Najé and Raika transported back on Aton with the Unconditional Surrender Act. Once there, both of them cheered happily for victory. They took seats in Central Command, then Najé asked Aton to open the connection to Sadger. When Sadger came on their tridimensional projection, Najé informed him they had finished with the Unconditional Surrender procedure, then he sent the images recorded. Sadger congratulated them, and then he left to bring the news to the Allied Worlds.

     Raika smiled happily, then confessed, “Aah, I feel I need to rest for a few days in Gorkun City.”
     Najé replied in a sad tone, “Me too, Raika, but we still have one more greatly unpleasing task.”
     She asked pleadingly, “Can’t we do it somewhere else, Najé? I feel I cannot breathe properly inside this Hurran monstrosity.”
     He explained, “Inside this amalgam of spaceships, Raika, there are, probably, one million people. They could survive here for about forty or fifty equ. days. I have no intention to bring these ships back, therefore the Hurrans must start working as fast as possible if they want to live.”
     She asked perplexed, “Working on what?”
     He replied only, “You will see.”
     She protested with a beginning of irritation, “Najé Xallas! You know very well I do not like surprises.”
     He smiled ironically at her, then said, “That, Raika, is typical to Ladies after they reach their thirties—”
     “Najé, do not start talking about Ladies,” warned Raika.
     “I studied their psychology for years, My Dear—” began Najé to explain, still smiling ironically.
     She interrupted him with caustic irony, “And you think you know everything about Ladies, don’t you?”
     “I must admit that I am not an expert but . . . yes, I think I know you better than you do,” replied Najé amused.
     “Is that so!” said Raika with a threatening note in her voice.
     “Yes.” replied Najé defiantly.
     “All right then, tell me, please: why do I hate surprises?” asked Raika while watching him suspiciously.
     Najé explained, “Well, as I said, women suffer a complex process of psychical transformations in time—”
     “And men don’t?” rushed Raika.
     “Men suffer a similar process, My Dear, though it is a lot more basic. In addition, there is a greater percentage of women who suffer those transformations, compared to men—”
     She interrupted him, “Is that a good thing or a bad one?”
     He detailed, “For women it is very good, because it shows that they, as a gender, are more consistent and homogenous in common gender behavior—as opposed to men.”
     “Are you certain that is better for women?” asked Raika with doubt.
     “Absolutely, My Dear!” declared Najé.
     “Why?” asked Raika suspiciously.
     “You see, Raika, women and men are very different—” started Najé in a gentle voice.
     “Aha! I knew it!” triumphed Raika, then she continued in an accusing voice, “I suspected it from the very beginning, Najé Xallas. Now, I have your confirmation: you think that women are inferior to men.”
     Najé said caringly, “You didn’t let me finish, My Dear—”
     She interrupted him in a casual tone, “Oh, go ahead. I wonder what you could add to your defense.”
     Najé replied, “I have no intention to defend myself, Raika, because . . . You see, women are the mothers of our species.”
     “Oh!” managed Raika surprised.
     “And I cannot imagine you would deny that difference,” said Najé while watching her attentively.
     “No, of course not, but—”
     “But there are other differences, such as the anatomical ones,” continued Najé his pressure.
     “It doesn’t matter—” started Raika with little energy.
     “Which in turn generate physiological differences,” pushed Najé.
     “Ah, a few insignificant—”
     “Which in turn generate psychical differences,” insisted Najé.
     She replied firmly, “Never!”
     Najé pushed the issue even further, “Women have the motherhood instinct embedded into their genetic code.”
     “Ha! Just an instinct!” replied Raika with simulated surprise,
     “And they behave differently, in the way they dress, for example,” said Najé with pointed looks.
     “What would you expect us to—” started Raika with irritation.
     He interrupted her by adding, “In the way they socialize together.”
     She tried to explain, “Of course! You do not see us hanging—”
     He interrupted her again, in order to end his idea, “And in the way they react to the contacts with the opposite gender.”
     “. . .”
     He continued, “Since you have no comments on this one, I shall go further. Women have a greater percentage of individuals who reach the so-called ‘psychical maturity’ than men—”
     “What do you mean, ‘the so-called’? It has been scientifically proven that psychical maturity comes after—” started Raika rebelliously.
     He interrupted her, “If we take the gender average, then women are more intelligent, more psychically complex, and more important for society than men are—”
     She interrupted him in a surprised sweet voice, “Oh, Najé! Is that what you really think about women? How nice of you! I am sorry, I thought you consider that men are superior to women.”
     He replied with consideration, “Oh no, My Dear. I cannot consider that men are superior to women because they are not.”
     Raika felt greatly pleased with his words, and she smiled sweetly at him. Moments later, a thought came into her mind and she asked suspiciously, “You say that only to please me, Najé?”
