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MERCY [NOVA AFTERMATH], CHAPTER 14: DATA

M14-0
     As the days went by, their group became somewhat polarized in two subgroups: one was formed by Mlane, Petha, and Heile, and the second was Ghethe and Ahlane. Still, the Ladies had their own time together when they went shopping, during beauty enhancement activities, or when they were simply chatting, and Ghethe and Petha followed or watched them everywhere. In addition, many times they were all involved in some common, recreational activities.
     Ghethe tried to study whenever he found little spare time and a good place to sit, and Petha always kept a respectful distance. He had noticed strange complex diagrams on Ghethe’s book-editor, and he intended to show discretion. Ahlane enjoyed a lot the general fun, though she felt rather uncomfortable when she saw Ghethe struggling with his study. It was clear, given his involuntary face mimic, that it was not easy to assimilate that knowledge. From time to time she took a place near him, because she had noticed he was pleased when she was around, and he was looking for her smile.
     Their group enjoyed intensively those relaxing days, though the happiest of them all was Mlane. Her delicate body was bursting with energy, and her wonderful purple eyes were permanently radiant with excitement. That pleased Ahlane a lot, as she had strong maternal feelings for her little sister, and it also delighted Ghethe, since he cared for both Ladies.
     Petha and Heile were well satisfied to see their new friends and employers happy and in high spirits. Heile liked Zelhane Ladies so much that she had cut and dyed her hair; therefore, she resembled another sister of theirs, with blue eyes and a pink skin. They all started to get a nice tan, while losing little weight, and their health and good disposition were better than ever due to the all-surrounding, purified, breeze of the ocean.
M14-1
     One day Ghethe and Ahlane were together, sitting at a beach table: Ghethe was studying, as usual, and Ahlane was simply relaxing, as she had just ended a hot game of Loj.
     “You know, Ghethe, I feel this is the Planet I would like to live on in the future,” said Ahlane with confidence.
     “You will,” assured Ghethe with his eyes on his book-editor.
     “This place is healthier than the summer resorts on Nottam, and I think it is because of this huge ocean,” said Ahlane while turning her head to look at Mlane.
     Ghethe jumped from his seat and started looking nervously in all directions. He asked with great tension in his voice, “WHERE?”
     “Ghethe, you do not listen to me!” concluded Ahlane surprised by his reaction, though also disappointed.
     “Oh! I am sorry, Ahlane—you scared me! I need to assimilate this important data,” explained Ghethe nervously while taking his seat back.
     “All right! Tell me what is that important,” ordered Ahlane, then she moved in a more comfortable position in her chair. She smiled sweetly, then she began waiting patiently for him to start.
     “I haven’t finished, Ahlane,” motivated Ghethe defensively.
     “Yes, but you have studied a lot until now. Tell me what seems so important to you,” replied Ahlane.
     To Ghethe, the true pressure came from her insistent superb smile. He asked with his eyes glued on Ahlane’s lips, “But . . . why, Ahlane?”
     “I want you to relax a little, and take a few moments to watch the ocean, the horizon, this gentle Giola Star and . . . and me,” detailed Ahlane with a teasing smile.
     Ghethe turned his book-editor off, then he smiled back at her. He observed ironically, “Aha! You are trying to corrupt me.”
     “Maybe . . . just a little,” admitted Ahlane with detachment, and then she continued with her teasing smile, though also a bit ironic.
     “I see . . . You know, I was supposed to be totally incorruptible,” confessed Ghethe with a puzzled expression on his face.
     “Do you find it difficult to be that incorruptible?” asked Ahlane ironically, then she smiled so nice that Ghethe remained for a long while with his eyes on the contours of her lips.
     “When I am near you, Ahlane, I find that quite impossible,” confessed Ghethe.
     “Ha, ha! Is that so?” asked Ahlane pleased with his confession.
     “Yeah . . . You are too beautiful, Ahlane,” concluded Ghethe. The way he said the words it was clear they were not meant to be a compliment, but a plain admission of reality.
     “Oh! More beautiful than your interesting diagrams?” continued Ahlane to press ironically with the subject.
     “Those? Aaah . . . more.”
     “Do I notice there a feeble shadow of doubt, Ghethe?”
