Tag Archives: science fiction

Flash Fiction: Voice Mail from the FUTURE!

This week’s flash fiction challenge is a little different.  First of all, Chuck Wendig is farming it out.  And second of all we have to make an actual voice recording of a voicemail of the future.  I totally love this idea.  It reminds me of the Artifacts of the Future that show up in the Wired magazine, which I love.  My voicemail is mom calling for tech advice with a twist.

Voicemail

Son, I don’t know how to get this piece of crap to work.

 

<sigh>

I went to the doctor and got the port installed.  But, I can’t get the damn hangy bits to attach.  And, I know you said to hold down the start button, but it just keeps restarting over and over.

<pacing speed up>

And, don’t say I need to read the manual I read the manual.  And, you know what? It doesn’t make any damn sense.  Not a bit.  If you want me to use this stupid thing, you need to come over and help me.  I’m done messing with it.

<bright and happy voice>

Love ya, bye.

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Flash Fiction: Bah Ra

Chuck Wendig’s challenge this week is to make an alcoholic drink (imagined or not) and write a story relating  to it.  I brought back Soul Merchants, cause they’re fun.

Bah Ra

“I like being in Woellian body.  You guys know how to make a cocktail.”  I fluttered with strands of white hair I’d streaked black.  The deep blue skin I wasn’t quite used to, but I’d only been in this body a week.

The Woellian bartender skin was a pale blue with multi colored swirls painted on his skin with only narrow strips, bright red over his body, and blocking the important bits.  He frowned, those snowy white brows like two beautiful clouds in the sky.  “You are a Woellian.”

“Try again, sweet cheeks.”  I sipped drink, it was acidic, fruity, and kicked me in the teeth.

His eyes glanced downward.  An infinity symbol made out of hourglasses rested between my breasts.  “Soul Merchant.” He bared back his lips around his predatory sharp teeth with a hiss.   “Your kind isn’t allowed in here.”

“Oh come on now.  I’m not a regular Soul Merchant.  You should know that.  I’m what your people call an eiaa of my kind.  Your leaders have given me special privileges.”  The drink smelled good.  Ripe, lush, like you could bite into and juice would run down your chin.

“I’ll confirm that myself.” He stepped away to near the bouncer.  In all my many lives, I never got along with bouncers.  Wild drunken women never seemed to appeal to them.

With a twist of my hip I swiveled on the bar stool.  The decorating here was odd.  Well, odd for anybody but a Woellian.  The ceiling was a splattered with every color imaginable, then overlaid with sparkling net of diamonds.   The walls were ever changing light patterns of red, blue, yellow.  And, the floor was painted black to look as it was the middle of a fireworks display.  They had weird taste.

The music at least whispered deep in my soul.  Rhythmic, dark, and fast paced, it made me want to give into my emotions and dance.

“You are cleared to be here.”  A rumbling little growl from behind me, the bartender didn’t like me.  Unfair, really, I’m so likable.

“What’s in this?” I asked as I turned back around to face him.

“Jul berry, three smashed, bactium tincture, and heart of leora flower.”   He recited those pretty gray eyes hostile.

I wish I hadn’t asked.  Ignorance is bliss, as I well knew.  “Not all Soul Merchants are bad.  We are like genies. We grant people wishes, you know.”  I gave him my best pretty girl smile.

His eyes flattened as they flared red for a second.  Oh, man hunting red was coming out. I must have pissed him off.  “You give people what they want, if you deem it in your own interest.  And, they pay you in something that they don’t understand.”

“How’d you figure? You know your own worth don’t you.”  I took another drink.

“Nothing would know the value of a soul as much as Soul Merchant. “  He shook his head.  “Therefore, you offer the deal with false pretenses.  You could say anything you wanted. I would have no frame of reference for the deal.  Nor anyone to counter the deal.”

I chewed on my lip in thought. Right now, I could go for a smoke.  However, Woellian lungs did not handle any kind of inhaled substance well.  Maybe, that’s why they enjoyed their liquor so much.  “True, but I’m not like the rest.  Can’t you tell? Don’t I seem sweet, and fun? The rest of them are so stuffy and by the rules.”

“I can see the age in your eyes.  You might act young, but you are not.”  His lip curled.  “You are pretending to be what you are not.”

A laugh burst out before I could censor it.  “I’m not trying to act young, I am only enjoying life.  I love drinking, partying, dancing, getting into trouble.  The rest of them, they hate all the stimulation, the lack of power over the physical.  Not me. The first time I was in a body I got into a fist fight.  It was amazing. The feel of flesh against flesh, the burst of pain, it was life.  Soul Merchants we kind of exist, that’s about it.”

