Premiered June 24, 2003
On the other hand, the time to verify the Intrepid's systems was time not spent with Dawn. As the console screens flickered on and off with data, plots, and real time monitor readings, Woody's thoughts alternated between doing his job right (it was not beyond Michaels to insert one or two "discrepancies", as a way of checking the checker), and the alternative of being with Dawn. Of the two thoughts, Woody definitely preferred to think about Dawn; anticipating the thrill of basking in her glow, listening to the sound of her voice, and wondering what it would be like to lay in her arms.
But then duty and responsibility raised its ugly head and Woody would force all his attention back to the Intrepid's display of numbers, levels, and conditions. Within several hours Woody had picked up three, clearly planted "discrepancies"; had appropriately logged them, added a personal note to the Captain complimenting him on the subtlety of his inserted errors, and reset all the systems to operational readiness. Then he began the remaining task of setting the Command Duty Officer Log on the status of the Intrepid's systems, and readying it for turnover to the next watch.
Woody, with plenty of motivation for speed, was ready to turn over the watch to Thomas, the CDO for the next eight hours, an hour and forty five minutes before Thomas was due to arrive back at the Intrepid. Woody noted this fact in his own mind, and then frowned heavily. Clowning to himself, he pretended gloom had descended on his body, en masse. For perhaps five minutes, he glared at the clock, his mind trying to urge the chronometer to mechanically force the time to pass more rapidly. The clock ignored his efforts at telekinesis, and informed him he still had one hour and forty minutes left in his watch.
Being an old hand at passing the time on a dull watch, Woody cast out gloom and despair as his watch mates, and tried a new tack. He would show great interest in the latest reports by the Intrepid on the Riwanian civilization, and thus time would fairly fly by. In the next ten minutes, however, everything that he read on the console would remind him of Dawn. Not that there was any connection between the reports and Dawn, but Dawn kept inserting her presence in every single field of endeavor they had investigated while on Riwan. So much for passing the watch in this manner, he thought!
Woody leaned back in his couch, his elbow resting on the arm rest and his hand supporting his drooping chin. His face had a light frown, which the supported chin tended to emphasize. His eyebrows lowered themselves as well, on the off chance any passing intelligence upon observing him, would know immediately that Woody was bored, if not a bit depressed. Then his eyes took on a slight smile, as it suddenly dawned on him, Michaels' prescription of regulated routine had accomplished exactly what Michaels had intended. Woody's heart rate was back to normal, maybe subnormal, his mind was now meandering through a variety of thoughts, and his body was taking a breather. Woody's smile increased as he recognized once again, his commanding officer’s wisdom and foresight. It occurred to Woody that working for Michaels was the best duty in the Space Navy. Whatever they might end up doing, it would be good duty for Woody if Michaels was in command. There was after all, no such thing as a good duty or a good job; just working for good leaders.
Woody let his eyes roam over the console, trying to find something with which to engage his mind. The console made no effort to entertain him, or even catch his attention. Woody continued to watch the displays, and then abruptly said, "Hey Ralph, how's it going?"
The computer's synthesized voice sounded even more bored than Woody's. "Are you referring to any specific system or just attempting to make conversation."
"Just conversation I suppose."
There was no answer. Ralph was not known in the smarter circles as a gifted conversationalist.
"Tell me, Ralph; where are the troops?"
"Captain Michaels is at the local temple, coordinates 134, 12G. Commander Sorrenson is..."
Woody suddenly had a thought and interrupted, "Where is Commander Thomas?"
"Commander Thomas is at coordinates 90, 13H, along a Riwanian pathway."
"Is she heading this way?"
"Yes. Anticipate her arrival within 45 minutes, provided she continues to progress at the same rate."
"45 minutes, eh. Hell, she may get here early!"
"It's a possibility."
"Well thanks Ralph. You've just made my day!"
For just a second Ralph said nothing, trying to resolve the irrationality of responses. Then, "You're welcome." Ralph had always had problems with Woody's train of thought.
When Thomas arrived at the Intrepid 30 minutes ahead of her watch, the intercom buzzed with a weak voice singing, "Here she comes" to the tune they used to sing a long time ago at the Miss America pageants. Marie smiled at Woody's typical reaction to being relieved of a boring watch. Still she could not help but reply, "Not now she doesn't. Right now she's going to clean up."
