other two, putting the VisAla into a nearly silent gliding downward spiral to circle the landing area. The wind was almost calm there right then.

Suddenly, MOT spotted the unusual creature he was looking for, which was not natural to Citra. A lamivor. It was grazing in the valley next to the Virgo River. He hadn’t yet spotted the creature’s rider. He knew Lamivors were brought to Citra from Langenth.

As MOT reached the center of the downward spiral, he shifted a control for the hover props, which had been winding up on a spring-loaded power assembly used for making landings a bit softer, without switching the motors back on. The VisAla settled on a grassy field with only a slight jolt.

After giving MOT and the VisAla only a glance, the lamivor continued its grazing.

MOT climbed out and dropped the insulated box to the ground. He anchored the VisAla with a spike and chain, just in case the wind was to come up while he would be away. Then he climbed back up to the cockpit to close the canopy. Next, back on the ground, he opened a small hatch on the side of the VisAla, and removed an empty backpack. It was the right size for the small insulated box. He wanted to keep his hands free for the hike up the side of the valley to the caves and caverns. Small caves, large caverns, and small caves could be accessed from inside some of the large caverns of the Palatium Caverns.

MOT walked across the field, and passed near the lamivor. It was mainly brown, and had some white splotches on its body, legs, and tail. Brown and pink on its long neck and small head. He had never before seen a lamivor up close like that. Just pictures. He was aware of a riding station about 4 miles east of ARS-601, only a quarter of a mile north of the highway from that point. From his location then, the riding station was about 3 miles south on a winding path. A lamivor could easily cover that distance in about 12 minutes. Perhaps faster, if the rider is the kind of individual who tends to get overenthusiastic with a whip.

MOT had seen people of mixed species, of two of the three home worlds, most commonly found on the colony planets. Even so, he had never seen one exactly like the rider of that lamivor. He got close enough, during a previous flight over that same area, when the rider was riding the lamivor there, to see that the rider did not have on any clothes. Obviously a female. Very long, blue-green hair, hanging down between two white back-wings. Fish-like scales ran down her sides and the outside of her arms and legs. He concluded her to be part-Aquari and part-Aviacael. She also had hair and the face of a Landor, so he guessed her to be a mixture of all three Mercatorian species. Very unusual.

Each time MOT had spotted her from the VisAla, during past flyovers, he quickly tried to land so that he could meet her. Even so, by the time he did land, he found she had vanished. However, the previous time, he could see her smile and wave up to him. Then upon landing, she again vanished. However, that time he found a message for him, written in chalk on a big flat rock. “Meet me next Holy Day, solar zenith, at the cavern pool.” MOT was familiar with that place. It then occurred to him that she knew him to be familiar with that place. Apparently, she had been watching him when he had been swimming there in the past. It was as if she were stalking him, like a flying night awth hunting a field mert. MOT would soon find out why.

MOT was walking on a footpath of grass, trampled down to dirt, mixed with lose pebbles. In some places, along the way, he spotted her footprints. He squatted down for a closer look. Four, long toes, curved down on both of her feet, with a fifth curving down from both of her heels… Claws!—he then realized—on her talon-like feet! The prints of his hiking boots covered her tracks as he walked on. As he did so, he felt a bit more apprehensive.

A cool breeze in the warming air rustled the aqua colored flowers on some of the nearby shrubs . . . blowing through yellow and orange leaves on a nearby line of trees, and carried a sweet smell in the air across the path MOT was on. He liked it there. He was not allergic to the dust, grains, molds, and pollens in that area, like he was at other places. He continued on a narrow dirt path, which wandered left and right, more curving than a sharp zigzagging.

A narrow brook branched off from the Virgo River, then snaked around in various directions, and finally cut across the path just in front of MOT. He enjoyed the sound of the water rushing over the rocks. He crossed the brook on a series of flat stepping-stones.

The path soon vanished, changing from dirt to exposed solid rock. Then MOT began traversing up an angle of about 60 degrees, from having been about 30 degrees, which was not too difficult.

MOT reached the entrance to the first cave he came to. He already knew, from past explorations, that there was no pool in that one, so he didn’t go in. He knew which of the many caves and caverns she wanted to meet him in. There was a cave, or what might be referred to as a large tunnel, which led into a huge cavern. There was a natural pool in that cavern, perfect for swimming. Also, three caves beyond the cavern, access to those caves from the cavern.

MOT continued to hike toward that location. While he did so, he wondered if he would appear to be as alien to her as she had so far appeared to be to him. He thought to himself, perhaps I am the alien. Of course, he knew they were both aliens on that colony planet, not natural to that world . . . explorers, from their different home worlds, about to meet on common ground.

As MOT reached the tunnel entrance to the cavern, he could hear the sound of splashing water, natural, from a waterfall . . . and unnatural, from someone swimming.

Knowing he had found her, MOT entered the tunnel to the cavern. Light, coming from outside, first helped him to see his way inside. Then he made his way toward the light coming from the cavern beyond the tunnel.

The further MOT went, the fresher the air became. The cause freshness, for what most Mercatorians would consider to be fresh, was the increasing amount of chlorine gas in the air. A certain amount of chlorine gas is essential to maintain the immune systems of the Mercatorians—the same for all three species. Also, it protects Mercatorians, especially Landors, from allergic reactions to pollens. That amount would no doubt be deadly for Mirandians from planet Mirandus, while the lack of enough of it on Mirandus would no doubt eventually prove to be fatal for Mercatorians visiting Mirandus. Unlike on planet Mirandus, chlorine is produced naturally on the Mercatorian home planets and colony planet Citra during what might be referred to as underground geothermal electrical storms. Some Mercatorians, exploring caves and caverns, have been reported to have been killed or seriously injured from a form of lightning coming up from below the ground. Something, about the particular smell of the chlorine gas, which MOT sensed as he approached the cavern, led him to conclude that one of those underground storms had recently passed. Perhaps the day before. So he believed there would be no danger from another underground storm there that day.

