Leaving the host behind, they traveled a familiar route. They crossed the filthy river and headed where Brad and his family once lived. When they got to where their houses stood, they found instead a heap of broken ones. Only the foundations remain.
Before the houses of ruins faded out of sight as they walked into the forest, Odelta looked back over her shoulder and recalled the night she spent in the house on the left. She remembered how the dog, Fortune, didn’t like her very much. Fortune could sense her lack of humanity, and the presence of Odelta’s superiority.
Leah noticed Odleta glancing back. She nudged her shoulder with her own. Odelta jerked her head to Leah.
“Nothing.” Leah said. “Just wondering what you’re thinking about.” She added.
“Nothing,” Odelta answered.
“Yeah, and I’m not pregnant.”
Odelta was confused. “Yes, you are.”
“Exactly.” Leah smirked.
Odelta understood that Leah was using sarcasm.
As they traveled deeper into the forest, Odelta realized where Demikae was going. He was heading towards the cavern that Odelta lived in for months. She could hear the water rushing underground. A sudden thought of clarity struck Odelta. Why didn’t she build a pump system from the flowing underground water to the Host? Or why didn’t she take a root from the Host to the water in the cavern? A new Host would be in progress now, and Odelta wouldn’t have needed to leave. No, the savages were still near. Odelta wouldn’t stand a chance.
Demikae, his search team, and Odelta abruptly turn around. They can hear something following them. Then Leah and Stan follow suit a half second later. In the distance, further than the human eye could see, is a dog with charcoal black coloring, dusted on top of dark, golden brown fur. The dog had a long snout and tall ears, and is running towards them with something in its mouth.
Stan begins to run towards the dog, who darts onward faster, like it is excited to see Stan. The dog reminds Odelta of another dog.
“Fortune!” Stan yells.
That was exactly Odelta’s thought, but how does Stan know the dog?
Stan flops to his knees as he meets the dog, Fortune. She wags her tail excitedly, and spits a brown, leather bound, yellow-paged book into Stan’s hand.
“Dad’s journal!” Stan exclaims.
“Good girl,” He says in a goo-goo voice, as Fortune smothers his face with wet dog kisses.
Leah holds her stomach with one hand and covers her mouth with the other. Odelta almost wants to do the same. Not only is the picture of a dog slobbering all over a human gross, but the dog’s stench is hard to tolerate. Who loves the smell of dogs, really? It’s one of the worst smells in the world.
Leah can’t take it. She lunges to the base of a tree and pukes. Odelta can’t imagine what the dog smell would be like with a heightened sense of smell. The dog and Stan are about 30 feet away. If Leah wasn’t a Replica, but a normal human, she wouldn’t have puked until the dog was next to her.
Demikae breaks through the wall created by his search team and stands beside Odelta. By surge link, he asks what the dog is and when Odelta tells him, he doesn’t understand. Then she says the dog is like a bokin, a companion pet, and he understands somewhat. He comments on how awful the dog smells and how unlike a bokin that is. A bokin kind of smells like Earth’s Evergreen pine tree. Demikae asks if it’s Stan’s bokin and Odelta answers as honestly as possible.
“Sort of…” She sighs.
Stan and Fortune are done with their affectionate reunion. Together they walk over to everyone else. Fortune growls subtly. She doesn’t trust any of the Zonians. Stan commands Fortune to chill and she does. She reframes from her defensive stance and sits her hind down, remaining straight in posture like a good girl.
“This is my dog, Fortune. I can’t believe she survived! My family thought she died on Doomsday.”
“Doomsday?” Helliseus questions.
Sabius says, “That happened over thirty years ago.” Sabius has a palm size spherical device in his hand. It glows lavender and buzzes like hummingbird wings. “Domesticated canines can’t live that long.”
Odelta remembers what that device is called, Igh-mah’koi >::< Doi’igh-moi, or in human terms: knowledge in my palm. It holds knowledge beyond all human comprehension; very handy to have on the go.
When Leah had finished emptying the contents of her stomach, she rejoined the group, but kept her distance from Stan and the dog.
“That can’t be Fortune, honey.” Leah says.
“Then why did she come up to me? She responds to her name and she has my father’s journal.”
“What kind of dog is she, Stan?” Odelta asks.
“A German Shepard,” He answers.
“How do you know that if you weren’t born until after Doomsday, Stan?” Leah questions.
“I remember from my father’s journal.” Stan opens up the book and flips through pages rapidly searching for the right page. When he finds it he turns the open book to face the crowd. “Here, on June 30th, my dad talks about Fortune meeting another German Shepherd at the park. A male one, and my dad says they liked each other immediately. I’ll read it to you.”
Odelta steps towards Stan. She takes the book from him and rests a shoulder on him. “This isn’t your dad’s dog Fortune.”
