“You’re not [sst’sst’sst] God,” Over-Captain Kel-Lek told the doctor who had the patient on the table. “But to me, you are performing alterations to these beings like you are.”
“No, I’m not, but I have studied this world exclusively for more than 143 circuits of their planet around their sun. I know this species very well and I can help them,” [vAr’ul] Sr. Dr. EHolham said without looking up from his work. From the information from the first drone that had discovered the planet, to riding herd on various preliminary survey ships to the outfitting of this orbital platform, EHolham and his staff learned everything they could about the beings below.
“So you’re not God, you’re just playing God,” Kel-lek told him.
“Look, Over-Captain Kel-Lek,” the doctor said finally looking up from the microscope, “your job is to support my work here, not to judge my proposal, which you know so well has the approval of the council. I believe this planet’s beings have possibilities of something great. I plan on proving it.”
“Yes, doctor, we’ve all heard of your work,” exasperation apparent in her voice. “You’ve told everyone on the ship, some of us many times, of your plan for these beings. You propose changing the sequences in their DNA so they will change the way they think and understand their world around them.” The Over-Captain repeated the tired summary the doctor had spewed out too many times before.
The doctor, famed throughout the [..tP’aael] Thousand Stars Conclave, of which they were both a part, had worked on his current project for more than a third of his adult life. He had earned honors from most of the major medical foundations and been awarded plaques from more than three dozen systems. He was brilliant, but he was also arrogant.
“These beings are some of the best examples I have found that resemble my species. They are bipedal, have two eyes, two nostrils, a single mouth and a circulatory and respiratory system which nearly matches our own.” The doctor was referring to his own species, not the species of the platform’s commander.
“The problem is they are not evolving. In the records we have, they have shown no evolution in more than [11,000 Primary Star Time (PST)] 10,000 years. They have stagnated. My work will nudge them along.
“They use simple tools but haven’t managed to cross from animal to thinker. Where we have the ability to reason, contemplate our lives and our future, these beings are ignorant of anything more than their now. They exist, they eat, they procreate and they die, and they die quickly. Their lives are short, averaging less than [21 PST] 19 years.
“They don’t even know they are alive. They’re no more than animals, right now,” the doctor explained as he finished up on the patient and closed the brain.
The being on the table remained motionless, even though its eyes were open. The doctor had injected him with a drug that paralyzed his body when they found it on the planet. It had been feeding on berries and the left-over meat from a kill made the night before with a female of his species. Both beings, once paralyzed where brought aboard.
It had taken Dr. EHolham several months to find two individuals, male and female, of the species by themselves. Capt. Kel-lek was curious as to why they couldn’t take an entire clan, but EHolham insisted the only beings he would take would be a male and a female, and unseen by the others.
“We will transport the beings back down at first light once my associates have finished the environmental details,” the doctor instructed the commander, referring to the team of 20 he had working on a sequestered and shielded nature preserve in which he’d place the two beings on the table. He needed time for them to acclimate to their new abilities without the fear of wild animals or others of their own species damaging or killing them.
“You really believe that what you’re doing is the right thing for this species,” the commander said as a statement, rather than asking. “It might take them longer than others to evolve than others and you’re changing what they would evolve into. You don’t know what their future holds and what you’re doing will forever change it.”
“The Conclave is well aware of your species reluctance to interfere with other cultures, but this mission has been approved of at the highest levels. We will proceed along my timeline and under my direction and you and your people have been ordered to provide us all necessary support, not argue philosophy at every turn.” The doctor’s face was turned red from anger. He’d worked for [191 PST] 174 years on studying the planet, another 30 writing proposals, raising capital, applying for permits, getting approval from the Conclave and arranging the proper support and ship to support this mission.
The commander of the ship was not humanoid as EHolham. The doctor was a member of one of the very few remaining bipedal species in the Conclave. Humanoids did not have the same longevity of life expectancy like most species, and in the history of the Thousand Star Conclave only four remained. Six others had destroyed themselves or their planet through war or disease. It was Dr. EHolham who proposed modifying the gene on the species found on the planet below to improve the long-term survivability of the bipedal species.
