Canto Fifty-Two – In the Flower Garden
Shalar was amazed at the tadpoles’ reactions to Harmony Castille when they saw she had come to rescue them. First Davalon and Tanith had hugged her and kissed her and then obediently put on clothing as Harmony directed, so that they might cover their sinful and shameful nakedness in the sight of God and everybody. Then Menolly and George Jetson had done exactly the same when Harmony and Shalar wandered into the Arboretum to find them. Only Brekka whined.
“I like being naked with my friends and family,” Brekka complained. “You haven’t made Sizzahl get dressed!” Brekka was lounging on a large leaf of a plant that seemed almost animated, and seemed to be cradling her like a loved one.
“I can’t get dressed,” said Sizzahl. “I no longer have any clothing in the whole complex that fits me. My clothing was destroyed by scabbies and the soldiers Gohmurt brought with him when he slew my father.”
The Galtorrian Makkhain was looking rather perturbed when Sizzahl mentioned her father’s death again. At least, that was what Shalar thought as she looked at his inscrutable lizard-face.
“I will use my sewing skills to make you some, child,” Harmony said. “We don’t want to have your soul lost to Christ either.”
Sizzahl frowned. “I feel a lot the way Brekka does, human. I have gone without clothing long enough that it doesn’t feel natural anymore.”
“How it feels is not the point,” seethed Harmony. “Christian souls can’t be saved if they are still in a state of unforgiven sin just as naked Adam and naked Eve were.”
“I don’t see how your silly Earther superstitions apply to me,” Sizzahl replied heatedly.
“They apply to anyone whose soul I can save through Christian love and concern. That is how you recognize a Christian… by their love. Race, sex, creed… or species… makes no difference. I love everyone and want everyone to be saved in Christ. I can beat that notion into stubborn heads if necessary.”
“I think I see now what makes a church lady such a formidable warrior on your world,” interjected Makkhain. “You have a single-mindedness of purpose that brooks no argument. All great leaders can bend the masses to a single, over-riding purpose.”
Harmony looked at him with doubting eyes. Shalar knew the old church lady, turned beautiful young woman, had no idea what the Galtorrian was talking about. Harmony didn’t realize he was, in his own lizardy way, complimenting her.
Alden and Gracie Morrell had finished dressing themselves, and Gracie offered, “I can help you with the sewing, Harmony.”
“It isn’t really necessary,” Shalar pointed out. “Studpopper is carrying a portable material synthesizer. We can make clothing with any fibrous material you can gather. There are lot of things in the rubble around here that will transform into cloth.”
“You can make clothing out of rubble?” Makkhain asked, surprised.
“Of course,” said Studpopper, putting the small portable synthesizer down on the potting bench where numerous withered flowers in flower pots were arranged.
“Two bad you can’t make food. You could save a lot of Galtorrians.”
“Oh, we can make food. If we round up all those dead scabbies, bones and all, and the dead plants, that will give us enough organic molecules to make good food for years.”
“Lester has volunteered to make plant shoots and runners for food too,” offered Brekka. “George and Menolly were supposed to tell you all of that.”
“Who is Lester?” asked Shalar.
“My friend the man-eating plant,” said Brekka with a huge grin.
“We will definitely be making a lot of food, Makkhain,” said Shalar. “And we will freely share it with your people if it will help your planet.”
“It really won’t make a difference,” said Makkhain. “The atmosphere of Galtorr Prime is degrading at an alarming rate. Soon we won’t have any air to breathe.”
“This Bio-Dome and the five thousand other sites that my father helped set up have working air-scrubbers that will convert the carbon dioxide and poisons into carbon blocks and trees,” said Sizzahl. “My instruments have been showing that they are winning the air war since you war-guys destroyed all the factories and energy-making facilities. We will have a fully restored atmosphere in five years.”
“Okay,” said Makkhain, “but we can’t solve the disease problem that turns us into scabbies.”
“That one is no problem,” said Sizzahl with a shrug. “Any Galtorrian who is still alive is immune. All the people susceptible to the virus have already succumbed to it. I saw that in the genes we used to make the Human/Galtorrian fusions. We have the same gene to battle the disease that the Tellerons and Humans have, otherwise we would be scabbies already.”
The old warrior seemed somehow deeply shaken by what he had just learned, which didn’t really make sense to Shalar. It sounded to her like the evidence proved that Galtorr Prime and its people would survive after all.
“We… we can still save the planet!” gasped the old warrior. “I… I have made a very grave mistake!”
All the others looked at Makkhain in wonder. All but Brekka. Shalar noticed the little naked tadpole had cuddled up against the plant-thing called Lester and fallen asleep.