The Creation of Southgate

Though it was nearly three times the size of North America on Earth, of the four major continents on K’Normia (Osten, Westen, Javia & Gaia), Gaia is the smallest. The political divisions of Gaia were Burgess & Gork, Roseland and now Southgate. Burgess & Gork dominated the northern 75% of the continent and were a major world trade center. Roseland was formed by new colonists back when K’Normia was a Federation Member. This is where Sal met his wife and began to develop what is now known as Southgate; the south east corner of Roseland where it meets with Javia, the southern continent on K’Normia.

Großen Gewässern, meaning ‘Great Waters’, is the western ocean and Osten Meer is to the east. The Burgess Sea lies to the north of Southgate and is Roseland’s passage to Osten Meer.

K’Normia is very much like Earth with its variety of climates and rainfall. It was a very pleasant place to live. One unique feature of K’Normia is its moons. There are three although tiny Mystique isn’t much more than an asteroid that lost its belt. The other two moons are named opposite because they never share the same sky. One is known as the dark moon and the other as the light moon. They are both about the same size and distance from K’Normia which is why their orbits are similar. It is thought that the massive K’Colum is responsible for causing their strange alignment. It is due to this alignment, however, that cause the tides of K’Normia to be extremely calm and almost non-existent.

Casseopi, the largest city in Roseland, lies on the coastline of the Burgess Sea and it is where Sal met Harriet for the first time. He was on leave in Casseopi spending some time with friends when she had stolen his barstool. They hit it off right away and he extended his leave for two weeks as they got to know each other a lot better. Sal had decided then that when his re-enlistment came up in four months that he was not going to do it. They were married in six.

Harriet’s father owned quite a bit of land in Roseland. It was nearly a third of the land Southgate now controls. Although the coastal areas surrounding Southgate had began to grow, Sal worked with the knowledge passed from his father and began to wheel & deal the open undeveloped expanses of the interior area. It was hill country and he planted vast fields of quadratricale. As the climate was mild, where there wasn’t wheat he grew grapes and soon vineyards littered the landscapes. Harriet and her father were the politicians in the family and within two years they had organized the people of Southgate, who were mostly offworlders, and it became a separate entity as the Federation Civil War came to a close.

When Harriet left Sal they had controlling interest in over 350 vineyards and 100 wheat producing fields. They distributed wheat to 12 different worlds in the Federation and the wine from Southgate Valleys was known as one of the finest in the outer worlds. Harriet had always been ‘about-the-money’ and this had worn on Sal. He had become discontented and spent much of his free time at their beach house in Osten Vista while Harriet and her father played the political scene. The breezes at Osten Vista reminded him of summer days in San Francisco and he longed for the freedoms he had back then. At night he looked out to the stars and began to dream again. It was not a bitter end but Harriet knew that Sal could no longer stay on K’Normia. He was destined to travel the stars.

The Westen Experience

Okay, the best time Sal and Harriet ever had together was at a resort on Robinson Bay. This was a beautiful facility and had been run totally by the natives of Westen. Their culture was a mix between Kapellan and Polynesian. It was rich with dance and feasting but had an underlining power structure that most outsiders knew little about.

Because of Westen’s natural beauty, much of it had been left undeveloped. Near the equator were jungles that few outlanders ever set foot. Further south were the wilds and the human populations there diminished as one neared the pole. You see, Westen is a long and relatively narrow expanse of land that stretches from the mid northern latitudes diagonally downward toward the south polar regions. On the map it reminded Sal of the ‘boot’ of Italy, that ancient European state of Earth where his great grandfather was supposedly born. But Westen was nothing like Italy. It was wild and forbidding.

The most beautiful thing that Sal had ever seen was in the mountains just south of Robinson Bay. Prylor Waterfalls fell 400 meters and spread and cascaded over many kilometers of stone that were larger than man. The stones appeared loosely arranged as if just randomly tossed here and there. Yet they were of the same ilk; they obviously came from the same place. Burnt orange in color with streaks of silver and coal black, the water sparkled as it poured over them. Sal stood in awe with Harriet’s hand in his. He wished that they were alone but then remembered that this was Westen. There was safety in numbers and the falls edged the wilds.

To the north was Gossit Bay which separated Osten from Westen. The waters here were filled with sailing craft with colorful and wind-filled sails. Harriet had learned as a child and took Sal gently across. He simply leaned in his hammock and sipped his cool tea while she expertly glided them from Suncoast to Port Ismuth. She looked incredible in her little orange bikini with her dark curly hair bouncing off her neck.

‘Where did those days go?’, he thought as he finished his Rom Ale and headed in to get another.

An Evening’s Entertainment

The two of them were seated on the ground adjacent one another as was tradition for man & wife in Westen. Their legs were crossed, Indian style and Harry held a glass of dark red wine as they watched the performers spin fire. Westen dance was more theatrical than rhythmic; a physical opera. Three main characters, two males and a female, carried the plot and narrated the story with their motions. Twirling batons of fire spun freely and were thrown high into the night air.

“She was on an adventure of virtue”, explained Harry, “and her two male companions were in competition for her heart. See? That gesture with his hands? It means that, well, he desires her. He wants her to share his bed.”

The woman spun like a top with firesticks in either hand. Her skin was a rich chocolate brown and it shimmered in the firelight and Sal watched as her eyes slowly scanned the crowd. The jewels in her skirt caused reflections to dart about the audience as she moved her curved body to the primitive steel drums.

The one male in green had a baton balanced on his neck and he spun it around as he bobbed his head up and down. The two balls of flame at the ends formed a rich circle that seemed to dance with the music. She was focused on him with her motions though her eyes never left the crowd. The drums echoed deeply into the jungle. They were so loud that nothing had over-powered their vibrations.

