Assenting graciously to my request that she convoke the Royal Council of the Kingdom of Ung, known informally as the Eldor Geese, Ajinblambia allowed me to itemize my most recent accomplishments and honors before the other Geese, namely Barti, Usha, Vinja, Mlechi and Dhabbi, all natural-born Vrikshayas and cousins of Ajinblambia herself, the supreme Vrikshaya. The expression "the Vrikshaya", without other qualification, always referred to Ajinblambia, and was of the nature of a title. She also used the nickname "Sita".
I mentioned the organization of my two apparel factories, the magazine that I had started, the award that I had received for it, my commissionership of Gvagma and my appointment as Royal Biographer. I also mentioned my part in the detection of the arms cache in Shayvurddhi and the dissolution of the Miervin Society.
Compared with the responsibilities and achievements of the other Geese, mine, I admit, were secondary. After all, they oversaw finance, industry, commerce, education, energy, transportation, communications, agriculture, mining and aerospace. In a word, they ran the planet.
I couldn't help feeling they were entitled to a bit of merriment at my expense, especially since I loved them and knew they all loved me. Still I did not want to be the "Ministress of Panties", as I had been dubbed, and sought an upgrade.
Discussions went on for several hours, and finally Ajinblambia decided, at the instance of the others, to make me "Ministress of Arts", charging me with oversight of literature, art, fashion, entertainment and sports. The Ministry of Panties was abolished. I smiled triumphantly as I finished my raspberry soda, and the meeting was closed.
Zevanardia, my dearest friend, whom I had married at her request, was elated to learn that I had been promoted by Ajinblambia and now enjoyed a modicum of dignity in the Royal Council. Though, officially, Zevanardia still resided in the Covey, which was the clubhouse of her team, the Queshganc Quails, in Queshganc, and I in Inni Villa, the clubhouse of the Eldor Geese, on the grounds of Eldor Palace, she and I spent more and more time together at Cissi's Intimates, on Shayvurddhi Circle, in Frifna. This became the abode of our mutual love and happiness. All our friends knew about this and found it fitting and becoming.
Zevanardia, practically as tall as Ajinblambia and Ivandra, that is, around 84 inches, dwarfed me at my 70, not counting my horns, so it was no surprise that she was dominant and I recessive, so to speak. She always led me around, as I followed meekly. She was imperative, and I submissive.
Zevanardia proposed we hold a party to celebrate my new nobilitation. She would invite the other Geese, several of our associates from the world of apparel, and a number of important girls that I collaborated with as commissioner of Gvagma. Ivandra and Sundari would be there. Zhvizhvi of the Royal Egrets' School of Dance would attend. There would be a whole bevy of illustrious young ladies from the arts, from fashion and from culture. We were earning enough money that we could actually afford a banquet. Zevanardia would arrange everything and send the invitations out.
So it was done. We set up several long tables with damask tablecloths and offered a selection of pheasant, venison, beef and pork. These were accompanied by baked potatoes, wild rice and aubergines. Salad of tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and olives was served. Punch, wine and cordials flowed. Cakes and profiteroles with double chocolate fudge ice cream followed. All the young ladies were impressed.
That I could begin as a 10-florin-a-year messenger girl for the Courier Service of the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita and advance to a position as Ministress of Arts, with a number of small feathers in my cap, was seen as something of a minor miracle, especially with Zevanardia extolling me to the skies.
After dinner, we staged a fashion show. By now we had a broad selection of peignoirs, chemises, negligees, camisoles, petticoats and slips. We sold a good number and we gave a chemise away at an impromptu raffle that we held.
Then, while Zevanardia took over the entertainment of most of the girls in attendance, I invited those girls that were affiliated with the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita into a separate little room to bring up a matter I had been thinking about:
Mecnita is a checkerboard of 400 districts, each district measuring 5 miles by 5 miles. I've mentioned several of these districts in preceding chapters. Eldor, Ramdonia, Queshganc, Frifna, Corlamarn, Onjmo, Tbitro, Oyvdreli, Anavana, Devanasc, Ulmla, Spranceld, Anjmanj and Clascar were all well known about town, and there were many, many others. Then there were hundreds of suburbs too, including Blumbo, Slanchgav, Queshganc Heights, Rolasponiu, Joprinx, New Ozgingd, Andalut, Wavernbo, Stotcremp, Dagomagd, Boncfilj, Semuctorn and a throng of others. Every district and many a suburb had a team in Gvagma. The number of teams was fixed at 1000. Each year, in our 418-day year, each team played 80 games, at 5 day intervals, with a recess of 22 days. Obviously then, each team did not play every other team. To do so would have taken several years. Instead, schedules were set up at random, and averages kept. If a team won 60 games, its average was .750, if it won 55, its average was .6875, and so forth. These averages were published in Obscont, in descending numerical order, but, of course, there were many ties. Since a team might win only an integral number of games between 0 and 80, there were only 81 possible final averages for 1000 teams. During the season, there were more possibilities, depending on the number of games played by each team at the precise hour when Obscont's latest edition rolled off the press.
