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The Resurrection: Chapter 11 – In Doubt of His Mom

**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.**

Julie waited at the bar. She occasionally glanced toward the door, not wanting to be too obvious but Manny, the bartender, had already caught her. “Your boyfriend?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she admitted.

“Well, if he doesn’t realize what a lucky man he is, then maybe I should tell him.”

“Don’t you dare,” Julie threatened.

Manny laughed. “Not that I don’t appreciate seeing you again or your business, but why are you meeting him here?”

“It’s neutral turf, sort of anyway.”

“When you hang out in a bar, not that you have in recent memory but when you have this is it, this is your bar. So, it’s hardly neutral turf.”

“Well, he just didn’t feel comfortable back at the old place. We are going to see his mother.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“You have to get her approval for the relationship?”

“No, he thought she was dead. I thought my mother was dead, too. I recently met her and discovered that she knows Chase’s mother and that she’s also alive and well.”

“That would make an interesting if somewhat incredibly inane plot for a sitcom on the entertainment channel,” Manny said.

Julie sipped from her mixed drink.

“So, before you were telling me that all this time that you never came in here, you were living with him and then you had a falling out.”

“Yeah,” Julie confessed. “I know it’s kind of stupid. I mean, we’ve been together long enough to be married but, for whatever reason, it just never happened. I was devoted to him and he was to me. That was never the issue. Well, honestly I was jealous of his relationship with Cristina, but I also understand it because she’s gorgeous.”

“How could anyone distract his eyes from you?” Manny asked.

“Well, if you saw her, you’d see what I mean.”

“I think you discount your attributes far too readily,” he said.

Manny’s choice of words startled her, even if he meant nothing the way she might have taken it. “Well, I wanted to protect him and I did something that he still does not understand. That’s really what came between us. I can accept if he’s in love with Cristina, but she’s spoken for and he’s been a gentleman with her all along.”

Manny refreshed her drink. “What I said earlier about the sit-com. Scratch that. This sounds more like a soap opera.”

“Thanks for the drink, not the commentary,” Julie said.

“Is this Cristina even interested in Chase?”

“I think she was but she’s not interested any longer, because she had a boyfriend, now. She didn’t before, now she does.”

“Then what’s the problem?” Manny asked.

“You can ask him when he gets here.”

“You accept none of the blame?”

“I’m sure some of it’s my fault. Maybe I should have told him how afraid I was when he was hurt, how much I didn’t want to ever see him in that much pain again. But we had guests staying with us. It wasn’t easy for me to find a place where we could talk.”

“Maybe he felt insulted.”

“Insulted?”

“You know the macho thing,” Manny said.

“Chase isn’t like that.”

“Julie, honey, every man is like that. You hurt his pride. He wants to be the one protecting you even if you don’t need his protection and are perfectly capable of doing everything on your own.”

“After our apartment was broken into, I felt violated and frightened to be alone.”

“You told me about that, the last time you were here.”

“Well, he was there for me, then. I soon discovered it was the same people who threatened him and that the only way to ensure that it did not happen to us again was to cooperate with them. But then, when he found out what I did to protect him and get them to no longer threaten us, he said I betrayed our friends and him.”

“I’m missing a lot of details, I’m sure, but I’ll say this: despite good intentions, events progress as they will,” Manny said.

“I never intended to betray anyone.”

“Yet you did.”

Julie lowered her eyes. “The authorities were following Chase and watching Alix and Cristina. They arrested Alix and Cristina before Chase could take them to the railcar station, but they somehow escaped.”

“Where are they now?”

“No one knows,” Julie said. “No one has seen them or heard from them since. I believe they escaped, but it is very strange that there’s been no word from them.”

“They would not risk contacting you, perhaps.”

“I hope they got away. I never intended for them to have problems.”

“Chase blames you.”

“Of course, he does.”

Manny nodded. “But at least you are still talking to him.”

“Yeah, maybe that’s a hopeful sign. But it’s not the same. Maybe it can never be the same as it was, but I want it to be like it was. It was beautiful, even magical. We connected on so many levels.”

“Except for the one thing that became a wedge to separate you,” Manny said.

“Yeah, except for that, we’d still be together,” Julie said as she again glanced toward the door as it opened. The light from the outside framed a silhouette in the doorway then as the door closed she waved to Chase. He acknowledged her as he saw her sitting on a stool at the bar.

As he arrived at the bar, Julie reintroduced him, “You remember Manny.”

Manny offered his hand, “Good see you again,” he said.

“Likewise,” Chase responded. “Thanks for keeping her company.”

“My pleasure.”

Julie took another sip of her drink. “Do you want anything?”

“No, I’m good,” Chase said.

“You’re ready to go?”

Chase cleared his throat. “Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I’m nervous. How weird is that?”

“You have not been with her since you were an infant,” Julie said. “It was the same way for me.”

