A very excited Da'an entered the transporter room at the embassy. The mothership had arrived from a short visit at the Taelon homeworld and an old friend of Da'an was aboard. Just a that moment the portal opened and a Taelon clad in a white ornamented robe stepped out of it.
Both Taelons lost their facades, clasping their hands and glowing in joy at their reunion.
Sandoval and Lili exchanged astonished looks. Neither of them had seen Da'an (or any other Taelon) this emotional.
After both Taelons had regained their composure, Da'an turned to the humans, introducing the newcomer.
“This is Qa'vra, a very old friend of mine. We were raised together as children. Qa'vra has come to earth to study human culture, especially arts and music.”
“The Taelons left on the homeworld are eager to learn more about our new friends here on earth, and I believe, that music as a universal language can form new bonds between our races.” Qa'vra stated.
With the robe and the for a Taelon rather high pitched voice Lili immediately saw Qa'vra as female. Her movements seemed to be even more dancelike than with any other Taelon she had met before.
“Qa'vra is a high-ranked musician on our homeworld. Please help him to learn about your music. He has offered to perform Taelon music on the mothership this evening. Please join us for this event, Captain, Agent.”
* * *
That evening saw all Taelons gathered in large room onboard the mothership, chatting about the opportunity to hear music from their homeworld, with homesickness causing quite a stir.
Sandoval and Lili took a seat next to Da'an and Liam. The volunteers who hadn't been condemned to duty were present, too.
Then Qa'vra entered. She was in her natural state, clad in a dresslike robe that was embroided with strange symbols and patterns, glittering in many colors as she moved.
She greeted the audience in Eunoia, wanting her performance to be as original as possible. Then she addressed her human audience.
“Please don't be offended by this, my human friends, it is my wish that the Taelon audience listens to my performance in their natural state. It is easier for me to respond to the atmosphere if I can read the emotions filling the room. I have not enough experience with humans to read the expression on your faces as instinctively as I can read my people's.”
Approved nods by the humans were the answer and the Taelons started to lose their facades.
Only then Qa'vra started to ready herself.
“The first song I'll play is an old hymn, passed from generation to generation for a long time.”
She started to play the instrument the humans referred to as ‘tubes’. All being present fell silent and listened in awe as the sounds started filling the room.
After some other songs Qa'vra changed her instrument. She placed a strange-looking device on her head and shoulders, connecting it to some kind of gloves she wore.
“This is an instrument I invented when I was young. I made some improvements since then, and now it is ready to be presented. It makes it possible to make the music you think of audible. It can express emotions and images that otherwise are difficult to put into words or tunes.”
Then she began to play. It was unlike everything heard before. To the Taelons the song expressed their feelings for their homeworld, the homesickness and fear of loss, but on the other side it described the landscape as it might have looked like before the war that burnt it. To the Humans the music was shaking in it's beauty, making them want to laugh in joy and at the same time cry in loss. Qa'vra adopted the emotions filling the room and guided them, calmed them down until her audience bathed in relaxation. After she finished there was a stunned silence. Nobody dared to move, not wanting to disturb the atmosphere. Only gradually the first visibly shaken Taelons started wordlessly to leave the room, followed slowly by the humans until the room was empty except for Qa'vra, Da'an, Sandoval, Liam and Lili.
“Qa'vra, this was... home.” Da'an was trembling. “I did not know that something like this was possible. How... how could you...?”
“It was not me, Da'an, I only collected the emotions I sensed in this room and the commonality and displayed them, made them audible, experienceable. I only made the start, the rest were the emotions of you and the other Taelons.
* * *
“This device is a thread to humanity”, Liam said the next day, meeting Lili at the embassy gardens. “How easy would it be to affect the thoughts and feelings of mankind. It must be destroyed.” That moment Lili's global beeped.
“We'll talk later, Liam, Da'an wants to meet me immediately.”
* * *
When Lili arrived at Da'an's chamber she heard him talking with Qa'vra.
“I remember this device from our youth. We tested it, playing duets. But what you did yesterday was impossible then. Please be careful, Zo'or might try to get a hold on it to involve it to his plans of enslaving the humans.”
“Do not worry Da'an. I am the only being that is able to use this special device. No one else can work with it. To display the emotions I feel the device has to be set up precisely to my energypatterns. It took me some hundreds of years to make this setup. I will never use the device to harm any being, that I swear to you. The other device, the one you remember, can only display sounds and words you think of with intensity. Emotions are not steerable like thoughts. The old device is not able to respond to them.”
