Little Cherine Book 06 - BPost001
Dark Cloud woke up in the morning to the warmth of Empathia, who had snuggled against her. She frowned, checked that she really was asleep and then softly ran her hand over her hair, a soft feathery caress and then she withdrew into herself again. Her eyes fell on her sword and they brightened, a cunning look on her face.
“Ask them. I do not want them to say I hurt an infant, they must know it was your idea, that you asked me.”
“But I did! They would see it in my memories.”
“You may not have any memories if you guessed wrong. Final death you called it? This is what I am going to do. I will swing the sword at your neck. If it cuts you it means you were never a Qkwesinitie but if you were, then you are dead forever.”
“Why my neck? I thought you would only cut my arm.”
With contempt she replied, “You are afraid. You said this sword could not hurt the innocent, but now you do not believe your own words.”
“I said it will cut the flesh only, not the soul! This was meant to be a sword for souls, steel bites flesh, magical or not.”
“You said it cannot kill unless all the children have died. You must risk it all. Either I kill your soul or cut your head off or else you are right and nothing happens to you.”
Cherine turned to Robbie, “Is the protector watching her?”
“Protector.” He appeared. “Empathia is prime, same as all my loves. If she agrees and lets Dark Cloud try to cut her head off, see to it that our baby comes to no harm.”
“I cannot guarantee it Robert. You have given her a weapon that draws its power from the void.”
Seeing him worried we all felt afraid. He sat biting his nail. “No point in my sheathing her in a shield, the two energies meeting would be just as catastrophic.”
“Then we must stop her Robert.”
“No. I want to hear her answer first. There is a difference between bravery and being foolhardy.”
We were close to rebellion, but Cherine put her hand in his and looking him in the eyes said, “Don’t let my baby be hurt Robert.”
Earnestly Empathia said, knowing she has two hearts. “No, not my neck, I‘d look silly without a body. You can stick your sword into my heart, if it goes in, I should also die.” She stuck her finger into her chest to show where her heart is. Dark Cloud put a hand over her own chest and felt the beating. She nodded her agreement.
Quickly I said, “Robert, what if her soul was at one time a Qkwesinitie? We can’t risk it!”
“Are you saying that damn sword would sense what she was millions of years ago?” We did not know, but the fear in our eyes was all the answer he needed. He jumped.
As he arrived he sat down. “At your games again I see Dark Cloud. I have been watching and when I saw you had tricked my daughter, I thought I’d come out here and even things out a little. When the sword was offered to you, you were told it cannot kill the soul unless certain conditions are met, but you have twisted the words to provoke Empathia into allowing you to kill her body. You demand my daughter takes a risk, but you offer nothing in return. Empathia, if you lose, she will not use the sword on herself and even if she tried it would not work. I’ve come with a proposal of my own.
You think of yourself as an avenger Dark Cloud, no pity and no mercy for any of your enemies, is that right? You’ve been playing a game with me as your pawn, not Empathia. You knew I would come and stop you, as I cannot know whether she was a Qkwesinitie millions of years ago or not.
I’m not going to stop you. Kill her, give her final death if the sword so wills it. We even the stakes though. First you give me your word that after this test, whatever the outcome, you allow me to carry you to your over-soul. You will take the sword with and you must swing it at every single soul in there, that includes those who died as children. That is the easy part Dark Cloud, for I know it will please you to cleanse your own souls of the taint. Now the part that makes the cost to you equal to the price I pay. You will enter and do as I told you and then leave without at any time telling them why you are doing it. You will leave there as their enemy. I would not be surprised to find out you will be hated more than the Qkwesinitie.”
Her face tight with her hate she replied, “It will be worth it.”
“Fine, then I have your word?” He smiled. “By the way, did I mention that while there, as the void, I checked on the history of the souls of your people? I think it was close to all of them had lived a life as Qkwesinitie since your people had nowhere else to get souls from at that time. I guess you won’t have to worry about them hating you since most of them will be dead.” He gave her another gentle smile. “You think that is my revenge? You are wrong Dark Cloud. You will be alone and filled with one doubt - and that is my revenge. You will have to wonder whether it was a Qkwesinitie soul that killed them after all. Since you are made up of five souls, I’d say the chances that you are tainted are excellent. I love irony.”