The intercom was noticeably silent, as she headed for her stateroom. Then it commented, "But you're ravishing as you are. What could you possibly do to improve on your beauty and present loveliness?"
Marie smiled, and ignored the obviously flawed compliment. But she did clean up with a bit more of a hurry than usual. The sounds of various songs over the intercom helped to spur her on. Then, about 15 minutes early, she entered the control room.
Woody immediately took a different tack, "Good heavens! Where in the world have you been? You're hardly even early!"
Marie smiled. "All sorts of interesting places. If you like, I'll be happy to spend the next few hours, telling you all about it."
Woody frowned thoughtfully, "No thanks, Lady. Emancipation Hour is at hand, and this kid will be going claustrophobic if he doesn't escape pretty quick."
As she sat down in her own couch, she answered, "Poor boy. Never gets to go out and play." When Woody said nothing, she continued, "Anything to report?"
"Nothing unusual." With more feeling, he added, "Absolutely nothing unusual. In fact everything is approaching maximum usualness."
Marie smiled slightly, "Bored?"
Woody smiled cynically, "Don't be ridiculous. How can one get bored, when one has the opportunity to run through every damn status check the Intrepid offers. I've even had the chance to check the status checks."
"Very well, I relieve you."
Woody was immediately shocked; Marie would not have had time to check all the systems yet. And Marie would not have relieved him without knowing the status of every system aboard Intrepid. As he sat there in wonder, she looked up and smiled knowingly, "I started to check all the systems, while I was cleaning up."
Woody smiled broadly. With great earnestness he observed, "Lady, you've got great heart."
"Don't let it get around. It might ruin my image."
"There's nothing wrong with your image. It's golden."
Marie looked at Woody, searching for the hint of sarcasm. When she saw none and realized the good intention, she felt a momentary surge of warmth. Uneasy with the atypical feeling, she gave Woody a hard nosed look and ordered, "Time for you to hit the road, mister."
"Yes it is," Woody answered. "And we thank you one and all." It took him less than five minutes to be outside the Intrepid, and on his way.
Woody’s immediate goal was clear: Find Dawn. The primary difficulty lay in the fact that: One, he did not know where she lived. Two, he did not know where she might be. Three, every request to a Riwanian concerning her whereabouts would be futile inasmuch as their response to his questions would invariably be one of shock that he had the audacity to ask anything about the Chosen. It would be clear his intention was to infringe upon her time, and thus would be totally rejected by any Riwanian he might meet. As a consequence, he could expect no help from anyone.
Finally, the obvious occurred to him. The only reasonable hope of finding her would be to return to the path they had walked before. The thought also gave him some comfort. He felt no need to run or hurry as he suddenly realized she would be there. His confidence soared as he walked purposely but easily along the byway he had traveled before. The anticipation kept him enjoying the stroll, without a hint of concern.
When he arrived at their first meeting spot, he stopped and looked around. No one was in sight. For just a moment, his spirit knew doubt. Then he became more thoughtful, his eyes gaining that extra measure of intensity. He started walking. It would be obvious to the most casual observer he was looking for someone or something, but the Riwanians he passed on the path gave no hint of interest. Each was polite, but none thought to stop and inquire.
When he came to the small river where he had first glimpsed her, he stopped and looked around. No one was nearby -- the place was to all appearances, deserted. Woody frowned. Turning he glanced up a path that appeared little used, a branch of the main pathway which ran along the river's bank. Suddenly a flash of emerald green caught his eye, and he moved toward the beckoning color.
As he approached closer, he saw her again though the silver and green leaves blowing in the breeze. His heart suddenly went through enough palpitations to give any cardiovascular specialist a heart seizure. He stopped, his body stunned by the effect of being within her force field again. He blushed, felt suddenly awkward, and sensed all of his purposeful resolution fleeing. Then she smiled at him, and he released all his will to her bidding.
She moved toward him, still smiling. He said nothing, only staring with undisguised love. Then she said, "You've returned."
"Yes," he stammered. Then in a rush, "As you bid me do."
Dawn's eyes smiled at his words. "I'm pleased you have acceded to my request."
Woody said nothing in reply, only breathing in a deep breath. The world was far too lovely at that moment to risk it with the intrusion of any attempt of his to sound clever or witty. Then Dawn's face took on a look of mock seriousness. "But I must warn you. It is my intention to request a considerable portion of your time."
