**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.***
Chase shook his head in disgusted disbelief then turned away feeling betrayed. Although Julie did nothing directed at him, she sold out his friends. He refused to look at her as she beseeched him to understand her motivation. “I did it for your sake!” she claimed.
“How could you do something like that to our guests?”
“Since they arrived everything in our lives changed. Don’t you see that?”
“You’re still jealous of her, despite everything I’ve told you.”
“What have you told me? You love us both. But you love me more? What does that mean, Chase?”
“It means you need to trust me.”
“You would have gone with her if you were up to it.”
Chase remained silent. He could not deny he might have because he felt that level of commitment for his friends.
“I know the truth,” she said, swiveling away in her chair.
“I’m not going to deny what I would have done. I’m only telling you I would have been faithful to you and to them regardless of the situation. That’s what friends do, Julie, especially when they need help. I don’t think you even begin to comprehend what’s going on around us. There’s a revolution starting around us.”
“That doesn’t involve us.”
“Maybe it should.”
“All I know is you’re in love with her.”
“Don’t be silly. How I feel about her is different than what I feel for you.”
“How’s it different?”
“There’s nothing physical between Cristina and me. Maybe we kiss on the cheek and hug. That’s it. I’ve never slept with her and I don’t contemplate ever doing that. And even if I did Alix would prevent it.”
Julie continued looking away for few moments while she allowed the silence to endure. Then she turned. “She excites you in a way that I’ve never seen in your eyes. When we’re making love I can sense her image in your mind. Yet you claim your relationship with her was always business, or perhaps a little more friendly – but always platonic.”
“I’ve never cheated on you, not even once. I never will. If you see her image in my mind when we make love then you also see the truth that surrounds a man’s fantasies.”
“I know you’ve thought about it.”
“I admit that completely. Yes, I’ve thought about it but thinking and doing are two very different things.”
“How’s it different if the feeling was in your heart?”
“Because I know it would hurt you and I cannot endure that,” he said.
“That’s weak,” she countered.
“I’m sorry you feel that way. But it’s the truth. I’m also sorry your jealousy compelled you to betray her friendship.”
“It was her common sense,” Yates said as he re-entered the room. “And her intelligence. That’s what drove her to protect you against your own stupidity.”
“Of course you’d be listening in on our private conversation,” Chase said.
“For you there’ll be no more privacy. You lost credibility and trust the moment you agreed to meet with Paul,” Yates explained. “Now, I’m afraid that everything has escalated a great deal. Previously, all we wanted was information. We intended to arrest Paul peacefully. Now, he’s made that impossible.”
“What happened?” Julie asked.
“Yesterday morning in Star City, agents of the Colonial Authority captured hundreds of operatives belonging to the local cell believed to be affiliated with The Resurrection. In a related action – and based on information received as part of the surveillance and eventual capture of the operatives including Tam, their leader – another action was taken late in the morning resulting in the arrest of the fugitive Paul Scalero, wanted for the murder of a relay station administrator. Paul was taken to the central processing facility for the Colonial Authority’s Security Agency. He and the leaders of the local cell were interrogated. Paul was interrogated through multiple sessions for most of the day and as I understand it well into the night. The interrogations resumed this morning.”
“So then, why are we still here? Haven’t we told you everything we know?” Julie asked.
“We’re merely seeking any information you might have about anything, regardless of how trivial it might seem.”
“You still haven’t answered any of my queries about Cristina’s whereabouts.” Chase prompted.
“Well, at present she and her boyfriend are the mystery. I really have nothing to tell you. I have been waiting for something, anything to come back from the field, but it seemed they disappeared into thin air,” Yates said.
“They’ve not found her body,” Chase said.
“No body, no trace. The amour piercing round used against the vehicle they were standing near was powerful enough to have vaporized both of them but we have been over the site with tweezers and microscopes looking for anything, blood, hair, clothing. There was nothing there to indicate they were there at the moment of the explosion.”
“At least there’s hope she’s still alive, no thanks to you. Your people broke into our apartment. I was going to drop her and Alix off at the station, but your agents barged in and seized. Your agents dragged me from the apartment. They put me into a coach and as we were pulling away I saw them bringing Alix and Cristina outside, held at gunpoint.
“They were brought here but they escaped. We know they had reservations for Star City but they never used them.”
“She would have been arrested if she had.”
“What has she done wrong?” Julie asked.
“She has been in contact with her brother, Paul.”
“And that makes her a wanted criminal?” Chase asked. “Is it guilt by association that prompts arrest, now? Isn’t that a violation of our rights? He’s her brother!”
“Apparently Paul was headed here to meet with her. So, I’m not so certain that she is quite as innocent as you believe,” Yates said. “You say that you never met him before he made contact with you in Haven.”
“I knew of him,” Chase said. “I saw him talking to Cristina when I had headed out to the beach to find Cristina. She always loved to watch the sunrise, especially over water and Haven was certainly the place for that. So when I awakened that morning and she was not in her room, I knew where to find her.”
