Chapter 20



            … “We each gave Pastor Jeff a hug. First me, then Ra’am, believe it or not.”

“Ra’am gave him a hug?” Jenny asked, surprised.

“Yeah, I was surprised too. The more I was around him, the more he acted so human.”

“I’ll say.”

“After Ra’am reapplied his hemoom prodoh camouflage, we left the building without much fuss. No one really paid too much attention, except for a few stares at Ra’am’s height. But anyway, we quickly got back in Ha-Ta. Ra’am told me right away that we were going to Dod’s house.”

“For what?”

“He wanted to drop L.B. off there. You know, he lives in Spokane, so we traveled underground all the way up there. Ra’am showed me on the khalon and in 3D, the area where Dod lived. It was a development of expensive houses, kinda on a hillside. Actually, Dod’s house was incredible. Each lot there had like a ½ acre or so, right near some woods. We parked underground by the edge of his back yard, near the woods and came up ground. We had L.B. on a leash.

“As soon as we started walking, I could see just how big the house was. It was three floors, with brick and wood siding, really new looking, had a really nice landscaped yard. There was a patio to the back yard, from the lowest floor.  When we started walking closer, I could see a 3-door garage on the lower level too. Ra’am said this was the first time he ever visited Dod’s place.”


“Yes, so Ra’am was a little concerned. He was in disguise, of course, in case neighbors saw us. Ra’am didn’t see any kids or his wife in the house, you know, with the proodat t’notat teesatkhepah, which was good. A little strange, but, it was Sunday.”

“So, was Dod home?”

“Well, once we walked to the front door, I rang the doorbell. And Dod came to the door. He was very shocked to see us there. His jaw just fell open.” She laughed a little. “He was wearing this goofy white smock, covered with tan paint.”

“Doing some weekend painting?”

Trenae heard a plane. Before answering, she glanced toward the sky. She noticed how dark the sky had become, though the roof’s lights blocked and contrasted the night.  She looked back at Jenny. “Yeah, apparently he was. He invited us in and said his wife and kids were visiting her mother. Ra’am wasted no time and told Dod we were married. Dod said he always had a feeling about us.”

“Like me.” Jenny smiled at her.

Trenae gazed down, grinning a little.

“Yeah, well…but anyway, Ra’am told him that we needed to keep L.B. with them, if it was okay.” She looked at Jenny. “Dod said yes, since L.B.’s mother lived with them already. The mother just had some puppies too, purebred ones. They were going to sell some of them, later on, since she was a pedigree and all.”

“Oh, I get it.”

“I think we stayed about a half hour. Before we left, Ra’am hugged L.B. I did too. It reminded me Ra’am wasn’t so bad. I needed to remember that.”

“You were worried, about what was to come?”

“Oh yes.” She stared into Jenny’s eyes. “I started thinking more and more that I made a reckless, blind decision marrying him. I had no idea what would happen when we left earth.”

“And what would happen when, well, you know, you guys…” Jenny didn’t finish, but smiled.

Trenae smiled back. “Yeah, I know, I know. And actually, after we left Dod’s and got in Ha-Ta, I was even more concerned. Ra’am wasn’t touching me very much, but just giving me piercing stares. I felt very uncomfortable. And when we made it to Frank Church, where the cylinders were, I felt even more alone. He started loading them inside, like when we moved that time from River Cliffs to Frank Church area. I wanted to help him, but he said I couldn’t. So at first, I started to talk a bit. I asked him how long it would take to go to Harkoav. But then he said we weren’t going there first. He said at first, we were going to Mars.”

“Mars? Why?”

“Because he wanted to show me it. But more importantly, because that was where we were having our first encounter, or…I guess, our honeymoon.”

“That’s romantic.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, I do,” Jenny said earnestly.

“Yeah, so did I, at first.”


“Yeah, umm, but we’ll get to that later. Anyway, I asked Ra’am how long it would take to get there. He said about an hour and half, since it would take about a half hour to accelerate to a fast speed, then a half hour at that speed, and then a half hour to slow down.”

“What? That much accelerating and decelerating?”

“Yeah, because get this Jenny- when were finally traveling at the speed he wanted, for the middle half hour, we were at about 296.8 million miles per hour, or about 44.3 % of the speed of light.” Jenny eyes widened. “And you see, if you think about it, if we were traveling that fast toward a planet, of course you would want to slow down a lot first, before crashing into the surface!”

“Yeah, I think so! You’re right!”

“Actually, Ra’am did the same thing that time we went to the moon, with acceleration and deceleration, only that time, we only went about .19% of light speed, when finally at the fastest travel speed. But…anyway, Ra’am told me that he had programmed Ha-Ta to increase its collection capacity of energy over the past weeks, so we would have the needed energy for a space trip. Ha-Ta was using matter/anti-matter travel to Mars.

“But still, he seemed to ignore me a bit, while he checked the galeel khayeem, made sure there was enough water on them, other things, and I started to get really tired. Scared too. I started remembering what the pastor said, about that we shouldn’t marry, and, well, I went to the control panel and sat down. More like plopped down. I was exhausted.”

“Your mind was overwhelmed?”

“Yeah, I guess so. Finally, Ra’am was done. He sat next to me, like always, and started our trip. Like before, when we went to the moon, we headed for the Farallon Islands and the continental shelf. After shielding and camouflaging Ha-Ta from radar and satellites, we left the water and went into the atmosphere and toward space. Ra’am started talking to me about how we would be safe, even though space had extremes of temperatures, lack of pressure, a vacuum, lack of gravity…all that fun stuff.”

“Why did he tell you that?”

“I guess for my info. But it was disturbing, and I told him not to talk about it anymore. So, he didn’t. But it was interesting, at how the gravity on Ha-Ta was still like earth’s in space, and we had plenty of air, it was a comfortable temp and all. Just like on earth. I though to myself, this will be easy, this space travel.” She gave Jenny a sideways grin.

“Why? What happened?”

“Well, I was wrong. Ra’am produced the khalonot hekef again, you know, that perimeter window?”

“Oh, sure.”

“So, we could see outer space. I couldn’t see any stars really, just blackness when not looking at the earth or sun. And at first, it was great. I could see earth become smaller and smaller, especially on the viewing screen in front of me. But when I turned around or to the sides, I could see where earth was actually positioned in space. I don’t know…the sun was always to Ha-Ta’s left, but started to appear strange, blurry or something, as we went so fast. But when earth appeared really small, either on the viewing screen in front or when I turned around, something started happening to me. The darkness of space, the strange distorted appearance of the sun, a feeling of not being anywhere, disoriented, not knowing what was up, down, sideways…”

“What happened exactly?”

“Well, I started to panic, I think. I couldn’t figure out where I was, even with Ra’am near me. I started breathing fast and getting hot and cold flashes in my body and I felt sick, nauseous. I started shaking too, like I do, you know…but this was different. Ra’am started talking to me right away, asking what I felt, and when I told him, he said I was experiencing terrestrial withdrawal.”

“From not being on earth?”

“Not just from standing on earth or anything, but everything I felt as normal and natural, like the sun in the sky or land below me, was gone. And it’s not like being in a plane too, since you know the earth is near. It’s just a complete lack of your planet, that can cause serious psychological and physical symptoms. He also said the great speed we were traveling was confusing my body. You know, those movies, which show people getting on spacecrafts and effortlessly flying away, like it was nothing, are crazy! Cause let me tell you, it’s terrifying, very terrifying, to not be on your planet anymore. At first, yes, it’s incredibly awesome and mind-blowing, but once the reality of it sinks in…”

“Which is why real astronauts go through so much training,” Jenny said.

“Yes, for that and the other physical things. But physically, like gravity, pressure, temperature, and air, I was fine and knew it. It was the realization of losing your home planet, that was horrible. Ra’am explained this was why, unless a being was born on a spacecraft and lived there all their life, that long-term space travel, like earth scientists were forging toward to travel to other planets and stars, would fail. The psychological stress would destroy the crew. Believe me, he’s right!”

“So how could Ra’am handle it? And how did he help you?”

“He told me he had extensive training, and besides, genetically, Harkoavians were used to it, from hundreds of pass civilizations traveling in space. But even ometvaheem couldn’t take space travel for more than days or weeks at time, without landing on a planet, which is why they used Memadshakoreem for instant travel.

“But I was losing it. Ra’am told me to get in his lap, while he sat in his seat. So, I did. He really wasn’t using the shleetah maksheer then, since we were traveling at that high speed then and the taktselekh controlled everything. I was really glad, since I desired so incredibly to be near him anyway. I just lay my head against his upper chest, wrapped my arms around him, and he held me too. He asked if I wanted his calming touch, but I said no. As soon as he held me, I felt better. He then told me to go to sleep, close my eyes. With him rubbing my back lightly, it was rather easy…It was neat, Jenny.”

“What was?”

“I started dreaming I was on earth, in Idaho! All three of us again, L.B., Ra’am, me…we were looking for deer. We were walking through the trees, the sun was out. I guess my mind needed that. But then I couldn’t see Ra’am in my dream anymore. I heard him calling me. I woke up.”

“Was he actually waking you?”

“Yes, he was. He told me to look ahead, that we were coming to Mars. I turned, opened my eyes. And there it was, before me. I was floored. I couldn’t believe that me,” she said, touching herself and smiling, “Trenae Lafayette, was about to visit a planet no one on earth had ever been to. I felt even more special then being one of few to know Ra’am. It was so unbelievable!

“The part of Mars that had sun light was this orangey, reddish brown globe, with some areas of dark land, mostly near the south and north poles, and even some white clouds or land areas here and there. Especially by the north pole there were white areas. And as we got closer, we could see craters, mountains, and these long, skinny and snake-like areas, which were canals or channels. The surface started looking more orangey, and the areas which were darker when we were farther away, became this dark rusty orange color as we were closer.

“Ra’am then had us get closer to the north pole, until we were almost in the night side of Mars. We were near what earth scientists called Acidalia Planitia.”

“That’s a pretty name.”

“Yeah, I think so too. It was kind of a flat, plain-like area, if I remember right. And it was funny, but the closer we got to Mars, the better I felt.”

“Since you were near land or a planet again?”

“I think so, Jenny. It was so fascinating too, and I finally asked Ra’am if I could sit in my seat again, to see better. I was shaking much less. Plus I was rather warm, sweaty, from his body heat. I also was a little nervous, being so close to him then. But anyway, I mainly wanted to see Mars better. Ra’am explained that the albedo markings, the light or dark areas, would change as we got closer to them.”

“Albedo markings?” Jenny asked, writing the word on her note pad.

“Yes.” Trenae gave her the correct spelling. “And he was right. As we got closer and closer to Mars, the markings did look different. Ra’am started telling me about the planet. He said the Northern Hemisphere of Mars was about 3 miles lower than the Southern Hemisphere, probably due to a huge impact from a crater, called Hellas Planitia…it was like 1300 miles across and 6 miles deep.”


“That’s nothing. He told me about Valles Marineris, this huge canyon, way bigger than the Grand Canyon. Whereas the Grand Canyon is like 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and one mile deep, Valles Marineris is 2500 miles long, 125 miles wide in some places, and about 4 or 5 miles deep.”

“That is big!”

“Yeah, like the length of the U.S., from New York to San Francisco. We started heading in to the Martian atmosphere, near the north pole. At first, like entering earth’s atmosphere, you could see the blackness of space sharply contrast the Martian surface. But soon, all we saw was a whitish pink sky.”

“Mars has an atmosphere?”

“Yes, actually. It’s mostly carbon dioxide though, like 95%, and small percentages of nitrogen and argon. There’s only like .13% of oxygen, whereas on earth we have 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen.”

“Wow, so no good to breathe there. Did that bother you?”

“No, since I knew Ha-Ta was great at producing good air for us. But I did worry about Ha-Ta malfunctioning, but Ra’am told me again it was self-repairing, and not to worry. He said the computer systems were showing no problems. That was good, since he told me the temperature outside was on average, like -80 degrees Fahrenheit. Since Mars has a thinner atmosphere, there’s less greenhouse effects to hold in heat. And, of course, it’s farther from the sun.”

“How much farther?’

“On average, like 142 million miles away, whereas earth is like--”

“93 million?” Jenny seemed anxious to give what she knew.

“Yeah, it is! Did you know that Mars has a day, in hours, almost exactly like ours?”

“No, I didn’t.” Jenny smiled.

“Yeah, it’s 24.6 hours, but the Martian year is 687 days, so…”

“Long year.”

“Yes, very true. But anyway, the first thing I saw clearly, was the north polar cap. The closer we got, you could see tiers or layers, with sharp drop-off cliffs at the end of each layer, like someone smashed a mound of vanilla ice cream and carved out small steps all around it. I asked Ra’am if it was water, since--”

“I know, ice caps. So, was it?”

“No. I thought so too, but Ra’am said it was frozen carbon dioxide. He said there was some water on Mars, but it was mostly underground water, and a little water in the atmosphere too. There is evidence that more water was present, like thousands or millions of years ago, but…it wasn’t there now. He said both earth and Harkoav should examine Mars further, do research on it. He also said Harkoav could easily terraform Mars.”


“Yeah, creating an earth-like atmosphere, gaining some greenhouse effect to raise temperatures, and eventually having a world, with plants and animals, almost like earth. He said they could do it for us by forming a hemoom prodoh shield around Mars, so the shield had just the proper amount of photometric properties to allow the right light waves from the sun to get through. This would heat Mars, causing its polar caps to melt, in turn, releasing carbon dioxide and maybe even small amounts of water into the atmosphere.

“Phew, sorry,” Trenae said. Her face beamed apologetically. “I know I’m getting carried away!”

“No, don’t be silly. Go ahead, tell me more.”

“Well, to complete the terraforming, he also said Harkoav would add some greater amounts of indigenous chemicals and foreign gases, to enhance the greenhouse effect and have oxygen. Eventually, the new atmosphere would function close to earth’s, preventing too many meteors from hitting the ground and keeping Mars warmer. See, when we finally stopped on Mars, Ra’am told me he programmed Ha-Ta to shield us from any meteors. That’s a problem there!”

“Damn, that’s incredible.”

“I know, really! So, anyway, we headed south. At first we traveled high in the atmosphere, but eventually we got lower. We were skimming over the tops of hills, lots of craters of different sizes, and some smaller hills or deep narrow canyons or crevices. When we got even closer, till like 20 feet above ground in open areas, you could see a lot of rocks on the ground. It was kind of weird. Since it looked a lot like Arizona, I constantly expected to see an animal moving or a plant growing. But, I only saw those rocks, a lot of them. And when you looked toward the pinkish white sky, the sun looked smaller, more distant. It was weird, especially since we were still traveling with that perimeter viewing screen…it felt like we were flying in the open air. But at least it wasn’t unnerving on Mars, like space was. At least there was ground below you- lifeless ground though.”

“So,”  Jenny said, “it looked like good ol’ Arizona?”

“Yeah, with the sand and rocks, or these brown mountains and hills in the distance, the rust color of many objects…but it was also like the moon, with the craters and all, but with a sky instead.”

“I would have loved to have seen that.” Jenny’s words rang wistful.

“Oh, believe me, it was really worth it! As weird and lifeless, it was still incredibly awesome and beautiful. When we entered what Ra’am called Chryse Planitia, another plains area, Ra’am showed me where both the Viking 1 and Pathfinder vehicles had landed.”

“Oh sure, I remember them.”

“I also noticed some small rusty-tinged clouds in the sky around there, and even a little bit of blue sky!”


“Yeah, it made me feel at home for a second. Ra’am said there were more clouds present during sunrise, after the extremely cold night. 

“But then we ascended into the upper atmosphere more, as Ra’am wanted to hurry and show me Valles Marineris. You see, we were on the sunny side of Mars, and there wasn’t too much daylight left. Ra’am wanted to take us through the long Valles Marineris canyon, and then go to the Tharsis Montes, these big volcanoes.”

“Are these names what he named them, or from earth?”

“No, all the names are from earth. Ra’am used them, since it was only proper, being our solar system and all.”

They paused a bit, Jenny scribbling down more names.

“Tharsis Montes…are those mountains?” Jenny asked.

“Sort of. They’re very tall mountains, made from volcanoes, which have wide crater-like holes on top, called calderas. But before we saw them, we finally entered Valles Marineris. We went through Capri Chasma, a part of Valles Marineris, which had very long, steep, sloping walls, leading down to a deep valley. There were a bunch of small hills at the valley’s bottom, while some areas were just plain flat. We went west, since Capri Chasma was more near the eastern end of Valles Marineris.”

“It runs east to west, just like New York to San Francisco?”

“Yes, exactly. Maybe not a perfect straight line in those directions, but close. But before long, as we traveled through it, the north and south sides of the long canyon were barely visible, cut from view by the curve of the planet and occasional gusts of blown sand, which, by the way, can happen a lot there.”

“Sand storms, hey?”

“Yeah, violent ones too. Ra’am tried to go slowly, so we could both see some good views, but mostly he wanted to hurry, so we could arrive at our destination before nightfall. But I’ll tell you, when we did get near the sides of those cliffs, the sides of Valles Marineris, those things were huge! Taller than any mountain I’d ever seen! And you could see, what looked like trenches from water, dug into the cliffs’ sides.

“But finally, we left Valles Marineris and started toward the volcanic mountains, the Tharsis Montes. Ra’am started telling me the longitude and latitude of each one. There were three of them. Let’s see,” she said. She touched her chin and looked toward the sky, thinking. “Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons…” She glanced back at Jenny. “Pavonis Mons was very tall, like 9 miles.”

“What? Nine miles?”

“Yes, believe it or not! They’re so tall because the lava just kept building and building, something to do with the Martian crust. But then there was Ascraeus Mons too.”

Pausing again, Jenny wrote down the words.

Trenae enjoyed recalling Mars. “So, there were these three, huge mountains, each near one another, and Ra’am flew up and entered each one. We took a long travel up their sides, since they were so large and long- you could barely tell you were moving up. And then, at the top, these huge craters appeared, about 50 miles wide!”

“That sounds amazing.”

“He took us down into them, and we flew around. It was hard to tell you were in the caldera craters, since they were so large. It just felt like you were anywhere else, until you got near the sides of the caldera, and you could see their incline and steepness.

“But I remember that once we left the last one, Ascraeus Mons, we saw these strange, large snake-like crevices. We saw them from higher up, first. Yet once we traveled down near them, they looked like regular canyons. Distances and how close you were, had a lot to do with how things look, like the difference between up in a plane and on the ground.”

“That makes sense.”

“But finally, it got to be around 6 or 7 o’clock Mountain Time, on my watch, although it was still quite light on Mars, and Ra’am wanted to stop. I think we had gotten there around 2 o’clock, so we spent a lot of time traveling and sightseeing. He told me we were going to stop on the inside rim of the caldera at the top of Olympus Mons, the tallest volcanic mountain on Mars. He even gave me the latitude and longitude of it, which I can remember, believe it or not.”

“What is it?”

“18.40 latitude, 133.10 longitude. I couldn’t forget, especially…with…what went on there.” Embarrassed, Trenae looked down at her knees.

“What’s wrong?” Jenny asked.

She looked at Jenny and smiled a little. “Oh, it’s, well, complicated. But let me tell you how it looked there first. After we saw those other three mountains, we traveled to Olympus Mons. It looked unbelievably impressive. At first, we met up with the base of the mountain, an extremely high sloping cliff. You cannot imagine how high it was, unless you were there. It was like a big giant wall reaching up to the sky. But once we scaled the cliff, we took this really, really long ascent up the mountain’s side, like 300 miles before you reach the top.”

“How high is Olympus Mons?”

“About 17 miles.”

“Shit, that’s incredible.”


“And you say these mountains are volcanic…did any erupt?”

“Actually, they’re all extinct. Mars doesn’t have any active ones anymore. And so we traveled up Olympus Mons, taking quite awhile. The trip was so long and so gradual, it was really hard to tell you were traveling up, because of the 300 mile length. Ra’am tried to keep Ha-Ta about 10 feet off the ground, so we could see the surface. It was mostly smooth and sandy, some rocks.

“And eventually we made it to the summit. But, something really weird started happening then.”

“What?” Jenny appeared curious.

“The atmosphere began to disappear. Ra’am told me that the Martian atmosphere was less miles up from the ground than earth’s, and less thick. So, with about 17 miles up, we could see space again. It was the sun, though, against the darkness, that we really saw. But when you looked down, into the caldera, it appeared more normal. I guess it was kind of like looking down at the moon, but with a difference.”

“You’re talking about how you can see space on the moon, and yet have the sun’s light there?”

“Yeah, it was like that, but different. I guess more hazy, less bright, brash contrasts between shadows and light at the summit, than if we had been on the moon. Ra’am began riding along the rim of the caldera, so we could see more. Looking across the caldera, so incredibly huge and distant, was so beautiful. The other side was so far, far away. It was like seeing a huge, wide Grand Canyon against a sunlit night sky.” Trenae’s voice became dreamy. She stared straight ahead, imagining being there once more. “I couldn’t think of a more mystical and magical place to be, for the two of us. You could even see the gradual drop down, to the Mars surface from up there, when we looked down the mountain’s side. It was simply amazing.”

“I wish I was there.”

Trenae glanced down. “Yeah, but…things got rather disturbing, for me again.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Well, Ra’am eventually landed Ha-Ta on a lower ledge, inside the caldera. Sort of like a small plateau. We couldn’t see the descent of the mountain anymore there, just the huge caldera, because we were like in the caldera. I remember looking at the surface of the ledge. It looked like a giant, bronze clamshell, jutting out of the caldera’s side. Ha-Ta just hovered there, like on the moon. We had finally stopped.”

Trenae paused. Should I tell Jenny what happened next? She thought a moment. Yes, it may be a good idea to tell her, if only to add further personal details. For deep within, she felt certain Jenny didn’t truly believe her story. She would just remember all the details, yet only describe what she chose, leaving out the very intimate details, like the previous intimate encounter, when she described her great love for Ra’am after the bear attack. She carefully chose the right words, the right memories to describe the scene, though in her mind, all of it occurred. Jenny would be nonetheless wiser.

“And…so?” Jenny asked, a little impatient.

Trenae looked at her. “I started to panic again, but not so much of where we were, but of Ra’am.”


“Would you mind, turning off the recorder again?”

 “Sure.” Jenny compliantly responded, placing the stopped recorder, note pad, and writing instrument on the blanket near her legs. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry, to act ridiculous like this again…I mean, I want to tell someone, about what happened, but it’s kind of embarrassing too…and since you’re the only one.”

“Little ol’ me, that’s true. And don’t worry, I won’t get embarrassed by what you say. I’ve heard it all.” Jenny then spoke gently. “You just need a sounding board, that’s all.”

Trenae knew she was right, and felt close to Jenny, however cringed at what she had to retell ahead. “Yes, I guess that’s it. You see, I thought I knew Ra’am pretty well, up to that point. I mean, I still knew, without a doubt, that he could be unpredictable, but I thought since we revealed what each of us felt for the other, that things were looser, more stable or predictable. But I noticed that Ra’am hadn’t been so close to me, since we left earth, except when he held me because a my space-panic thing. But otherwise, he was kind of distant. I wasn’t sure why. And I knew that along the trip there and while we traveled around Mars, that when he looked at me, his eyes weren’t soft or friendly, but piercing and dangerous-like.”

“Passionate for you?”

“Sort of, I guess. Again, I wasn’t sure. I sort of blew it off, as we traveled around Mars, since I was so incredibly fascinated with the planet. But once we stopped, finally for the night, and I knew we weren’t traveling anymore, his behavior started to worry me. I mean, this was a guy who could kill me effortlessly, at any point while we were there, if he suddenly flipped out or something. And no one could help me!”

“Well, that’s scary, but he could have done that at any point prior. And I thought you felt you knew him now, after you saw him cry over the bear?”

“That’s true, but we were alone, in space, on another planet. This was completely his domain. And everything he did, with the bear, could have been an act! I couldn’t be sure, you know?”

“So you still didn’t trust him that much.”

 “Yes, I think that was it, even though he never hurt me…And then I knew, remembered, why we came there anyway. Dread or second guessing got me, a lot, as I really started to regret marrying him and wondered what I had been thinking, to have done this.”…



…Ra’am looked at her, from his seat. “Do you like this location?”

She turned her worried face away from him and gazed to the right, out the khalonot hekef, at the great expanse of the Olympus Mons’ caldera. It was truly breathtaking.

She looked back at him. Quietly studying his intense expression, she caught a glimpse of the caldera’s steep wall, beyond Ra’am. “Yes,” she said softly, “this is nice, really nice. I had no idea how wonderful Mars could be.”

“I agree.”

He stood up from his seat, on the seat’s left side. He began rounding the seat, taking his time, approaching her closer, closer. She looked up and locked eyes with him; she watched through eyes of trepidation and Ra’am stared through eyes of fearlessness.

“Mars could not allow, because of the structure of its crust,” he said, nearing her, “the sufficient release of underground magma. That caused this large area of Mars, which your world terms the Tharsis bulge.” 

He knelt down, next to her chair. He placed his hand on her left forearm, warming her bare skin. Trying to remain calm, she looked at him with a relaxed stare.

“The crust of this area was forced outward as a huge mound,” he said, “and caused a few volcanoes, such as this one, to build massive quantities of lava. And at some point in the Martian history, the top crests of these volcanoes collapsed, producing the deep, wide calderas, similar to craters. Do you understand?”

Though his eyes stared dark and fierce, they also seemed kind, even friendly. She turned away from him and gazed straight ahead. “Yes, I understand.”

Ra’am lifted his hand from her forearm. Still eyeing forward, Trenae nervously viewed the steep walls of the caldera grow smaller, narrower, and rounder, in gradual increments, until the walls reached toward the far southern side of the great, wide canyon, bordered against a black, sun streaked sky. Just ignore him now, she thought. Maybe he’ll leave me alone.

She heard Ra’am remove his hair tie, and then, his koaksekhel. Her stomach twisted and ached. All the negative feelings, all the doubts, all the regrets of their marriage pummeled her brain. What if he did have some strange disease that could affect her, after he was intimate with her? Had he told the truth, about their bodies being compatible, as Pastor Crenshaw had asked? And what about betraying her own species, marrying an alien being? But most importantly, why would Ra’am really want to be with her? Was their an ulterior motive? He was out of her league, light years beyond her intellect and miles beyond her confidence and abilities. What did he really want from her?

She turned. Ra’am placed his koaksekhel on the shleetah maksheer, the silver armband disappearing within its surface.

Their eyes locked again.

“I’m hungry…how, how bout’ you?” she asked carelessly. “We really haven’t eaten much today.”

He straightened and stared down at her, his thick hair strands snaking around his shoulders. “We will, but my mind is on other things now.” He gave her a slight smile, and then leaned over and slipped his fingers around her hand. “Come with me. We need to finish what we started.”

Breathe slow and deep, Trenae. She allowed him to guide her off the seat. Relax. He led her between the seats and toward Ha-Ta’s left side. Obviously they were headed toward his room. Heart pounding, she walked on, his hand grasping her hand. They passed the delet tekrah and evesmol, then began walking past the new hallway, produced by the presence of a greenhouse galeel khayeh. Shiny silver of the structure’s exterior showed no signs of its former presence in the deep, cold soil; no dirt, water, rust, or corrosion marred the surface whatsoever. It was flawless. It’s pristine, impossible surface suddenly made her skin crawl.

The shiny galeel khayeh became a stark reminder of who she was with, making her dizzy and confused. With lurching metal tentacles, it grabbed her shoulders and shook her, forcing her to acknowledge the incredible technology and strength ometvaheem possessed. Negative, frightening memories suddenly invaded her brain. He killed the bear with just a stroke of his arm. In Dr. Stein’s office, he lost his temper. As they rode in the cab, in New York City, he appeared as though he could devour her with his eyes, even though she would have allowed him.  After their trip to the moon, and Dr. Stein gave the core rock back, he swung her chair around, furious with her. And the way he went at her just hours ago, on the ground, rough like, made her knees far too weak. Worse of all, his words, ‘I could crush you tightly, if I wanted to’, began thundering in her mind. What has my heart done?

No! Run, run!

She snatched her hand away, easily, sweat already soaking her skin. Her rash, sudden tenacity even surprised herself. But when she looked up, Ra’am’s face loomed dark, yet shocked and saddened.

She walked backwards from him, her eyes fixed steady with his eyes. “I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” she said, trembling. That familiar choked-up feeling, before she would cry, seized mercilessly.

Ra’am stood motionless, watching her. She continued backing away from him towards the evesmol. Turning around from time to time, to keep her bearings, she noticed the wall by the evesmol resembled a curved sheet of window glass, vividly displaying the outside reddish bronze escarpment of the caldera. But it had a long couch attached to it. No, this is strange and disturbing! It only added more discomfort.

The evesmol bumped up against her legs. She sat on it. Not waiting a second, she pushed her body across the seat and backed against the see-through wall, grabbing her trembling knees to her body. “I’m sorry, Ra’am,” she said. She compressed herself into a small package. Maybe I can disappear if I’m so small. “I’m really sorry, but I just can’t do this.” Her words sounded barely audible, from both erratic breathing and soft crying. Thin, salty streams tickled annoyingly down her face.

A streak of darkness dove toward her. Ra’am had left his motionless stance. For a split second, she could see extreme determination on his face. She closed her eyes. His behavior was far too abrupt, inappropriate. Once she heard and sensed his arrival by the evesmol, she felt his arms sweep down and gently lift her up. She made no attempt to fight him off.

Within his arms, she clung to his body and pressed her face against his chest, dampening his shirt. She needed to hide her embarrassment, for showing weakness once more. And she needed to communicate her vulnerability to him. He would have to understand. There was no other choice.

Her eyes remained closed. Listening to his footsteps, she could hear him walk into his room. “Trenae.” His deep voice vibrated within her. “I am going to stand you up now, on my bed. All right?”

“Okay,” she said weakly.

Ra’am lowered her and she tried making her legs rigid, though her bones felt like marrow. She loosened her grip from his body. The wall next to his bed now pressed against her back. Quickly wiping her eyes and nose, she forced herself to gaze into his face. She still had to look up at him a bit, even with her feet some 12 or more inches from the floor, on the bed. Lighting in the room was noticeably dimmer than earlier, before they landed. Even so, their faces felt uncomfortably close.

“I’m sorry, really sorry,” she said softly, forgiveness pleading her tone. “I didn’t mean to act like this, but I can’t…do…”

“Don’t speak.” Ra’am bent over, to his right, and picked something up off his bed. A small towel approached her face, gentle touches soon blotted around her eyes and nose. She closed her eyes and tried to relax. Whenever he wiped her tears, the world became a nicer place. But they were on Mars. Calm, stay calm.

He finished drying her tears away. She opened her eyes.

Ra’am placed his hand on the wall, near her head’s left side. His other hand approached, his fingers stroking her long hair flowing down around her neck and shoulder. Shivers ran up her body, shaking her. “I do not understand,” he said, his eyes drawing in her soul, up, down, all around her, “what happened to you. You wanted me so much, only hours ago.”

His gaze then pierced into her eyes, wounding her fragile spirit. She attempted to stare back at him. “I…I’ve been scarred, emotionally…by Willson and his men.”  Words not the complete truth, but an effort to explain her behavior.  “I’m not really right, you know.”

“But they did not love you,” he said passionately, moving closer to her face, his hot breath singeing her watery eyes. “I do.”

She closed her eyes again and listened to her heart pound.

“I want to ask you something. Can you look at me, please?”

Trenae did. Now his intense demeanor proved far too frightening to view. He continued stroking, feeling her hair. Why hasn’t he kissed me yet?

“Could you have gone on living, without me?” His words were tender and easy, but his eyes demanded an answer.

She didn’t hesitate. “No…no, I couldn’t.” She began sobbing quietly. Tears streamed down her cheeks once more. She closed her eyes. His question and demeanor crushed her even more. Can I keep standing?

“Please don’t cry again,” he said. She opened her eyes. A glimmer of concern now warmed his gaze.

She stared gently into his eyes, hoping to make him understand. “I can’t…I can’t help it, baby.” Her voice trembled, making her beseeching useless.

His eyes changed, losing their concern, darkening. “And I can’t help it.”

No, he used a contraction again! She remembered that time in the woods, after the hunters left. She closed her eyes, unable to view his threatening change.

Her eyes still shut, she felt Ra’am press his lips on her mouth, giving a moist, ardent kiss. She began wrapping her arms around him, to pull him closer; but he stopped his kiss and backed away. She opened her eyes half way, feeling in a confusing dream.

Ra’am breathed hard now, his breaths full of feverish, burning desire, passion oozing out of every pore on his presence. A crippling chill surged through Trenae’s body and that powerful ache stabbed her gut. Emotional insanity captured her; she didn’t know what to do with herself or what she could be capable of now.

“And I…could not have gone on living without you.” Ra’am’s deep voice, prodding through his powerful breathing, frightened Trenae. “We had to get married.”

“No, no, I think we made a mistake. I made a mistake,” she said, her shivering lips barely moving. “We shouldn’t have married.”

“Why not?”

Watching through weakened eyes, she chose her words carefully. She couldn’t say the main reason, that his strength and temper were too severe. “What if there’s a disease we could give each other, or what…what if you have some other--”

“As I told Pastor Crenshaw, I have checked this before. You must trust me. Our bodies will not contaminate or be incompatible with each other.” He leaned his face forward, his mouth drawing close to her lips.

She stopped him, her palms cupping his wiry face. “Ra’am, I can’t do this,” she cried. Water spilled from her eyes again. She sniffed her nose. “Please, I was wrong.” She looked directly in his powerful eyes, so dominating now.

He wasn’t ready to bargain with her. “Then you should not have married me.” His words crackled exact, but quiet. “But now, it is too late. You are mine,” he said, eyeing all around her face, “and you’re not going anywhere.”

“No, please, I can’t…I can’t…” 

Her head fell forward. She tried covering her face, but Ra’am seized both her hands. He slowly lowered her hands. She lifted her head, staring in his frightening gaze. Her body trembled. “I’m so scared, Ra’am.” Her throat clenched, scarcely permitting speech.  “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Ra’am took his right hand from the wall, lowering, then wrapping his large fingers around her waist, over her shirt. His other hand sealed both her palms together. His warm right  hand slipped under her shirt, touching her bare skin, then caressing her waist. Even more weaker she grew, though she couldn’t feel any calming touch penetrate from his hand.

“You both love me and fear me, don’t you,” he demanded.

She looked in his frightening eyes. “No, I…I just love you.” She lied. “But, I can’t do--”

“You should be scared.” He stared into her eyes. “We are 212 million miles from earth, and you are alone with me.”

His words cut deeply. Greater fear consumed her. She swallowed. “No,” she whispered, shaking her head gently, “no, please.”

“And if you knew…” He released her hands and stroked her hair again, his touch nearing her neck. Coldly ignoring her fear, he traversed his eyes from her face to her hair. “If you knew my true thoughts, since the moment you stepped on Ha-Ta, how I wanted to come into your room every night, and make love to you, ravish your body over and over and over…and over again…” His breathing expanded so deep, so rapid.

Terror shook her conscience as she realized a long imagined fear. She closed her eyes and cried some more. “No, no,” she whispered.

“Then yes, you should be scared.”

She lifted her heavy eyelids, only slightly, trying desperately to plead with her expression. “You’re not…you’re not going to hurt me baby, are you?” Each word quivered, her lips shivering.

Her fear so transparent and obvious now forced tides of vulnerability down her body’s length. Only Ra’am could control what happened, from this point on. As in New York, she knew only he could control her fear.

“No, I will not hurt you,” he said.

But his voice and eyes communicated a different answer. She felt so desperate. “Ra’am, I love you. I’ll do anything you want, anything.” She gently wiped her nose, lowering her hand down, a quivering feather.

“I know you will.” He leaned closer, his hot, moist lips wetting, pecking her right cheek, then in sweet touches on her neck. His grip tightened around her waist. 

 Ceasing his kisses, Ra’am backed away from her a little. He uncoiled his fingers from her hair, his other hand freeing her waist, and then both his hands encircled her fingers. He lifted her hands up, placing them near the sides of her head. Observing the fire in his eyes, dizziness swirled in her head- she knew for certain now- he’s attempting to make me feel even more frightened and helpless! Her feeling proved right; he brazenly slid both her hands above her head, pressing them against the wall. She moaned and whimpered quietly as Ra’am stared into her eyes. 

Ra’am lunged his face forward and sealed his mouth on her lips, plunging his tongue deep into her mouth. She closed her eyes. She tried kissing him back, but his powerful, forward thrust pinned her head and body against the wall, breaking, weakening her being even more. There was nothing she could do but hope his fierce desire was under control.

He ended his wet, forceful kissing and backed away, still pressing her hands against the wall. She opened her eyes.

“I want you to keep your hands above your head.”

“What? Why?” she wheezed, unable to breath.

“You will do what I want, right Trenae?”

She closed her eyes again and shuddered, her body losing all control. “Yes…yes,” she said helplessly.

Every imaginable emotion ran wild through her now. All the feelings she ever had for him, whether it be love, fear, desire, confusion, mistrust, or any other feeling, had become magnified by a million times.

He gently removed his hands and slipped his fingers around her shirt’s top, just below her neck. She forced her eyes open and weakly gazed down at his hands. Yet she kept her arms above her head. She could see her chest expand, contract madly.

His fingers pinched both sides of her tight-fitting, rose-colored shirt, one of her favorite shirts that Dod had bought for her at the Rimrock Mall. At first, she thought he was merely feeling the thick, embroidered flowers that bordered the shirt’s lower neckline.

Rip! Fabric shredded, sprinkled the air, Ra’am’s fingers tearing her shirt apart in a vertical line, ripping it effortlessly.

“Ra’am…what…are you doing?” Her words, wedging between marathon pants, barely came. Her eyes attempted widening, watching his hands.

“Do not worry. I’ll buy you another one.” Ra’am’s face inched closer.

With black suddenness, he plunged his mouth forward, taking her lips again, gripping, suctioning them into submission. She instantly felt desperate, so faint, so close to dieing, and wanted to lower her hands and hold him now but knew that she must obey him. His kiss proved forceful and even cruel again, thrusting and probing his tongue into her wet mouth, twisting his moist lips around her mouth’s edge. Though his searing kiss held her mind hostage, she also could feel her shirt continue ripping downward, toward its bottom edge.

His hands finished her shirt, but his mouth wouldn’t stop. She felt his fingers slide around the front, lower portion of her bra, between her breasts, in gentle, slick touches. But at the same time he drove her farther into the solid wall, his moist, fiery tongue nearly down her throat, blocking her air, his teeth, his lips engulfing her mouth. Her mouth ached and stretched. She moaned, no please, inaudibly, her body struggling to squirm for mercy, understanding. And my bra. No! She wanted to lower her hands and stop him, for she feared if he tore through the tough elastic of her bra, it would snap and hurt her, if only accidentally. Yet he couldn’t understand her silent moans and proceeded his crazed, lustful wish.

But with the same effortless rip as her shirt, her bra snapped apart, like a crisp lily stem, and nothing tightened nor caused her pain. He mercifully lessened his fearsome, probing kisses, his thoughts obviously caught elsewhere, his hands lifting both the left and right torn-apart sides of her bra and shirt and molding the ripped fabric pieces between her neck and shoulders. He held the fabric pieces there, enjoying her vulnerability, curling his tongue around her tongue or gliding his tongue’s tip around her teeth or over her soft palate.

Time disappeared. His tongue, in lingering, drenching laps, left her teeth, her mouth. He moved away from her. Trenae’s body, wounded by rattling tremors, wanting oxygen, could do nothing, completely under his control. She needed him to breathe for her. But he didn’t.

She whimpered gently and opened her eyes. Ra’am was lowering toward her breasts. He pressed his palms on her underarms, wrapping his fingers around the sides of her shoulders, holding her torn clothing open. Securing her in this position, Ra’am began fervently assaulting her upper body, using his tongue and mouth, sucking, lapping her breasts, her nipples, leaving trails of wetness all over their fullness. It felt so good. His demand for her arms to remain up became even more tenuous. She moaned and whimpered helplessly, again and again, her breathing stopping too many times. Come on Trenae, keep breathing. Breathe. She closed her eyes and struggled with crippling lightheadedness, at the same time experiencing intense pleasure.

After many long minutes, Ra’am slowed his passion. He began releasing his hands from her upper body and torn clothing, slinking his touch down along the sides of her body, caressing and loving her breasts as he did so. She kept her eyes closed and hoped she wouldn’t collapse unconscious.

His fingertips slinked down to her abdomen, his hands securing around her small waist. She opened her eyes, catching a glimpse of him staring desirously at her breasts. He raised his head and stared into her eyes, his gaze dark and terrifying. He was mad with for her now, there was no doubt.

“Ra’am,” she spoke breathlessly, “please…can you hold me, let me hold you? Please?”

“No, not yet.”

“I feel…too dizzy…please.”

