The Quest of the Gem
I would like to warn all readers that this story could be upsetting. It may start peaceful, but it will turn into a story about grave, tragic loss and guilt, and the wounds will not be healed magically in the end...so if you prefer stories with a real happy ending, you should better not read on.
The Gem are a race living on a beautiful, bright and colourful planet near the galactic core, called Gemu. This is the story of one of them, Arl, and how he came to be stranded on a strange, dull and terrifying planet far out on the galactic rim, a planet we know as Earth.
Compared to humans, Gem are a really strange race. They are about the size of a palm and the shape of an uncut jewel, sparkling and changing colours all the time, depending on their thoughts and feelings.
They get their energy from the rays of the sunlight, but as they donīt move and donīt have any inner organs using up energy, they can do without sunlight for quite a long time.
The Gem society doesnīt know crime, illness or suffering. Very occasionally a Gem dies of an accident, but the only accidents that can kill a Gem are very rare: He could fall into a sun or a black hole. They really live a peaceful and tranquil life and thus feelings like fear, anger or hatered are hardly known amongst them.
They arenīt able to move, but they can communicate via telepathy over short distances. They can also cover larger distances by projecting their spirit into the body of another Gem, a practise also used for mating. Gem mate ocasionally, but they hardly ever have any children, as they are almost immortal. Too many children would soon lead to a terrible overpopluation of their home world.
The worst thing happening to the Gem during their life is boredom, especially because they are an extremely curious and very intelligent race, always looking for deeper insight and trying to discover new knowledge. But being so immobile, it is hard for them to experience anything new. So just looking at the rest of the Universe from their home world doesnīt seem enough for some of them.
In that same region of the galactic core there lived another, totally different species, the Morl. Newborn Morl are about 2 meters long, grown up ones can reach up to 20 meters. They have the form of a whaleshark and are coloured black with dark blue spots all over their body. They can communicate via telepathy, too. They also get most of their energy from sunlight, but they also need to eat dust and small meteroits every now and then. This helps them build up their bodys and give them extra energy they need to move freely among the stars with the help of telekinesis.
Unlike the Gem, they are only semi-intelligent, and they are not immortal. Their normal life-expectancy is about 150 years, and they often get killed by illnesses and accidents. Like the Gem, they are very friendly and curious. This is the reason why the Gem and the Morl developed a deep friendship almost as soon as they found out about each other.
And in a way, both races profit a lot from this friendship. The Gem use the Morl to travel the galaxy. In turn they developed cures for the illnesses endangering the Morl. And with their high intelligence, they can often warn them in time to prevent accidents. In a way you could say there is a deep respect between the two races, some would even call it love.
The one big problem in their relationship was the mortality of the Morl. At first, the Gem could hardly get over the loss of one of their friends, as they had never known death on such a common basis before. They did everything to keep the Morl alive as long as possible. But soon they learned that death was an important thing in the life of the Morl. The Morl even have a sort of religion, promising them eternal life in another world. By and by the Gem got accustomed to losing their friends regularly, and gaining new ones when new Morl were born. And with the help of the Gem, hardly any Morl died untimely deaths caused by illnesses or accidents any more. Eventually, the Gem developed a theory of a normal circle of life to cope with the death of their friends.
Slowly the relationship got more normal for both races, and and they started to depend more and more on each other. Now that some centuries have passed, the Gem consider themselves the sheperds of the Morl. They feel an obligation to care for them the best they can. The Morl on the other hand depend totally on the Gem. A Morl that has lost contact to the Gem by accident feels deeply upset and lost. In such a situation, the Morl are often overcome by extreme fear. Like pets, they have completely lost the ability to care for themselves.
One of the most curious, adventerous and daring Gem is Arl. Two centuries ago he has set out on a journey to explore the worlds on the far galactic rim. He knew that the journey would take him at least five centuries, and as that is far longer than the livetime of a Morl, he has chosen to travel with a whole flock of Morl. He is a loner, and except for his Morl he has decided to travel alone, without any other Gem to keep him company. This is fairly unusual for a Gem, but then Arl is not the typical Gem, but a rather strange fellow.
After a rather uneventful journey Arl comes to a small solar system near the very rim of the galaxy. He notices a strange, small blue planet and decides to have a closer look. Coming closer, he notices bright flames and explosions in a green area of the planet. First he thinks it is a kind of volcanic activity, but then he notices a large amount of lifeforms in the area. As he is really thrilled to find new lifeforms, he decides to try and contact them. Soon he realizes that the intelligent lifeform he has detected is not able to communicate via telepathy. So he decides to try and project his spirit into one of them.
To prepare for his adventure, he tells Hjiik, his closest and dearest friend among the Morl, and the others, to land and hide under the surface of the ocean. Hjiik is also the one Morl carrying Arlīs tiny body inside his own. Arl tells all the Morl not to worry, even if his adventure takes longer than expected. He asks them to wait for him and promises to return. Until that day they are to hide from the other lifeforms on this planet.
