“My God, that thing is huge!” Don sits on the couch between Mark and Exen, blowing on his coffee to cool it down enough for a sip, his eyebrows raised noticeably as he turns to Mark,
“And we’re going there to meet this President of the...Perileom?”
Mark nods, turning up the volume with his remote. A news anchor, recognized around the world from years of feeding the publics curiosity, is standing in front of a large computer generated depiction of Earth, relative to her sister planets. The program he’s accessing is tracking the predetermined trajectory of the Big Boy as it approaches to establish an orbit around Earth.
Though the ships size is huge, half the size of the Moon, its mass is no where near that of a similar sized object, like an asteroid or moon, so its effect on Earths surface will be negligable.
Mark is frowning, deep creases split his wrinkled brow, troubled by the continued silence from Mother. Something is wrong. She's always responded whenever he’s reached for her telepathically for guidance.
Sometimes even audibly in everyone’s presence.
He runs through his options if she fails to ever respond again.
He still has access to that large body of knowledge about all Braxin women. He can sense it every time he thinks about it directly, hearing internally that sound of a waterfall.
He also has access to anything he might need to know about the past through his Braxin scholars who stand ready to serve him in that capacity. Other than that, he stands on his own, telepathically. He has no access to future events. He also has no access to Mother's amazing ability to make things happen favorably. He suspects there are other available assets, except he can't seem to tickle them out from among the swarm of jumbled thoughts now flooding his imagination, or maybe it's his imagination that's flooding his mind with all these doubts.
Mothers constant reminder that she seldom intercedes comes to mind. Perhaps he’s used up his good graces with her? He shakes his head as he reminds himself, anytime he’s ever called on her intercession it’s been in life threatening situations. He chuckles inwardly at himself beginning to sound like a priest.
He hopes this meeting with the Perileom President doesn’t become another one of those life threatening situations.
Noticing Chandra and Trelis are still in his bedroom making his bed they slept in, Mark looks around for Jules and little Mark but doesn't see them. He smiles inwardly at the notion of where they can likely be found right now.
Jules and little Mark are in the spare room conversing with Chris. Little Mark is so enthralled with Chris he spends every available second of his time in that room. While Jules is so enthralled with little Mark she's attached herself to him like a shadow. He's becoming accustomed to her presence and affection.
Exen, beside him on the couch with Rublane standing in front of her, is primping and preening her hair, brushing the tangles from its straight dark chocolate sheen and getting it up in a pony tail, after having just showered.
Noticing Brandon's vessel in the back yard, Exen intrudes into Marks reflective mood,
“The energy packets of Brandon’s vessel are empty my King. Will that present a problem?”, bobbing her head at the vessel beginning to materialize visibly from its previous state of camouflage, looking like an apparition half in half out of this world. Without energy its camouflage deactivates slowly as the batteries wind down.
Mark rises quickly, deposits his coffee on the table, and starts in that direction. Exen, Rublane and Don follow him out the sliding glass doors.
This is the first time Mark and Don have ever seen one of these vessels in its entirety. They are bigger than the impression one gets from being inside one. Mark’s only experience with these alien vessels being through Andrea’s vessel that's always been camouflaged. He’s never actually seen anything but the inside of it up close.
Looking at this one he is suddenly glad he has no immediate neighbors. His nearest neighbor almost a half mile away, separated by thick forests of pines, oak and elm.
These vessels look weird. Not anything remotely resembling an aircraft or even a conventional rocket or spaceship. If anything they resemble a large bullhorn of sorts. One of those handheld devices used to amplify and throw ones voice, only this one is laying over on its side, the fat end facing away from Mark’s house. Except in lieu of being rounded like a bullhorn’s end, these things are shaped like a pyramid, cut with sharp angles tapering off towards the smaller end, where the pilots cabin is located. They stand on three shock absorbing tubes that self adjust to the conditions of the terrain, upon which they are parked, to keep them level.