“But she knows me… I know her,” Stan gazes into Odelta’s eyes, confused.
“She knows you because she belonged to the real Brad. He raised her from puppyhood.”
Stan nods his head in agreement, though his eyes show that he still doesn’t quite understand. Timidly he asks, “Can she come with us?”
As Odelta says, “Of course,” Leah shouts, “Hell, no!”
Sabius collapsed his spherical device and with a swirl of rapid, deep purple light, it disappeared. Seconds later, in a flash of pure white light, a yellow pill capsule appeared in his hand. He handed the pill to Leah.
“That should mask the dog’s scent for you. It will inhibit your senses slightly. Your gag reflex will trigger less.”
Leah declines the pill, “I like staying on my toes.”
Gently Sabius takes her hand palm-side up and places the pill inside, closing her hand into a fist. “Take it, in case you change your mind.”
No one says anything. Demikae turns back towards the direction he was walking as the leader. His search team made the same arrow formation and followed him. Stan walked away from Odelta and passed Leah, Fortune following behind him. Leah’s face winces as Fortune walks past her. Without further thought, Leah pops the pill in her mouth and swallows, tilting her head back.
Odelta can’t explain how Sabius made the ‘knowledge in his palm’ disappear, or how the pill appeared instantly in his hand. There has to be technology behind the phenomenon that she had yet to experience until today. There’s always a first for everything.
Eventually, they got to the cavern. They rested by the stream of water to regroup for a while. After a few hours, they continued walking until they couldn’t walk any further, because of the solid, rock cavern wall. Odelta knew there was no way out but one, the way they came in.
Suddenly, the wall faded to purple, and nearly instantly, the purple, glowing wall slid down into the ground. From the cavern ceiling to the cavern floor, there was a rectangular hole for everyone to enter by. Demikae and his search team crossed the threshold into the bleakness. Odelta saw nothing but pitch black, and she had excellent vision in the dark.
When Demikae and his team disappeared, Odelta really freaked out. She couldn’t hear or see them, as if they vanished into the atmosphere without a trail of any kind. Then, Odelta was sent a surge link by an unknown presence.
[<::::>] )::( Oi’del’tay oon’ga Za-boi’igh dae )::( [<::::>]
Odelta barely understood her name. Is her Zylian that rusty?
Demikae surge links that her Zylian is fine. He explains that in his host they speak Zoninga, a language that branched off from Zylian and combined with other languages picked up from across the universe.
Suddenly, Odleta could see into the darkness. She saw Demikae and his team waiting for them in the root system of their host, which was much larger than hers.
“What are you waiting for?” Leah blurts as she zips forward and crosses to the other side. Stan, concerned for Leah’s safety, rushes after her.
Odelta sees Leah and Stan in awe as they take in the open space of the host root they stood in. Everyone stands comfortably inside the root; no one is bunched together. There’s no need to form a line to proceed further up the root to the host.
“Come on Odelta! We’re okay. You’ll be okay,” Leah yells, smiling.
This isn’t a matter of safety. Once Odelta walks over that threshold, she will be in a different country. She will have no authority. She won’t be the Alikah lying in wait. She will be an average Zonian.
Demikae sighs in frustration. He walks back into the cavern shouting, “What is your problem?”
“You’ve been this close the whole time? Were you planning some type of raid? The dome drones just had to get in your way. I’m not going anywhere with you.”
“The replicas aren’t welcome if you’re not coming.”
Odelta yells for Leah and Stan to come back out. Stan begins to follow Odelta’s request but Leah pulls him back by his shoulder. He slouches over, grabbing his shoulder as his face winces in pain. She didn’t hurt him too much; Stan quickly stood tall and rolled his shoulder to loosen it up.
“Don’t be a coward, Odelta!” Leah shouts excitedly. She turns around and takes off running, deeper into the root.
Demikae huffs in anger and takes off running after Leah. Fortune follows after Demikae in protective mode. She does not like Demikae. Odelta knows she can’t run away and she can’t hide. If she wants any real future, her best chance lies with Demikae’s colony, but she won’t lose what little family she has left.
She plunges over the threshold and enters the darkness of the root system. A rush of foreign atmospheric energy ripples from her toes to her head. As she runs, she tries to embrace the sound of their beating hearts, which are nearly silent to her. She can’t understand this host. She doesn’t speak its language and it doesn’t speak for the sake of speaking. She doesn’t hear the buzzing thoughts and conversations of the people in this colony. She isn’t a member, or a leader here, therefore she has no obligations.
On the other hand, Odelta’s never had any obligations. She wasn’t in sync with the host, her mother was. She didn’t hear the constant innermost thoughts of her people, her mother did. For some reason, by some twist in destiny, she won’t endure her mother’s curse. In turn, her life will run a different course. As to where her future lies, no one knows, but she will find out when her current path meets her future road.