He stared into her eyes, not answering, only smoothing his hands down from her waist and taking hold of her jeans, by the button and zipper. She felt him undo the button and then carefully pull the zipper down, its separating metal bits vibrating unkindly. When the zipper was down, Ra’am clenched both sides jean sides and yanked a quick thrust, tearing them apart, a loud rip shattering the small room. She shivered. Her heart jumped up her delicate neck. Though again, his quick tugging rip didn’t hurt her. Cooler air circulated between her legs.

She closed her eyes in fear, expecting him now to tear her underwear and the rest of her jeans apart. Instead she felt him gently tug her jeans and underwear down, until they settled by her ankles. She opened her eyes. Still obeying his command, her hands pressed against the wall above her head. Ra’am lifted her feet, one at a time, to remove her clothing, as she pressed her arms even harder against the wall for balance. He removed her socks and shoes, placing them on the floor, along with her clothing. Even though he did so with a soft touch, she trembled.

Ra’am straightened himself. And then he brought her arms down. Her heart filled with relief, hoping she could now embrace him. But it was only deception; he gently slipped her upper clothes down, removing them gracefully from her arms behind her back. He tossed the torn shirt and bra to the floor. Then he secured her arms up against the wall again, making her so vulnerable once more.

He slowly released his hands, staring into her eyes, his eyes communicating their forceful will. Trenae knew; she kept her hands sealed to the wall.

Now she stood completely naked before him. And he still had his clothes on.

Ra’am kneeled down and began gliding his fingers on the outside of her ankles, continuing a trail up along her calves, passing her knees, and then along her thighs. He rose up slowly, his eyes facing her trembling, naked body the entire time. She kept her gaze on him, even though her eyes floundered too weak to stay open. But she had to know what he was doing.

His fingertips traveled to her hips, inching pass them, until he paused by her lower belly, his hands then tenderly clamping around her waist. He leaned forward and warmly mouthed a kiss just above her navel. She moaned and closed her eyes. But she opened her eyes again, the light touch of his fingertips now flowing by the sides of her rib cage. He gently molded his large, warm hands on both the sides of her tender breasts and her soft, upper back. Leaning closer, he kissed her neck and the curve of her shoulders, alternately. “Do you know, what I find so appealing about the female body?” His voice burned hypnotic, overpowering.

“What, baby?” she whispered, closing her eyes.

“Your delicate arms and shoulders.” He removed his hands from her sides and encircled her forearms.  She opened fragile eye slits. He was lowering her arms down again. Finally. I can hold him now. Ra’am held her arms by the sides of her body, gently squeezing and running his fingers over them. After some seconds, he released her arms and raised his hands, placing one hand on each breast. He caressed them softly, tenderly. “And the soft roundness of your breasts.”

She tried her best to view his face, but heavy, useless breathing and rushes of conflicting emotions squashed her ability. She needed his embrace so greatly. Grab him tightly, her mind screamed, hold him close! But she waited, worrying he had to allow her first.

Ra’am lifted his head. He took her mouth, giving many intense, short wet kisses. Then he backed away. She watched him. He slid his hands to her waist and hips, then gliding his fingers up and down. His frightening stare pierced into her eyes, daring her to find some resolve, some courage to slow him down or change his lustful course. She couldn’t. “And a female’s waist, is so much smaller than her broad hips.” Deep, alien his voice now. “It is a body…made completely soft and defenseless, with your small shoulders, weak arms, your small waist and broad hips. You are made to endure love and pleasure. You are not for fighting or strength. You are completely vulnerable.”

Trenae sealed her eyes shut. His words destroyed what little stability she had. Carefully she lifted her hands and felt his massive shoulders, his wiry muscles building under her touch. She opened her eyes, using them to plead. “Ra’am, please, can you hold me now?” Tears seeped from her eyes. Her body trembled more than ever and her heart fluttered near expiring. Her breathing couldn’t tolerate anymore of an increase. Darkness floated by her eye’s corners. Almost unconscious.

But Ra’am didn’t answer. Instead he captured her mouth again, taking her deeply, completely, his mouth twisting, raping, finding its craving. She moaned silently. Worse for her fragile spirit, she felt him take hold of her right leg, beneath the tender bend of her knee, and lifted her leg up high and to her right side, making her legs spread helplessly apart. Blinded by the power of his burning kiss, she glided her hands over his shoulders and arms, to determine what he would do next. She felt his right arm rise up. And then his right hand touched near her inner hip. He smoothed his fingers lower, closer until creeping his touch between her legs and searching her soft, sensitive wetness. She moaned and moaned, but he wouldn’t stop. But she really didn’t want him too, not now. There was nothing she could do.

And then he found his desire. No, please. He plunged several fingers inside her, their path finding no resistance. It shocked and made her even more debilitated, but felt so damn good. She felt her body melting, falling, pressing him in deeper.

His fingers within her, moving in and out, Ra’am left her mouth. She lift her weakened eyelids, moaning softly. His eyes were heavy too, his breathing deep, intense. He stared into her gaze. “As I thought,” he said slowly, between breaths, “you are enjoying this. You enjoy fearing me, don’t you. Am I right?”

She closed her eyes.

“Open your eyes and look at me!”

His voice frightened. Why was he mad? But opening her eyes, seeing his demeanor, she knew he was not angry, only becoming undone, like her. He breathed unstable, his ardent features showing intense pleasure and weakness and desire. Then she knew he wouldn’t injure her, but only wanted her, wanted every single part of her. There was nothing he wouldn’t want from her. His fingers continued their relentless movement.

“I love you, so much,” she whispered, crying.

“Answer me,” he said weakly. “Answer my question. You want them both, at the same time, don’t you.” His stare intensified, darkening.

She whimpered softly. She felt her hands trembling on his shoulders, her lungs expand shallow breaths. “I don’t know what you mean,” she cried. No, answer him. Say anything.  “I don’t know. Maybe. I…I can’t help it. It’s the way I am.” In the far corners of her besieged mind, she knew he was right about the fear. It embarrassed her deeply to reveal it. Closing her tear-filled eyes, she wished to run away and hide.

Ra’am placed soft kisses on her neck, then her left cheek, though his movement inside her impaled deeper, more fervent. “Don’t worry baby,” he said, interrupting kisses, “I’m gonna give you what you want too.”

No, what did he mean? His words, her crippling sensations and emotions. It became all too much. There was nothing left to lose. Finding a small amount of inner strength, Trenae opened her eyes and took her hands from his shoulders. Ignoring his piercing stare, she seized his neck and head, slamming his mouth against her lips.

At the moment their lips locked, Ra’am removed his hands from her lower thigh. He slipped his fingers out of her body. Rocking her mouth with intense power again, he pressed his right hand, still moist from where it had been, firmly on her stomach. She felt his other hand press snuggly against her upper back, nudged between the wall and her skin.

Strong electric sensation shot through her abdomen, from his hand. His calming touch- but so different! Like never before, its sensation fizzled, encircled the inside of her lower spinal chord, causing a dull, aching pain. She cried and whimpered from the pain, but Ra’am forced his tongue deeper in her mouth and compressed his hand harder into her stomach. No! He’s doing this deliberately, to further disable me! Her legs quickly went numb and useless, and then the pain disappeared. She started collapsing.

But Ra’am secured his arm around her upper back, catching her fall. He plucked his mouth from her lips. In gentle, floating motion, he laid her down, on his bed. His other hand slid from her stomach to her left side, supporting her further. More fear struck; she now felt almost semi-conscious, as in a dream again.

Her head was laid softly on his pillow, near his room’s wall separating the eyzkher mazon. Ra’am kneeled next to her. He began stroking her hair. His eyes still half open, he stared deeply into her gaze. “Are you all right?”

Answer him. But no, there’s nothing left. Staggered, shallow breathing drained her will. “No, I’m, I’m not…I’m lightheaded,” she said with great effort “What…did you do…to me?” She whimpered a little. Her vision blurred from tears.

“Only my calming touch. I used too much, however. I am sorry.” His fingertips drew arcs around, across her face, in gentle, kind touches. For the moment, he appeared tame.

“It hurt, and now I can’t feel my legs right,” she said, shaking. She quickly glanced down at her legs. Though they felt bent at the knees, they were not. They were lying flat. She became even more frightened. She looked in his eyes.

“You will,” Ra’am said, forming a partial smile. His breathing increased, his gaze running up and down her naked body.

Desperate, she smoothed her hands across his face and neck, sealing her fingers around his nape, pulling him close. He fell toward her willingly, settling his head to the right of her face. She could feel his hair strand rods gently imbed her skin. “Ra’am, please, I can’t do this,” she whispered. “I can’t do this.”

He allowed her to hug him for some time. Sensation began returning to her legs. She attempted to wiggle her toes and move her feet and knees a slight bit, careful not to stir Ra’am. But her careful squirms failed. Ra’am lifted his head. “Trenae, I will not hurt you,” he said gently. “I may be a little bit rough, but I will not hurt you. All right?”

She searched his face to find sincerity. She caught a glimpse, but still felt scared. “I just don’t think I can. Please,” she said, as sweetly as possible, “can we stop, right now?”

“You are far too late Trenae, for any merciful pleas.” His deep voice surrounded her. “But soon, I will hold you close, very close, just as you wanted.”

She couldn’t say a word. 

Fixing his gaze with her eyes, Ra’am inched himself backwards, staring continuously. Once standing, he grabbed handfuls of his dark tee shirt with both his hands, by his chest. Menace, determination crumpled his face, as he tore the shirt apart, straight down its center, until it ripped in two tattered pieces. He yanked the tattered shirt off his body, with abrupt, threatening force, the pieces shooting like bullets to the floor. Any pieces still on his body he flung off too.

Ra’am persisted in locking their stares. His powerful, muscular chest and arms, lined everywhere with blue tendons impaled her eyes, reminding Trenae that he is not human. She shuddered. But Ra’am’s eyes demanded she accept him. Thoroughly.

With her gaze trapped in fear and awe, Ra’am seized the top of his jeans, by his waist, along with its thick leather belt, laced through the loops, and tore through each layer as though a soggy magazine. The metal belt began zooming away; but he shot his hand out, catching the wayward piece in a split second, protecting her from being hit.

He proceeded tearing the rest of the jeans off his body, again tossing them like refuse to the floor. After removing his shoes, he stood before Trenae. He stood before her completely naked, breathing hard and glaring into her face.

She closed her eyes and covered them with her hands. She couldn’t watch what was coming next.

She felt Ra’am kneel beside her and approach tenderly, a gentle surprise to her weary soul, spreading her legs apart with a warm, kind touch and placing himself between her legs, as he softly tugged her, by her waist, to the edge of the bed, so her body lay nearly diagonal on the bed. He gently wedged one of his hands beneath her back and his other hand slid under her neck, supporting her head like a soft cushion.

Trenae uncovered her eyes. She lifted her hands, wrapping a desperate embrace around his neck and upper back, pulling herself closer to him. His numerous cords of steely tendons dug into arms, again reminding her he’s not human. He’s not…human! Please, she murmured in her mind, comfort me, comfort me from what you will do to me now. Please.

Ra’am tightened his grip around her small body, holding her in a close and loving embrace, and then pressed his mouth on her lips, giving soft, sweet kisses. She moaned helplessly, intuitively realizing his gentle kisses merely masked what he was about to do with her lower body. She could feel him draw closer to her, between her legs, maneuvering his body as he so desired. Soon the moment had neared; Ra’am thrust himself between her legs forcefully, entering her quickly. She whimpered and moaned even more, and tried hopelessly to squirm away, as both the powerful sensation stunning her lower body and a jolt of that aching abdomen pain, from her love for him, assaulted her being at once, causing her to want to scream, faint, run from him. But as Ra’am sensed her desire to flee, he held her tighter and kissed her harder. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, but only to surrender herself to Ra’am’s embrace…

















                                                             Chapter 21



…Trenae held her hands out. They were fluttering like leaves in the wind, far more than when she first arrived on the roof.

“Are you okay?” Jenny asked.

Slowly she turned to face Jenny. Trenae placed one trembling hand just below her neck, near her heart. “My heart, Jenny, it’s beating so fast,” she said quietly.

“You’re not the only one.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know…I guess remembering that time, is…like being there again. I never felt anything, and I mean anything, like what he did to me. He just literally…took my breath away.” Trenae looked down, shivering.

From her eye’s corner, she saw Jenny shift closer and place an arm around Trenae’s shoulders. Trenae kept her head lowered, feeling uncomfortable. “Don’t mind me,” Jenny said. “I just feel bad for you. You really are shaking a lot. Are you cold?”

Tears welled in Trenae’s eyes. No, this can’t be happening. She couldn’t give an answer.

“Did he hurt you?”

Losing her uncomfortable feelings, she leaned into Jenny’s hug and stared down, remembering what happened later. “No, no, he didn’t hurt me, not deliberately anyway.” She sniffed her nose and wiped her eyes. “He was a little rough at times, but he did become nicer, sweeter as the moments went by, asking me often if this hurt or that hurt. He cared, just…he was very intense and passionate.” She lifted her head and looked in Jenny’s eyes. “I never had anyone want me so much. I never felt anything so intense, so wonderful…words cannot describe it, really.”

“Are you sure?” Jenny smiled, though concern glistened in her eyes. “You’re crying.”

“No, I’m okay. It’s just…it’s just that…” Her quavering voice trailed to nothing.

“He really scared you, didn’t he. You thought he might kill you, at first?”

“Yes, I guess that’s it.” Trenae stared in Jenny’s eyes. “But…I was wrong.” She wiped her eyes again and smiled. “But I’m okay now. You, you don’t have to hug me anymore, really. But thank you, still.”

“Oh, okay, sure.” Jenny released her arm and moved back to her former spot on the seat, though not seeming rejected or hurt. Only concerned. “Are you sure you’re okay now?”

Trenae sat up straight and stiff, trying to stop the trembling. She looked at Jenny and inhaled a deep calming breath. She felt impressed- this reporter really does seem to have a heart! “Yes, I’m okay,” she said, smiling. “Really. I just shouldn’t remember that experience too directly. I need to distant myself a bit.”

“Wow.” Jenny was curious and puzzled. “It must have been very intense.”

Relax, Trenae told herself, sending calming flows down her arms and legs. “It was…so overwhelming. And you see, Ra’am wouldn’t stop. The more we did, the more he wanted. And the more I wanted too. In fact, I was extremely wanting more. I felt intense love for him, and I thought that he felt intense love for me. It was amazing, incredible, but…wouldn’t stop.”

“Wouldn’t stop?”

Trenae centered her gaze on the lighted brick floor, trying to stay calm. “Yes,” she said softly, “he carried me into other rooms, especially my room, and made love to me many times. He usually kept me on top of him, you know, our size difference.” She shyly looked back at Jenny. “We barely stopped to sleep, eat, to drink, or use the bathroom. He wouldn’t let me go. I…I wasn’t that scared anymore, after I realized I wasn’t getting sick from him or anything and he was being kind, sweet, but just really passionate. Actually, I was feeling pretty good. But his desire to keep wanting me, was unbelievable. I just figured, since these guys either get it or don’t get, that he was getting as much as he could.”

Jenny smiled.

“But, you see, my body couldn’t really take it. After about three days--”

“Three days? Are you serious?” Alarm froze Jenny’s face.

Trying to convey her feelings, Trenae gave a solemn expression. This wasn’t funny. “Yes, I’m serious. Eventually I started to cry, since he was beginning to hurt me. But as soon as he saw I was in pain and crying, he stopped, just like that. I mean, I cried before we first started, but then I didn’t cry anymore, for those three days, till then, so…He said he was sorry a lot, over and over. He seemed worried.  I guess it was my fault too, since I didn’t tell him it was getting to be too much. And then…”


“And then, Jenny, he took me in his arms and held me really close, like our first night together. No one every did that to me before, before Ra’am,” she said dreamily, gazing toward the eastern sky. “He just kept holding me and holding me, stroking my hair and body, and we finally fell asleep. Actually, we were both so exhausted, we slept for a day and a half, maybe two days, I’m not sure. I just know we were in his room, and one morning, we saw the sun rise, on Mars.” She looked back at Jenny. “Just please don’t tell anyone this. Just keep it between us. Do you think you can do that?”

“You still don’t trust me, do you.” Jenny gave a quick, silly smile.

“Well, it’s just…you have been really nice to me, but…I guess it’s just that reporters have a bad rap, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. But I like you, Trenae. I won’t tell anyone. Anyway, it’s just far too personal. I don’t think anyone would really want to know.”

Trenae smiled at her. “Yeah, probably.”

“But I have to ask you.”


“What about what he said, that he had wanted you all along, every night? He told you originally, because you were human, there was nothing to worry about, that--”

“That he wouldn’t be attracted to me, even though I was a female?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“I know. When he said it, my heart dropped to the floor. I was already really messed up and scared then, so it didn’t help matters. But yet, it also made me feel good, in a way, or flattered I guess, to know he was attracted to me. I guess it would have been far worse if instead said he wanted to kill me, eat me for dinner or something, you know, like I was food!”

“Trenae, no! You thought that?”

Heat flushed Trenae’s cheeks. “Well no, not really.” She gave a sheepish look and spoke quietly. “I mean, he could have said that he hated me all along and wanted me dead. There were far worse things, you know?”

“Sure. But didn’t you wonder, about, for instance, if he was untruthful in one area, would he be in other areas?”

She thought a moment. “Well, I didn’t think about it much after he said it, because I never had a chance.” She smiled shyly at Jenny. “We were far too busy.”

Jenny blinked her eyes several times, a warm demeanor flowing from her.

“But, later, after we woke that morning, yes, the thought got to me more, especially with the way he acted.”

“How was that?”

“Well, at first, he was warm and loving. He told me to get up right away, like he was, to see more of the sunrise. We got dressed and Ra’am tied his hair back again. Ra’am wore earth clothes, but said he would change them later. He moved Ha-Ta up and out of the caldera and we went down Olympus Mons, toward the east, back into the regular atmospheric sky, to have it more like an earth sky, to get a better view of the sunrise. Even though it was about 10:30 am on my watch, the sun was just rising. And it was worth seeing, believe me. The sun, instead of being orange, was more smaller and yellow, with like a greenish hallo around it. And around the greenish hallo was a blue tinted hallo, stretching far out from the sun. So different from earth.”


“And there were pink and white colors beyond the blue, just lighting up in the morning. The ground was covered by frost, on all the rocks and surfaces. It was so beautiful.” Trenae could actually see it again, her eyes looking toward Boise’s eastern horizon. “Ra’am told me a lot of the difference in colors and everything was due to dust in the Martian atmosphere and the different gases. But I just kept thinking, while I watched it, and we flew toward the east…what a waste, how different and mysterious…”

“What do you mean?”

She stared in Jenny’s eyes. “The sun rises and sets on all the planets and their moons in our solar system, all the time. And no one is there to see it, at least not from earth. No one experiences that beauty I saw. No one.”

Jenny was mesmerized. “That…that is a waste.”

“But anyway, we started leaving Mars. Ra’am wanted to get to Harkoav that day. We headed toward the sun, above the Martian atmosphere, and then headed straight down, below the ecliptic plane.”

“Ecliptic plane?”

“Yes. If you pictured all our planets and the sun placed on a sheet of paper, it would mostly be flat like that, except for Pluto and some asteroids and comets, which are either above it or below it. We were heading below the ecliptic plane, toward Andromeda. Ra’am told me we wouldn’t need to go too far, before he used Ha-Ta’s mas ‘ey regameesh system, the system similar to a Meenhar Tovalah, and brought us instantly to our destination.”

Jenny wrote down the new words.

“But like I said, I started getting concerned because he was rather cold to me.”

“How do you mean exactly?” Jenny asked.

“He ignored me more, as we sat in our seats by the control panel. I figured he was just concentrating more on what he was doing, touching the buttons and all. And of course, I started panicking again, with my problem with space and its dark, eeriness and lack of anything.

“But this time, I wanted to get control of myself. I was really tired of acting like a big baby all the time. I thought about how we were going to Harkoav, an extremely intelligent, sophisticated place, and I needed to act more like that myself. So, I sucked it in, didn’t complain to Ra’am about it. I did start trembling a little again, but I wrapped my arms around myself and forced myself to stay calm. But at the same time, I think I started hallucinating a bit.”


“Yeah. I kept getting this image of a crazy friend of mine in High School. Her name was Kerry and she wasn’t really a good friend, more like an acquaintance. We went to a small fast food restaurant after school one time. She ordered this huge soda in those big paper cups, you know, with the plastic lid and straw?”


“Well, she thought it would be funny to stick a tiny pin prick at the bottom, on the side, so the soda would run out on the table. She put napkins there later, but at first, she just started laughing quietly, so the people who worked there wouldn’t know. She watched the soda pour out in a thin line. I remember getting worried, the way she was so crazy into it, laughing and pointing at it. I wanted to leave.

“But anyway, for some reason, this scene popped in my mind. I think my mind was equating it to how I felt about Ra’am, like how I didn’t trust him again. Or felt our whole relationship thing was false, and that the soda pouring out was the relationship crumbling. I think my mind needed something familiar too, from earth.”

“That’s definitely interesting.”

“I started to talk to him, ask questions, to calm myself and hear more of Ra’am’s mood, in his tone of voice. Before we headed below the ecliptic plane, I asked him if we were going to see the other planets, like Jupiter or Saturn. He said no. He had wanted to visit Phobos and Deimos, Mars’ satellites, but we didn’t have the time. Apparently, he needed to stick to the schedule he told those ometvaheem in December.”

“So his mood?”

“Well…” Trenae gazed toward the eastern sky again. “He was talking like he always had, rather unemotional and scientific, just the facts. I thought he would be more open and warmer with me now. Something didn’t seem right. But he didn’t seem mad at me, fortunately.

“I asked questions about the mas ‘ey regameesh on Ha-Ta. And then he started explaining it. Really interesting! He showed me a holographic image above the control panel, detailing the layers of space. The layers were black, outlined with this pretty silver-blue coating or dusting, to distinguish the layers. It looked like the way a long, chain link necklace collapses upon itself on a table or a giant maze of black hedges that had been squashed into a flattened lump.”

“But you could still make out the layers.”

“Yes, that’s right. And he showed me how our two galaxies were very far apart, on the image, yet were actually right next to each other, because of the folded layers. But he also said, and this I found confusing, was that most subatomic particles traveling in space travel near or beyond light speed, but their travel in space is instant.”

Confusion crumpled across Jenny’s face.

“In other words,” Trenae said, “a light photon, when it leaves a star, makes it to another galaxy instantly, as though space didn’t exist, something to do with that relativity stuff and the nature of subatomic particles.”

“Like when Ra’am described the khelh lo neerh particle on the moon?” 

“Yes, that’s right. However, the other things, like us or planets, experience the actual light speed time difference. So when light comes from Andromeda, even though it arrived instantly, we still see Andromeda how it looked 2.2 million years ago. In fact, like Ra’am said on the moon, everyone’s point of view on their home planet, alien or otherwise, is like looking into the past, when they look at stars or galaxies.”

“Yes, I remember. But, it still sounds somewhat different than what I’ve heard.”

“Well, of course we’re dealing with beings far more advanced than us. But anyway, Ra’am pointed out again, that was the problem with light speed travel- the upset in time. But with the khelh lo neerh particle, it doesn’t mess with time, like I told you before. So on the holographic image, he showed me how we would simply jump from one area of space to another area, simply by passing through layers. Light particles can’t do this. They travel instantly, but have to travel in the layers, not across or through them.”

“I get it…I think,” Jenny said with a silly smile.

Trenae laughed a bit, being careful not to offend her. “Then he started talking to me about an anomaly, something Harkoav couldn’t explain exactly. He said they discovered that most khelh lo neerh passages between galaxies and other galaxies, or galaxies and satellite galaxies, dwarf galaxies or globular clusters, seemed to have midway points where their paths just mysteriously vanished. But then there were other khelh lo neerh paths which would travel instantly, straight through, to another galaxy. So this was confusing. You see, travel between stars or planets, using khelh lo neerh, had uneven but consistent paths, no midway points. But between the large star groups, like galaxies, they had midway points, even though galaxies were moving in space.”

“Wait a minute, I’m a little confused. I know what galaxies are, and I’m guessing satellite galaxies and dwarf galaxies are small ones, going around the bigger ones, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“But what are globular clusters?” Jenny scribbled the word on her note pad. Trenae helped her spell it.

“Globular clusters are old, dense star clusters,” Trenae said. “Whereas we only have one star per 300 cubic light years in our star neighborhood, globular clusters have like 2 stars for every 1 cubic light year. Ra’am said he’s been on a planet in a globular cluster. At night, the sky was almost like daylight, from all the stars.”

“Gosh, that’s so dreamy.”

Trenae smiled at her. “I know, it is. But, yeah, they couldn’t figure out that midway point thing. It made no sense, apparently. It was too perfect. Ra’am and others on his planet believed it was from God, since it could not be explained, maybe as a way for intelligent beings to observe something we would never otherwise observe. And then he said he was taking me to one of these midway points, to show me.”

“Really! How did you feel about that?”

“Well, after he mentioned God, I felt a little better. The image of that soda cup began to fade in my mind somewhat. But then I started looking out at space. You know, Ra’am had cancelled the khalonot hekef, to comfort me, so I couldn’t see space anymore. But he still had the khalon on before us. The more we got away from our sun, I could see stars and galaxies better. But still, space was so quiet, barren, and dark, so creepy. My heart started to beat faster, but I just kept trying hard to stay calm and dignified.

“But fortunately, Ra’am started talking more about galaxies and stuff. I asked him about earth, and what they called our planet, as well as our solar system. He went into a lecture, sort of, of how they categorized everything.

“He said our two galaxies were part of 40 nearby galaxies, which earth astronomers call the Local Group. He gave me the name for what Harkoav called it too. Then he said how Harkoav used a simple method for categorizing planets and stars, just using numbers and letters and number/letter equations to simplify it. First, they give a letter for the Local Group. Then each galaxy, satellite galaxy, dwarf galaxy, or globular cluster has a letter. Then these group of stars are divided into quadrants, and the quadrants are further divided also, and these divisions are given numbers, and sometimes more further dividing uses letters. And then, after that, numbers are assigned to each star cluster, which is a grouping of stars. Then next, groups of numbers or letters are assigned for each of the stars, which can be like 200 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy.”

“That many! Shit, that’s a lot.”

Trenae smiled and looked down. “And then each planet has a number given it, like a form of address.” She lifted her head and looked at Jenny. “Believe it or not, I can remember Harkoav’s whole address for our planet. Do you want to hear it?”

“Sure, Miss Einstein, go ahead, impress me.” Jenny grinned mischievously.

 Trenae took a deep breath. “Okay, here it goes- A, G, 4, 357, AAB, 22, HGAR, 3. Now I could say all those numbers and letters in Ra’yonah, but…”

“No, that’s fine. You’ll kill me.”

Trenae laughed briefly. “But since earth is famous, having a biosphere and all, it’s been shortened on Harkoav to Alef Resh Shloshah, or AR3, since HG, or Heh Gemel, is the star system our sun belongs to. AR1 is Venus, AR2 is Mercury, and so on.”

“I get it.”

“So, anyway, after he explained that, we came near our destination, some computer determined coordinates for khelh lo neerh. Actually, khelh lo neerh could be anywhere, but Ra’am needed this particular path from this particular particle. And then he explained again how Ha-Ta’s mas ‘ey regameesh would use khomron ravkoakh, that would form and enlarge the extremely, practically non-existent presence or path used by khelh lo neerh, into a larger path.”

“Oh, I remember. On the top of that New York building.”

“Yes, that’s true. There were other very intricate and complicated subatomic processes which take place, to prevent some sort of chain reaction and breakdown of travel through the path, since the path is really just a wave function of energy and really just an instant process. In fact, it actually really isn’t a path at all, but it’s the only way we can visualize it, in our dimension terms.”

“Fascinating, Trenae.”

“Yes, true. Also, he mentioned neegoodey khomer again, about Ha-Ta being in the same realm or reality as subatomic matter, as long as both the large and subatomic matters did not touch each other. It just allows some sort of dimensional rift, so that large matter and subatomic matter exist at the same time. But they must not touch. I know, believe me, it’s weird. Go figure.”

Jenny smiled. “So, how did you feel, about to go through this thing?”

“Well…” Trenae looked down at her knees. “It was then that my composure thing, my attempt at toughness, fell apart. I started feeling really, really freaked. As he was explaining it, I just stared at him, not even noticing he was there. He stared back at me, turned his seat to face me, and then took held of me. He lifted me off my seat and into his arms as he sat. He then told me he would hold me the entire time, while we went through the khelh lo neerh passage.”

“That was sweet of him.”

“I know, it was. I was shaking, of course, again. I was also sweating and getting hot and cold, wigging out.  Ra’am didn’t say anything, since I think he realized I was embarrassed about it, but held me really tight. I had my head sideways, on his chest, with the rest of me curled up on his lap. He told me to close my eyes, but then he went and explained to me how we would begin to turn upside down, and eventually twirl like a tornado, but wouldn’t really feel it, and then enter the passage. I wish he hadn’t said that. I worried more, but just kept my eyes closed and clung to him tightly.”

“You didn’t need any sort of seat belts, since this was so severe?”

“Apparently not. No seat belts anyway. Ha-Ta would manage everything. All I know next, since it happened in just seconds, a very, very bright white, blinding light, appeared everywhere for a second, like in New York. And then, everything was very, very black. It was horrifying. And get this,” she said, leaning closer to Jenny, “my eyes were closed, Jenny. So how could I know this?”

“What do you mean?”

“Whatever was happening, it was affecting me from within somehow! I can’t explain it really, but I just know there was a moment there, when everything was dark, that I felt like I didn’t exist anymore. It was very frightening. And then, worse of all, just before it all ended, this deep thud shook us, within our bodies, cause I felt it within Ra’am too, where it felt like our bones were coming out of us. It hurt, but not really painful. But it scared the crap out of me. And after that happened, everything was normal again.”

“Were there any strange, unusual noises with it?”

“No noises, really. The ma’argahar made a different noise, when it started, but then it was normal. I was rather inconsolable, at first, after it was finished.” Trenae sighed, remembering some troubling scenes…



… “You felt the tug, within your body?” Ra’am’s arms draped her snugly.

“Yes,” she said, feeling her face and body.

He felt her arms and body too, checking her carefully. “You will be fine. I am more used to this, having done it numerous times before.” She studied his face, sitting on his lap. Happiness, enthusiasm brightened him. It made her calmer, though curious. “There is something I want to show you.”

Ra’am gently lifted her up and off his lap, allowing her to stand on the floor. She turned around. She just had to see how the outside appeared, on the khalon. Yet as soon as she did, regrets hit hard. Nothing existed outside Ha-Ta but the darkest, pitch-blackness she had ever seen.

“What the…” she whispered, shocked.

Caressing her hands, Ra’am began leading her away from the khalon. “We are in intergalactic space, midway between both our galaxies.” They headed toward the delet tekrah.

Soon they were standing beneath it. She could yet hear a mild, pulsating hum coming from Ha-Ta’s ma’argahar. “What do you want to do?” she asked quietly. Her mind harbored curiosity. Looking up at him, she saw boyish wonder smooth Ra’am’s face.

“Come closer to me.” He pulled her near. “I want to surround us both in hemoom prodoh.”

Why didn’t he answer my question again? Not the first time, she realized.

Ra’am took hold of her right hand, letting her other hand free. His silver, sparkling koaksekhel caught her vision. He hadn’t worn it for days prior to this moment. Somehow she missed him putting it on beforehand. Yet now he swung it in front of them, allowing hemoom prodoh to encircle both their bodies completely, like a clear rounded sphere, as times before.

Her thoughts filled with worry. She stared up at him.

“What you are about to see, is so amazing,” he said. “I was awed by this scene, when I first observed it. You must see…”

In a split second, the hemoom prodoh’s interior turned black. She instantly realized it was the outside pitch-black space. Blackness covered them from head to toe.

Besides intense darkness, it felt as if they floated. Her feet didn’t exist, nor was there up, down, sideways, or back ways. Searching for some sensation, any sensation, she jerked her free hand up before her face. It wasn’t there! Yes, she felt it move, but couldn’t see it. Panic pounded her heart. She looked up, to see Ra’am. He wasn’t there too, although she felt his hand, his presence near her body. What, is he insane? This is amazing?

She grabbed his arm holding her hand, digging her nails into his steely flesh accidentally. Anxiety speared her brain, as she searched everywhere, anywhere, for some light. Far away, to her left, she could see a ghostly white object. It seemed a galaxy. She wanted to turn around, to observe other areas, but couldn’t move. Her sense of direction and balance no longer existed. Only Ra’am’s grip of her hand held her steady. But it wasn’t enough. This was too much, too much to bear! “Ra’am! Stop it! Just stop this, I can’t see!” She nearly screamed.

He quickly complied. Once again, they stood aboard Ha-Ta, even the hemoom prodoh gone.

Breathing hard, she looked up at him. “Please, I just want to sit down. Can I?”

But she didn’t wait for his response. She lumbered her body over to the evesmol, startled and exhausted from the dark, bizarre scene. Somehow it had taken the life right out of her.

Once by the seat, she plopped down and looked up at Ra’am. Anger and disappointment    distorted his face. 

He stared down at her, motionless, his arms by his sides. “You are afraid all the time,” he said. “And I am getting tired of it.”

What? His words cut Trenae deep.

He turned and walked toward his control panel seat.

She saw the soda cup again. Only this time, Kerry wasn’t pin pricking it, she jabbed it furiously with a knife. The soda poured everywhere.

The restaurant scene. Horrifying black space. The two events were far too disturbing.  Trenae quickly felt like she was going insane. Her heart raced, her breaths puffed heavily. Anxiety had attacked again.

But this time, instead of cowering to her inner weaknesses, Trenae felt different; she exploded with anger. I’ve had enough. “You, you have known, since I’ve been with you, that I’m afraid.” Her words fired fast. Slowly she arose from the seat, pointing her finger at him, walking toward him. He continued standing by his seat. “Afraid of Willson, Stiles, trying to kill me. And then I get stuck with you!” She brushed her long, flowing hair from her face. “How would you like it, if…if someone was hunting you down, just because you heard something you shouldn’t have. And then to resort to suicide, only to be saved…by someone, who gave me no choice!” Her words raised increasingly their volume.

Yet Ra’am appeared calm. “I was simply trying to show you something extraordinary, that I have seen. I was not done yet. There was nothing to be afraid of.”

“Extraordinary? That’s what you call it?” she asked hysterically. “It was like being dead, Ra’am! It was horribly dark!”

“We will all die someday, in this imperfect universe. You know that.”

She stepped within five feet from him. Arching her neck back, to see his face, she crossed her arms and glared up at him. “Yeah, and I guess I’m gonna die soon, right Ra’am?”

“Trenae, what are you talking about?”

“I mean, you have sex with me…okay, I understand that. But what are you going do with me now, huh? You tell me you wanted me all along, when every time I asked you that, you said, oh, don’t worry, I won’t be attracted to you, you’re a human,” she said, mimicking his voice. “But now I find out, you always lusted for me. How interesting!”

She turned and began pacing the floor between them, though she watched him. She was on a roll. Ra’am continued standing motionless, though irritatingly unruffled.

She paused her motion and glared at him again. “And what would you want with me anyway? There are other women on earth, beautiful ones, who are far smarter than me!”

“You are smart.”

His words did little to appease her. “Yeah, right! I’m sure you saw plenty of women, who were stronger, smarter, more confident, walking through Idaho. I mean, I’m sure there’s plenty of witty or clever, clever and…professional women out there, scientists even, with expensive clothing and money and careers, who are a far better match than me!” She inched her steps closer to him, eyeing him mistrustfully. “Yeah, in fact, I’m sure there are. So that’s why I’m wondering…why did you choose me. Because I was convenient, easy access, right, you liar?” Her glare sent daggers.

Ra’am didn’t bat an eyelid. He continued to stand solid. However he appeared wounded, emotionally. “And how do I not know, that you married me, simply because I was convenient and a way to escape your doom on earth?” he asked calmly. “How do I not know, if I am being used?”

His eyes began forming their piercing, delving traits. Regardless she still felt anger. She looked down at her blue jeans and white sneakers, readying herself. She lifted her gaze. “Well you don’t know, okay?” she said forcefully.

Ra’am crossed his arms, his eyes burning now. “So, you have a surprise announcement for me, do you Trenae?” His words overflowed with betrayal.

The odd combination of his stern and wounded expression disturbed too much. She could barely look at him. Her legs became shaky. She moved backwards, toward the evesmol, and eventually sat down. “No…no, I don’t have a surprise announcement.” She looked down at her knees.

“Then why DID you marry me?” he asked.

Anger boiled again within her. How dare he switch this around. He doubted MY personality! Her gaze shot up at him again. “Never mind you!” Her tone grew louder. “Why did you marry ME? I mean, come on Ra’am, it doesn’t make sense! I’m just a low life from Idaho City, with a bad background, a former stripper for crying out loud, whether you want to believe it or not!  My mother and brother don’t want me, I never got through High School, I got involved with stupid organized crime freaks!”

As she demeaned herself, self-pitying tears flooded her eyes. She started crying again. Her voice gave it away. “And then look at you. You‘re so smart and brave and strong. You’re a war hero and a governor’s son. And sure, I know there aren’t many females on your planet to marry, but there are certainly way more back on earth. Why me? Unless…” She paused a moment, a terrible though entering her mind. “Unless, your were looking for a stray cat, just like Willson. Someone, without any real family ties, or someone no one would really miss.” Her breathing struggled between crying words. “Someone no one cared about. Then, you could slime your way into my feelings, make me think everything’s okay, so I would go willingly to your planet…and then, and then your people, could perform weird, horrible  experiments on me. And then kill me, or worse! Right?”

Ra’am uncrossed his arms and slowly backed toward his seat, finally sitting down. “No, no,” he said quietly.

“And all your talk of God, was all lies too, wasn’t it? All your big displays of, of the pastor and that professor, on the moon, was a show, right?”

He looked down at his hands on his lap, troubled.

Like a bomb exploding, it suddenly hit her- what if every cruel thing she were suggesting, were true? In the back of her mind, she hoped it wasn’t, but judging by Ra’am’s crumbling, beaten behavior, it struck her viciously. She was right. And here she was, all alone with him, in the middle of the darkest, remotest area of space. Fright from this weakened her, everywhere in her body.

Ra’am raised his head. “I am sorry.” He sounded guilty. Another bad sign. “I have not been totally honest with you. Actually,” he said, hardly making eye contact, “I have lied to you about something, and now I am ashamed.”

“What are you, what are you…talking…”she whispered, struggling between gasping, speeding breaths, “…talking about?” Tears poured from her eyes, over her cheeks and to her mouth. Her nose dripped. But she was frozen, too frozen to wipe her eyes, her nose. She could only stare at Ra’am and scrutinize his reaction.

“I should have told you sooner,” he said.

“About what?” she whispered.

Sorrow. Regret. Never had she seen such feelings painted on his face.

“Maybe…maybe instead of telling you, I should just show you,” he said. Without looking at her, Ra’am arose from his seat. “I will be right back.” His gaze cast downward.

Trenae’s racing heart felt ready to leap from her chest and smash onto the floor, her gaze watching him leave the control panel. He walked away, in the direction of the eyzkher tagleet, on Ha-Ta’s right side.

Severe panic skewered her. She started rapidly searching her memories. Look, she told herself, look for any hidden meanings in the scenes they shared together in the previous months. Was there any evidence, any sign Ra’am planned a cruel end for her life now? I need proof, now! Desperate, she remembered the obvious- his deliberately frightening behavior before they made love on Mars, his cruel trip to the earth’s core, his deadly stares, his unpredictable anger, or his meek behavior toward Willson and Stiles. But at the same time, many more scenes conflicted with these thoughts, like the way he had saved her life many times, or his sadness over killing the bear, when she thought his heart showed its truth.

Yet maybe it was all a ploy, an act, since never once was Ra’am’s life threatened while he saved her life. It had been all too easy for him! But what about how he treated L.B., or his friendship with Dod, or his concern and love for earth’s animals? Could this all have been an act too? I’m going crazy. Help, please someone!

Okay, take a deep, cleansing breath. Stay calm.

She took the deep breath. Unfortunately, it didn’t work; she lost the fight. Bringing her trembling hand to her mouth, she began to whimper, throws of anguish shaking her. “No, no, what have I done?” she cried to herself. She looked around Ha-Ta, searching for some strange and harmful device Ra’am had secretly programmed to trap or destroy her while he was gone. Her knees and legs rattled; her whole body rattled. As her mouth and throat became dry, she swallowed awkwardly, nearly choking. She cried even more, struggling to clear her throat, coughing spasmodically, forcing her inhaled breaths to become even shorter. Completely alone and frightened, her crying persisted, causing exhaustion and confusion to weigh down her fragile frame too. Why did this happen? Why did I have to make Ra’am upset, possibly driving him quicker to perform my torturous death? She fell forward, catching her head with her shaking arms, resting her elbows on her trembling knees.

