___The New Official AVATAR_____________________________________
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FANTASY FICTION ISSUE MAY 2007
/.--.\ The Avatar Gazette
|====| For subscription info,
== |`::`| read HELP GAZETTE
@/\@ / |...::..|` | | `| This special holiday edition
|:'\ | /'''::''| | | | was edited by Darii with
|\ /\;-,/\ :: |=========| help from the Avatar
||\ <` / >._::_.|=========| Immortal Staff and Talented
|| `""` / ^^ | | | | Avatar Writers
|| | \ | | /
|| | | |\_|_|_/
We want YOU! This issue is courtesy of Avatar's talented poets,
writers, and "ordinary" players (an oxymoron?) who have shared
a bit of themselves with the Avatar Community. Please feel free
to submit your thoughts, works, and answers to the questions we
ask. How did you find Avatar? What do you love? What would you
like to share? Tips for newbies? We love hearing from you! Darii
IN THIS ISSUE MAY 2007
THE BIRTH OF CERDWYN ................................by CERDWYN
FRIENDS..................................a poem by AMEKO & alts
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY..................................... by OBITUM
THE FEATURED FICTION SELECTION for MAY................by CHILES
THE BIRTH OF CERDWYN by CERDWYN
Many years ago, the last of the true Fae were forced to flee the
realm that would become Avatar. One of them fled to the
dimension that was Earth. On Earth, there was no magic, and he
became very very ill. Close to death, he was found by a young
woman of Celtic descent. She was not sure what he was, only that
he was handsome and she did not want him to die.
She prayed to her goddess, Cerridwyn, to spare him. Cerridwyn
heard her plea and appeared before her and took the young Fae
back to her home, and nursed him back to health. As is oft the
case, they fell in love and she conceived a child. But even a
goddess could not keep a true Fae without his magic, and as
their daughter was born, he faded away.
Cerridwyn was in mourning. She took her daughter down to the
human woman who had found the young Fae. The woman was married
and she and her husband had not been able to have a child of
their own. So she gave her daughter to them for raising with her
blessings to their crops and beasts to be fruitful.
She took after both her parents, having a strange exotic
appearance and aging much slower than the human children around
her. They found it very strange, and she was often teased and
tormented by them. As she approached the age of 20, she still
had the body of a child and her adopted parents began to fear
One night as she slept, she had a vision of a woman who was not
quite human. In her dream, the woman spoke to her, saying,
"Cerdwyn, you bear my name, but you have much of your father in
you. Staying here is no longer safe. Soon the humans will begin
to fear you. Get up, leave a note saying goodbye and go to the
center of the standing stones. Once there, you will know what to
do." She awoke with a start, but did what the vision told her to
do. Arriving at the stone circle, she saw what appeared to be a
rift in the air. Fearless and full of curiosity, she entered the
rift and was suddenly elsewhere.
No longer in the body of a child, she arrived standing in the
middle of a stone circle virtually identical to the one she was
in before, save standing there was this man who barely came up
to the middle of her chest. He had a long white beard and white
hair and as she looked at him, he said, "Hi I'm Crom, and I'm a
gnome in case you are wondering. Oh, welcome to Avatar."
Cerdwyn looked at him and said, "Gnome? Avatar? Huh? Where am I
and how did you know I would be here?"
The gnome smiled at her and said, "Because you belong here."
Snickering he said, "Actually, I had a dream that told me if I
came here I would have a half-Fae immortal woman who I could
recruit to help us here on Avatar. There are lots of half-Elven
folk, so most people will just think you are one of them. Only
the other immortals here will know the difference."
"I do not know what I am getting myself into, but what the
heck," she said.
Follow me, Crom motioned and off they went to the immortal
realm, for Cerdwyn to meet her new people.
FRIENDS a poem by AMEKO & alts
True friends are few and far between.
Memories we made fade into dreams.
Only one has stayed through good and bad,
Calming me when things get out of hand.
One has lasted though all the rest,
Staying to help me pass life's test.
You've been a shoulder to cry on
And strength for me to lean on.
You bring light to my lonely life,
Where darkness has reigned in the strife.
We walk though life together.
Our souls joined forever.
The friendship we made will last,
Even if our lives come to pass.
