IoM: Before the Kalends_Endé 2

)(: Paart Too

“Where is your shirt?” Lola asks.

“Emmy has it. Or she did,” Brad says.

“Why does Emmy have your shirt?” Pavel asks.

“Well, we were by the creek and I got scared. I fell into it. She pulled me out and told me to take off my shirt, 

so I did. She-,” 

“It was getting cooler out,”  Emmy interrupted, “And I didn’t want him to catch a cold or the illness. His shirt is hanging up on the clothing line behind the house.”

Brad repeats his questions. 

“Who is Thatcher? Who is Mya? How do you know Sam, Emmy? How do you all know each other?”

He was given these answers:

Emmy and Sam are supposedly cousins. 

Emmy knew Mya and Thatcher from when she lived in the same dome city as them.

Thatcher heard about the land called Utopia, the place they are currently at now.

A while back, when Emmy lived in the dome city, she heard rumors of how to escape. That got her connected to Mya and Thatcher and created an opportunity for her to get reconnected with her cousin, Sam, as well. The four of them, along with the help of others, thought of a way to break free from the dome life. Thatcher made kits, equipped with everything they would need to survive while traveling  from the dome to Utopia. When they put the plan to action, Emmy was the only one to make it out. Mya, Thatcher and Sam all got caught; the bionic guards that protected the dome caught them escaping. 

Emmy  made the harsh journey by herself, and in a few months time, she arrived at the edge of Utopia. She stayed in the forest for a while, rehearsing the story she would tell to the first person she saw so that no one would know she was an outsider.

She thought she’d never see her friends again. 

When Emmy saw Brad for the first time, she told him that she was from the other side, and that she was an only child. Her parents caught an illness and passed away. She lived in the middle of nowhere, and she was fine on her own for a while. But tending to the crops by herself was too much, and when it came to repairing things on the house she was lost. Then one day a group of men came; they wanted her house, and they expected other things from her. The first chance she got, she ran away. The first house she came upon was empty. She figured the people moved because they were afraid they were going to get the illness.  The family at the next house she came across did not welcome her to stay;  they gave her one meal and sent her on her way. Eventually, after some time passed, she met Brad.

“How did Mya know about this place?” Pavel asks.

“I heard about it from a boy. He wanted me to flee with him, but I was too afraid. I never saw him again. To this day I’m not sure if he made it here or if he got caught,” Mya answers.

Pavel has another question.

“What happened to all of you after you got caught?” 

“They threw us in prison. They wanted to know where we were going,” Sam says.

“We weren’t going to squeal like punks to those pebots!” Thatcher adds, irate.

“At some point, we think they thought we were just running away with no plan,” Mya pauses, then continues,  “One day, they told us if we couldn’t appreciate all they’ve done for us, we didn’t even deserve to be their prisoners.”

“They released us, with a few other prisoners, and gave us each a gallon of water and a week’s worth of food. They left us outside the dome,” Sam explains.

Pavel is thinking deeply. He isn’t sure if he can trust their story, but to his knowledge, they have no reason to lie to him. He slouches in his chair and crosses his arms against his chest as he sighs. “Where are the others?” He asks.

“Remember the U.N.W. soldiers?” Sam asks, rhetorically. “We weren’t sure if these were them, but we saw some that looked like the crazy ones did  before the world changed overnight. They were just as ravaged and savage. All they do is kill. They got the others and we were lucky to survive,” Sam explains.

Emmy goes to Brad to comfort him. Anytime the U.N.W. soldiers are mentioned, it makes him upset. Panic defines his face currently. Rubbing his back always soothes him;  the second her hand touches his back he relaxes, even before she begins rubbing. 

Pavel fixes his posture and he sits up straight.  Standing up, he places his hands firmly on the table. He walks around Brad and Emmy and up to Sam. He places a hand on Sam’s shoulder and looks him square in the eye. After a moment of peculiar silence and lingering gazes, Pavel embraces Sam like a long lost son he can’t let go of. 

Honza rises, and then Raja and Lola follow suit. They copy Pavel’s gesture and welcome Sam home with one family-size group hug. Chloe stares at her family and Sam with glassy eyes, but refuses to move. She appears sad, but she’s angry and all her anger is directed at Sam.

Sam gently worms out of the family embrace and goes to Chloe.

