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A drama by Yichard Muni, Elf bard
This story happened in the worlds of the Nyidiath and the Dauriath, the worlds of the Humans and of the Elves, like my other stories of Elves. However it took place much more recently, just when the two worlds were reunited, and the Elves could return to the main world of the Humans.
This story brings some kind of conclusion to many of the previous stories, as we find the whereabout of many ancient characters, but in today modern times. So that it can be considered the last story of this series. However I still keep the possibility to write stories in the future, beyond this epoch, if I receive such an inspiration. But it will be a second series, on a very different tone, without violence or evil.
In this time, the Nyidiath already was a modern world, with a majority of democratic governments, cars, electricity, planes, matching about the technology level of the 1950 years on Earth. So we do not need to be astonished to see these things in a story of Elves. However, what will be astonishing is what did the Elves in the same time...
This story tells the dreadful Horiathon battle which happened at the reunification of the two worlds, which so much impacted the imagination of the peoples of the Nyidiath. Not that it was especially large or horrible, but it was such a definitive lesson to the Human governments that they had at last to allow the Nyidiath Elves to dwell in the open, and live their ideal without being bullied, denigrated or censored. In the following centuries, this would allow for more and more Humans to become Elves, to the point of creating Elvish governments in only two centuries, leading the Nyidiath world into the path of the Good, while respecting the different ways of its peoples. This would culminate seven more centuries after, when everybody turned Elvish, in the «Great marvel», a wonderful world wide magical event, engulfing their two worlds into an unimaginable happiness and beauty, beyond anything we can describe in a text.
This is a multiple threads stories, so that it is cut in patches. Each thread has its own colour, for easing reading.
Important: to better feel the various emotions, I propose links toward musics, to hear while reading. To make it easy, these links are toward Youtube, this meaning often published without the consent of the authors, and without supporting them. Thus I strongly advise to support the authors with buying their musics, or by looking at their sites. See here for more musics and links toward author sites.
Come meet for real!
Every Friday, 12pm SLT (19hTU), Elf Dream Meetings and stories, in our virtual region Daur Lysaer (How to enter)
on Saturday 21, 10am SLT (17hTU), a beautiful story in the Renaissance Faire, in Digiworld Region Chivalry
This text is a part of a larger plot. So it is better to read first «The Kiss of the Worlds», in order not to spoil it.
-Oh k***, said Michele, it is no time to get up!
-Aouh, replied Dan, that was again this k***** dream
-The dream with the Elves? You are stupid, it is in the future, you risk absolutely nothing now. Now let me sleep, you g****»
Dan curled under the covers, as if it could protect him from the nameless danger lurking in their dark bedroom. Yes he had again this dream: his grey steel warship was crossing the dark Horiathon pass, and entering the Elven ocean. Dan and the other soldiers were proud of their mission: to liberate the Dauriath of the few religious extremists occupying it, bring modern civilization there, and open a new land to relieve the overpopulation of the Nyidiath. The extremists with their bows and arrows had no chances against their modern weapons, they would pick them up like flowers. The sea was blue, the sun was shining, the uniform buttons were gleaming, and tralalalala...
Only trouble, there were strange sounds, which seemed to emanate from the mysterious depths of the ocean of the Dauriath, 900kms of unfathomed darkness. First, it was like long organ notes, raising per octave, until the pitch was too high. Not very loud, and they could even pass unnoticed with the rumble of the machines. Then there were clicks, series of electronic clicks, like crickets, but harder. Then the organs again. Only him noticed them, the others were keeping smiling, unaware of the utmost sense of threat which torn Dan's bowels. Or maybe they were like him, not daring to acknowledge the subtle threat, which would imply to disobey the orders and flee before it was too late.
Then the Elven ocean opened like a monstrous flower of white foam, and in a fraction of a second, their proud iron ship was nothing more than a cloud of flaming shrapnel flying everywhere. And him, Dan, had to withstand the agony of his body pierced through by large shards of metal. Last time, it was the incredible pain of molten steel, and the stench of burned flesh followed him for three days. A time before, he awoke gasping, after dreaming he was trapped in an obscure metallic compartment filling with cold water...
With the day, Dan felt better, although the dire fear was still lurking behind his ordinary though. He disputed with his wife. After only three years of marriage, it was considered normal. At the age on twenty four, her beauty was already fading with party nights and drug, this was also considered as normal. Well, today, he had to wear his best clothes: it was the big day! He was signing up with the Navy, for 20 years. After his military service and a first three years contract, he already had a good place, something like Petty Officer First Class, specialized in mechanics, and he bore his rank insignia with pride.
So, by this rainy day, Dan, like many others, engaged in the Navy, thinking at the prestige and at the good pay, but not at the close future of the re-opening of the Horiathon and the ugly war which would follow. Not like his buddy Roger, who refused to sign again and had to go to the unemployment agency, for an uncertain future.
Music: Solar Fields, When the worlds collide
In the Horiathon, the dreadful passage to the elven lands, things had little changed. On the Dauriath side, the Elven fleet of white elegant wooden sail ships with coloured streaks was still circling the passage, the same since the Exodus, forbidding any access to the dearly earned elven Paradise. But in front of the modern Human fleet of mighty steel war ships, its role was now of a mere symbolic warning. But it was still opposing a moral barrier to the planned invasion: the steel fleet would have to ram them to be able to pass, and this would clearly be an attack, not a peaceful liberation as they claimed.
Human side, the number of ships had doubled. Six destroyers, two support ships. Further in the harbours, others were waiting: aircraft carriers, fast frigates, freighters. But above all, hundreds of settler ships were frantically built in large factories, to carry people, implements, building material, bulldozers and heavy construction gear. Hundred of thousands settlers had paid a high price to immigration companies, to be among the first to «invest» in the best places on nicely coloured maps of the Dauriath showing vast expenses of «empty» land.
The politicians of the Human world were very proud: it was the first military action of the Nations Council, a coalition of most Human countries created 30 years ago to avoid wars. It did not avoided much, so this first unanimous action was considered a great success. In more, they boasted it would be a peaceful liberation, the development of the Dauriath, and so on.
The view of the Horiathon was haunting, and Human sailors were very impressed, telling their feeling to their families or to journalists. The two planets, linked together by gravitation, were deformed into rain drops, the two points now touching, so that the ocean was forming a neck, like a hour glass. For two centuries now, the neck was impassable by ships, due to a violent bore wave around it, from the tide currents between the two worlds. But this wave was lowering, and in some months large ships will be able to pass, at time of tide reversal. Some smaller ones already attempted the crossing successfully, but they went back without approaching the Elven fleet.
The Horiathon was a dark place (due to the thickness of the atmosphere here) where the gravitation was very low (due to the antagonist pull of the two planets). This made of it a frightening and unwelcoming place. But it was above all a fantastic scenery, where any ordinary law or common sense was losing any value. So the Nyidiath ocean was forming a cone, like a mountain of water, while the Dauriath ocean was another black water cone above, descending from the sky. Add to this violent winds and frequent lightning... By day, the Elven fleet appeared as white specks circling the Dauriath cone, above in the sky. The Human strategists knew that the Elves had electricity aboard their ships, but they always had shutters on their windows, so that at night they were totally invisible. Seen from the Elven side, it is the Human fleet which appeared as a circle of bright lights turning slowly into the sky. The remaining sky all around was dark grey or dull red, and the ocean black with specks of foam.
Bob too had dire dreams. But they were different. He was quietly flying over the Dauriath with his bomber aircraft, toward his assigned target. But he was looking astonished at the huge temples and builds in there. No one ever spoke him about these, and he really had a strong feeling of desecrating a land of awesome magical power.
Suddenly, he realized that his compass had given him totally wrong indications, so that he was lost, unable to guess the path to his base. Only thing he could do was turning around one of the illuminated temples, feeling infinitely sad and out of place, gazing at the wonderful elven landscape of happy villages and merry forests, until he ran out of fuel...
In real, Bob had already flew several reconnaissance flights over the Dauriath. He knew that there were more than some anachoretes in there. He extrapolated in his reports that the total number of people living in the Dauriath could be in the four hundred millions, with good masonry houses and a powerful agriculture. This was not a problem of a military point of view, but it made the whole affair much dirtier than in the propaganda leaflets: how to justify the eviction of so many peaceful people? And how to «dispose» of them without being spotted by the moralists and the defenders of Human rights?
Bob had reached the age where he could give up the Scythan Air Force, and benefit of advantageous loans to start a civilian business. He was already approached by several colleagues, for starting an avionics equipment company. They even insisted, arguing that he would escape the unknown dangers of this strange war. They looked really worried for him, so that he ended the discussion abruptly.
The problem Bob had, was that he really hated all this stuff of Elves, love of life and wonderful forests. What he wanted was all those hairs cut, these forest cleared for roads, and the self-luminous temples flattened before any colonist ever saw them, so that the invasion could go on without any moralist protesting or even guessing what was going on.
In more, he knew that several pilots of his squadron never returned from beyond the horizon of the Dauriath. So he made of this a personal matter.
His dreams stopped.
Jack entered the wardroom as he used to do every day. For some reason, he was in advance, so he picked a Navy officers review to read while waiting.
He stepped on an article by a psychologist, Doctor Hort Padella, who was well known in the television for his denial of paranormal claims or religious survivals.
«We had some isolated cases of army personnel complaining of nightmares about their future mission. This is not extraordinary, and a common occurrence in every engagement. In the case of the planned liberation mission of the Dauriath, we have in more the ancient legends of magic and terrible priests, combined with the unconscious archetype of the unexplored land where everything is possible. This result in an excitation of the limbic neural system, which start to produce specific neurotransmitters. These, in turn, induce frightening dreams of imaginary dangers.
«We advised the army psychologists not to pay any attention to such dreams. If some army personnel keep complaining on them, it may reveal an underlying delusion of religious myths or paranormal fakery. A suitable treatment with anti-psychotics may be indicated. Of course this personnel may need to be isolated, to avoid the spreading of rumours and loss of spirit in other army personal or civilian support workers.»
Jack used not to pay attention to his dreams. But he was suddenly frightened, because he precisely had some of this kind. So he thought it was better to forget them, and anyway much safer not to speak of them to anybody.
Music:Mark Shreeve, Aurora
Yson was a basic soldier, of the kind who pants and sweats into the forest, wearing heavy equipment, under the lurking threat of the enemy.
He was dreaming that he was advancing in the Dauriath forest, thinking he was liberating the land from those nasty religious extremists, opening it to civilisation. He was walking on the rhythm of one of these enthusiastic music in the television propaganda. All was well, the old fogey priests would flee squeaking like mice, he would liberate the gorgeous blonde hostage as in the films, and return home with social recognition and a big pay check, or even he would get a land in the Dauriath.
Suddenly there was a searing light, bang and pain, and the television music stopped. He was alone, unable to move, his torn flesh and shattered bones irretrievably mixed with mud and dirt. After a silence, the birds started to sing again around him, and the flowers to be nice.
But this was not the worse: soon THEY appeared.
Perfectly efficient and trained elven soldiers, with functional yet elegant forest camouflage suits and very modern weapons. They immediately took position in the place, without any apparent command.
Then she spoke.
The gorgeous blonde woman.
The one of the movies, that he loved in secret.
With such a deep, tender and melodious voice...
And she was not an hostage, but the soldier who injured Yson, while defending her legitimate land. She had to cut her magnificent hair for the fight, and Yson clearly felt her calm reproach from this.