Chase held out his hand, offering her assistance in stepping down from her barstool. “Let’s do it,” he said as she joined him.

“I’ll see you later, Manny,” she said.

“You take care of her,” Manny directed to Chase.

“I always will.”

When they reached the outside where Chase had temporarily parked, Julie turned toward him, “Will you?”

“Will I what?”

“Always take care of me?”

“I’ve tried to ever since I first met you,” Chase said as he opened the door of the coach and helped her to climb inside, then he climbed in and settled at the control console.

“I was trying to take care of you. Someone hurt the man I love. They also violated the privacy of where we lived. I wanted answers and received an offer.”

“From Yates.”

“Yes.”

“Look,” Chase said as he merged with the light traffic on the street. “I get it. I really do, why you did what you did and how it all made some kind of sense to you. It’s just that now two of our friends are missing because of it.”

“Don’t you think I am concerned about them, too?”

“If Alix feels for Cristina half of what I feel for you, she’s well protected,” Chase confessed. “But it concerns me that it seems like they’ve disappeared from the world.”

“Yates is looking for anything on them.”

“What good does that do?”

“The Colonial Authority has many parts and branches that do not always communicate well with one another and sometimes act in completely opposite, disharmonious ways,” Julie explained.

“It could be that Cristina and Alix were captured but no one was informed.”

“Or the information was withheld from normal channels.”

“I suppose that makes some sense,” Chase said. “Judging from the reports out of Star City, Paul has been busy making an even more notorious reputation for himself.”

“Do you think any of that is true?” Julie asked in reference to world viewer reports from earlier that morning that obviously they both saw.

“I’m sure it’s true, at least to the extent they reported and their perception of what went on. I’m equally certain Paul would be able to justify what happened, as hard as that might be to fathom at this point.”

“How do you justify all those deaths?” Julie asked.

“That’s sort of my point. Paul would never kill someone capriciously. There would be a very good reason. It would be in direct retaliation. The fact some are alive indicates restraint. Surely, he could have killed everyone. If they threatened Paul in the same way they threatened me–”

“Some of the agents do things like that.”

“Apparently there are a lot of them who work that way. There are just a lot fewer of them in Star City now.”

“Okay,” Julie leaned forward. “At the next intersection take a right and at the second signal, take a left. Then to the end of that street there’s a secure compound. We have to be signed in.”

“They’re expecting us.”

“Yeah, I called Neville yesterday. He said he’d arrange for everything.”

Chase turned right just as she directed then when they reached the second light he turned left. He then programmed the coach to cruise on automatic, adjusting their speed to the timing of the signals. It was still very early in the afternoon on a traditional non-working day for many people. There was not a lot of traffic in the city, not even downtown.

They were heading out toward the northern edge of Andromeda, the parts of the city that were constructed on a slight natural ridge that because of relative elevation commanded a bleak view of the desolation of the Big Continent’s interior. He looked out across the vastness of the desert to the north and west and wondered how it was ever going to look like the Colonial Authority envisioned. It would take decades just to get the irrigation systems in place let alone the processes of amending the sand to transform it into a fertile loamy soil sufficiently enriched with organic nutrients to support a variety of plants.

When they arrived at the front gate, Chase halted and opened the coach door. The gate guard stepped around and peered inside.

“I’m Chase and this is Julie.”

“Neville is expecting us,” Julie said.

“Thank you, please wait,” he said as he entered the information into his pad and then waited for authorization. He looked up and nodded toward Chase even as the gate was already sliding open. Chase closed the door and navigated the coach into the containment area where there was no sort of docking other than landing a vehicle on a partitioned spot marked on the pavement.

When Chase opened the door, Julie was immediately up and exited the coach. Chase had a few things to do that were particular to parking a vehicle on a flat surface rather than in a stack dock array. After he finished, he exited and secured the vehicle. Then, taking Julie by the hand, he allowed her to lead him in the direction they needed to go.

They reached the reception desk. The lady tending it looked up and studied first Chase then Julie. “Are you expected?”

“I have an appointment with Neville,” Julie said. “I’m Julie and this is Chase.”

The attendant checked her list and then looked up. “Take these temporary security badges. Then if you would like to stand by those two doors, I’ll clear you to enter. Neville will meet you inside.”

Neville approached them from down the hallway, greeting immediately, offering his hand to Chase as the distance between them rapidly closed. “It’s my pleasure to finally meet you,” he said.

The phrasing struck Chase as being a little odd, but he shrugged it off even as Neville proceeded to welcome Julie back.

“Your mother is waiting in the social area,” Neville explained to Chase. Then, turning back to Julie, he continued, “Your mother’s still in her room. She said to meet in the social area in a few minutes. They just had their hair done this morning.”

They paused at a central security station that monitored every room in the building. They signed in as the guard checked their badges and scanned their ID implants before clearing them to pass.

