Gender: N/A Age: N/A Location: N/A
|Introduction: Not my story|
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in this garden to join this man and these two women in the sacred bond of matrimony.” Calliope looked at each of them in turn before she continued. She was delighted to be performing this ceremony for her friend, and she was deeply honored to have been asked.
“In this world, marriage has been defined in a restrictive way to imply the union of a single man with a single woman, and no other options are available. However, marriage is, in actuality, a symbol of love and commitment, of the hope for the future and the allegiance to each other, of people in any number or combination.
“These young people have been through the valley of darkness together, and emerged from it strengthened in their love and respect for each other. They have chosen, at this time, to outwardly symbolize their inward relationship through this act of matrimony.
“In as much as this ceremony is already unusual, these three have also decided upon an unorthodox ornamentation of wedlock. Would the best man come forward with the wedding symbols?”
Lars walked forward, bearing two necklaces, two bracelets and a ring, all in a cushioned jewelry case.
“The ring has been used to symbolize the eternal nature of the wedding bond. It has no beginning or end, and it encompasses all of life. However, it is not the only symbol with these qualities, and so other symbols have been chosen in this ceremony as well.”
As Lars handed a bracelet to each of the girls, Calliope continued, “These two young women have chosen to enter a relationship of service and companionship with each other. They are making a commitment to stand with and support the other through all time. Ladies, if you would fasten the bracelet onto the other’s wrist.” As Kimberly was fastening the bracelet onto Nikki’s wrist, Calliope explained, “As a relationship of service is most often symbolized by the hand, it is fitting that the wedding symbol of these two ladies encircles the wrist, to show that they will work together, hand in hand, throughout all time.
“If you would both repeat after me. I… state your name… do hereby pledge to you… state the other’s name… my affection and loyalty, my help and assistance, and my eternal friendship. I vow to be a considerate and loving companion to you, and a cooperative and willing assistant in our service to our chosen husband.” Calliope had worried over this language, as it seemed overly slavish, but the words were decided upon by the girls themselves, and so she wasn’t about to object. She continued with the vow, “I affirm my commitment to you, and to your service to him in our life together, from now until the end of time.” The girls had followed along without much need for prompting.
When those vows were finished, Lars stepped forward again, and handed each lady a small ring. The rings, which had been specially crafted by one of the PPA soldiers who also happened to be a jeweler, were designed to be joined together once they were on Ron’s hand.
Calliope resumed her duties by saying, “Now, if you two ladies would repeat after me, With this ring, I pledge to you, Ron Chaffey, my loyalty and affection, my attention and my time. I offer you love, companionship, humor, grace, help, and criticism when it’s warranted, but never when it isn’t. I pledge to remain by your side through good and bad, illness and health, wealth and poverty, from this day forward, throughout the end of time.” The two ladies recited this vow in unison, then each slipped their portion of the ring onto his finger, the second portion slipping into its contact with the first, and becoming a single wedding band.
Once more, Lars stepped forward, and stood at Ron’s side. The two necklaces were the only items left in the jewelry case. Calliope said, “Ron, if you would now slip the necklaces onto the ladies…” As Ron did so, she continued, “The necklace is also a circle, once closed, it also has no end nor beginning. It encompasses all, and it rests, as it should, near the heart of its wearer.”
Ron finished attaching the necklaces. Having them made now was tricky, for the materials were becoming quite scarce. Several PPA officers had voluntarily given up some of their jewelry to make these items. It was a final act of loyalty for their commander. Designing the necklaces had been another difficult task. Ron had settled on a simple design, a necklace made of gold, with diamonds accenting it along its length, and at the front of it, a stunning blue sapphire. He had not told the ladies that this design also came from “Channeling the Mind”, and it had a purpose he hoped never to reveal to them.
Without prompting, Ron faced the two ladies, and began his vow to them. “With this necklace, I pledge to both of you my undying love and affection, my kindness and my time, my respect and my adoration. I give to you all that I have willingly, freely, and without concern for my own welfare. I offer to you the rest of my life, and beyond. I will stand beside you through good times and bad, through sickness and health, until the end of time.”