“It was nothing unusual, then?”
“Did she tell you what she and Paul talked about?”
“She seemed to think he was just a guy that was sort of smitten with her looks, trying to put the hit on her – you know. She gets that all the time and doesn’t think much about it. Certainly, she didn’t take it seriously.”
“He told her his name?”
“Yes, and she apparently told him hers.”
“Is it possible they discussed more than that.”
“It’s possible,” Chase said. “I’d doubt it, though. She didn’t know that he was her brother at the time and according to what Paul said about her later on to me he didn’t know she was his sister either until maybe around the time that he called her on the phone.”
“It was just an innocent coincidental meeting.”
“Where we who have the attributes are concerned there are never coincidences, just happenings that at the moment we may not understand,” Chase explained.
“I can understand that. I even believe that. I have to in my line of work.”
“Then you know.”
“Julie,” Yates addressed. “You became close friends with her. You even went shopping together. Did she say anything that might indicate she was working with Paul?”
“No, it was only that she was worried about him, as her brother. She was having experiences using the orb for training that troubled her. She mentioned those.”
“Give me examples.”
“She was seeing events in the past, her mother and father, Paul and her when they were babies. She has also had dreams.”
“Were any of these dreams related to beasts called sand-morphs?”
“What about them?” Chase asked, taking more interest.
“It’s come up before in other instances with The Resurrection.”
“Do they exist, the sand-morphs?”
“I don’t know. Apparently there’s something in the past that we were called sand-morphs. Legends grew from what children speculate about. That’s the extent of what I can say.”
“Cristina had a vision of one, alive in the past, like it was a visit. Alix saw it too. They were both using their orbs at the same time and said that as they brought their orbs closer together they could see into the past.”
Yates sat back. “You told me the orbs come from couriers. Is that right?”
“Yes,” Julie said.
“Do they know where they originate?”
“They say they received them from the Architects, not the colonial ones but the ones who designed the Universe,” Julie revealed.
“So, let me get this straight. You’re telling me intelligent, perhaps even god-like, beings gave these orbs to the couriers to give to you for training in enhancing your abilities.”
“Yes,” Julie confirmed.
“Do you realize how crazy that sounds?”
“Of course, I do,” she said. “But it is the truth.”
“Do either of you know how many people have these orbs?”
“The couriers indicate that there is one for every one of us, but that when our training is completed we are to pass the orbs on to someone else, perhaps our progeny.”
“So there are not an infinite number of these orbs?”
“I don’t know how many there are, just at some point, whenever someone is identified as having the attributes to a strong enough level, a courier meets with him or her and an orb is provided along with the initial instructions.”
“Are there ever mistakes in identifying those who have the attributes?”
“I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t know of any examples. I’d think it’s highly unlikely. Once those of us who have the attributes are given orbs we seem to have enhanced senses. I think it would be very difficult for someone without the attributes to be mistaken.”
“How many couriers are there?”
“I don’t know that either. It seems that each of them has one orb to give and so I would suspect there are as many as there are people with the attributes. Maybe thousands.”
“How do you find them?”
“They find us,” Julie said. “Once we have an orb people with the attributes seem to be attracted to us. If we meet someone who has the attributes, we contact the couriers.”
“So there is a way of contacting them.”
“That depends on the courier. Some are reclusive, some are more sociable,” Chase said.
“None of them think very highly of humans,” Julie said.
“Are they not humans?”
“They were or maybe still are but they’re different. They have extended lives by comparison. There could be other differences, I suppose, but that’s the only thing I know.”
“Maybe they’re the origin of the attributes,” Yates suggested.
“It’s possible,” Chase said.
“I don’t think it’s likely,” Julie said. “The attributes are a potential that all humans have. In us the abilities are unlocked at conception and for whatever reason cause us to develop in slightly different ways than average humans. There’s a slight modification in our genetic code that wakes up latent but inherent abilities.”
“You consider yourselves to be human.”
“We are human,” Julie confirmed.
“Is that your feeling too, Chase?”
“I accept my humanity, my heritage and culture. Otherwise, there are some subtle differences.”
“Yes, you know; you understand,” Yates said.
“I think we both do. You just need to ask the question properly.”
“So are you are you not human?” Yates asked.
“Despite appearances and similarities, we are a fundamentally a new species,” Chase confirmed. We’re probably a different from humans as Cro-Magnon was from Neanderthal.
“I see,” Yates said. “So, your friend Julie here is wrong.”
“Julie’s not wrong. It is only that your question did not lead to the answer you seek.”
“We can have children with humans,” Julie said.
“Even in the way you express it you are separating yourselves. For you it’s already become a world for ‘us’ and ‘them’,” Yates pointed out.
“We may as well be an alien variant – humanoids,” Julie allowed.
“If there even is such a thing,” Yates countered.
“There is alien life. It’s made contact with humans many times, but for whatever reason it’s remained a secret or generally disregarded.”
“You believe you’re the result of those past encounters?”
“There’s a common thread,” Chase said. “That’s all I know. No one told me that, I feel it.”