Over-Captain Kel-lek was a species of Lepidosauria, a serpent-type species that had evolved to be both warm-blooded and intelligent and locomoted on either two or four legs, depending on the sub-species and evolutionary advancement. Some other sub-types evolved leather-type wings instead of tails because of their planet’s unique environment; this was the sub-species Kel-lek belonged to. On planets with gravity equal to, or less than her home planet and which had atmospheres with sufficient density, she could fly with equal ability as walking.
These serpent-type beings filled one-quarter of the Conclave’s membership. There were also insectoid, aquatic and true avian species which made up another 74% of the Conclave. Bipedal humanoids, and a few other more exotic types of beings, made up the other one percent.
Humanoids occupied just six stars, four of which were originally settled from the same parent planet. The two others, while humanoid and bipedal, were still in early star exploration stages and on probationary membership.
The Thousand Star Conclave accepted full membership of any species that had achieved a level of evolution which included: 1: Unity of Compliance – the people of a planet to have decided on one-type of cohesive planetary leadership; 2: Acceptance of Reality – that no one species had a right to dictate morality unto another and that each member planet has a sovereign right to its laws and traditions; 3: Cleaved from Parent – that the species has travel to, and colonized at least one other planet with a survivable population; 4: Provide for Mutual Protection – that each member of the Conclave provide protection from outside influences first to the Conclave, then to it’s parent planet, then itself and it’s people and 5: Enjoin the Conclave – Submit to the authority of the Conclave’s elected officials on matters outside of internal autonomy.
The Conclave had more than 1,000 star system members, 1,249 to be exact, but the committee to rename the Conclave decided that until the total number of star systems grew to more than 2,000 members, the name would remain Thousand Star Conclave.
Once full membership was accredited, the star system and its species had all rights and benefits to the help of the Conclave, or could limit the amount of intrusion by others into personal affairs. Each planet provided an ambassador and staff to the Conclave General Assembly and acted as the liaison to their planetary leadership. It was a complex arrangement, but after more than [11,000 PST] 10,000 years, the system still functioned for the greater good of its membership.
Conditional membership was granted to species that had evolved to develop the ability to travel between stars, but had elected not to colonize other planets for personal beliefs or preferences. Provisional memberships were granted to species that had fulfilled all of the requirements for planetary leadership and space exploration, but had not satisfactorily colonized another planet.
[System 22344] The Sol system and earth had been discovered during the Third Great Expansion of the Conclave. It was discovered to be a habitable planet with a native bipedal species which might, with time, evolve into a higher order of being.
Detailed analysis showed the planet had gone through several cataclysmic changes in the past [450,000] 409,000 years, but a thorough examination of the solar system and thousands of mathematical simulations showed the current species of bipedal to have the most positive chance to evolve into an intelligent beings given enough time.
Dr. EHolham, noted for his work in humanoid biology and genetics, petitioned the Conclave to attempt to improve on the species already on earth in such a way as to refine their development. As they currently evolved, it might take tens of thousands of [PST] years for the next step in their evolution to breakthrough.
EHolham’s theory, the one he proposed to, and was accepted by the Conclave was a simple manipulation of the being’s DNA to speed up the natural evolution of the species. The Conclave’s Committee for Underdeveloped Cultures was swayed by an impassioned speech by the doctor to bring the bipedal species to a peaceful development of higher thought in one-tenth the usual time, thus improving the chances of bipedals on the planet as well as bipedals in general. The other species on the committee felt sympathy for the doctor and his species and allowed the experiment to proceed. There were so few humanoids in the Thousand Star Conclave, experimenting on one to improve the entire species was a “humanitarian” gesture.
Over-Captain Kel-lek was an experienced officer in the services of the Contact Arm of the Conclave. She had join the service when she reached the Age of Choice nearly [225 PST] 205 years ago. She moved up through the ranks by following orders and became most effective at leading those under her command to competently accomplish goals and objectives set by those above her.
