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Space!.. Unconceivable blackness, fathomless harmony, speckled with mysteries of infinity, it watches us calmly through the glittering eyes of stars in its glimmering scintillation, radiating warmly and piercingly. Once having escaped from the gloom of night, this life-giving fire of arising ecumenical conscience splashed time onto spatial tissues of matter, foreseeing the future in the present, engendering spiritual grains of the Maker, lighting the Universe with the ever-burning flames of love. Once, when the life in the Universe was begotten, the Maker pondered over the equilibrium of the constructing and demolishing forces He had generated and inspired. He was young, fit and lovable; He sophisticated making the Universe perfect. A thinker and a creator, He reflected on the contrariness, addressing Himself all the doubts caused by the flaws of the world He made. “What could become a required and urgent counterpoise to balance the Great Equalities?” He asked Himself. “What will advance and develop their unique structures?” Considering the universal balance, He came to plain and splendid conclusions which later originated and kneaded life on the above-mentioned divine territories. “What could prove innumerable and fearless forces of Dark?” He questioned time and again. “Only its merciless broiling robe, the effulgent radiant sun,” His creative essence retorted. “What can become a true test for the Order of Light adepts?”He asked Himself once again, but didn’t delay with the answer, “Only the boundless territories of the dark centuries, devouring any glimpses of light.” Both the worlds of dark and those of light needed each other. Once The God of the Universe approached the edge of the abyss He made; watching the countless mists which the Dark caressed, observing starlit worlds glimmering with snow-white diamonds, He was blinded for a while with their wonderful, amazingly cold, steely luster. Then something occurred to His soul; He suddenly saw the imperfection of His inner world which mirrored the flaws of the endless space He begot; suffer and sorrow rushed into Him violently. Peering into the cold glitter of His lifeless work, He bent meekly over it watching it lovingly and carefully like Father watches his new-born. Unable to restrain His suffering, with an intolerable pain in His heart, He wept bitterly, shaking with sobs, foreseeing the endless inconsolable apathy looming over Him. And the space stirred, and the heaven yawned, and there was a crush of thunder, and raging streams of warm and water filled the empty vessels of His cold work. And the wonder happened; He embraced His new-born in a gust of ever-creating force, and covered it with all of His endless passionate essence, whispering softly and lovingly. In a trice the Creator of the World disappeared; He was gone forever, having dissolved His spiritual essence in the work He generated, having scattered His being in a multitude of kin spiritual cells, which became conscious in the substantial matter of His imperfect child. Thus Death appeared, and the endlessness of the world shrunk to a dot, and shaped into milliards and myriads of God-like beings, that inhabited visible and invisible space of the Universe amazingly fast. And the Polar Opposites followed Him, and dissolved instantly in the chasm of His inspired work. 1

Novel bright stars were begotten in the unbounded heaven, thus Life appeared, and eventually Man occurred somewhere in the outskirts of the Milky Way, but was immediately affected by the Polar Opposites whose balance had disturbed the Creator in the very beginning of Time. It was then that the Greatest of Wises and the Wisest of Greats created genius and submerged these two Opposites into it. Hence appeared and traveled all over the Universe the Divine Game, whose latest stunning set eventually approached the sacred terrestrial bounds.

Charpter1. Quanderon Barcelona, 2312 AD *** It was late fall. The end of November appeared to be unseasonably warm; in Central Espanetta the sun with a splash of whitish beams was caressing sandy beaches and brown-and-red cliffs, worn by the wind and tide. Over the Gibraltar Strait an anticyclone from North America had been running the show for a few weeks already. The night sky was clean; myriads of solitary stars painted by the Divine brush all over the canvas were reaching out to the sea with their shiny rays so as to write on wave crests the most important facts of their endless history. They appealed to the Earth with the look of entreat, they quivered, not daring to hope for a miracle – that sometime a Man would come ashore and, gazing at the azure smoothness of the sea, would hear the enchanting whisper of the Universe… He would read the message of each star reflected in the seawater but it would be to only one of them that he would stretch his hand to show to the Earth’s people their new space home. All of a sudden, in the pitch-black sky there came a flash; that produced a tiny luminous disc, almost invisible from the shore. It rapidly crossed the star horizon, grew considerably bigger and became a military aerospace craft approaching the earth at a high speed. To the north of it, one could see the Pyrenees, and to the south Mount Jebel Musa, closed the narrow gorge of the Gibraltar Gulf. The Pillars of Hercules had been the name of the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. The interplanetary transformer made a few circles above the landing zone, landed softly on the mirror of water glimmering in the moonlight, and went on moving, this time as a marine craft, towards Northern provinces of the European continent. This morning, Rono received a strange message from his uncle Sir Henry Mowdy asking him to come to Barcelona as soon as possible; the details were to be shared later. In about an hour, in a private penthouse on top of a half-mile-high skyscraper in the North American city of Boston, the doorbell rang. It was Colonel Greg, one of the old hands in the Security Service at the Ayla Military Aerospace Corporation. Greg passed on Sir Henry’s instruction to Rono and showed him to the fiver-seat aerospace boat looking like a scarab larva that took them to the aerospace transformer Olympus. When they came aboard, the captain immediately directed the spaceship to the Mediterranean. 2

On their way, Rono learned from Greg that an hour ago there a strange incident occurred, as the military would put it, with the government security patrol aerospace boats. There were only two spacecraft in the solar system to beat them. One was the Olympus, a technological wonder and the latest product of the Ayla Corporation, built per Henry Mowdy’s personal order. Rono was alarmed at the news he heard from Greg. The young man remembered how in his final year in Harvard six months ago he had two bodyguards, assigned by Sir Henry to follow him everywhere, what annoyed his fellow students who openly mocked him. Although it looked awful, arguing with Uncle Henry would be pointless - Rono knew it only too well. The dean found himself in the same position: he could not bring himself to say no to the first President of the United Government of the Earth, which Sir Henry Mowdy, a member of a famous English noble family, was a few years ago. Even after he resigned of his own accord, he still remained a rainmaker on the political sky of the Earth. Some politicians would refer to him as the Grey Cardinal: decision making in the United Government hinged on his opinion. Henry Mowdy was a cult figure indeed, constantly causing unexpected rumors and being the hero of improbable and much-exaggerated stories. But what was it this time? Rono had no idea. Being Sir Henry’s proxy, Colonel Greg appeared where it was getting hot. Henry Mowdy always gave Greg most challenging tasks – both during presidency and after resignation. “Uncle must have every reason to worry, because things are not going well,” Rono thought. He had decided to learn as much as possible from Greg though he had no illusions about it, while realizing that the Colonel would hardly be frank with him. “It appears you’ve managed to escape,” with a contrived smile Rono started the conversation. “Sir, I’d give anything to see the faces of the stuck-up boneheads! What a startling maneuver old man Olympus had made! You should have seen this, sir! It took the Olympus a few seconds to slip away right under their poking noses. The patrol didn’t know in what part of the continent to look for us - so quickly we had fled,” Greg answered and laughed loudly making his subordinates smile encouragingly. “And what did they want?” Rono asked curiously. He was deeply upset with the unpleasant news, suggesting that nothing good would come out of it. “Jeezy-peezy,” Greg grumbled. “It wasn’t exactly the first time that they had been chasing us. If you looked at the right broadside you would see a dent - a laser deck that the Olympus’ protection screen deactivated made it. Just imagine: if we had been on another spacecraft today – I assure you…” the Colonel peered into the young man’s eyes. The curl of lips distorted his face; irony in his voice at the short remark leaving no doubt that otherwise the crew would have perished. “It must have been a pretty good fight out there.” Greg cast a wary eye upwards. “Sir, as you know, they don’t tell us,” he continued thoughtfully after a pause. Having learnt what he wanted from Greg, the young man was not in the mood for talking any longer. Suddenly he felt uneasy thinking that Uncle Henry’s life was at risk when his transformer was shot by a lethal deck. Rono remembered the day when he heard about his parents’ tragic death on the Jupiter’s Europe; he was not even fifteen. The loss shook the young man to the core and remained an open sore on his heart forever. His uncle was the only close relative to 3

support the boy in trouble and treated Rono like his own son. Only now, in a time of peril, Rono realized how he loved his uncle and how he feared to lose him. Colonel Greg’s account of their encounter with the governmental patrol ships dumbfounded Rono. “When are we arriving?” he asked coldly. “I'm not in the know, sir,” said Greg calmly. “The trouble is that the Olympus is on remote control now and we don’t have the slightest idea about its short-term plans. And unfortunately,” the Colonel looked the young man straight into eyes as if trying to read his mind, “we are disconnected from the outside world. And will be so until the mission is fulfilled.” During next ten minutes they were silent, watching the navigation system to operate on its own. All they could do was wait patiently. The Olympus was going at a high speed; the crew compartment was quiet; Rono would either stare blankly at Greg’s broad manly face or at whispering young soldiers, or turn his eyes away to look impassively at the luminous indicator, reminding him of something. Suddenly, the SLM gave out a brief melodic ding-dong, and spherical TV screens switched on in the center of the compartment, to show the territorial waters of a huge terrestrial metropolis. The darkness could no longer hide the coastline glowing with bright yellow lamps. The world capital Barcelona was slowly coming out of the darkening horizon. “Attention! Submerge!” a monotonous female voice suddenly announced. Having exchanged a quick glance, Rono and Greg looked at the spherical monitor in bewilderment. The computer was right: without stopping, the Olympus transformed into a submarine, changed the direction, plunged into water and headed for the city, while easing gradually down. Winding along the shore and skirting the shoals, the steel hull was clinging to the bottom, leaving a murky trail of sand and mud. “Greg, where are we going?” Rono asked puzzled. He could not figure out where the vehicle had brought them and what for. “No idea,” the Colonel grumbled. “I know only two places in Barcelona where Uncle could have invited me, but they aren’t under water,” the young man said thoughtfully. “Sir, I thought so too… - um, I don’t think I’ve got anything to add, I’m sorry,” Greg said with a concerned air, peering into the screen. They watched the vessel to approach a gigantic underwater rock with a black hollow at the foot, so huge, that against it the military transformer looked like a frail air bubble. The crack formed relatively recently at the close of the 21st century, after a series of devastating earthquakes that shook the planet. Then magnitude 6-12 shocks rolled from the Japanese coast through Central Asia and reached the east of the American continent, wiping entire cities off the face of the earth. Over seventeen million people in the world were buried under the debris. The disaster appeared to be the deadliest in human history, leaving no continent unaffected. At the foot of the rock at a depth of 300 meters, the Olympus, as if having sensed an invisible entrance, slowed down sharply and dived in a crack of 8 meters in diameter that seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Its edges were ragged, to make it look natural and not betray its man-made origin. As soon as the vessel disappeared in the crack, there was a heavy drawling sound like grinding noise from a stone slab, and the entrance to the cave mysteriously closed, directing the Olympus to a specially constructed underwater maze. The next few hundred meters the vessel was moving warily through the tunnel lit with high-power mauve searchlights to 4

show the way, until it reached a small rectangular sluice studded with green lamps. The sluice, like a sponge, quickly absorbed the vessel and carefully placed it on the still surface of an underwater lake. The doors of the transformer began to open slowly, in accordance with the familiar algorithm of the onboard computer, and turned into an elegant arch structure that quietly landed on the smooth deck of the moor. Immediately there came stamping of military boots of two broad-shouldered guys led by Colonel Greg. Once they stepped onto the solid ground, they quickly grouped and prepared for action and, following strictly the instruction, aimed their laser blasters in the direction of the anticipated threat. After them, Rono came out onto the staircases of the Olympus. The landscape they saw was gloomy. The place was a rock cave that appeared to have formed long ago, during a period of volcanic activity, when streams of molten lava made mountain caverns and grottos. The inner cavities were filled with fog, its thick dark mass hanging above the people, and it seemed that one could touch its lower edge. A strange play of the light caught the eye - the hull of the Olympus glittering dimly in the darkness, the lake, round and flat as a disk, and a bridge across it - all this was glimmering in the distance, hardly visible through thick black clouds of fog. However, this thickening weft was not the same everywhere: above the lake the smoky drapery was thinner, and one could see its leaden glow reflected in the water. The fog was looming low over the water surface like thunder clouds during tropical rain in Africa. The beholders were under the impression, that in a moment they would hear a clap of thunder, and see the lightning, and the ground would shake under the streams of the pouring rain. But nothing happened; to their surprise, the three-dimensional image of the black nebula remained motionless. “God could have been a photographer,” Greg’s rich bass voice cut through the silence. “Looks like, I’m ashamed to say, here he’d taken a shot of the terrestrial entrance to hell, and was so eager to get back that dropped the hologram that we’re now feasting our eyes on.” “You’re right, Colonel, I’d say the place is rather like Purgatory and don’t you think, Greg, it would be nice have a look at our prospective living quarters,” Rono remarked in the same manner, carelessly and somewhat sarcastically. “For God’s sake, sir Rono!” Colonel resented, quickly blessing himself three times, and made a low bow in front of Rono gaping in astonishment. “Greg – I can’t believe my eyes – are you – religious?” “Have always been, sir Rono, and not only I, neither your uncle’s a nullifidian.” “Greg, don’t be ridiculous, what are you talking about – my father’s a believer!” Rono said, astounded, the same ironic smile appearing on his face. “Greg, you’re ancient, to live in the hope to save your soul… All this is an atavism, and, believe me, Sir Henry would never give a damn to such rubbish; he simply has no time for it.” “Look, sir Rono, it’s not the time to discuss my faith now,” the Colonel said with mild reproach. “One thing is for sure: it’s too early for you to think of death. God forbid you feel its relentless eyes on you,” he said firmly, sincere and straightforward as usual. Greg’s words could have served a heaven-sent warning to Rono, had he not ignored them completely. However, he would soon remember more than once his own irreverent words said in vain.