     “No! I have absolutely no doubts. Aah . . . do you like it here, Ahlane?” asked Ghethe.
     She thought he intended to change the subject; she replied, “I just told you that I would like to live here in the future.”
     “And so we will. I remember you said, sometime ago, something about a reward . . .” said Ghethe, and he left his words unfinished while looking at her with expectation.
     “Reward! What reward?” asked Ahlane appearing to be perplexed, and a little bit offended.
     “You said, if the holiday place is going to please you, you will reward me with something,” tried Ghethe to help her remind, and he ended his words in a shy smile.
     “Something what?” asked Ahlane, more perplexed and looking suspiciously at him.
     “I do not know,” answered Ghethe starting to become in his turn perplexed, and very disappointed.
     “When did I say such thing?” continued Ahlane with her amazing memory loss.
     It was greatly disturbing to Ghethe that she did not remember. He said pleadingly, though also a bit nervously, “Oh, come on, Ahlane!”
     “Ha, ha! You have a very good memory, Ghethe,” replied Ahlane ironically.
     “How could I forget that?” said Ghethe feeling relieved that Ahlane’s lack of memory proved to be only a well-played trick of hers.
     “Well, maybe . . . you do deserve a small reward—” admitted Ahlane thoughtfully.
     “Yes!” slipped Ghethe with great anticipation.
     “But . . . I have to think about it,” continued Ahlane, and she ended in an ironic smile.
     “Oh, Ahlane!” protested Ghethe, and he appeared to be disappointed.
     “Now, do not give me those upset looks, Ghethe. Tell me something interesting,” demanded Ahlane, and then she gratified him with another breathtaking smile.
     “Interesting?” asked Ghethe, still disappointed and looking at her lips.
     “Yes, from your data,” specified Ahlane.
     “I do not want to spoil your fun, My Dear, with such boring scientific things,” replied Ghethe ironically.
     “Just tell me the essence, and make it interesting for me,” decided Ahlane.
     “Aah . . . One thing is a new space travel technology named ‘Resonant Frames’,” started Ghethe reluctantly.
     “That sounds interesting. What is it?”
     “Well, in principle, we have two frames separated in space, and both will access a particular subatomic primordial energy layer. In the next step, we bring both frames in resonance with a fixed-point subatomic frequency. This theory is similar to the Inter-Systems communications technology we use today, though it is a lot more advanced. It works this way: a person enters one frame, then he gets out the other one almost instantaneously, although the frames are in different Systems.”
     “You mean, I could wake up in the morning in our apartment in Korwatan, and then come here to have breakfast?” asked Ahlane excitedly.
     He replied with relaxation, “Exactly, My Dear.”
     “Ha, ha! That is so fantastic, Ghethe! We do not have to spend days hanged on Naiollah to reach this Planet,” remarked Ahlane happily.
     “Oh, Ahlane, I thought you liked it,” replied Ghethe with disappointed surprise.
     “What is there to like, Ghethe?”
     “Well, being together on Naiollah . . .” tried Ghethe to help her remind about the wonderful time they had spent together.
     “Aah, of course it was nice to be with you on Naiollah, Ghethe, but we can be together as we are here, now,” explained Ahlane in a caring voice, then she added casually, “Please tell me more.”
     “The Resonant Frames invention is based on a new E-Fields theory which allows in the future the development of ships that will travel huge distances in a few moments.”
     “Why do we need ships if we already have the Resonant Frames technology?” asked Ahlane puzzled.
     “They are different applications, My Dear. The Resonant Frames instance requires that we reach the two distances using conventional means, as a first step, and then we establish the resonant connection. In the second case, we do not need that first step: we have a ship that will take us to a distant point in space instantaneously, without a Resonant Frame. This second case is named ‘Point-to-Point Instantaneous Drive’ and it makes space exploration a lot easier.”
     “Please detail that technology a little,” said Ahlane intrigued.
     “Well, the Point-to-Point transport technology is very complex to build, My Dear. First, our initial space-matter-time point—the ship—needs to resonate on Kamg Third, a positive primordial energy sub-layer in the subatomic. Then, a specialized artificial intelligence calculates the coordinates of the destination point in terms of energy values on the Kamg Third sub-layer.