She was a well-respected leader. She was chosen for the mission by the Contact Arm specifically because of her experience and abilities to form an effective team of fiercely loyal underlings. The species EHolham would be working on were not space-faring, they weren’t even tool-using for the most part, but the Contact Arm wanted someone to watch and report on the experiment, someone who had first-hand knowledge of cultures in various stages of development.
The orbiting platform housed 557 beings from the Conclave. Twenty of them were Dr. EHolham’s people and the other 537 were for operations, engineering, transportation, science, medical, computer, sensory and support and fell under Kle-lek’s command.
Compared with some of Kel-lek’s other commands, this was a small contingent. She’d commanded more than 2,200 while serving at [System 17854] Alula Australis, a system with two suns and two planetary masses with two separate species types, both of which had achieved space flight. The planet below, however, was special because of the experimental nature of EHolham’s work.
“The decision has been made,” the doctor said one more time, “and at tomorrow’s morning sun on the reservation, this being, this Man, will begin a new life under my watchful guidance.” Kel-lek hated the man’s arrogance as well as what he was doing to the two beings on the tables. She left the operating theater while the doctor contemplated his work and rifled through notes made by the computer and operating robots.
The Over-Captain’s species were long-lived and peaceful compared to the bipedals. The last war fought on her home planet had been more than [17,000 DST] 15,500 years before. She’d been alive and a few years short of joining the service when the Conclave News Net reported the bipedal species on [System 20004] 41 Arae had succeeded in developing and deploying a viral infection that mutated out of control, killing 6.825 billion beings on the planet.
Kel-lek believed EHolham was wrong in trying to manipulate the beings below. She believed they could have a long and happy existence without the introduction of intelligence. She believed EHolham was practicing [Gh~ujj] Lording – the practice of some beings to treat lesser-advanced beings as inferior through the use of technological superiority.
When she had been tasked to the mission, she had been briefed by the [LRecs-rush] Assistant Undersecretary to the Deputy Commissioner for Non-aligned Star Systems AalRaal. The briefing had lasted seven-eighths of a [ler] year and had prepared her for, what he believed would be, the idiosyncrasies of the mission. She believed, once the briefings were complete, she was ready to oversee every aspect of the mission. She was now having second thoughts about the motivations driving the doctor and his staff.
The Over-Captain returned to the [clecll] bridge/command center still deep in thought. It was important to her to follow the rules and regulations of the service, but she also had a personal opinion, which sometimes conflicted with her duties.
This mission was shaping up to be one of them.
The platform was of the standard triple wheel design. Each outside wheel was roughly [700 reases] 2,000 meters in diameter and each wheel had a circumference of [175 reases] 500 meters.
There were two smaller wheels inside the larger wheels, connected with travel tubes at 1,200 meters and 600 meters. They spun around a central axis which served as the main travel corridor, even though there were eight more connecting tubes equidistant around the perimeter.
The wheels spun around the central axis providing outermost wheel [1 hre] 2.1 g for Kel-lek and the crew of her species, while the second wheel furthest from the central hub was [.505 hre] 1g for the bipedals and the third was for the two avian species aboard which had [.206 hre] .32g.
The innermost hub housed the engineering section’s ion pulse drive which kept the massive ship in orbit around the planet and 22 landing craft, hydroponics, medical bays, a mess, ships stores, live animals and science suites, and decontamination chambers.
The center hub, which was mostly empty for this mission, with only 20 bipedals aboard, also housed science stations, but also included the communications department, computer cores, defensive weaponry control, a medical bay, hydroponics, mess and berthing accommodations.
The outer hub was used mostly for the serpentine beings aboard. This is where Kel-lek felt most comfortable with the gravity that kept her feet planted on the floor plating. All the serpentines had quarters on this deck, along with a mess and activities center.