The social area was immediately past the security station. As Julie and Chase entered, Chase’s mother, Rosemary stood and with open arms greeting her son. “You’re so tall!”

“Like my father,” Chase said.

She nodded, still staring at him, as if trying to commit to memory every detail of his face. “You’re a bit taller I believe. You’re handsome, just like he was, though,” she said. Then looking at Julie she smiled. “You’ve taken good care of him.”

Julie shrugged, “Despite his resistance.”

Rosemary laughed. “Well, it comes naturally. His father was stubborn, too. Come sit down, both of you.”

Chase was still skeptical. He wanted to believe, but he doubted. How could he be certain that the woman in front of him was, in fact, the woman she claimed to be?

“Well, I for one am glad that the Colonial Authority has decided to allow us to visit from time to time. I have always dreamed of talking to my son. And now, meeting you–”

“It has not been easy. It wasn’t easy for Dad.”

“I know. It was hard for him to live the lie, telling you I was dead. But it was what everyone had to say. All of us, The Twelve as they call is, we expected to die in childbirth. Our doctors prepared us for it and we signed waivers and all sorts of documents that we understood that carrying our twins full term would create a medical condition that would be almost immediately terminal. So, we were all prepared for it and accepted it as necessary so our children could live. Then, when we were still alive afterwards, no one knew why. The Colonial Authority thought the answer might contain the secret they were seeking, and through studying us they might be able to reverse the declining fertility rates. It was a noble cause and like all noble causes there’s always a price to pay. None of us knew how long we would live. The said it was an anomaly – a fluke. We were certain it would end eventually. I don’t think anyone thought we would ever live this long, certainly not long enough to see our children fully grown and even to the point of choosing their mates.”

Neville stood in the doorway behind them. “It’s almost as interesting watching the interactions of The Twenty-Four offspring as it is studying the similarities of The Twelve. As I was telling Julie when she was here before, it seems The Twenty-Four are drawn to one another. So far, with one exception, there have mainly been pairings from amongst the Twenty-Four. We aren’t certain the trend will continue, but it’s an interesting phenomenon we think could be related to your unique genetics as a group as much as the common backgrounds and circumstances.”

Julie’s mother finally arrived. As she entered the social area, she opened her arms and shared a warm embrace with Julie before offering her hand to Chase.

“It is good to meet you,” Chase said in response as he stood up until Sylvia paused to kiss Rosemary on the cheek and then she joined them as they sat around a table.

“I’ve really wanted to meet you,” Sylvia said. “Your mother and I are very close friends. The Twelve have become a sorority of sorts. We hear things about you through our sources here, so as you might suspect, we talk a lot about our children and what they’re doing.”

“It comes as a shock,” Chase said. “For all my life, all our lives, we were lied to.”

Sylvia lowered her eyes. “I do not believe any deception is ever right, but in this instance, I believe it may have been necessary. It never started out to be the lie it has become.”

“I explained some of that,” Rosemary said.

“The Colonial Authority didn’t know what to do with us at first. We were kept in isolation wards at the hospitals where we had been admitted for childbirth. At first they didn’t expect us to live but the more tests they ran the more they came to the realization that we were healthy and probably stood a pretty good chance of living our normal life spans. They had to study us because we were the only ones who had given birth to children with the attributes but did not die. It took a year and a half to get this facility ready and then, they brought each of us here for observation. By then the lies were firmly established.”

“Our dads knew,” Julie said.

“They didn’t like it any more than we did, but they understood the necessity,” Rosemary said.

“Those were different times,” Sylvia added. “No one outside of the researchers began to understand the attributes. Certainly, none of us who carried the genetic distinction understood why we were usual or began to appreciate our potential value. We felt out of place and shunned contact with others. It’s a miracle any of us even married. I’ve heard some of our generation has committed suicide. Others never stepped out from their reclusive natures, leading celibate lives. Maybe they’re still alive somewhere. The Colonial Authority does not know where everyone is. They’ve only been able to track those who had children and most of them died. They don’t know if there would have been more than twelve of us who survived giving birth had everyone found suitable mates.”

Neville had arranged for a pitcher of iced tea to be served along with some snack cakes. This was part of the trial and, of course, it was being observed. Julie’s previous meeting was recorded and reviewed as stage one of a preliminary process for the Colonial Authority to evaluate to costs and the benefits of allowing contact between The Twelve and The Twenty-Four. It was imperative that if the process were to continue this meeting went well.

The Colonial Authority suspected Chase’s loyalties. After all, he intended to chauffeur Cristina and Alix to the railcar station the afternoon they disappeared and became fugitives. The meeting between Paul and his mother did not produce the intended results, although, by then events may have progressed too far for Paul to ever be salvaged to perform any role benefiting the Colonial Authority.