Leah screams from far ahead. Odelta can still hear Demikae running, so he didn’t inflict Leah’s pain. Odelta can sense that something is wrong with Leah’s unborn child. Odelta passes Demikae, and the second she sees Leah hunched over on her knees, Odelta skids to the ground and stops by her side. There isn’t any time to waste. She has to get Leah medical attention. Odelta picks Leah off the ground and starts running to the core of the host, the colony’s dwelling. Demikae catches up with Odelta and surpasses her. He stands in her way. Odelta doesn’t understand his strange behavior, but she’s prepared to run him over. She surge links to him to get out of the way, but he doesn’t move.
“Get out of my way!” Odelta shouts, using her tongue to convey the urgency of the situation.
Demikae’s men have surrounded Odelta. She would have to fight all of them to get past Demikae to enter the colony to seek help for Leah. Leah is currently in tears, crying for Stan, and she’s bleeding from a place a pregnant human female shouldn’t bleed from heavily during child bearing.
“You can’t rush inside. They’ll think you’re hostile,” One of Demikae’s men says, but Odelta didn’t catch which one.
“She needs help,” Odelta cries.
“We know,” Another of Demikae’s men says.
“Our colony is far different than yours,” Another one says.
“There are social mores and norms.”
“It would be best if we took all of you in as patients, wouldn’t it Sabius?” Demikae says.
“Yes, Qualidah.” Odelta hears directly behind her.
In a split second, without a chance to react, a sharp, piercing pain pokes into her side and burns her from the inside out. As the pain retreats; a hot, sizzling prong touches the base of her head and sends an electric shock, severely dazing Odelta. Like a sack of bricks, Odelta and Leah hit the ground. In the distance she can hear Stan running towards them. Odelta has no hope that he’ll be any help. First Odelta’s vision tunneled, then her body grew cold within seconds. Shortly after her bodily chill, she fell unconscious.
Aarot Civen ]::[
Everyone among the colony was surprised that Demikae and his squad returned with survivors. Aliku and Allidah welcome their esteemed Qualidah home and once again, they throw a huge celebration in his honor. Demikae and his squad say they encountered savages. They were horrifying. The savages nearly defeated Demikae and his squad by using their own weapons against them. They say the survivors helped fight them off and that’s how they got injured.
How are two replicas and an adolescent Zonian from the Utopia Colony better fighters than six, highly trained Kwadi Yeob, who were bred to fight? That doesn’t sit right with Abbott, a human that’s lived in the underground colony since birth. Abbott’s birth wasn’t as natural as most people assume. His mother was a rescued replica and his father was a rescued savage. Abbott was surprised to learn savages can be rescued. Abbott wasn’t supposed to make it to birth. When the Zonians learned his mother was pregnant they gave her a pill, like the one they gave to the survivor Leah. It seemed to work at first, but then it didn’t.
Abbott duplicated himself and adapted to the toxic effects of the pill. The first version of himself died. This shocked the Zonians when they discovered his mother was still carrying him. As soon they could, they extracted him from the womb and placed him in an artificial one where he could be observed. Abbott’s mother and father didn’t raise him. They raised another child, who his mother gave birth to. When they extracted Abbott, they replaced him with a human clone, who lacked all of the genetic enhancements he inherited from his mother and father, who had been experimented on. His parents named the clone Abbott Carter Riley. Abbott is his mother’s maiden name. Carter is his father’s mother’s maiden name, and Riley is his surname. Abbott Carter Riley is 8 years old. Abbott, the original, is mentally and physically fully matured with an IQ beyond measure.
The Zonians call him Kilmos, which roughly translates as the “adapted one”. He has been studied by scientists for years. The best genetic scientist can’t figure out how to imitate his specifically adaptable gene. Abbott can adapt to any circumstance, any condition, and any environment almost instantly. For any Zonian, it takes a few earth weeks, even with the right genes.
The Zonians are worried that the Zenty will find out about him. That’s why they hold Abbott prisoner. Sabius, Abbott’s physician, is the only one authorized to liberate Abbott from lock and key, and every once in a while, Sabius permits Abbott to roam freely throughout the colony. Abbott’s spurts of freedom come at a price: Sabius wants Abbott’s intellect and since he can’t steal it from him, he makes Abbott work for him in the lab.
Abbott’s not sure why he allows Sabius to have power over him. Abbott is smarter, stronger, and the key to Zonian cataclysm. The Zonians, to this date, can’t figure out a way to kill him or input his DNA into their own genetic codes without their bodies taking it as a toxin. Despite this, Abbott’s seen a lot of possible futures, and staying with the Zonians is his best bet for personal perseverance. Also, Sabius isn’t all bad. He’s like the father Abbott sees in his own biological father, but there are bad parts to Sabius.