Robbie knew that though she was made of old souls, taken from mature and clever to the ways of the world personae, she also was housed within the body of a child plus the melding of the souls would have affected her. It seemed to be working as we saw her waver, not believing him, but not absolutely certain of herself either.
Empathia spoke up, her voice strong and determined. “No, this is not what I wanted. Dark Cloud, I don’t want to do this anymore, do you mind?”
“It was always your decision.” She could not hide her relief from our keen senses and we laughed with joy that her stupid test had been aborted.
Empathia reached up and not knowing what she wanted Dark Cloud lowered her face. Her startled reaction was almost comical when Empathia kissed her cheek.
“I think I better go so that he leaves you alone. I promise I’ll be back soon. You’re a great friend!” She stood next to Robbie, not giving him her hand as we’d have done, and they jumped home. Soon as they arrived she ran to her mother, gave her a kiss and cheerfully waved to all of us and ran to her own cottage.
I grinned. “Aganthi, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea building me that house.”
“It has had its uses Sammy mou.”
I had to laugh. “Yes, now Richard thinks he has a home of his own on Freddie.” There were a number of smiles at the memory. I giggled. “I wonder if he’s told anyone in Cyprus about it. Can you imagine?”
Robbie was already heartsore, missing his new daughter. “Cherine love, for how long is her banishment supposed to last?”
“She’ll know when it is time for her to return.”
Dommi shook her head, puzzled by Cherine. “A day old baby!”
Lynda put down her book and left the house. We sensed her going to Empathia.
Robbie grinned. “Well, well! Our baby seems to be reaching out to some very strange people.”
We did find it strange when Empathia made herself a baby again for Lynda to hold in her arms. She drew Lynda into her mind and Lynda tried to play puppy with her. She ended up mirroring their bodies by holding Empathia within her. Dommi only shook her head slightly, perhaps feeling vindicated in her belief that Empathia had needed to be held. Cherine did not seem at all perturbed and carried on with what she was doing. None of us were surprised when Lynda collected her things and moved over.
Apart from keeping an eye on Dark Cloud, we were gifted with a few days of tranquillity. When we noticed a change in Iniquion and we queried Fe’jene, her joy almost explained to us what had happened before her words did. He has polarised on her and is attracted by the female in her - sexually of course. Robbie made slight alterations to the boat, adding a luxurious cabin suitable for the two of them, placed food of theirs in the pantry and offered the boat to them for a week. Shyly she asked if they can adopt a custom of ours. We decided that if it is to be done correctly we have to bring Alki. Then I asked if Su’phon can be her bridesmaid and then added it is time her own male is brought. Looking a little harassed Robbie agreed.
“Do we just bring Alki, or everyone waiting for us?”
Dommi insisted it has to be Alki only. She insisted, even though Latreia said she would not mind if we got married here and now. I don’t think Dommi was affected by the knot of anxiety in Agapi. She felt we had promised Latreia the paradox of her being married to us before she is born and we should stick to our arrangements - fourteen million years in the past is not keeping to our offer? (Her wedding anniversary would not be Earth time Sam, it would be Freddie time which means it would be the date we return home.)
“What if we all went there? We could have the weddings and after celebrating with our guests we could return here without worrying how long we have to stay here.”
Though his suggestion was reasonable, most of us decided we did not want to. He did not argue and called for the protector. I interrupted him.
“Robert, could Allan come with?”
“Not yet please.” We did not blame her for wanting to postpone facing her family, it is never pleasant hurting those you love. Before the protector left, Wendy had a quiet word with him.
It took a few days for all our guests to arrive, but the time was used constructively by us. We helped Fe’jene design according to their customs the clothing she needed, the same for Iniquion and then of course all the bridesmaids had to have suitable clothing. Robbie took cuttings of a number of bougainvilleas of different colours and planted them by the taverna. Whether he localised the time or used some other energy, we do not know, but within three days they had grown and covered the patio and the building itself. He changed the topography, creating a small hill close by and placed upon it an exact copy of our old broken down church from Athens. To keep the same atmosphere, he studded the hill with rocks. It did look a bit odd, sticking out, unable to blend in with the gentle scenery around it.