The bartender mixed up another drink.  This one was vibrant blue with speckles of yellow inside.  He handed it off a female Woellian with red dyed hair, and crimson tattoos all over her skin.  I can say all over, because she was only wearing thin gauze over herself.

“What’s this called anyway?”  I tapped out a beat on the polished metal counter.

“Bah Ra,” He didn’t even look up from making the drink.

“Of the fruit, nice.” I finished it off.  My stomach roiled at the pickling.  All good, I enjoyed the feeling.

“You’re Wol is excellent.”  He took the glass away.  “You want another?”

“Oh yeah, hit me.  And, of course my Wol is perfect.  I’m a Woellian.”

He pulled up a shaker pouring three different liquors at once.  Then, he spun it on his hand.  With a flourish, he took off the top and poured it into another glass.  “You aren’t a Woellian, you are a Soul Merchant.”

“No, darling dear, I’m both.  That’s the thing. I can hear your leaders whisper in my ears.  They want me to conform.  I never will, but the whispers will stick around until I die.”  I licked the outside of the glass.  I let the fresh, berry smell to tickle my brain.

“Why are you here? Is to share your strangeness?”

“No way.  I’m here to get drunk.”

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The Rebel’s Rise, Part 4

Harl’s shout caused me to jump.  “Little girl, get over here and impress me.  If you can.”  

Gulla straightened her back and strutted over.  Arrogance apparent in every movement, with a flick of disdain toward Harl.  I could see the bravado, now, for what it was. 

Amaria stepped out of the shadows beside me.  “This I must see.”

 I glanced over my mind shocked at the warmth in her voice.  For once the many burdens she carried seemed lightened. Shocked cries caused my head to whip around as I felt my jaw swing open. 

 Gulla ran faster than my eye could follow through a field of sharp, broken metal.  As she jumped up to the suspended tube she lost her balance as a piece of metal gouged a part out of her leg.  She didn’t even pause.  She dug her knives into the plastic forcing her neck break speed even faster.  She flipped over the first wall by leaping out of the tube, landing on next barrier with a reverberating thud. Her arm pulled up the wall, and dashed up another wall.  She slipped off one the walls and crashed into the ground.

 I shot forward to help.  A hand pressed against my shoulder. “Don’t, Vallen.” Amaria’s silky voice flowed into my ears.

 Gulla stood up, wiped the blood off her face. Without a backward, glance she sprinted toward the beams.  A leap from one to the next with flawless moves. Off the final beam, she made a huge jump in the air, and landed with a bow.  Gulla limped toward AmariaAmaria wrapped her arm around Gulla.  Gulla straightened her dark eyes narrowed, she shouted.  “Did I impress you?”

 From even across the field I could see the scowl on his face.  Harl shouted back.  “Bring me the tech, girl!”

 “I’ll help heal your injuries,”  Amaria said.  She yanked her a knife from her belt. Her fingers pulled Gulla’s pant leg from her flesh. The knife sliced the fabric away. Amaria ran her fingers up and down Gulla’s leg.  The torn flesh started to knit together.

 Gulla brushed her off. “You worry too much, I’ll heal.”

 “I don’t think you worry enough.”  I could already see the bruises and welts rising on her skin.  “You are still young.”

 Gulla shrugged holding her shirt up to her nose.  She tugged it away for a moment. “I needed to show off and I did.  Goal accomplished.”

 Amaria let out a loud, protracted sigh.  “We should go get the tech from where ever you have hidden it. There isn’t much point in delaying the inevitable.” 

 I left them to go check on my men.  They had stopped working, and prepping the guns for tonight’s mission.  “Get back to it.”  Half of them jumped up as if caught.

 “Is that little thing really Gulla? Do you think she has the tech?”  One of the guys asked, his eyes round, and the light of hope touching his face.

 “Yes, and I don’t know.  But, that has nothing to do with tonight.  Don’t worry about tomorrow, because you still have to survive.  Get to it.”  The snap in my voice caused them to exchange nervous glances.  A bit of guilt hit me.  For so long we had been without hope.  However, being distracted would get them killed, I couldn’t have that.

 Harl bellowed for me.  I sent them one more intense glare before heading back to him. 

 His massive arms pressed against his broad chest.  “You are sure the girl is who she says she is?”

