Journey of Rick Heiden Ch. 27-28


All Rights Reserved © 2019, Rick Haydn Horst

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Growing up a shy, sheltered, closeted gay kid in the American South resulted in experiencing a great deal of school bullying. I tried not to draw attention to myself, to fade into the background and vanish, often longing for the power of invisibility. But I hadn’t recognized that longing, that siren call, as the path of least resistance beckoning me with promises it would never fulfill. That’s why my go-to coping skill relied upon keeping both myself to myself and my head down.

Nevertheless, as I should have expected, the strive for invisibility resulted in suffering with whatever circumstance people deemed fit to throw at me. My repertoire consisted solely of that coping skill (if one could call it that), and while nature has used the path of least resistance in many mechanisms of the universe, nature couldn’t judge itself. With every instance that I failed to protect myself, it only served to reinforce my conclusion that I was a coward.

To survive on Earth–even remotely unscathed–one must have the ability to defend oneself. Like many people, I had the problem of lacking the skills to fight while my culture discouraged and hindered me from ever obtaining them. It taught us violence doesn’t solve problems and turn the other cheek, but adults wouldn’t live by such aphoristic nonsense. And my school reinforced the edict against violence through the hypocrisy of corporal punishment and expulsion. As a result, the cruelty to which my peers subjected me left me with an indelible sense of something undone or incomplete in the back of my mind.

I knew I would have the opportunity to learn to fight on Jiyū to complete that undone thing. I couldn’t rely upon David to always come to my rescue. What if he needed me for a change? What if he, for once, couldn’t protect me? I would have to defend myself. Besides, as David’s mate, I felt I must keep up with him. If he could fight when the occasion arose, then I should have that ability as well.

I had convinced myself that we dealt with bullies on the mission to Earth. “They just had more power and influence than usual,” I told myself. My personal experience caused that natural impulse; bullies stayed at the forefront of my understanding of hostile people. When I made the comparison, however, I underestimated our adversary. We fought a complex, self-serving entity that retaliated when anyone threatened its supremacy, even if only idealistically, and it never minded instigating violence or playing the victim when it suited its purpose. It wouldn’t seek to intimidate us into making itself feel powerful. It had plenty of power, and it wanted something priceless from us. As David indicated to its agents on the gangplank of the Torekkā Maru in Venice, their money could never buy what they wanted. Our unwillingness to bend our knee to the mighty dollar made us targets but striking a bargain wouldn’t end it (ask the Native Americans how that worked for them). Trade for land one day resulted in taking more from them the next. The path of least resistance meant invasion, occupation, and death. Of course, great resistance meant war since they would never accept “no” as an answer. As David said to me during our discussion of the Trust, there may come the point where someone gives you no other options, kill them, or they will kill you. Even the destruction of our culture would exemplify a form of death.

Among his many virtues, I appreciated that David kept his promises. He promised I would see Jiyū again, and I did. When we arrived, however, I expected a stay of short duration, as he also promised the British Government that he would return to help them. I understood and accepted that necessary promise. He wished to provide a soft landing for the good people of Earth.

Before commencing the delivery of the dire news, first came the joyous. No one could have missed it, for Cadmar stood before them. We all believed he had died, including his mate Tamika, who must have raced to the temple. During our decontamination, as Cadmar rinsed off, she burst through the door, and they embraced beneath the spray for some time. We donned our robes and left to avoid disturbing them.

With home came relief, but we couldn’t feel cheerful. The people who greeted us in the red columned hall had smiled with their lively talk, but the news we brought lurked beneath the surface, and we knew that.

Our newcomers, Maggie and Rocke, made it rather clear that neither of them required an Au Pair. I felt negligent, but they insisted they wouldn’t need me. They could manage their introduction into life on Jiyū with the aid of the hospitable people at the temple. Ümraniye Escort They both knew we had much to accomplish when we arrived, and I knew they wanted to avoid burdening us.

We had settled the preliminaries, and with the joyous news over, we then relayed our circumstances. For the sake of expediency, I asked Venn to retrieve David’s Trust uniform from our penthouse, and things progressed from there in the late afternoon.