Then they started to sing.
With so tender and lovely voices, than Yson immediately felt he had been totally wrong all his life long: real happiness and meaning of life were here, with these magnificent people tenderly loving each other like spouses, in this lost corner of forest. And him, Yson, was NOT ACCEPTED into this realm of beauty, kindness and happiness. From his violent and ignorant behaviour.
Being thus barred of the very meaning of the universe was a much worse moral sorrow than the agony of his crushed body.
Yson awakened of this dire dream sweating and panting.
He dreamed only once, but it shake him so badly, that he seriously considered resigning from the army. However he did the mistake of asking the advice of an army psychologist, who muddled his mind with sweet speeches issued in a threatening tone... so that he did not dared to think any more to this dream.
«Communication officer: Hallo, Alpha Alpha Zulu, do you hear me?
-Aircraft: (statics) Yes I am still hearing you, 3 on 5. We keep following the Dauriath horizon, but without trespassing it. We do not see anything unusual for now. Just seems there are more (statics) here.
-Communication officer: Please repeat: more what?
-Aircraft: Please repeat?
-Communication officer: What are you seeing unusual?
-Aircraft: Ah (statics) more buildings, or larger.
-Communication officer: Any idea of the use of the larger buildings?
-Aircraft: Not from this altitude. I try to take images with the telescope, but... (statics)
-Communication officer: But what?
-Aircraft: What I see is... oh wow, this...
-Radio receiver: WOOUHOOWOOUHOOWOOUHOO SCHRIEKSCHRIEKSCHRIEKSCHRIEK WOOUHOOWOOUHOOWOOUHOO SCHRIEKSCHRIEKSCHRIEKSCHRIEK
-Communication officer: t***, scrambled!
-Communication second: what the z*** They scrambled our radio transmission!
-Communication officer: Eh, I lost the carrier frequency!
-Mission commander: Well, I think it is useless now to wait for Alpha Alpha Zulu to return...
-Communication second: They know exactly what we are doing!
-Communication officer: This Dauriath affair will not be so simple as in the films...
-Communication second: And as usual it will be to us the army to dispel the delusions of the politicians»
Music: Stellardrone, The Divine Cosmos
«Oh, Dick, your telescope was not confiscated?
-Eh no, I had it at home on repair, when the police raided the astronomy club. They took the 200mm, the 380mm with the Barlow, and all the cameras, but not the 550mm big one!
-Wow, 550, it is one of the biggest amateur telescopes in the whole Nyidiath!
-Any idea of why they confiscated all amateur astronomy material? We did nothing bad... Are we no longer in democracy?
-Well, I guess it is because of the Dauriath affair.
-Ah, m***, this affair is invading everything. My uncle went to an auction for a plot up there. He climbed up to 40,000 Gulds before abandoning. It finally went at 87,000 Gulds, for just a six hectares plot!
-Wow! It is more expensive than a terrain in town! What is this madness of paying so much for a plot if they even not know if it is land or water!
-The Dauriath fever...
-Do not repeat, because it is forbidden to use telescopes, especially for that, said Dick.
-For the Dauriath. It is said that observing the Dauriath in the telescopes shows the Gods. This is why amateur telescopes are all forbidden now, and professional astronomy data is unpublished.
-Forbidden? It is like in the ancient times, where religions forbade to use telescopes, because they did NOT showed the Gods.
-Haha, opposed opinions, but same fundamentalist mind.
-And you... well, tried?
-We shall not repeat.
-Well, first, by day we do not see much. No building are visible so far away, but a lot of fields, meadows, cultivated areas, and many small harbours.
-Phieeeeew, they are more than some thousands.
-By night, in infra-red, it is a different story.
-Oh, you tried that?
-Yes, I mounted Harvey's infra-red camera on the 550 big telescope. I could not take many photographies, though, because infra-red films are harder and harder to find.
-Burned by the Dauriath fever too, I guess.
-Probably. This pick shows numerous villages. Each star is a village. But note that the released energy is low, some hundreds of watts per house, not much more than the human heat. They are probably well insulated, to avoid being too much visible.
-And it is like this on each continent. We also have pastel hue lights in some places. I have no idea of what they are, just that they shine all night long. Perhaps it is the Gods.
-Pastel hue lights? What the heck is it?
-At least it is beautiful. Sure that it is the Elves, ha ha ha!
-Yes, sure, they seem unable to do ugly things. But this is not the best.
-What is there more?
-The boats. Look at these ones.
-Eh, these lights are much brighter.
-Yes, several megawatts each. It is serious big ships, not sails and planks. And aligned like in a military formation. If they pull these forward to defend the Horiathon, our old outdated ships are in serious trouble.
-When I spotted this fleet, I waited for the day to have a visible light image of it. But...
-When I looked back in the morning, they were NOT HERE. There was nothing in visible light, just open water.
-Uuuuhhh...This is frightening. What the heck is going on up there?
-I don't know, just that I would not go to bother them. And you never heard anything from me. You know nothing about the 550, and anyway since I no more have films, I buried it. But I think it would be nice to spread the word, because there will soon be illusions crashing on hard realities.»
Caim was looking at the television, as usual, while his wife was preparing the dinner in the kitchen. This evening was a debate on democracy, with representatives of the Elven embassies.
«TV: One of the big concern of our governments is the lack of democracy in the Dauriath lands, and even in the small elven countries in the Nyidiath.
-Elf ambassador: Indeed, we do not have your formal and procedural democracy. What we have is
-TV, interrupting: what protects the rights of the minorities in your lands? We have laws and committees for this.
-Elf ambassador: We do not need such laws, because any opinion in the elven mind is part of an harmony which
-TV, interrupting: We do have laws and quotas warrant of the rights of any registered community. The largest ones have representatives in the parliament and various state institutions. What happens in the elven lands if a community claims its rights?
-Elf ambassador: This is not needed, because every community already has its place in the common harmony. It works very well because the
-TV, interrupting: So communities have no legal rights. You understand that it is a great cause of concern, and we may feel founded into defending the rights of people in the Dauriath. How are your prisoners in the Dauriath?
-Elf ambassador: Last people entering unauthorized in the Dauriath were 200 years ago, before the Horiathon was closed. We always treated them well. Since, they died naturally, and
-TV, interrupting: Well, we heard a lot recently about hostages. What are the conditions for liberating them?
-Elf ambassador: Dear sir, these hostages are in your movies, not in our lands. Only you can liberate them from here!
-TV (a short silence, then: ) I do not understand...
-Elf ambassador: Your governments provided us with no list of people entering unauthorized in our lands (broad smile).
Caim, angry: K**** Elves, they lie as they breath. I really must go here and fight them. Three weeks now before I go and we start the action. Jilian, is the dinner ready?»
Jilian had to be patient with this boorish husband and failed union. She too had dreams, and she knew exactly what would happen. In three weeks Caim would join his army corps, and in four weeks (The Nations Council ultimatum to the Elves for sending back all hostages) he would parachute on the nearest Elven islands in the Dauriath. And only some minutes after, she would be a war widow, with a good pension and free to consecrate her life to something much more interesting than just washing Caim's undies.
The biggest problem for now was that he wanted her pregnant before his departure, in order to «continue him» if he was killed. But she arranged things with her physician, to make him believe, and stop his continuous assaults.
Music: Kitaro, Koi
Morav had brought his family for the first time in the huge hangar where the large «Vanguard XII» ship was built. Yellowish lights were descending from the obscure ceiling of steel beams, in the resonating sounds of machinery, calls and metallic clangs. Loading of the holds had begun, despite the ship was not yet launched. But the re-opening of the Horiathon was in only ten days, so that all the competitors will have to rush all together, before unoccupied plots were taken by others.
Morav showed proudly his settler card to the guards, and they were allowed to climb into the ship, through a narrow metallic gangway and rusty passages. Inside, they had a small cabin where they would have to live all five for the two weeks of the travel. It would be left raw metal, so that Morav had brought paint, like many other settlers, while his wife Gurney had brought curtains and other house implements.
They took possession of their cabin with the enthusiastic ooohs and aaahs of the settlers ready to discover a new land, and start some new business.
But one of the first things Morav did, was to put on the iron wall his map of the place where they were going. It was a short peninsula of about 20kms long, called Abaquity (nobody knew where these names were coming from, and none bothered to ask). It was subdivided in 256m wide squares of different colours: red for the most expensive, then orange, yellow, and green for the cheapest. Some blue squares were still available, while grey ones were for collective buildings, and purple for parks. Morav proudly circled his orange plot with a marker. It had a road planned just besides, making it suited for a factory, and even for renting part of it to late comers, so that in facts he would not have to work.
The children were contemplating the map with mixed feelings.
Thress, the elder, immediately noticed a strange detail:
«Why is there no indication of relief? Hill, meadow, or rocks?» Indeed the complicated coastline was rather indicative of a rocky place. But there was no way to know how the inner land was, flat, or hilly, or even mountainous and unusable for any purpose. The Settling company had just drawn straight lines everywhere, while designers and landscapers placed here and there purple squares for parks and greenery.
«And if the Elves do not let us go?» asked Nick, the youngest, still speaking awkwardly.
-Uncle Tatoon will kill them with his machine gun», replied Schmee, the daughter.
Not paying attention to such a terrible remark in a child's mouth, Morav was speaking with Gurney: «I think the best place to put our house is here, just besides the road, in the middle of the parcel side. This will make a long symmetrical facade with a wall. Just at the end will be the access for the renters.
Morav was already seeing his plot filled with businesses, paying for his luxury house. He just totally ignored that, precisely in the point he was showing, was a wonderful clearing in the forest, adorned with flowery vines and grasses, enchanted by the songs of thousands birds echoing under the canopy. They were not all chirping at random, but making choirs and solos, grouping or alternating by species, creating a sumptuous and never ending never repeating pastoral symphony. A wonderful Elve with shiny jet black hair, Amasheen, was sitting in meditation, enjoying the pure energy of the vivid nature around her. She had to wait before resuming her walk, because a group of wild does was nearby, and she did not wanted to disturb them. Around, in the place that Morav had paid an excruciating cost for, were large trees shadowing fairy greenery caves, pierced here and there with sun rays with flying insects appearing as stars. In another clearing, was a small house with a thatch roof. Its walls were forming humps and blocks much resembling the surrounding rocks, and covered with the same moss and ferns, so that this house just looked as a natural part of the forest landscape. Inside the house, walls were painted in shades of pastel purple, with a lot of nice coloured fabrics hanging, and dried flowers forming alcoves. It was well heated and safe from rain, with modern house implements and a good quality tarpaulin layer under the thatch. This was the meditation nest that Amasheen was sharing with Alazaër, her loved husband.
They perfectly knew that the Horiathon was to re-open in some days. They also heard about the squares that greediness had drawn across their wonderful land, that they called Amaootoo, the land of the black ootoo bird who sings for the soul. But, to be frank, they were not bothering at all. Even not thinking at it. They had duly performed the various tasks the War Council requested from them, and after they returned confidently to their sweet meditation, alternating with farming and building in the near village. Even the H day was not special, just it was a meditation day in the village temple, to keep ready for some things they would be requested to. Amasheen thought that it would be nice to bake cookies for this occasion.
Why such a confidence? It was however not unconsciousness: they obviously knew something crucial than Morav and the other colonists even not suspected.
Day H, midday minus 30 minutes.
