Hawk, lying on his bed in the guest room that he
shared with Sky Warrior, and the other single Tane-rapanui males, was
tired but could not sleep. He
was back on board his home, but he was restless and not entirely happy.
He remembered Miru saying something about Koori back on Rrilling,
but his beloved had remained absent from his dreams. Not only was that disturbing to him, but also there was the
fact that he was enjoying his time in the company of Miru. Hawk kept telling himself that she was like the sister that
had been so close to him back before he had married Koori, but somehow, he
still felt guilty, as though he was being disloyal to his beloved.
Perhaps that was why she had not come to him recently.
With a sigh, he got up, pulled on his armor of
rank and softly padded out of the room.
Without bothering to put on his boots, he slipped out of the guest
quarters and headed toward his own cabin.
He needed to be alone. By
now the Mendalis Tane-rapanui were adjusted to the Searcher and
they could help the others if they woke up.
Hawk lay down on his own bed and then got up, still restless.
He looked at the picture of Koori that Buck had given him, touching
the solid plexi cover and wishing he could touch the soft, warm flesh of
her cheeks. He sighed and
returned to his bed.
He didn’t remember her coming to his bed, but
suddenly Koori was there with him, next to him, her caress warm, her lips
full and sensuous. She
undressed him as she had in the past and then sat back and smiled.
“Koori,” he cried out happily and reached for her.
His hand seemed unable to get a hold of her and she seemed to
alternate between seeming solid and real, and tenuous and ephemeral.
reached for her again. Still,
she eluded him, even as she sat by his side and he knew she could not come
to him any more than she had before.
He wanted to cry, his frustration was so great.
He felt his body armor and knew her foreplay had only been part of
a dream. Her hand reached out
and touched him. He could
feel her fingertips, and he reached up with his hand and touched her
fingers. This time they were
warm and soft, at least for an instant and then they became ghostly once
again. Only in death in the
other realm would they be able to stay together, touch and feel and love,
he thought in frustration.
“As it should be, my love,” she said, willing
her fingers to become tangible again.
She rubbed them down his cheek.
She longed for him as much as he longed for her, but among the
dead, time flowed at a different speed, perceptions were different and she
knew that she did not feel the same kind and intensity of pain and pangs
of separation as Hawk did. Her
love was in no way diminished; it was simply wedded with the sure
knowledge that they would be together again- someday.
She did not have to wonder; she did not have the need of physical
sensations anymore as the living did.
But she hurt for her beloved. She knew how lonely he was, but she also knew that he needed
to remain among the realm of the living for a while longer. His mission was not yet over.
“Someday, Hawk, my love, my strength—someday we will be
together,” she said softly, her voice like a whisper in his ear.
“But it is not good for you to be so alone,”
“I have my friends,” he murmured, happy for
her presence if nothing else. To
hear, to feel her nearby was comforting and he relished any moment he had
“Yes, and they have been true friends.
But you are Tane-rapanui and even though your friends are truer
than even some from our clan, you need the companionship of one of the
people,” she told him.
“But if I had stayed with Sky Mother’s people,
we would never have….”
“That is not what I mean. You
have opportunity now.”
Hawk loved Koori’s laugh; it spoke of sunshine,
wind and life, but he brought his mind back to what she had said.
“Opportunity? You mean Miru?”
She felt the loneliness of having had no one in the midst of a
people who did not care. You
have been around people who do care, who have taught you to enlarge your
caring. You have the opportunity to teach her the heart and soul of
“But she could learn that among the people of
Mendalis,” Hawk protested, although mildly.
He could still feel the slight pangs of guilt over his enjoyment of
“She could, but there is something she can give
to you, even as you give to her.”
Hawk remembered how he felt around Miru.
It felt good being with one of the people, especially now that Buck
and Wilma were going to marry. But
he wondered if his feelings were simply that of a teacher or brother or
something else? Then he realized that part of his guilt was because he
felt the stirrings of something else.
“Beloved, it does not matter what feeling you
have or may, in the future, have for Miru,” Koori’s thoughts answered
his. “I will always be your
beloved, your first and your eternal woman.
That will always be so, even though I invoke rights of
Hawk gazed at her in shock. “What are you saying?” he whispered, his voice almost tremulous in his surprise.
“I am saying that our people must continue.”
She gazed at him, her eyes serious.
“We, you and I, never had the chance to have children.
But we are mated forever.”
“Never to be separated in the eternities,”
Hawk continued the marriage litany.
“Any children either of us have belong to both.
Miru will fill the empty space in your heart and be the means of
continuing our family and our people.
And you will fill the great void that has existed in her soul for
all the years of her life.”
