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(c)2018 By Hazel Moon
Quick Definition of Words from Planet Sephro:
- Morlien(MOR-Lee-an): Father
- Naelia(NAY-lee-ah): Mother
- Jadai(JAH-day): Children, offspring
- Grandmorlien: Grandfather
- Grandnaelia: Grandmother
- Selian(SEL-ee-an): Brother
- Gelia(GAY-lee-ah): Sister
- Kaean(KY-an): Two-legged being on Sephro, much like humans
- Gaean(GY-an): Female Kaean
- Solin(SOL-lin): Male Kaean
- Roki(ROH-kee): Warriors who fight the dangerous beasts known as predators, who prey on the kaean for their food.
- Shoki(SHOH-kee): Elders past 60 who oversee the planet's trees and other planets, as well as protect Sephro from otherworldly predators while in spirit-travel.
- Noki(NOH-kee): Parental figures between forty and sixty, who act as counselors as well as farmers who grow and harvest Torli, the Sephron kaean's main sustenence.
- Ror (roar): Leaders of the planet
- Head: Leaders of a Clan.
- Ire: Calming energy the gaean have that they project to the solin to center them and keep them grounded.
- Ore: Energy the solin have that can cause them to be rather erratic in their emotions, but it is also used to manipulate and trick predators who would otherwise harm the kaean. Solin use Ore as part of their weapons for fighting predators
- Questioning: The act of flirting by asking someone to walk with them or go on a date. As things grow more serious, it also means asking them to court, or get married.
Chapter 1: How Craela Met Cryss
There is life on other planets.
I was told this five lors ago and I never forgot it. I’d love to forget a lot of things but that? No.
I double checked my information of course, with Head Shoki Coral of Librelia where I live, and Ror Shoki Tanna, High Overseer of all of Sephro. This is what they had to say.
Yes, people can soul travel, in spirit, to other worlds, and meet different species. However, it’s general knowledge that only the Shoki do that.
“General knowledge.” Not a rule. Therefore that did NOT clearly translate to me that I shouldn’t try this myself. Whether I’m only 15 or not, I am already good at fighting predators on land after two lors of training. What can really hurt me out in space anyway? The most daunting predator I ever encountered was born and raised right here on Sephro!
However, my Uncle Jondu is locked up on the Asylum Planet, Sartozhia. He can't hurt me now, and I highly doubt they'd let HIM soul-travel to distant planets!
So, one lor, I made a plan to do some exploring in the astral world. I needed a break from all that I’d come to know. I needed to so something different, take some risks!
I lie down on my bed, allowed myself to relax, and soon enough, felt my soul leave my body. I traveled to the light paths of the astral realm and opened my senses, wondering who I would meet, if anybody, and from what planet, distant or close.
I met somebody, all right. Someone who would change my life forever!
I didn’t see him at first. I was walking on the reddish gold path made entirely of light, the path of the astral realm, when I heard the sobbing. I looked around to see where it was coming from and who could be weeping so brokenly. Unexpectedly, a forest appeared before me. It was not like any forest I’d ever seen before.
The trees were the strangest-shaped I’d ever seen. Some of them stood tall and straight, with thin branches only at the top with green leaves. It was mostly green… green! Like the lored sky. Green is not the primary color of forests where I come from. Sephro has all the colors of blue, gold, red, purple and many others. However, purple is the primary color, like the nored sky and the Sun. I realized then and there that I’d passed through the thin veil between the astral realms and another actual planet!
After searching and following the sound, I found him. He was sitting on a large, wide boulder of sorts, his face buried into his hands, just sobbing as if his whole world was shattered. As I got closer, I realized he looked like a Shoki, the elders of our planet, those between 50 and 100. His hair was thick, black and wavy, but shorter than kaean normally wore their hair. His clothes, strangely cut, were also all black.
He was young, though, not much older than me. I went to him, and stopped, a few feet away. He didn’t seem to notice anyone was there… So lost in his grief as he was.
At one point, he sighed, and lifted his face from his hands. He picked up the bottom flap of his shirt and wiped his nose and eyes. Then he sat there, looking ahead. His face in the profile was pale, like any Shoki.
I was transfixed right then and there. He was beautiful. Just beautiful.
A thick tree next to me was a welcoming sight as the young solin turned his face in the direction of where I was standing. I was close enough to him to notice his eyes. They were not shaped like mine. They had a kind of shape that reminded me of a Torli seed. Curves over the top and bottom which ended in points on either side. His irises were smaller than mine are, and a rich dark color almost like his hair.
This solin is no young innocent. He is at least my age, maybe a little older. For all I knew, he might even have courted a time or two! Who wouldn't court him? He was GORGEOUS, and more so than anyone I knew back home. I hoped he wasn't courting anyone now!
