The Case of The Lost Lover
by Angelo Ventura
Title: The Case of The Lost Lovere
Date Posted: July 2005
Author: Angelo Ventura
The Case of The Lost Lover
Charmel was very excited. She entered… OK, he entered, but then, Charmel was never a “he.” He told me so one night when we were in bed.
“Yes, I’m the only woman succesfully incepted, as far as I know. My inceptor was very lucky, too. He didn’t succeed with any other woman. Don’t ask me why.”
“But who was your inceptor? Is he still alive?” I asked
“I dare say. His name’s Netspinner Har Sulh.”
I gasped, “The har who incepted the Poupe? Wow, no wonder he succeeded where nohar else has!”
“But he wasn’t able to replicate that success.”
I smiled to Charmel. “That’s more than enough to me.” Then we shared breath. I was thinking of the famous Netspinner. A legend among his people. He’d traveled everywhere, even worked with the Aghama itself, it was said.
“How come you’re not with him?” I asked.
“Netspinner loved working alone, and moreover I reminded him of all his later failures, after that one success. Anyway, you just can’t keep Netspinner for yourself.”
I read in the beautiful eyes of my Charmel a deep regret, mixed with longing.
“You’re still in love with him?”
“Love? What’s love? Your inceptor is the first love for many Wraeththu, but not necessarily The One. Memories fade, you get to know new people. It’s all history now, Dashell, don’t worry,” Charmel said, kissing me on the nose.
I sensed that he was obliging me.
“You would like too see him again, wouldn’t you?”
Charmel sighed. “I’d like to see him again, yeah. He’s been a good friend to me. But,” he added with a mischievous smile, “it is you that I want now.”
And we took aruna, and my jealousies were tucked in a little corner of my mind… untilthe day when Charmel said to me, all excited, stars in his beautiful eyes: “Netspinner Har Sulh has a case for us. He’s coming today.”
“A case for us? Netspinner? What can he possibly want?”
“Well, he’s only communicated that he would like to have our assistance in a problem he’s encountered. I’m very flattered, and you should be, too.”
Jealousy, puzzlement and pride warred in my head .I was to be a REAL sleuth, and for a VIH, too! On the other hand, I sensed trouble, and not only because Charmel was obviously thrilled to see this Big Har. Netspinner was notorious for putting himself in pretty tricksy situations and getting away unscathed. Whatever problem he could have encountered, it had to be rather hard to crack. Hard and dangerous. I said so to Charmel, who answered:
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going. An old human saying.”
“And exactly how tough is going to be, your Netspinner wouldn’t say, huh?”
“He’s not MY Netspinner any more, for Ag’s sake! Get a grip on yourself, will you?”
And as he said this, the air in our modestly but tastely furnished office splintered. A pale har with long dark hair and a smile between ruby lips appeared out of nowhere.
“Wow, Charmel, your colleague is really lovely,” he said
Would you believe it? I blushed.
Netspinner’s countenance was hypnotic. He was beautiful, the very portrait of androgyny: slim waist, fluid movement, a manly voice with a musical flow. And those lips…Oh, my Charmel was my life, and I’ll never could imagine a life without my lover. The way Charmel used to braid those beautiful hair, distractedly, with that dreamy look on such a lovely, elfin face.. yet Netspinner was a superior charmer. One smile, and we all were at his feet.
“Excuse me for a rather dramatic entrance, but somehar I knew has detained me ’til now,” he said.”By Aghama, that har thinks the Universe just gyrates around him!”
“Who is he?” asked Charmel casually.
“Oh, no-one you know. Or maybe you do. Anyway, he has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Charmel, how I missed you! You’re lovely as ever.”
Charmel smiled, her eyes full of him, but quickly regained his composure.
“Well, Netspinner, tell us. How can we help you?,” Charmel said in a businesslike voice.”
Netspinner, it turned out, had a lover. A beautiful boy, intelligent, lovely, only too shy. When Netspinner set out to reach the Sulh who were passing their suburb, his friend simply couldn’t get himself to join him. He was terrified of Wraeththu. To him, they were hideous, cruel monsters. And who could blame him? A rogue band of Uigenna had massacred his family, leaving only sooty ruins where a home had been. Netspinner had held his friend in his arms, tried to soothe his sorrow, and they had become quite close. But when the Sullh arrived, and Netspinner had been fascinated by their solemn, magical appearance ,his friend Doreen had backed away in horror at the proposal. And Netspinner joined the Sulh anyway. He’d made his decision. But Doreen hadn’t been forgotten. Sometimes, his lovely face returned to haunt Netspinner’s dreams.