MOT stepped into a somewhat box-shaped cavern, at least one hundred feet on each dimension. A long, narrow, jagged fracture, across the cavern ceiling, was open all the way to the surface. It allowed in some indirect sunlight, as well as some falling water running down from higher grounds. Directly under that opening he spotted the somewhat circular pool. It had a diameter of about 50 feet, and was nearly 12 feet deep near its cone-shaped center. At the bottom of the pool, a few small rocks radiated a harmless form of light. Those rocks were actually pieces broken off of the stalactites hanging down around the overhead jagged opening. When they became wet, a chemical reaction would make them glow.

Some personal items were piled on top of a rock that was shaped like a small table with a center support column. Perhaps a stalagmite with an unusual mushroom top. It was near the pool, on the other side from where MOT entered the cavern. He assumed the personal items belonged to the alien woman. MOT walked around the pool as he tried to spot her. Then, by the table rock, he found some of her clothing in a pile on the cavern floor. It appeared to be outerwear clothing.

MOT took off his backpack and set it by the table rock. He continued to look around for her. At that moment, he did not hear or see her swimming around underwater in the pool. So then he wondered if the splashing sound he heard was from her getting out of the pool instead of into it. But he didn’t see any wet prints leading away from the pool. Finally, MOT took off his boots. He stood on the warm nearly flat and smooth stone.

The day before, MOT read in some books about the Aquari of Aquamar, and other books about the Aviacaels of Skylor. Both wore clothing on their home worlds for some forms of labor, and for protection against the elements. But it was evident, from reading, with some pictures included, that the people of those planets were not at all modest. Even so, most of the frontier colonists from those worlds were usually more conservative on Citra. More so on most of the other colony planets, where the environments were much more hostile. It was the Landors of Langenth, who made the first spacesuits for Aquari and Aviacaels, as they were the first space voyagers of the three Mercatorian species.

MOT finally discovered that the mixed species Mercatorian woman had been swimming underwater, as he had arrived, and was then just sitting still at the bottom of the pool near its center. Matching colors down there, her colors made her somewhat camouflaged. MOT knew she could remain down there for as long as she wanted to, because of gills as well as lungs.

Suddenly, she surfaced, and slowly walked up the curved side of the pool, toward the table rock, which MOT was standing next to.

Her hair was indeed attractively long, from her head down to about the midway of her height. Certainly unusual for Aquari or Aviacaels to have any actual hair at all, so that was more evidence that one of her parents must be part-Landor. Wet, it was a dark blue-green. When MOT had last observed her from flying over the area in the VisAla, her hair appeared to be a light blue-green, when dry.

MOT figured her to be about 5 feet and 11 inches in height. It didn’t bother him that she was about 4 inches taller than he was at that time.

She had blue-green eyes, almost matching her hair color. MOT felt that her eyes could look straight through to his soul. She then did look directly into his eyes as she walked out of the pool. Her eyes were vertical ovals, as are the eyes of all Mercatorians. Most Landors had yellow-gold or golden-brown-colored eyes. Most Aviacaels had blue eyes, and most Aquari had green eyes.

She appeared to be about the same age as DOC, the younger of MOT’s two older brothers, 4 years older than him. Even so, he sensed that her eyes had seen more life than 18 years. She looked like she had the memory of many other worlds in her eyes.

She was wearing a swimsuit, after all, MOT was surprised to discover, but of a design that didn’t cover much at all.

Her chest was completely bare, and that part of her skin and exposed breasts were yellow-orange. At that moment, her two breasts were partly covered by about half of her hair cascading down over her shoulders.

Her blue-green scales, on the sides of her torso, and on the outer side of her arms and legs, were a lighter shade than her hair and eyes. Her scales looked liked polished armor.

There was a noticeable groove between her legs, but her crotch was covered by the lower front part of her thong swimsuit. The swimsuit was a thin, tan-colored material.

The yellow-orange soft skin of her chest continued down to the inside of her legs, as well as on the dorsal side of her arms and hands—palms and fingers. Small, blue-green scales covered the other side of her hands. She did only have one thumb on each hand, and four fingers. Her fingers and thumb were partly webbed together. Her feet were a light brown, and MOT could see that he was right about them being more like the talons of a bird.

She brushed her hair back over her shoulders, which then exposed both of her bare breasts. Both were small, by Landor female standards, but were large by Aquari or Aviacael standards.

Just below her breasts, almost under her arms on each side, were the slit openings of her gills. The gills of most Aquari are located on their upper backs. However, her back, like the backs of Aviacaels, had an assembly of full-size wings attached. She did not have the smaller leg-wings that most Aviacaels have, which are needed to help maintain flight.

MOT looked to her face again, as the strange silence between them continued. Her mouth was like his, but more feminine with fuller lips. Her nose was longer from top to bottom, flatter, and narrower than his. Because of the hair on her head, MOT couldn’t see her ears, but guessed them to have the shape of a certain kind of shell like most Aquari and Landors.

Without a greeting of any kind so far, she turned her back to MOT, and began sorting through her belongings on the stone table and floor of the cavern. The back of her swimsuit was shaped like a T at her waist and down into the crack of her enticingly exposed and well-shaped yellow-orange bottom. She had no tail. All Landors have tails. MOT concluded she looked good without a tail.

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PART 17

MOT watched for about a minute longer, while she remained standing with her back to him. She extended her wings and flapped them a couple of times to get the water out of them. She looked back over her left shoulder, toward MOT, apparently to see if she had gotten any water on him.

MOT decided to break the silence. “Who are you?”

MOT could almost sense her thoughts, by the way she looked at him, while appearing to very carefully weigh the question. MOT did not realize then that his question told her that no one had told him about her . . . in particular, a mutual acquaintance he did not yet know they shared.