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY OBITUM
Obitum was born a mortal in the ancient times. From an early
age, he showed a remarkable aptitude for stealthily stalking and
dispatching anyone or any thing he desired. As the gods of the
ancient times quietly began to take notice, he honed his skills
by finding the most evasive creatures in the world and taking
them down before they had even the slightest idea what was
happening. It became a source of much curiosity among the gods
that one could be so utterly without fear, mercy, or remorse.
Indeed, it seemed to many of the ancient deities that Obitum
took some cold pleasure from the brutal acts he committed.
During the dark times, when men rose up against the gods for
control of the realm, the gods decided they required the
assistance of one who would not be so constrained as they by
principles and morals. They called upon Obitum to assist them in
the wars by dispatching the leaders of the mortal rebellion who
were guarded at all times by both magic and brutes. Obitum
coldly responded to the calling by demanding specially created
tools to perform what he considered an otherwise absurdly simple
assignment. And so it was that the dwarves of the deep mines
forged eleven blades from unknown materials with mystical
properties no longer known or understood. The gods then took
these already horrifying weapons and further damned them by
endowing them with unspeakable demonic curses in keeping with
Obitum's demands. After much time and effort on everyone's part,
the blades were presented to Obitum in a simple cloth lined with
sheaths as requested. With a subdued smile of satisfaction on
his face, Obitum took the blades and began his quest.
When the leaders of the rebellion received word that the gods
had taken the drastic step of commissioning an assassin, they
had their personal protections increased substantially. Craetus,
the leading war planner for the rebels, went so far as to have
dragons added to his personal security detail. In the end, no
one was prepared for the fate of those marked for elimination.
As night fell one evening, Obitum slipped into the stronghold
where Craetus slept. As dragons circled the skies, guards
patrolled the ground, and magic wielders sustained spells of
protection for Craetus. Obitum easily slipped into the plain
room where Craetus slept soundly. Wielding one of the daggers
newly created for this specific task, Obitum approached his
prey and deftly plunged the blade through the heart of his
While Obitum slipped out of the stronghold just as easily as he
had slipped in, Caetus lay slowly dying on the floor of his
bedroom, horrified by what he innately knew was his very soul
made mortal and wounded beyond recovery. Indeed, the true power
of the daggers forged for Obitum was not their ability to rip
the living from this world, but rather to assure that even their
very souls had no chance of survival from a single pierce. Such
terrible power was so far beyond anything ever before imagined
at the time that the gods themselves had never so much as
conceived of giving it to even themselves, let alone a mortal.
Within just a few weeks, hundreds of rebel leaders had been
killed by Obitum's hand, their very souls just as dead as their
bodies, and the rebellion was collapsing. Having served the gods
so well by doing what even they could not bring themselves to
do, Obitum was rewarded with the gift of immortality in exchange
for his continuing efforts to ensure peace and stability within
the realm and to continue its advancement.
A FATHER'S STORY .....................................by Chiles
Twenty-seven, married, newborn baby at home and recently
promoted to a project manager slot for NASA; I think I've done
pretty well for myself. I mean, I'm no superstar or prodigy but
I have come a long way since that snot-nosed graduate student I
was just five years ago.
Anyway, I had been up most of the night with you and
figured I might as well head in to work early and get some
things done while I still had some energy. Your mother took over
diaper duty and I threw on a tie, ran a comb through my thinning
hair and was out the door. I remember it being a rather brisk
morning in February, brisk for Florida anyway, and it helped me
I got into work around 5:30 in the morning. Except for the
night crews that safe guarded programs from the grips of
disaster, the place was almost deserted. My project was housed
in a small auditorium-like room near the backend of the
compound. It held three rows of three computers that faced two
large projector sections in the front wall. One projector showed
a galactic map and the location of our probe. The second
projector showed a jumble of numbers about the probe's telemetry
and system status.
Our probe (yes, we were very possessive) was about a light
year out in interstellar space studying the migration patterns
of black matter. It was boring work but don't knock it, it was
ours! With the new tachyon communication emitters we were able
to communicate with it with only a two-month delay.
When I walked into the auditorium, a weary eyed physicist
named Paul McGee greeted me. He was my deputy and worked the
night shift. Nearly twenty years my senior, he was completely
bald except for a wisp of grey that wrapped around the base of
his head like a crown. He always wore checkered sweaters with a
white dress shirt and black tie underneath even though the night
shift crew was afforded a much more lax dress code.
