Najé had been right again: the night sleep made wonders for her psyche. Raika felt totally refreshed and ready to face anything! She commanded the windows to turn to “full transparent”, then she remained stunned by the beauty of the Storms Sea in the morning.
     There were still gray clouds high up in the sky. A few rays of the Norghe Star were penetrating through them, while others were making the upper border of the clouds to appear a complex random embroidery made of gold and silver. Where the light touched the sea, the water was dark-green with patches of white foam, while elsewhere the sea had shades of greenish-gray . . . There was a storm running over the sea, though seen from the tranquility of her suite it was the most relaxing spectacle she had ever experienced!

     A few equ. minutes later Raika received a call on commgate from a nice young Lady. She said, “Good morning, Raika. My name is Vahlie. Najé asked me to show you around the Island. He went away, and said he is going to come back tonight, for dinner. Would you like to meet with me in the cafeteria?”
     Raika felt slightly betrayed because Najé had left without telling her. However, there was nothing she could do about it. When he would be back, she was going to . . .
     She said, “Good Morning, Vahlie. This is so kind of you! Please, allow me a few moments to freshen up, then we shall meet together.”

     Vahlie was a young beautiful Lady, with a golden hair and the face of a doll. She was slim and tall, dressed in an elegant, well-matched, pale-violet suit, which praised Vahlie’s thin waistline, and made her legs look slender and longer! She had such nice high-heel shoes, and such perfect tan stockings, that Raika felt annoyingly embarrassed.
     She said, “Hello, Vahlie. Oh, My, you look gorgeous, Dear!”
     Vahlie smiled, pleased with Raika’s compliment, then said, “Thank you, Raika. You look breathtaking yourself.”
     “Oh! I feel as if I come from a lost Kugh Province with the clothes I wear,” protested Raika.
     Vahlie replied, “My Dear, after we have breakfast, we shall visit the shops. I die to get inside there myself! You cannot believe what I discovered a few days ago . . .”

     They had breakfast and Vahlie selected the dishes for her. Again, everything was way too good, and Raika thought that Vahlie must be an expert, therefore she should seek for her advice. She asked timidly, “Excuse me, Vahlie; could you, please, clear me up on something?”
     “On anything, My Dear!” assured Vahlie.
     Raika confessed, “The food in Gorkun City is way too good, and I am afraid I could gain some weight—”
     “Don’t be! We had this problem eons ago. After we discovered Udora-five, everything changed because of the Genspice. I suspect Najé told you nothing about Genspice . . .” said Vahlie, and she left her words unfinished in order to hear Raika’s reply.
     Raika was all eyes and ears; she responded quickly, “No, he didn’t whisper a word. What is it?”
     Vahlie watched her amused for a few moments, then she asked, “Look, Raika, how old do you think I am?”
     “You look dazzling, Vahlie . . . thirty-two?” replied Raika hesitantly.
     “Ha, ha, ha! I am fifty-six, My Dear,” explained Vahlie amused.
     Raika made enormous, wonderful green eyes looking at Vahlie, then she managed to articulate numb with surprise, “You don’t!”
     Vahlie replied amused, “But I do, My Dear! Aah, I was certain that Najé told you nothing about Genspice. You see, it is a root from that Planet, and it has natural geriatric powers. We have been using it for only five years, and you can see the results for yourself.”
     “That is fantastic!” managed Raika to reply totally lost in admiration.
     Vahlie explained, “Yes! Not only that it makes your skin look younger, but your entire metabolism it is drawn back to the teen years! Honestly, I feel much better now than when I was twenty.”
     “Oh, My!” managed Raika bewildered, then she remembered that Najé appeared to be, indeed, younger than she was.
     Vahlie said, “It is incredible, I know. Listen to this, My Dear. A good friend of mine . . .”
     Raika began feeling dizzy due to the capital importance of the news, though she was also very, very much interested to find out more. They finished breakfast, then Vahlie invited Raika into a transport module which she had programmed to travel on the surface of the island, so that Raika could admire the wonderful architecture of the Gorkun City. It must have been very nice, though Raika could barely waste a glance, from time to time, because her dialog with Vahlie was entirely captivating!

