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CH 11: THALO THREE
 
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MERCY [NOVA AFTERMATH], CHAPTER 11: THALO THREE

M11-0
     Giola System was Ghethe’s choice for the intended recovery and relaxation holiday, and it was at four i-std. days distance from Dubar traveling at twenty points speed. Ghethe was aware their unusual speed was going to be noticed, despite the fact that Naiollah had a vector well away from the region of space he knew it was infested with ships searching for them. However, he wanted to find as soon as possible a nice resting place for Zelhane Ladies.
     Meanwhile, he spent most of his time trying to open the treasure-container left by the Enlightened Emperor. He discovered a molecular zip of a special design having stronger molecular bonds than the ones used in the metallic alloy of the container itself. After many tests, he realized he needed a particular frequency having a specific field intensity, which needed to be in a certain composition relation to another frequency, of the “Molecular Bonds Disruptor” probe, in order to open the zip. It took him and Naiollah a day and a half of methodical tests to discover the right combination, and to open the container.
     Ghethe invited the Ladies to witness treasure’s content. The metallic container was protecting a thermal shell which in turn protected another metallic airtight enclosure filled with a scarce helium isotope.

     “It is very small now,” remarked Mlane. “Why he needed such a big container?”
     “The container, My Dear, has a double purpose. First, it is a container for the treasure; secondly, it is a small engine of an unknown design to me, which was able to hide the container from our Atomic Universe, and to hold it in stasis, in E-Fields, for so long. The engine itself is a treasure, therefore I shall have to examine carefully its mechanics later,” explained Ghethe while he managed to open the airtight enclosure.
     They could finally see the content of the treasure. There was a set of nine data crystals, each differently colored; a small, flat metallic box with touch symbols and a metallic screen; plus five more strange objects.
     “This one looks like a small book-editor, and this one appears to be a minuscule energy battery,” said Mlane, while pointing her finger at each item in turn.
     He assured her, “I am confident we are going to find explanations and instructions of use on the data crystals, Mlane.”
     “Do you think this is a real treasure, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane with doubt.
     “Yes, My Dear. The container itself is more advanced than today’s technology, and same appear to be all the other objects.”
     Mlane asked confused, “Ghethe, I do not understand this: how is it possible that a two hundred years old technology is more advanced than the one we use today?”
     “This is simple, Mlane. The research work is done in secret. Therefore, when something new is invented people may decide to use it, or not, then they look at inventing something else. Now, those inventions that are not used are stored in secret places, until people like us find them, and they are still wonders and new technologies to us.”
     “I understand that, but what was the reason for not using a new invention into the past?”
     “Mlane, not all inventions are implemented as soon as they are discovered, and there are many good reasons for that. For example, some inventions need to be preserved as strategic weapons for the future; other inventions could change our way of life radically, therefore ordinary people could get dangerous powers. The implementation of some advanced inventions could easily lead to the deterioration of our social life from many points of view. Handling properly technological development is a difficult task, Mlane.
     Even in our case, we have to be very careful with what we found. We could use everything, or only some of these things, or they could be so advanced that we shall have to hide them away again.
     Please be aware, Ladies, that Naiollah will automatically self-destruct if anybody, excepting us, manages to forcefully penetrate inside her. Now, you do not have to worry because getting inside Naiollah without her permission is practically impossible.”
     “Will she self-destruct even if we are inside her?” asked Ahlane surprised.
     He replied, “Yes, but any of us has the authority to stop the eighteen i-std. seconds countdown.”
     “Is that wise, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane, not much pleased by the news.
     “Yes, it is, My Dear, and I want you both to be well aware of a very important aspect. By discovering this treasure, our lives become less important; in other words, we must protect these secrets with our lives. I do not like it at all, but some things are indeed extremely important.
     If you remember, Mlane, I told you that a few research words could be more valuable than an entire Planetary System. What we have here could be more valuable than many Systems taken together from the Imperial Worlds. I have to study the data and decide if we should use some of it, then hide the rest.”
     “Where do you plan to hide it, Ghethe?” whispered Mlane in a conspirator attitude, with anticipation of excitement in her eyes.
