= Chapter Seven =
They took their doses of transcendental apperceptive essence, and after some time, the trip began. They began to perceive Stephanie's transit from Earth to Malasrion.
It was stupendous. The entire journey was a warm and sunny descent onto the inner surface of Malasrion. Exactly how you end up on the inside of a sphere from the outside of one, when the smaller is not inside or does not intersect with the larger, Stephanie would never ever be able to explain to herself, let alone someone else.
The actual time it took, Stephanie could not perceive, either. The wide-open lawns of Matilda Bay had both rushed away from her, upwards, just as fast as the surface of Malasrion had been rocketing towards her feet. She could have sworn she had not rotated in any of the three dimensions she knew, yet she had, sure enough, gone straight upwards, and straight downwards—perhaps she had blinked, or lost attention, and her crew of space Anarchists had engineered their favourite Disney-ification of their arrivals between Earth and Malasrion.
The one thing Stephanie found disarming was that she had been perfectly contented and unalarmed while traversing many thousands of dimensions—all while being perfectly alone.
She suddenly remembered Rayan—Drago—had said to her that her journey would be on her lonesome. It made perfect sense to Stephanie, the experience that Stephanie was about to have was going to be work. Drago did not have to go through a difficult and convoluted journey between dimensions anymore—besides, he needed to get home before Stephanie, to prepare the house for a guest.
“It is a little like driving to Melbourne just to get down the road to the Deli,” Stephanie suddenly remembered she had said.
Stephanie was sure she had slept for some of the journey—or had at least lost consciousness and then somehow awoken; either which way it was a pleasant and refreshing process through which to go.
Perhaps she had no sense of the speed at which she was moving—it felt like an enormous rapid acceleration, followed by a leisurely deceleration.
Eventually, after waking what seemed like the third or fourth time—she awoke to the perfect acceptance that she had been joined by the rest of her Anarchist collective.
“Is this journey the same for everyone, Drago—I'm sorry,—Rayan?”
“Yes it is. And we are both very sorry for the cheap fare we paid for you to come be with us.”
“It was possibly the most pleasant waiting-room experience I have ever had in my life.”
“Yes, I absolutely love it.” Goh exclaimed.
“This is a recording, isn't it?” Stephanie laughed. She immediately felt a little embarrassment, as if a camera had been shoved in her face.
“More-or-less,” Lutrin smiled reassuringly. “But we can record any memory at any time, we can even go back and decide to record a transit such as this after it has transpired.
“I know this might seem a little condescending, Stephanie, but even though Malasrion assumes physical form here to you now because we are impoverished from the collapse of our civilisation, most of Malasrion manages to exist outside space and time. This physical colony of ours is our shadow of our real selves. Real selves that we are less and less being able to be.”
“Is the real Lutrin talking to me right now?”
“Unfortunately, yes. Our group of comrades here are very impoverished. We have a grab-bag of magic tricks we can deploy at will when we are living on Earth—and in third-dimensional Malasrion—but we can only use our transcendental powers within the third dimension. We are, truly, lumpenproletariat. I believe Goh here was born in the third dimension, only to discover his transcendental powers and visit other dimensions later on in life, as he is a young one. Of course both myself and Rayan remember the glory days of the Gremanese Revolution, so inspired as it was by Noral Mosky. She was a wonderful idol for both Rayan and I growing up. We were too young to have fought in the revolution, but we remember the great strides that Malasrion made into leaving the third dimension.
“We really are old folk, aren't we Rayan.”
“Well, I believe we are both very sickly. To have lived through the great flourishing of the beginning, as well as the bloody end of Communism for the Malasrionese, and arrived here in destitution, I would say we don't have much left in either of us.”
“But we believed in something...”
“Well, I would say your steady hold on the right cause might just pay off,” Palm-Frond interjected. “Don't ruin the mood! Earth will be, perhaps, joining us, in several short millennia, here beyond the third dimension, fresh off their civilisation's path of flourishing, and we would have toppled Scanlon, the Pact, as well as the Body Politic.”
“Aren't we so lucky.” Rayan turned to Lutrin.
When they arrived at the Malasrionese legislature, it was empty. The staff had packed up along with the stiff politicians, and had seemingly all left.
“This is not right.” Palm-Frond cautioned.