 “As sure as I can be.  She looks like Gulla, she talks like her, she has my sister’s smile.  Can I hundred percent guarantee, not really.  They alter genetics pretty heavily these days.  Who’s to say anyone is who they say they are.”  I batted my next comment around a bit before committing to it.  “Amaria wouldn’t have brought her around if she had any doubts.”

 Harl grunted. He never liked Amaria.  He might have if he didn’t know what she was.  She was more or less an alien who talked, moved, and behaved like an Alaget. At times I wish Amaria had only told me about her secret.  It would never sit well with Harl. Being a Star Child was curse enough. 

“She’s on our side.” My usual rebuttal to Harl’s doubts.

 His bushy brows flattened.  “I don’t know about that.”

 

 

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The Rebel’s Rise, Part 3

Gulla rolled her eyes. “It enhances genes. My parents were working a way to make it cheaper, easier, and more effective.”

“To what extent? I wish we had someone to showcase what it can do.” I knew from the unfocused expression Harl mostly was talking to himself.

Her impish little face broke into a smile. “I can demonstrate. Set up an obstacle course, or something. I’ll impress.”

Harl shot me a look which indicated he found her amazingly annoying. “Fine,” He turned around and started to bellow out orders.

Amaria, you should have told me.” She knew Gulla was my sister’s daughter. Amaria’s shoulders flowed upward, and collapsed. “Ties of family confuse me more than they clarify anything, Vallen. You gave your heart to her family, this I know. But, she did not know you. As far as she knows you are a stranger. Would you have forced a stranger on a child who witnessed her parents’ murders?” She knew the answer to that.

“I can make up my own mind. I’m not a child, I’m sixteen.” She announced as if there was a difference.

I could see a bit of her mother in the face. Her features had been altered with a great deal of symmetry. One of the side effects of enhancing that became a mark of pride. “You’re a child to me. I can still remember you chewing on plastic blocks.”

A flush turned her face red. “That was rude.”

“You are rude.” I kept my tone level. I didn’t appreciate her nasty words toward Harl.

“Maybe so, I’ve been on the run since I was fourteen. I didn’t even meet Amaria till a few months ago.” She looked away from me. “I’ve killed.”

Shame and sorrow caused me to flinch. She might look like a tiny girl, but she had to grow up fast on the run. Gulla should have grown up trusting me, and the rebels. Instead, she grew up fighting. I thought they had all died. The Nobles cleaned up all the bodies. What bastards leaving a young girl vulnerable so they could hunt and kill her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even think you were alive, no one did. We should have checked.”

A strange, wise look came over her. She gave me a half smile. “How would you know? They did it deceive you, and it worked. No surprise. I know you are friends with Harl. My parents never liked him. I don’t like how his running this war.”

Amaria stepped the shadows fading into them. I turned my attention to obstacle field. Harl was going full out. Tall walls to climb, barrels to climb through, a field with twisted bits of metal across it, and some tattered beams very low to the ground. I would have found it gruelling, and I had been fighting a brutal rebellion for years. Gulla looked undisturbed.

Harl swaggered over. “What do you think?”

She ran her eyes up his physique. “You think it’s impressive, so it’s good enough.”

“How so?” He cocked a brow at her.

“I need to prove to you about my abilities. If you think it’s tough, then I’ll amaze you. She tipped her head to the side looking up at him.

Harl shook his head. He threw a glanced my way. I smiled. He didn’t have to say it. I could tell what he was thinking. The little girl was cocky, and bold. And he’d enjoy watching her fail.

I wasn’t sure so sure her bravado was unearned. Amaria wouldn’t have brought her around if she couldn’t do what she said. If she’d been on the run from the Nobles for two years, she was no pushover. A question overwhelmed me suddenly. “Gulla, what happened to your brother Anth?”

Her dark eyes turned toward me. Her fingers brushed my arm.

A burning explosion filled my head.  My vision blocked by metal grates as I looked upon my sister, her husband, and Anth playing in a living room.  A knock at the door as my sister answered it.  “Gab, what are you.”  Her words cut off as bullets cut into her body knocking her on the ground.  The man grabbed my nephew attempting to flee, but the bullets got him and he went down.  Anth bawled as he was covered in blood. Gab, I assume, strolled in.  He kicked my brother-in-law’s body over, and calmly put a bullet in Anth’s head.  The vision faded as I staggered to my feet.

The boy had barely been old enough to walk. Her parents called him their little miracle. Things are degraded so much in the last few years. It was hard to imagine at one time the world hadn’t been in utter chaos.  “Gulla, you can share memories?” I barely got the words out.