It was wonderful having Alki and the rest with us. Empathia was caught up in the excitement and did not wander off. She kept a body age of about six and Lynda spent almost all her time with her, the tiny hand of Empathia within hers. Whenever they did disappear, it was to either go to their home or out in some distant fields where Lynda would regress herself to about the same age as Empathia and they’d play together. Just once, Empathia aged herself to an adult, but within minutes of Lynda seeing her, she jumped back home and reverted to six again.
Dark Cloud was totally oblivious to us, spending hours sitting with the sword across her lap, lost in her thoughts. We had no doubts she was desperately trying to conceive a plan to be free of us. We would not have worried about it if any such plan had not included the deaths of Merlin and Shiyra. On the third day she got on the sled Robbie had given her and rode it towards the taverna. Robbie called the protector to him and instructed him to watch the two of them. He then jumped to the laboratory and asked Merlin to return with him.
“I have a feeling Dark Cloud has come up with another scheme for attacking the two of you. We ask that you spend the day with us, where I can keep an eye on you.”
“I can protect Merlin, Robert.”
“I have my doubts that the protector and I can Shiyra, that damn sword they gave her cannot be blocked by void energies.”
“How would you stop her then?”
“She remains vulnerable even if the sword isn’t.” He grimaced. “I would prefer to avoid attacking her directly though.”
Alki chose that moment to join them and the conversation changed, he and Merlin soon seating themselves at a table. Shiyra joined me as I tried to plait flowers into headbands for the bridesmaids. She thought it was easy and could not understand why I was making such a mess of it, so I pushed the basket over to her and sat back, letting her have the joy of discovering nimble fingers are not enough.
“Why does Robert allow her to keep the sword if it is so dangerous?”
“The question should be why we gave it to her. Robert would never interfere with anything any of his girls do. His problem,” I smiled, “is that he cannot ask Empathia why she did it, since she rebelled.” I showed her directly the two days and night Empathia spent with Dark Cloud. She frowned.
“One of the family has allied herself with Dark Cloud!?”
“It seems so, I wish I’d thought of it first.”
“You would have!?” She was truly upset. “You would turn against us Samantha?”
“Of course not love. It is important one of us becomes her companion. How else are we to get through her defences, make her hear our words?”
I felt little fingers touch me and I turned to find Empathia by my side. “Sam, have you thought she might need to have someone hear hers?” With that enigmatic smile of hers still on her face she ran back to Lynda.
I pulled a face, “Shiyra, remember she is the one who was attacked by Dark Cloud and felt terrible pain. I cannot say I understand her yet, but I have the feeling she is going to make me feel humbled by her empathy.”
“She is reacting to pain in Dark Cloud?”
“I have not felt any - Cherine, have you?”
“I have not tried to, I doubt anyone has.”
Shiyra bowed her head. “She would not allow me to, but I never thought of looking. All I’d thought she felt was hate.”
Cherine laced her fingers in mine. “It could be that is all we would feel, even if we tried. I think my daughter found a way to understand what lies behind her hate. Sam, it is likely she will upset us…we must not interfere. She might be a baby, but she has the same rights as all of us.”
Shiyra did not look convinced, just troubled. “For there to be pain there must be the ability to love and she has lost it.”
Wendy leant over, “And yet, where there is hate there must be pain. What else did you think feeds hate?”
We felt Lynda searching for Empathia and only then realised she was gone. I jumped to Cherine’s sphere and looked in, searching for the sled. I’d guessed correctly, it was no longer moving towards us and I could see two specks moving by it. I zoomed in and saw Empathia and Dark Cloud. Safe in the knowledge that I would not be invading a personal or private moment I opened myself to Empathia.
“I do not need a guide, I know where your father is.”
“I did not mean where, I meant you need a guide to show you how to talk to him.”
Dark Cloud sneered. “If that was so, why are you not in his arms?”
“I don’t belong to anybody! I choose where I belong and who are my friends!”
“If you are saying you choose me as a friend then you are stupid. I have no need of your friendship. I have sworn to kill your family and that includes you.”
“Even if I am your friend?”
“I told you…”
“It would be interesting. You don’t know what it is like having a friend. I became friends with Lynda and I like having friends.”
Whether she was nonplussed by Empathia’s determination or she had second thoughts, realising she might be able to exploit Empathia’s naivete we don’t know, but she did stay silent for a while, her cold eyes examining the little girl before her.
“How would you have me speak to Robert?”
