From the 2nd book, St. Louis Symphony Chorus rehearsal

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Here Batresh sees Denny interact with others at the Symphony Chorus rehearsal

They went over difficult passages in the Prokofiev, and quickly through Verdi’s, Quattro Pezzi Sacri. The conductor coached them to produce sounds he wanted, helping them relax chins and neck muscles, establishing the stream of air before engaging vocal chords.

Within a short time, the soprano section, at first sounding like individual singers, blended as one. Batresh understood why she sat next to the tenors. Her low voice blended with higher male voices. Bob began to develop more chest resonance in his high notes. She felt as if she had had a voice lesson. This conductor understood the human voice.

After an hour, he announced the chorus would take a break. Batresh watched as singers rose from their chairs. She realized some had been singing together for years. She saw the Tlaloc head towards a stairway leading down to the auditorium. Several men watched him. She knew, at this time, men who were sexually attracted to other men were organizing politically, and were more open in expressions of sexual attraction. She smiled, thinking of her Vizier at Sekhem.

She reflected on this culture, where so many hated those who were different.

She saw Denny’s eyes follow the handsome Tlaloc. She was happy to see Bob’s eyes solely fixed on Denny. “Want to walk out to the lobby?” Bob asked the pretty young man.

Denny smiled, and responded, “Yes, thank you.”

Batresh saw Denny stand with the elegance of her Matriarch. She realized movements, facial expressions and even vocal intonations, remained with her Matriarch’s Ka. Denny had hardly a trace of an accent, speaking in a regal, refined manner. She wondered where he learned to speak this way. It was not from his environment. Bob walked towards Denny and touched his shoulder. “Let’s take this stairway,” he said, gesturing to the other side of the auditorium. He wanted to steer Denny away from competition.

A loud voice caused Batresh to look around. A freckled young woman, wearing a T-shirt and jeans made a vulgar joke to a chubby tenor. Some blushed and turned away, but a few, including Denny and Bob looked at her smiling. Someone touched Batresh on her left arm. She turned around and saw a man with curly black hair.  She noted his dark eyes behind round horn-rimmed glasses.  

“I want to welcome you to St. Louis,” he offered, “I am Tom’s assistant.” His smile was genuine. She saw the soft pink skin of his bottom lip under a bushy mustache. He realized he had not given his name. He extended his right hand, “Seth Neuman.”

She took his hand, and looked into his eyes. Her reaction to him was strong, she wondered, as she had with Jerry, whether her feelings of attraction were the result of downloads. “Of course you know already, I’m Miriam Kaplan.” She laughed, blushing. She realized that she looked Middle Eastern. The downloads had informed her of the large Jewish population at St. Louis, so she chose a Jewish name.

“Where are you from?” Seth smelled her perfume and moved closer.

She had not planned. She should have created a history for the character she played here. Suddenly she was left to rely on experience. “I have moved here from Mississippi.” He was so close she could feel the heat from his body. He wore a black, faux-silk shirt. The two top buttons were undone, revealing sparsely placed curls of black-hair. She thought his chest hair looked as if it had been carefully arranged by human hands. His legs were thick, straining against tight, cream colored trousers. People here were more sexually open than in the early 1960s.

“Oh,” Seth looked confused. He had not detected a Southern accent. He looked at the chairs, then back into her face. “There is a young tenor who just moved here from Mississippi too.”  

The conductor looked at the two of them, “Seth?”   

“Excuse me,” Seth turned and walked away.

Batresh looked into the auditorium, but didn’t see Denny and Bob. They must have already made it to the lobby. She walked to the stairway they had taken.

###

Batresh made her way up an aisle in the auditorium. When she reached the back, a black man, a baritone, opened the door for her. She noted his dimples as he smiled. She stepped onto a white marble floor hearing the heels of her shoes click on the hard surface. Bob was introducing Denny to friends. The Tlaloc stood at the unattended bar, talking with another man.

“Want to go out after the rehearsal?” Bob asked a woman pulling a mink stole around her shoulders.