‘Phew. That problem solved. I believe and trust her, but I hope that goes for Liam, too.’ thought Lili. Then she entered the room.
“Ah, greetings, Captain Marquette.”
“Greetings Da'an, Qa'vra.”
“Qa'vra, this is Captain Lili Marquette. Lili, please help Qa'vra finding his way to your culture and music. Zo'or has agreed that you will be his protector and guide during his visit. I have to leave you two now. Qa'vra, I see you later. Captain.”
“I'll do my very best to answer all of her questions, Da'an.”
After Da'an had left the room Qa'vra glanced a questioning look to Lili.
“Why do you refer to me as female?”
“Um, I don't know, it just seems right. Your voice and movements. I hope you don't mind?”
“No. I feel honored by this. I have heard that the relation between humans of the same sex is more close than between mixed sexes, with the exception of couples. Is that right?”
“Yes, it can be, as long as no person of the other sex gets in the way.”
Lili and Qa'vra spent the rest of the day going through several databases concerning music. Starting with Gregorian chants, passing Renaissance and Baroque, classical music, Romanticism and the music of the 20th century. Lili could not stand all this ‘classical crap’ as she called it. Well, okay, some pieces of it were rather nice but the rest was just not her style. Qa'vra was interested in it, but she also was anxious to learn more about contemporary music. With that Lili turned on the datastream and searched for MTV.
The rest of the afternoon passed gossiping about popmusic and videos, disgust at some songs, laughter about others. Lili had ordered herself a pizza and told Qa'vra about human watching-films-costumes: pizza, popcorn and lemonade. Qa'vra was fascinated by the different ways of human dancing. Her favorite music seemed to become the melodic pop songs of the 80s and 90s of the passed century.
Later Da'an joined them, trying to interrupt their animated discussion but no chance. So he took his seat and just listened, a smile on his face.
Only after some minutes Qa'vra noticed him sitting there.
“Da'an! I have not sensed your arrival.”
“That I have noticed, Qa'vra. It seems to me that Captain Marquette and you have made friends with each other.”
“You are right, Da'an. Lili has helped me a lot and I like her presence. You were right when you said that she is a very special person”.
‘Da'an thinks of me as special?’ Lili pricked her ears and shot Da'an, who seemed quite flustered at Qa'vra's comment a questioning look.
“You wanted to perform some of our old songs with me?” he quickly changed topic.
“Ah, yes! I will go get the devices.” With that Qa'vra left the room, not without giving Da'an an encouraging look pointing her head in Lili's direction.
“Special?” Lili asked.
“Um, well, I see you as a, um, friend... a special friend...” Da'an evasively answered.
Lili shot him a doubting look.
Both stayed silent until Qa'vra returned.
“Da'an, may I stay and listen to this? I'm curios of what is coming next.”
“I don't mind. Qa'vra?”
“Please stay and comment if you like.”
Both Taelons were by now equipped with gloves and a headpiece similar to the one Qa'vra had worn at the concert on the mothership, but the devices looked not quite as complicated.
Qa'vra started with an easy melody, Da'an joining in with some kind of accompaniment. Slowly he grew accustomed to the device and more and more instruments seemed to join the melody. Qa'vra began to improvise and some kind of dialogue started developing. Both Taelons were talking with their minds as well as their hands. The gloves translated the movements into sounds, weaving a net of music, colorful like a tapestry. Da'an's tunes spoke of his deep and caring friendship with Qa'vra and the feeling of loss about his life without her when she would go back home.
Lili stood fascinated aside, sympathizing with Da'an, but the urge to try it out was increasing with every moment.
When the two Taelons finished their song, Lili was almost hopping up and down, begging for a try.
Da'an saw her expectantly glowing eyes, exchanged a look with Qa'vra, then handed her over his device.
Helping her adjusting the headpiece he explained the handling. “You know what a catchy tune is. You hear the music in your mind. Concentrate on it and try to think of nothing else. The device will track your thoughts and display them as you hear them. Try.”
Lili tried. All that was to hear was something like static noise. Holding her breath and trying to concentrate even more she managed some squealing, feedback-like sound, then she burst out laughing.
“I don't know how to do it! It doesn't work.”
“You're too tense. Just try to hear the music in your mind.”
This time it sounded like an orchestra tuning their instruments, mixed with at least ten radio stations in different languages.
“Better?!” Lili could not stop giggling. ‘So this is how my brain sounds like!’ she thought.
Qa'vra had a hard time not to start laughing as well. Lili's giggles were very infecting.