“I don’t know what it is you want to say. Dark Cloud, for you he is your enemy and yet your life and your soul depend on his goodwill; despite that you do everything you can to antagonise him. Would it not be wiser to try and make him accept you as a friend? Make him think you have changed your mind and want him to bring your people back, let him help them and find new ways to grow strong before you attack. The sword is not a weapon, it is only for you to use when you have won and you want to execute your prisoners.”
I glanced at Robbie as she spoke, but apart from his fingers trembling as he lit a cigarette, his face and thoughts stayed neutral. Even if Empathia has a plan it still made our hearts weep to hear her words and left us all feeling slightly sickened.
“He knows of all words spoken here; do you not fear his anger?”
“I have the right to chose my friends and it is right that I give advice if I see them doing things to hurt themselves.”
“Why would you want to be my friend? I have no feelings for you.”
“They did not love me because I am Empathia, only because they thought of me as theirs. You were the only one I could choose who does not belong to them. I think someday you will like me.”
“If I am to kill them, you would stand at my side?”
“No, they belong to me, I cannot allow it. I will stop you if you try to hurt any Cherinian.”
“Then you are no friend!”
“But I am! You need us Dark Cloud. After you have done whatever it is you wish to do, you and your people will need the Cherinians to help you grow. If you don’t, your people will become as those of Shiyra were at the end.”
Dark Cloud walked away from her and sat on the ground, sword as always on her lap and resting her elbows on her knees she thought deeply. Somehow it seems Empathia had got through to her. Empathia sat on the edge of the sled kicking her feet and humming to herself, her eyes on her ‘friend’.
Without turning, Dark Cloud asked, “He has heard our words, what purpose is there in going to him with false words? He will know them for what they are.”
“Of course he will. He is soft and will want to give you a chance to see for yourself that your false words are true.”
Standing she stared at Empathia. “You give strange advice, but then I have a strange enemy. If you play me false I will use my sword and he can demand his price.”
With a ghoulish grin she replied, “You’ll chop my head off?” She cocked her head sidewise, her eyes no longer those of a child as she stared back. “They named you for your beautiful hair not seeing your name is more than that. Dark Cloud is how I see your mind and words. Dark Cloud was the soul you sent me. What should we call you when the sun shines in you?”
“You are foolish!”
Happily Empathia nodded and climbing aboard, Dark Cloud resumed her journey to us with Empathia clinging to her legs from her sitting position as they sped along.
Robbie had recovered his equanimity and now gave me a challenging grin. “Better watch out Sam, you’ve got competition.”
“I hope she is better than I am, the family and you both deserve it.” That got rid of the amusement he’d been enjoying and Rosie winked at me, her mind bubbling with laughter as she placed a tick on the blackboard she sent me. Robbie saw and laughed.
Cherine spoke urgently, “Robert, you should show anger when they arrive.”
He poked her in the tummy and then annoyed her by tickling her. Gasping for breath when he stopped, she saw her daughter arrive and was aware her face was red and sweaty. Quickly she tidied herself, emoting to Robbie her annoyance. He ignored her and called out to Dark Cloud, a grin splitting his face. “You have come to speak the words Empathia gave you? Come, join us, I wish to hear them from you. She was right, I will accept them in the hope they become true.”
“There is no reason for me to speak what you know.”
“You are wrong, what my daughter said, it is only a voice I love speaking in my heart. I would have you place your words in me so that I am forced to do as you wish.”
Solemnly she walked to him, standing before him straight and proud. “I do not need her words, I came to you for a purpose of my own.” She raised her sword and brought the sharp tip to rest on his hand. Lightly she sliced and while we looked on in shock as we saw the blood, it obviously confirmed her own thoughts. Without taking her eyes from his she raised the sword, placed it across both her palms and offered it to him. “It is not wise to keep an enemy in your home and foolish to provide her with a weapon. I offer this in goodwill, on your promise that you will return it to me without conditions at my request.”
Robbie stood up, bowed to her and took the sword. “You have my word Dark Cloud.” He stood for a moment as if pondering what to do with it and then smiled. The sword rose from his hand and floated to a position above where he normally sits. From it a string of energy glowed, fading away within about two metres.
“Corny, but the right symbol I think.” He explained by telling her the story about the sword of Damocles. “The day you want the sword you cut the string.”