Unless this meeting went well, Neville expected the change of policy would be restricted to only those who knew. He also understood some others of The Twenty-Four would learn from others and he expected a procedure and process for them to petition for visitation. Regardless of the Colonial Authority’s changes of procedures and rules, this was not complete reversal or a breakdown in the security controlling of the living environment for The Twelve. It was merely a more humane loosening of the prison-like environment to allow for visitation between mothers their children.

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The Resurrection: Chapter 10 – Crisis

**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.**

They slept soundly after wearing one another out satisfying their hungers for one another’s undivided attentions in multiple sessions. With the realization that it was light outside, Alix leapt up in a panic, leaning to the window, parting the blinds to confirm what he feared, it was already broad daylight. He grabbed his chronometer from the dressing table where he had left it and confirmed, “Cristina it is 8 AM!”

“Damn!” she said as immediately she sat up.

“I thought I set the alarm, I’m sorry,” Alix said.

“It’s fine. Everything’s fine. We just get dressed and get back to the alley that’s all.”

Alix wanted to shower longer, even considered that if nothing went right this could be his last chance to shower for a while but there was not enough time. Cristina also showered quickly. Afterwards she and ran wet hands through her hair in an attempt to straighten out the tangled mess it had become in the throes of passion. She wished he shad more time to get ready. She then brushed her teeth and afterwards tried running a comb across her head, fighting as it snagged on snarls. She muddled through regardless of the damage she knew she was doing to her hair.

When they were both dressed and packed up, they each took their backpacks and descended in the elevator to the lobby, depositing their security key in the box on the front counter.

They headed out onto the street, crossing over and entering the northern end of the alley. They could see the building from there. Everything seemed to be quiet, even eerily so.

“Perhaps our panic was for nothing,” Cristina said.

Alix shrugged. “Breakfast?”

“Sure,” Cristina said, grinning broadly. “I worked up an appetite between last night and all the hustle this morning.”

When they entered the coffee shop it seemed very crowded. After placing their order for two breakfast platters and two black coffees, they waited. Turning to see if there was place for them to sit close to the window, every table in the place appeared to be filled. They waited for their meals to be served up on plates and then placed onto a tray, hoping by then a window table would be freed up, but there was no such luck.

“I’m sorry it’s so busy today. Not that I’m complaining. This is great for me, but it’s unusual,” the owner of the coffee shop said. “It’s been a while since this place was packed like this, especially first thing in the morning.”

“I wonder what’s going on?”

“They’re all agents,” the owner said. “That’s what one of them told me. Something important is going on around here, I guess. There’s this small table back here, behind the counter. You’re welcome to use it.”

Cristina looked to Alix as he responded with a shrug. “Sure, that would be great,” she said. Alix deposited their backpacks behind the counter as they took the folding chairs the owner hastily delivered to them. Alix opened them and they both sat to sip their coffee while waiting for breakfast to be served.

“They must be planning to make their move today,” she whispered to Alix. He nodded in response.

When the owner carried their plates on a tray, Alix removed and placed them on the table. “If there is anything else you need, just ask. I really appreciate your patience this all this confusion this morning.”

“You’ve been very courteous,’ Cristina said. “Thank you.”

He returned the empty tray to the kitchen and returned to re-freshen their coffees – on the house. After, the owner carried the pot out into the front room to serve his other guests.

“He’s a nice man,” Cristina decided.

Alix nodded as he already had shoveled a bite of eggs into his mouth and continued to chew. After he swallowed, he leaned over to kissed her cheek, then whispered, “What are our plans?”

“I’m not sure,” she responded chewing on a strip of lean bacon. She leaned forward as she reached for the salt, “If everyone in here’s an agent,” she whispered, “I’m not sure what we can do.”

They were very quiet, not wanting to draw any undo attention to themselves as they were at least partially concealed behind the counter. There were at least forty agents in the coffee shop. Based on their recent experiences and observations, this was a month’s worth of business for the place. Of course, the shop was understaffed for the unanticipated demand. Regardless of the reality, the agents boisterous, demanding and often abusive to the owners, saying that they needed to have more help. What was the point? It was a singular event that flooded the place with hungry people first thing in the morning. It was not as if they were regulars who would be offended and never return. They were unlikely to return anyway.

When Alix and Cristina were finished they bused their own table, delivering the plates and cups to the owner’s wife who thanked them, then apologized profusely for how busy it was and how little attention they were afforded.

“We understand,” Cristina said. “They’re assholes,” she added in a whisper that caused the wife to chuckle.

“All this time I thought it was just me,” she said aloud. “But today they belong to us,” she added, punctuating it with a wink.

Cristina smiled, even chuckling. Both the owner and his wife were good people. They certainly did not deserve the confusion. From her experience at waiting table when she was in college, Cristina knew that being busy in a restaurant was a good thing even though it was hectic.