After a short discussion with Greg, Rono decided to cross the lake. There was a wooden bridge on supports and cables going up and up, to be lost in the thick gaze of the fog. The bridge was quite reliable, although old. To cross it seemed an easy thing to do, however, Rono’s people felt increasingly defenseless. Each step into the unknown area evoked inner fear, due to subtle destructive vibration from the outside that upset the balance of inner forces and made people feel constantly under strain. In addition to unanticipated mental challenges on their way, there seemed to be some mysterious motion in the water; everything here looked strange, cold and hostile. Halfway through, they saw yellowish glow that revealed the outline of a weird structure wrapped in the black fog. Thick walls, half-concealed by the dark haze, bore some resemblance with a medieval castle of a strange elaborate shape, with light wooden details that seemed to be hanging in the misty air. What made it unusual was a bizarre combination of styles: there were banisters, columns and bas-reliefs of the Middle Ages, whereas the up-to-date geometrical ornament added to the façade unnaturally smooth lines of Art Nouveau. The monumental ivory-colored masterpiece of architecture looked most impressive and spellbound the gazers. Rono was amazed; he briefly considered the extraterrestrial origin of the colossal underground site. Built inside the foggy emptiness, the modern gothic castle was going up to the invisible roof of the cave, so that its towers and spires were hidden in the thickening darkness of the unfamiliar space absorbing its pale glow. Having noticed the castle, Greg made a sign to the guards to stop. He shared with Rono his concerns as to their further movement; however the young man thought Greg’s arguments were groundless. After a five-minute break, the team continued their way. There were about a hundred steps left to the luminous site. They could already see the contour of three watch-towers, a wall between them, a cobbled road to the central gate and also other similar buildings in a distance. One could hardly believe that the set of majestic edifices was the interior of an underground cave. Rono’s team paused dumbfounded, stopped by some mysterious force. Minutes of anxious waiting seemed long; chill of fear was getting deeper and deeper into their hearts and growing into menacing power that made even Greg, a battle-seasoned soldier of fortune, go weak at the knees. Rono, on the contrary, looked calm and confident, although that was not exactly what he felt. He was aware of shivers going down his spine, and a nasty feeling of heaviness had shamelessly made itself comfortable at the back of his head, like a rattlesnake basking in the spring sunshine. Rono was not afraid of his fear, watching indifferently what was going on. He recalled the day when he was to dive from a five-meter diving board for the first time in a municipal swimming pool. He was eleven then; he was standing on the board, trembling with fear, when he saw the face of a skinny dark-hared boy. “Having cold feet, aren’t you? Look at him – Lionheart is a coward, Rono is a coward!” the boy solemnly pointed his finger at the hesitating Rono and laughed contemptuously, spurred by his own inferiority complex that he tried to hide behind the backs of those like Rono. Then all the rest began mocking the scared teenager. That sunny day in June would remain in his memory forever, when the fear of heights gave way to fury of the wounded pride and the little man nicknamed Lionheart made the frightening two and a half steps forward and dived, head-first, towards his future triumph.


“Sir Rono,” Colonel said in a low voice; he was anxious, his nerves were on edge and he mixed up words, “I don’t think we… that is, you should go any further… There must be something wrong here,” he said stammering. Colonel Greg was pale; there were beads of sweat on his forehead. “According to the nucleon, there is nothing ahead. Um… sounds silly, but it must be a mirage… No, the device doesn’t show any castle ahead, and the radiation level is higher than the norm. Can you hear me, sir? We’d better leave the place as soon as possible.” There was no reply; the young man was silent, stunned by the breath-taking panoramic view of the extraterrestrial scenery. His memories were no longer a burden on his Lion Heart; his fear had disappeared. He examined the mysterious object. “Please try to understand,” the Colonel said, we can’t possibly risk your life, it’s…” “Greg, look back and tell me: do you see the bridge?” Rono interrupted him rather unceremoniously. “Yes, sir,” said Greg, perplexed. “Of course I do.” “And the lake?” “Yes, and the lake, too,” the Colonel confirmed, having no idea what Rono meant. “What’s the problem then? Is your equipment really out of order?” “No, but… if there was only one device malfunctioning, I’d understand, but when all three of them are saying the same…” Rono did not let him finish. “Then all off them must be broken. What’s unusual about that?” he asked in surprise, still gazing at the spectacular luminous buildings standing in a row. It was not Greg’s question that surprised him - he could see that the fog was becoming less dense to reveal more and more of the mysterious set of wondrous structures above the castle wall. To Rono, there was no doubt that it was a fantastic castle of extraterrestrial origin slowly coming out of the fog. “But – we’ve never seen anything like this before – um, it simply can’t be,” Greg said exasperatedly, seeing no anticipated reaction from Rono. The Colonel was sure that there was no point in going any further; besides, it was risky. What he was trying to suggest was to go back to the Olympus, wait there for some time and then try again. One shouldn’t make hasty decisions, he thought, instead one should try to explain the extraordinary natural phenomena that caused visual distortion of reality. “Have you ever faced anything like that before?” the young man asked, almost annoyed. He was surprised by Colonel’s logic that did not convince him at all. “No, I haven’t, but it doesn’t matter,” Greg said nervously between gritted teeth. There was one thing about Rono that astonished him: Rono never seemed to be afraid of anything. Despite his young age, this man demonstrated the best qualities of his influential relative whom the Colonel had known more than 20 years already. Unfounded courage in this case was likely to become unthinkable recklessness, even more so because the team was in an unprotected area and the military could not ensure security of Sir Henry’s nephew – that was totally unacceptable, according to Greg, who was an experienced tactician. All of a sudden, the Colonel found himself in a difficult position and, realizing that he would hardly be able to resolve it by force decided to resort to a trick. He toned down, suggesting a compromise that would suit both, as he thought. “Sir, if you don’t want to get back on board the Olympus, why not wait here – no rush; sure there is some devil’s stuff ahead, all the more so as the fog is fading – let’s observe the inexplicable thing for a while. Otherwise I don’t think I could…” 7

Greg’s last phrase was left hanging in the air; out of the fog there suddenly came a piercing noise like clanking of rusty door hinges. The dead silence made the sound particularly frightening. The young man flinched, looked forward and in the castle wall saw a wooden door decorated with old iron. The door opened slowly to show a dark passage. Something almost indiscernible, looking like flimsy see-through veil, stirred all the visible space and distorted the physical outline of the magnificent unearthly creation emitting moonlight. Like a drop of water, it reflected in Rono’s eyes and immediately disappeared. He made a few steps forward and stopped, hesitating. He peeped into the dark gaping hole and shuddered from an excruciating pain that suddenly pierced his heart. At the same moment his consciousness was lost in an enormous wave of overwhelming fear. It was a very special fear, of unearthly nature; if someone, having experienced it, failed to defeat its merciless attack, he would likely become its slave for the rest of his life. It is like with a djinn out of a bottle – there are people who know some magic words to bridle its unrestrained power, and Rono had some mysterious protectors who had come to his help on time and managed to prevent obliteration of his mind. At first Greg and his people, affected by the same invisible force, did not notice that Rono resumed his movement towards the castle, and when they did, they tried to follow him, but knotted by fear they could not make a step. So they remained in their places, as if made of stone, with the look of horror in their eyes, to watch Rono going all by himself into the darkness of looming mirages. When he got to the other side of the wall he had no stamina left in him to sense or to understand anything: like a hurricane ripping off house roofs, an abominable force of extraterrestrial gravity swept into his mind to extract it from the body. By a twist of fate he happened to be in a space-time transition that in the wink of an eye took his consciousness from the earthly reality to another time dimension. His brain could bear the strain no longer, his legs failed him; he fainted and fell to the ground. Rono did not understand what had happened to him. He seemed to be lying on a soft feather bed under a warm blanket. It was blissful; sweet sleep, spread all over his body, as it used be to in when he was a child. But perception can sometimes be misleading: unfortunately, all that was going on was of a different nature. Around him there was dreaming silence, milky haze was hanging above its celestial bed wrapping his mind with flimsy gauze of a stellar nebula. The smell of ozone, pure and fresh, reminded him of a frosty winter night. He was standing in the snow in an ancient park, huge ice-clad trees like enchanted forest giants reflected blue moonlight, their still grey shadows silently were bending their heads under the heavy burden of ice and snow, waiting passively for the first spring sunshine. He felt sad, well aware of the fact that he was not on the Earth any longer, and strangely enough, all that was left from it was this cold memory of the motionless image of frosty winter forest. He felt a pang in his heart, it fluttered like a moth in a glass jar – it was as if his soul was breaking its wings against ghostly quilts of death. The soul was under the mysterious power of Quanderon; black angels, heralds of death, were soaring above their weakened victim and came closer to the quickly fading emerald light, charming for its divine comfort and attracting vampires of the Universe by a picture of long-awaited feast that would be soon to come.


He felt deadly fatigue; his strength had left him. The feeble thread that connected him with the earth suddenly broke. His mind shuddered, separated from the body, and, like a solitary sailboat defenseless against the endless ocean, set off for a risky trip across the time waves of the Universe to its new fate. Time was quickly carrying away his memories of the recent past, like a golden balloon that he once happily released from his hands when he was a boy. He could stand it no longer and closed his eyes slowly, the sky dimmed, the annoying stellar light faded away and the infinity was no longer a strain for his brain. He had almost put up with the fact that eternity accepted him as he was. “God help me!” his tortured soul cried, breaking away for an instant from the strong grip of his delusions. A terrible guess shook him: yes, the very same sacrilegious phrase, thrown casually to Greg, about his prospective apartment in hell. His soul shuddered, and now Rono had no doubts as to the crucial role of those fatal words in his life. The young man suddenly heard a roar of sarcastic laughter that seemed to come from everywhere, even from inside; it hurt his heart that was to stop so soon, under the relentless eye of death. “God forgive me!” his numb lips uttered without any hope, and that was the last scream of despair from his deceived soul. His breathless body began to cover with crystals of eternal ice, his prospective apartment in hell waiting for its new host to arrive. Ironically, this order of his was delivered with Jesuit accuracy, the receipt not being necessary. However, people were created to tear between the good and evil, while constantly searching for balance; since Biblical times when the Snake closed the Gates of Heaven for the first humans, making their descendants follow the way of fallen angels and leave behind the heavy karmic burden of their sin. However, it may be here that the great mystery of God’s forgiveness is hidden, that only requires from man one simple step that is called Repentance. Almighty God bestowed His grace on Rono Mowdy, having heard the appeal of the young visitor from the Earth who was lost in space and time. Immediately some familiar voice coming closer and closer to Rono woke him from eternal sleep, blissfully alerted the world of his thoughts that seemed to have become still forever, and ruptured the frosty wrapping of deadly quietness around him. The voice was disturbing Rono, going deeper and deeper into his mind and constantly sending prayers to his soul in distress. “Mommy, I’ve recognized you, mother dear, please don’t go away, don’t leave me, I’m coming, I’m coming to you,” Rono whispered softly. Out of the last strength, that God had given him, the young man made a tremendous effort to mobilize his scattered brain and followed the tender sound… The dear voice was leading him, like a space guide would lead a blind man along the road of time. Had Rono’s mind wandered or had the voice been late to rescue him, who knows where he would have been… Fate turned out to be merciful to his suffering soul, so that he could see again the never fading light of life. Fortunately, he came round, and the first thing he heard, were words of Lord’s Prayer. “Glory to Thee o God Almighty! Glory to Thee o God, for Thy grace, and mercy to Thy slave Rono Mowdy! Don’t let me die but give me spiritual health and strength to go through all unearthly trials sent down by Thy divine will!”


The girl was repeating the prayer over and over again, and as his heart was back to life and filled all the cells of his body with invigorating amrita, Rono clearly heard the wonderful penetrating voice to sound nearer. His hearing was the first to restore; then vision began coming back to him. When the darkness in front of him dispelled, Rono felt that somebody was closely watching him and saw beautiful female eyes full of tears. There was something oriental in them, they were exuding the light of kindness and mercy; they expressed compassion, tenderness and love. He found himself in a small brightly lit room; an unfamiliar girl was sitting at the head of his bed. There were candles burning and icons on the walls, and the healing smell of frankincense was all around him – he even thought for a moment that he was at home, on the Earth. Soon he heard quick firm steps somewhere near, and a powerful male voice broke the silence. Its suddenness and strength shocked Rono, finally awakening him to a new reality. His trip was over, he had arrived in Quanderon. “Linda!” the voice near him sounded familiar. “Yes, Sir Henry!” the girl said, rising from her chair and making a slight bow to the visitor. It was a tall lean man in his fifties gray at the temples, in an expensive and elegant black dinner jacket and a white shirt with a trendy bright yellow-and-black checkered neck-tie. A tie slide, cufflinks with golden monograms and a hand-made Swiss wristwatch showing by one-third from under the snow-white shirtsleeve were studded with jewels. On the middle finger of his left hand there was an old golden signet ring with the family crest, decorated with emeralds and rough diamonds. Rono could see that his relative was tired, even exhausted, and thought that Uncle Henry might not have had a wink of sleep during a whole week – this was exactly how long Rono was in a borderline condition that, without exaggeration, could only be compared to a coma or clinical death. “I hope, he’s regained consciousness without any permanent damage to his health,” Sir Henry sounded anxious. “He’s just come round; thanks God, everything has turned out well,” Linda said, not trying to hide delight in her voice. “He’s still too weak,” she added almost in a whisper and quietly slipped out of the room, leaving Sir Henry alone with his nephew. “Rono, my dear boy! God, how delighted I am to see you. You can’t imagine how worried we were and prayed God to help you and – thanks God! He had heard our prayers,” he said joyfully, and the young man was surprised to see tears rolling down his pale cheeks. It was for the first time that his influential relative had demonstrated uncharacteristic weakness. Rono thought that Sir Henry expressed all his love and tenderness at that moment. Sir Henry came up to the bed, sat down and, unable to resist his feelings any longer, embraced Rono, and all of his pent-up emotions cane pouring out. “My dear boy, please forgive me… Oh, God!” he was repeating, the words of gratitude sent to heaven became indistinguishable – it was plea, joy and appreciation of invaluable help to his family… It was only then that Rono noticed the change in his uncle and shuddered. He looked different – of course it was Sir Henry, but now it was a boneweary and feeble old man. Only his eyes exuded vivacity, that could make others 10

speechless, and strength, that had brought him to the top of power over human civilization in the 24th century. Rono did not know what it cost Sir Henry to live through the last seven days that might well have been the hardest in his life: twenty years of his own earthly existence was the price to pay for God’s help to Rono, so as to save the soul of the only and beloved member of the oldest royal family on the earth – Mowdy. Within a few days Rono completely pulled through; he was again full of enthusiasm and energy. He got acquainted and chattered with Linda, a nice and friendly blond girl, who was the first person he met in the castle on that dramatic day. She said something about Eshamble where he happened to be by Sir Henry’s invitation and, surprisingly, it turned out that the castle was not in Barcelona at all, but in an unfamiliar place called Quanderon. Rono was astonished at the news, and when Linda saw this, she wished she had not mentioned it. After that, the young man could not learn any more about the castle from her. Sir Henry had also recovered from the shock of the exhaustive rhythm of the last week – now there were no traces of recent fatigue on his face: the wrinkles had disappeared, his nephew’s recuperation making him look youngish again. On the following day in the afternoon Sir Henry came to see his heir and found him lying in bed and looking dreamily in the window at the mountains of Costa Brava. Rono noticed something unusual, and a smile hid in the corners of his mouth as if playing hideand-seek with sunbeams that penetrated through the invisible blinds of another world that was caressing with its warmth his mind, his heart and all the tiny space from where he was watching Magman’s complex and transient life. “Hi, Ronnie, excuse me, I didn’t want to disturb you; besides things are not going smoothly, so my constant presence is needed,” he said politely, sitting down in an armchair in front of the bed. At first Rono made a start, but then sat down again stopped by a delicate by strong gesture of the master of Eshamble. His uncle’s visit was very much on time; Rono had been expecting him since the previous night, eager to share his controversial impressions of his short but trying stay in the walls of Quanderon, mysterious and shockingly magnificent world that an earthly mind was unable to grasp. “I guess there are a lot of things you would like to know about this extraordinary place,” Sir Henry said after a momentary silence, with a touch of sadness in his voice. “And there must be also earthly questions that are bothering you. I understand you; please be patient, because what you are going to hear isn’t mere information. It is about a huge body of knowledge that you are to master and somehow to live with. In the world where you are now you can’t be as careless as on the earth,” Sir Henry said with a faint smile, looking in his nephew’s startled eyes. “You’re in the premises of Eshamble Castle, our family home. It is situated not on the planet you know so well, but in a parallel space, Quanderon. Our usual world of the earth is called Magman here. Thus, to be more precise with the terms, your trip to Eshamble began in Magman space. Today this old castle belongs to me, and when I die you’ll become the owner, my dear nephew; although this might not comfort your heart, at least, it should refresh your bright mind. Therefore make yourself at home and have a look at your prospective property.” “Uncle Henry,” Rono smiled, not fully understanding what his relative was talking about, “you’ve worked so well on the Earth that only to read your will would take me 11