She completely turned around to face him, and gave him a slight smile. “Vox. My name is Vox. It is my real first name, not one of those silly frontier initial names, like MOT.” Her voice was more bass than treble. She sounded very confident, and intelligent.

“You know of me, obviously.” MOT replied.

“Mutarus Tempus of the Omnia family from Langenth. MC Year 746 your parents were assigned to manage Agriculture Research Station 601.” she said.

“How do you know about that?” MOT inquired.

“A mutual friend.” Vox informed him, “Marea Amor Exsequor.”

“Yes, I know MEA.” he confirmed, “One of my best friends.”

“Marea is one of my close friends, but I treat her more like a younger sister.” Vox explained.

“I’m happy to finally meet you, Vox. What is your family name?” MOT asked, “What is your home world?”

“Finally? Did you want to meet me sooner than today?” Vox asked, ignoring his questions for the moment.

“Ever since first seeing you near here from by VisAla.” MOT answered her question, then continued, “But then you vanished each time I landed.” He briefly became mesmerized into silence while watching her dry her hair with a towel.

“It wasn’t time for us to meet yet.” Vox told him.

“And why now?” MOT asked as he took a couple of steps toward her.

“It is a special day for you, MOT, is it not?” she replied.

“My fourteenth birthday.” he said, “But of course you know that.”

“I know.” Vox confirmed, “I know all about you.”

“How? From MEA? What do you mean by all?” he wanted to know.

“All about your family, and how you came to be on this colony planet, now the capital planet of the empire.” Vox answered, “What I know about you, MEA told me. What I know about your family, my father told me.”

“Who is your father?” MOT asked.

“Veritas Noctua Antiqu.” Vox answered.

“Veritas! Your father is Chief of Interstar Trading Security here on Citra? That Veritas? You’re his daughter?” MOT was truly surprised.

“Yes—yes—yes. Vox Liberta Antiqu.” she answered as she spread her damp towel over a bench-shaped rock formation. Then she continued talking. “It is of course his job to know as much as possible about everyone on Citra, and everyone coming to Citra.”

“Does he know my parents, personally?” MOT asked. Then before Vox could answer he said, “I never met him, myself. I’ve seen pictures of him, and I’ve seen him on the local station of the Interstar Trading News Network.”

“Personally know your parents? I expect not, if you mean socially. But I’m sure he has talked to your father about installing a new and stronger PowerShield at ARS-601.” Vox answered.

“I see.” MOT was so nearly hypnotized by the sound of her voice, as well as her physical attractiveness that he probably didn’t see so clearly as he thought he did. MOT managed to think of another question. “Where did you get the lamivor you ride?”

“My father gave it to me, the night of my fourteenth birthday, nearly 4 years ago.” She revealed her age. MOT guessed correctly. “I can’t tell you for certain where he got it. Probably from Langenth.”

“What can you tell me?” he asked.

“Happy birthday, MOT.” Vox answered, changing the subject.

“Thanks.” he replied, but stayed on the subject. “Your father surely must have obtained it on Langenth, unless it was born from a lamivor brought here. I was born on Langenth, but I don’t remember much about my life there before coming to Citra. Your lamivor is the first one I’ve seen in person, rather than just pictures of them. But why ride a lamivor? Can’t you fly like full-blooded Aviacaels on Skylor?”

“I can glide down from high places. As you can see, I don’t have the leg-wings a full-blooded Aviacael has, needed to help maintain flight.” Vox explained.

“Yes, of course. I should have realized that.” MOT said, as he tried to imagine what she would look like with the additional smaller wings on her legs. He concluded, “I believe you are just as beautiful without them. You look complete without them, anyway.”

“Thanks for the compliment, MOT.” Vox replied. Then she changed the subject again. “A birthday on Holy Day. Did you go to the Bene Ecclesia Animas Temple this morning?”

“Yes.” he answered, “Are you a member of the Common Faith?”

“I accept the Common Faith. However, I’m not a member who attends services at temples built by people. I prefer to go to places such as this place, for praying and worshiping, and other activities of spiritual interest. A natural place, built buy God, or perhaps Creator Daughters and Creator Sons.” Vox explained.

“Yes.” MOT agreed as he looked around for a moment, “I too feel this is more proper.”

“And do you feel that I am proper?—having parents from different worlds?—being of mixed species?” she asked.

“Proper? Certainly. I believe that the architect-builder, who designed and made this place,” MOT waved around at the colorful rock formations inside the cavern, “is the same God who designed and made such a beautiful creature as you. Some people still oppose sexual relations and marriages between different Mercatorian species. Although I have no direct personal experience with the subject of sexual relations between species, I’m not one of them.”

Vox walked over to MOT, leaned slightly down, then put her right webbed hand on the back of his neck. She pulled his face to her face, and then kissed him full on the mouth. To MOT it felt like an electrical charge shot through his body. Her kiss left something like a butterscotch flavor on his lips he then discovered.

“I appreciate your kind words, MOT.” Vox told him.

“Your kiss has confirmed my expectations of having a religious experience here today.” MOT replied. Then he asked, “Is one of your parents part Landor?”

“Yes.” Vox answered. “My father’s parents are an Aviacael father and a Landor mother. But my father has his back-wings and leg-wings, as you know, if you have seen pictures of Chief Veritas or seen him interviewed on ITNN. My mother’s parents are an Aviacael father and an Aquari mother. My mother is legally separated from my father. She lives on Aquamar, and I have one younger sister who lives there with her. My sister has a different father.”

MOT briefly thought about all of that. He could see Vox was actually studying him as he thought about it all, as if she was studying MOT’s actual thoughts displayed on his face.

“Would you like to come to dinner at ARS-601 tonight?” he invited. “Also, my Holy Water and Fire Ceremony will be there. And many people will be there for the Three Moons Festival.”