The World Council fleet was aligned, ready to intervene, with the ultimatum coming at its end in 30 minutes.
Dan was allowed on the bridge of his destroyer, the Barth, for performing his technical duties. Here he could admire the fantastic landscape of the Horiathon. Presently, the black ocean was forming the usual huge hourglass shape. As if the weather was greeting them, there were nearby no waves, and even a pale gleam of the red sun was sneaking between the huge black clouds, lighting streaks of orange foam, and making the surrounding void even darker, as a night sky. The Nyidiath side was forming the bottom of the hourglass, the top of a huge cone, with the horizon disappearing well bellow its usual position, in the dark mist. Above, the Dauriath was forming a similar cone, hanging from the sky.
The World Council fleet had six large destroyers ships, close to the Horiathon. A second row of twenty large troop carriers awaited just a bit further, then aircraft carriers, logistics support ships were waiting, filling the ocean until the horizon, including tens of colons ships, ready to rush into the liberated lands on the heels of the navy. Dan's ship was large, with many guns, although he did not knew how these could be used against skinny anachoretes living in straw huts. Everybody guessed that there was probably more than these to fight, but whatever the Elves would align, Dan was confident that they would win in any case. The propaganda movie had muddled minds much farther than their designers intended: everybody was sure that they would have to fight a Middle Age elven army... even the military headquarters were believing these lies! Although some lieutenants of the air force warned that there was more, but they had been fired...
Elven side, the morning saw an unexpected surprise: the wooden ships elven fleet had disappeared during the night. They even not opposed the moral barrier of having to ram through them. So the Dauriath ocean was empty, and apparently free to enter. Among Human sailors, this provoked huge laughters: the Elves, seeing their fate, fled in a cowardly way. Journalists were also mocking in the media, saying that after all, the Elves realized that they were no match, and they fled far away in their mountains to try to save their lives. Some TV shows even ridiculed Elven representatives saying that the access forbidding was still in effect, and any intruder would put his life at high risk.
In between, the Horiathon was still like itself. As the morning was elapsing, the bore wave weakened, changed from an small roll to a series of light waves around the neck, which were now reduced to a simple pattern of foam lines. Passing was now possible all the time for their large ships. In more their powerful engines could make it fast, reducing any hazard to nearby zero.
Only thing which troubled Dan were strange sounds, which seemed to emanate from the mysterious depths of the ocean of the Dauriath, 900kms of unfathomed darkness. First, it was like long organ notes, raising per octave, until the pitch was too high. Not very loud, and they could even pass unnoticed with the rumble of the machines. Then there were clicks, series of electronic clicks, like crickets, but harder. Then the organs again. Only him noticed them, his team boss seemed unaware of them. Or maybe he was like him, not daring to acknowledge the subtle threat, which would imply to disobey the orders and flee before it was too late. It was already too late anyway: how could they flee, in the middle of the ocean?
Then, Dan realized that he already heard these sounds, in several dreams, months ago. Astonished, he pointed the Dauriath with his finger, making the gesture of hearing with the other hand. But his boss just frowned at him, and turned back to look at something else. They were probably the only ones to hear, the others being all inside, in the noise of the machines.
As the fateful time approached, tense was growing. The rumble of the machines heightened in volume and pitch, while the smoke streams flew in spirals around the Horiathon neck. That was a really gorgeous scene, especially with the excitement of the imminent attack.
The ship loudspeakers started a speech to heighten the spirit of the troops. From here, Dan missed most, he could only get some words: «action... ultimatum spent without results... glory... ready to serve... liberate... honour». Other loudspeakers echoed this from the other ships.
At midday, the Estonan started to move forward, with the World Council glorious hymn playing in every loudspeaker. Dan's boss was smiling, looking at the ship: «Go Esty, go!» Another petty officer joined them, and explained how proud and confident he was to seek the liberation of all the hostages.
The Estonan's prow engaged the curved surface of water. It was not so easy than expected, as, with weightlessness, the Horiathon neck started to wriggle, with the Estonan coming vertical from their point of view. But after ten minutes of manoeuvres, she did it!
Soon the Estonan was hanging above them, from the sky-like Dauriath ocean. Screams and applauds greeted the feat, while the Grizzly moved into position to pass in her turn. Next was Dan's ship, the Barth.
They were all looking upward, to the Estonan, now accelerating to make room for the following ones. Smoke was spiralling all around, with the yells and excitement of all the sailors. Loudspeakers were telling the success of the operations.
Dan was not applauding: he went suddenly acutely aware of the strange sounds, no longer able to contain them in a recess of his consciousness. And fear started to tear his bowels. The patterns had changed, to a random series of organ notes and a fast, steady cricket chirp. It was louder too, and clearly emanating from the Dauriath above them. The sailors in the Estonan could not miss it, even inside their ship.
Then something strange happened, very fast, as if the whole Dauriath was a gigantic blinking eye.
The water was turning white with foam.
It started away, but approaching very fast, so that Dan's memory recorded a black circle surrounded with white, and decreasing very fast.
It was centred on the Estonan.
When the circle zeroed on the Estonan, the elven ocean opened like a monstrous flower of white foam, gleaming orange from fire and explosions inside, and in a fraction of a second, the proud iron ship was nothing more than a cloud of flaming shrapnel flying everywhere.
For some seconds, Dan, and probably the officers, first thought that this silent disaster was a kind of hallucination. But it was not: the huge bang of the explosion swept the remaining fleet, turning the waters grey, while steel shards and machinery parts were streaming trails of smoke in the sky. Soon they fell in a rain all around, splashing in the water besides, or banging noisily against the shields and decks of the Barth.
Second thought of the admirals probably was that the Estonan exploded from some technical malfunction. The Grizzly was already past the Horiathon, and it did not stopped its manoeuvre. The Barth started to align in turn. Loudspeakers were now anxiously silent.
The Grizzly was now well in the Dauriath Ocean, and Dan felt the Bart pitching heavily while engaging in the Horiathon. In the Dauriath ocean, where the Estonan was, the water was still foamy and churning. The organ sounds were now replaced with a sharp and fast cricket chirp, strong enough to be noticed everywhere.
Then it happened again: in a huge eye blink, the Dauriath turned white, and the Grizzly was instantly picked in a huge pillar of foam, strewn with orange exploding ordnance and black smoke of burning fuel. From the closer position of the Barth, the bang was still louder and sharper, and Dan felt pain in his ears. He also clearly heard a kind of sharp and strong scream, as if some ocean god of the depth was yelling at their sacrilege of bringing steel and violence in the Elven Ocean.
And Dan saw that his ship was now the next on line...
But this time, the admirals understood that they were facing a totally superior weapon, which was making their whole project definitively impossible. The Barth veered hard in the very Horiathon neck, listing so badly that water swept the deck from a side to the other. For some minutes, in the threatening cricket sound, she fought to regain a normal position on the Nyidiath side.
Later in the sailor's mess, long faces and defeated looks made a really dull end of day. But above all, they were all wondering what happened. The few witnesses, like Dan, were telling strange stories of supersonic waves and terrifying screams. The only thing they knew for sure was that two of their ships were entirely torn to tiny bits by the violence of the phenomenon. Even not the exploding ammunition could do this, but some compelling force rising from the water. Not to arrange things, the officers were mute, and the ship loudspeakers were not giving any information.
After three hours of concerting, the World Council ships dispersed slowly, followed by the colon ships. In the evening, not a single boat was visible from the Horiathon. But the organ sounds could still be heard, as watchful guardians forbidding the passage for many centuries, for any unauthorized invader.
Day H, midday past 30 minutes
Bob was flying his bomber aircraft through the huge space between the two worlds. As a seasoned war pilot, he liked this 2000kms three dimensional battlefield. His ordnance: napalm. His assigned target: hundreds of elven villages. After, commandos would land, bulldozer the houses and dispose of the bodies, so that the colonists would even not suspect that this place was once inhabited. As we can expect, Bob was not selected at random for this ugly job. He was known in the Scythan Air Force for his hate of the Elves and his general lack of morality.
12 hours of flight from the base to the target and back, for his squadron of 80 planes. While they were en route, other squadrons would take off in turn, carrying other bombs, parachutists and equipment. The infernal noria would last for weeks: everything had to be completed, and all traces erased, before the first settler boats reach the land.
12 hours is a bit dull, especially when they had to get up very early (6 hours before the official ultimatum). His ears were numbed by the noise of the engines and propellers. All around them was only grey mist, right, left, above, under. Even the radar screen was empty. They were in the top cloud layers of the Uvol, the huge cyclone which permanently surrounds the Horiathon, at 1000kms of any solid surface. In the beginning, they joked between pilots, but now they had entered the radio silence zone. So that Bob was feeling rather bored, and even distracted.
TANG TANG TWING CLANG
Bob knew well this noise of shattered duraluminium, resounding into the whole airframe: he was hit by bullets.
But where did they came from? Bob tried to look everywhere he could, he was seeing nothing in the mist, save the closest planes of his squadron.
Then he saw a small aircraft without propellers, a jet aircraft! It zapped swiftly between him and the closest team, and Bob could estimate its size: no more than four metres long! Without any visible cockpit. He saw another one firing, and yet several others zigzaging around, arriving from behind them, swift and annoying like mosquitoes.
«Dispersion!» ordered the squad leader in the radio. Bob immediately turned hard left, and he soon found himself alone. But not everything was nice for the others, as he saw a spiralling piece of metal passing by.
The sound was coming from behind. Assuming the strange plane was following him, he turned hard, taking 4 g, missing to break his own plane. For one second, he saw the mysterious hunter passing on the right side. Then he was alone again, his radar showing only the dispersed squadron flying all around like a bee swarm. In the mist, he had no way to know where his pursuer was, and he thought for a moment that he was safe.
The bullets were not big, so that they had little chances to inflict any lethal damage to his plane. But they were shot with an incredible accuracy, by rounds of only two or three, and only when they could reach their target for sure. With such an economic fight, this attacker could harass him for hours, a thing Bob could not afford.
TANG TANG TAKLANG
Weeep weeep weeep low oil pressure in hydraulic tank 2.
This time Bob climbed hard, so that to cancel his speed, and be able to turn right on himself and face the enemy. Classical manoeuvre in air fight, but ineffective here, in the low gravity of the Horiathon. Even his radar was mostly useless: designed to work in a normal atmosphere, it could not show targets in a three dimension space, and the other squad members were randomly appearing and disappearing of its screen. And it probably even not showed the stealth enemy planes. Bob started to fly at random, to avoid being aligned by one of them. To no avail: he saw again one zapping past his left, just to be engulfed again in the mist. It is as if he was chasing ghosts! Without pilots... Bob was really puzzled!
What he did not knew is that the elven scientists did not lost time in seven centuries, knowing that they would be attacked as soon as the Horiathon would be open. And, in this time where Humans were just creating their first printed circuit boards computers, the Elves already had powerful microprocessors, built in their secret factories beyond the horizon of the Dauriath... Bob was chased by a relentless electronic hunter, seeing him in infrared through the clouds, never tired or distraught, calculating each shot in a millisecond, and able of withstanding four times more g than him. It had no need to be big: the outcome of the fight was certain.
TANK TANK TANK TANK
This time a huge flame went out of his left wing: fuel tank pierced. Fortunately it was the supplementary one, under his wing, so that he just had to eject it to quench the fire. But now he knew that he would never return to his base.