     [. . .]

     In theory, we could go anywhere in the Universe with this technology. In practice, however, we are going to be limited by the precision of the calculated destination point coordinates to our immediate cluster of Stars. Otherwise, we could end up our journey in a cavity, inside a rock, someplace in the Universe,” detailed Ghethe.
M14-2
     “Do you intend to implement these new technologies in the New Empire?” asked Ahlane looking concerned. She understood that both inventions were far too advanced for their existing level of social development.
     “The Resonant Frames transport technology could be very good for the future Empire, but I have to think about the second one,” answered Ghethe.
     “Right! What else is there?” wondered Ahlane, because she enjoyed that, comfortable for her, exploration of the data crystals.
     “There is information about an advanced technology used to control the TL fusion reaction in order to obtain more energy.”
     “Is that important, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane with doubt.
     “The energy has always been, and it will forever be, the most important, My Dear, although . . .” started Ghethe, then he paused thinking.
     Ahlane encouraged him to continue, “Yes—”
     “You see, Ahlane, at society level technological development has three main characteristics, when we consider the energy consumption parameter. First of all, new inventions improve the old technologies permanently, therefore we get more efficiency from the same quantity of energy: that should decrease the energy consumption. Secondly, other technological developments make our life increasingly more dependent on automatic machines; as a result, we consume more energy. Up to a point, there will be an increase in the energy consumption, then it should start to drop, but that is not all. The third important trend is to build mobile, more compact and more powerful energy batteries, and here comes this perplexing, secret, old fusion technology.”
     “How does it work, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane smiling sweetly.
     He smiled back at her, then said, “This is, indeed, very interesting. The way we use TL energy batteries is, each of them is a reservoir filed with a mixture of hydrogen isotopes and a special catalyst—besides other important features. That mixture is named the ‘initiator fluid’, and it is processed into a proton fusion engine, in a few steps: mainly for the production of electrical energy, then for thermal energy and other useful applications.

     [. . .]

     The great secret is in the type of catalyst used, because with a good one the temperature of the fusion reaction may be lowered to comfortable levels, for a better control.”
     “That sounds rather technical. So, the secret is the catalyst,” concluded Ahlane.
     “Yes, though not totally. The catalyst used in the initiator fluid helps, as I mentioned, to increase the production of energy and to moderate the temperatures of the fusion reaction. That catalyst is named ‘internal catalyst’ in the data I got from the treasure. However, in addition to this internal catalyst, there are details in the data crystals about the implementation of an ‘external catalyst’ built into the general construction of the fusion generator itself, with the purpose of amplifying the formation of elementary protons from the subatomic. This external catalyst is used to achieve an even better control of the fusion reaction, and to further reduce physical dimensions of the fusion generator.”
     She asked, “How does that external catalyst work, Ghethe?”
     He asked in his turn, “Do you see the plants and the trees, Ahlane?”
     “Of course I do—I am not blind,” replied Ahlane caustically.
     “Ha, ha! Sorry for that. I asked you this obvious question because the plants—which are carbon-based organic life—have a fantastic power, although they appear so ordinary to us. In order to obtain good, clean energies, Ahlane, we need to go down to the subatomic, only getting there requires very complex and very expensive technologies.
     Amazingly, these common plants having such simple structures manage to access the subatomic, and to extract from there whatever energy they need.”
     “How is that possible, Ghethe? Are they intelligent?” asked Ahlane intrigued.
     “There are few theories regarding the awareness of the plants, My Dear, but let’s not deviate from our topic. The external catalyst works similar to the process the plants use for growing, and it is based on particular, geometric distributions of their molecular bonds.
     Things are this way: there have been since old ages laboratory tests showing disturbing results regarding the growth process of the plants. Suppose that you take a seed and measure precisely all its component chemical elements, Ahlane, then you feed it with water, light, and air.
     In time, your seed will become an adult plant. Now, you take that adult plant and measure exactly all its component elements. Well, you are going to discover that new atomic elements have appeared from . . . nowhere!
     You see, Ahlane, our carbon-based organic chemistry is composed of only seven atomic elements. That is not much but, due to the special carbon characteristics, tens of millions of complex organic substances may be formed. The initial seed contained those seven elements, embedded into organic substances, plus some traces of inorganic chemical elements. However, the adult plant may have huge quantities of metallic and nonmetallic elements, although we fed that seed, and the plant, only with water, light, and air! The problem is: where did those inorganic, metallic and nonmetallic elements came from?
     The Scientists have been puzzled for millennia by this phenomenon. In the old times they named it ‘Low Energy Fusion’, meaning, the plants manage to create new elements by fusing two atoms together. Please note this, Ahlane: that Low Energy Fusion process was supposed to happen at very low temperatures, and without any emission of harmful radiations. Of course, that explanation didn’t make sense, therefore the Scientists struggled to find new theories.”
     “Tell me about that,” ordered Ahlane while moving into a better position in her chair, to capture more of the Giola rays on her legs.
     Ghethe had made it a matter of major importance to never look lower than Ahlane’s neck when she was wearing the much revealing and extremely disturbing beach clothing. Due to the proximity however, he couldn’t help it. He threw a quick, intense and hungry look at her legs when she was not watching him. Following, he remained stunned by the beauty of her skin, and by the flawless perfection of her body.
     He struggled hard to recover while pretending he was looking at Mlane. After a while, he turned towards Ahlane; he smiled shyly, then asked, “Are you interested, My Dear?”
     She replied, “Of course I am if it is about plants. It cannot be too technical.”
     “Ha, ha! I don’t know; you will tell me. Aah . . . after the subatomic started being explored, the Scientists understood that the new elements in the grown plants were not created by fusing atoms. You see, Ahlane, the plants are small laboratories which can grow new atomic elements directly from the subatomic. The new problem was: how do the plants actually do it?