The other male had disappeared moments ago. He now returned with a troupe of dancers, all women dressed in flaming costume. They somersaulted and cart-wheeled across the open arena with various objects afire in their hands and on their feet. The mood had changed and the drums suddenly stopped as the leading man grabbed the woman and lifted her into the air with his strong arms. She had a firestick in her teeth as he carried her off into the darkness. There was a moment of silence, an explosion, a woman’s scream and then there was nothing. No drums. No sounds what so ever. Not even the nightbirds that traditionally filled the evening were heard.

Sal looked at Harry in confusion. He didn’t know whether this was part of the performance or not. He could see that she was just as confused as she cocked her head in response. They looked around and saw that the crowd was dispersing; the dancers had all stopped and doused their fires. She set down her wine and came into his arms.

“What the heck is going on?” He asked.

“I have no idea, Hon. My father told me that Westen mating was traditionally secretive and violent. It had never been recorded and no outlander had ever witnessed the act. The Westen never bred outside their species.”

They were humanoid, for certain, and their skin tones were a very dark chocolate red. They had elongated fingers and were usually no higher than 150 centimeters. Harriet knew some of their native language and she called their server over to the table. The two spoke in the native tongue and also with their arms. Sal could see concern in the young native’s face as she tried to explain the situation to Harry.

“What’s she…”, Harriet interrupted him with her hand and returned to the woman’s plight. He just looked around and began to gather their things as he knew this night’s entertainment was concluded. He picked up her rose-shaped sunglasses and placed them into their bag. Then he motioned to another server to retrieve their wraps from the cloak. The women continued to chat. It had seemed to be very complicated and Harry sat back on her laurels and cocked her head several times. Sal picked up his wine glass and finished it off. He handed it to the server who walked up with their jackets and offered them in exchange. He nodded to her and she smiled but he could tell that she too was concerned and almost embarrassed by the recent events.

The two women finally finished their talk and the young native scurried off to finish her work. Harriet turned to Sal with a very serious look on her face. This was not normal for her and she was very tight-lipped about what she had discussed with the young girl. Sal draped her jacket over her shoulders and the two of them walked arm in arm back to the transport pad. Sal handed the attendant his ID who quickly glanced and returned it and they stepped onto the pad to be ported off to their room.

Harry was quiet all evening and it took everything he had to pry anything out of her. She started by talking about the two moons and how beautiful they were, how they never meet in the sky. Sal loved astronomy and was quite interested in the uniqueness of the K’Normia moons. Of course, he was more curious as to how it had come about. He wanted to know what forces of nature had acted upon them to place them in such a synchronous dance. Sal had done some research on his own reading many papers who claimed that it was far off K’Colum that kept the two moons tightly bound to K’Normia. There was no proof to any of this. It was all speculation; simple facts that fit into a theory presented before some high-browed committee that decided to agree. They would have toasted themselves as ‘masters of the universe’ in their traditional ways. Sal laughed to himself as he mused about the masters.

“Oh, Sal, you’re so silly”, she commented, “This has nothing to do with celestial mechanics. It concerns the heart.” She paused and looked at him knowing that she loved him and his analytical mind. It would be very difficult to explain this to him. She didn’t even have the details. “Remember what I was telling you? About the hand gesture during the performance?”

“I sure do!”, he responded and tried to mimic the gesture with his hands. She smiled half-heartedly and continued.

“Well, the young server, El Tira, she was trying to explain that tonight’s performance was about the twin eclipses. She explained that they represented the dark and the light of life and how sometimes it comes together. The dancers were three because there were two moons and their possessor…K’Normia.”

Sal looked at her for a long time knowing that this was going to get really deep. He spouted, “So what’s that all got to do with the explosion and the woman’s scream? Where did everyone go and why did they all leave?”

“I don’t know. I couldn’t get it all out of her. She seemed very upset by something and I didn’t think she wanted to go into details right there. You know? She was supposed to be working…”

“So what else did she tell you?”

“Well, you have pretty eyes. They remind her of a tiger she had as a child.” She smiled and kissed him gently. “Sal, like I said, she didn’t want to talk about it there. We’re meeting tomorrow in the hills for lunch. She asked that you not come and begged for me to understand. I finally agreed after much expression of my fear of this place. She confided that she was well equipped; she knew her world.”

“So what am I supposed to do while you two go traipsing off into the jungle?”

“Oh Sal, there’s plenty around here. There’s a lecture downtown. I think the key note is from the Federation. You could go down by the beach. I know you like the views there.”

She flirted and teased with him, raising her short skirt with a flip as she left the room. He was not getting anywhere with her. He knew this from experience. He might ‘get lucky’ though and so he jotted off to the kitchen area.

“Computer. Cabernet. Dry.”

“There are four different brands available. Burgess Farms, Villa de Osten, Greenburg and Winterspring Wines.”

“Greenburg. The oh-five. Two glasses. Room temperature. Thank you.”

Harry returned and joined him in the lounge area and he handed her the glass he had gotten for her. She was dressed in satin PJ’s and she had let her hair fall to her shoulders. The gloves were off. It was time to relax.

“All in all that was a fun evening…” she started.

“Yeah, right up to the scream…” he retorted and was answered with a smirk and a mock slug to the shoulder.

“I’m sorry that I don’t have any more details right now”, she smiled, “But if you do that little thing with your hands… well?”

She sipped her wine and snuggled next to him on the chase. Sal pressed a button on the table, the drapes opened and the screen retracted revealing a gorgeous sunset shimmering over the calm waters. They fell asleep in each other’s arms as the sun disappeared.

The next morning was embraced with brief exchanges as Harry hurried off to choose her afternoon outfit. Sal made breakfast, K’Normian eggs with ginger and orange peel. She could smell them frying from the other room and knew that he was making them special for her.