She dipped her head, eyes glossy, and bright.  She bit down on her lip.  “Don’t tell anyone.”  Her eyes locked onto Harl, “Especially, not him.”

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The Rebel’s Rise, Part 2

Her attitude started to get on my nerves.  I’ll admit the rebellion was not going well, and had been not going well for a while. Our camp was a collection of ship debris welded together. Our fighters were going up against genetically enhanced guards.  Most of the ‘citizen’s, all who were not noble, weren’t enhanced even a little.

In order to win any engagement we either had to get in and out fast, or hit with overwhelming odds.  And, slowly we lost more people, and it was harder and harder to win at all. Still, what did a child know.

Her eyes went from my head down to my feet.  “I know enough.  I learned all about strategy, and tactics before I could talk.  I’m quite enhanced. All of this thanks to my parents.”

A moment passed before I realized she felt my emotions, or read my mind. Either answer disturbed me quite a bit.  “Regardless, it isn’t Harl’s fault. So, why are you needling him?” I hazarded a glance at Harl.  I could tell he didn’t appreciate me talking for him.  Tough.

“He failed my parents.”  Her eyes whipped back to him.  “You were suppose to protect them. You were supposed to bring the tech back to the rebels so the war would go in your favor.  You failed on both counts, didn’t you? My parents, my siblings dead, and you didn’t gain anything.”

Harl and I exchanged a look.  For all her adult behavior and vocabulary, she was a child hurt, because her family was gone.  She had to be the eldest.  “Gulla.”  She had my sister’s eyes.

To my utter surprise I found myself hard on the ground, a blade pressed against my throat. “How do you know my name?” My body stung, but I didn’t remember how it happened.  She must have increased reaction time.

I kept my voice steady.  Harl had a hard time holding everyone back as it was.  If I started to sound panicked someone would get hurt.  “I’m your mother’s brother.  I joined the Rebellion early on I used you when you were a baby.  But, then the rebellion got serious, and I had to go into hiding.  They’d leave care packages for me with your picture in it every once a while. Harl was friends with your parents too.  He tried to save them.  He isn’t perfect, and he didn’t.  There is no betrayal here. You feel like you have no one trust, but isn’t true.  We want to make a new life without the Nobles walking around with all the power.”

“I would not have brought you, if they couldn’t be trusted, Gulla.”  Amaria cool voice flowed over us.

I realized Amaria had known about this girl for a while.  A girl she should have told me about.

Harl took a lunge forward grabbing Amaria and giving her a good shake.  “You kept this from me? I thought you were devoted to our cause.”

In typical form Amaria didn’t react to being shaken, she only glanced at the beefy hand wrapped around her slim arm.  “I am. However, Gulla is her own person.  Young perhaps, but she is allowed her own decisions.”  Her odd gaze locked onto Harl’s.  “I have a strong desire to allow others the freedom to make their own choices.  She desired to come here.”

He tossed her arm away, and switched his attention back to Gulla. “Why did want to come here? Not to only insult me I assume.”

The knife left my throat, as she climbed off me. Gulla straightened her back, her hands on her hips.  “You wanted the tech.  You need it.  You can’t possibly take on the Nobles, and their guards without it.”  She glanced over at Amaria real quick. “I have it.”

At that moment the area broke in a cacophony of noise. I couldn’t tell if some disbelief, or if others were excited.  Too much noise, and too many voices.  Harl clapped once, everyone went silent. “What can it do?”

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Planet of Jirth, Part 16

The process took a long time. The spaceport filled with aliens, and Einlari alike. I needed to distract myself. I ran into a young man who ran one of sprawling hotels. I had been drinking in the lobby, and reading some of the recent rulings of the Council.

“Teacher, do you need a refill?” Einlari called me Teacher most knew who I was, but didn’t know my name.

I glanced up at the boy. A flash of dark brows and eyes came to me. “I’m fine right now, thank you. What is your name?”

He frowned. “Einlari of Hotel Managment.”

Ko the Jirth and their title-names. “I meant your Einlari name. And, don’t forget I can read minds.” I couldn’t really, but most believed I could.

“Juin.” He seemed to relax the tension flowing out his shoulders.

“Nice to meet you Juin. I am Rilas. And may I ask why a manager is serving guests?” I’ll admit it, I didn’t enjoy reading reports anymore now than I had before the Jirth.

He shifted back and forth. “A lot of them are afraid of you. People worry you are on the Jirth side. I told them you’re not. But, they wondered why nothing has happened since you went to the Intergalactic Council.”  His emotions were a broad spectrum.  He seemed nervous, excited, and distrustful.