     [. . .]

     Now, you have heard about psychokinetic abilities, Ahlane. I too am capable of that, and my actions are fairly strong—”
     “You have never shown them to me, Ghethe,” objected Ahlane reproachfully.
M14-3
     He replied looking troubled, “I do not like to do it, Ahlane, because you will see me different, and I do not want you to see me that way. In time, when you feel more comfortable near me, I shall. That is not important, My Dear, and I hope you do not mind—”
     “Do not worry, Ghethe, I don’t care. Please continue.”
     “So, those people having mental abilities—me included—have noticed that plants amplify those abilities, because they have that special arrangement of organic molecules, and that makes it easier to access the subatomic primordial energies. The psychokinetic activities, My Dear, deal only with primordial energies coming straight from the subatomic.”
     Ghethe paused looking for a metallic object to demonstrate his theories. He couldn’t find anything proper, therefore he put his forefinger perpendicular on the surface of the table. Slowly, his finger started penetrating into the ceramic material. Ghethe stopped his action just about, because he had no intention of vandalizing people’s property. He said, “As you can see, My Dear, I managed to make a small dent on this surface, though you should be aware that the energies required to break the molecular bonds of this ceramic material are enormous.”
     She came so close to him to see the dent that Ghethe couldn’t restrain himself: he kissed her lightly on her hair. Ahlane appeared she didn’t notice it, although her cheeks started displaying a little more blue, and she avoided his eyes for a short while.
     He continued his explanations in a bit hoarse voice, “This, hmm, is only, hmm, hmm, a minor example, My Dear, but I could do more radical things with metals. Most psychokinetic actions require enormous quantities of primordial energies which do not come from my body: they come directly from the subatomic, and my organism knows, subconsciously, how to control them.
     Now, I am certain, Ahlane, that you read children stories about wizards working with a magic stick, or with a powerful staff. That stick is always made of wood, and it is used to amplify those mental abilities—the wood facilitates the extraction of the subatomic primordial energies. In this way, My Dear, those magic stories do have some scientific grounds—”
     “Soo, the wizards, actually, trick us with science! Ha, ha!” concluded Ahlane amused.
     “Everything is science, My Dear. Some phenomena are not explained, so far, but they will be in the future,” replied Ghethe smiling kindly at her.
     “Well then, it looks to me you are some sort of a wizard, Ghethe,” speculated Ahlane with teasing sparkles in her eyes.
     “Please, Ahlane, do not start that—I am a Scientist!”
     “A Scientist with a . . . magic stick,” continued Ahlane looking ironically suspicious at him.
     “Ha, ha! Ahlane, please,” protested Ghethe.
     “Noo, you are not going to get away that easy. Tell me, Ghethe—ha, ha!—have you ever USED THE WAND?” asked Ahlane with an ironical accentuation of the words.
     He admitted, “We did a few experiments . . . Not with A REAL WAND but—ha, ha!—with wood.”
     “And it worked?”
     “To tell you the truth, Ahlane, it worked . . . like magic!”
     “Aah, ha, ha!”
     “Ha, ha, ha!”
      They were both laughing heartily when the rest of the group came to their table.
     “Hey! What is this? Why are you so happy about?” wondered Mlane suspiciously, and feeling frustrated for being left out from a good joke.
     “Ha, ha! Oh, this is not for little girls, My Dear,” answered Ahlane beginning to recover.
     “Little girls!” managed Mlane perplexed.
     “Ha, ha! We were talking about magic, My Dear, and—ha, ha!—believe me, it is not good for you. Ha, ha!” explained Ahlane, still imagining Ghethe wearing funny wizard clothes and working inefficiently and unpredictably with the magic wand.
     “Why not? I love magic,” protested Mlane confused.
     “You need to grow a little older, My Dear,” persisted Ahlane in her ironical rejection.
     “Oh, Ahlane, I was absolutely confident that you two were discussing something very important here!” concluded Mlane using reproachful tone inflections.