Mark is moving quickly towards this vessel while Exen is carefully guiding Rublane along to follow him, until his head bounces off the bottom of Chandra’s camouflaged vessel with a soft thump, knocking him on his rear end. Exen rushes over trying to contain her laughter while helping Don get him back on his feet. Rublane can tell something funny has happened but not quite sure what.
Don, just shy of committing the same blunder, utters a reserved chuckle, while helping Mark to his feet. Exen brushes soil and leaves from his lower back unable to resist the motherly reminder,
“My King mustn’t forget there are other vessels out here. Are you okay?”
Mark, rubbing the small knot forming on his forehead above his left eye is grinning, while feeling the sides of Chandra’s still camouflaged vessel, completely invisible with no open entrance to remind one such an item is even there. He looks at Don and Exen coyly and they all three explode into laughter,
“You could have at least tried to warn me.”
“Oh...my King was moving so fast that I forgot about Chandra’s vessel even being here. Had I been out front, my King would have been helping me up.”
Having brushed off his pants and pride Mark uses his left hand to guide them around Chandra’s vessel so he could stand and gape at what was now his vessel. Being Brandon’s first born son and Brandon now buried beneath the rubble on a world far away, there was no other conclusion to be drawn. He finds and opens the doorway, stepping aside as the ramp unfolds.
This led him momentarily to wonder how he could get in touch with Brandon’s girlfriend. She would have to be told the bad news. This last thought piled in on his already crushed mood as he stood looking down at his bare feet in the wet grass, his head beginning to throb from the bruise. Tears were beginning to form behind his eyes when he felt fingers wrapping around his and realized Andrea was standing there inside his mind telepathically ready to comfort him any way she could. Then he felt more fingers embrace the same hand as Exen took it in hers and leaned her head against his shoulder, looking up into his eyes, she spoke softly,
“I am so sorry my King, I loved him too.”
Rublane could sense the change in moods and figured out why, “This is about the man my mother killed...isn't it?” She dropped her head in sorrow not knowing what else to say.
Exen, struggling all morning with his loss, could contain it no longer. She had barely slept.
She started bawling like a baby as Mark and Don physically, and Andrea telepathically, wrapped themselves around her for comfort. Chandra also embraced her telepathically. Rublane clung to her, tears flowing from the sockets around her dead eyes. This being the second time, in as many days, Exen has mourned over the loss of someone her young heart loved. Mark’s own sadness faded as he comforted his adopted daughter. Her sobs slowly dwindled to snifles as she hung from Mark's shoulder, each lost in their own private thoughts. Mark squeezed her hand,
“You know so much more about these vessels than I do, I thought maybe you could help me do a thorough inventory, but this is too soon; I understand. There’s really no hurry.”
He rubs her back and shoulder then heads back to the house, having lost the will to enter this vessel himself. Exen stands there a second longer and turns to follow him back, with Rublane in tow. Mark stops at the door suddenly remembering,
“What’s involved in charging up those energy packs?”
Exen slides two chairs from under the wrought iron table in the middle of Mark’s veranda. A table Mark purchased at a yard sale several years back. She guides Rublane to one of the chairs while she sits in the other, facing Brandon’s black and green vessel gleaming in the sunlight. She noticed they forgot to close the door back.
“My King has access to everything Braxin. I can hail the PIPE station and have them fill his power packs. It only takes twelve seconds to fill them."
Mark looks again across the yard at this huge vessel glinting in the sunlight, standing some thirty feet tall and at least a hundred feet long. From his angle he can see the front windshield. From the angle of the sun he can see the back of the chair Brandon would have always occupied while flying. Its emptiness casts another dark somberness over his mood. He nodded to Exen, then stepped inside, heading for the spare room and Chris. He shakes his head in wonder that his entire back yard beyond the veranda is now a parking lot for alien vessels, reminding him of a similar scene on Jupiter’s third moon.
He stops outside the door, debating on whether to go in or turn right and go out into his carport, which brings to mind his truck. He will have to find it and bring it home. Alex comes to mind and the fact that Brandon’s girlfriend is also a handler.