“They haven’t even looked at it yet. I managed to move it up in the priority. They look over a whole galaxy takes time. I suppose I went to the Intergalactic Council before you were born.” Twenty – five years didn’t seem to long to me anymore, but I understand when you would never see a hundred years it seemed a long while to wait.

A dark red blush hit his pale cheeks his gaze dropped. “My mother still carrying me when you went.”

I held my hands palms up. “I apologize, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

He sat down beside me and gave me an intense look. “I did want to ask you something, the other reason I came over here.”

“Oh?” curiosity piqued my interest. Most of the time my own people avoid me.

“Go On Don said I have latent abilities they could activate. I don’t know what to do. That is what happened to you, isn’t it? Should I go?” His dark eyes rounded into circles making him look young and vulnerable.

“In a way.” I didn’t feel the need to go into the far past. “Does it appeal to you to go?”

He dropped his gaze as twisted his lips together. “I’d be free of the Jirth. I wouldn’t have to manage this hotel anymore. I don’t like it. I kind feel like I don’t fit in. People like me well enough, but I never feel as if I belong.”

“I felt the same.” He jerked up his head eyes a bit wide. “I used to be a leader of a community long ago. I was a part of it, but never within it. If the Go On Don think you have the talent I would go.” The next words tumbled out of my mouth before I could think about it. “I’ll go with you, if you wish. My duties are fairly minor anymore. The Jirth don’t trust me.” It shouldn’t have surprised me, I knew I was lonely.

A light lit up his eyes. “You’d go with me? Really?”

“I thought you didn’t like me?” I couldn’t hide the amusement in my voice.

“But, you are Einlari. Maybe, Einlari like me.” The few, very few Einlari, who shared my bond with Go On Don were the closest to what I had as a true community. None of them could live as long as me. They faded with time, and I missed each one.

“Perhaps. Let the Go On Don know I will go with you, and when you leave, I’ll leave as well.” It would fill the time. Besides I hadn’t been back with the Go On Don since my meeting with the council. At died a few weeks afterward, and Viirra soon would die as well. I’d missed having companions.

Juin jumped up. “Thanks, I’ll do that.” I watched him walk away absorbed in my private grief.

 

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It was, and It wasn’t

Another contest entry for Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenge.  It don’t think it turned out as good as the last one.  But I tried.  If you want to learn more about it here the linky. My d20 gave me Empath as my power. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/05/24/flash-fiction-challenge-must-contain-psychic-powers/

 

It was, and It wasn’t

 

I knew everything there was to know about Hoc. One day ten years ago when he was a day over thirty-one years old he broke into an illegal testing facility for one of many, many governments. The glass windows shattered under his barrage of bullets. The lights flashing at the end of his rifle. Tiny sparks bouncing off all the equipment in a shattered array like the night sky stars. Tanks lined up against the far wall the liquid shimmering silver. Bright LEDs brightened them showing human-shaped figures floating in them.

He lifted his gun a light flashed on above the barrel. The light swept back and forth lightening up the sterile lab equipment. He spoke urgently into his headset. “All clear.”

His men burst around the edges filling into the room. They knocked over equipment. They downloaded files. They freed the people in the tubes.

Hoc opened my tube and I fell wet, and naked in his arms. My eyes fluttered open looking into his single eye and a connection was made. I knew him. I kept feeling everything he felt: his disappointment, his desire, and his cool regard. Not a man to trifle with. I smiled. “I feel you.”

He blinked his eye. “Get survival blankets on them. They’ll freeze.”

“Won’t the official demand we remove the data?” One man motioned with his hand toward the naked bodies being covered with glossy, metallic blankets.

My weight shifted as Hoc pulled a gun on the man. “I don’t give a fucking shit. These are people. People who have nothing to do with anything.” He spit on the ground. “People who are test subjects. We aren’t going plugging them with holes to satisfy a motherfucking spreadsheet. You got that?”

Echoes of ‘yes sir’ filled my newly cleared ears.

Hoc slide his pistol back into its holster. “Get these people in the transport.” His head jerked back and forth above mine. “Only five alive, we can manage it. Quick step, men.”

I remembered little of the journey back to the transport. I was cold. My skin felt as if it would shake off from how hard I shivered. I wanted to ask what he meant to do with me. Fear lanced my heart, and I knew it was from him. My body tumbled to the ground as an ear shattering crack surrounded me. My hands slapped over my ears.