“I would like to.” Vox answered, “But it will not be possible, due to a number of festival related activities I’m already scheduled to oversee tonight in Thrae. I provide orientation services for new colonists, and other kinds of services for Mercatorian traders and tourists who are briefly here on Citra.” Vox informed him.

“Other than this being my birthday, and a Holy Day, is there any other special reason for meeting me here today?” he wanted to know.

“Yes, MOT.” she replied. “If it does not conflict with any of your personal religious beliefs and morals.”

“What do you have in mind, Vox?” he asked.

“I want you to go swimming with me.” she answered, and then laughed.

“Swimming?” MOT replied, “Is that all?”

“Have you ever gone swimming with a woman like me?” Vox asked.

Then MOT too laughed. “But you just dried off.” he observed. “Are you ready to go back into the pool?”

“You want to see me get all wet again, don’t you?” she asked.

“I must admit, I would enjoy that.” he confirmed.

“You want me to get wet just so you can watch me dry my hair again. I noticed how much you liked watching me do that. Your eyes almost became horizontal ovals. Now, you know what would make my eyes do that?” Vox asked me, “Can you guess?”

“I can’t imagine.” MOT replied, “Tell me.”

“Take off your clothes.” she told him.

MOT removed his JumpSuit. “Better?”

“I see you came prepared. Didn’t you want to change into your swimsuit in front of me?” Vox asked, “Or did you figure that would be risking too much?”

“I know you a little better, now that we have finally met. I suspect I did the right thing.” he answered.

“MOT!” Vox laughed again. “Does this mean you’ll not be swimming naked with me?”

“How comfortable is the water temperature, anyway?” he replied.

“Warm—by our common standards. I’ll try to not make it too hot for you when I get in.” Vox said, and smiled at him.

MOT walked into the water, and down the curving slope of the pool toward its center, until the water came up to about midway on his chest. “Yes.” he observed, “It’s nearly the right temperature. Still a bit cool. You better get in to help warm it up.”

“Felt very refreshing to me, when I first went in.” Vox told him, “I was here about a half hour before you. It felt warm to me at that time.” She then took a running dive, and leaped from the edge of the pool into the water, and entered the water more horizontal than vertical. She made a big splash.

“Thanks, Vox. You got me all wet!” MOT jokingly said when she surfaced. Then he asked, “Do you like playing games in the pool?”

“There is plenty of water, MOT.” She laughed, as she began to very effectively splash him by using her webbed hands.

MOT guessed that was her answer, so he splashed her back. Then, they swam together underwater, down to the bottom of the pool. They examined some of the various multi-colored glowing rocks down there.

><

PART 18

Vox could naturally stay underwater as long as she wanted to, but MOT finally had to surface for more air. While he floated on the surface, he wondered when she would come back up. MOT was going to tell her that next time he would obtain and bring an air tank and breathing mask so that he could remain underwater with her much longer. He wondered what she was doing down there. He did not have to wait long to find out. He was actually taken by surprise, when in one swift motion Vox came up under him and then pulled his swimsuit down and off.

MOT went back down underwater, swimming after her as fast as he could, to try to recover his swimsuit. A chase went on, down, across, around, and back up. Then Vox got out of the pool, and stood by the edge, waiting for MOT to come out of the pool.

“Want your swimsuit back?” she asked, as she held it out to MOT.

“Maybe I should just come over there and take off your swimsuit instead?” He challenged.

Vox dropped MOT’s swimsuit, then pulled the front part of her thong up tighter, making the crotch groove more noticeable. “You are welcome to try!” she replied as she took a couple of steps back.

“I thought you to be an adult.” MOT remarked, as he swam to the shallow area, then stood up. “Now I see you are being a bad girl. Do you know what happens to bad girls?”

“No, MOT. Come out of the water and show me.” She made the counter-challenge, but took another couple of steps backward.

MOT walked up the slope of the pool and stepped up over its edge. He stood dripping wet naked in front of her. There was no doubt where her eyes were focused. “You are in trouble, naughty girl.” He told her.

“Oh, MOT, what a long tail you have!” she commented.

MOT made no effort to cover himself, as he walked toward her. “What should we do about this?” he asked, as he picked up his swimsuit.

“You’re not going to put it back on, are you?” she asked.

“Well,” he considered, “now that it is off.”

“I can see that you are slightly better than some of the other Landor males I’ve seen naked.” Vox commented, as she took one step forward. “I can think of a lot of things we can do together, MOT, and none of those activities require wearing a swimsuit.”

“Don’t we have this matter to settle first?” he pursued, as he set his swimsuit on top of the table rock. Then he picked up a small hammer-like rock, and tapped it on top of the table rock. “Order in the kings court!” he shouted, causing a slight echo in the cavern.

“There are no more kings, so there can’t be a king’s court.” Vox replied.

Ignoring her reply, he asked Vox, “Do you plead guilty to the crime you have been charged with?”

“Does this mean you want to punish me for taking off your swimsuit?” she asked him. “I’ve read in history records of your home world, Langenth, about various kinds of punishment, including of course the physical kinds, using pain as punishment.”

“You would expect pleasure for punishment?” MOT asked her.

“It is possible, you know.” she told him.

“How so?” he asked, wondering if she was serious or joking.

“Pleasure and pain can be interchangeable, MOT. What is pleasure for the people of one world, could be pain for the people of another world.” she claimed, sounding more serious than humorous.

“You’re just trying to trick me into punishing you with pleasure.” he said.

“No. And further, the right kind and right amount of pain can be used to greatly enhance pleasure, especially sexual pleasure. Likewise, pleasure can be used to enhance pain.” Vox told him.

“All in theory, of course.” MOT replied. “I’ve never met anyone on Citra, or anywhere else, who puts such theories as those into actual practice.”