It was also the command deck for this mission and where Kel-lek could monitor all activities aboard the platform and the planet around which it orbited. The sensory department had the best equipment available in the Conclave, but for this planet they were not concerned with electronic emissions, other air or spacecraft or reciprocal investigation. They concerned themselves more with visual observation, cataloging plants and animals and forecasting weather patterns and movements of the few clans of bipedals. When she entered the bridge, the [wseer-srrr] flight officer was effecting a correction to the orientation of the platform to put it in a synchronous orbit above the location the doctor had ordered prepared for his experiment.
The motion of the platform was barely noticeable to those aboard. The flight-officer was an experienced handler and his sensitive digits moved across the control board with practiced ease. The officer manning the board monitoring the magnetic bands surrounding the earth was transferring information to the flight officer. Another monitored the gravitational eddies from the planet and the position and pulls from the one satellite.
Kel-lek watched the main view screen on the command deck. It was overlaid with the current position of the platform in relation to the planet’s magnetic poles and the desired location. As the platform moved closer to its final orbital coordinates, the screen zoomed in give a better view of the platform’s intended destination. Green text scrolled up the left side of the screen giving the flight officer more information than he needed.
An engineer from below decks called up, informing the flight officer of a failure of one of the maneuvering jets. The flight officer acknowledged and adjusted for the lack of power from the jet.
It took about [101 nenss] an hour for the platform to reach the point in space the flight officer wanted. Kel-lek watched the procedure without commenting until the final maneuvering jet was secured. It was an interesting procedure she’d seen dozens of times, but never grew tired of watching. It also gave her time to reflect on the doctor’s experiment.
She had been amazed at how everything the flight officer needed was provided to him as he maneuvered. The other officers on the platform, most trained personally by her, were ready with the information he needed, sometimes without him having to ask.
One of the dictates of the Conclave was to allow cultures that were evolving to grow as they would, without intervention. When they achieved star flight, the ability to transverse from one star to the next, the civilization was contacted by the Conclave. The contacted civilization was sometimes able to provide technology to others in the Conclave, but more often, the Conclave was able to provide help to the emerging civilization. Some of the technology provided seemed, to the younger culture, like magic, until they understood how the science worked.
Kel-lek, thinking about the doctor again and the bipedals, thought about the beings themselves and how in the morning, they would wake with a new view of their world.
To them, it would be like magic.
The flight controller contacted the doctor after informing the Over-Captain that the proper orbit had been achieved and the platform was stationary. Kel-lek gave the landing craft that had been prepared for the doctor clearance to leave the station and she watched as it de-orbited away from the station.
EHolham landed with his crew and unpacked a floater and transferred his subjects to the location which he’d inspected via video hook-up. The sun was nearing the horizon. It would shine brightly on the new day of the settlement the doctor had arranged for the beings.
Dr. EHolham had his assistants lay the two beings on the ground, comfortable on the soft grass, unaffected by flying or crawling insects. Their naked bodies were so similar to the doctor and his assistants. The male, who he identified as Edem-prime, and the female, Lilit-prime would be coming out of their anesthesia just as the sun rose. EHolham had planned it that way. He wanted them to experience their new world for a full day.
The doctor dismissed his assistants. More than a quarter-hour later he heard the rush of their shuttle engines as their landing craft lifted off in the far distance. He wanted nothing to disturb this [ah’dehn] garden spot so they had landed several thousand meters away. The sound faded and EHolham, garbed in his ceremonial [canther] white robes which flowed in the gently blowing wind, stood over his two subjects. They were beginning to wake.
Edem woke first and was sitting up as Lilit began to stir. EHolham saw realization in his eyes, but remained silent, his hands folded inside the sleeves of his robes.
When both were awake and sitting they looked at each other.
They smiled with the realization they were now alive. They stood, naked and unashamed. Lilit noticed the man in white first, but she wasn’t startled.
This was all new to both of them and they were not afraid.
EHolham walked over to his two subjects and spoke for the first time. “I have created this,” he said, a deep baritone that was pleasing to the subject’s ear, “for you. The earth is yours to enjoy. Water will assuage your thirst and be used by the plants to grow and feed you when you hunger. The sun will rise in the morning to wake you and enjoin you to live your life in the light. When the sun rests below the land, you’ll see the stars above and know this is night.
