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Planet of Jirth, Part 20

My apartment was barely enough for a bed, bathroom, and a kitchen. I hit the glowing blue panel by the door to check my messages.

There was one from from Juin. “Rilas, I haven’t heard from not surprising considering, but don’t tire yourself out. You’re no good anyone if you die from exhaustion. I talked to the Go On Don, and I will be there for the speech. They didn’t want me to go. You know, their usual Go On Don can’t be involved in politics argument. I told them either I go, or I quit the Go On Don.” He laughed. “Which convinced them perhaps it would be best for me to go. Take care of yourself.”

Against my will I smiled. I knew he shouldn’t be risking his training to be at speech, yet it made me happy. Maybe, I did love Juin?

A knock at my door jerked me free of my thoughts. With a groan I hit the command and it glided open. I blinked at the Jirth standing my doorway. By the glossy brown robe it was Leader of Jirth. The mottled brown spots across its body stood in contrast to the nearly white skin. “Leader of Jirth, what can I do for you?”

It bowed showing off the full fringe of hair on its oblong head. “Teacher of Einlari, may I come in?”

“Of course.” I stepped the side allowing the large creature ample room to get by.

With the strange, flowing gait it moved a few steps into the room before turning to face me. It folded its three fingered hands together. “I suspect the judgement of the Council will be that Einlari will no longer be our vassals.”

“I suspect that as well.” I wasn’t sure what the Leader wanted. There was only ten of them at one time in Jirth society. I had only met one my entire life. And, for one to come to my apartment, unannounced, unescorted was beyond strange.

Its skin flushed an array of colors in the dim light. “Einlari do not look upon us with favor. I understand. Some of my people do not, however I was chosen for my ability to understand other races. I do not wish to enmity between Jirth and Einlari. If Council does not free Einlari, I will make the Jirth free you. I am also prepared to waive the payment offer you gave the Council, and allow your people to keep all the profits.”

I stumbled back a bit in surprise. “Why are you telling me this?” I wouldn’t have dreamed of even asking to not be taxed.

Einlari may not acknowledge it. Jirth don’t either, but you are Leader of Einlari. You protect them to your own suffering. You always think of them before yourself. You work to benefit them. I acknowledge you are a being of great honor. The generations ago of Jirth did not treat you well.” Leader of Jirth pulled itself fully upright brushing its head against the ceiling. “I will not this mistake. I will not let the rest of Jirth make it either.” Its skin didn’t change, or flush at all during the speech. It was honest, and with even emotions.

Something clicked in my mind. Jirth generally do not think themselves as individuals. Yet, there was a single Go On Don Jirth living. “Miek, you are Miek, aren’t you?”

A flush of red confirmed it as it tipped its head. “I am. I will see you in two days, Leader of Einlari.” A flush of pleasure swept through me. Leader of Einlari the title sounded right to me.

I moved out the way sitting on my bed. It tapped the panel, the door opened, and it left. I let out a half laugh, half sigh. “Okay, now I’m going to bed before anything else happens.”


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Planet of Jirth, Part 19

I barely remember the following weeks. I travelled the planet talking to local Einlari trying to find who they each looked to as a leader. It was complicated by the fact they were convinced I was sent to spy on them. As if the Einlari would bother. My elation about the ruling kept me from getting worn down. I found about fifty people who could be considered leaders. I explained the situation to them.

“The Intergalactic Council is coming to announce whether or not we’ll be freed from the Jirth.” I realized they didn’t know what the Intergalactic Council was, but I decided to say it anyway.

A cacophony of objections filled the air. “Quiet! What is a matter?”

“Why didn’t they free us earlier?” An older man, Toff, asked. He was one I thought would make a good administer.

“They manage the whole galaxy. It has thousands of races. In order to get them to even hear my plea I had to build up power. Then, after I delivered my proposal I had to keep on my contacts so it would get moved up the list. Honestly hearing back in less than fifty years is impressive.” I held up my hand to forestall any objections. “I’m guessing they are coming here to free us. But, they want to make a big show of it, so Einlari will be more likely to join the Intergalactic Council. Look like the big heroes.”