     “Ha, ha! I have no idea, My Dear, but I shall consult with you when the time comes,” promised Ghethe smiling amused.
     “How long till we reach the holiday Planet?”
     “We have only two more i-std. days, Ahlane. I shall use this time to decipher the data on the crystals.”
     “Oh, two more days! This is really fast, but I am also very glad because I long to walk on natural gravity, to feel the wind again, to touch the vegetation and the sand with my bare feet . . .” said Ahlane dreamingly.
     “I know it very well, My Dear. This is the reason I asked Naiollah to use her maximum speed, although it is a terribly stupid thing to do,” said Ghethe with regret in his voice.
     “Why Ghethe?” asked Mlane.
     “In our Imperial Worlds, My Dear, the space is permanently monitored by powerful stations. Sooner or later, someone is going to notice our unusual speed, and they will record our vector because I doubt there are other starships capable to match Naiollah.
     After a maximum of thirty-six local days we must leave the holiday Planet because our followers will track us, and they will certainly come. I want you, Ladies, to never forget this, to stay close to me all the time, and to be permanently alert beginning with the very first day.”
     “Oh, will it ever end, Ghethe? I do not like this!” protested Ahlane making a sweet, bothered face.
     “It will, My Dear. There is one more thing to do, for me, to purge the perpetrators of those horrible crimes, and then I shall personally take care that you have the best possible lives, Ladies.”
     “Oh, Ghethe, you have done so much for us, and I think we shall never be able to thank you enough,” replied Ahlane troubled, and looking at him with a lot of gratitude.
     He started ironically, “My Dear Ladies, mind this, please. First, I did what it had to be done; secondly, I did what I wanted to do; thirdly, I did what I liked to do; fourthly—”
     “Ha, ha! Yes, it is quite clear, Ghethe,” interrupted Mlane amused.
     “But, to be serious again, please be permanently alert, Ladies, because there are a few terrible trials coming for us. We cannot afford to complain, or to think of a better life, until we are finished cleaning our Worlds of those dangerous people. Please remember that this is not only for us.”
     Ahlane asked worriedly, “Do you still think you can win, Ghethe, because we are too weak to help you with anything?”
     He tried to encourage them, “I would not be here without you, Ladies; you are the beginning of everything. Even more, if the New Empire is going to be better tomorrow, that is due to you—I am only the instrument.
     As for winning, I do not have the luxury of thinking I could lose: I must win. Anyway, for the time being please relax, Ladies, because we have a few very nice days ahead of us.”
     “Some relaxation: always watching and expecting bad things to happen,” complained Mlane making in her turn a cute bothered face.
     He pleaded, “Mlane, I know this is difficult, My Dear, but in time it may become a second nature to be very cautious, just like a natural instinct, and you will not have to think of it. Even more, if we want to live anonymously into the future, we have to learn to defend ourselves. This is an excellent lesson, Ladies!”
     “This is a permanent living on a battleground, Ghethe,” concluded Ahlane displeased.
     “But it is still living, My Dear, and we have to make the most of it. In time, this way of living could become even interesting, or exciting. One positive thing is, it will make us stronger and more resourceful.”
     “You think so, Ghethe?” asked Mlane with gleaming hopes in her eyes.
     “I have no doubts about that, Mlane. In about five i-std. years from now, both of you shall have some mental powers. I intend to train you, Ladies,” promised Ghethe.
     “Aha! Now you have long-term plans for us!” remarked Ahlane jokingly revolted.
     “VERY, long-term plans, My Dear,” specified Ghethe smilingly, and looking straight into her eyes.
     Those words and his persistent look brought, almost instantly, a splash of blue on Ahlane’s cheeks. She replied, “I wouldn’t count too much on that if I were you, Mr. Dakka,” then she took Mlane’s hand and added ironically, “Come, My Dear. Let’s leave Mr. Dakka alone with his dreams.”