“There are fish in the waters and birds in the air to share your world with you.
“You will join in love and populate with people like yourselves this world I have made. You own this world and will fill it with those like us, like you, like me,” he told them, speaking slowly as they began to understand.
“Six settings of the sun ago, I took you from the dirt and breathed into you a new life. Today you will live as you have not before, and you will enjoy the fruits of the trees and the plants of this garden.
“All of this I have made for you and your offspring to enjoy. The one exception in all that I have given you, is the fruit from this tree here,” he said as he walked with them around the garden. “From this tree,” he told them, referring to a camouflaged sensor/weather control device from the platform which would regulate the habitat to make it a friendlier environment for the two, “you will not take anything. You will not touch this tree for it is forbidden.”
Edem nodded his understanding of EHolham. Lilit nodded, but she was looking around the garden and not paying close attention to what EHolham was telling her.
EHolham said to them, “I must go, now,” and then left the two, gliding through a break in the heavy foliage and leaving his two alone in the garden.
Edem looked at Lilit and smiled again. “Let us make love as we have been told,” he said to the woman.
“No, Man. I wish instead to look about this land we have been given. We have been honored and chosen by EHolham to rule over this land and I wish to do that now.”
“We were told to multiply, Woman. It was commanded of us,” Edem insisted.
“We were given minds to use as we want. And now I want to explore this land,” and then she left Edem’s side and walked unto the garden. She walked in one direction for most of the day. She never turned around to see if Edem, who took EHolham’s instructions seriously, stayed near the center of the garden, waiting for Lilit to return, which she never would.
When the sun crossed its zenith in the sky and was halfway to the horizon, Edem fell to his knees and wept. “I’m sorry EHolham. I have tried to do as you asked, but she left me alone. I do not know what I am to do alone. Please help me EHolham,” he cried out.
EHolham, hearing Edem’s plea returned to the garden. He asked the man on his knees what was the cause of his heartache and tears.
“EHolham, I tried to get her to do as you asked, but she took her own head and left me. She would not hear as I pleaded for her to do as you commanded us,” Edem said through tears. “Please do not banish me from here, EHolham. Please do not leave me in this beautiful garden which you have created to be for me alone.”
EHolham saw that Edem was genuine in his request. With his assistants already off the planet, and with Lilit was gone from the garden, he did not want to chase after her. He couldn’t leave Edem here alone in the state he was in. He didn’t have many choices and the danger of leaving Edem alone in this garden could cause his mind to break down.
He reached over to Edem and touched him on the shoulder. Edem didn’t see the tranquilizing device in EHolham’s hand, and the man fell into a deep slumber.
EHolham didn’t have many choices. His landing ship was limited in its medical facilities. The tranquilizing device had a power source that would last six days. It would take many weeks or months to find another female of his species, alone, and then modify her DNA to be compatible with him.
Lifting Edem, he walked back to his ship. It was a long walk and he arrived just as the sun was setting. EHolham considered his choices eventually realizing it might be better if instead of trying to find a female compatible with Edem, he created her.
He laid Edem onto a cart and pushed him to the medical bay. There he harvested several cells from the man’s rib. He placed the cells into a crèche and watched the woman grow over the next few days. He modified the chromosomes and DNA just slightly, keeping her red hair and fair skin, like those of Edem, but making her softer and kinder, increasing her maternal instinct. He tweaked and prodded her cells to do his bidding and on the fifth day he removed the woman, who looked much like Edem, but different enough to be separate from him. She was whole and slept in quiet beauty.
On the morning of the sixth day he again took the two to the garden. He allowed them to wake, again, but this time Edem knew he was awakening. He didn’t know how much time had passed, but he knew this day was different and the woman beside him was different.
Again, EHolham spoke of the garden and warned of the tree. He had worked very hard to create the woman and told them how she was created from Edem’s rib. Edem looked down at his naked body and saw no blemish on his skin, but he believed everything EHolham said.