“I understand that you are angry with me,” He says, squatting next to her. He has one arm on the table and one hand on her shoulder. “I also know that you understand why I left, but now-,” 

He falls silent, unable to say any to bring relief to Chloe.

Chloe looks at Sam, “But now what, Sam?” She brushes his hand off her shoulder. She gets up and goes to the sleeping room. He can’t follow after her because Josef is asleep and he doesn’t want to wake him.

Sam feels like he’s losing this life, where he has fallen in love. It will end if she’s no longer in love with him. He can sense that  she still loves him, as can Emmy and Mya, but that love is only a murmur in her heart. Meekly, he sits in her place.

“You can talk to her in the morning,” Lola says. “For now, go to the hot springs and clean up. Raja will bring you fresh clothes, and I’m sure we can find you all bedding. You might end up sharing.”

Sam can’t talk to Chloe in the morning because he’ll be gone. “No. We’ll take the clean clothes, but we can’t stay the night.”

Everyone is confused except Emmy, Mya and Thatcher. 

Sam goes on to say that while they were traveling here, they realized they were being tracked by bionic guards from the dome. If it weren’t for the savage U.N.W. soldiers, the guards would have caught up to them and they would have never made it here. Thatcher discovered that the bracelets they were wearing had tracking devices in them. He was ashamed he didn’t figure it out sooner. After some tinkering, he was able to remove them and put them on a few dead bionic guards. They know they’re probably still being tracked so they can’t stay. They don’t want anything terrible to happen to the people in Utopia.

“Do you really think those bionics are a threat to whatever stands in the middle of this place?” Pavel huffs.

No. No one thinks that.

“We can’t risk it,” Mya says.

“Plus, I have to go back,” Thatcher says, adding, “This time we know what we’re up against. We have a new plan and it’s going to work.”

“Are you insane?” Honza questions. “You escape by the skin of your teeth, and you’re going back. I have never met such a few that are  more willing to die.” Honza shakes his head.

“I’ll go back with you,” Emmy says. She can feel Brad’s panicking soul. As his heart races, so does hers, and like him she can hear every rapid, neurotic beat.

Brad grabs Emmy by the arms, and says, “You’re not leaving with them. It’s not safe.”

 His grip is intensifying; if Emmy were normal, she would be feeling the pain. 

  “Ow! Brad. Let go, you’re hurting me!” she responds, in order to play her role accurately. 

Immense remorse consumes Brad and instantly he lets Emmy go. She staggers around Brad, and goes to Sam. Standing behind him and  placing her hands on his shoulders, she says, “I have to go.”

 At least that much is true. It’s time for her to return home.

“Why?” Brad asks. “I don’t understand…” He adds sitting in Honza’s spot, leaning on his elbows on the table.

 Emmy knows he’s feeling abandoned. She knows there’s nothing she can tell him to subside his pain.

Thatcher responds for Emmy, telling everyone why it would be best for Emmy to go back with them. They will tell the bionics they left to go find her and bring her back. The lie is weak and they know it, but it’s all they have to work with right now. For everyone’s survival, they all have to go back to where they came from.

Emmy begins to worry that Brad’s family would find the fallacy in the logic. It makes sense for Emmy, Mya, and Thatcher to go back, but there’s no need for Sam to go back to the dome. Sure enough, the subject comes up after Brad said, “I’ll go with you,” and Thatcher tells him he can’t, because they can’t explain where he came from.

 Raja then asks, “How will you explain where Sam is from?”

Another lie has to be told.  “Okay, so we could come up with something so they would let you in too, but the truth is-,” before Sam could finish, Emmy interrupts him.

“The truth is Brad, you wouldn’t be able to handle it out there. The minute you see a bionic or a savage you’ll freak out and get us all killed. For the good of everyone involved you have to stay here.” Emmy knows Brad comprehends her logic. However, her words have saddened him. He’s straining not to cry in front of all these people. He doesn’t want to be seen as a weak man.

“Fine then, go and don’t ever come back!” Brad says with quivering lips, watery eyes, and a blushing face. Like a small child he flees to the other room. Emmy knows he fled to cry into his pillow.

She can’t leave without saying goodbye, if she did, she would be breaking her promise. She follows Brad. She has to get her things anyways.