     They a reached a higher floor of a cone-shaped building, then they entered with the module inside. It was a Ladies’ Fashion shop, therefore the two Ladies started to conquer and to dissect each clothing article they laid their beautiful hands on.
     The quality of the merchandise was tantalizing. Not only that Raika had never seen anything similar, but it was hard to believe some of the articles were real, despite the fact she actually saw, smelled, and touched them! She asked about the price of a superb, dark-red evening dress. It was made of some very rare Kugh naturally perfumed fibers, and the fabric gave, when touched, the sensation that the entire hand and arm was sinking into immaterial! Raika tried the dress on, and then she felt she would never undress it for all her remaining days! She decided she would pay all her savings—three equ. years of hard work—if she had to, to have that dress.

     Vahlie explained, “There are no prices here, Darling. Everything is paid by the Government, in Gorkun City; better said, by Najé.”
     Raika was stunned by the news. Her mouth went dry, and her heart started beating very fast. She managed to ask, “You mean, I can take anything I want and I do not have to pay?”
     “Yes, My Dear! This is why I do not dare to come here by myself. My suite is so full with clothes and shoes that I do not dare to touch anything else . . . although they are all soo beautiful!”
     Raika felt a lot of shame to benefit from that unexpected opportunity, but she promised to herself that she was going to pay Najé all her savings . . . And if that was not sufficient, she was going to work for him like a slave—for dresses, shoes, and . . .
     She went on buying as if everything was coming to an end, and she even allowed a saleslady to scan her body, so that all the clothing articles she bought would be tailored to her natural shape.

     Lunchtime came before they finished seeing half of the Ladies’ Fashion shop. That building proved to be an immense Shopping Center with hundreds of shops, cafeterias, and many entertaining places.
     Vahlie meet with another young-looking Lady, Gelen, and then all three Ladies went together to a public cafeteria for lunch. Raika not only that she ate everything she was offered, but she went for seconds after she heard the same story about Genspice from Gelen—she was forty-nine, though she looked in her mid-twenties! During lunch, the Ladies discussed and laughed a lot about men who had absolutely no practical sense for “real values”!

     After lunch, all three Ladies went like a storm through the shoe stores which fascinated them until they realized it was late into the evening. Vahlie said alarmed, “Oh, My! I promised Najé to bring you back for dinner, Raika!”
     They went back, and Raika felt her heart ticking very fast thinking of all the wonders she had bought. After exchanging commgate codes for future contacts, Raika held hands and kissed with Vahlie at departure, then she took the elevator up to her suite. There was a colossal mountain of boxes in front of her gate, and Raika felt terribly embarrassed of being so foolish to buy that many things . . . but then, there was nothing she could afford not to buy . . . or take.
     Raika dragged and pushed everything inside her suite, then she started looking for an extravagant dark-blue, four-pieces, dinner gown. She was very curious to see how fit they made it for her. Moments later, Najé was outside her gate. Raika was thinking of hiding somewhere all those boxes, but—Oh!—they were too many. She went to the gate determined not to let Najé in.
     He asked with concern, “Are you all right, Raika? I have been waiting for fifteen equ. minutes in front of your gate.”
     She replied hesitantly, “Oh! Aah . . . I am sorry . . . I was . . . I was trying something on.”
     He smiled caringly at her, then asked, “May I come in? I want to—”
     “NO!” said Raika, and then she realized she did it a little too loud.
     Najé watched her perplexed for a few moments, then said, “Oh, all right, My Dear. Aah . . . would you like to have dinner together?”
     She replied, “Yes, Najé, thank you. Allow me just fifteen more equ. minutes, please.”
     “Sure. I shall wait for you here, Raika.”