“You have now.” Vox informed him.

“And just who might that be?” he asked.

“Me, of course.” Vox answered, “Yes, MOT. Apparently something you never learned about my people and our entertainment.”

As unique as she was, he wondered what she meant by “my people,” but first he had to ask, “Entertainment? Someone’s punishment can be entertainment for you? Is that what you mean?”

“I found the reading in one of the Landor history books to be very exciting for me. You should know, as you should have studied the history of your home world by now, about Landors being entertained in ancient times by the throwing of convicted criminals to wild beasts in an execution arena, where the wild beasts would eat them alive. One form of punishment, not intended to cause death or even any serious physical damage, mentioned in that book, for Landors, could actually become the means of enhancing pleasure, as far as my people are concerned.” Vox informed MOT, “And I do mean sexual pleasure.”

“Really?” This talk of pain and pleasure was making him feel a bit uneasy. MOT had of course been joking about punishing her for taking off his swimsuit. So he then wondered just what all she had in mind. His heart began to beat somewhat faster when she began talking about sexual pleasure. “You’ve twice mentioned your people. What do you mean? Other Mercatorians of mixed species, similar to you?—or Aviacaels?—or the Aquari? Surely not common Landors.”

“I mean all others, of the Mercatorians—any one of the three species or any combination of the three species, who share the same views on the subject of using various forms of pain—without causing any serious damage—to greatly enhance the pleasure of sexual activities to follow.” Vox explained, “This is not just a fad, like fins. It’s becoming the norm among some Mercatorians out on the colony planets. Especially Landors in the Mercatorian military, and Desarites.”

“I did not know that.” MOT responded, “Where did this concept come from?”

“Have you not seen videos of animals engaging in somewhat violent mating rituals?” Vox asked.

“Ah, yes.” he recalled. “But Mercatorians are not animals.”

“So says the wolfman, however true.” Vox agreed. “And it is not just a physical experience. The proper mixing of pain and pleasure can bridge the physical and spiritual realms, between the unconscious mind desires of the body and the superconscious mind desires of the soul, for a sexual experience that becomes a kind of spiritual experience.”

“I’m not convinced.” he concluded at that point, “But it certainly is an interesting subject I’d like to learn more about.”

“Very well.” Vox replied as she tilted her head to the left with a slight nod. Then she said, “I do believe you and Marea Amor would make a perfect couple. There are things I can teach you now, which you can use in the future to enhance your relationship with her, if you so desire.”

“I hadn’t thought of MEA in that way.” he replied, “She is, after all, still a princess of the last royal monarchy of the Landors. Which brings me back to the subject you introduced. History. Landor history.”

MOT walked over to the bench-like rock, picked up Vox’s towel, tossed it to her, and then sat down there. Vox came over and sat next to him, to his right. He continued to inquire about the subject at hand. “Ancient Landor history has not been a subject within my basic education, but it is a course available at the next level. Just exactly what period in ancient Landor history were you referring to?”

“Long ago, when Langenth had countries, empires, and kingdoms at war with each other…” Vox then lowered her voice to a raspy whisper, and continued, “When one side caught a spy from another side, they would alternate the inflicting of pain with the giving of pleasure, in order to get the spy to give up all secrets. Likewise, to enhance the spy’s memory.”

“Imagine that.” MOT remarked.

“If I didn’t already know all of your secrets, then I could do the same thing to you, and then you would enthusiastically tell me everything I’d want to know.” Vox told him with an impish kind of playfully evil smile.

“Oh, really.” MOT remarked. “But what has torture got to do with sexual pleasure enhancement?”

“No, MOT. Don’t think of it as torture, or any form of punishment.” Vox told him, “Although some couples like to play that way.”

“What then?—a stimulating massage?” MOT didn’t mean for it to be a serious question.

“Very good, MOT!” Vox replied.

“You can’t be serious.” he said.

“Don’t you see? That is exactly what they discovered during those ancient, barbaric times. That the reverse is possible. That pain can be used to enhance pleasure. Of course, it does not work that way for everyone. And for those it does work well for, it works differently, in different degrees, for the various participants.” Vox informed him.

“Or the partici without the pants.” he remarked.

“Excellent, MOT!” Vox replied, “Humor is an important aspect.”

“Ha-ha. Ok, tell me more.” he said, and inquired further, “What do you mean by different degrees?”

“First, think of pleasure as being on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible sexual pleasure. However, it is the range of increasing pleasure that a person actually experiences. Not the 10, but the 1 through 10.” Vox told him. “Normally, that range is limited to 1 through 10.”

“Ok. I understand that.” he said.

“Now, think of pain as being on the negative scale, from minus 1 down to minus 10.” Vox told him.

“Ok. I can picture that, too.” he said.

“Regarding degrees, if one goes too far with the pain, it will cancel out the pleasure. If one does not go far enough with the pain, then it will fail to enhance the pleasure to its full potential.” Vox explained.

“Enhancing pleasure to its full potential would of course be the desired result.” MOT wanted to confirm.

“Of course the reverse can be applied for enhancing pain. It works both ways, almost equally.” Vox reported.

“I guess that figures.” MOT replied.

“But I’m not interested in enhancing pain.” Vox informed him.

“I’m happy to hear that.” he quite seriously said.

“With the right amount and right kind of pain, for example, we can go down to a minus 5 on the scale. Then, there, you are not limited to a pleasure increase range of only 10. Followed by the right amount and right kind of pleasure, you can go from a minus 5 all the way up to a positive 10.” Vox explained further.

“An increase of 15 instead of 10.” MOT did the simple math.

“Correct.” Vox said.

“You’ve done things like that with others?” he inquired.

“Not exactly the particular version I’d like to try with you, MOT. I’ve never done that before. So, if you’ll trust me, we can share a new, special, and very exciting experience together.” Vox answered. “Maybe think of it as a birthday game.”