*

M11-1     Giola was a famous holiday spot throughout Imperial Worlds. Consequently, despite the existing economic recession people still found the time to forget about their daily routine, while tanning on some of the most spectacular beaches. Of course that business was slower than in the good past days of the Empire, but it was still on, therefore the colonists of the System were making extraordinary efforts, surprising and highly uncommon, to attract new visitors to their dazzling holiday resorts.
     The System was a binary one having two Stars, Giola and Cizad, and twenty-seven Planets: it happened that three of the Planets had a lot more than good natural living conditions. The Planets were suited almost for everybody, because each was different in its gravity vector, atmospheric pressure, atmospheric composition, and average temperatures. In addition, the past prosperous tourism industry had made the entire System to become a small corner of paradise!
     Thalo Three was the Planet that matched best to the Zelhane Ladies’ expressed desires. It had about seventy-two parts per unit of water surface, five continents, plus thousands of smaller islands. The enormous mass of the ocean acted as a gigantic thermal buffer, therefore the climate was extraordinarily balanced on the moderate values. Moreover, particularly interesting was the harmonious and bold architecture of the constructions which tried to integrate smoothly within the wonderful natural environment, while competing for beauty and strangeness.
     Ghethe had visited Thalo Three before during a short mission. He spent only three local days there, though he had been so much impressed by the gentle light of Giola Star, and by the fresh breath of the ocean, that he promised to return one day for a longer unwinding vacation.

M11-2
     Before reaching Giola System, Naiollah slowed her speed to one fifth, because Ghethe intended to confuse possible trackers by mixing into the busy traffic around and within the System. They were all in the Main Salon, throwing veiled ironies at each other, when Naiollah announced that a small ship had a vector straight towards them. Ghethe asked to see the approaching ship, then he told the Ladies not to worry because, he said, it was a junk ship.
     Mlane thought the alien ship looked ninety times better than Naiollah, with its shining red hull and an impressive dynamic shape, but she kept her feelings to herself.
     “Ghethe, the approaching ship wants to communicate,” announced Naiollah.
     “Naiollah, open the channel,” said Ghethe.
     A young man of about thirty-five i-std. years old, with blond hair, dark blue eyes, and a nice tanned face appeared in a second holographic projection.
     “. . . read me? This is ‘Red Dragon’, the terror of Giola System: do you read me?”
     “Yeah, we read you, ‘Red Terror’. What do you want?” asked Ghethe.
     “Where are you heading?” inquired the man who was dressed in some fancy red clothes, designed to suggest the owner lived a mean and adventurous life.
     “What’s it t’ya?” replied Ghethe humorously, though his rude phrasing stunned Ahlane with surprise.
     “Aah . . . prepare yourself to surrender to the mightiest most cruel pirate of Giola System: ‘Bloody Hands’!” replied the pirate hesitantly at first, though full of bravery afterwards.
     “Ha! Where’s that ‘Bleeding Hands’?” asked Ghethe with a large smile, although both Ladies started being alarmed.
     “It is I! I am the most cruel and—” started the pirate in a voice intended to inspire terror.
     “Sir, I think it is safer for you to depart,” advised Ahlane with concern.
     “What? I am sorry, My Lady, but I have to take you all to Giola pirates lair on Thalo Three. Do not try to resist, because I have forty-five cannons ready to fire a river of plasma on your puny ship!”
     Both Ladies looked at Ghethe with scared eyes, only his smile was even larger.
     “Ha, ha! Son, is there a decent place to accommodate these Ladies and our ship on Thalo Three?”
     “Yes, Sir—I mean, of course there is, you fearless victim: it is the lair of the most ferocious pirates—” started the pirate with his poetry.
     “Look here, son. If by any chance I discover that your place is not a seventh grade or more, therefore I wasted my time, you shall have to get yourself a pair of bio-mechanical ears,” warned Ghethe smiling ironically.
     “Seventh grade, Sir! Ooh, I am sorry . . . I wouldn’t have guessed given the condition of your ship . . . Seventh grade! Are you certain you can afford it, Sir?” asked the pirate looking deeply confused.