The dreadful machine was not aiming at the cockpit, so as to try to spare his life. Each of its light impacts did only minor damage, but it was slowly and methodically dismantling his plane. A short glimpse of a black smoke trail told Bob that the fight was already lost for another team member. Or perhaps it was his own tank: Bob was now totally disoriented, with all his wild turns, seeing only fugitive specks on his radar screen. Science fiction movies were wrong: the Human psyche is unable of a true three-dimensional fight without any beacon.
There was a moment of silence, where Bob could hope he escaped his pursuer. He had understood that, in the weightlessness, he had no need of speed to remain in flight. So he managed to let his speed die, making him able to turn faster with just changing his engines throttle, and face any attack. He could even let his plane rotate on itself, and see all around.
But suddenly he saw it again, nearby touching his left wing: a light grey body, hardly visible in the clouds, with a diamond section to escape radar, and a diamond shaped opening at each end, for the jet engine. Its two small black guns were visible on each wing root. Smartness, economy, elegance, all this made it irretrievably elvish. More streaks of vivid colours and flowers. Flowers, yes! That was the final blow. Furious, Bob hit the rudder to try to smash it. Bad reaction, as this allowed it to shot him at blank point. Bob needed half a second to evaluate a situation and react, it only two milliseconds.
Again a red light illuminated his dashboard, from behind. This time it was serious, and he had no need of all the alarms blaring to understand: fire in the bomb hold. At any second his plane would be a fireball of napalm.
Bob had to get up and scramble in the narrow smoky cockpit to reach the door, as fast as he could. Then he jumped out. Some seconds after, he saw the mist illuminated in orange, in front of him: his plane was exploding.
At first, he did not understood what happened. His parachute opened rightly, but did not fully inflated. It was just loosely pulling him in some direction. In the weightlessness, Bob was not falling. No wind, no way to know if he was moving. No clues of anything like a top, bottom, right or left. The only thing he could hear was the decreasing wail of the jet engine, and then the silence. How could an electronic device understand that the fight was over??? This was beyond Bob's understanding.
Pieces of metal drifted past Bob, from his plane. Or from another. In the following half hour, he could hear at times the buzzing of propellers, or explosions. Then it was the full silence. That incredible thing had happened: he had lost the battle! Without even having the occasion of firing a single bullet!
And now, in the weightlessness, he was drifting into the Uvol, the permanent whirlpool of winds circling the Horiathon. It could take days, or even months, before he landed somewhere, in any of the two worlds. No way for him to know where he was. No way for anybody to find him in a billion kilometres cube of mist.
Bob really hated the Elves, and he screamed insults all around, that nobody would ever hear.
At least, he hoped that other squads could pass and accomplish their mission. But precisely they were having an even worse problem.
Day H, 1pm.
Music: Wagner, The invocation of Alberic (Das RheinGold)
or: Enya, Tempus Vernum
Jilian did not switched the television on. She never did, since her husband Caim departed for the war. She hated the bad news of war and economy crisis, the arrogant tone of the speaker, the hardly veiled racist speeches, the inexpressive music by half naked twits, the stupid ever-repeating games. However she knew that today was the H day, where the ultimatum expired and the troops would start to swarm in the Dauriath. She hated all this, just hoping that there would be still some nice places left after all this senseless destruction.
Screams and agitated people in the street.
Screams and wails form the neighbours.
These were not screams of victory, but of despair and disbelief. Wondering what was happening, Jilian wanted to start the television.
She never did: four huge explosions shook her building on its very foundation, and the electricity went off.
Jilian reached the window of the bedroom, on the other side of the building. And she saw: four ochre mushroom clouds, perfectly aligned, rising above the near air force base. No more airstrip. No more death noria to the Dauriath. War was over for them too. At least, these ones should be happy to be still alive, and to meet again their wives and children this very evening.
Bewildered, Jilian slowly receded from the window, while other series of explosions were coming, muffled in the distance. It was very strange and disconcerting to see this exotic war suddenly appearing right here, right in their well ordered and well mowed bourgeois neighbourhood, instantly turning the beatific optimism of the television into a deadly nightmare for everybody. Nobody ever expected anything like this, that the Elves would be able of retaliating so fast, so massively, and anywhere they wanted. Jilian did not needed the TV to understand that it was now a lost war.
Day H, 1pm
Musique: Dead Can Dance, Host of Seraphim
Yson's parachute regiment too had to face the harassment by the dreadful electronic hunters. Seeing the coming disaster, the squad leader broke the radio silence and ordered the formation do disperse and rally on «Point Pickering», the code name of one of their six intended targets. This tactic worked: their 80 aircrafts outnumbered the hunters, so that 18 of them arrived in various times on one of the closest Elven islands. Here they dropped all their soldiers and two cargoes of heavy equipment. After the anguish of the fierce aerial fight, they felt the relief of at last jumping on their target. Their group still had enough ammunition and heavy equipment to complete their mission here: destroy the five elven village on this small island.
«Phiew! We miss a lot of boys!
-Do not worry, they had to jump at random, but they will land somewhere anyway.
-That deserves a lesson. Look at these ridiculously flowered houses!
-Ha ha it is a circus!
-A children toy village!
-A girly tale!
-These tree huggers will pay for our lost comrades!
-Do you think they have the hostages here?
-Little chances, but it looks like an important place, look at all these houses.
-If we can call this houses... I see a pink one, shaped like a cupcake, ha ha ha!
-Down with these veggie eaters!»
Yson was too feeling angry, but something else, unpleasant, started to lurk in his consciousness, that he could not yet identify. He expected to see jails, barracks or ugly totalitarian housing, giving a legitimate motive to attack. But what he was discovering was entirely different of the propaganda picture: lovely houses inhabited by peaceful people... But was astonished him the most was that, far from calming his comrades, this was giving them more desire to kill!
Soon they landed in a forest.
But the terrain was really bad, with slopes, ravines, boulders, a thick undergrowth making walk difficult, and worse, tall trees hampering even the parachute landing: a bulldozer hanging at fifteen metres of the ground, it is prettily useless. Probably the Elves even not tried to remove it, so that it may still be there today. Men, at least, could cut their parachute ropes and use them as improvised methods for climbing down the trees. Two fell and badly injured themselves.
They needed about one hour to regroup and take a bearing. The undergrowth was rather thick and hard to travel. In more they could not shout, so that they probably lost some tens of boys here, unable to locate them.
They left here all the heavy gear and food, more the two injured, before starting to walk on some semblance of trail they found, wearing only weapons and ammunition, in the supposed direction of the closest village. The trees were so tall that they could not see the sun, an they had to rely only on their compass to find their way. The Dauriath had no proper magnetic field, but the Nyidiath field was going through it, so that the compass were still giving an usable information, provided that one knew the magnetic declination of the place.
One of the men behind Yson suddenly let a gasp, and fell on the ground.
«Miked! What happens?»
But they soon had to admit that Miked was dead, with blood covering his chest. And no way to guess what happened. Probably he was hit by a bullet, but there was no cracking sound.
«Those x******* have ambushed gunmen. Let's go ahead before he gets others. I don't like this place at all, we are in a kind of glen!
-We should disperse!
-No way, the slopes around are too steep. Lets us run through this passage!»
The troop started to run with difficulty through fallen branches and lianas. The path was in fact the bed of some temporary water stream, making it more difficult than expected, with foot traps and slippery rocks.
Soon two other men fell, and yet another, with an ugly scream. They just heard a weak pop from the invisible weapon used against them, followed by noises of trashed bushes: their attacker moved fast after each shot, apparently not hampered by the thicket.
Suddenly there was a searing light, bang and pain. A grenade! Caim and Arlope fell dead near Yson, while Guerard started to swear, probably hit too. But he continued. Yson was paralysed with the shock, so that his mates probably though he was dead too. They mercilessly took all his weapons with them, and continued to run past him. Then he heard their trampling diminishing in the undergrowth. He found himself alone, unable to move, with a huge burn feeling in his chest, arms and face. After a silence, the birds started to sing again around him, and the flowers to be nice.
With these violent people gone, the forest was now beautiful and calm, with the sunlit leaves and branches making a luminous stained glass high above him. Accustomed to the sumptuous silence, he started to hear the rustle of thousands insects flying here and there. And this cruel war was now looking so out of place...
Yson realized at last that he already experienced this... in a dream, which occurred some months ago. He felt stupid, not to have accounted with it! Because he was now lying here, injured, unable, losing his blood, weakened by the shock, and with very little chances to be rescued by anybody...
A funny thing happened soon: his pain disappeared, and he soon felt confident and serene. He understood: the metal shards in his body were delivering some anaesthetic... Darn it was really an elven weapon!
He could examine his injuries, and he found that none was serious. But he was bleeding a lot, and it took half an hour to stop, leaving him dizzy and weak. Any attempt to move could re-open his wounds. Only thing he could do was installing himself as comfortably as he could in the sand and leaves. He had just a gourd of water and some dried fruits bars...
Day H, 1:20 pm.
Ramsey was sitting at the control panel of the Progress II nuclear reactor. As usual there was not much to do, just having at times a circular look at all the indicators and screens, in the hum of the conditioned air and quiet whistle of the turbines in the machines room.
To be frank, Ramsey was quite bored and he did not loved these long afternoons on duty, especially that he was now feeling sleepy form his last meal. As to this war with the Dauriath, he was even not thinking at it. Although he hoped to be some day able of building nuclear plants up there.
Suddenly all boredom stopped.
An alarm started to buzz loudly, with several red lights appearing.
Ramsey could clearly hear the clang of the boron control bars falling into the core of the reactor, and the displays showed the neutron flux lowering fast.
Then series of clicks of electrical relays told him of the disconnection of the power lines, loss of synchronisation of the generators, and the automated closure of the steam valves to the turbines. Other red or orange indicators lighted up, while green ones went off. The machinery rumble stopped, and the generators whistle faded out in a long down glissando.
In the now silent factory, Ramsey heard the twank of the starting emergency cooling pumps, with their unpleasant cringing sound. He could just gaze, scared and powerless, at these indicators going on and off, all this automated machinery behaving on its own, as if some devil had taken control of it. His heart went mad, and he really feared the worse, that «excursion» thing that no nuclear plant operator ever dares to envision...
Ramsey's boss entered, extremely upset.
«What the hell is going on? Why did you started the emergency shutdown procedure?
-I did nothing, sir, There was nothing abnormal, and...
-Eh, we are disconnected from the grid??? How it happened??
-I... I... don't know... and the emergency shutdown happened BEFORE the disconnection!
-Before? Are you sure? There is no automated procedure like this... things went in the wrong order!»
Later: «Can we restart the reactor?
-No, sir, we need at least six hours for this, and then it will be xenon poisoned, so that we need to wait for two days. And in more we do not know what disconnected the network lines. We need to know that first»
One hour later, the air conditioning was blowing cold air, so that they had to switch it off. Suddenly, the control room was rocked by a loud bang, plaster blocks fell from the ceiling, lamps swayed, and a whole panel of indicators went totally dark.
«What the... Ramsey, look at the core! The core!
-The reactor core is under control, sir, and its temperature and pressure are lowering as expectable. It is the power transformers, all the signals went dead. We are on the emergency generators only.
-But the transformers cannot explode like this??? Go outdoors, see what happens... The hell with these buildings without windows!»