I wasn't sure that the published averages meant anything. Suppose each of 10 teams won 50 games in a particular year. They would all end up with an average of .625, which might suggest that they were approximately equal. But they didn't play the same opponents. Who could say that .625 in one part of town was just like .625 in another?
My idea was to subdivide the 1000 teams into 40 divisions of 25 teams each. The standings for each of the divisions would be published separately in Obscont, just as if there had been 40 mini-associations. At the end of the season the 40 leading teams would vie in playoffs. In the first round of playoffs, 20 teams would be eliminated. In the second round, 10 more would be eliminated. In the third, 5 more would be eliminated. Three times in a row, two of the remaining teams, chosen at random, would play, eliminating 3 more teams. Then, the last two teams would play, and the winning team would hold Gvagmas's championship for one year, till the next playoffs.
The Gvagma girls attending my banquet agreed this was a good idea. So we would have to get together a few times to redistrict the association, make suitable groupings of teams, draw up schedules, and keep all 6000 players apprised of everything we were doing, by distributing leaflets and posting notices on line.
It would have been logical to hold meetings on this matter in Gvagma's office building on Lanzzar Avenue in Spranceld. I was afraid, though, that if I went to that location regularly, Olivia, the little girl from the clothing room who once had terrorized me because of my overproduction of volleyball skirts, might notice my movements in the neighborhood, and attack me on the street or, following me to learn the location of our meeting-place, disrupt our meetings there. My embarrassment prevented me from talking to my colleagues about this subject, however, so I merely offered one of the larger rooms in Cissi's Intimates as interim headquarters for the group. Later, I said, I'd furnish it with tables and chairs, rather than just couches, so that we could reorganize the association there efficiently. The girls seemed to think that this would be more convenient than the space at the association's office building anyway, so it was decided to follow my suggestion.
When we had finished discussing this matter, we rejoined the others in the drawing room, and around 9 Ungi (9:36 PM) the party ended. That night I slept in Zevanardia's embraces.
In the morning, I reported to Ajinblambia's dressing room in Eldor Palace for our daily three-hour session. I would help her bathe and dress, as we conducted interviews on the subject of her life and times, for my biography of her. I had a standing pin number for that time of day and could enter the palace by typing it on a keypad at the door. As we discussed Ajinblambia's girlhood, again and again the name of Shandra came up. Earlier she had just been Shandra, a cousin of Ajinblambia's. Now she was Queen Shandra, Queen of Ufzu, one of the more important kingdoms on Mli. Nya has five moons. The largest of the moons and the only populated one is Mli. Ufzu is only one of several countries on Mli. Others include Liscarn, Pedgu, Vrandz, Zanfanting, Olotuts, Admino, Shwea and Twi. There are still others, in hitherto unexplored regions of that sphere.
Ajinblambia always spoke in glowing terms of the intelligence, benign disposition, elegant manners and physical beauty of that lunar queen. Furthemore, Shandra was an athlete, gymnast and acrobat as well. I found the descriptions of Shandra fascinating and filled many pages of notes on the subject. Ajinblambia informed me that Shandra was planning to visit Mecnita in the near future, and so I would have a chance to meet her. Our spaceships ply the ether between Nya and Mli on a regular basis. They are usually named Photon, each with a numerical suffix, as Photon VII, Photon IX, etc. I assumed Shandra would come aboard a Photon, with a flight retinue.
Ajinblambia's account of Shandra's physical talents deepened my sense of humiliation on account of my preposterously inane way of riding a horse, and I blushed purple to think that soon I would be competing with 100-year-old women in the Great-Great-Grandmothers' Games in Pantoflambo Field. I was determined not to let the the old ladies outdo me in absolutely every event. So I started working out, in preparation for a real contest I would give them.