"Hey, Skip," he said. Calling his boss Skip was a habit he
had picked up in the Navy. I tried once to convince him he could
call me Nelson but he simply remarked that it wasn't proper.
"Little Annie keepin' ya up still?"
"Yeah," I replied.
We walked into a small lounge in the back of the auditorium
and I poured a fresh cup of coffee into my 'Entropy This!' mug.
We sat at a little round table occupying the artificially lit
room. Sometimes they called my project's auditorium 'the
dungeon'. I guess no windows, drab grey cinderblock walls and
neon lights could give someone that impression.
"That coffee's not exactly fresh," Paul said.
"Good." I took a sip and allowed the bitter liquid to slide
down my throat. It was probably the most God-awful coffee in
existence but it was strong and always seemed to do the trick in
keeping me alert.
"How are you and Smitty getting on tonight?"
"By the looks of it, better than you," he let out his usual
laugh that was a cross between a chuckle and a coughing fit. His
kids were grown and out of the house and he seemed to like
reminding me of it every time we talked.
I smiled and took another hit of coffee. Paul continued to
talk about various findings and minor problems he and Smitty had
uncovered over the past few hours. I wasn't really paying
attention. My mind was already back on you in your little crib
probably sleeping for the first time all day.
"What do you think, Skip?" Paul asked.
I snapped out of my daydream, "About?"
A warm smile crept across his lips and his eyes seemed to
swim with memories of his own children, "About the power changes
to conserve energy."
"Uh, yeah, sounds good. Get me the numbers on the simulator
and we can give it a try."
"Eh boss," Smitty poked his blonde head in the door.
Paul and I followed the middle-aged Aussie into the main
room and to his station. On the screen a blinking yellow number
and an annoyingly persistent beeping clued even the slowest of
us in that there was a problem. I gave the screen a quick scan
and saw it was a radiation spike.
"A rad spike?" I said.
"Sorta," Smitty said and with a few keystrokes a graph
popped up showing the radiation levels trek to the top of the
scales. "It looks like it's been raisin' for awhile. Then boom!
Spikes right there. Couple of minutes later it spikes again and
has been steadily rising since."
"When will it hit tolerance?" Paul asked. He slid himself
into a chair behind another station.
"If the rate holds steady, five minutes," Smitty said.
I threw on my headset, I'm not really sure why. Anyone I
would want to contact wouldn't be in the building for another
hour at least. The buck was going to stop with me and there
really wasn't anything I could do. Whatever happened to the
probe really happened two months ago. Though I'm sure a NASA
hearing would still find me at fault for some reason.
"Can we guess where the source point is?" I asked hovering
over Paul's shoulder.
"Give me a second," he said. I sat back and watched the two
men work. My hands were tied, really. This might as well have been
a TV show.
"A star system about fifteen light years away is my guess,"
"Smitty, punch it up on screen one," I said.
The screen zoomed away from the probe and out to a complete
view of our quadrant. A box appeared around the target system
and the screen panned in showing the star looking somewhat
turbulent with flairs jutting off but not ripped apart.
"Bugger," Smitty said. "I think it's gone super, boss."
Super meaning supernovae. Smitty believed that the star was
in its death throes which would explain the radiation levels.
The distance between Earth and the probe would explain why our
image of the star didn't show a blasted shell.
"How much longer do we have before we lose the probe?" I
"Two and half minutes, skip."
"Still climbing," Smitty said.
"How high would the levels have to be to do damage to
Earth?" I asked.
"About half that number," Paul said pointing at Smitty's
"Patch all the information into a mini," I said and started
towards my office, "I'm gonna call Schlender."
Schlender was as German as his name, but not in that burly
kind of way. He was a slightly overweight and over the hill man
with crazy salt and pepper hair that seemed just beyond his
control. His accent was thick but discernable. Though he held
the title of administrator he was a scientist at heart and
longed to be back in the lab. For some reason he had fondness
for me. I never quite understood it but as a firm believer in
the "it's not what but who you know" clause of government work,
I wasn't going to argue.
As I expected he rushed into work immediately after my call
and poured over the data that I had brought to his office. He
scratched the back of his head and stared in deep contemplation
at his computer console.
"This is it, ya?" he asked.
"Yes, sir, the probe cut out shortly after that."
"Let us go see the telemetry data," he said.
