Just a winter tale

 

It’s just a winter tale; something happening on a small planet lost in the swirling maze of stars.  It’s just another galaxy reaching out to the deep darkness of the surrounding void with eager fingers of fire and dust. And it’s only me, a bored human, stuck to this planet in an attempt to gather some money for my early retirement from the Starfleet.

I have worked and traveled for the last twenty years all around the known and the unknown Universe. I’ve seen enough wonder and misery for the rest of my life so I decided to retire to the farm I’ve bought with my savings. It’s a large piece of fertile land in a remote area, deep in the wilderness. I need to rebuild my peace of mind.

This last assignment is one of surveillance over the population of an inconspicuous planet, warmed up and kept alive by a young sun. The inhabitants are human colonists, living in communities scattered all around the globe. I keep an eye on them from my venting point well hidden by the holographic image of a landscape. There are lots of small satellites in the sky, offering up-to-date images about what is happening on the premises. Autumn has just ended in this part of the world, leaving behind barren trees and lands. The sky mirrors the ground with its long rows of grey clouds; they slowly drag themselves across the hill tops and the thicket of entwined fingers of trees. The chilling wind pushes the veil of rain, mixing it up with scattered golden leaves….

Then, one night, Winter came riding the great Northern Wind and stopped to look upon the sleeping planet. He raised a long, slender finger to the skies and made a magic sign in the air. The frozen blanket of clouds suddenly opened, showering the land with sparkling icy stars. As the morning sun climbed over the dimmed horizon, the snow has already covered everything, filling the cracks and hiding imperfections. A new reign has started.

The creature moved cautiously at the edge of the forest, trying to leave only a few traces of her passage. A low branch snapped, releasing a blur of dusty snow above her. She stopped confused and listened carefully. I magnified her image on the screen; she was a rare appearance, almost like “once in a lifetime”. Some of my friends at the Base doubted that she even existed. She belonged to the race that once inhabited the planet. They were mercilessly hunted down by the human colonists who pretended that these creatures were non-intelligent. I was doubtful but the politics was that now the planet belonged to the humans.

I kept watching her struggle through the frozen pathways and under the canopy of frosty lace and shining icicles. The illusion of close contact was so powerful that I could smell the acrid scent of fear, radiating from the elusive creature. She was slender and gracious, an unexpected mix of humanlike and lizard features. In the shimmering light dancing on her contours she looked fragile and lost. She had smooth, golden skin and deep-blue eyes with slit pupils. The translucent wings on her back were too small for a flight. She’s was a very young female, who probably got caught by the sudden snow-storm and lost her track.

The unexpected burst of terror filling her mind hit me hard; she sprang forward and took a direct way downhill. She stopped for a moment and turned; she looked sharply…in my direction. I knew that I was invisible for everybody but at the same time I realized that somehow she became aware of my presence. She then turned and disappeared in the blazing light. I stood there in deep shock, trying to assess the happenings. Just as I thought, these creatures were intelligent and sensitive. To leave them to the mercy of the ignorant occupiers meant to become accessory to their murder. Defying the rule that forbade us from intervening, I’ve set a satellite on her and tried to follow the tracks. It took me more than half a day of careful scrutiny until I’ve spotted her silhouette, curled up tightly under a rack of boulders. She was motionless. The humans chasing her were leaving the place empty-handed and angry. The blood spots on the snow were the only victory they’ve gained from the hunt.

I left the satellite-camera fixed on her and waited until the light dimmed and the elongated shadows of the trees lied down on the cold blanket covering their roots. I took some medical aids and hopped into the tiny shuttle. I found the creature exhausted, pained and half-frozen. Again, she sensed my presence and tried to escape but she was too weak. I remained hidden from her view to minimize the shock and quickly sedated her. After securing her inside the shuttle, we returned to my quarters. I’ve placed her on the bed and tried to scan the body to see how deep the wounds were.

As I suspected, the creature was basically just like us on the inside…and then, I had a surprise that almost knocked me off my feet. A new life was moving inside her. I stopped the scanner right above the baby and felt a pleasant tickling in my mind. Trustful curiosity and playfulness were mixing in the soft touch. The baby was reaching out at me. I swallowed the lump in my throat and tried to suggest calm and security to the tiny life.  He…giggled, tickling my mind.

The following days and weeks I did my best to learn to communicate with the mother; whenever we got stuck, the little one eased the way. He trusted me and the young mom learned to trust me to. I named her Kisha. From her mind-to-mind connection I’ve learned that they/the natives of the planet/ were only about fifty some individuals, trying to survive to the constant threat of the humans. They never had enemies so they were basically defenseless. They were peaceful creatures, silent and respectful towards each other. Knowing all this I was left with only one option: save the last remnants.

It took me another week of frenzied search and work over the Intel(the Galactic Computer Device) to set everything in motion. Night after night I moved the creatures in, under the station roof and prepared to embark for another planet. Sad and happy moments mixed up day by day. The station became overcrowded but nobody complained.

Then came the night of the take-off and we gathered for the last time to watch the planet on screen. Emotions filled the air and I was abashed by the amount of love and grief that surrounded me. Outside, the winter was raging over the curves of the hills and the frozen, electric-blue ribbons of captive rivers. The ice-coated branches of the trees were cracking in the high wind, unable to stand against the mad tantrum thrown by the blizzard. It looked like the planet was making its last attempt to hold back her children. I was afraid that if the storm would not slow down, we’d lose the window of opportunity to escape from here.

I searched the room for Kisha and found her in a corner, bent by pain. As I connected to her, the same feelings flooded my mind; I reached out mentally for the baby. He was struggling with the powerful thrust that tried to separate him from the warm, protective space that was his home. The birth has started. Before I could utter a sound, people surrounded us and their thoughts were comforting, supportive. The small gem of life started its way out under their loving guidance…but his mind held me close. It felt like a little finger clinging trustfully to my hand.

While the storm was rattling the planet, trying to kick her out of the orbit, inside the room the warmth of connection enveloped us. With a final push, the new life arrived to the world. His tiny voice echoed through the Universe and for a fraction of a moment, Time halted its run. Touched by the magic of this new addition to the light, the storm ended abruptly and the sky cleared.

From the vast canopy of black velvet all the stars of the night were shining, welcoming their little brother. The glow spread all around. I took the baby in my arms and kissed him. He was beautiful, precious and unique. He was the star of a new dawn. We named him Kibo (hope). The starship launched towards the sky while the planet faded into the background. The Galaxy made a happy loop: every new life is a miracle!

Joyful holidays to you all!

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