     “My friend, I said seventh grade as a minimum. If you really love those pink ears of yours, you should start thinking fast. Picture this: I want two seventh grade apartments, one for these two Ladies and one for me, as close as possible to each other. Then, I want a secure hangar for our ship, again as close as possible. In addition, I want many shopping centers nearby, I want the best beaches possible, with nice people around, and at least one reliable, decent and trustful, Companion-Lady. Got it?”
     “Yes, Sir, and I know exactly the right place for you. May I take care of your reservations, Sir?” asked the pirate in a very polite attitude.
     “Sure,” agreed Ghethe
     “Aah, I need some data for Landing Registrations, if you please,” announced the pirate smiling courteously.
     “Fire away,” said Ghethe.
     “May I have your names, please?”
     “My name is X, and the Ladies here are Y and Z, son.”
     “Ooh, I see . . . There is an extra charge for this, Sir, because I have to guarantee for you,” objected the pirate.
     “Don’t worry,” assured Ghethe.
     “I suppose you come from a System named ‘W’, Sir?” inquired the pirate with much inspiration.
     “You are really smart son. Go on,” encouraged Ghethe.
     “I got the picture, Sir, therefore there is no need of further details, as the previous ones. Aah . . . I have to pay the accommodations for the first nine days, and then the fees for—” started the pirate shyly.
     “How much?” interrupted Ghethe.
     “Two hundred fifty thousand Giola Credits, Sir,” answered the pirate with a troubled smile.
     “That is about one hundred fifty thousand Batlan Credits,” estimated Ghethe.
     “More like one hundred twenty-five, Sir,” corrected the pirate.
     “The rest is for your efforts, son. Be very cautious: I want no tracks,” specified Ghethe.
     “Thank you, Sir, you will simply disappear! I am an expert,” promised the pirate enthusiastically.
     “Remember those nice ears of yours, son: I eat them,” confessed Ghethe.
     “Yes, Sir, I am confident it will exceed your expectations. This is my account, Sir.”
     “Naiollah, transfer one hundred fifty thousand Batlan Credits to this account.”
     “The transfer is completed, Ghethe.”
     “Oh! Your ship is a Self-Unit Intelligence, Sir?” asked the pirate well lost in admiration.
     “Now, look here, son: I said I want to disappear, and that I eat ears, and I mean it!” replied Ghethe with a threatening note in his voice.
     “Sir, please allow me to extend my guiding services to you for the entire period you intend to rest on Thalo Three. In this way, you shall have me permanently under observation, and my ears close to your hands,” offered the pirate with sincere looks.
     “Ha, ha! You seem to be a very smart kid. What is your name?” asked Ghethe with good disposition.
     “My name is Petha Kowat, Sir. I am a Molecular Scientist, and I have about the same age as you do, Sir,” answered the pirate smiling politely.
     “Same age! Ha, ha! Scientist! Aah, ha, ha! Ah, my dear child, you have so much to learn about this hard and cruel Universe you live in,” said Ghethe greatly pleased by the news.
     “Ghethe, that is not nice of you! Please be more considerate,” whispered Ahlane feeling embarrassed by his lack of courtesy.
     Ahlane’s words took Ghethe’s fun away like magic. He twisted quickly towards her and whispered, “I am sorry, Ahlane,” then he said in a normal voice towards Petha’s three-dimensional projection, “Thank you, Sir, we agree to benefit of your guiding services. Please, take care of all arrangements.”
     “Thank you, Sir,” replied Petha, then he started working. He said they were required to perform the decontamination procedures. Ghethe presented him the decontamination certificates they had received in Weyla System, as they were supposed to be valid for one i-std. year even in Giola System. Petha took some time to solve all the tasks required for landing approvals and hotel reservations. After one long i-std. hour of waiting time, they received the authorization for landing without further delays.
M11-3
     They followed the shining “Red Dragon” ship down to the sparkling night side of Thalo Three. Mlane was quite enthusiastic about the view since the contours of the continents and of the islands were perfectly visible, marked by powerful, multicolored lights.
