1) The Mission

The great planet with its crystalline seas turned slowly, an ever changing panorama of light across the mountains, valleys and distant shores. Here and there, through clouds propelled by gentle winds, ribbons and patches of green, white, blue, red, purple and tan blended into every shade. Sparkling snow capped mountains threw shadows from the light of twin suns burning like watcher’s eyes in the blackness of space.Three bright orbs appeared on the northern horizon and moved southwest. They stopped, flashed a greeting and sped out of sight.

Life carriers, she thought.

Through the observation dome of her lightship Firefly, Pheledra smiled, enjoying her own flash of joy which had gone out in response.

To this unnamed third density world far from home she had come for rest and recreation – a vacation – taking in the sights, remembering her soul in the light of this pristine planet which was just beginning its evolutionary journey. And as she gazed upon this beautiful sight, she also remembered the terrible heaviness of third density and thought about the countless souls that would struggle here to become. Just as her own ancestors did long ago on her planet.

Oh, Helaah, she cried in her mind, I love you.

A single tear rolled down her cheek but she quickly wiped it away.

Nestingwave looked over at Pheledra, stroked his white beard and adjusted his seat. He put both hands behind his head and grinned, drinking in the magnificent view. “And a sight to behold it is!”

“Lovely beyond words,” she exclaimed to match his enthusiasm.

In many ways Wave was like a father to her. She valued his advice and respected his point of view. He was a gifted engineer who played the lightship like a musical instrument, keeping the Firefly in top running condition. She trusted him. So many times his keen intuition and level headedness had prevented tragedy, solved the unsolvable and saved the day. But, more than that, he was a good friend and cheerful companion on long journeys.

Inky, Ginger, and Boots lay on their pillows basking in warmth, living in the moment as felines do. These sapient cats were not just furry companions but full crew members who came from a long line of space-faring adventurers. Their dexterity was enhanced by prehensile paws and tails. And, of course, like cats everywhere, they were curious, playful and independent.

Inky and Ginger curled up in fond embrace, licking each others fur. Boots snoozed and sighed. He twitched his ear and opened one eye, wishing for a little action.

Pheledra immediately responded to his body language. “Okay, Boots, let’s put on some music.”

An acoustic probe left the ship and shot downward, bathing in the resonances of the planet’s song to be instantly translated by the ship’s sound system. She placed the program pad in front of Boots. “Here you are.”

Boots tapped and scratched with his right front paw and kneaded the program pad, purring loudly. Inky and Ginger perked up with expectation as Pheledra adjusted the gravity. Inky’s eyes got big and Ginger mewed with some concern as they began to bounce and float. Although they were well adapted to a variety of gravitational situations, they still felt most comfortable with something solid beneath their feet. So, in this case, they simply snagged their claws into whatever was available in order to stay put. Like all cats, they were hard on the furniture.

Nestingwave knew what was coming but didn’t feel all that energetic today, so he drifted out of his observation chair and bowed in mid-air to Pheledra and the cats with a gesture of farewell. “Enjoy, my dear friends, I’ll be down on the control deck playing chess with Fabby if you need me.”

“Have a good game, Wave!”

He swung past, gripped the ladder and disappeared through the hatch that led to the control deck below.

Rhythm-tones of the Ehnala drum filled the air.

“Well kitties, shall we dance?” Pheledra undid her light brown hair and led the way with slow flexible movements, disciplined and sensual. She purred softly and extended her right leg behind her, wagging it back and forth like a tail. Boots reached out his paw, took her hand and the dance unfolded as music caressed the senses with profound melodies of the Aquadian harp, flute and strings. They performed a mid-air ballet. The music became layered with full orchestration evolving into counterpoint. The rich tone of the solo trumpet sang a new melody as percussion intensified. Pheledra arched her back and slowly spiraled like a leaf floating on the autumn breeze. Boots meowed as he splayed, pedaled and tumbled across the room, segueing into doubletime diving and rolling.