Chloe is in her usual spot, underneath the window. She’s already asleep or at least pretending to sleep. Josef is in the corner furthest from the door. He must have gone to sleep a while ago.

Brad is on his bedding in the middle of the room. He’s lying face down, burying his face in his pillow. His breathing is rapid and unsteady. Every other second he whimpers in a whiny tone.

Emmy feels every muster of Brad’s sense of loneliness combined with heart-aching fear. It’s like being confined in a small dark room away from everyone she loves, and she’s afraid of the dark. Brad feels alone in a small dark room too.

Emmy should just grab her belongings and leave with the others, but she has to say goodbye. Cautiously, Emmy approaches Brad. She stares at him lying face down. Should she speak first before she touches him? Should she touch him at all? Brad is the type to react first and think later. 

His hair… He loves it when she runs her fingers through his hair. 

He turns around onto his back the moment Emmy’s fingers touch his hair. Emmy doesn’t dare to flinch. Her open hand hovers over Brad’s face. Indignantly, Brad slaps Emmy’s hand out of his face. Harshly he whispers, “Go away!” He takes his pillow and he covers his face like a child.

His childish behavior is trying, and by attempting to be spiteful and rejecting Emmy’s attempt to say goodbye, he’s the one looking like a fool. Emmy lies next to him. She takes a moment to think of the right words to say. Emmy opens her mouth to speak when Brad swiftly removes the pillow from his face and slips the pillow back underneath his head. Then he stands up and looks down at Emmy. Emmy now feels anxious and psyched because that’s how Brad feels.

He holds his hand out to her. Overtaken by his emotions, Emmy takes his hand and she rises to her feet. Their eyes lock on each other and this gives Brad an immense amount of joy and satisfaction. The same feeling sparks in Emmy, only intensified because she feels it for the both of them. Yet with all their pleasure sensors giving them sweet satisfaction, something inside each of them is missing. That other part has yet to be satisfied in both of them. Brad sweeps Emmy in his arms as he kisses her. The lip lock sparks another feeling in both of them, a passionate sense of admiration between them. Emmy kisses Brad back because the passion from the kisses fills the emptiness in him- in her- in them- with satisfaction.

Abruptly Brad breaks the lip lock. “Come with me,” Brad whispers in Emmy’s ear. His words play Emmy’s fluttered heart like a drum. She can’t deny his request. Flustered, she tells him yes.

Mya and Sam worry that she’s leaving the house with Brad, but Emmy assures them they have nothing to worry about. Mya isn’t so sure, but Sam defends her. He understands what Emmy feels.

Pavel is the only one in the main room that spoke, “Where are you going?”

Brad and Emmy leave without responding. From outside the door they can hear him say, “Come back soon!” 

They try not to laugh but they can’t help it. They snicker thinking about his words.If they left without speaking, what makes him think they are coming back any time soon, if at all?

Still holding Emmy’s hand, Brad began running. Emmy doesn’t understand how Brad’s mood changed so quickly but she’s glad it did. She loves the way he feels. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever feel this way again, but she knows he will. How could he not?

They ran across the meadow and into the forest. Once they started slowing in speed to tread up a hill, Emmy had an idea of where they’re going. He’s taking her to where they first met: the hot springs.

The hot springs are multiple pools of water clustered together. The water isn’t hot at all; it’s barely lukewarm, but for whatever reason steam always rises from the surface of every pool, day and night. People call it the hot springs because the water appears to be hot.

…THE HOT SPRINGS…

They arrive. Emmy could sense all the trauma that Brad had been through as a small child created a chemical imbalance in his brain. How quickly he went from sad to happy, or from angry to joyous, wasn’t normal.

She was sensing how Brad felt now. She held his hand while watching him pant, fresh out of breath from their sprint over to the water. Emmy wasn’t winded, but she pretended to be.

As Brad stared deep into her eyes, she knew he was going to kiss her, and she for sure knew that kissing could lead to something more.

Emmy often heard Raja and Chloe talk about sex. Being able to hear through walls and at incredibly long distances will make one overhear conversations  that they would never dare to purposefully overhear. Chloe once shared with Raja how hot she thought Brad was and the lustful dream she had of him. There is no doubt, in Emmy’s mind, that once she is out of the picture for good, Chloe will secure Brad as a lifelong mate.