*

M14-4     That evening Ghethe told the Ladies they needed to have a meeting onboard Naiollah, therefore they went to the ship.
     “Ladies, I have new information for you,” started Ghethe once they were all comfortably seated in the Social Area. “The data crystals contain instructions about additional treasures. To be more precise, they contain information about the location of nine spaceships left to you by the Enlightened Emperor. I think it is better to leave this place now, because we have been here for thirty-four local days and staying any longer could be very dangerous.”
     “Oh, it is so beautiful here, Ghethe!” protested Mlane with regret in her voice.
     “I know, My Dear, but do not forget that we cannot afford too much relaxation until we finish our job. Now, I estimate we may be gone for eighteen, or twenty seven i-std. days, and then we could come back for another . . . eighteen Thalo Three days, and no more, Ladies. I am sorry.”
     “We know we do not have much choice, Ghethe. Where are we going?” asked Ahlane with calm and understanding.
     “We shall go back to the Dubar System, My Dear.”
     Mlane inquired jokingly, though still with disappointed looks, “You changed your mind and you want to abandon us there after all?”
     “Ha, ha! No, My Dear, it just happens that there is the closest hidden ship,” explained Ghethe as gently as he could.
     “Ah, we have BEEN there before!” protested Mlane making a beautiful exhausted face.
     “Yes, but we did not wait to study the data,” motivated Ghethe.
     “Could we wait for you here?” proposed Mlane with a glitter of hope in her eyes.
     “I do not dare to leave you and your sister here, Mlane, because I am the only protection you have. Besides, I need you, Ladies.”
     Ahlane tried to calm her sister; she said, “Ghethe is right, Mlane. Please, be a good girl, because we shall come back, and there are more beautiful days to come. We should thank Ghethe for this wonderful holiday we have had, My Dear.”
     “Oh, I hate to run away and leave my friends,” persisted Mlane.
     “It will pass, My Dear, I promise. It will be only sixty-three or seventy-two more i-std. days—” started Ghethe, then he changed the topic abruptly, “Things are this way, Ladies: I need to see what the hidden ships are capable of, because we need all the help we can get. Once we finish retrieving one ship, we have to think of a strategy to contact those bad people, and then we should put together a plan of attack.
     Maybe it is better to get all the ships left by the Enlightened Emperor . . . Well, we have too little information about those bad people, and we need more, a lot more information. Until we are finished with them, we shall never be able to enjoy our lives.”
     “When do we leave?” asked Mlane with abandonment.
     “Right now,” answered Ghethe.
     “Right now! What about Petha and Heile?” protested Mlane perplexed.
     Ghethe explained in a sudden firm voice, “It is better they do not know about our plans, Mlane. When we come back, we shall ask for their pardon. I am very sorry for this hasty departure, Ladies, but I have a strong feeling of insecurity, and I am seldom mistaken about my feelings.”
     Ahlane replied smiling kindly, “Thank you very much for your care, Ghethe. We are going to do everything you say it is best for us. We want to help you.”
     He continued in his determined voice, “Thank you, My Dear. I cannot deny that you help me a lot by allowing me to share your company. Look, Ladies, I want to be honest with you. Because of the incident in Kalanda City our followers are aware of my powers. Now, they do not dare to approach me. They want my technologies, my knowledge, and maybe even me, and the only way they could get everything is through you.
     They will try to abduct you, Ladies, therefore I intend to hide you on a remote Planet, somewhere, until I finish with those bad elements. This is the reason I need the other ship: I want you to have Naiollah, and we shall find a nice, safe place for you, then I take the other ship and I start searching for those bad people.”
     “I do not agree with you, Ghethe,” said Ahlane, and her voice was also very firm; she continued, “I told you once that we want to be near, to help you with whatever we can, and that is exactly what we are going do.
     Do not worry, Ghethe, because we shall listen and we are not going to be in your way. Now, let’s get the other ship and see what it is capable of, and then we shall decide which is the best course of action to follow.”
     Ghethe felt he couldn’t object to Ahlane’s decisions; therefore, he said with abandonment, “Very well, My Dear, we shall do as you say.
     Now, I would like you to dress in spacesuits, and I shall do the same. We pack our things, pay the bills, get some more energy batteries, and then we go on our way.”
     “Spacesuits inside the hotel! Oh, Ghethe, that is so rude!” protested Mlane shocked.
     He explained, “I am almost certain it is useless, Mlane, but I told you about my feelings of insecurity, and I do not want to risk anything.”