“I don’t know.” he replied, but began to give it more serious thought.

“I sense you are concerned about how this activity could effect your relationship with Marea Amor. Yes?” Vox then put her left hand on MOT’s right shoulder and leaned closer to him.

“Now that you mention it.” he replied.

“This will help your relationship with her, not hurt it. Anyway, she already knows I’m here with you this afternoon.” Vox informed him.

That surprised him. “She does?”

“Yes.” Vox answered, “I only had to agree to not engage in normal sex with you. Not a problem, of course. I’m sure you know there are other ways to reach a sexual climax.”

“Well, if I don’t, then I guess I’m about to find out.” he said, and then thought of a very important question. “What method of inflicting pain do you have in mind?”

“I will not tell you.” Vox answered.

“Then how—” he began to ask.

“You will be blindfolded.” Vox told him.

“Me?” She surprised him. “I thought—”

“You were still focused on the earlier idea of punishing me for being a naughty girl for taking off your swimsuit, right?” Vox paused long enough to see him nod slightly. Then she informed him, “You must learn how to receive, before you can learn how to give.”

“Input before output.” MOT remarked.

“Exactly.” Vox confirmed.

“That makes sense. “ he agreed. “But—”

“But what?” she asked.

“Will I then get to do to you what you do to me?” he wanted to know.

“If you survive what I do to you.” Vox answered, as she stood up.

“Oh, that makes me feel much better about all this.” he replied. Not really, MOT thought to himself.

Vox walked over to her pile of belongings, which included something like a backpack. She then pulled from it a rolled-up whip. She carefully unrolled it. A length of about 6 feet, including the handle. Vox then cracked the whip, making a very loud BANG that echoed in the cavern. “I don’t actually use this on the lamivor. The sound of it alone is very intimidating, enough to make it move with enthusiastic speed.”

“I can believe that.” MOT said. Then he asked, “You are not actually going to use that on me, are you?”

“Is your heart beating faster now?” she replied with the question.

“Yes.” he confirmed.

“Breathing more deeply now?” she inquired further.

“Yes.” he answered.

“Excellent.” Vox said, “Then it has served its purpose well. I want your heart to beat faster. That is important. I want you to be breathing more deeply. That is important, too. Of course the whip would not be used on your bare skin. That would cause unnecessary damage. The goal does not include damage. My people and I consider damage to be a conflict of interest. Damage requires too much recovery time, and we like to engage in these activities as often as possible. Inflicting pain without causing unnecessary damage is a kind of art and a special skill.”

“I’m happy to hear that I’ll not be damaged.” MOT remarked.

“Any physical evidence of our activity, as far as your physical body is concerned, should be gone by the time you get back home.” Vox assured him.

“That’s good.” he told her.

“I should mention something else.” Vox said.

“About what?” he asked.

“About the Landor history these activities developed from.” Vox answered.

“Tell me.” he said.

“The method of taking secrets from an enemy spy could be the same method used to place and hide secrets within one of their own, before sending one of their own agents on a special mission.” Vox told him.

“Are we now talking about the Desarites?” MOT asked, referring to the special military force founded by Saltus Amicus Exsequor for the purpose of waging an offensive war against the Teznites.

“Not necessarily. However, it could be applied to the Oppugnare Griffins, which is the group that broke away from the Desarites. You’ll have to ask Marea Amor Exsequor about that, or talk to Amicus. Also, there are others it could be applied to.” Vox replied. “Now, come with me.”

“Where?” he asked.

“Into that cave . . . over there.” She pointed with her left hand, as she cracked the whip again with her right hand. Another loud, echoing BANG.

Vox had pointed to the center of three cave entrances at the back of the cavern. MOT had not yet explored all of them.

“Why not out here?” he asked.

“I have prepared a place for us, for this activity.” Vox answered.

“Is this going to cause me to have nightmares?” MOT asked.

“Could become your favorite dream, or worst nightmare.” Vox told him, and then added, “This is about memory, too.”

“I’ll not forget anything about this experience.” MOT believed.

Vox picked up a strip of material from her belongings and then showed it to him. “First, I will use this to blindfold you.”

MOT looked toward the cave entrance she pointed to. He couldn’t see any light coming from inside. “Ok, I’ll go in there with you.” he reluctantly agreed. Then MOT felt like he was about to be taken by a bird of prey to its nest. “It appears to be dark in there. So why use a blindfold?”

“I will use a lantern in the cave.” Vox answered as he stepped forward. “I’ll help you.” she said as she put the blindfold on him, tying it tight enough that no light could reach his eyes. The blindfold did nothing to cover the eye of imagination.

“Are you going to tie my hands, too?” he inquired.

“Not yet.” Vox answered. “Now, how should I lead you into the cave? By hand? By tail? Or, perhaps—”

“VOX!” MOT shouted, as he felt her put one of her webbed hands around what he did not realize until that moment was an increasing erection.

“Yes, MOT! Some pleasure for you before the pain!” Vox said, as she gripped him, none too gently, then began pulling him, none too carefully, toward the cave’s entrance.

“Easy—CAREFUL now!!!” MOT shouted.

“Trust me.” Vox replied.

“I thought you’d be pulling my leg, but instead you’re legging my pull.” he joked.

Near the end of the tunnel into the cave, MOT discovered, as he was stepping forward, he was also stepping down. “What—”

“Stairs.” Vox told him. “Cut recently into the stone. Don’t trip.”

“Yeah, right.” She still had a strong grip on him.

MOT did not know Vox had just put on an air filter mask. At the bottom of the stone stairs, MOT could smell an increase in chlorine gas, and something else he could not identify. It made him feel better. Actually, it began to make him feel a bit too good. He quickly became light-headed. Vox took her hand off of him. MOT heard a scratching sound, and then he smelled something burning. He realized Vox must have lit a lantern, but he stood in total darkness with the blindfold on tight.