“Over medium, dear!” she called out “You know I don’t like mine runny.” She laughed and he joined her. It was inside humor and he fetched some fresh beef from the cooler and tossed it into another pan with spices already simmering.

“What time are you meeting her?”

“Just before Light Moon…”

This was about mid-morning and he had decided that maybe he would venture into town for the lecture. The women wouldn’t be on the beaches until much later in the day. A K’Normian day was a little shorter than an Earth day at 20 hours and only 0.73156 standard solar days, so whatever you had to do you needed to get up early and get to it. They ate quickly and went their separate ways.

The Westen Cafe

Harriet gave the name of the villa to the attendant at the transport pad and he gave her a very strange look. She didn’t understand. It was obvious and the attendant, who was Westen, asked if she was meeting someone. When she confirmed he acted as if he were relieved. It was uncommon and unwise for outlanders to venture into Westen alone. But he had noticed the girl’s symbol next to her name on the card that Harry had handed him. He knew that she’d be safe.

A symbol was like a family name, identifying of whom you were a part. This was not that uncommon on K’Normia and other worlds. Symbols were more unique than names, they carried more meaning behind them and they were pictorial and so semi-universal as well. El Tira’s symbol bore three stars in a tight orbit. It was the eye of a constellation in the winter skies of K’Normia. The eye of a tiger-like beast that was native to Westen. It meant power, unquestionable power.

Harriet appeared before the villa café and was greeted with looks from all passer-by. They were all Westen. There were no outlanders anywhere that she could see. Her nerve was about to run out and she reached into her bag for her communicator just as El Tira walked up. She was at least a foot shorter than Harry but very graceful and dressed far more elegant than the night before. She greeted Harry with the traditional bow and Harry attempted her best response.

“There are no replicators here, Harriet. I hope you enjoy the food.” El Tira spoke first and welcomed her to sit down at a table set apart from the others. “We should afford a bit of privacy here.”

Harry thanked her and sat facing the café as instructed. El TIra joined her and held her hand across the table. “Let us have some refreshments and then we can talk?”

Harriet was silent but agreeable to the young woman’s requests. A male Westen came by with a towel in his hand; obviously the server and El Tira ordered some spiced tea with ice.

She began.

“Every half-year on K’Normia the twin moons eclipse and cause shadows on both sides of the planet. This pattern grows from one shadow, expands and splits and then comes back together before disappearing. It does this approximately five times during this period and each are slightly different in shape and each have meaning. Sometimes the shadows near the equator as they appear of opposite sides of the world and seem to trace the whole globe.”

Harriet knew all about the eclipses but she listened intently as the young woman continued to explain.

“Although the splitting eclipses are quite common, happening twice in a K’Normia year, the equatorial split is rare and therefore more significance from the others. Westen understand and use these eclipses to initiate our mating rituals.”

Harry’s eyes widened.

“I can see from your response that you’ve always wondered about this.”

El Tira smiled briefly for Harry as she could tell that she was sitting uneasily. The server arrived with the tea, El Tira tapped Harry’s hand and turned to respond. She handed him a silvery coin from her bag and he set down the drinks. She handed him another and gave him a stern look. He nodded and turned away.

“Harriet, these are things that have been handed down for centuries and are at the core of our religion. I see trust in your eyes and in the eyes of your man. This is the only reason that I feel that I can tell you these things.”

She waited silently while Harry digested the comments.

“It’s his eyes, huh?” Harry questioned. “It’s his green eyes.”

“Yes, Tel’KimZa…”

It was a deep compliment as Harry understood it. It meant ‘one with a wise heart’. El Tira smiled seeing that Harry understood and continued.

“Yes, green eyes are rare indeed. They are especially rare among the Westen.”

“Last night. The dancer. She had…”

“Yes, Harriet. Her eyes were green.”

“Like the moons, to Westen, greens eyes have two meaning. One is light and the other is darkness. There are times when their meanings can become intertwined. But this happens only when a third has come between them.”

“The third…” she thought a moment, “The eclipses!”

“Shhhh….”

“As three bears special significance to Westen, there is a third indicator which governs our ritual. The one, the single, the possessor is pure, be they male or female. Never have they mated with another. I believe your culture calls them virgin.”

“The dance is the same, told as tradition allows. The triangle of love and fire is performed. However, on special nights, nights where the shadows have returned to mingle, we Westen take our glory of expression to K’Nor.”

Harriet knew that K’Nor was their god. He lived on K’Colum and kept his own three children dancing around him. This was, of course, all lore and the three children were the moons that spun around K’Colum. El Tira grabbed Harry’s hand once again and asked her to sip her tea. It was getting warm.

“As the dance is performed, it is the one in green that wins the virgin over and the jealous rage of the other in red is used to cleanse this virtue-less soul before K’Nor. As He roars, the virgin’s throat is cut and then the heart is removed and eaten by the avenger.”

The lump in her throat was huge and she used the tea to wash it down quickly. Then Harry told her, “I believe I’m going to need something a little stiffer”, as she pointed to her glass. With ice in her mouth she continued.

“This is all symbolism, right? It was just a performance. The girl is just fine. Right? Please tell me…”

There was a long moment of silence and as the server made his rounds, El Tira motioned to him. He turned and came to her immediately, in spite of the fact the he was carrying someone else’s drink. Harry could hardly not notice this. She wondered what it was exactly that El Tira had given to him. Coin currency was not rare but K’Normian coins were gold and bronze. Silver was not found on this planet. She ordered two drinks and refills on the teas. She then asked for the bill of fare as Light Moon rose to its crest.

“Who do you believe me to be, Harriet?”