 Then, there was quiet. All she could hear was her body struggling to stay alive.


She jolted. Her elbows slipped from her knees. It’s him! Why hadn’t I heard him walk toward me?

She raised her head up high. Ra’am stood about 3 feet before her, holding an object. At first, she looked only at his face. He was solemn.

Motion distracted her sight. She looked down and his hand move forward, carrying the object closer to her face. “Here, this is for you,” he said. “It is yours.”

She focused her eyes on the object, Ra’am’s large, blue-lined hands framing the view. No, this can’t be. Through her tears, she saw a black-taped, square box, covered in plastic wrap. How could she not recognize the box. It was her father’s box. She wiped her eyes.

She slowly lowered both hands and wrapped her fingers around it. Once secured in her hands, Ra’am raced his black thumbnail along the edges of the box, cutting through the plastic wrap and tape like a knife.

He backed away from her and headed toward his control panel seat.

Her weary eyes kept on him. He sat down and stared back at her.

A sudden, horrible thought fried her mind. “You, you were involved with him all along, weren’t you,” she said, crying pathetically. Her gaze fell toward the cherished box. “I should have known. It never made sense, the way, the way you, and, and --”

“Trenae! Look at me!”

Shuddering, she jerked her head up. Ra’am sat with his arms resting on either side of his chair, a proud king, his chair facing her.

But grief burdened his face. “Open the box,” he said

“What? Why, it’s empty, with dirt…rocks…nothing…”

“Please. Please open it.”

In the kinder tone of his words, she moved to comply. She slid her fingertips along the box’s sides, keeping the box’s bottom on her lap, and slowly lifted the lid. After placing the lid on the evesmol, she looked inside. Her eyes widened. There, within the box, the metal cookie box she had found in the garage, laid her father’s red and gold urn. She brushed her fingers over its raised ceramic. And then she touched the other items- his gold watch, his Marine Corps medallion, and the letters and postcards her father loved. Everything was there, just as she had placed the items. Suddenly nothing made sense. She lifted her head. “I don’t understand. Willson’s men said it was empty, had none of these things.” She shook her head weakly. “How did you, did you get this?”

“What Stiles and the others found, was an exact replicated object,” he answered. “I put it there and filled it with earth matter.”

“What? How…why?”

“I thought it would give me some time, if you ever came back…” His voice trailed off, his eyes stared downward. Then he lifted his gaze. “I was there, the day you came with your aunt, to bury the box.”

“I don’t…what?” Her eyes ached from crying.

“Yes, it is true. I had seen other earth females before, it was nothing new. Many times, in the wilderness, hiking, or elsewhere, on the Internet or television. But I never wanted them. They were not ometvehar. And they were not my mission on earth…though they were attractive. I ignored them.

“But then I saw you. I saw you approach the quaking aspen tree, carrying your father’s box and a hand trowel. Your aunt carried a shovel. My first sight, I was attracted to your breath-taking outer beauty. But as I watched you, help dig the hole and lovingly place your father’s box, start to cry…I observed you from within as well. After your aunt prayed and spoke some words, you spoke too. I still recall, everything you said then. ‘Dad, you were my friend and my hero. You taught me to love others, you taught me so much. And you always loved me. And I love you.’”

Trenae released one of her hands from the box and covered her mouth. As though it was yesterday, that sad event came back to her; the words he spoke were her words.

He stared with pensive eyes. “After seeing who you were, inside, something happened to me. I became enchanted with you. I suppose you could say, I had seen how your heart truly was. And your heart was something I fell instantly in love with. I fell instantly in love with you, right then.

“But I knew you were young, by earth standards, though on Harkoav, you would be nearly mature.” His face grew less distraught. “So I knew I had to wait. I wanted you so desperately, but I had to wait. I decided to learn English fluently as I waited, and to study more of your country and world, not just its biosphere and geosphere.

“But I watched you too. It is forbidden, for an ometvah to view a female in her home, even alien females resembling our species, so I only observed you in public.” He then stared directly in her eyes. “If I had known, of your difficult family life, I would have rescued you, instantly. But…I did not know.” Regret filled his words.

“Yet what I did observe of you,” he said, “in school and other public places, taught me so much.”

“How?” she asked quietly.

“What you consider weakness, how you had shown forgiveness, kindness, and humility to others, especially others who were unkind or disrespectful to you, became my strength. The way you befriended those who were considered inferior or undesirable, like a poor, weak girl named Penelope. Or a boy, named Kevin, small in stature and the brunt of rude remarks.”

“You…you did see them?”

“Yes. I found it very admirable, how you talked to them when no one else would, or helped them, to avoid the cruelty of their taunters. Or how you would not fight back, when verbally prodded by a certain group of girls. Even when they called you names, you either ignored them or were nice to them. There was another time, a girl threw a water balloon at your ankle, in school. You simply laughed, smiled, and disregarded the whole incident.”

“I remember,” she said, gently nodding, wondrous disbelief flooding her heart. “I remember all of those times.”

“And there were other times you exhibited your noble behavior. I…I never had those personality traits before. But by watching you, copying your behavior, and applying these traits when other ometvaheem arrived to visit me, or I visited with Dod, I learned I could slowly acquire these qualities, these traits. I could better myself. It was…from you.

“I watched you for several years, as I continued studying and learning about earth. You always brought me happiness.

“But, the third year of your High School, you met a young human male. At that moment, since I never saw you close with another male before, I became destroyed emotionally. It was then, that I realized, I had to stop this nonsense, of being in love with you. You were, after all, human, and fully entitled to meet human males. I had to leave. I went far away, to other areas of earth and studied those regions’ plants and animals, human civilizations. Since I had met Dod before then, I would come back occasionally to visit with him. But I avoided you. I always thought of you, constantly actually, and your personality, and how I needed to be more like you, but I stayed away from you. I thought then too, I should leave earth, go back to Harkoav. Yet your pull on me was too strong. I could not leave earth.

“I came back again, however, after I was aware you left High School. But I only saw you with different men, on dates. Again, it hurt so much. I followed my same behavior, of leaving to another area, coming back to visit with Dod now and then, of thinking constantly of you, while I worked, and of remembering what you taught me. And again, I wanted to leave earth, but could not.

“One day, Dod convinced me to visit you, at the Idaho City pharmacy, where you worked. He had secretly noticed you there, but never spoke with you. I had wanted to visit you before, in hemoom prodoh disguise, so I looked human, but I had determined, if you learned who I really was, later, you would reject me. But after much prying, Dod made me go. I visited you once in December, and then later in January.”

“You did? I…I don’t recall, remember…” she said softly.

“I disguised my hair, made it blond. And my eyes, were light brown. I met you at the cashier counter, as I bought a newspaper for Dod. I spoke little to you. I…just did not know what to say. You just looked up at me, with your beautiful eyes, while you scanned my item, and I paid for it. Do you remember now?”

She covered her mouth again. She did remember. Of course, before the trip to Billings, he appeared so familiar. Droplets wetted her eye’s corners. “Yes, I do,” she said.

“I felt defeated and ridiculous, when I could not reach out to you,” he said. “If only you would come back, to your father’s burial site, and discover the contents were missing…if then, I could talk with you, explain. But there, at that store, out of my element…” Ra’am sighed a deep breath and looked down. “It was a while after, that I concluded the dream of having you, was far better for me, than the reality of gaining and losing you. Not much later, when I tried to observe you in the drug store again, I found that you were gone. I panicked at first, but soon found you in Fontel’s. And that was the final blow to me- it hurt so much.”

He raised his face, a piercing stare darkening his eyes. “If I had known,” he said, shaking his head, “that you later met Willson…” Suddenly he squeezed and crush both ends of the armrests with his hands, its malleable substance oozing through his fingers. “…And were in danger, I would have captured you instantly, taken you away.” He paused a little and relaxed his hands, composing himself, the armrests resuming their usual form. “But because I did not know, I stayed away from you, ignorantly.

“Yet for some reason, I still could not give up, inside. I prayed, like never before, that God would please…please bring you to me, to please do so, and have you always be with me.” Tiny sparkles of light threaded down his cheeks, away from his eyes. She knew. They were tears, shimmering in Ha-Ta’s light.

His sadness only made her cry more. Yet in her quiet despair, she also realized something, from a frightening memory. “That’s…that’s why, wasn’t it,” she whispered, under her breath, “that I escaped from the motel so easily.”

“What is that Trenae?”

She lowered her gaze. “Oh, nothing.” She wiped her eyes and nose and lifted her head. “I’m sorry, I’m listening.”

Ra’am appeared wanting to rise up and run to her, but nevertheless stayed in his seat. He raised his head high, trying to radiate dignified and stoic, to shake off his display of weakness. He inhaled some strength. “And my prayers were answered. One night, you came back. After you could not find your box and walked toward the cliff, I came up ground. And then I rescued you, as you fell. Once I had you on Ha-Ta, though, I quickly realized I had been right all along. You were deathly afraid of me. I let you leave.

“But this time, you were not getting away. I went to your vehicle, after you fell asleep and healed your wounds. And then, after you left in the car, I followed you underground. I was going to capture you, at some point. But, miraculously, you came back. That was why I was there, by the tree.

“Your fear of me, as I held you, was as I expected. But I had to appear calm, not let you know how I really felt. I knew you would never understand. And that night, yes, I wanted to hold you, so much. You cannot believe how good it felt to me. Yet I also knew, from your fear of me, that only time would help us. You had to learn about me, for yourself. You had to come…to me.

“Yet after our trip to the earth’s core, and you wanted to please me, I knew your intentions were again only out of fear, to subdue me. Especially when you said you hated me. I knew you did not mean those words, but you also did not love me. We had to have more time. I do not know, why I said those words then…I said ‘this is wrong, we are not the same, it is wrong.’ I believe, I was confused, uncomfortable like you. Because…I have always wanted you.

“The frightening looks I have often given you, as we spent our time together…it was intense, overpowering desire for you. It was so difficult to conceal. And yes, in the taxi in New York, I had a moment of weakness. You looked so incredibly good. I…I wanted you so much, then, right there. But I had to wait, for you to come to me.”

Trenae could only stare silently.

“And there were other times, when we were close, like with the rainbow colors on Ha-Ta,” he said. “It pleased me so much, to see you happy then. Or when we laughed together. I felt so close to you then too.

“And yes, I lied about your father’s box. And I lied about not desiring you, as a human female. I am not perfect, Trenae, far from it. I know right from wrong, but it is a struggle for me, that will never end. And yes, Dod knew too, of my desire for you. The reason we talked, of where you could stay, after I left, was in the hope that you would speak your mind soon. And like another miracle, it worked. But whether you told me or not, I was never going to leave earth without you.

“And then…and then you told me you loved me. It was the most wonderful moment in my entire life. You cannot, even begin…to understand.”

Ra’am lifted his arm, wiping his eyes regally. She could only look back at him and cry quietly, astonishment clamping her body.

“I know, I have been deceitful.” His attempt to remain unemotional failed. Tears flooded his eyes. “I know I have. And I am sorry. I just, I just always worried, that you would be even more afraid of me, if you knew how long I desired you, of how I secretly watched you.

“And I do not care, if you are cowardly or fearful, though you are so much stronger than you realize. I will be the strength, for both of us. I just want you, your beauty, your kind personality, your love.”

No, my heart. Ra’am now trembled. He lowered his face, keeping his shivering arms on his chair’s sides. In his pathetic attempt to prove strong and invincible, Trenae’s heart broke and expanded. Compassion and love grew enormous within her aching soul.

He raised his head again. Wet streams lined his face. “What I am trying to say, Trenae, is that I was only suppose to be on earth for one, two years at the most.” His voice quavered. He sighed deeply, but it didn’t help him; he still cried. “The only reason I stayed so long…was because I was waiting for you. Will you forgive me?”

Trenae placed her father’s box on the seat, near the lid. Not a second thought and she rose from the seat and ran to Ra’am. Her broken heart was free, and all her heart knew was that he loved her and he needed her. And she needed him.

Ra’am opened his arms wide. He caught her as she fell into his embrace. She wrapped her arms around him, holding him as tightly and closely as she could. He lifted her up, nestling her in his lap. Though he tried to hold her only gently, he could not. His arms tightened around her body, embracing her in a warm, comforting vise. He wanted her so much now.

“Oh God, oh God Ra’am, I didn’t know,” she said, crying. She pressed her face by his shoulder.

“I have waited…so long for you,” he cried, his body shivering. “I love you so much.” And then he cried like a baby, shaking even more. Her heart melted for him.

“Oh Ra’am, Ra’am,” she said soothingly, her strokes tender, forgiving on his body.  “Baby, why are you shaking and crying so much?”

“Because I thought, you would not love me anymore, for what I did.”

She raised her head, to look in his face. But he kept his face lowered, hidden from her view. For the first time since she knew him, the tables had turned. Instead of her cowering from him, he was cowering from her.

Yet the love she had, and the incredible sense of relief she felt, having determined her fear of him had been misled all along, made her compassion pour even more easily. Softly she caressed his face and lifted his head. He did not refuse her. His eyes still gazed down, seeming embarrassed. She gently brushed his tears away with her fingertips. How ironic, how the face of this male, so strong and wiry beneath her fingertips, held the soft dampness of sorrow and despondency.

Ra’am looked in her eyes. And in that instant, she felt what she had always wanted from him. Connection. No longer did his dark eyes hurt her, but only delved deeply into her inner conscience, finding what they needed for the moment, and then allowed her to be free.

She gazed lovingly into his eyes. “I still love you, and I forgive you,” she said softly. A slight smile warmed her face.

Ra’am flowed a sad, penitent stare into her eyes.

But it didn’t last. Soon she felt him regain his former leadership in their relationship, his eyes brazing determination and confidence.

He round his hand behind her head and lowered her face to his shoulder again and held her warmly, stroking her body, for a long, long time. She gladly melded against him, and holding and touching him the same. It felt so satisfying and relieving, to sense all the fright and seclusion she experienced, just before he handed her father’s box dissipate from her body. Rapid breathing, a pounding heart, and painful trembling all gradually decreased their control.

And the same was happening to Ra’am. She felt his trembling slowly vanish. Even their crying eyes diminished; she noticed both of them touch their faces less frequently, sniff their noses less often. They were quiet, peaceful. She even forgot their location. Nothing dangerous mattered now, as she was held and caressed by a being who loved her so deeply. She felt her body join with his, hearing his powerful heart beat within her, their bodies melting, relaxing into one another. Trenae felt they were no longer two individuals, but truly one.

Maybe a half hour transpired, even more, (although who could tell), before Ra’am released his firm, loving grip from her. She slowly raised her head, sleep nearly encompassing her spirit from the soothing warmth and security of his body. She gazed into his face. Seeming to have regained his former self, he stared confidently into her eyes. Even some happiness, excitement swirled near him.

“I really want to show you our intergalactic space,” he said. “Will you try one more time, to experience it with me?”

Trenae smiled shyly and lowered her gaze. If he only knew her joy. Cinderella’s prince had finally rescued her, and it was a dream she thought would never occur.

But she remembered the horrifying darkness outside Ha-Ta. She lifted her head. “I don’t know. It was so…well…”

“Scary?” He smiled a little.

But she couldn’t smile back. “Please, baby, I don’t know,” she said softly. “I’m not sure.”

“I will hold you against me, very tightly, as we just did.” His deep voice soothed her now. “And soon, as I magnify our galaxies, you will see light- it will not be so dark.”

After a little more coaxing and some comforting, reassuring words, he finally convinced her to give the experience another try. Ra’am carefully lifted her off his lap. Then they both walked to the same location, near the delet tekrah, as earlier. He stepped behind her back and curled his large hands around her small shoulders, placing her, standing, right up against the front of his body. Then he encircled his left arm around her front, holding her tightly.

Though trying to relax, her body stiffened a little. Come on, stay calm. Do it for Ra’am. She breathed in relaxing measures and thought of pleasant memories, of their time in Idaho.

“I am just surrounding us in hemoom prodoh,” he said. After he spoke, he produced the hemoom prodoh sphere like before.

Instantly they entered the darkness of intergalactic space.

Trenae allowed her eyes to stay open. But after witnessing the dark emptiness a few seconds, she closed her eyes. She pressed her back against the safe assurance of his body. Ra’am held her tighter.

“Trenae, are your eyes closed?” His fingertips brushed across her face, leading a trail toward her closed eyes. He tenderly touched her closed eye lids. “Please, open them. You will not regret this.”

Desiring to please, she opened her eyes. Harsh darkness pummeled her mind. “How can anything be so dark?” she asked. “And feel like there’s no up, no down, no sideways.”

“And where is time, now that we are here?”

She heard his words, but was distracted by her pounding heart.

“I don’t think I can take this,” she said. Lacking any normal signs for her senses, of perceiving solid ground or visualizing any surroundings, her ability to stand and have balance began fading. If not for Ra’am’s tight embrace, she would be lost. 

“You never gave me a chance,” he said.

“Where is Ha-Ta? We’re seeing from outside the ship, right? So, there should be some light from it!”

“No, I have removed Ha-Ta’s image. But it would give off little light. Just please trust me now, and keep your eyes open.”

Struggling to calm herself, she watched as far, nearly indistinguishable puffs of light grew in size. It seemed she and Ra’am stood in a middle area of dark intergalactic space, with galaxies existing to her upper left and lower right. Even a faint ball of light resided beneath their feet, starting to grow in size.

Soon the larger galaxy to her upper left displayed its form. Not a galaxy, at first, but a swirling, draining sink of wispy bubble arms, frozen in its motion, draining down a short tube of light, swirling upon a vast sink of black. The view drawing nearer to her, wispy bubble arms puffed above the black sink, forming billows of white, silvery powder, peppered by sparkling dots of blue, red, and orange in framing, balanced proportions. All of the galaxy’s peculiar formations seemed so perfect, so three dimensional, raising closer to her, ready to touch. And just below and to the left of the galaxy, existed other smaller galaxies, all bright and fascinating in their own appearance, existing as fine, glowing powdery puffs.

When her eyes felt full from the peace and beauty of that galaxy scene, she shifted her gaze to the lower right. There she saw another large galaxy, similar in construction, with the same bright center, the same lovely, wispy arms encircling its center, and a similar mixture of speckling colors, all against a black sea, and smaller galaxies orbiting around its large, oval presence.

“Which one is the Milky Way?” she asked. The galaxies continued enlarging in size, actually illuminating their former dark presence. She felt some relief.

“The one on your left, higher up, is the Milky Way. The other, down below, to the right of us, is mine. Kadoorey Baheer, or Andromeda.”

Amazement overflowed Trenae’s heart. As the magnification of each group of galaxies grew larger, the entire scene felt as though Ra’am had forced the universe to merge closer together, a shrinking, tightening bubble. Each galaxy group obviously resided within a separate area on the hemoom prodoh bubble or sphere, yet simply drew closer to them. Before long, the galaxies grew about as large as beach balls on the hemoom prodoh sphere, with their satellite galaxies sizing like baseballs, and globular clusters resembling marbles or smaller, much smaller objects. Light surrounding her and Ra’am now glowed quite brilliant.

She looked down. Once again, she could see her hands. Ra’am’s warm, strong hands were there too, pressing against her stomach. And to think, only some moments back, she had feared her destruction from him, from his hands. Now he felt more comforting than her own father. How sweetly ironic.

“The two satellite galaxies, near Andromeda,” Ra’am said. “Your world calls them NGC 205 and M32. But we call them Alef Koof and Alef Sheen.”

She gazed down, below their feet, more to the right. Besides witnessing a small galaxy, a larger one existed there too. “What’s that larger one there?” she asked, pointing toward it.

“Your world calls it Triangulum galaxy or M33, but we call it Alef Bet. When we arrive on Harkoav, during the night I will show you its presence in the sky. It can be seen quiet readily with the unaided eye, on certain nights.”

“Really…that’s great, I can’t wait,” she gushed softly. Her eyes began to scan from one area of galaxies to the next. Few words could adequately describe the wonderful scene. “I cannot believe…I’m seeing this. No one on earth has ever seen this before, right?”

“Yes, that is true. You are the first.” Ra’am gave her a quick, warm squeeze. “Are you aware, our galaxies, mine and yours, are slowly moving towards each other?”

“No, I did not,” she said dreamily.

Ra’am heaved a deep, soulful sigh. “I know, it is said, that we cannot see God. But I say, they are wrong.”

Trenae looked up at his face. She could see him well now. His eyes gazed slowly from one group of galaxies to the other. Delving for some meaning in his last words, she could observe a narrow grin warm his profile. He appeared serious, yet joyful.

She brought her eyes back to the glorious multitudes of billions of stars, the stars upon which he gazed.

“For look before us, and is He not, so beautiful?” Ra’am’s voice floated, his words fell like stardust, gently touching Trenae. 

“Yes, you are so right,” she said. “I see it too. And now I understand, why you wanted me to witness this.”…

















                                                        Chapter 22



… “We stood there for awhile.”

“Did those galaxy images look bended, because of the hemoom prodoh sphere?”

“No, that’s the amazing thing,” Trenae said excitedly. “It all looked so real, like Ra’am hadn’t magnified the galaxies at all, but that the universe had changed its shape for us. It was really something.”

A misty sheen glazed Jenny’s eyes, her presence becoming somber and quiet. Trenae felt uneasy, compelling her to keep talking and fill the awkward silence. “Anyway,” she said, “Ra’am eventually dissolved the sphere.” She glanced down or away, talking. “We talked a little more about what we saw, but mostly I wanted to talk about other things. I went over to my father’s box, and checked his belongings. They was all there, but had a little moisture damage. But still, everything looked pretty good. Ra’am then said we needed to leave, to go to Harkoav.

“But before we left, Ra’am told me…that he would never lie to me again.” She looked in Jenny’s face.

“You mean about stalking you for years, and not telling you?” Jenny’s demeanor seemed confused, betrayed.

“I know, but I didn’t feel that. I could only sense love from him. But yes, I did wonder…but now…was there a choice? I mean, I felt uncomfortable with what he did, but understood it. You know?”

“I think.”

“Besides, I was so thankful he saved my father’s box. I told him that. Otherwise, it would be with Stiles or Willson. And then he told me again, he was sorry he lied. I could see he still felt guilty about what he did. He was truly sorry. I felt it. I believed what he said now, and…and for the first time, what had been wrong between us, that small indescribable nuance, was gone.”

“That’s good, really.”

“It was. I really needed to feel right about us. I was in the middle of intergalactic space, about to go to his planet, for crying out loud!”

“Well, did he make you feel loved, accepted, like everything would be all right?”

Trenae thought for a moment. She could recall that moment, before they arrived at Harkoav, as if it was yesterday. “Well, after we went through the khelh lo neerh path, I was all shook up again. I had been sitting on Ra’am’s lap again, as he held me, but after…well, anyway, Ra’am tried to comfort me by his words, and stroke my back. It helped, but I told him I was also worried, in fact, really nervous, about meeting other ometvaheem or seeing his planet. My stomach hurt and I felt nauseous.”

“I bet. I can’t imagine.”

“So Ra’am surprised me a bit. He played a song on for me, over Ha-Ta’s music system.”

“Really? What was it?”

“He remembered,” she said pensively, glancing down, “although, true, he could have recalled because of his koaksekhel. But…still, it showed he cared.” She looked at Jenny. “He played ‘Sara’.”

“Oh sure, that Fleetwood Mac song.”

“Yes. It helped me to forget things, about coming to Harkoav.”

Jenny smiled. “That does sound nice.”

“But I still watched out the khalon. Ra’am kept only the one above the control panel on, no perimeter one. Right after we were in Andromeda galaxy, I noticed that the space seemed nearly identical to around our solar system. Ra’am told me this was because both our solar systems’ placement in our galaxies were nearly identical. At first, the way we were positioned, I couldn’t see his sun. But then I did.”

“His sun?”

“Yeah. It has a pretty name. They call it koavreeshon. He said it was a little larger than our sun, but they were mostly identical. We were quite far from it, since we were on the outer edges of his solar system. From that distance, it looked like a huge, bright star. But the closer we got, the bigger it got. Finally, Ra’am had to put a tint in the khalon, to soften the light.

“But then something exciting and disturbing happened. Ra’am told me there was an invisible shield detector around their solar system. Apparently, they needed it for detecting alien spacecrafts they weren’t friendly with. Or spacecrafts from Makhtah, also called KL2, since they were on heightened alert with the problems there.”

“Oh yes, I remember.”

“He told me to watch carefully, at the khalon, as he produced a detecting device from Ha-Ta to image it. And then sure enough, I saw it! It was huge, but super fast. It really only left a light imprint in my eyes. The invisible shield detector was some sort of vertical line sweeping around, that was red and white in color. Really quick! Ra’am said I needed to picture a huge, somewhat flattened sphere, with a diameter of about 3.7 billion miles and koavreeshon in the middle, with these longitudinal light lines blasting by at the speed of light, picking up anything that moved.”

“You mean like a beam being held at both north and south poles and buzzing around?” Jenny formed a ball with one hand and haphazardly spun her fingers around it, with her other hand, showing the motion. “Like this?”

Jenny’s attempt was comical. They both laughed.

“Yeah, that’s it exactly,” Trenae said. “But anyway, I remember Ra’am saying we were on Harkoav’s ecliptic plane and would probably see a Memadshakor approach soon, from either the far north or south outposts for the light detector. And we did. It came up really fast! I had still been on Ra’am’s lap, so got off quick, to sit in my seat.”

“How come?”

“Because, I don’t know, I didn’t want to look like a big baby. Ra’am didn’t mind, but agreed it would be more appropriate too, to have me on my seat. He also had notified the last ometvaheem we saw, around Christmas, that he was taking me back.”

“Much to your ignorance,” Jenny said dryly.

Trenae smiled and gazed down. “Yeah, true.” She lifted her head, eyeing Jenny. “But so they knew I was on board too. Like I said, the Memadshakor came so fast. It looked just like Ha-Ta and positioned itself right before us, like facing us. And then there was a beeping sound, on the shleetah maksheer. Ra’am said they wanted to speak with us. Heck, I felt I was on a Star Trek episode!”

“Yeah, with all that hailing each other stuff.”

Trenae giggled a bit. “Yup, exactly. And so they appeared on the khalon. I was shocked. You see, there was a male, an ometvah, but right next to him, was an almehneh. They were sitting side by side, just like us, and the appearance of their Memadshakor’s interior was similar, except for the colors. They had kind of an off-white background. Ra’am told me later, that military spacecraft have to keep that color, for better visualization when in televised communication.”

“But why were you shocked?” Jenny asked.

“Because of the almehneh. He, or it, rather, seemed more different than what Ra’am described. First of all, I’ll call him ‘he’, since it’s easier.”

“No, that’s fine.”

“But he…he was bald, no hair anywhere, except for his eyebrows, which were light brown. And his skin was pale, more lighter than Ra’am’s or other ometvaheem, but I could still see some geed’aso beneath his skin. Thinner, lighter strands of geed’aso. But the shape of his face, and his eyes, looked oriental or Polynesian…but he also looked far more alien than Ra’am or other ometvaheem, that’s for sure!”


“Yeah. His face was neither male nor female. He kind of had a wide forehead, which tapered down gradually to a pointy chin, more female-like. But most creepy, were his eyes. Since almehneht have some of the same copper-containing protein as the ometvaheem, his sclera was aqua too, a lighter aqua though. But, so were his irises!”

“You mean the colored part of the eyes?”


“So it was like his eyes were totally aqua blue, with just a small pupil dot?”

“That’s it exactly. Unnerving to say the least. But, he seemed a lot calmer than the ometvah. But that’s not to say the ometvah was aggressive. Actually, the ometvah seemed all right, yet also kind of kiss-assy, or maybe even fearful of Ra’am. The almehneh was just calm.

“But the ometvah, yeah, talked with Ra’am, in Ra’yonah. It was interesting to hear them. They talked so fast, like those who came around Christmas! Both the almehneh and ometvah looked at Ra’am, but occasionally, they looked at me too. Ra’am introduced me, introducing my name. They didn’t smile, though. And soon, they were done and left.

“But they made me feel unwanted and nervous. Ra’am could see it right away. He knew me. He took hold of my hand, and kept telling me that he was right here, right here, and that he was going to be near me every second of every day. He would always be near me, while we were here.”

Jenny smiled kindly. “That’s nice, really. Did you feel better?”

“Yes, definitely. I just kept staring up at him, as he held my hand. And we smiled at each other. And I knew then, as long as I was with him, it would be all right.

“Ra’am told me that the ometvah and almehneh we just saw wanted us, or Ra’am rather, to make first contact with his commanding officers on the military base on Navatlev, one of Harkoav’s two moons.”

“Two moons, huh?”

“Yes. The other one is called Seerah. Actually, when we traveled toward Navatlev, Ra’am started telling me about his solar system. I think I now know more about his than our own!”

“Really? Why’s that?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I never cared much for space stuff. But anyway, Ra’am told me they had 8 planets, with 34 moons or satellites which went around the various planets. But also, two of the planets actually have a planet orbiting them!”

“You mean, like large moons?”

“No, they’re much bigger. You see, Oradom…” Trenae stopped since Jenny requested the spelling. Trenae gave some other spellings too. Jenny scribbled them down. “Oradom, which is about the size of Jupiter, only a little bigger, has a planet, called Orkakol orbiting it, which is the size of Neptune!”

“Well, how big is that?”

“Oradom is around 93,000 miles in diameter, and Orkakol is like 31,000 miles in diameter. Orkakol is blue and Oradom is red and tan colored, with some white stripes, kind of like Jupiter.

“And there is something neat I want to tell you about these two, but I know your chronological thing…”

“Yeah, you know me.” Jenny smiled.

“And he also told me about two other planets, called Ragzan and Ragzaneet, two blue gas giants, like Jupiter, which orbit each other. They are farther out than Oradom and have no satellites. But Oradom has 16 satellites and Orkakol has one satellite, even though Orkakol orbits around Oradom!”

“That’s different.”

“I know, I know,” Trenae said, supplying a silly expression. Hey, I can find silliness in my ‘space cadet’ knowledge. “Then, he told me in order. There was the planet Paz first, about 78 million miles from koavreeshon. It has one satellite and is a rather small planet. And then there’s Harkoav. It’s around 111 million miles from koavreeshon. Then there’s Oradom and Orkakol, about 120 million miles away. And next is Te’al, a small planet, around the size of earth, that Harkoav terraformed.”

“You mean like Ra’am said they could do with Mars?”

“Yes, like that. Te’al has four satellites. And next in line, there’s Ragzan and Ragzaneet. I think they’re like 511 million miles away. And then farthest out, away from everyone--”

“Like Pluto?”

“Yes, just like. There’s Ro’eh, a small gas planet with 10 satellites. Harkoav has quite a few outposts on those satellite moons, since it’s close to that light detector thing. It’s about 1 billion miles from koavreeshon.”

“Did you see all these planets?”

“No, we didn’t. But he told me all their stats and all. We just went to Harkoav then. I could see it, in the distance…it was like earth, like a small blue dot. It made me feel a lot better, just to see his planet. Although at that point, I was a lot more comfortable with space, since around there, it was not a barren, empty place. I mean, it was populated with Harkoavians!”

Jenny smiled.

“When we were finally close to Navatlev, I could see Harkoav well. It was just like earth, with the same colorings, the blues, whites, greens, and browns. Same kind of atmosphere, but definitely different landmasses, that’s for sure. And Harkoav had a larger overall size.

“But even more surprising, was Navatlev. It was not like our moon at all! Yet it was once similar to a cross between Mars and our moon, in size and surface structure, Ra’am said. It had been terraformed, with an atmosphere and plant life, as well as various cities with Harkoavians living there. It had a gravitation about that of Mars, so it kept its atmosphere pretty well. But Seerah, the other moon, is way smaller than our moon, so it just has military stations. It’s too small to hold an atmosphere, so its, well--”


Trenae giggled a little. “Yeah, exactly! We never saw much of it. Instead, we landed on Navatlev. And man, Jenny, you had to see it! It was awesome! It felt like we were landing on earth, but then, in the distance, through space, you could see Harkoav, just over the bent horizon of Navatlev’s atmosphere. Like two earths! Just one much larger than the other. It was like when we visited the moon, except Harkoav looked closer and larger. We could only see about half of Harkoav then, since Navatlev was to the right of Harkoav, facing koavreeshon, or like the position of a quarter moon around earth. So we saw Harkoav as a quarter planet.”

Jenny had Trenae pause a bit, asking a few spellings. “Did Navatlev always face Harkoav, like our moon?” Jenny asked.

“Yes, it was synchronous, like our moon. Seerah was synchronous too, as most moons are. But Navatlev was only about 99,500 miles from Harkoav, whereas our moon is around 238,000 miles from earth. And Navatlev revolved or made one orbit around Harkoav in about 6 days. So that meant that one day on Navatlev was like 6 days long, with about 3 days of sunlight, and about 3 days of night. So they had long days and nights there. But Seerah took about 2 months to make one orbit, so it was different.”

“Fascinating,” Jenny said. “I’m guessing Navatlev’s inhabitants had to adjust to that.”

“Yes, Ra’am said they did have to make adjustments.

“But anyway, we headed toward some sort of military base on Navatlev. You could see trees, plants, grass areas. The trees didn’t look that different from earth. But I was mostly looking at the base. Some of the buildings looked strange, like giant droplets of mercury, in varying shapes and sizes, smooth and round. There were other buildings that had corners or were geometric, like triangles or rectangles, but those mercury-looking things caught my eye. And as we got closer, I could see other spacecrafts in the air.”


“Yeah. Some were Memadshakoreem, but most of them were smaller and other shapes. Some looked similar to our planes and aircraft, others looked like triangles or cylinders, which could fly!”

“That sounds to me like the shapes of UFO’s seen on earth. I wonder if they exchanged technologies?”

“Actually, Ra’am told me once, that yes, other alien civilizations did exchange technologies, a lot. But that’s if they’re friends and all.”


“We landed near one of those mercury-like buildings on this flat surface, which I swear looked like a sheet of pure silver.”

“They really love that silver stuff, huh?” Jenny asked with a grin.

“Yeah, I’ll say. After we landed, Ra’am told me he had summoned some military officials to come by Ha-Ta, just outside of us. He said I would have to wait inside, since most of these ometvaheem were unmarried, but that it would be quick. They wanted to meet with Ra’am again and talk briefly, go over exchanged information from his taktselekh, since, while we were in Harkoav’s solar system, he had already downloaded it. They were going to tell Ra’am about his parents, his siblings, just to up date stuff.

“He said I could watch everything from inside. He then produced a khalonot hekef again. It was great. While we waited, Ra’am started telling me the names of the different space and air vehicles, the ones with all those different sizes and shapes.

“Then we saw two ometvaheem approach. I remember their outfits, which stood out so wildly. You could see that their outfits were mostly white, and had yellow or gold stripes down the arms, side of body, and legs, but on their chest areas, well…”

“They were both ometvaheem, or was there an almehneh too?” Jenny asked.

“No, they were both ometvaheem. But...their chest areas looked like they were missing, at first. But then Ra’am told me it was simply a form of camouflage, which worked like this- the front area, over their chests, showed the scenery from the back, like if you had eyes behind your head.”

“That’s weird.”

“I know, that’s what I said. And if you saw their back, you would see what they saw, the scenery, from the front. The area on their chest, which did this, was like from their waist up to just under their neck. It freaked me out though, cause it looked like their upper body was missing. But it was a very effective way for military groups to know if someone was behind or in front of each other, to always be alert. Ra’am then told me his other suit, the black one he had, like those ometvaheem I saw on the ayeen meyard scene, about the mammoths…”

“I remember.”

“Well, see, Ra’am was wearing an outfit similar to that, only white and gold, like the ometvaheem approaching us. He changed into it after we left the ometvah and almehneh, at the outer edges of his solar system. We stopped for a moment in space. Did I tell you that already?”

“No, I don’t think…”

“Sorry. Yeah, well, he was wearing it. It made him look really, really good. He didn’t have that weird camouflage thing enabled, though. His suit was called a tsekehoot lavan, where as the black suit is called a tsekehoot shakor. The white tsekehoot lavan was a little different than the black tsekehoot shakor, because on the chest area, there were those gold Ra’yonah letters and numbers, as well as three circles, which represented Harkoav, Navatlev, and Seerah.”

“Why just those three?”

“Well, since that was Ra’am’s and the other ometvaheem on Navatlev’s main location. The tsekehoot lavan had silver lines on the joint areas and around the chest area too. The tsekehoot shakor outfit had those markings too, but didn’t have horizontal gold lines around the waist and stomach area,” Trenae said, showing on her own body. “It didn’t have lines from the lower chest to the waist. But when there was that camouflage thing going, you couldn’t see those lines anyway.

“And then Ra’am went out, as those two waited outside. I also noticed that the ometvaheem walked kind of funny. Ra’am told me later it was because they were relatively new to Navatlev and were still adjusting to the gravity. Navatlev’s gravity was about a ¼ that of Harkoav’s, but the tsekehoot lavan they were wearing helps adjust to the gravity, over time, so that it is similar to Harkoav’s.”

“Did Ra’am’s white outfit do that too?”

“Yes, it did. He told me he used to wear it when he first came to earth, but then decided to adjust to earth’s gravity. He didn’t really tell me why, but I didn’t care then. I just watched Ra’am talk to the two ometvaheem. He closed the delet yahmon’s door right away, so they didn’t see me, although they couldn’t anyway from my position. I was still sitting in my seat. He talked with them, for awhile. They also appeared like they either honored him or were in awe of him, from their actions. But soon, they were done. And then Ra’am came back on.”

“Did you go to Harkoav next?”

“Yes. Ra’am told me he was going to receive a recognition ceremony next week, since Harkoav’s days were about the same as earth’s. He also told me his mother and father were aware of Ra’am’s return, and--”


“Yes, word travels extremely fast. As soon as his computer information was downloaded, his parents were aware. They were very excited Ra’am was back, but they were not happy about his marriage to me. The two ometvaheem told Ra’am that his military superiors and his father would want to meet with the two of us, to consider our marriage, for verification. Ra’am’s father was the elected governing ruler of Dakah, the region where Ra’am was from. Ra’am said they had the recorded evidence of our marriage with Pastor Crenshaw and--”

“But the pastor spoke in English.”

“Oh, the governing officials already had translation of English, so that was no problem. Ra’am gave them English and other earth language information years before. We would meet with military counsel members, at Ra’am’s recognition ceremony. They were doing both at once.”

“A ceremony, and considering your marriage?”

“I guess, you could say that. I was nervous again, about it. But Ra’am assured me it would work out. He had already received permission to marry me. They were just concerned about him marrying an alien, me!”

“That’s a turn around!”

“Yeah, I know. So, I was secretly worried, but trusted Ra’am now. We left Navatlev and went to Harkoav. Ra’am told me on the way that Harkoav has one government, for their whole solar system. And it was basically a democracy, with elections, like the U.S., although some minor leaders were just picked by those in charge. There were governors or leaders for different areas of Harkoav or the other planets which were occupied with civilians.”

“Wow, that’s amazing- so similar.”

“Yeah, I thought about it too. I guess the ultimate government, for civilized beings, is one similar to ours. But of course, their social structure is far different.”

“Do the females vote?”

“Yes, everyone does, including the almehneht.”

“Oh, that’s good. So, you came to Harkoav.”

“Yes. And then Ra’am pointed out Harkoav’s continents, the ones we could see in the planet’s daylight side…” Trenae began onger in depth explanation, describing three main large continents, with a few smaller continents dotting the planet here and there too, although they could only see two large ones from their view. Osef Arokh, a long continent stretching from Harkoav’s north pole to the planet’s south pole, with a large circular middle area, was the first one Ra’am pointed to. Osef Arokh contained the region of Dakah, located in the continent’s northern part. To the east of Osef Arokh lay the continent of Osef Khoog. Osef Khoog had a very large, jagged circular shape, although she couldn’t see all of it clearly since the continent was heading into Harkoav’s night side.

Yet what she could see of Harkoav appeared so amazing. Numerous times Trenae had to squeeze her wrists and hands, making certain she wasn’t dreaming.

            Jenny asked if Harkoav had oceans too, like earth. Trenae said yes, only the oceans varied in shape, filling in the spaces between large and small continents, just like earth. Also Harkoav’s oceans had different tide schedules, due to Navatlev’s revolution around the planet. From Trenae’s view in the upper atmosphere, the ocean shape between Osef Arokh and Osef Khoog appeared like a huge, wide river running from the north to south pole.

            But most important in difference, Trenae explained, were Harkoav’s huge, numerous mountain ranges. Ra’am told her Harkoav had a long history of numerous earthquakes and volcanoes, as did Navatlev. This was due mainly because of Navatlev’s close, fast orbit around Harkoav, and because of Harkoav’s large size for a dense planet. Harkoavians sought out other planets and moons for settlement, Ra’am said, mostly for this reason. However he told her conditions weren’t so bad everywhere. In fact, in Harkoav’s past 20 years, seismic and volcanic activity had become far less recurrent.

