Dal and Chandra Chapter 3 On Exarna
This is the third chapter of Dal and Chandra. If you have already read this intro please skip it. If you haven't read Chapter 1 and 2 you might do so and then this will make more sense.
Dal and Chandra Last Life on Earth Chapter one
In a dying world Dal Smit is growing up hungry. Dal uses vid classes to study survival strategies. She is a full citizen of theUniRepublicwhich was pieced together by Planet Earth’s warlords and scientists from the dying remains of their ravaged Planet. Uni society is power and logic based. The Uni World Democratic Constitution gives everyone equal rights to attempt survival. But of course the people at the top eat more. Uni has a fragile truce with its former enemy Exar Planet. Dal is a loyal Uni child but she loves the Exar battle epics that sing about the small planet called Green Edan. Dal’s vid teachers say, “Dal what side are you on?’
Chandra is an Exar girl growing up in a distant galaxy on living Planet Exarna. Chandra is a loyal subject studying under the rigid hierarchy of wealthy Exar nobles. The Exars were rich earth citizens who escaped during Planet Earth’s collapse. They flew several gigantic space ships to Exarna and conquered the planet. Chandra eats well on her Exar lord’s green rural estate but her family lives in a hovel. They lack the rights to property, education, and health that accrue to the nobles. Chandra doesn’t really care that she can’t go to real school, but she is a natural athlete and she knows she could run faster and jump higher if she could only afford some of the expensive body implants the Exar scientists have perfected for the nobility.
Dal and Chandra Chapter 3 ON EXARNA
When Dal’s mom discovered that face-to-face school was free on Exarna she asked Dal if she wanted to attend. Dal said “No.” However Daddy Jon insisted that Dal go to Exarna school. Dal figured he just wanted to get rid of her. Dal didn’t like the idea of attending Exar school. She was an anxious child, and missed her safe Uni Vid School and her dear schoolmate Ran with the beautiful emerald eyes-well she knew they were really red but maybe Grandma Fay had got Ran’s eye’s permanently beautified to emerald by now.
“Could I just call Grandma Fay and ask her?”
“ Dal you know we have no way to call her. It’s too far. Too expensive”
“Do I have to go to Exar school? I’m scared of those big Exar kids. Cant I stay home and keep studying in the vids here with you guys?”
“You just have to try school; we will be here on Exarna for many years.” said her father Jon.
“Jon is right.I can teach you singing, but not all the other stuff like sports and technical mechanics. So you've just gotta go to school darling” said Sal.
Dal knew that thos tall dark muscular Exar kids could pick her up with one hand. She was terrified but curiosity outweighed her fear. Also she always wanted to please her serious parents, so off she went to Exar junior school. To her surprise the Exar junior school kids were fascinated by her compact size, her tiny muscles, round eyes, light brown skin and wiry curly hair. They made her their pet. “Come on little Dal.” They called dragging her along on their adventures climbing trees, scaling boulders, swimming in rapids, shooting at flying targets. Even though there had been fifty years of peace they were always training for war. Her Exar school chums showed off their body implants and encouraged Dal to get some.
“Come on Dal; ask them for implants, just something small and cheap. How about ask them for a baby tiger tooth?’
But Dal’s parents would never agree.
“Goodness sakes Dal that is body desecration. Unis don’t do that. We are rational beings, not like the traditionalist Exars.” said Sal.
“But daddy Jon specializes in implant technology.” said Dal.
"Yes the implant culture of body strength and animal assimilation is fascinating. Also Exar literary and musical culture is beautiful, fine and powerful. But never forget, Exars have reverted to primitive animal culture. One day we must return home to Uni, to our urban sophisticated high tech culture. Dal, you’ll want to fit in.” said Jon.
Fit in, Dal was trying desperate to fit in. At junior school she struggled with sports, and attack strategy without implants. Finally her parents agreed to some slight biochemical food additives and nanodes which made her a bit faster and stronger, but no implants. She tried to show courage when she was afraid. She tried not to cry. She sang harmony in the hymns to “Green Edan, Mother Earth”. (Mom said it’s OK to sing Exar religious hymns because it’s the same Edan we have in old Uni creation legends. I guess that's why the Exars and we Unis both love Green Edan planet. And mom says even on Uni there were a few throwback people who loved trees and worshiped Edan. Even Grandma Fay used to try to grow flowers.) But some school activities were too hard.
“Mom, remember in first grade we had to carve wooden spears and I almost cut off my fingers?”
“Dal your fingers are just fine now, all healed.”
“But now we have to carve stone. I might cut off my arm.”
“Don’t always worry so much Dal. Learn to control your power carving tools. Stone carving is an important Exar art. Learning carving will help you focus.”