Inky and Ginger were content to remain as spectators until Boots began pirouettes and slow-motion airborne somersaults. Soon, all four were stretching, spinning, and twirling through the air. The music flowed from rhythm to rhythm. Gradually, the song returned to its original simplicity and the dance unwound as the flute and Ehnala drum spun a dark tale of mystery.

Finally, exhilarated but tired, the cats floated to their pillows. Pheledra readjusted the gravity and plopped down into her observation chair. She slid her fingers into the hand imprint on the arm and moved the lightship further out into space.

A warmth filled them as they rested in the beauty of that unspoiled world below. It seemed even more beautiful from afar, as the light and color trembled with expectation.

Suddenly, the air was charged with an eerie presence, light coalescing into uncertain form. Inky, Ginger, and Boots were already alert. Every hair stood on end.

Pheledra bounded out of her seat. “Aramanda?”

“It is none but I”, the voice warbled. “State your truth, child!”

Pheledra took a deep breath. “Mandhi … I have concerns.”

“Yes?”

Aramanda’s penetrating eyes were gateways of foaming light. Pheledra turned away. “Balance over these strong emotions, loneliness and doubt … fear, I suppose.”

“Or pride and arrogance.” The odd voice seemed to echo from every direction.

“Mandhi, I would gladly give everything …”

“But what can you receive?”

Pheledra thought a while before she answered. “Only as much as I will embrace.”

“Dip into the water. Drink deep.”

Pheledra turned back to face Aramanda’s eyes. “Helaah … we argued that day … silly nonsense … my fault. I made him angry and he left on the mission without me … he was upset … did he become careless? Am I responsible for the death of my beloved friends?”

“That is for you to discern.”

Pheledra nodded and sighed. “Mandhi … I want to accept who and what I am. I want to accept this tragedy … my love is stronger than death. But I let them down … I just want my regret swallowed up in love … closure and peace.”

“Pheledra, nothing of love is ever lost. Whatever is lost is not of love but illusion.”

“I know that’s true.”

“Always speak kind and blessed words to those you cherish. In your present incarnation it is always possible that you may never see them again.”

Pheledra closed her eyes and nodded.

Aramanda continued. “You have far to travel and lessons to learn.”

“True, Mandhi.”

“Your soul tells me you are ready to return.”

“I am refreshed and ready, although things are not yet fully resolved within me.”

Aramanda’s disturbing form came close to Pheledra’s face, a quivering, fluctuating and boiling exchange of energy and matter. Those eyes, bottomless magnetic vortices, beckoning. As Pheledra plunged into their depths, an incomprehensible high pitched warble gradually became Aramanda’s clear voice. “Sometimes giving a fish to the hungry is a blessed thing, but there are other times when giving a fish is insufficient, even harmful.”

“Harmful?”

“If a man is overtaken by thieves and abused, take him into your own home, care for him. Broil him a fish. But, if anyone sits by the river and begs you for a fish, ignore him. On the other hand, if he calls upon you and asks what he should do, teach him how to fish for himself and teach him well. I see many sitting by the river who already have fishing poles and plenty of bait. They’ve had those items for quite a while, but they’re so use to begging for fish, they never learned how to use the equipment already available. Lately though, due to overcrowding of the beggars market, they’ve been noticing the tools at hand and wondering what they’re for. Teach them how to fish, Pheledra.”

“How shall I proceed?”

“Move according to your intuition, wisdom, and judgment … within the allowances and restrictions of the Cosmic Directive.”

The cats squinted and watched the shimmering swirls of light. They could no longer distinguish Pheledra or anything else in the room and all ears swiveled forward in response to Aramanda’s voice: “Remember who you are, Pheledra.”

Aramanda sent forth a single bright pulse of violet light and faded into the void.

Ginger peered out from behind her paws and, seeing that the coast was clear, went back to licking Inky’s fur. Inky stretched and purred, returning the favor. Boots flicked his tail in anticipation of adventure. Pheledra slid down to the control deck to set course for a remote planet far out on the rim of the Anadine galaxy, a planet called Miraba by its inhabitants but often referred to by celestial lightworkers as The Planet of Forgetfulness.

CONTINUE:  2) – AN ASTRAL ROACH

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