part 11 of many
Gary Baker, April 2013
(from the Corporal Roi excerpts)
Corporal Roi Anxo knelt in complete darkness, awaiting the next move. He felt his hands on a solid-yet-invisible flooring beside his left leg beneath his chin, like a runner lunging, ready to begin the race.
But where was the gunshot to indicate a start?
He reached his awareness outward like a cloud, trying to get a grip on his surroundings. No sound came to him, nothing reflecting from surrounding objects so he knew he wasn’t in a room of some kind, yet no echoes of wind came to reveal his being outdoors.
Then a light pricked the oblivion above him. Distant and miniscule, while a light nonetheless. It was followed by another to Roi’s left, then another behind him, another above him, and yet another beneath him preceding an explosion that turned the oblivion into a virtual universe of starlight consuming his surroundings. Galaxies rode the unseen waves of the antimatter thrown off by age-old black holes and waves of cosmic strife.
Roi stood at the heart of the universe looking out upon the vastly improbable number of planets, stars, cosmic clouds, and debris that made up existence. He stared in awe as he watched objects move at what seemed the most likely speed they would have in reality, his eyes drawn to points where light shot out in sudden bursts of reds, yellows, blues, and even hues of green as tiny stars collapsed into supernovae.
Curious, the corporal stepped forward and found that he stood on a platform unseen, that he could move freely about as the lights moved through him like a hologram. Eyes wide he spun about looking here and there frantically. The sudden lust-like urge to know where he was, to truly see that lonesome place in the heavens where he resided in relation to the rest of the picture, took him by surprise.
Then he saw it, a small clustered galaxy swirling around a thin beam of energy emissions, appearing more like a half-opaque top than the home of his entire species.
It took a quick trot to cross the darkness between his initial position at the heart of a spherical cluster before he reached the outer arms of the Milky Way. He then made his way through and began weaving amongst the stars looking for clues that might lead him to his own solar system. Now and then he knelt to peer at a particular star, when the universe acted on his whim and zoomed in to the point of bringing him face to face with a blue star, or a white dwarf there, with shoots of molten plasma arcing out like arms embracing the surrounding emptiness.
Startled, Roi jolted his head back and the universe followed suit.
The corporal let out an unheeded laugh, then looked around with renewed vigor; now he could find his home. Now he knew what he was doing, toying with the infinite possibilities given only the nonmortals written of in tome after tome.
Like a child, Roi greedily scoured the heavenly lights for what seemed like hours until he alit upon something familiar, a trailing wisp of yellow and green led by a ball of white and blue. It arced toward him from around his left shoulder, through his chest and into the blackness behind him again. Curious, he turned to follow it and was brought back, years back, until he was standing on a hill in his youth watching the very same object streak across the sky.
His father stood at his side like a sentinel of even greater depth than the heavens, the nightly shaded grass at his feet caressing with a lovers touch between his bare toes. The sky had been a realm of impure lore for Roi back then. While gazing deep into the abyss of space he had always wondered if light was really the backdrop, if there were once so many stars that the skies had been a virtual negative of this, and that at one point perhaps the dark had spread out and across.
It was a silly thing to him now, after class after class of mechanical physics that had more than proved it wrong by a long shot, yet nonetheless something had incessantly kept him dreaming.
“Halley's Comet!” He breathed.
In truth, the corporal knew, it had been this comet that had brought Roi to the idea that light could actually be a physical force, that pieces of light in the sky such as comets were actually so much more. To his youthful mind he had believed them fragments of stars themselves, that these chunks of flying light actually indicated the expanses of unending light from so long ago.
Following the comet’s arc, much like he had so many years ago, Corporal Roi Anxo turned to face the star it encircled and zoomed in until he found a tiny gleaming ball of yellow and orange. Aqueous plumes of fiery magma spouted from the Polaris-facing pole harbinging a troublesome few months ahead for satellites in Earth’s orbit, while a minute ball of matter orbited around.