Finally, the day of the games had come. The six elderly ladies were named Faffinelli, Vriddilaria, Tiki, Kamanana, Loanji and Umaki, the last four being Ungonesians. Ungonesians are celebrated for their physical prowess. It was speculated that I would score a zero for the day. But my workouts stood me in good stead. We had arm-wrestling contests, table tennis, lawn bowling and foot races. My score for the day was 31. I was actually sixth among seven.
Ajinblambia was surprised, agreeing from then on to let me ride a horse without being enclosed in the brass-and-horsehide drum saddle she had invented for me. I would still ride with Ivandra, but we would sit in a double saddle, myself in front and Ivandra behind me with her arm around my waist. This sounded so delectable and sensuous that I could hardly wait. There was an article in Obscont.
Ajinblambia agreed that I might ride also with Zevanardia, my alter ego. I wouldn't need to ride exclusively with Ivandra. In any case, it was exciting to sit in front, clasped about the midriff, with perfumed tresses blowing in my face. This equestrian duality lasted a few weeks.
Eventually, Ajinblambia let me try short rides all by myself, and, presto, I was a novice horsewoman. I was thrilled! My skill kept waxing, and at long last, I was given permission to ride at liberty whithersoever I elected to go. It was another fair day in Mecnita!
I rode and rode and rode, down every bridle path on the grounds of Eldor Palace and on many a path throughout the great metropolis. This was joy, this was freedom, this was glory!
In the meantime, the negotiations for redistricting Gvagma, and creating leagues-within-the-league went on apace at Cissi's Intimates. I always made it a point to serve refreshments so none of the girls would feel aggrieved at having to come the distance to Frifna, in the northeast corner of the city, which was not so great a problem anyway, with the subterranean network of tracks and the bullet trains of our great metro.
I continued making deliveries for Gvagma, returning to the red leotard and cheerleader's skirt with self panties, the white polyurethane wings, and white roller blades and knee socks that made the uniform I wore. Each day I'd report to Sundari and receive a pouch of letters and parcels from her. Generally, I'd go by metro to the station most convenient for my next delivery, and emerging by escalator to the sidewalk level, I'd skate to the delivery point. I made about 8 deliveries a day, in 8 hours.
This would go on a number of years, according to the terms of my contract, though the remuneration was negligible in comparison with what I was making at my apparel factories. Still I considered it an honor and I supposed I cut a sightly figure on the street, which piqued my vanity.
One day, at last, Queen Shandra flew in from Mli on Photon X, arriving at Pongdoir Field, where Shvampronx, one of the palace chauffeurs, picked her up in Queen Udi's white V30 limousine, and drove her along Pongdoir Expressway, at 200 miles an hour, to Eldor Palace, conducting her to King Ajinblambia's office directly. For two days, Ajinblambia and Udi entertained Shandra in Udi's library all day long. I was not invited, because of the intensified security procedures that had been introduced and would have been awkward at that time. I was curious and excited, though, and kept pumping Ajinblambia for information.
Then Ajinblambia introduced Queen Shandra and myself on the third afternoon, in her office, with Udi absent. The lunar queen and I fell in love with each other immediately. I was not blind to her beauty and her statuesque figure, while she seemed to think that I was some darling little nereid or sprite. She suggested that we go riding on the next day, in the morning, and I accepted without a hint of how recently I had been given permission to ride alone. Ajinblambia, noticing this, smiled knowingly, but did not embarrass me by giving away my little secret.
I now had my own thoroughbred black stallion, whom I named Skhaezezin. Skhaezezin is Ungi for Black Lord. Shandra selected a bay stallion named Qfifezin, that is, Bay Fury. We had a jolly good ride, but Shandra did notice and comment on my seeming inexperience and anxiety. She said she'd tutor me in the weeks to come.
Did I mention the exciting new guideway?
Did I mention the exciting new guideway, the Ramdonia Circle Guideway, in downtown Mecnita? Ramdonia Towers are the most awesome landmark in the planetary capital, Mecnita. They are eight in number, standing on the cardinal and intercardinal points of a circle with a diameter of two miles. Before the towers runs Ramdonia Circle, a twelve-lane drive with a grassy median. Four mile-and-a-half long avenues, like spokes in a wheel, join points on Ramdonia Circle in front of the buildings, each leading from one building to the one diametrically opposite. This leaves a campus of eight sectors in the middle, which are planted with flowering trees, blooming all year round in the equatorial city.