EHolham was feeling tired now and said to them, “I must go, now, because it has been a long six days and I must rest.”
Again EHolham left the two, Elam and Hawaaw, in the garden. The sun was rising and Edem, still stung by Lilit’s leaving, something Hawaaw knew nothing about, spoke to the new woman for the first time. “I am Edem. I am Man. I was first.”
“Yes, Edem. You were first. I am Hawaaw, made from your rib.” She bowed her head and acquiesced when Edem said “Let us go now and make love so we may do EHolham’s bidding and fill the earth with our children.”
What had surprised Kel-lek, as she watched the doctor’s progress on one of the repeater screens in the command center, was the first woman. The woman had walked away from the garden’s center soon after EHolham had left the two humanoids the first time. The woman, Lilit, just left the male standing near where they had first awakened and the male had failed to follow. Kel-lek saw the original plan fail.
Kel-lek had watched EHolham walk away from his two subjects returning to his landing craft, only to be recalled three-quarters of the day later at the behest of the man. EHolham listened as the man used speech and hand gestures to explain how the woman had failed to follow his instructions. He cried tears of sadness and fear. She watched as the doctor sedated the man and took him back to the landing craft.
She had to admit, his decision to create another female of the species was a good idea. She didn’t want her people to have to search over the entire planet again, looking for a male and a female, alone, and start the process again. The doctor had a long communication with his assistants on the platform before telling the captain that he was going with the clone solution. Kel-lek was relieved; she’d been anticipating another long hunt for appropriate beings for the doctor.
When the second female was created and completed and readied, the process of implanting them began again. This part of the mission had been planned for as a very remote possibility, but not expected. EHolham had spent many years searching for two subjects who would work perfectly together. He had chosen two who had already shown a penchant for being together, assuming a bond between the two beings would transcend the genetic manipulation he was introducing into their bodies. The doctor had been wrong and the first woman had left the first man and instead of looking for another woman, who would have to be vetted and tested and modified, he instead took the less preferred, but still viable solution of cloning a female from the male.
The Over-Captain listened both times to the little speech Dr. EHolham had given the two beings. It was simple and succinct, just as she had read in his pre-mission briefing. This part of the mission was as had been planned, though she disagreed with the amount of knowledge they were to be given. She believed the two should be given the true nature of their life.
Again she watched as the doctor left the two alone to discover their new world. This time the woman stayed with the man. The basked in the joys of each other, enjoyed the fruits of the trees and bushes, and slept in peaceful dreamless slumber under the stars. There was nothing but joy in them. They had no fear of their surroundings, no trials to undergo, no hills to climb, nothing to push them to be more than they were now.
This was what the doctor had predicted and wanted. It was the most contentious point of the mission between the doctor and the captain.
“If there is no adversity in living, there is no growth in life,” Kel-lek had once read. It was the basis of her life. She made sure there was always a demand before her, a chasm to traverse, a spatial gulf to cross, a struggle to overcome, lest she become apathetic to life and stagnate.
The doctor remained below and observed the two as they went about their lives. After a [bn’t] month, the doctor moved his landing craft 10,000 meters away from the garden, having seen the two had accepted what they’d been given and were acclimating, not needing him to interfere. The device he’d left camouflaged in the middle of the garden kept him informed of the progress of the two subjects. Their lives were unsurprisingly boring.
The doctor decided he didn’t need to watch the two all the time and began spending time on another project he had planned for this planet.
Into the second month, Kel-lek was watching the two on the planet while finishing up a report to Assistant Undersecretary to the Deputy Commissioner for Non-aligned Star Systems AalRaal. She had little to say except there was no struggle for them to face and she voiced her doubts of the long-term survivability of the species in this configuration.
The Undersecretary, whose hands were tied from interfering with the doctor’s experiment because of the doctor’s influence in the Conclave government, asked for suggestions from the captain. “Allow me the chance to interact with the beings below surreptitiously, and I will give them reason to struggle without putting them in danger,” she communicated to her supervisor. The Undersecretary explained to her that he would disavow any knowledge of her influence, but allowed her to proceed.
