Gitfangula is a very strange place. As a planet, orbiting between the ancient worlds of Marnus and Minuous, it lives in a particular harmony with its past that many other planets and galaxies would envy and resent…if they ever managed to find it. The thing is…Gitfangula cannot be found by conventional ships that rely on anything besides timegates. This is one of the reasons why Gitfangula has been so peaceful for such a long time. The only conflicts come from within. All citizens of that orb have an instant psychic connection and can immediately detect when things do not seem stable, or if there happens to be a disturbance near one of their portals. But, since these types of disturbances were so rare, no citizen of Gitfangula ever worried about such things. It was clear that any problem within the nation and planetoids nearby were internal. No one could be blamed for the problems they faced in their relationships, their homes, their working lives…
And that brings us to Gork and Slarb.
One day, or at least one timeflow by the nearest gate that was filled with rubbery asteroids that were great for impromptu games of galactic billiards, they parked the Nectar nearby and awaited a message. The Great Consciousness promised a very good one this time, but Gork just yawned psychically as he always did. Slarb did not think it was a good idea to be so bored on their shared psychic link, but he understood. Most of the messages were about discoveries that they had already discovered, wars that ended faster than they started (Slarb still had a laugh about that), and threats to their society that never appeared. The only reason he worried about this one was that Gork and he were in the highest segment of their society. It would not do to be sensed taking the announcement lightly. Slarb had his mind open.
And their entire society soon got the good news:
“Oh, citizens of Gitfangula! Today is a glorious day in our history of histories! We have made contact with the Carfab Federation and brokered a treaty for trade and peace!”
Even Gork was caught off guard by that one. Carfab was one of those regions that they had all tried to ignore as much as was possible for a next door neighbour. The particular timegate you could use to enter their space was rarely touched by any vehicles, and psychic connections were even more discouraged among all classes. But Gork had other reasons for being wary of their new situation (Slarb was attentive but unaware of what was on his best friend’s mind; privacy was important to him).
Gork sighed at the old memory but did his best to keep the psychic sensation private. Modharva, Modharva, Modharva… Gork knew her too well. In fact, he knew her before anyone on Gitfangula knew about their upcoming battles and other minor disagreements with Carfab. There had been some history within their family with their counterparts in Carfab, many timejumps ago. His parental units had not told him too much about this side of the family line, but he did want to know more. There was a breakdown of several generations of people, entities, and the like (the map he could conjure at will was very detailed). And that was his first mistake. There were relations and then…there were relatives. Modharva was not at all related to him. That was clear from the stories he heard. But she was part of the negotiations. She was the one who first contacted him to give him the genealogy, and that had been a rather intense connection.
Modharva knew how to work those connections, take on his own obsessions and others, and have a psychic connection that no one could detect. Not one of his parental units detected this (very hard to cover a soulbond beyond a timegate, but Modharva knew a way); no one at Tectonia would detect his disturbed thoughts as he negotiated for food and thought about how he would be gelling their essences together later that same day (maybe he was cheated in his last deal over fuel for the Nectar, but it was worth it); no one picked up on a single thing from Gork that he did not want them to know about; not a soul.
Not even Slarb.
As they made their way back to the Nectar, Gork had an unplanned thought: was his partner lying to him? All those missions and test runs for the Gitfangula Council and never a moment where it came up; all that time jumping through time, and not a single thought about anything except what they had planned next when they reached a destination that could still surprise them; all those stories, jokes, boasts, scams, disappointments and successes…and not a word about a relationship beyond the one they had with each other. Nothing…
There was something wrong here, but Gork could not bring himself to admit it. He wanted Modharva back.
He wanted her to be his partner now…
It was hard to hide this one.
“Hey, Gitfanger! You okay? I caught that last one.”
“Yeah, it was just…hard to hear about Carfab. All that time, and nothing but bad news if you even thought them…it.”
Slarb piloted into another gate, taking time to stun a colony that had not even invented the wheel yet.
“Yeah, it is a big change…for some.”
Was that a smile?
“What…you mean you…?”
“Gork, buddy-o-mine, I don’t always tell you everything that I go through. I knew that this was coming. If you paid more attention to the newsfeed, you’d be on top of this. Carfab had no choice but to get things settled. It’s a dump now.”
Gork really could not take this.
“But the negotiation…”
“A lie.” Slarb piloted out of the atmosphere and found the next portal. “The war was just a dodge for trade and other nonsense. Our families knew this much and thought that we did not need to know. Interesting how we all have these connections and they could still hide these things from us.”
Gork felt ill.
“Yeah, but we are gonna make off like batarchs on better drugs when this is all over. And I am gonna introduce you to someone who will knock your synaptic ties off!”
Gork stared out the side panel, wondering if they could jump through a gate that could erase the last few hours (it had been known to happen).
“A really hot one out there. Think her name is Modhatta or Madhatter or whatever… Wait until you see her. You are gonna be so grateful that we don’t have to pretend anymore. We are back on the gravy train, Gorky!”
The galaxy sped past them as they entered another eternity.