more than a decade. I think when time comes for me to come into inheritance I’ll be a frail old man, and the inherited property in Quanderon will be a burden too heavy for me,” Rono said with a hint on mild irony and naughtiness, and laughed loudly. He did not fully realize where he was and did not take his uncle’s words seriously. However, Sir Henry quickly read Rono’s mind and reassured him that he might familiarize himself with the inheritance in advance, because the greatest challenge for Rono would be spending it soon, so huge the property was. Then they laughed, remembering the funniest episodes of their earthly past; they looked as it they had completely forgotten their earthly troubles that had brought their souls to Quanderon. When it was over, Sir Henry said to his nephew tenderly, “My dear boy, you can’t imagine how happy I am to see you smiling. You’ve survived a brush with death in one of the most dangerous trials on the earth; like a baby chick hatches out of the egg, you’ve broken through the boundaries of Magman – it’s like being born again. Now you must learn to fly – yes, I mean it, – and I’ll help you, for I love you with all my heart. I’m proud of you and hope that you’ll take seriously your new life’s challenges. It’s going to be a hard road to travel, believe me.” Sir Henry rose, warmly embraced Rono and looked into his eyes intently. “I’m sorry I must be going now, but I’ll come back tomorrow night and we’ll talk about all this, and I won’t have any more secrets from you, I promise,” he said with a rueful smile. In the door he turned to the young man who was bewildered by the next meeting coming so soon, and said, sounding instructive, “Be careful, thoughts in Quanderon have a very special quality about them – they materialize. Do have some rest, ward off unnecessary memories from your brain – I know they are bothering you. Upon my word, it’s going to be a hard day tomorrow, like all the rest, though. The world of Quanderon is a reality, that’s for sure. You are needed here – it’s very important,” said Sir Henry and went out. “Linda! Linda! Where on earth have you been, you nosy little thing?” Rono heard his uncle’s strict voice to fade away in a distance. Soon all became quiet, and the young busty blond appeared at the door. She told politely to Rono what he could do in Sir Henry’s absence – that is, of course, if he wanted to. From what was suggested, the young man chose a tour of the castle and agreed to keep her company in the morning. Yesterday he felt already that that she was looking at him longer than necessary and more openly – that seemed rather strange. In fact, something in her behavior bored him; the girl had something unbearably vulgar about her, some of her questions being almost indecent. “What a strange maid. Most pretty, though,” the young man thought. Something about her irritated him; he could not understand her behavior and hoped that the initial impression would change when they saw each other again. After a few casual phrases Linda gave him a cunning smile and left. He looked after her and thought about unfair nature: it sometimes combines beautiful and plain to make extraordinary females who are unable to put their thoughts into words properly, but nevertheless will make men turn their heads. “I think I know why she is in the castle,” - it was a momentary obscene thought about his relative’s private life; he gave it no further consideration. When the seductive Linda disappeared behind the door, Rono, despite Sir Henry’s warnings, plunged deeply into dangerous thinking, in an attempt to explain to himself what had brought his mind to Quanderon. 12

“I wonder what egg it is that I hatched from,” Rono asked himself. “What did Uncle Henry mean? Is it parallel space? It all looks strange.” He went on speculating aloud. “To believe it or not is no more than a worthless conventionality that doesn’t explain or add anything, doesn’t bring any close to assessment of reality that surrounds my flimsy inner world,” he said tiredly and hopelessly, throwing himself, like in the abyss, into the armchair where Sir Henry had been sitting. Today Rono had for the first time encountered with the true inner world of this genius of a relative. It was an immense world hidden from the earthly reality, and since Rono’s mind could not grasp it, it had grown from the shade of incomprehension to an impenetrable hurdle standing on his way. As a child he was romantic, what was extremely rare for his time. Children were clever and pragmatic, thinking about their future since early years. They would listen carefully to adults explaining to them the rules that the wheel of time and human civilization obeyed, and they believed naturally, because that is the way the child’s mind is. The rules often were a matter of debate between Sir Henry and his brother Roger. However Henry, an experienced politician, was a better speaker and often won from his opponent, who was no less famous as head of World Academy of Science. Cicilla, Rono’s mother, a microbiologist and a handsome vivacious brunette, with beautiful hair and bright eyes, would always diplomatically support the guest and would not let her husband openly contradict President of the Planet. One of such discussions yielded a decision that turned out to be fateful for Lionheart. Cicilla fully supported Sir Henry’s intention to transfer Rono to a newgeneration elementary school for talented children. The school was set up in Barcelona for the staff of Ayla Corporation. It was a closed institution supervised by Henry Mowdy personally. It was there that Rono’s gift for music, mathematics, drawing and philosophy manifested. Already at the age of four when he did not want to follow schoolmasters’ instructions he could always explain why, turning to arguments too complicated for his age and confusing his fist teachers – so he was subconsciously practicing his leadership skills. At school he was fond of astrophysics and cosmophilosophy, took part in all international contests where he would always be one of the winners. His love for philosophy had led him to Harvard, the oldest university in North America. The choice of his further education might have been due in part to his influential parents; however, even if Rono had been from a poor family, his knowledge alone would have enabled him to apply for the university course. Now the Harvard graduate with an A grade in cosmophilosophy was facing a challenge and had to admit that the task, suggested by Sir Henry, had been missing from the university curriculum. There were too many questions for him to answer swarming in his head like meaningless words in a speech of a well-read boor, and finally signs of nervous strain began to appear on the young man’s face. Although after a delay, Rono decided to take his uncle’s advice and tried hard to distract and remember most important facts from Sir Henry’s exceptional biography. He was born in Great Britain. When he was twenty seven, he inherited substantial property that he immediately pledged as collateral and bought shares of Ayla, a thenunknown shipbuilding company that had almost gone bankrupt, thanks to former 13

shareholders. Since then, good luck had tagged on Henry Mowdy like a stray cur, lame and ugly, fed by a stranger, would follow him everywhere, peer lovingly into his eyes, patiently wait at the entrance doors, look gratefully after and forever remain his trusted friend. Within fifteen years Sir Henry’s company went global, to become one of the world leaders in spaceship building. A few years later the Ayla Industrial Corporation was the largest monopoly in the solar system, while producing interplanetary spaceships to explore new worlds. It included hundreds of major facilities around the world, engineering units, a network of power plants and launching sites, antigraton mines, raw-processing plants and many others. Rono was absolutely right saying that even to read Sir Henry’s will would take long years – Mowdy’s empire was said to be a state within a state. However, these accomplishments were never enough for him, so he became interested in the issues of human accommodation in the solar system and published a few brilliant articles on the subject. During the first decade of the century, the theory of the united world often discussed by the Mowdy clan was put into practice. When he became a politician he managed to quickly do that with a team of supporters, and in the end, by a nationwide popular vote was elected President of a new state formation Planet Earth. Sir Henry’s private life did not go well; in other words, he did not have any because of his work. Also his character, his unique personality may have prevented him from getting happily married – he simply could not find a match. There was only one unfathomable event three years later, that the world political elite could not make head nor tale of – when Sir Henry, with his immense popularity chose to resign for an unknown reason. The public was agitated by the news; it was as if someone had stirred up the hornets’ nest, because Sir Henry had always been considered as the world security safeguard. His influential associates did everything to make him return to big politics, but all in vain: as usual, the ex-president of Planet Earth would not change his mind, and one could only guess at the motives for his inexplicable deed. That was Sir Henry as Rono knew him and as the world remembered him at the turn of the 24th century. However, this life was only the tip of a huge iceberg drifting in the ocean of immortality, and only the unknown part of his great mysterious soul could endow the gentlemen by birth with truly superhuman wisdom. Rono was slowly beginning to understand the simple and magnificent truth: the mystery of this hidden part of the powerful relative’s personality was not on the Earth, it was locked behind seven seals in his family castle guarded by the magic forces of Quanderon. Having refreshed in his memory some facts from family history he unwittingly turned to the Olympus in his thought, so as to go again all the way up to the castle, in the hope to find answers to the difficult questions, fatal for his earthly mind. Rono could not recollect what happed to him during the transition and although he did restore some fragments, he failed to put them together. However he remembered the trip with Colonel Greg’s people and the events that happened near the castle wall. Again and again he thought about the riddle suggested by Sir Henry. It was hard to imagine that in his uncle’s earthly existence without a minute to spare, there could be time for life in Quanderon, with Eshamble Castle in some principality that he had heard of by chance from the randy Linda the day before. The Harvard graduate was fully aware of the fact 14

that his speculation about some sides of Uncle Henry’s life brought him to completely absurd conclusions obscuring the issues rather than explaining them. His mind refused to believe in the parallel space and with typical English snobbism kept on repeating, “It’s all bosh, complete and utter nonsense. I’m sleeping and this is one of the best dreams in my life.” – “And what if it isn’t a dream after all? Then it looks as if Uncle was living two lives. Yeah…” This seemed logical. “But it’s impossible – it just can’t be so – it’s only an illusion,” his brain argued, reluctant to prove its point and to bring Rono closer to understanding of the Eshamble puzzle. Today, the reality refused to support his intellectual apparatus. The question-andanswer scheme had been on his mind for a few hours already, however, without any result – he had become obsessed with the World of Quanderon crossword. However, it was not in Lionheart’s nature to give up: like his uncle he was one of those rare people, unrelenting and purposeful, who are not afraid of anything and cannot be deterred; they know only the way forward. This time too, he decided to go on, considering his intuition to be closer to the elusive truth, and gave a good bashing to his logic on this occasion. A couple of hours later Linda, worried that sir Rono had not shown up for breakfast and did not seem to be in a hurry for lunch, came to his bedroom door. She heard some strange voices from Sir Henry’s nephew’s room, as if Rono had been talking with somebody in a caps lock voice. She moved closer to the door and listened. Something amazing was under way in the room. It looked like the Battle of Trafalgar was in full swing. Under the aggressive attack of Mowdy Junior’s questions, his intellect was practically defeated and with shame expelled from allies. If it had been a game of chess, to checkmate Rono’s adversary would be a matter of two moves. “Can you prove it? Prove it right now if you can – can you hear me, you, wicked thing!” he shouted. “Master, you’d better cool off a little and give me some time to think,” his subdued brain implored, more than half dead with fear. “No more time!” the master’s angry voice barked. Working hectically, Rono’s brain got nervous; it saw that time for acquittal was running out and in the hope to delay the verdict decided to use the last resort. “Wait, master, I know who could present evidence that you require,” the vanquished brain said, looking hopefully at the infuriated young man. “The one who tried to persuade you that the castle was a mirage, and I wish you’d believed him, for it was the only possible explanation at that dreadful time.” “And who was it?” Rono asked suspiciously; he vaguely remembered that he had heard something of the kind but was not sure about the details. “It was Colonel Greg,” the brain answered proudly, seeking to appease the master a little. “For your information – he persistently asked you not to rush. I’m absolutely sure: these are all optical illusions.” As soon as Rono heard a familiar name he became enraged. He blushed, his cheeks bulged and he sneered, so that his brain drew back in fright and stopped at an insurmountable obstacle that Quanderon medicine referred to as Rammer’s wall, or intellectual collapse. The point is that by the beginning of the Battle of Trafalgar Rono had managed to recollect everything about his trip on board the Olympus and thought about his


safeguards’ actions as cowardice and betrayal. The only thing he regretted was not asking his uncle about all this; unfortunately his meeting with Sir Henry was not too long. If only Colonel Greg had known at Eshamble walls how Rono Mowdy would be cursing him, he would have rushed to help, so that the smell of his burning soles would have become a solid testimony of his courage and Rono would not think ill of him. “You dirty rascal!” screamed Rono suddenly. “Making a fool out of me by choosing Greg himself to be your witness, aren’t you? Hiding behind Greg’s cowardly back? Well, you think he’ll help you to escape my judgment?” he said majestically, imagining himself at least Henri de Navarre at his cousin’s execution and watching happily his brain to tremble with fear of his indignant master. “Quanderon does exist!” Rono said triumphantly, with mad glow in his eyes, and a heavy object that he had just happened to put his hand on, was thrown at the poor thing. While standing behind the door, Linda could not make out what was happening in the room and tried several times to ring, but in vain. She did not dare to enter, but when she heard a suspicious noise, cast away her scruples and opened the door confidently. Rono was standing in the middle of the room in his underwear, his hair disheveled, and looking curiously in fragments of the mirror he had just shattered. As usual, the serious battle had wreaked havoc in the room. “The terrestrials have won I hope?” the girl asked with a cold smile. Rono flinched and turned back. “Yeah, I mean…” Rono was confused to see Linda, then his mad face showed fright, something flashed before his eyes, the image of the girl became blurred, the light faded and the winner of the Battle of Trafalgar fell to her feet, unconscious. Sir Henry’s personal doctor called by Linda noted the first symptoms of the Ramnentori disease. “Double consciousness,” he said, “it typically happens when one gets to Quanderon.” Then he reassured, “Sir Rono is very young and healthy, so his condition after the transition is only natural and shouldn’t cause any concern.” The doctor advised not to disturb the patient, for the latter should have a good night sleep. “I hope tomorrow he’ll be all right,” he added encouragingly. He gave some instructions to the girl and finally asked a few strange questions. “Was he conscious when you came in?” “Yes, he was,” Linda answered. “I’m sorry – was he – standing on both legs?” “Yes, he was, looking at himself in the mirror.” “Good. Good.” The doctor paused to think. “He’s won, then,” he remarked. “No doubt about that,” Linda agreed seriously. Strangely enough, the doctor’s questions, though not entirely medical, did not surprise her at all. “Miss Linda, please excuse my curiosity, but Sir Henry has asked me to specify these points,” he said politely. “And you know what …” the doctor thought for a minute, looking her straight in the eyes. “I’ve never seen anyone so healthy in Quanderon, my congratulations, the heir is above all expectations.” He made a low bow and went out of the room. 16

