by Libbylawrence, with Doc Quantum
The year 3014 A.D.:
Arda Starr of New Onym, Venus, had mixed emotions as she prepared to board the shuttle that would take her away from the only home she had ever truly known. The teen with platinum blonde hair and silvery skin was confident and did not suffer from what might be called homesickness. However, she was sensitive enough beneath her cool veneer to realize that for every new opportunity she found, she also closed the door on past promises that never grew to fruition. She would miss her parents and her little sister Todia, but she had been separated from them for so long that this departure was merely one more leave-taking in a series of many that dated back to when the fifteen-year-old had been a child of six.
Most of the population of Venus was born with some degree of mental telepathy. The mostly female humanoid population of this world was a mixture of three species: ordinary colonists from Earth, the so-called Silver Ladies of Venus (whom Arda most resembled), and the descendants of the last two survivors of a race of psionics from the planet Onym in the Alpha star system — Cy Key (known on Earth as Mastermind) and Cerebra (a member of the Vanguards). (*) Although the Silver Ladies had a notorious reputation for interfering in matters on Earth, the generations that followed were tempered by the heroic qualities of the last Onymians and a group of likeminded humans, but not without conflict. Over the centuries there were several wars, both on the planet itself and waged against other planets, particularly Mars and Earth. In time, however, Venus was tamed, and the civilization that developed there adopted a rigid code for telepathic dealings with each other as well as with off-worlders.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Victory For Venus,” Space Adventures #37 (December, 1960), “The Silver Lady From Venus,” Space Adventures #42 (October, 1961); Mastermind was the star of an unpublished 1970s comic book series by the creators of E-Man; “The Vanguards,” Charlton Bullseye v2 #4 (November, 1981).]
Sending and receiving thoughts were as natural for many of the natives of Venus as verbal communication was for Earthlings or shape-changing was for the formless beings of the friendly planet Imo. (*) Arda, however, was special. Although she also had human ancestry, she was regarded as a Silver Lady (or Silver Lass due to her age) of Venus, and she had been born with the highest level of mental potential registered on the planet for centuries. Her parents had been proud, and while some tears had been shed, they had obeyed the request from the illustrious Mind Institute to allow the child to reside within its hallowed interior and receive expert training.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Friendly Planet,” Space Adventures #40 (June, 1961).]
Arda was like most Venusians in that she kept her emotions in careful check. On a planet where any stray thought could rudely disrupt a sensitive mind, or — as rare as it was — be deliberately detected by a probing one, it was vital for all natives to control their feelings and their thoughts. So even as a child of six, she had stolidly accepted leaving home and had promised to make her family and her planet proud. Arda remembered staring up at the vast facility with its gleaming silvery metal columns and palpable air of venerability and solidity.
There was little about the Mind Institute to make one feel anything except for awe mingled with an awareness of how very small any one individual was in comparison with the power of tradition and history. Arda had been welcomed by the austere, yet striking figure of Mind Mistress Erta Dele, and the celebrated mentalist had swiftly taken Arda under her personal supervision.
“You have displayed a sensitivity that is beyond any yet detected in the history of the Institute,” she once told Arda. “As you practice and gain an understanding of the nature of your abilities, you will very likely develop abilities that exceed those previously found here in any Venusian. You must not abuse those gifts. You must learn to temper what you send and what you receive, so you do not violate the privacy of your fellow sentients, or so your own thoughts do not become shattered by a constant stream of unwanted and unfiltered mind static.”
The little girl had listened carefully and had vowed to succeed. She had risen swiftly to become a model pupil and a favorite of all the staff. With regular successes and even such mild accolades as the stolid teachers offered, the girl gradually gained a strong sense of self and a calm certainty that her own abilities were equal to any task. Arda also grew increasingly solitary. She was a prize pupil, but her age and status as a student kept her from becoming a peer to her teachers. She also failed to find acceptance among her fellow students, who often resented her, were jealous of her, or found her cold and distant even for an Venusian. Thus Arda had a lonely adolescence and fed her inner needs with thoughts of ambition, accomplishment, and purpose. She would graduate and serve the planet or even the cosmos as only a girl of her skills could do.
Now, in the present, she recalled the events that had led to her current status and the decision to leave Venus for Earth and a career unlike any she had previously envisioned. Arda had reached an epiphany of sorts following an adventure that began when a woman abruptly entered the Institute’s Community Service Division where she had been working.