Roi glanced at the form, noting it’s greenish hue on the side facing the sun as molten core samples not found anywhere else. He watched as the boiling surface cooled in the line of dusk, becoming solid stone by the time it reached midnight for the poor infant planet.
“Mercury!” The corporal whispered in awe.
This was it. This was the solar system he had hoped to find.
With excitement fueling his very existence Roi turned from the star and child to look for the next planet in the cycle, Venus. It didn’t take long, Mercury and Venus were quite far from one another, but with the greater-cosmic ability to zoom in and out at different angles all Roi had to do was think the universe tilted to look at the entirety of the area as though on a table. From there it was just a matter of looking for movement, and counting his way outward.
Luckily Earth wasn’t far off either, in fact it was almost in line with Venus off merely by minor degrees on the compass. While Venus was glorious in her gaseous yellow dress, twirling like a practiced ballerina followed by a tiny asteroid in orbit around her ankles, Earth called his eyes like a lighthouse beacon in the dark of the night on a craggy fragmented coast.
If Venus was glorious, Roi noted, the ‘little blue marble’ was undefined in its beauty. The goddess of the realm had chosen well her home to build an empire, not too far from her life-giving sun, and yet not quite close enough to burn. Her moon in orbit held the worst of asteroids off like a shield, pockmarked on her dark side like a teenager in high school, and her poles with lesser protection from the outer elements of the universe were showing signs of eventual melting which might allow the magnetism to one day change and rekindle lost energy.
“Mercury?” The sudden sound of a voice shook Corporal Roi from his awed stupor and he spun about to find the source. “Mercury... ste... cudo?” The voice asked again.
“What?” Roi let out in baffled wonder. “Who’s there?”
The sound of shuffling echoed across to Roi from the rough approximation of Jupiter, soon followed by the sight of a man with slick spiked black hair in black slacks and a Bond-like suit. “Kteri... je Mercury... mluvite?”
Roi watched the man with wary curiosity. Seeing the man scowl while trying to summon his words, Roi pointed to himself, “I... don’t... understand.”
The man paused, chin in his hand, and thought hard with a look of serious consternation. He held there, appearing to float in space like some magnificently preposterous mothership of an alien race hell-bent on becoming the human race without even a hint of contact.
Finally the man’s eyes lit with a gleam of cheer, and he smiled. “Saubari?... Malhada? ...Falar?” Still Roi watched as though in the presence of a madman, still unsure what had brought such a person into his dream. What must have given his mind such a track to run? How had he gone from glamorous stellar astronomy to curious psychology?
Yet the man went on, still trying for something, anything, with growing desperation. “Tala? Hovorit? Vao? Hablar?”
It hit the corporal like a brick to the face, the word virtually bringing a clatterous upheaval to the whole of the universe.
Hablar; the Spanish word meaning ‘to speak’. Suddenly it all made sense. Each word had been as various as the size of the points of light in the night sky, yet just the same they had all sounded human-enough to be considerably meaningful... most likely meaning the same thing as hablar.
The man spoke tons of human languages, but knew not which one Roi might use on a regular basis.
“English,” the corporal told him, “I speak English.”
The man hesitated as his eyes flickered about, then suddenly straightened his spine in obvious delight. “Yes!” He screamed, “most definitely! Heretofore whence out there must all yonder freight come to pass, my good fellow homo erectus?”
Roi exhaled slowly, “um... sure.”
The man shook his head, lifted his eyes to his skull again, then once more looked to Roi with the appearance of proposed understanding. “Better now?”
A laugh escaped the corporal’s lips and the feeling of finality came to him, bringing with it an ecstatic awe. “Much better,” Roi laughed.
“Good.” The man stepped closer to the little blue planet and gazed down on it with an appraising look. “Now,” he turned to Roi with both hands clasped behind his back, his tone business-like and his posture even more. “We have much to talk about, you and I.”
Taken aback, Corporal Roi Anxo looked cross. “And just who might you be?”
The answer was simple. A statement as seriously real as the look of humorlessness set upon his face. “I am the liaison between your kind and the galactic powers that be.”