Alix gathered up their backpacks and carried both of them as Cristina followed him through the front room to the door which was already half empty, leaving a mess for the owners to deal with. “They’ll we washing dishes all day,” Alix commented.

“It’s a happy mess,” Cristina responded.

Out on the sidewalk, she halted, turning to Alix, kissing his cheek to whisper, “It is going down this morning.”

Alix nodded. He was thinking the same thing.

His attention drawn to movement, Alix pointed to the archway and Cristina gasped. The leader of the local cell had been inside, visiting Paul. Why so late? Did they expect something? Were they planning on moving him? Didn’t they realize there were agents all over the place?

“Why would he do that?” she barely uttered the question before she noticed the leader had picked up a tail. Agents rushed furiously to gain better-concealed positions to observe him and where he was headed.

After a while several agents congregated outside of the building across the street from where Alix and Cristina stood, apparently going over their plans and then, once everything was confirmed they quickly ascended the stairs. Other agents emerged from the alleys with prisoners in custody, taking them to a waiting vehicle where guards relieved them of their charges.

“We need to get out of here,” Alix whispered.

Several agents came up from behind them. As the two of them braced for confrontation, the group ran past them and up the street, one of the agents lagging behind advised them to get off the streets for their own safety. They returned to the coffee shop and sat down at a table near the window that had recently become vacated but was not yet cleared.

“What is going on out there?” the owner asked as he saw them return and brought them two cups and poured fresh coffee for them.

“I’m not sure,” Alix said.

Cristina reached for her payment wand but the owner waved her off.

“It’s on the house.”

“Thank you,” she said. “But two free cups, that’s a little much.”

“It’s fine.”

“We’ll help you clear the tables, at least.”

He laughed. “If you’ll do that for free cups of coffee, you’re more than welcome.”

“Look,” Alix called for her attention. Two agents were dragging Paul between them descending from the stairs out onto the sidewalk but they took him to a separate vehicle and once he was inside the coach hurried away.

Cristina lowered her eyes. Alix reached out and touched the backs of her hands and she looked up, tears welled in her eyes. “We should have been there.”

“We couldn’t have done anything,” Alix said.

“You know the man?” the coffee shop’s owner asked.

“He’s my brother,” Cristina revealed, no longer caring about her secret.

“Wow,” the owner said. “That’s rough.”

“Yes, it is,” Alix spoke for her as she turned away, shaking her head and sobbing uncontrollably.

“I’ll leave you two alone,” the owner said. “You don’t need to help with the tabled. I’ve not had this much work to occupy me for a long time. It’s kind of nice. For a change.”

“Don’t turn us in,” Cristina requested.

“After the way those assholes treated me and my wife, there’s not a chance I’d ever volunteer a damned thing to any of them. I’ll not lie to them though,” he said. “I’m too old to survive the beatings.”

“Arnie!” his wife came out from the kitchen to protest. “You’re scaring these poor young people to death.”

“Look there’s an old apartment upstairs. It’s furnished. We used to rent it out but it got to be too much trouble. It may be a little dirty but… well when Emma and I were younger that was where we lived.”

“We bought this building right after we moved here,” Emma explained. “The Star City Planning Commission promised us this would be a very busy location because of the railcar station. What they didn’t tell us was that they were leasing space in the station for vendors.”

“We survived,” Arnie said. “It’s because we make a good cup of coffee and good food for breakfasts and lunches. Once people stop here they come back and bring their friends. We’re not like the rush-rush places in the stations.”

“Your food is very good and the coffee is always excellent,” Alix said.

“It’s fresh, that’s half of the secret,” Arnie revealed. “Anyway, Emma and I have noticed you in the alley outside as we come to the shop.”

“We know you probably don’t have a lot of money, so…,” Emma paused.

“You are welcome to stay upstairs for as long as you need to,” Arnie completed the offer.

“We couldn’t impose,” Alix said. “I mean you don’t even know us.”

“We talked about it before. You weren’t in the alley this morning or we would have made the offer then.”

“It’s very generous,” Cristina said.

“Then it’s settled,” Arnie said. “Emma will show you the way and where to find everything you need to clean the place up a bit.”

“I really appreciate this,” Cristina said. “But we aren’t looking for charity.”

“Look,” Arnie said. “We know what it is like being young and having limited resources. Even if it’s for a few days or a couple of months, you are welcome to stay upstairs. In return you can keep the place clean for us and maybe help out in the restaurant when it’s busy. How’s that?”

“I’m speechless.”

“We both are,” Alix said.

“Then you’ll stay?”

“For a while,” Cristina said.

“Just until we know what is going on,” Alix clarified as both he and Cristina followed Emma to the back stairwell that led up to the apartment.

Emma chuckled, “You know Arnie carried me up these steps the first time we set foot in this building. Are you married?’

“Not yet,” Cristina said.

