Jerry accompanies Batresh to the Lunar Base, October, 1962
Jerry and hurtled towards Luna. Looking out at the stars, she tried not to feel. She didn’t want to go on missions. She didn’t believe she could protect Denny. She didn’t want to be Matriarch. She didn’t want to be here, at the 20th century, with humans, dysfunctional, filled with hate, intolerant. Jerry squeezed her hand seeing worry in her face. In the distance, the gleaming reflection of another ship flashed, as her vessel moved out of the atmosphere. Why did the Matriarch allowed herself to die and be reborn into the body of this boy, this fragile child whose father was hell-bent on killing him? Batresh wanted to go home, to the Great River, to her life millennia ago. She brought her left hand up to her face, covering her eyes as if to blot out the present.
She wished Jerry could remove her anxiety like Amun did. She wished he could assure her Denny would be treated with kindness. She wished Jerry could assure that Denny would survive. She knew he life would be tragic, so feminine, a boy who played with dolls, who liked to play dress-up in his mother’s clothes. It would be impossible to be happy. He would learn to hate himself.
Jerry reached over and took her hand. She looked ahead, the moon growing larger as they approached. Tears gathered but dried before falling. She sighed. Jerry brought her hand to his lips.
Hours ago, as they drove away from Pickwick, Jerry was careful not to follow Denny’s family too closely. Batresh watched them on the display for time. The little family drove silently. The boy silently wiped away tears.
As Jerry drove her back to Tupelo, a blinking light flashed from her wrist watch. She was reluctant to answer, wondering what fresh calamity this would be. She pressed a small disk, and a rectangular display materialized.
“Batresh,” Sagar began. “You should come to Luna.”
Batresh looked at her face.
“We don’t understand why, but Namazu’s organs are failing,” she continued.
Batresh was silent for a moment. “But,” she started, “but I thought she was regenerating.”
“She was improving.” Sagar was silent for a moment. “We don’t understand this, an effect of the weapon?” She paused, then continued, “Her organs are failing.” Sagar looked down at her own console. “She may not have long in this body.”
The transmission ended. Batresh held Jerry’s hand. She could no longer hold back fear. Her eyes closed tight, and her mouth opened. Taking in a long breath, as if from far away, she cried. Drawing air in deeply, tears falling down her cheeks, her shoulders shook. She took another breath, and buried her face onto Jerry’s shoulder. Her body trembled, as she fought to maintain control. She held onto Jerry’s arm with both hands, as she wept onto his shirt. He drove the car towards Tupelo in silence, willingly giving her his arm for comfort.
“I am going with you,” he offered.
She lifted her eyes. “Thank you, Jerry.” She wiped tears way. “I am not sure you are ready.”
“I’m going with you,” he responded defiantly.
“Humans have not journeyed to Luna,” she looked back at him. “You have no references.”
He looked over at her, “You will not go alone.”
She looked at him again. “I intend to leave as soon as we get home.”
His eyes were fixed on the highway ahead of them. “I assumed as much,” he responded.
When their bodies died, the Tayamni spiritual core instantly returned to Mussara. Batresh did not understand the process by which this happened. She had been taught she was a being of pure energy, assigned a human body at birth. She had no memories of living outside a body. If Namazu died, Batresh didn’t know if it would change her. Would Namazu remember her? Would she still be her sister? Batresh lost her Matriarch a short time ago. Now, in the body of the boy, Denny, her Matriarch no longer knew her. Would Namazu know her if she lived in a different body?
They continued driving in silence. By the time they reached the house, clouds were red in autumn twilight. Jerry came around and opened the car door, pulling her gently against him as she stood. She was grateful for his strength, his desire to protect her. He took her hand, kissed her softly and whispered, “Let’s go.”
They walked through the house, to the back porch. The door of the shed had never closed properly. Held together by the chain and padlock the carpenter left in place, Namazu promised to fix it. He looked at Batresh. She returned his gaze knowing that they had the same thought.
As Batresh inserted a key, Jerry felt the same fear as before. She walked to the left side of the vehicle, looking down at the gravel. Transparent coverings slid open. Jerry swallowed hard, turned and stepped into the vehicle. He closed his eyes as belts slid over his shoulders and waist. He felt his heart beat quicken. Perspiration beaded above his lip. He was determined to be with Batresh when she saw Namazu again. He couldn’t bear her to face this alone. He looked over as she looked blankly through the transparent covering. She lay her hand in the receiver, and the vehicle floated out of the shed. It slid upwards to the tops of the trees.
The sun was below the horizon. Jerry saw a line of light against the Earth in the west. The ship shot up through the sky as the Earth receded beneath them. The sun moved higher as they climbed, reflecting off lakes and ponds. Looking ahead, he could see the dark curvature of the Earth, the thin haze of atmosphere covering it, he saw stars, and then to his left the white moon, shining brilliantly. Batresh only looked ahead, deep in her own thoughts, not noticing the sights that so intensely dazzled and frightened him.