We walked out his office and made the trek to my work area.
By now Smitty and Paul were joined with Jennifer Mayes, a
quantum engineer, and Miguel Saratoga, a flight controller. My
team was complete and frantically trying to squeeze every last
bit of information out of the probe's last transmissions.
When they noticed Schlender they started to stand but he
waved them off and took up a seat in front of an open console.
The group congregated around him.
"You have a point of origin?" he said hammering away at the
keyboard until an image popped up on the screen of the star in
question. "Close enough to do damage to Earth?"
"Yes, sir," I replied.
"And you think it will get here in ten months, yes?" he
looked up at me and I nodded.
"I will call a meeting of the council then. I would like
you to attend, Nelson," he said.
"Yes, sir," I said.
A few very short hours later I sat in the board room at a
far end of an ancient oak table. The room was filled with
scientists, advisors, administrators, and the Vice President of
the United States. I was the least important person in the room
and the youngest by far. I felt greatly underdressed in my
simple white shirt and tie. Everyone else was sporting neatly
tailored suits with all the trimmings. I decided to try to lay
My cover was blown almost immediately.
"Ladies and gentleman," Schlender said. "We must get
started. I would like the person who found the radiation spike
speak first. Mr. Wright."
I tried not to worry about speaking in front of the world's
leading scientists, particularly since I should be more worried
about the impending planetary doom charging Earth's way. Of
course, human nature as it is, I bumbled through a speech about
how we found it and the conclusions we came to about its origin.
At first the long table full of geniuses was quiet. It
seemed that even with me saying that the world had ten months
until doomsday it still took a couple of seconds for the concept
to sink in. That's when everyone started talking at once and I
returned to my quiet little corner of the table. I could pick
out small bits of speech here and there. Most of it involved
what to do next and should the press be alerted. The Vice
President ended all of this by slamming a stack of papers on the
"Everyone shut up!" he said. "Let's act like I know nothing
about anything. What exactly are we facing? Dan?"
An older gentleman at the other end of the table stiffened
and responded, "Well, sir, I'm not exactly sure without
conferring with some people but I believe a long term exposure
to this radiation would probably cause a widespread collapse of
all the ecological systems on Earth."
A longwinded way of saying 'What it means, sir, is we're
screwed' but who am I to judge?
The VP nodded slowly, "Can we put people in caves or
"No sir. It may protect them short term but everything on
the surface of the planet as well as underwater would be dead in
a few weeks."
"How can we protect ourselves from this, Dana?" the VP
A mid-30's redhead in a designer suit scrunched her head,
"It's not like an asteroid, sir. We can't just hurl large yield
nukes at it and call it good. As far as I know there is no
protection from it short of�"
"We may be able to utilize some sort of planetary shield!"
a pudgy bald guy next to me said. From there the conversation
snowballed into more and more fantastic ways of shielding the
planet. I didn't hear a single one that might have had any
chance of getting off the ground let alone working.
I sat there for a few moments just stunned at the level of
desperate stupidity that came from such an august body of
savants before I decided to say something. The United States had
control of three large faster-than-light ships that they had
planned to use on long research expeditions to nearby stars.
Granted the technology was just beyond its infancy but the ships
should be able to maintain three times light speed for a good
fifty years or so. There was only one problem�
"Mr. Vice President?" I said just loud enough for him to
hear me. He slammed the stack again bringing the crowd to
attention and putting a few of them back in their seats.
"Yes, Mr. Wright?"
"Sir, this may not be the most popular opinion you're going
to hear in the next few months but it's probably the most
realistic. We have three FTL ships sitting in space dock right
now. We can probably build two more in the ten month period we
have. I think it may be our best bet to fill those with as many
people and supplies that they can hold and launch them ahead of
the wave as sort of a lifeboat for humanity."
"You mean give up on protecting the rest of the planet and
get out of Dodge?"
The room teetered on erupting again but the VP's stare kept
them in check.
"How many can each ship hold?"
"Nine hundred fifty people, on top of a crew of fifty four,
sir," a junior staffer rattled off.
"For how long a trip?" I asked without even thinking.
"How about for fifty years?" I was starting to speak
without thinking, which is probably the kind of behavior that
got me into the managerial position to begin with.