One thing that really surprised Dal at the Exar school were the books. They were sort of like slates, flat and she could dial up stories with words and symbols and pictures. Sometimes the books told wonderful stories of Exar Heroes and adventures. But unlike vids no one actually entered the stories, all the action happened in your head. At first Dal thought she would need a head implant to read the books-but her mother just laughed and told her to use her imagination. Dal tried it out and sure enough, reading the books she could make pictures in her head.
After a few years Dal graduated to middle school on Exar. It was farther from her home and in a much bigger complex of buildings. She had to get to school by cycling and then by catching the public shuttle where proletarian Exars, who couldn't afford flyers, stared down at her. She had trouble making friends at middle school. Now that they were older most of Dal’s Exar schoolmates became more aware of how different Dal was. And Dal started to feel definite anti-Uni prejudice.
“Mom, my school history vid showed that Unis destroyed old earth. Is that true?”
“What do you think Dal?” said Sal.
“I don't know much Uni history.”
“You need some Uni vids. I'll order some for you. Every society rewrites history to make themselves look favorable and Exar is no exception. Actually the Exar ancestors were selfish polluting free birthers just like our Uni ancestors. We are all the same genotype and all of us contributed to the disaster.”
Dal was shocked when she entered the Uni vids. She felt hunger and pain and thirst as old earth wars and overpopulation destroyed everything: the babies died, butterflies, honey bees, animals, birds, grass, trees, glaciers, water supplies vanished. When oxygen started getting scarce, the rich people, the exiles, ran away to space in their deluxe star ships. The Exarnas took servants, teachers and all the top craftsmen that money could buy: artists, athletes, warriors, cosmeticians, scientists and implant technologists. They even took the whole Uni world National Opera with all the singers, musicians, dancers, acrobats and special effects technicians. The Exarnas worked hard to create a "perfect society" on Exarna planet with vast green estates, tight population control, nature preservation, classical music, fine arts and body implants to help them compete and fight.
Dal stood shaking in the ruins watching the poor Unis who were left on ruined earth to fend as best they could. She hid her eyes as billions of adults and children died. Social order broke down. The air was hard to breath. There was no water, nothing green and growing. Finally she was able to look again. Uni scientists clawed themselves up out of the slime and the rubble. The new Uni culture was built in the life bubbles utilizing ingenious air, water and food synthesizers. It started to look more like the Uni home Dal remembered. Education and entertainment happened via holo vids.There was Great Grandfather Smit with his big black eyes and shiny dark face singing opera with a little girl. Dal looked closer. It was young Grandma Fay. The reconstruction all required major recreation of new plastisteel and oxygen farms. Dal found it easier to breath now. Rebuilding took a long time.New earth was still ugly full of destroyed buildings. All grey and brown.
Dal told her mother how upsetting the vids were.
“Our poor people who died, why didn't the rich Exars stay and help them?” said Dal.
“The situation was out of control by then. The Exars wished to preserve their lifestyle."
"How could they abandon us Unis like that?"
" Really Dal,we Unis did remarkably well rebuilding a strong society, given the circumstances. My great great great grandfather, Grandma Faye’s grandfather's father was a builder of our new Uni. He was a star of the opera and could have gone to Exar but he stayed behind to save his friends and family on Uni. I will find you a vid about him.” said Sal.
Dal did her best at middle school. Most of her Exar classmates were condescending or indifferent to her. She had no chance of being part of the ‘in crowd’ She was the shortest in her class, had wild curly hair, light brown coloring, round grey eyes, and, she was the only one in her whole school without a single implant. (If only I had a few implants. Someone might want to be my friend. It would be so nice to go somewhere after classes. Yolanda is so pretty; she has such a beautiful smile and such long smooth dark hair. She never even looks at me.) One day in music class the tall skinny music teacher asked:
“By chance would any of you honorable students have learned the chorus to our most famous Exarna epic “Lord of the Mountains, Mother Earth Edan?”
It was a long complex epic. Only Yolanda and Dal raised their hands.
The music teacher smiled baring impressive saber fangs:“Of course Yolanda, your father is a most famous opera soloist. Bur Dal, no, that is blatantly impossible. There is absolutely no way that you could possibly know our historic epics."
Dal did not reply. The teacher took pity on her.
"No matter Dal, you have a sweet little voice. You can stand up here next to Yolanda and hum along the easier bits.”
Yolanda looked down her nose at Dal. Dal got up from her desk near the back of the classroom and walked on shaky legs to stand beside her. Yolanda shrugged and then she counted the three starting beats. They began the stirring the chorus singing full volume in perfect harmony. The teacher and class sat stunned. When the chorus ended the two girls did not stop singing but started right into the first verse duet. The staccato counterpoint section began and Yolanda hesitated, missing the beat. Dal was standing close to Yolanda and surreptitiously she started tapping the complex rhythm on Yolanda’s arm. They quickly regained the rhythm and finished five verses in almost perfect rhythm and harmony. The class broke into wild applause and cheers.
