Cerulean stared up at the lofty two-storied cabin with large gabled windows and wide surrounding porch and grinned. It was everything he had dreamed of and more. Turning his head, his gaze swept over the lofty panorama, skimming across the waters of the great lake. Huge, white geese flew high above the bubbling crests that rolled up on the shore on this fine, summer evening.
He was exhausted, but he was getting used to that sensation. Ever since he won his last great tussle with the Inter-Alien Alliance Committee, he had promised himself a retreat and a rest to build up his depleted reserves. He had been fighting Luxonians, humans—and pretty much everyone else—for far too long.
Even as his shoulders relaxed, shuffled footsteps forced him to turn his gaze from the blue-green water, across the pine-strewn forests, and back to the front of his cabin. There, on the dirt trail, a small assembly of men and women came to a huddled stop. His whole body stiffened and he frowned. Who the—?
The eldest figure spoke first. “Excuse us, sir. We hate to bother you, but are you Cerulean, the Luxonian leader of the Inter-Alien—?”
Cerulean sighed, his shoulders drooping. Oh, God. He peered into their tanned faces, appraised their homespun clothing and work-roughened hands, and repented his impatience. Give me strength. “I’m not the leader of anything anymore. I’ve retired.”
A tall, extremely thin representative of the group stepped forward. He strangled a straw hat in his hands and shuffled his feet. “But you are that Luxonian?”
Cerulean shrugged. “I helped patch together the Inter-Alien Alliance on Newearth, yes.” His gaze roved over the group as a baby, hidden from sight, squalled. “Is there something I can do for you?”
The tall man took another hesitant step forward, his brown-eyed gaze looking up the slope and into Cerulean’s piercing eyes. “My name is Able, and you see, we’re settlers here, neighbors, kind of. We call ourselves the Amens. Separatists. We want to return to the ways of our ancestors and live in union with God’s created world.”
A wavering grin played on Cerulean’s lips. “The Bhuac would love you.”
Able’s face brightened as a smile broke the straight line of his mouth. “Yes, sir, we know of them, and they do support our dream, but they have their own struggles. They’ve been persecuted too.”
“Someone’s persecuting you?” Cerulean pursed his lips. “Listen, this is no way to get acquainted. Please, step up here. The porch is large enough, and I have a few chairs. I’ve even got some food inside if you like.”
The two women offered sidelong glances and grinned as the elder one shifted her baby from under a blanket onto her hip. The other men started forward. Able put up his hand. “We wouldn’t think of disturbing you, but it would be a kindness to speak in the shade. The sun is hot, though the breeze you have up here is a real blessing.”
Cerulean opened his hands in a welcoming gesture, and the group filed past and climbed the four wooden steps. In quick jerking motions, he dragged chairs forward. “I just moved in, and I haven’t gotten everything set up yet.”
Able waved his hand anxiously. “Please, we only want a few moments of your time to explain our mission and why we need your help—if you don’t mind.”
Cerulean leaned against a post, suppressed a sigh, and nodded.
The three men moved into the background, while the two women settled into the available chairs. The mother rocked her baby with a relieved smile.
Able continued to wring his hat as he focused his attention on Cerulean. “You see, we were granted immigration status four years back, but it took time to organize our people and buy the right plot of land. We don’t want to trouble anybody, and we have no prejudice against any race, but we do have rules we must abide by. We choose to live simply and in union with nature. That’s why we moved into this wilderness over a year ago. At first, everything went along as planned. We built homes for our members and worked the land so that we could plant, and we even made a few contacts with businesses in Waukee.”
Cerulean saluted Able with an appreciative nod. “Sounds like you’re a marvel of planning and industry.”
Able accepted the compliment with a shy smile before his face sobered. “Well, we aren’t afraid of hard work, but we are afraid of death threats.”
“About six months ago, a mob of Uanyi showed up and told us to move on, that we’re not welcome in this district. I told them that we had the authorization of the Inter-Alien Alliance Committee to buy land here and that we have full human rights to form our own society as we see fit. I even showed them our data chip authorizing—”
“They ignored it, didn’t they? Uanyi don’t much care for humans. They’ll continue trying to intimidate you if they think they can get away with it.”
“They did a whole lot more than intimidate. They beat three of our men senseless and threatened to come back and kill our women and children if we didn’t leave.”
Cerulean’s frown deepened as he pushed off from the post. “Did you inform the Human Rights Bureau? Get any Interventionists out here?”
Able sighed. “A couple of Interventionists flew in and took down our complaint. But they told us that since we didn’t have any hard evidence, it’s going to be difficult to follow up. I went all the way to Vandi and issued a formal complaint, but the Human Rights detective I met said that threats against humans were too numerous to deal with. Humans are the minority and what with the Cresta, Uanyi, Ingot, and Luxonians—pardon me, sir, but not all Luxonians are like you—we find that we have very few rights and even fewer friends. At least not anyone who can help to defend us against a band of unruly Uanyi.”
Cerulean sat on the top step and rubbed his hands over his face. He let his gaze absorb the vast beauty before him and took a deep breath. Craning his neck, he looked back at the assembly.
Able blinked and glanced away. “You can’t help us?”
Cerulean rose and strode to the woman and the now sleeping infant. He smiled at the bright pink face nestled against his mother’s enfolding body. With a gentle finger, he caressed the tousled, straw-colored hair and peered into the mother’s eyes. “I’ll do everything I can. I have friends. Just give me a few days to track down these Uanyi idiots, and I might be able to convince them that it’ll be in their best interests to leave you alone.”
Relieved smiles broke across every face. The mother’s eyes filled with tears as she reached out and gripped Cerulean’s hand, her voice a shy whisper. “Thank you.”
Cerulean nodded. “Well, I don’t know about you, but solving problems makes me hungry. How about you come in and I’ll scratch up…something?”
A burst of laughter followed this as the two women shuffled to their feet. Able gripped Cerulean’s shoulder. “On the contrary, you’ll be our guest tonight, if you’ll do us the honor. My wife is one of the best cooks on the planet, and her sister can brew the finest tea this side of the moon.”
Cerulean grinned at Able’s soft, delighted eyes. “I can hardly wait to meet them.”
Perching his rumpled hat jauntily on his head, Able grinned back. “You already have.” The small troop shuffled down the steps with Able guiding the woman and baby. He looked back at Cerulean as he stopped on the trail, the rest of the group traipsing down the incline. “I’ll come back at sunset and lead you over. We’ll gather everyone to celebrate.”
Cerulean sighed. “I hope you aren’t counting on me too much. I’ll do the best I can, but you know, trouble is part of life here on Newearth.”
Able bobbed his head in agreement and turned away with a wave. “True, but we’ve got the best reason in the universe to be glad. It isn’t every day that you meet a new friend.”
Cerulean’s gaze followed the small group as they traipsed away.
An odd sensation made him look down. His legs were shaking. In fact, his whole body shook. Collapsing on the bottom step, he held his head in his hands and groaned.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
“Enjoyed the read. Characters were actually fun to learn about” ~Walter
“The Newearth world is wonderfully descriptive and the story is compelling.” ~Ellen
“Science fiction at its best! Creative, thought-provoking, and visual.” ~Lindens