            When Ha-Ta sailed them into Harkoav’s night side, Ra’am pointed out the smaller continent of Osef Ra’ad. Though hard to observe well in the darkness, lights from cities on the smaller continent outlined a shape similar to earth’s Australia.

In Osef Ra’ad’s center, a darker, unlighted area emerged. Ra’am explained it was a tall mountain, approximately 30 miles high. He said the mountain, named Hareh Koav, was similar to Olympus Mons, with its apex jutting into dark outer space.

            “But the best part about Hareh Koav,” Trenae said. “It’s the namesake for Harkoav.”

“How’s that?”

“Hareh Koav means star mountain. And Ra’am said thousands of years ago, they called Harkoav something else. But with space travel, they decided to call their planet Harkoav, because of this high mountain’s distinguishing characteristic.” 

 “That’s a nice name,” Jenny said. “So, you landed by Ra’am’s parent’s place?”

“Yes, eventually. We had to circle around Harkoav until we came above Dakah, in the sunlight. Occasionally, we would see other spacecraft or air space vehicles. Ra’am told me Dakah would look similar to the Swiss Alps or Canada, so that’s what I looked for. He said the climate of Dakah would be similar to Canada too.

“As we came down out of some high clouds, you could definitely see mountains. And most of them were covered with snow, like earth. But they looked like white dots, the single large mountains, from up high, and the mountain ranges looked like white squiggly lines. That’s when we were up really high, kinda like when I saw earth from above on that mammoth scene. But the closer we came, I could make out trees and forest too. We finally came near an open, grass-like area, on a hillside or mountain.”

“You mean you were near mountain ranges?”

“Yes. I also remember we passed over a canyon passage, before we arrived to the grassy area. The trees had looked normal, from high up, but when we nearly touched the ground, I could see they were extremely large trees. Some were in the open areas, some were on mountains. They were as big as those Sequoia trees, the Red Woods, in California. And later, when I saw them closer, they were evergreen type trees, with huge pine-like needles, like 6 inches in length and about an inch wide! And their branches spread upward toward the sky, like an upside down tornado.”

“Sounds a little strange.”

“They were etseem reeshon, the trees producing ketoomahgas fruit. Ra’am said they were hardy trees which could grow in almost any climate, and were thus a planet-wide tree, everywhere.”

“Were there smaller trees too?”

“Yes, some which resembled oak or maple, and others which resembled pine trees…We finally parked Ha-Ta, above ground, on the bottom of a grassy hill. Ra’am parked it so we faced toward these tall mountains that we flew by coming through the canyon. Right away, when I looked at the upper, steep portions of the mountains, I saw it.”

“I know- that color, right?” Jenny asked, seeming proud of herself.

“Yes. The same green Ra’am usually had on Ha-Ta, the color he liked the most. I could finally see why. He then told me that his parent’s home was up the hill from us, by some trees, and that we couldn’t see it yet, but we were on their property. So…then, we stood up from our seats. Ra’am opened the delet yahmon and we both walked to the doorway’s edge. It hit me- I noticed that the air smelled different, like thicker, more humid maybe.”

“Wow, this is fascinating!”

“Yeah, it was. The air also smelled more fragrant and cleaner, than even in the Idaho wilderness. You could smell like flowers or trees, their smells. It was a great smell. And it was warm out, since it was their summer time.”

“They have seasons?”

“Yes, just like earth. I wanted to rush right out, but Ra’am stopped me. He reminded me I’d weigh about around 172 pounds, since I weigh about 115 and Harkoav was about 1.5 times in diameter and you know,  had about earth’s same density, like I told you before.”

“More math.”

They both smiled a moment. “Yeah, true,” Trenae said. “So Ra’am told me to wait right there, and he jumped out instead. At first, after he landed, he arched over, toward his knees, as though he was unfamiliar with the weight. But then he pulled himself up powerfully, with clenched fists, and raised his arms up over his head. And he roared.”

“He roared?”

“Yeah, let out this loud, deep yell. But when he turned around and faced me, I could see he was happy. He told me it felt great to be home! I was happy for him.”

“So he had to adjust at first, to the new gravity?”

“Actually, he adjusted well, it seemed. But there was a reason, too. He told me once that since I lived with him, on Ha-Ta, he had recreated earth’s exact gravity pull on Ha-Ta, so I would be comfortable. Or like when Dod came to visit him. But a lot of other times before he met me, he would recreate Harkoav’s gravity on Ha-Ta, so his body would remember. Not all the time, just sometimes.”

“Oh, I see. So he had to adjust somewhat, but not totally.”

“Yes, sort of. Anyway, then he came over to me. He wanted to carry me, since he felt I’d be unable to stand the new weight. At first I said no, that I was embarrassed, if his parents saw me like this, like a big baby. But he said he would place me down once we got near their home. He said we still had a ways to walk, so it was for the best.”

“So did you feel it, the gravity, when he picked you up?”

“Yes, Jenny, right away! You know, even though their sun, koavreeshon was shining, and the sky looked mostly bluish, with clouds, like earth, and there were mountains and plant life like earth, as soon as he picked me up, I knew it was just a mirage. I mean, I felt like I was being pulled to the ground, or had exercise weights on every part of my body. Dorothy wasn’t in Kansas anymore!”

Jenny laughed a little.

 “And the air too, was different to breathe. I felt like in a fog, or it was heavier, thicker, even though it was a clear day. I mean, I could breathe all right, but it felt weird. Ra’am told me not to worry, that earth and Harkoav’s atmospheres contained nearly identical percentages of gases. But…I started wimping out again anyway, hugging Ra’am as he held me. But he was really sweet and caring. He said I would be all right, and adjust to it all.

“So I just tried to concentrate on watching the scenery. The grass, which I expected to be like earth’s too, sounded more like thick pine needles as Ra’am walked on them. Ra’am told me that all the plants and animal life on Harkoav were tougher, had thicker skins and thicker skeletal or internal structures, or exoskeletons, than earth’s. I knew then, that yeah, this was an alien world.”

“I can’t imagine.” Jenny’s voice was full of wonder.

“Ra’am also told me, that when we got to his parent’s house, they could give me a gravity suit, which could be programmed to mimic earth’s exact gravity. It would be of a similar composition as the white military suit Ra’am was wearing.”

“He was still wearing it?”

“Yeah. I never asked, but I guess he wanted to look good to his parents. He also told me they would have a language interpreter unit, which I could wear on my head and allow me to speak and be understood, and for me to understand Ra’yonah. He told me that, as we walked, and talked about his parent’s house, or actually, his house too, where he grew up. The house was made, get this, out of tree trunks from etsargamon trees, which--”

“Etsargamon trees?”

“Yes, another tree that grew locally. It was valued for its strong trunk.” Jenny wrote it down.

“So, how did they, you were saying?”

 “They stuck the tree trunks into the ground, vertically!”

“Vertically? How the…”

“Well, soon we got near it. He told me also that, like he said before, many Harkoavians liked to reject most advanced technologies, except what they really needed, and use more primitive or natural things. So, their house was a combination of both old and new technology. But yeah, these tree trunks, were shoved, and I mean literally shoved, into the ground by his father’s bare hands!”

“Damn, they’re strong suckers!”

“No kidding. And as we got closer, I could see it was just a one-floor structure, like a log cabin, except the logs were wide, like 6-12 inches wide, and placed vertically instead of horizontally, like I said.

“But the roof was made of thin layers of hemoom prodoh, in varying colors, yet mostly clear. It could be darkened, though, for privacy.

“You see, all this certain construction was to prevent injuries in case of earthquakes. The tree trunks would just move, since they were so deep in the ground, and the hemoom prodoh roof would simply disappear when vibrated, so it wouldn’t fall. And there was hemoom prodoh on the interior walls and floors too, which gave color, texture, and insulation to the walls, yet wouldn’t disappear if there’s an earthquake, since the wall and floor hemoom prodoh kept things flexible, yet together.”

“Damn, it sounds rather risky there.”

“Yeah, sort of. Not so much lately. Ra’am said a lot of Harkoavians lived on Navatlev to avoid the earthquakes, but for the most part, the advanced, modern structures, like those mercury-looking things, withstood earthquakes fine.

“But it didn’t matter. I was really impressed with the house and its location. It was right at the top of the grass covered hill, though nestled at the bottom of the mountain, just where the mountain began.”  Trenae used her hands to construct the scene. “The mountain had a lot of pine-like trees, so it wasn’t too different from Idaho, in a way. Ra’am said too that the rooms in the house were a combination of shapes, like circles, triangles, squares, polygons, or others, which were mathematically structured to withstand the earthquakes.”

“Like the way the floor looked, on Ha-Ta?”

“Yes, that’s true. I thought about that too. But anyway, we finally were near the doorway. It was a thick, wooden door, like on a rustic cabin. I could see the vertical logs line up tightly all around the entrance, on the door’s sides. I was so nervous, so amazed. It was unbelievable.”…



… “Ra’am, please, put me down. I just don’t want to look so helpless, in front of your parents.”

He gazed in her face. He hadn’t touched the door yet, but held her steady in his arms. “All right. I will put you down,” he said. “After we get inside, we will find the gravity suit.”

In smooth, careful motion, Ra’am allowed her to slide to the ground. She felt it, in a split second, though even in his arms her body tugged cumbersome; someone huge was sitting on her shoulders, going for a piggyback ride, weighing her down! Yet the sensation distributed itself throughout her body.

Even so she clenched her teeth and struggled to stand straight, stand proud. Ra’am took her right hand, since she stood to his left side. She looked up at him. She was ready.

Ra’am touched a hemoom prodoh circle on the door’s upper area. A strange, faraway sound, like cymbals clanging, could be heard from within. Oh my gosh, another similarity to earth. But there were so many more differences too!

A few seconds passed. The door opened. Only it didn’t slide to the side, as the doors on Ha-Ta. It opened like a house door on earth.

Before them stood a tall ometvah, nearly as tall as Ra’am. Next to him stood a female, an ometvehar, wearing an odd bright green dress. Surprise nudged Trenae at how both parents didn’t look much older than Ra’am did. No grayness in their hair or old age wrinkles on their faces emerged on either being. Yet they seemed older and wiser in their expressions. She could also sense by his parents’ expressions that they wanted to lunge forward, to embrace Ra’am. But she was there, standing next to their son.

An awkward presence became apparent, as she had worriedly anticipated.

She shot her gaze up at Ra’am, searching for his reaction. He was smiling. Yet he too appeared wanting to lunge forward. But he instead held her hand tightly. 

“Alt, Sre,” Ra’am said warmly.

Trenae slowly cast her gaze toward his father. He was dressed in a tsekehoot lavan, like Ra’am. A face similar in design, with Polynesian features, and hair like Ra’am’s, though much shorter in length, his father’s facial expressions hinted of disapproval. He looked at Ra’am, but then he looked at her. Her heart skipped a beat. Steely, penetrating eyes pierced through her.

She switched, gracefully, and gazed at Ra’am’s mother. Her gaze too centered on her son. Yet then she stared at Trenae. His mother looked beautiful. Although having different hair, she flaunted more human traits than any other intelligent being Trenae had seen since arriving in  Harkoav’s system. Her hair flowed as wavy, reddish-brown bundles of numerous hair strands, not single, thick individual strands as Ra’am’s hair. And her eyes resembled human eyes, possessing dark brown irises and nearly white sclera. Yet Trenae couldn’t observe them for long, since the mother’s stare pierced almost as intensely as her son’s and husband’s stare.

Trenae looked down at the grass-covered ground and grasped Ra’am’s hand tighter.

The brief period of silence between all three ended. Father, mother, and Ra’am spoke freely in Ra’yonah to one another. Trying to appear congenial and peaceful, Trenae lifted her head and smiled at Ra’am’s parents. Yet they mostly looked at their son.

Secretly, while they spoke, she observed more of Ra’am’s mother. She noticed his mother’s body appeared similar to her own, with height, weight, and proportions almost identical. The only difference she could see, besides the darker, tanner skin tone, the Polynesian facial features, and the lack of any geed’aso, was that her hips were a little wider than a human female’s.

Trenae also felt surprised to see white teeth in the mother’s brief smile, instead of light blue, like Ra’am’s teeth.

However Ra’am’s mother didn’t seem very docile or gentle. In fact, she appeared intense, not one to cross or anger. Both parents actually emitted this demeanor. Nevertheless, they allowed a few brief smiles to light their faces. And soon they apparently summoned both of them inside, since Ra’am led her through the doorway.

Taking the few steps inside proved very tiring for Trenae, as Harkoav’s gravity tugged on her body. The door swept closed behind them, without anyone touching it. An automatic door?

Once inside, she scanned down and around, without appearing too obvious, taking in the indoor scenery. Colored hemoom prodoh covered the floor, with gold, brown, and red hues arranged in 3D geometric patterns of squares, triangles, circles, and other shapes. Like polished ice the floor shone, resembling thick, flat, patterned and colored glass, yet strangely different from anything on earth.

The same appearance, colors, and designs also covered the walls, in what seemed to be an entrance foyer. Another room resided to her left, but she concentrated on the room beyond the foyer, in front of her. Gazing secretly past Ra’am’s parents, this other room had the same floor, but the walls consisted of vertical logs, like the exterior of the home, covered with clear hemoom prodoh. And whereas the ceiling in the apparent foyer looked dark or colored, as little light brightened the small room, the ceiling above the log room was clear hemoom prodoh. Koavreeshon light, shining from high above in the Harkoavian sky vividly illuminated this room’s interior.

Trenae’s furtive scanning stopped. Ra’am released her hand and moved forward, giving each of his parents a hug, similar to human behavior. She watched closely, trying hard to discern their true feelings for their son. Though they hugged Ra’am in return, they behaved a little reticent, a little surprised.

When they were through, Ra’am stepped back near Trenae.

 “Trenae, I want you to have a formal introduction to my parents,” he said. She looked up at him. Shoot, am I ready? “This is Pa’eemyah, my mother.”

She looked at Ra’am’s mother. Smiling briefly, Pa’eemyah bowed her head down.

“Hi, I’m sorry I don’t speak your language,” Trenae said.

“That is all right,” Pa’eemyah said. Surprise! Ra’am’s mother could speak English, albeit slightly imperfect English. Her words and milder countenance made Trenae a little more comfortable.

“And this is my father,” Ra’am said, “Helekh, governor of Dakah.”

Trenae looked up at the tall being. Right away she sensed he didn’t seem happy to meet her. He stared coldly into her eyes.  “Hello,” she said, “nice to meet you.”

Helekh didn’t speak, only bowing his head a little, keeping his stare on her face. Trenae could only smile.

Yet within she felt horrible, both emotionally and physically. Helekh’s cold treatment further aggravated her squashing weight. She looked up at Ra’am. “Ra’am, I can’t take this gravity anymore. I’m sorry.” Her heart pounded; her breathing struggled.

Urgency took over Ra’am’s demeanor. He fired away words in Ra’yonah. Both his parents rushed out of the small room.

“Do you want me to carry you?” Ra’am asked.

“No, can I just sit down somewhere?”

Ra’am took both her hands and led her quickly, carefully into the room across from the doorway, the room with the vertical logs exposed. 

The new room was oval shaped. A window brightened on her right, with a clear sheet of hemoom prodoh, exposing magnificent Swiss Alps-like scenery. Also on her right, near the window, two large seats, like sofas, waited for weary bodies. The seats’ construction seemed carved from a huge chunk of wood, with thick bark covering the back portions of the seats and resembling large, solid rocking chairs, without any legs. Wide, comfortable tan-colored cushions, similar in appearance and texture to the evesmol seat on Ha-Ta, covered their seating areas.

 Ra’am gently sat her down on the seat farthest away. He sat next to her.

“In a moment,” he said, “ they will bring the gravity suit and language translator.”  He wrapped his left arm around her shoulders, in a warm, snuggling embrace. Relief flowed within Trenae, realizing Ra’am was not ashamed of her in his parent’s home.

She gazed in his face. “So the gravity won’t bother me anymore, and we can all talk together?”

“Yes,” he said, confidence and warmth exuding from him.

She looked straight ahead, at the wall opposite the window. A thin, red, oval frame, about 4 feet at its greatest width by 6 feet at its greatest length was placed upon the hemoom prodoh coating.

“What’s the red oval for?” she asked. She looked at him.

He smiled at her. “It is our form of television. Only it shows millions and millions of views, both of entertainment and education. Most of the views are from space, on other nearby planets. I will tell you more later.”

Just when he finished speaking his parents returned. But they arrived through another doorway, opposite the foyer doorway, to Ra’am’s right. 

Pa’eemyah carried a white one-piece suit, resembling a janitor’s outfit, like coveralls. However it looked very clean and had white boots or shoes attached to its pant bottoms. Helekh carried a small white instrument, having the shape of a hands-free phone device.

Pa’eemyah approached her first.

Lifting Trenae by her hands, Ra’am had both of them stand up together. “This is called a rekhoosh koved,” he said. “It will gradually allow you to adjust to Harkoav’s gravity.”

Ra’am and his mother proceeded to unfasten the front of the white suit in a zipper-type fashion, similar to plastic zippers, while Trenae stood near them. Watching them, Trenae noticed Pa’eemyah’s nails appeared dark blue. Nail polish? But no, that couldn’t be. Her thoughts changed; they both helped Trenae step into the outfit, with her brown hiking boots, jeans, and tee shirt still on. At that moment she wondered if a dress would have been more acceptable on Harkoav, for females. Funny, Ra’am and she never talked about her attire, what would be acceptable. Nonetheless, it didn’t matter now- she felt like a one piece zippered pajama was being put on her!

When it finally draped her body, Ra’am touched a white circle area on the front, near her upper abdomen, and the suit miraculously shrunk to fit her better, closer, the fabric behaving similar to the melting-expanding doors on Ha-Ta.

Trenae wondered why her burdening weightiness had not disappeared yet, while the fabric adjusted to her body. But then Ra’am touched a few small white buttons, nearly invisible against the white fabric, in the same white circle area. Suddenly she felt as if on earth.

Pa’eemyah began adjusting the large white collar around the neckline, a collar about 4 or 5 inches wide, resembling an old foil face tanner. Now Trenae could see well; Pa’eemyah’s nails were not like human nails, but were smooth, dark blue ovals with short length, similar to the length of Ra’am’s nails. Though Pa’eemyah’s nails did seem rather tough, unbreakable, her nails did not have an ometvah’s ridges. And were an almehneh’s nails somewhere in between? She couldn’t recall. In the space view of the ometvah and almehneh onboard the Memadshakor her gaze focused mostly on their faces, not their hands.

With questioning eyes, Trenae looked up at Ra’am.

“For your head, Trenae,” he said, “to prevent Harkoav’s gravity from tugging it too. Fortunately, your hair is underneath the rekhoosh koved.” It was obvious; she would have to ask Ra’am later about the fingernails.

Trenae lifted her right arm. It occurred to her that her hand was exposed. Regardless, she placed her hand behind her neck, to feel for her hair.

“Your hands and head may be exposed, for now,” Ra’am said. “But if you are uncomfortable later--”

“No, I feel much better now,” Trenae said. She stared up at Ra’am, wondering. “I’m just totally amazed, that as long as you were on earth’s gravity, it’s barely affected you!”

Pa’eemyah stopped what she was doing and looked up at Ra’am. Trenae took the opportunity to view Pa’eemyah further, with their faces so near. Healthy, smooth, and tan her skin had nary the slightest blemish or aberration. A slight, pleasant scent, like flowers, floated in the air around her.

Pa’eemyah looked at Trenae. “My son, has always been very strong,” she said, an accent  chiming her words. Her eyes seemed more approving of Trenae now.

Finally Pa’eemyah and Ra’am finished.

Helekh stepped forward. Yet he did not hand the white instrument to Trenae. Instead he glared at her and handed the instrument to Ra’am. For a second, she noticed Ra’am observe his father’s disapproval. But Ra’am said nothing and simply took the piece.

“This is called metorgey safah,” Ra’am said.

Trenae looked at the white object before her. With its large size she quickly assumed its prior user had been an ometvah. Ra’am placed it on her head, so that the two ear sections, about the size of two flat plums, rested against her ears, and the mouth section, about the size of a walnut, he positioned about an inch from her mouth. Similar to the rekhoosh koved, as he touched an area on one side, near an earpiece, the whole metorgey safah shrunk fluidly, forming a snug fit around her head. She noticed the device especially pressed firmly against her ears.

“We should all sit,” Helekh said. “I want to talk with you, Ra’am.”

Trenae felt amazed. The translator worked like a charm! Like watching a dubbed Chinese movie, she could see Helekh’s mouthed words not match the words entering her ears.

Ra’am took her hand and gently guided her to the seat on the right side of the window, where they sat previously. Just like a rocking chair, she could feel the large seat shift a bit.

She turned left, to see Ra’am’s parents. The two seats faced each other at a slight angle, fortunately, so everyone had an adequate view. While Helekh sat down next to Pa’eemyah, she noticed Pa’eemyah’s green dress tightened around her upper body, yet blossomed slightly outward into large green pedals, the size of oval serving plates around her hip and thighs, though having a split in the front, near her upper thighs, surely for walking ease. The lovely, feminine dress emanated nature. Yet it made Trenae feel out of place, in her jeans and tee shirt.

Ahh, what did it matter. Remember, you’re in the rekhoosh koved now.

“Your marriage, Ra’am,” Helekh said, “has caused some difficulties.”

Helekh adjusted himself like a human, resting his arms comfortably on his lap, his legs bent squarely at the knees. Pa’eemyah straightened her legs out and crossed them at her feet, resting her arms in her lap too. Trenae noticed Pa’eemyah wore green, heel-less shoes, similar to any on earth.

“First, I must explain,” Helekh said. Trenae looked at him; he was staring at her. “The language translator will translate most words in Ra’yonah to English. However, there are some words which have meanings unique only to Harkoav. Therefore you will understand them as such. Or some words will have substitutes. For instance, all pronouns for almehneht will be referred to as ‘he’ in English, as there is not a suitable substitute in your language. In addition, if we speak quickly, some of our words may become eliminated by the translator and formed into contractions. And if Ra’am speaks to you in English, it will be heard as such.

“But do not underestimate us, for we have already learned your language,” Helekh said. “I want you to adjust to the translator, for when we come before the High Counsel, even though all of those distinguished ometvaheem know your language, the rest of Harkoav’s system, including other planets in Kadoorey Baheer, may--”

“Father, excuse me,” Ra’am said, leaning forward a little to eye his father better. “But, what are you talking about? I just came from Navatlev, where Commander Ezor explained we would only have to meet with Justice General Tekes, a few other military generals, and you, for verification, as well as my recognition ceremony.”

“Justice General Tekes, of Anh Tsevah Military…”

“Yes, father, I know. I served in Anh Tsevah.”

“I am aware. Justice General Tekes, resigned.”

Ra’am startled a bit and developed an astonished expression. “Resigned when?” he said loudly, though in a polite tone. “I just received official approbation for marriage to Trenae, my zekhoot neesoohah, the last I was visited by Teknay and Emsa’ah, approximately 31 days ago. It was official from Tekes himself! Commander Ezor would have known.”

“No, he would not!” Helekh said. He appeared quite upset. “Tekes only resigned this morning, after hearing of Kerakh’s visit next week.”

“But why would he resign? He has been an honorable Justice General.”

“He was persuaded, in a large way, by Harkoav system’s Prime Justice Yega. He and the other justices are trying to dissolve tensions, due to Makhtah, as I’m sure you are aware.”

“It’s Olam’s doing, is it not?” Ra’am asked sternly.

Tension grew in Trenae’s body. She needed to know more. “Ra’am?” she asked. Immediately she felt awkward, taken off-guard; she knew her words must be projected in Ra’yonah, yet they resounded to her as English, though a certain odd, inexplicable delay transpired in between. No wonder Helekh wanted her to get use to it. 

Ra’am looked in her eyes. “Yes, Trenae?” he asked warmly. His eyes softened from their former agitation. Surprising, since she expected to be ignored, with Ra’am sitting in his parent’s presence.

“Who is Olam?” she asked. The strange translation experience happened again. She secretly shrugged it off.

“He is what we call our Prime Executive, or highest leader, of the Harkoav system,” Ra’am answered. His words clearly matched his mouth; she knew he spoke in English.

Ra’am shot his gaze back at his father. “What is going on?”

“As you probably heard, from Teknay and Emsa’ah,” Helekh said, “the unrest on Makhtah has reached an all time high.”

Trenae looked at Helekh.

“Yes, but their technology lags greatly, due to few almehneht present on Makhtah,” Ra’am said. “They are no threat!”

“Oh, but they are now, son! Many ometvaheem have followed Kerakh’s footsteps, and have secretly left the Harkoav solar system and joined Makhtah’s cause. These followers of Kerakh claim God has abandoned them and will never bring Ensofyafah. But those who have joined, have stolen or spied upon the most recent secret developments in our technology. And they continue to do so. Spies and other operatives from our side are trying desperately to ascertain Makhtah’s intent. And from what I’ve learned recently…it is very bad news.”

“What father, just tell me!”

“They are planning to take over Harkoav, and all our planets, and completely eliminate the almehneht.”

“What? Are they insane?” Ra’am guffawed ridiculing laughter, his deep voice filling the room. It disturbed Trenae. “They don’t know their history? 800 years ago…what happened, father?”

“You know, as well as I do. It was a complete failure.”

“Then I’m not impressed by their apparent gains in technology!”

“But that’s just it, Ra’am. They have made gains, massive gains, even though they killed or ousted all almehneht on Makhtah, in their corrupt cause to unite only ometvaheem.”

“That is terrible,” Ra’am said sadly.

“It is worse, son. Somehow, they have developed a genetic and sociological technology which will eliminate all the problems from Zmahnorah.”

“I would love to see them try!” Ra’am said defiantly. “They will only become more ignorant with each passing generation, without almehneht.”

Trenae looked at Ra’am’s face. He leaned over in the rocking seat and placed his arms on his knees, his feet planted firmly on the ground; the seat nary moved an inch now. “Ra’am, can I ask you another question?” she asked quietly.

Again, his demeanor calmed, gazing at her.  “I know,” he said, smiling, “Zmahnorah. It is the name for the almehneht elimination failure 800 years ago.” He looked at Pa’eemyah. “Mother, won’t Zemer be arriving shortly? We should not speak of this in his nearby presence.”

“Yes, he will be,” she answered calmly.

Ra’am looked at Trenae. “Zemer is my youngest sibling, an almehneh.”

“Oh, I see,” she said. Trenae looked back at his parents.

Helekh stared at Ra’am. “Kerakh is coming to Beerat Yesodee, to establish some form of peace treaty.”

“How can there possibly be peace, when he desires to eliminate all almehneht?” Ra’am asked.

“I don’t know,” Helekh said, his face solemn. For the first time, he cast his gaze downward. Then, he lifted his stare. “Possibly, we will trade planets, as one option. Almehneht and those relatives dear to them, will live on Makhtah…Kerakh and his people, in Harkoav’s solar system.”

“Father, that’s a death sentence to all Harkoavians! Has Olam gone completely mad, since I’ve been gone? I cannot believe, for an instant, that Makhtah has made such significant advances, to frighten our military!”

“But you do not know what I have heard!”

“They could have secretly allowed, or leaked, only the technological information they wanted are spies to hear,” Ra’am said.

“I do not believe that.”

“But what does this have to do with Trenae and me? If Tekes approved my zekhoot neesoohah, why must we go before a High Counsel? And who is the new Justice General of Anh Tsevah military?”

Helekh bent forward, resting his elbows on his knees, like Ra’am. “A former judge of Soreg, a small town in Barak. His name is Boktah Ekdokhan. He is the new Justice General. Ekdokhan has past occurrences of siding with ometvaheem from poorer families, especially minimizing past behavioral problems so those ometvaheem may marry.

“He also has shown little sympathy for the rare almehneht who have committed crimes. The whole crux of Kerakh’s complaints and Makhtah’s unrest is their disapprobation of the privileged few marrying females. They claim, it is often those from wealthier, more powerful or political families, which are allowed to marry, or get second approval for another zekhoot neesoohah, if they forfeit their first, as in your case. They claim it is unfair. They claim Harkoav no longer rewards ometvaheem on basis of their behavior, intelligence, or talents.”

“You know that’s not true,” Ra’am said. “There are plenty, plenty of cases to show otherwise.” Though he tried to appear convincing, Trenae noticed unsureness in Ra’am’s voice.

“Who I am to say, for sure?” Helekh said dejectedly. But then he regained his former stalwart confidence. “Olam, to quell Kerakh and his followers when they come here for a peaceful resolution, has systematically eliminated or forced to resign, any officials, both military and political, found in disagreement to Kerakh’s many social and political changes. In conclusion, Kerakh’s followers believe it is in Harkoav’s best interests to eliminate almehneht and develop a civilization similar to AR3, in particular by allowing one male for every female.”            

Ra’am forced a gruff noise and sat back against the seat. Trenae turned to see him. “AR3, earth, is overflowing with problems. Haven’t they accessed my information?”

“Yes, they have,” Helekh said, “but they claim it can be fixed. Overpopulation, food shortages, poverty, crime…they will be able to handle.”

“And so the communists believed on AR3. Trust me, they failed, as have other governments of earth.”

“Now, with Prime Justice Yega’s new moral code,” Helekh said, uninterested in Ra’am’s last words, “pressured by Olam, Ekdokhan has decided your marriage must be reviewed. Your right to have received zekhoot neesoohah is now in question.”

“What? This is unlawful! The decision has already been made!”

“You don’t think I’m aware of this?” Helekh fired his words quickly, with anger. “Yega and Olam have prepared a High Counsel, overseen by chancellor Lavlar, Olam’s own, to bring together those ometvaheem, only ometvaheem, most sympathetic with Kerakh’s cause, to do the review. They are, at least, kindly allowing me to be part of the panel, though I will be greatly outnumbered. I just hope I have some influence.”

“It will not be fair!” Ra’am said. “Not only to me, but almehneht everywhere will see the injustice, of not allowing their presence on the Counsel panel!”

“And you must not leave Harkoav system,” Helekh said. “If you do, they will arrest you.”

“So, it has come to this. I am a scapegoat, for all that Makhtah perceives as malicious.”

“That is probably true.” Helekh grasped his hands together, in disgust. He looked down, but then he raised a steely, angry stare. “It hurts me, to see you involved in this…this horrible mess!” Arising from the wooden seat, Helekh began pacing the floor, near the invisible viewing screen. “What were you thinking, when you allowed yourself to become attracted to this female!” he said loudly, glaring at Trenae.

Trenae’s heart jolted. She quickly looked down. The metorgey safah clung well to her head.

She felt Ra’am shoot up from the seat. “I do not care what you, mother, or anyone else thinks about my wife!” His words boomed firm and enraged.

She looked up. Ra’am had practically shoved himself in his father’s face. But Helekh didn’t budge.

“Has your desire for this female completely blinded you? You knew of Makhtah’s revolt and intent to rid all almehneht, years ago!” Helekh said loudly. “You didn’t think there were possible hidden implications with actions you take, especially since you are a role model and hero to Harkoavians everywhere, after your battles won the Jardac War? There are consequences, in everything we do! And you married a female who is not ometvehar, something never done before in our recent history!”

Pa’eemyah eased to a standing position.

“And that is why, father, it should not matter, to anyone!” Ra’am appeared livid. “I have decided, that Trenae and I will not have any offspring, so how does this affect Harkoavians?”

“You fool! This has nothing to do with cross-species and breeding!” Helekh’s voice nearly roared now.

Pa’eemyah approached Helekh. Ra’am backed away a little.

“I know that, father,” Ra’am said, calmer now. “I know this is about unfairness, to the inhabitants of Makhtah. But I did not marry an ometvehar, so I did not take from the available ometvehar who are ready to marry.”

Helekh stepped forward, even as Pa’eemyah lightly cupped his right arm and spoke softly to him. “No, you just did not think,” Helekh said. “You have done far worse. You have just begun an intergalactic incident, of the worse extent!” He glared into Ra’am’s piercing eyes. Yet only for a moment. Helekh turned and huffed out of the room, leaving Pa’eemyah’s helpful arm embrace behind…















                                                              Chapter 23   



… “What the heck did Helekh mean by that, about the intergalactic incident?” Jenny asked.

“Yeah, really! My heart was doing flip-flops in my chest! I didn’t need all that anger, not then.”

“I bet.”

“Yeah, but…well, we found out what he meant, but later. Do you want me to tell you now?”

“No, I’ll wait.”

“You see, Helekh and Pa’eemyah, Zemer too, didn’t normally reside at that home. They lived at some sort of governor’s castle or mansion, in Ganhaveer, the capital of Dakah, up in the mountains. We went there once- it was nice. But their usual home, where we were that day, is part of Nagaris, a small town.”

“Wow, I can’t believe more of the similarities, to cities and places on earth, capitals, mansions...”

“I know. That’s what I kept thinking,” Trenae said, smiling. Then she became serious. “Anyway, though, I was scared by this. Right after Helekh left the room, Ra’am turned around and apologized to me, and his mother, for behaving angry toward his dad. Then he sat down by me and asked if I was okay. He was just upset his father spoke harshly of me- it made him angry. But I felt glad, that he stood up for me, yet I could see the anguish and dilemma on his face, since he wanted to act respectful to his parents too.

“But Ra’am was unable to talk with his father again, about the intergalactic incident thing, and his mom didn’t know what he meant. His father went back to Ganhaveer, leaving Pa’eemyah behind. Usually, she would go with Helekh, but he wanted her to spend time with us. He just told Ra’am to always keep an eye on his mom, be near her, since an unprotected female could always be at risk. We would all meet again, at the High Counsel meeting.

“But I was really worried about our marriage problem. And the fact Makhtah might be taking over Harkoav. Ra’am kept telling me everything would be all right, that he was a convincing talker and he would find a way out of our marriage problem. And that a peace treaty would happen, to prevent a war or anything. But I was still really worried, though.”

“You didn’t need that, definitely,” Jenny said.

“Yes, true. At first, I felt a little angry at Ra’am. But I realized it wasn’t his fault, not really, not like his father said. I wanted us to escape, just get away and go to another planet, faraway. Although Ra’am said he didn’t care if he was arrested, what would become of me? He worried for my safety. Besides, there really wasn’t anywhere we could escape to, to never be found. Harkoav had tracking systems, of some sort, that could follow us down. He also was very concerned about Harkoav’s future, and what would happen to his family and friends.”

Trenae sighed. “Anyway, Ra’am said that they would be lenient on us, since he was a war hero. So, I had to agree with him. We would stay there, at his mom’s home, until the High Counsel meeting in 8 Harkoavian days.”

“Did they have weeks and months like earth?”

“Well, sort of. They went by their moon Seerah’s cycle, which was like 2.165 earth months, then divided that into smaller portions, like weeks, except the portions were like 15 days long, like cycles, which would then repeat themselves again, like our 7 day week.”

“So they had a name for each day in this cycle?”

“Yes, they did. But the metorgey safah translated days for me so I was familiar from an earth point of view, like saying next week plus 2 days or in two weeks plus 3 days, etc.”

“I see, so you could understand.”


“So, did you meet Zemer?”

“Yes, he came home later that day. He looked like the almehneh I saw on the Memadshakor, which first met us in space. Except he looked a little thinner. He was 14 Harkoav years old, almost an adult. He preferred to call Ra’am by his old name, of Makhraham, which Ra’am didn’t seem to mind. At first glance, I really liked him…or, gosh, I hate to call him a he, when, well…”

“But what choice do you have? Did Harkoav have pronouns for almehneht?”

“Yes, they did. The word sta, s-t-a, is for an almehneh, or sta’ar, s-t-a-a-r for almehneht.” Jenny quickly wrote the words down. “But there’s just no equivalent in English, except for ‘it’, but that sounds so demeaning.”

“I agree. That would be. Calling Zemer ‘he’ is fine.”

“Okay.” Trenae gave Jenny a quick smile. She wanted to keep the story going, before forgetting too many details. “So, anyway, I noticed that Zemer was wearing clothes very similar to Ra’am’s outfit or uniform, the tsekehoot lavan like Helekh’s too.

“I guess Zemer knew some of earth’s customs, since he held out his hand, when Ra’am introduced us.”

“They don’t shake hands on Harkoav?” Jenny asked.

“No, they do more bowing stuff. Different, huh?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“So, I took his hand. Right away, I could feel some geed’aso, but not as much as Ra’am’s. His skin felt softer too. And I took a quick gander at his nails.”

“Oh yeah, you said before. What did they look like?”

 “Surprisingly aqua blue, like his eyes! And with ridges, just like Ra’am’s nails. I was expecting something more in between, between a female’s smooth, dark blue and the male’s rough, bumpy black nails.”

“Sure, I would too. Makes sense.”

“I know. And Ra’am told me more too, later, about the genetic reasons…But, anyway, Zemer smiled at me, and we began to talk. And I was right, he was really nice.

“But, then Ra’am came over and gave Zemer a hug,” Trenae said. “At first, Zemer seemed a little taken back by it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like it wasn’t typical or something, for Ra’am to do it, or for ometvaheem to hug almehneht. But I found out later that this was usual behavior for siblings, but different for Ra’am. Actually, the more we stayed at the house, the more I noticed Pa’eemyah and Zemer a little surprised by Ra’am’s actions. Finally, at one point, Pa’eemyah said she had never seen Ra’am so happy or so pleasant to be around. Zemer pointed it out too.

“I really liked Zemer, you know,” Trenae said. “We used to go on long walks, Ra’am, Zemer and I, in the woods and mountains by their home. It was wonderful, so relaxing.”

“You still had to wear that gravity suit?”

“Yes, absolutely, all the time. It was awkward, but made me feel like on earth, except for the different air, when I breathed in. That was a constant reminder. But I was healthy and all there.”

“So, you and Ra’am stayed there till the counsel meeting?” Jenny asked. “What else did you do? Did you go anywhere?”

“Well, the typical day…Ra’am and I would come to the house, after staying in Ha-Ta all night.”

“You didn’t sleep there?”

“Well, they did have the room and all, since there were six youngsters there at one time. But now they were all gone, except Zemer, yet the bedrooms remained there.” Trenae noticed Jenny’s eyes were prying. “And yes, they did have bedrooms or sleeping rooms, just like earth. Those similarities again,” she said with a smile.

“Uh-huh, I see. So, did you learn all their names?”

“Yes. Ra’am was the oldest, and he’s 25, and then next in line, there’s Meragel, an almehneh, and he’s 24 Harkoav years. Next after, came Sheveetah, the only girl, or sister.”

“Really? Did you meet her?”

Trenae looked down. “Yes, but later.” She raised her head. “Sheveetah is 22. Then there was Akhov and Oz, the two other males.”

“Oz? Are you serious?”

“Yes.” Trenae grinned. “Our languages aren’t that different, really. But Akhov’s 18 and Oz is 15. They were all living somewhere else, and Ra’am’s two male brothers and Sheveetah were married, had spouses. Zemer was the only one at home.”

“Hmm, that’s interesting.”

“I eventually met all of them, the morning before we went to the High Counsel meeting. But yeah, Ra’am and I didn’t sleep there. Ra’am wanted to be completely alone with me…at night.”

Jenny smiled slyly. “And why?”

“Well…because…he wanted to be close to me, hold me at night.”

Jenny turned the recorder off. “Be intimate with you?” she said, still smiling.

“Yes, okay.” Trenae gave a shy smile and gazed down. “Just don’t print it.”

“Of course I won’t.”

“Actually,” Trenae said, yet looking down, “we couldn’t stay away from each other very long. We couldn’t wait to be next to each other, make love again…and again. And after each night, after we slept next to each other, I felt closer and closer to Ra’am. He said he felt the same too. I began to forget, he was an ometvah- I barely thought about it. What we had…was growing so much.” She looked at Jenny.

“And he was gentle with you, never hurt you?”

Trenae shook her head. “No, that’s what’s so amazing. I felt closer and safer with him than ever. He was gentle and loving, warm, affectionate. He still behaved a little…like dramatic and passionate at times, even had that piercing stare sometimes, but mostly just loving to me. And he was happy, much happier than I’d ever seen him.”

“And that’s why you think Pa’eemyah and Zemer noticed the difference in him?”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought, at first.” She breathed deeply. “But I was wrong.”

Jenny pressed the recorder’s button, her face curious. “What do you mean?”

Trenae gave a crooked smile. “It’ll upset your chronological…I can tell you soon.”

“Oh, okay. So, you came to the home in the morning.”

“Yes. After I put on my rekhoosh koved, we both walked there and had breakfast with Pa’eemyah and Zemer. We could see sunrises in the morning…damn, so awesome! Depending on Navatlev’s position, you could often see Navatlev rising too, so sunrises were different and brighter than earth’s. And also you could see Oradom and Orkakol just setting, since their position was close to Harkoav.

