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The Antar Chronicles, Chapter 13: The Party Line
Reply to Alex Parrish
Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list June 27, 2004
Jaffier delivered the Commander's invitation to us. It was printed in a beautiful, old-fashioned Antarian script which I had never seen before, but could still read. At the same time Jaffier pointed out that the affair was to be formal, very politely hinting that our regular uniforms would not do for such a formal occasion. Of course, clever aide that he is, he already had a solution in mind. It turned out that he had an "acquaintance" who was training to enter the field of fashion design when his stint in the military was over. Only later did we learn that this talented "acquaintance" happened also to be Jaffier's lover, a fact that he neglected to mention to us. It didn't really matter because his lover, Xegoli, was really quite talented and had a special Antarian way with tailoring. He had developed his skill in transforming materials enough to make use of his powers in tailoring, even though he is at a much younger age than most Antarians manifest their powers. He couldn't change large objects, but he was a whiz at fashion and tailoring.
It had been so long since Antar had a King in residence, that fashions from the past were out-of-the-question. Xegoli had almost free-reign to update regalia for the party. He began, of course, with Max.
Max's formal attire was based on the military uniform because that would save time. Xegoli took a commander's formal uniform which was made of a crimson material similar to raw silk and changed it to a pure white. It consisted of a fitted jump suit worn under a knee-length tunic-like jacket. He then added very fine gold piping at the edges and a placket concealing both slide fasteners. The jacket had a smallish standup collar which he adorned with five tiny jewels, each a different color, set on each side of the collar in the "V" shape which is the symbol of the King. At the breast was a simple, small, gold embroidered crest of the Royal Family. It was all very simple and elegant and, of course, beautifully tailored to Max's beautiful body. Max looked stunning.
Liz's outfit was of the same white raw-silk material. The female version, however, consisted of a short jacket over a one-piece floor-length blouse and skirt combo. When Liz asked about high-heeled shoes, Xegoli had no idea what she meant. That brought a sigh of relief from all three women. On each side of Liz's stand-up collar were two small gold-embroidered symbols. Xegoli explained that they were the phonetic spelling of the word "Earth." Since Liz had no family crest, he had used these symbols instead. The front of her jacket was plain except the small gold piping running down the front where it closed with a slide-fastener which was covered with a flap of fabric, just like Max's outfit.
Jesse and Michael's outfits were like Max's but the silken material was in a deep, dark, purple, nearly black. Once again there was gold piping. Each of their collars sported gold embroidered symbols, the phonetic "Earth" on one side, and the symbol for the planet which each was to tend, on the other. The women's outfits were copies of Liz's but in the purple and with the symbols matching those their men wore. Everyone looked really fine, except me.
You're probably wondering when I became such a fashion maven. I am not usually interested in such girlie-stuff, but this ended up involving me in an unexpected way.
I anticipated a similar uniform to what Max, Michael and Jesse were wearing, but Xegoli announced that the traditional attire for the Avatar had been well-established for millennia, and he did not feel free to change it. It required that a whole new garment be cut, which he had already taken the liberty of doing. He presented the garment to me for tailoring, and... let's just say... I wasn't pleased. It was a goddamn dress. OK, not really a dress, but a caftan. It was in the same beautiful white raw-silk material as Liz and Max's outfits, but had no collar at all. Instead it had a rectangular opening surrounded by inch-wide gold trim. The opening exposed my entire neck and a inch-or-more of chest, back, and shoulder. Down the front were large gold-embroidered symbols, each about 6 inches in height and width. They represented the first two parts of my title: "Avatar to the Sacred Granolith of Antar" and "Consort to the King." At the bottom were the the "Earth-symbols." A tiny ribbon of shining gold ran on either side of the symbols all the way from the collar to the hem, which had the inch-wide gold trim like the opening at the top. The long sleeves tapered very widely from the shoulder to the huge cuff, and had the gold-banding all around the cuff as well. It was beautiful -- I can't deny that -- but, as I said, it was a goddamn dress. I balked. Xegoli didn't know what to say or do.
Max and Liz enlisted the other two couples in telling me that it would look great on me, and it wasn't really a dress, and then pressing the issue by reminding me that we couldn't insult these people and their customs just because of a costume.
Michael pointed out that this should not have come as a surprise. This garment closely resembled the garment in the painting he had created not so long ago at the Lodge, the "Ascending Figure." We all had been startled and mystified as I began to take on the appearance of the painting. Michael was right, but I still wasn't buying it.
Liz got annoyed with me and accused me of "pouting." (I don't pout. OK, maybe just a little.) Michael and Jesse were quiet, but I didn't have to read their thoughts to know that they were laughing at me on the inside. It wasn't fair. They got to wear cool uniforms and I had to show up in a goddamn 'dress.' Finally, Max asked everyone to leave us.
First he put his arms around me and kissed me. I knew right then that I was in trouble.
