MISC: The Girl Who Saved The World Part 2

George Phillies phillies at 4liberty.net
Mon Nov 2 20:26:19 PST 2015

"Ah, Miss Schumacher.  The usual breakfast, the usual tab.  You didn't 
know about this in advance?" Kang asked.
"Or are you the next challenger?"

"Me? " She answered good-naturedly.  "I just have a few gifts. If I flew 
to Atlantis, the Namestone wouldn't give me the time of day.  You want 
to get gossip about this, ask the people who take your private classes." 
  Kang lectured, several evenings a week, on the hidden energies that 
underlay all gifts.  His large classes were televised.  He also gave 
entirely private classes to select students, many of whom were on their 
national persona teams, and some of whom were said to be wanted by 
members of those persona teams.  Registration lists for private classes 
were well-kept secrets.  "I'm going to Tech's library to study.  Thank 
you again for breakfast."

"You are always welcome here," Kang answered. The sports viewscreens 
were now showing the Namestone's video broadcast of the challenger, 
someplace in the Maze.  The view was always from behind.  The 
challenger's face was never seen.  "Miss Schumacher, you are a woman of 
iron will.  There hasn't been a real challenge since that chess player, 
40 years ago.  You aren't going to watch?"

"Kniaz Kang, whoever it is, she is going to be shredded, degraded, 
hideously wounded, and in the end beaten to death and blown to pieces. 
Unless the solid shadows eat her. I couldn't stand to watch," Silk said.

"I can't, either," Kang answered.  "Which is why I am not facing a video 
screen, and why there is no sound behind the counter.  The contest will 
be over this afternoon, if not sooner.  At three o'clock that will be 
bright sunlight everywhere in the world when the Maze marks its newest 
prey.  Then I can watch the news again."

* * * * *
Late afternoon. Kang stood in his restaurant, intervening as need be to 
maintain the flow of food and drink to his customers.  He’d opened both 
kitchens, called in all the cooks and part-timers, but keeping ahead of 
the take-out and delivery crowd had been a struggle.  All that time, he 
never looked at a video screen.  Someplace out in the Atlantic, someone 
was about to die, horribly, pursuing a hopeless quest older than 
history.  He couldn’t hide from the windows, though, windows that were 
brighter when the defenders of the Maze did well, dimmer when the 
challenger advanced.  The same was true all around the world.

Suddenly all went black outside.  He couldn’t resist glancing at the 
news feed. “Bangkok - sky is pitch black. Rio de Janiero - the sun just 
went out.  Vienna - only street lights illuminate the Ringstrasse.”
The video could be heard in the far distance.  “This is Vera Durand on 
Atlantis.  It’s a planetary total eclipse.  Not three minutes ago, the 
challenger was losing in hand-to-hand combat.  She was grappled and 
unable to break free.  Suddenly everything went dark.”

“Vera,” Richard Karkovian asked, “The Maze must have won.  Where is the 

“Here on Atlantis, even the stars have gone dark.  You only see me 
because my trusty cameraman has his own light source.  Wait, I’m getting 
video from the maze again.”

Kang stared at the screen, unable to help himself.  All activity in the 
kitchen ground to a stop.  The screens showed a long, white marble 
corridor, illumined by two rows of unblinking cressets, flames that 
burned without pause or flicker.  A figure could be seen limping away 
from the camera, whatever the Maze used for cameras, toward an open 
door.  Who was it?  What was going on? By now the guardian must have 
killed the challenger, but that was the challenger, still barely on her 
feet.  Kang held his breath.

The figure crossed the threshold. Instantly, the room beyond was flooded 
with sunlight, sunlight visible nowhere else in the world.  The point of 
view shifted.

The challenger stood in the Tomb of the Martyr, the final resting place 
of the man who had brought the Namestone to Earth.  There was the Martyr 
himself, lying in state atop his sarcophagus, his corpse unchanged over 
the thousands of years he had waited.  Above his hands floated a glowing 
sphere of crystalline sky, the brightest of cerulean blues.  He held the 
Namestone, The Artifact That Grants Every Wish, The Key to Paradise.

The figure walked slowly across the polished stone floor. A woman, Kang 
decided, and very slim. Her garb was torn and stained with blood.  Sweat 
plastered her hair to her scalp. Stains and rends in the fabric vanished 
as she approached the Martyr.    Her hair fluffed out, revealing short, 
platinum-white, perfectly cut curls. Down from the ceiling floated a 
gray cape. It folded over her shoulders, draping perfectly, its fall 
extending almost to her ankles.  She reached down and tugged at the 
fabric. The cape flared, revealing a sigil, a solid circle overlapping a 
sun in glory.

She reached the Martyr.  “I am here,” she announced. Her voice, thought 
Kang was an upper soprano, its tones limpidly clear.  “I have read The 
Copper Book of Harvest Stars and obeyed its mandates. I’m here for the

“Are you here to take the Holy Namestone, the Key to Paradise?”  The 
voice came from everywhere and nowhere.

“I am here to ask you for the Namestone, if I’m worthy.  So speaks the 
Copper Book,” she answered.  Kang listened to the voice.  A human 
female, a young woman from the purity of her voice’s tones.

“Speak your name,” the voice commanded.

“Eclipse is my persona.  I am glory herself.”

“Then reach out, Eclipse, and take the Namestone.”  Eclipse cleared her 
throat.  Someday, Kang thought, her children will cower in terror at 
that harmless sound.  “Then reach out, Eclipse, and I will give you the 

Eclipse leaned forward.  The Namestone rolled out of the Martyr’s hands 
into Eclipse’s.

The cheers from the restaurant audience were deafening.  Even the oldest 
patrons would not have watched Jackie Fisher and the combined Grand 
Fleet being sunk, the last time a serious effort had been made to 
recover the stone, but most had seen that defeat on period motion 
pictures.  The chess player who forty years ago had won three games and 
quit while ahead was viewed as exhibiting another of his fabled 
eccentricities.  For this day, mankind had waited thousands of years.
Beyond the Sarcophagus were stairs leading up.  Eclipse began her climb 
out of the Maze.

The sky outside the restaurant flared to bright and sunny.  Video split 
screens showed the same all around the world. From a total planetary 
eclipse, now there was total planetary daylight.

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