“I want you to find him. That’s all,” said Netspinner.
That was all, really: to find a human boy that could be dead, incepted into any tribe (even Uigenna), hiding anywhere. Even if he was alive, he might have no recollection of Netspinner. I said so to him.
“Do you realize that the results of this search – assuming we get any at all- may be very unpleasant to you?”
Netspinner’s eyes revealed his profound regret and sorrow. “I’m prepared for anything.”
The search took months,making us go to very strange places.We first visited an human enclave, where we managed to pass as humans. (Really,how difficult can it be?)
The first rule of the undercover agent is: never overdo things. Be natural. After all, they expect us to look like monsters from hell, don’t they? So we posed as… what we were, private detectives.
“And just what do you want?” asked an over-armed genetically enhanced gorilla at the entrance.
“We’re searching for a man called Doreen McArthur. We heard he had parents here. An uncle.”
“And what do you want with him?”
At this point what do you say? “We only can talk to his uncle. It’s a matter of the strictest confidence,” said Charmel with a dazzling smile, while I projected my “innocent and convincing” aura.
We went to the suite of that old uncle of Doreen, claiming we were working for an ex-fiancee of Doreen. Old he was, living in a suite furnished with all a man could want. The uncle was silky and effete, and knew very little.
“Doreen stayed with me for a while, after what…what happened to his parents, but we never got along,” he said, gesticulating with his large, pale hands. “He said he wanted to join the Eradicators, an anti-Wraeththu militia. He went two years ago. I haven’t seen him since.”
Amid soft cushions and sickly-sweet perfumes we digested this information. After having assured his uncle we’d inform him if ever we had news, we took refuge in a nearby bar frequented by stranded youths and rich kids in search of cheap thrills. Lights were low, music soft. A fan wrestled with the omnipresent heat. But my sweat was not entirely due to temperature.
“What do you want to do? Go to guys who’d burn us alive if they’d only suspect who we are?”
“What do you think that guard we fooled would have done?” replied Charmel. He sipped his PinkCoke drink.
“That guy was a dumb mass of steroids. Those Eradicators are smartasses, feared even by the Uigenna, I’ve heard.”
“All of them may be Uigenna, by now.”
“It wouldn’t be much of a change, for them. What do we do?”
“We join the Eradicators and find that Doreen.”
“Are you mad? If they ever find us out they’ll… they’ll…” I ran out of words.
“Listen, we’re Wraeththu! We have real magic, right? I’m Algomalid, by the way, and you?”
“I’m only Acantha, as you know. But even if you were Nahir-Nuri, I’d forbid you to…”
“You’d what?!? Did I hear correctly?” Charmel’s angry sotto-voce was positively chilling. “Listen, baby, do that corny ‘protective male to female colleague’ crap again and you can take a bath in the next tar pit, capisce?” hissed the love of my life.
I gave up. “OK, let’s hear your plan,” I said resignedly.
As it turned out, we didn’t need to enlist in the Eradicators (thank Ag!) because they had been eradicated in turn by a massive Uigenna attack. A few had been incepted, and as for the fate of the others…don’t ask. So we needed “only” to join the Uigenna.
“Listen, Charmel, I’m glad I won’t have to put hairy caterpillars – that would be mustaches – beneath my nose, nor crop my hairs, but having to cover myself with rituals scars or having my teeth ‘pointed’ is not a great improvement.”
Charmel laughed. “We won’t have to join them! We’ll ask some questions and tell the truth, that we are searching for a lost friend. Why they would make trouble to fellow hara?”
“To the Uigenna there aren’t ‘fellow’ hara. But now I understand why the great Netspinner gave us this job. A cool shifty guy, indeed!”
Charmel frowned. “And what do you mean by that?”
“Well, either Eradicators or Uigenna, it’s OUR job to contact them. Those tattoos itch, by Ag! Let’s get on with it, shall we?”
The former Eradicators’, now Uigenna’s outpost was a mass of psychedelic, aggressive-looking graffiti. The colors were scarlet red, gangrenous green, rotten yellow and Purple Rot. Two tattooed and over-armed hara with grim faces stood at the entrance.
“We need to find an har who’s been incepted in your tribe,” explained Charmel to the guards. “Can we talk with your leader?”
“You mean Manticker? He’s at a meeting with Wraxilan, an aruna meeting, I think. Wraxilan loves Manticker so much,” said the guard with a leer.
I could imagine. Manticker was not heard of since. “No, the leader of this place. Can we have an audience? We won’t keep him long,” said I with an insouciant tone.