Harry just stared at her and tried to read her intentions. It wasn’t working very well. El Tira had been such a sweet young woman to her. Harry couldn’t get a hold of this sudden twist in her personality. Her anxiety began to rise again and she found herself fidgeting in her seat. The young woman grabbed her hand again and patted it and looked into her eyes. It was then that she noticed El Tira’s eyes. They were hazel and changing at that very moment. They became almost as bright as the Light Moon and they were mesmerizing to her.

The server returned and interrupted with drinks and a picture of tea. He refilled the glasses and then saw another silver coin on a small card that edged the table on the side he had approached. Harriet watched the server’s astonishment over the additional coin and couldn’t recall seeing El Tira place it there. She thought to herself, ‘When could she have? She was holding my hands?’ This was surely turning into an interesting afternoon.

“You hungry?” asked El Tira as the server left silently taking the coin and the card without any hesitation. She opened the menu and started to peruse it pointing her finger at various delights and adding an audible acknowledge. Harriet responded in a whimper of a voice.

“Wh—What’s there?”

“Here, let me show you.” And with that she rose and joined her sitting adjacent and sliding her chair. They looked at the menu together and everything looked strange to Harry. It was a good strange though. Everything looked absolutely delicious and very colorful.

“Kakchow? That’s barn apples? Are they good?”

“Simply to die for, everything here is.”

Harriet scooped up her drink and took a huge swallow. It was surprisingly fruity and she took another smaller gulp and then wiped her lips with her hand.

“Let’s just order those. Sal made me a big breakfast. I’m still a little full.”

Harriet was beginning to relax and her social psyche was starting to emerge. This culture interested her with out a doubt but so did the vast expanses of Westen. She changed the subject.

“How long have you worked for Robinson Bay?”

“I have always worked for them. It is family-owned, my family. I am usually in the kitchens though. I have only been serving for a short time. Why do you ask? Was my service not well?”

“No sweetie. You were great. I am just curious about how all of this works. I want to learn more about you and your culture, as much as possible. I find this all very intriguing, stimulating.”

El Tira sat for a moment and thought about the sudden change in Harriet’s attitude. Colabana, the drink she had ordered for the two of them, did not normally have a high liquor content so she was at a loss as to why Harriet had calmed down so quickly.

“Stimulating, huh? Not exactly how I pictured your response.”

“Oh, I am a worldly woman. I am not so naïve as to be ignorant of cultural differences. We have all grown and developed our own value systems even within our own cultures. Yours is not so different from the Kapellan society or closer to home, our own Aldebaranese. Now they have a rich history of dogma that most humanoid cultures would find questionable.”

“I see what you mean.” El Tira was noting Harriet’s skirting of the knowledge of the ceremonial sacrifice but she could sense no fear in Harriet’s tone. This intrigued her and El Tira leaned slightly back in her seat as if becoming more comfortable with the situation as well.

The Mystery of Zoalus

Sal was lying on a hammock outside their room at Robinson Bay, watching the sun go down and following its distant cousin Aldebaran into the horizon. He drank his ale and closed his eyes remembering this guy he’d met on Aldebaran III who had tried to teach him this Vulcan game called Kovlar. It’s a board game with counters and intersecting horizontal and vertical lines. Sal had come off a long shift and couldn’t really concentrate but the guy said it was similar to Go or Stones. Sal chuckles to himself because growing up as an only child in remote Milankovic, one didn’t get too many neighbor kids coming over to play board games.

He opened his eyes, looked up and saw the “Jewelry Box” which is not a constellation that can be seen from the Sol System; the stars don’t appear in the same place in the sky. The central star is Deneb Kaitos which is part of the Cetus constellation on Earth. It is surrounded by what appears to be a box of stars. All are unrelated to Cetus entirely. He told Harry once that the diamond she wore was brighter than Calibon! That was the name given to Deneb Kaitos here on K’Normia.

He looked at his watch and wondered where Harry was, hoping that she was alright. She had her communicator and so he knew that if need be she’d call. He could always check on her using GP but even that service had changed over the years as K’Normia grew and its networks conjested. One now had to actively request GP service and then it was spotty with update resolution nearing a standard minute (100 sec).

He tried to return to the book he was reading but got distracted again by the beautiful star-scapes on K’Normia. To the south was the “Fire Cloud” which had been a symbol for a pagan cult here. This formation included such stars as Betelgeuse, Rigel, Bellatrix and Alnilam of Orion. Also within this group were the bright stars of the Hyades Cluster which ‘as the crow flies’ wasn’t that far away, only 20 parsecs or so. Although much of the trade and commerce of Bull’s Head Commonwealth were found in the Aldebaran and Elnath Systems, the new developments were happening in the Tidal Boundary. That’s where the Taurus brothers were focusing their attentions and Sal thought that it would be a good investment. Harriet disagreed. It was too wild for her; too unsettled. “Too close to Klingon space”, she’d say, “You can almost smell them!”

Sal soon drifted off to sleep in his hammock under the stars. The coos on the nightbirds provided a calming background and his head full of thoughts pushed him further into unconsciousness. He awoke to the sunrise which comes faster than one thinks. The Dark Moon was setting and the Seven Sisters were chasing it close behind. He walked into their room and saw that nothing had changed. The bed had not been slept in and there was no message from the computer. He walked over to the replicator and mumbled, “Ostenfagen Coffee, black”.

“Computer. Locate Harriet Rosetto.” He commanded, looking in no particular direction.

There was a short pause and Sal shook his head and retrieved his coffee from the replicator. Ostenfagen was a providence of the Osten continent-country. It was rich with fertile lands and was known for certain things such as its coffee bean. It was a dark brew and had the subtle flavor of spiced hickory which was due to the haltimet tree which thrived like a weed in Ostenfagen. Its scent and taste osmosed into everything there much like an onion’s pungency to its refrigerator companions. It was not distasteful and added a certain bite to the coffee which was probably why it was so popular.