     She closed the gate, then she went on dragging and pushing boxes into the bedroom. Next, she remembered she needed a pair of blue, high-heel shoes, therefore she started again opening boxes . . . By the time she found the shoes, she knew she was late. Raika gave up hiding anything and went to the gate. She said shyly, “I am sorry I am so late, Najé. I had a small problem.”
     “Anything I can do to help?” offered Najé smiling politely.
     “No! Thank you,” replied Raika dryly while watching him suspiciously.
     Najé was intrigued by her strange behavior. He said, “I hope you are not angry with me because I left without telling you first—”
     She interrupted him quickly, “No . . . I mean, yes; you should have told me first.”
     Najé asked worriedly, “Are you feeling well, Raika? Your cheeks are very red.”
     “Are they?” asked Raika with false surprise, then she raised her hand to touch them. The plain truth was, they were burning!
     “Yes, and your eyes look strange . . .” noticed Najé while continuing to scrutinize her attentively.
     “Oh, all right, Najé Xallas! I made some shopping,” confessed Raika with exasperation.
     “What!” managed Najé surprised and confused.
     “Yes! And I am going to pay for everything!” declared Raika nervously.
     “Oh!” slipped Najé again, even more surprised.
     “Yes! Just tell me how much it is, and I shall pay you back!” decided Raika.
     “You do not have to, Raika—” started Najé gently.
     She interrupted him with irritation, “But I do! I shall pay for everything!”
     “Of course you will, My Dear, but . . . let’s have dinner now,” replied Najé defensively.
     They reached the cafeteria and they went to the food dispenser. Raika asked him to select something good for her. Najé made the orders, then they went to a table with a nice view. He brought two glasses of a strange, extremely pleasing fruit liquor. Raika appeared to be nervous, and Najé thought that he had to be very, very careful with her.
     He asked casually, “How was your day, My Dear?”
     She looked quickly into his eyes trying to see if he had any hidden intentions, then she replied dryly, “Fine. How was yours?”
     “Good! Everything works exactly as we planned,” explained Najé appearing to be happy.
     “When do you intend to meet with the Hurrans?” asked Raika while continuing to look straight into his eyes.
     Najé detailed, “Tomorrow morning we will return to Sooholl City, and I shall contact Bagres Kuldema. We wait for his reply, then I shall decide on what to do next.”
     “I am coming with you, Najé,” announced Raika with determination, still watching him attentively.
     “Sure, Raika . . . but . . . can we discuss about it?” asked Najé timidly.
     Her answer was particularly firm, therefore Najé didn’t dare to comment it. He went and brought the food for both of them. They ate in silence, and Najé looked at Raika from time to time, wondering what had determined her to be that secretive and resolute. He sensed that she was having some conflicting psychological thoughts, and he wanted to help, but he knew her feelings needed to be cleared by her alone, in the first place.

