The spaceship's scanner system was signaling again. Leone saw that this time it was clearly another spaceship approaching rapidly. Leone settled back and watched the approaching spaceship in the virtual reality Thot interface. Quickly, the computer-generated images of the two spaceships merged.
The airlock connecting the two spaceships opened. It was the Master!
Leone threw the visitor a bottle of beer and some pretzels. The pretzels drifted in slow motion along the length of the zero-g airlock.
The beer smelled like oak leaves. Leone tried to catch all of the oak leaves in a basket. By catching all the falling oak leaves, the communicator would reactivate, but for now, Leone could only see the Master's lips moving and could not hear his words.
Sybil was in the basket of leaves. She was reaching out from the basket and touching Leone....it felt very nice. Leone watched the beautiful colors in her eyes and felt enthralled.
"We need to meet."
Leone cried out, "I tried to call you!"
"These are my coordinates."
Leone did not recognize the coordinates....Sybil was slipping away! He reached out to grab her. He pulled away her robe, revealing a fetish object.
"You must pay attention."
The oak leaves were now mountains of silver and gold dust. Leone tried to grab fists full of the dust, but it slipped through his fingers. "Sybil, take it all! It is all for you!"
Kalid grabbed hold of Leone. Leone was shocked into awareness; he asked, "Is this a dream?"
Kalid replied, "Yes, the brain is most sensitive to telepathy during sleep. Hurry now: memorize these coordinates."
Leone was now fascinated. He was half aware of being in a dream, but it was like the Thot interface: a set of standard astrogation coordinates were displayed in his mind. With his many decades of experience as an astrogator, Leone's mind quickly latched onto the coordinates.
"That's near Earth."
Kalid said, "Yes, very near. I see you have it. Now wake up and write down the coordinates before you forget."
"You are dreaming. Wake up and record these coordinates."
"We are talking. This is the Thot user interface, haven't you used it before?"
Kalid gave Leone's brain another activating jolt. "Wake up!"
Leone opened his eyes. Had someone spoken? He sat up and looked around the dim interior of his cabin. "Thot, did you say something?"
The spaceship's artificial intelligence replied, "You have been sleeping for the past five point three three hours. I last spoke to you five point eight four hours ago. At that time, I said, 'Com system repair will be complete in about eight hours,' and then you went to bed."
Leone asked, "Did you say something about our coordinates?"
"No. We are still drifting in interstellar space. I continue to repair the hyperdrive. Those repairs should be complete in about six hours from now."
Leone rubbed his head and tried to remember. "No, I mean the new coordinates you were showing me....something near Earth?"
The artificial intelligence said, "I do not know what you are talking about."
Leone remembered the dream and the warm sensation of being near Sybil. Then he remembered the disappointment of feeling Sybil slip away. Suddenly he remembered the coordinates. "Thot, record these coordinates..."
h32 r121:23:45 d45:143:23 z1.9347 tc
Leone was still tired and sank back into the softness of his bunk. What a strange dream! Leone now drifted back towards sleep and his mind mixed reality with memories from his dream... he wondered where Sybil was and why she had not responded to his hyperspatial call. Earth? Why would Sybil go to Earth? But those coordinates were not Earth. He came back to full waking consciousness again and asked, "Thot, how far from Earth are those coordinates?"
"Those coordinates are in a star system that is about 22 parsecs from Earth."
"Strange." Leone drifted back into sleep still thinking about Sybil and Priestesses of the Haldus Order.
Leone slept for a short while then awoke again, showered and ate. Leone went to the main control room and found that Aristark was monitoring the spaceship's repairs. Aristark said, "We should have hyperspatial communications back online in a few minutes."
Leone had tried to prioritize the repairs so that both the hyperspatial communications and drive systems would be available at the same time. Still, while they would be able to transmit, they would not be able to receive any communications while hanging here in interstellar space...
Leone looked out the window and into the blackness of space. He thought of the amazingly realistic dream about another spaceship docking with his spaceship. He muttered, "I don't suppose any spaceships have been detected near here...."