Linda was left alone with Rono. The young man became delirious and was staying in bed. From time to time he would wake up, rise a little and look around with a vacant stare, muttering something and then fall into slumber again. At this difficult time she felt sympathetic, and, unable to bear the nightmare any longer, sat down at the foot of his bed, and burst out crying, covering her face with her hands and resting her elbows on her lap. *** On the following day Rono woke up at lunchtime. He was feeling a little dizzy and weak, but took no heed of this. He got up, washed himself and went to eat something. The doctor was right: the hard day had left no trace on him whatsoever. When Rono came into the vast dining room and saw Linda, he remembered his promise to take her for a walk around the castle. “What a lovely day, Linda,” Rono spoke out a phrase learnt in childhood. “You look terrific!” Here he hesitated, looking around for a vase with flowers, because on the Earth in a luxury dining room there would always be some beautiful plants with which one could compare a woman making her feel happy. However, he had forgotten that he was not on the Earth, and there were no flowers at hand, so his compliment had to be made much shorter. “You look terrific!” he repeated, with more confidence, for he had found a simple but safe follow-up. “And I’d be infinitely grateful if you cared to have lunch with me in this spacious hall where one could look in the windows and admire most captivating sunrises and sunsets, against the background of my beloved city of effulgent beauty that once was the center of Catalonia, and now thanks to my uncle has become a magnificent capital of the united human world,” he blurted out proudly, finishing his address with an elaborate bow and waving his hand gracefully to invite the lady to the fabulous feast. However, the young man’s pompous and fervent oration caused Linda only to smile faintly. She had not had enough sleep, looked exhausted and unlike Rono, perfectly remembered the previous day. Nevertheless, Linda thanked the gallant for the compliment and kindly accepted his invitation. Rono did not notice anything at all – her pale face or her mood. He was eating heartily, washing down his food with some greenish liquid that looked like apple juice. He was polite and considerate, a little too talkative and pleased with himself. After lunch they walked around Eshamble. The castle indeed bore no resemblance with masterpieces of earthly architecture. Its long corridors were irregular, mostly of spherical shape and without corners. The inner walls, floor and ceiling were non-linear too, and on the Earth they could only be compared with heated ice. Of course, the phrase is a mixed metaphor, but the castle seemed all full of paradoxes. Try to imagine a small artificial waterfall to match the five-meter high ceiling of Sir Henry’s amazing accommodation. Then add a few more waterfalls scattered around. Break the laws of symmetry, for here there is none. The water falling on the floor disappears without any trace whatsoever. Then cut all waterfalls vertically several times and deep-freeze the resulting layers, place them on top of one another to obtain magnificent ice pillars, transparently pure – they will resemble heated ice. Do the same about the walls and 17

ceiling, arrange layers of ice horizontally, and finally illuminate all this with fire – its multi-colored petals will demonstrate the true beauty of Eshamble. The fabulous play of light will complete the illusion that you are in the realm of fairytale dreams. Rono was under the impression that the castle matter was made of living microorganisms that by some unknown laws had formed natural structures to make the life of the residents comfortable. On their way Rono and Linda saw some people who looked like terrestrials except for their clothes, made of dense and elastic luminous fabric of all imaginable shades. The unusual costumes gleamed and their surface seemed three-dimensional. There was one more thing that surprised Rono: everybody they met would stop and bow their heads respectfully. When Rono asked Linda what this meant, her answer startled him: “They greet you, sir Rono, as a person of title; it’s customary in Qunaderon.” “But how do they know who I am? There’re no distinctive signs of any kind, I’m here for the first time and there is nobody here who would know me,” he tried to explain. “You are mistaken, we have wonderful eyesight and don’t need any distinctive signs,” Linda said with a smile – she seemed to always have smile on her face. “They know you’re Sir Henry’s nephew.” Rono looked her straight into the eyes, something in them seemed strange: there was no habitual easiness. A few times they came into cabins that were like anti-gravitation lifts of the Earth. The lifts took them to remote parts of the castle. Instead of doors to separate the Eshamble of the strange devices (we will call them hyperlifts), there were curtains of light, looking like loose holograms. Linda was always the first to enter, Rono followed. She explained that thus far he was not allowed to walk around alone. However, this might soon change; it was all up to Sir Henry to decide. But Rono did not trust Linda, for some reason. He tried once to enter the hyperlift first and immediately regretted it, having got stuck in sticky luminous mass that had appeared out of air to become an impenetrable barrier. From behind there a came female laughter that he already knew so well. “Could you help me, Miss Linda,” Rono said politely, trying to hide his perplexity. However, Linda did not hurry to release him, on the contrary, putting on a serious face, she said in a unctuous voice, “Wouldn’t sir Rono like to have a tour of the castle all by himself? Just in case you feel tired of the long walk and want some time for yourself.” “Oh, no, of course not!” the young man answered, looking annoyed. He felt all the humor of the plight he was facing. “I’ve always dreamed to have such a pretty and thoughtful guide like you, Miss Linda,” Rono added sarcastically. “Would you be so kind, as to open these little luminous doors as soon as possible,” he said with unmasked irritation. “Oh, yes, by all means! As you say, sir Rono,” Linda said and entered the lift. The sticky mass wrapping Rono immediately disappeared and, loosing his balance, he fell to his rescuer’s feet, making her laugh loudly. They passed through a few more halls; then Rono said he wanted to go back. Unceremonious attitude to his ego had abated his spirits, and he wanted to get rid of her, a least for the next few hours. 18

After dinner, Sir Henry arrived, and immediately sent for his nephew. The host of the castle was sitting at the writing desk in his study and examining some documents in the transparent video-sphere. He seemed gloomy and frustrated. However when seeing his nephew, he stood up, smiled a welcome and cordially embraced Rono. “Nice to see you,” Sir Henry greeted him jovially. “You don’t look like the one who had travelled in time and space a few days ago,” he said with a cunning smile, patting his nephew on the shoulder. “Apart from a touch of blue under your eyes, pale cheeks and confused look, I should say the divine combination of atoms called Rono Mowdy has miraculously survived.” “Uncle, the combination of atoms, as you call it, has a lot of questions to ask,” he smiled. Sir Henry could not help smiling; he noted that a good sense of humor was a good sign to resume yesterday’s conversation straight away. First, they talked for a while about some problems due to Rono’s stay in Quanderon and, of course spoke about his health condition. Then Rono admitted that he had found himself hanging in midair in a most uncomfortable position. “Today I woke up with a feeling that my body is about to take off and fly. When I got up the first thing I felt was unusual weightlessness, my body – it wasn’t like mine at all, strange. I know it sounds funny but that’s how I felt.” “I understand your concern; here you may face lot of things that at first sight may seem strange,” answered Sir Henry calmly. “You’ve managed to go through a bottle neck that is called transition to another spatial layer of the Earth, a parallel world; you’ve survived, and your mind has remained unaffected. As before, your physical body followed by bodyguards is exploring the underwater world of Jupiter’s Europe, whereas your mind, carried by your soul, is here in Quanderon in our family home of Eshamble, you’ve moved to a more subtle physical shell. All the events are taking place simultaneously; one can hardly believe it, like many other things. So, I can imagine how silly and unrealistic the whole story sounds, but that’s what it is,” Sir Henry said ironically. “I’m sorry – if I hadn’t seen your fantastic estate, I’d have thought it’s a bad joke. I can't sort out what I've just heard: how could I be both on the Earth and here in Quanderon at the same time?” Rono asked in surprise. “Rono, man is a most complex creature endowed with infinite abilities. Learning the divine essence of one’s soul is one of the ways to shed light on the true beauty of the Universe.” ”Greg told me you’re a believer. Is it so?” “Yes, I’m an orthodox Christian,” replied Sir Henry with confidence, curious to see Rono’s reaction. “My head is going in circles from all that I’ve heard,” said Rono nervously: his uncle’s words disappointed him. “Science, aerospace super-technologies, exploration of new planets – and by your corporation too, – a concept of man of the future and, finally, design of an artificial intellect of the world – how can it be compared with the technology of exploring one’s own soul that is so hard to understand? And what is it, after all?” “All that you’ve mentioned is the fruit of technocratic civilization, which will inevitably lead humanity nowhere. This enthusiasm for industry on the Earth is only 19

temporary for the Universe; like a flash, it won’t last long. Whereas mastering the divine essence of human soul is the road to immortality. It’s for this reason that you and me have met in Quanderon”. His uncle’s answer left no doubt in Rono: all that had been said seemed strange and did not agree with any earthly view that Rono knew of. His curiosity was rekindled: the man that only recently was one of the planet’s top politicians was now speaking an unknown language, and only the fact that Sir Henry had always been frank with him made Rono question his own opinion of human existence. “I’m beginning to understand why you gave me some mystical little books, by authors who are missing from catalogs of modern libraries. And fairytales you read to me when I was little were written hundreds of years ago.” “Yes, my boy, I knew you’d find the way to Eshamble one day. That’s what we are meant for: once I too had felt weightlessness of my own frail body. In our technocratic civilization, I had to think how I could impart on you the fundamentals of the knowledge of the world and its real spiritual values. It was absolutely necessary, at least I managed to load in your subconscious the facts that can now be retrieved and built upon. It would be worse if your present outlook was stemming from hackneyed phrases that only show how profoundly modern society has been zombified.” “But you were the leader of the society only recently, you had absolute power over the planet.” Rono exclaimed in astonishment. “Why not reform the course of university education and include this important secret knowledge about the world that would be passed on to the young who are beginning to learn the fundamentals of earthly life. Instead, people saw the one, who has united them, resign without any explanation. By the way, I’ve been looking through open-access archives on the Biomatic 1 and saw a few articles by some world-famous people, with comments on your unexpected resignation. And do you know what they wrote? You leave politics when your popularity ratings beat all unattainable records. People admired you, and politicians adored you! What more could you be wanting?” Rono said somewhat disapprovingly; he looked astonished as if he himself had just gone through the crucial events of the recent past. “The only thing that’s true about all this,” Sir Henry began calmly, not in the least confounded by his nephew’s reproach, “is that there were no visible motives for me to resign, however you shouldn’t trust this: as you can understand, there were some reasons, more serious than you can imagine.” Sir Henry chose not to dwell on the subject of his resignation any longer and promised to return to it later, saying that there was not enough time. “I’d rather turn to the present, if you don’t mind; it seems to be of no less interest than the past, and I do hope that you’ll soon see this too.” Rono had hardly seen a smile on his interlocutor’s face, as the lights in the study went out, and in the darkness there came the shining of galaxies, star systems, planets, meteorites, strange intergalactic spacecraft unlike those designed on the Earth, and many other things that his mind could not embrace. Suddenly finding himself amidst the endless stellar space, Rono felt confused and remained speechless for a moment. The enormous world of cosmic space had burst into the study, expanded its limits and filled it with the energy of the Universe life cycle. Rono saw something huge making circles 1 An analog of the Internet


above him, and he like a minute grain of intellect in the center of the world, was watching space phenomena while peering into something endless and remote. “What is it?” Rono’s voice faltered; he looked at his uncle in astonishment. Again his eyes were full of fear that soon replayed in his memory the recent transition. The state of his mind was ever more critical, and Sir Henry immediately sensed the change in him. “Ronnie, calm down,” he said coldly. “Everything is all right; you’re passing through a trial.” Then the visible part of the space shrank to the size of a school gym and became a room with the writing desk in the center, where the ex-President of Planet Earth was sitting, dressed in a black suit. There were spears with tips in the form of question marks, piercing his body all over; he was looking subdued, his face showing pain and fatigue; he did not seem to understand what was going on. Near Mowdy Senior, Miss Linda was standing, half-naked. She looked scared, with tears in her eyes and her lips trembling; she wanted to tell something to him, but could not string two words together. The poor girl blushed, waving her hands nervously, making desperate gestures, fell on her knees to ask for something, and when she did not get it, she rose and went aside. And this was not all: around the two of them there were Rono’s three bodyguards, complaining of their misfortunes to Sir Henry. From time to time, somebody would catch them with thin fingers as big as a man, put them in line, talk them off, tear off their rewards and then wash their brain. One could see very well as their brains were taken out, rinsed in water and then put back it their place. After this Rono’s ex-bodyguards dwindled to the size of a golf ball; Greg and his two subordinates could not understand the dreadful change happening to them, and looked scared and submissive. They were looking at one another, trying to figure out what it was all about, and soon found themselves in a field with tough tall grass. It was a sunny day, birds were singing, and everybody was felling happy, however the stage director whose fingers were pursuing the guards was not pleased with the script and decided to amend the final episode. In its new version, vivid descriptions of nature were followed by the phrase the last thing they saw in the green sunny valley was a big glittering object that with a low menacing howl suddenly appeared before their astonished eyes. The golf course was not the best place for a walk. By the end of the performance the author himself came on board a luxury race ship; he threw a quick arrogant glance at the at despicable batch of people bustling below; he felt triumphant, contemptuous and utterly self-satisfied. The newly-baked master of the earthly fantasy was Sir Rono Mowdy in person, a born aristocrat and a mannered and very talented man. At last it all ended; the dreadful picture vanished, giving place to infinity, the starry sky glistened with millions of icy sparkles, and once again quietness fell over the study. “Would that be enough?” Sir Henry’s cushioned voice broke the heavy silence. “Oh, yes, quite,” his nephew answered submissively. He felt as if something inside him had dropped and was gone forever; the wall of misunderstanding that separated them had disappeared. He raised his head and looked at his rescuer with gratitude and love, smiled happily and a silver tear rolled down his pale cheek. Without saying a word Sir Henry stood up and pulled Rono hard against his broad chest. They were standing like this against the background of infinite worlds rushing by, and the only thing they could hear was their hearts beating in unison. “You’ve passed one more test, my boy, and the fire of love is now burning in your heart; although it’s feeble like candlelight, do your best to keep it,” Sir Henry said almost 21