Each tower has 1000 stories, rising to a height of 12,000 feet, with a diameter of 2,000 feet. The construction consists of 236 alternate white marble piers and black glass windows, all about twenty feet in width.
Atop the towers is an automated guideway, over 6 miles long, that spans 4000 feet between adjacent buildings. Each of the eight bridges that carry the guideway between buildings is made of polymer-impregnated concrete girders reinforced with maraging steel reinforcing bars. Suspension towers stand on either edge of each tower, supporting steel catenaries with cables hanging to the guideway. The guideway was built with the idea of offering a breathtaking view of the great city below. The speed of the trains that roll along the guideway is just over 6 miles an hour, so that the entire ride takes exactly one hour. It is very difficult to descry the guideway and the suspension towers from the street level.
The trains, departing at 30-minute intervals, consist each of around one hundred uncovered gondolas, which have with six booths apiece. Each gondola is equipped with a canopy that opens accordionwise to cover the booths in case of rain. The ride is only 10 dirhams per passenger. The day that Queen Shandra and I went, she wore a pink and purple dress of heavy angora jersey, anticipating the cool air up above. Once we were aboard a train, over two miles above the city, she seemed to think that I was suffering an access of acrophobia, and I won't deny it. She extended her arms to me, and I snuggled up to her bosom where she clasped me tight. I was now feeling 100% secure, and intoxicated with the perfume that she wore, which mingled with the natural fragrance of her body.
It was an incomparably beautiful hour, titillating, magnificent, exhilarating. Finally we detrained at 4 Ramdonia Circle, on the west, descending in the half-sonic elevator to the ground floor, where I sighed with relief, being back on terra firma. We went by metro back to Eldor Palace.
That evening, since we had returned a little late, I invited Shandra only to Inni Villa, right on the palace grounds. Barti was there alone. The other Geese had gone out. I instructed my old voice-sensitive coffeepot to brew a pot of cappuccino coffee, and I got out some flans and scones. The Queen and I played two games of Nyatic chess, which is more complex than Earthly chess.
There are several imaginary pieces of various sorts. Each sort has its particular move, as on Earth. There are 512 little ideal cubes in three dimensions, 8 by 8 by 8, and pieces may move horizontally, vertically or diagonally in 2 or 3 dimensions, according to rules. The hard part is that we do not use actual pieces or a real "egg-crate" of little cubes. The game is all visualized mentally. Each player must memorize the position of each piece at all times. Barti was the referee. She did have an "egg-crate" of little cubes before her and moved actual pieces, keeping track of everything, but this was all concealed from us by a screen. She reported all errors and captures aloud, and declared the winner, if there was one. Stalemates sometimes happened.
This was too much for me, but
Shandra was a whiz, winning both games.
I found Suzi, my pet cockatoo, who actually carries on intelligent conversation, and I introduced her to Shandra. Shandra was amused and delighted, answering several questions about Mli and its birds. Then suddenly Suzi flew off, returning to her cage, which had a doorway without a door. Suzi was impulsive and unpredictable like that. This is typical of birds of her species, Cacatua fulumoensis, from Fulumoa, the largest of the million islands of Ungonesia, in the Southern Sea.
I told Shandra that the following afternoon I would be busy at a meeting of the officers of the Girls' Volleyball Association of Greater Mecnita, over whom I presided as commissioner. The meeting would be held at Cissi's Intimates, on Shayvurddhi Circle, which I explained to Shandra was one of my apparel factories, where very fashionable intimate apparel was manufactured. I was using one of the large rooms there to conduct these meetings.
I could see that Shandra was very
curious, so I said I would be honored if she cared to come with me and look everything
The next afternoon, we took the metro from Eldor Palace to Hozhgranga Station, and walked the mile to Cissi's along very elegant Hozhgranga Street, lined with fine houses under a veritable canopy of handsome trees.