“Pass your hand through it and take the sword by the hilt and it will be yours to do with as you will.”
It took a long time for Jade and Cherine to relax. The rest of us did not see any threat in having the sword hanging over Robbie - we did not really believe it can harm him. When he set us right on that score we all began to stare at it nervously. Anyway, that happened afterwards, once Dark Cloud was gone.
Dark Cloud went to Empathia and taking her hand brought her to stand next to her.
“Your daughter calls herself my friend. What will you do if she comes to agree with my wish for revenge?” She put her arm over Empathia’s shoulders, claiming her, wanting to provoke us.
“It is good that you have a friend. If you are able to convince her Dark Cloud, I will want to see what is in her mind before I decide.”
“Why not look in mine then?”
He found it funny. “You know I cannot. I think you just want me to remove the block.”
Empathia tugged at her arm. “Open your mind to me, I’ll get rid of the block.” Alki gasped audibly and Allan swiftly came to her side. He picked up Empathia and stared into her eyes.
“Empathia Teller, I hope you grow to love me too, you have an amazing heart! You have seen it is time for the block to be removed? We cannot expect her to grow while held as prisoner, only while welcomed as a guest and friend? Show her my little munchkin that there is place for her and her people in our hearts. Why don’t you give her a tiny sliver so that she can feel you with her at all times?”
As tolerant as Robbie can be, this was not something he had expected or was pleased about. Mixed with his dismay at Allan’s words was a great anger.
“Why don’t you give her a sliver Allan?” she sweetly responded.
“No love, not to her or anyone else. Never.” It was obvious he’d expected the anger of Robbie and he stared back at him, as if provoking him to speak. Anxiously I got up and went to Allan’s side.
“Both of you may be right, but it should not be done now. It is time for us to go home after Fe’jene’s wedding. We are all eager to marry Latreia and Agapi. Do it when we return Empathia, we cannot risk her hurting Normals on our world.”
Agapi squeaked in surprise and then began to cry. Forgetting everything else Robbie rushed to her and cradled her in his arms. He wiped her eyes tenderly and then teased her. “Did you think we would let you get away from us? You are in our circle and in our hearts, you are already our wife.”
Allan did not have the good sense to keep quiet. “I’m sorry Sam, I disagree. Dark Cloud made a gesture of trust and we must reciprocate now, not with just a promise for later.” He turned to Dark Cloud. “Life on our world, for the Normal person, is unpleasant and difficult. There is a lot of pain and suffering, but more important to any ethical being, they are innocent of all the Cherinians do. Give us your word please that you will not use your powers to harm anyone while on Earth.”
She sat stiff with pride and for the first time we saw something in her eyes other than hate. Unfortunately it was a hunger that did not bode well for us. “You have my word.” She looked down at Empathia and was surprised to see her lips trembling and tears in her eyes.
“It is not fair! I wanted to do it because I’m your friend and they changed it, making it different.”
“She knows love…” I began to say.
Shocked I saw fury in her eyes. “How dare you! I can understand the others not wanting to be her friend, but you also had a soul of hers in you. You know what they are like, why aren’t you her friend?”
I kept silent, realising even Dark Cloud did not understand.
She clambered onto a chair and on her knees, her face now level she put her hands to her cheeks and stared into Dark Clouds eyes. “Let me in.” She closed her eyes and I put my hands to her, keeping her body in position. We all felt the block fall away. All of us stared at each other in amazement, as if not having believed till now that she really would. I noticed Robbie had let go of Agapi and had moved so that he stood between Dark Cloud and Merlin and Shiyra.
Soon as Dark Cloud opened her eyes she turned and looked at the two of them and they slightly cringed at the look in her eyes. She pushed Empathia away from her and stood up. We thought she would walk away, but instead she grabbed Empathia and placed her on her feet on the chair.
“I remember enough of our past to know you have acted as a friend, so I will not be angered when you call yourself my friend. Perhaps the madness of your family has affected me, but I have decided to give you a warning. I will kill your family and that will include you.” The pain in Empathia’s eyes did not bother her and she locked eyes with me. “You I give warning to also. You dared name me sister to that monster, so now you are my first enemy to be disposed of. I will find a way to inflict pain before you die and break out of your loop so that you cannot return to your family in the past. I promise you final death!”
There was silence, nobody moving. Then Allan touched her. “You will keep your word?”