“Harriet Rosetto is currently in a transport conveyance in the Westen town of P’Honex; a distance of approximately 150 kilometers. Do you to speak with this person?”

“No thank you. Do you have a destination?”

“There is no destination entered at the present time.”

Sal had been with Harry long enough to know two things. First of all, if she didn’t talk you then she simply didn’t have anything to add; good, bad, indifferent; just nothing of importance. And if you tried to force her hand then she would usually clammed up and you’d never get anything out of her. Secondly, she could handle herself, given opportunity. She had shown fear of seeing El Tira alone more for Sal’s sake than anything else. He knew this and still worried about her. She’d return some time today with a bright smile on her face, proud of an achievement that she had done or in a profitable deal she’d laid claim. He sipped his coffee and when in to change for the day’s events which were wide open at present.

They had seven days left to their vacation which ended at the close of Dark Moon Eclipse. This was a two week holiday on K’Normia that straddled the annual event and was always in the month of KIE. This was nearly 17 standard days and 23 sunsets here. KIE was one of three short months in the K’Normian year and since this was a leap year there were 81 days. KIE meant ‘half-way’ and referred to K’Normia’s position in its orbit about the sun. It was opposed by the month of ANA and the Light Moon Eclipse of the New Year.

“Computer. Display Tidal Boundary Colonies of the Bull’s Head Commonwealth.”

“Do you prefer maps of photographic records?”

“Political maps, please.”

The main viewer in the lounge filled with a map of the cluster. The dominating systems of θTauri and υTauri refused to be upstaged by the growing popularity of the other colonies. θTauri was the central hub where the colony of Tranquility resided. The Taurus brothers controlled much of this space. Both Tranquility and Goldrock, the primary colony in the υTauri system, had been on the news lately. This was where the action was. This is where Sal wanted to be.

He looked at the map and noticed that there were 22 colonies besides Tranquility and Goldrock. They all had very strange names like dJungel Mark and Shima Furotingu and he imagined that they had as many stories as they did wonders to be discovered.

“Computer. Photographs of dJungel Mark.”

“There are no photographic records of that colony at present.”

“Okay….” He paused in contemplation, “How about Endelost Hav?”

A view of a vast ocean appeared with only sparse clouds as significant features to break the blue upon blue. Although it was a video there seemed to be little motion detected. There was nothing for the waves to break upon as they ebbed and swelled. It was a tranquil view but not quite what Sal had been craving. There was another colony that was reported to have floating organic islands! He wondered which one that might be. Some of the names of the colonies were obvious like Collin’s Desert and Prasino Nera which was Italian for green ocean. The others he could hardly imagine what they might be like.

“Computer. Photograph of Lavendel?”

“There are only photographic records of the Tranquility and Goldrock colonies remaining.”

Sal was disappointed but still wanted to read more about these places.

“Return to map view.”

Sal looked at the details again and with discontentment said, “Viewer off”, as he walked into the bedroom area and prepared for the day. He picked a casual outfit with short-legged pants. He was supposed to be on vacation. He couldn’t see the need to dress formally all of the time. As he stepped out of the shower and donned his trousers he grabbed a casual shirt from a hanger, his communicator on the nightstand and slipped into a pair of sandals as he walked out onto the lanai. He was head to the front desk and main reception area. From there he would plan out his day.

As he flipped on his shirt an attractive young Betazoid pranced by with a smile. ‘It was a good thing that’, he thought, ‘one could not be arrested for indecent thoughts’. It was obvious to him that she had been tuned in, though. He took a last glance and caught her doing the same as she disappeared around the corner headed in the opposite direction. He continued on his way past the saunas and exercise platforms and he took no noticed to the Westen servants scurrying about. This was not to be rude but more liken to a compliment. They felt that a job done well was done without interruption. Stopping to perform formal courtesies was counter-productive and ill thought. Even a simple nod and smile were considered intrusive to them, unless, of course, you had required their services. Then they would drop what they were doing to give all attention to you.

Sal arrived at the counter where the assistant manager stood watching her busy staff. She was not much shorter than him which was considered tall for a Westen, wore a bright green pant suit with a lavender top that grabbed one’s eyes into focus. She had a welcoming smile and a pleasant voice and she greeted him Federation-style with an open hand shake.

“How are you this morning, sir?”

“On a mission to find some activity… Got any ideas?”

“Well sir, there are plenty listed in the brochure. Here, let me help you find something of interest.”

She grabbed one of her brochures and opened it onto the counter and started to peruse. With one finger on her lips she asked, “Will your wife be joining you? Or are you alone this morning?”

Sal was a little out of sorts and was scanning the room as he answered, “Alone… for now. What?—Sorry, okay, what do you have here?”

“Let’s see, there’s a showing of some ancient relics from Zoalus IV. Have you heard about that culture? Very strange. As if they just stepped out for coffee and never came back.”

Sal looked at her as she spoke and could see that she was being sincere.

“Yeah, strange stuff. I might be interested. What time do they open?”

“Not for another dami…”, she sighed in disappointment, “There might be something else that’s open right now.”

Sal looked at his watch. That would be etdami Light Moon which meant one dami, or hour, before its rise. He continued, “No. That sounds great. I’m just gonna go grab a quick bite and then head on over.”

Trying not to sound pushy but she was genuinely interested, “I get off in 20 daki. I would enjoy accompanying you… I mean, since you’re all alone and if you wouldn’t mind… I mean…” she stutter and attempted her best to recover. Sal just smiled and said, “Sure, I’ll be in the café. What’s your name?”

“Beolumi. Miss Ceri Beolumi. Yours of course is Mr. Rosetto. I have you on my roster.” She smiled as he nodded and turned to look for the café. “Nice name, Ceri. See you in a few daki then, I’ll be right over there.” He pointed it out as if she wouldn’t know where it was.

