Sasha Vasiliev, Vucari
The gods must have taken mercy on us because the first day turned out to only be a half day. Our homeroom teacher, Mr. Martin, was also much nicer than the Rook. He’d apparently been a hero before retiring but I wasn’t familiar with american heroes, knowing more about the Russian superheroes and villains such as the People’s Champions, the Red Sons, the Children of Perun. Many of whom were relics of the cold war.
After eating lunch in the large cafeteria court and then taking care of administrative things, we all returned to the house. I could see some friendships forming already; Harley and Síthmaith, Clarke and Abigail. However, I didn’t join them. Instead I went up to my room and grabbed the most important bag in my closet, taking it out onto the upstairs balcony.
Night had already fallen and thankfully the stars were decently visible that night so I set up my telescope. It was a gift my parents had gotten me two years prior. I’d owned telescopes since I was barely able to make sentences, but this one was an expensive professional one.
“Are you looking for something?” I heard Shekaree said, I hadn’t heard her or the door open.
“Not particularly, but Mars and Uranus are visible tonight.”
“You like looking at other worlds?”
“I love looking at the stars and think about what’s out there. We’ve met some of our neighbors; Tzari, Itharii, Shivat, Ct’chisk, Zot-fit-ta, Yev. And yet we’ve only seen what’s in the Orion-Signus spur, there’s a whole galaxy to explore and many more people to meet.”
“Humans do not normally like… Star people.”
“I believe that deep down people are good, even if they make mistakes or stray from the right path. In the message your people sent when you came, you said you came to help us, that if we accepted to join the empire we’d be free of poverty, suffering and divisions. I’d like to believe it was true, that even if you were misguided, you wanted to help.”
“It is true. We had weapons to destroy you if we wanted. But we did not.”
“The same weapons that destroyed Moscow?”
At the mention of Moscow, she looked away, clearly ashamed.
“Yes… It was cowardly. Many of us and your people die because of Lord Kuthal was a coward and scared…” I saw her claws clench into fists. “Moscow was in your nation I was told.”
“Yes… I lost aunts and uncles that day.”
She bit her lip. I took a step toward her and wrapped my arms around her, causing her to flinch.
“It’s okay Karee, it’s not your fault. Your people aren’t responsible, only one was and he was punished for what he did.”
She nodded and I let go.
“Come on, let me show you my telescope.” I said, changing the subject. I went back to it and explained to her how it worked, the model and its features. I was ninety-nine percent sure sure she didn’t understand what I was going on about, but she seemed enthralled regardless.
“Come on, take a look.” I said after arranging the telescope. She approached the telescope and leaned down. “Do you see the star at the center?”
“That’s HD 147513. But for the last twelve years, we’ve had a new name for it; Aruat. It’s where Itharii were born, their planet, Ithar, lies in the fifth Lagrange point between the sun and a gas giant. They’ve traveled over forty light years to come here.”
I went back on the telescope and looked around for a moment until I found the right star.
“And this one is known on earth as Kepler-442.” I said before letting her look through the telescope again.
“I know this one. It is Oarakus,the maker’s eye and star of Resh.”
“It’s where you come from, you’ve crossed 1120 light years to come here. The light we see was emitted when your people were just beginning to industrialize.”
“You know Tzari history?”
“Only a little. There are not a lot of Russian book about Tzaries and I only learned to read English fluently recently.”
“You could learn our language.”
“I could teach you.” She said making my heart skip.
“If you help with mine english.”
“My english.” I corrected her.
“See? You are already a teacher.” She said with a smile.
“You have a deal then. It’s getting late, why don’t we go back inside?”
She nodded and I packed my telescope back into its bag. We went inside and the moment we were back into our room she searched through her things until she found a slim book. She sat on the bed and flipped it open. The insides were full of tzari text; blocky detached letters peppered with dots dashes and other marks.
“Come.” She said.
I put my telescope back into the closet and sat down next to her.
“You know I can’t read Tzari, right?”
“Yes. I am showing you text.”
With her claw she pointed at the first two letter of a word in the sole line of the first page. “This is ‘R’. You see next letter? It ‘N.’ Language has only consonant, vowels are above or below.” She then pointed at the tiny spiral like mark below the ‘R’ “This is ‘en’”
She went over the next letter and vowel mark; ‘Ta’
“Ren-ta. That’s the Tzari code of honor isn’t it?”
“Ren-ta is the Tzari way of life. Teaches order, loyalty and unity. It was given to us by leader Raskhan.”
“I’ve heard a lot of things about him. Mostly bad ones…” I sighed. “What is he really like?”
“I have not met him, but Raskhan is not a bad leader, he is fair and good. Made all tzari equal, even… I do not know the word; Person born servant and belong to master, like me.”
“You were a slave?”
“No, only ancestors were slave.” She reached for her face and brushed the brand on her cheek. “This reminds us where we come from. What Raskhan did for us.”
“Oh wow…” There was a moment of silence. “The Rook mentioned lords, what are they?”
“Lords are Tzari leaders, chosen from best and smartest of Tzari, to learn Ren-ta. They are leader, warriors and bring justice to people.”
“Are you a Lord?”
“No, only a apprentice—”
“An apprentice.” I said, making her smirk.
“Tzari are apprentice for two year —eight Earth years— before they become lord. I only have done one Resh year, but because of mission was given lord improvement early.”
“Made faster, stronger, smarter.”
“You’re like a real life transhuman or trans-tzari, I guess.”
“No?” She frowned. “I am not Rhaskru.”
“No, no. Transhuman not transgender, I know they sound similar, but they’re different things. Transhuman is a human who is made stronger by technology.”
She nodded and went back to the book, showing me more letters and vowel marks, reading passages that even though I didn’t understand I still focused on. With her finger, she traced the text as she read so I could better follow.
“So, what was Resh like?” I asked once she finished a paragraph.
“Beautiful but harsh. Resh has less water and is hotter. How is your home?”
“Cold.” I said with a snicker. “But it has its charms. Can you tell me more about your world?”
And just like that, we spent the night talking away; about Resh and Russia, about our childhoods and culture, the people we’d left behind. I don’t even remember falling asleep still in her bed after hours of passionate and melancholic talk.