“I see what I can do. Arthar Dorainn it’s a very busy har.”
Charmel and I exchanged glances. Doreen McArthur, Arthar Dorainn… could it be?
Nearly naked and fluorescently tattooed Uigenna were busy in the building’s yard, practicsing setting fire to hanging puppets ( I hoped they were that, anyway). The bawling and howling of the savage hara was horrible: they had begun to fight among themselves. Their superior tried to scream louder to restore order. Fortunately, our guide led us in, toward a room far from the din.
“How did you manage to stamp out the Eradicators?” asked Charmel
“We set fire to their mustaches, then we attacked,” explained our guide. He was probably putting us on, but I shivered.Even when human, I’ve always hated mustaches.
“Uh, I see,” I said, “very clever.” A chilling scream came from a locked door, followed by an hysterical laughter. I prayed the Aghama and all deities, human and harish alike.
A soothing mind-touch came from Charmel. And also an harsh injunction: Put your mind-shield on, you fool! Which I did in haste, as we arrived to the office of “Arthar Doreinn” himself. The guard announced us and closed the door behind him.
Arthar was definitely not Doreen. He was a savage har with spiked teeth, spiked hair, and spiked claws on his uniform. We told him what we wanted and we showed him a photo of Doreen obtained from his uncle.
“That wimp!” sneered Hardhar Duhroon (we misunderstood the name). “He escaped from us shortly after inception. He joined a band of Flurries, I’ve heard,” he concluded with a disparaging gesture of his paw-like hand.
“And you let him go?” I asked, puzzled.
“We have no use for yellow livers, here. May he hang from his tree and good riddance!” said Hardhar spitting on the floor.
Having heard that, we took leave and fled. Good riddance indeed!
Flurries lived in treehouses in what was the city park (hence Hardhar’s less-than-benevolent auspice). They were exceptionally slim, ethereal-looking hara. You could imagine them flying from tree-to-tree, but only Nahir-Nuri of the uppermost level, if any, can actually fly. They were very agile and leapt from their houses’s platforms. The central Nayati was sustained by the branches of four large trees oriented to cardinal points. Their Hienama, Leaf Cloud, was an exceptionally slim har with flowers in his hair and a leaf covered tunic. His hair were long, pale, with a tinge of green. Or so I imagined. Charmel, with his elfin face, appeared to blend with the surrounding perfectly, but I had to suppress a slight acrophobia.
“May your life be always green,” he saluted us. He had an eerie countenance, like a bird preparing to take flight.
We bowed to him.
“May your tribe prosper, Leaf Cloud,” said Charmel. “We are searching for an har who’s recently joined your tribe.”
Leaf Cloud chirped a laugh. “Oh, him. Aerial life was not for him, I’m afraid. He’s badly sprained a leg. Our healers had to work long to cure him.”
“But he’s well, now?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. But he refused to live in a treehouse any more, and this is mandatory for our tribe, I’m afraid. We want to detach from the terrestrial plane, live like birds, you see, is that why we live of crickets and flowers and water, and nothing else. We don’t want to impose our weight on this weary, suffering Earth.”
I suspected that the dietary tastes of the Flurries were involved in Doreen’s leaving, but I respectfully shielded this thought. It seemed that Doreen had decided to join a more earthly tribe… the wandering Kheops. I groaned. He could be anywhere between this city and the Great Western Ocean.
“The plot thickens” I said.
A small tribe of Wraeththu had camped in the park next to the Flurries’ treehouses. This was a friendly tribe of wanderers that had recently seceded from the Kheops, and called themselves Random Road Runners. They had moved two years since.
“Beautiful name,” commented Netspinner, who’d came in our office after our call. “Hope they haven’t trouble with their R’s.”
“Apart from that, how can we possibly find a splinter tribe of random wanderers?” I said in exasperation.
Charmel won’t admit defeat, though. “You can put a mind call, Netspinner. Contact the Kheops leader who should know who’d split two years ago, and so you can have a trace.”
Netspinner smiled with his exquisite lips, made to soft and prolonged kisses.Yes, I had a crush with my client. Sam Spade would have understood.
“Well, that’s a good idea, Charmel. I’ll do so. The Kheops’ Archon I know very well, I assisted to his inception, by the way, haven’t I told you?”
“Really?” asked Charmel, awed. As for me, I didn’t believe it.
“I don’t mind if you have seen the birth of the Aghama itself,” I burst out “but what if Doreen has said goodbye to the RRR, too? He’s left two tribes, so far.”