“But anyway, we walked in the home to the large eating or kitchen room, which had modern techno stuff and then primitive or more basic food preparation things. There was a large wooden table built into the wall, with wooden stools to sit on. Pa’eemyah would prepare those raw food dishes, that Ra’am had given me before, and some new ones too, and all four of us would eat, before Zemer went to his school.”

“Sounds familiar, again.” Jenny smiled.

“I know, I know, true…First, though, Pa’eemyah, Zemer, or Ra’am would say a prayer of thanks for the food. They did this at each meal. And then after we ate and talked some, Zemer would leave. He would board this special aircraft vehicle, controlled by a computer, eventually bringing him to the school.”

“Sort of like a school bus?”

“Yes, I guess. And then we would talk for awhile. Pa’eemyah asked a lot about earth.”

“Did you use the translator, or did she speak English?”

“A little of both, but a lot of times I just took the translator off and told Ra’am and his mom to speak Ra’yonah, in front of me. It had a nice ring to it- I enjoyed watching them speak.

“But Pa’eemyah wanted to know about my family. Ra’am and I explained everything, from my father dieing to how my mother and Darin treated me, to how I got involved with Willson, how my life was in danger.”

“Did she ask about your father’s box…how Ra’am watched you for years?”

“No, Ra’am didn’t mention that. He basically told the story from when he rescued me.” She gazed sincerely at Jenny. “He didn’t lie, he just didn’t tell her everything, and since Pa’eemyah didn’t ask, it was never an issue. I asked Ra’am later, and he said he certainly would have told her if she asked, but…”

“She didn’t. Were you and Pa’eemyah getting along okay?”

“At first, she seemed cold, yet curious toward me. But after about a week, she was gradually warmer to me, although she always seemed pretty tough.”

“Not exactly very feminine?”

“Well, no, she was feminine. Just, well, not someone you would want to anger.”

“Yeah, like you said earlier. What else did you talk about?”

“After I felt more comfortable with Pa’eemyah, I would ask her questions about her kids, Ra’am’s siblings. Ra’am and her both said I would meet them all eventually. Pa’eemyah and Ra’am also said that Meragel and Sheveetah were difficult to be around. Ra’am wasn’t worried, since he said we wouldn’t spend too much time near them. Pa’eemyah agreed.”

“So…you guys would eat, then go anywhere?”

“Yes. After we ate, and Zemer was gone, Ra’am would frequently take Pa’eemyah and I on Ha-Ta. Pa’eemyah normally helped out at the local beetan sekhel ometvrehey, you know, the one for females, but she was taking some time off to be with us. So we went and visited most of Dakah. But we would either bring food, or come back to eat, since Harkoavians usually eat about four to six meals a day. That vegetarian stuff, you know.”

“All that roughage.”

 “I know.” Trenae became exuberant. “Gosh, Harkoav was so stretched out and larger than earth, with so many more wilderness areas, where few lived. So full of mountains and forests. But we mostly visited the cities, like Nagaris and Dakah. We couldn’t stop to get out much, though, because there were many ometvaheem around. Actually, there always seemed to be more almehneht, but still many ometvaheem everywhere. And females were usually not allowed near them.”

“Hmm. Then how would the females shop, like for food or other things?”

“Pa’eemyah simply had to order food or other items through the centralized computer communication system, accessed on her wrist, sort of like our Internet, and it was delivered to her by almehneht, on various air crafts, within minutes!”

“That fast? Cool.”

“Yeah, I saw it a few times. Pretty much, though, if you were female, you had to remain near your home, away from males as much as possible. When females absolutely had to go out, amongst the males, they used a wrist-worn device, which most everyone wore, called a parekyad meyda, to disguise themselves.”

“A wrist-worn device, like a koaksekhel? Did males and almehneht wear it too?”

“Yes, the males and almehneht wore it too. It wasn’t exactly like a koaksekhel- it was smaller, white, and worn on the wrist, like a watch. It was what they accessed the centralized computer communication system with. It could do many things.

“When an ometvehar needed to be in public, she programmed the parekyad meyda to form a layer or shield around her, which she could see through, like it was barely there. But to everyone else, it appeared as though there was something around her. It hid her feminine body, her face. It was like a vapor barrier, in that anyone or anything could pass through it- certainly not a solid sheet. However, she could program it to become a protective shield, if need be.”

“How interesting,” Jenny said curiously.

“Actually, it was rather beautiful. Remember on Navatlev, those omotveheem with those see-through or reverse image areas on their uniforms?”


“Generally, hemoom prodey smooyah, which is what the layer or shield was called…” Jenny wrote it down.  “Anyway, it was like the invisible hemoom prodoh shield Ra’am put around us, in New York...Or the shield he used to disguise his geed’aso and hair, to look human. Just different from those. See, all around her body, the shield appeared as numerous polygon or jewel shapes. Around her head, she had like a sapphire shape. Around her arms, tubular or cone shape designs. But then around her body, mostly a straight jewel, de-feminizing appearance, to hide any curves- like a crystal rectangle, that flowed or moved by the legs, when she walked.

“But how did that hide things and still look nice?” Jenny asked.

“Umm…the outside of these shapes, the shield, reflected everything around it, though it gave everything a slight gray haze or some other color. The color could be chosen by each female. So, seen from a distance, the female would like a beautiful, walking bunch of jewel shapes, that mirrored her surroundings. She would really look beautiful, yet it disguised her face, hair, head, her feminine body, everything that would attract a male to her. Made her look like a jewel and crystal robot.”

“A robot, wow. So, the female covered by this could move all right?”

“Yes, true. It allowed total movement and flexibility when you had it around you. I had to wear one when we went to the High Counsel meeting, but I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.”

“You saw the cities. Were they clean, modern, very futuristic?”

“Yes, and more. The city buildings resembled those of Navatlev, appearing as huge mercury droplets. I loved yet felt so awed by what I saw. Just like on Navatlev, I had to grip my wrists many times …” Trenae then continued further descriptions, at how incredibly high tech, wonderfully geometric, and modern-appearing the buildings looked. So impossible! But she pointed out that some poorer areas existed, with less up-to-date technological buildings. However no real slum areas resided in the cities she observed. Most city buildings she saw appeared rich, modern, and sophisticated. Ra’am reminded her that few poorer Harkoavians existed, due to Harkoav’s careful social and reproductive structure.

Unfortunately, while they visited certain cities, she did experience some quakes, Harkoav quakes. But Trenae pointed out that Harkoavians never worried, since all were alerted well in advance by each individual’s parekyad meyda, since parekyad meyda devices had access to the warning signals from the centralized computer system. Besides earthquakes, the devices could warn of dangerous storms or military actions, both in Harkoav’s system or on other planets, and also access other information, of which the general public was allowed accessed to, such as information obtainable on the oval viewing screen in the house.

She explained more how an internal implant wiring, to each individual’s brain, was also available for the parekyad meyda. Internal wiring, called khoot gotahey parekyad meyda, started at the wrist and eventually connected to the brain, similar to the internal biological wiring of Ra’am’s koaksekhel. No operation was needed to get it done; a small mass of biological matter was placed on the wrist skin and then would gently, painlessly enter the skin  and form a wire path from there, through arm, shoulder, and neck muscle tissue on up to the brain.

Trenae said she never had it done, and even many on Harkoav chose not to have it done, as it was not required. Pa’eemyah and Zemer, however, did have the internal parekyad meyda wiring.

Lifting her eyes toward the dark night sky, Trenae searched for other memories. “I saw so much.” She lowered her gaze and looked at Jenny. “It was so incredibly fascinating. Many things I was already familiar with, because of Ra’am, like how they washed clothes. But they used different dishes than Ra’am. Many were made of wood, some were a combo of metallic and synthetic materials, but they came in odd shapes and sizes, not like flat plates we have. More like odd shaped bowls, cups too.”

“Really,” Jenny said, smiling.

“Yeah. And the bedrooms, some of them shaped like a triangle or other strange shapes, had mostly wood furniture. The mattresses, since they did have a form of mattress, were both natural and synthetic materials, usually only placed on the floor. They didn’t keep any clothes in dresser or bureau-type furniture, but only in closets, on shelves. No hangers.”

Jenny laughed. “That’s so interesting!”

Trenae smiled, though she could again sense Jenny didn’t truly believe her. Yet what did it matter- this was fun to retell!

“Pa’eemyah was very active. Actually, when she sat down, she looked well rested and calm. But when she was doing things or talking to Ra’am and Zemer in Ra’yonah, she moved and spoke very quickly. Actually, most Harkoavians moved so quickly! Even with the gravity suit, I felt rather sluggish.

“I also never could really relax around Ra’am’s mom, but Ra’am was great. He was always close by, so any emotional discomfort I felt, he helped.”

“What about Zemer? Did he make you uncomfortable?”

“No, he didn’t. I felt very relaxed around him. He didn’t seem like a Meenyan.”

“Meenyan?” Jenny was perplexed.

“Yes, sorry. I forgot to say. It was their surname, like a last name. Actually, there were a few other surnames, from Helekh’s side, but that was the one Helekh and Ra’am, and the rest in the family, were known by. Helekh Meenyan, the governor of Dakah’s full name.”

“Oh, I see,” Jenny said, writing it down. “So Zemer wasn’t like Ra’am or Pa’eemyah?”

“Actually, Zemer kept telling me how much Ra’am changed. He said it to both of us, when we went on those beautiful walks together. I kept thinking, well, Ra’am is frightening enough, not to me anymore, but definitely to others, so what did he mean? Zemer never really explained, though, but I kept noticing that Ra’am would touch him frequently, go out of his way to be nice to Zemer. It was great, I was happy about it.

“Zemer’s voice was interesting…like a cross between a man and a woman’s, even child-like in a way, although he was taller than me, like 6 feet tall or more. And thin. He spoke so clearly and intelligently. It was really enjoyable to hear him speak. Ra’am seemed relaxed and happy when Zemer talked too.

“But Zemer seemed troubled. He told me about Makhtah, how it was originally a planet that needed terraformation. However they used prisoners, which were usually only ometvaheem, very few almehneht, and of course, never any females, to accomplish that. So Makhtah always had a rough life there since its 1100 Harkoav years of existence.”


“I know. A long time, to have another planet around. And there were many, many other planets which Harkoav had terraformed or had bases on, especially the .99’s.”

“Having any social unrest with them too?”

“No, they weren’t, fortunately. Makhtah was the only one.

“But…but I felt bad for Zemer.” She lowered her gaze. “One time, when I was sitting alone with him in the eating room, when Ra’am and Pa’eemyah were talking in the other room, he asked me…How did I feel, to know that there were those who wanted to completely eliminate his kind, his gender? He gave the example, if humans found a way to reproduce, without needing females, and therefore chose to eliminate them completely.” She lifted her head. “It made me think, that’s for sure! I couldn’t really give him any other answer except that I would feel terrible. I touched his hand, tried to comfort him. It was…really sad, but…”

“Ra’am knew,” Jenny said, “which was why he treated Zemer so kindly.”

She looked at Jenny. “Yes, that’s true, but there was more.” She inhaled a deep, staggered breath. “There was more about Ra’am, than I wanted to know.”

“What do you mean?”

“I found out the day of the High Counsel meeting. It was a day I will NEVER forget.”

















                                                         Chapter 24



Trenae glanced down at her watch: 11:35 pm. Yet the warm air and light breeze high atop The Examiner building made her relaxed and calm. Still no one had bothered them, as they had worried. At least, not yet.

“Do you want to stop?” Jenny asked, turning off the recorder.

“No, I’m fine. It’s up to you, though. I like it up here. You’re right, the sounds from the streets below…it could almost lull you to sleep.”

“I know,” Jenny said, covering her mouth over a short yawn.

Trenae smiled at her. “But I’m still awake, I could keep going.”

“Me too, I think, except for my yawn. If you don’t mind, I’d like to conclude our interview tonight.”

“Oh, I don’t have too much more to go really. I’m almost done.” She noticed Jenny’s face become troubled. “Are you still worried about them coming up here? I mean, I am, but…but those people, in the printing meeting, are they still here?”

“I don’t know. And of course, no one’s come up here, but yeah, I don’t know if the meeting’s still happening. So, we should hurry up.”

            Trenae caught Jenny stretching her neck to the right, toward the stair well door, her eyes searching eagerly.

“Okay, I will,” Trenae said. “Believe me, I don’t like this situation either. Anyway,  like I said.” Jenny looked back at her. “The day of the High Counsel meeting, was, well…First, Helekh arrived, in the night, early night actually, sometime after sunset.”

“Why night? Why not morning?” Jenny looked puzzled.

 Trenae smiled. “Very good question! You see, Osef Ra’ad, where we were going, was nearly on the other side of Harkoav. They were just experiencing morning, on Osef Ra’ad, so, hence…”

“I get it.” Jenny smiled too.

 “It was really cool in the house, at night. The hemoom prodoh around the walls and ceiling illuminated light for us, like on Ha-Ta. Really neat.”

“That is cool.”

“Anyway, Ra’am and I had come by early, earlier than we were supposed to. Zemer was there at first too, although he left later and went outside, after he saw his siblings. Then, Oz and Akhov arrived with their wives.”

“Did they have any children with them?”

“No, I asked that too. They had other relatives watching their children. Ra’am told me that it was not a good idea to bring children, especially babies, to the High Counsel meeting, which was going to be held in the Capital building in Beerat Yesodee, the capital of the entire Harkoav system.”

“Was Olam going to be there?”

“Actually, yes. He was to be there later in the day, when Kerakh and other leaders from Makhtah were going to meet.”

“Really? The same day, as the High Counsel meeting?”

“Yes, but later. We were to appear in the morning, Kerakh later that day. But…yeah, Oz and Akhov came with their wives. They were tall, like Ra’am. Their wives were pretty, like most of the females I saw, and seemed gentle and nice, the way Ra’am said the females usually were. Their wives were also shorter than me, and their names were Havayah and Nomah.

“His two brothers were stern but also friendly toward me, made me feel rather comfortable. Yet they seemed rather fearful and respectful of Ra’am. We could all mingle together, since we were all married, and the females didn’t have to wear hemoom prodey smooyah. Ra’am and I talked with them for a while, in that sitting room--”

“The same room you met with his dad and mom, with the TV-like viewing screen?”

“Yes, the same. I had my translator on again, as Helekh wanted me to, to get use to for the meeting, and I mostly talked with their two wives and Ra’am talked with his brothers. Maybe about 15 minutes went by. Zemer, Pa’eemyah, and Helekh were in the eating room.

“But then Meragel showed up. I saw him come in the door, when Pa’eemyah opened it. Up to that point, all the almehneht I had seen had seemed pretty peaceful. But one look at Meragel’s face, and I knew he was different.”

“How so?”

“He appeared too proud or haughty, or something. Actually, he appeared mean. He stopped in the room only briefly, said a curt hello or something to Ra’am and the others, and then went to the other rooms. He basically ignored me.”

“That's not friendly.”

“Yeah. I felt a chill through my body, after that. But…it was only the beginning.”


“Yeah. Because not long after, Pa’eemyah came in our room and announced Sheveetah had arrived. Suddenly, everyone seemed concerned. Oz and Akhov’s wives appeared worried and left the room, and the brothers did too. They went in the eating room, or one of the bedrooms, I’m not sure. I turned to Ra’am. He was on the other seat, the one farthest from the entrance, to the window’s right. I was on the other seat.

“As he looked at me, and I was just about to stand up and go over to him, Sheveetah’s husband walked in the room. He said a greeting to Ra’am and Ra’am said his name. I looked at Ra’am, and he didn’t look worried like his brothers and their wives. He seemed calm and relaxed. Sheveetah’s husband immediately walked over by Ra’am and sat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    down next to him. His name was Nokhree. He was tall, seemed quiet and interested in talking with Ra’am. He smiled a lot at Ra’am and acted in awe or gleeful just to be in his presence.”

“Because Ra’am was a war hero?”

“That’s what I guessed. They talked for awhile. Nokhree didn’t look at me much, but I listened to them. They were talking about Makhtah and some other things.

“But soon, Sheveetah came in. Right away, Nokhree ceased talking and looked at her. But Ra’am only gave her one glance…and then started talking to Nokhree again. Yet I could see, immediately see, why there was a problem. She wore this bright red dress, similar to the style Pa’eemyah wore, which just emphasized her presence even more.”

“What do you mean?’

“Well, she was sashaying in like nobody’s business, like she was all that and a barrel of gold!”

Jenny laughed.

“But seriously, I could see right away that she was evil…or, or up to no good, something…I looked at Ra’am. He saw me and smiled, though he continued to talk to Nokhree. His nonchalant attitude made me feel somewhat better, like she wasn’t a threat, but then why did Nokhree seem nervous?”

“Of his own wife? Was she big or something?”

“No, not at all. She appeared to be my size, and slim and athletic, like all Harkoav females, and very beautiful. I thought maybe that was it, that she knew she was so good-looking and all. It unnerved me though, that she wouldn’t even look at or say a greeting to Ra’am.

“She walked toward me, and I could see she had ugly thoughts on her mind, at least concerning me. I tried smiling at her, under the translator, but either she didn’t see it or didn’t care, since her walk meant I was in trouble…



…Trenae could feel her chest tighten as Sheveetah drew closer. Stand, move, walk to Ra’am, sit by him! Her mind gave the orders, but she felt like a sitting statue, unable to move. She couldn’t cast her gaze toward Ra’am, as Sheveetah’s dagger-like stare hypnotized her will. Hopefully Ra’am knows what he’s doing, to leave them both with this intense female.

“I assume…this is the best my brother could do,” Sheveetah said, hovering several feet away. Her red dress clutched every part of her body, overemphasizing her curves, her hips, her breasts. Though her arms hung loosely by her sides, her figure stood straight and proud. Sheveetah’s eyes slowly glared up and down over Trenae. With her gorgeous face and long, straight black hair spilling around her shoulders, she looked at odds with her evil demeanor, a study in contrasts.

Sheveetah sleeked down like a cat, and sat on the seat. She crossed her legs and leaned back, resting her arms comfortably, her aura fearless and confident. For some reason, the seat didn’t rock anymore. “You must be docile and obedient, or else…very ignorant, to get along with him,” she said, giving a glance at Ra’am. She locked her stare back on Trenae.

Not certain she heard the words correctly, Trenae adjusted the metorgey safah on her head.  “Hello, I am Trenae.” She spoke distinctly. “Nice to meet you, Sheveetah.”

“Are you stupid as well?” Anger tinged Sheveetah’s words. “Or, are you avoiding my question? A metorgey safah does not make mistakes, as may be typical of devices on your planet.” A sly smile curled her lips.

“Well, no. Ra’am and I, we get along very well together.” Trenae turned to see Ra’am. He had stopped talking and appeared concerned. She looked back at Sheveetah.

“I’m sure you do,” Sheveetah said, crackling disdainful. “You do appear to be the exact opposite of my friend. I’m sure you are aware, my brother was due to marry my friend Yozmah, but declined, due to his desire ‘to fight for Harkoav’.” Her tone mocked Ra’am spitefully.

No doubt now, animosity existed between Ra’am and his sister. Trenae wanted to swallow, to ease her dry mouth, but couldn’t. She kept her eyes on Sheveetah.

“But in reality,” Sheveetah said, “I believe he just felt undeserving, to receive a zekhoot neesoohah, due to his past behavior.”

Her words felt wrong. Trenae found some inner strength to speak. “What…past behavior?”

Sheveetah weaved a mischievous grin, reminiscent of those malicious expressions Darin and her mother often displayed. “He hasn’t told you? He has always been trouble for my mother and father, as well as his siblings. He was always so overpowering and tyrannical with us, ordering Meragel and I to do his bidding, or else face his painful grasps,” she said, bringing her hands forward and forming claw-like clasps with her hands. She brought her hands down to their former assured and relaxed position. Her evil grin melted away. “Of course, I must admit, he would always protect us fiercely, when outsiders threatened to…or, actually did…harm us.”

“I was a child, Sheveetah,” Ra’am said. “Neither were you perfect then. None of us were.”

Trenae turned to see Ra’am. A slow, patient burn smoldered within him.

“And he hasn’t told you…” Sheveetah said, then pausing. Trenae turned back. Sheveetah ignored Ra’am completely, both his words and presence. “…how he nearly killed an almehneh in Nagaris asam sekhel, when he was 10 years old?”

“Can you control your wife?” Ra’am said, evidently speaking to Nokhree. The tone in  his words rang troubling. Yet Trenae couldn’t remove her stare from Sheveetah.

“But, she is your sister,” Nokhree answered. Trenae sensed unusual fear from Sheveetah’s husband, unusual for an ometvah.

A sly, evil grin returned to Sheveetah’s face. “It was after that incident, when he had to take esvey skeket, our bioengineered behavioral modification plant. I’m sure you have seen him eat it. It has small orange, tan, and purple leaves. Esvey skeket was the only reason he was accepted for marriage. That, and my father’s influence.”

“No, I …” Trenae whispered.

She heard Ra’am stand up. Turning right, she saw him approach Sheveetah.

Trenae looked back at his sister. Sheveetah’s eyes glowed with anger, staring at Ra’am, while she lifted herself off the seat. No fear.

“Yes, I did take it, but it has been 4 years since I have needed it,” Ra’am told her calmly.

“Are we to believe, you’ve changed?” Sheveetah asked.

“Why don’t you ask mother and Zemer?” Ra’am said. “Or father, or Oz and Akhov. Judge for yourself, I am here before you.”

Not sure why, Trenae had to stand and become involved. She planted her gravity suit-covered feet on the floor, balanced her hands on the movable seat, and slowly rose up, not far from either Ra’am or Sheveetah. She looked in both their faces, but then settled her eyes on Sheveetah. “My father believed,” Trenae said, “that God’s love could change anyone.” Fortunately her words came clear, though she trembled.

 “Obviously, your father never met my brother,” Sheveetah said. “Did you know my brother is a cruel, bloodthirsty murderer?” Her eyes pierced through Trenae.

“Stop this, Sheveetah, stop this now.” Ra’am spoke in a low, firm voice, concealing fury.

However Sheveetah ignored her brother, keeping her eyes locked on Trenae, waiting for an answer.

Like a noose around her neck, a terrible tightening knot squeezed Trenae’s throat. She couldn’t swallow. Her lips trembled and she struggled to answer. “No…that’s not true.”

“Oh yes, but it is,” Sheveetah said gleefully. “And I see he hasn’t told you this as well. In the Jardac War, we could say…he kept no prisoners. His preferred method of murder, or should I say slaughter, was decapitation.”

“No,” Trenae said quietly, shaking her head.

Sheveetah raised one arm and formed her hand into a flat palm, fingers pressed against each other. “He would decapitate with his hands and arms, like a knife,” she said, quickly slicing a horizontal cut through the air, yet not touching Ra’am or Trenae, “obviously desiring to ‘feel’ the full effect, enjoy it, I would imagine.”

 From her right eye’s corner, Trenae could see that Nokhree had stood up and began lumbering toward the three of them.

“That is enough!” Ra’am said forcefully.

Yet again Sheveetah ignored him and stared at Trenae. “Or he would slice and chop up his victims bluntly, with his hands, instead of using a weapon, a most painful way to die.” She accented ‘slice’ and ‘chop’. Apparently wanting to get in what she could before being silenced, she sped up her speech. “He chose some other hideous and atrocious methods, but those were his favorites.”

“Trenae, you should leave, now,” Ra’am commanded gently.

I can’t, she thought. Sheveetah’s hypnotic glare wouldn’t allow it.

“Although, I have heard,” Sheveetah said quickly, distinctly, “that a particular Jardackian leader, who especially enraged my brother, had his head popped, from Ra’am’s hand, like squashing a ketoomahgas.” She lifted her hand, outstretched her fingers, and squeezed them into a tight fist. “But at least, he died. His brutal executions were nothing compared to how he tortured.”

“Sheveetah, please, do not do this,” Nokhree said. He stood across from Trenae, though not very close to either his wife or Ra’am.

A movement caught Trenae’s left eye; Helekh was entering the room. She turned. Ra’am’s father harbored concerned, though determined eyes.

“You are a female,” Ra’am said. Trenae quickly looked up him. He stared at Sheveetah, controlled agitation darkening his demeanor. “You do not understand war. You do not understand how I sent my soldiers, who trusted and obeyed my every command, into battle, only to see many of them die, die horribly!”

“No! They didn’t trust and obey!” Sheveetah said. She looked at Trenae again. “They obeyed out of fear. He almost had several of his commanding soldiers executed, for questioning his orders!”

Her words cut like broken, bloodied glass through Trenae.

 “Orders have to be obeyed promptly in war!” Ra’am said. “You cannot possibly understand!”

In frightening, swift motion, Sheveetah hiked her head up, glaring at Ra’am. “But torturing?” Her voice split the air.

“The Jardackians disabled our weapons, many times,” Ra’am said. “Intervention had to occur quickly, by all means necessary.”

  “But you did far beyond what was necessary!” Sheveetah said. “Yes, they disabled your weapons and tactical systems, but then later, you disabled theirs. You always had almehneh commander Fokhar enable your regiment’s weapons.” She shot her gaze back at Trenae. “But my brother did not have them use the enabled weapons. The Jardackians are similar to humans and ometvaheem. With each victim he captured, my brother tore off their arms, their legs, one by one, letting them die slow. Or plunged his hand into their guts, ignoring their limbs, but kept them alive, as he forced military strategies from them, threatening to pluck their organs out of their bodies if they did not give him what he wanted.” Her words sped by quickly, her tone specific and chilling. “Yet he killed them anyway, sadistically and painfully tearing their organs out, mangling them violently, like an enraged animal, after he got what he wanted from them. He slaughtered hundreds and hundreds of Jardackians and commanded his soldiers to do the same!”

“No, I…I don’t believe that,” Trenae said, between heavy breaths, staring at Sheveetah, “how…how would you know? You weren’t…you weren’t…there…and...”

“I have my ways,” Sheveetah said proudly, “though Harkoav chose to deny us public access.”

Trenae looked up at Ra’am. His arms were crossed. He stood straight and tall, glaring down at Sheveetah. But he said nothing. His silence only worsened the horror.

“Will you two ever get along?” Helekh asked loudly. Trenae jumped, intensifying her rapid breathing.

She shifted her gaze from Ra’am, focusing on Helekh, who stood across from her, next to Nokhree. Frazzled, Nokhree began inching away from Helekh.

“What he did,” Sheveetah said quickly, causing Trenae to look at her once more, “was so violent, so disgusting and vehemently blood-ridden, he knew he would never be allowed to marry an ometvehar again.” She paused and stared with a smile. “So…he chose you.”

“That is not true!” Ra’am said. “I married Trenae because I love her!”

“LIAR!” Sheveetah yelled. She shot her gaze up at Ra’am. “Maybe it’s for the best, he didn’t marry Yozmah.” She looked back at Trenae, her glare unforgiving. “He probably would have murdered her by now too.”

“You grossly exaggerate what happened!” Helekh said, voice booming. His stare drilled down at Sheveetah. “Yes, maybe some atrocities occurred, but not hundreds like you say!”

Sheveetah turned and glared up at Helekh. “That is NOT what I heard! You cover for him father, because you know how wrong it was.” She lightened her demeanor a little. “Though I can’t blame you completely, since Harkoav turned a blind eye, a deaf ear, even concealing most of the facts and true numbers from our alliances. All for a bloody, ghastly victory!”

“To whatever degree or numbers you claim, fine!” Helekh roared. “But what your brother did was war related and excusable! You worry of the Jardackians, but what of our soldiers who died torturously? Our previous tactics, of quick and merciful annihilation of the enemy, were not working! Ra’am realized brutality was needed. Why must you demean him, when his battles saved Harkoav? And whether weapons were disabled, enabled or not, he risked his life for others!”

“Oh please!” Sheveetah said loudly, turning to her father. “Tell someone else!”

“Were it not for Ra’am,” Helekh said, “we would all be under Jardac rule, right now!” His words thundered loud, assured.

“But that is not true, father!” Developing a slight grin on her face, Sheveetah glared up at Ra’am. “From what I have learned, the Jardac War was secretly initiated by Harkoav, instigating the Jardackian to attack, not them as the aggressor, as most everyone believes. It was a big display of Harkoav superiority,” she said mockingly, “a worthless performance which killed thousands and thousands for nothing. We always had the ability to win the war, concealed secretly! And you see, Ra’am knows, he does not deny it.” Trenae looked up at Ra’am. He stood quiet, emotionless, powerful, a lifeless hunk of stone. “Look at him!” Sheveetah said. “It was the guilt, was it not, which drove you away, the all consuming guilt of the blood on your hands for nothing!”

“That is an unsubstantiated rumor!” Helekh said loudly.

Sheveetah turned and looked up at her father. “So, you have heard it too.”

“Yes, and what difference?” Helekh said. “Regardless of what you think, at that point in the war, Ra’am’s command, and yes, his being to being interrogation, proved very effective. It brought fear into the minds of the Jardac military, and further weakened their resolve. Ra’am is a hero! He saved thousands of our people from dieing!”

“But at what cost, father?” Sheveetah asked. She turned and glared at Trenae again. “So he could resign from combat missions, leave us behind, then become a scientist…and go off to some inferior planet and study its minerals and life forms…” A disgusted smirk contorted her enraged face. “…and its female life forms. So he could lust for and marry, a worthless pathetic whore, who comes from a common, low class background?”

As Sheveetah’s words pierced her ears, Trenae felt the back of her throat tighten even more. Disabling throws of adrenaline exploded through her body. Her pulse raced. Her vision blurred and became useless. It hit her- she felt so alone- she felt trillions and trillions of miles from earth, in another galaxy, on another planet, unwanted by its inhabitants.

“CEASE THIS NOW!” Ra’am yelled. “You have done enough damage!”

But his words couldn’t help, not now. Finally gaining control, breaking Sheveetah’s hypnotic hold, Trenae bolted away to the right. She ran toward the doorway leading to the sleeping rooms.


She heard Ra’am’s call, but his call did nothing.

She continued running, the weight and awkwardness of the gravity suit impeding her somewhat, but not enough to stop her. Her eyes flooded tears down her face. Nauseousness bubbled in her stomach. She covered her mouth.

Yet she kept moving. Find a corner, a small hidden corner, to hide away. The room she entered just off the sitting room had central computer access, allowing access to ancestral and historical documents, through various objects, resembling those on a Memadshakor’s shleetah maksheer. She ran through the room.

She entered another room, Zemer’s triangular-shaped sleeping quarters. Besides walls of clear hemoom prodoh, revealing the wooden vertical logs beneath the clear molecular substance, it also had a bed and a closed-door closet. Trenae scurried toward the farthest angle of the room, a tight corner containing a built-in table. There she skidded her feet to a halt and crawled under the table. She snuggled her back against the corner. At last, she could hide.

Her head felt cumbersome. This stupid metorgey safah! One quick grab and she whipped the translator off her head, slamming it top the floor. It had caused enough trouble.

Zemer likes me, she thought, so he shouldn’t mind my presence in his room for a while. But where is he now?

She brought her knees against her chest and grasped them with one arm, her other shivering hand wiping her eyes and nose. Her whole body trembled, as it had so many times before. The nauseousness began to subside, fortunately. She felt small, invisible under the wooden table, bringing back memories from her childhood, when no one would comfort her. She could always find a closet or a table, especially in the basement; comforting herself, she would hide away like that for hours. No one could find her.

Yet now someone would find her, and soon. And if it were Sheveetah, Trenae would be seen as even more of an insult, an embarrassment to the Meenyan family than Ra’am’s evil sister had already stated her to be. She would appear as a small, scared child. I must crawl out.

As her mind commanded her body to move, gruesome pictures crushed her mobility. Swack! A being’s head was lopped off. Slash! Ra’am’s hand cut deeply into another being, tearing him in half. “NO!” she screamed. She grabbed her face.

“Trenae, no, please!” The voice came faraway, panic-stricken. 

Her hands and knees ached, but she started crawling from under the table. She started to rise up. Her blurry vision stared toward the doorway. Ra’am was just walking into the room. No, no, stay away!

Not wasting a second, she slumped down to the floor again, covering her eyes. She avoided the table this time. She pressed her back against the wall and brought her knees up tightly, curling into a ball.

Though she couldn’t see him, she could sense Ra’am kneeling before her. “Trenae, please, I am sorry.” Deep concern emanated from his voice.

She uncovered her eyes and looked at him. He was the only one in the room. Anger and betrayal seized her. “You know, I was doing so good,” she said, wiping her eyes, keeping her anger down. “I hadn’t cried once, not once, since being here.”

“Yes, that is true.” Ra’am’s words were solemn. She could see it; he was destroyed emotionally.

She sighed a deep, trembling breath. “Is it true, everything Sheveetah said about you?”

Ra’am lowered his head, for some time.

He slowly raised his gaze. “Yes…it is all true, I am embarrassed to say. But not what she said that I don’t love you. I do, so much.”

She stared at him, feeling more anger, betrayal, and now even dull shock, and ignored his last words. She wiped her eyes. “Hmm, just embarrassed, huh? Never a dull moment with you. I wonder what other stupendous, mind-blowing surprises you have for me. Of course, can anything be worse? And just…just when I thought…everything was fine with us.” She blinked her eyes, sending betrayed, teary daggers.

Ra’am said nothing. He lifted his hand off his bent knees and took hold of something on the table. She didn’t turn to see what he was doing. She only watched his face.

A maroon cloth began approaching.

Trenae whipped both her hands up and grasped his wrist, halting his motion. “Don’t…touch me,” she hissed. Ra’am jolted back, startled, wounded.

He honored her words and lowered his hand, still holding the maroon cloth, and rested it on his knees. Motion stirred. She noticed Pa’eemyah entering the room, from the doorway behind him.

She looked back at Ra’am. What a pathetic expression on his face.

He lowered his head again. Then he lifted his face and stared deeply into her eyes. “Please, Trenae. I would kill myself first before I ever hurt you.”

“It’s all true though, what you did?” she asked.

“Yes, but…war can bring out the worse, and the best in us. I did what I had to do, to win the war and save my soldiers.” His face pleaded. “Do you not see, that…after I realized, what I was capable of, I knew I had to change? And you, it was you, who helped me…and Dod and L.B.”

Pa’eemyah quietly stepped closer, finally standing near Ra’am. She kneeled next to him, on his left side. Trenae wiped her eyes again, feeling embarrassed and foolish for having revealed her inner weak self.

Pa’eemyah gazed at her. “I must apologize, for my daughter. My older children, they are strong willed,” she said in English. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I...I think so,” Trenae said, her words weighed in cries. “Thank you.”

Ra’am approached Trenae’s face again with the maroon cloth. She looked at Pa’eemyah. She looked at Ra’am and then looked at Pa’eemyah again. Although she didn’t want Ra’am to touch her, she felt gently obligated with his mother present.

Softly, kindly Ra’am blotted around her eyes with the soft cloth. Trenae closed her eyes. As times before, his touch relaxed her, soothed her. He was still the same being she had made love with last night, the same being she had snuggled next to and slept with last night.

“He really does love you,” Pa’eemyah said. “I should know.”

Ra’am removed the maroon cloth. Trenae looked at Pa’eemyah.

He turned to his mother too. “Sre, please,” he said quietly.

Pa’eemyah gave Trenae a caring smile and then looked at her son. “All right. I will leave you two alone.” She stood up. “But remember, we must leave soon,” she said, glancing down at them. “You cannot be late.”

Ra’am looked up at her. “I know. We will leave soon.”

“You should leave at the back entrance. Sheveetah is still in the sitting room. Your father is very upset with her and is talking with her and Nokhree for a time. But the rest of us are departing now.”

“Yes, I understand,” Ra’am said.

Trenae watched as Pa’eemyah turned and walked out of the room, her demeanor proud and tall. His mother’s not so bad after all, she thought. And that was the last clear thought she experienced.

A fuzzy mind haze took over Trenae’s brain, causing her not to remember the time she left the Meenyan’s house until she arrived on Ha-Ta. Suddenly she was aware of being on Ha-Ta, Ra’am carrying her close to his warm body. Gently he placed Trenae in her usual seat. Yet her body and mind felt numb, barely sensing his affectionate behavior, only viewing it from a far distance.

Ra’am programmed Ha-Ta to leave the area. She kept her eyes locked on the khalon before them, revealing the beautiful, darkened mountainous terrain, sparkled here and there by lights from buildings and cities. But the picturesque beauty contrasted sharply with cruel images again cutting through her mind, of what her husband had done. Someone, a human-like alien being, was ripped and shredded apart, by Ra’am, just as Sheveetah had described. Blood splattered everywhere. The thought disgusted, couldn’t be possible. This doesn’t make sense- that he could do such a thing! She squeezed her eyes shut.

“Trenae, what is wrong?”

She opened her eyes, turned left and looked up at him. “Why…why did you do it? Why, Ra’am?”

He leaned back in his seat and rested his hands on his lap. He stayed silent. Then he turned and looked at her. “Would it have made a difference, if I had used explosives, which your planet, your country uses…that tears a being apart, much as I accomplished? And what about the war your father was in, the Vietnam War? They used napalm, which burned its victims alive. Or HE, high explosives, and WP, white phosphorus, which caused a double dose of explosion and intense fire. There were Americans who tortured Vietnamese, by throwing them out of helicopters, one after another, if they did not give the correct answer. Finally, the one who did, was thrown out anyway. From a height that high, falling on trees and other land obstacles, believe me, the damage--”

“Stop it, just stop it!” she nearly yelled.

“Both sides committed atrocities in that war.” Ra’am spoke calmly. “Did your father not tell you?”

“No, he never told Darin or I any of what happened,” she squealed, cries, tears escaping again. “We just…” She lowered her head. “We just knew it was bad, because he never spoke of it.”

“But does it matter, Trenae, whether I did the damage with my own hands, close and personal, than merely pressing a button and firing a weapon which would do exactly the same? Does it really matter?”

She shot a glare at him. “Yes, it does, gosh darn it! It does make a difference!”

Ra’am stared down for a moment. He looked at her again. “War is ugly, Trenae. It is not for females. Females cannot understand it.”

More tears formed in her eyes. “But still, why? Why were you so cruel?”

He glanced away, toward the khalon. “I did…what I had to do. After I saw the cruelty, of what the Jardackians did to my soldiers, I lost my temper. I lost my mind. Yes, it became personal. I know…I know how wrong it was, now, even though it was excusable by my government.” He looked back at her. “But not, not to God.”

“Didn’t it bother you, at the time?”

“I was young then. I made mistakes, horrible mistakes.” He passed his right hand toward her. “Yes, it bothered me...later…” He attempted to take her left hand. She snatched her hand away, clinging it to her right side, turning away from him. “Please, Trenae. I love you so much. Let me hold your hand.”

“No, I can’t. I can’t allow tha- that hand…that did all…all such horrible things. Don’t touch me.” She looked away, keeping her body far from him.

“Please…please take my hand. The ometvah you have known all along, is who I am now. I am no longer that one from the past.”

“Yeah, right.” She kept her body turned away, but looked back at him. “Does Dod know about this? Did you tell him?”

“Yes, I told him some details, but very few, like with you. When we first talked of your father, do you remember what I said?”

She thought for a moment. “Yes, I remember you said something like…you had seen bad things, in war, and that maybe, I don’t know, you did bad things.”

“It has…it has always been difficult for me to talk about it. That is why I say very little. But it wasn’t--”

“It wasn’t a lie,” she said quickly, staring at the khalon. Relaxing her arms on the sides of her seat, turning her body forward, Ra’am’s dilemma became clear to Trenae. “You did tell me, just not in detail. I see…I see, you were traumatized by it, after it all happened, when you were quiet, by yourself, during the night. When you remembered--”

“Yes, when I remembered, it hurt me, deeply,” he said sadly. He brought his hand near her hand again, just hovering above. She turned and looked up at him. “Can I please take your hand?”

She stared down at their hands so close, emptiness in her heart. She felt so confused, but so in need. “Yes, go ahead.”

Ra’am encircled his fingers around her hand, pressing his warm, firm touch close to her skin. His touch felt so good, as it always had. “Trenae, look at me.”

She lifted her head and stared in his eyes.

“Yes, it bothered me,” he said. “But do you not see, you should be more concerned, if it had not?”

She could only stare blankly in his face. But after some time, she developed a fragile smile. Her smile came as an attempt to lighten his heavy heart. In Ra’am’s eyes, she could observe a distant, faraway pain, the pain he fought so valiantly to keep buried. His eyes weren’t lying. This was for real. And in his distant, faraway pain, she remembered when he first cried before her.

She dissolved her smile. “Now I know why, what you did to the grizzly bear, upset you so much.”

“Yes, you do understand,” he said quietly.

With their hands embracing, their bodies in still silence, they watched the scenery unfold before them, traveling through the night sky toward Harkoav’s capital…

















                                                         Chapter 25



… “So you came to Beerat Yesodee eventually?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“And you two didn’t talk anymore?”

“No, we just held hands. Neither one of us knew what to say. We were just, well, quiet.”

“Can I ask you something?”