Day H, 7:58pm
Music: Medwyn Goodall: The Last Battle
Dick and his amateur astronomer friends were watching the TV, waiting for the news. People were already aware that things were not going as planned with the attack of the Horiathon, as the self-appraising speeches all stopped together in the following hour, and no report came since on the progress of the military actions. Instead, several series of explosions rattled the windows of their very town, and rumours of a huge retaliation against the whole Nyidiath were spreading very fast by the telephone, starting a panic.
«My guess is that something went wrong, started one.
-Attacking the Elves was definitively a bad idea, feared another. Who knows which strange weapon they encountered.
-Or even magic, like in the ancient legends.
-Or some technology we don't know. And they were smashed!
-I think, replied Dick, that the government should have used all the telescopes they confiscated, to look on the Dauriath what they would REALLY have to face here. But I bet they just put them on shelves. Not to use a telescope is always a bad idea.
-I tried as much as I could to speak of the strange lights, but few paid attention, and the rumour did not spread beyond the circles of pro-Elves people. Pro-war people just dismissed them.
-When those k*** politicians have an idea, there is no way to make them change their minds. If one day one of them says that 2+2=5, the others will need two centuries to realize that it is not true, and two more to find that...
-Shh here are the news.»
To the general surprise, it was not the usual speaker who appeared, but Elanar, one of the Elf ambassadors, the one who used to make important declarations. And he started at once with a stern voice:
«Dear citizens of the Nyidiath,
This is the official Elven embassy of the Dauriath speaking to you.
As you probably know, the governments of most of your countries started today a vast and concerted attack on our lands in the Dauriath. This attack on our peaceful and non-threatening world had no real motive, based only on some fancy accusations of hostages. The attack included several concerted assaults by sea and by air, some of them using torture means such as napalm and nerve gasses.
Finding ourselves in a position of legitimate defence, we reacted and repelled these wantonly assaults, so that none of them reached our living places.
We could be satisfied with this local victory. However History learned us that, in the past, these assaults never came alone. They were always followed by larger and larger ones, until our technical inferiority forced us to flee, or to be slaughtered.
So we will not let this happen again.
We decided do close your weapon industry, so that you shall never again launch such attacks against our innocent people. This will also avoid to hurt yourselves in one or another of your senseless wars.
We also noted that your pollution and overpopulation are posing severe threats on our two worlds. We found things like dioxin, PCB, strontium or plutonium in our most sacred places, and this is totally unacceptable. And especially stupid, since these things are much more harmful to you Humans than to us Elves.
So we decided to also bring some of your civilian industry under control, while proposing a peace plan which will be very favourable to the Nyidiath peoples.
To let everybody clearly know that we are not speaking in the air, we neutralized all your airports, your nuclear plants, and several weapon facilities. And if we do not have clear responses from your governments after tomorrow at noon, we are ready to totally obliterate the industrial potential of the concerned countries. So if you are not confident in your government, it is cautious not to go at work tomorrow, and any other day until they sign the treaty.
The peace plan is as follow:
-Article 1: The inhabitants of the Nyidiath remain free to lead their world as they find good, according to the Human Rights Statement, eventually in electing democratic governments. However there are the following exceptions:
-Article 2: In order to ensure peace, the weapon industry will be immediately closed, save some light means for police purposes. Especially, any nuclear test or military rocket launch will be considered as an act of war, allowing the Elven lands to eliminate the concerned government without any further warning or notice.
-Article 3: In order to stop pollution, any nuclear reactor will be stopped immediately. It is also forbidden to extract or enrich uranium, and to open spent fuel tubes. Such acts will be considered as acts of war, with the same consequences as with a nuclear test. A 10 years plan will identify and control harmful chemicals, while a 15 years plan will stop the use of coal and oil, before the climate is modified. The Elven science and industry will offer their expertise for these purposes.
-Article 4: A 100 years plan will have to bring down the population of the Nyidiath to a level compatible with the ecology resources. The Elven scientists will bring their medical expertise for this purpose, and also for fighting diseases.
-Article 5: There is no plan for populations moves from the Dauriath to the Nyidiath, and the «Return of the Elves» is only a metaphor for the return of wisdom and beauty. However we know that more and more persons are becoming Elves in the Nyidiath. These people are to be considered as regular citizens of your countries, with the same rights, included the right to gather and live according to the Elven customs. Any discrimination is forbidden, be it in laws or in customs, against the Elves or against anybody else.
-Article 6: Spiritual freedom must be re-established immediately, everywhere and for everybody.»
There was a moment of silence, while Elanar nodded. Then, smiling softly, he added:
«Well, there is a seventh unwritten article. Remember, peoples of the Nyidiath, that you have the democratic right to choose your governments and your representatives. This is a fantastic right, to be used wisely. So, instead of electing the most manipulative, or the most sexy (laughters), you should use this right to choose the educated, smart and wise ones. But we shall not go as far as proposing elven-approved candidates: it is up to you to hear what they say and find out who are the good ones. If you are not able to do so, Only you will bear the consequences.»
There was a silence in the room, while the TV started squeaking advertisings. People were flabbergasted, unable to reply.
«But these Elves are monsters, they want to submit us!»
Echoing this came angry shouts or despair wails from the neighbours. But, like a reminder, two explosions resounded somewhere in the distance, and the electricity faltered. All around in their building, and from the closest ones, were sounds of violent discussions, steps, slamming doors.
But Dick had an unexpected reaction: he switched the TV set off, took his guitar and started to play a well known peace music.
«Hey folks, don't you realize that these conditions are in fact very advantageous for us? They do not seek any revenge, and even not any control, when they could just eradicate us. They just want us to stop war and pollution, and they offer for free the means to do so. It is a win win bargain for everybody. The government just has to wake up and sign this treaty, so that we can get our telescopes back, and resume our study of evolved binary stars, right?»
A silence greeted this statement, with thoughtful looks. There was nothing to argue anyway, just to guess when their government would sign the treaty.
Day H, very late in the night
«Sir minister, this is not understandable.
-Is it an error of the operator? This Ramsey?
-No. He is a very competent engineer, with excellent notes. Anyway the recorders show no actions of him. In more, exactly the same thing happened just some minutes later in the Progress I reactor. There are several moments where machines started or stopped without apparent cause, totally out of sequence, about one hour before the transformers were destroyed.
-How could this happen?
-Officially we do not know. Some people think it is...
-It is what?
-Err, hmm, telekinesis.
-EEEH if you put this in your report I sack you!
-I understand, sir. I shall not. But you had to know. It is the only explanation.
-And why did they used telekekesis or whatever, they just had to demolish the reactors, as they did with the ones under construction!!
-Sir, destroying an operating nuclear reactor would release vast amounts of radioactivity, killing a huge number of innocent people. This is totally unacceptable for the elven philosophy. Remember, in all they actions, they always care to spare any unnecessary killing.
-Ah b*** they are experts in public relations and manipulation! If we continue the fight we lose any support of the public opinion! We are forced to submit to their v*** treaty!!
-They do not need much power to do this. Just push the armature of a relay for two millimetres... And it seems that they used telekinesis in other instances...
-Don't tell me that it is the magic of the Elves!
-I am afraid that we cannot resist that... if they can stop a nuclear reactor at a distance, who knows what else they can do.»
Day H +1
Music: Medwynn Goodall, Behold the darkness
Yson could still hear sounds of fight for the reminder of the day, mostly cracking of firearms from his mates. But by the evening they became rare, and finally stopped.
Then he spent a dreadful night, unable to get up or to sleep, and suffering from extreme cold despite the warm weather. He had exhausted his few water and food.
But the worse were the noises. In his extreme weakness, Yson was unable to defend himself from fear and wild imagination, in this dark and sinister glen. The presence of the two corpses of his mates was not bettering things.
There were first trampling sounds, not far from him.
Then a huge snorting.
Then small trampling sounds, at only some metres of him.
In the absolute darkness, he could not guess anything... but he saw specks of red light! At four metres of him!
Instantly the cold bite of terror filled his whole body... making him paralysed, with nothing else in his mind than this extreme terror...
The first dull lights of the day revealed a tall dark silhouette with kind of horns upright on the head, and the flashing red eyes! And it could not be a tree stump or something: a slow and deep breath was clearly audible, with prr sounds at times, or the silhouette moved with noises of steps and disturbed stones.
Was he getting the visit of some fearsome demon? Like in the horror movies? Or an alien monster? A giant vampire bat? Or just an hallucination from weakness? There should be a «rational» explanation... But try to think «rational» with one third of your blood lost in the sand... Yson was simply unable to think, just feeling the extreme fear... He thought at firing at the silhouette, but he had no weapon!
Musique: Michel Pépé - Les Jardins du Monde
This music transition must be synchronized with the text
Then the day rising revealed something entirely different.
And ridiculously simple.
He had flipped like mad for just a simple horse!
In his urban life and imagination nourished with horror movies, Yson could not think at such a benign thing. He was even unable to recognize the sound of a snorting horse!
It was a magnificent horse, with a pure white hair, and some dark grey spots on his muzzle and around his eyes. His back was also subtly spotted in light pearly grey. His whole body was covered by what seemed an elegantly adjusted green camouflage net, looking like leaves, making him nearby invisible in the forest, while allowing for normal perspiration. His hoofs were bearing silencing pads too. What Yson did not knew is that he had landed on one of the three Milly Mountain islands, and he was encountering one of the magnificent white elven horses who, seven centuries ago, made life possible here for the Elves.
The horse was looking at Yson.
Then he approached, and went to warm Yson's face with his breath, uttering some friendly rrrh rrrh sounds. This is how Yson could see what were the flashing red lights: yellow devices hanging from the horse neck, and bearing the word «rescue» in his own language! Darn, how could they know his nationality in advance???
Amazed, Yson took one of them in hand, trying to figure out the meaning of all this. But right at this moment, the horse pulled his neck, making the apparatus going loose. It emitted a short beep, and stopped flashing. Hearing this, the horse jumped elegantly above Yson, examined the two nearby corpses for some seconds, and then galloped away.
It is only the afternoon that Yson was found by a group of elven soldiers, mounted on the same kind of beautiful white horses. They explained that the yellow things were radio beacons, and the horses were much better than the Elves at walking in the thick undergrowth and finding all the injured or lost people scattered in the forest. It was a dangerous task, since some of the parachutists were still wanting to fight. But the Elves did not wanted any killer loose in their forest, so that they would comb it entirely, three times rather than once.
But they had worse cases to care of, so that they just gave him some food and a cover.
Later in the evening, another team picked Yson on a horse. They were already carrying Jen, one of Yson's mate, who was moaning half unconscious from some serious internal injury, and Deniel, his two legs broken when falling from the trees. Following were also two other soldiers that Yson did not knew, their hands tied in their back, and bruises on their faces. Probably they made some difficulties when captured... Bad idea, these elven soldiers were better in Karate than in magic!
This is how Yson was brought in one of the villages, in an improvised yet well organized hospital. The usual inhabitants had been evacuated, so that presently only soldiers were around, wearing functional yet elegant camouflage suits, with even some embroideries! Yson had to undergo surgery, and they removed several pieces of shrapnel. He would keep scars, including one on his face, but at least he was not diminished or disabled.
DAY H + 3
Music:Stellardrone - Sublime first part (Open Cluster)
Bob had found out how to get himself out of this misty weightlessness nightmare.
He just had to pull his useless parachute with his arms. So that it would stop dragging him in the air currents. Then he could fall, even slowly, even without direction, but at least he would land somewhere before dying of thirst or cold. He also quickly found another use to his parachute: wrapping himself in, to protect from the icy cold of the high altitude.