Aristark, waiting for the repairs to be completed, was bored he and reflexively called up the scanner records. "There was a transient scanner signal yesterday, but no indication that it was a spaceship. Most likely it was a chunk of space debris at extreme scanner range."
Leone turned away from the window and said to Aristark, "Ya, I saw that transient scanner signal yesterday."
Aristark continued, "There was something odd last night. More unusual power usage by Sybil's mysterious equipment."
Leone again thought of his dream and at the same time he thought about telepathy. What might a dream have to do with telepathy? Sybil had claimed that the Haldus Order makes use of "mental powers". When approaching Plato, Leone had wondered if he should expect some kind of telepathic impulse from Kalid. Suddenly Leone realized that there was an available opportunity for him to make an interesting and unusual prediction. "Before you say anything more, let me tell you something. There was an odd event in my cabin last night. I woke up because I thought I heard a voice. I'd like to make a prediction about the time of the power surge in Sybil's equipment."
Aristark laughed, "I always have the spaceship artificial intelligence wake me up. However, if I'm really tired I can sleep right through the wake-up message, is that what you mean happened to you?"
Leone replied, "Well, I don't usually have the AI wake me up, but when I did wake up last night my first guess was that the AI had spoken to me. Thot, what time did I wake up last night and ask if you had spoken to me?"
The Thot AI replied, "That was at four point two seven hours this morning."
Aristark glanced at the power use records again and said, "The strange power usage by Sybil's equipment started shortly before that time and ended almost exactly at that time. Is that the prediction you wanted to make?"
Leone was trying to imagine what Sybil's equipment might have to do with his dream. "That was a minor prediction, but I'm not sure what it means. Do you have any idea what Sybil's equipment was doing last night when its power usage increased?"
Aristark spent a few minutes trying to cross-correlate all of the ship's sensory data to the mysterious power surge in Sybil's equipment. Finally he replied, "I don't have a clue. Energy went into Sybil's equipment but nothing was detected coming out. I suppose it could have been just charging its internal energy stores, but the power draw was intermittent....the pattern almost looks like a radio message....maybe one side of a two-way radio message."
Leone wondered if Sybil was able to remain in contact with his spaceship by making use of the equipment she had installed. "Could there be a hyperspatial communications device in Sybil's equipment?"
Aristark replied, "I suppose anything is possible, but for conventional technology, creating a node for hyperspatial communication requires much more power than Sybil's equipment can draw. More importantly, to receive a hyperspatial signal we would need access to a hyperspatial antenna array. So if Sybil's equipment does have an ability to receive hyperspatial communications then it is using some new kind of technology that requires less power than the conventional technology I know about."
"You mentioned a radio message....if there were another spaceship at the extreme range of our scanners, could such a spaceship communicate with Sybil's equipment by making use of radio waves?"
"Sure, but our ship would detect such a radio-based signal."
"Even if the signal was weak or at an unusual wavelength?"
Aristark grunted. "I'm not a communications expert. I suppose there might be ways of sending a signal to Sybil's equipment that our spaceship's sensors would not detect."
Leone rubbed his chin and quietly repeated, "...ways of sending a signal..."
Aristark said, "Speaking of which, our hyperspatial communications system just came back on line. We can now call Ketar."
Leone nodded. "Yes, we must call Ketar, but I still want to make my prediction before we actually speak to him." Leone transmitted a short message to Ketar saying that they were undergoing repairs in interstellar space after having been attacked in the Akara system. He asked that Ketar standby for a two-way hyperspatial communication in a few hours. Leone turned to Aristark, "Okay, message sent."
Aristark had been impressed by Leone's prediction of the time of the energy surge in Sybil's equipment and he was baffled by the implications of that prediction. Aristark asked, "You have another prediction?"
Leone replied, "Yes, a much stranger prediction. One that we will have to test together, as a team. That testing will have implications for what we say to Ketar."