Silence then, the scent of copper in the air. I looked up. Hoc was covered in dark speckles. My head swiveled around me. People in sterile white and blue gear from in the boot tracked snow. A few wet bodies in the same gear as Hoc sat motionlessly. And a couple squirmed as groans began. Two pale, silver wrapped bodies lay still.

“Shit.” Hoc slammed another clip into his gun. “Someone sent out an alert.”

Air whistled past my ears as the snowy landscape blurred. My stomach slammed into his shoulder. He took off running as I was jarred with each leaping step. My fingers dug into his arm as my breath came out in white puffs.

“Civilians and wounded in the front. Guns ready, guard the back.” Hoc emotions hit me in a wave. Elations, joy, worry, and fear all jumbled together. The intensity of the whirlwind inside seemed all the more potent to the calm on the outside.

My head bounced as muzzles flashed before my eyes. Shouts and screams pierced the air. Figures in black and white fell down with splashes of crimson. I put my free hand over my eyes as I whimpered. Too much was happening too fast.

From beside me an echoing whimper. Another pale creature like myself flopped over a mercenaries shoulder like a sack. We looked at one another. He mouthed to me. “Do they know what we are?”

“I don’t know.” I mouthed back.

I had known thirty-two since we were children before the tubes. He and I were the only survivors of the original test subjects. The rest had joined the project later.

A loud steady droning grew louder, and louder. I struggled against Hoc trying to free myself. A casual shrug sent me falling onto a hard surface as the droning throbbed in my ears. The other men climbed into loud machine. Two more naked people dropped beside me. Gloved hands dragged us across the floor, metal catching on my delicate skin as I felt it tearing. All of it adding to the noise.

“Get around them, defensive perimeter.” Hoc’s voice cut through it all.

My stomach lurched as peered between the legs of the men. I could see the ground getting further away. I strangled a cry in my throat as a heavy, thick material was thrown on me. I felt my shivering lessen, and I grew tired. I could feel Hoc’s emotions. The strongest was relief.

“All clear, Sergent.” As we flew into a larger craft. The vehicle stopped and they jumped out. All except Hoc.

He kneeled beside me. He stripped off a glove and held back of his fingers to my forehead. “Good, no fever.” He moved and checked the other two. “Fuck.” He motioned at thirty-two. “His dead.” He checked the final one a small boy.

“Don’t hurt…” The boy’s words cut off with a cry.

“I won’t hurt a hair on your head. You, or the pretty lady here.” Hoc scratched his chin. “I’m not sure I can report you as survivors, but you can come live at our base. You’ll have food, clothes, and a place to live. You’ll be safe.”

“Why?” I could feel him. He feared us. His eyes told me he was not soft hearted.

He turned to me. His eye flashed blue for a moment allowing me to see the network of wires in it. “I know what’s it like to be someone’s lab rat.”

“Do you know what we are?”

“Do I need to?”

“We are Empaths. But, we don’t work right. We only bond with one person. We are failed experiments.” I motioned to the boy. “He hasn’t even manifested yet. And I bonded to you.”

He didn’t say anything for a long time. “Doesn’t matter. I’m the boss you’re going to stay with us. End of fucking story.”

It was, and it wasn’t. That is the nature of things.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 14

The return home was a slow. I felt anxious to return home, but it gave me time to make a plan. Of all Einlari and other peoples I was only given freedom of movement. From what I could gather the Jirth wouldn’t destroy anything, they would uproot everyone and make them leave it all behind. I’d announce I planned to get community and calm them. While I visited I’d gather what I could have of every culture and preserve it. The recording device and image grabber would be invaluable in saving my people’s various cultures.

They took me to the Einlari and had dragged every administer to an open field. All of them either afraid or angry as I stepped onto the podium the Jirth brought. “Administers!” I waited for their eyes look my way. “Hear me out.”

A young one I didn’t recognize, I knew many of them personally, shouted. “Why should we? You are with those creatures.”

I lowered my head in acknowledgement. “I am. However, I went with them before I realized what was happening. They came, they intrigued me, and I left.” I waved back at the Jirth. “They are going to enslave everyone, we have no choice, and we have no way of stopping them.”

A buzzing of anger rose up, and I let it. To convince them I needed passion to ignite their hearts. An older woman marched up the podium pushing stray strands out of her face. “And, why should we trust you? Why should we believe you?”

I considered her. A strange detachment came over me, but I shook it off. “Perhaps you should not. I went with Jirth the first day I met them. They told me everyone else was terrified of them. I went with them, because they represented mystery. The journey since then opened my horizons. I know, and see more than I ever have.” The woman’s wrinkled brow furrowed. “And regardless of my actions Jirth would still enslave everyone. I gained respect, and power to help us.”