After ten more tries Lili was on the bring of giving up either from crying cause of her failures or of laughing so hard her sides hurt.
Da'an stood thinking something over. “Lili, if you would share with me I could show you how it feels. Perhaps this might help.”
Qa'vra stood in astonishment. Sharing this deep with a human was very unusual and showed a deep trust between the two partners-in-sharing. ‘She must be very special to him indeed’, Qa'vra thought.
Da'an again put on the headpiece but not the gloves, then touched Lili's palms. Both closed their eyes, then a soft, beautiful melody was heard.
‘If this is what he feels for Lili, than he has to care very much about her, even... love her?’ Qa'vra smiled. She wanted her friend to be happy.
When Da'an and Lili ended their sharing, a warm light glowed in their eyes. Noticing the smiling Qa'vra they quickly parted. Da'an handed Lili the headpiece. This time she managed to play a tune Qa'vra recalled from her MTV-session as ‘You'll be in my heart’ by a human named Phil Collins.
* * *
The next day was spent listening to Lili's CD-collection and practicing with the headpiece. Two days later Da'an, Qa'vra and Lili joined in a session, playing Taelon folksongs, spiced with human pop.
* * *
A few days later Lili met with Liam and Augur at the Flat Planet Café.
“Hi Lili! How are you, being stuck with this Taelon prodigy day and night?”
“Auger, Liam. Don't dare to talk bad about Qa'vra. She's like Da'an, I trust her. We've become friends and she has shown me how to work with this device of hers.”
“You know how... Lili, we have to get this thing. It is most dangerous if it gets in Zo'or's...”
“Not that one. The device Qa'vra used at the concert is not transferable to any other being. Even Zo'or has no benefit from it, cause Qa'vra would never harm anybody.”
“You trust her?”
“Completely. If you knew her, you would, too.”
Lili enthusiastically told them about her progress in teaching Qa'vra and learning to use the device.
When she mentioned Da'an's feelings about Qa'vra's departure in a few weeks, Augur came up with an idea.
* * *
When the end of her visit on earth approached Da'an started missing Qa'vra even though she hadn't departed yet. So Qa'vra and Lili started working on a secret plan to cheer up Da'an, and to make Qa'vra's visit to Earth something very special for her.
When Qa'vra had nearly finished her studies, Lili suggested to Da'an a real-life-experience in earth music. In two days their friend would return to the Taelon homeworld, her luggage stuffed with a stereo and lots of CDs and tapes and Lili wanted her departure to be special. Da'an agreed. He had no idea to what he got involved in!
* * *
The evening before the departure Da'an, Qa'vra, Liam and Lili met at the shuttlebay. Lili had a duffel bag with her.
“Where are we going?” Da'an wanted to know.
“It's a surprise.”
Five minutes later they landed in a small side street. They entered a house by the backdoor. Inside they were greeted by Auger. Da'an's eyes widened.
“What is going on here?”
“It is a surprise, Da'an! Don't ask!”
Augur lead Da'an and Liam to a room where a large screen showed the interior of the Flat Planet Café. Da'an looked very puzzled by now.
Qa'vra and Lili had vanished through another door. Augur grinned at Liam, then excused himself.
A few minutes later Maiya entered the stage.
Liam lead Da'an through a hidden door into a dark corner of the café.
“Today is a very special evening to all who have come here. You will now experience something never heard on earth before. On stage tonight, the one and only Human-Taelon-Band ever: Meet Lili Marquette and Qa'vra!”
From backstage Lili and Qa'vra entered the stage, both wearing the devices.
The lights dimmed and then began the music.
The soft sound of Taelon music was spiced up with dance beats and sounds like electric guitars and other human instruments. The songs described the differences between the two races but also the things they had in common, and they described the deep friendship between the two beings on stage.
The audience soon started dancing to the music, even singing along with the more catchy parts.
Da'an slowly approached the dancing humans, speechless at first, then more and more enjoying the experience. The people accepted him as one of their own, not being awe-struck or shy as other ‘normal people’ Da'an had made personal contact with. Liam stood in the back, watching Da'an as he became accustomed to the scenery. He even started to move to the music.
Qa'vra and Lili harvested a big deal of cheers and applause. Qa'vra was literally beaming with delight. After their performance Lili and Qa'vra joined Da'an in the crowd. He looked at them, not knowing what to say, then hugged them tight.
“I'll never forget this.”
Songs from the charts now blasted out of the speakers, the crowd dancing along and two Taelons started, cautious at first, then more and more self-confident to dance with them.