“Where to begin?” David asked himself aloud to the crowd before him.

He and I stood atop the central platform of the Arena surrounded by millions of people, every member of the Trust. No one in the Trust’s entire history had called an assembly until that day. When it came to the truth, we neither denied our circumstances nor delayed the dissemination of details. They wanted to know, and they wanted to act.

I looked upon the sea of colored uniforms, swords upon their backs. I saw them as a formidable group. To me, they represented people with the ability to stand up for themselves, and I admired them. They stood in silence, awaiting David’s message. Our communication system, helmed by an artificial intelligence known as Iris, negated the need for a public-address system.

“I have much to say.” With an intimate voice, David spoke as if individuals stood three feet before him. “As you know from our previous arrival with Amaré, the people of Earth know of our existence, but we have a complication. They know we exist and know the precise location of the portal.”

There came a discord of speaking within the Arena.

“Patience,” said David, “I have more. They deceived us with the reports of Cadmar’s death. That fact remains our best news. During our search for his ring and body, the British and American military surrounded the portal’s location, preventing us from leaving.

“Also, we learned that the British government has taken the Foundational Enhancement from Cadmar without his consent, and they have passed it to others. In the United States, Pearce broke his vow to not have a relationship without returning home. It appears they captured and coerced him to do their bidding. The Americans used him in the same manner, and they have the Foundational Enhancement as well. We do not know what he may have told them.

“Both countries have given the enhancement to a number of their soldiers. It has already spread to the civilian population, and some are seeking monetary gain from it. Before long, they will all have it.

“As you know, my mate Rick can read the ancient texts at the archive. It hints of something none of us had conceived; another portal exists on Jiyū.”

One could almost feel the collective intake of breath, and a humming murmur sounded within the Arena.

“I beg for your patience,” said David, awaiting their attention, “I have more to tell you. Another portal exists, the exit to which resides in Japan in a forest near Mount Fuji. We must find this other portal here because the Americans know its precise location in Japan.

“The drone we used to find the ring in London performed without flaw. In a bid to leave Earth so we could warn you of these things, we reconfigured the drone and sought the portal’s localized field in Japan. Without realizing it, our efforts led the Americans to the portal’s location. They captured us, and the portal revealed itself, resulting in five Americans arriving at the unknown location of the portal here.”

An uproar echoed within the arena.

“Wait!” said David, “I understand your concern. No one uninvited has stepped foot upon Jiyū, but we have reason to believe that stones had crushed them upon arrival due to some prior calamity at the portal site.

“As you know, if the aliens programmed the portal to slip out of phase, it will produce a localized field. Our portal at One City does not do that, so we could conclude the other one here doesn’t either. That will make the portal’s detection difficult, and more so if it remains buried. Aiden and Laurel, along with her team, search for a means to find it even now. No doubt, you have questions.”

The members had many questions, these among them.

“I am North. Did you recover the ring?”

“Yes,” said David. “As far as we know, they cannot access either portal on Earth.”

“I am Dai. Can you tell us the status of the portal in London?”

“I have initiated talks with the British in an ambassadorial capacity. They removed the military from the park, and they wish to ally with us. They need us, and in specific they need me to help them keep their world from falling into chaos from what they’ve done., I promised I would return to help them, so they will keep the portal there clear.”

“I am Ruby. Of our people on Earth, do they know the situation?”

“Yes, they know everything,” David said. “We also provided an opportunity to return home, but they chose to stay.”

“I am Ivan. I have a question for Rick. Do you have any clue Şerifali Escort to the other portal’s location?”

“I read they traveled west to get here, so we must conclude it lies to the East,” I said. “I do not know what area or how far.”

“I am Telek. For clarity, do we consider the Americans our enemy?”