Hawk sat in stunned silence. “But you are my beloved.
My only beloved,” he finally blurted out.
“You do not believe that you have love enough
for more than one person?”
Hawk’s thoughts were in turmoil. Never could he forget Koori, but if his feelings for Miru
went fully beyond that of a “brother” as the young Tane-rapanui called
“Hawk, I do not doubt your fidelity to my memory
and to me, but it is not good for you to be celibate,” Koori said
bluntly. “I want you to be
happy. When it is time for
you to come to this realm I will be waiting for you.
But I want you to come as one who has fulfilled all, not someone
tired of living.”
Hawk could only stare at her. It had been centuries since someone had invoked the
birthright/succession provision, that which would keep a line of the
people alive. But without it,
the people of Throm would die out. “I
do not think they will allow Miru to stay on this ship,” he said, shying
away from a total commitment as Koori suggested.
“Make-Make has provided you with the means to
live,” she said softly. She
seemed to be fading. “He
will continue to guide your life.”
“Koori,” Hawk said plaintively.
“I will always be near, Hawk,” she said, her
voice like an eddying current. “In
your mind, in your heart and in your soul.”
She was almost gone from view.
“Your happiness is my happiness.”
And she was gone.
Even though he felt the sting of her departure,
Hawk was also filled with a sense of wonder.
Koori did not feel betrayed by his attention to Miru, in fact she
was encouraging even deeper attention.
He smiled. Hardly
conceivable right now, as Miru was not much more than a fledgling, for all
of her maturity. But if the
admiral could be talked into letting Miru stay, she would be a good
companion; someone to exchange lore, history, language and ideas with.
For all that Buck, Wilma and the others were understanding and
kind—good and devoted friends--they could not totally understand his
inner feelings and thoughts. He
would have to approach Miru first, although he already knew her feelings
on the matter, then Sky Mother and then the admiral.
Hawk suspected it would not be easy.
Several days later, he was no closer to a
solution. Miru, of course,
was overjoyed, although Hawk made a great deal out of how tenuous the idea
was. Sky Mother seemed to be
expecting it. Finally when
Hawk did ask the admiral, Asimov cited several military regulations
against the idea. While not
totally surprised and at least partially understanding the admiral’s
arguments, Hawk nevertheless was disappointed.
He considered asking Buck and Wilma’s advice, but decided against
it, seeing how totally engrossed they were with each other.
Hawk found it somewhat amusing that while Buck had finally proposed
to Wilma, she had not accepted yet. Regardless,
there seemed to be some kind of implied understanding between the two.
In the end, Hawk told Miru and hoped that something would come up
to change the situation.
Miru could not eat, so great was her
disappointment. She had been
warned that it would be very difficult to be able to stay on Hawk’s
ship, but still she had hoped. Now,
all she could do was ask for Make-Make’s help.
Then she wondered if perhaps someone else could convince the
admiral. Another human? Perhaps
Colonel Deering? Miru had
been astonished to learn that the colonel was second in command of this
huge ship that seemed larger than her city, but then she remembered that
her city had Queen Arana. Perhaps
she could talk to Buck Rogers, who was just below Colonel Deering in rank.
Her hands suddenly felt clammy at the thought of going through
these corridors alone. She had become fairly adept in terra lingua, she thought, but
Maybe Hawk could go with her to see the humans,
but Miru shook her head. This
was something she had to do herself.
She paced in the main area of the guest quarters, trying to muster
up her courage.
Sky Mother sat quietly watching Miru, and the
young Tane-rapanui realized she could ask the healer to go with her.
But again, if she was going to even think of living on this
ship…. Finally, Miru turned
to the old birdwoman. “I am
going to see Colonel Deering,” she said.
“You might also want to see Captain Rogers as
well,” Sky Mother suggested. At
Miru’s questioning glance, she added.
“Because of his background, he has a somewhat more diverse way of
thinking than most humans.”
Miru had noticed that Buck Rogers was somewhat
different than his colleagues, but while he was always friendly to her,
that different-ness had made her a bit uncomfortable at times.
As though she didn’t know what to expect.
Mentally shrugging, Miru turned and looked in the mirror,
straightening the deep green tunic she was wearing, a holdout from her
days as Arana’s personal attendant.
The dark metallic strip, off center, down the front, as well as
down the sleeves seemed to draw attention up to her head feathers, which
were a soft creamy white, mottled brown at the tip of each feather.
Leera had told her how beautiful the coloration was and Miru
believed her. She tightened the matching metallic belt to accentuate her
small waist and straightened the leggings that she wore under the thigh
There was nothing else she could do to be ready to
leave the cabin, so Miru stepped out into the corridor and almost stepped
back in again. Several humans
were walking in the metal encased hallway on various errands.
