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Hill's Fourth Harmony

Read Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Time passed - I still couldn't tell you how long - minutes perhaps - Dawn and I returned to the ship and not long after Winter returned. The mission assumed a level of solemnity at this point and we prepared ourselves for the journey home. The ruby crystal on each console around the ship lit one by one as we all focused on the purple crystal in the center of the ship. The bell back where our bodies lay dormant began to ring. We were being called home. The spiritual nausea returned and we were popped back into the hangar, and our essences returned to our bodies.

Opening your eyes after what I now noticed as one week of meditation can be jarring. The lights were dimmed in anticipation of our return, but even so it seared the eyes in a way that felt like fluorescent menthol. I slowly sat up, recovering my awareness as I re-acclimated myself with my muscles and bones. The others about the room were stirring as well, with the exception of Winter, who was still in mode.

"Everyone ok" cracked out of my throat in a whisper.

The noise of people waking up, yawning, and stretching the response.

I pulled the needle that had been sustaining my bodily functions out of my arm. My joints creaked in protest as I turned my legs off the gurney and put my feet on the floor. I tested my weight and both legs held. I stood up, and by a series of what felt like a hundred miniature steps made my way to Winter's bed, a mere 10 feet from my own.

I pulled her grey and in some places beaded hair away from her face and put my hand on her forehead. Chase came up beside, looking markedly more recovered than I.

"How is she?"

I let energy flow out of my shoulders and arms and into her forehead. I could feel my heart pumping energy throughout my body as I attempted to feel Winter's presence.

Her care wrinkled face cracked into a smile, and without opening her eyes said "Can't you see I'm busy here?" with a playful giggle she stuck out her tongue. I took my hand off her forehead and pinched her cheek.

"At your age busy looks like dead." Sarge's baritone wryly prodded from across the room.

"I'll take small grey and creaky to tall dark and cranky any day" Winter tickled back, now sitting up and massaging her neck.

The twins looked at each other and rolled their eyes. They looked on with disinterest. Dawn had woken and was sitting up as well. After about 10 minutes of typical locker room conversation and physical recovery, we filed into the adjoining room.

The debrief room looked completely different than the military industrial complex room we just came from. It was an indoor atrium the size of a movie theater with various blooming plants and small trees reaching toward the 40 foot glass ceiling. It was late at night and overcast outside, but a peculiar red light was somewhere near the building outside. I wondered about it for a moment before sitting down in an area towards the center of the room.

I sat on a stone bench arranged in a semi-circle around what looked to be a birdbath. The greenhouse feel of the room was designed to offset the energetic debt people feel after meditating for so long. The flowers and trees did help balance and ground my mind for the debrief ahead. A holoscreen was projected from somewhere within the pseudo clever ruse that was the birdbath.

A rapid montage with newsreel type voiceover highlighted the major milestones on our journey. Dramatized images of actors portraying us in a "real" spaceship were interspersed with an appropriate dramatic soundtrack in the background. The bullshit continued. The debriefs were never for us to talk about what happened, but rather for us to know how the press conveyed the "truth" of the event so that we could corroborate our "authentic experience". The public at large knew in a vague fashion that the newsreels were so much crap, but the masses didn't seem to object to the "dramatizing" of what actually happened.

The press didn't really ever produce anything that was factually opposite of what occurred, but rather by cooperative omission, selectively wrote the truth and omitted things not perceived to be in line with the administrations views. We watched in relative amusement as the press described the spiders and space frigate. When the reel came to the chunk of diamond, it was described as an "inorganic mineral cluster" - part of the influence of De Beers. The words "diamond the size of Lambeau Field" would not have passed with as little notice. Footage of Winter exploring the object focused on the actions of the probe, and described that the probe was "encoding means of contact with our species here on earth". Not entirely false - Winter would have left some residual traces of her energy inadvertently as part of exploration - but not true in that the probe wasn't causing the effect, nor was it the purpose, nor cause, of the light show.

I shot a glance at Winter. She did not look back, but instead stayed focused on the screen. Ellen and Alex looked at each other. I could feel a brief twinge of discomfort from them as they watched the scene where Winter explored the diamond. It quickly passed, like the awkward changing of a subject between not so close friends.

"I watched the news today oh boy." John Lennon's drifting voice wafted across my mind. I mentally chucked at my own joke, which manifested itself on my face as a smirk. Dawn noticed, but knew better than to ask. I mentally sent her a strain of Lennon's ghostly vocals, and the smirk replicated itself on her face.

The Holoscreen went dim, and with a hiss and a bubble from the birdbath turned off. I stood up and walked over and stood in front of the birdbath. I faced the team taking time to look each member in the eye if only for a second. Upon having their attention I started.

"Does anyone have anything to say about what `just' happened" - just was funny subjective time is a joke.

"I do." Chase said, looking around at the others. "What happened inside the diamond?"

Ellen and Alex, seated next to each other of course, glanced quickly towards Winter.

Winter looked directly at me as she answered, "It was a timesync."

The room collectively inhaled sharply in surprise. Questions like popcorn fired from around the room about he nature and depth of the anomaly.

I brought forth energy into my voice, "Quiet" - I loved doing that. It was firm, and at an operational level without yelling but the extra energy in the projection never failed to get results.

Winter began, "It was a timesync and I can't say how deep it went for sure but it was easily a couple million years." Again the collective inhale. "I'm still sorting it out, and can't say for sure, but I think that the species that left it are still alive." Jaws dropped. "I can't say any more now, but when I get done sorting it, I'll talk to you about it I promise."

It wouldn't have been quieter in the room if someone had just rolled in a cadaver. After an unbearable silence I asked, "Anyone have anything else?"

Leave it to Dawn to break the tension by tormenting me.

"Yeah what was with you today? You seemed really distracted."

"I was. Anyone else have anything?" I cut them all off at the pass.

More silence.

"Meeting adjourned."

Read Chapter 5

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