M14-5
     They dressed in spacesuits, and then Ghethe set them to maximum protection. All of them went first to Ghethe’s apartment where he bundled his things up. They went together to the other apartment, and the Ladies packed their baggage, then they returned to the ship. Ghethe told Naiollah to get in contact with Hotel Administration and pay the bills, then to transfer some generous amounts into Petha’s and Heile’s Credit Accounts.
     Later he looked for information about purchasing energy batteries in Giola System, as he was instructed in the data crystals to use a certain type of energy batteries for the hidden ships. He received directions to Vellen, a space-city built on a natural Satellite of Thalo Four, and Naiollah took them there in no time. After long hours of waiting, Ghethe managed to restock properly Naiollah’s stores, including her tanks and bunkers, and to get all the energy batteries needed. Next, they left on a course plotted to deceive any possible followers.

     When they were well above the planetary orbital plane, Ghethe asked Naiollah to show any existing military ships in the area. They saw seven ships of Super Destroyer class around and within Giola System, plus twenty-one Destroyers. Both Ladies looked at him with scared eyes.
     He said, “It looks to me we got out just in time. Anyway, you should relax now, Ladies, because they cannot follow us.”

*

M14-6     Great Hurda lost his psychical control completely, and he became even disgustingly furious when his informers told him that Ghethe Dakka and Zelhane sisters had left the hotel right before the night he intended to kidnap the Ladies. However, he was a particularly intelligent individual, therefore he spent many i-std. hours afterwards analyzing Ghethe Dakka’s timely departure.

     The following day he landed on Thalo Three with the intention to collect information himself. His mental powers were not what they used to be during his youth years, though he was still better at reading minds than any other Suta Priest.
     He was directed to Petha Kowat, whom he contacted in some casual circumstances, asking for services, then he began researching his memories. He found out that Petha was very good friends with Ghethe and Zelhane Ladies, and he was terribly disappointed by their abrupt departure. However, he still hoped that Ghethe would come back one day to keep his promise.
     Great Hurda performed a few logic analyses based on the new information he got. In the end, he decided to wait right there on Thalo Three, for a while longer. He sent orders to all military ships to land, in order to mask their presence, and then he sent a report to Qualosa. He was hoping that Ghethe Dakka would come back rather sooner than later, because he had absolutely no idea of where to go and find him.

*

M14-7     Life on a small spaceship is particularly difficult after a nice holiday, therefore Mlane had to make hard efforts to mask her dissatisfaction of starting again to study. Ghethe spent most of his time in the Laboratory analyzing the treasure, and Ahlane—as always—had managed to discover many important things which needed to be done by her, and by the others!
     Mlane found out that the trip back to Dubar was going to last for eight i-std. days, because they had to waste four i-std. days with deceiving strategies, and that added to her general discomfort. She needed so much the ocean, the beach, to run, laugh, and play with other young people . . .
     Ghethe was an awfully nice Gentleman, though it was obvious he saw only a good friend, more like a younger sister, in her. Besides, his looks were always glued on Ahlane whenever she was around. Mlane was very glad that Ghethe liked Ahlane, because Ahlane had never accepted someone to court her. She had taken her duty to educate Mlane so seriously, that she had lost her most beautiful youth years.
     Ahlane and Ghethe formed a splendid couple together, although both of them were way too shy with each other. Mlane could hardly refrain from laughing when she saw Ghethe frozen stiff whenever he was seated near Ahlane, and Ahlane so nervous if there was the smallest allusion of flirting. It was obvious that Ahlane liked Ghethe, only Mlane knew very well Ahlane had such a strong character that, if she decided, she could totally refuse to indulge her feelings.

