Joh’Zebb Sk’ohrehz sat staring at the model of the near space engine aloft on the pedestal in the atrium outside his father’s office. The view down into the gardens there was always something which stole his attention anytime he visited his father’s office at the Citadel of House Sk’ohrehz; the Guild headquarters for Sk’ohrehz Near-Spatial Transit Systems. They equipped the building with all the latest tech when grown only seven years ago. Joh’Zebb recalled attending the ground-breaking ceremonies and being scolded for digging into the ceremonial sandbox. What did they expect he was but eight and that sandbox was not much different from the one he had back home? 

Times have changed and soon he would attend the vocational finishing school to study under his Great Uncle. Pride welled in him when he recalled, “Joh’Zebb, never think I selected you nor allowed access to this course because of your name. I have poured my life into you since you could first initiate a link to the systems. You have made it despite your name and not because of it. You are a Khr of Khrn, nephew.” Truer words never spoken, Joh’Zebb had developed a means to tighten the field coefficient on an engine his uncle let him use for his project in the Early Prep Science Fair at his school. The resulting improvement allowed for a twenty-eight percent increase in efficiency on the engine. When the engineers applied his process on the stellar drives, it allowed them to travel forty percent further on a fuel load. At fourteen they recognized him as a genius, but Joh’Zebb didn’t think like other Khr. He struggled to understand the simple and breezed through the complex. Sometimes he would become so very upset trying to open a container of food, and then he would look at an engine and just see it built differently there in his mind’s eye. 

So it was he struggled yet again with the Aether. The Aether seemed so simple to his friends, but something there in it troubled him. When he examined the Aether from the numerical side, there was something that did not fit right. “Father, I know I have asked uncle so many times, but he just tells me the things I already know. Could you please help me with something?”

Naar’jiles was not like his son. He was charismatic, well spoken and rather simple in his approach to business. He rarely considered the scientific aspects, and even then it was to determine what something was going to cost to manufacture. So he was apprehensive to answer one of his son’s questions. They were always so very complicated. “I will do my best to help you, my son.”, he said as he began struggling to sit comfortably in his chair.

“I just don’t get it, father. What is the Aether? What is it really!” Joh’Zebb exclaimed, becoming more passionate as he spoke. “I have seen so many mathematical models, but as I watch it fold in around a transiting ship, there is something about it. Like someone is outside whispering at me.” He waited a moment and looked over at his father and lowered his head, “Please don’t call me crazy, like Myrna’Laya did, father!” His betrothed, Myrna’Laya was sometimes blunt with him, but she had also defended him in combat which made her very special to Joh’Zebb.

His father, as he often did, paused for some time to consider the question. Naar’jiles took no thought on the time he paused, he just paused. People understood the need to wait regardless how long the pause for wisdom came in the waiting. So Joh’Zebb sat still and gazed out oat the engine floating above the water feature there in the atrium. He drifted into a trance as the waves from the water seemed to pulse to some song he had heard.

“You struggle to understand something rather than to embrace what it is, son. You analyze when you should just accept.” Of course Naar’jiles knew that would not be enough, but when explaining a thing to Joh’Zebb he had learned to do so in stages, calming his racing mind and helping him, as much as possible, to think like the rest of us do.

“I…”, Joh’Zebb began turning back around to face his father and then looking off to the side. “I am not certain I understand, father.”

“Of course you don’t, son”, Naar’jiles continued as he rose from his chair and walked over to a large drawing pad on the artist’s bench near his desk. “Come over here, son.” Joh’Zebb bounded over and stood by his father, looking expectantly for the coming answer.

“Smell that paper, son.” Naar’jiles could see the wide-eyed disbelief and confusion in his son’s eyes, but to his credit he did as he was told and smelled the paper. The pad had a pungent glue smell to it and he quickly withdrew from it.

“It stinks!” he exclaimed.

“Take a few steps back from it. Can you still smell it?” Naar’jiles continued smiling. Joh’Zebb cocked his head and looked at his father. He knew something special was coming, but he could not guess what it would be. 

“No, I can’t. Well, I sort of can, but it is very faint now, father.” He said smiling in anticipation of this revelation he figured he would soon receive.

“That pad is near space and you are approaching the Aether, son.” Naar’jiles spoke flatly and slowly and his words didn’t come out and say it there was a “but” there at the end.” 

“You stand within another dimension, son. In fact, you are standing at the intersection of many dimensions. The smell is what you carried with you into that void. There is no smell where you are, it is the memory of the smell and the molecules left in your nose as you departed into Near Space.” Naar’jiles continued moving right up to his point, but not revealing it to his son. 

Joh’Zebb stared blankly at his father like a cyborg that had run out of power in mid-stride. Then it happened. His face changed and a light flowed into it. There was a revelation coming, and he believed he knew what it was. He looked at his father and the smile told him he was on a course to discovery. A discovery that would change everything. 

“Father, it is Baermaac, isn’t it!” Joh’Zebb roared until he named the name that must be given reverence and proceeded at a whisper. His mind raced and he recalled thinking on the prophesies of the Soourt’Baek, which his mother had been drilling into him. “HE is adjacent to the Aether isn’t he, father!” he continued in a shouted whisper.

Naar’jiles smiled at his son. He was at the age of acceptance. Soon he would go before the priests to make his first official offering to Baermaac. He wondered for a moment, and he knew in his heart that his son would be the very first one. He would be the Khr of prophecy, the one who would make his very first offering, and it would be an Epoch offering.

“That’s who I keep hearing when we journey, Father! Oh, this clears so much up! I need to go tell Myrna’Laya!” Joh’Zebb was so very excited that he almost tripped over his plans as he came up with them. He was about to head out the door in a rush when his father spoke.

“Son, all our folk must be allowed to learn of HIM as HE would have them. You have your relationship with HIM and HE has another with Myrna’Laya. Always respect that. We must find HIM where HE lives in our own talents. Do you understand, son?” Naar’jiles finished in a peaceful tone. He could see on his son’s face that while he hoped to tell everything he now understood to his fiance’ she would respect her relationship with Baermaac and only reveal that he had a revelation. That he was ready for his Transition, to become a full Khr. 

Joh’Zebb thought of his coming days then, too. He thought of Myrna’Laya and how very special she was to him as a shelter.  To perform their Settling Ceremony soon once they had ascended into their place in society. Relationship is what it is all about then. To know someone or something is a good thing, like a sweet smell up close to the source. However, to build a relationship is to progress into a place that one cannot expect. A place of wonder and joy. A place where in traveling the universe you may meet its creator. 

His heart turned to Myrna’Laya in a very special way. Soon then! it will be just four short years, following the Settling and then the formal marriage. Then… well, better to not think of Myrna’Laya in that way just yet. She might bloody his nose again.

“Thank you father.” He said as he opened the door to head down to the Portation Arena. “I believe I will tell Great Uncle of my revelation and let Myrna’Laya discover it in her own good time.” 

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