"Kyle, I have never asked you for a favor, you know that. You know that if it were just up to me you could wear whatever you wanted, even jeans. You're sexy in whatever you wear, even in nothing. Especially in nothing. But now, we've got to consider the feelings of the people -- OUR people. We're new around here, and having you seen in the traditional dress, um, I mean outfit, will help us to be accepted. Kyle, I'm asking you to wear this. Please..., do it for ME?
"I'll be a laughingstock." I countered.
"Not to the Antarians. They will be thrilled to see the new Avatar following Antarian customs. They will love you for it."
"Michael and Jesse..."
"Forget about them. You leave Michael and Jesse to me. I promise you, there won't be a word. Will you do it Kyle? For our people? For me?"
"You don't play fair."
"I know." He smiled and kissed me again. Then he helped me into the 'dress.'
We left the quarters together, stepping into the common area. Max preceded me, walking directly to face Michael, and motioning Jesse over to him. He pointed a finger at each in turn and simply said, "Not... a... word, ever!" Michael's mocking grin dissolved instantly. He could tell Max meant it. Jesse looked properly chastized. If I was ever mocked by either of them about the 'dress,' I never heard it.
I now wear the 'traditional attire' anytime I am in public, or acting officially. It is actually rather comfortable, rather freeing. I shudder to think what any of the guyz on the team would say if they saw me in it.
I freely admit that it felt queer (in the more traditional sense) for a while, but I am used to it now. Part of what makes me more comfortable is the fact that I have begun to love these people. Dare I call them 'my people?' They show so much love and respect -- for the office, yes, -- but also for me. When I appear before people they are always reassured by the fact that I look the part. They need that, and if my wearing a 'dress' is so meaningful to them, then that is what I do. I have come to understand, with the help of the Granolith, that I am the Avatar not for the sake of the Granolith, not for the sake of the King, and not for my own sake. I am the Avatar for 'them,' for my people. It is the most awe-full, terrifying, and empowering thing I have ever experienced. I guess I'm getting ahead of my story again, and I'm running low on pages in this journal, so let me finish the story.
Four days after Max's waking, the flagship entered orbit of Antar and we were met by "The Royal Barge," a large shuttlecraft which took us to the capitol on the surface in Royal style.
First stop was a medical facility, just to double-check on Liz's 'delicate condition.' She was fine, no, better than fine, she was absolutely radiant. After Liz was checked-out, we were taken to a "learning facility" where a gazillion gigabites of information was uploaded into our tiny brains as promised. It was actually rather painless. I was a little worried that I might witness someone's brain exploding, but it didn't happen. I've always heard that humans only use about ten-percent of their brain's capacity. We've surely made an improvement on that.
The result was that each of us now speaks the 22 languages of the Federation (without an accent, I am told) along with several variations and dialects, and we each contain far more information in our skulls than we are capable of comprehending, let alone accessing. Fortunately, I have the Sacred Granolith to prompt and guide me, and I had experienced this in part while I was still on Earth. The others would need to figure-out just exactly how much they now knew, and how to access it, each on his or her own.
Our first "official duty" was next. There was to be a huge parade, immediately followed by a "public audience" at the Royal Palace. We were told that nearly 6 million Antarians lined the route of the welcoming parade -- pretty amazing since the city's population is only 4.5 million. We were ushered into antigravity vehicles which, for security's sake, were covered in transparent aluminum for the parade. Each of the couples shared a vehicle in the parade and I had my own. The Antarians were at a loss as to how to deal with the fact that the Avatar is also the Royal Consort. The consort normally would have traveled with the King and Queen-elect, but the Avatar ranked his own vehicle. I was lonely, but people seemed so genuinely glad to be seeing me that I actually got 'into' waving to the crowd.
We all ended up together at the Royal Palace and stood on a balcony -- again covered with transparent aluminum for security -- to address an endless crowd gathered at the plaza in front of the palace.
We had all worked with Max (along with Larek via a videophone connection) on a speech which Max delivered flawlessly. I felt so proud of him. He spoke primarily in Antarian, but repeated a few sections in various other of the languages of the Federation in order to let everyone feel included. He spoke about the tragedies of war, and the situation which brought us back to Antar, and about our plan to lead by example. It was all well-received, but the biggest ovation came when he told the crowd that their new Queen was 'with child.' He said it only once, and only in Antarian, but the spontaneous outburst of celebration prevented him from resuming his speech for nearly 10 minutes.
When it was all over, Michael and Maria were taken to a private apartment in the Royal Palace. Jesse and Isabel were taken likewise to a private apartment in the Royal Palace. I, much to my dismay, was carted-off to my very own 'Palace of the Avatar of the Sacred Granolith of Antar.' That sucked. I mean, everybody was great to me, and there were lots of aides and servants and assistant-servants and such, running around and anxiously waiting for any opportunity to 'kiss my ass,' but I had not signed onto this journey as a 'solo act.' This would have to change.
Continue to Chapter 14
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