“Just a moment.” MOT heard Vox tell him.

It was a darkness that was absolutely . . . black.

MOT did not realize he was becoming unconscious.

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PART 19

There were nightmares, which would never fade away. There were dreams, barely remembered upon awakening. What MOT had awakened from, and where, became a struggle for him to know.

Awareness . . . sensations . . . beginning of consciousness. MOT felt cold. Discomfort . . . a hard surface under his back, with several edges from one side to the other. Pain . . . headache. Some dizziness, as if he were fading in and out. Pressure on his ears . . . but no sounds were heard yet. He was thirsty . . . dry mouth. MOT tried to swallow, and as he did so, the pressure on his ears was released. Then he could hear . . . the sound of voices . . . somewhere nearby.

Damn alien!” A male voice.

At that time, MOT didn’t understand his words. He was not speaking in the Mercatorian Standard Language, or any of the Aquari, Aviacael, or Landor languages he was familiar with or could recognize.

The man’s voice was slightly muffled, sounding like he was wearing a breathing mask of some kind, and speaking through it. MOT could not see him, because he was still blindfolded. Also, he realized, his hands were tied behind him. He was on his right side, on the stone stairway.

“We must recover the technology.” A different male voice said. The voice of an older man. The voice of desperation. MOT could sense it, even though he could not at that time understand what that man was saying in his Anglicus language.

“This damn alien doesn’t know anything.” the first one repeated. A younger voice. The voice of an impatient person. The voice of frustration.

“Records in a time capsule, recently recovered and translated, indicate this one was a security officer aboard the star ship.” the second one said. “So he should know something.”

“No. Not was but will be. It hasn’t happened yet. Understand?” The first one paused a moment, then continued, “Anyway, he was likely a low-rank security officer. Need to know. Only told what he needed to know to do his job. And it wasn’t his chosen profession. His primary education was for him to become an architect. Many of the Mercatorians, who went on the expedition to the new world, had one kind of job during the voyage, and a different kind of job after arriving. Understand?” Another pause. Then he said, “We need a star ship engineer or SlipField technician, who is working on the star ship right now. Can you make her understand?”

“I’ll try.” the second answered. Then he spoke to another person in another language. It sounded similar to the Mercatorian Standard Language. Almost identical. It was fairly well understood by the person he was then talking to. Vox. He addressed her as “Mel Captionem Advenae instead of Vox Liberta Antiqu. MOT did not know Vox was given a false contact name as a confidential source to keep her true identity a secret. Then the man said to her, “We need to talk to someone who knows about star ship engineering and SlipField technology. Do you understand? Can you find someone, who knows those subjects, and bring him or her here?”

“I can try. After those specialists arrive at Citra to begin working on the new star ship and SlipField station to be constructed in orbit.” I heard Vox reply in the Mercatorian Standard Language. “Meantime, what about your plans for MOT? I mean for the recovery of the master time capsule on your planet.”

“MOT was aboard the aircraft carrying the master time capsule to its planned burial location on land near the north pole, when the aircraft apparently crashed in a bay.” he answered. “Yes, we will proceed with the timepiece plan. I do like your idea for the second timepiece.” he told Vox. “We’ll put a tracking device into the pocket timepiece, which he has with him now. It will eventually end up on Mirandus during year 1958 CE in the hands of the Mirandian who will have MOT’s reincarnated Caeruli soul. Then in our time of 2012 CE we should be able to track down and identify him. When he returns from his space and time traveling odyssey, you can give him the second timepiece. Perhaps it could be a late birthday present, or a going away present just before he departs on the Bracatus Mirandus Expedition. It will eventually end up at the bottom of a bay with the master time capsule, both of which should survive the 40 thousand years until we can locate and recover them.” He paused a moment, then added, “Even so, we will still need to talk directly to one of the star ship engineers, and one of the SlipField engineers.”

“I understand.” Vox replied. “Here is MOT’s pocket timepiece.”

MOT could not see what was done to it. The two Mirandians did not know he could hear them.

“Here.” The pocket watch was apparently handed back to Vox. “Put it back into a pocket of his clothing. You must also convince him to go into electronics repair work, and security work as an apprentice job while he attends the university in Thrae. Also, of course, it should not be too difficult to convince him to go on the Bracatus Mirandus Expedition.”

“I will.” Vox answered, then asked, “When do you want to meet with me again?”

“I’ll contact you at the Amicus Castle Hotel at the right time.” he answered, then asked, “Did you tell your father about what the Oppugnare Griffins are doing at the University for Alien Environment Research on planet Langenth?”

“Yes.” Vox answered. “He was already informed about most of that.”

“That’s good.” the man replied. “By this time this date, he should be investigating an explosion at the Amicus Castle Hotel . . . the result of an accident with a SlipField ArchPad on Langenth and its target pad plate here on Citra.”

“I’ll find out when I return to Thrae.” Vox replied.

“We must now return to Mirandus.” the man said as he began to walk away.

The two males continued to talk to each other. “This will probably end up being just another damn dry hole.” the younger one said to the older one. It sounded to MOT like they were moving away from him . . . voices fading . . . deeper into the cave . . . down a corridor . . . and then . . . the sound of wind. MOT felt the rush of air in the cave upon his face.

Vox untied MOT’s hands. She knew when he became conscious.

MOT removed the blindfold . . . then focused on the single dim light of the lantern . . . barely illuminating her face nearby. “Vox.” he said.

“MOT. It is done.” she told him. Then she helped him to stand.

“What happened?” he asked.

“You don’t remember?” she asked in reply.

“No. Not really.” he answered.

“Not really?” Vox pressed.

“I think I heard voices, but I didn’t understand them.” MOT explained.

“Don’t tell anyone.” Vox told him as an implied warning.