We arrived about an hour before the other girls on the commission were expected, so I showed Shandra around. Peignoirs, chemises and other lovely creations were hanging neatly on horizontal bars of chrome in rooms kept dust-free by special air conditioners I had had installed. Shandra was overwhelmed, saying that on Mli, ladies usually just wear tunics or sheaths, plain and simple, in the evening at home. She had never seen apparel like ours. I let her try on a few garments, and she fell in love with an ivory silk chiffon peignoir and gown set embellished with point de neige, a kind of needle lace. I gave it to her as a gift. She thanked me profusely, saying that she would like to purchase two or three crates of my intimates to take with her back to Vavlu, the capital of Ufzu, where she thought they would be received enthusiastically. If that should prove to be the case, perhaps we could arrange regular shipments by Photon.
Shandra said she'd like also to sit in on Gvagma's meeting, to see just what I did as commissioner. She could hardly believe that I was commissioner of anything apparently. But as I strolled around among the members of the commission, with incipient leadership qualities evident in my manner, she smiled approvingly, though I could detect a trace of patronization, like that of an elder sister towards a younger. She was a queen after all, so I did not take this amiss. Didn't everyone who was anyone make me aware of my juniority in one way or another?
After the meeting she suggested that I should have someone make a removable white sphere that I could fix between my horns to symbolize a volleyball. The word GVAGMA, in maroon letters, in the middle of the sphere, would look good. I should also wear matching maroon lipstick and a white gown with maroon tea roses embroidered on the bosom. I accepted her idea, and, thereafter, during meetings of the commission, I always dressed according to Shandra's recommendations.
"Have you been to the Pentesthetics, dear Queen Shandra?" I asked shortly after the meeting of Gvagma closed.
"Pentesthetics? what are they?"
"First I should have asked if there are cinemas in Ufzu."
"Of course there are cinemas, although I'm sure that that the cinemas of Ung must be far superior technically. We make mostly documentaries and travelogs of an informative sort. We have little in the way of art film or comedy."
"Well, a pentesthetic is "cinema" in five senses, not just visual and aural, as with a movie. There are no audio or video devices at all, in fact. You merely recline in a reclining chair or lie on a divan, and an attendant wires you. You don a headband, wristlets and anklets that have electrical or electronic wires connected to them. Once you are wired, the attendant plugs a jack into a socket and types a number on a keypad. This number refers to the pentesthetic you have chosen. Suppose you chose a pentesthetic about fishing for chinook salmon, catching a big fish, cleaning it, roasting it over an open fire in your camp, and eating big slabs of the roasted flesh. You would see the whole panorama, hear the rushing river, feel the moisture in the breeze, smell the salmon as it hung fire, and taste the roasted meat. It would be as vivid as if you had actually been there."
"That sounds like fun, but what keeps people from just making pentesthetics the crux of their lives?"
"Oh, that's easy to answer. You are allowed only one pentesthetic every three days."
"When shall we go?"
"Right now, if you like."
"Oh, let's. I can hardly
The finest, most opulent pentesthetic lounge is Mecnita is called Vividities, and is located in the Egshirvazi District, on Opera Square, opposite the Opera of Mecnita. To go by taxi from Frifna to Egshirvazi, at the 40 miles an hour permitted on the streets, would have taken twice as long as going by bullet train in the metro rolling at 250 miles an hour, even though we had to walk a mile to get to Hozhgranga Station.
Once at Vividities, Shandra and I, entering the main salon, chose divans next to each other. She selected a pentesthetic entitled The Gigantic Beasts of Ub, while I picked Perspectives in Volleyball. Usually pentesthetics were much briefer than they seemed, apparently because conscious and subconscious clocks tick at different tempos. One wakes up feeling she has been dreaming for hours when actually only an hour has passed.
"The Gigantic Beasts of Ub was a terribly scary penta," observed Queen Shandra afterwards. I had told her we usually said "penta" instead of "pentesthetic".
"I know, " I said, "I've seen it."
"Thank goodness it's just a story."
"Oh no, it's not just a story, dear Queen Shandra. Ub really has gigantic animals like that, in Central Qazudistan."
"You're just teasing me," she answered.
"Oh no, no. Those monsters are real."
"I don't believe you!"
"Shall we arrange a safari?"
"Yes, let's do it. I simply cannot believe it."
The next day, we would go to make arrangements for a safari for Shandra and myself, along with Zevanardia, and a few others from Gvagma, Cissi's and the Palace. We would schedule it for about a week later. At that time, we would fly to Ub, then go by train to the region of the gigantic beasts, and advance from there on hovercraft or something of the kind, because of Ub's roadlessness.