Aristark chuckled. "You are being very mysterious. My plan is to just call Ketar and find out why we were attacked when we entered the Akara star system. Can you explain what you are talking about?"
"I'll try. Last night, just before I woke up, thinking I had heard a voice, I was having a dream. A more vivid dream than usual." Leone was embarrassed by what he had dreamed about Sybil and did not want to mention that aspect of the dream. "In the dream, another spaceship came and docked to our spaceship."
Aristark was surprised. "That's crazy. This ship is not equipped to connect to another ship. We only have conventional hatches that can open to pressurized atmospheres. We have no space vacuum-ready docking ring."
"Yes, I know, it was just a dream."
"But you asked if there had been any spaceships detected near us."
"I'm not losing my mind. I know that no ship tried to dock with us last night. I'm describing the dream I had."
Aristark shrugged. "Okay. So let me make a prediction. In your dream, Ketar was on the other spaceship. You had a conversation with Ketar and you now want to try to use your dream to predict what Ketar will say when we call him today."
Leone laughed. "No, Ketar was not in my dream. My prediction does not involve what Ketar will say to us when we call him. My prediction has to do with what we should tell Ketar about our plans and our next destination."
Aristark said, "We are on a mission that was ordered by Ketar. I think we should do whatever he says and go where he wants us to go."
"But we have information that Ketar does not have. We might be better able to select our destination than Ketar. At the very least we have to decide if we will share our unique information with Ketar."
Aristark sighed. "Why do I get the sinking feeling that you want to consider something you dreamed about as information that is worthy of guiding our actions?"
Leone tried to explain. "Before you reject that idea as insane, remember that we already know there was a correspondence between activity in Sybil's equipment and the time of my dream. The last time Sybil's equipment became active, it hid our ship from the attacking forces and saved our lives. I think we have to explore the possibility that Sybil's equipment communicated with me while I was dreaming. If so, it might not be wise to ignore the information content of that communication."
Aristark threw his arms in the air. "Fine. I'm listening. Tell me the 'information content' of your dream."
Leone pause and tried to remember the coordinates. "The information was a set of astrogation coordinates. I'm sorry, but I forgot the coordinates."
Aristark laughed. "Okay, you forgot your dream. Now what?"
"I did not forget the dream. I forgot the details of the coordinates that were in the dream. Thot, what were the coordinates I asked you to remember?"
The artificial intelligence replied, "h32 r121:23:45 d45:143:23 z1.9347 tc".
Aristark said. "Hmm...h32...thirty two is a very low number. That must be a star system that is fairly close to Earth."
"Yes, that was my first reaction, also," Leone said. "I checked. System h32 is 22 parsecs from Earth."
"Okay, but I still do not recognize that system." Aristark spoke to the Thot AI, "Show us the basic data for star system h32."
The data came up on the wall screen of the control room. Leone skimmed the data and said, "A low population system with a few inhabited bases and space stations. Nothing remarkable. No wonder neither of us ever heard of it before."
Aristark asked, "So you think we should tell Ketar that you had a dream about this unremarkable star system?"
"Right now, there is only one remarkable thing about system h32, and that is that I had a lucid dream in which Kalid told me to meet him at these coordinates in that system."
Aristark was shocked. "Kalid? Kalid....was in your dream?"
Leone nodded. "Yes. My dream was confused, like all dreams, but near the end it became more clear and Kalid was there."
Aristark exhaled very deeply, "Pshoo-weeee..." He got up from his chair and paced across the control room several times. Finally he stopped and looked into Leone's eyes and asked, "You really think you had some kind of telepathic contact with Kalid?"
Leone nodded. "Let's call that a hypothesis. So far, we know that my dream experience coincided with unusual activity of the mysterious equipment that Sybil had installed on this spaceship. Further, I have a prediction that is based on my dream: if we go to these coordinates we will find Kalid. And since we are on a mission to find Kalid, a mission that was ordered by Ketar, I think we cannot avoid the relevance of my dream to our mission."