     During the third day of the journey, Ghethe had an accident in the Laboratory and he came out with his right hand dripping dark-red blood!
     “Oh, Ghethe, what is that?” cried Ahlane, then she rushed to get regenerative bandages.
     “It is just a minor accident, Ahlane,” answered Ghethe shyly, with rather scared looks.
     “How did you manage this one?” asked Ahlane angrily.
     “I was experimenting with one device we found in the treasure and . . . I was a little too curious,” explained Ghethe in a gentle voice.
     “Ghethe, if you have another accident like this one, I am going to confiscate all your toys, and then I shall lock your Laboratory!” promised Ahlane nervously, while bandaging his hand.
     “Ahlane, accidents do happen, My Dear,” motivated Ghethe with little energy.
     “I know, but I do not like accidents. Is this clear enough for you, Ghethe Dakka?”
     “Yes, Ahlane. I shall be more careful,” promised Ghethe.
     “I want you to be EXCEPTIONALLY careful, not just MORE careful, Ghethe Dakka, because it seems that more doesn’t help. Now, get your book-editor and take a seat where I can see you,” ordered Ahlane.
     “Why?” asked Ghethe confused.
     “You are not going back in that Laboratory today, and I intend to keep an eye on you,” explained Ahlane.
     “Oh!” slipped Ghethe.
     “Oh, what?”
     “Nothing,” replied Ghethe quickly, then he rushed to get his book-editor.

     Nobody played with Ahlane, because she knew how to talk to men. Mlane hoped that, in time, she would become just like her sister, and then men would do whatever she would tell them to do. “Yes!