in a whisper. “In this world nothing is more important than the ability to love, and God has bestowed it on you,” he moved slightly away from Rono so as to see the long-awaited change in the young man. In response, Rono raised his big beautiful eyes, crying tears of happiness and gratitude. There was also glow in them, with which a full moon illuminates fields and woods, to show way to wanderers lost in the darkness. The luminous shine that the morning sun pours on mountains and valleys at the crack of dawn was filling Rono’s eyes where new life was about to begin, like a holy spring sometimes appears on the blissful Earth… “Now let’s talk about your stay in Quanderon,” Sir Henry said after the pause, showing Rono to a small table with two semi-circular sofas in the center of the large study. “What you”ve just experienced, particularly, your meetings with Linda, speculations about Greg’s betrayal and your further attempts to answer your own questions – all this has turned in wrongly shaped thoughts that materialized in my creative laboratory, where everything is reflected. Eshamble Castle is located in a unique environment equidistant from the Earth and Quanderon. That is why the place has both the Earth’s pull of gravity and wonderful properties of Quanderon’s noosphere. That’s what makes it special, and if you looked in the window in my study, you’d see the Mediterranean Sea, but you wouldn’t be able to get there through the window. The castle can’t be seen from the seashore – it doesn’t exist for Barcelonians,” Sir Henry said rising from the sofa and slowly coming up to the window. “Look here,” he pronounced, stretching his both arms out of the window, palms turned forward. The seashore disappeared immediately, transforming into a semi-transparent substance. Rono remembered that yesterday he found himself in a similar situation when trying to enter the hyperlift, but unlike his uncle, he could not get any further without help. “There is only one entrance to Quanderon,” said Henry Mowdy, getting out of the hyper-window with no visible effort. “That is, through the space-time transition. It requires certain knowledge, otherwise there can be tragic consequences; mere curiosity won’t be enough to come here. People don’t get here by chance, and Linda is no exception. I’ll only touch on the connection between your thoughts and sad scenes you’ve just witnessed. It will teach you a lesson,” Sir Henry pointed out. “Linda with her sexy looks, her simplicity, gullibility and plebian upbringing, that your mundane brain was quick to pin down, stands for your unrestrained sexual desires. They are now hidden, but may well develop into the sin of voluptuousness and obstruct your plans to raise a family, which is the future of our genetic line on the Earth.” As soon as Sir Henry began his explanation, Rono felt deeply ashamed; his heart sank. Sir Henry understood precisely what was behind Rono’s thoughts, having noticed that the young man liked Linda, but chose to be insincere, taking her help for granted and thinking arrogantly that a man of his level should not mix up with a maid– it would have been beneath his dignity. “Your attitude to women is key to perception of love and transition to a level of a subtle, supreme sense of the feminine component of the Universe. Behind Linda’s playing you failed to see the divine nature of her soul and therefore made unfair judgment of the girl. She was distracting you from your earthly thoughts that are perilous in Quanderon; she was performing a plain carefree girl – it wounded your pride and caused 22

excessive attention to your ego. Don’t mix up arrogance and aristocratism. True aristocrats are remarkable for their noble heart, high moral standards and good intentions. One can’t judge others based on his or her own immature ideas of the earthly world; it’s a great sin. Linda is not too well now; she has been irradiated with the terrestrial energy of your destructive thoughts. Now, as for the incident with Greg’s team, your opinion of the military making excellent targets on the golf course speaks for your aggression and cruelty; it is a symbol of your inability to forgive people and show mercy. Despite the order, Greg’s people followed you, and you ruthlessly killed them for it. The elaborate torture that you exerted on them proves that you may become a tyrant. The lack of love for people, that is manifested in your wishes, in your future life would make a solid basis for nihilism, one of mankind’s worst enemies. In this case your soul will plunge into darkness for long centuries – God forbid it does! During the transition you nearly died. I didn’t expect you to be that careless: you mustn’t have even thought about it, and you at the gates of Quanderon even dared to say it aloud – that blasphemous thought of yours, about your prospective residence in hell,” Sir Henry cried. He seemed to be irritated; Rono was shocked by his conclusions that sounded like a verdict. “My dear boy, if you don’t feel pity, if you don’t learn to forgive you won’t know what love is like. And finally, the mental picture of your respectful servant studded with spears with tips like question marks is a symbol of your pride – you demonstrated it when you refused to have your peers about. When dealing with a stronger intellect, your brain looked for ways to humiliate the adversary and tried to prove your superiority. You wouldn’t be able to accept a teacher, for you yourself are great. The climax of the scene is the image of your enormous pride, contempt for others and, as a result, inability to control them – all this shows that you won’t make a powerful politician.” “Oh God, is it as bad as that?” Rono exclaimed in despair, astounded by his uncle’s conclusions. “No, of course not,” Sir Henry hurried to reassure him. “That’s what Quanderon is like: it’s only here that I can show you your hidden enemies that have not woken from sleep yet, thanks God. In the earthly reality they’re napping until your carelessness and blunders enable them to come out from the darkness and forever slam the door of freedom for your soul. Evil forces won’t have difficulty building up on your worst features and affect your intellect in the future.” “Uncle, I’m so sorry – please forgive me, but why? I had no idea it’s that serious, and I didn’t mean to hurt Linda!” Rono cried; he was deeply upset and worried about her health. “Ronnie, your energy is very powerful but uncontrollable. Any irritation or discontent, even more so angry thoughts are a directed blow, rough energy and deadly radiation that kill all living things in this space. She should have relieved your aggression right after you woke up. But don’t take it to heart: Linda herself had volunteered to help you; it is a sort of test for her, and I’ll see to it. She is out of danger now.” “Uncle, I’m so sorry, if only I had known – and I don’t know anything at all!” Rono exclaimed in a fit of temper, burying his face in his hands, so that Uncle Henry would not see his tears. “My boy, you know what – you’re right here, there is so much to learn, that’s true,” Sir Henry gave a deep sigh, “you’re concerned about the girl, you’re crying; it 23

means that your heart is open for compassion and love. Remember, my boy: nothing should stop you in your intention to perceive Magman’s love. You’d be surprised - that’s why you’ve come all that way to Quanderon risking your life.” Chapter 2.The Doomed Winners Night followed the day and was gone. Linda didn’t come in the morning, Sir Henry sent a servant instead, and this change upset Rono… In his nineties Mr. Greendwoot, brisk and lively, of a wrinkled, all buckled and crimped, muddy complexion, was smiling kindly; his jolly eyes, like two burning charcoals, were glimmering from under the bushy black brow. The young man however was unwilling to play a masquerade: the hypocrisy lesson of the previous night was annoying; he tried to be reserved, for there was something inexplicable in the servant’s eyes, as in those of Linda’s the day before, which alarmed him. Indeed, Mr. Greendwoot could turn out anyone in Quanderon, so Rono didn’t waste time deciphering his uncle’s regular riddles and stayed all the day in his room meditating. In the evening sir Henry called the young man into his study. The opened panoramic window was looking over the lively sights and shores of Barcelona; there, in Magman, black thundery clouds benighted the Mediterranean, pouring down, – fresh marine air and the ebbing sea filled the spacious study with terrestrial sounds. Sir Henry, friendly as he always was, invited Rono to repose comfortably on the luxurious white sofas beside the table, evidently expecting a long talk. He approached the bookcase with the printed rarities of the former ages, comforted himself in a leather armchair, crossing one leg over the other, and watched his interlocutor attentively. Rono gently occupied the offered seat; he was seemingly calm as it agreed with his status, except for the tender pink that flushed onto his cheeks, flooding over the whole face and revealing his inner excitement; likewise, hyperborean pale faces are tinted with first sunbeams in the beginning of spring. Rono’s faintly shaking finger-tips and fast heartbeat manifested his curiosity and his true interest in the future talk. “The time has come to clear up the secret springs of the clandestine game hidden from profanes but obvious to those whose souls sympathize with the terrestrial civilization helping it survive these alarming days,” Sir Henry’s voice sounded subtly. “After I die, you will success my legacy. This is fairly easy, but it is not all too easy to transfer the content,” Sir Henry slightly tapped his temple with his right finger, “I hope you understand it is impossible to bequeath the inside.” “Money, power, wealth is nothing when compared with what you will probably find out within walls of Eshamble. You may be surprised if I say that we’ll be talking today of esoteric knowledge inconceivable by a common mind. The world of Quanderon is part and parcel of this knowledge, unexplicable in terms of Magman’s notions. And vice versa, Magman is a mystery for Quanderon. Having understood how these two interact as parts of the whole, one will perceive true values in the surrounding endless world. I will do my best to caution you against possible dangers, to preview the missteps, even to foresee your future, but this will hardly – mind – hardly leave your spiritual essence intact.”


However unwilling was the former governor of the Earth to plunge Rono into the troubled waters of human world, the dramatic events on the planet left no choice to this bold spirit. “What I am going to tell you, agrees neither with the university curriculum nor with your previous life experience; it might hardly occur within your grasp as well,” slowly began Sir Henry, approaching the window, his appearance being both tense and thoughtful. He lingered. The descendant of the ancient English aristocracy, he was doubtful what to start with, in order to pass all he knew to Rono’s young mind, without danger to injure bitterly his tender soul. He took a deep breath and looked once more at his young relative who, sitting modestly apart, was impatient to immediately start the dialogue and could not wait for his uncle to complete the preamble. “It is quite soon that the Earth will undergo colossal and destructive global catastrophes,” Henry Mowdy proceeded. His voice became firm and decisive, he watched Rono intently. “In 1994 the Shumacher-Levi comet fell on Jupiter, shaking the surface of the gaseous giant with powerful thermonuclear explosions. The terrestrials neglected the token, inapt to decipher the heavenly message although many a centuries passed since the event. It seems too late now for a similar crash is being prepared for the Earth at the moment. The gravity of the biggest planet won’t defend the humankind this time; it is one step from utter ruin. A long pause followed. Rono was really sent, his uncle’s words astounded him – it was unbelievable, unreal, shocking, it just could not be truth! “But there cannot be such a thread nowadays!” He exclaimed hotly at last, fighting the morbid perspective. “All the meteorites, comets, fractions of planets are routinely traced in the radius of several light years, the trajectories of the most dangerous ones have been calculated, their imperceptible approach to the Earth is just impossible! The problem seemed to have been solved long ago,” Rono tried to find some sensible arguments. “Your viewpoint,” Sir Henry retorted calmly, “is the exact replica of the wrong conclusions of the scientists of the past, who sought the threat in the physical bodies wandering within dangerous proximity to the solar system; let us not split the hairs, nonetheless. The comet showed the earth community how fragile their little dwelling is. One didn’t have to calculate probable future collisions; one didn’t have to cherish hope, trying to find novel technical ways in order to eliminate the threat. It was obvious long before that the rational world is not guaranteed from similar collisions. It was necessary to look for other explanations, which would allow deciphering the heavenly sign. The famous Einstein’s formula reads that energy is equal to mass multiplied to the velocity of light squared; the latter was supposed to be a constant. It is not needed to explain, I hope, that the former truth can change; Harvard graduate should remember that the velocity of light is considered a variable nowadays. Intellectual errors are inherent to humanity, but this is not a tragedy; only when people make errors threatening their spiritual growth, the tragedy is on the threshold. The science has not explained the hyperspace notion yet. The dramatic paradox is that in the nearest future the matter from Quanderon-like space, utterly unknown to our science, is to be materialized into the physical mass of real “terrestrial” matter, which will be found by plazmascopes all over 25

the world. A physical body or some of them, headed for the Earth, may turn out a meteorite, a comet, a planet fraction – whatever they are. Astronomers will have calculated the orbit – all that they will have managed to do,” Sir Henry noted sordidly. “I don’t want you to concentrate on the technology though; it is too late to appeal to science, the decision has been made, people should pay their debts.” “But why?” Rono sounded desperate. “Is it not possible to change anything?” “The decision is not mine, and the crash will happen quite soon – in no time on the scale of the Universe, and nobody knows the date or consequences for the Earth.” Sir Henry’s voice became sad. “You see, beloved, the human civilization of the 24th century reached some stunning technical goals, but one cannot advance neglecting one’s own soul. There are hosts of civilizations in the Universe, much more powerful technically than ours, but all this is a trifle for the Maker. He longs to know spiritual ways to be chosen for the perfection, how your soul is nourished, whether its meal are love and faith and hope; all the rest success is infinitesimally neglected in the balance of the Maker’s justice. People are used to visit transplantation centers – today it is as easy as going shopping. Nobody cares of the nature of their illnesses; the damaged organs are readily replaced with cloned ones – for the benefit of man, indeed! Faces want healthy bloom, inorganic implants are embedded into bodies, and imperfect mechanisms, created by human imperfect mind, intergrow into the divine bodily tunic. Is it not the degradation of the modern society? Look what is happening to faith. Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals, Buddhist pagodas, mosques and synagogues are being closed down elsewhere, people, apart from precious few, cannot find their comfort praying. Humanity pretends not to need salvation; people think they are faultless; nihilism thrives, faith into God is swapped with faith into ego.” Rono tried to argue, but Sir Henry stopped him with a gesture of his hand. “You and I, we are both the part and parcel of this society, so you will barge, which is only natural,” he said. “Your nihilism is not a revelation for me. Do not bother yourself asking questions, I foresee them all. We have no time to dispute them now, pray, listen to what I am to tell you; and if my arguments fail to convince you, we’ll consider your viewpoint in detail, if you want to.” Sir Henry’s strict tone somehow discouraged Rono; he sensibly decided to obey and follow his uncle’s advice. “Unfortunately,” Sir Henry proceeded, “what we are now suffering is the result of some political decisions, which let the advocates of Professor Inteco’s theory come to power two centuries ago. His ideas were not a novelty; he proposed some arguments (erroneous in my viewpoint) which were to convince people they are equal to God. Strange may it seem, but these notions, like a grain in a fertile soil, germinated in weak souls; what was impossible in the twentieth or twenty first century, made way a century later. The whole civilization is still tragically affected with what happened then. The basement of faith was washed away with the currents of public criticism, followed by false prophesies theorizing the perfection of a human personality. The majority was pleased and comforted with the new religion. The precedent is not new though; I will deliver examples later. Actually what happened two ages ago was anti-spiritual crisis, resulted in the world religious degradation. Although not opposed openly, their principal dogmas were substituted with new scientific ecumenism, which commingled latest technical 26

achievements with traditional spiritual values. I don’t want to call these indecent deeds, which thrust at the Saint Trinity and the Resurrection mysteries; I will only call Inteco’s advocates evil genii, who distorted sacred notions. In a short while Islam, Buddhism and other world religions followed Christianity, that is, surrendered to the dreadful attack of Inteco’s nihilism. The latest achievements of innovative science were at stake. First spacecraft were launched, they helped, you know, to discover a planet with some lower forms of mentality. The discovery gave new food for later falsifications. Inteco’s followers celebrated the victory. What I told you is not the cause, but the effect, everything is much more complicated,” Sir Henry’s voice saddened again. He came back from the window to sit on the sofa opposite Rono. He seemed exhausted; he was apparently losing energy, which was evident by his whitish face and the light tremor of fingers. For it was not the informative aspect that was the nerve of their talk – the young man could not even suppose that Henry Mowdy was bearing the mysterious vigour, perceived by Rono’s unconscious, which expelled step by step the dogmas and principles the average person of 24th century worshipped. The young man was thoughtful for a moment feeling tired too; he got drowsy and did not notice how a dust-covered bottle of wine and two crystal glasses accompanied by light refreshments appeared on the table. What seems miracle on the Earth, is a routine thought materialization on Quanderon. “Wonderful Chateau-Latour,” Sir Henry articulated the name of the wine with a southern French accent, “let’s drink some, this vin sec from the Medoc cellars will warm our blood and help unwind.” He carefully filled the glasses with red Cabernet-Sauvignon. “Terrestrial wines in Quanderon are a luxury, but there is nothing impossible in my cellars.” He winked in a friendly way and gave Rono a cunning smile. “Like you, it suffered some stress, the walk to Quanderon was not leisure, but my wine-makers managed to keep its exquisite taste. This noble wine holds the memory of the sun and rain, the fresh aroma of the soil in the southern province Bordeaux. For the young and inexperienced lovers of synthetic stimulants, these traditions are long lost. Let me drink for you, my dear boy, you will forgive my weakness, I hope, if I jump the gun with my wishes.” Sir Henry smiled, took the glass from the table, and uttered softly and confidently, “When you perceive the true meaning of the divinity of man, his immortal essence, you will become immortal yourself. Do believe me, I know what I am speaking of,” his glass tinkled touching that of Rono’s with a crystal sound. “Taste a bit of your planet, and you will feel much more comforted. For your immortality!” he uttered solemnly. There was not a trace of irony or derision in his voice, he sounded sincere, serious, and loving. The implication of this strange speech was too complicated for Rono to understand but the wine moved him more than his relative’s words did. He had never tried anything like this before; he could not compare the choicest wine with whatsoever else. He seemed to have drunk something hot, winning and lively, which instantly warmed his blood and drove away the treachery sleepiness. Sir Henry turned right: he felt much better, unusual warmth flowed through his body, some aromatic light-heady cloud excited his mind; for an instant he fancied he had tried the real taste of the Earth. “Now, my boy, it is time to move to the essentials,” Mowdy Senior was curious to watch his