Woody stammered again. "I would be only too happy to provide you with the next three or four eternities."
Dawn laughed, "That should be sufficient."
The couple began to walk further along the little used path, staying near the river's edge. She took his arm and began again their conversation of their lives. Then as they neared a small stone bridge over a small brook which fed the larger river, she stopped and turned to him.
"Something I must ask", she began. "I had not thought to ask before, but are you aware I am 'Chosen'?"
Woody blinked for a moment. Her words had a hint of being more than a casual question. After just a moment, he answered, "Yes. If you mean do I know about the Day of Renewal and so forth, yes I do."
Dawn's smile brightened even more. Eagerly, she asked, "And you are not concerned?"
"No," he smiled. "I don't mind sharing you for a while. There is, after all, so much of you to share."
A small tear began to make its way down Dawn's cheek as her overriding happiness blossomed all the more. Taking her first real breath after several moments of tentative breathing, she hugged Woody's arm with an unexpected ferocity. Silently, she thanked The Gods once again for sending Woody to her, the most marvelous and unique gift she could have imagined. When she looked up at him, her eyes glistened and smiled in a way he would not help but feel the full intensity on every fiber of his being. Woody could do nothing but absorb all the love being radiated to him.
Then Dawn’s face lit up with an idea. “Have you seen the Garden of Joy?”
Woody struggling to keep his mind capable of responding when he felt
“Let me show it to you.” And with that she winked a sly but knowing wink. Holding his arm, she began to walk purposely. Woody followed along, his eyes constantly on her, blind to where she might lead them. As they walked, they talked more of their lives, their dreams, their innermost emotions. There was never a thought to hold back any reserve. Every aspect of their beings flowed unhindered between and among them. The rest of the world faded from view.
After a time, their walk brought them to a pair of delicately carved stone columns. Two Riwanians were approaching the columns from the opposite pathway when they saw Dawn and Woody. Immediately they stood to one side, deferring completely to the couple. Dawn pointed to the columns and told Woody, "These are very ancient, and come from the time when Riwan was made. The symbols are a writing that symbolizes all that is good in Riwan."
"What does the writing say?"
"Only The Gods know how to read the symbols, but all of the people of Riwan know they represent the beauty, the joy, the love, and the life of this place. Of all of Riwan, this is my favorite resting place." Then as Woody admired the carvings, she turned to one of the Riwanians, and said simply, "Hello."
The Riwanian immediately responded, "Good evening." And then after just a brief moment, he asked, "May I inquire if you wish to walk in the garden?"
Very carefully Dawn answered, "We will walk in the garden, but only in the northern corner, about the Lake of Timelessness."
Knowingly both Riwanians smiled and with one voice, "Of course. Please allow us to go before you."
"Thank you", Dawn responded.
As both turned and scurried off, Woody asked, "What was that about?"
Dawn smiled, and then answered with care, "Tradition has it that the garden personifies those who were Chosen in years past. Consequently whenever one who is Chosen comes to the garden, all others leave. It is an extraordinary act of courtesy I have the honor of accepting."
Woody smiled, his thoughts alternating between the awesome respect of the Riwanians for his Chosen lady, and the delight of having everyone clear out for the two of them.
Dawn continued, "I told my friends we would limit our wanderings to a small area, so that it would not be necessary for everyone else to leave the garden. They have now gone to tell the others."
Woody was clearly impressed by the influence she wielded. "Are they always so eager to please?"
Dawn smiled gleefully, "It's a common trait. We are all very eager to please."
Woody involuntarily shuddered as he considered her implied promise. Meekly he answered, "Certainly a trait to be admired."
Dawn laughed, and began to lead him down one of the paths. "And not to worry. The Lake of Timelessness will provide plenty of space for us."
"Oh I'm not worried." Dawn only laughed.
As they strolled along the path, their voices momentarily stilled, Woody became aware of the exceptional beauty within the garden. Everything was immaculate, with infinite varieties of beauty carefully groomed and kept in place. There were no specific areas for certain species of flowers, and on the contrary, all the flowers formed a multitude of colors, growing in widely different proportions. The effect was a range of flowing colors forming a magnificent abstract of greens, reds, blues, and every shade in between. The scenery was chaotic, but magnificent in color and brilliance. The sun shown through, lighting the pools of water and the leaves with shades of silver and gold. Everywhere Woody looked was a rhapsody of color and beauty.