She spat out her words at him, her voice filled with contempt. “Becoming a Cherinian makes you all stupid! What is my word worth when you are my enemy?”
He kept his face gentle. “What is your word worth to you?”
It looked like she was about to reply ‘nothing’, but instead she turned away and jumped to her home.
Alki sat shaking his head, certain we have all gone crazy and we could sense all our alien friends shared his feelings. I think so did some of us. It was almost ridiculous sensing the way many looked at Empathia, almost as fearful of her now as they are of Dark Cloud. Robbie only stared at Cherine, saw whatever it was he wanted and sat down relaxed, as if he did not have a care in the world, more interested in grabbing Coral (she was the closest) and placing her on his lap.
“Empathia love, we have stood by you, allowed this because you are family. Will you come back?”
“No. I cannot.”
Robbie thought he understood and did not argue. “Whenever love, we will be waiting.”
Our problem now, as we perceived it, was to prevent Robbie from having a go at Allan. Allan walked, talked and acted as if he was blithely unaware of Robbie’s anger still smouldering beneath the surface. We were certain his lack of concern would only make matters worse. Allan walked around until he stood behind Robbie and placed his hands on his shoulders. His fingers dug in and he massaged him. Robbie sat back and let him, slowly relaxing. He chuckled and asked Eleni, “Can I make him a female? I’d like to have a wife who knows how to massage me.”
“Who would massage me then?”
“And me?” Jessie asked.
Robbie tilted his head back and looked up at Allan. “I guess I’ll have to forget that idea.”
“I’m not sure. It might be worth doing for a while - just so that everyone can say you have loved a male.” We all grinned.
“You really don’t know when to stop Allan.” Dommi called out.
“I know, maybe that is why I lost you…Sorry, I meant…forget it!” He walked away, driven by something in him to be alone.
Gently Dommi asked Eleni, “Do you know who she was?”
“Yes, he told me about her. I have offered Dommi.”
“He does not want her!?”
“He told me she had her fair share of opportunities to love him. I was worse to him, do you understand why he does not forgive her?”
“I think she hurt him too much.”
“No.” Cherine said. “Eleni, he expected you to hurt him because of the way you’d grown up. She treated him badly for other reasons, shallow reasons that are not as easy to forgive. Leave the door open in case he decides to change his mind.”
“I think I’m afraid he will.” She looked ashamed of herself.
Cherine laughed, her cheeky look making her enchanting. “I’m not surprised, if he modelled our Dommi on her.”
Dommi said, “If he did Cherine, she must be special since she is the original.”
I disagreed. “No, the opposite is true, you are like Diana, his romanticised version of her.” We could all feel she liked the idea.
“Empathia,” Cherine asked, “Do you trust her, can we return to Earth?”
“I don’t think so mother. I’ll let you know when.” Just like a faint echo in the distance we felt a yearning sadness in her and then she turned to Lynda with a bright smile. “Can we go home now?” We watched them leave with mixed feelings. To be honest, I also find her a little bit scary.
“Alki, you are right, it is unnatural. It might help if you see what has happened while we’ve been here. Allan, Eleni, you also come into my mind.” He was not going to sit there for hours while they rummaged among his memories so he got them to make copies to watch on their own. He knew Cherine was being brave, but she needed to be held and reminded how much she is loved. As always, that was his first priority. It was one of those nights when none of us wanted sex and we let them sleep in each others arms, emoting a purring contentment and warm waves of love.
Lynda came by to get a toothbrush and toothpaste for Empathia, saying that if she is going to adopt the age of six then she has to learn to brush her teeth. As she walked out, she stopped by Cherine and kissed her. In a very soft voice she said to her, “I think she is more of an adult than I am.”
Since Dark Cloud has her powers back we watched with anxiety as Empathia jumped to her. For once she did not speak first and sat by her friend silently.
“I want to see what you really look like.”
Empathia obliged and Robbie and the protector were immediately alert, worried. Dark Cloud did not pick her up, but she pulled her out of her clothing and examined her in detail. She sort of scrunched up her face in disapproval.
“You are ugly. Our infants were beautiful, not like you.”
I think Empathia giggled, or else she did in her mind and was instantly covered in a hazy glow. As it faded away we saw a very strange looking infant lying in her place. Dark Cloud pulled back in shock and then examined her again, far more gently this time. She then sat staring at her for a long time. When she finally looked away, Empathia took back her six year old form and dressed herself again.