Julie nodded, indicating she felt it too.
“Why the secrecy?” Yates asked.
“I think the aliens resemble us and maybe shared some of our experiences in the process of our evolution.”
“And if they don’t?” Yates asked.
Julie shrugged as a response.
“You manifest apparently amazing gifts. These are things that training with the orb enhances?” Yates asked.
“Yes,” Julie confirmed. “The abilities are not the same in all of us for whatever reason. Yet I think each of us have the full package. It’s just that we have our strengths and weaknesses.”
“I believe the orbs assist us in identifying and developing whatever interests us most,” Chase said. “We become what we are individually inclined to be.”
Yates’ communicator beeped. He looked at its display. “If you will excuse me,” he said as he stood and exited the room.
“You’re giving away too much information,” Chase accused.
“Don’t you think they know anyway? Yates is just seeking confirmation of what he has already observed or confirmed in other ways. They watch everything we do. It’s like he says, we have no privacy, Chase. Not anymore, thanks to Paul.”
“So how are you such close friends with Yates?” Chase asked her directly.
“He was a friend of my father. He offered to help me stay out of trouble. He knew a lot about us, Chase. He even convinced me that Paul is wrong. What The resurrection seeks to do is very dangerous. You have even said so yourself.”
“But that doesn’t mean you sell all of us out.”
“I haven’t,” Julie said. “I don’t want you attacked again. I don’t want our apartment broken into. I want to go back to having a normal life, living the way we were living.”
“That isn’t possible anymore. You can’t go back once the innocence is lost.”
“Well, I haven’t given up”
When Yates returned his face was a little red. Then he sat down in the chair. “I’m afraid the situation in Star City has grown more serious.”
“Cristina?” Chase asked.
“Your friends Cristina and Alix haven’t been found. The authorities ordered agents to board the railcar at the relay station and join the agents that were already staged onboard. But when they arrived in Star City, Cristina and Alix never boarded the railcar.”
“Then they’re still here, in Andromeda.”
“We’re looking for them, in both cities. People don’t just vanish – not without turning up somewhere else, anyway. We’ll find them. That is not the real issue of the moment. Your friend Paul has escaped, taking all of those who were in custody with him. There have been a lot of casualties, apparently all of them on our side.”
Chase sat back, even attempting to suppress a smile but failing.
“It amuses you that many good agents died and others are barely hanging on to life?”
“No, of course not. It’s the tragic aspect of it to be sure. What amuses me is how one rather insignificant looking guy could do such a thing to well-trained and heavily armed professionals? Don’t they have any idea or even the least bit of cautious respect for what sort of individual they are dealing with?”
“They had him heavily sedated to control him.”
“And our bodies build up tolerance to drugs and toxins! I don’t mind telling you because it doesn’t matter if you know what you’re up against! We have natural immunity to harmful organic substances and diseases. You cannot expect something will control any one of us forever – not even from one day to the next.”
“Then tell me how to control you?” Yates asked boldly.
“Brute force and belligerent threats obviously work for a while but apparently proved to be lethal for the authorities in Star City. Whoever was interrogating Paul – whoever pointed a gun at him is responsible for all those deaths. In Paul’s mind that’s how the game must be played because the Colonial Authority has refused to listen. Instead they proceed with the elaborate lie.”
“They proliferate the cover-up because they fear the truth might become common knowledge. The fact is we killed whatever was living here and seized the planet from them. We didn’t even do what humans on Earth did under archaic doctrines like Manifest Destiny. We did not round up the indigenous life and put them into camps, or force them to labor for us as our slaves. As inhumane as those things of the past were, they were far better than what happened here. We exterminated competing life to make way for our colonial interests. That’s what Paul and the others you label as subversives are fighting to make known. They want the truth to be widely circulated and I agree with him to that extent. The rest of what they advocate is at least a little crazy. They want to bring one of the creatures back to life.”
Yates leaned back in his chair. “How do they propose to do that? It has been a very, very long time.”
“I doubt it is even possible,” Chase said. “But Paul is confident they can do it. He says it’s because their life form is based on silicon, not carbon. That’s why our sensors didn’t detect the life form. We weren’t looking for the right chemicals.”
“Even so, it has been so long that–”
“He said they have well-preserved specimens.”
“Where would they get hold of specimens?” Yates wondered aloud.
“I can’t say?”
“Can’t or won’t,” Yates posed.
Chase looked Yates in the eyes, “They have specimens, plural. That’s what he told me. Does it matter where they came from?”
“It might indicate where they are.”
“Yes, I suppose it might,” Chase said. “If I knew.”
“Chase has tried to answer your questions,” Julie said.
“I know he has,” Yates said. “I appreciate the cooperation.”
“It just seemed like you were implying that he knew something and was withholding it.”
“Oh, I’m sure he knows more than he’s saying. It’s my job to detect that and pursue it, and then, I reassemble all of it and complete the puzzle. But for now, I suppose you can go back home.”
“It is a more comfortable prison than a jail cell,” Chase said.