     Naiollah landed on a larger island, close to one continent, near the hotel “Parallax Seventy-One” which had a strange architecture: it was built on the slope of a mountain, and it duplicated mountain’s natural surface. The hotel had about two hundred seventy floors arranged in a gentle slope, and forming large terraces from place to place, with cafeterias, bars, restaurants, shops, entertaining places, swimming pools plus all sorts of sport facilities, with small exotic gardens, and then branching into other sets of terraces at lower or higher levels, all with an incredible illumination. That hotel was a small town, and a marvelous beauty!
     Naiollah parked herself inside a modern, spacious, underground hangar. Ghethe advised the Ladies to pack just a few things, because they were going to do plenty of shopping for fun. They left Naiollah soon afterwards, and they met with Petha who was waiting for them outside with a baggage-transporter.

     They walked through large corridors enriched by nice decorations and soft lights. Next, they took an enormous elevator, then they walked again on other large corridors, with chairs and lounges near small tables from place to place, with tiny isolated ecosystems displaying funny insects, beautiful birds, or colorful marine life, and with strange, exotic plants.
     Petha presented the apartment to Zelhane Ladies, and they were nicely impressed by the space, architecture, decorations, greenery, view, technologies, and . . . everything!
     Ghethe was very happy to see the Ladies pleased. He said he would come back in two local hours time to take them out to a night restaurant, then he left with Petha to see his apartment. It was just next door, and almost as luxurious as the one the Ladies had, though half in size. He told Petha to make himself comfortable and have something to drink while he took a refreshing shower.
M11-4
     Ghethe changed into a new set of clothes, then he joined Petha to a cup of “Ionic Storm twenty-seven on nine”.
     “Son, do you know a nice restaurant with some interesting food—good, and not too exotic—with an orchestra playing the classic nightclub-beat dance music, and with a dancing floor?”
     “I know thousands of places like that, Sir,” replied Petha promptly.
     “Look, Petha, try to get rid of that ‘Sir’ thing. For you, my son, I am Ghethe; right?” asked Ghethe smiling friendly.
     “Works fine with me, Ghethe,” confided Petha also with a friendly smile.
     “Now, because I like to call you ‘son’ from time to time, you should call me ‘old man’, or something appropriate—just to get even. I never get touchy, don’t worry,” assured Ghethe.
     “That’s so, aye?” slipped Petha pleasantly surprised.
     “Yeaah.”
     “Listen, Ghethe: I know a place where they serve Essence,” confessed Petha with inquiring looks.
     “Don’t tell me you can drink it,” replied Ghethe surprised.
     “Drink it! Ha! If I could afford the money, I would blow the—” started Petha to expose his abilities.
     Ghethe interrupted him, “What kind of Essence you have around here, son?”
     “Ooh, we have the best Essence possible, Ghethe: red, orange, yellow, and even the green one, depending on how much you can afford to pay. The most expensive is the green one, at about thirty thousand one triple flagon. Ah, once I had a yellow flagon, Ghethe—”
     “Look, Petha. In order to understand why I call you ‘son’, try to imagine that I come from a place where I ‘explored’ for three local days and three nights, continuously, blue, purple, and violet Essence. We served ourselves straight from the kegs, and we did it without having to pay for anything,” explained Ghethe with an ironic smile.
     “Aah! You should better call me grandson, Sir. Do they really exist?” asked Petha deeply shocked by the news.
     “If you are a good kid, and you know how to keep a secret, I will tell you about it,” promised Ghethe amused.
     “Sir, I shall do anything for you, and you do not have to pay me!” volunteered Petha with great admiration and a lot of drive, since he started seeing Ghethe surrounded by a holy aura.
     “Get rid of that ‘Sir’ thing, Petha,” advised Ghethe with an indulgent smile.
     “But I can’t! Not now, Sir; this is too much!” confided Petha. He was well overwhelmed with respect.
     “Get used to it, son, because there is even more to come in that store,” warned Ghethe.
     “More than the violet one? What?” asked Petha incredulously.
     “Nobody knows, my son. We managed to count up to the forty-seventh keg . . . Wait a moment; I think it was in fact the forty-eighth one . . . Anyway, in the last one the Essence had a superb iridescent pale-violet color, but there are over ninety kegs in there,” confessed Ghethe while remembering with satisfaction the wonderful moments spent in Nestar’s company.