David paused to consider the question. “I understand the desire for a clear adversary. Life seems simple in black and white, but we cannot fall into the trap of such binary thinking. We know we have enemies, but I cannot define them with ease. I cannot point to the Americans and say, ‘look, there is our enemy.’ Individuals designate themselves as our enemy when they do. The problem lies in the diversity of their origin, but we know their desire to have and wield power connects them. They, their agents, and their fighting forces represent various degrees of danger. As part of the Earth’s most powerful country, elements within the American government represent the greatest danger to us, but not all of them, and they will not serve as our sole enemy. So, who are they?” David paused to think. “Scientists regard a group of related species as one species for practical reasons. Therefore, after a taxonomic fashion and for reasons of practicality, I can with confidence declare that our enemy consists of the aggregate of peoples, acting as individuals or collectives, from various countries, governments, and corporate entities intent on taking as their own the things that belong to us, even if it means our destruction. They seek to dominate on Earth and rule here if we allow them even a toehold.”

“I am Gabe. Who takes responsibility for the Aggregate’s incursion of our planet?”

Gabe’s question sounded accusatory, even to me, and I knew he asked it to challenge David. I noticed a subtle lift of David’s eyebrows, but he raised his head and stood firm as he took responsibility. “I do, and upon my honor, I will make this right.”

Honor helps to hold Jiyū together, but also integrity, gratitude, and forgiveness. David declared in public his responsibility for the current circumstance, and in doing so, he took on the obligation to correct it. David blamed himself more than anyone at the assembly did. In taking on the task, I knew he had asked too much of himself, as he often did.


As the assemblage dispersed, Amaré wished to speak with us. I expected it, and I could guess the subject. Venn, our often chatty, transportation A.I., drove us to the penthouse in silence at a near tortoise-like pace.

Amaré’s oversized body filled the forward-facing seat of the transport. He wore his Trust uniform with its shoulders and sleeves adorned with the gold thread in the ivy motif. He began the instant we seated ourselves.

“It seems that your eloquence, Mr. Levitt, has delivered an interesting epithet for our amorphous adversary.” Amaré paused and took a deep breath. “I trust you, Mr. Levitt, but at the risk of sounding blunt, does the Aggregate know the portal’s frequency?”

David, who sat with his arm around me, shook his head. “They do not,” he said. “Our attempt to use the drone to locate the other portal, perhaps coupled with the betrayal from Pearce, allowed them to detect Iris’s signal and track it to its location.”

“I see,” said Amaré. “You have had a long friendship with Pearce.”

“Yes, I have known him since childhood,” said David.

“He could have returned the same time as yourself. Why did he not bring his mate here?”

I shrugged. “Pearce may not have told his family about Jiyū.”

“Family…,” said Amaré, looking at the two of us, “he had children.”

“Pearce implied that,” said David. “You seemed alarmed.”

“Yes, I am.” He tapped behind his ear to communicate with Iris.

He wished to speak to Yoncara in the medical clinic at the temple, and after a polite greeting, he arrived at his inquiry. “I have a question,” he said. “I know many jears have passed, but since you have enhanced memory, you should remember. You performed the medical on Pearce before he left for service, correct? Did he have his fertility controlled?” Amaré tipped his head, listening. “Yes, you would have, of course. At the time he left for Earth, did any of the nano-programming devices go missing?” Amaré closed his eyes. “Yes, thank you, Yoncara.” He ended the communication.

“He took one, didn’t he?” I asked.

“I suspect he did.” Amaré nodded. “We have a tradition that everyone who goes to Earth for service must meet certain criteria. Their Earth age cannot have passed thirty, they cannot yet have the youth enhancement, and their fertility must remain controlled until they return. Like all the others, Pearce vowed to return to Jiyū with his mate should he enter a relationship. As an alternative, he could let Mr. Levitt know he left his position and intended to stay, at which point we would release him from the vow with all that entails. Kurtköy Escort The vow served as an attempt to protect the individual if anyone captured them and to prevent the Foundational Enhancement from spreading. He had to have reversed his fertility control himself, because Yoncara assured me of its control when he left, and one of the devices did go missing.”

“And you believe the Aggregate have it,” said David. “Now, they can give anyone any enhancement that we can.”

“Without considerable genetic knowledge,” said Amaré, “the age of the device and its pre-programming would limit its available enhancements.”

“Right…and it couldn’t enable the Sharing,” said David.