nephew’s reaction. “We’re approaching the events which had taken place on Earth long before you and I were born into this world. In order you properly understand the sources of the problem I will dwell on some new details. The fact is Inteco’s advocates and the other like them – they were not complete humans. Nay, I am wrong,” he quickly corrected himself, “it’s more accurate to say they were not humans at all. Their ancestors were representatives of some ancient civilization. It is hard to imagine they had found their way to our planet from a distant universe. Space is immense and inconceivable, Ronnie, many a mysteries it holds, and this is just one of them. It was for the first time that rational beings from the farthest corners of the eternal space had achieved the Earth’s frontiers. They managed to come nonetheless, and this is the evidence of their unique spiritual force. Do you get what I mean?” Sir Henry peered the astonished youth. “Not quite, I am afraid,” Rono was abashed. “I mean – I am afraid I don’t get it at all. How is that possible? They look like us… heads, arms, legs… they speak like us! Where is the difference?” “Right you are, my boy: they do look like people. Let me compare: a caterpillar creeps and crawls eating leafage at its pleasure, but the day comes, and as if following some orders, it turns into a motionless chrysalis which is no more than a depot holding the nourishing material for the future butterfly. And the natural mechanism of the regeneration is still an enigma for experts! These three phases which a primitive life goes through are like three beings that are able to comfortably exist on the Earth if only they live in concord. Commonwealth between rational life forms has long been known in space. Peoples and nations, dwelling on Earth, historically come from various corners of space, but they all are still the children of the Milky Way, learning to love and understand each other. The world you live in was made perfect, and endless distances cannot prevent the Earth’s civilizations to communicate though they differ in development. I will mislead you if I say that there exist ancient technologies, old as the world itself, able to move souls embodying them into material forms all over our Universe. Although the term “technologies” sounds more habitual for you, mind that using it, I somewhat vulgarize the process. Those who look like people, who I call “the other life forms”, have nothing in common with man – that is why I chose this queer comparison. They are not people, for if you cast a cursory glance at their true material shell you would be utterly shocked.” Sir Henry, watching his nephew’s long face, laughed heartily. “Sip some more, darling; I see you are fairly impressed. It is not worth worrying though; imagine that all we are talking over now you have long been aware of, time just erased it from your memory – thanks to certain circumstances.” Rono made some abrupt, nervous gulps longing for the calming warmth of the wine. Sir Henry’s comments didn’t seem queer to him this time – waking his new interest in the aliens theme, they attracted his romantic impressive soul. Leaving his empty glass on the crystal table, he was devouring his uncle’s face with his eyes, waiting for the story to be continued. “These beings represent some extraterrestrial super-civilization that reached the boundaries of our Galaxy from the other incredibly far universe. Having discovered Earth as early as the fourteenth century for several centuries did they endeavor to leave their issue on it. At that time however the attempts to would regularly fail, the offspring of human-embodied aliens and terrestrial women being still-born. The embodiment process 28

itself is a sacrament, its esoteric essence is hidden from mortals; therefore I will be compelled to explain the gist only; in a word, it is a transposition of an alien soul into a human material shell. “Getting from bad to worse,” Rono interrupted him unexpectedly. “Is anything still unclear for you?” Sir Henry asked with a tint of smile. “Everything is! First, where do they take the bodies to transpose into? Second, what is a soul and how is it transposed into a body? “I expected something of the kind,” Mowdy Senior uttered slowly getting thoughtful for a while. Rono seized the opportunity to express his bewilderment loudly. “If they represent a super-civilization, where are their super-spacecraft? What are all these complications for? Why to move into someone else’s body? Have not they got their own ones?” “If you had been more attentive, you would not have put so many useless questions,” Sir Henry reproached him. “ The distances in Space, as you probably guess, are so immense that overcoming them in a spacecraft is comparable to a swimmer trying to cross the ocean. So earlier or later, rational beings start seeking alternatives, finding these through the cognition of their unique divine nature. It is not the slip of my tongue, when I state they came from a completely alien Universe, – though it is still hard for you to perceive. Curiously enough, this is what they are distinguished from the rest. We won’t plunge into detail now; otherwise I won’t have time to tell you the essence. You don’t have the reason to doubt my words, do you?” “Sorry, uncle, I don’t, for sure – but what you told me cannot be called even science fiction. I am lost with words, so queer everything sounds.” Rono seemed to speculate aloud, but collected himself and gazed his uncle. “In the beginning of the seventeenth century a small group of aliens managed to catch on the Earth. The best and fittest of them could embody themselves in Russia during Peter the Great’s reign. They almost failed though: human bodies and alien souls were genetically incompatible, which caused the rarest untreatable diseases torturing terrestrial flesh. The embodied ones were constantly ill; they hardly survived in a human environment dying young as a rule. “But, Uncle Henry, please stop, do not rush,” Rono interrupted again. “As far as I know the soul is not a genome-carrier – genes are biological stuff, unrelated to immaterial forms.” “Rono, my boy, you are just unaware of things, as common people and those who I call the followers of Inteco are unaware of them. The soul doubtlessly carries some special genes, which influence one’s character and personal spiritual growth, not to mention one’s future. The flesh genome defines bodily structure, appearance, likeness to parents, inclinations and traits –all this is too well known for you. The soul genes, on the contrary, outline one’s probable spiritual ways. For example, the immortality gene is carried by the soul only. We will come back to the issue in our future talks. Thus, having embodied into new terrestrial flesh, the aliens felt themselves freaks, moral monsters and almost always suffered abject poverty and spiritual devastation. One can hardly imagine that it was the eyes of genii of a powerful techno-civilization that looked from the deceased human body.


“Indegromaticus,” slowly and clearly uttered Sir Henry, “that’s the most likely approximation, if to use human speech. It is quite conventional though. The meaning is ‘the doomed winners’; so remember, from now onwards I will call them Indegro. “But why ‘the doomed winners’, the very name is nonsense?” asked Rono, utterly perplexed. “The explanation does exist, but you need not it at the moment: the knowledge about Indegro is still limited for you. As I already mentioned, this civilization possesses incredible technical power and is incomparable in its universe. It is intellect and the material knowledge that it lays on – in this way they perceived their divine nature having advanced much further than we did. Indegro possessed numerous outstanding features to be adapted in the far space. They were really worth the embodiment on our planet. And, as you probably guess, such global events could occur only after the Hierarchs of both worlds had agreed upon them. “But Uncle Henry,” Rono interrupted excitingly. The novelty of facts, numerous unknown terms and notions as well as unexpected logic perplexed him so that he could hardly follow the story, “please, say again, who it was agreed upon by?” “It is my neglect that you don’t get used to thinking of multiple Creators, the whole pantheon of them. God of the Universe tops the divine hierarchy both in our World as well as in that of Indegromaticus. It is by the hierarchs that any step of such a level is agreed upon, and there is nothing to be surprised, for it was, it is, and doubtlessly will be forever. The Universe without the Maker is like a man without a soul. No soul, no life,” Sir Henry shortly concluded and looked interrogatively at Rono. “We were somewhat diverted, so I’d like to proceed, if you don’t mind. Eventually, from one embodiment to still another one, Indegro brightly used their adaptability and could produce fairly healthy offspring in a while. By the beginning of the twentieth century their sparse descendants virtually overcame the incompatibility challenges. They reckoned the first adaptation experiment successful and started preparing the next one – mass settlement of the planet. ‘What territory to begin with?’ they inquired. Russia, with its inconceivably broad soul, strange as it is, was the most winning. That’s it, and do not be surprised!” Sir Henry said confidently. “Neither English nor American – it was a mysterious Russian soul, the creative spiritual essence of Russia, that appealed them. The Maker’s will is always for everything, oh beloved; luckily or not, man cannot anticipate the winding ways of history or foretell its dramatic turns. Indegro came into the boundaries of the solar system due to the unrealized thirst of knowledge, very similar to that of ours, which makes us quit the earth’s atmosphere. The process of spiritual perfection of man appeared an inconceivable riddle, while the technical level of terrestrials hardly interested them. Man cannot match Indegro’s technical achievements being ant-like in terms of the progress, and that is only fair. But in the world of feelings, emotions, in the world of love Indegro are miserable ants as compared to us. This is why we were and still are a sought-after goal, but it is from this invisible sensual energy that the fittest of them suffered. The doomed winners made well aware of their first embodiments sad practice. They understood too well that the Russian people imbalance, their immense emotional amplitudes will prevent spiritually weaker species to be successfully embodied in the future. 30

“Imbalance, what is it?” Rono was surprised. “My explanation won’t satisfy your curiosity,” Sir Henry was unlike to go further, but his nephew’s praying eyes seemed to sway him. “You will find the answer if you watch carefully the arms of Russia. A two-headed eagle, whose heads look at the opposite directions, symbolizes mind and soul which equally influence the way Russian superethnos chooses for its development. These two opposites, virtually incompatible, result in ultimate emotional amplitudes of a Russian person. Aimed to perceive the world both sensually and intellectually, they reveal the unique possibilities of Russian super-ethnos, its huge advancing potential on the way to reach the after-sought balance. Unfortunately, it was impossible at that time, for the peoples of Russia suffered the most tragic planetary experience bearing the cross of the whole humanity on their shoulders. What to say of the balance then?” “But why the Russians are different?” Ronnie strove to understand his uncle’s logic. “Because the Russians are also from the far space less distant though than that of Indegromaticus. You ought to know that the Universe is endless; the farther from the native planet rational beings dwell, the longer they adapt, and the more time and intellect are required. Nowadays humankind learned to use the planetary energy, the antigravity engine allowed people traveling to the nearest stellar system. In the future new natural laws will be discovered; new technologies will allow space faring, drawing the energy of stars, galaxies and of the Universe itself. The rate these cognitive levels are reached is intertwined with the divine existence in the world made by the Creator. The spiritual advance of the Russian super-ethnos is the highest on the Earth. The Russians therefore are to be constantly restrained via wars, sufferings and endless inner conflicts – only not to sway the noosphere balance, to hinder the aggression and harmonize their impulse to be smoothly integrated into the world community. This, in turn, implies the number of issues forming the geopolitics of the powers, the world balance and order. It is the mighty spirit of Russian super-ethnos that Indegromaticus revealed; well, it is still more correct to say the hierarchs of our Universe suggested the right choice. The distances overcome while moving through the endless space, are a key stone for any civilization advance. These principles are true for the Earth as well. The whole human history is a unique example of the statement – from Columbus’s time onward. Via these ways rational beings perceive both their divine nature and the life-creating thought of the Maker,” Henry Mowdy uttered with the smile of a teacher looking at his favorite, who came to seat an exam unprepared for the first time. “Fantastic! I still cannot believe you are telling the truth.” “And do you really have a choice, Ronnie?” “Don’t know, but your suggestion seems the best choice.” “Listen then, we have not got that much time. The visitors were utterly pragmatic: the Russians possessed a wonderful intellectual platform, most adequate for Indegro’s needs, as well as powerful traditions of spiritual culture, which promised maximal development. The doomed winners are also, in the proper sense, sort of oxymoron. And now let’s go back to your question. Imbalance is inability of the Russian person of that time to bring his mind and soul into equilibrium. This is one of the most characteristic features of the Russians, which we will define as “the bear and the ballet”. The bear is a symbol of wild power, 31

and the ballet is an example of exquisite beauty. There are good deals of similar cases in the Russian soul. So to put into order Russian territories, to build a society which would follow fair laws, to make respect justice was a magnificent and over-complicated task. Only those who knew well how the ancestors of the future peoples of Russia first appeared on the planet could tackle it. Indegro considered themselves experts in the field and started embodying their souls all over the vast territory of the Russian Empire. Obviously, the Russian soul amplitudes hampered seriously their plans. It was necessary to dispose of the imbalance problem… Endowed with high intellect, conducted via their souls, the adapted representatives of the Indegromaticus race found, in their opinion, some pragmatic solution, which was doubtlessly cynical from the terrestrial point of view. As the ultimate goal was to lower the level of spiritual development of the Russians and to start controlling their creativity, the ‘cage’ concept appeared to be most effective solution. “The cage?” Rono asked in astonishment. “That’s it, the cage, where Indegro were planning to bay millions of Russian souls,” Sir Henry answered serenely. “It is similar to the cages where the endangered species are put nowadays. They are regularly fed, cherished and comforted; once appeared in the cage, though, they lose their freedom forever. There is no way out. Naturally, Indegro needed some ideology and technology appropriate for their aim. They were genii, and solved the task brightly. In a short while, the entertained idea was thrown into the discontented and embittered mob of workers by a certain energetic, though baldish and not a very good-looking man, who orated posing on an armored car. He purposefully chose the working class as his support. In the time of most cruel discord in the city on the Neva River it was him who pronounced the key words: “Revolution! Rrevolution, comrades!” It seemed to Rono that his uncle’s mood changed – his eyes mockingly screwed. “That man was one of the most powerful Indegro’s ideologists and, as it appeared later, brilliantly put his ideas into practice as well: there was a coup d’état in the Russian Empire. Within a year, Indegro representatives took the power, but in a few months it became obvious that they lacked strength, energy, and people apt to fulfill this sublime project. Only some tens thousands of Indegro had been born by that time, which was fairly insufficient to govern the immense country. But the Eye in the Universe had been already open – watching the next wave of Indegromaticus waiting for the embodiment. The motto ‘Procrastination is death-like’ exactly reflected the panic of the supervisors. To hold the power, they dared to a most cruel, unprecedented ‘downshift’. That was the fatal error, Ronnie. Nobody in the heaven could foresee such morbid a scenario, the Universe Hierarchs expected the Indegro and the terrestrial civilization to co-exist in a commonwealth… Going to fulfill the plan Indegro could not foresee the effects; spiritual amplitudes intruded the scheme; the Russian people reacted to their freedom restriction in a most unexpected way. The ‘downshift’ that had so much been counted upon, turned an uncontrolled nightmare, resulting in the cruel murder of the Ruling Family. Nicolas II as the symbol of God’s power on the earth was killed by Indegro. The Emperor knew of the arrival; he had been warned and yielded to His Master’s will with a sorrowful heart. He let Indegro go the road they had been longing of, but he could not foresee the tragic final 32