At one point, Woody noticed two other Riwanians scurrying out of their path. It was suddenly clear the Riwanians were attempting to avoid meeting Dawn and Woody. Apparently everyone was clearing out quickly in order to allow them the run of the place. Woody was not used to such royal treatment, and at first he was slightly uncomfortable everyone would go to so much trouble just to avoid infringing upon their privacy. On the other hand, he decided that being alone with Dawn was preferable to anything else, however it was achieved.
When they reached the Lake of Timelessness, it was clear from whence came the name. Surrounded by majestic oak-like trees, the lake was a small, crystalline blue body, with small streams of running water feeding it at various sources. Rocks of every variety of color and texture lay all about the lake's shore. An occasional rocky fountain caused water to flow gently in and among the rocks and into the lake proper. Greenery and flowers were liberally scattered about. The effect was a magnificence of color and texture and indescribable beauty. Woody was simply overwhelmed.
Quietly, Dawn whispered, "Is it not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?" Without waiting for an answer, she continued, "I think this place must be one of the greatest gifts The Gods have ever bestowed upon my people."
Turning, she smiled up at Woody. "For me, it is the second greatest gift."
Woody looked down at her smiling face, stunned again at the implication of her statement. Taking a deep breath, he asked for a kiss. With a loving smile, she flowed into his arms and kissed him. Woody felt his whole being slipping into a paradise of light. Her kiss was the most tender, gentle, loving act to which he had ever been exposed. He was at first overwhelmed by the kiss, but then struggled to maintain enough composure to ensure he was returning her kiss with an equal intensity.
After a very long moment, they came apart, breathless. Both were reeling from their glimpse of paradise. Dawn laid her head against his chest, murmuring thank you over and over. Woody, still in some seventh heaven from the feel and scent of her body and hair, presumed she was thanking him.
Slowly they moved apart. Then Dawn beckoned him, "Come with me. There is yet more to see."
Woody seriously doubted there could be more in store, but he was not about to doubt her now. They began to walk around the lake, arm in arm, with Dawn dropping her head on his shoulder affectionately. She hugged his arm with a gay abandon like a child with a new and favorite toy. Woody noticed a small island near the center of one of the inlets of the lake. The island was a maze of boulders, greenery, and flowers. A small brook seemed to anchor it to the lake, as the island floated on a calm sea.
Noticing his interest, Dawn said, "It is the Isle of Lovers."
Woody smiled, his eyes wide. "Looks like a great place to visit." Then his smile faded slightly, as he realized there was no way to get to it. "I suppose we could swim to it, but I would hesitate to disturb such crystalline waters.”
"Not to worry. Faith and love will provide us with a way."
For a moment, they stood on the shore nearest the island. Then Woody turned to Dawn. "I'm sure my love for you will be enough to carry us both."
Dawn smiled at the words. Taking a deep breath, she replied, "You truly are my love." They turned to each other and kissed once again.
As they broke apart, and with her mind clearly made up, Dawn moved toward the water, her hand leading Woody. There was no longer any question they would now make love. She stepped onto the water and incredibly did not sink. Woody hesitated at the edge, his senses in a whirl. She was smiling back at him, and yet with some question in her soft smile. Woody realized she was actually standing on the water, and on what appeared to be a shimmering of the surface. She watched him, searching for the answer to whether his love was strong enough. Then quietly she said, "It is the Bridge that leads us to the Isle of Lovers."
Woody raised his eyes to her, realizing her question. There was no doubt in his mind they were true lovers and all that the term implied. Then in a very real act of faith, he stepped onto the water with her. He dismissed the technology, the laws of physics and moved to her side. Slowly, their eyes on only each other, they moved across the water separating the island from the lake shore.
Just as they approached the shore of the island, Woody's life time habit of reason asserted itself, and his intellect realized the apparent miracle. As he did, one foot went through the water. Laughing she leapt to the shore, with one arm pulling him the rest of the way. Stumbling they fell on the grass and rolled to one side.
Woody smiled, embarrassed by the truth. "It is all the science I've been taught. Science knows nothing of love."