Abruptly, Brad kisses Emmy and she kisses him back. Brad pauses the making out session, still shirtless, to take off his pants.

Emmy laughs nervously. Brad was too timid earlier to get naked and he felt ashamed, but now he didn’t care. He was listening to his inner, adolescent male urges. Emmy definitely wouldn’t mind proceeding, but would that be wise? She was leaving and never coming back. Would that morally be fair to Brad? Also, was she compatible with Brad for intercourse? 

When she overheard Raja talk to Chloe about being in bed with Honza, she never once recalled Chloe discussing the intimate details of her making love to Sam. But the depression and anger Chloe suffered at Sam’s sudden disappearance had to be a sign that she and Sam took their relationship to the furthest intimate level, right?

Feeling like she would regret this choice, Emmy took off her shirt. Brad entered the water, and after Emmy finished undressing, she followed him into the hot springs.   

…GETTING DRESSED…

Even though it’s illogical to put dry clothes on soaking wet, they did anyway. Emmy knows she should leave and not say a single word, she can’t help herself. It’s against her nature not to say anything.

“Brad-,” Emmy tried to speak. Brad gently rested his hand over her lips.

“Don’t say goodbye, because you’ll kill any chance of us ever seeing each other again.” He removes his hand.

“But Brad-” he covers her mouth again.

“I know the chances are slim, but they will exist and that’s all I need. I’m going to promise this. I’ll wait ten years. If we don’t meet again in ten years, I’ll fall in love with a different woman. I’ll build a house for her. I’ll tell only her I love her. So if you still want me in ten years, it will be too late, because I will belong to someone else. But if you still want me in 9 years, 51 weeks, and six days… I’m right here.”

Emmy is in disbelief. Tears are leaking from her eyes, but she’s not sad. She’s relieved. He won’t wait for her forever. He won’t be some sob story of an old man, forever waiting for his true love. Doing the only thing she can, she hugs him snuggly. This is the perfect goodbye.

…HOME…

Emmy’s things were packed when her and Brad got home. Thanks to the warm night, they were dry when they entered the house. Raja was the first to hug Emmy goodbye, then Honza, Pavel, and lastly Lola. She gave Emmy the longest, tightest hug. Brad was serene when Emmy left with Mya, Thatcher, and Sam. She hopes his mood stays that way for a while.

Walking towards home, Thatcher babbles on and on about his brilliant plan. He’s absolutely certain it will work and will be far less painful.

Poor Jak, he thinks when he gets back to the dome he’s leading a revolution, Mya’s thought links up with Emmy’s and Sam’s thoughts.

It’s been so long since Emmy has communicated through linking that the whole process seems surreal. This is a good warm up though. She’ll be prepared when she arrives home.

Oh Tri’gun’da Samses! Eka’s emotions are overwhelming. You two can’t go back to the colony until she has calmed down, Mya exclaims.

Mya’s link has created a pulsating pain in Emmy’s- Eka’s head. EE-Kah… ee-KAH… Her own name sounds foreign to her. If only the ceremony wasn’t tomorrow, then she wouldn’t have to go home immediately.

By Oi’ohp’toh Ende, I am safe. We’ll be fine. Eka tells Emya. EM-YAH… Eka’s glad she doesn’t have her sister’s name. Who wants to be called EM-YAH? Not Eka!

:)(: Zo’ne’an’si Z-igh’le’an’si seh’te s-igha’de:)(: len’ftu igheh voi’le’oi soi’te’oi  h-igh’te:://::, Emya links to her sister in Zylian.

Eka may be rusty, but hasn’t forgotten her first language.

Yes, my Zo’ne’an’si Z-igh’le’an’si is fine or should I say… :)(: Toh’voi Zo’ne’an’si Z-igh’le’an’si igheh ohp’soi’te seh’s-igha:)(: FTU’ OI’OHP’TOH ENDE:\:, Eka tells Emya.

Enough ladies. When are we going to swipe Thatcher’s memories? Samses (SAM-sus) inquires.

Don’t worry about it, I’ll do it. You two need to come up with a reason to depart from us now, Emya orders like she’s in charge. Eka’s confused. Thatcher isn’t a brainwashed test subject, and Emya isn’t going home with Samses and her?