The had group collected in the main reception, after checking several wings of the building's offices. None of the space Anarchists had understood Stephanie's jokes about Great Danes and shaggy men.
Suddenly, a voice from outside. “I'm out here!”
Everyone spun around to find a member of the legislature clutching their torso, leaning a bloody hand on the enormous ceiling-high glass window just outside the parliament main entrance. The group was particularly stunned to have missed this figure before entering the building.
They assembled outside. The wounded person was none other than E. Lysenko, the leader of the Pact. Before everyone could get a good look at Lysenko, she collapsed. She fell backwards and a rush of bizarre-smelling liquid gushed out of the back of her head, on the concrete.
Stephanie instinctively tried to catch the woman, and then rushed to her aid, only to find the rest of her comrades still standing back. It suddenly occurred to Stephanie that she should not touch anything, not Lysenko, most of all. There would be Malasrionese police crawling all over this area within hours.
Lysenko began to speak, but as she did, the skin on her face sagged, to reveal what appeared to Stephanie as a stainless steel skull. The woman's eyes were without pupils or irises, and were stained with the same liquid that was seeping through her clothes and onto her hands. It was, on Stephanie's closer inspection, not blood: it was like thick, concentrated car coolant. Lysenko was not a biological life-form.
“We are poor fools, Rayan.”
Rayan looked Lysenko directly in her lifeless face. The sound of her voice was no longer issuing from her mouth. It was being modulated from somewhere in her abdomen.
“We are lucky, because we are late.”
“You're most likely in the safest part of Malasrion, right now, Rayan. You have pulled off a miracle. You are the luckiest little petulant Gremanese children I can think of.”
“I suppose you are right.”
Lysenko began, all of a sudden, to wail and moan. “I trusted them! And now we are finished. Do not go down to the tavern, unless you are in a hurry to die. I escaped wounded, and would likely have made it to Earth, but for the shock of seeing you here. It is a purge, Rayan. We have had the short-sightedness of trusting the Body Politic with their plans to unseat Scanlon, only to have them have us right where they wanted us.”
Goh was particularly pre-occupied during this revelation. Lysenko never noticed the young one, however, and never addressed anyone except Rayan, as her voice began to rasp and hiss.
“You never struck me as the sentimental type, Lysenko. You were ruthless and calculating with all of your enemies, as well as your friends.”
“I believed in something, Rayan. Surely you can understand that.”
“What is this, a eulogy to yourself? You yourself are a killer. You're also a very wealthy profiteer from violence as well as exploitation. Don't patronise me.”
Lysenko had died long before Rayan had finished. Her body had been motionless for some time now, Rayan had been talking to a lump of metal. Rayan looked disturbed. Lysenko had died without ever being challenged directly for her hypocrisy and blood-thirstiness.
Some time passed. Lutrin and Goh sat cross-legged opposite the toxic chemical mess around Lysenko's metallic frame.
Stephanie and Rayan stood with Palm-Frond, a little back, closer to the entrace of the legislature.
“My own father died, you know.” Palm-Frond spoke.
“I remember my parents, and I remember how my opinion of them changed over time.” Rayan chuckled a little.
“Did they inspire you to struggle, like this?” Stephanie asked.
“In a way.” Palm-Frond responded. “My parents were better off than others. I arrived here theoretically. Rayan is of course an old hand at these matters, having lived many lifetimes longer than I have. We are lucky in that way that we live longer than humans. Humans sometimes forget things. Humans also remember and become inspired by things, but then forget that there was a time before that.”
“Do not think that I don't find the concept complex to fathom.”
“What inspired you to help us?” Palm-Frond said, unblinkingly.
“You already know the answer to that, you're mind-readers!”
“I want to hear it in your own words.”
“Well this is the hospitality I would show any comrades,” Stephanie laughed. “Some members of our section sent us an email and said a chain-smoking Slav man named Drago was arriving in several months' time for the Anarchist Bookfair we were putting on, he being a speaker.”
The entire group was listening to Stephanie by now.
Lutrin turned around and flashed Rayan an evil look: “Is this some sort of a joke?”
Rayan's lips curled into a naughty smile.
“You little devil. You wrote to an Earth Anarchist organisation?”
“Well it turned out well, didn't it?”
Everyone exploded into laughter.
to be continued/finished off