     Petha’s eyes looked like ready to pop out, and his face was well beyond red. He asked with difficulty, “In . . . in there . . . where, Sir?”
     Ghethe looked critically at Petha then said, “Son, it could be some hope for you. Who knows, maybe one day . . . Now, cool down because we have a mission to accomplish here.”
     “Just order me, Sir,” replied Petha promptly.
     “Again?”
     “Sorry, Ghethe,” corrected Petha.
     “Look, Petha . . . Those two Ladies—did you notice them?” asked Ghethe.
     “I couldn’t help noticing, Sir—Ghethe,” confessed Petha.
     “Listen to me. Those two Ladies are the most important persons in all Imperial Worlds; they are more important than all the Essence in existence. Can you understand this, Petha?” asked Ghethe.
     “That is very difficult to believe, S—Ghethe, but if you say it . . . then it must be true,” replied Petha hesitantly.
     “Now, I want you to help me take care and protect those Ladies. In return, one day you shall taste the blue one. I always keep my promises, and remember this: no Emperor, ever, knew about the blue one,” assured Ghethe.
     “I shall help you with anything you wish, Sir!” said Petha eagerly.
     “Yeah, that’s the spirit. Picture this, my friend: some bad people are going to come after us—very bad people! Can you detect bad people, Petha?”
     “On the spot, Sir—Ghethe.”
     “Good. The rules are simple: I need the Ladies to be permanently supervised . . . Do you know a nice, well educated Companion-Lady?”
     “Yes, Sir. She is my sister, Sir—I’m sorry, Ghethe, but it is customary to me,” said Petha while asking, implicitly, to be excused for his uncontrolled use of the “Sir” word.
     “Aah, it’s all right; you’ll get over it soon enough. Now, do you trust your sister, Petha?” inquired Ghethe.
     “As in myself, Ghethe,” confided Petha.
     “Excellent! You may tell her what you hear from me, but do not let the Ladies notice anything. They must have the time of their life here. Got it?” asked Ghethe smiling gently.
     “And so they will, Ghethe; if they won’t, don’t bring me anything,” promised Petha with genuine sincerity in his eyes.
     “Yes, there is definitely hope for you, Petha. Never forget that those Ladies are the most important persons in all Imperial Worlds. This is not only for me, Petha, but also for you, and for everybody else. Without those two Ladies, our Worlds would go back to chained slavery, and that could be soon,” explained Ghethe in a serious attitude.
     “Sir, that is . . . terrible!” replied Petha perplexed.
     “I know you cannot believe it, son, but trust me on this one and keep your eyes open. You have much to learn,” promised Ghethe.
     “Sir, Ghethe, I can arrange for an army of people to—” started Petha.
     “No, Petha, we do not need an army, but we do need continuous observation and to be permanently alert. Above all, great discretion,” advised Ghethe.
     “Yes, Sir.”
     “Now, let’s take the Ladies to a nice place, and keep in mind they are as pure as the morning dew. They know little about the ugly side of real life, but they do not need to know anything more, because they have me, and you, to take care of all their problems,” explained Ghethe with a kind smile.
     “Yes, Sir—Ghethe.”
     “Let’s go, son. Try to get rid of that ‘Sir’ thing of yours. You are almost my age, and then you are a Scientist.”
     “I know, Ghethe, but . . . this is really difficult.”
M11-5
     The “Vortex of Lights” restaurant was an architectural beauty in the shape of two uneven tangent circles, plus nine large terraces, each higher from center to periphery and surrounding the two circles. In the smaller circle was the band flooded by lights, while in the other, with an open side to the far and down below glittering ocean, was the dancing floor.
The illumination tried to suggest a garden filled with bushes of small, multicolored flowers, but seen from the highest levels it formed the well-known shape of the “Vortex of Lights” Galaxy. The roof was an enormous half-ovoid dome built in a multi-reflex structure for best acoustics. Above all, the band played really good quality, nightclub-beat style music.