Miru dismissed the possibility that they could be coming just to
check out the bird people. “Excuse
me,” she said to the nearest, a young human female.
“Yes, ma’am,” the woman said deferentially.
The human’s smile seemed genuine and her sky
blue eyes interested in what Miru wanted.
That took Miru back a bit and she stammered her question. “Could you tell me how to find Colonel Deering, please?”
The woman nodded.
“I am going in that direction.
I will show you Captain Rogers’ quarters.”
At Miru’s hesitant look, she continued.
“They are most likely together.”
There was a knowing smile. “I
am Lieutenant Toni Walker, by the way.”
Miru nodded and followed, almost instantly lost in
the maze that was the Searcher.
And I want to be part of this? she asked herself. Then she remembered her dreams and Hawk, and said, Yes!
Finally, at a junction of several corridors, the
woman stopped, pointed down one of the passageways and said, “The fourth
door on the left is Captain Rogers’ cabin. If Colonel Deering is not
there, keep going down the corridor, turn right and Colonel Deering’s
cabin is the fifth on the right.” She
watched Miru concentrate. “Or
you can ask anyone you see for more directions.”
The woman smiled again. “And
don’t be surprised if, when you leave, a couple of the crewmen ask you
what the colonel and captain were doing.”
“Why?” Miru asked, puzzled, not sure if she
understood everything the human had said.
“What they are doing is really just . . . for them, is it not?”
Walker laughed good-naturedly. “Of
course it is, but Lt. Dickerson has a betting pool going on as to when
Captain Rogers is going to pop the question.”
“Pop the question?” Miru was really confused
“What I mean is . . . when he’s going to
propose marriage to Colonel Deering,” the woman said.
“Oh,” Miru said.
From what Sky Mother and Hawk had hinted plus the way the two
humans were acting now, she thought he already had, but neither of her
friends had said anything specific.
“I have to go.
Duty calls,” Lt. Walker said.
“You will be fine.”
“Thank you,” Miru said as the woman turned and
walked down a different corridor. Miru
walked to the door indicated and looked for the little bell that announced
a person’s arrival. There
was none, but she remembered someone pushing a little button on a door
when they first came on board the Searcher.
The door had slid open then. She
didn’t want to just barge in on something most likely private, but she
pushed the button anyway. After
a slight pause this door opened, too.
She peered in and saw Wilma Deering sitting on a
wide high back chair that would seat two.
Miru had no doubt that Buck Rogers usually filled the now empty
“Miru, come on in,” she said. “Buck, we have company,” she called out as the girl
entered. The door slid shut
Buck came into her view from a small place that
appeared to be a tiny food preparation area.
He had two glasses in his hands.
“Hey, Miru,” he greeted her with a smile. “You
came here by yourself and didn’t get lost?”
“I asked someone.” She
paused. “I hope I am not .
. . uh, interrupting anything important.”
“Great going!” Buck said, motioning her to sit
down in the empty space next to Wilma.
“And no, you weren’t. We
were just reading an old Earth book together.”
“An old Earth book?”
“Yeah, one from my time.”
Miru had heard a few things about Captain Rogers
from the others, but had not asked for details.
She had dismissed what she had heard as miscommunication.
Looking at the aged book on the seat, she thought that she might
want to hear more details. Wilma held the book out to her.
It was in the human language, which she did not know, but Miru
carefully opened it up and gazed at the writing on the brittle pages.
“It must be wonderful to have something like this.”
“Didn’t you have access to books?” Buck
“Only occasionally did I have time to read from
the queen’s library. Most
of the time I was too busy. I
did not learn how to read well,” she said softly, her voice tinged with
sadness. “It must be wonderful to read the stories about the
“This isn’t exactly about the past.
It’s a fiction . . . a made up story.
But even those can tell you much about people.”
“I think that it’ll be easy for you to learn
to read well, whatever language it is,” Buck said, pulling over a
footstool and sitting down. He
had also fixed Miru something to drink and offered it to her at the same
time gesturing for her to sit down on the small couch.
“Oh, that is your place, Captain Rogers,” she protested. “I can sit on the stool.”
Buck waved off her protest. “You are a guest in my humble house. And the name is Buck. Especially when everyone is off duty.” He took a sip from his glass. “Now what’s on your mind?” he asked sensing something was bothering the young birdwoman. He pondered briefly why she hadn’t consulted with Hawk, since she liked him so much. “Or are you here to talk to Wilma?”
|Buck Rogers Contents|