“I thought Harkoav was a religious planet,” Jenny said. “How come- first the way Sheveetah acted, which was blatantly not very Christian or godly like, and then the shocking revelation about Ra’am- both their behaviors were not very God-like, right?”

“Yeah, I know, I know. After we arrived at the capital and we both started talking again, I asked Ra’am a few more questions like that myself. I was wondering at first, why Sheveetah was so obviously aggressive and scary. I thought he said their females were gentle and feminine.”

“Yeah, what’s up with that?”

“Well, he said that most of them were. But there were exceptions. Both his mother and his sister were obvious exceptions. And then I asked him too, why all this happened, about what his sister said, of him in the war, just like you’re asking, and about God. Ra’am reminded me, that many on his planet had gotten weak toward God, lazy or less concerned, due to the many different interpretations of a one God religion which had been found on other planets. They were losing or lessening their faith.”

“That makes sense,” Jenny said. “It’s one of my problems, but that’s a different story…so, you mean, Helekh and Pa’eemyah were rather soft in their upbringing, of teaching about God?”

“Well, yes, I guess. He said it wasn’t emphasized in their house that much. They did always go to the local building for worship, in Nagaris, every 5 days, which corresponded to the 15-day cycle, as commanded in their bible. But other than that, not much was said at home about God. But of course, after Ra’am was disturbed by what he did, he turned to God much more.”

“But did you ever go with Pa’eemyah and Zemer, and Ra’am, to one of those churches?”

“Actually, no. Now that you mention, I remember Pa’eemyah wanted to show us something else that day, and Ra’am reluctantly went along with it instead. But later on, while we were there, Ra’am did take me to a church, but…”

“I know, that’s later. And so you came to Beerat Yesodee?”

“Yes. Beerat Yesodee, the capital of Harkoav, was actually in the Barak region of Osef Ra’ad, the large island continent, nearly on the other side of the earth from Nagaris.”

“Oh, the continent with Hareh Koav, star mountain?”

“Yes. As we entered the lower altitudes over the capital, you could see Hareh Koav to the southwest. It was incredibly huge, went up into the clouds,” Trenae said, using her hands to form a large upside-down V. “And here I thought Olympus Mons was huge! This mountain looked like a large thunderstorm cloud which never ended, as it went space-ward.”

“Wow, cool.”

“We went to see it later. But then, I was mostly watching the buildings on the ground. There were a lot of those mercury droplet-like buildings again, like on Navatlev. We finally landed near this great tall building, which was rounded like the mercury droplet, but with various out-shoots of different geometric shapes all over it. But it was definitely large.

“There was a large parking-like area next to the building, a structure that went skyward, so vehicles could park or hover above one another, yet Harkoavians could exit easily on the structure and then walk into different levels of the capital building. Ra’am stopped Ha-Ta near other Memadshakoreem.”

“I get it.”

“Yeah, and so, to make it short, we eventually entered the main entrance of the building. I was awe-struck by it all, but also very, very nervous about our up-coming High Counsel meeting. And after what I just learned of Ra’am, I nevertheless had to lean against him, for comfort.

“We entered these very tall doorways, which opened just like the doors on Ha-Ta. Then, we had to walk down a long, very tall hallway, like in the Wizard of Oz, except much taller and wider, and a lot more silvery and futuristic. Large silver beams arcked from one side of the floor, up to the ceiling and then down to the other side of the floor, along with other geometric designs and Ra’yonah letters. It was probably about 60 feet wide and 50 or more feet high, I guess. All I can say, it’s construction reeked of higher intelligence.”

“Wow,” Jenny said, staring.

“Right away, I could see many ometvaheem. They were dressed in those military uniforms, tsekehoot lavan or tsekehoot shakor. Especially, there were a lot with that strange material, which showed the back and front in reverse areas. And I was covered with a hemoom prodey smooyah, from an extra parekyad meyda Pa’eemyah had given me earlier that day, before Sheveetah arrived. Ra’am held my hand tightly, and kept me on his right side, as we walked down the right side of the hallway.

“As we had encountered before, many of the ometvaheem who observed Ra’am, and there were many, gave him very honoring and reverential nods, some even stopping briefly to say a few things. I had my translator on too.”

“Oh, Ra’am picked it up, after you threw it on the floor?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I don’t remember, like I said, how I got back on Ha-Ta. But yes, he gave it to me before we left Ha-Ta. I had to wear it at the meeting anyway. But yeah, I could understand them. They said stuff like they were honored to see him back in Harkoav system, or they owe great respect for him saving the planet. Good stuff and all. And a lot of them had even reverential fear of him, but most seemed very pleased to be in his presence.”

“So he was sort of like a celebrity?”

“Yes. But anyway, I saw some other females, usually with males, attired with hemoom prodey smooyah. It was bizarre, seeing them moving, under those pretty jewel shapes, reflecting their surroundings. Most had different colors and walked toward the end of the hallway.”

“What color did you choose?”

“A green color, nothing special. Ra’am recommended it. I was too nervous to think for myself then.

“And I saw almehneht too. In fact, we saw three young almehneht, who were about 12 years old, running around like kids from earth, playing. It was funny. Ra’am said they would get in trouble, since that sort of behavior was not allowed in the capital building.”

“They didn’t want kids there.”

“Yes, that’s why. Kids will be kids, I guess, no matter where.”

They both giggled a little.

 “I also saw ometvaheem and almehneht dressed in gray uniforms, with some gold trim, that were different from the tsekehoot shakor, yet appeared similar. I asked Ra’am and he told me they were Harkoav behavior monitors, or meshmarhg, meshmarhgot for plural form.” Jenny jotted the spelling down. “They are a form of police. Their koaksekhels appeared a little different too. Ra’am told me their koaksekhels would become like guns, with ridged horizontal edges and forming a point, starting over their upper forearm and having the point cover the entire forearm and hand.” She used her hands, to describe the gun adequately. “But all koaksekhels, or I should say, all koaksekheleem, could produce this weapon. I never saw Ra’am’s do it though.”

“Wow, so they became guns. And they had police there. Interesting. Again, you would think they wouldn’t need police, with their religious beliefs.”

“I know, but...also, and this is important, the capital building disabled any lethal abilities of all koaksekheleem. The meshmarhgot could only use koaksekhel weapons which stunned or briefly paralyzed its victims. The capital building also disabled hemoom prodoh, which can and cannot be lethal, depending.”

“So like the courthouse or airport metal detectors, which check for--”

“Yeah, exactly, I think. Ra’am said so there wouldn’t be any fights or problems, with all the military personnel and others.” Trenae inhaled a deep breath. “But, when we finally got to the end of the hallway, which was like 1/3 of a mile--”

“That big?”

“Yes, it looked about. I was impressed. At the hallway’s end, it became like a T, with another hallway running to both the left and right of it.

“But right before us was the main, tall doorway entrance to the auditorium room, with some other lesser doorways on the right and left of it. This was where the meeting would take place, called a Kheder Zahav, meaning auditorium of most importance.” They paused, Jenny writing it down. “When we entered it, right away I could see it was futuristic and awesome, special. It too was mostly silver, but there was gold and red colors, like on the trim work and other areas.

“Once we walked down this long hall, like going to a football stadium, it definitely looked more like an amphitheatre, with circular rows of seats surrounding a circular platform area. The circular platform had seats and a table.” She showed Jenny with her hands. “The rows of seats were stacked in increasing wider circular tiers--”

“Like an upside down wedding cake? Or just like a stadium?”

“Yeah, you know, both. The most amazing thing, though, that Ra’am told me- get this- the whole Kheder Zahav could collapse into a one floor layer when not being used for long periods of time! This was especially helpful for earthquakes.”

“Wow, that is amazing. Could other buildings do that too, because of earthquakes?”

“Actually, yes, some buildings. But most could simply withstand great seismic forces, on their structure formation alone.

“Anyway, though, there were Harkoavians already sitting in there when we came in. In fact, Ra’am noticed his mother and Zemer, and the rest of his siblings and their spouses--”

“Sheveetah as well?”

“Yeah, her too. I just gave her one glaring look and then looked away, although she couldn’t see me, because of my hemoom prodey smooyah. I was really mad at her.”

“You have a right.”

 “I know, I thought…but…Both Sheveetah and Pa’eemyah, and his brother’s wives, all had that hemoom prodey smooyah shield. I could only know of them, since they sat next to their husbands. Their hemoom prodey smooyah kind of collapsed or folded more, when they sat down. Odd, but okay looking. But anyway, where we entered was above most of the rows of seats, like maybe 20 or 30 rows up from the bottom platform, so we were looking down at his family. Gave me a little more courage.”

“To stare at her.”

“Yes, that’s right. I don’t know why I did, really, but…And as soon as we walked in, after seeing Ra’am’s family, a nicely dressed almehneh quickly came over to us. Right away, he said he was our legal representative. I could understand him, since--”

“The translator.”

“Yes. He led us to the right, along a circular or curved walkway, toward another long hallway, between and under seats, which led to a doorway. After going through the doorway, we were by other hallways, that could go left, right, or straight. We went left and then entered another door. We were in a room.”…



…Entering the olive colored room, adorned with silver and gold trim along edges, several silver seats, similar to the ones on Ha-Ta were positioned around a circular silver table. Each seat had equal distance from the other seat.

“Sit down, please,” said the almehneh.

Ra’am gallantly took Trenae’s shoulders and eased her toward a seat. His touch felt familiar, comforting, at first. But then, a stick whipping her, she remembered Sheveetah’s gruesome revelations; for some sick reason, she imagined herself as another being, about to be torn apart at the shoulders by Ra’am. She cringed inside, yet couldn’t shrug her shoulders away from his warm touch. Her love for him was too great; the ugly image soon vanished. Regardless of his past, their lives were too mercilessly connected now.

After she sat down, Ra’am touched the parekyad meyda on her right wrist. The thin, nearly invisible veil of hemoom prodey smooyah disappeared.

“My name is Drakon Ayeet,” the almehneh said quickly, now seated. “The High Counsel appointed me to represent you.” An energetic quality drove his voice. “Now, from what your father, Ra’am, has determined, and correctly, there are no legal grounds to overturn your zekhoot neesoohah. And the High Counsel members are aware that they must be careful not to blatantly disregard the laws of Harkoav system, despite what Makhtah wants, or there will be total anarchy in Harkoav system. Therefore, unfortunately, they have gone another route to tarnish your zekhoot neesoohah.”

“What is that?” Ra’am asked. He crossed his arms over his chest. Trenae’s gaze focused back and forth between the two beings.

“On day 172 of year 7769, approximately 10 years ago, you were allowed to marry, and then chosen,” Drakon said. “However, you declined. Now at that time, you were given the standard sharshot zekhoot neesoohah. Now, there is conflict--”

“Conflict? What conflict?” Ra’am asked. “I was told again, by General Tekes, that I could take the two marriage ornaments, since my potential bride, Yozmah, did not want them. Yes, I mistakenly brought them with me after the marriage arrangement ended, in my heightened enthusiasm to join Anh Tsevah military promptly, but General Tekes inquired from Yozmah, and again, she said she did not want them. Tekes then pardoned my mistake, since it was of no importance.”

“Yes, I see, but he was wrong.”

“Wrong? How?”

“You see, he had no jurisdiction in this matter. It is clearly stated in computer document 123.48556, code EKR, and--”

“Please, stop.”

“You never accessed that code?”

Ra’am lowered his head. “I understand, what they are doing.” He lifted his gaze and stared at Drakon. “No, I never did. Again, I was excited about joining, to help the war cause. I never--”

“You never accessed it.”

“This is clearly a minor technicality, and you know that!” Ra’am said, raising his voice.

“Yes, well…I am not here to upset you, only explain what you are up against, when both of you enter the High Counsel platform. General Tekes clearly bent the rules somewhat, to ease your mind and push you forward, to lead a command, since he knew you had extraordinary military talent.” Obvious fear marred Drakon’s voice now, the almehneh cautiously eyeing Ra’am. “But yes, they were searching for something, as a punishment, because of your marriage, and it is unfortunate, but--”

Ra’am leaned across the table, nearly touching Drakon with his hands, halting Drakon’s words. Although attempting to disguise a blatant cowering action with smooth, graceful motion, Drakon backed away. “May I ask you something?” Ra’am said.

Drakon appeared surprised. “Yes, of course.”

“Being an almehneh, how do you feel, that there are no almehneht present on the High Counsel platform?”

Drakon didn’t respond, only staring with a puzzled expression.

“It is clearly unfair,” Drakon finally said. “And there will be legal ramifications. But my gender was told, since there are many almehneht on my legal team, that it is for all of Harkoav’s best interests, all genders included, to allow this circumstance to occur, since Kerakh is due to appear later today and is most definitely watching your meeting today. But no, we are not happy.”

“And neither am I,” Ra’am said.

Trenae watched and listened as Drakon and Ra’am discussed further details of the meeting. Though Drakon told Trenae she would most likely be questioned briefly by the High Counsel members, likewise Ra’am, he was not certain of the punishment Ra’am would receive. Trenae then announced her fear, after hearing this. However Drakon assured her they would most likely remain married, as Harkoav’s system considered divorce an appalling disgrace. Yet Ra’am could face some type of punishment, which did not separate the two of them yet required some hardship on his behalf. Drakon explained it was in Ra’am’s favor that he held sway as a system-wide hero of great significance. Therefore, he could not possibly face a punishment reserved for a common criminal.

His words of reassurance finished, Drakon then led both of them out of the room. Ra’am once again activated the hemoom prodey smooyah on Trenae’s wrist. She looked up at him. He caressed his warm fingers around her left hand, drawing her next to his side. Can he still sense my fear, even though he can’t see my face?

“It will be all right, Trenae,” he said gently, in English. His deep, commanding voice soothed her. “I simply know this. Please, believe me. Please?”

She sighed, but didn’t answer.

She relaxed her body against him, in their walk, nuzzling as close to his side as she could. Ra’am released his hand and encircled his strong arm around her shoulders, pulling her even closer to his side. Deep, surging relief streamed through her body. Come on, Trenae, let it go, release yourself of any doubt, anger, or betrayal still left for him. After all, there’s no other choice! Never again should thoughts or images about his violent past tarnish her mind.

They walked some distance and Ra’am released his embrace. Her healing thoughts scattered. He simply took hold of her left hand again, his behavior apparently conforming to the typical behavior for a male and female in the Kheder Zahav.

Drakon still leading the way, they soon walked down the stairs to the circular central platform. Harkoavians were entering at many levels of the rows, filling the seats to near capacity. Again, she could witness Pa’eemyah and Zemer, about 4 rows up from the platform. She saw Sheveetah too, with her husband, just behind Pa’eemyah. Trenae looked away, even though she knew Sheveetah couldn’t see her face.

Her eyes focused on the platform before them. Stage fright crept into her mind, realizing all of Harkoav’s system now watched them, as Drakon had also explained.

She began studying the circular platform, to calm and ignore the fright. A remarkable sight, the platform itself resembled a smooth, design-less silver dime, perfect, with what appeared as four gold bars jutting up out of the dime, forming narrow tables with curved ends corresponding to the curvature of the dime. Again another example of Harkoav’s geometric and mathematical intelligence. An empty table at one of the dime’s end had three gold seats, obviously the three seats arranged for them, facing toward the three other tables at the opposite end of the platform. Some space existed between the empty golden table and the other three tables.

Many gray-haired ometvaheem, with varying hair lengths, sat before the other three tables. All apparent older ometvaheem, they wore similar tsekehoot lavan as Ra’am wore, with slight variations.

The long, gold tables the ometvaheem sat before gained height sequentially, until the smallest table, farthest from Trenae and Ra’am’s table, had the greatest height. Evidently this enabled each row of counsel members to have a clear view of their subjects. She secretly counted the counsel members. The first golden table had 7 members seated behind it. The next had 5, while the farthest away had 4, for a total of 16.

Before long, she and Ra’am were stepping upon the platform, Drakon in the lead, near the empty golden table with the three seats. She could not exactly determine the texture of the platform’s floor, since she still wore her gravity suit beneath the hemoom prodey smooyah. The gravity suit’s boots softened any impact on a ground surface. Nevertheless Ra’am and Drakon’s footsteps clanged a soft metallic-like noise, stepping across the platform’s surface.

Drakon sat at the far left end of the table, motioning discretely for Ra’am to sit next to him, in the middle. Ra’am then told Trenae to take the seat at the table’s right end. She carefully adjusted the rekhoosh koved so she could sit easily and finally sat down. She adjusted the metorgey safah, making sure the portion on her head felt secure and the piece in front of her mouth was centered properly.

Right away she noticed Helekh sat at the first, longest table, one of seven occupants. He sat at the table’s end, on her left, sitting upright and proud, gazing straight forward and avoiding eye contact with his son. She could only look at him briefly, likewise the other counsel members, since they all emitted apathetic, formal, and determined.

Her eyes gazed downward, at the whiteness of her gravity suit. Or she gazed at Ra’am. Ra’am, on the other hand, stared straight ahead, unperturbed. Not a single spot on his body seemed frightened or discouraged, nor most certainly lacking boldness. No stage fright on this guy! She could see in that instant how he portrayed a true leader, someone born to stand before his planet’s people and government with great courage and resolve. His demeanor, once again, made her feel small and undeserving, to be in such a regal presence. It just wasn’t balanced or correct. Sheveetah…was right.

“Trenae, there is something I did not mention,” said a quiet voice.

She carefully turned her head and observed Drakon standing between Ra’am and her, bent over near their eye level. “What is it?” she asked.

“Once the meeting begins, the platform will rise above the floor, by about 2-3 feet, and then begin spinning slowly, always parallel with the floor,” Drakon whispered. “This allows all viewers, both here and elsewhere in Harkoav system, to have an honest view of all members on the platform. Do not be alarmed by this.”

“She will be fine,” Ra’am told him. Ra’am then gazed lovingly into Trenae’s eyes, knowing just where to look, even with the hemoom prodey smooyah masking her eye’s location. He took her left hand, under the table, and smiled.

After Drakon had sat down, the High Counsel meeting appeared ready.

A member in the middle of the first table arose. Directly after he stood up, the platform began to rise. Shoot, my stomach! A slight falling feeling, like going down a slow roller coaster.

The whole platform began turning slowly, just as Drakon had mentioned. The standing member announced to all that since he was the Prime Justice Yega, it was at his discretion and jurisdiction to bring together the 15 other members of the High Counsel. His voice, though normal in volume, mysteriously traveled well, filling the expanse of the entire Kheder Zahav. He briefly acknowledged Harkoav’s grace from Lo Zmarh and Yekomekhd, for all the blessings bestowed upon their world. However Trenae heard Lo Zmarh as God through the translator, though Yekomekhd remained unchanged.

Prime Justice Yega then stated each member’s name and government holding, with each member rising momentarily. To Yega’s right, sat Justice General Boktah Ekdokhan, the new Justice General who replaced Tekes. No applause or other sounds of recognition came from the audience after each member’s name and government holdings were announced. The silence disturbed.

With all members accounted for, Yega sat down.

“Ra’ammahkar Meenyan, you have served very honorably for Harkoav,” Yega said. “There is no denying this. And the great quantities of information you obtained from AR3 has proven extremely valuable. During the next 100 days, arrangements will be made as to when certain government leaders, including myself, will visit AR3 and attempt to establish trade and alliance relations. Therefore, we owe you much gratitude.

“Nonetheless,” Yega continued, “we question the reason for such a long stay on this planet. You were only due to stay 1, possibly 2 at most revolutions of AR3. What is your response to this query?”

Trenae discretely turned her gaze toward Ra’am. Drakon was leaning closer to Ra’am, whispering.

Ra’am rested his arms calmly, assuredly on the table and looked straight ahead at Yega. “I found primitive intelligent cultures, in inaccessible areas of the planet, whose civilizations were not recorded in detail on AR3’s main computer networks,” Ra’am said. “I spent much time at these places, using regular manual research, as well as disguised contact of myself with these alien beings. The long periods of time I spent, plus how I gathered the information, proved far more effective than using any of the scarcely available information found on AR3’s computers.

“Additionally the many years there proved efficient for me to gather great quantities of manual research on biospecimens, both fauna and flora, and also conduct experiments with these biospecimens.”

He didn’t lie, she realized.

“Yes, that is as we suspected,” Yega said. “And there is no doubt, that the massive quantities of information we have downloaded confirm your same words. We also are very pleased to observe the information pertaining to AR3’s bible and evidence of a physical appearance of Yekomekhd. This is quite remarkable…You were, in conclusion, using your time wisely and productively.

“But,” Yega said, “there appears to be a small problem we have noticed from your information. Several of us, on the High Counsel, have viewed a disturbing image that we have kept from the general public, yet which entreats to be addressed by you. Why was this female, Trenae Lafayette, whom you are now married to, monitored with your Memadshakor emergency system, thereby allowing her presence to be seen in a building of moral degenerateness, of the likes never seen in recent history of Harkoav’s system? You, of all ometvaheem, would be least likely to desire a witness to this behavior, considering your moral past, and even more so, your now godly and moral present.”

Yega became quiet.  

Flashes of worry and dread, even curiosity, tore through Trenae’s mind. Ra’am’s honesty was on the line, yet so was their future.

“Yes, I understand,” Ra’am said. “I had seen Trenae before, in a wilderness area of AR3, the area where the prehistoric animals had first been observed. I became interested in her, desiring to study her public behavior. She appeared different from the other alien beings, as she behaved far more kindly and sympathetic to her fellow beings. At one point, I observed her working in a particular establishment, a store which sold medications and other products. I observed her behavior there for some days. Then, one day, she was no longer there. Fearing she had been in an accident or some other tragedy…yes, I enabled the Memadshakor emergency locate system.”

Yega and several other counsel members, including Ekdokhan, smiled and chuckled rudely. Helekh did not.

“Yes, obviously there was a tragedy, a tragedy of her own making, to switch from a formal job to a job which was degrading,” Yega said, now serious. “Or was she forced into this position, by a form of slavery?”

Ra’am leaned forward and clasped his hands together, forming one tight fist under the other hand. He stared at Yega. “Yes, in some respects, there is slavery on AR3. Not exactly in this case, but it does occur.”

“We also must conclude,” Yega said, “that your interest in Trenae was more than that of a scientist’s basic interest in his subject. We conclude this not because you enabled the emergency system, but because you are now married to her. Without doubt there had to be a far greater interest--”

“Yes and what of it?” Ra’am interrupted. Drakon quickly tried speaking to him, maybe to calm him. But Ra’am ignored his quiet words and plunged forth. “As you stated, Prime Justice Yega, I have given massive quantities of information, of which Harkoav is well pleased. If extra time was available for me, as in leisure time, to develop feelings for Trenae, then what does this matter? Besides I have learned invaluable behavioral lessons from my wife, for which I am eternally grateful.”

“Yes, I am sure you have,” Yega said, half-mockingly. “And it is true, the feelings you developed for your wife, did not hamper your research. Nevertheless we suspect that your extended time on AR3 was also due to the feelings for your wife. Normally, we would have to interrogate you further, to ascertain the validity of this suspicion, but under the well-known code RTA, which states that war heroes, especially those who have been given a name change, are exempt from interrogation for leisure time activities, if they fall within normal moral codes. And…after viewing the scene of your marriage, conducted by a servant of God on AR3, we see your behavior is legitimate. And further, we have ascertained that your zekhoot neesoohah, which Tekes authorized is also legitimate.

“However, after convening with my fellow counsel members prior to our meeting, we found that you were in violation of document 123.48556, code EKR. True, Tekes overlooked this code, and allowed you to keep the sharshot zekhoot neesoohah…and your former bride-to-be agreed with this action. But, this is NOT the way an honorable ometvah, who served in Anh Tsevah military, conducts himself. You should have returned the marriage ornaments to their rightful owner, regardless of her decision, as you were taught in school.”

“Please, Justice Yega, spare me the seriousness of your speech,” Ra’am said. Drakon again was rattled.

“You will have more respect in this meeting, Ra’ammahkar Meenyan!” Yega said loudly.

Seeming to hide his anger, Ra’am quietly leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms.

“Now, as I was describing,” Yega said, “you have violated code EKR, of the aforementioned computer document. However, once again, since Harkoav owes you gratitude and honor for both your collection of information from AR3 and your victorious conduct in the Jardac War, we are sentencing a light punishment for this offense. Both you and Trenae are allowed to remain married. And furthermore, you and your wife are commanded to conduct scientific research on planet Penakh Ayef, a .99 planet in quadrant GZH, star cluster 57, star B6. You are allowed 65 days, as is customary and which will start tomorrow, for leisure time between assignments. But your present koaksekhel must be returned, and in its place, you will be provided one without planetary destructive capabilities or miniaturization capabilities, a lower level koaksekhel.”

Yega paused in his speech.

Trenae looked up at Ra’am. She felt a little relief, knowing they could remain married. Ra’am glanced down at her and secretly took hold of her hand under the table again.

“And additionally,” Yega said, “your retirement from military combat, has been nullified.”

Ra’am quickly released her hand and shot up from his seat. “What? You cannot do this! I was given special accommodation for my efforts in the Jardac War, allowing me to pursue only scientific research for the remainder of my required career in Harkoav military. You cannot nullify this!”

“Ra’am, please, sit down,” Drakon said. The distraught almehneh reeked pathetic as he meekly stood up and spoke to his subject.

“AND YES WE CAN!” Yega yelled back. “Your anger is misplaced,” he said, his voice now lowered. “An Anh Tsevah leader, with your special military talents, should consider this a great honor to be brought back into military combat! Now, you will sit down!”

“This is not an honor to me!” Ra’am said, still standing. “I want only, only to pursue scientific research for the remainder of my military career. I am sure my father has told you this!”

“Your father believes, as do we all,” Yega said, “that you would be at your best to serve Harkoav in military combat, given the heightened possibility of a war with Makhtah. Harkoav needs you!”

“NO…NO, I WILL NOT!” Ra’am yelled, slamming his fist on the table. Trenae jumped. Low talking buzzed around the Kheder Zahav.

“Sir Meenyan!” Yega said. “You will lower your voice and your temper immediately, and sit down promptly, or further punishments will be added to your crime!”

“Crime? What crime?” Ra’am asked loudly. Drakon began tugging at Ra’am’s left arm, trying to pull him downward. “This whole meeting is a farce!”

Helekh stood up. “RA’AM! SIT DOWN NOW!”

From her sitting position, Trenae looked up and saw Ra’am turn toward his father. His father’s words quelled the anger; Ra’am began lowering himself.

“Before Harkoav, before your beloved planet,” Ekdokhan said, “you would announce to all its citizens that you would not come forward to protect our very lifestyle, our very children, in an instance of war?”

After sitting down, Ra’am leaned forward on his arms and looked at all the members. His gaze lowered for a moment. He lifted his head and appeared changed in demeanor. “I apologize, to all listening and watching, for acting inappropriately. It was not godly behavior,” he said, sadness easing his voice. He inhaled a deep breath. “Harkoav, would not be properly served by my military abilities now. I have not served nor studied the nature of combat for many years. I retired, as I have said, from combat.” He leaned back in his seat. “I am a scientist now. That is all.”

Yega squirmed flustered and embarrassed. He gave Ra’am a steely glare. “As you wish to believe. But regardless, you HAVE been reinstated, on call, for active military combat duty, and you WILL abide by this order, or face swift consequences.” Trenae noticed Yega glance at her a moment, and then stare back at Ra’am. “I have downloaded the consequences, on your koaksekhel, for your reference.”

She quickly looked at him.

Agony squeezed Ra’am. He leaned forward and moaned softly. “No, no, that is not right,” he said quietly.

“Ra’am, what is it?” she whispered. Not answering or looking at her, he took her left hand again. His palm sweated cold and damp. Very unusual.

“Trenae, may we speak with you briefly?”

She turned her head. Justice General Ekdokhan had spoken to her, from behind the gold table. She flung her right hand up and grasped her translator, adjusting it comfortably. “Yes, you may,” she said. Her words jingled strange, resounding across the platform.

“We need to know” Ekdokhan said. “Has your marriage to Ra’am, come only of your free will, as is the usual custom on your planet, or have you been secretly forced into this marriage arrangement?”

Silence befell the auditorium. Trenae looked at Ra’am. He turned and gazed down at her.

She turned back toward Ekdokhan. “Well, no…no, of course not. I fell in love with Ra’am. He is my friend.”

“When you say friend, what exactly do you mean?” Yega asked.

Trenae struggled for some reason, to see Yega distinctly across the platform. Lighting in the enormous room appeared adequate, yet her vision felt tired, distorted. Was it the spinning platform, the blurring images of the audience beyond? She blinked her eye several times.

After thinking a few seconds, she gave the only answer she could. “My husband…is the water I drink, the food I eat, the air…the air that I breathe. He is everything for me, now. I would be lost without him.” She swallowed; she felt uncomfortable. Her words sounded so trite and cliché, at least by earth’s standards. She turned left, to see Ra’am. Warmth, gratitude, and love emanated from his face, his eyes glistening from wetness. He tried blinking them away, but she could see.

Trenae looked back at the counsel members. They too seemed pleased by her response, especially Helekh.

Just as she searched for Pa’eemyah or Sheveetah, to catch their response from her kind, yet honest words, it was unsuccessful; the platform’s slow spinning motion thwarted her chance.

The four counsel members in the farthest row stood up. They all appeared young and strong. One of them carried a koaksekhel. As they walked around the perimeter of the platform, a perimeter space far wider than she had judged originally, and came toward Ra’am and her, she noticed Yega and Ekdokhan stand up too. Now six ometvaheem began approaching their table.

They arrived. All six, seeming about 7 feet tall or greater, towered over her and Ra’am from their standing position. Trenae felt miniscule.

“Counsel Members Gmar, Eged, Loveh, and Oyev will help to remove your present koaksekhel and replace it with a lower functioning version,” Yega said. “You will still have all capabilities as before, just minus the--”

“Justice Yega,” Ra’am said, “you know I am aware of this. I will receive a level 2, instead of a level 1.” He willingly held out his right arm.

“Yes, of course,” Yega said. The counsel members began removing Ra’am’s koaksekhel.

Trenae had a good view now. White and black streaked hair strands covered Yega’s head.

Yega looked at her. “Trenae, may we quickly scan for the marriage anklet which is on your ankle?”

“Yes, sure. It is, well, it’s under my gravity--”

Ekdokhan thrust forth a small white, oval object. Pointing it at her feet, just from his arm’s length, she instantly felt the anklet tug against her skin for a second. Then as before, the anklet could barely be felt.

“And we see your wrist, Ra’ammahkar. The sharshot zekhoot neesoohah…” Yega said, while Ekdokhan also held the white object near Ra’am’s wrist. Trenae watched as Ra’am’s bracelet tugged briefly and then relaxed. “Yes, appears--”

“It is from Yozmah Prat Sefar, both are,” Ekdokhan said, interrupting Yega.

Trenae cringed inside for a moment. No! The anklet of Sheveetah’s friend is wrapped around my ankle! Her body shuddered quietly- they couldn’t notice.

Some time passed. Ra’am’s former koaksekhel became replaced by a new, less capable one. She wondered why they must do this. Maybe they feared retaliation from Ra’am, for the mistreatment they now administered to him. That seemed the only logical conclusion, though they stated it was a form of punishment.

Yet she knew Ra’am would never use a koaksekhel’s planetary destruction capabilities on his beloved Harkoav.

Maybe also, they wanted to embarrass Ra’am, make him appear less distinguished in front of his planet. Either way, it was an admonition. At least, such was the case with the koaksekhel. But the other part, the swift consequences part, if he did not perform in military combat, remained unanswered. She needed to know.

Ra’am asked for permission to visit AR3 once more. Remarkably, even after Ra’am’s unruly behavior, Yega and Ekdokhan honored his request, as long as Ra’am did so during his leisure time and before Harkoav established trade and other alliances with AR3.

After the counsel members finished everything with Ra’am and returned to their seats, the meeting concluded. The platform promptly ceased its spinning motion and lowered itself, floating like a weightless dime to the floor. Though Yega announced the meeting’s completion, he also stated they would reconvene, with different government members, at a later point in time during the day, for other meetings. Even so most of the High Counsel members began leaving the platform.

Relief flowed through Trenae.

Standing up, Drakon walked behind them, explaining they were free to go. Ra’am stood up and took her hand, his hand’s skin now warm and dry again, and carefully lead her off the platform. Drakon himself bolted away, leaving the auditorium.

Ra’am led them toward the long hallway opening Drakon had taken them down prior to the meeting. There, far ahead, Ra’am’s family members began to gather.

Walking toward his family members, Ra’am was stopped a few times by more Harkoavians interested in speaking with him. Trenae listened to their flattering remarks. And glanced around too. She saw Sheveetah and her husband leaving the Kheder Zahav. Good. Yet instead of only sensing relief, it hurt too. She comforted herself, pushing the realization in her mind that some beings will just not get along with other beings, and that was that.

Besides, once Ra’am finished with speaking to Harkoavians and they arrived by Pa’eemyah and Zemer, Ra’am’s other family members began arriving. Oz, Akhov, and their wives seemed happy to be amongst her, as did the friendly Zemer. And even the rather disagreeable Meragel arrived amongst her presence too. But again, the oldest Meenyan almehneh behaved aloof.

Everyone mingled and spoke to each other. Mostly, though, the brothers, almehneht, and Pa’eemyah spoke with Ra’am, especially questioning him on how he felt to stand before the entire Harkoav system. Trenae listened quietly, standing close to Ra’am’s side, glancing back now and then to view Harkoavians leaving and entering the great, busy Kheder Zahav. Although they didn’t hold hands, she could feel Ra’am’s concern for her. She hoped at some point the conversation would reveal Ra’am’s punishment if he didn’t comply with his reinstatement into military combat. However it did not. Once or twice, Pa’eemyah questioned Trenae, ascertaining her feelings of the meeting. Though flattered, that’s not what she wanted to talk about. She needed to know the punishment.

Just when she was about to ask Ra’am, Helekh arrived.

All became quiet, staring at the proud Governor of Dakah, dressed stately in his white and gold military uniform.

 “It is finished, Ra’am,” Helekh said. “You ended the meeting well, but I would have preferred a far more professional approach when Yega revealed your punishment.”

Ra’am turned to his left more, where Helekh stood. Trenae yet stood on Ra’am’s right side. Pa’eemyah and Zemer situated themselves across from her and Ra’am. The rest of the siblings and their spouses moved closer, apparently to hear the conversation better.

“This meeting was an outrage,” Ra’am said. “Unfortunately, I gave Makhtah what they wanted. The announcement of my return to military combat was exceedingly unexpected, and captured me by surprise. You are right, I should have remained calm. Now, after viewing my angry behavior, Makhtah will feel some vindication. I know they wanted me imprisoned, or my marriage ended, but since both were not possible…but I never wanted Makhtah to feel any pleasure at my expense.”               

“Do not fret over this, son,” Helekh said. “Just take this as a learning experience, and practice professional behavior at all government meetings. It was what you were taught.”

“Yes, I know- but what they said, that you feel it is for my best, to enter combat again- Why, father?”

“You are a great tactician, Ra’am. It was not your aggressive behavior alone which saved us, but your intelligent strategic moves, combined with your fearlessness. But you must learn to compromise, if your temper disturbs you. There is always a middle ground.”

“True, father, but what I did, in the Jardac War, scarred me. I don’t think…I could…” Ra’am looked down.

“You will be fine, son. There is no need to worry,” Helekh said. Trenae thought Helekh’s words sounded half convincing himself, half convincing Ra’am.

Ra’am lifted his head.

Helekh glanced around at all his family members. “The opposition of Oradom and Orkakol will be at its closest distance to Harkoav in 12 days from now.” Helekh seemed to be changing the subject. “It will be a stunning sight, since Seerah will be in approximately full phase, while Navatlev will be waxing to nearly full phase that same evening. I hope all of you will view this scene.”

“I will, father,” Ra’am said. “Trenae and I will travel to the top of Zotarhar hill, near our home in Nagaris, where we will have a magnificent view.”

“Can I come with you?” Zemer asked excitedly. He looked from both Ra’am to Trenae.

“We will see,” Ra’am said, “but Trenae and I wanted to be alone, and--”

“Zemer, please, we can see it from home,” Pa’eemyah said, with a slight laugh. Then she glanced at Ra’am.

Once Ra’am agreed to his father’s suggestion, to view the opposition, Oz and Akhov, even Meragel, all stated their desire to see the astronomy wonder, even stating their foreseen location to view it.

Zemer became noticeably more excited, like a human teenager, and asked if he could walk outside the Kheder Zahav and into the long hallways, to find some friends he had seen earlier. Pa’eemyah appeared concern and hesitant. But then Helekh raised his hand in an obvious affirmation, of a peculiar motion Trenae had not seen previously, similar to a salute, and Zemer scurried away.

Ra’am took Trenae’s left hand and pulled her close to him, while Helekh and the rest of his family spoke further about the Oradom and Orkakol opposition. They also spoke a little more of the High Counsel meeting.

Some time went by. Trenae suddenly heard running footsteps. She turned to her right. Zemer was racing down the long hallway they stood in.

“Ra’am! Ra’am!” Zemer said. “Your khayaleem of Anh Tsevah military are here! They want to see you!”

“Zemer, please act more mature. Your voice is too loud!” Helekh said, though not angry. “There is another meeting beginning to convene.”

“I am sorry, father, but Parash and Boged are here!” Zemer said excitedly. “They have come with Ra’am’s other khayaleem, 10 altogether. Even Shadar and Ha’azakh are here! They want to see their former commander.” The young almehneh beamed and looked straight up at Ra’am.

Ra’am glanced at his father.

“Go on, you should meet with them,” Helekh said. “It has been so long. They must miss you greatly.”

Ra’am gave farewells to his family members, and several family members gave farewells to Trenae. She felt a little more accepted.

Zemer then happily led the way toward an exit from the Kheder Zahav. Ra’am encircled his warm grasp around her hand, leading them. She noticed how dimly lit were the hallways, her mind more at ease now, more able to observe. Wow, deja vu! It was as if she’d been here before. Possibly the scene was reminiscent of a place on earth, like the long hall of Idaho City’s high school at night, when evening assemblies took place. Yet the materials and designs of the walls and ceilings contrasted severely from school. My mind just needs to grasp at something familiar, she figured.

They walked through the doorway and turned right. Eventually, after going down a similar dark hallway and then through another automatically opened doorway, they entered the large capital hallway once again. Bright light poured from the capital’s hallway, a welcomed sight from the former darkness. Zemer cast a shadow over the view in front of her, blocking her sight a moment, since he still led the way for her and Ra’am. Nevertheless Trenae could hear many deep, masculine voices enter her translator, with each forward step that she took.

Many tall beings began materializing in the light.

“Ra’ammahkar, it has been years!” said one tall ometvah.

Ra’am clung tighter to her hand. “Parash, you look older, more mature!” Ra’am said. She looked up. He gave the Parash a smile.

Trenae began eyeing everyone. Zemer walked over and stood to her right, crossing his arms and looking up at all Ra’am’s soldiers. Glancing at each one, Zemer grinned and behaved personable, desiring to be more accepted. She also noticed that yes, there were 10 soldiers. Each one wore a tsekehoot shakor, clearly the attire of Anh Tsevah military.

“And you appear wiser, more learned,” Parash said. “We are all very impressed by the great amount of scientific knowledge you brought from AR3. Amazing!”

“And you remember me, of course,” asked a particularly harsh-looking ometvah. He stepped forward, closer to Ra’am’s left side.

“Yes, Ha’azakh, my most fearless companion,” Ra’am said, turning to view Ha’azakh.

Two more ometvaheem stepped forward, from behind some to the others. One of the ometvaheem had his hand on the other ometvah’s shoulder. “Ra’am, we both missed you greatly,” he said.

“Shadar,” Ra’am said cheerfully, “and your brother, Boged. Both of you were so frightened that time, as we entered the Jardac vessel. But once inside, you both amazed me, as you worked together, leading a path through the enemy, so I could find the control panel.”

“Oh yes, we recall,” said the shorter of the two brothers. He was Boged, since Ra’am had gazed at him when saying his name. While most of Ra’am’s soldiers smiled or beamed happiness, Boged conveyed unease, as if he really didn’t want to be there. His smile didn’t shine sincere. Yet his brother Shadar smiled broadly.

Each one of Ra’am’s other former soldiers then stepped forward, with Zemer standing  proud and happy in their presence. Ra’am placed his left hand on each ometvah’s shoulders, while exchanging greetings, remembering names, and speaking briefly of war time memories. Trenae noticed the soldiers varied in height, yet all had typical ometvaheem features, the geed’aso, the eyes, though each ometvah’s hair strands were cut shorter than Ra’am’s. And all were rather handsome.

Eventually Ra’am wrapped his right arm around her. She wondered why. But then she knew- some of the soldiers would occasionally give her lustful, piercing glances. Yet she had the hemoom prodey smooyah disguise. But wait! Though Yega stated only High Counsel members observed the racy scene of her at Fontel’s, maybe Sheveetah’s claim of government corruptness, as in the Jardac War, enabled many more to see the scene. Had these few viewed it? Disgusted at first, she realized she couldn’t be ashamed of her body. Besides, it’s out of my control now anyway.