both for His Family and for numerous future Russian generations. He was undoubtedly a saint martyr and gave his life for the great Power. It was an ungrateful mission; a few people were able to appreciate adequately the deed of this great soul.” Sir Henry stopped talking for a moment to look at Rono; meeting his attentive eyes, he plunged once again into his unusual interpretation of history. “Since such people are rare birds nowadays, it is our past that I will draw the examples from to understand the present. It is easier to ride a white horse being blinded with glory like Cesar or Alexander the Great, but there are hidden missions as well: the others’ meanness and villainy may become the reason for one’s inglorious death only too often; a creative life does not guarantee the gratefulness of vassals or ever the objective evaluation of the labour fulfilled. Mozart, the greatest genius, was buried like a homeless trump; his body was wrapped into rags and thrown into the pit with decaying cadavers. Jesus Christ was equaled to thieves and crucified next to them. So it is from the ancient times, Ronnie: the mortals always long to bury the immortals before time and more than often succeed in their dedicated efforts. You must realize that the tries for the few chosen are not the way planted with flowers; some have to wear a thorny crown. The Earth is, my darling, not the place for idle walks; its destination is different. The true master is one who takes the will of His God for ground as the Emperor Nicolas II did. All the humanity shuddered seeing the cruel meaningless cynicism of the new power. From this moment onward the beautiful idea of the embodiment occurred a tragedy of the human race, never seen before,” Sir Henry shivered. “The dictatorship of the proletariat became a monstrous instrument of Indegro’s ideology, which completed the reformers’ disastrous deed keeping their fatal power intact for many decades.” Rono read in his uncle’s eyes pity, pain and chagrin if he was annoyed with the time where nobody would be able to change anything. His uncle perceived the Tragedy as if he himself stood beside the Family in the Ipatyev’s House when revolvers of Indegro were pouring merciless lead onto innocent angel souls, not questioning their conscience for the consequences. All civilized states closed the borders turning scornfully away from ‘bold atheists’. It was a lucky chance for Indegro however for now they could easily build their socialistic incubator to grow the ‘offspring’.” “Sorry, uncle, I didn’t get what the downshift of the spiritual level is,” Rono said shyly. “Is it really possible to shift it up or down on the whole country’s scale? And what does ‘uncontrolled’ mean? Where was God? Why didn’t He intervene?” “As for your first question,” Sir Henry said, “I will consider again the embodiment idea, but let me introduce some new notions first. Any state has its noosphere, that is, the sphere of thought which consists of human mentality products – the subtlest invisible meta-energies. Derivatives of a creative soul, such as our joys and sorrows, spiritual search, joined with the complicated processes of the Truth cognition, and many other things, are linked straight with the human activity on Earth. The more poets, artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, scientists are in the country, the higher the level of its noosphere, and vice versa. Thus, spiritual wealth of a nation is its creative elite. The Earth’s noosphere comprises those of all the nations, and the biosphere is intimately connected with the noosphere, in Siamese twins-like manner. So notice what people are busy with when the Earth shakes and volcanoes throw ash from their


overheated craters. As in Quanderon, the planet is affected strongly by people’s spirituality … It would be easier for Indegro to choose a civilization with a lower development rate, say, some young planet in the Universe where the rational life is just beginning to perceive wisdom of the fire element. Their gene structures would have been safe there; in a while they could have evolved into a harmonious civilization properly representing their unique world. But it’s meaningless to regret the last year’s snow. The doomed winners chose our planet, with a very complicated noosphere – a harsh place to grow their product in. Indegro are neither angels nor demons; they are just people with a brighter intellect. Their decision to downshift the Russian noosphere was explained by solely the instinct of self-preservation. One of their first targets was orthodoxy and other religions which were chased after the Emperor Family had been murdered. The churches would be knocked down; the dissent were cruelly suppressed; creative people, priests, almost all the golden stock of Russian intelligentsia were moved to jail to be turned into ‘camp dust’ there. Total nihilism indicating the lowered level of spiritual amplitudes became a desired fruit, cultivated and controlled by Indegro. ‘The cage of nihilism’ was an effective idea, and hosts of terrified people were whipped there. As for your second question, the Highest Hierarchs saw the civil chaos, and, believe me, there were numerous attempts to sooth Indegro’s aggression but all in vain. The first attempt was Civil War. Backed up with the Entente, Kolchak, Wrangell, Denikin, being the true patriots, attempted but failed to take the power. After the Emperor was murdered and Orthodoxy demolished, the country’s noosphere swung to atheism and dissolution, and the generals were deprived of any heavenly support. Alas, the patriotic minority lacked their own spiritual strength being weak people only. The first wave emigrated during the war; some hundreds of them were Indegromaticus who moved to France, Germany and future super-power The North American United States to experience democracy. The other two major attempts to stop the processes harmful for the humanity were fulfilled within a short interval in the midst of the twentieth century. We will not stop on them today; when the time comes and you show the mature interest in history, we will go back to the details.” “Why not now?” Rono was surprised. “You’re not prepared for the truth.” “But I’m still prepared to listen to you attentively,” Rono insisted. “Rono, darling, it is not the case when you get the information and let it go loose. You are in Quanderon; it is impossible here, as when you are on the Earth, to remember only things you liked. You should carry everything that you are given here, – exactly as much as your mind is apt to contain. Pray, enough of it.” This time Sir Henry’s voice sounded severe. The story of ‘the bear and the ballet’ continued. “Very soon a new state appeared on the territory of the former Russian Empire: the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics. The then leaders were day-dreaming of the world revolution, they almost sincerely believed in the communistic future of the planet and all that half-forgotten stuff which is now taught nowhere and is nowhere mentioned. Indegro are goody-goodies; they carefully sweep away black traces in their history. So it 34

is all open as the day now: they are the real heirs of the humanity, nobody cares whose blood is in their veins. It was otherwise then: they were caught with wild ideas, but not for long; after they realized their theories were meaningless they contrived more elegant a mechanism to conquer the human beings. Naturally, the power gave them a lucky chance to enlarge the incubator. Two hundred million people stood under the Soviet flag, with mighty China beside – one billion of souls, a fertile field to breed the billion of Indegro’s offspring. After the World War II – after the most influential of Indegro ideologists and the key political figure of the Soviet Union passed away there also passed a need to terrorize the country. Another necessity appeared; the need to restore what Indegro had mercilessly demolished – faith in God and freedom. The doors of the cage slightly opened releasing intelligentsia of the sixties: it was so called the first ‘thaw’. Indegro wanted their offspring to win the world, and were contriving the next ingenious plan. All of a sudden lots of talented people were born, and among them some rarest diamond souls whose genome had not been damaged for the first time since Indegro appeared on the Earth. Eventually the miraculous divine DNA mutation gave a new species – half-humans and half-Indegro – that shared their high spirit with terrestrials and enjoyed their immense intellect as Indegro. There were only few of them, and it was a real wonder. In a while they would become hostages of their amazing strength; an invisible giant battle would have started for their souls between two races. The events of a stunning tense would occur both on the Earth and in heaven. We will discuss this question next time though,” – Sir Henry ended abruptly his story. Rono was already listening absent-mindedly, yawning; his eyes exploring the study walls. Only when the talk turned to mutants he cheered like a street sparrow that all of a sudden sees a pumpkin seed in front of it; he stretched out with all his body towards his uncle trying not to miss a single word. When Sir Henry stopped talking, Rono started out of his arm-chair like a football fun that expected his favorite forward to hit the empty goal – and saw him miss. “Why next time?” he exclaimed stumbling awkwardly with his knee over the table. The bottle of wine, the glasses, the refreshments – all dropped on the floor, spraying jagged glass all around. Rono, blushing and baffled, was looking at the pool of the collector’s wine and bits of broken things; completely abashed, he sat back in the armchair in a dumb confusion. “Tisn’t worth worrying over, Ronnie,” Sir Henry was watching the scene, obviously and strangely pleased. “This is what we can restore,” he added soothingly, lifted his right arm, snapped two fingers, and in the twinkling of an eye all the broken things stood on the table as if nothing had happened. Rono was stunned. “Well,” Sir Henry smiled, “you amused me a lot; watching your sincere emotions is a great consolation for an old man…What if I say now that there were no supermen,” he suddenly proceeded, “that it was … well, I just happened to notice your bored look and thought: what if I distract my Ronnie from his troubles by making up some funny story? What would you say to that?” “Uncle Henry… you’re not kidding, are you? It couldn’t be a joke?” the young man begged, fairly discouraged with all had happened. “To tell the truth, Rono, I am in no mood for joking,” Sir Henry became serious, “everything we are talking of is of extreme importance, and you are sitting sleepy and 35

weary. What are you dreaming of? Do concentrate, be patient. I don’t want to observe your absent-minded look anymore!” he added strictly. It was neither “yes” nor “no”. The head of Mowdy dynasty didn’t go back to the theme. “The soviet regime was bound to die,” Sir Henry proceeded calmly. “It didn’t correspond with the new development strategy of Indegro civilization. The immense country was to fall apart in less than fifty years. Soviet people led by Indegro raised the nuclear energy, were the first to go to space, and created powerful war industry. Their life quality and spiritual needs advanced too slowly though. In the beginning of the eighties of the twentieth century within few years some oldest soviet rulers passed away: Indegro were clearing the road to the younger leaders able to fulfill the new strategy. The country amused itself telling anecdotes of “gun carriages races”. Then a young, kind-looking, friendly-faced manager popped up to start speaking of “perestroika” and “new thinking” which excellently agreed with Indegro’s ambitious plans. Within five years of his talks the Empire collapsed, and millions of Indegro left their nests to be adopted by civilized societies where human rights are not jingles but the greatest achievement. This was the next step of their outstanding and cunning plan, Ronnie, which followed the dreams of the World revolution. Forecasting many centuries ahead was one of the genial traits of the far technocratic race. The politicians of the developed nations cheered the collapse as if it were their own victory. You cannot imagine how deeply they were misled. The Russians became first to bear the heaviest karma of superpower adaptation, the whole world should have bowed down to their feet to draw their lessons from the Russian experience but alas! Everybody would break to laughter hearing of ‘the Russian bear’, whose strength both amused and scared the rest of the world. I am still stricken with human replete carelessness, naivety, and folly… The catastrophe of the Tsar Russia should have rallied the world nations but it didn’t. The Russians handicapped Europe with seventy years to be ready to meet with doomed winners, but Europeans wasted the time playing about with democracy and strengthening new order, and were so enthusiastic building their mock legal sandcastles that they missed the threat looming over. The humanity appeared on edge of the catastrophe for it scorned and distrusted soviet people; it lacked compassion and feared of mythical red devil, it was inapt to understand the trouble their eastern brothers survived. Mobs of migrants rushed westward, representatives from the far Universe among them. The only prophesy of Nostradamus never came true, that is, the Third World War – as absolutely meaningless. Since then thermonuclear wars were not considered as a possible weapon against Indegro at all; other ways were to be looked for. ” – Again Rono felt Sir Henry’s gaze. “Having adapted in Russia, Indegro began creating incubators all over the world. The end of the twentieth century heralded the dawn of “indigo children”, born into American, European and Russian families. There were lots of talk and discussion seeking the explanation in the climatic changes and other whatever they be – heaps of effective misleading versions, the authors being adapted Indegro themselves, naturally – bright writers, journalists, talented psychologists, teachers… Precious time fled slipping through 36

fingers, and the neglected illness, like a cancer tumor, grew mercilessly, sucking stamina from people. I hope it is clear from my story that indigo and Indegro are the same. Theoretically, it was still possible then to intervene and start controlling the alien mind – there was less than 1 per cent of Indegro from the terrestrials’ general numbers. By the mid of the twenty first century, nevertheless, Indegromaticus embodied their new generation on Earth, – the children exhibited nothing strange or unusual, behaving like average kids do. Not a trace of an unordinary intellect – everything as with the others. Naturally, by the mid-fifties “indigo children” were gone and forgotten – no ‘indigo children’, no ‘indigo problem’; thanks to short human memory there perished the weak hope to save the race having the sacred blood of Atlantis in its veins. Actually, there were numerous hidden Indegro in the new group of the embodied; more perfect that their predecessors but exhibiting no genius at birth. Getting into a human body Indegro genes were conserved; no further adaptation needed. The hidden gene revealed in the maturity being still unnoticed. Indegro just felt they are different sharing the insight with nobody. There appeared lots of bright personalities and among them a philosopher, physicist and mathematician professor Ernst Inteco, who proposed the Multiverse model. He managed to gather around him the most powerful members of Indegro civilization – the political leaders of some countries among them. Thus supported he questioned the fundamentals of love and faith in God for the first time in history suggesting other foundations for the human world to advance. Mathematics and formal logic helped professor Inteco to elegantly back up his theses and gave them the right to existence. You know the rest. Doomed winners completely enslaved humankind by the end of the twenty second century.” Thoughtful silence followed his words. Rono was exhausted and did not notice he fell asleep just as Sir Henry started talking of the Indegro’s victory over people. His mind was drowsing, his uncle’s voice was hardly heard, light emptiness embraced him; his face expressed no surprise, his questions vapourized. Suddenly Rono felt unusual joy and easiness. Emerged from nowhere, unearth powers, like two wings, help hold his inner balance, his soul felt the presence of the old wise spirit that warmed it with its immortal breath… Eventually the short vision vanished, and he saw his uncle’s watchful eyes staring him; Sir Henry smiled lovingly and kindly, and filled his empty glass with fatherly care. “Rono, sweet tooth, get awaken!” His uncle’s voice sounded almost satisfied. “The dessert is on the table, up you go!” Rono realized he got asleep in his armchair; he felt extremely confused he had missed something important in his uncle’s story and made him angry; but his relative’s eyes said the opposite. “Try this natural black chocolate I recently brought from the Earth,” broke the silence Sir Henry’s cushioned voice. He was speaking in an undertone and one could imagine the chocolate had crossed at least two boundaries illegally. “As you guess…” He didn’t finish: Rono screwed cunningly his eyes and ended the phrase in a breathless dash, minutely mimicking his mentor’s intonation, “This is a rarity in Quanderon, but there is nothing impossible in my cellars…”