Toff snorted. “Politics. I think we should go with her. If she’s telling the truth I don’t want to miss it. And, if she’s lying we are already caught.”

I bowed deeply to him and got them into the transports. I had only a few days to get them back and settled before the announcement. As they sat down in their seats all them, except Toff, sat on the opposite end of the transport from me. I gave Toff a single lifted brow. I wondered what prompted the warm gesture.

He snorted. I was beginning to understand this was a habit of his. “Unlike them, I doubt you’d go through a huge charade to capture us. The Jirth don’t care as long as we work. Better to be on your good side, then hurt your feelings.”

I smiled. “How delightfully practical of you.”

He flashed a dark grin. “Yeah, I’m too old for anything else. Besides, I believe you have been working for our people this whole time. I don’t think Jirth would have taught us to write, or do anything but menial labor without someone making them.”

“Once…” I paused but he motioned for me to continue. “They didn’t want to allow us to start doing the more technical jobs like running the computers, or customer service jobs. Instead they wanted to ship our people off world to mine. I fought so hard. I had to beg the Go On Don leadership of this sector for help. I wasted a lot of good will on it.” My eyes closed. I went to the mines they intended to send the Einlari. The idea of them slaving there brought tears to my eyes. They would get injured, lost, and die of mining sickness in a few short years. The Jirth wouldn’t send anyone, but millions would have died.

Toff padded my knee. “The Council is coming here. Focus on it. Perhaps your fight is over.”

I shook my head as I wiped the tears from my eyes. “If they free us, my work is starting all over. It will be better work is all. I’ll need to find leaders, restart government, get people used to running the planet. And, keep things from changing too fast.”

“It will be work with more joy, I’d hope.” Toff responded tersely.

I realized he didn’t like me crying. I almost laughed. Never had a met an Einlari man who was okay with a woman crying, not even me. “It will be.”

The transport ride continued in relative quiet. We stopped at the small hotel meant to hold them. I filled them in. I organized with the transport to pick them up in two days to be delivered to the stadium the Council had designated. I headed home.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 18

I’d like to say Juin’s training was more interesting than mine, but I’m afraid not. His powers were somewhat weak, but strong enough to live a bit longer. A year progressed as I watched Viirra die, and Guin grow up.

I leaned up against one of the huge windows that stared into the black void of space feeling annoyed. The Council began to review my case, but they were progressing slowly.

Rilas,” Juin soft voice surprised me, as I lifted my head. A little bit of awkward youth clung to him, but he was on his way to manhood.

“Yes, my apprentice,” we both laughed. A joke we had, because officially I was only visiting, but everyone knew why I was here. “What did you need?”

“There is something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” He stared out at space.

I frowned, because he tended to be direct.

“I never realized before I came here how much you gave up.” He swallowed hard. I could feel an emotional storm springing passed his barriers. “Fighting to free the Einlari you gave up everything. And, how most of us talk, and think of you it must sting.”

One my shoulders shrugged as I forced myself to smile. “I understand why they do. I seem more like the Jirth than I do Einlari. Jirth scared me a bit when I first knew them.”

“Don’t pretend it never bothered you. I may not an Empath, but I know you.” A shift in his attitude as his eyes bored into my mine. “And, you didn’t have to deal with it. You could keep your mouth shut and played nice. The Jirth would have promoted you up the ranks, since Teacher’s often get promoted every few years. Or, you could have left Einndias and immersed yourself in Go On Don society. You could have even played down your abilities and lived quietly among us and died long ago. You never needed to carry the burden of freeing us. Why did you?”

The desire to dismiss it with a glib retort came and went. I didn’t like to talk about it.  My own feelings on the issue were muddled. I felt in many ways betrayed by the others. They never accepted me and called me a traitor. Would I feel resentful toward them if I didn’t think myself a traitor? I couldn’t answer that. Yet the idea of leaving them here with the Jirth turned my stomach. “I couldn’t.”