That same afternoon, though, we went to an electronics showroom right near the Opera House. There, I showed Queen Shandra several electronic and telecommunications devices of the kind manufactured in Zhiginards, our electronics capital. She was very interested in our solid fax, which transmits impulses that permit generation of black-and-white or color copies of three-dimensional objects at distant points. The top of the line was our solid color astrofax, which could be used to fax colored objects to Mli and other places in the Dyotic solar system once the machines were installed there.
The electronics showroom, which is called Electrotechniques, has also a vast array of scroll phones, with telescoping screens, wrist computers with global positioning capabilities, magnetically-sensitive rings, which allow a salesperson to transact a sale by touching an electronic pencil to your finger-ring, otosilencers, which allow you to raise or lower the volume of the sound your ears receive, subcutaneous chips and much, much else.
There was so much that Queen Shandra eyed covetously, thinking of introducing all sorts of devices and gadgets in her lunar kingdom!
We decided that a cultural exchange would be salutary for both kingdoms, but especially for hers. I explained that, in my capacity as Ministress of Arts, I enjoyed the right of acting at my own discretion in such a program. I felt that Shandra should appoint a Ministress of Culture or the Arts with whom I might communicate as an equal or counterpart. Shandra's queenship daunted me somewhat. As gracious as she was, Queen Shandra seemed to understand my position, and said she would act upon my suggestion. In the meantime, however, I shouldn't hesitate to deal with her directly.
I told Queen Shandra about Glasterhadd, the haunted house in Anavana, and how, attending a seance there just out of curiosity, I managed to be instrumental in the eventual dissolution of the notorious Miervin Society. I elaborated that Ajinblambia, rebuking me for jeopardizing myself in such a way, nonetheless gave Glasterhadd to me as a reward. Obtaining a line of credit from the Bank of Ung by mortgaging Glasterhadd, I had transformed the haunted house into a factory for vintage intimates.
Of course, Shandra barely appreciated the meaning of intimates, as we use the term in the stylish milieu of the great metropolis. The more spartan modes of Ufzu were light-years away from all the voluptuous, luxurious lingerie of Nya. But the idea of styles that changed from decade to decade and from century to century perplexed her entirely, as Ufzuans had been wearing the same attire for ages. So explaining vintage intimates required giving her quite a little history lesson. Shandra felt that a trip to Glasterhadd would make it easer for her to understand. There was still time after our pentesthetics at Vividities, so we bulleted right over on the metro.
I had been a little neglectful of Cissi's Vintage Intimates lately, as I had been so busy with all my other activities. However, I had supreme confidence in the supervisory ability of Venedora, who was running the operation on my behalf. Her loyalty and good faith were irreproachable. Lilinaki, the distinguished Ungonesian couturieuse, one of Mecnita's most famous, was working at Glasterhadd too, as a consultant and teacher. So, as far as I was concerned Cissi's Vintage Intimtes was a failsafe operation.
As I mentioned in another chapter, the work being done there did not consist in the restoration of antique garments. Rather it consisted in making new garments according to styles of a bygone day. Dress patterns were made from actual antique gowns and other intimates, and usually pilot models were made from cheaper fabrics like chintz, calico and chambray. If a particular prototype looked promising, more expensive fabrics would be used.
Queen Shandra could see the difference between modern and vintage intimates at once. She liked all the ruffles, furbelows and flounces of the past, and decided to buy some of our creations to take to Mli to try to sell. I explained that, although bras, panties and corsets could be astrofaxed, the copies were inferior to the originals, and that indeed it would be better to ship apparel by spaceship if she found that there was a market on Mli.
Venedora and Lilinaki invited Queen Shandra and myself for refreshments. They offered date cobbler, pecan rolls and ice cream, along with cappuccino coffee. At this point, I fetched a copy of Cissi's Newsletter to show the queen. She was very impressed, especially when she saw that I had penned many of the articles myself. "No wonder Ajinblambia appointed you Royal Biographer! You write beautifully!"
It was 9.5 Ungi (10:48 PM), scandalously late for Ung's diurnal crowd. So Shandra and I hurried back to Eldor Palace, she to the palace itself, where Ajinblambia had given her a darling little suite, and I to Inni Villa, on the palace grounds. The other Geese were all asleep. I bathed and then lay down myself. Before I knew it I was trekking in other galaxies and universes, wafted in the nebulae and flirting with the stars.
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