He began to breathe faster. His heartbeat increased. He couldn’t tell which direction was up and which was down. He looked over and saw hair floating off her shoulders. He put his hands over his abdomen to stop the nausea. Batresh noticed and spoke, “Activate gravity.”
No sooner had she spoken, than gravity returned, and his feelings of nausea diminished. Batresh’s hair settled down on her shoulders and the ship banked to the left. Straight ahead, Jerry saw Luna, Earth’s moon, getting larger. He turned to look behind them, and saw his home planet as a blue sphere, covered with white swirls. Batresh was alert and serious. Her brows drawn together. She looked as if she were about to speak, but said nothing. He looked ahead and realized he was the first human to fly to the moon. He thought of the humans throughout history who had looked up at the Moon in wonder.
His heart beat slowed. The perspiration on his face began to dry. Batresh looked at him, and sent a telepathic message, thanking him for coming with her. The strangeness of receiving a telepathic communication brought the fear again. He looked to his right, into space.
The controls in front of them made a soft pinging sound, and a blue rectangle of light materialized. It was the blonde woman again. She saw Jerry’s face and smiled. She could see that he held Batresh’s hand. “Jerry,” she offered. “I am Sagar, Tayamni Elder.” He drew his brows together with curiosity. She continued, “We wish to welcome you to the Lunar base.” She paused, then continued, “We have a proposal to make while you are here.”
Jerry’s mouth opened with surprise.
“Medical bots will meet you and escort you to medical facilities.”
Batresh looked at Jerry. She understood Elders scanned him the first time he sat in the vehicle. She wondered what they found.
Sagar continued, “If you accept, you will receive informational downloads while you are here.”
“Information, downloads?” He looked at Batresh with confusion.
“Batresh will explain,” she responded, and the transmission ended.
Jerry looked at Batresh, and could see the edge of the moon as it began to fill the screen in front of them. “What is a download?”
Batresh squeezed his hand, and sighed. She did not feel like explaining things. But, she went ahead, “There are several ways to acquire information,” she began.
Jerry looked at her with concern.
His discomfort caused Batresh to smile. She moved her hands onto his forearms, caressing him, trying to comfort him. “I cannot say the downloading process will be comfortable, or familiar.”
Jerry looked down at his feet with worry.
“In fact, the first time the equipment is applied, you may experience,” she paused, “…strange feelings.” She reached over to him and kissed his lips. “The more times you have downloads applied, the more comfortable it becomes. You will be fine.”
Jerry looked at her again. “Have you ever done this to humans?”
Batresh drew her brows together, “I have not heard of humans having downloads.”
“How do you know it will be safe for me?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “But, the Elders would never do such a thing, if they were not sure. We can have faith in their decision.”
Jerry looked down at her hands.
She continued, “We have been modifying human DNA for millennia now. You are more Tayamni than Homo Erectus. Humans are moving towards Genetic Compatibility.” She sat back, and watched the Moon grow closer. “It is safe for us, so it will, in all likelihood, be safe for you.”
Jerry sighed, looking at the moon filling the entire screen now. “What do you mean, Genetic Compatibility?”
Batresh looked to a large crater in the distance, and leaned forward. She pointed towards it, and looked at Jerry, “That is where we are going. It is disguised, and mostly underground. That is the Tayamni Lunar base.”
Jerry looked towards where she pointed, but could make out no artificial landmarks. She continued, “When the DNA of humans approaches equivalence to ours, your species will have reached Genetic Compatibility. You will have the same abilities that we have. You will simply have to learn to use your them.” She was grateful for the opportunity to think about him and his welfare. His questions kept her mind off Namazu. She realized she felt protective towards him.
He squinted his eyes, trying to see any kind of structure. But, still, all he saw was white sand, and deep, black shadows. “What is Homo, what did you call it?”
“Look there,” she said, pointing down below them.
Now, he saw, almost directly beneath them, straight horizontal lines, and perfectly circular shapes. She added, “Those structures were left by another species who arrived here long before we did.”
Jerry’s mouth opened, “So, there have been people from outer-space on the Moon before your people?”
“Yes, but we don’t know who they were.” She looked at him again, seeing fear and concern on his face. “Homo Erectus are who humans were, who your species were, before we arrived.”
Jerry saw a vehicle ahead of them headed to Lunar Station. “Do you mean, cave men?”
The ship began to fly lower. Jerry could see straight lines now, and the shapes of what may have been structures. He looked for Earth, but could not find it in the sky. He looked to the right and the left, then, he quickly turned to look behind them. He gasped, and could feel his heart beating.
“It’s OK, Jerry,” she tried to comfort him. “We are on the opposite side of the Moon from Earth, what you call the Dark Side. You can’t see Earth, because it is on the other side of the Moon.”
Jerry felt himself calming. “But, it’s not dark. I can see it.”
Batresh couldn’t help but smile. “That means, this side is dark to humans. You cannot see this side from Earth. That is why we built the station here.”