For several moments they laughed together, and then rolled on the grass in a kiss. As passion began, she hesitated. Then gently she pulled away. "My love, one does not make love in a cloak of the Chosen."
Woody smiled, ready for anything now. Slowly they got back to their feet, and she led him into the interior of the island. The ground was soft and resilient, reminding Woody of a mattress. A single, magnificent tree of shimmering silver and green shaded them with a partially transparent screen. The soft green grass carried the spots of light in a constantly changing pattern. To Woody, it was the Garden of Eden. When he told his thought to Dawn, she became immediately interested.
"Where is this Eden?"
"No one knows. It is an old story: A place on earth of infinite loveliness where man and woman first committed sin, and were driven out."
Dawn smiled. "Not to worry. There will be no sin here. And no one will come to drive us out."
Turning from him, she very gently removed her cloak, and carefully draped it about a boulder. Putting her kiss via her hand on the cloak, she then returned to Woody and moved into his arms, kissing him like he had never imagined a kiss could be. At first he simply wanted to just stand and kiss and love and kiss.
After a time, she eased back from his embrace. Then with genuine question in her mind, she asked, "Do you normally make love while standing up?"
Woody, amazed, suddenly laughed out loud. Then he grabbed her with a joyous ferociousness and fell back to the ground, pulling her on top of him. Rolling over they began to earnestly make love. In many respects they were young kids, learning the basic ideas of lovemaking. As his hands fumbled over her hips and breasts, she caressed his body with similar short, passionate motions. The unplanned, carelessness of their actions made it all the more exciting. Then their mutual passion took over, preventing a calm undressing, and they came together partially clothed. Side by side, they coupled with a constantly increasing intensity. Then in an elongated burst of ecstasy, they achieved the heights of love.
After a moment of rest, after their return from an infinite paradise, Dawn murmured that on Riwan, love making was normally done without clothing. Woody laughed. Then with deliberate and careful gestures, she began to slowly undress him. Responding, he helped her to remove the last of her garments.
With their clothes removed, they pressed their bodies against each other, allowing the sense of touch alone to communicate their love. Their bodies still meshed in an aura of warmth and love, they snuggled into each other's arms in differing positions as if trying to learn the other's every feature. The warmth of the sun found its way through the tree's shade and gave them the warmth to add to their own bodies' heat. Never quite sleeping they simply remained in a dreamy half sleep for a succession of timeless moments.
Stirring, Dawn put her head on his chest, thinking aloud she had never realized love could have this intensity. Woody was similarly overwhelmed. Neither pretended to be in any way superior and both openly marveled at the wonder of it. They acted like kids, who had just been introduced to love making.
Abruptly she sat up, and he joined her. They rested against each other and a soft, moss-laden boulder. They began to talk of things that made them happy. There was some kidding, but mostly they seemed to glow with the things that brought joy, and each reveled in knowing they were one of the things that made the other happy. She marveled at his love of the Intrepid and his science; he delighted in her love of animals. Both listened with fascination, amazed at the other's profound ways with their respective talents.
They stirred against each other as they added an occasional kiss to their conversation. Their hands caressed each other in light touches, as they unconsciously discovered more about each of their bodies, even as they talked. Then he cupped her breasts with an elevated intensity, and kissed her neck with more feeling. She responded, as if in heaven; but then jokingly rebuffed him with the idea that they would need more strength. He was willing to listen to most anything, and thus allowed her to move slowly away from him, their touch lingering. Rising gracefully, she moved toward the only obviously manufactured object in the garden, and removed a silver tray, sparkling with goodies. Dawn carefully fed him a morsel and took one for her self.
Woody was instantly astounded by the great taste and the surge of potency from the food. The taste exceeded the best of anything that he might have ever eaten, while his body churned with a new and powerful energy input. "What is this stuff?" he asked with profound admiration.
"I've no idea. I only know it gives one exceptional strength." Then with a bit of a laugh, "And it has been known to be a great asset in love making."
Woody grinned at the idea, and feeling suddenly famished, began to eat most of the contents of the tray. Dawn could not help but smile and laugh at his ravenous appetite. "One would think you had just stepped down from the priesthood."
Woody only smiled. Continuing the charade, he grabbed all of the morsels, and said, "Take some of these my dear. It is your fate that you will be required to make up some forty years of lost time in the next few hours."