Charmel eyed me with deep disapproval. Netspinner only lifted his eyebrows.
“This is no way to talk of the Aghama, but let it go. I definitely want to retrace Doreen, if only to talk to him once. I’m sure you understand,” he said in a calm but strained voice. “And as for leaving two tribes,” he continued with a firmer tone, “well, the Uigenna aren’t a tribe I would remain with, and the Flurries were way too ethereal for his fancy, apparently. But maybe the RRR suited him fine. Why not try?”
So we tried. Rohan Har Kheops, the RRR’s founder, could at last be contacted through what I called the “Psi-Ethernet” and said that Doreen left his tribe after they arrived on the West Coast, in the land of the Hokule. Netspinner offered to help us travel something called the “Otherlanes” to arrive there soon.
Charmel was thrilled “Do you believe I’ve never seen the sea? I just can’t wait! What do you say, Dash?”
“I hope he didn’t cross the ocean and didn’t go to the Kawaii! What would YOU say, then?”
“Aloah!” smiled Charmel, unabashed.
Prior to departing, we took aruna together. All three of us. I got to kiss Netspinner’s languorous cherry lips, then his nipples,then he immersed himself in me whilst I was lost in Charmel’s loving. I’d never been in a threesome before, and I’m not planning to make an habit of it, but sometimes it can be fun. Moreover, this charged us enough to travel those Otherlanes at zooming speed. There you are naked essence, pure energy, a disquieting experience, so I was glad it was swift.
We emerged on a luscious, white beach exausted and still roony.
A little town could be seen not far, and a lone surfer roamed the waves.
That’s the life! we thought in unison. We relaxed for an hour or so on the beach, enjoying the briny, salty scent. Charmel and I shared breath while Netspinner dozed. When he woke, he had a strange, faraway expression. But he swiftly regained his composure.
“And now, on to business,” he said. “Rohan said that was the Hokule settlement they stopped nearby. Doreen could be there.” He sighed then continued “I suggest you go there, first. I’ve got to prepare psychologically for the outcome.” That said, he sprawled on the sand, that faraway expression on his face.
“Come, Dash, let him alone,” said Charmel.
Trudging on the fine sand, I followed, with a last glance at Netspinner’s gorgeous body.
The central Nayati of the town was painted in bright marine colors, the whorls of conch shells decorating its entrance.
There was a caste ascension ceremony in progress, we noticed. We mingled unobtrusively with the public, watching as the tattooed Hienama pronounced the ritual formulae and made solemn gestures.
“Rise!” commanded to a kneeling har the echoing voice of the long haired har officiating “You are now Algomalid, Doreen Har Hokule.”
The har rose, his face beautiful and calm,
“It’s him!” I said. “By Aghama it’s him!”
Doreen was beautiful, that kind of beauty that ensnares your heart if you watch too long. He was the paragon of androgyny, with a serene countenance,a secrete smile lingering on his lips. He reminded me of someone…
We waited till the crowd of congratulating friends had thinned, then approached him. He looked in our direction, puzzled.
“You’re not from this place,” he said
Charmel smiled. “Great is your perception, tiahaar,” my beloved said. Well, anyone who was not blind would have noticed that, with what our pale complexion and different clothes. A thought shared probably by Doreen, who smiled, a friendly, joyful smile.
“Perhaps you better tell me how can I help you. You can come to the banquet on the beach, then we’ll talk. And by all means, call your friend. He’s invited,too.”
Well, THAT was perception.
I put a mind-call to Netspinner, who joined us at the banquet pavillon, a great tent held up by gigantic surf tables. Marine food, fruit juices, fruit cakes were served on surf tables too. I ate little, for I couldn’t help staring at some of the most beautiful hara I’d ever seen. Doreen was slimmer than the average Hokule, hara with more strong physiques, shone like the moon crowned by stars. He saw Netspinner come, still stunned, and evidently sent him some sort of message, for he joined us at the table relatively calm.
“Well, our search is near its end,” said Charmel. “And so, I won’t get to see the Kawaii,” he sighed.
“We’ll go there, I assure you,” said I. Then, to Netspinner. “Well? Did he recognize you?”
Netspinner appeared dazed. His nonchalanche had evaporated at Doreen’s sight, apparently.
“Yes, he did. A powerful psychic, really,” A laconical answer.
“What did he communicate?” I asked
“Only to join you, and that we’ll talk later. Hey, is that lobster? I havent tasted it for ages!” Apparently, Netspinner didn’t want to talk about it.