Aristark shook his head. "I don't believe you have ever met Ketar. I have. He is very pragmatic. I do not think he would pay any attention to your claim of having seen Kalid in a dream."
Leone agreed. "You are right, I have never met Ketar. I have spoken to him on several occasions and I agree with your assessment: it is not likely that any benefit would come from telling Ketar about my dream."
Aristark asked, "So why did you want to tell me about your dream before letting me speak to Ketar?"
Leone shrugged, "I am devoted to the success of our mission. I wanted to share some information with you...information that I believe is relevant to our mission."
Aristark chuckled, "Do you really think anything you have said-"
At that moment the Thot AI signaled the completion of repairs on the hyperspatial drive. Leone said, "HCC-2843 is the closest hyperspatial communications center. I'll initiate the jump." Leone activated the jump sequence and he leaned back in his chair. What seemed like a minute later his mind was clearing and Thot indicated that they had a half second latency communications link into the HCC-2843 array. Leone commented, "It was an excellent jump... we are nice and close to the antenna array. Go ahead and call Ketar." Leone knew that Aristark had a closer relationship with Ketar, so it would be best to let them talk.
Aristark still felt somewhat disoriented after the jump, but he re-connected to the Thot interface. "Very well. I have listened to your information. I can't claim that doing so has altered my thinking in the least with respect to what to say to Ketar."
Leone shrugged, "With our luck, Ketar is now in bed after giving orders not to be disturbed." Leone commanded the Thot AI, "Project the hyperspatial call on the wall so I can monitor." A somewhat magnified image of Aristark filled half of the display on the wall screen.
Aristark established a communications link from the spaceship to Akara's antenna array to Azur to HCC-2843 and back to the ship. Next, he had to talk his way through several layers of operators in the Azur communications grid who stood between the outside world and Ketar. Finally, a fuzzy representation of Ketar also appeared on the other side of the display window that Leone was watching on the wall screen. Ketar said, "Aristark, I'm pleased to hear from you! Where are you?"
Aristark replied, "We are at HCC-2843. We barely survived the attack that was launched against our spaceship in the Akara star system. We just got the hyperspatial systems of our spaceship repaired...we still have not had a chance to repair all the damage we sustained at Plato."
Ketar explained, "That was a terrible error. Those ships were on routine patrol, but they were under standing orders to attack any spaceship emitting a specific type of beacon signal. Somehow your spaceship was carrying that beacon....what did you say about 'Plato'?"
Aristark explained, "Sorry, that is just a name we made up for h.1263522.2, the planet that Sybil sent us to for our mission in search of Kalid. We were attacked there and made an emergency escape through hyperspace."
Ketar now understood the short message that Leone had sent. "I see, so it is true that you do not have Kalid on board?"
Aristark nodded, "This journey has been a complete disaster. We have had no contact with Kalid...we've just been savagely attacked, twice."
Ketar explained, "Well, I know nothing more than you, except the real name of h.1263522.2 is "Flammis". It is a world that has long been linked to the Haldus Order. I wonder why Sybil would send you into an ambush there."
Aristark said, "This is all very strange. The attack on our spaceship at Flammis is almost as puzzling as the attack on us by your forces. I was not aware of the practice of having armed war ships on patrol at Akara with orders to attack spaceships carrying high ranking planetary government officials."
Ketar laughed, "Ha ha! Don't be absurd, my patrol ships had no such orders."
"This beacon you mentioned, why does it warrant an immediate attack on any ship using it?"
Ketar's voice turned absolutely cold, "That's not a topic I care to discuss while broadcasting my comments to every corner of the universe. When you reach Azur, I will explain everything to you."
"So your orders are that we return to the Akara star system?"
Ketar nodded, "Yes. The spacedock facilities here are second to none. We can fully repair your spaceship and decide how to continue the search for Kalid."
Aristark grumbled, "I'm surprised you still want to have dealings with Kalid after the way we were welcomed to Flammis....I'm not sure I care to."
