Tyria’s Tears – Volume 1: The Chronicles of J’Rontia
The light seeped in through the cracks in my eyes and I knew that morning had arrived. It was irritating and I tried to ignore it and fall back to sleep. It is always a pain when you reach the point where you can now hear all the sounds in the area but you do not want to wake. The creak of the branches, the chirp of insects, and bubbling sound of the nearby brook all disturbed my peace. I wished I could turn off the noise and go back to sleep.
The night had been really short and my head had that thick feeling that comes with a lack of sleep. I thought about just staying there with my eyes closed but my body started to hurt. I could hear all the sounds and now feel all of the bumps, bruises, and cuts from the previous day. It was time to get up.
I opened my eyes to a brilliant orange sky with green clouds drifting in the distance. This was one of my least favorite planets and it irritated me immensely whenever I had to “visit” here. It was easy for me to say that they forced me to come here, because they did, but it would not be accurate. I always had the choice of letting them turn me off.
Others had tried to run, over the years, and they always were caught. Things did not go well for those who ran and when you can live for hundreds of years or more, you do not need a bad reputation, especially when the quality of your life revolves around your reputation. However, a while back they started offering to turn us off if we did not want to “cooperate” with them. Once they turn you off you can live a normal life.
I thought of the irony of living a normal life. Why would anyone give up half of their IQ or half of their strength? I know I would not feel normal if I did that. Yes, the rules I have to follow are difficult and totally unfair but I want to stay me and I understand their fear. So, I voluntarily visit and live on this horrible planet for my treatments and training.
I swung my feet off of the bed onto the ground and felt the small rocks against my feet. They were smooth and cool to the touch and small enough that it was not uncomfortable as I stood up. I pushed the button on the top of my bed and watched as it retracted into the low, stone wall without leaving any trace of its existence. I often wondered why there couldn’t be regular houses here and why everything had to hide the fact that it existed.
I walked over to the cliff and looked down. It was a long way down and the people on the beach below looked as small as ants as they moved along the water’s edge. This early in the morning was a poor time for a swim. The water was always cold and the air was not much warmed. The water also held any number of nasty creatures that would love to try and take a bite of anything considered alive. I gathered myself inward mentally while squatted down and took a deep breath.
I expected my minders to yell or try to stop me but they didn’t. I jumped outward with all of my strength pushing my body out into the nothingness as I started the long decent down toward the water. I wondered what was going through the minds of those who watched me as I flew through the sky on a crash course with the beach.
I twisted my arms and attached the support wires to my hips. I then snapped my arms out and the webbing between my arms and my body filled with air. I spread my legs and allowed that webbing to expand bringing me from an almost full vertical into a horizontal position as I flew out over the sea.
I smiled as the sea breeze brought that sweet salt smell into my nose along with various odors of dead sea creatures. I could feel the warmth of an updraft and I rolled around to catch the uplift to extend my flight. I chased some birds and tempted fate with close passes along the cliffs. I loved to fly.
The inevitable finally came to pass and I landed on the beach with the knowledge that I enjoyed a few moments of total freedom here in my voluntary prison. I saw my minder standing nearby and smiling. As I walked over, I returned the smile and wondered how she tolerated her life. I would not want her job for all the money in the universe as I have enough trouble managing myself and can’t imagine what it is like for her to manage all of us.
She looked at me with tired but caring eyes and said, “I have some work you may be interested in.” I doubted it but asked her to continue. She said, “There is a galactic war coming and I need you to handle a very critical mission for me.” I could not help myself and I laughed. “War? You sound like Tomli. There aren’t even the hints of a war out there.”
She smiled sweetly while nodding her head the way mothers do when their child says something incredibly stupid that only a child could but that a mother can sympathize with. For some reason, I felt foolish and asked her why she thought a war was coming. She paused and then said, “What I need to know is if you are interested in undertaking a deep cover assignment that will last thousands of standard years.”
At this point I knew I was interested but I was a bit suspicious about why she would trust me. So I asked, “Why do you want me for this mission?” She said, “That is the correct question. Think about what I described. You live alone and perform alone – no Soretto and no madness. You leap off a cliff with complete trust in yourself and with no fear. This is a dangerous mission that will require someone who can live alone for thousands of years. I think you can do that.”
I was not surprised but not impressed either. There were a lot of people who could do that much. I told her to continue. “I need someone who can follow the exiles without them knowing and who is willing to undergo the deep sleep whenever the exiles are stationary. Communications will be by hype globe and that is why I need someone with KR design so they can resist the dangerous emissions.”
I smiled and said, “and …” She actually laughed and then turned serious with slight glow building in her eyes as she commented, “OK. I do need all of the above, plus I also need someone who can sit by and watch horrible things happening without interfering. Someone who can hold their feelings in check until the right moment for vengeance comes. Someone who is smart enough to do what needs to be done when there is no time to communicate and who can be patient when they do have orders.” She paused and then looked me in the eye and added, “I need you!”
I knew that she did not want to say all of that and that she hurt having no one else to turn to. I responded, “May I ask a price?” She tipped her head to the side with that look that parents have when their child is doing something they are very suspicious about and said, “Yes. Within reason.”
I turned to the ocean and breathed deeply of the air to enjoy all of the scents. I could hear the roll of the waves and their crashing on the nearby rocks. I could feel the water run across my feet only to retreat in a while as the waves went in and out. After a few moments drifted by I turned back to see her patiently waiting, which must have been hard.
I smiled softly and yet seriously as I asked, “Can I have a daughter? I would like four years of normal life living with a child of my own and then I will do as you ask and never sway from the course.” Her eyes widened as she took in my request. I could see the conflict in her as she considered what I was asking. She asked, “And after her fourth birthday?” I looked down at the ground and said, “I know that the military would want to take her, but I would ask that she go to the Kuli for training. You know who I want!”
Tears filled her eyes and she had to turn away. Over her shoulder I heard, “That will be difficult to arrange and you would not be able to back out – no matter what. He will only make that deal if he believes it is real. If we make this deal he will hold us to it. And he can!” I responded, “I know. I will do as I promise. I will not let you down in either part of the deal.”
She was sobbing when she answered, “OK. I will make the arrangements.” She started to walk away when I said, “Please stay a minute.” She turned around and I walked up to her. We looked in each other’s eyes and I reached out and hugged her for a long time. “I have one additional request,” I said. She looked up. I went on, “I need him to pick her up on her fourth birthday. I cannot trust anyone else. If he agrees to pick her up himself then I will know that no force in the universe will prevent my girl from being a Kuli and that is so much better than the life I have been living.” She nodded, “If it is done at all, it will be done as you ask.”
Two days later, I held the message that said, “It will be done.” The note was signed, “Mom.” I cried. I put the note in my pocket and looked out over the cliff. I was going to miss these flights. Before I leapt out into space I wondered what my father thought when my mom told him I wanted him to take my little girl into his world instead of having her here in mine. As I soared on the wind that day I decided that I would name my little girl J’Rontia.