No you Jak! Thatcher’s a real dome drone. Well, he’s not a drone, it was just fun to rhyme, Emya clarifies.

She can link into Eka’s personal thoughts.

Of course I can, we’re fam sis…

Shut up!

Fortunately enough for you Alikah only knows ki’ln’si Zo’ni’an’si Z-igh’le’an’si. As long as your thoughts remain human you should be fine, Emya reassures Eka. 

Come up with a reason to split up now! Emya orders both Eka and Samses.

How? Eka questions.

I don’t know, Sam responds.

Say you left something special back at your Jak’s house Eka, Emya suggests demandingly.

Eka stops walking, “Oh no…” she whines.

Thatcher is the first one to ask, “What Emmy? What’s wrong?”

She tells him, “I left something special back at the house. I have to go back for it.”

Thatcher tells her she should just leave it behind because they won’t let her keep it once they get back inside the dome.

“So? I want it while we travel or I won’t go,” She proclaims.

Thatcher sighs heavily. He scratches his scalp with his fingertips. Then with his hands hugging his hips he says, “I guess you and Sam can go back for whatever it is you want. We’ll move forward, and I guess you can catch up. When we get to the caves out in the wastelands, we’ll wait there a couple days.  If you haven’t caught up by then, we’re moving on without you.”

“Okay,” Sam says.

Is that when you’ll swipe his memory? Eka asks Emya. At the caves? She clarifies.

Am I some sort of te’soi to you? No, the first moment we rest and he’s sleeping peacefully, I’ll do what needs to be done. )::( Oith’voi seh’oph’te ftu’z-igh )::(, Emya says irately. Her last choice of words is foul and directed solely at her sister.

Thatcher explains to Sam how to use the gadget he made for the trip. Eka’s amused at how well Samses can play dumb. After a few minutes that deeply agitated Thatcher, Sam had a moment of clarity and then understood how the device worked. Thatcher and Sam exchanged a six second hug, and they wished each other good luck. Sam gave Mya a longer embrace. Eka finds the moment repulsive but as Emmy she pretends to find it emotionally riveting. The lingering embrace finally ended, after the longest moment in the history of the world, and Mya hugged Emmy.

“You take care and be safe, okay?” Mya says while linking with Eka.

 You will be a great Alikah one day. Our true Alikah would be proud.

“I will and you take care too. I’ll see you soon,” Emmy says while she links back,

: :)(: Oi’seh’de toh’voi:)(: :)\\(: Ende Oi’oph’toh:)\\(:.

“I better see you soon,” Mya says, ending the hug while linking to Eka:

 :)(: Ende Oi’oph’toh:)(: :)/(: Coi’poi’te toh’voi :)/(:.

Eka’s eyes begin to water again. She’s been so emotional tonight. She loves Emya too. Emya, ending the link, began walking in the opposite direction of home, towards the edge of the forest. Thatcher hurries after her like he’s afraid she’ll leave him behind.

Eka sends a surge link to her sister while she could still sense her.

 :)/(: Coi’poi’te toh’voi:)/(:

Eka receives a surge link back from Emya. 

You’ll never get the last word while I’m around.

Eka laughs to herself. Her sister always has to have the last word. That same instinct is in Eka too. Maybe having the last word is a Kawb trait. Samses took Emya’s advice and encouraged Eka to wait until morning to go back home. Lola had packed her bedding. Samses helped her lay it out and they agreed to share it.

A good night’s rest should help Eka stop thinking about Brad, but lying there out in the open, staring up at the stars makes her think about the hot springs, which makes her think about Brad and having sex with him. Then suddenly, Chloe came to Eka’s mind. She began to admire her dark hair, hazel eyes, and soft, pale skin. Thinking about Chloe began to sensually arouse her. 

Then Eka begins to recall a memory as clear as day. She sees Sam with Chloe. They are somewhere in the forest. Sunlight streams through trees and builds a beautiful aura of serenity. The songs of birds ring in Eka’s ears. She can hear the rush of the flowing creek. She feels a gentle breeze and the air smells like pine and fern, a fresh musk of outdoor scent.