Ketar did not want to say too much over such an open communications link, but he suggested, "Kalid may be able to explain why you were attacked at Flammis...we should give him a chance to explain. I'm willing to show some patience since I know that mistakes happen...for example, I have an idea that might explain why Leone's ship was transmitting a beacon signal that is listed in the Index of Pirate Spaceships, but we can discuss these matters when you reach Azur."
"Leone and I wonder if it safe for us to try to reach Azur."
Ketar seemed angry, "That attack on your ship was an error. I have issued new orders to the patrol ships and it is now perfectly safe for you to come to Azur."
Aristark explained, "We got our hyperspace communications system and hyperspace jump system online just before I called you. I'm worried that the...well, I'll say no more over this channel, but I do not think it is safe for us to travel anywhere as long as we might be mistaken for a pirate ship. Our ship is still undergoing repairs and regeneration. Leone does not want to go anywhere until we regenerate our shield, but we will come to Azur as soon as possible. Aristark, out." Aristark cut the hyperspace communications connection, broke his Thot interface connections and stood up. "Unbelievable!"
Leone was amused. "That's the Ketar we all know and love. You know, I think Ketar would trade half of his fleet to get his hands on the equipment that Sybil had installed on this ship."
Aristark shook his head, "I can't believe that Ketar thinks he can get away with an unprovoked attack on our spaceship just by saying, 'Oh, sorry, that was an accident'."
Leone agreed, but did not feel free to speak his mind in front of Aristark. Aristark had long seemed totally devoted to supporting Ketar. Leone was grateful to Ketar for the financial support that got Leone elected to the position of Sakkara's Planetary Counselor for Transportation, but Leone had long felt that Ketar had no real interest in Sakkara. As far as Leone was concerned, Set was basically a local matter for Sakkara to deal with. The latest intelligence reports indicated that if Set was not stopped at Sakkara then he would spread his evil to other worlds and that should be good motivation for the Galactic Antiquist Party to provide the resources Sakkara needed to handle Set and stop him now. If Ketar could provide external resources that would help Sakkara deal with Set, then fine, Leone would welcome any such aid. But Ketar clearly had bigger fish to fry; why else had he been so aggressively building up Akara's fleet of spaceships? Leone had no interest in getting involved with Ketar's schemes if they included private fleets of war ships that felt free to attack peaceful spaceships. Leone still wondered if it was safe to go to Azur. Ketar might decide to just throw Leone in a deep hole rather than risk the spread of the story about how Ketar's war fleet had attacked an innocent spaceship. For Leone, the only remaining question was if Aristark could understand the danger of going to Azur.
Aristark said, "Okay, I've made up my mind. I told Ketar that I will go to Azur as soon as possible, but we are still on our original mission to find Kalid. In order to follow Ketar's orders, we must go to the h32 star system."
Leone smiled and shook Aristark's hand. "Now you know why I wanted to tell you about my dream before you called Ketar. You handled the situation with great diplomacy."
Aristark chuckled rather nervously, "The diplomacy will be needed when I do finally face Ketar again and have to explain why I failed to mention that I would be going to h32 before returning to the Akara star system."
Leone shrugged, "You can always blame that on me and my silly dream. But in all honesty, I do not feel that it was a silly dream. We must test the hypothesis that Kalid awaits us in the h32 star system."
Aristark nodded. "I agree. I honestly feel that in order to follow the orders I have been given, I must go to h32 an see if Kalid is there."
Leone ordered Thot to accelerate them away from HCC-2843. There were two remaining reasons for delay before they could jump to the h32 star system. He checked the repairs list and saw that the shields were still only partly regenerated. He intended to keep the promise he had made to himself and fully regenerate the shields before entering another star system. The second reason for delay was a technical annoyance that plagued hyperspatial communications centers. One of the mysterious and still poorly understood aspects of hyperspatial travel was that no two spaceships could make a jump from the same location in space-time. HCC-2843 was used frequently enough that all nearby space was "disrupted" and not suitable for initiating a new jump. They would first have to travel outward to reach a safe jump point.