Nevertheless not all would give her lustful glances, though Ha’azakh and Boged seemed particularly interested in her. Yet, Shadar and Parash did not. It became obvious; only unmarried ometvaheem lusted for her.

Regardless, Ra’am appeared quite aware of their secret behavior, but handled it diplomatically, opting to be nonchalant and quietly protective of her, rather than rude or angry. More good feelings for her husband flowed within.

Their conversations continued. Trenae remained quiet, only listening. Many respected Ra’am’s decision to forgo his opportunity to marry, to help with the Jardac War. Were it not for Ra’am, the soldiers said, many of them would be dead now. And so most of his soldiers thought it appropriate for Ra’am to have a second chance to marry, even if his wife was an alien. In fact, they appeared confused as to why Yega had a problem with this. They then agreed, including Ra’am, that it was all bad timing, that Ra’am was just a convenient popular figure, now present on Harkoav, who could be humiliated publicly for Makhtah.

She also learned her suspicions were right- Shadar and Parash were married.

And then the subject turned to outer space. Ra’am questioned if any of his soldiers had been to intergalactic space, and had paused to see such incredible beauty. Some had observed the great wonder, yet only in passing, as they had been on a military assignment. Ra’am’s face lighted, speaking of Lo Zmarh, and His love and mercy to all for allowing such a beautiful scene. Ra’am then reminded his soldiers to watch their behavior, trying always to follow God’s will of righteousness. Again, some of the darkness surrounding Trenae’s heart, of Ra’am’s blood-ridden past, evaporated further. 

It was after Ra’am spoke of Lo Zmarh, though translated as God for Trenae, that his soldiers gave her more respectful glances.

Ra’am looked down at her. With a quick, soft motion, he took her right wrist. He touched the parekyad meyda, causing the hemoom prodey smooyah surrounding only her head to vanish. She could see everyone now without a slight, polygonal haze. She abruptly felt quite naked, on central stage, for Ra’am’s soldiers. He must want them to see me as I truly am.

“As you are aware, this is my wife, Trenae Lafayette,” Ra’am said. “She is smart, beautiful, and a wonderful assistant to my scientific work.” He glanced at her, and then at all his soldiers.

Trenae acted shyly at first. But then she remembered how important all these ometvaheem were to each other. I need to act proud too!

She lifted her head, even with the metorgey safah present, and smiled gracefully, forcing herself to look at each soldier. “Thank you,” she said. “It is a great honor to meet all of you.” All ten soldiers, at least of who she could see easily, bowed their heads in respect. But they didn’t smile. Damn, I feel so sweaty. Is it their joyless expressions or my close proximity to Ra’am? 

But anyway, she did it!

She looked up at Ra’am. He seemed pleased.

“I am so fortunate, to have met Trenae,” Ra’am said, looking at his soldiers.

The conversation again turned to other details. Ra’am didn’t reestablish the hemoom prodey smooyah around her head. Apparently, he trusted them now. And then Ra’am’s soldiers ignored Trenae, obviously out of respect for their commander. She wanted to speak to Zemer, as he always made her feel comfortable, but he still had his arms crossed, looking up at Ra’am’s soldiers. His heart was with them; his heart was with those he seemed to idolize.

Okay, Trenae, find something to do. She busied herself with looking around the capital’s grand hallway. Still in Ra’am’s comforting embrace, her relaxed gaze searched for other male and female couples, wondering if other males treated their wives as warmly as Ra’am treated her. Was it common behavior? True, she had seen Helekh treat Pa’eemyah respectfully, although with their first meeting of Ra’am’s parents, that didn’t seem to be the case. So she wanted more proof, more evidence of an ometvah’s dedication to his wife. And sure enough, she saw it. Looking between the soldiers, she saw males escort their much smaller wives, adorned with hemoom prodey smooyah, kindly and gently, walking next to them, not ahead nor behind them, either holding their wives by their fragile shoulders or tenderly grasping their small hands. Yes, they displayed much love for their ometvehar.

Although for a second it made Ra’am’s behavior seem less special, the second was fleeting, for another sign now existed that she could trust Ra’am again. Ometvaheem truly seemed to adore their wives. For a moment, she felt joyful for herself. Yet at the same time, it broke Trenae’s heart; she thought of all the males on Harkoav who could not marry and share in such beauty. It just didn’t seem fair.

She needed to change her mind’s subject. Desiring instead to search for some Harkoavian children instead of couples, her eyes followed one child walking near his parents. The child walked down the hallway to her left. She tried looking down, beneath, and around Ra’am and his standing soldiers, without being too obvious.

She finally caught a glimpse, but she didn’t see a child

About 25 feet down the long, silvery hall, numerous ometvaheem, wearing black and red uniforms, walked toward them. Black and red? These uniforms she had never seen before, since her stay in the Harkoav system. Something felt very wrong.

One of Ra’am’s soldiers, on Ra’am’s left, noticed Trenae’s perplexed expression. He turned around. He slowly turned back and met Ra’am’s eyes. “Look, see who is here,” he said quietly.

Yet it was too late for clandestine speech. Trenae noticed the one in the lead, an ometvah with white or gray tinted hair strands, began to speak, drawing ever closer.

“Ah, it is the wonder boy, Makhraham, who saved the planet,” he said, his voice booming.  Disrespect tarnished his words, especially how he used Ra’am’s former, lesser name.

All eyes and heads turned toward the older ometvah, including Ra’am.

“Kerakh Pakhadey Khayeem,” Ra’am said. “I see you have not lost your sarcasm.”

Ra’am’s soldiers gradually moved apart. Trenae noticed Kerakh had long tied-backed hair strands, like Ra’am, and a handsome face, as most ometvaheem. But he projected an angry scowl and eyes that burned with indignation.

Kerakh stepped closer. “Yes, the ometvah who became a war hero, who bragged how he led a thousand khayaleem, since seniority means nothing on Harkoav.” He formed an evil smile. “But now I, together with several others, command a planet. Quite a difference…And then, oh yes, after the war, our war hero suddenly ventured off, into outer space somewhere…and found…God.” Kerakh’s eyebrows raised in haughtiness.

“I did not realize He was lost,” Ra’am said. Trenae felt his grasp become even tighter around her shoulders.

“Ah, humor,” Kerakh said, stopping. He stood about 8 feet away and crossed his arms tightly across his chest. The soldiers accompanying him stood tough and angry, some copying a similar stance as their leader, others standing with their arms at their sides.

Kerakh turned and looked at his soldiers for a moment. “You see, fellow khayaleem, this is the perfect example of which I speak.” He turned back and glared at Ra’am. “A governor’s son, with a questionable behavioral background, allowed to marry.”

Ra’am’s khayaleem stepped farther aside and Trenae’s view improved even more. Scanning quickly, she figured about 30 or 40 soldiers stood behind Kerakh. Each had koaksekheleem, sparkling threateningly under the capital’s light, while their particular uniforms had red covering their torso and leg areas and a black hue covering the other portions.

Ra’am looked back at his soldiers, on her right. Trenae felt his grip loosen on her shoulders. She looked up. Noticing motion, she glanced at Ra’am’s soldiers too. 

Boged stepped forward. “I will take your wife, to a safer area,” he said quietly.

“Thank you,” Ra’am said. Boged then grasped Trenae’s right hand.

She looked at Zemer. Confusion and worry troubled the almehneh’s aqua blue eyes.

“Zemer, leave now,” Ra’am said. “Go to father.”

As Boged led her away, moving her beyond Ra’am’s soldiers, Trenae looked back toward her husband. She saw Zemer obediently turn around and exit through the nearby doorway. This felt disturbing, as it emphasized a hidden lethality.

Boged walked some distance, finally placing her against the opposite wall of the hallway, near the corner that formed the ‘T’. Boged stood to her left, close by, yet did not touch her. Fortunately Ra’am stood only about 30 feet away, since this hallway was narrower than the main entrance hallway.

“My wife is not Harkoavian,” Ra’am said, fearlessly walking closer to Kerakh. Trenae quickly noticed the acoustics in her particular position of the hallway allowed Ra’am’s voice to travel well. “It is of no importance to your cause. It’s a different situation.”

“I know, you are a traitor to your species!” Kerakh said matter-of-factly.

Ra’am rested his arms at his sides, his hands relaxed. “And you, are a traitor to your home planet.” His words  flowed calm yet firm.

Kerakh uncrossed his arms and rested his chin on his right hand, his left hand propping his right elbow. His stance appeared to mock Ra’am. “I have a NEW planet now,” Kerakh said. “Regardless, you should have never received your zekhoot neesoohah in the first place.” He crossed his arms again. “You nearly killed an almehneh…although, I can understand why.”

Ra’am stepped closer to him, about four feet away. “You understand nothing of my actions.”

Ha’azakh, Parash, and Shadar, and some of Ra’am’s other soldiers, walked close to Ra’am. “He is a war hero, as you stated,” Ha’azakh said. “He therefore deserves special treatment.”

“Yes, that is true,” said a few of Ra’am’s soldiers. Others spoke similar words, nearly in unison.

Kerakh calmly looked to both sides of Ra’am, at his soldiers; in the meantime, Kerakh’s soldiers began flanking around their leader. Other motion stirred around Trenae. She scanned the area. A few meshmarhgot shot a concerned glance at the soldiers, while other Harkoavian citizens slowed their walk and captured long ganders too.

“I speak of his life before he became your hero, you idiots,” Kerakh said to Ra’am’s soldiers. Some of Kerakh’s soldiers laughed. Many of Ra’am’s soldiers retaliated with angry stares. Kerakh stared at Ra’am. “But I understand Ra’am’s disgust for almehneht. They have long since overstayed their welcome. We do not need them anymore, and it is high time someone induced their extermination. Ometvaheem are smart enough.” Many of Kerakh’s soldiers chanted similar words of agreement.

“I have no disgust for almehneht,” Ra’am said. He continued to hang his arms by his sides, his hands still relaxed

“But you nearly killed one in school,” Kerakh said.

“I was young then…and out of control,” Ra’am said.

Trenae adjusted her metorgey safah, positioning the ear flaps toward their conversation, magnifying sounds.

“Would you have we overturn what God constructed for our species, corrupt His very life for us?” Ra’am asked. “Have you completely forgotten Zmahnorah?”

“God?” Kerakh asked loudly, grinning. “What does God have to do with this? Oh, that’s right…you have become exceptionally religious. I forgot, my mistake.” He laughed. So did some of his soldiers.

“The almehneht are our siblings, friends, and relatives,” Ra’am said calmly, remaining unruffled. “You know, as well as I do, that they are our teachers, our scientists, mathematicians, and our religious leaders. How could you possible want their extinction? It was they, who brought us to our present technological state. Are we burning bridges?”

“Burning bridges?” Kerakh laughed. Then he became serious, glaring at Ra’am. “No, but I will tell you this- there are ometvaheem, who are our siblings, friends, and relatives, as you so poetically put it, who you should be more concerned with. They are lonely, abandoned, and they cannot marry.”

“What have you done on Makhtah, Kerakh?” Ra’am asked. “Ometvaheem who are not around females, do not think such thoughts, except during ta’are ekhsakar!”

“I know that! Are you implying I am ignorant?”

Ra’am crossed his arms and stared calmly at Kerakh. “You may label yourself.”

“And what of your story?” Kerakh asked. His demeanor became agitated, his arms flailing, his finger pointing at Ra’am. Trenae sensed danger. “How is it, that you became attracted to a female on AR3? Possibly, you just cannot understand, since you have always had such privilege…of what it’s like, not to be allowed to marry!”

“God grants us all, what we deserve,” Ra’am said.

“Kheeloleh to God!” Kerakh said, spitting on the floor. “I am sickened with such fables! There is no concrete evidence that He exists!”

Ra’am appeared to take a deep breath.  His continued attempt at calmness impressed Trenae. “And where is the concrete evidence, that He does not?” Ra’am asked. “There is evidence of God’s first creation, Yekomekhd, Ha-Ekhad, on AR3.”

“And from what I have observed, that evidence is just mere words, nothing scientific, nothing physical!” Kerakh said. “Many of my colleagues, and my soldiers, believe we come from an intelligent alien race with far greater knowledge, an alien race that lives in a distant galaxy we have not yet explored.”

“You know that violates the Yetseyrah principle!” Ra’am said. “Then who made those aliens, and so forth?”

“And WHO MADE GOD?” Kerakh asked forcefully. “He is just an imagined thought in our troubled heads, to comfort us when we know there is nothing, NOTHING, beyond death!”

“There is Ensofyafah!” Ra’am said.

Huffing in disgust, Kerakh began walking to his left, lessening the distance between Trenae and himself. She pressed her back closer against the wall, even though Kerakh still walked about 25 feet away. Ra’am slowly turned and stared at Kerakh.

“I have no time to discuss theology with you,” Kerakh said, treading back toward Ra’am. “But I will tell you this- AR3, thanks to you, has given us all the scientific information we need to establish a genetic model for a new world, where every male will have a female, and almehneht will NOT exist.”

With his arms still crossed, Ra’am glared at Kerakh. “You are insane.”

“Me?” Kerakh asked. “You should look at yourself, first.”

“You cannot fix what is right! Zmahnorah proved that, without a doubt.”

“And what do YOU know?” Kerakh nearly shouted. Several meshmarhgot walked closer to the troubled group, stepping between Trenae and the soldiers, yet not completely blocking her view. “You have a wife,” Kerakh said in a lower, malicious voice. “I wonder, how you would feel, if she were taken away. Especially since you are a righteous, God-fearing ometvah, who now believes in forgiveness and nonviolence…what would you do?” Kerakh’s words slinked drenched in slyness.

Fear weighed on Trenae. Her palms sweated and adrenaline rushed through her.

Ra’am drew closer to Kerakh, as did some of Ra’am’s soldiers. Unlike Trenae, her husband showed no fear. “It was not found necessary for my wife and me to be separated,” Ra’am said. “Yega has already punished me, another way. I should think you would be happy!”

Slowly Kerakh lifted his right arm, containing his koaksekhel. For the first time since all of Kerakh’s soldiers congregated, each of their glistening koaksekheleem worried Trenae- there were far too many. But then again, Ra’am and his soldiers each had a koaksekhel. And koaksekheleem are disabled by the building, she remembered. Though less worried, she still felt agitated. Breaths puffed faster across her tongue.

“Yes, I think she will be the first, to prove our genetic theories. Her DNA will be perfect, as her anatomy is most delicious,” Kerakh said, turning, staring at Trenae and raising his koaksekhel more.

She gasped. Ra’am glared at Kerakh.

Kerakh shot his gaze at Boged. “TAKE HER, BOGED!” Kerakh yelled.

No! Boged has ME!

Boged’s large hands plunged into her shoulders, hurting her. Without even thinking, Trenae screamed. She felt herself tugged sideways and backwards, to the left of the corner and then down toward the larger entrance hallway. “Ra’am! RAA  AAMM!” she yelled. There was nothing she could do to stop Boged.

She stared for Ra’am. Ra’am stared for her, finding her, his eyes full of terror. She struggled to watch him, Boged yanking her away. 

“And what will you do?” Kerakh asked defiantly. “Our weapons are not affected by this building, so they are working and lethal!” Kerakh lifted his right arm more. His koaksekhel zoomed forward, a shot of liquid metal, and formed a large pointed gun, covering from his arm to over his hand. He pointed the tip at Ra’am’s face.

Just at that moment, distant footsteps, voices surged toward Trenae.

But she couldn’t comprehend the footsteps and voices. Her stare glued to Ra’am. Motion like lightning, Ra’am lunged at Kerakh, not the slightest hesitation, even with the weapon pointed in his face. He struck down Kerakh’s gun-laden right arm and Kerakh’s other arm, wrapping both arms around Kerakh’s back.

Impossible! Never had she seen such blurring speed during her short stay on Harkoav. Even with Harkoav’s greater gravity, and though both groups of soldiers drew closer to their leaders, blocking her view a bit, Ra’am’s speed and physical capabilities far surpassed those of his peers.

She kept her eyes locked on Ra’am, though Boged diminished her view with his tugging, though terror pounded her heart.

Ra’am whipped his forearm around Kerakh’s neck, squeezing it like a vise. His other arm secured Kerakh’s arms. He dropped Kerakh to his knees in a ground breaking thud.

“Gugh!” Kerakh gasped. They both now knelt on the floor, Ra’am in complete control.

“YOU WILL  RELEASE HIM IMMEDIATELY OR DIE!” yelled one of Kerakh’s soldiers. He thrust his koaksekhel gun point at Ra’am’s head.    

“THINK AGAIN, IDIOT!” Ha’azakh shouted back. He charged forward and pointed his koaksekhel gun at the soldier’s head. Now Trenae could no longer see Ra’am and Kerakh.

“Your weapons are disabled!” Kerakh’s soldier said. “Ours our not.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Ha’azakh said, his voice forceful.

“If you fire your weapon at me, then we both die!” Ra’am said loudly. She was sure it was him. “I am tightening my grip, take your chances!”

Pounding, squirming noises flooded Trenae’s ears. “STOP! HALT YOUR MOTION NOW!” Boged ceased moving her. She shot her head left. An almehneh in a meshmarhg uniform pointed a koaksekhel gun at Boged’s head.

Boged spit in his face. “You are nothing to me, almehneh!”

“Then take MY demand!” She turned toward the voice. An ometvah meshmarhg, just arriving, stood next to the almehneh. “Release this female now!” he said, pointing his gun at Boged.

No warning, Boged yanked Trenae against him and slammed his back against the nearby wall, her body slamming his front. “Ugh!” she gasped. He clamped his arms around her waist and arms, lifting her high, until most of her body covered his upper chest. Her head felt close to his face. Boged tightened his grasp. “Ahh!” she said. “My stomach!”

The metorgey safah yet clung to her head.

“Go ahead, fire at me, then she dies as well!” Boged said, his words blasting past her ears.

Now she could only stare at the two meshmarhgot, their guns pointing unsurely at both her and Boged. Her voice froze. Her stomach hurt more, Boged tightening his clamp. Yet struggling too with puffing breaths, she turned right and searched frantically for Ra’am. Many Harkoavians surrounded him, but she caught a glimpse. Ra’am was causing his victim further anguish. Kerakh struggled further to breath, gasping and coughing.


“Then you die!” said Kerakh’s soldier.

“Fire at him now, in the head!” yelled another of Kerakh’s soldiers.

Trenae listened more. Wheezing and now gagging, Kerakh’s struggle increased. Ra’am’s grip must be tightening even more.

“Your leader’s face is turning black- tell Boged to release Trenae now!” Parash said.

“Then we kill YOUR leader, and your weapons don’t work!”

“Our weapons work!” A flash of red light hit the floor, its sound striking her ear. Even within the building? For a fleeting second, she wondered why.

Once the weapon fired, three more meshmarhgot quickly joined the other two before her. Boged continued to hold her high, tightly. She looked back at Ra’am. Many meshmarhgot circled near the soldiers too. Normal Harkoavian citizens, especially those with families, had disappeared from view.

Meshmarhgot near Ra’am and Kerakh ordered Ra’am to release his victim’s neck. Kerakh’s condition sounded worse and worse. Yet Ra’am refused, until Trenae was released. More deadly threats hurled through the air, by Kerakh and Ra’am’s soldiers. More meshmarhgot struggled troublesomely to prevent both the soldier’s and Ra’am’s actions.

Several of Ra’am’s soldiers yelled at Boged, calling him a traitor. Boged merely laughed, hurting Trenae’s ears, acting rude, unlike his behavior when she first saw him. His breath smelled. It wasn’t a pleasant odor, like Ra’am’s breath. Her stomach hurt more and more from his tight grip. She moaned.

Someone yelled that Kerakh was nearly dead. Trenae turned her head, as far right as she could, ignoring Boged’s face, searching between Harkoavians, and saw Ra’am gradually releasing his grip on Kerakh’s neck.

“Re…release her…RELEASE HER…BOGED…now,” Kerakh said. “THAT IS MY ORDER, NOW!”

Bursting huge, nasty sighs, Boged slowly lowered her to the floor. A hand snatched Trenae’s wrist, yanking her away. She looked up. It was the almehneh meshmarhg who first charged Boged. She heard swooshing, crackling metal, the other meshmarhgot plunging their guns toward Boged’s head, threatening harm if Boged moved.

But Trenae couldn’t turn and notice Boged’s condition. All she knew Ra’am lay straight ahead. Like a shooting star she began flying for him.

She couldn’t budge. The almehneh held her wrist, jolting her backwards a little. 

“Are you all right?” the almehneh asked.

She turned back, looked up. “Yes, please, I need my husband!”

He let her go. She ran. In slow motion eyes and faces turned her way. But they were of no concern, not now. Ra’am was still holding Kerakh by the neck. But then he saw her. Glaring down, from above Kerakh’s head, Ra’am jerked both his arms away from the Makhtah leader.

Disturbing anger darkened Ra’am’s face, anger she had never seen before.

Kerakh fell backwards. Some of Kerakh’s soldiers lunged forward to lift him. And then she got a good look at Kerakh’s face. Alarmingly, though Kerakh’s appeared near death, he smiled.

Ra’am stood up and ran to her. She closed her eyes, collapsing into his arms. Ra’am sealed himself around her, tighter than he ever did before. It felt so good.

Surprise struck Trenae- she suddenly realized that she wasn’t even crying. In fact anger and humiliation reigned supreme in her body above all else. Far, far too much turmoil for any one day.

“Both of you, Ra’ammahkar and Kerakh, what of this behavior?” asked the deep voice of one meshmarhg.

“Why ask Ra’am?” said one of Ra’am’s soldiers. “It was Kerakh’s doing!”

Ra’am slowly turned Trenae and himself around, toward the voices.

“It was a joke, a mere prank,” Kerakh said, smiling, yet breathing hard. “Do all you think…I could be such a fool…to instigate the anger of someone…so insane…someone so…formidable?” He looked at Ra’am.

Accusations began to fly around from many sides, from all the soldiers and the meshmarhgot, all reacting to Kerakh’s cocky and nonchalant answer. Ra’am’s soldiers appeared very disturbed. 

Trenae eyed Kerakh and his soldiers. But out of her eye’s corner, she saw Helekh and Yega and other High Counsel members approaching the scene. 

“Kerakh, it is clear you began this situation,” said one meshmarhg. “You are now under arrest!”

“No, that is not possible,” Yega said calmly. He walked up to the ometvah meshmarhg who just spoke. His back turned, the meshmarhg had not seen Yega’s presence before hand. “Kerakh and his khayaleem now have diplomatic immunity,” Yega said.

“That is right,” said Kerakh. He began to straighten his uniform and stand proud, though his face still washed pale and death-ridden, his breathing difficult. Even so he smiled, his face mischievous. “I do have…diplomatic immunity, since I am no longer…a citizen of Harkoav. I am here…on a peace meeting.”

“A lot of peace you’re bringing!” said one of Ra’am’s soldiers.

As Yega and Helekh drew closer to Kerakh, Trenae noticed Kerakh look at Ra’am. Ra’am’s left arm snuggled her safely and her own arms adhered like superglue to him. Still she felt totally undone now. She struggled to watch everyone, especially Kerakh.

“Well, Makhraham, I see…I was wrong,” Kerakh said, between troubled breaths. “You have…not changed.”

“I have changed,” Ra’am said, “for if I had not, you would be dead right now.”

With what little apparent strength he had left, Kerakh lunged forward, looming about six feet away. Frightening rage burned his face. “I see also your confidence still exceeds your limits, as always,” he said quickly.

“Presume my limits wisely,” Ra’am said calmly. But she could feel his body tighten within.

“You knew the consequences, if you had killed me!” Kerakh said.

“Enough, you two!” said an ometvah meshmarhg. “You will both have to be questioned of your motives, regardless of diplomatic immunity!”.

“Yes, that is true,” Helekh said, stepping between Ra’am and Kerakh. Ra’am’s father seemed cool, yet inwardly distraught. “If you do not mind, this incident must be recorded.” Helekh looked at both Ra’am and Kerakh.

Meshmarhgot began asking Ra’am some brief questions, of which he quietly and quickly answered. But Kerakh ignored the meshmarhgot attempts and moved closer to Ra’am, even as several ometvaheem meshmarhgot followed Kerakh. Ra’am backed away from the crazy Makhtah leader, taking gradual steps, while a few other meshmarhgot questioned Trenae, asking whether she was all right, or hurt. Ra’am’s behavior wasn’t due to fear, she deduced, but because of her. However she quickly answered some of the questions, Ra’am still moving her.

Helekh began positioning himself in Kerakh’s way, preventing Kerakh from getting any closer.

“You know, as do I, that Harkoav caused the Jardac War,” Kerakh said, glancing at Helekh a moment. Then Kerakh looked back at Ra’am.

“No, I do not,” Ra’am said.

“I find it most disturbing and interesting,” Kerakh said, his words clearer, quicker now, “that Makhtah suffered far greater losses than Harkoav. We NEED to rebuild our population. We NEED to do…what we MUST!” Kerakh rudely pushed Helekh aside. Ra’am stood his ground, though moving Trenae around his body, protecting her. A meshmarhg stepped near her.

Kerakh moved closer, until about three feet from Ra’am. “You should join us,” Kerakh said. “We could use your power. We all know how you killed the Jardackians, an asexual being like almehneht, with intense hate.”

Curiosity got Trenae. She edged her head around Ra’am’s left side, around his protecting arm, to view Kerakh better.

“I was simply protecting my soldiers,” Ra’am said forcefully. “And besides, Jardackians reproduce asexually, as you know very well, Kerakh. Almehneht cannot reproduce.”

“I minor difference, as I see it,” Kerakh said. “So, will you join us?”

“Never.” The firmness in Ra’am’s reply stilled the air.

Trenae came around to Ra’am’s left side, his front, yet remained in his arm embrace.

 Kerakh stared down at Trenae. She clung tighter to Ra’am’s body, he grasping her closer the same. Kerakh’s eyes seared with evil intent. “What a delicate little flower, is your wife,” he said, glaring at her.

She looked down. Even on an alien planet, trillions of miles away, my faults could be noticed. Something collapsed within her. Was it her heart, or her very soul?

Ignoring Kerakh’s words, Ra’am asked if the meshmarhgot were finished. The meshmarhgot quickly concluded their information intake on their koaksekhels, seeming eager to leave the scene, and allowed Ra’am to leave. Helekh told Ra’am that they would meet later, since both he and Ra’am waxed ill at ease to speak in front of the irritating and persistent Kerakh, who still hovered near them. 

Ra’am began to lead Trenae from the melee, releasing her shoulder and taking her hand. Some of Ra’am’s soldiers walked with them too.

She stared straight ahead, down the hall. Boged yet stood where he had trapped her. Meshmarhgot kept him, surrounded him, spoke to him. A few of Ra’am’s soldiers questioned Shadar, asking if he realized his brother had become a traitor. Shadar acted hurt and shocked by his brother’s behavior, as she looked up at him. In fact all the soldiers were blanketed by shock.

They began passing Boged. The corrupt traitor smiled deviously, boldly. For a moment, Trenae felt certain several of Ra’am’s soldiers would lunge a physical attack on Boged. Ra’am, on the other hand, looked straight ahead, toward the long end of the hallway and occasionally answered questions and spoke with his soldiers.

And then it did happen. One of Ra’am’s soldiers lunged an aggressive charge toward Boged.


Trenae’s heart jumped. It was Kerakh’s voice.

Ra’am’s soldier halted his movement toward Boged.

At first Ra’am walked on. But then he stopped. He edged himself and Trenae around.

She looked between Ra’am’s soldiers. Yega and Helekh still stood nearby, along with some other High Counsel members, and so did all of Kerakh’s soldiers and a few meshmarhgot. Kerakh loomed dark, threatening near all of them, his body a black sword cutting what little peace now existed.

“It’s been over 7000 years, nearly 8000,” Kerakh said, his voice thundering the great hall. “Where is your God?”

Trenae noticed, with some apprehension that all eyes stared at she and Ra’am. Ra’am began leading her closer to Kerakh. Ra’am’s soldiers moved out of his way, allowing about 25 feet of empty space to lay between Kerakh and Ra’am.

“Where is your faith?” Ra’am asked calmly.

An assured smirk swirled Kerakh’s face, his steps drawing closer. “Must you answer a question, with another question?” he asked smugly. Many of his soldiers laughed.

“Ignorant questions deserve to be questioned,” Ra’am said.

Wounded, angered, Kerakh forced his way even closer to Ra’am. “Ignorant? Or maybe, you just do not have an answer.”

Some of Ra’am’s soldiers began forming a blocking line in front of Ra’am, halting Kerakh. But Ra’am tossed his arm up, gesturing them to back away. They complied.

In only seconds Kerakh stopped within 3 or 4 feet from Ra’am. They stared at each other in silence, Ra’am attempting calm, Kerakh eager for another confrontation, and waiting on Ra’am’s reply.

“The answer…is faith,” Ra’am said gently.

“My faith died a long time ago,” Kerakh said, heat in his words. But then he mellowed, even forming a slight smile. “We will meet again, Makhraham, and this time, you will not be so fortunate.”

Ra’am stood tall and straight, staring unflinchingly at Kerakh. “I look forward to it.”

Kerakh glared up and down at them. Finished, he spun around and stormed back toward his soldiers. She watched quietly, observing Helekh, Yega, the meshmarhgot, and other High Counsel members, even Ra’am’s soldiers, eye Kerakh with suspicious, worried stares.

“Are you all right?” Ra’am asked.

She looked up at him. “Yes, I think so.”

“Good. We need to leave, now.”

“Great with me, really!” she said.

Ra’am turned them around, toward the hallway’s main entrance. His soldiers followed them.

When they finally had fully passed Boged’s upsetting scene, Parash drew closer to Ra’am. “We need to go back, for the meeting,” Parash said. “It was the main reason we came today, to hear Kerakh’s proposal, for peace. But it was Boged who suggested we meet with you. We wanted to see you again, but we were going to visit you later, at your home or Memadshakor.”

“Yes, that is true,” said Shadar, walking next to Ra’am. “I cannot believe my brother…he suggested we speak with you. But for him to turn, to the other side? I am destroyed.”

Ra’am touched Shadar’s shoulder. “I understand,” Ra’am said. “My own siblings, can turn on me likewise. And it hurts.”

Shadar looked at Ra’am. “Yes, it does, so much.”

“It is obvious, this was some sort of test,” Ha’azakh said. “Kerakh is conniving.”

“That is true,” Ra’am said. Then Ra’am slowed down, coming to a stop. He looked at his soldiers. “Please. If you must go to the meeting, then leave. I appreciate your desire to accompany me, but we will be safe the rest of the way.”

“Certainly, we will leave you,” Parash said. “May God be with you, our fearless commander.”

After a few more words amongst them, Ra’am and Trenae parted company with the soldiers, and the soldiers headed back toward the Kheder Zahav.

Something in Ra’am’s voice, a sadness, forced her to think. Ra’am endeavored to be a godly being, yet twice today, both in the High Counsel meeting and then with Kerakh, he had lost his composure, severely. Even with Sheveetah’s demonic behavior he acted in appropriately. True, what choice did he have with Kerakh’s actions? She felt very thankful he did what he did with Kerakh.

They left the capital building, soon entering Ha-Ta and sitting down in their usual seats. 

“No! What a fool I was!” Ra’am said, slamming the control panel with his fist. Trenae jolted. His hard hit induced a wave, like ocean water, emanating from the shleetah maksheer and spreading across the walls, floor, and ceiling and eventually ending near Ha-Ta’s center. It felt very odd. “I should have known, I should have left with you immediately, not even giving him a chance to speak with me!”

He lowered his head and brought both his hands on his lap.

Though Trenae felt some fear, she brushed it aside, remembering her husband’s true heart, the devastating encounters he experienced today. She arose from her seat and softly touched his shoulders. Right away Ra’am lifted his head and took hold of her, nestling her in his lap. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her so tightly.  “Are you sure you are all right?” he asked, moving to see her face. “Did he hurt you?”

“Well, no, not now,” she said. “But yes, he did hurt me when he lifted me, around my stomach. He hurt my shoulders a little, when he tugged me back. But it’s nothing I never had done to me before, from my brother or Willson’s guys. I’ll be all right.”

“I am very sorry. I should have been more perceptive, to what was happening, but…”

“What do you mean?” she asked gently.

“As Ha’azakh stated, Kerakh was testing me. It is the only logical explanation, of why Boged influenced my khayaleem to visit with me. Kerakh wanted to see where my true loyalties lay. I believe I surprised him.”

“Because he thought you were more godly now, someone who would no longer act aggressive?”

“Yes. But he also had to know, my true feelings for you.”

“I…I don’t understand. Don’t all ometvaheem protect their wives, do anything for them?”

“Yes, but you are not ometvehar. You are an alien being. He wanted to know…actually…” Ra’am looked away, at the khalon, his eyes harboring despair. “He was searching for my weakness. And he found it.” He looked back into her eyes.

“I am your weakness?” she asked softly.

“I know. You are both my strength and my weakness. How ironic.”

She nuzzled herself close to Ra’am’s broad chest and held him tightly. “I’m sorry, I am so sorry you’ve had such a difficult life. And now, I’ve just complicated things.”

“No,” Ra’am whispered. He hugged her tighter. “No, you have made it better, so much better. It is just…it is just that…”

“Yes?” she asked quietly, pressing her face close to him.

“I wanted to make a good impression, to my khayaleem, of how I had changed. Kerakh took that away from me. And now…now I have doubts, of what I have done.”…

















                                                                    Chapter 26



… “After we held each other for a while longer, Ra’am asked me if I was still afraid of him, because of his past. I said I wasn’t sure, really. I only knew, he had been treating me right. And so, I told him maybe time would help this. I wasn’t sure, but…”

“Obviously he still had a temper, right?” Jenny asked.

“Well, yeah…you know what really helped me though?”

“What’s that?”

“That he sprung into action, without even thinking much, to save me.”

“You mean with Kerakh?”

“Oh yes,” Trenae said dreamily. “It was unbelievable. He was so quick, so overpowering. I couldn’t believe how fast he grabbed Kerakh, even with a weapon pointed at his face! It looked like he had not even one thought for his own life. It was…wonderful, to have someone care so much.”

“He had always protected you.”

“Yeah, but, his life was never at risk, not really.”


“And the other thing that helped me, was the memory of when I first knew I was in love with him, after I had seen him cry.”

“The grizzly bear encounter?”

“Yes. I knew I had seen then, how he really was inside. Sure, maybe he did some horrible things before, but maybe it WAS justified…I don’t know. I didn’t know everything he saw or experienced. In conclusion, I guess, if you’re on his good side, then he was perfect to be around. I used that thought to help me. I tried not to think about his past, of what he did.”

“Hey, but, weren’t those weapons disabled which they used, like you said?”

“No, we found out later, that they were all on, both Kerakh’s and Ra’am’s soldiers. Apparently Makhtah found a breaking code for it first, to enable their guns in the capital building. But then some Harkoav spies on Makhtah found it out too. But it was not good that Ra’am’s soldiers showed they knew this. Ra’am worried, that one of their spies would be discovered, who did this, and tortured and executed.”

“Yikes! Did that ever happen while you were there?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

Jenny paused a little, looking to the east side of the building. “Do you know the time frame, of when you were there?”

“Time frame?”

“Yeah, like when you left earth, got to Harkoav, had the High Counsel meeting?”

Trenae looked down for a moment. It felt like Jenny doubted her again. “I think we left earth, for Mars, on January 21. Yes, that’s right, since that’s the day we were married. How could I forget.” She lifted her head and looked at Jenny. “And then we were on Mars, for like 6 days total. See, this watch I’m wearing”- Trenae showed the watch on her left wrist- “a digital Casio, I had it on Harkoav. I had it with me all the time, and now that you mention it, I was always checking the date, to see how the time on earth, in Idaho. And yeah, I do remember.” She smiled.

“Remember what?”

“I remember the night of the High Counsel meeting, when everything was so bad. It was the 5th of February, on my watch. I checked in the morning that day, after Ra’am and I got up.” Inhaling a deep breath, she gazed down.

“That bad, huh?” Jenny asked. “Of course, with Sheveetah, Yega, and then, Kerakh.”

“Yes, it was awful. Ra’am took me, after we left Beerat Yesodee, to Hareh Koav, that extremely tall mountain.” She looked at Jenny. “We went right up to the top, into space, like on Olympus Mons. You know, on Mars.”

“I remember.”

“We parked Ha-Ta on a ledge. Hareh Koav has a caldera too, so we ended up almost in the same type of spot as on Olympus Mons, with a view into space and a view across the incredible expanse of the caldera. It was hard to see a lot, since it was still daytime and their sun was bright, and there was much contrast between the dark and light. Ra’am put some filter screens up so we could see better. There were some other Harkoavians there, in various spacecrafts, parked different areas. Ra’am said it was a very popular tourist spot. But we were alone in our immediate area.

“But I couldn’t really think about the scenery. Nor could Ra’am. He programmed Ha-Ta to make the khalonot hekef again, so we could see everywhere. And then he had me lay on his body, like in a reclined position, while he sat on the evesmol. We looked around, and talked.”

“About what?”

“I told Ra’am how I felt, about those ometvaheem who couldn’t marry. I kept thinking how unfair it was. I remembered how some of Ra’am’s soldiers looked at me. They lusted for me, yet, they seemed, kind of sad. It really made me understand Kerakh’s point of view.

“But Ra’am explained I could not understand, being from another planet. He kept explaining how corrupt Kerakh was, how distorted he and most of Makhtah’s point of view was. He also told me…though what he did was evil, in that war, Kerakh was even worse, since he murdered some of his own soldiers with his own hands, only because they did not agree with him.”

“Hmm,” said Jenny. “Ra’am at least went after the enemy, not his own.”

“Yeah, mostly, it seemed. Ra’am kept reminding me, that as long as ometvaheem were not around females, they were fine. He suspected that on Makhtah they were allowing the males to see females, either through pictures or some other means. Like maybe secretly viewing females on Harkoav through those micro-robots, so that the Makhtah soldiers were becoming more aware, of what they were missing. Like a sort of brain-washing.”

“But Ra’am’s soldiers looked lustfully at you.”

“I know. I reminded Ra’am of that. But he said the ones who weren’t married only saw females very occasionally, or not at all, and were normally okay. But I still thought it was very unfair. I suggested that why don’t they just genetically modify their species, so that there were an equal number of males, females, and almehneht born. He said others had thought of that, tried it, but it caused alterations in the genders. And also most rejected it because it was against God.

“And it was after that, talking of God, that Ra’am became rather depressed. He said he had thought I was a gift for him, from God. But after he acted that day, he had doubts. He felt upset, that he had talked to his soldiers about being righteous before God, but then he nearly killed Kerakh. He said he only wanted to force Kerakh to let me go, but he almost killed him. And the thoughts he had for Boged…well, he had really wanted to kill him. He had almost felt some of the dangerous rage that he had felt in the Jardac War. But he controlled it. Since Boged hadn’t actually harmed me physically, he was less angry. But if Boged had…

“Anyway, I praised him on ignoring Boged. But he was still upset with himself.”

“That was nice of you, though,” Jenny said.

“True, yes. But worse of all…he felt our marriage was a mistake. Not with me, since he loved me so much and said I changed his life. It was…his parents, his family, his planet. They all were suffering, because we married. I really…I really couldn’t disagree. And he felt it was very wrong, that he married me and had not told me his past. It upset him greatly to see how disgusted and scared I was of what he did in the Jardac War. And I realized, even the progress he had made in growing closer to God, was jeopardized by me. We both screwed everything up, I guess.”

“Wow, that’s a heavy load.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So what happened?”

“Well, after we lay there a little longer and looked around, Ra’am finally told me he needed to see a servant of God, the almehneh he and his family had always seen on all worship days since he was a child. He had never introduced us before, since we had never been to a service. But we got up, sat in our seats, and Ra’am took us back to the continent of Dakah, and then Nagaris.”

“Did you see his family again?”

“Not that day, but later on, in our stay on Harkoav. I never saw Sheveetah again, but that was okay.

“But anyway, we went to Ra’am’s regular Heseeyah- that’s church in their language.”  Jenny paused and wrote it down. “Though we came at night, Ra’am hoped the almehneh who gave the service would be available. The Heseeyah, a strange-looking building, was alone in the country, outside Nagaris, surrounded by small pine like trees and some other plants and trees, and even a house where the almehneh lived. It was made of mirror-like material, so that it reflected everything around it, although at night, we couldn’t see that much. Ra’am said it reflected things perfectly. That was amazing, since it had a curved shape. It looked like two wide-mouthed cones placed on top of each other, at their widest, circular ends. It had like a base, that the cone on the bottom, with its pointy end, was placed into, while the other cone’s point headed skyward.”

“Like two pyramids?”