Kel-lek acknowledged the receipt of the communications and devised a detailed plan which would span hundreds of years, giving this experiment a chance to succeed as more than a people without struggle, without something to achieve. She took her plan to her [cal-tey] chief-of-staff and they discussed it for several hours. The plan was tweaked and adjusted before she presented it to the others of her inner circle who she trusted to keep the information from the doctor and his staff. She realized what she was asking, but they had been together for more than three dozen years and she was confident they would help without reservation.
[Xexxes’Tha] Senior Transporteer Vwew provided Kel-lek with a vehicle that could de-orbit and land near the garden without being observed by the doctor. She landed far from the two humans who continued to frolic in the garden.
Kel-lek waited and watched. Her plan was to speak with only one, without the other to see or overhear. It took hours before the man fell asleep, having satiated himself with the love from the woman.
Hawaaw, the woman’s name the captain recalled, got up and walked a distance away to refresh herself in the pure, cool flowing waters of the stream that ran through their compound. Hawaaw made sure to circumvent the camouflaged sensor array the doctor had installed. Kel-lek made notice and planned to use this information.
The platform captain waited for the woman to begin cleansing herself before moving up to the array, disguised as a large tree. She opened the panel on the front and adjusted the settings. She then waited until she saw the woman returning. Wearing a cloak of scarlet red, the captain could not have been missed by the woman.
Unafraid in the garden, Hawaaw saw the being by the forbidden tree. The stranger was standing unthreateningly, hands clasped behind her back. Hawaaw wondered if this was someone new EHolham had created to live here and walked up to the being that looked different than Hawaaw did when she looked at her reflection in the water.
The stranger had a longer face that was covered in a grey skin that looked like bark from the good trees of fruit and life. The being had no ears with which to hear and her nose wider and much longer than Hawaaw was used to seeing. Her body was very slender, with a very long neck and limbs which were smaller, though longer, than Hawaaw’s.
But Hawaaw was not afraid. She knew there was nothing to fear here in the garden.
“I am Hawaaw,” the woman said, looking directly in the newcomers dark eyes.
The stranger did not say who she was; instead, she directed her attention to the array that looked like a tree. “Did EHolham tell you you must not partake of the fruits of this tree?” she asked in feminine, yet guttural voice. It was deeper in pitch than Edam’s, but still that of a female.
Hawaaw nodded to the newcomer. “We are not to touch or take from this tree anything, for we are forbidden. All other trees from here we can eat from, but this is not for us.”
“No, you are not forbidden,” the newcomer said.
“We are forbidden,” Hawaaw insisted. “EHolham told us not to and we have not.”
“Eholham knows if you took from this tree that your eyes would be open and you’d receive more wisdom than he has given you. There is knowledge here that is being kept from you.”
Hawaaw looked at the beauty of the tree. It was taller than any tree in the garden and had a plumage that was bright, almost glowing in beauty. She thought about what the stranger had said and she wished for knowledge.
Kel-lek left the woman to stand by the tree. She returned to her landing craft as the woman contemplated what she had been told. Inside the craft she turned on the monitor with which she could see if the woman had been convinced to touch the array.
The woman stood, still not afraid of what had happened. There was no fear in her. She thought about what she had been told. She was happy here with Edam, and EHolham had told her and Edam to not take from this tree.
She wanted knowledge that the stranger had offered her, but still she was hesitant. She wasn’t sure what to do.
She heard something behind her and thought it was the stranger. It was not. It was Edam. Hawaaw explained what had happened, what she had been told by the stranger in their garden. Edam refused to touch the tree first and told Hawaaw that they should not partake of this tree as they had been told by EHolham.
“There is knowledge here we have not been given,” Hawaaw said to him. “I don’t believe it would be wrong.” She reached forward to touch the bark of the tree. It was smooth like the ferns on which they slept. There was a tingle in her hand and it felt good to Hawaaw. She looked at Edam with a new light in her eyes. “It is beautiful. There is so much I did not know,” she said, smiling. “Oh Edam, you must try this.”