Calliope smiled at Ron before she intoned, “We are all well aware that the commitment given here today is not “until death do us part.” We know that death is merely a temporary parting, and that these young people will be together until the end of time itself. As a community of their friends, it is upon us to support them and nurture them in their relationship. They have taken the first step along a very hard road.”
She turned to Nikki and said, “Nicole, do you take Kimberly to be your wedded lifemate and partner?”
Nikki responded, “I do.”
“Kimberly, do you take Nicole to be your wedded lifemate and partner?”
She said to Ron, “Ronald, do you take these ladies to be your wedded wives?”
“I do,” Ron said softly.
Turning to the girls, Calliope said, “Kimberly, Nicole, do you take this man to be your wedded husband?”
Answering in unison, they said, “I do.”
“Then, by the power vested in me as head of the Society of Guardian Hall, I now pronounce you man, wives, and partners. You may now… exchange embraces.” The crowd chuckled at the slightly awkward phrasing caused by the relationship. Each of them kissed the other two in turn, to seal the commitment they had made.
Calliope turned the three to face the audience, and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Ronald, Nicole, and Kimberly Chaffey.” The audience gave them a standing ovation, and Ron looked over the crowd. His eyes passed over his mother, who was crying in joy, and his other family and friends. He made strong eye contact with the newest psionic in the world, and she gave him a broad smile.
She’s going to make a hell of a queen, he thought.
A Final Look
Only once previously has a single event so upset the course of history that the time before and the time after were separated by a new dating system. In the years that followed The Great Psionic War, time was redefined. The war ended on June 1st of what came to be known as year 2 of the Psionic Era.
Devastation reigned throughout the planet. In all countries, in all areas, civilization had been devastated. Not just millions, but billions of people had been slaughtered, in only ten months. The population of the United States dropped from over three hundred million, to just over one hundred million people by the end of the war. This number was decreased by a further forty million due to disease and the breakdown of civil services. By the time the population had stabilized, the world had roughly one and a half billion people left.
With the death of the masses of children killed by the Russians, the population slowly dropped even lower, due to the casualty rate among older citizens who had trouble living in the harsh new reality. The population would drop to one billion by the end of the first decade after the war.
Civilization was almost totally destroyed. Most of the major cities in the world had been destroyed. In the United States, only Knoxville, Kentucky and Tampa, Florida remained standing. Tampa was destroyed by a massive hurricane three years later, and the millions of people who had flocked to the area were killed. Knoxville was overrun with a population ten times what it could handle. Chaos and gang mentality ran rampant in the streets. Those who weren’t strong either served those who were, or died.
Technology was nearly non-existent. Without factories to produce, and shops to repair, soon most forms of technological device were non-operable. Televisions were useless without television stations. Radios had very little to tune into. Some small efforts were made, regionally, to build back a communications system, but with the worldwide destruction of the necessary infrastructures, even the systems that had survived soon broke down. Satellites fell from the sky with no one to make sure their orbits didn’t decay, and no computer to relay instructions. Phone systems were out of order, and the Internet was quashed. People’s worlds had once again been reduced to how far they could get on their own two feet, or by horse, if they were lucky enough to have one, and be able to keep it.
Government was shattered in every corner of the globe. The only country to begin a government soon after the war, the United States, was being ruled by the remnants of the Corporation for the Advancement of Mental Proficiency, joined by the remaining members of the SkuggDrakarna, better known as the ShadowDragon.
Ron Chaffey did not take part in this government, and soon stepped down as Commander-in-Chief of the Provisional Psionic Army. He and his family roamed the world, trying to help repair the vast amount of damage that had been done. As one small group, it was difficult for them to see any difference, but they tried for several years before settling down into a quiet, out of the way village, where they made sure that order was maintained, and that the unfortunate people of the area were fed, clothed and housed properly.
The world would not soon recover from the devastation wreaked by the Great Psionic War of 1 PE. Life, for those who had survived, would never again be a happy-go-lucky affair. Life was dangerous, and cruel, and it could turn on you at any moment. But people did their best to get on with their lives, and rebuild. Soon, new babies were born, and new lives begun. People got married, and raised families as best they could.
And life went on.
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