——————————————————————————–

Sal walked over to the open-air café setting his communicator to courtesy alert should Harriet return to Robinson Bay. He wanted to catch up with her when she returned and find out more about the other night’s grand finale. With only ten more nights he wanted to spend as many as he could with her on his arm. She looked good there and he looked better with her there. It was a mutual thing for Sal. He mused to himself as the server met him at the counter. Sal ordered coffee and eggs. The male server grabbed a quick cup from under the counter, “Cream, Lime, or Spice?”

“No thank you. Black is fine.”

Sal set down at the counter on an open stool and spun slowly around as to watch the morning sunrise over the Camelback Mountains. The cocoapalm trees that lined the foothills looked like a million umbrellas with the light coming from behind them. On K’Normia, there was a wide variety of flora. Much of it was natural however the climate was suitable to most alien plants as well.

There was also mixture of cultures. While it was part of the Federation, many people of different species came to visit and live. Sal was one of millions from the Terran colonies but there were also a large number of Betazoids and the Talarites had even found their place here. The Regulians, who looked like Vulcans, had come to colonize as well. The ones who Sal had met that seemed to stay away were the Cardassians, the Nausicans, the Orions and Klingons.

K’Normia, however, was not a tourist planet. Many of the inhabitants were just regular folks trying to eke out a living in a semi-peaceful environment. It was a nice place to raise a family. Educational systems were above par, crime non-existent, the Federation uninterested, the perfect place to be until the secret gets out.

As the eggs arrived, Sal picked up his silverware and began to eat. The Westen were a very unique culture and although it didn’t seem to most tourist, they were also very prude. They accepted other people and their culture openly, however, kept their own to themselves which was how they felt most comfortable. The server refilled his coffee and then disappeared back into the kitchen area. He felt the alert vibration of his communicator. He reached into his pocket and opened it up. It was a recorded message:

“Hi hon. Sorry that I have been gone. Miss you… Please meet me at Angelo’s tonite at 15 dami. I will explain everything. I promise.” Then he could here her speak to someone else with her hand over the speaker, “Yes, I’ll be right there.” She then continued, “Gotta go baby. See you soon.”

“Good, she at least checked in,” he thought. This was 2406 and he had only Harriet, here. They’d only been married since Daba but that was nearly a full earth year. The last thing he wanted was for this marriage to go south on him. Her father and he had plans for expanding the untamed lands in lower Roseland where it met with the Javian continent. He was also thinking about family… His family… They had spoken about it and she knew that he wanted children. He’d make a good father but she did not get pregnant easily. Harriet would be 13 annuals, crossing that imaginary boundary into thirty-something on the 42nd of next month. He didn’t want to pressure her but thought they might think about settling down.

Sal finished his eggs and looked out into the busy plaza, watching the random passer-by tourists with their shopping bags and little ones in tow. He smiled as one such little one just sat right down on the pavement in the middle of where people were crossing with her arms crossed, lips pursed and a stern look on her face. “Apparently, she was ‘DONE’ for the day,” he thought, chuckling to himself audibly to the couple who sat next to him.

“Yeah, they’re feisty at that age,” commented the gentleman who also presented a smile, “I can remember when Kara, our little girl was three. She would do the same thing.”

The two men laughed as Ceri approached from behind. Sal didn’t see her come up but noticed the gentleman looking behind him. He nodded to her as Sal spun around and then asked Sal, “Your wife?”

Sal stood up and extended a hand to Ceri while introducing her to this stranger, “Nah, we just met a few moments ago. Ceri, this is…” He paused, “I’m sorry, your name?”

Then he turned back to Ceri trying to explain but she figured it all out and added her own greeting. Then she looked at Sal, “So, are you all finished here? We need to get going if we’re going to catch the speaker.”

“Well, nice to meet you, Susan, Karl. Perhaps we’ll see you guys around. The wife and I will be here for another ten days.”

They left the café and began walking briskly down the plaza away from the beach areas. There were shops on either side of the street selling mostly touristy items. The convention hall where they were bound was not that far away; only a couple of blocks down tucked between two tall municipal buildings. Ceri was quite talkative which was unusual for a Westen and Sal finally got a word in, “Ceri, I realize that Westen don’t normally, but you don’t seem too, er, Westen to me.”

He was hesitant to say anything but thought it was polite to at least add something to the conversation. Ceri was not offended at all and she returned a smile, “Very astute, sir. As a matter of fact I am only half Westen. My mother was an offworlder from Niburon II. Unfortunately she fell ill when I was young. I was raised here by my father who was not so traditional and strict to follow the Westen ways. I know the culture first hand but have also been exposed to the vast cultures that he had learned about. It’s why I’m genuinely interested in this exhibition, Mr. Rosetto.”

“We’ve know each other for nearly a dami. You can call me Sal, okay?”

She smiled and nodded as they approached the entrance and walked into the building.

Ceri was like a child in a candy store with her blue eyes sparkling and her attention darting from one direction to the other. Sal grabbed her arm gently and pointed. It was a directory of the building. They walked up and he spoke, “Directory, location of the Zoalus Exhibit?”

“The lecture on Zoalus is being held in the Green Ballroom. The exhibit will open following the lecture. Please look at map for directions.”

The directory was flashing room number 4510 with a dashed line indicating its relative position. It was down the main promenade and on the right. Both looked at the map then down the large hall, gave each other a quick nod of confirmation and headed off to the ballroom. As they walked, Sal was looking at all of the advertising banners that were strewn high on the promenade walls:

Zoalus ~~ The Mystery Revealed!