“Well, times are a lot different now. I understand that. The music is crazy compared to what Arnie and I used to dance to when we were young. Whenever we had a good day and could afford to go out at night, we used to dance.” She reached for a switch by the door and turned on the lights of the apartment.

All the furniture was covered to protect it from dust. And so, until the covers were removed, it was difficult to get a feel for what the apartment really looked like. Emma opened a compartment in the wall and snatched up the remote control that was stored there. She summoned a robotic vacuum and other such automated cleaning devices from their storage cubicles.

“This was going to be our home and our livelihood,” Emma said. “It’s been a good place. We haven’t wanted for much over the years but it was nothing like the big dreams we had at the time. Arnie was going to have coffee shops all over the city, in every city, even: gourmet coffee and good, organically produced food – none of that quick synthetic stuff people are forced to eat all the time at the fast food places.”

“It’s a little more expansive, but the quality is always there. We have our regulars – our friends. We take care of them whenever they come and over the years they have certainly taken care of us. How could we go wrong?”

“You could still do it?”

“Honey,” she reached for a lithograph of the family, “We had three children and we raised them to be good, decent, hard-working, honest people. This one.” She pointed, “She’s our baby, Sally. She is the operations manager for a bank downtown. Candace in the middle is an instructor at the University here in Star City. She’s working on her doctorate. Neville, our eldest is a chief research administrator for the Colonial Authority in Andromeda, assigned to some secret project he can’t even discuss. They’re all married. Neville had two children, a boy and a girl. Candace had a boy. Sally hasn’t decided whether she wants to have children.”

“It seems that they have all done very well,” Cristina said.

“Yes, I couldn’t have asked for better children and I’m very proud of them. It makes what Arnie and I did in life seem all the more worthwhile. I wouldn’t trade any of my kids for all the wealth in the world.”

“Or three hundred coffee shops as busy as this one was this morning.”

“We’ll get everything cleaned up downstairs then start on this,” Cristina offered.”

“You have your work cut out for you up here,” Arnie said. “I’ve got the downstairs.”

Alix picked up the remote for the cleaning appliances and programmed them to begin tending to the floors while he started carefully removing the covers so as to not stir up the dust too much.

“We’d better get back started on our mess,” Emma said. “If you need anything just ask.”

“We will,” Cristina agreed. “And again, thank you so much. This is more than we could have ever expected.”

“And very generous,” Alix added, and then continued to orchestrate the cleaning of the apartment as Cristina took up a cloth and some polish and began working on the surfaces of the furniture.

It took the remainder of the morning but when they were finished the apartment was clean and ready for habitation. They unpacked their clean clothes and removed the sealed plastic bag that contained their soiled clothes. There was a laundry next to the pantry. Cristina tested the integrity of the hoses before applying water pressure to the washer from the taps in the wall. She sorted the clothes as best she could and found some powdered laundry soap that, although it was caked together from humidity and years of sitting in one place on a shelf, it still would serve their purposes.

When she had put a load of clothes into the washing machine and started the process, she returned to the living room where Alix was sitting on the couch and making the final adjustments to the vacuum’s course as well as the wax buffer for the tile floors.

“It looks nice,” Cristina said.

“This is an excellent apartment,” he responded.

“I know. It is so big, compared to where I live,” she said.

“Maybe we should relocate to Star City,” Alix said, but then laughed because he knew Cristina would never move away from New Milan.

“We need to lay low here for a while,” she said, completely ignoring what he had proposed, knowing that he had said it in jest.

“What do you have planned?’

“I don’t know yet. I was expecting something to happen this morning but from the looks of it the agents rounded up just about everyone.”

“Including Paul.”

Cristina nodded. “I don’t know what we can do, if anything is possible at all. They will take all of them to their headquarters.”

“Wherever that is,” Alix commented.

“We can find it,” she said. “I’m just not certain what we could do to help him. It may be beyond us.”

“We gave it a good try.”

“To succeed at trying is accepting failure,” Cristina said.

“Hunter said that, I take it?”

Cristina nodded, “Yes, I read it when I was in college. It’s pithy, easy to understand and remember.

“And true, unfortunately.” Alix stood up, directing the vacuum and the wax buffer to return to their storage cubicles. He went to the kitchen and found glasses in the cupboard. He rinsed out a glass and poured some water, which he consumed in gulps. “The water here is very good.”

“It comes from an aquifer,” Cristina explained, same as Andromeda. New Milan and Haven reclaim water from the ocean. It never tastes the same. It starts off bland and no matter how much they amend it with minerals, it isn’t the same as natural spring water. I got spoiled when I was in college. The water in Emerald City was excellent.”

“Well I am finding a lot to like about Star City even if our reason for being here has sort of fallen apart before our eyes.”

“I keep wondering if we had come a little earlier…”

“What could we have done, trip someone? Maybe we could have delayed the inevitable by a few minutes and in the process got ourselves arrested. From the way the agents were set up, I don’t think anyone could have saved Paul. We saw it beginning yesterday, the people posted on the rooftops. They put all their muscle here and made it work.”