I fought back a bitter laugh at the absurdity of my jealousy. He's not even from my planet. Why would he court ME?
“Who’s there?” The solin called suddenly in a crisp, sharp voice that was somewhere between baritone and tenor.
Even in my spirit, I almost felt like my blood was chilling. It was just a trick of the mind though, as Tanna had told me. Sephrons always become corporeal in their spirit bodies, so they are as solid as any physical being. However, Tanna said, our senses can often mimic physical attributes.
I decided that was better than being some transparent wispy ghost-like thing, since I really didn't want this person more shocked than necessary. I stepped out from behind the tree.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to intrude upon you. I just happened along and…” I held his gaze, hoping I could relax him, because his face was frowning and he looked suspicious. He also didn’t look happy at being watched in his solitude and intense weeping.
“Who are you?” He asked sharply.
“My name is Craela,” I said gently. “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you.”
I reached into the cavity of my spirit, hoping that I could find some Ire. At present, I couldn't remember if Tanna mentioned anything about centering someone while in spirit.
On Sephro, we Gaean always draw on Ire, an energy we are born with, for the purpose of centering and grounding the solin around us. Solin need Gaean for this, lest their own innate energy of Ore go rogue. Rogue Ore makes any solin irrational and emotional in ways that induce dark thoughts. Paranoia sometimes is part of that. Gaean keep the solin evenly balanced, and any emotions that come up are channeled in healthy ways.
It worked! My Ire worked. The young solin’s frown faded. He still looked suspicious though.
“You’re not a friend of Loriella, are you?" He asked, narrowing his eyes. There was a tone of dark anger as well as hurt, in the way he said the name.
Loriella? I thought to myself. Who would that be? Someone who had hurt this solin? A courtship gone wrong, perhaps?
I found myself wanting to protect him from whoever this "Loriella" was. So lost was I in my anger that I forgot to be delicate.
“No,” I said. “I’m not from this planet.”
Brilliant, Craela, I chided myself, as the solin's jaw dropped and his eyes widened as he took in my appearance. I found myself feeling self-conscious. What if he thought I was ugly?
I am considered rather odd-looking on Sephro, as things go. I have long gold hair that goes down past my hips but I normally wear it in a high braid going down my back. Gold hair is NOT an ordinary thing where I come from. Purple, blue, green, white or silver hair is the norm. Once in awhile, you'll see burgundy with black streaks or lavender with gold or blue streaks. Then there is my best friend Dureli, who has dark green hair with light blue streaks. That's considered exotic though, not strange. No one quite knows what side of my parents' family my gold hair originated from.
The rest of me is normal enough, I suppose. Typically, all kaean eyes are curved at the sides and like a horizontal teardrop, are pointed toward the bridge of the nose. I have my naelia's eyes, a deep rich purple and they sparkle when I’m taking in new sights. My skin, like all Librelians, is a rich, golden brown. My ears are pointed at the top. The solin stands up and we face each other. I have to look up at him as he is almost a head taller than me. His eyes… great Karo! They are a deep, rich brown that I’ve never seen before. There is a smaller black circle in the center of them.
His eyes move from mine to the side of my head, and linger there. He seems to recognize something. He turns to the side and I see his ear is different than mine, in that there’s no point at the top, just a curve.
I wonder how he’s going to respond to me! I don’t sense repulsion though. Fear, yes, concern and discomfort but mostly fascination.
Dare I hope attraction is part of that fascination?
“Oh my God,” he said in a half-whisper. “I don’t believe this!” He studied me. “You—you look almost human—your hair, your face, and I certainly can tell you’re a female!” He blushed slightly and looked down. Then he looked up again.
“Your eyes, though,” he said. “And your ears. Are you sure you’re not a faerie or an elf? I mean some of them can take on human sizes but…”
I shook my head, centering myself fiercely.
“I’m a kaean.” I smiled. I wanted to ask what an elf, faerie or female was, but I wanted him to get used to me first.
“Kaean,” he said. He laughed nervously.
“My mother would freak if she caught me talking to you,” he said with a glint in his eye that showed he was not too concerned. “She hates the idea of aliens from other planets, says it’s all CIA or some kind of other secret agency messing with our heads!”
I stared at him. “Aliens? CIA?”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” the solin said, his face relaxing, as he managed a smile. “My mom’s working on the field anyway. She’s a cop. They protect us from bad people.”
"Mom," I said, "Mother... Is that like a teacher? Or a parent?"
He stared a moment, then laughed.
"Well, what do you call your parents?" he asked.
"Naelia and morlien," I replied.
"Which one, um, gave birth to you?" He asked, smiling in a sheepish way as if what he was asking might be offensive.
"Oh! My naelia," I smiled, hoping to show him I wasn't offended at all.
"Then, my mother would be like your naelia," he said, sounding relieved. "Mom is just a nickname for mother."