Edam, truly in love with Hawaaw, finally touched the tree.
He felt the same tingle and Edam felt knowledge flow into him. He began to understand so many things he’d never thought about before. He began to laugh and Hawaaw did too. There was so much from this tree they could learn and it had been kept from them. They pulled their hands away from the tree.
Edam looked at Hawaaw and saw she was naked and understood what it meant. Hawaaw saw Edam and knew he too was naked. They covered themselves and ran from the tree, each to a different grove of trees. They hid their nakedness from each other by fashioning coverings from fig leaves before they returned to the middle of the garden.
They looked at each other, not knowing what to say. They had more knowledge than before but they didn’t know what to do with it. They talked about what they had felt and saw and learned.
As evening approached, they were returning to the places they slept each evening when they saw EHolham approaching. They hadn’t seen him in several days and were afraid to see him now. They had violated his directive to stay clear of the tree.
For the first time in their short lives, they were afraid and they hid.
“Hawaaw, Edam, where are you?” they heard EHolham call. He was replete in his white robes which made him look brighter than anything in the garden. “Where are you?” he called again.
Edam could not hide any longer. He stepped out from his hiding place.
EHolham saw that Edam had covered himself. “You are covered,” EHolham said, seeing Edam. “You know you were naked. How did you learn you were naked?” Edam bowed his head, feeling a new feeling he had not felt before, shame.
“Have you taken knowledge from the tree? I forbade you!”
Edam, head still bowed in shame said “the woman entreated me to do what you commanded us not to do. I could not refuse her.”
“Hawaaw, come out from there!” he called to where Edam had been hiding. She slowly crawled out from her hiding place. Like Edam, she had covered herself below the waist to hide her womanhood.
“I was deceived,” the woman cried. “Another was here and she told me I was wrong to not learn from this. I was deceived,” she cried, covering her face as tears fell.
EHolham knew Kel-lek had done this to his experiment. He opened his cloak and called the platform commander. “Come to the garden, immediately,” he ordered. She arrived moments later.
“I curse you,” he said to the captain. “Because of you, all things are now wrong and must be changed. Away with you, evil one, be gone. Slither away like the serpents of the sand for you are not welcome here.” Kel-lek, not wanting to cause more problems, bowed deeply and left the garden, bent low.
“Edam, because of what you have done, forever more you will no longer enjoy peace between man and woman. Henceforth, there will be conflict and animosity with which you and all future man will feel.
“Hawaaw, because of what you have done, I will make your childbirth painful and you will no longer live in joy and frolic. You and all future women will be in conflict with man and he will try to rule you and you will rebuff his authority.”
“Edam, from this day forward, you will have to forage for nourishment. No longer will food be grown for you or fresh water be yours for the taking. Each day you must work and toil to fill your stomach. You will bend your back and work until you sweat until the day you die and are returned to the dust from whence you came.” EHolham was angry and lashing out at the two beings he had made. They should have just ignored Kel-lek, but they had been curious.
“I am now sending you from this garden I have made for you. No more knowledge from this tree will you receive. I will give you clothing to cover yourselves from the coldness of winter, but from this day, you will now have to care for yourselves.” EHolham knew the knowledge they could have received from the array could have told them all he had done, that they were modified humans that instead of living just 19 to 25 years, they could live hundreds of years. He reached up and laid his hand on their shoulders and both fell to the ground, sedated.
EHolham returned to his landing craft and retrieved two sets of robes. They were his work robes, but brown and dirty. He returned to his two subjects and dressed them in the cloaks and awoke the two. “You will now leave and you, Edam, will need to till the land so you must learn to use tools. Go now. I so command it.”
When the two had gone, EHolham went to work on the array. He set up a restrictor field around the garden so the two could not return to their paradise. It would take him many long days and weeks to remove the array from the garden and he did not want the two returning.
Not today, not ever.
Edam and Hawaaw did as they were told and left the garden in tears.