Star Trek Hunter
Episode 22: Sacrifice
Scene 7: Sweet Madam Blue
Sweet Madam Blue
Penelope was an extraordinarily kind hearted soul, which made her very, very good at her job. She could read each client and know exactly what they needed. Her clients were male, female and a few were rather indeterminate or were in transition. Most of them could only afford a weekend of her attentions – and that only a few times a year. Some took a 2- or 3- week vacation to spend in her care. Many of her clients were married and some of them came as couples for the therapy she provided.
It was very useful that a few powerful U.S. and Ohio State Treasury officials as well as a talented accountant or two were among her clients as she was invariably audited every year. Another of her clients served on the medical review board that certified her business model every year. Penelope was a medical doctor and had doctorates in psychology, psychiatry and sex therapy. Her services were quite expensive and her client list rather exclusive. She did have a few particularly desperate clients who were unable to pay to whom she provided her services in return for keeping her rather magnificent home and gardens clean and in good order. She cared deeply for each of her clients, whether rich or impecunious. Giving meaning to their lives gave meaning to hers.
Considering the rather puritanical nature of Middle America in the late 20th Century, Penelope might have had serious problems with the local religious establishments, or the police, or various arms of local, state and federal government, but discounts for well-placed clients and a little bit of extra attention provided to key clients kept all of these various forces at bay.
But Penelope was living a double life.
She was a lucid dreamer – she remembered her waking life in detail while dreaming and remembered every detail of her dreams while awake. These exceptionally lucid dreams had begun when she was a little girl. At first all she remembered was a vague blue haze. Gradually, she began to identify with the blue haze and after a year or so she was able to turn her dreaming awareness outward. She had thought at first she had been dreaming that she was swimming. But there was nothing to swim through. Nothing to push against.
Her dreaming self had companions. And none of them were blue. Their skin was dark brown and they were enormous - each the size of a fair-sized house. Larger than the house that Penelope had grown up in. As she grew up, she had realized she could communicate with them and hear their communication with one another. Well – it didn’t exactly involve hearing... They didn’t think small, human thoughts. They thought gigantic, whale thoughts. She finally decided to call them whales. Space whales.
Penelope quickly learned to keep these dreams to herself. They seemed innocent enough at first, but they were too different from the way that other people dreamed. She never felt like she was sleeping. It felt more like she was waking to anther life. Every nap, every moment she was asleep, her friends were there, swimming with her. Not swimming – flying through the stars. There was a baby. And they were depending on Penelope to help raise her. A baby whale.
It was an odd double life – the most complicated and involved life a human could live juxtaposed with an alternate life of pure freedom and complete innocence. Each life was the perfect counterpart to the other. Her job as nanny for the baby whale – to help shape its morality – came naturally to her – a simple, nurturing, life-giving ethos. The whales lived simple lives, grazing on asteroids to collect water, molten, inner planets to collect minerals and basking in the coronas of stars, to store up energy for their next interstellar journey.
Penelope was not human during these times. She could be dispersed over more than a thousand square meters or condensed into a tight blue field. As a human, she had a fair idea what she was - flesh and blood. Her incarnation as an indistinct blue haze was a complete mystery to her.
She first became aware of the presence of a human interloper because the baby became unsettled. It was nearly 20 years old now, so baby was no longer really fair, but Penelope still felt very protective. Somehow, she felt it had been her purpose to raise this child emotionally and while it was no longer a baby, it was not yet an adult. It had never occurred to her to actually go inside her charge, but that was clearly what it was now wanting her to do.
Moving her presence into the baby was very much like going anywhere else in space. She was astounded to find an environment inside the baby that was created for human habitation. What on the outside appeared to be a supple whale, flexing with each change of direction, on the inside looked like a mid-20th Century coochi-lounge – all dark reds and golds – a warm, seductive place. A large, dark orange, semi-circular couch more or less faced a curved, ovular viewscreen – or perhaps window – Penelope was not quite certain. Through this window, the stars and other members of the whale herd could be seen.