Juin hands pressed against my shoulders as he grinned. “That is what so amazing about you. I’m sure you sometimes regret staying. You gained nothing for it. But, you could never go. As unhappy as everything made you, the idea of leaving probably upsets more than all that put together.” Then, he did something I would never expect he leaned up and lightly kissed me on the lips.

I jumped back to banging my back against the window. “Juin,” was all I managed to say.

Red flooded his face as his head dropped down. “I had to tell you, I’m in love with you. I know what you say, you’re too old for me. I’m so young. All sorts of objections. None of it changes the reality.”

His devotion and love me I’d had been ignoring for months now. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him. Viirra told me it was, as usual, my obsession with freeing the Einlari was all that consumed me. I didn’t dare raise the objections he so casually dismissed mere moments before. Yet, I couldn’t think of what else to say. Times like this when I was genuinely thankful that Juin was not an Empath.

A beep startled me. I tapped my communicator. “The council has reached its decision.”

A wave of relief swept through me. Regardless of what happened at least now it was over. “What is it?”

“The Council desires to deliver the message in person. Five members will arrive on Einndias in a few weeks. They will be escorted to the planet, and there they will give their pronouncement before an assembled crowd. The Jirth have been contacted with requests for accommodation and needs. You must assemble whoever is your leadership among your people and have them there.” The communication cut off abruptly.

“I have to get back to Einndias right away.” In a moment of pure joy I hugged Juin.

“What does it mean? Why come here? Did they judge in our favor or not?” He asked over my shoulder.

I spun out of his grip. “I have no idea, but either way I have work to do.” I rushed off and realized I managed to avoid his implied question. I felt a bit guilty about it, but for now I was happy to to avoid answering whether or not I loved Juin.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 14

The return home was a slow. I felt anxious to return home, but it gave me time to make a plan. Of all Einlari and other peoples I was only given freedom of movement. From what I could gather the Jirth wouldn’t destroy anything, they would uproot everyone and make them leave it all behind. I’d announce I planned to get community and calm them. While I visited I’d gather what I could have of every culture and preserve it. The recording device and image grabber would be invaluable in saving my people’s various cultures.

They took me to the Einlari and had dragged every administer to an open field. All of them either afraid or angry as I stepped onto the podium the Jirth brought. “Administers!” I waited for their eyes look my way. “Hear me out.”

A young one I didn’t recognize, I knew many of them personally, shouted. “Why should we? You are with those creatures.”

I lowered my head in acknowledgement. “I am. However, I went with them before I realized what was happening. They came, they intrigued me, and I left.” I waved back at the Jirth. “They are going to enslave everyone, we have no choice, and we have no way of stopping them.”

A buzzing of anger rose up, and I let it. To convince them I needed passion to ignite their hearts. An older woman marched up the podium pushing stray strands out of her face. “And, why should we trust you? Why should we believe you?”

I considered her. A strange detachment came over me, but I shook it off. “Perhaps you should not. I went with Jirth the first day I met them. They told me everyone else was terrified of them. I went with them, because they represented mystery. The journey since then opened my horizons. I know, and see more than I ever have.” The woman’s wrinkled brow furrowed. “And regardless of my actions Jirth would still enslave everyone. I gained respect, and power to help us.”

Many of them surged forward to stand closer to the podium. Shouts of ‘what?’ ‘how?’ and other similar questions filled my ears. I sliced my hand through the air. They fell silent. “Most of it is too hard to explain, but I have a high rank with the Jirth that allows me great freedom. And, I have the ability to live many lifetimes. I’ll do what I can to free us.”

A tall man I knew stepped forward. The black sharp brows above the dark eyes pierced me, First Administer Francas. “Rilas. You are free why do you care for our plight, and what can you really do?” He pointed at the Jirth. “I don’t even understand what they are.”