"I'd say around seven hundred and fifty tops, sir. I
wouldn't be able to give you an exact number without doing some
The VP straightened up, "So 2250 people to reseed humanity,
assuming we can't build a couple more of those things. Is there
a geneticist in the room?"
A younger man sitting in the back raised his hand, "I am,
"Is that enough?"
"Well, sir, that depends on who you ask."
"I'm asking you."
"If they were of varying backgrounds racially and
environmentally then that would be more than enough. It's really
an issue of quality versus quantity."
"Good enough. Schlender, I want to call the President from
your office. The rest of you need to focus on getting me more to
go on and more options to go with. Oh, and this is a media
blackout. Keep your traps shut."
With that, the VP and Schlender trotted off to call the
President with the good news and I went back to my office. My
staff was still there pouring over data probably for the
fortieth time. I sent them home, shut the door, and called your
mom. I couldn't tell her anything but it was good to hear her
A week went by with nothing really to do. I filed my report
on the loss of the probe the day after it happened and was
really just cleaning off my desk. I sent my staff home at noon
everyday and there was no overnight coverage. I really had felt
my career had come to an abrupt end when I was called into
He looked weary. His hair had even gone somewhat limp from
its normal on end state. He carried many an hours' worth of work
in the bags under his eyes. When he saw me knock on his open
office door he brightened a bit and waived me in. I figured this
was where he gave me a pat on the back, my walking papers, and a
nudge out the door. I was so very wrong.
"Nelson, my friend, please sit. I have something for you,"
"Yes, sir," I sat.
"I just got off the phone with Vice President Stanton. He
has informed me that the President is going to authorize the
launch of the three FTL's like you had suggested. They are also
going to try to build two more."
I wasn't surprised by this. It was a logical move. Of
course, we are talking about the government�
He continued, "He wants you to head up placement."
"He wants you to be in charge of directing who gets to go
and who stays."
Just when I was feeling a bit of responsibility coming off
my shoulders an elephant sat on them. All I wanted to do was
spend the rest of the time I had with my family. I wanted
nothing to do with this.
"Sir, I don't think I can accept this job," I said. "I want
to spend as much time with my family as possible considering the
"Ahh, I see," he said. "You can, of course, work from home,
if you like. I'm sure Mandy would have no problem keeping this a
secret and I would vouch for her. And your daughter, I don't
find her a threat. The job also comes with a seat on one of the
"For me and my family?"
His gaze fell to the floor, probably somewhere near where
my heart was about to land, "I'm sorry, Nelson, just you."
"This isn't negotiable?" I asked.
"You are in charge of assigning seats to around three
thousand people out of nearly twenty billion. They want to fill
the ships with as many of our brightest minds from varying ages
and races. Even most of the people building the other two ships
won't get seats. I'm sorry."
"I'm not leaving without my family," I said.
"That's your prerogative, Nelson, but take the position."
Schlender looked down again. He was guilty of something.
"What happens if I don't take the position?" I asked.
He rocked back and drug a hand through his hair. I knew he
was guilty now.
"Your job is going to be dissolved," he said. "If you don't
take the job you'll be out of one."
"And my crew?"
"I was able to reassign them to the Alpha Site project," he
was referring to the hopeful resettlement site everyone else
nicknamed 'Earth Jr'.
I slowly nodded. My resolve hadn't been melted but maybe if
I did take this job I could work something out. I was sure as
hell not leaving my family behind and Schlender knew it. But the
man did work in mysterious ways�
"You'll take it then," I swear his hair perked up when he
"Yeah, I'll take it. But I'm going to do as much from home
"Agreed. Nelson, you won't regret it."
The first week or so it was rather easy to hide my job from
your mom. But she wasn't dumb and she certainly wasn't
unobservant. Soon she pieced the puzzle together and was
knocking at my 'office's' door.
"Hey, hun," I said looking up from the mound of paperwork
on top of my small particleboard desk.
"How's it going?" she said.
She walked in and plopped down on a small beat up couch
that sat in the corner of the converted second bedroom. (Your
crib was moved to our room.) She had worn her hair up in a way
that she knew I couldn't resist her. I'm guessing she had
planned to confront me from the start and this was just her
first phase. It'd be her last.
"It going," I said trying to be uninterestingly avoidant.
"What ya working on?" she wasn't biting.
"Just some project, nothing interesting."
"Uh huh," she threw her legs up on the couch and laid back.