“But was he happy to see you or wasn’t he?,” enquired Charmel.
“He’s put up a strong mind-shield. I really cannot say. Let’s eat this delicious food, shall we? I’m famished!”
Delicious it was, and I was hungry, too. We set out to enjoy the feast, that continued after the banquet with music and dancing.
The sun had almost set and the first stars had begun to twinkle when Doreen joined us.
“Well, that was a surprise. Welcome, Netspinner. Still a Spiderman fan?”
“Doreen, don’t let our friends know how old I am,” said our Sulh client with a disarming smile. “Won’t you tell us your story?”
“My pleasure, brother,” said Doreen
“Doreen is your BROTHER?,” exclaimed Charmel. But you said…” I, too, was surprised.
“I know what I said. With this Wraeththu taboo against keeping family ties, I couldn’t made known I was searching for my brother. I’d have been…”
Charmel interrupted him “Apart from professional secrets, you could have told us. We’re not narrow-minded zealots, for Ag’s sake! We’d have understood”
Netspinner and Doreen were the last survivors of their family, it turned out. When Netspinner went to the Sulh, Doreen panicked, won’t go to the Wraeththu. The rest we knew.
“My uncle’s memory isn’t what it was,” said Doreen. “The truth is, the Eradicators took me for a Wraeththu! I was trying to convince them when the Uigenna attacked. I hid in a corner, was incepted by a Uigenna less savage than others, apparently, and fled as soon as possible.”
“To the Treehouse dwellers. Whimsical bunch, I’d say,” commented Netspinner.
“Well, they seemed funny, and they did much to train me psychically, but, even without the sprained leg incident, I’d have fled from there, for living in a tree is awfully boring. So I joined the Kheops, hoping they’d arrive in some better place.”
“And there you are! Beautiful place indeed!” said I. “But I’ve a curiosity. Who was this Spider Man?
“Oh, no!” said Netspinner, theatrically putting his face in his hands
Doreen laughed “An imaginary comic-book hero. Netspinner was one of his nicknames. He was the secretary of Spider Man Fan Club. I gather the President was some Cobweb guy.”
He went on to explain what this Spider Man was. After more laughter, joined on even by the no longer embarrassed Netspinner, Doreen said: “Come with me. I’ll introduce you to my chesnari?”
“What’s is name? Silver Surfer?” asked Netspinner.
Doreen smiled. “Well, that would be a nice name for our son”
At that moment, a meteoric wave approached us. A tsunami?
But no, a beautiful har with silver hair descended gently on the beach with his surf, stepped out and embraced Doreen. “I won the Psico-Kinetic Surfers contest, my dear. So sorry I couldn’t have been at the feast!”
“You’ll tell me all about it, beloved. Let me introduce you to some friends…and to my brother, too!”
We feasted with Doreen and his chesnari in a bungalow terrace that overlooked the sea. Little lamps with luminous geneticaly engineered insects gave a eerie, flickering light. Doreen and Netspinner were talking of old comic book mutated superheroes.
“Obviously the fantastic Four stood for the Elementals,” said Netspinner
“Yeah, Fire for the Torch, Earth for the Thing,” said Doreen
“Obviously. And the Invisible woman?”
“Was she water?”
“No, that was their leader, Mr Fantastic, or something.”
“Oh, She was air, then!”
We found this conversation a bit boring, so we asked Doreen’s chesnari, Brinahel, how he managed to muster waves and surf on them.
“Certainly it’s not easy, it takes years of training. You should connect to the elemental Water’s essence, then you can muster agmara to command it. Few can do it. I’m Nahir-Nuri, you know”
Like that Mr Fantastic, no doubt. I should have felt awed, but was not. All that psychic advancement to balance on waves? Then Brinahel went on to describe the tournaments, that were held in the open ocean, and that comprised various contests of velocity, height of wave, resistance. Spectacular, certainly. Charmel was thrilled, and I had to promise him we’d went to see a tournament. Shortly after that, we were offered a bed in a spare room. So we gladly said goodnight to Doreen and tiahaar Cowabunga. Surf was certainly up here, but, to me, endless talking of it wasn’t. Later, we were joined by Doreen himself. He wanted ro thank us in a very special way. We all surfed the rolling Arunaic Sea.
I dreamed of waves all night.
The next day after breakfast, Netspinner talked of our reward.
“We want to know how to travel those Otherlanes,” said I.
“You’d need ages of training to do it without adequate vessels. I really haven’t time. Why don’t you go to the Kawaii, as Charmel wanted?”
And Kawaii it was. Aloah!