“They come from the stars, they fly on ships that traverse the sky instead of water.” I smiled at the incredulous look on his face. “I’ve been in one, I’ve travelled the sky, I assure you it is real. I am not free, only more free than you. My plan is to get more people promoted to my rank, but it might be difficult. There is a group much like the administer’s who govern sky people who make laws can be petitioned.”

Francas seemed to absorb the news. He trained me as a youth. He seemed to never age to me. His hair as black as it had been in my twenties, but lines had sprung up across his face. “It won’t be easy, will it?”

He spoke as if I was the only there. Pain lanced my heart as I realized he is a man I could have loved once. “No. I fear it may be generations before we are free.”

“What do you need?” I wondered if he might be a Mental himself. He seemed to take in this knowledge with alacrity.

“While I do what I can to free us, I want to preserve our culture. They won’t allow art, music, or anything like it. I’m going to go to every settlement and gather up what I can to save as most as I can. You need to return to your districts, and tell them gather what they can in some central locations. Anything someone wants to preserve should be there as well. I’ll save everything.”

Francas gave me a curt nod. “It will be done. I have faith in you, Rilas. I’ll make sure they listen to your orders.” He waved the rest after him. I stood at the podium watching the last bit of my old life fade.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 13

The return to the deary, soggy Jinara was uneventful. At kept quiet and I had nothing to say. Priest of Jirth met us at the landing. “Is Teacher of Einlari now of Go On Don?” It asked.

At bowed. “We have confirmed her abilities. It may be years before her training is done, but I have returned her to you.”

Priest of Jirth skin flushed as it shifted positions. “Jirth is happy to return the Teacher of Einlari to her homeworld.”

A feeling of doubt, and suspicion flowed over me. I realized it didn’t come from me, but from the Priest of Jirth. Why would it be suspicious of At or me? Until I knew more, I decided to ignore it. “Thank you for your warm welcome. When are we leaving for the homeworld?” I had come to care for At and Jiirra, but I longed for the company of my own people.

Priest of Jirth blinked several times. “Jirth ship leaves as soon as you board.” It lifted the three pronged fingers at a small transport craft on the other side of the field. “Teacher of Einlari luggage is being moved now.”

The sudden move surprised me. The Jirth never seemed to move with any speed. “Oh…” I trailed off before I smiled. “I’m glad.”

At brushed my arm. He transferred his feelings to me, full of worry, and anger. “I’ll shall miss you Rilas.”

I turned and wrapped my arms around him. Even after these long months it felt strange to hug something rail thin, and furry. “I’ll miss you to At. I promise to use the communication device you gave me whenever I find the time.” I lifted my head to look in his warm brown eyes. “Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten Jiirra either.”

He stepped away with a nose wiggle. His powerful mental voice boomed in my skull. “Be careful the Jirth are up to something.” He spoke out loud. “I’ll see you later, Rilas.” At twisted to look at the Priest of Jirth. “And, thank you for allowing me her company for these past few months.” He bowed, then stepped back up the ramp into the ship.

Priest of Jirth signaled for me to follow. In silence we made our way to the ship. I focused my mind. Unlike my friends in Go On Don I couldn’t read minds. However, being empath allowed me to feel emotions. Priest of Jirth felt anxious, fearful, suspicious, and worried. The question I had was why? I’ll admit I was not happy to serve as the vessel who would enslave my people. Neither had I truly fought against it either. The only time I threatened to make it difficult, because Priest of Jirth tried to block my desire to train as a Mental.

I mulled on it as we got into the transport vessel. I settled into a chair. The strange smooth movements of the Jirth struck me again. Priest of Jirth body did not bend as it sat down. “Priest of Jirth, what do you want me not to know?”

The brown spots darkened as all of its skin flushed to a deep red. A touch of fear filled me, because I’d never seen its skin turn such a color. “What did the Go On Don tell you about Jirth colonization?”

“Nothing.” Not completely true, but they didn’t tell me anything but vague warnings to be careful. Remembering how little they told me put me in an annoyed frame of mind.

It brushed the fringe of hair on top of its elongated head. “Why did they tell you nothing?”