She meant business and this was her way of showing she wasn't
going to leave it alone until she was satisfied with my answers.
"It's really nothing," I insisted.
"Ok, hun," she said through an innocent smile.
It's odd how men will say things that they never intended
too when a woman acts sweet and innocent. I fell for it
thousands of times while we were dating, infinitely more since
our wedding and now I was falling for it again. She continued to
sit there and smile at me. I didn't want to bathe in her warmth;
I wanted to shrink from it ashamedly plodding away at how I was
going to get her off this doomed planet. But when she's staring
at you like that, and by now you probably know this, you just
can't help but give in.
"Something happened at work, didn't it?" she said.
I looked down at my feet, a guilty tell I've had since I
was a boy, "Yeah."
"You don't have to tell me," at least I could tell when she
was using reverse psychology on me. That's something, isn't it?
"It's big, hun," I said standing. I moved to the couch and
sat with her feet propped up on my lap. "Two weeks ago my probe
detected a wave of radiation so heavy it fried its electronics.
Before it went down we found that the wave came from a supernova
not too far away."
She continued to stare at me. I was having trouble holding
it together but I was damn well gonna try! "In about nine months
that wave will hit Earth and soon after kill every living thing
She nodded without saying much. I gave her time to let it
sink in. A few moments later she looked up at me, "What are we
going to do?"
"The government has three FTL ships and is building a few
more. They have a few prospected planets that they hope can be a
resettlement site. The problem is that there are a limited
number of seats and they are trying to compile the strongest and
brightest of the human race with the best genetic diversity to
make it a feasible option."
She nodded. Until this point we hadn't really made eye
contact. I was holding that off for as long as possible but she
was able to home in and see I was holding back. "You have been
offered one of the seats, haven't you?"
I nodded and the tears began to flow.
"And we weren't."
I nodded again.
"And you're going."
I shook my head. I knew this wasn't going to be an answer
she liked but I wasn't going to abandon you and your mom.
"No, you're going. It wasn't a question," she sat up and
held my head in her hands staring deeply into my eyes. "You're
I shook my head again, "I won't. I'm going to find a way to
get you and the baby on. I'm hoping to trade in my seat for you
She wiped the tears away from my cheek. "Listen, I didn't
give birth to a little girl so that you could skip out on your
responsibilities," she said with a rye smile.
I smiled back, "I'm going to try to find a way, but if I
can't you have to do what I tell you to, ok?"
I put my forehead against hers and she whispered, "Let's
deal with that when it comes to it."
Smitty and I met up for lunch a few weeks later. He had
been bumped around the project doing odd jobs that only a jack
of all trades like himself could do. Most of his time was spent
on telemetry analysis of some of the possible landing sites. He
garnered high praise for his efforts from the President herself,
but not a seat on one of the ships. He never seemed too worried
about it. He simply said that, "You can't expect some old fogey
like me to go gallivanting across space and reseed humanity on
some new Godforsaken planet! I have a hard enough time walking
down the bloody street right before it rains!"
Over two pots of coffee and an unknown quantity of club
sandwiches and fries I caught him up on what I had been doing
and the conversation I had with your mother. He smiled and
commented on how much of a strong 'lass' I had on my hands.
"So, what are you gonna do?"
I shrugged, "I really don't know."
"You don't have plan?" he gave me a look of mocked shock.
"Well, I can tell you that I'm not going to go. I think
I've made that abundantly clear to the powers that be. I'd like
to give them my seat."
"How's the big man responded to that?"
"About as well as you can expect."
"No, then," he said.
I nodded. He took a long sip out of his coffee and sat
back, "Well, then it's time for Plan B, mate."
"They're running out of people they can trust with the
plannin' of the trip in terms of security and, most importantly,
boarding. So, guess who's been put in charge of handling one of
"You got it," he said and gave me a big toothy grin. "So,
I figure we get you to hide your young Sheila on your wife and
then pass her off as you."
"How is that going to work?"
"You mean how am I going to get a woman in the slot of a
man? Well, I can guarantee that even though your finding has
flushed up a lot of talk amongst us scientific types, the
complete media blanket has made it so that no one really knows
anything more than your last name. Besides, I'll handle the
bloke guarding the door."
"There's just one problem."
"Yeah, your wife; but I figure that's your problem. I
can't be solving the entire puzzle for ya, mate."