For two days and two nights, Bob drifted in the mist, without any way to know where he was going. He got frostbites in his face and fingers, his feet were totally numb. He was dizzy with head ache, from low oxygen. Hunger and thirst soon added to this torture.
He saw some strange things, like coloured and tasty clouds. Probably some bacteria were remaining long enough in the clouds, to be able to reproduce here. Other times he saw a set of strange shiny white spheres drifting past him, which turned out to be two metres large hailstones, from one of the numerous storms of the Horiathon. Happily none of them ever reached the ground.
The second night, more wind on his face told him that his plan had worked: his fall was accelerating, at last. But he still had no idea of where he was going.
Then suddenly he emerged from the clouds, into the void.
It was a breathtaking, fantastic vision.
Even the Earth astronauts cannot experience this.
He was floating between the two worlds, night side, as if he was walking in space. But there was still air to breath here: with weightlessness, the atmosphere was extending very far around the Horiathon. Clouds shining at night were sometimes visible here.
He was seeing the two worlds together, as if he was in orbit. He was still in the shadow of the Nyidiath, so that he could see the black sky with stars. On the Nyidiath side, lights of the large cities were forming a net of yellow stars. On the Dauriath side, the day soon started to illuminate the blue ocean, and the closest lands began shining with greenery. It was a overwhelming vision, totally silent in the freezing cold.
The day coming replaced the starry sky with a more familiar high altitude dark blue sky, while the sun was revealing the Nyidiath ochre plains and cities. The view was no longer space-like, but still gorgeous. Around the Horiathon, the clouds were presently forming a kind of pancakes stack, sometimes called the Hoob, in more of the usual Uvol around the neck. Looking here revealed vertiginous obscure chasms between the hundred kilometres thick clouds. Later, the sun came illuminating right in the chasms, showing red hazes and rainbows. It was so sumptuous a view, so magnificent, that even the heartless Bob felt the emotion: the sheer beauty of their two worlds, their life places, united by an incredible astrophysics trick.
He was walking bare feet in space, in a way, needing no protection.
Bob could not avoid gazing at this incredible scene, that very few could see before him, since the first aircrafts flew here, thirty years before.
Few? Thirty years? Bob soon received a lesson of humility. He heard something. Something he could never expect to hear in this place.
Yes, a flock of geese, passing near him, in their eternal journey from a world to the other. Birds were in their element, here. It was their world, and they freely roamed these huge spaces since tens of thousand years. And they perfectly managed the three dimensional space. Bob knew geese only roasted. He discovered them in their true nature of masters of the air and space.
Although the wind was now strong around him, he still had no visible perception of movement, in this vastness of space. But with the day passing, he saw that he was approaching the Dauriath. He was tempted to use his parachute, but this would make him drift again for days. No way to avoid the Dauriath or to direct his course, anyway. In the middle of the day, he was at least nearing the ground. He found again all the sensations of the parachutist, air speed, top and bottom, the Nyidiath drowning in the blue sky above him, and the ground now rushing toward him. He carefully allowed his parachute to deploy, until he felt the liberating shock in his harness.
He found himself hanging above a lovely landscape of soft rolling hills and ancient craters, mostly covered with forest, strewn with fields and villages. But there were no visible roads or factories.
As he approached the ground, Bob saw more details. Lovely houses with tile roofs, adorned with flower bushes and gardens enclosed with dry stones walls or ivy covered fences. Small fields were separated with flowered hedges or fruit trees. Here and there were solar heaters or solar panels, but Bob ignored what they were. Little by little, as he was slowly approaching the elven paradise, the marvellous symphony of the birds appeared to him, while the warm air was carrying perfumes of flowers and nature. It was such a moving vision of happiness that even Bob's evil heart faltered again.
He landed in an orchard at some tens of metres of a large house. Birds were chirping, crickets singing, and the perfumes of the fruits were voluptuous. Laughters and children play could be heard from the home. All this emanated such an happiness and beauty that Bob was moved. Hesitating, he started some slow steps toward the house, while hiding from it.
Then suddenly he found an open air altar!
Imagine a kind of half gazebo, leaned against curved dry stone walls, all adorned with flowers and vines. There was a little black skinned statue Bob could not recognize, and offerings: a plate with fruits or small cakes.
Ostentatious religious signs! Bob was instantly in a rage for this. He kicked the statue and plates, and threw his two days of pilot's diapers on the debris. Then he reminded his mission. He was here to destroy all this, and free the land from those hairy Elves, their irrealistic beauty and their religious nonsense, so that serious settlers could build cities and factories. Anyway if they caught him, they would surely kill him. So better Bob kill as many of them as he could, before. He took his pilot's revolver in hand, and walked toward the house.
*He should had noticed that the laughters had stopped*
He entered the house. Nobody. No grids, no locks, no shutters, these blokes were really confident. This room was entirely panelled with warm brown wood, marquetry and sculptures, forming cosy corners, alcoves and window frames, enhanced with streaks of vivid purple or copper. The ground was of high quality tiles, alternating red ochre and yellow ochre in an intricate Penrose pattern. Table and chairs were elaborated woodwork, and copper electric lamps lighted the whole. The table showed an interrupted meal, with half empty plates and a smoking pan. A recess was sheltering a home computer, but Bob did not knew what it was. Children toys and books were strewn here and there.
Bob kicked the table, sending the tableware crashing on the ground in a din.
There was some noises upstairs, and a young child crying. Heavy furnitures were hastily pushed.
OK, he though, they sensed his presence in some way. This would owe them just some minutes more life.
He climbed the stairs, making them bang at each of his slow foot steps, like in the horror movies.
Then he found a closed door. He tried to push it, but it was probably blocked by furnitures. He heard murmuring voices and steps behind. He fired one shot through the door, with no apparent result. This was useless.
But he had a better idea.
Back in the floor level, he quickly found what he needed: a small axe, firewood and lighters.
He let out a huge threatening laughter, as in the movies, and entered back the living room, starting preparations to arson the house, with its inhabitants entrenched in the upper floor.
*he should have noticed that no more noise could be heard from the house*
He was busy cutting furnitures and tearing books to start a fire, his lighter and revolver on the floor besides him.
He seized his revolver, lighter in hand, ready to light the fire.
«Sir, what are you doing? asked the first, in a commanding tone.
-Hahahaha» replied Bob, making the psychopath laughter of the movies. Then he aimed at the first with his revolver. He could not miss them, their fate was certain.
But something totally unexpected happened.
He totally lost any will.
He fell flat on the ground like a rag doll. The revolver shot went off, but it ended in a wood panel.
The Elves swiftly approached, seized the revolver, and attached his hands and feet with some rope, and then pulled his four members in his back, tying them all together.
Bob felt his will again, and he kicked and screamed in rage. But it was too late: the rope was solid, and the elven knots safe.
Then he realized what had happened: The Elves had recovered their magical powers! Not the terrible war powers of the ancient times, but peaceful and elegant methods, like suppressing his will, paralysing him. They just did this for two minutes, but this was enough. Very probably too, they sensed his presence well before he landed. And anyway he was stupid: such a large house had several stairs, and they all escaped by the others.
The inhabitants went back in the room, by groups of two or three. It was a Big Family, four couples uniting to have children together, more some friends, brothers and grand-parents sharing their experience. There were oohs and aaahs when they discovered their demolished furniture and attempt to start a fire. One of the children, his face bathed with tears, cried «Lia shrashey eia Tatah» (You torn my Tatah), waving his mutilated child colouring book. Others were taking photographs of the devastated paradise, which would for sure be in all the Nyidiath TV screens this very evening.
Then they carried him in another room, and posed him on a carpet, and sat all together around. Authoritarian voices were still coming from the first room.
They were discussing in elven language, but when all was set they stopped. The four Masters entered. Bob knew that they would not kill him, not torture him. But it would perhaps be worse...
«We are sorry, sir, started the first, while another was translating for the Big Family, but we promised before your attack that any act of war in our lands would be punished just as your laws punish criminal acts. (Translation).
«In more, your hateful actions against non-fighters and children came more than 40 hours after your Nations Council signed the Surrender and Contrition Act (translation)»
This was an incredible blow for Bob: they had lost the war, nearby without fight?
«Yes sir, before attacking, you should have asked if the war was still going on» A huge roar of laughter greeted this translation, and even the four Masters could not avoid smiling. But soon the first started again:
«Fortunately, sir, your senseless acts made no victims. This will probably spare you a long sentence. But before transferring you to our court, we want to provide you an occasion of understanding and regretting your behaviour (translation)».
They suddenly all went serious, rectifying their position. In less than a minute, the atmosphere was tense with concentration. Even the youngest children were keeping a perfect meditation posture, with the naive seriousness of their age.
Bob was starting to feel some relief: they could do him nothing with just sitting and wishing and making rituals.
At least it is what he thought...
As, suddenly, the fantastic love of live of the Elves was in his heart, the marvellous feeling of inhabiting such a wonderful place, more all the details, the love of the spouse, the sweet confidence of the children, the fulfilment feeling of the elders... it was so strong that he could not avoid a moan... The symphony of birds was moving his heart, and the least sound, like the creaking of a chair, a simmering soup, had its full load of wonderful memories, or just telling the presence of a loved one... And him, in the middle of all this happiness and beauty, pastel hues and perfumes, he realized he was looking like a big excrement, with his brown leather suit and his hate of life... The shame reached an unbearable level, and his teeth cringed.
«Stop please» said the Master, and the incredible revelation halted. They all took again more casual poses, inquiring his reactions with their eyes.
«Sir, we offered you to feel things as we feel them, so that you know the truth and are able to lead your life accordingly. (translation) However nobody has the right to impose you any permanent feeling, so that we shall not do this again, and you are now the sole responsible of changing your life and behave better. What do you decide? (translation)»
Phieww though Bob, that was close. But at least they would not do this incredible thing again. He could recover his own feelings, and make his own choice. The others were keeping silent, knowing he needed some time.
So Bob did his choice in full freedom. But he did the wrong choice... This is, alas, the cost of freedom.
«No. I don't regret» he boasted.
The whole Big Family showed their disappointment. Bob wanted to argue, or say hurting things. But the four Masters just went up and departed, without manifesting any emotion. Without translator, Bob's spite was useless.
In more of being evil, he felt stupid. He knew he did the wrong choice, like a drunkard who knows he should not drink. But he had no control on himself. Pride was his master.
Rejected like a turd, on the threshold of paradise.
They left him on his carpet, and started to clean up his mess, all together without any apparent command. A mother took a great care to recover all the pages of the Tatah book, obviously the most important thing in this whole affair. They had a very upsetting way of totally ignoring him, save the youngest children, pouting or looking at him as of some strange otherworldly monster.
Some switched on the home computer, and Bob could hear Alpen, the notoriously racist president of the Bubacarian republic, explaining how his country was joining the Surrender and Contrition Act. He would soon take measures to liberate all jailed Elves, and allow for their free circulation and equal rights. This con artist even presented these measures as if they were his ideas! Then this was replaced by a sweet elven music, and soon laughters of happiness started again in the Big Family home. Things were again as they must always be.
Later, they put him in an improvised cell, so that they could untie him and allow him to drink, eat and take care of his body.
«Sir, we shall send you to the court as soon as possible» said the Elf in charge of him.
-How long will it take before the trial?» he asked, fearing to wait for years in some rotten prison.