“Almost, but- more like two sugar cones placed together at their mouths, only the cones were much shorter, squatter. Ra’am called the whole shape a hecatohedron, in English, from the bottom point to the top point, not including the base. It was probably about 2 or 3 hundred feet high altogether. We had to come inside, through a door in the base area, on the land. I remember being surprised at seeing pictures of flowers and trees painted or colored on the door.”

“Harkoav definitely had flowers? Kerakh didn’t make that up, using earth terminology?”

“No, there were flowers there. I saw them. They were like earth’s, yet with thicker stems, thicker, stronger petals.

“Anyway, though, we came through the pretty doors. They opened like most buildings on Harkoav, like on Ha-Ta.

“At first, we couldn’t find anyone. It was empty. Ra’am led me to the cones’ interior, like a sitting area or sanctuary in an earth church. It was similar to the Kheder Zahav. You had to look straight up, to see it all. It kinda reminded me of huge beehive. There was a white circular platform, in the middle, on the bottom. And then there was a long narrow clear cylinder, which came out of the white platform and went all the way to the roof’s top point. Ra’am said it would fill with koavreeshon light during the day, and brighten gloriously. It was suppose to represent the power and light of God. All around, in circular rows were seat levels, which grew outward in diameter, like the cone. But then they grew narrower, like an upside down cone.”

“Like two amphitheaters placed together at their widest areas, one upside down?”

“Right, exactly. The rows of seats grew away from the platform to a certain point. Those seats you could sit normal in. But the ones up high, where the rows got smaller, were like balconies, where someone had to look down. Harkoavians took hemoom prodoh elevators up to those levels. Ra’am said the hemoom prodoh just appeared out of the floor, when needed.”

“They seemed to like this sort of arrangement, where viewers could view every part of the speaker, both his head, feet, AND body,” Jenny said, smiling.

Trenae laughed. “Yeah, I guess. You wouldn’t want to be bald or have a lot of dandruff.”

Jenny laughed a little too. “That sounds about it…So, did you find anyone?”

“Yes. After Ra’am was showing me around awhile, the almehneh guy came in and activated the light, making it brighter in there. Now I could see- the circular seat rows were made of some sort of wood and appeared similar to bench seats, and attached to an olive green wall. It was a very earthy looking, yet other-worldly too.”

“Hmm, I see.”

“Ra’am told me there wasn’t a podium that the almehneh spoke by. He just stood near the middle of the circular platform, by the light cylinder, and spoke to the audience. The platform rose up slightly, when he spoke, and moved, as in the Kheder Zahav. Ra’am said even the light cylinder would turn in unison. He also told me that anyone could stand there and speak, during services, if they had something important or uplifting to share.”

“Sort of a community thing?”

“Yes. But, Ra’am couldn’t tell me many details. The almehneh came over to us. He was wearing a white robe, covering his body from shoulders to feet. We were standing near the side of the circular platform. We had just come down stairs, passing a couple rows of seats, while it was still dark in there. The almehneh came down some other stairs. But we both met on the platform.

“Ra’am introduced us. He said the almehneh’s name was Tsaroof, the main Meshartey Lo Zmarh of the Heseeyah. It all just means the almehneh was the lead servant of God there, that’s all.”

“Uh-huh,” Jenny said, nodding, jotting it down.

“Tsaroof smiled at me and bowed briefly. I felt accepted by him. Ra’am then started to explain our situation. Tsaroof seemed to know already, but Ra’am gave him some other details too.”


“Yes. Like how we really met, and when, and what I meant to Ra’am. I quickly guessed Ra’am felt he could trust him, that he wouldn’t tell everything to Yega or the others.”

“But what about the micro-robots, spying on you two?”

“No. See, Ra’am said Heseeyot, plural for Heseeyah, were sacred, and no one was allowed to invade their privacy…but, you never know. Yet, Ra’am seemed confident and comfortable talking with him, and I soon relaxed more too. We all stood there at first, but then Tsaroof asked us to sit down.

“Ra’am had to know. Was what he did, marrying an intelligent alien being, a sin against God? Tsaroof’s aqua eyes were so deep, so soothing. Almehneht were actually very pleasant to look at, once you get use to the neither male nor female thing…but, Tsaroof thought a bit. He said that since there was no literature or written words in any bibles, from any world they had ever encountered, about one intelligent species marrying another intelligent species, that he could only say what he did know. For instance- a Meshartey Lo Zmarh knew that relationships between a physical being and a spiritual being were wrong.”

“Like angels and humans together?”

“Yes, exactly. That was wrong. And also relationships between intelligent beings and animals were wrong. But there was nothing, written anywhere…stating our type of marriage or situation was wrong. He said we were in uncharted stars here. We had to decide for ourselves.”

“That’s a nice way to put it.”

“But he said if we were uncomfortable, then possible it was wrong. We could divorce, he said, since a divorce in our situation would be more understandable, since we were not the same species of intelligent being.

“But right after he said that, Ra’am said ‘No!’ and stood up from his seat. I couldn’t see Ra’am’s face at first, since he was facing away. When he turned around, I could see he was very troubled. Tsaroof then stood up too, and lightly touched Ra’am’s arm. Ra’am told Tsaroof he could never divorce me, that I would be left helpless and alone.

“Tsaroof then told us both that there was another option. They both sat down, with Ra’am on my left, Tsaroof on my right. Ra’am leaned forward, closer to me. Tsaroof told us that we could live together, like we had before we married, and just not be intimate. We could be like close friends. At least that way, our love and commitment would not be destroyed through divorce, yet we could feel much better about God, since we were more pure.” Trenae shrugged. “I thought…I thought it made sense.”

“What about Ra’am?”

“Well, he looked down. At first he was quiet. But then he looked at Tsaroof and told him we would try this, that possibly it would work.”

“And so did you?”

“After we spent some more time there, with Tsaroof giving us a tour and all of the place, Ra’am and I left. Ra’am took Ha-Ta near his parent’s home, and we parked it where we usually did. It was almost morning, though, and we didn’t see any of his family members. We were too tired anyway, from that crazy day.

“I just wanted to crawl into Ra’am’s arms, in bed, like we did every night, and have him hold me…me hold him. But Ra’am said we couldn’t. He said we had to try, what Tsaroof told us. I remember looking up at him, wanting him to kiss me. I asked him if he could at least hug me, hold me for awhile. He looked really sad. He said he couldn’t, we had to make it like before, when we were just friends. He did take my hands and hold them warmly and tightly…he almost seemed like he wanted to cry. I felt like crying.

“But I listened to him. And eventually went to my room, the room I always used before we married. I really never went in it, anymore, so it brought back sad memories, lonely memories…I actually cried myself to sleep. I felt more alone than I had ever felt before. I guess it was a sense of loss, to have someone, but feel them fall away from you.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Jenny said. “Never had anyone in the first place.”

Trenae looked at her. Even though Jenny smiled, as though she had just uttered a cute joke against herself, she appeared sad. “Yeah, right,” Trenae said. “At least you have a good career, a good family. Guys like that.”

“No, I don’t know,” Jenny said, smiling. “Like that’s the answer…But ‘nuff about me. Did you manage to sleep through the night?”

“Yeah, I did. But when I woke up, I had enough. I didn’t think we were wrong together. I kept thinking how I was able to escape, from the motel that night. If that wasn’t a miracle, from God, then what is? I felt we should be together. So I left my room and found Ra’am. He was sitting on the evesmol, looking rather glum. Even though some terrible thoughts of his violent past cut at me again, making me think maybe it was best to just be friends, I had to be by him. I came over to him and straddled myself across his lap.”

“Forward a bit, huh?” Jenny smiled.

But Trenae didn’t. “I didn’t care,” she said, shaking her head. “All I knew, was I wanted him. I started kissing him on the lips, holding his head…I was pretty intense.”

“You rascal.”

“I know.” Trenae smiled. “At first he kissed me back, passionately. He even held me really close. But then he slowly stopped. He began to push me back, even as I still went at him. I eventually stopped…I just looked at him. He told me we had to try, really try, to just be friends from now on. I didn’t cry or anything, but felt very rejected. But he tried to talk to me, to calm me down, calm himself down…or just convince himself and convince me. In his voice I knew he was sad, and really didn’t want to do this, but felt he had too. So…I did what he wanted.

“We only held hands that day. We saw his parents and Zemer later, the same day. Helekh told us the outcome of the Makhtah peace treaty meeting, since Ra’am never accessed the information the night before. It seems Kerakh had it in for Ra’am.”

“How’s that?”

“Kerakh put many demands on Harkoav, and some involved Ra’am. Fortunately Harkoav got to keep its home planet in the deal, and Seerah and Navatlev, but many of the moons in the Harkoav solar system that were being mined for minerals were now to be solely used by Makhtah. The minerals and other natural resources on Te’al were to be split between Harkoav and Makhtah. But all the satellites or moons of Te’al were now only to be used by Makhtah. And many of the moons of Oradom and Orkakol, you know, which had like 16 of them, were to be used only by Makhtah. But the satellites of Ro’eh, the farthest planet out, were surprisingly left solely to Harkoav.”


“Yes, because that’s where most of Harkoav’s outposts were, to monitor enemy behavior. Ra’am thought that strange too. But actually, when you heard the rest of their demands…they wanted complete access to the information Ra’am obtained from earth, especially the human genetic information. However Makhtah inhabitants were restricted from ever physically visiting earth, which was good.”

“Yeah, really. Kerakh said they had a good genetic model, of a female?”

“Yes, I asked Ra’am that too. You see, another little secret, Ra’am never revealed to me- he had obtained samples from several recently buried cadavers.”

“Dead bodies?”

“That’s right. Yuk. He was able to scan for recent activity in cemeteries one time, and found two, a man and a woman, just buried. He just took some small tissue samples, like a small chunk from their arm or…” Trenae shuddered, chills running up her spine. “Geeze, I hate thinking about that.”

“No, no, that’s all right. Just enough so he really didn’t disturb the bodies?”

“Yeah. But he was able to completely decipher the human genome and conduct scientific investigations, studies, etc. about humans. I asked him if he ever did any cloning or some sort of in-vitro human baby making, but he said he never did. He wasn’t lying. It was against Harkoav beliefs to do such a thing. But accessing the genome, inputting in their computers was okay. And besides, because of the information he obtained, that’s why he was able to make tse makh yerape cure human diseases and injuries. So, there was good there.” Trenae made a deep, air-gulping yawn. Made Jenny yawn too. “Darn, I’m getting tired.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“What was I talking about?”

“You said the demands from Kerakh, that he wanted complete access to Ra’am’s information, from earth.”

“Oh yeah, sure. Makhtah obviously was really going through with their new world, where each male had a female and there were no almehneht. But also, Kerakh said they wanted most of Harkoav’s .99 planets. And especially Kerakh wanted Penakh Ayef. But, and this is the kicker, he wanted Ra’am to study the planet, as he was told by Yega, but then all the scientific information Ra’am discovered, would be given to Kerakh, for Makhtah. So in effect, Ra’am would be working for Kerakh.”

“Wow, that does stink. What did Ra’am think about it?”

Trenae sighed deeply and looked toward the sky. “Well at first he was upset. But then he let it go, hid it, I guess. He seemed far more concerned about us than anything else.”

“Really? So…how was the rest of your time there?”

She looked at Jenny. “Ra’am tried to recreate how it was, before we married. Starting the day after we saw Ra’am’s parents, and we found out about Kerakh’s peace treaty, Ra’am began taking me out everyday. We went to many different places on Harkoav. Basically we searched out and studied as many biological species on Harkoav that we could. We went to all the different continents, in all different weather conditions, climates, and Ra’am showed me as much as he could.”

“Since we’re both rather tired,” Jenny said, “just kind of tell me- I know what the plant life was like, but what about most of the animal life?”

“Yeah, in a nut shell, mostly biological life forms with exoskeletons, or hard outer skins or shells. There were small creatures and bacteria, viruses, like on earth--”

“Like our insects?”

“Yes, they have them. But see, the larger creatures aren’t that much different. More reptilian-like, with tough outer skins and very strong skeletons. In the colder areas these animals had tough skins with a form of half-feather, half-fur sort of combo, to keep warm. But none, few really, were as soft and cuddly as our mammals. Some animals had six legs and were like a combination of large insects and reptiles or mammals…or amphibians.”

“Did you ever see one of those dangerous Pterodactyl-like creatures?”

“A tseepor nora? Yes, we did, but from a safe distance. They mostly inhabit very hot areas, like our rain forests or jungles, and therefore never really enter civilized areas. But they looked more like a Triceratops with wings, although a lot thinner, lighter in weight, and with a strange bone structure, so that the shoulder bone area split, so it had both front and back legs, and large wings near the front legs. But the front legs were quite small. It was attractive though, with red or blue scales, in striped patterns on its body, but very powerful and dangerous-looking.”

“Was there one animal in particular which you really remember, which really stood out for you?”

“Yes,” Trenae said, smiling, “a small mammal-like creature, called a vanat, which had 2 or 3 inch long white and flat tassels, so soft to touch, as opposed to fur. It looked like a combination of a rabbit and a koala bear. Kinda cute, and an herbivore, so no worry about who was eating who.”

Jenny laughed.

“It was larger than our rabbits, or hares. Probably about the size of a dog, and could sit on its hind legs and stand up. Ra’am trapped one with hemoom prodoh, and after it was free, I was able to feel it and touch it briefly. You could feel the strength of the muscles and bones beneath its fur. Definitely a lot more powerful than our animals.”

“Their animals had geed’aso?”

“Yes, many did. But depending on their skin coverings, you could or couldn’t see it. A lot of their animals just had scale or lizard-like skin, but you could still feel the toughness of those fibers underneath, if you pressed well enough, not enough…” Trenae yawned again, this time more heftier than the last. “Oh gosh, sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

Trenae stretched her arms out straight and placed them in her lap, and continued her words. “Not enough to hurt the animal. But…”

“So, Ra’am treated you distantly?”

“Distantly?” She looked toward the southeast side of the roof and thought for a moment. “Well, like before. We did science stuff. He was always giving me both the vernacular word for a plant or animal, and then Harkoav’s scientific name for them as well. He began checking and comparing data he had, from previous years, like for population size or habitat areas, checking for any changes.”

“But was he still, you know…”

“Were we keeping to ourselves?” Trenae asked.


“He would only hold my hand, or we would sit together, side by side, to view scenery sights. He did give me a few hugs now and then. He even wrapped his arm around me, when we would visit cities or other public areas, which we did too during this time.”

“How did you feel about this?”

Trenae frowned. “Terrible. I could barely concentrate on anything we did. I could see the animals, see the beautiful sceneries, and Harkoav had some stunning ones, especially with all the mountains and the oceans. But it was hard to concentrate.” She breathed a quick gulp of air.

“Finally, I remember checking my watch early one morning- it was February 17th. I had slept alone again, in my room, like I had for the past days, since we visited with Tsaroof. Ra’am took us to that narrow ocean between the continents of Osef Arokh and Osef Khoog, called Nekhash Mayeemgadol. We stopped by the shoreline first. Ra’am told me that Harkoav’s oceans had far more frequent and higher tide fluctuations, due to Seerah and Navatlev. The ocean seemed to have a lot more waves too. It looked much like a shoreline on earth, except the sandy shore was more orange-colored, orange sand or pebbles.”

“That’s different.”

“Yeah. But the sand was soft, mushy when wet, like earth’s. First we just checked out the shoreline, and Ra’am showed me various biological specimens. But then we went in Ha-Ta, and went under the water. There were tons of fish, more than earth’s oceans, and most of them had thick, scaly skins, but they were very fluid, moved so smoothly. Other than that, looked very much like earth’s ocean animals.

“But I noticed something about Ra’am. See, he was starting to have trouble remembering scientific names for the fish or think normally. And then he couldn’t remember some things on the shleetah maksheer, which I had NEVER seen him do before.”

Jenny leaned on her knees, forming a perplexed gaze. “Hmm,” she said.

“Yeah, something was wrong. I asked him…just use your koaksekhel to access information. He said he was having trouble doing that as well. I right away thought it was the new koaksekhel they gave him--”

“Right, that’s what I was going to say.”

“But it wasn’t. Ra’am checked it thoroughly, through Ha-Ta’s computer, which he claimed is very fail-proof, and everything was all right. And he did a bio-check of the nerve in his arm, and that was okay. But there was an imbalance in some chemicals in his brain, yet nothing that would be considered a disease or anything.”

“How did he check that?”

“Oh, both through his koaksekhel and this small scanner device, similar to the one they used to check my anklet, at that meeting…But it was then too, I noticed Ra’am acted a little short tempered, more than usual.  Or, actually, more like his answers to me, were short, curt, to the point. He wasn’t normally like that. And then I noticed his eyes. They were getting very intense when he looked at me. Something I hadn’t seen for some time. Then it occurred to me, that his eyes had actually been intense like that for some days, but I didn’t think much of it.    

“So the rest of the day, he periodically would struggle to say something, find the right scientific word, or fumble on some mathematical equations, when he was in the lab room. I was getting rather worried. And then finally he claimed he must be tired, that we had to quit for the day. We went back to his parent’s property and just said good-night to each other, held hands for a moment…he gave me another intense look when he held me hand, feeling my hands. I just knew…”


“I just knew he couldn’t handle it anymore. After I went to bed, and laid there, thinking, I knew- either we divorced from our marriage or things would have to return to normal, like after we got married. And…I got my answer.”

“What happened?”

“Well, surprisingly, I was up first next morning. I walked around to his room, and saw that he was still sleeping, since he left his door open. I wanted to go in and wake him, but I left him alone. Instead I went to the eyzkher mazon and started preparing something for us to eat. A raw fruit, nut, and grain dish that Ra’am and Pa’eemyah had showed me how to make. I figured I’d surprise him. And I was there, fixing it, my back to the doorway…and then…”

“Go on.”

“And then, I heard Ra’am say my name. I turned around. I smiled, said good morning, told him I was making us breakfast. But the way he stood there, leaning against the doorway. He was only wearing a takhlahav, a natural fiber sleeping shorts popular on Harkoav. It looks like two large blades of grass, on each leg, with natural colors.

“But, it’s beside the point…he had no shirt, just these pants on. And then I saw his eyes- he gave me a burning, piercing look. And he was breathing hard. I knew…knew what was happening. I could only turn back and look down at the counter.”

“You were scared of him?”

Trenae looked down. “I couldn’t look at him, and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see him coming. But I wanted him…I wanted him to…It was mere seconds, and I felt him lift me. I could feel his warm body, his chest and arms. I still closed my eyes, but I grabbed around his neck. And then I felt him kissing me on the lips, very intensely. I grabbed him tighter and kissed him back. I started crying and moaning at the same time.”

“You poor thing,” Jenny said, her tone serious.

Trenae smiled. “It was just…it was so crazy. I could barely breathe and felt my mind floating. But you know we both wanted each other so much. It was insane for us not to, after we had each other before. Something that good, is very, very hard to forget.”

“I understand, I think. And so…he…?”

“Ra’am took me in his room. After he put me on his bed, he removed his koaksekhel and ripped his pants off. I thought he was going to rip my clothes off too…I was just wearing a long nightgown, but he took it off, nicely. But then he wasn’t so nice after that.”

“He hurt you?”

“Well ‘hurt’ is not it, exactly. More like intense passion, and a little rough and forceful, though he was gentle and sweet too. But you see, I was the same way with him, at least the intense passion. We were both going crazy on each other. The time we had away from being intimate had been far too long and way too damaging. I wanted him like you would not believe, and he wanted me the same. He barely spoke to me the entire time, whereas normally he would. Hours and hours went by, and we couldn’t stop. We made love for most of that day.”

“Were you afraid of him then, because of his past?”

“Though I still tried not to think about it, those thoughts did enter my mind. But…I honestly believed he would never hurt me. He hadn’t before. And his curtness or slight short temper the day before was not at me. It was because he wanted me. I just felt very, very happy that he wanted me again. I had felt so rejected and alone. There was just so much relief pouring through me, to be in his arms again. I didn’t want to talk much either. We just kissed and made love silently, for hours.

“Eventually, though, Ra’am just held me, so warm and close. And he told me he couldn’t ‘just be friends’, not be intimate with me, and he could never divorce me. So there was no choice left for us…but to ravage each other, whenever.”

Jenny smiled.

Trenae covered her mouth. “Oh shoot! I never told you to take these parts off the record!”

Jenny gave a funny smirk. “Trenae, come on, I told you. I won’t print these parts. You just need to talk about them, that’s all. And I don’t mind listening.”

“Yeah, it’s good to tell someone.” Trenae smiled, though feeling a little embarrassed.

“So did that cure Ra’am’s memory and thinking problem?”

She smiled again. “Yes, it did.”

“Males, huh?”

“Yeah, but I wasn’t doing well either, while he stayed away from me. I couldn’t concentrate or think about anything right…but for me, it was mostly the sadness, of feeling rejected, being lonely, more than anything.

“I remember checking my watch while we were laying there. It was February 18th. After I told him the time, Ra’am said we should get up. He said it was the closest day of the Oradom and Orkakol opposition, when those planets would appear the largest in the night sky. Since it was nearly nightfall, Ra’am wanted us to get Zotarhar hill soon.

“He parked Ha-Ta on the bottom of the hill and carried me up the hill’s top, though I tried walking a bit first. Zotarhar hill was mostly grass covered, some rocks, but also there were trees around its lower areas.”

“So it was like at the top of a snow covered mountain,” Jenny asked, “except it was grass covered?”

“Well, it was really more like a hill, at least by Harkoav standards. We found a dry, rock-less area, since it had rained recently--”

“It rained on Harkoav?”

“Yes, they have a water cycle like earth does. Ra’am laid a blanket on the ground, one he had received from Dod, and we laid down on it, next to each other. I could feel the coarseness of the grass beneath the blanket. And I wasn’t wearing the gravity suit.”

“You were more used to Harkoav’s gravity?”

“Yes, a little more. We just wanted to be relaxed and comfortable then. I had some comfortable jeans and a tee shirt, since it was warm out and Ra’am wore some clothes from earth too, that Dod gave him, jeans and a shirt. It was still light out. Actually, koavreeshon was setting, and fortunately there was a clear sky, so we saw many beautiful colors and stars. Harkoav’s moons began appearing.

“While we talked a bit, I noticed how happy Ra’am behaved. I was happy too, but some things started to bother me. Ra’am hadn’t talked about God, not once, for many days. He hadn’t really prayed much lately. And today, after we were intimate, he didn’t speak of God too. I began to wonder if I was the cause, that he was changing his beliefs to conform for me, so we could remain married. I mean, I know it upset him, which was why he tried to stop us from closeness, intimacy. But now…he was…different.

“Then for some reason, I remembered what his mother had said, after Sheveetah tore into me. How Pa’eemyah noticed Ra’am truly loved me, that she should know. I had forgotten about her words while we were acting just ‘friends’. It would have helped me. But it started to bother me, how much turmoil I had caused.

“As we laid there, I eventually leaned up on Ra’am’s chest. And smiled and talked with him for a bit. There was something else I had to know, though.”…




… “Ra’am?” She gazed into his eyes.

Soft orange and purple glows painted enlightening beauty on his handsome face.

“What is it, my love?” He removed his arm from under his head and embraced around her back. His eyes and face still radiated happiness.

Though his touch soothed, she felt troubled. “Every time I have asked you, since the High Counsel meeting, about what your punishment would be, if you didn’t go to war…you were usually busy, showing me plants or animals, but you--”

“You want to know what it is,” he said. His expression turned serious.

She looked into his eyes. “Yes, and remember, you told me from now on, you would be honest about everything with me, tell the details, so…”

Ra’am shifted his gaze left, avoiding her eyes for a short time. He looked back. “Are you certain you want to know?”

“Yes, please.”

“If I do not participate in military combat, if ordered, then…then…”

She leaned down on her forearms, until very close to his face. “Yes, what baby?” she asked gently.

“They will have you executed.”

She lifted her head. What Ra’am said didn’t register exactly. “But what about you?”

He now seemed even more upset, avoiding her eyes.

“No, tell me,” she said. She gently cupped his face, making him look at her.

“There would be nothing I could do, to stop them. No, they would not kill me. Instead, if we fled, my government would eventually capture us, disable my koaksekhel, and make me watch, your execution. This is a harsh and unusual punishment for my government. I suspect, due to Makhtah.” He inhaled an expanding breath and smiled at her. “Which is why, I need to readjust my religious belief system. Yes, I still love God, but my love for you…I cannot let anything happen to you. I must enter military combat, if called upon.”

Weakness succumbed her arms. She laid the side of her head on his chest and closed her eyes. Ra’am began stroking her back softly. She knew her thoughts were right- I’ve destroyed Ra’am’s life, in relation with his family, his religious values, his planet, and his government. But still, he thinks of helping me!

And he wouldn’t divorce her, because he wanted to protect her, love her, be her companion. Trenae’s heart grew many times larger and stronger than ever before. She moved and gazed into his eyes. “No, you don’t have to go to war. I would die for you, Ra’am, I would do anything, anything for you--”

He placed his hand over her mouth. “Shhh, do not say that. I do not ever want to hear you say that again, you understand?”

She stared into his eyes. He glared at her, his eyes piercing, powerful. But she couldn’t close her eyes. She had to look at him. Slowly he removed his hand from her mouth.

“But…but you saved my life, many times. It’s the least I could--”

“No!” he said, placing a finger over her lips. “You heard me the first time.” He locked his glare with her, until she had to look down.

She was defeated and hurt. He needs to hear just how much I love him!

“Besides, I was just repaying you,” Ra’am said.

She gazed into his eyes again. His eyes gleamed softer now, more welcoming. A slight smile even warmed his face. “What do you mean?” she asked. “I don’t understand.”

“When I first came to earth, the memories of the Jardac War were still fresh in my mind.” His expression drew a little grim. “I struggled daily, to forget. I prayed and prayed that God would help me forget, and change. But eventually the memories became too much and they would not let me be. Because of this…I seriously contemplated suicide, many times. But then, that day I first saw you, with your aunt…I found a reason to live, in you.” He behaved slightly embarrassed, avoiding her eyes and gently stroking her long, wavy hair. “It was you who saved me.”

“Oh baby, but still, please.” She caressed his face again and made him look at her. “I care about you, which is why I don’t want you to fight again. I am so sorry about that war. It must have been so hard, to have Sheveetah bring those memories back.” She laid her face by his neck and grasped him by his shoulders. Now her heart felt like it was bleeding. Deep sadness punctured her soul.

Ra’am tightened his arms around her body.

After some quiet moments, a few fingers poked and tickled her ribs. She yelped and jumped up a bit. “Hey, what the heck?” she said, gazing in his face. He smiled again,  mischievously. “Well aren’t you the guy! While we’re here having a very serious moment, you’re yuckin’ it up!”

Ra’am laughed. He gave a sly glance. “And besides, Trenae, I thought you would rather die in my arms, than anywhere else.”

“What?” But then she remembered. “Oh, that,” she said, closing her eyes and lowering her head. “You’re embarrassing me.”

“Ha! I knew I could change your other thoughts.”

She lifted her head and slowly grazed her fingertips across Ra’am’s nose, lips, and chin. “So…” she said seductively, softly, “am I to understand, you want to kill me now? Is that with passion, desire, or something else?”

“No…I did not mean that, you know,” he said gently, smiling. “I just wanted you to stand by your words, that you stated previously.”

“Oh, a wise guy, huh? I didn’t mean that literally, when I said it, and I’m sure you realize that. I mean, I did, but I didn’t really want you to hurt me. I just wanted you to know I was all yours.”

“You are mine.” He became serious once again, pulling her close to him, resting her head on his chest. “But if Ensofyafah does not yet occur first…one day, in the future, when we are old and gray, there will come a time when I will hold you in my arms, and you will die, peacefully.”

“How do you mean?” she said sleepily. Warmth from him, his gentle strokes, deeply relaxed her body. But his words troubled nonetheless.

“Ometvaheem normally live about 120 Harkoav years. Therefore it is most likely I will outlive you. But I want to be there, I WILL be there, for you, when that happens. I will hold you close, just as now.”

Tears prodded their determined way, wetting her eyes. The gracing, loving qualities within her husband had no limits. She raised her head, trying to conceal her tears, blinking a little. “But baby,” she said softly, “what about you then?”

“It would be all right. Without you, I cannot live. Death would be very welcomed, and would come quickly for me.” Though he gave a confident, strong smile his eyes glimmered distant, forlorn. “But enough of this depressing talk,” he said joyfully. “Turn to your right, look toward the eastern horizon!”

Trenae lifted her head, wiped her eyes, and stared toward the east. Even though Zotarhar hill wasn’t very high and had woods and mountains surrounding its borders, neither form of natural landscape blocked the eastern and western horizons. Only the southern and northern views had tall obstacles, of either mountains or rocky cliffs.

Against a low darkened border of mountain edges and treetops, the eastern twilight now gave birth, near its horizon, to the brightened disks of Oradom, Orkakol, and Navatlev. Red and tan stripes on Oradom glowed quite visibly tonight, far more than previous nights. Oradom’s blue companion, Orkakol shone clear and bright likewise. On some previous nights, Orkakol could be seen passing in front of Oradom. But tonight, it hovered to the right, Trenae’s right, of its mother planet. Navatlev took the largest and highest occupancy in the sky, of the three spheres, yet only displayed about a quarter of its full size. Dark azure shades of water bodies and emerald and bronze hues of larger land masses colored Navatlev’s visible surface, making Harkoav’s moon even more impressive.

Ra’am explained that each sphere took approximately .5 degree or more width in the sky, thus giving understanding of the increasing brightness.

With each astronomical sphere placed near one another, a colorful, bright group of round lamps illuminated the sky, hindering the impending darkness…
















                                                          Chapter 27




…Trenae wheezed a deep breath through her nose, growing more tired. “Later on, in the evening, Seerah appeared in full phase. And we started talking, about different things, as we looked at the moons and planets. It was so bright, especially since Oradom and Orkakol were such large planets, and so close, you could barely see any stars. All the large planets in earth’s solar system are too far away, to enjoy without a telescope.” She noticed Jenny wiping around her eyes. “Are you all right?” she asked gently.

“Yeah,” Jenny said, her voice shaky. “It just got to me, what Ra’am told you, how he couldn’t live without you.”

Darn, this is awkward. “I’m sorry,” Trenae said. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Jenny sniffed her nose and brought her note pad and recorder together on her lap. “No, it’s fine. I’m okay.” She looked at Trenae and gave a wondering expression. “But how did that make YOU feel, to have Ra’am say that?”

“I don’t know. I thought it was very touching, I guess, like you. But I still couldn’t really believe it. I thought he was just being nice, making me feel wanted. Because deep down, I truly believed, he would be much better off without me. I…I’d caused way too much damage in his life.”

“I don’t know about that,” Jenny said, sniffing a little. She forced a stern demeanor. “So, did you talk about anything else?”

Trenae smiled, trying to erase Jenny’s sadness. “Yes, we did. He mostly just kidded with me, tried to be funny. And nice. The scene of the planets and moons was really awesome, but Ra’am was in a silly mood. He did show me some stars and galaxies, pointed out their names and all, but it was hard to see them, because of the brightness. We stayed pretty late, like you and I are doing now.

“But finally, he dropped a bomb on me.”

“How’s that?”

“He told me, that tomorrow, or at sunrise, we were going back to earth. I was like, what? No way! I didn’t want to, you know?”


“I mean, I was just getting used to everything there. It was so cool to be on another planet, even with the problems. Like I said, I was even feeling more comfortable with the gravity when I had my gravity suit off. But he told me it was because of Pastor Crenshaw, about promising to return to earth and witness what he knew of God to earthlings.”

“If the pastor married you two, I remember.”

“And so, we did leave in the morning. He told his parents and Zemer that he’d be back soon, and then begin his assignment on Penakh Ayef, even though we’d still have much of his 65-day vacation time left. He also said he would show them L.B., before he went to the planet.”

“Of course, L.B.! I was wondering when you guys would remember him!”

“Oh, we did. We started talking about him that night too, watching the opposition. I think that’s when Ra’am told me about coming back to earth. It made him remember, I think. But anyway, when we would come back, Ra’am said he’d spend the rest of his free days to show me around Penakh Ayef, help me adjust to it. It all sounded like a good idea.

“We arrived on earth February 19th, back in Idaho. We visited River Cliffs, went to some places we’d been before, but eventually positioned ourselves underground near Boise. Ra’am decided we should wait to pick L.B. up, till after we finished the interview.

“See, Ra’am had the idea that he would go to a local TV station, tell them his story, and explain what he knew about God. But I told him that would sound insane, that they would just think he was some dressed-up kook, in great makeup, and would never listen. It would be like, ‘Oh hi, I’m an alien, and I’m here to tell my story!’ Yeah right!”

Jenny giggled a little.

“So...” Trenae looked in Jenny’s eyes. “You know, that time, when Kerakh told me I was just a delicate little flower…I knew he meant it in a snide way, to demean me, but he was right. I am a wuss. Ra’am, of course, loved me no matter what, but it bothered me, what Kerakh said. It was like a final breaking point.

“I felt I had to change, to become stronger. And so I convinced Ra’am, after I explained how silly it would be for him to approach a news station and claim he was an alien, that I should do this. At first he was very adamant about it, saying no, especially because of Willson and Stiles. But I told him, that this was mostly for God, and we shouldn’t let those goons stop us, stop me. It was kind of a way to fight back against Willson, for me, even though I was scared inside. And I told Ra’am again I was willing to die for him- he got angry at me for saying that. But, see, me just telling our story was a lot less severe than meeting up with Stiles, you know? And finally, even though he was mad, he agreed. But he said he would always be watching me closely all the time.

“Since I always loved to read The Examiner, when I could, I thought right away of coming here. A TV station seemed too, well, in the spot light. I needed to enter this gently. I figured I’d hook you guys on Wilson’s story, and then ease in about Ra’am and me, our story. But Ra’am forewarned me though, saying you guys probably wouldn’t print it, since I didn’t go to the police first. I couldn’t go to the police, not only because of Willson and Stiles, but because I stole that car…

“But I had this feeling,” Trenae said, giving Jenny a sideways glance, “that something would work, somehow. Just a feeling. And so I came last Tuesday, to your workplace.”

Expecting Jenny to be pleased, Trenae became confused. Disappointment flooded the reporter’s face. Jenny’s whole demeanor suddenly shifted.

“Your entire story, was mainly for God?” Jenny asked curtly.

Her words, her tone made Trenae silent. And surprised. Dismayed. Sounds from the city traffic down below had lessened, adding even more quiet to the sudden gloominess.

But Trenae had to answer. “Yes, it was.”

“I wish you would have told me, from the get go,” Jenny said, looking down at her recorder and note pad. As though readying to leave, she began grasping both items.

“But would you have listened then, would anyone have, really?” She eyed Jenny, waiting for a response.

Finally Jenny looked at her again and offered a quick, forced smile. “No, I suppose not…Look, that’s neither here nor there now.” She turned off the recorder and stood up, holding her belongings. “Why don’t you show me Andromeda?”

“Sure, okay,” Trenae said meekly.

After Jenny placed her items on the concrete seat, on top of the blanket, and stood up, Trenae walked with her, leading the way to the stair well house. Trenae explained they needed to turn off the lights, to get a better view of the night sky. Jenny opened the door, quickly flicked the switch down, and closed the door. They walked away, toward the north side of the roof.

Much light still sparkled from the buildings, though some buildings had diminished their lighting. Trenae looked to the sky, in the north and northwest area, to find some patterns in the stars. Ra’am had taught her many clues and special markings to distinguish between the constellations, to establish a starting point. However those helpful hints weren’t working now. Something was wrong. She checked her watch- 1:34 in the morning. Had it really been that long? Of course, that’s it! The nighttime earth’s rotation had changed the view. Ra’am and she had always viewed the sky early, around 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at night.

She also realized the tall buildings to the north would probably have obstructed the view anyhow, even if seen earlier. Yet earlier too much brightness hindered the view, both from the buildings and from the twilight. Trenae wanted to give Jenny a compromise, since Jenny seemed upset with her now. But there wasn’t anything she could do.

“Unfortunately, it appears Andromeda has gone below the northern horizon,” Trenae said. “We can’t see it now.”

They continued walking, until they both arrived at the northern edge of the roof. Jenny leaned her forearms on the concrete wall. “Oh, that’s okay.”

Trenae turned left and looked at Jenny’s face. Fortunately Jenny’s former curt and disappointed demeanor had faded. Now she appeared relaxed.

Jenny gazed skyward, seeming in a trance.

“I’m sorry,” Trenae said. “I should have thought about it when we first came here, but…”

“I know, I forgot. We were worried about Willson’s guys.” Jenny sighed. “No big deal, though.” She turned and looked at Trenae. “Say, did you ever see that galaxy, that was close to Andromeda when you were on Harkoav, you know, that Triang--”

“Triangulum galaxy, or Alef Bet, as Harkoav referred to it?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“Yeah, we saw it. Ra’am showed me that night, when we looked at the opposition. I saw it another time too. But even with the brightness that night, since Triangulum galaxy was so bright and close, I could see it.”

Trenae leaned on the ledge too. She looked toward the sky, like Jenny. As they both didn’t speak, she began to remember, in the quiet, her times on Harkoav, with the night sky, the landscape, the cities, its moons, the people, and Ra’am and his family. Mostly they were beautiful, amazing memories. Her mind began to trick her, putting her there again. Scenes from Harkoav flowed before her.

“Holy shit!”

Trenae’s silent dreaming crashed to an end. She looked at Jenny. “What? What is it?”      

Jenny looked terrible; her eyes were nearly popping out of her head. She stared first in front of her, and then spun to the right, behind Trenae, following something. Then Jenny turned around toward the roof’s southern edge. “What…what was that?” Jenny asked, voice trembling.

“What was what? You’re not telling me anything!” Panic squeezed Trenae.

“I swear, I saw something big, like, like a curved ball or something, except it had no color, like invisible, and it whooshed by silently in front of me.” Jenny’s back pressed against the ledge. Her eyes stared horrified toward the area in front of the stair house.

Darkness prevailed, especially since Jenny had turned off the lights. Trenae couldn’t see much. Yet then came light. A thin, lengthy light beam emerged on the cement floor of the roof, near the east concrete wall, growing wider, wider, and from no discernable source.

As the light grew larger still, huge relief poured through Trenae. “Oh, that’s just Ra’am,” she said. “Whew! For a minute there, I thought it was something Willson or Stiles had done! You had me freaking!” She looked at Jenny.

But Jenny was NOT relieved. She appeared more horrified than before and frozen in place. “What  are…” Jenny said, swallowing, “you talking about?” Her stare fixed, glued to the light enlarging on the roof.

“What do you mean?” Well this is confusing. “Ra’am, you know, he’s only the alien I’ve talked to you about for the past week. My husband? Remember?”

A heavy thud vibrated through Trenae’s feet. Jenny began shaking her head, still horrified. Trenae turned back to the light. Ra’am was there, now walking away from the light’s brightness. He had obviously allowed Ha-Ta to hover above the roof, with the invisible shield, and decided to jump out from the delet yahmon.

Trenae was concerned- it was clear now- Jenny hadn’t believed a word she said, or else she simply couldn’t accept what her eyes perceived.

She walked in front of her. “Jenny, what’s wrong?” she asked. “Didn’t you believe me?”

In the glowing light from Ha-Ta, Trenae could see Jenny’s eyes widen. “No, no…I just thought, you were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…Phil, he told me…yes, that’s it, that’s it…maybe I, maybe I…” She stared in Trenae’s eyes. “Do I have it too? This can’t be happening.” She stared back at Ra’am.

Trenae swallowed, her throat tightening. I can’t bear this. This woman, I’ve looked up to is becoming totally unraveled. She turned back toward Ra’am. He was getting closer. Instantly she could see why his appearance disturbed so much. Besides his black, otherworldly uniform, his tall, powerful body and motion, and his dark, emotionless eyes, would scare anyone, if they didn’t know him or was unprepared to meet him. She wanted to run to him, take hold of him, and have him solve this dilemma. But she worried Jenny might do something drastic, like jump off the ledge. Jenny was in a very bad place right now. No, she needed to grab her. Quick!

Trenae turned and took Jenny’s hands. “Jenny, look at me!”

But Jenny would not. Instead Jenny staggered and struggled to stare beyond Trenae, at the approaching alien. The reporter’s breathing puffed erratic, her palms sweated.

“Jenny, please, LOOK AT ME!” Trenae said.

It worked. Staring like an owl, Jenny looked in Trenae’s eyes. “Yes, it’s true,” Trenae said. “I know you don’t want to believe, like I did when I first saw him, but he does exist!”

Trenae spun around. “Ra’am, please, help me!” Ra’am charged, from about 10 feet away.

She turned back to Jenny. Just as she did, Jenny’s hands began slipping away. 

A black streak zoomed past her. Ra’am caught Jenny, just before her head hit the concrete floor.

Trenae breathed a sigh of relief.