"I wish that we could start our journey right now, but it will still be a few hours until we can jump." Leone eased into one of the command chairs. "Since we have some time, maybe we could discuss something else that has been on my mind."
Dream from the pastEdit
Aristark sat in the other command chair and turned to face Leone. "Speak. What is on your mind?"
Leone tried to order his thoughts. "Until my dream of last night, I've never had an experience that I felt might be evidence for ...I'm not sure what term to use...let's just say "mental powers". Are you comfortable with that term?"
Aristark asked, "By "mental powers" you mean the kind of telepathic contact that you seemed to experience in your dream?"
"Yes, exactly. There has long been speculation about the possible existence of telepathic communication. Of course, there has never been any published and reproducible evidence for telepathy, but in my dream Kalid said that telepathy works best in dreams. That got me thinking."
Aristark commented, "As you know, I am somewhat of a domineering person. I try to control all aspects of my life. I have had some training in how to control my dreams. I think I am better than most people at what is called 'lucid dreaming', so I do not doubt that you had a lucid dream last night."
Leone explained, "I've never been any good at controlling the content of my dreams. Usually, if I notice that I am dreaming I start thinking too much and I wake up. But I got thinking about the idea that telepathy might work best in dreams. If we think in terms of biology and evolution, we can ask what benefits might come from telepathy in dreams. Could there be selective advantage for people who can achieve telepathic contact in dreams?"
Aristark speculated, "If there were a largely unconscious mode of telepathic communication between humans, it might provide advantages. Almost any communication can increase the cohesion of human social groups."
"Yes, I was thinking along those lines. For example, if two people in a tribe were in conflict, maybe they could fight in a dream and avoid the dangers of physical harm that would come from an actual fight."
Aristark laughed. "That is very silly. But continue."
"Actually, my thoughts have gone down a different path besides fighting. What you might call the opposite path. Once, long ago, when I first fell in love with a woman, I had a strange dream. So, I've been thinking, if two people could make telepathic contact in a dream, maybe they could use a dream to decide if they are right for each other."
And let's guess who that woman is, maybe the fanatic witch who got us into trouble, Aristark thought.
"That is silly." Aristark asked, "Why would evolution use dreams to help people decide on mates?"
"Why does evolution use things like ornamental bird plumage? Evolution uses anything that works."
The first thing Leone noticed about Sybil was her hair. Every day she had her hair in a different pattern of braids. Then Leone had finally asked her to lunch after class and he had sat staring at her hair. She had babbled on about a course she was taking in ancient history, but Leone had not listened....he was fascinated by her hair and the way her mouth moved and strange flashes of light that sparked deep in her dark eyes. Finally Leone asked her, "What does it mean?"
Sybil replied, "Well, it is mythical symbology. Different symbologists have different theories. If I select this topic for my senior thesis, then I'll publish my theory, too!"
Leone did not have any idea what she was talking about. "No, I mean your hair. What do all the different knots and braids mean? Every day it is a different pattern."
Sybil had laughed at him. "Oh, that. It is something I learned from my mother. Oh, my, I thought you wanted to talk about something serious, but you just asked me to lunch so you could look at my hair."
Leone nodded. "Yes, I'm very shallow, that's why I have a double major in engineering and physics. All the cute girls sign up for those kinds of classes and the boys are just nerds who never notice the girls so I have my pick of the entire crop."
Sybil complained, "I think I've been insulted...I'm neither an engineering major nor a physics major....you don't think I'm cute?"
Leone shook his head. "You cannot be cute. What are you, something close to two meters tall? You are far too tall to be cute."
"Now I'm sure I've been insulted. Can tall women be beautiful?"
"Beautiful is different. You'd fit the current standard of beauty if you had your ears and chin modified."
"Another thing my mother taught me is that true beauty is inside. You don't think my big chin is dignified? Maybe I should grow a beard."