     They sampled a few delicious dishes, less for food but to enjoy the taste, and the finest drinks available. The Ladies won three times the right to ask the band to play whatever they wanted, in restaurant-wide draws. Ghethe danced with Ahlane, then with Mlane, and Petha also danced with each Lady.
     Late in the night, Ghethe and Petha challenged each other in telling the most absurd jokes to the Ladies—of the brain shattering “dry” type, almost indistinguishable from sheer stupidity—and they all laughed until it started to hurt unbearably inside.
     They returned to the Hotel very late. Petha showed them how to reach their apartments walking on the outside of the Hotel, on large terraces spotted with small flower gardens and exotic trees. Ghethe and the Zelhane Ladies were extremely pleased to feel again natural gravity, and to see so many strange and surprising surroundings, while immersed into the warm, moist and subtle, summer night perfume . . .
M11-6
     Next day Ghethe woke up fairly late. He discovered Petha and his sister, Heile, waiting for them outside on the terrace, at a beach table. Heile was about twenty-five i-std. years old, slim built and medium in height, with a blond hair like her brother’s. She had blue eyes on a nice pale-pink face, and she displayed a delicate restraint smile. After a brief casual conversation, Ghethe concluded that Heile was intelligent, considerate, and well educated. Soon, Ahlane and Mlane joined them, and they formed a lively group.
     They ordered breakfast right there, on the terrace, because they had a splendid view of the beach, and of the ocean. In daylight, all surroundings looked surprisingly different, though greatly pleasing, and the air was scented full-flavored of the fresh ocean breeze, seeming to be an elusive though impossible to resist invitation to go to the beach.
     Mlane was very glad because Giola Star had a white color, the ocean had wonderful shades of blue, and the sky was transparent and pale blue. I was the second half of the summer on their hemisphere, with lots of sunshine and a few rains. However, Petha and Heile assured them that the veteran visitors considered the stormy fall season to be the most romantic one!
     Ahlane announced that she had organized their time, although she had little hopes they would keep up with it. The overall idea was that they had a general reference schedule. According to her program, they were supposed to wake up early and go to the beach for one or two local hours, then they served breakfast, and then followed six local hours of morning shopping or interesting visits. Next came the lunch in a nice cafeteria, then six more local hours spent on the beach. After a short period for refreshments, she had planned one local hour for dressing, and then dinner at a fine, though always different, night restaurant. The sleeping time was supposed to be the local midnight.
     Ghethe declared himself immediately the strongest supporter of the plan, therefore it was adopted, then he handed to everybody restricted comnode bracelets for use only between themselves and Naiollah.

     Their group started to follow, in general, Ahlane’s timetable, though with many improvisations when something interesting came up. Ghethe took the opportunity to add nine hundred million Batlan Credits to Ahlane’s account, so that the Ladies would enjoy shopping without worries. After that, he reconsidered his action and he intended to transfer another nine hundred million. Ahlane smiled tenderly at him; she laid her delicate hand over his to stop him, then she said that it was more than enough . . .
     They rented ground transport vehicles and they traveled to the surrounding islands, then to the nearby continent. Next, they rented a medium sized water-gliding ship, and they went for fishing and diving. Soon they discovered new attractions, and they indulged into gravity dive, air gliding, water sliding, snow sliding, plus many more. Petha and Heile came each day with new proposals of interesting places to visit, or sports to enjoy, and they selected the best options democratically—based on Ladies’ obvious majority.

     Most of the time Ghethe had in his hands a book-editor and was studying the deciphered data crystals, while supervising their group’s activity from a comfortable seat with a strategic view. It happened that Ahlane felt rather tired quite often; consequently, she preferred to join him, for refreshments. Ghethe was very glad of her presence, and to let her splendid eyes to take over monitoring the group.
     From time to time Ghethe pulled himself out from cryptic applications and cumbersome mathematical modeling of physical phenomena, appearing to be a little scared he had lost her. He was always pleased to discover Ahlane’s caring looks, and her wonderful smile . . .

GREEN LEAVES




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