Of Breaking Waves — continued

 

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“He knew.  I’m not infinitely strong.  I’ve had gifts longer.  That helps.  Their gifts limit themselves.   If they want extra power, it’s a real struggle for them.  I know how to call power, all I want.   If I don’t mind wrecking myself up.  I get attritted calling my gifts.  My limit is that attrition kills me if I go too far.”

“Attrition?”

“Star could spend all day slicing tanks to ribbons, no sweat.  When Comet crashed out, when you met us, she’d done thirty hours without sleep and twenty billion lightyears, carrying more weight than she should, in twenty hours.  But me?  Anything I do hurts me, a bit.   Luminosa wiped me out, enough so I was half-conscious for a day.  And there’s long-term damage: When I get home, I forget using gifts for a couple weeks.  Or I’m in real trouble.”

“You’d be welcome to stay here permanently,”Pickering exuded total sincerity. 

Eclipse shook her head. “My pets wouldn’t like that.  Ponies get lonely.  The cats would start to get wild.  Besides, I want to go home.  Sleep in my own bed.  No matter that you gave me the most wonderful bedroom I could ever imagine.  Lots nicer than mine.  It’s just not home.”  She returned to her original conversation.  “I said I came to apologize.  I haven’t.  We promised we’d go away.  But I haven’t.  I don’t have an excuse.  I, I just couldn’t face the trip, not twice across the universe, not until I’d healed up a bit.”

“No one here would fault you,”answered Pickering.  “Indeed, if you promised to let us work our own justice under our own laws, in our own terribly inefficient way, no one would be upset if you remained here forever.  Certainly no one, except a few politicians afraid for their necks,  minds if you spend the night.”

She smiled shyly. “If you put it that way.  But in the morning I’ll go.  I have two other good-byes to make.  I left some things to do back at home.”

Pickering set out dinner.  Eclipse was girlishly polite, ready to make conversation, but obviously ravenously hungry. 

 “I hear.  I accept your apology.  Say no more.   Tell me, though.  What is your community, to which you are gift-true?” he asked. 

“My community?” She seemed taken aback, sampling the food to postpone answering his question. “My community is the one you always have to live with.  The one you carry with you.  It’s — all the hero tales and books you read, everything your mom tells you.  They’re in your mind.  You have to live with them.  You can’t ever leave them.”  She finished another mouthful of cous-cous.  “I’m alone.  Alone as you can get, in my world.  My community is me.  And my past.   Did you ever read Cicero’s {\em On Duty}? “

“A fine, inspirational work, scarcely read in these unfortunate and decadent times,”responded Pickering. 

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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2 Responses to Of Breaking Waves — continued

  1. fredericmora
    fredericmora says:

    At the end of the previous book, Eclipse’s long-estranged mother visits our Earth. So they are currently not too far from each other. Any chance for a reunion?

    • George Phillies – Worcester, MA – science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
      George Phillies says:

      Not going to happen. If it did, all the good things that Eclipse did would be undone. Also, she returned before her Mom showed up, and is leaving before her Mom showed up.

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