Zoalus CulturAL ARTIFACTS

ZOALUS’ ANCIENT RELIGIOUS RITES

Zoalus – The Untold Story

Sal could tell that this was going to follow one of those golden rules of too much hype but Ceri was still giddy and excited to be there. This made him smile and happy that she had come with him. Ceri seemed like a likeable type of person and he wanted to make certain that Harriet got a chance to meet her.

When they entered the room the lecture had already begun. The man at the door escorted them quietly and discretely to an open table where they sat and listened. The man asked in a whisper if they wanted refreshments and Sal nodded indicating that two iced teas would be fine.

The speaker was a short, funny looking gentleman who wore puffy bloused pants and a bright orange patterned tunic. He was using view screens that flanked him on either side and he was speaking as if he was telling a children’s story to the audience.

“Who were the people of Zoalus? How did they speak? These are some of the mysteries the exhibit will unfold. You will find that they were a simply species though much of their ritual and methods remain unknown to date. And what of their strange picto-glyphs that seem to change right before your eyes? You will see it all and find yourself walking way in wonder. You will…”

He continued to speak in this overly expressive fashion and the viewers revealed a multitude of various items that appeared to be ornate and decorative. Some were brightly colored while others quite ordinary looking. But all were odd shaped and their purpose was left unknown. The speaker had his theories which he expressed to the audience. It was too ‘flash-in-the-pan’ for Sal and he looked at Ceri and smiled. She too was a little disappointed in what the speaker had to say. They wanted to just see the artifacts for themselves; touch them and feel their textures and draw their own conclusions. Sal looked at his watch and then showed it to Ceri who granted a quick nod and short smile. They sat patiently waiting for this ‘blow hard’ to shut up and for them to open the exhibit.

Harriet sat in a small cold room and El Tira was at her side holding her hand. The walls were plain white and non-descriptive and although they had waited almost two dami already, it would seem that they would now have to wait in yet another room. The two women looked happy but it was a put-on happy. Harriet did not ever remember being this nervous about anything. El Tira could sense this and simply cupped her hands in friendship.

Harriet had felt this strange attraction for this young Westen woman. The things that the two of them had shared over the past day were amazing to her. She would have never thought that the Westen culture was so intricate and beautiful. In many ways it was quite logical but in others it seemed brutal but she was not going to let El Tira know that she was uneasy with the rituals and ceremonies. This was the politician in her. Many see this as lying but Harriet saw the truth behind it. It was all about knowledge. Knowledge was power. These talks that they had over the several dami that had past had Harry’s mind swimming in an ocean of ideas. She had learned quite a lot from El Tira and was excited about sharing it with Sal and her father.

El Tira looked into Harriet’s eyes and gave a warm smile. She wanted to know this woman and felt a bounding had occurred but she feared that her family might not understand. Harriet was an outsider and even though she was born on K’Normia, she would always be an offworlder to the Westen. El Tira knew this yet still the signs were revealing themselves to her and she felt this was the right path; the path that she must take and the one that her people needed to follow. She struggled with the thoughts of the Westen as a common, knowing that they would not be as open and accepting as she. But times were changing and they must flow with time. This, they would understand. This, they would consider.

The room stood and applauded as the viewers fell away and the stage opened up into a great room that had a looming statue of a humanoid figure that was twenty or so meters high. It was dimly lit from below show it appeared in high contrast and the details of the sculpture were visibly enhanced. The room settled and the people who attended slowly walked toward the exhibition. Sal and Ceri followed as they walked up on stage from either side and then past through a grand archway that was decorated with these pictoglyphs that the speaker had mentioned. They were very strange and Ceri raised a hand up to touch the arch. It was just out of her reach.

The glyphs were very strange looking and almost insect-like with their wispy antennae that seemed to sprout from differing appendages of each odd shaped body. None appeared to be humanoid form however some seemed to resemble plant or animal life forms. With no frame of reference all reasoning was pure speculation. Sal and Ceri gazed at them silently and then slowly proceeded into the main exhibition area.

They came upon a table that displayed what looked like utensils of sorts. Some hand sharpened ends while others were more rounded but all seemed to have what appeared to be a handle or grip. Some were organic while others metallic. Sal read the inscription plate and it simply said ‘dinnerware’ with no details at all. The next display contained crystal pieces of varies colors and shapes. Like the dinnerware each piece seemed a bit larger than life. They were not excessively larger but simply bigger. Sal and Ceri were silent as they read the inscription and pressed on.

There didn’t seem to be much detail and much of what they saw was simple tools and implements. The oddest items were the five solids that had glyphs on their faces. There were all made of a translucent crystal material and varied in color as well. The tetrahedron was yellow, the octahedron, blue. The hexahedron was green and the dodecahedron was red. The icosahedron with its 20 faces was perfectly clear.

“I wonder what this represents?” commented Ceri. Sal studied the solids and the markings. He noted that every face had a different glyph on it. He counted in his head and spoke, “I think it’s their alphabet, Ceri. Each one of these faces has a different glyph on it, see?”

“Yes. I see. How many faces are there?”

“Well, from my basic elementary geometry I recall that there are only five solids.” He began mumbling and counting, “four… and six and eight is eighteen. Then twelve and twenty is thirty-two. So, thirty-two and eighteen is fifty.” He added and then continued, “So what does the plaque say?”

“Represented here are the five elemental solid forms. On their surfaces totally fifty in all there appear to be symbolic glyphs whose meaning at present is a mystery.” She read.

They both strolled out of the exhibit area discussing the glyphs and the crystal solids. They agreed that the final display alone had made the trip worth taking. They still knew very little about the Zoalus culture. Technologically, they had seemed to be at least advanced to construct intricate tools and devices. Some of the displays showed disassemblies of these devices but the inner workings had apparently eluded the archaeologists.

