DREAMS OF HOPE AND DESPAIR - Part 5
The stars had always fascinated Lionel, as far as he could remember, he had spent his evenings gazing out the viewport of his sleeping cubicle at Cloud City just watching spaceships come and go, but mostly, his attention had been drawn to the myriads of tiny specks of light on the massive dark backdrop of space. Sometimes, he could almost swear he had heard and seen places beyond the void of space.
As a child, he had dreamed and fantasized what worlds lingered beyond his sight and how he one day could make a difference, making more people happy and not ragged refugees as those he had seen scurry through the lower levels of Cloud City; even though his parents warned him about playing at the hangar decks of the city, Lionel and his friend Surba had often been snooping around, watching the different ships and their crews.
The hollow expression of the refugees had haunted Lionel, and did so for many years, determined to improve their situation, he even smuggled food down to the corridors of the port and handed to those who passed by. Surba often criticized Lionel for these altruistic maneuvers, but he was not discouraged from continuing.
In space, Lionel was told, it was cold and frightening, he never quite believed that to be true, after all, Cloud City was suspended in space, and it was not a cold and frightening place at all. Or so he thought for many years…
As Lionel grew older, his interest in gazing out at the emptiness of space fell back to a more social venture, he liked to visit the cantinas. One night, he felt himself drawn to a man, an elderly human male. It wasn’t long before Lionel recognized the haggard man to be blind, but strangely enough, not overly infirm due to his lack of sight. Nevertheless, he acknowledged the man’s weak state and set his mind to help him. The old man, only known as Kota, was not at all approving of Lionel’s approach and truth be told, he was outright aggravated by Lionel’s attempts to help him on and off the stool by the bar. For a blind man, Kota, was extremely spatial aware, almost as if he had sensors to tell him where obstacles were located.
But there was not just the blindness of Kota that Lionel found exciting, the old man told tales to those around him, tales of space, stories of planets beyond the sector and of peoples, events and of war. Most of the time as Kota told his stories, Lionel could almost sense the power in the man and a strange white glow appeared as a halo around the elderly man’s form…
Suddenly Lionel was pulled from his daydreaming as the speeder grinded to a halt. Blinking to himself a few times he recognized that his left hand hurt, opening his clasped fingers he saw that he had held on too tight to the crystal that it had actually penetrated his skin and small drips of blood swelled on the palm.