“You were hoping to affect me by showing an infant of my species?”
“You wanted it and I did it for you. Did it affect you?”
“Interesting. It would make you weaker if it had?”
Dark Cloud shot her an angry look, but did not reply. Her anger told us she had wanted it, Empathia had guessed right and she did see her need as a weakness.
“I have a question. If I used the sword to cut through the shell of this spaceship, would the sword be strong enough to do so?”
Empathia grinned with pleasure, nodding. “Yes.” Then she frowned. “Maybe it is better you do not. The sword would only cut through the inside shell and at this level the water would spurt through hard enough to kill you. Freddie can fix the hole, but Robert would be annoyed if he has to bring you back to life.”
They sat silently again, Dark Cloud angrily mulling over her answer.
“Go away. I want to be alone.”
“Okay. Can I tell you something before I go without making you angry?” Dark Cloud refused to answer so she continued as if she’d the permission she asked for. “I think you are very interesting, you have clever ideas and I think you are making me love you.”
As Empathia jumped back to Lynda, Robbie said to us, “When she is finished with the two of them we have to see about getting her into a new circle.” We looked at him with shock, even Cherine upset. He continued, as if seriously worried. “I don’t think I dare have her within ours, she’ll manipulate me all the time.” If he said it for Cherine’s sake, to melt her with love and pride for her daughter, he succeeded. As for myself, I had long decided that to try and judge her chances of success with either of them through logic would not make sense. This little girl is a law unto herself.
That evening Empathia changed to an adult and had Lynda show her how to put on makeup.
“When we get back home, can you take me with you to New York? I want to go to a night-club. It would also be nice to know if men think I’m pretty with your makeup.”
“You don’t need makeup Empathia, your Cherinian beauty is enough by itself.”
Empathia smiled to herself as if enjoying a secret she’d understood. “You don’t have to worry Lynda, even if the makeup makes me pretty, I will stay away from any man you like.”
“I don’t like any men! Are you deliberately misunderstanding me or are you trying to provoke me?”
“I don’t know, maybe both or maybe neither. It will be interesting to find out. I think I could like lots of men and since they won’t know I’m just a baby, they might like me also. Do you think they will? Do I look sophisticated enough, should I put on more lipstick?”
“Why are you so different from the others? Even if they put on makeup it is only at home and to play. None of them would dream of trying to make other men like them.”
“That’s because they are silly little girls. Imagine, even Dommi thinks she is being clever by staying a little girl. I bet you they sometimes wish they could be free to flirt and have some fun as adults.”
“Dommi is not silly Empathia, don’t ever say that again. She has found her one real love and doesn’t need other men to make her feel good.”
“I think she is silly. Imagine having to be a little girl all the time! I’m smart so I made sure they didn’t pull me into their circle. I’m going to have some fun first.”
Lynda stared at her, her emoting showing she was dismayed at the way things were going. “You don’t love Robert and the girls?”
“Of course I do.” She leant over confidentially. “Robert has changed you know, he won’t care if I have some fun first, he is used to getting girls who are not virgins. All they have to do is change their age, even by a day and they are virgins again and he is happy. Just think, if Normal women could do that they could make love with any man they want and come back virgins! Wouldn’t that be fun!”
“Where the hell are you getting these ideas from Empathia? Nobody here thinks like that.”
“Some of it from you, but I told you I’m smart, I know how to think for myself you know, I’m not just a baby.”
“From me!” Her face looked as if she had lost all her blood. “I don’t think like that Empathia.”
“You do! You showed me how silly it is to want to be a little girl when it is so much more fun being an adult and free to do what I want. Anyway, why should I have to listen to Robert, just because he is a man? He is my father, but I can do what I like. Can we go to the taverna now?”
“It’s late, are you hungry?”
“I’d prefer the boat, but it’s ready for the honeymoon couple. No, I thought it might be nice to play some music, have a few drinks and dance. I have an idea, but you are going to think it is naughty.”
“This is…you are…”
I hope you enjoy reading this story of fantasy, adventure and love - and should some of it be true for our reality, I hope you will love our Cherine.
Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου(Alexander Zenon Eustace)
6th December, 2019