Eka feels much like she did earlier at the Hot Springs with Brad, right before they were about to have intercourse. She sees Sam kiss Chloe and instantly Eka remembers kissing Brad. From their first kiss by the creek, overshadowed by the “spacecraft” as Pavel would call it, to their last kiss at the Hot Springs.

Eka thinks of a time back home before she left and remembers the words of Tayla.

:)(: Ohk Oi’oph’toh :: Tri’gun’da De’oi’seh Ei’ca:)(:

Samses links up with Eka.

Now you remember how easy it is to let your memories slip through your links. You have to stop thinking about him.

But how Samses? The memory is so fresh. The more I try not to think about it, the more I think about it!

Would you consider what you experienced tonight the best memory you have ever had?

No, yes, I don’t know? It wasn’t the best memory, but what I experienced was unforgettable.

Then we have to make it forgettable. Samses closes the link.

Eka feels his hand rest on her arm. What is he doing? She looks over her shoulder and watches him. His human skin fades and his pure white skin appears. His human touch instantly becomes polished stone smooth and his temperature feels fire hot. The heat triggers Eka to fade out of her human skin; she goes back to her pitch-black, polished stone smooth skin. He retracts his hand as Eka sits up. She knows what he has in mind. She can’t believe it, but she’s up for this.

Samses’ human brown eyes begin to pool deep blue. First, the whites of his eyes become deep blue, then his brown irises become a lighter blue, and finally, his pupils dilate and flush deep blue. Eka’s eyes make the same transformation, but her eyes are red with blood red irises.

As they kiss Samses’ blond human hair falls out as his deep blue Zonian hair instantly grows back in place, and Eka’s wavy, auburn hair sheds off her head as her blood red Zonian hair grows back also. Eka runs her fingers through his deep blue hair and it’s texture reminds Eka of the soothing touch of fresh rose petals. Samses looks at her much like Brad looked at her earlier tonight.

Was she really going to wipe Brad away and rekindle what she once had with Samses? What she and Samses shared was like volcanic lava, and taking a rump in the covers with him would help hide the memory of Brad in the Hot Springs. She kisses Samses to initiate their old routine.

Eka’s mind is blank. All she can think about is trying to think about something. Eka closes her eyes to take a deep breath and before she exhales, she falls asleep.

Eka begins to wake up. She can feel the sun beating down on her. She opens her eyes and sees a human Samses getting dressed. She’s confused. She thought last night they phased back to Zonian. She’s still- Eka looks at her arm and sees human flesh. She digs her hands into her hair and it feels like soft, human hair. She’s baffled!

:)(: Gun’ftu voi:)(:, Samses surge links to Eka.

“Calm down? Why are we human again?” Eka asks using her tongue and lips like a human.

:)(: Da’seh ahp’sae de’te voi ahk Zo’ni’an’si gai’be:)(:.

“After a few phases? How many exactly?”

“I don’t know. For everyone it’s different, but we should be human for our trip home anyways.”

“Can you even phase and stay Zonian?”

“Of course I can, you’re the one that can’t yet. When I woke up, you looked like Emmy.” Samses completes putting on the last of his clothing, his shirt. Then he reaches into his open backpack and pulls out another pair of clothes. He tosses them at Eka. 

She throws his clothes back at him, “Thanks, but I have my own.”

“No you don’t.” He says regrettably, like he’s at fault for something.

“Yes I-,” Eka notices her bedding is severely scorched and then she remembers she put her bag at the end of the bedding. Looking at the foot, she sees a ravaged, burnt bag. Sighing in frustration, she flops back down, lying on her back.

She obviously didn’t control her enhanced abilities last night with Samses. How come she didn’t light Brad on fire? Was it because they were in water? Or does being human suppress her fire conjuring abilities? She should probably ask Tayla when she gets back home.

Samses tosses his extra pair of clothes at her again, and they land on her face. So far Eka’s day is not good. It has to get better. It just has to.

Eka didn’t see the point in packing up her burnt bedding and toting her burnt bag, but they couldn’t just leave her stuff there. If humans found her burnt belongings, they would freak out, terrified war has broken out again. That’s the last thing Eka needs. She can’t start World War Five for the humans. Well, they don’t have access to advanced weaponry, so they would be fighting each other with sharpened stones tied to sticks. The humans would easily be contained, but Eka felt Brad’s fear every time he recalled life before the Zonian intrusion, and Eka doesn’t want anyone to feel that way.