“Should we go after it?” I asked.

Amaré shook his head. “At this stage of their development, they will find that bit of technology easy to reverse engineer.”

“Why would he take the device with him?” I asked David. “Had he planned to stay on Earth when he left Jiyū?”

“I don’t know,” said David. “I would need more information.”

“Did he specify that he had a mate and children?” asked Amaré.

“Pearce often said he wanted to go home,” said David. “He gave us no reason to believe he didn’t refer to Jiyū. He said he loved Jiyū because of me, but I couldn’t outweigh the love of his family. He said, ‘I’m sorry Davi, please forgive me, they gave me no good options.'”

“Curious. You know Pearce well, do you not?” Amaré asked David.

“Not as well as I believed,” said David. “I don’t understand; we treated one another as brothers. Has he dupe me?”

“No.” Amaré shook his head. “Sometimes, it takes an objective observer to see. Dmitry had many occasions to witness the two of you together in your home. Pearce loved you, and I think we must remember we do not know all the facts of his alleged betrayal.” Amaré took a tired breath. “He had only his mother here, and she is unwell; I suggest you speak to her. She should know what has become of him, and she should hear it from you as soon as possible.”

“I will,” said David. “Sir, how do you know of Pearce and me? Why would Dmitry have discussed it with you?”

Amaré smiled a little. “Pearce brought himself to my attention long ago. He was an astute and curious child. People caught him many times playing spy, as did I.”

“Yes, he led me into so much trouble,” said David. “I will never forget the incident on the lift to the temple. It ended my spying days for good.” David turned to me. “At the age of nine, we went unaccompanied into the lift, because we found the mysteries of the temple too tempting. The lift got stuck halfway up. We sat there for ten minutes when we decided to open the floor hatch and climb down the ladder with the ridiculous idea that we could reach the ground before anyone noticed.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “So, what happened?”

“Fifty feet down from the lift, I discovered I couldn’t do it, and I froze. Pearce got nauseous, and I ended up with sick all over me.”

“Ugh! How did you get down?”

“I met Magnar that day,” said David. “He saved us with a flight pack.”

“That may have ended your days as a spy,” said Amaré, “for Pearce, it did not.”

“He must have made himself quite the nuisance,” I said.

“I wouldn’t say that,” said Amaré, “he did what children do.”

“Sir, does it surprise you to hear of the other portal?” David changed the subject. He didn’t like to talk about his younger days.

“Things seldom surprise me,” he said. “I would say that it gratifies me to hear it no longer remains hidden.”

“May I ask you something?” I asked Amaré. “I’ve asked this of David, but I would like your opinion.”

“Always, Mr. Heiden.”

David sat as he always did when Amaré and I had a discussion, listening, and marveling over how easy I found it to talk with him like a friend. Due to Amaré’s position and age, the people of Jiyū had given him a kind of reverence. Much of that stemmed from the language barrier that kept him separate most of his life.

“I would not suggest the time had come for extreme measures,” I said, “but if the situation turned uncontrollable, would we destroy the portal?”

Venn pulled into the lay-by at our building, but we remained in the vehicle for a moment.

Amaré smiled. “I have considered worst-case scenarios many times over the jears. As you pointed out before, we take a risk by keeping the portal. We will have to act as circumstance and necessity dictates to see where we find ourselves. But not to worry, Mr. Heiden, the people of Jiyū long ago discovered how to destroy the portal should the necessity arise.” Amaré noticed David’s expression. “We wish to keep the portal, yet destroying the portal is an easy solution that we must always entertain, but knowing when it is the only solution, that is hard.

“On another matter, Mr. Levitt, does your home please you?”

“Ah! Kare wa sore o miteinai. (Ah! He has not seen it),” I said in Japanese to Amaré.

“Oh! My apologies, Mr. Heiden.” He made a little bow while seated. “He wore his uniform so-” Amaré gestured in exasperation and shook his head. “I have said too much.”

“What’s he talking about?” asked David as I ushered him from the vehicle.

“It’s okay,” I said, “you’ll know soon enough.”

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