I decided, after much debate, that a lie of omission was
much better than telling everything at once. I took a few days
to formulate a full plan of which I only told your mother part
We sat at the dining room table one early afternoon. You
were fast asleep in your playpen. I had already done most of the
legwork. The request for Smitty's shuttle assignment shift had
been placed amongst a rather large list of other requests.
Smitty knew exactly when and where he was to meet your mom. The
details were spelt out with a month to go before launch,
scheduled some two months before radioactive Armageddon.
"So, you're going to go up to level four of terminal two.
Your seat number is 496A, Smitty will make sure you get there."
"Where will you be?" she asked, her suspicion piqued.
"I'm not sure, exactly; it's not quite worked out yet."
She squinted her eyes, "You will be there, right?"
I nodded; it was the only dodge I had left in my arsenal.
"Now, as for young one, we're going to strap her to your
"A familiar position."
"Smitty says they're making sure there are more supplies
than needed. Considering you're breastfeeding, the hit on their
supplies will be minimal."
Her eyes drifted out the window and across our small lawn.
I think it takes some people a long time to deal with even the
smallest of bad news. It took her almost three months to deal
with the end of the world. I still wasn't there, mostly because
of the way I immersed myself in my work, and my plan.
I followed her gaze and laid my head on her shoulder. She
nestled hers against mine.
"You will be there, right?" she asked.
"I'm going to try, hun," I said, and I meant it.
Everything went according to plan. Smitty's position was
approved without question. We were able to get the proper
harness and after a few dry runs we had the kinks all ironed
out. You were incredibly quiet each time. Your mom said it was
because of how much it probably felt like the womb.
I don't think I slept well a single night between the time
we discussed the plan and two weeks before the launch. What I
saw on the news didn't make me feel any better, at least at
It was about three in the morning and I was sprawled on the
couch watching absolutely nothing on TV. The forth episode of a
Gilligan's Island marathon was about to finish when a news
broadcast cut in.
"We've just heard from your senior science consultant. A
radioactive wave of immense proportions is heading our way. For
more on this, we go to�"
He went on to their science correspondent who went into the
gory details of what was to come. The lid was off and now
everyone was going to want a ticket off this condemned rock.
I jumped up and made my way for the phone. Just as I was
about to pick up it rang and Smitty was on the other side. "No
worries, mate. This is actually good for us."
"What do you mean?"
"Confusion is exactly what we need to make an easy sneak
run with your wife. Considering the government already knew this
was gonna leak they had the National Guard on standby. Welcome
to martial law."
"How did you know?"
"I've got me ear to the ground and some old friends in high
places. Don't worry about it. Have you told her yet?"
"No, not yet. I don't think I should until it's too late
for her to refuse."
"Do ya think it'll ever be too late?"
That morning the news was full of conspiracy theories and
cover ups, most of them not far from the truth. I received a
call around nine from Schlender. The President had decided to
pick up the pace and the launch was going to take place in a few
short days. He told me that he would set the family up with
lodging on base and that a shuttle would come for us in a few
hours. I told him we would be ready.
"I don't mean to harp on this, Nelson, but remember that
there is only one seat for you," he reminded.
I nodded and he cut the video link.
We hastily packed enough stuff to live for a few days and a
suitcase literally overflowing with things to take on the
spaceship. Though it broke my heart, I filled mine up too. I
hadn't come anywhere close to working out a feasible plan to
stow away on one of the other ships. There were just too many
people and too much security.
The 'shuttle' that was to pick us up was actually a
military Stryker II personnel carrier. There was no rioting in
our neighborhood but as we grew closer to the base the crowd
became much more dense. Eventually we heard the loud popping of
the .50 caliber cannon on top of our vehicle. I'm not sure if
the guardsman was shooting in the air or at people but the
brooding mob cleared out of the vehicles way. I held your mother
close as we waded through. Chances are that if I hadn't landed
the managerial position I had I might have been one of them.
It's a terrible thing to make a person beg for their life, but I
can tell you it's an even worse thing to want to save it but not
be able to.