Leone laughed. "Personally I wouldn't change anything about you. Yes, at first all I could see was your hair, but then I started to listen to you in English class and noticed that you are brilliant and an unconventional and creative thinker. Unfortunately, I've been sitting behind you all semester. Its only today that I got to watch your mouth while you talk. Your chin is too big to be conventionally beautiful but it is perfect for your mouth. Your mouth is hypnotic...the little twists you make when you talk....maybe if you braided the hair in your beard it would be okay."
"But my ears would still be too big."
"Come over to my place this weekend and I'll nibble on your ears until they are just the right size.....although that job might take me the rest of eternity to do right..."
"Leone, if you think you are going to do me, you are crazy. Now I have to run or I'll be late for my next class."
Later that week Leone had a dream about Sybil. She was in the university museum teaching a course on ancient history. She was surrounded by admiring students who repeated everything she said. Leone struggled to push in close enough to see her. Finally Leone could see that she was a statue in the museum. Then she was a statue in a park, and she was heart-breakingly beautiful. Leone tried to touch her but she was cold, stone cold. Leone felt a primal grief that grew in strength until it made his body hum and vibrate. He tried to channel his force and animate Sybil's stone body. Leone knew he was a god and he had the power to bring her back to life. But then he woke up and felt silly for having a dream in which he was a god.
Leone finished telling Aristark about the old dream, but without mentioning that the dream was about Sybil.
Aristark felt that Leone's dream was silly. "So you never were able to melt that girl's heart."
Leone nodded. "Never. We stayed good friends but then we graduated and went our own ways."
"Did you ever tell her about the dream?"
"Of course not. What good would it have done to tell her that in my dream she was a cold statue. But at the time I never understood the imagery involved in the fact that she started out in the dream leading some kind of chanting in a ceremony of some type."
"And you understand that dream now, after all these years?"
"I have not thought about that dream very much in recent years, but it does have new meaning for me now that I'm thinking about dreams as a possible time for telepathic communication."
"Are you suggesting that this girl communicated to you in a dream the fact that she was as cold as a statue?"
"Something like that. Can't you guess who the girl is? You know her too."
Aristark guessed, "Are you talking about Sybil?"
"Yes, Sybil and I met over thirty years ago. It was only recently that I learned she calls herself "Priestess of Iris". That new knowledge and my dream of last night makes me think in a new way about that old dream I had. What if I was in telepathic contact with Sybil back when I fell in love with her?"
"If so, it did you no good. You had to wait 30 years to learn her secret."
"At a conscious level, yes, it took me thirty years to learn that Sybil is part of the Haldus Order. But maybe on an unconscious level I understood something. Maybe I understood just enough to be able to remain friends with her without pressing for our relationship to become more than that."
Aristark sighed. "I've never been a big fan of hind-sight."
"Well, it is all speculation, but if we are open to the possibility, then we can look for evidence. For example, if Sybil's equipment helped transmit a telepathic message from Kalid to me last night, then what carried that message into my brain?"
Aristark shrugged. "I have no idea. If telepathy is a common phenomenon in dreams then it seems like someone should have long ago detected the signals that carry telepathic signals."
Leone wondered, "What if the Haldus Order did that long ago?"
Leone had one more task to complete while they were close to HCC-2843, and he wanted some privacy for that. He went his cabin and called Sakkara...he really wanted to speak to Sybil. There was a long delay and he felt a sensation of déjà vu: a clear memory from the part of his dream when he had told Sybil about trying to contact her. Finally a voice arrived from across space, "This is Portia, Sybil's assistant. Sybil is not here. Do you wish to leave a message?"
Leone felt a chill...could he have actually seen this future in his dream? Well, failing to get a reply to a call was not that unusual...
Leone replied, "Hello, Portia. You can tell Sybil that I am still planning to meet with Ketar. I suppose Sybil and all of Sakkara is anxious to learn how things turn out, but this trip has gotten rather complex, so things are taking longer than expected. I'll try to call again from Azur." He ended the call and sat for a few minutes wondering if Sybil could explain the attack on his spaceship at Flammis or if she had any idea where Kalid was...had she ever heard of h32 star system?