Like right now. He freed Abbott from his cell to help in the lab. Sabius wants to make sure Leah’s embryo isn’t like Abbott, that it died for real and didn’t duplicate itself, somehow cloaking its existence within its mother’s womb.
Abbott does what he always does. He observes the specimen. In this case, the replica that is self-named Leah. She’s really a replica of Sophia James. Sophia James has the genetic cursors that can lead to the deformity of being born without arms, and to Abbott’s knowledge, she was. She was born a day or so after the event that the humans call doomsday. She was taken in by Zonians in the Haven Colony. But then, during a small savage attack, she was taken at the age of 13. The Zonians thought they found her a few clicks from their colony, severely traumatized, but it was a replica of her. It was not a replica like Leah though. Leah has been genetically engineered to be a killing machine. Against humans, she’s unbeatable, and against one average Zonian she has a chance to win. Against a Kwadi Yeob, however, she doesn’t have a chance, unless that Kwadi Yeob has no intention of defeating her.
Demikae had no intention of fighting her for real. He just wanted to make sure the Zenty haven’t gotten any better at creating monsters. He played with Leah, knowing his people are safe for the time being. He panicked the instant he realized that heartbeat wasn’t Odelta, and started keeping a close watch. He knew there was a chance the offspring of Leah could be like Abbott. Another like Abbott wouldn’t be good. Oddly enough, Abbott agrees, like a spoiled, chosen prince.
Abbott has a gift Sabius envies. Abbott can observe someone and see their past, present, and a touch of their future. He can know a person without having a conversation with them. He doesn’t have the ability to link or read minds. He can’t exactly predict the future. He just knows by observing, and he’s clueless as to how he can do it.
Sometimes, in the lab, Abbott can see beyond the phenotype level of a person. If he looks hard enough with a focused eye, he can see a person’s genotype level. That’s why he’s here. That’s why Sabius brought him to the lab. Sabius wants to check that everyone is who they say they are. The best Zonian technology still can’t detect a Zenty that has been disguised with the use of their own finest technology. As far as Abbott sees, everyone is who they say they are.
“You’re sure?” Sabius asks.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“This one,” Sabius says, standing over the adolescent Zonian, “ says she’s from the Kwab Clan. Everyone knows her colony’s history. Her grandfather was Yeodi. Her father is-,” Abbott doesn’t understand why Sabius is choosing ignorance. He doesn’t let Sabius finish his thought.
“Her colony was different than yours. The humans didn’t live among the Zonians. Members of separate clans weren’t encouraged to unite, not unless it was necessary. They didn’t mix clan names. The more dominant clan in the social order was the clan name that the offspring inherited. You know this, yet you chose to let Demikae’s logic dilute your mind.”
Sabius walks over to his desk. The instant he reaches the desk, two human identification bracelets emerge from the surface. As they float into the air, Sabius grabs them. He walks back over to Odelta and puts one on her. She phases from her Zonian form into human. Abbott looks at human-like Odelta. She has long black hair, and olive skin with a pink rose undertone. Her face is ideally symmetrical to human standards. Her eyes are a medium length apart. Her nose is medium size, as are her lips. She has a soft round chin that blends well with her oval head. Her strong cheekbones give her face a gentle heart-like shape. Abbott is surprised that her human beauty intrigues him.
Sabius hands the other bracelet to Abbott. Abbott takes and puts it on his left wrist. Abbott knows what this means… freedom… real, full-fledged freedom. He knows it comes at a price, but at least this price he may enjoy.
“Demikae doesn’t want this one to be alone.”
“Since when does Qualidah give the orders? Aliku is still alive.”
“Aliku agrees with Qualidah. She needs to stay protected, and we can’t have her snooping around. You’re indestructible and highly intellectual. She won’t be able to outwit you, or out-muscle you.”
“And you want us to live as humans among your colony so you can keep a very close eye on us.”
“Yes, you’ll live together, travel together, and you will be as human as possible.”
Abbott can see straight through Sabius’ intentions.
“We live together as brother and sister…” Abbott says as ambiguously as possible. He doesn’t want his words taken as a statement or a question. But either way it’s taken, he knows it’s not in Sabius’ plan for Odelta and him to play sister and brother.
“You will be husband and wife. Mr. and Mrs. Abbott. You’re no longer Kilmos or Abbott, but Shan Abbott, and she’s Del Abbott. You’re from the Gnosis Colony. Everyone will understand why you’re so knowledgeable. You and Del were transferred to the Unity Colony because our scientist needed your brilliant mind.”
“You’re just like the Zenty. Both of you love to play games,” Abbott says condescendingly.
“I wasn’t finished talking. As I was saying…”
Sabius talked while Abbott listened, even though he didn’t need to. He already knows how all of this is going to play out.
*Edited by Aly Fry