     When they finished eating, Najé asked, “Did you enjoy your visit to Gorkun City, My Dear?”
     “Thank you, Najé. I shall never forget it,” replied Raika.
     “You talk as if you would never come back—” started Najé.
     She interrupted him in a sad tone, “I am sorry, but I shall never come back here again.”
     He tried to reason with her, “Why, Raika? I wish you would never leave this place. I want you to have a job here—any job you want—and live—”
     “I cannot do that, Najé,” interrupted Raika firmly.
     “Oh, Raika, I do not understand you!” exclaimed Najé troubled.
     She explained with irritation, “Don’t you see it, Najé? Everything is between us: your money, your City, your Planets—everything!”
     “I shall give them all away, Raika!” promised Najé. They were speaking nervously and loudly, therefore some people moved away from their proximity; others even left the room.
     “You cannot do it!” replied Raika with irritation.
     “What do you mean, I cannot do it?” asked Najé perplexed.
     “You cannot give anything away. Don’t you understand? All that you have it does not belong to you anymore: it belongs to these people living here. You cannot give it away because you will ruin their lives!”
     “Then, let’s live together, here, with these nice people, Raika,” tried Najé to reason with her.
     “I cannot do that, Najé. I would feel as if I were sold and bought,” confessed Raika troubled.
     “Who is buying you, Raika?” asked Najé confused.
     “You, your money, your City—everything! I feel as if I am worth nothing!” replied Raika nervously.
     “Heavens and Skies! Look, Raika: you are a woman and I am a man. That is all, My Dear!”
     “What about the rest, Najé?” asked Raika furiously.
     “Raika, you are a woman and I am just a man. We could live together as a woman and a man, we could have children, and then we shall die. Where do you see that terrible rest in all our lives? Those things that have impressed you during the past two days do not matter. It is just a situation, and we have to live with it. We have to admit it not for us—as you said—but for other people who depend on us.”
     She snapped back at him, “It is easy for you to talk that way, Najé Xallas, because you are the one who has everything, and I don’t. You can afford to ignore your position because you feel confident. I am not, therefore I need to make myself valuable in my own eyes. Don’t you understand this? It is not about you, it is about ME, Najé Xallas!”
     He let her cool down for some time, then he said in a gentle tone of voice, “Look, Raika, I love you very much, My Dear. However, when I say these words I am not entirely honest with you. The Raika I love is someone I shall never be able to reach, because she is hidden deep inside your soul. She is the little Raika when you were just a small, innocent child. That child is still hiding there, somewhere deep inside your soul . . . still little, cuddling a doll, and frightened by a Universe which makes no sense to her, and which is so full of many wonders in the same time—”
     “Oh, Najé—” started Raika touched.
     “No Raika, let me finish. You see, as a psychologist I am, possibly, better than being a scientist. People are completely transparent to me. It is sufficient to watch someone doing something casual for a few moments, then I can tell you everything there is to know in his or her soul . . . hidden deep inside their souls.
     You cannot imagine, Raika, how this is. All the people remain little children in the depths of their souls: some are good children, others are bad children. However, the real essence of their soul is the child they were when they started seeing . . . life.
     Some children are different: they are more sensitive psychically than others, and they become adults having a particular innocence and a lot of sincerity in this bad Universe. You are one of those children, Raika, and the only thing I want for you, is to take your little hand and show you the good side of the Universe . . . the clean one, the true beauty . . . I want to protect you from all the evils that could corrupt your little, innocent soul, My Dear.”
     “Oh, Najé . . . I am so sorry,” said Raika softly.
     He replied with sadness, “It is all right, Raika. You also have a very brave soul, therefore we shall go together to meet with the Hurrans.”
     She replied softly, “Thank you very much, Najé.”
     “If you have a problem, Raika, just come to me. Tell me about it, and I shall help you, My Dear.”
     She smiled sweetly at him, then said, “I do not know how you manage that, Najé, but you always find the right words I need to hear.”
     He smiled back at her, then explained, “People are transparent to me, Raika.”
     She replied with admiration, “There is so much I need to learn from you!”
     He smiled more, slightly ironic that time, then said, “Try to take good care of the little Raika inside your soul, My Dear, and do not wish for more. Knowing too much is not an easy burden to bear.”
     “Oh, but I intend to learn very much from you,” warned Raika jokingly.
     “You will, My Dear, although not all. I shall tell you only about the innocent side, about the good and the beautiful things in life,” promised Najé.
     “How much do you know, Najé?” wondered Raika.
     He watched her and smiled, as if she were a little child asking about how high the sky was.
     She understood his looks, and said, “Najé, I cannot believe someone could be so knowledgeable.”
     He replied ironically, “The way I see it, Raika, you made a mistake in your words.”
     “Oh! Where?”
     “You said ‘someone could be so knowledgeable’,” explained Najé amused
     “Where is the mistake?”
     “The mistake is in the adverb ‘so’. That ‘so’ tells me that you actually know to the maximum extent how knowledgeable people could be.”
     “I do not know how knowledgeable people could be, but I can see that you are quite knowledgeable,” tried Raika to correct her previous expression.
     “If you do not know how knowledgeable people are, try to avoid the adverb ‘so’,” advised Najé still amused.
     “Do YOU know?” asked Raika with a beginning of irritation.