“Rendering us useless or at least helpless. In this instance it’s much the same thing.”

Alix walked over to the window, looking across the street to the building that had been the object of their vigil for a few days. “Great view. We should have been here all along.”

Cristina came up from behind and wrapped her arms around Alix’s waist.

“I mean, I can see where they opened the wall, even,” then he turned to face her. “I was right, exactly where I knew the room had to be, not that it matters anymore.”

“What are we going to do now, Alix?”

“Go home before we get killed.”

“We have to do something more than that. They have my brother.”

“You know, don’t take this the wrong way but, maybe he deserves it.”

“How does he deserve this?”

“Cristina, he’s a big boy. He has made his decisions and this is the consequence. Does he deserve it? No one deserves being roughed up or maybe even worse once they have him back at their headquarters. But it has to be on him to extricate himself from this misery. It’s something he knew he was getting into.”

Cristina turned away from the window and sat down on the couch. “I had a dream,” she said. “I saw Paul being beaten and tortured. He was drugged. I could tell.”

“And what does that have to do with us?”

“I saw waves, apparently invisible waves crashing against him as he was being beaten. It was interfering with his abilities. That has to be the way the authorities can control him.”

Alix lowered his eyes and then finally held his head in his hands. “They are using white and pink noise modulated on ultrasonic waves to dampen his natural connections to the fundamental and harmonic tones of the natural electromagnetic spectrum.”

“Do you mind rephrasing that in some language other than Alix-ese?”

“The way we connect and control the world around us through our enhanced senses is that we can access the background energy inherent in everything.”

“I know. I feel that too.”

“They use ultra-high frequency modulators to send noise in an attempt to scramble the energy before anyone who is sensitive to it could access it.”

“You know how to defeat it, then?”

Alix shrugged. “It has to be electronic, perhaps a computer controls it. I have not done much with computers since I dropped out of tech college, but…”

“But you know how. You were gifted at programming.”

“How do you know that about me?”

Cristina smiled. “I kind of checked you out while you were sleeping.”

“Damn it!”

“It was an innocent intrusion,” she said. “Don’t be mad.”

Alix smiled. “It’s a mess inside my head.”

“Not really.”

“I sweep a lot of things under other things.”

“We all do that,” Cristina said with a laugh. “I know about people, Alix. How they think, what’s important to them. That’s why I know I can help Paul.”

“You’re bound and determined to save him, no matter the danger, regardless of the risk to yourself.”

“Alix, Paul is my brother!”

“And we’re amateurs at what we’re trying to do.”

“I think we know how to do things they don’t expect.”

Alix leaned over and kissed her. “I deposit a little time bomb for them in their computer system. It hides there and goes on schedule, later on, when we’re long gone. It shuts down whatever they’re doing with the jamming signals. That’s the quick and easy way to do it. As much fun as all this hide and seek has been, I fully understand we are up against the pros, now. And we are already in hot water with them –whether they realize it here and now, we’re in this all the way,” Alix said. “If this is what you’re committed to, I’m behind you. I love you too much to leave you alone in this, but I have to tell you I think this is totally nuts.”

“We are still behind where we were.”

“What?”

“In time.”

“Not that it matters all that much at the moment, but yeah.”

“I think it matters a lot.”

“How so?”

“Alix, have we changed anything?”

“How would I know?”

“Exactly,” Cristina said. “We don’t know. If you took us ahead in synchronization with where we should be–”

“What is the point?”

“I am just trying to rationalize the potentials of the utility of folding time. Is there any limitation to what you can do? I mean, can you go back further into the past than just a few days?”

“From what Raven said it would take a lot of planning. I would assume I know how to do it, though. But obviously, it’s conjecture at this point because, thus far, we have only jumped back a few days. The farther away from the present you go the trickier it is to hit the right place.”

Cristina was silent for a few moments.

“I can tell you’re thinking,” Alix said, finally breaking the silence. “I’m not sure I want to know what you’re planning.”

“You can bring anyone with you across the fold.”

“Apparently. You want me to do something for Paul.”

“No, no. I think I have a better idea,” Cristina said. “If you can go back as far as the origins of our terraforming Pravda…”

“Oh my…no, Cristina.” Alix shook his head. “I know what you are thinking and you know as well as I do it’s dangerous as hell. You know why – even without me telling you. What if they aren’t peace-loving creatures?”

“What if they aren’t? Neither are we,” Cristina said. “We may claim to be but we really aren’t.”

“I think most people would prefer peace to war. In principle, anyway.”

“But how often has that happened?” she asked. “Even in this world we have strife and conflict. Supposedly we are at peace. There are not any governments yet, only the rudiments of forming Provincial Authorities for each city.”