Many of them surged forward to stand closer to the podium. Shouts of ‘what?’ ‘how?’ and other similar questions filled my ears. I sliced my hand through the air. They fell silent. “Most of it is too hard to explain, but I have a high rank with the Jirth that allows me great freedom. And, I have the ability to live many lifetimes. I’ll do what I can to free us.”

A tall man I knew stepped forward. The black sharp brows above the dark eyes pierced me, First Administer Francas. “Rilas. You are free why do you care for our plight, and what can you really do?” He pointed at the Jirth. “I don’t even understand what they are.”

“They come from the stars, they fly on ships that traverse the sky instead of water.” I smiled at the incredulous look on his face. “I’ve been in one, I’ve travelled the sky, I assure you it is real. I am not free, only more free than you. My plan is to get more people promoted to my rank, but it might be difficult. There is a group much like the administer’s who govern sky people who make laws can be petitioned.”

Francas seemed to absorb the news. He trained me as a youth. He seemed to never age to me. His hair as black as it had been in my twenties, but lines had sprung up across his face. “It won’t be easy, will it?”

He spoke as if I was the only there. Pain lanced my heart as I realized he is a man I could have loved once. “No. I fear it may be generations before we are free.”

“What do you need?” I wondered if he might be a Mental himself. He seemed to take in this knowledge with alacrity.

“While I do what I can to free us, I want to preserve our culture. They won’t allow art, music, or anything like it. I’m going to go to every settlement and gather up what I can to save as most as I can. You need to return to your districts, and tell them gather what they can in some central locations. Anything someone wants to preserve should be there as well. I’ll save everything.”

Francas gave me a curt nod. “It will be done. I have faith in you, Rilas. I’ll make sure they listen to your orders.” He waved the rest after him. I stood at the podium watching the last bit of my old life fade.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 13

The return to the deary, soggy Jinara was uneventful. At kept quiet and I had nothing to say. Priest of Jirth met us at the landing. “Is Teacher of Einlari now of Go On Don?” It asked.

At bowed. “We have confirmed her abilities. It may be years before her training is done, but I have returned her to you.”

Priest of Jirth skin flushed as it shifted positions. “Jirth is happy to return the Teacher of Einlari to her homeworld.”

A feeling of doubt, and suspicion flowed over me. I realized it didn’t come from me, but from the Priest of Jirth. Why would it be suspicious of At or me? Until I knew more, I decided to ignore it. “Thank you for your warm welcome. When are we leaving for the homeworld?” I had come to care for At and Jiirra, but I longed for the company of my own people.

Priest of Jirth blinked several times. “Jirth ship leaves as soon as you board.” It lifted the three pronged fingers at a small transport craft on the other side of the field. “Teacher of Einlari luggage is being moved now.”

The sudden move surprised me. The Jirth never seemed to move with any speed. “Oh…” I trailed off before I smiled. “I’m glad.”

At brushed my arm. He transferred his feelings to me, full of worry, and anger. “I’ll shall miss you Rilas.”

I turned and wrapped my arms around him. Even after these long months it felt strange to hug something rail thin, and furry. “I’ll miss you to At. I promise to use the communication device you gave me whenever I find the time.” I lifted my head to look in his warm brown eyes. “Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten Jiirra either.”

He stepped away with a nose wiggle. His powerful mental voice boomed in my skull. “Be careful the Jirth are up to something.” He spoke out loud. “I’ll see you later, Rilas.” At twisted to look at the Priest of Jirth. “And, thank you for allowing me her company for these past few months.” He bowed, then stepped back up the ramp into the ship.

Priest of Jirth signaled for me to follow. In silence we made our way to the ship. I focused my mind. Unlike my friends in Go On Don I couldn’t read minds. However, being empath allowed me to feel emotions. Priest of Jirth felt anxious, fearful, suspicious, and worried. The question I had was why? I’ll admit I was not happy to serve as the vessel who would enslave my people. Neither had I truly fought against it either. The only time I threatened to make it difficult, because Priest of Jirth tried to block my desire to train as a Mental.

I mulled on it as we got into the transport vessel. I settled into a chair. The strange smooth movements of the Jirth struck me again. Priest of Jirth body did not bend as it sat down. “Priest of Jirth, what do you want me not to know?”

The brown spots darkened as all of its skin flushed to a deep red. A touch of fear filled me, because I’d never seen its skin turn such a color. “What did the Go On Don tell you about Jirth colonization?”