She nodded. Another tall, thin man said, “That sounds like fun!”

Bob turned to Batresh, “Ah yes, here is our Carmen,” he smiled playfully. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I caught your name.”

Batresh extended her hand, “Miriam Kaplan,” she responded.

“Are you from St. Louis?” Bob asked.

“I just moved here from Mississippi,” She looked into his hazel eyes, and felt he was kind. She hoped Denny and Bob would be close.

A rotund woman opened the door from the auditorium and motioned for them to come back inside.

Bob touched Batresh’s arm, “Would you like to join us at Llewellyn’s after rehearsal?”

“I would love to, but you’ll have to tell me how to get there.”

“Why don’t I drive,” he responded. “You can come with us. I’ll bring you back to Powell Hall.”

“That sounds wonderful,” she responded.

They headed back to the stage. Bob waved to a woman walking down an adjacent aisle. A man to his left stopped him to say something Batresh couldn’t hear. They both laughed.

Batresh continued up the steps to the stage and saw Seth. He smiled as she stepped onto varnished planks.

The conductor looked over the sea of choral singers and began, “We have a Russian coach with us tonight.” Batresh saw an aged, slumped man, wearing a thick Scandinavian sweater. He leaned into the crook of the piano squinting at sheets of music in his hands. 

Looking at the Russian coach reminded her of Lamma, her Matriarch’s sister. She became Matriarch after her mother’s death and was in the Soviet military in 1962. The last Batresh heard, was her announcement that Tlalocs were helping the Soviets develop an anti-matter weapon. 

The man standing at the piano began, “Vstavaitia, ludi Ruskia,” reciting the libretto. He asked the chorus to repeat after him.

Her most recent downloads contained information on events since 1962. Batresh learned there was no Matriarch in place now. The Elders made decisions in her stead.   

“Nya slavni boi, nya smertnyi boi…”

Batresh knew the Tlalocs were helping the Soviet military. But, only recently learned the Black Sentry, the impenetrable technology orbiting Terra, had moved to a position over Kiev as the Soviet developers grew close to production.

“Vsta vaitya ludi volnya…”

The Tlalocs and Soviets worked together since the mid-1950s on the weapon. But, as they approached the testing date, a beam emanated from the Black Sentry, striking the weapon and computer systems. Wiring, mother-boards, and electrical systems dissolved, metals melted together. Two human scientists perished from heated temperatures generated by the beam. All supporting systems destroyed, the project considered to be a complete loss.

“…za nashu ziem lu, chyess nu yu!”

Lamma was accused and convicted by Tlalocs and the Soviet military, of causing the destruction of the anti-matter weapon.

Modified to appear human, the reptilians executed her with great ceremony before the Soviet leadership. They intended to show their resolve to destroy the United States and all who would work to preserve their arch-enemy. To execute her, they used the same weapon fired at Namazu, except Lamma had no shields, no protection. She died on-impact, her nervous system completely disintegrated.

When a Tayamni dies, the Hathors are called upon to find the Ka, the core of the Tayamni entity. But, years later, Lamma still could not be found. They employed the help the Sisters of Hypatia to find her. The Sisters believed the Tlaloc weapon destroyed Lamma’s Ka. They were waiting, hoping that she would reappear. No new Matriarch from the House of Uanna had been chosen.

The chorus continued working on pronunciation. But, at 8:45, Tom made another announcement. “Tonight, we have another treat,” he looked around the chorus. “Claudine Carlson, our soloist, is here to sing what is, in my opinion, the most powerful section of the piece.”  

The pianist began a slow, mournful melody, as a tall woman, unnoticed earlier, slowly stood, as if rising from tortured mists, deep in the Earth. She rose from a position behind the chorus, standing slowly, looking beyond the interior of Powell Hall, to a distant medieval battle field. Batresh felt the coldness of the Russian winter. She saw wives and mothers searching among the fallen, the bodies of a rag tag Russian army lying in the snow.

Ms. Carlson began, her voice low, sobbing, “Matnaya Russ…”

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