«Oh, sorry, but we may need as long as one week for this. We have to create a court, because we don't have any here. We don't need this, you understand»
This was the final blow. Bob decided to keep totally silent.
Day H + 6
Music: Stellar Drone, Open Cluster
or: Deuter, Temple of silence
The United Nations Council had signed the treaty on day H + 1, without any comment. Further talks settled details, so that all the countries involved in the war signed it too in the following days. Some small countries not involved in the war never formally signed it, but it was still considered that it applied to all.
Journalists gave only some short descriptions of the agreements, with few details. Later, intellectuals issued more comments, ranking from the loss of sovereignty to the opportunity of a lasting peace.
But after a week and three delayed ultimatums, the Scythan Popular Republic was still arguing. So that, by a Sunday night, a set of thoroughly adjusted direct hits totally destroyed their two steel complex and several electricity plants, and they had to sign the treaty in the light of candles.
In the following century, took place several terrorism episodes, but the local governments managed them, in some instance with the help of Elven counsellors. But no full war was ever allowed, if even possible by lack of weapons.
This is how all wars stopped in the Nyidiath world.
Day H + 6
Music: Deuter, Temple of silence
Yson was astonished to see Injured Elves in the same hospital than the injured Humans. Just they were in separate rooms. He also found that many elven soldiers were in facts women. Most Human soldiers were in too bad shape to be dangerous, but still some guards were keeping a discrete watch. Now that fights had officially stopped, they had dropped their green camouflage suits, and wore only loose trousers and shirts of various clear colours, with only insignia telling their hierarchy rank. But they were still looking watchful and dangerous.
As their condition bettered, Yson and some others were allowed in a garden, still under discreet but thorough guard. This is how Yson met Elsheren, a gorgeous blonde Elve who received a bullet in her belly. This happened while she was in a recovery team, two days after the official end of the war, trying to get the last isolated fighters high in the mountain. She was more badly hurt than him, but her Elven body had much more resources, so that she was healing fast.
Yson was told the dreadful rout of the Human invasion, and the consequences for the Human governments. He was happy after all, to be still alive and in one piece. As to the war, well... it was after all better that it stopped. Anyway, the situation he was discovering in the elven lands proved that all the propaganda was only lies, and that this war was clearly wrong.
And he had to admit: Elsheren looked exactly like in his dream! Same face, same voice, same lovely inflexions... But she was not the imperious and inaccessible beauty of the dream, looking at him as to an excrement. She was a simple person, loving laughter and good times together, who volunteered for protecting her island, that she called Milly Mountain. They had long discussions together, having nothing else to do while their bodies were working for repair.
But soon the other human soldiers started to make Yson bad looks and hostile remarks, so that the Elf Guards put everybody back in their rooms, or brought the most valid ones into jails. Yson was locked alone in one of the surrounding houses.
It was one of the living places of this village, tenderly adorned with many rainbow hues and fuzzy curtains. Drawers had be hastily emptied of the most personal belonging, but still scattered clothes and objects were telling the interrupted sweet life here. The heating was off, so the room first appeared cold. But it was so well insulated that Yson quickly found himself well. He wondered why he was treated differently than his jailed mates. And, while entering the deep bed, he could not repress some shame, of violating the life of somebody.
But early the next morning, he was awakened by hasty and commanding voices. The door opened, and he was taken on one of the beautiful white horses, to the main Milly Mountain island (there were three, as he understood).
Day H + 12
Musique: Deuter, Temple of silence
As she expected, Jilian received the report on the death of her husband, through a simple registered letter. His whole parachute regiment was ambushed right where they landed, as if the Elves knew in advance where they were to arrive. The letter continued speaking of repatriating the body, but Jilian definitively not wanted to hear anything on the repatriation of this hated one.
She was now a war widow, with the good pay of her husband, and no loads of beer to pay for every month. This made of her a wealthy woman, compared to all the others in her block. Not a rich one, but at least she would never have to work again.
She greeted this new with mixed feelings. Of course it was a huge relief, of being now free, and not having to bear his constant rants and his body smell. But she also remembered how sweet Caim was in the beginning, and their promises of a nice life in a country home. But he was addicted to war movies and violent games, and this made of him an easy prey for the real war propaganda and simplistic hate speeches. Jilian was now acutely feeling the regret of his failed life and broken hopes.
What she did not expected, though, was the huge feeling of peace and relief, after all these threats of war were gone. It passed even before the humiliation of the treaties. The TV soon started to show wonderful view of the Dauriath, and the incredible technical achievements of the Elven world, like the space exploration probes to the planets Ishtar and Foggier, the computers, Internet, virtual worlds, and others. Information was now spreading freely, and it showed a future of peace, instead of destruction. Even her neighbours, who used to constantly utter fascist and violent words against the Elves, were now keeping silent, or even smiling. Children plays on the lawn were more peaceful, merrier. Some secret Sun had been unveiled, while the dark mists of war and violence dissipated.
Before the battle, Jilian had no real projects for her future free life.
But suddenly she had new thoughts, new desires to travel, to explore the world, to meet other people. Without realising it yet, she was starting to aspire to a better life.
Day H + 15
Musique: Moya Brennan (Clannad) _ Perfect Time
After a short boat ride, Yson arrived at about midday in a village of the main Milly Mountain island.
He had to wait in a locked room until the evening, with just some food. Then again he was taken on a horse trip higher in the mountain. The coming night hide a lot of things, but Yson could guess several large buildings with electric lights, with a lot of happy people living here. Four guards were still with him.
At last, they arrived in a large house, all its windows warmly illuminated from inside. He was brought into what looked like a circular audience room. There were lot of people here, looking like elders or clerics, sitting around. Some were probably elven Mages, maybe even more powerful than the local power. He had a glimpse of two other human prisoners. Everybody was looking at him. But what retained the attention was a small Elve sitting casually on a kind of large armchair in the middle, staring at him with intensity. She was wearing only simple and practical purple T-shirt and trousers, with discreet embroidery threads or laces. Her hairs were a curly blonde ball, shining in the warm light. Her eyes had a light of their own, looking at him without blinking. Yson could not know that he was in the presence of Milly herself, the Elve who created this Elven country seven centuries ago.
We remember her young and shy, scooping leaks and horse poop out of a makeshift boat, and landing on this island just before sinking. Now she had become a respected and imposing Elder, gifted with spiritual powers. And she used them, not for ruling the land, but for serving the people and the life here. She was not a queen or a ruler imposing her own will. On the contrary, she was the Yarmeenah of the island, that is the person who was able to feel its subtle vibrations and spiritual desires, and translate them into actual projects and building plans. A much higher responsibility than commanding, and much more delicate. For this reason she was cuddled and highly respected, not like a privileged or a lord, but as a needed friend. She was also regularly visiting the farthest places of the islands: In the villages, she was often seen, and everybody knew her.
Having destroyed any egotic will, she was serving the people and all the life forms of the island, by literally hosting their collective consciousness, non-dual with her own consciousness.
When she was warned of the possibility of a parachute attack on her islands, she masterly organized the evacuation of the villages and the defence of the places, even before elite elven soldiers arrived.
The interview was short, and Milly just uttered some welcome to Yson, smiling warmly. Then she shortly exchanged with the other mages in elven language. Then Yson was brought again outdoors in the night, which seemed cold and sad in comparison to the so humanly warm Milly's place.
He ended in what looked like a kind of guest house, in a room with a bed. It was warmly furnished, but without personal belongings.
In the next morning, nobody came to bring food to him. He realized that the door was not locked, and there were no guards around, just some merry laughters coming from another room. But it was probably not safe to try to escape... so he called. A sweet Elve came, first looking surprised while seeing his military suit, which meant so much violence and death. She disappeared muttering something, but she reappeared at once with some better clothes for him, a kind of light grey tunic similar to the ones of the elven diplomats, but without the ceremonious long sleeves and hoods. Then she showed him the bathroom and the dining room, where a group were happily eating together. Again, a silence fell when he appeared, but somebody pulled a chair for him, and a dish with good fresh wholegrain bread.
As nobody was speaking his language here, he was left alone, free to wander around in the village. People were looking surprised when meeting him, but he saw no hostile reactions.
But it was his turn to be surprised, when he found Elsheren here too. It was her home village!
There were no longer guards here, but ordinary people, men, women, and even some children from two Big Families. His injuries were healing, making him valid again. But at his great surprise, he was clearly no longer considered as a threat, and they let him free to wander in the village, sleeping and taking meals in the inn, where he soon found only warm smiles. In the beginning, Elsheren was the only person he could speak with, and she started to learn him the elven customs and language.
This is how Yson discovered the wonderful Elven way of living, and went to love it, among the quiet Milly mountain villages. He soon engaged in some helpful activities, and as we guess he ended to marry Elsheren. This is how he became an Elf too, regretting his past of violence and war. Surprisingly, he found that several other of his former parachutist mates did the same thing, and they used to gather and remember these mad times! But soon they preferred not to speak of this any longer, comparing instead how they ended to understand life.
But the most amazing for them was the way Milly was able to guess them, and send them in the right places! Probably the Elven love is sealed at the first look... and the elders can see it. And, as Yson could check very fast, it was true: Humans loving Elfs become Elfs in turn!
Day H + 30
It took more than two month for all the plane debris in the Horiathon cloud to fall on the ground. Engines and large aircraft parts were of course the first to splash into the Dauriath or Nyidiath oceans, but large aluminium panels were still found 30 days later.
As to the thousands surviving pilots and parachutists floating in the endless weightlessness, their terrible fate was a subject of huge concern. As often seen in hopeless situations, people focus all their energy on the few they can save. In the clouds, dehydration is very slow, so that many died of cold or exhaustion. The longest survivor was ten days, and he was half mad. The robotic hunter aircrafts helped to find some of them, but mostly by luck, as their radars were not powerful enough to spot human bodies in the vastness of mist.
Aerial flight safety rules had to be established anyway. It was considered that the lower Horiathon clouds would never be safe, due to the presence of huge hailstones, permanent tornadoes and other strange things like floating moss, sometimes forming hundred metres long fibres. So airliners were given a minimum altitude of 400kms. As the clouds often extended higher, most flights still had to pass through them. When aerial flight opened at Day H + 45, only elven aircrafts were allowed. But over the years, with the general release of political tense, Human companies were allowed to operate trans-world airlines and have some bureaus in the Dauriath. Since air traffic between the two worlds was increasing over times, it was better this way.
Airlines made as if the astronomical barrier between the two worlds was suppressed. However the Elves maintained a strict political separation: it was their world, and they had paid high enough a price for it. Many elven leaders still had vivid memories of the mud of the Exodus and the pain of the slaughters. So they allowed only some strictly selected Humans to live in the Dauriath. In the course of centuries, as the difference between Elves and Humans was lowering in the Nyidiath, more and more Humans were allowed, until everybody became Elf seven centuries after the Horiathon battle. Starting from this point, boundaries no longer made sense, and they were all officially suppressed, together with many other institutions of the ancient world.
This incredible world of light, peace, beauty, kindness, freedom and spirituality allowed for, three more centuries later, the unfolding of the Great Marvel, carrying the peoples of the two reunited worlds to a further level of their evolution. But at this point, high spirituality commitments do not allow to report about this fantastic event, and what happened next.