“Nothing.” Not completely true, but they didn’t tell me anything but vague warnings to be careful. Remembering how little they told me put me in an annoyed frame of mind.

It brushed the fringe of hair on top of its elongated head. “Why did they tell you nothing?”

“They said the Go On Don must be careful about involving themselves in politics. Especially in delicate matters such as this one.” Whenever I asked they all said the same thing. Viirra, the one I judged to be the least cautious, said the same. “They did say there was more to this than you have let on.”

Jirth forbade me to say more. I serve Jirth. All Jirth must choose the greater good. Einlari are Jirth now, they must serve.” The doctrine was the same last time I talked the Priest of Jirth. I should have felt relieved that we were going to be included in Jirth society as normal. Instead my concern increased.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. “What do you mean we must serve? Serve how?”

“I did not know who you would serve until today.” Priest of Jirth skin paled a bit to almost normal color. “Einlari will serve as labor to build a great space station, and resort for travellers and traders.”

“Laborers.” The word echoed over and over in my head. Something about it seemed important. “Wait, isn’t that class of people in Jirth who have only work. They can’t create art, make music, be educated, or anything but physical labor.”

Priest of Jirth dropped its head. “I am sorry, Teacher of Einlari. You are correct.”

A rage bubbled inside me. Too late for me to go the Intergalactic Council. They either lied, or kept the knowledge from me. My people would be treated almost like animals, and everything that made our people what they are would be gone. The feeling went cold and dormant. Patience, I counciled myself, patience.

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Planet of Jirth, Part 12

 

I learned the price of life far longer than nature intended. I could probably live a good eight hundred years longer than I already had. However, I would alter my ability to have children. The computer wasn’t certain of course, but most likely I would only be fertile toward the very end of my life. Any child I had would only know me for a few short years before I died. “I’m not certain I’m fertile now, I am over forty.”

The computer responded as it always seemed to. “You are. If you were to do through this procedure it would alter you to a slightly younger state.”

I pondered that information. I never intended to have children. No man had ever interested me. Some I found to be attractive, but for anything long term they didn’t suit. Maybe in a few hundred years I would meet someone. Would I condemn a child to not even knowing its mother? A fear gripped my heart. “Would I pass on my long life?”

“There is a high chance. There is also a high chance it would only pass on to female offspring. Male offspring likely will age normally, or fail to be born.” The computer told me.

I sat on my bed. It seemed worse. By choosing this life, I would also be choosing any child I bore into it. On top of it, I would never have a son. Not that I particularly wanted a son, but it still seemed important to note.

Other costs ones that actually bothered me more. The report claimed I would emotionally shut down a touch, until I was able to have children again. I wouldn’t lose all emotion, but it might be harder to empathize with others and to feel the way I did now. The idea of it terrified me. “How high is the chance I’ll shut down all my emotions?”

“Quite low.”

That was something at least. The years I had left to live mocked me. Twenty years to live and thrive before death came for me. I would have been content with it before the Jirth, now it didn’t seem to be enough. Very few, if any of my people would be Mentals. And, none would be as powerful as me. For now I was their only protection. There would be no one to protect them if not for me.

The other problem remained. What if I gained the time to help them, but lost the emotions to care? I didn’t want to abandon my people. The agony of indecision hovered as I couldn’t make up my mind.

“Computer. How would I be able to free my people from slavery?” I never knew why I decided to ask a soulless machine.

“Most races do not like slavery. However, it is not forbidden by Intergalatic Law and therefore few would think to interfere. Go On Don arrangement to search your people for other potentials. Otherwise your people will likely linger as subservient race for quite some time.” The cold hard facts made my body feel chilled.

It did decide me. Even if I became unfeeling, or I grew to not care. I at least would have a reason to not have my people lanquish in sertivide to the Jirth. I climbed up onto the bed, and worked my way into a deep trance. In my mind I opened doorways to parts of myself; I would walk into them and turn a wheel until it felt right. How long I opened the doors, and turned dials I couldn’t tell you, I can’t even tell you how many. When my eyes opened, I looked at the date and time clock. Twenty-nine hours had passed. My stomach burned with hunger.

As I stood up I felt younger than I had in years. I glanced in the mirror and stepped back in surprise. Many of the wrinkles had lessened, but not disappeared. The blush of vitality and youth touched my cheeks.  My deep blue eyes sparkled. “Computer can you can me, and tell me if the procedure worked.”

“Scanning.”

A few minutes later it chimed. “The procedure seems to fully integrated.” I ran out of the room to tell At, and Viirra my excitement bubbling over.

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