“That was excellent Yolanda. You are obviously a talented young woman with vast musical abilities and skill. You are following in your honorable father’s footsteps. And you Dal, you followed Yolanda’s lead quite well. (Followed Yolanda? What a joke. Yolanda would have totally lost the beat if I had not helped her. Why will the teacher not give me credit? She must have seen that I was leading Yolanda. Should I speak up for myself? The other Exar kids would.) But Dal kept quiet. After class Yolanda smiled at her.
“Thank you for helping with the staccato beat and the harmonics Dal. Where did you learn the Mother Earth epic?”
“My mother and grandmother taught me.”
"How could they possibly know it."
"My grandmother is a professional singer."
“You have singers on Uni? Well you have a powerful voice. We should practice together. Would you like to come over to my house sometime?”
“Yes Yolanda. I would love to come over.”
After that Yolanda and Dal used to practice singing together in music class. They even helped the teacher coaching the other students. Some of the classmates were hopeless and Yolanda would joke about them with Dal.”That lunkhead Naveranda sings like a bullfrog.” Dal kept hoping that Yolanda might ask her home after school. She imagined entering Yolanda’s sleeping room, sitting on Yolanda’s bed, helping Yolanda brush her long straight hair. But Yolanda seemed to have forgotten her earlier invitation. Then on day near the end of term Yolanda said.
“My mom has a meeting after work, so I’m home alone. Would you like to come and visit?”
Dal was so excited all she could do was nod her head. They rode to Yolanda’s home together on Yolanda’s fancy metallic blue power rider. They had juice and munched on red meat slices, and then they went to Yolanda’s room. They sat on her bed. Yolanda wanted to practice her solo, so Dal was helping her. Unfortunately, that afternoon, Yolanda’s mother’s late meeting was canceled. They were singing and giggling so they did not hear Yolanda’s mother arrive home.
She opened the bedroom door and saw them together.
“What are you doing Yolanda?”
“I…I am sorry mother. We were practicing our singing… Dal, you have to go home…right now!”
As Dal left she heard Yolanda’s mother yelling.
“How could you even think of bringing that filthy Uni here to our home?”
“I am sorry mother. I am sorry. I will never do it again.”
After loosing face like that, Yolanda did not speak to Dal. Yolanda was afraid the other classmates would find out what had happened, but of course Dal never said anything. Dal kept hoping it would all blow over and that they could again sing duets together. But they never did. Dal sort of lost interest in singing after that.
In a few years Dal’s class matured sexually. The boys and girls were always flirting with each other and looking for places to “DO IT.” They tried hugging, kissing, exploring above and below the waist. They fexed their augmented muscles and displayed their teeth and claws.On class hikes there were often excellent opportunities for private contact. Dal was quite excited when Devinder a tall slim dark fellow asked her to pair with him on a climbing trip. Devinder was very popular, a class leader. Sure enough he came on to her and they experimented with sex. Dal didn't like it much. He tried not to hurt her when he pushed in, but it still hurt. Then afterward he seemed mostly interested in how her body worked without implants. He examined her naked body with a critical eye and asked a lot of questions about how she worked. Dal answered as well as she could. (I don't really like this sex stuff that much. But he does have nice soft skin, and a lovely voice. I hope maybe at least we could be friends.)
Devinder rapidly lost interest in Dal and never sought her out after that one climbing trip. He never even seemed to look at her. Later Dal overheard her classmates joking that Devinder’s goal was to make it with every girls and boy in the class before the end of the school year. A few other classmates approached Dal for sex exploration, but it was also very disappointing, because though they were gentle and curious, none of them really wanted to be friends with her after. (I’m just an unusual little creature to them. I’m just something new to explore. Not a friend. Won’t anyone ever want to be my friend? I remember I had a best friend back on Uni when I was a little kid.)
Then on one of the class camping trips, Yolanda was paired with Dal. They hiked a long way up a local mountain and wandered away to a lovely little meadow full of purple flowers. Yolanda stopped hiking and turned to Dal. She took Dal's hand and pulled her close. They kissed lightly and it was the sweetest kiss in the world. Dal thought she could never be happier.
“Yolanda, you are so beautiful.” Dal said.
Yolanda suddenly turned and said, “The teachers want us back at camp before dusk.”
When Dal tried to give her a brief hug, Yolanda pushed her away.
“Keep your hands to yourself, dirty Uni.”
Then Yolanda turned and started running down the meadow so fast Dal couldn’t keep up. When Dal rejoined her group the teacher ignored the fact that Dal was late and had red eyes from crying.