“They said the Go On Don must be careful about involving themselves in politics. Especially in delicate matters such as this one.” Whenever I asked they all said the same thing. Viirra, the one I judged to be the least cautious, said the same. “They did say there was more to this than you have let on.”

Jirth forbade me to say more. I serve Jirth. All Jirth must choose the greater good. Einlari are Jirth now, they must serve.” The doctrine was the same last time I talked the Priest of Jirth. I should have felt relieved that we were going to be included in Jirth society as normal. Instead my concern increased.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. “What do you mean we must serve? Serve how?”

“I did not know who you would serve until today.” Priest of Jirth skin paled a bit to almost normal color. “Einlari will serve as labor to build a great space station, and resort for travellers and traders.”

“Laborers.” The word echoed over and over in my head. Something about it seemed important. “Wait, isn’t that class of people in Jirth who have only work. They can’t create art, make music, be educated, or anything but physical labor.”

Priest of Jirth dropped its head. “I am sorry, Teacher of Einlari. You are correct.”

A rage bubbled inside me. Too late for me to go the Intergalactic Council. They either lied, or kept the knowledge from me. My people would be treated almost like animals, and everything that made our people what they are would be gone. The feeling went cold and dormant. Patience, I counciled myself, patience.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 12


I learned the price of life far longer than nature intended. I could probably live a good eight hundred years longer than I already had. However, I would alter my ability to have children. The computer wasn’t certain of course, but most likely I would only be fertile toward the very end of my life. Any child I had would only know me for a few short years before I died. “I’m not certain I’m fertile now, I am over forty.”

The computer responded as it always seemed to. “You are. If you were to do through this procedure it would alter you to a slightly younger state.”

I pondered that information. I never intended to have children. No man had ever interested me. Some I found to be attractive, but for anything long term they didn’t suit. Maybe in a few hundred years I would meet someone. Would I condemn a child to not even knowing its mother? A fear gripped my heart. “Would I pass on my long life?”

“There is a high chance. There is also a high chance it would only pass on to female offspring. Male offspring likely will age normally, or fail to be born.” The computer told me.

I sat on my bed. It seemed worse. By choosing this life, I would also be choosing any child I bore into it. On top of it, I would never have a son. Not that I particularly wanted a son, but it still seemed important to note.

Other costs ones that actually bothered me more. The report claimed I would emotionally shut down a touch, until I was able to have children again. I wouldn’t lose all emotion, but it might be harder to empathize with others and to feel the way I did now. The idea of it terrified me. “How high is the chance I’ll shut down all my emotions?”

“Quite low.”

That was something at least. The years I had left to live mocked me. Twenty years to live and thrive before death came for me. I would have been content with it before the Jirth, now it didn’t seem to be enough. Very few, if any of my people would be Mentals. And, none would be as powerful as me. For now I was their only protection. There would be no one to protect them if not for me.

The other problem remained. What if I gained the time to help them, but lost the emotions to care? I didn’t want to abandon my people. The agony of indecision hovered as I couldn’t make up my mind.

“Computer. How would I be able to free my people from slavery?” I never knew why I decided to ask a soulless machine.

“Most races do not like slavery. However, it is not forbidden by Intergalatic Law and therefore few would think to interfere. Go On Don arrangement to search your people for other potentials. Otherwise your people will likely linger as subservient race for quite some time.” The cold hard facts made my body feel chilled.

It did decide me. Even if I became unfeeling, or I grew to not care. I at least would have a reason to not have my people lanquish in sertivide to the Jirth. I climbed up onto the bed, and worked my way into a deep trance. In my mind I opened doorways to parts of myself; I would walk into them and turn a wheel until it felt right. How long I opened the doors, and turned dials I couldn’t tell you, I can’t even tell you how many. When my eyes opened, I looked at the date and time clock. Twenty-nine hours had passed. My stomach burned with hunger.