We settled down quickly in our new temporary home. We
didn't unpack much, save a few of your bears and a change of
clothes. There was not much of a point. I coordinated a great
deal of the movement from our little room. Most of the delegates
were aboard inside a week. They took the opportunity to settle
into their new permanent home while using the base as a general
The problem is that a lot more unwanted people showed up
with them. Not so much their families, who also were seamless,
but the throngs of people that surrounded the complex. Some
pleaded to come in, others tried to bribe their way in, most
just demanded and threw rocks when they were turned away. A few
small skirmishes did break out but even facing certain death if
they failed to board a vessel they scattered when gunfire broke
out. It wouldn't take long for them to rally somewhere else and
Smitty and I hooked up for lunch about a week before
launch. He slipped me an envelope with a badge in it. I opened
it and snuck a peak. The face on the badge was your mother's but
the name, N. Wright, was certainly mine. He said that he
wouldn't get away with making it perfect but between the
confusion and his pull, this would probably do.
The last week flew by and I didn't sleep a wink. Your
mother was very suspicious of my intentions to board. She tried
to broach the question a couple of times but I always said I was
a bit busy or couldn't talk about it. I knew she knew and I even
knew that she would probably go but I don't think either of us
wanted to accept the fact that we were going to be separated
The day of the launch started off rather slow. The military
had done well in keeping people off the premises. There had been
casualties on both sides as the rush to get in struck a feverish
pace. Smitty called me when there was a break in the boarding.
We grabbed everything we needed, tucked you into your little
pouch, and ran towards the terminal.
Getting through the outer security was easy courtesy of
Smitty. They didn't even ask us for our identification. They
seemed to recognize who we were and waived us in. The inner
security did pretty much the same until we were on the right
floor and section. I stopped at the door and turned to your
mother, tears welling in my eyes.
"This is as far as I can go, hun," I said and tried to
muster a smile.
She looked deeply into my eyes and put down her bags. She
took a deep breath to keep in control. "I thought you said you
were coming," she managed.
"I can't," I said wiping off my cheek. "There's only one
seat and if I get caught on there, none of us goes."
She nodded her head, "Then we don't�" I gently placed my
hand on her mouth.
"You need to take care of her," I placed my other hand on
her stomach and drew her close. "I'm doing this for her."
I began to lose it. Tears streamed down my cheek and
dropped on her slightly bulging belly. She picked my face up in
her hands and stared deeply into my eyes, tears coming down as
well. She placed her forehead against mine and wiped my cheeks.
"I love you," she said just above a whisper.
"I love you too," I replied.
Smitty ran over to us and put his hands on our shoulders,
"I hate to cut in but we gotta go."
I kissed your mother more deeply than I ever had before and
holding her cheek in the palm of my hand I stared in her eyes. I
couldn't bring myself to utter a sound but I think she
understood. She kissed me and slowly pulled back and followed
Smitty around a corner and to the on ramp. I slumped against the
wall and sobbed
Near the hatch Smitty slid her card into the receiver and
it came up green. The security guard standing next to it held
your mom up.
"I thought Doctor Wright was a man," he said, one hand on
his pistol's holster.
"Nah, mate, she's a woman," Smitty replied.
"No, I was almost positive I saw a picture of him," the
guard put himself between your mom and the door.
"Look, I worked with her on the probe that found the damned
wave. I'd think I'd know what sex my boss was. Does she look
like a man to you?"
"No, but I should at least call this in," he put his hand
on the phone, Smitty pinned it there.
"Call them if you want and then see what they do to you
when you're wrong."
"What are they going to do? Not give me a seat? Hell, I'm
already there! Kill me? I'm dead anyways."
Smitty let go of his hand, "So am I but I know that the
best thing that I can do to make my death meaningful is let this
lass on that ship."
The guard looked at Smitty and then at your mom. He then
nodded and quietly moved out of the way. Your mom boarded the
It's now minutes until launch and I'm sitting out on a hill
that overlooks the pad. When I'm done recording this I'll hit
the transmit button and your mom will receive the last bit. I
suppose that this would be the time where I'd fit in sage like
advice about how to live but we both know that the life you're
going to lead will be nothing like the one I have. I can only
tell you to follow your heart and take things as they come. Try
not to let every little thing bog you down, do everything your
mother says, and don't date until you're thirty!
Some would probably question the big picture of me not
going. They will say that I had a brilliant mind or a
resourcefulness that would have been useful on such an
expedition. Your mother certainly thought so. If anyone would
ever ask why I would risk not going myself I would tell them
that I sent the best part of me on the journey. I sent you.
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