*

M14-8    The following day Ghethe was again in his Laboratory, only Ahlane wanted him to keep the entrance gate wide open, so that she could throw a glance at him from time to time.
     “Aah, Mlane; do you have a few moments?” asked Ghethe when he saw Mlane passing by.
     “Yes, Ghethe. What do you want me to do?”
     “Please take a seat here. We shall perform a little experiment together,” said Ghethe indicating a place near his workbench. When Mlane was seated, he clipped around her neck a strange collar made of many small ceramic and metallic components.
     “Can you hear me now, Mlane?
     “Yes, Ghethe, I can hear you.”
     “No, Mlane. Please answer to me in your thoughts. Think that you say, ‘Yes, Ghethe’.
     “Yes, Ghethe.
     “Very good, Mlane!
     “Ha, ha! Am I a telepath now, Ghethe?” asked Mlane with sparkles of excitement in her eyes.
     He explained caringly, “Oh no, My Dear. It is the device I positioned around your neck that amplifies the voice of your thoughts. Therefore, I am able to hear and speak to you telepathically.”
     Ahlane stopped by. She watched the scene for a few moments, then she said in a firm voice, “Ghethe, I do not want you read Mlane’s thoughts.”
     He replied gently, “I know it, Ahlane, and I promised to you, a long time ago, that I shall never do it. You should trust me more, My Dear.”
     “Then, what are you doing?” inquired Ahlane.
     He explained, “I am experimenting with a very powerful, two-way, bio-EM enhancer. My intention is to develop it as a mental shield, in the future, for you and Mlane.”
     “Aha. Please be careful,” advised Ahlane.
     “Nobody is more careful than I am, Ahlane,” replied Ghethe smiling tenderly at her.
     “Of course! And I know it very well, Ghethe Dakka: you are illustriously famous for your high degrees of care,” replied Ahlane ironically.
     “Talking about tests; I need you to volunteer for my experiment,” said Ghethe.
     “I guess this is the moment you have been waiting for all along,” replied Ahlane while taking a seat near his workbench.
     “Oh! And why is that?” asked Ghethe while trying to position the collar around Ahlane’s neck. He had a hard time with the clip of the collar, and he worked rather sloppily since he managed to touch—very gently—Ahlane’s delicate skin and her hair a few times with his unskilled hands.
     Ahlane appeared she didn’t notice it, although a bit of blue began sneaking on her cheeks. She answered in an ironic voice, “To have me subdued to your magical powers.”
     “Ha, ha! Noo, My Dear: I respect you very, very much, Ahlane,” confessed Ghethe.
     “Well then, see that you don’t slip into my brain BY ACCIDENT those curious thoughts of yours,” advised Ahlane caustically.
     “Never fear, Ahlane. Now, please be quiet for a moment.”
     “Why? It doesn’t work if I talk?” asked Ahlane quickly, in a rebellious manner.
     “Ha, ha! Of course it does, but we cannot understand each other,” explained Ghethe. “You have the delicate beauty of a wild flower, Ahlane.
     “Ghethe Dakka! That is unbecoming of you!” thought Ahlane suddenly alert, and looking straight into his eyes. Next, her cheeks went on displaying a darker splash of blue.
     “I said the first words that came into my mind, My Dear. They are not inappropriate because that is . . . the way I see you.
     “Yes, but you should have the decency to pronounce them loudly, so that everybody could hear. Who knows what else you intend to whisper into my brain. Maybe . . . I should better take this thing off—
     “No, please wait, Ahlane! I am sorry, and I shall speak only decent words.
     “Yes, I would like to hear THOSE decent words of yours, Ghethe Dakka.
     “How about . . . you are . . . an exceptionally beautiful Lady—I am sorry, Ahlane, this is the only thought running through my mind.
     “Ghethe Dakka, you shouldn’t talk that way!” protested Ahlane in a loud voice.
     “Please, say that in your thoughts, Ahlane,” said Ghethe.
     “Ghethe, you shouldn’t talk like that. What if Mlane hears you? That is not the right conduct example for a girl of her age.
     “She cannot hear us, Ahlane. Besides, Mlane is not a child anymore.
     “I know very well she is not a child, but this is a very dangerous age for her, and I try to educate her to the best I can.
     “I also tried to do the same for her, Ahlane, like an older brother.
     “Yes, I noticed your efforts, Ghethe. Now, it could be the best moment to express my appreciation for your behavior. That is so nice of you, Ghethe Dakka, and I thank you very much!” thought Ahlane while watching him with a lot of gratitude in her eyes.
     “Oh, My Dear girl, I would like to do a lot more for her, and for—
     “What? It is not working for you, Ahlane?” asked Mlane curiously.
     “It works fine, My Dear, but I took the opportunity to tell Ghethe TO BEHAVE!” said Ahlane, and she ended her words looking at Ghethe and pronouncing them accentuated.
     “Ghethe is very nice, Ahlane. You shouldn’t be so harsh on him,” protested Mlane timidly.
     “I know he COULD BE very nice, Mlane, only he needs to be permanently supervised and controlled, My Dear. Otherwise, be absolutely confident that he is going to find another accident somewhere, sometime, somehow!” explained Ahlane nervously.
     “Ha, ha! Ahlane is right, Mlane. I keep on analyzing all those little accidents because, indeed, they are too many, and that was not usual to me before—” said Ghethe and he left his words unfinished.
     “Before what, Ghethe?” asked Mlane.
     “Before meeting with you,” answered Ghethe smiling kindly at her.
     “Oh! Do you think those accidents happen because of us?” inquired Mlane troubled.
     “Oh no, My Dear. I think that life is trying to tell me something.”
     “What?”
     “You see, Mlane, whenever something unusual it is going to happen, life—or destiny if you prefer—is giving us in advance all sort of signs. Those signs are some sort of warnings, to be very careful.”
     “Do you think those warnings mean something bad is going to happen?” asked Mlane worriedly.
     “Not necessarily, My Dear, but they do indicate an important change.”
     “What kind of a change, Ghethe?” continued Mlane with her curious investigations.
     “I have no idea,” replied Ghethe smilingly.
     “But, why—”
     “There she started again. Better come with me, Mlane; Ghethe may be very busy, Dear,” said Ahlane as sweetly as she could.

*

M14-9     To Ghethe, social hours were as wonderful as ever. Ahlane intended to make them more interesting for Mlane, therefore she started selecting captivating documentary records about Planets with strange flora and fauna.
     One night, Ghethe managed to find enough courage within the depths of his heart, therefore he took Ahlane’s hand during the presentation while taking care that Mlane did not observe. Ahlane didn’t retract her hand until the end of the documentary, and all that time Ghethe was overwhelmed by happiness!
     When normal illumination returned, Ahlane was very blue and Ghethe was very red. Mlane looked at them in turn, in wonder, and that look made things even worse for their facial colors.
     The following night Ghethe couldn’t find enough courage to touch Ahlane’s hand until very late, almost at the end. She allowed it again! He would have liked so much to kiss her warm, little hand, but he knew that was way too much.
     “Maybe one day . . .” he thought.

GREEN LEAVES




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