As I stood up I felt younger than I had in years. I glanced in the mirror and stepped back in surprise. Many of the wrinkles had lessened, but not disappeared. The blush of vitality and youth touched my cheeks.  My deep blue eyes sparkled. “Computer can you can me, and tell me if the procedure worked.”


A few minutes later it chimed. “The procedure seems to fully integrated.” I ran out of the room to tell At, and Viirra my excitement bubbling over.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 11

The testing itself is boring, I stood up in a scanner, and left to get the results. The next few days I occupied myself talking to Viirra and At. The thought never far from my mind.

Rilas, why are you so concerned with it?” At asked his black eyes gleaming.

Viirra looked at At. “A woman is allowed her own council, don’t you think At? Feminine mystery and all.” The way she tried to deflect At’s interest was admirable.

He cocked his head at her, while scratching at the base of his antler. “Feminine mystery. I don’t think Runnil women do such a thing.” His black nose twitched. “Definitely not.”

“Well, Pirfectia, and Einlari women do.” With a covert smile she pulled on the strands of her hair. At always reacted to it.

He started to twitch. “Viirra, I do not like seeing you pull on your hair. Torturing yourself in such a manner.”

“I told you before, At, it does not hurt me. Runnil must have very delicate hair.” She let out a small laugh.

Her protector began to pace back and forth. A long string of clicks, and clacks emanated from him. The translator stuttered over the words. “Beloved. The hive trouble. Intergalatic Council contact.”

Viirra narrowed her eyes. She responded back mentally as the back wave of emotion hit me.  Every part of it filled with fear. “Can I hold both of you. I need to send out a call, I can’t do it alone.”

With hesitation I reached out to her. Her strange limp hands closed around mine. At followed suit. Energy felt as if it was being sucked out of me. The urge to throw her off grew great. I struggled to hold it back. A searing pain began to fill my head. I almost let go to clutch my head. The pain began to fade as Viirra let go of me. “Thank you.”

I shook myself up for a moment to get a hold my barrings. “Is everything alright?”

“I’m not certain. The hive is fine, but I think perhaps the current Mother is dying.” Never before had I seen Viirra so unsettled. She shifted to gaze to stare at the Kircurk.

At pulled himself up straight. “Are you going to have to take over the hive? “

“No.” Viirra shook herself off. “She gave me the all clear. Still, Pirfectia do not grow sick easily. I sent for a medics to arrive there as well. The hive already lost the true rulers, it would be worse if Pirfectia died off as well.”

I couldn’t quite follow the conversation. Some of it I knew, about the Pirfectia running the colonies for the Kircurk. What I did not know is how the they figured who go what colony. And I didn’t really know anything about the Kircurk or the Pirfecta culture outside my limited experience. Part of me desired to know, but I didn’t want to over do it.

Kircurk took a couple of quick strides over to Viirra. The chitin arms pulled her up into an embrace. Another slew of clicks filled the air. “Beloved mother safe hive protected lack worry.”

I felt my eyes bulge out of my head. Perhaps my translating couldn’t manage to translate, but it seemed to me as if the creature calling her beloved. “Are you, with it?” I motioned at Kircuk unable to stop myself.

Viirra slipped out it’s grasp. “Not in the usual sense. We aren’t lovers.” A short explosion of laughter before she continued on. “But, they love the Mother of every generation. The top males protected her, and one chosen as a mate. As the next Mother, I have a chosen protecter. Nothing more or less. A cultural term to say I am his chosen is all. He cares for me, and I him.”

As unfair as it might be, I felt a certain relief about it. The idea of a bug and a something that seemed like an Einlari in a relationship was too far outside my comfort zone. “It must be nice to have someone care about in your life.”

A sadness filled her eyes. “You can always find someone, Rilas.” The sorrow faded. “There is one benefit to all this.”

“What’s that?” I said.

“You’ve probably forgotten about those results you were waiting for.” She said with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

I chuckle a bit, because it was true. I opened my mouth to reply when a chime went off in the handheld computer in my pocket. The results had finished compiling. I shot out of my chair. “I have to go.” I rushed out the room at top speed to review them.

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