     He smiled caringly at her in response, then explained, “You see, Raika, I talked with you, and I shall continue talking with you for many equ. years to come. Please, never forget, My Dear, that I shall never tell you what you would like to hear. I shall always speak the truth as I believe it is, no matter if you like it or not. Please forgive me for this.”
     “That is so nice of you, Najé—” started Raika softly.
     “However, My Dear, be very careful not to fall into my trap,” warned Najé with a bit of irony.
     “Oh! What trap is that, Najé?” asked Raika surprised and alarmed.
     “You have listened to me before, and you know that I dissect everything to the furthest connections. Besides, I have a rather twisted way of explaining things,” replied Najé.
     “Oh, I see . . . So, your affirmation that women are superior is not final,” said Raika with disappointment.
     He explained gently, “No, My Dear. Women and men are as different as the plus and minus in mathematics, but you need them both, in order to define each of them. What would be the point, in mathematics, of a plus without a minus? It would make no sense. That plus would cease to be a plus: it would become a meaningless sign.
     On the other hand, comparing women to men is similar to comparing . . . fruits and flowers—you cannot do that. However, we can compare two fruits, or two different flowers. Now, for each gender, we need to start with the basic definition, with the most simple, inner characteristics—”
     She interrupted him with disappointment, “I knew it.”
     “What?” asked Najé slightly surprised.
     “You always twist things until we do not recognize them what they really are. You see them from the inside out!” explained Raika using an accusing voice.
     “Life is not simple, My Dear. If we watch and admire only the surface—” started Najé.
     “It is past two equ. hours, Najé,” interrupted Aton.
     He continued, “I am glad we started this topic about women and men, Raika, because it is very interesting, and also a very complex one. I estimate it should take us about five equ. days of arguments—”
     “Five equ. days!” exclaimed Raika alarmed.
     He smiled at her, then replied, “Continuously, My Dear. You see, Raika, the woman and the man may be studied individually, as genders, from the intellectual point of view. Then, they need to be studied together, from the family point of view. The family itself—the basic unit of any society and, implicitly, of Civilizations—needs to be thoroughly analyzed for all its social implications. In addition, only the important, though also very dangerous, notion of ‘average’ should take us about an entire equ. day of discussions, since it has major—”
     She interrupted him in an exasperated voice, “Oh, Najé Xallas, I shall never understand you! Why do you say the average is dangerous?”
     “As I said, Raika, we need a least one equ. day to discuss about the average notion, because we have to relate it to individuals, to genders, and to the social—”
     She interrupted him using an accusing tone, “Aha! You make it difficult on purpose, Najé Xallas!”
     He watched her smilingly for a few moments, then said, “We have to leave this discussion for some other time, My Dear. Now, it is time to prove to ourselves that we that are indeed intelligent civilized beings.”
     Both of them transported outside to face the ex-Central Planning Committee. There was a huge crowd of Hurrans gathered around, but it didn’t bother Najé because none of them appeared to bear any weapons.
     He asked in a firm voice, “Where is your Delegate?”
     A small thin woman came shyly in their front, and both Najé and Raika watched her stunned by surprise for a few good moments. Najé was the first one to recover. He asked Aton to open the entrance gate and to lower the access ramp, then he indicated to the Hurran woman to climb up. They followed her and, once inside, they showed her that she should take a seat in Central Command area. Najé and Raika took their helmets off.
     The Hurran woman was poorly dressed in a low rank, worn out and washed out blue uniform made of some coarse texture. She had a small face with gray skin, and her black hair was cut very short. Her all-black eyes, oval in shape and arranged in a “V”, were relatively big on her face, and her mouth and nose were very small and barely protruded. The woman appeared to be in her maturity years, and she kept her head bent and her eyes looking down, as if she was scared, too shy, or both.
     “Do you have a translator, Lady?” asked Najé in a gentle voice.
     She replied, “Yes, Your Excellency, I have been given one.”
     Her real voice was faint and high-pitched. Najé looked at Raika, though he noticed that she was avoiding his eye contact. It was obvious she intended to let him deal alone with the Hurran woman.
     Najé asked, “What is your name, Lady?”
     She replied, “Gunis Relas, Your Excellency.”
     “Please listen to me very careful: my name is Najé, and the Lady near me is Raika. I want you to call me just Najé, and this Lady, Raika. In addition, I would like to ask for your permission to call you Gunis. Do you understand?”
     “Yes . . . Najé,” replied Gunis hesitantly.
     “May I call you, Gunis?” asked Najé
     “Yes, Najé.”
     “First of all, Gunis, tell me how do you feel in here. Is the air right for you, is there a scent you do not like, or is it too cold?”
     “The air is thin . . . it is cold, and there is . . . a scent,” said Gunis hesitantly, while continuing to keep her eyes looking down.
     “Aton, increase the air pressure to half the difference between here and outside; increase the temperature until you match the outside one; then start refreshing the air completely, every three equ. minutes.”