Day H + 60
After a bullied childhood, a rape and two years in the dark and cold Bubacarian prisons, Estelle did not wanted to stay any longer into the Human world. She was even not able to walk in the streets of her town, without feeling frowning looks in her back. Even with dressing in grey and cutting her hair, the passer by were guessing she was an Elve, and the shop keepers double-checked if she was not stealing something. She learned about the Horiathon events only two weeks after they took place, when she was liberated after the new general amnesty. She even was invited to an apology ceremony by the president Alpen, but she declined. The fake contrition of this ugly man would be just another humiliation to her.
This is how she was allowed on an elven jet liner to the Elven Lands, taking off for the first time from the newly repaired airport of Ashlon, the capital of the Bubacarian republic.
It was as big as an Airbus A320, with the latest technology development. However it had elven elegance by design, with a general shuttle shape, like the ancient Lockheed Constellation plane. It was entirely painted in white, with the coloured streaks that everyone had now learned to respect.
The inside was comfortably yet efficiently designed, allowing to stretch legs under the fore seat. Most seats were arranged in small salons like in a train. Colours were in the warm orange and peach tones, with some intricately painted panels: people took time to decorate their aircraft manually, instead of just putting standard panels everywhere.
Estelle, just getting out of the abnormal world of the jail, and seeing Elves for the first time, was totally unprepared, still very shy and unable to engage a conversation with anybody. But an elder looking Elf offered her a seat near a window, so that she was able to look at the breathtaking landscape.
The first part of the journey was looking normal, but the view of the ocean under them was more and more blurred by a thicker and thicker atmosphere. Then they lost any notion of their position in space: everything turned white all around, including under and above. When they entered the thick Horiathon clouds, the outside became grey and dark as husk.
Inside the plane, people started to have fun with weightlessness, laughing and making longer and longer flights. Estelle looked at them with envy, but the fear of being bullied was still too strong. She would probably need years to overcome this, and be able to have pleasant relationship. In more, she still had an Human body, and weightlessness made her sick.
Then she suddenly frowned at something outside, like a speck of sky with a slightly different shade of grey. It moved, and approached.
Estelle soon understood that it was an aircraft, but only when it touched their wing some other passengers identified it: it was a Hooter, one of the many dreaded robotic hunters which guarded the aerial space of the Horiathon. They were nicknamed this way, because of their phantom look, radar invisibility and nearby silent flight, with just the turbine wail resembling a hooter call.
At first, Estelle thought it would attack them. But an elven aircraft never mistaken any other elven aircraft for an enemy. In more, with the peace treaties, warnings should now be issued before any military action.
It approached their aircraft, to the point its wing tips nearby touched the windows. Estelle could admire its elegant shuttle shape, without any building marks, as if it was made of a single piece. Just some small pods or bulbs were protruding here and there. Even its guns had small shutters at their end, to avoid the constant moisture to enter the barrels.
And it was true, it was decorated with flowers! Just that the paint looked sullied, probably from staying for two months in the dirty cloud eddies.
Estelle wondered why it approached so much. But she soon understood: a tube went out of its belly, and picked in a small protrusion of their own wing: refuelling! The light plane's needs were not a burden for the large airliner. So this is how the Hooters could remain in flight so long. Probably, most of the time, they just allowed themselves to drift at random in the clouds, silent and invisible hunters ready to pounce on any intruder.
This happened two other times, before they suddenly discovered the blue Dauriath ocean full of merry sunshine. And it was said that the Hooters were just the first of three layers of aerial defence. Other weapons were waiting, still hidden in the deep jungles, sheer slopes or large submarine barges. Not to speak of the mysterious sonic devices hidden in the depth of the Dauriath oceans, which crushed two mighty ships in tiny bits, during the Horiathon sea battle. But the most powerful of all was the fully restored magic! For the first time, Estelle started to feel safe, while admiring the first appearing elven island, a jewel of green meadows and ochre rocks in a blue sea case...
Day H + 65
In the Newtel airport (formerly Tellutaar, but with the return of the Elves more and more people were claiming this ancient name), a couple of Elves were waiting for the arrivals. Although they were not yet daring to wear gowns and dresses, they had coloured clothes and none of them cut his hairs since the Horiathon battle. Now, people not liking this just had to look down.
An elegant turbine whistle announced Flight Indigo, direct from Maël West, one of the closest islands of the Dauriath, where a whole airport was built in an amazing five weeks. (In fact earth moving work had started years before, but in small patches looking like fields, so that no telescope observation guessed what was going on. The radars were also installed in a temple-looking building. Four days after the Horiathon Battle, a huge factory ship arrived with concrete and machines, for completing the tarmac itself in five weeks).
It was a good aircraft, elegant, entirely painted in indigo with elven letters.
Beautiful passengers started to flow out of the exit gate, some of them wearing wonderful elven attires, others more functional floating trousers and shirts, but still of nice colours. The Horiathon victory was for defending freedom, and they used this freedom, no longer bothering of any petty judgement. Only two diplomats were still wearing the light grey togas of the ancient times.
There were Humans too among the passengers, either they were becoming Elves, or they were allowed in the Dauriath for some positive purposes, such as studying in the Elven universities.
Suddenly they were here:Lillian and Ishtlan!
Sweetlana and her new husband Merley welcomed the two newly arrived with merry ooh and aahs, unable to wait for hugging them.
Then they exclaimed how they were looking elvish now, after two years in the Dauriath. Indeed they were now wearing long hairs, beautifully embroidered clothes, and their elegant steps and fluent speech were now very elvish. Ishtlan had now long black hairs of Sylvan Elf, while the formerly shy Lillian had become merry and very self confident!
It was the beautiful meeting of four friends abruptly separated two years ago by defaming accusations. The inquiry had been excruciatingly slow, until the Horiathon Battle where as by miracle all the missing papers were gathered in only some days, to lead to a complete dismissal of the accusations.
They all four climbed in their small car, Sweetlana driving. Oh, they had so much to tell! How was their little community since they departed? How is the Dauriath? Having it at only some hours of flight so much changed things, when in former times it was a months long dangerous trip...
While driving on the highway leading out of Tellutaar, they contemplated with an obvious satisfaction the remnants of the unfinished Bretzel Nuclear Plant n°2, the concrete building ripe open showing the tilted reactor core and wrecked piping, already rusty. The plant n°1 could not be hit, because it already contained nuclear fuel, but the destruction of the electric transformers yard forced its immediate shutdown. Mangled electric pylons were still visible, because of the dispute on who would pay for the removal of these shameful remains.
Ishtlan could no avoid a «wow I had no idea that these little things would be so efficient». He wanted to add something else, but a discrete pull on his hand reminded him that there were some things unsafe to speak about. Their victory was still very fragile, they had to win the confidence of the people here before being really safe. And they knew that it would need tens of years...
Later they arrived in their farm. Human neighbours welcomed them too, telling that they did not suspected at all they were Elves, but «on the countrary» that they were nice people.
Ishtlan and Lillian took again possession of their little room, the one where they discovered love some years ago. Of course the former Human farm was looking cold and bare to them, after two years spent in the wonderful elven paradise of the Dauriath. But it is here that they had their lives and their activities, before being forced to flee.
Looking at the former secret bureau, Ishtlan declared that they could resume their interesting work here, without any need to hide. «I hope the phone lines here are strong enough to connect us to the Internet of the Dauriath. Otherwise we can install a dish antenna. That would be even better, to chat with our Dauriath friends in real time»
Then he added:
«I hope Dick and his astronomer club will soon get back their telescopes, so that they can see our satellites. But I think they will be really surprised to find out that we are Elves!
-Oh, I am sure Dick guessed for long, hahaha!
-And I have no idea on how he managed, but he ALREADY recovered his 550, hahaha!
-Dick is a strange bloke. Probably he will never become an Elf himself, but he perfectly agrees with us»
Day H + 70
Music: Stellar Drone, Open Cluster
Morav, furious, had to restrain to slap the face of this cute young law adviser. He already served some jail terms for similar feats, and he did not wanted more.
The H day, they all expected to see the Horiathon, and cross it, aboard the powerful Vanguard XII settlers ship. But there was no Horiathon in sight, from their windowless cabins. The night came, and then another day, and still another. They had no idea of what happened, why such a delay. Three days passed, and their weight was growing again: they were going away from the Horiathon!
Asking for explanations, they had none. They revolted, only to find that the doors leading to the crew quarters had been welded. Useless to bang with their bare fists at the thick metal walls. They were left for four other days without food, and just tap water. And the bad new of the Horiathon defeat, dooming all their projects.
After this ordeal, came another: they were all thrown on a quay in the middle of the night, with their personal belonging under the rain, in a foreign country. The Vanguard XII left for an unknown destination, to be renamed and converted in a cargo. After waiting 30 more hours here, they were ruthlessly led to an improvised administrative detention facility in a decayed former barrack. For some day there were talks, to find them a repatriation mean. But they soon found out that they were not welcome anywhere: They were colonists! Nobody wanted them in this country, and in their own country no more: they had no job, no house, no money, most of them having sold everything for their illusory square of Dauriath.
Morav was one of the first repatriated, after two months, because he had three children. Some had to wait up to five years. Once in his native town, they were left in an hostel. From here, he wanted to sue Vanguard LLC, for the huge scam of selling him a plot that he could never access.
«Did you really read the contract you signed, sir? Said the cute young law adviser. It does not specifies anywhere that you would get the ownership of your plot, just mentioning a transportation mean to it. Vanguard never owned these lands, did you know? And unfortunately, war feats precluded them to fulfil their transportation obligation, making the contract void. I am sorry, sir, but you have very little chances to win anything in court.
-At least to get my money back, screamed Morav.
-I am afraid this is impossible either, replied the law adviser, smiling in an exasperating way: Vanguard is now bankrupt, with heavy losses. Their only assets were the ships and the heavy equipment in the holds. They sold the whole lot at a ridiculous price.»
Morav knew only too well that the Vanguard company and the buyers were held by the same investors, so that they were now having the 18 heavy ships at no cost, and converted then into very lucrative freighters, after scraping the colonists cabins in only some days. But indeed there was nothing he could do against such a powerful network of crooks and accomplices, who used the same methods he used himself in his previous business. Furious, he left the luxurious well heated judicial help bureau, kicking at a plant and spreading earth on the white wool carpet.
In the employment agency, he was no more lucky: he had no training, and he was not the first on the list, with the economy crisis, and in more the closing of nearby all the weapon industry and dismantling of armies. He had to be content with the modest allowance he got for taking care of his children.
But the final blow came some days after, when they entered their new housing in a bad city district with high delinquency rate.
The previous inhabitants had paint the walls with elven motives.
Some were skilful like a good artist, some were childish, but still with a very sure taste.
«Yes sir, this is a really very nice lodge you are getting here. There was a lady living here with two children, nice and peaceful people, and they painted all this. It is real art, and we had not the heart to cover it with new paint. They just left for the Dauriath some weeks ago, freely allowed by the Elf embassy.»
Morav could just pull his hair in rage. He lost all his money, he was barred from the Dauriath by the most terrible war defeat in History, and these folks were freely allowed at no cost, from their mere kindness and flowers painting...
He of course thought at covering everything himself, but his wife found the new décor «lovely»...
PRRRRT, he did.
Morav's children never became Elves, but they still managed to escape his nasty influence, thanks mainly to the help of a newly established spiritual school where poor children had grants.
This is the end of this story, but also it is the beginning of a wonderful era of peace and beauty, for the two reunited worlds.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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