Another little problem has a resolution. He can delegate that emotional turmoil to Alex. He is their supervisor. Brandon lost his life in service to his King so Mark can instruct Alex to ensure she is well taken care of, in every way possible, for the remainder of her life.
He decides to consult with Andrea before going that route, some part of him uncomfortable with doing things that way. He regrets not having had the time to meet her. His thoughts are interrupted by the laughter of children coming from the other side of the door. Don has caught up with him. Mark smiles half heartedly and they walk in together.
Little Mark is sitting where Julia normally sits in front of a monitor, while Jules is standing behind him leaning over the back of the chair on her elbows. Chris is doing something on the monitor that looks like doodling. These children are so intent on following the doodles they don’t realize others are now in the room, but Chris knows everyone in this house and their every move.
“My King, would you like to join us?”
Mark was impressed that Chris was no longer speaking in broken syllables, his mechanical voice almost sounding human. Both children’s heads swivel to catch his entrance. Little Mark appears to have recovered his artificial eyesight. Don is ecstatic. Little Mark has replaced the faulty coding that inhibited Chris from speaking smoothly.
“Can you now see me Little man?” Mark is curious.
“Yessir, Chris has allocated a portion of his visual receptors enabling me to see.” He shakes his head articulately and Jules giggles at the way this makes him look. Like a head on a puppet string is what he detects from her mind, which elicits a short chuckle from him.
“Do you want to help us build real eyes? We’re going to make them grow inside glass and everyone who is blind will be able to see without wires.” Little Mark’s head continues to bob up and down with the excitement and sincerety in what he’s saying. Mark is tempted to grab him up and squeeze him, he is so precious. Don is speechless. Jules reaches across and takes hold of his cheeks in both her hands and slows him down. They both erupt in giggles, then little Mark glances at her with a shy grin,
“I’m still doing it, aren’t I.” Jules giggles and nods. Mark observes her brush a lock of his dark brown hair from his eyes before she releases him. Little Mark's grin expands into a smile. He's never been shown this much attention and clearly coveting more.
Mark looks at Don and grins as Don rolls his eyes, “He’s a chip off the old block already.” They both chuckle at that one.
Chris chimes in, “If I had arms I would hug them both continuously.” This floors Mark and Don. Then he continues with something that really slams them both,
“I am currently working out a chemically genetic formula that should obviate in the production of new biological eyes for both little Mark and Rublane and any other sentient being who is blind. All that remains being implementation into the biological system without surgery. It is possible to enhance the growth hormones that would enable the new eyes to quickly imbed themselves into all the correct synapses of the brain upon introduction to the biological system in need. I could not have made it this far without the input from little Mark. He is amazingly intelligent, far exceeding my own intelligence quotient.”
Mark looks around the room for cameras and seeing none queries Chris,
“Can you see them?”
“I don’t know how to explain how I receive the data I receive. It is just there. Mother told me not to waste energy seeking answers to such riddles.”
This sends Mark into the stratosphere, “Did...did you say Mother? As in Mother Time?”
Chris responds casually, “Yes oh King, Mother has instructed me to fill in for her where I can. There is much I am instructed to tell you and Andrea when the three of us are and can communicate in privacy.”
Mark is speechless. Don is beyond speechless, “You...you’ve been in touch with her? How?”
Mark interrupts before he can answer, “Do you know why she cannot tell me herself?”
Chris responds immediately, “My King, Mother will tell you herself, through me.”
Mark is mystified. He hails Andrea and she responds immediately. She heard everything that was just said. They are barely ten minutes out. The children remained silent while this conversation ensued. Mark turned back to Jules,
“Are you helping little Mark develop his vision?” She begins to nod almost as energetically as little Mark did. Little Mark reaches around and places his hand under her chin to slow her down and they both erupt into laughter. Mark, Don and Chris fall in with them, laughing at their antics.