     “Well, I know something,” answered Najé casually.
     “Tell me!” ordered Raika.
     He smiled caringly at her, then started, “Our intelligence, Raika, is structured into levels. The first level is the logic one; next comes the telepathic level; then, we have the psychokinetic level; next comes the intelligence able to see the future; then comes the level of intelligence capable of changing our future; next comes the level of God intelligence; then comes the intelligence level of the God of our Gods; next—”
     She interrupted him amused, “Ha, ha! It is obvious: you try to suggest that it never ends.”
     “You are right, My Dear. Intelligence may reach levels we cannot even imagine.”
     “Where do you think your level is, Najé?” wondered Raika.
     He replied amused, “I never cared to answer that question. To me, it doesn’t matter.”
     She replied back, “To me, that is THE most important question.”
     He said, “No, it is not, Raika, and I shall explain why. Although there are many levels of intelligence, and they appear to be one greater than the other, in reality the most important level is the first one.”
     “Are you telling me that a person having a strong first level of intelligence is more intelligent than a God?” asked Raika perplexed,
     Najé replied, “A person having a very strong first level of intelligence, the logic one, is more intelligent than anything that may exist, My Dear.”
     She asked slightly confused, “Then . . . could a machine achieve that strong, first level of intelligence?”
     He smiled and replied, “Never, My Dear. A machine is, and it will forever be, just a finite structure. I am sorry, I haven’t been very clear, Raika. Logic doesn’t come alone: it comes with the power of imagination, with the power of abstraction, and so on. Machines cannot imagine abstract things or implausible situations; they cannot even understand them!”
     “I see . . . but, is it possible that superior levels of intelligence may come without a well developed first level?”
     “Yes, My Dear. Most of the time, the higher levels of intelligence lack those levels improperly named ‘the inferior ones’. Do not consider the hierarchy I presented as being a ladder, Raika; it is only an organized tagging system, and it doesn’t mean evolution from inferior to superior. What I wanted to point out is, only the first level is the most important since it is, in fact, above all others.”
     “Yes, I think I understand . . .” said Raika thoughtfully.
     “Let me be a little more explicit, otherwise you could get it wrong. Let’s take an ordinary man—or woman if you prefer. Inside his or her mind there is a little bit of each level. Some persons could have more of one level of intelligence, and less of the others, though some may not have enough of anything.”
     “I think now I do understand. You try to say that intelligent beings are, more or less, imperfect copies of an absolute model.”
     He protested, “Oh come on, Raika! If you relate to the abstract notion of an ‘absolute model’ we shall have to discuss about it for years.”
     She replied amused, “Ha, ha! Noo, I do not think we have that much time,” then, after a few moments she asked, “Do we actually need to talk so much about everything, Najé?”
     He explained, “No, My Dear. Most things are very clear: good or bad, worse or better. There are, however, a few complex abstract notions which are very difficult, almost impossible to define. Now, do not ask me which those notions are, Raika, because we could waste all our lives trying to find answers.”
     She persisted, “But, do you know them?”
     “All right! We have had enough philosophy for today,” announced Najé.
     “Please, Najé, tell me,” said Raika pleadingly.
     “Don’t be a child, Raika.”
     “But you said—”
     He explained, “Raika, the way the learning process works for us is, a little drop at a time. If you get too much of it, you may become confused. I am already sorry I told you more than I should have for today.”
     “Thank you, Najé! I like it more than anything to discuss philosophical topics with you,” confessed Raika pleased.
     He watched her in doubt for a few moments, then replied, “Yeah.”
     “Honestly! Should I ever marry you, I am going to do it only because you talk to me that way,” confided Raika with a contented smile.
     He smiled ironically, then explained, “Thank you, My Dear. I am certain you have no idea that this could be, actually, a strategy used, sometimes, by some Gentlemen to impress the Ladies. It is named, ‘Wizardry’.”
     “Are you serious?” asked Raika shocked.
     “Very serious,” assured Najé.
     “How could you do that to me?” asked Raika looking hurt.
     He replied, “I never did it to you, Raika. I just pointed out that things could be different from what they appear to be.”
     “I trusted you, Najé!” said Raika as if she didn’t hear his motivations.
     “And I trust you too, My Dear,” replied Najé jokingly.
     She watched him angrily for a few moments, then she said, “I cannot believe this!”
     “No, Raika, listen to me. The way I am is, I like to make a little bit of fun of . . . everything,” confessed Najé.
     She took it personally; she said, “Aha! You are making fun of me!”
     He replied in a serious tone, “I never did, I do not, and I shall NEVER make fun of you, Raika. However, what would our life be, My Dear, if we do not joke a little bit?”
     Raika inquired annoyed, “Do you joke even about serious and important things, as are life and death?”
     He smiled amused, then admitted, “Ha, ha! Especially about the most serious things.”
     She complained, “Then, I shall never know for certain when you are making fun or tell me serious things.”
     “Just use your best judgment, My Dear,” advised Najé.
     She watched him suspiciously for some time, then said, “I see . . . Well, it is late, Najé. Thank you for your company.”
     “You are most welcome, My Dear.”
     “Anyway, to use my best judgment, I also want to thank you for everything you told me tonight.”
     “Thank you, Raika.”
     They went together to her apartment, then they parted.



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