“Well, in my reserves rather than in my cellars,” Sir Henry condescendingly nodded, “but you read my thoughts correctly.” After which they both laughed so merrily that a portrait of a founder of Mowdy dynasty dropped from the wall in the far corner of the study. They exchanged conspiratorial glances, and Sir Henry quick as lightning, still sitting in his armchair, hung the portrait of an unknown authority back to its place. Then he stood up and approached the window; he was holding a transparent long-necked glass, filled with wine, the candles were burning brightly, the study was warm and cozy, there was a warm September night outside. “There are hardly anybody left, million or two, maybe. We are few, but we are still capable of sympathy for everything on the planet, we are still apt to rejoice with simple things: a nightingale’s song, a dew drop on a rose petal. We are those who bear the genes of Leonardo, of Shakespeare and Moliere, of Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy. Indegro, these brute uncared-for children that hatched up in the Earth’s incubators without humans to help them, became grownups; they don’t know what they are doing. The planet does not need these flying heaps of iron,” Sir Henry nodded towards the window where hundreds of illuminated gravitons hovered in the night sky. “The planet, like mother to her dear and desired child, gave all her love to humanity, but got back billions and billions of wretched souls instead. She cannon bear this nightmare anymore, Ronnie, she is going to have a heart attack… The noosphere is empty, only the giant mechanic puzzle of Indegromaticus is wandering along, devouring the remaining bits of human faith and love.” Sir Henry suddenly stopped talking, took some swigs and shivered; a convulsion passed over his body, his glass dropped and broke into pieces. Rono was terrified to watch his uncle’s mortally pale features; the light in his eyes faded, he was going to faint. But the ringing of the broken glass sobered Rono – he started up and in two leaps was beside his uncle. “What’s wrong with you?” he cried excitingly. “Nothing… nothing,” Sir Henry articulated with disobedient lips; he was trying to smile, but a spasm tortured his face instead. “Gimme water…” He feebly nodded towards his desk. Rono rushed to fulfill his wish; Sir Henry sipped, his sickness seemed to be drawn off. Rono caught his breath and escorted uncle to the sofa. “It looked like a fit. Are you unwell?” He was sick to observe convulsions which now and then tormented his uncle’s body. “No, Ronnie, no… don’t you be worried,” Sir Henry was trying to conceal his suffering by all means, “it happens from time to time, more often than usual, but I am much better now, it’ll be over in a minute.” The young man sighed with relief, but still remained anxious. He was unaware of his uncle’s sacrifice: several days ago, when Rono had been mortally endangered on the way to Quanderon, Sir Henry had donated almost all his vitality, and now it was time to pay back. “Let us be collected, my boy, as we are to finish with all our affairs. Indegromaticus theme is a heavy burden for me; it is like a bleeding wound.” He was silent for a while, leaned back into his armchair and looked up relaxed, “it may by all chance lie on your shoulders… I wish it wouldn’t,” he murmured sadly. “But the way they chose is their will, and we haven’t got the right to intervene; there is no God’s blessing for it.” This time Rono did not ask for comments. Sir Henry went on with his talk explaining why the Indegromaticus race was unvanquished on the Earth. The adapted 38

Indegro, embodied in people, intellectually surpassed their parents. Their souls enjoyed the possibilities of human brain; survival instincts written down in the gene memory helped them make bright political carriers placing Indegro to ultimate posts. Mason lodges and other secret societies were, naturally, the driving force. The popped up “brethren” accompanied with applauds and ringing glasses would rapidly upraise the hierarchical and political stairs; they soon ousted their teachers all over the world. Indegro seemed to possess a specific sense which allowed them to distinguish their race – as we distinguish the dog-rose from the noble flower. This inner sense, sort of wolf’s flair, helped them gather around the powerful pyramid and dictate their will to the terrestrials via various political parties. The sealed country became an ideal polygon to test their gene technologies. Outstandingly intelligent, they advanced easily solving various challenges. By the mid of XXI century Indegro puzzle became uncontrolled – like a swarm of locusts, immune and invincible, which spread their wings on the secret plantations of the Soviet Union.” It was Sir Henry’s firm intention to make Rono be aware of the true past history of the humanity and its current tragedy in order not to be deluded later. Actually, he fought his nephew’s zombified state removing all the modern philosophical clichés from the boy’s memory. He released Rono’s soul and mind from the Indegromaticus informational nets. Once again was the young man shocked; his thoughts confused, he did not even suspect his mind had been affected ideologically by a hostile civilization. He and clowns like him appeared to be only guests at a monstrous lying masquerade of life; with sorrowful hearts they had to observe the seething show through the cut in the buffoon’s masque without right or possibility to intervene. “After you told me your story, uncle,” Rono uttered gloomily grinning, “I just don’t want to share the planet with those villains.” He clenched his fists, his eyes glared. “Is that why they shot at the Olimpus? Your personal transformer? Did the bastards dare to threaten your life?” But the Lionheart did not know the worst; he could not even suppose his relative’s days were numbered, he had been chased in Magman. Some clever clerk in the president’s environment had already revealed Sir Henry’s enigmatic nature; he recognized the bold spirit who dared to challenge Indegro race by taking the highest post in the history of the Earth. Henry Mowdy forethought what was to happen; he had always been a pace ahead of his followers – that is why he wanted to quickly pass all his knowledge to Rono in order to save his life; for it was Rono who was to release people from the alien captivity. “Calm down, Ronnie, do not forget where you are and what you are! I shared my knowledge not to harden your heart; I don’t want you to hate those wretched, for they are not to be blamed – they only fought to survive on a hostile planet, didn’t they? Who could predict the result? They failed because they lacked strength to bring up their souls using human genome and flesh; and we – we lacked love to warm those precious and needed shoots of reason from the far space. Do we have the right to judge what happened?” Sir Henry was strict. “Please do react correctly to what I say; please remember that humanity perished due to hate and absence of compassion to soviet people. Don’t you want to start with premature steps?” Tense silence filled the study. 39

“Don't grow hot, have mercy,” he continued after a while. “Let me give you some simple analogies. Millions years ago the climatic change caused dinosaurs to perish. Are mammals to be criticized? Are they, as more advanced evolutionally, to be accused of the lack of reverence to their less fit predecessors? Natural selection does exist in each of the space corner; it is our corner’s turn today. Humankind has to leave its planet in order to give place to fitter ones. Unfortunately, the commonwealth failed. But the uniqueness of life is not in its material aspect; it is the soul that makes it invaluable. Finding some planet to live on is not a labour; what to do with souls distorted by Indegromaticus, that is the question. How should these be led to salvation?” By this time Rono, though with much effort, had worked out some logical scheme of what he had learnt but his uncle’s last phrase shuffled everything again. He tried hard to think over what he had heard. Completely lost, he wanted to ask all the questions which wormed in his embarrassed mind, but did not dare to ask any. “Ronnie, do understand me correctly,” Sir Henry addressed him again. “All I have told you today is for you of today. Imagine a ten-year curious-eyed boy longing to know how the engine of the Olympus works. You would not tell him that the basis of antigravity force is live microorganisms, hundreds of species of rarest bacteria forming the reactor nucleus, would you? You will not go into detail writing formulae of complicated chemical reactions which occur in the biomass, turning it into antimatter? Looking into the boy’s praying eyes, you would not add some impressive facts and figures about the power accelerators and systems controlling the change of draft of the reactor, will you, dear? Setting an example with Browny-Mozy’s formula and mentioning – just touching – the work principles of the novel engines for spaceships of the future?” asked Sir Henry sarcastically. “But it is not the point. Your next question will be: ‘Where’s the boy?’” And he burst into merry laughter. “And where is this clever and curious-eyed boy?” he asked again without waiting his nephew to retort. “He is sick and tired listening to your lecture, and left you riding your hobby-horse alone. I hope I persuaded you, didn’t I?” “Oh yes, you always use most illustrious examples, thanks. Should we have attended your lectures at Harvard, I would have saved your time today,” smiled Rono. He was fairly impressed by his uncle’s words. “I was anxious indeed, Ronnie, not to make you bored with all that is happening on Earth now, and I am really glad you are not. Well, Ronnie, it is the fourteenth day that you are staying here, in Quanderon,” Sir Henry said thoughtfully, “It’s time to sum up, I believe. Your soul has gone through four trials, rising four spiritual steps. Aren’t you curious to listen to the story of your climb?” Rono nodded. “The first trial caught you at the castle gates; it was unearthly, overwhelming fear that guards the borderline and that you could overcome. This terrifying fear did not stop the man called Rono, and he went on going ahead to his aim. The next and most complicated one was waiting for you after you had passed the gate. The moment Sir Henry uttered the word Quanderon Rono remembered immediately what had happened to him there; he got pale, his eyes filled with tears of bitterness and compassion; he pitied his soul. His heart sank; with his inner sight he saw the trial once again. 40

“You felt the presence of death,” Sir Henry proceeded giving him a wistful gaze, “you were really dying. Your life nearly ended; but you managed to release yourself from your ‘material cell’ and asked Almighty God for help. You had enough courage to realize all your mistakes and to repent. The adaptation was the third trial; you had to preserve your psychic health in order to go through the stages of perfection here. Linda helped you with it. When the spacecraft with a young man inside was flying over the beastly scene reproduced in my creative laboratory, you felt an incredible pity, you felt desperate, and your tears opened your heart. All my life had I been waiting for it. You faultlessly overcome the obstacle sent by the Maker. The fourth trial has just finished. It is your mind that was tested this time. All you heard is a torture for human brain, stupefied by Indegro. You endured it; your ideological cell broke, and you fainted. You fancied you were sleeping but it was different. When the cell was knocked down your soul released; your spirit approached his beloved for the first time. They both touched your mind as two wings helping your human nature to reach the longed balance. Something incredible,” Sir Henry proceeded excitingly; “you got ‘A’ for all the exams! My congratulations, darling! I will pray God for your future,” he said gladly and solemnly. “And don’t you know why your spirit could not appear earlier?” he suddenly asked. Rono looked inquiringly into his uncle’s eyes, and shrugged: he did not have a slightest idea. “Don’t you be bothered, you did not have to. If once this happened, your soul would rush madly to meet it forgetting its spiritual bonds, desperately breaking its wings over the invisible obstacle, and was bound to perish in the face of your miserable spirit… If a bird is in a cage, don’t sing it of love.” “I cannot believe it all occurred to me.” Rono’s voice was weak and weary. “Uncle Henry, it’s for the first time I feel that uneasy; my brain is rioting; anxiety clutches my heart, it is pounding and aching, I am sick and dizzy, I am going to faint…” “Rono, you’ll recover in a while; you are going to be the one you’ve always been – a free person. Your heart is being filled with the warmth of love, your soul rejoices; let this joy of today never quit you. When again on the Earth, do keep this fire, do pass its healing waves to the generations to come; do reveal the human tragedy to them, let them know. You are the last to show people the road from Indegro’s jail.” Sir Henry filled the glass with wine, and raised it. “You’re parting your youth and I drink for your maturity; there is no more a naïve lad named Ronnie, there is a man – Sir Rono Mowdy – the warrior of light, who raises the smiting sword and stands to fight for his planet. He belongs to himself no more; he meekly bends to his Maker’s feet. His will is now your will, Rono; your heart is being filled with virtue of His Soul. I am drinking for you!” He emptied his glass solemnly and embraced his nephew. Then he approached the bookcase with antique prints, took one of them, and put it carefully on the table. His face was neither sad, nor pitiful or anxious; the Earth’s recent governor was strictly gazing at Rono, which meant the only thing – to yield to his will and follow his way. “This is the book of a Russian writer,” he said confidently, “who managed to foretell – long before the unification – that Barcelona would become the world capital. 41

He turned right, as you see; but it is not with this stunning coincidence that the book captures. The author was born in the Soviet Union in the sixties, he lived in the new Russia and was the first to raise the Indegromaticus issue; he revealed the very essence of them and gave our civilization the unique chance to solve this extremely complicated problem. The book became a major focus of public attention; nevertheless, the humanity didn’t hear him warning the approaching catastrophe. Science fiction, mysticism, esoteric writing, the author’s delirium at last – everything was implied but the true purport. Unfortunately, people didn’t unite their efforts; it was only Russians, British and Chinese who learned from the sacred pages. When the last human bastion surrendered, the book vanished from the Earth forever. Bur here, in my creative workshop,” Sir Henry smiled enigmatically, his eyes glaring with joy, and uttered a forever phrase of Michael Bulgakov, ‘Manuscripts wouldn’t burn!’ “Reading this book, my dear, is your fifth and last trial,” he pointed to the voluminous black-leather-covered manuscript.” Your time is limited; you are given not more than ten days, which you will pass here, in my study. When you have finished, I will be the first to know and we’ll meet then for the last time. Not to touch the book is my only request. “How then shall I read it?” The young man asked in surprise. “This is not an ordinary book, it will let you in, when it knows you’re ready. Strange, isn’t it?” “Yes, Uncle Henry, like everything here in Quanderon, - Rono answered goodnaturedly. “Right you are, boy; this is so and never otherwise. Well, good luck, hope you won’t be bored. And don’t you worry of the meals; there will be plenty. You will be cared of.” “I hope your transparent waiters will guess all my whims and wishes.” Sir Henry smiled, hugged his nephew and left him alone with the wonderful book. Rono was long reluctant, as if something prevented him from a decisive step. In about an hour an affable Mr. Greendwut brought him his supper, and Rono recollected his uncle’s advice of having a hearty meal before reading. After supper he felt he was wasting time and approached the desk where the priceless copy was lying. On the black cover, he saw several words with bold letters glowing gold: The Vessel for the Elected. He examined the book curiously, noticing nothing special, recollected his uncle’s warning, sat beside and pondered. It seemed not that odd after all he had experienced in Quanderon. His eyes were staring the black cover with the engraved golden letters in the middle, but the book lied still as everything else was still on his uncle’s desk. Rono comforted in his armchair and waited. An hour passed; the other went away; Rono was getting bored. He yawned several times; eventually he felt sleepy. His neck muscles uncontrollably relaxed, his head bent onto the desk, his body involuntarily followed. The slight touch was enough to arouse his dreaming consciousness. When he sat wide awake, the book was not lying, it was standing opposite him with its cover open, radiating a violet glow from inside. Rono tried to read the text that emerged on the pages, – the inner glow became brighter, almost blinding him. As the paralyzing flash died off, he found himself in the middle of a huge sphere whose walls seemed to be made of organic greenish-glowing panels. Soon they shaped into a huge hemispheric display where the title of the book was replicated – The 42

Vessel for the Elected. Peering into it, Rono did not notice the moment he rose above the Earth, into the clouded skies, hovering as a big bird. From the bird’s sight he could discern some unknown town and a big white steamer leaving the landing-stage. Approaching the earth he saw the gilded domes of churches, the square by the tram rails, where flute melodies and guitar rhythms were heard; crowds of people, ridiculous colorful balloons, rising high up the sky, and suddenly, as if through the water-filled bottle, he was shown a smiling toddler, riding his father’s neck. The naughty boy’s laughter pierced Rono’s kind and romantic soul… he plunged into the long-perished stories inapt to distinguish between a fancied world and the borderlines of reality. The mysterious black book got hold of his attention completely.


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