     Najé waited for a while for the changes to take effect, then he asked, “Is it better now, Gunis?”
     She replied shyly, “Yes . . . much. Thank you.”
     “Would you like to drink water, or maybe something to eat, Gunis?” asked Najé.
     “Little water, please.”
     Raika went to the food dispenser, then she came back with a ration of water. She opened it for Gunis, and showed her how to use it. Gunis raised the ration of water to her small mouth, and she drank a little. Her hands were shaking badly, therefore she spilled some water on her clothes. Najé looked at Raika, but she turned her looks away.
     Najé asked, “Gunis, where would you like to be now?”
     She answered simply, “Home.”
     “Do you have children, Gunis?”
     “How many?”
     “Where is your child now, Gunis?”
     “At Gans, on Togris.”
     “Who is taking care of your child?”
     “The Government.”
     Najé paused for a few moments, then he asked, “What is your child going to be, when he will become an adult?”
     Gunis replied, “Officer.”
     “Why, Gunis?”
     She answered hesitantly, “His father . . . my husband . . . is an officer.”
     “Where is your husband now, Gunis?”
     Gunis had a spasm, but she managed to compose herself. She replied, “He died at Ancen.”
     Najé remained silent. He looked at Raika, though she still refused to allow any eye contact with him. He asked, “What is your position within the Fleet, Gunis?”
     “I am a laundry worker, grade seven.”
     “Do you know, Gunis, why you are here?”
     “The fate of your entire race is in your hands. Do you understand this, Gunis?”
     “Tell me, Gunis, why did your people choose you?”
     Gunis remained silent for a while; she looked shyly for a brief moment at Raika, then down again. She answered, “Politics.”
     “Thank you, Gunis. This is all,” said Najé in a relaxed tone.
     Raika looked at him with terrified eyes, and Najé thought amused that Raika appeared to be more scared than little Gunis was. He said, “Let’s go out, Gunis. Please, do not be afraid.”
     Najé took Gunis’ small hand gently, and he helped her out of the ship taking good care of her. Together with Raika, they walked in front of the people gathered outside.
     Najé told Aton to translate his words into Hurran, and to amplify them loudly. He said, “I made my decision for the Hurran people. Gunis Relas is going to be your Supreme Leader until the end of her natural days. When she dies, your people shall elect another Lady, also a mother, based on the same criteria you considered when you have selected Gunis Relas. Your selection, however, will have to be ratified by the Allied Worlds Council.
     Your System shall become a Member of the Allied Worlds, and your Supreme Leader will appoint a Delegate having the status of Observer to the Allied Worlds Council. The Hurran System is going to be monitored for a proper behavior during the next three hundred equ. years, and further democratic laws shall be imposed on you by the Allied Worlds Council, as they will consider being proper.
     Your Military Fleet shall remain here. Her Excellency, Your Supreme Leader Gunis Relas, should start organizing your work towards dismantling of any weapons three, four, or more FW-Docking Ships. I shall return here in thirty equ. days to bring back to Hurran only those three, four, or more ships with all your people, and no weapons.
     Her Excellency, the Supreme Leader Gunis Relas, shall take actions, so that all high-ranking officers who have initiated the Invasion are going be judged and punished, as she may consider being just.”
     Najé finished his speech and there was a perfect silence inside the hangar. He turned towards Gunis, still holding her small hand, and asked, “Is this a fair judgment to you, Gunis?”
     Gunis looked into Najé’s eyes for a moment, then she turned her eyes down and replied, “Yes, Najé. Thank you.”
     “Do you think you can handle these people, Gunis? Do you want me to help you with anything else?” inquired Najé.
     Gunis replied, pronouncing the words slowly, “If they do not listen to me . . . then they do not deserve your generosity, Najé. Please leave, and come back in thirty equ. days as you have promised. You will see then if the Hurran people justify your kindness . . . I am not afraid.”
     “Good-bye, Gunis. You are a very brave Lady,” said Najé.
     Raika came close and she got down on one knee, then she embraced the little woman. She said emotionally, “Take good care of your people, Gunis. I am very proud of you, and I shall help you.”
     Gunis said timidly, “Thank you, Raika. You are so kind.”
     Najé and Raika transported inside Aton, then Najé asked Aton to prepare for leaving. Raika was avoiding Najé’s eyes, and his proximity. After a while, Najé passed by, close to her. She stopped him, rushed into his arms, then she started crying with her head on his chest.
     He embraced her gently for a while, then said, “Come on, Raika. It is over now, My Dear.”
     “Th . . . thank you, Na . . . Najé,” managed Raika while sobbing spasmodically.
     He tried to help her calm down; he said, “Do not worry, My Dear. We shall come back here in thirty equ. days.”
     She drew away from him, still sobbing from time to time. Najé told Aton to perform a Gradient Drive transport into the open space first, and then to take them home, to Gorkun City.



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