She had a strong feeling that the small, bald, dark-skinned man wearing khakis, Wellingtons and a leather jacket belonged there – as much as she did – perhaps more. This feeling bothered her greatly. He looked South American to her. He was relaxing on the couch as if he had been there forever. Penelope found herself molding her appearance to resemble her human form, complete with the clothing she most often wore, but skin, clothing, shoes and all remained a consistent shade of light blue.
“Hello Lavardorn Avatar,” said her South American interloper, relieving her of her concern about needing to dig up Spanish that she had last used more than a decade ago. He sat up and looked at her as her form solidified. “Do you know just what you are?”
Penelope had never spoken while in her non-corporeal hazy blue incarnation, but now, having assumed a human-like form, she found that she could speak. “No.” It was a timid squeak, not her usual, low, carefully cultivated sultry tones. She had grown used to being in control of every situation. She was used to people being naked to her – completely vulnerable and exposed. For the first time in more than a decade, she felt naked and exposed. She could craft her form to resemble a human wearing clothing, but the reality was there could be no clothing for this blue form. This odd sense of vulnerability was increased by an instinct that, although she had no clue what she actually was, it was clear her interlocutor did.
“I am human,” Penelope managed, still learning how to control this voice – a voice she had never used because she had never even been aware that she had it.
“And so am I. To all appearances. But I am somewhat more than human. You are much, much more than human. The creature we currently inhabit has many names. Most of them are far too long for convenient conversational use. Call her a lavardorn. It is close enough to the first few syllables of the name her race’s creators used for their creation. And you are her avatar. Do you know where we are?”
“I have no idea,” Penelope replied.
“We call this galaxy NGC 55," her South American interloctor responded. "It is the home galaxy for lavardorn, although they have spread to several neighboring galaxies over the past 5,000 years. You seem to think of these creatures as space whales – entirely coincidentally, NGC 55 is also known as the Whale Galaxy. This species is about 7.5 million years old. Recently – meaning in the past 15,000 years – some of them have developed a method of travel so fast that we do not have any adequate means of measuring it. This creature is one of the fastest and she is just now coming into her own. Her pod has selected her to be the first to populate the Milky Way. Soon, you and she will leave this pod and make your way across the vast gulf of intergalactic space – about 6.5 million light years to our home galaxy – your home galaxy. This is why the pod chose to embed an avatar in a human – you are Minerva’s beacon – her true north.”
“Minerva?” Penelope asked.
“Well, we should name her, and Minerva is the goddess of wisdom. The protector of life. It would be a fitting name, don’t you think, Penelope?”
“You know my name, and you propose to name my, well, my child. Who are you?”
“Ah, my apologies, we first met a long time from now. It is so easy to be neglectful when an old friend is meeting you for the first time. I am Doctor Sarekson Carrera and I have a very difficult job ahead of me. I will need your help – yours and Minerva’s. Unfortunately, I will never get to meet your human incarnation – at least not your current one. You will carry the memories of each humanoid incarnation from one lifetime into the next. Your job will be to keep Minerva sane on her very long voyage to the Milky Way. That is the reason for your double life. Your human life will ground you so that you can, in turn, keep Minerva grounded. You are the first incarnation of Minerva’s avatar.”
“So, I will be, um, reincarnated?” asked Penelope.
“In a way," Carrera mused. "The human Penelope will die like any human. But you will carry her memories as you are reborn into another inhabitant of the Milky Way. Reborn several times among several different species on several different worlds. I have noticed two things in common among Minerva’s avatars – you are invariably female and invariably extraordinarily kind, compassionate souls. Which makes me curious about your human self. I have known you to be a nurse, a psychiatrist, a lawyer – always someone who takes care of others and cares deeply for them. But I do not know what your first incarnation was… is… sorry – the English language was never designed to manage non-linear temporal phenomena. So what does the human Penelope do?”
“Actually, it is Mistress Penelope, Doctor Carrera. I am a professional dominatrix…”