“I won’t.” he agreed.

“Life is the sum of the negative and the positive, of our pains and our pleasures.” Vox remarked, as she took hold of his left hand with her right hand, and began to lead him up the stairs and back into the cavern.

“Did I enjoy it as much as you did?” MOT jokingly inquired. He knew he had somehow been tricked, that nothing really happened between him and Vox.

“That’s good.” Vox said. “You survived with your humor intact.”

><

PART 20

They walked over to the bench-shaped rock, which again had her towel draped over it. It was dry. They sat down there together.

“Is it your turn to be on the receiving end now?” MOT inquired.

Vox laughed at that. “Not so fast. Not this time. Maybe next time.”

MOT remembered about the insulated box with food and beverages in it. He asked Vox, “Thirsty? Hungry?” He removed the box from his backpack and opened it. She simply nodded in reply, so he began to share the snack food and beverages with her. It was not enough to spoil the scheduled dinner of the coming night. They finished all MOT brought with him.

Vox and MOT took another short swim in the pool. After that, as they dried off, they began talking about various subjects.

MOT’s thoughts had been drifting. “What did you say?”

“If you ever change your mind, about going into the profession of architecture,” Vox repeated, “then there might be an alternative you should consider.”

“What’s that?” he inquired.

“Security. I could talk to my father. I’m sure he could arrange for you to have an apprenticeship at Interstar Trading Security.” Vox told me. “You’ll need a job on the side to support yourself while you attend the university in Thrae.”

The sudden realization of what Chief Veritas Noctua Antiqu might think, and do, about what he did with his daughter that afternoon . . . whatever it was . . . abruptly impacted MOT. “You’re not going to tell him about me?—about this afternoon?—are you?”

“You have proved yourself, MOT. You have passed what was of course an unusual test, and you passed it well.” Vox replied, “If my father were to learn of this, he would probably want to give you some kind of a reward. Not harm you.”

“That’s what this afternoon was about? A test?” MOT asked.

“You have a surviving soul, MOT. You could be sent on a mission, and we would know that you would survive it and return. Perhaps changed. But you would return to us.” Vox told me.

“I’m not sure I understand.” MOT replied.

“You are willing to accept pain, in order to reach a higher level of pleasure. You are willing to accept pain, just on the promise of greater pleasure to follow as a reward. You are not only willing to do this for yourself, but for someone you just met. You wouldn’t give our secrets to an enemy, if you were ever captured. You would endure the pain they would inflict on you, in order to return to our pleasures.” Vox said.

“I don’t actually remember what we did in that cave back there.” MOT told Vox again. He did not know what was done before he became conscious sooner than was expected.

“The memory of what happened is deep within your soul. It is not presently within your superconscious mind, conscious mind, subconscious mind, or even within your unconscious mind. A night might come, when through dreams during sleep, the memory of what happened will be revealed to you.” Vox informed him.

“What of MEA?” he inquired.

“Marea Amor will be very pleased when I inform her about all that happened this afternoon.” Vox answered.

“MEA is coming to ARS-601 tonight, for my birthday dinner, for her own Holy Water and Fire Ceremony—along with mine—and another friend, as well as the Three Moons Festival. When will you next see her?” MOT asked.

“Possibly when I return to Thrae, before she departs.” Vox answered.

“I wonder how she has been spending her time so far today.” he said.

“This morning, Marea Amor worked at her uncle’s hotel. I believe she was to meet with a friend this afternoon. Vixere Navis Atern. He is like an older brother to her, similar to me being like an older sister to her.” Vox reported.

“Yes. Vixere.” MOT said. “I recall MEA mentioning him to me a couple of times in the past. Isn’t he a soldier with the Mercatorian Military Defense Forces?”

“Yes. Them too.” Vox answered. “I expect Marea Amor will tell you more about him when you next see her.”

“When will you and I meet again?” MOT inquired.

“I don’t know. Perhaps another afternoon soon. I’ll get a message to you, when the time is right. Now it’s time for me to return to Thrae, and it’s time for you to return to ARS-601. We will meet again. However, I’m now certain we have separate destinies. A different fate awaits you, than the one that awaits me.”

They walked together to the river and found the lamivor.

MOT said farewell, as Vox climbed up on the lamivor’s back.

At gallop speed, Vox headed toward the pass across the valley to the south.

MOT opened the cockpit on his VisAla, then climbed in. He tossed the backpack and insulated box into the back seat. A minute later he began the vertical liftoff.

MOT circled around the area once, and waved down to Vox, just as she was about to enter the pass. Then he flew the VisAla southwest toward home.

During the flight home, MOT thought about those alien voices he heard in the cavern cave. He wondered who they were, where they came from, and why they were there. He considered the possibility that they were Desarites, using a new military language, on a recruitment exercise. He was wrong. He would never know, during his life as a Landor, that they were time travelers from Mirandus on a Clockwork mission for a top secret project named Timeglass. They traveled hundreds of light years across space and thousands of years into the past to give a warning to the Mercatorians about the expedition. It ended in a horrible disaster with the death of the explorers and the destruction of their star ship. Then events beyond their control resulted in their souls being trapped on planet Mirandus, where they were then reincarnated and became Mirandians. And one of the time travelers has the reincarnated soul of a Mercatorian. By saving Mercatorians from an enemy in their time, the time travelers hoped to be able to save their world from what they believe to be the same enemy in their time. Of course, there can be unforeseen consequences for altering history. Moments after they departed from the SlipField ArchPad, built with a TimeArch in addition to a SpaceArch, the planet they knew as Earth ceased to exist, and became known as Mirandus.

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Categories: Aliens, Alternate History, Entertainment, Novellas, Religion, Religious Issues, Science, Science Fiction, Social, Social Issues, Space, Space Exploration, Spiritual, Spiritual Issues, Spiritual Science, Time Travel, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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