After an hour of walking, they reached the entrance to home, but right now it looks like a gray, grainy rock; 25 feet tall and about 15 feet wide. It’s one giant rock among hundreds of more rocks to the left and right of it, but they know this rock they stand before is the entrance. They can sense the others inside. Eka doesn’t understand, why hide the entrance and not the entire colony?

:)(: Voi’coi seh’oph’aht Ei’ca:)(:, says the voice of a link established in her mind.

 The tone of this link is familiar to Eka.

:(::): Tah-igh’lah :(::):.

Eka recognizes the linker. It’s Tayla, her mentor.

The entrance rock begins to glow a deep purple, a pulse causes the rock to instantaneously slide into the ground. A faded purple mist is blown away by a gust of wind. Eka is suddenly linked with thousands of her kindred. She knows their thoughts, she knows how they feel, she shares their memories, and they can sense her. In unison they surge link-

 :(:][:): Ei’ca Hoi’moi’toh :(:][:):

 Receiving the massive surge link created pulsating pain from the hook of her head down her spine. Eka bit her lip to prevent herself from screaming. What, a human mistake? All the members of the colony feel her pulsating pain because they are all linking with her. Once the pain subsides, Eka senses only three people: Tayla, Samses, and Alikah. Everyone else dropped their links.

How long have you been this sensitive? Tayla is concerned.

“Ah, I don’t know,” Eka says, stepping towards her. Her legs are trembling. She can barely hold herself up.

Samses takes Eka by the waist, and Eka holds herself up by putting an arm around him. Together they walk inside. Each step she takes shoots sharp, pulsing pain through her legs and in her head. Samses lifts her up and carries her. Her head is pounding in agony. Her vision is tunneling; she has lost her peripheral, and at the end of her tunnel the picture is bleary. Her heart rate accelerates. She can hear it beat in her ears. Her heart sounds like it’s beating far faster than it is.

Now her limbs feel like they are being pulled from their sockets. Her sight is completely gone and she feels like someone is hanging on the base of her spine trying to rip it out. Her screams are a plea to the universe to liberate her from this physical torture.

As Eka is being set down on an examination table, she feels a prick in her arm. Moments later she passes out.

…As It Turns Out…

Eka wakes up and jerks to free her head from the gel substance of her sleeping pod. She is weak. She tries to lift her arms from the (:): is’ sis’ oi :(:), or as humans would call it: green goop. It is a legend, or ::/:: foi’ op’ ::/::, that the green goop keeps Zonians youthful, and gives them strength. Eka’s not sure if it’s true, but it sure is wonderful to sleep in her sleeping pod rather than the floor.

Without sending a surge link to the ://:)(: Gun’Hi :)(:\\:, or as the humans would say, the host, the goop drains. The host, being the host of the colony, what Pavel calls the spacecraft, and how we got here. She’s still too worn out to move.

Eka’s pain is gone, thank Tri’gun’da! She still feels strange. She can’t see very well, and feels like she’s floating in water. She can still hear her heart beat in her ears. No, she hears two heartbeats, her’s and someone else’s? Now she hears three, four, no! five? Without sending a surge link to the host, her living chamber door rolls open. Tayla, Samses, and Alikah enter. She’s not linked to them or anyone within the colony. Her hearing is heightened. She can hear every footstep, every breath, every beat of all four of their hearts. A fifth heartbeat flutters in her ears. Where is that fifth heartbeat coming from?

Her sleeping pod folds down and around, like a rose before it blooms. She feels like tiny bugs are dancing on the entire surface of her skin. The sensation stops when her sleeping pod blooms open; she’s no longer naked. She’s wearing a one piece, pink day outfit. Her sleeping pod shifts into a reclining chair and rotates her towards her visitors.

Samses speaks human tongue. “You’re awake. Good, you scared us for a while.”

“How long is a while?”

Eka can only make out their color and figure by sight. They are terribly out of focus and she finds it extremely frustrating.

“How long is a while?” Eka asks again.

They don’t say anything. She sees Tayla, a blue figure with a light brown blob around the head, move her hands in a direction towards Samses, the white figure with a deep blue blob around the head area. The yellow figure, the Alikah, to Eka’s right and Samses’ left, just stood still.