I was beginning to feel more comfortable.
"So your mother's a—kind of protector, you say?" I said. "We have those too! They protect us from… dangerous beasts that try to eat us.”
The solin did a double take, his eyes bulging.
“I’m in training now, to be one of them,” I said proudly, hoping this would impress him as well as reassure him that I meant no harm. “Roki, we call them. Warriors.”
“Cool,” the solin said, smiling, and nodding. He was impressed. I felt a warm glow run through me at that.
The solin moved over and patted the spot next to him.
“Okay,” he said. “You can come and sit with me, but you can’t tell anyone I was crying, okay?”
Oh, my stars! I thought. He meets someone from another planet and he’s worried I’ll tell someone he was CRYING?
For some reason, I was able to grasp the rest of his strange language, or at least I thought I did. “Cool,” seemed to mean “Red,” which was generally said about something very impressive. Red was the color of our Great Jezure Moon, Karo after all. Anything “red” was honoring Her too.
But this solin was worried about something as natural as tears. I recognized that self-conscious pride and the need to appear strong. This mysterious solin from another planet reminded me of a gaean. Actually, he sounded like me!
I am especially shy about allowing vulnerability because a bad experience I had three lors ago makes me feel enough like a spectacle in my clan. However, it seems to be an inherent part of almost every gaean. We are used to being stoic in the way we present ourselves. Solin can be vulnerable and cry openly, in fact they’re encouraged to do so. Crying was better for their Ore than anger anyway, as it softened them and made it easier for gaean to center them. Gaean need to appear stoic so that solin don’t mistrust their ability to center them. Many a gaean has lost her way, and even Ire couldn’t help her. Apparently my grandmorlien on my morlien’s side was like this. I don’t know much more about her, other than she killed herself when my morlien and Jondu, his older selian, were very young. All I know is… I am determined not to be like that. For any reason!
It’s not a good sign when gaean are erratic. It usually spells trouble. This solin, however, I could tell, was anything but erratic. Whatever had had him weeping was obviously something terrible. I don’t mean to imply that gaean don’t cry. We do, but more often than not, it’s when we’re alone. If it happens in public, it’s because of something intensely terrible or even something wonderful. Tears of joy are celebrated in any case. However, as I looked at this adolescent solin, I could tell that something bad had happened to him. I wanted to comfort him and take care of him.
I went and sat down beside him. I realized it wasn’t a boulder he was sitting on but a strange kind of haepo which I’d later learn was called a sofa or couch on this planet. What we sat on now, I would learn, was a park bench.
“I’m Cryss,” the solin said, extending his hand to me. “Cryss Slattery.”
I stared at his hand. I didn’t know why he was extending it like that.
“Oh… This is how we say hello,” Cryss said, smiling shyly. He picked up my hand, and I let him maneuver it to match what he was doing. “You shake hands. Like this.”
I shook hands with him, getting the knack, and then smiled.
“I like that,” I said. “It’s more personal and intimate. On my world, we bow our heads once when meeting people. Like this.” I bowed my head a bit and put my hand on my heart.
“Nice,” Cryss said, following suit. Then he smiled, and I smiled back. His smile seemed to light up his face.
“I must tell you, Cryss,” I said. “You have a lovely smile. Has anyone ever told you how attractive you are?”
I wasn’t planning on flirting right away, but I couldn’t help it. That light in the sky that had to be the sun, was shining on his hair. He was just too powerful a work of art not to at least comment on him.
I tilted my head slightly and regarded him, hoping I wasn’t scaring him. He dropped his eyes and turned away, laughing a bit nervously. I supposed he wasn’t too off-put, but he responded in another strange way for a solin.
“Wow,” he said in a low voice. “Um… Thanks.” He frowned. “Are girls on your planet always… So, um, honest?”
“Girls?” I asked curiously, trying to divert from the fact that he was uncomfortable with what I had said. But what were these girls he spoke of?
“Yeah you know… Girls.” Cryss said, blushing again. “Like…female.”
Ah, that word “female” again!
“You…” he said. “Well let me try to explain. I’m what you would call the male species. Normally males are the ones who… Oh I don’t know... Compliment females. I mean yeah some will compliment males, but…”
He broke off.
“I don’t mean to sound rude or anything,” he said, seeming embarrassed. I hastened to comfort him as I centered him. I knew what he meant now. This planet was very different than mine!
“I understand,” I said, hoping I sounded reassuring. “Well Cryss, on MY planet, it’s the gaean… That’s what I’m called, a gaean. I guess that’s like a female… or a girl here on your world?”
Cryss nodded, looking less uncomfortable.
“Solin are the males as you call yourself,” I went on. “The gaean on Sephro, we’re the ones who initiate… umm…”
I centered myself. I didn’t want to freeze or lose any ground. I found the word I was looking for, drawing from what Cryss had said a second ago.