Ceri and Sal walked back across the main plaza in Robinson Bay and Sal offered to buy lunch for the two of them. He told her that he’d had plans for dinner tonight but he would like to arrange for Ceri to meet his wife. Ceri sounded excited and graciously accepted. When they arrived back at the resort Sal thanked her for a wonderful afternoon. They shook hands and went their separate ways.

Dinner at Angelo’s

By the time he had left Ceri it was 13 dami and Sal had to start preparing for the nights festivities. He had sent a confirmation message back to Harry so that she was aware he’d received and heard hers. He’d had a relatively fun morning and couldn’t wait to share it with her. She’d be fascinated by the glyphs and always liked meeting new people. He knew she had a strong sense of self and jealousy didn’t seem to be an issue with her. This was one of many reasons that Sal married her so quickly. They were soulmates from the beginning and he could not imagine a future without her as part of it.

Sal jumped in the sonic shower and then shaved the scruff of beard that had grown over the last two days. Then he went to the wardrobe and selected a nice blue suit. It was not too abstentious and it showed off his physique. This was a fairly new concept for Sal. Here on K’Normia he had gained several kilos and built up a layer of muscle that had never been before. It was not like he’d changed his habits much. Perhaps he was eating better than before but as far as exercise there had not been any set routine. He attributed it to the change in base-gravity which here was a bit higher than Earth.

Angelo’s was a restaurant on the other side of the main plaza in Robinson Bay. It was walking distance as most things were here but it was a good 20 daki walk. Sal glanced in the wall mirror and checked to make sure he had his communicator then left their room and headed across the plaza. It had cooled down and the sun was hovering over the bay and the plaza was not as busy as it had been two dami before.

Angelo’s was a family-owned Italian place. This was rare in Westen to have a business that was not owned and operated by Westens. There was a woman selling flowers on the plaza and Sal bought a small bouquet. The restaurant was just around the next corner. He walked in the front lobby where he was greeted by a young lad.

“Table for Rosetto.”

“Yes. Your party has not arrived. Please follow me.”

Sal followed and the boy led him to a table just off the kitchen. He looked around and saw another open table not in view of the bay but at least a bit more secluded. He looked at the boy and then pointed.

“Is that table available?”

“I believe so, sir,” the lad retrieved the menus, walked over to the table of choice and placed them on each setting. “Would you like something from the bar while you wait?”

“Yes. Iced tea will be fine. Thank you.”

“Water and a vase?” He pointed to the bouquet.

“Yes, please.” Sal handed the young lad the flowers and he left toward the kitchen area.

Sal sat down and opened his communicator to check the time. It was 14:35, 10 daki to spare. Harry should be coming around the corner at any moment, he thought. She was fashionably late only when he was in tow, when they were going to a place together. Otherwise, she seemed to be quite prompt. And as sure as the sun, there she was in a pale pink dress that accented her skin tone and shimmered in the redden sky. She was the most beautiful woman on this world to Sal. He watched as she confronted the same young lad. They exchanged greetings and then started toward the table as Sal stood and pulled out the opposing seat.

She came straight into his arms and they exchanged a fairly passionate kiss. The Sal sat her down and shuffled to his own seat. He was excited to hear what she had learned about the other night and the abrupt end to the entertainment. He also wanted to tell her all about the Zoalus alphabet blocks. He was a little giddy. Harriet seemed much more sober, quiet; mysterious. This was a new twist and it too excited Sal. ‘Never a dull moment shall there be’, he thought.

The lad returned with the flowers and his iced tea. Harry thanked him gracefully with a nice smile and reached out for Sal’s hand across the tabletop. He placed the vase on the far side of the table and then the glass of tea in front of Sal. Turning to Harry, he said “Would you like some as well?”

“Yes. Please.”

The boy left and Harry finally spoke. “This is a really nice place. We’re going to have to remember it.” She paused. “How was your day, baby?”

“It was okay, I guess. I went downtown to see the Zoalus exhibit. But I want to here about yours. Come on, Harry. You’ve been gone for almost two days.” He smiled and squeezed her hand. She could tell that he wasn’t upset but simply curious as well he should be. She waited a short moment for him to sigh and he did, then she continued.

“Well, it turns out that El Tira owns Robinson Bay. Well, her family does. We have gotten to know each other quite well and she has a bit of influence as far as the Westen are concerned. I can’t wait to share this information with father. The trade agreements alone are, well, lucrative. But…”

Now she paused for a long moment and a smile grew on her face. She now held both of his hands and she slowly lifted them.

“I’m pregnant! We’re pregnant!”

Sal stood up so quickly that his chair tumbled over into some nearby plants. “Oh my God! That’s wonderful, sweetheart! Wh—wh— I— I don’t have the words.”

He stammered and felt very weak in the knees. He was going to be a father. They were going to have a child. This was something that Sal had dreamed about for a very long time and now it was going to come true.

Back to Reality

Sal sat on his deck chair alone looking out over the Burgess Sea. That was six annuls ago and it seemed like a lifetime. Back then, he and Harry were two young people in love. Nothing had felt better or more right at the time. He paused in thought and sipped his ale. The memories almost brought tears to his eyes.

They had a girl and Sal had chosen the name, Joia d’Cel which meant ‘Jewel of the Stars’ and with the new baby came a lot of change. They were now a family and Sal prided himself with providing the best for his girls. They would not have need, he had decided. And that was the creation of Southgate.

But now that chapter was closing and Sal had become discontented with Harry’s desire to rule the world. She had become her father and although it was her father’s influence that brought wealth to Sal and his girls, it had also separated Harry and her free-spirited, sail naked, attitude. Family life had changed her and she had focused on her career in politics. She was currently a strong leader in Southgate and had influence that touched almost every continent. This was not Sal. It wasn’t who he was. His decision to leave was the most difficult one that he had ever made. But it was done.


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