Laughing uproariously, she kidded, "I think, perhaps, you may be boasting."
"I never boast," he answered with appropriate gravity.
"Then it is time you made good your claim." Dawn moved toward him, her eyes intent upon his. Tossing the tray aside, he pulled her gently but firmly back to him. As she fell into his arms, she responded to his strength with a passionate urgency, sensing a need to ensure he did not fail from his own boasting. In Dawn's mind, his sense of adequacy and greatness must now exceed even her greatest expectations.
Woody relished the idea he must now somehow drive her to the pinnacle of ecstasy, and that she must achieve an excitement beyond her wildest dreams. In his mind, Dawn was a goddess of love, and by all rights was entitled to receive the thrill of love due a goddess. Furiously they tried to excite each other to unsought heights and unimaginable limits as they made love in an aura of beauty and light.
In yet another afterwards, Woody laid quietly with Dawn snuggled against him, both continuing to caress the body that had given each the greatest thrill of their lives. Woody thought of how Dawn was so totally loving and affectionate, amazed at her passion which had aroused him beyond all expectations. And yet at the same time, she did not seem sexy. Rather she simply responded to his needs completely and with total dedication. She seemed to be able to sense any possible need of his and at the moment of inception. She then responded enthusiastically and in such a manner that amazed him all the more. She was totally in tune with his needs and desires and with answers at which he could only wonder. Never had he known such contentment.
In one passing moment he thought about the Intrepid and his duty. Dawn raised her head slightly, as if in response to his unspoken question, and looked lovingly into his eyes. The love and joy contained therein eliminated any thought of duty. With her other hand, she picked up another morsel of food, and caressing his chest with her elbow, placed the bite in his mouth. He felt the immediate refreshment while he stared into the infinite depths of her love and eyes. Then she snuggled closer, her whole body caressing his, and began to make love in his ear. He almost fainted at the overpowering surge of emotion. Then recovering partially, he began to caress her body with his hands ever more passionately. Again they began to attempt to drive each other to an ultimate excitement. Her body lifted to envelop his erection. He held her strong in his arms. Then as if to ensure a lingering climax, they made their movements gentler and less fumbling.
All the while their excitement mounted, bypassing each of their furious earlier attempts. There was no thought of performance, as their bodies moved with a gentle and continuous movement. It was a prolonged climax, stretched over innumerable minutes, with a smooth, ecstatic feeling. Only slightly did they slow their body movements and glide into a sleep of paradise. Even then their hands still held the other with gentle but strong arms. In the midst of sleep they slid gently apart, remaining in each others' arms.
After an eternity they roused slightly from their slumber, sensing a slight coolness. Silently, without a sound, they began to slowly dress each other. With a multitude of caresses and loving gestures, they donned their garments with only their chests bare and melded together.
As they hesitated in the moment, she quietly voiced, "I fear we may overstep our bounds if we ask any more from The Gods on this day. There is after all, tomorrow. And our love is one of expectation as well as culmination."
Woody could only silently agree, and gave her but one last lingering kiss. Carefully he buttoned her blouse and she did his shirt. Then as he picked up his jacket and belt, she walked to where her cloak laid. He watched her as she with great reverence and love, slipped the Robe of the Chosen onto her shoulders. Her immaculate beauty again captured Woody, as he began to realize he loved the most perfect woman in the universe. The fact she loved him in return and with an equal intensity moved him to tears. As she rejoined him, she saw for the first time his tears. At first the sight surprised her. But then she smiled and with an uncanny understanding kissed each tear and then hugged him with an overpowering affection. He could only smile and glow.
Walking from the island, they approached the lake near the 'Bridge'. Without noticing, they began to walk into the water. When the water was nearly to their knees, they suddenly realized there was no Bridge.
Laughing at their amazement and the unexpected, Woody whisked her up into his arms, and carried her to the shore on the edge of the lake. All the while they continued to laugh and smile at the common sharing of their love and experience together. Gently he sat her down on the shore.
Quietly they walked from the garden, arm in arm, murmuring words of love. At the entrance their eyes interlocked, they began to pull away and go their separate ways. On each of their lips was the common promise, "Tomorrow."
Copyright 1983, 1996, 2003 Dan Sewell Ward
Chapter Seven -- Utopia
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]