“…Honesty,” I finished, laughing a little. I centered myself again.
Cryss smiled without showing his teeth this time. He tilted his head as I had when I complimented him, and studied me.
“I hope I didn’t offend,” I said evenly, centering us both.
“Not at all,” Cryss said, looking into my eyes, his own holding a fierce intensity, and purity. Then, he closed his eyes and dropped them. “I’m shy, that’s all. I know a lot of girls, don’t get me wrong, but they’re all…different. Nothing like you.”
I smiled. I knew what he meant, and it wasn’t just that I’m from another planet.
“How old are you?” I asked. “You seem like you’re close to my age. I’m 15.”
“16,” Cryss said, and laughed again, nervously. I laughed with him, wondering if flirtation always felt like this, otherworldly or not.
“Gaean,” he said, studying me. “That’s a cool word for a girl. Solin, you say I would be called?”
I nodded, and Cryss nodded back, showing his understanding.
“Technically I’m considered a boy here,” he said, “but when I turn 18, I’ll be a man. 18 is the start of the adult stage here on Earth.”
“Earth,” I breathed. “I like that name for a planet!”
“Me too,” Cryss smiled.
“We don’t have those differentiations, like boy and man,” I said. “We just remain gaean and solin. We do become adults at age 18, though. Are girls called anything different when they become adults too?”
“Oh yes,” said Cryss. “We call them women. It’s a derivative of man. Man, woman. Some call it sexist. But men and women aren’t much different in strength. Just physical strength, men are actually stronger. There’s been a lot of changes here over the years. Women have been fighting for equal rights. Men used to think women were weaker than men, weaker in the mind, not just the body. Unfortunately, many of them still do. Pretty much everything a man does, including get emotional, like angry or crying, women are considered crazy or erratic. Men… Well we take heat if we get too angry or emotional too, but it’s not the same. We’re expected to be, I guess kind of stoic. It’s pretty dumb, but that’s how it is. These days, maybe, since women work in the same places men do and everyone has to keep their emotions under control.”
I was fascinated with the detailed language of this planet, and the pluralizations of men and women. We never pluralize gaean and solin, it means the same regardless. I told Cryss about Ore and Ire, and explained why on Sephro, gaean are often the stoic ones, at least in public. I ended by telling him what little I knew of my grandmorlien.
“Hold on a second,” Cryss said, awed, “do you mean to tell me gaean can actually… impregnate people? Do solin also give birth too?”
I stared. “Isn’t that the way it is here?”
“Oh, no,” Cryss said, laughing a little, still awed. “Men can’t become pregnant. That’s a huge difference between us and women. Women are the only ones who carry the children in their wombs. A huge reason why they never should have been considered weaker. Sure, pregnancy causes hormonal stuff… emotions getting kind of out of control. At least that’s what I’m told. I guess because women tend to feel things openly, men thought they were weak. Pretty stupid! But it’s changed a lot since those days. I can see why it’s the way it is on your world, I mean… Ore? I wouldn’t want that, no way. I wouldn’t want to depend on a woman to keep me calm, it sounds like medication for someone who’s mentally ill.”
I laughed, unable to help myself. Cryss laughed too.
“We’re all capable of calming ourselves, males and females,” Cryss said. “we can also lose control easily too. Sometimes it gets really bad here because of loss of control.”
I told him about Klorkhana, the tyrant who had taken over Sephro for 15 lors before he was finally stopped. He’d refused the Ire of his mate Destylla and ended up throwing her out of his life. She’d had no choice but to lead an army to stop him, which she did.
“Is that the only time your planet was ever at war?” Cryss frowned.
I thought about it.
“I think so,” I said. “I mean, at least kaean against kaean. That’s what we’re called, people like me, who walk on two legs. Normally we just battle with the predators. The Roki are very adept at keeping the world protected from them. We live a pretty rich and bountiful life!”
“Cool!” Cryss said, awed and very impressed. “With us, it’s different. We have wars all the time. I was born during a terrible attack on this country we’re in. America. Of course I was born in another country, Ireland, but it was pretty insane! I’ll tell you more about that later, though. Want to go for a walk, Craela?”
So, “boys” of the “male” species as he called it, did the Questioning around here too! This is interesting. Well, Craela, this is why you came here, right? To learn about what other planets are like. Go on, learn their language, learn what they do! At least you’re not sitting home thinking of less pleasant things.
“Sure,” I said, smiling as we both got up from the bench. The two of us walked along a brown path of dirt, as the yellowish gold light of Earth’s sun, which was too bright to even look at, shone through the unusual trees. I was learning quite a bit! What’s even stranger, I actually was starting to feel at home on this very bizarre planet, known as Earth. I supposed it was because of the company.
I centered myself again, and extended Ire to Cryss as we continued to walk through the green foliage.