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free space

Good Lord!

(Vatican, 1647)

“I said yes, of course. What else could I do?” Tim said plaintively.

Father Donovan, astonished, simply said, “Good Lord Tim! I said I wanted you to spy for us, not become one of them!”

Both men sat in silence for a while, not knowing what to say or do next. Finally, the old priest, putting his hand on the young man’s shoulder, said, “God works in mysterious ways, my son. Perhaps this may be His will after all. The truth is, we’ve never been able to get this close before.”

Tim, feeling a pit growing in his stomach, wondered how he could pretend to be one of the people he hated so much. As if reading his mind, Father Donovan said, “This is not only going to be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life, young Lambert, but also the most important. I want you to know that we will support you in any way we can, even if it means paying the ultimate price, like your father did.”

One of us

(Lakota Tribe, Montana Territory, 1876)

Wichapi bent low upon entering her father’s tent, leaving Bren standing by herself in the August sunset. Her golden hair was lit by the amber beams of the fading day as the warmth of the sun kissed her face. The days grew hotter as late summer approached. When it became too warm, Chapi and Bren spent time by the river or lake, soaking in the cool water or relaxing in the shade. Another refuge from the heat was their teepee, which stayed surprisingly cool even in the noonday sun. There were always friends stopping by to visit or chores to help with. Being part of the daily life of the Indian village gave Brenzel a sense of belonging that she’d never felt before.

Looking at the open flap, she began to sweat from nervousness even though Chapi assured her there was nothing to be worried about. Over the last few weeks, Chapi recovered and became stronger. One day, Bren’s confidant began to talk about the Lakota naming ceremony. Finally, when Bren understood what she was driving at, she protested, “But I am not Lakota!”

“Nonsense,” Wichapi declared confidently, “I will speak with my father and ask him to adopt you into our tribe. I am sure he will say yes.”

Respect

Running bear, Wichapi’s father, commanded respect throughout the whole tribe and far beyond. It was the kind of honor people gave freely, not out of fear or obligation. To Bren, that made her even more nervous about talking with him today.

Presently, the flap opened and Wichapi, sticking her her head out, said solemnly, “Come.”

Bren bowed low to enter the Lakota Chief’s dwelling. In the middle, a small fire pit lined with rocks contained a smoldering flame, just enough to give light. Chief Running Bear sat cross-legged, opposite the entrance, with two elder tribesmen on each side. Carefully, Bren copied Wichapi’s movements and attitude as she sat opposite the great Lakota leader.

Everyone remained silent for a time. One thing Bren learned early was that nothing was every hurried with Lakota. Everything had a pace, a cadence, and people took whatever time was necessary for the task at hand.

After a while, Wichapi elbowed Bren slightly, causing her to remember the small gift of tobacco she had. Getting up, she approached Running Bear offering the gift with her left hand, a sign it was given from her heart, which he accepted graciously, nodding his head.

Welcome

As Bren took her place again, Running Bear said, “Taŋyáŋ yahípi. (welcome)”

“Thank you, Father, ” the Indian maiden said for both of them.

“My daughter tells us that you wish to become one with our people,” the old warrior began.

Bren simply said, “Yes, sir”

“Tell me child, why do you wish to be Lakota?” he said as his eyes searched her thoughtfully.

Brenzel, quiet for a moment, replied, “Since I came here, your people have treated me with great kindness and generosity. Your men are respectful , and your women, especially Wichapi, have befriended me, making me feel at home. Though I came from a far place, I have never felt alone here. I respect your way of life and want to learn from you. In my heart, I feel you are part of me now.”

The men, sitting with Running Bear, murmured approval at her words.

I want your people to be my people

“And,” Brenzel finished, “I feel a deep connection in my heart and spirit with Wichapi. I want to be a part of her world. Though I can’t explain it, she is more to me than a friend.”

As Bren finished, speaking in perfect Lakota, obviously with deep feeling, the old man’s eyes shown with approval and understanding. The other men, full of age and wisdom, looked and nodded at each other, apparently impressed by the stranger’s explanation.

Silent for some time, the chief spoke, “Our people come from Wichoni, which is the source of all life. Beyond the clouds, in a very far place above the stars, dwells Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit.

“My daughter tells me this is where you come from and that one day this is where you will return. She believes that you are the White Buffalo-Calf Woman that our ancestors speak of. What do you say to this?”

Hat trick

Bren, unexpectedly put on the spot by his question, felt at a loss for words. Looking down, trying to figure out what to say, without thinking, she raised her hand and tipped her hat. Suddenly, she sat in Seraph Hunter attire to the collective gasp of all those present.

Looking respectfully at the astonished Chief, Bren said, “It is true I have come from afar and from even a different time. I am not sure I am the White Buffalo-Calf Woman your legend speaks of, but I do know that I feel one with your people and would help them in any way I can.” Again, as if guided by an unseen force, Bren tipped her hat and changed back into her regular Indian dress.

Wichapi immediately reached out to touch her, saying, “Bren?”

After a very long pause, regaining some of his composure, Chief Running Bear said, “Our ancestors tell us that because our hearts grew cold, we could not hear our Creator speak. So, long ago, at a time of great suffering, Wakan Tanka sent the White Buffalo-Calf Woman to show us the way. She gave us seven sacred ceremonies, all of which we have kept since she returned to the sky.

“Now, perhaps you come again, at a time when the white man brings great sorrow to my people. What message do you have for us, we are ready to hear it.” Again, the soft murmuring of the other elders.