Arl, who has never before projected his spirit into another being except for other Gem, considers it a thrilling but harmless adventure. He will soon find out how wrong he is. He chooses one person and enters her mind. She is a vietcong soldier, and she is confused when she suddenly feels his presence. But the prevailing feeling is one of sheer horror and pain. Is seems that she has nearly no capacity left in her mind to deal with the arrival of Arl. He is surprised by that and investigates her more closely. He notices that she is injured, but that doesnīt seem to be the reason why she is so terrified. He probes deeper into her mind and finds pictures of flying objects and one word: Napalm. This must be the reason why she is sitting here, behind one big rock, too terrified to move and too terrified to be concerned about the sudden arrival of another spirit in her mind.
Then, through her eyes, he can see them. Three flying objects made of metal pass over their heads and the whole world around them seems to explode. Everything is burnig, the forest, the air and the vietcong soldier girl herself. She is screaming with agony while her skin and flesh are burning away. Arl is totally overcome with her pain and horror. He tries to help and comfort her like he always does with his beloved Morl. He wants to heal her, but her mind is just screaming to let her go, for the pain to stop. When she slowly fades away, he is still clinging tightly to her soul, wanting to keep, heal and save her. So she draws his spirit with her when she dies.
After what seems like ages to him, Arl manages to tear the larger part of his own spirit off the soul of the girl. He just wants to get away, flee from this horror. He feels wounded and confused, and guilt-ridden because of her death. Due to this trauma, he has lost almost all his memories. He doesnīt understand what has happened to him and why he is flying around, a lonely spirit on the run from some unbelieveble horror.
He has lost all his memories of his former life and doesnīt know heīs a Gem. But he realizes that his spirit is getting weaker and weaker without a body. So he starts looking for one. As he feels so deeply injured and upset, he decides to look for somebody who feels comfortable and protected, so he can get a bit of that comfort and protection, too. He finds somebody, a tiny spark of a spirit inside another personīs body. This feels strangely familiar for him. After all, his body had been inside Hjiik for almost a century now. Of course he doesnīt conciously remember it, but he feels that this is what he wants.
So he forces his spirit, together with all his feelings of horror, loss and guilt caused by his recent trauma, into the mind of an unborn baby girl. The effect on the girlīs spirit is catastrophic. She is not jet able to stand such a surge of emotions and her spirit falters almost immediately. Arl instictively tries to help her, but her dying spirit almost draws him with her, too, so he backs away from it. For a moment, he is overwhelmed by the guilt of having killed her. To him, it feels like he has killed twice. He feels like the worst criminal. For a moment he considers following her into the darkness.
Suddenly he realizes that now that her spirit has gone, her body starts dying, too. The lifefunctions are no longer working properly all by themselves. He investiges her body. It is unknown to him and everything looks very complicated. What needs to be done to keep this body alive? Trying a few things, he finally manages to get the lifefunctions back to near normal again. But it is hard work for him, and he can never relax or let go. The body of the little girl needs his attention constantely. Sometimes he is considering his situation. He feels like the prisoner inside a body that is not his own. Why is he keeping the body alive, now that itīs spirit is gone? But then, where else could he go? He has already killed to get this body, so he might as well keep it.
During the first years of his life as a little girl, it is always difficult for Arl to keep the body alive. Because of that he never really finds the time to think over his situation or to try and heal his own wounded soul. But as her body grows and matures, he gets more aquainted with all functions, and everything gets easier. Arl, who has now got used to his/her new name Maggie, gets more and more interested in learning everything about the world she is living in.
Maggie is a very curious girl, interested in almost everything. But she is very upset and appalled whenever she finds out about injustice in the world. Whenever there are pictures of the war on TV, she runs out screaming. Her teachers think sheīs a bit retarded, because at the age of 6 she still calls herself Maggie, not I. She is a strange little girl. But the more she learns, the more she adapts. In the end, you could hardly find any differences to other kids of her age anymore. And sheīs always good at school, because she is so curious.
She is always easily aroused by injustice. The thought of all the wars going on in this world make her sick. Every now and then those thoughts overwhelm her and she gets depressed for weeks. But somehow she always pulls through. She has lost all memories of her former life as Arl, and even the memory of having taken this body from another spirit.
In the oceans of the Earth the Morl are really worried. Arl has not come back for a very long time. They feel lost and lonely. Who is going to care for them now? What has happened to their beloved master Arl? And on the far homeworld of the Gem, Gemu, Arlīs relatives start worrying, too. Soon they will set out on a mission to search for him. Will they be able to find him? And as he has lost all his memories of having been a Gem, what good will it be to bring him home? Will they at least manage to save all the beautiful Morl in our oceans?