Jerry nodded. He had so many questions. He wanted to know more. What other aliens had been on Earth? How long had they been there? Why were they there? He could feel the gravity keeping him in his seat, but somehow, he felt that these new realizations were dislodging him from the reality he had always known. He reached forward to touch the console, as if touching the ship would stabilize him in some way. He had always thought Earth belonged to humans, it was OUR planet. But, he was realizing more advanced, intelligent creatures had been at Earth for longer than the human race. So, whose planet is it? Where can humans call home?
Touching the console brought comfort, floating through space, with no ground beneath him, at least the console was stable. It was warm to the touch, not cold as he imagined it would be. It was soft, like leather, comforting. He moved his hands to the cushioned seat under him, grabbing it with both hands, trying to feel grounded.
Batresh looked at him. “Thank you for coming with me, Jerry. You’re helping me.”
He looked back at her and responded, “I think I am entertaining you more than anything.” He tried to smile. Looking through the transparent screen, he could see sunlight reflecting off what looked like windows on the far side of the crater as they approached. The ship lowered to the surface.
Jerry saw a circular opening appear in the floor of the crater. The ship pointed directly towards it. Batresh continued, “Homo Erectus were much like humans are today, except, they had a lot more body hair. Their brain cavity was not as large as yours. They were closer to apes than humans are today.”
Jerry looked at her with wide eyes, “So, you are saying we descended from monkeys?”
“No,” she smiled at him, “Homo Erectus and monkeys both descended from a common ancestor.”
“And, how can you be sure of that?”
“My mother, the Matriarch, and my Primary, Amun, were both among the first Tayamni to come to Terra. They helped to make the decision of whether or not to begin this mission. They also participated in the initial contact, and genetic manipulations of the Homo Erectus species.” She looked at him mischievously, daring him to argue with her.
Jerry swallowed hard, “How long ago was that?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer, but he asked anyway.
She knew the answer readily, and responded to him without thinking. “Almost 200,000 years ago.” She was looking at the surface of the crater as the ship passed through the opening. Jerry, however, was concentrating on her face, intensely.
Then, he turned to his right, looking at landing bays on the levels around them. His face was red. She could see he was sweating again. “So, they are that old?”
She was growing anxious, thinking of seeing Namazu, “That is not old for my people.”
The tone of voice she used, let him know he should not ask more questions. He took her right hand in his to steady himself. The vehicle hovered, then slowly moved onto a bay. Jerry saw shiny, silvered machines hovering, waiting against the far wall. The vehicle landed so softly that Jerry wasn’t sure whether the ship had touched down. The doors slid open, and Batresh swung around to step out. Jerry assumed the ship had actually put down. He swung around himself, and noticed that he felt lighter. He tried to take a step, and actually launched himself into an arching jump. When he came down onto the pad, he stumbled and fell onto his knees. Batresh smiled, “The gravity is lighter here.”
Jerry wanted to get back in the ship and return to Earth, right now. But, he saw the gentle face of the woman he loved, as she walked around the ship to him. She took his hand and demonstrated how he should walk in Lunar gravity. Hovering bots moved down the wall to an opening to a circular hallway. Jerry walked with difficulty, but finally found that he could maintain more stability if he hopped. They entered the hallway, following the bots. They passed a blonde woman wearing a toga and a man wearing an environmental suit.
“You people sure do dress funny,” he added, trying to joke with her. She looked at him and tried to smile.
They continued to a transport. When the elevator descended, Jerry felt as if his feet would come off the floor and leave him floating in the air. He settled down firmly when the transport stopped. They followed bots around a hallway, passing sculptures and paintings. There were framed documents in languages and scripts that Jerry had never seen. Finally, they reached the medical facilities. Batresh moved in front of him, walking quickly. There, behind a transparent wall, lay Namazu, sleeping. A strong yellow beam shone onto her from instruments on the ceiling. Batresh walked to the platform where her sister lay. Jerry followed close behind. There were two other women. Batresh walked to them, and kissed them each informally. Jerry recognized Erish as one of the women he had met at Batresh’s house earlier. The other woman was Sagar, the Elder who spoke with him on the ship.
Batresh turned and walked to the bedside. “Has there been any change?” she asked.
Erish turned to Batresh and responded, “Yes, for the better.” She looked back towards Namazu, “Her tissues seem to be generating again.”
Sagar remained focused on Namazu. She continued, “Her lungs and heart have begun to repair themselves.”
Batresh held her sister’s hand, closed her eyes and began to speak. Jerry did not understand the language. She clicked her tongue, and used sounds he had never heard. Jerry wondered what she was saying and who she was speaking to. He looked back at Erish who was smiling. She leaned over to Jerry, “She is praying to Auset, our Goddess, to bring strength and recovery to her sister. She is using the old language.” Jerry wanted to ask which old language, but he held his tongue.
Batresh finished. Jerry could see tears in her eyes. Then, suddenly, all three women looked at each other with surprise. Jerry was confused. Again, Erish explained, “Namazu just sent a telepathic message, using the word, Dingir, or Heaven.” Jerry saw Batresh bring her sister’s hand to her lips.