Samses says, “Es’pai tai ah-s.”

Eka can’t believe it. “Six months?” she questions.

“You are rusty. No, 13 months.” Samses says.

“I’ve been asleep all that time?” Eka wonders.

“No, there have been numerous times you woke up screaming in pain. We had to induce a slumber for you so you could rest. But you’re pain free now, we assume?”

Eka nods her head. “What’s wrong with me?”

Samses moves forward, closer to Eka. The focus is a bit clearer, but he still appears fuzzy around the edges. He crouches before Eka and lays a hand on her human abdomen, which she now realizes is a huge boulder. Raja drew a picture of Lola when she carried Josef within her. Eka looks like that, but much bigger.

“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Samses says with joy in his voice.

Eka knows something is wrong. She isn’t in her child bearing years yet. Still, she bore this child for 13 months? Zonian women only carry the fetal sack for six months, then they give birth to a spudling that must gestate for 18 months in ((::)) Stu’mah’sus ((::)). Then the child emerges walking, talking, and ready for learning from his or her mother. While the child is a spudling, it can only communicate with its mother, who knows its feelings and thoughts. Once it emerges from the ((::)) Stu’mah’sus ((::)), the child does everything with the mother for the next ten years of its life until full maturity for males and adolescent maturity for females.

Eka didn’t get that privilege. Her mother died after she was delivered as a spudling. No one thought Eka would make it, but her father, the Alikah, managed to break through to her. She learned everything she knows from him. She was so close to gaining the reins as Alikah, but now that probably won’t happen. She’s stuck looking human. She can’t link with others without feeling pain. And she’s completely too young to be a mother.

Why is Eka still with child? It should be a spudling in a ((::)) Stu’mah’sus ((::)). What is going on?

“Okay,” Samses sighs, “It’s not normal.” He stands up and a visual, transparent sheet appears by purple mist in the air before Eka’s eyes. She strains, but she can see the visual. It’s a clicking sound, echo citation visual of a spudling. Eka can see the face. Its eyes are moving, blinking in a very familiar way. She wonders how they are going to get the spudling out of her. 

“Surgically of course,” Samses says.

The visual dissipates and then reappears at Samses’ level. He examines the sheet.  “His brain function is normal as is his growth. We were thinking for your safety to extract him as soon as you were awake. There’s a chance he won’t be a physical specimen like us but he still has a high chance of having a masterful mind.”

Eka is all for getting it or him out of her.

“You have to understand he’ll be more dependent on you than any other Zonian child would be on his mother.”

“Fine. Just get it- him- out of me!”

“Tayla and I will arrange for the procedure,” Samses says.

The visual dissolves into mist again and gently vaporizes. Samses heads for the exit. Tayla follows, and Eka is left alone with her father.

For the first time, Eka hears the Alikah speak in their native language apart from the link. It’s not how the humans speak. He talks so fast. She’s having a hard time understanding him. Something about after the child arrives, she and Samses will unite, and then he will crown her Alikah. Eka can’t believe it.

“Why… noot?” Alikah asks as a human asks?

“Look at me. I’m not-,” Eka cuts herself off when she uncontrollably links with her father. She tells him in Zylian through the link that she isn’t a true Zonian. She isn’t worthy of being Alikah, and when Emya returns she should be Alikah instead.

Alikah links back to Eka that this is her place. She must be Alikah to fully belong. She has passed her mission as far as he can see.

Eka almost forgot she was sent to dwell with the humans for research. To make sure none of them were traitors from the nearby dome city. Emya was sent out on a harder mission. She had to infiltrate enemy lines and retrieve data. Who knows when they will see her again.

“Ay, mees er tu,” Alikah says.

Eka tries not to laugh. He speaks terribly.

“You Zyleean sooks,” Alikah laughs.

Eka joins her father in laughing. For some reason, Eka doesn’t hate him as much as she used to. She can’t even remember why she hated him to begin with.

“Hat es ah stroong werd,” Alikah says.

Hate is a strong word among humans. Humans… Why does Eka still feel human? Why does she still look human? She might as well be human.

Her father surge links to her that she is 100% Zonian with heart and soul. Eka wants to believe her father, her Alikah. But proof otherwise is in the room. Eka might as well be human.


*Edited by Aly Fry

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