In the shadow of the stolen light

Nika Veresk
In the shadow of the stolen light


“Is it from Andre Mendes? teachings?”

“It’s not that literal,” answered Lora. “Everyone understands it differently.”

“I’d like to learn a little more about his theory.”

“All the information is in the central computer. You can also ask for help from any guide at any school.”

“A guide?”

“Yes, guides are people who help us study Andre Mendes’ philosophy and reach the inner equilibrium.”

“Can’t you teach me?”

“Enlightenment is a special gift, and the guides are naturally gifted. I can’t say the same about me…”

The earthling nodded.

“So I’ll have to sit at the school desk again!”

“Here, look!” Lora noticed a green light on the right. The glow was growing brighter and brighter with every second and soon the planet’s contour emerged as well.

“I thought Taria looks like Earth…”

“Hardly,” Lora shook her head. “The green luminosity of the planet is due to the gases accumulated in the top layers of its atmosphere. Only 30 percent of the light of the Doht, the star that gave name to the whole system, passes through the clouds.” She paused and then added, “Looking at these huge planets populated by billions of living beings, it sometimes seems to me that our fleet looks like a grain of sand lost in the vastness of the Universe.”

“It’s sometimes not so bad to be a tiny and unnoticeable grain of sand,” Derek tried to be funny. “Especially, when there are plenty of hostile aliens all around you.”

“Not many of them are hostile,” began Lora, but then stumbled realizing that her companion rose up from his chair and was now standing on his own legs, leaning a little on the glass.

“I’ve decided not to warn you about my intention,” Derek smiled, “to avoid the unnecessary stir.”

Frozen, Lora was watching the earthling. He cleared his throat.

“I’m fine.”

“I see,” she finally said, “This is great!”

He nodded.

“Despite the popularity of transport means on electromagnetic pillows here, I’d prefer to walk from now on. Shall we?”

“Sure!”

Amused, Lora was watching with how much effort her new friend applied to be able to walk. Despite the Council’s reservations, it seemed to Lora that she had come to know Derek very well in the past few days. He surprised her with his perseverance, hard work and energy. However, notwithstanding his obvious character virtues, the earthling was still far from having the inner equilibrium, inherent to all Titanium citizens. The latter remained calm and rational in any situation, trusting their intuition and accepting everything with wisdom. Derek’s behaviour was often quite the opposite of that. His feelings were contradicting, reactions unexpected, while his emotions were so strong that they drowned out the voice of reason.

Some days later, Lora and Derek came to have lunch in the canteen of the ‘Unity’ building. Lora’s first and foremost obligations as a junior Council member constantly demanded her presence. That’s why the majority of the day was spent doing her main job, while she met Derek closer to the evening.

“This time I’ll order food myself,” said the young man taking a seat. His hand swiped the sensor panel making a holographic menu appear over the table.

“Now choosing as if touching the names of the desired dishes…”

Derek was precisely repeating the instructions given by Lora during their first lunch together.

The young lady nodded contentedly when her companion easily completed the set task. After a few seconds, the central part of the table moved apart and two metal holders lifted a tray with two white food containers.

“Here you are, help yourself! But what did I choose?” Derek hesitated a little.

“Hm…” with pretentious seriousness Lora peeked under the round lids. “There’s an omelette with meat and an apple pie with raisins.” She moved the containers, which now looked more like plates, closer to her companion. “Here you are.”

“A typical omelette. Where do people keep the chickens that make these eggs?”

“Nowhere,” Lora shrugged, “The majority of the groceries are artificially produced from proteins, fats and carbohydrates…”

Derek was about to swallow a bite. He paused, not sure whether to continue with the meal.

“It’s just named like that!” hastily Lora calmed him down, “The taste, the texture, and nutritional value correspond to those of the natural products. You should be convinced by now!”

The young man finished chewing and gave her a cunning grin.

“Just kidding.”

“We only grow fruit and vegetables. There are several plantations on Titanium.”

“How old are you, Lora?” suddenly asked Derek, moving his glance hidden behind the dark glasses away from the meal to Lora.

“Twenty-two.”

He slightly moved his head away.

“I didn’t mean to ask personal questions… The doctor said the tests have shown that my biological age is about twenty-seven years old. But I don’t remember even one year of my past life. Do you have parents?”

“Of course, I do,” affirmatively nodded Lora. “Unlike eggs, people are born naturally here. My parents live on the Epsilon, one of the five satellite ships of Titanium. They spend most of their time in scientific expeditions. They are astrophysicists. We don’t see each other very often.”

“What about when you were a kid?”

“Parents care for their children until they are five years of age on Titanium. After that the young generation enters the educational programme. There are guides and teachers of different subjects, who pass the knowledge accumulated by the past generations to the young citizens.”

“It must be hard to get separated from your parents at such a young age.”

“Why would you think that?”

“On Earth the bonds between children and parents are unbreakable. They stay together and show their love and affection.”

“I love my parents,” agreed Lora, “And they love me too. Certainly, the strength of our feelings doesn’t depend on distance.

“Are you forced to send your children away?”

“Of course, not!” Lora was shocked, “Everything we do is done of our own free will. We have no laws.”