Lay down your weapons

Stunned again at his question, Bren didn’t know what to say. Yet, from deep within her, a voice spoke,

“It is not a time for war. Lay down your weapons and do not fight as you did in the greasy grass. Return to the way of peace, for the warpath your young men walk leads to destruction.”

The Chief, obviously moved by her words, said, “I hear your voice and your heart. This is my heart also.”

Looking at the other elders, Running Bear said, “We will perform the naming ceremony with you and my daughter after the new moon. My people will be honored for you to become one of us.”

Bren, moved by their acceptance, said, “Thank you, I am deeply honored and grateful.”

Gesturing towards Wichapi, Running Bear finished, “My daughter understands our ways, she will explain the naming ceremony to you. I will consult Wakan Tanka and ask that He guide me in choosing the name you will be called among us.”

Finishing, Wichapi, still awestruck by what she just witnessed, also said, “Thank you, we are grateful.”

Hey, Chapi, stop that!

Leaving the Chief’s tent, Wichapi touched Bren’s head as they walked, feeling through her hair. “Hey, Chapi, stop it!”

“Where is it? Where did it go?” the Indian maiden demanded.

“It just comes and goes when I touch it,” Brenzel confessed.

“Show me, I want to see it,” Chapi insisted.

Looking at her questioning eyes, Bren said, “I will when we get inside. It’s not a play thing though, and I can’t take it off.”

“Why?” Chapi demanded.

“I don’t know, it’s just one of the rules of being a Seraph Hunter.”

Walking together in silence as they made their way to the teepee, Bren finally said, “I don’t know if I am comfortable with being called the White Buffalo-Calf Woman, Chapi. It seems this legend is very important to your people and I don’t know if that is what I truly am.”

I feel connected to you

Taking Bren’s hand as they walked, Chapi replied, “I don’t understand fully either, but since the moment I saw you at the lake, I knew that is who you are. I felt connected to you.”

“Yes, I feel the same,” Bren agreed.

Wichapi smiled, saying “Have a little faith in the Great Spirit, everything will work out, you will see,” she finished.

Bren said under her breath, “What the…”

Singers of the first dawn

(Hala, Realm of Alethea) 

An hour before the first dawn, the sanctuary choir gathered in the pale light below the Tree of Life. Over 1200 years old now, the great symbol of renewal stood strong in the River of Life that flowed from under Alethea’s sanctuary. Giving eternal life to all those who partook of her fruit, small, younger trees from her seeds, sprang up all along the river bank. The first seed, a gift from the Most High, was carefully laid in the ground by Alethea herself in the presence of all those who survived the great rebellion.

3 woke to low singing in the pre-dawn stillness. He lay there, arm around Hatty, listening to the form and cadences of the choir. The cantata wafted throughout the great slumbering city, as all who who heard it gave thanks to their Lord and savior.

I knew he’d see it my way

Later that morning, Hatty said as they prepared to leave, “Michael’s a dear. I knew he’d see it my way.”

Busy figuring out the most efficient way to pack, 3 replied absentmindedly, “I still think it’s risky, but he has a point, you’re probably safer with us than anywhere else.”

Crossing the room, Hatty took his strong arm and, looking up at him, smiled, “I completely agree.”

Making a tipping motion with her hand, Hatty transformed into a Seraph Hunter, leather pants hugging her shapely legs, with a large blunderbuss strapped to her hip and thigh.

3, glancing at her, raised his eyebrows briefly, saying, “Hatty, do you really want to bring that? It’s terribly inaccurate.”

Hatty, patting the loaded firearm, said, “If I have to use it, whatever it is will be close enough to hit, dear.”

Free space

The long, slender skimmer floated in mid-air, docked at the side of the footbridge between two sections of Alfheim. The ship, if you could call it that, pale cream in color, looked like a sleek needle with wings, six to be precise. No windows, no seams of any kind marked the unbroken skin of the ship. In fact, as Michael, 3, and Hatty approached, they could not even tell where the entrance was, for there was no door. Presently, though, as they waited, a voice said, “Welcome.” Standing expectantly now, their eyes widened as the side of the ship dissolved into a door. Then, part of the ship formed itself into a gangplank quickly extending to the bridge where they stood.

Hatty, marveling at the fluid movements of the ship, said, “I have definitely never seen anything like that.”

In another moment, a silky voice sounded again, saying “Please enter.” Michael and 3 stepped onto the seamless bridge with Hatty close behind.

Seamless

Inside the ship, they found three comfortable seats complete with individual side tables filled with the same fare as they were used to being served on Hala. The chair, table, and walls all flowed into one another seamlessly as the door faded away again into a solid wall. In fact, Hatty couldn’t find a hard edge on the entire ship.

A bit nervous, Hatty held 3’s hand. Even in all her 187 years of Seraph Hunting, she had never experienced anything like this. Sensing her unease, 3 said comfortingly, “This is a bit of a shock, I know, but it is necessary and completely safe. In fact, it is the only way to get to Free Space where the Librarian dwells.”

Hatty just nodded as she watched a window materialize in front of them, showing sun glinting off the gilded spires of Alethea’s sanctuary city . Michael, munching on a grape, looked up as the silky voice said, “Please keep seated while you translate, you will arrive presently.”

Hatty puzzled, “Where is she?” for the female voice seemed to come from everywhere at once.

Hold on to your hat

Squeezing her sweating hand slightly, 3 leaned over and kissed it, saying, “Hold on to your hat, Hatty, this may feel a bit strange.”

SEIOIB.