“Yes and we introduce a real, live alien into this mish-mosh of our own multi-ethnic, multi-cultural intolerance and you have the formula for disaster.”

“But don’t you see? It will eliminate the teeth from the aims of The Resurrection,” she argued. “Especially if the sand-morph is friendly and cooperates. It may even be able to tell us what we need to know to bring back the others of its kind. Either way, the Colonial Authority will have nothing to counter. They will have to confess, admit to everything that has been concealed. They will not be able to hold anyone prisoner.”

“You’re being a bit naive. They’ll kill the sand-morph before anyone knows about it.”

“Then we just have to make it so public that they cannot do that,” Cristina said. “A special concert, a benefit held in Andromeda, Duae Lunae introduces the latest discovery. It’ll be a free show. So, it will get a lot of attention and draw a huge crowd. They will think we have a band we have discovered in Andromeda. Then we prep the audience with some history, something brief, entertaining but comprehensible and then, we reveal a sand-morph in the flesh!”

Alix leaned back into the soft cushion of the couch that he was sharing with Cristina. He knew full well that Cristina was committed to this crazy plan that she had concocted. It might be modified in some ways to make more sense, but she had already decided this was the way to save Paul and everyone else. This was her solution. If Alix loved her, and he truly did, he had to make this happen for her. Whatever it took, regardless of the danger, he had to do this.

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The Resurrection: Chapter 9 – The Fluid

**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.**

Julie had never before considered that the truth might be as fluid as the Colonial Authority conceived it. They could bend and conform to whatever channel necessary to convey it, It would fill whatever the shape of the lie and become the basis for fabrication. How could they keep the knowledge from her all this time? How could her father have known and yet never told her?

Where did the dedication to a cause and the resolve of conviction originate? She was seriously pissed that for all her life she believed her mother was deceased. Now she knew that, all along, the pretext for her youth and even many of the conditions of her present life were a carefully orchestrated lie.

Confident that the real reason for the sudden disclosure was political expedience, she wanted the real reasons, not the official story. Superficially the Colonial Authority claimed to be addressing all the mistakes of the past. In fact their hand was forced.

Cristina’s brother was at least complicit in the conditions that had led to their sudden change of direction, if not heart. In an odd way his was an honorable act of subversion, defying the authorities that spread fear and deception. She had cooperated with them not because she supported the concealment of the truth but because she did not want to see Chase get hurt. His pride blinded him too much to accept that she might have made the right choice. Even if she was not right, perhaps hers was the better choice of alternatives.

Julie sensed that time was running out for the Colonial Authority. Regardless of the pretense, their displays of power and exercise of force, they were scared. She was not sure what frightened them, but she figured it had to do with Paul and Cristina. Since talking to her mother, Julie felt it could involve all of The Twenty-Four who were borne of The Twelve.

The Colonial Authority was in an odd predicament, one that Julie was certain they did not desire and certainly did not appreciate. They were losing control, having to find ways of enlisting the aid of the very people they attempted to control, subjugate and suppress. The Colonial Authority could do nothing else short of going public and telling at least some of the truth to the general public. The human race was facing grave times, the extinction of the entire species. The hope of all mankind on Pravda rested in solving the related riddles of The Twelve and The Twenty-Four.

Why were the mothers of the dozen sets of twins still alive?

What was the ultimate, combined potential of The Twenty-Four?

The secret for the survival of the species rested in the modifications of the DNA that everyone with the attributes shared. But even beyond mere survival, The Twenty-Four seemed to be able to tap into the energy of the universe at will.

There were thirty-six people whose lives had become the ultimate mystery of the age. Despite the thousands of others who possessed the attributes, there was a distinct danger inherent in their mating with humans lacking the attributes. It was something The Colonial Authority did not confirm, but it was common knowledge amongst those with the attributes. Only the males with the attributes did not die as a result of mating with females who lacked the attributes. In every other case, with the exception of The Twelve, a mother who had the attributes would die in the process of giving birth. But only The Twelve gave birth to twins, always a boy and a girl.

There were lies, lies and more lies told so often in the past that she wondered how and when they would come to answer for the deception. At this point, if they told the truth, would anyone believe them? The lie grew more attractive and credible in the retelling. Foremost the terrible truth that in the very beginning, when Pravda was terraformed, the authorities inadvertently killed intelligent life and spent nearly all the time since covering the evidence and suppressing the information, opposing those who knew the truth from ever getting access to the information channels to disseminate the truth to the mainstream population.

Julie reached her apartment building and docked her coach. She rode the elevator up to her floor and exited, walking past two strangers she as they boarded the elevator. She did not have a good feeling about them. Her first instinct was that they were agents. It caused her some concern about entering her apartment. She thought about calling Chase, but then she immediately suppressed the thought. She was on her own. She could handle this. She called the emergency number Yates gave her. He did not answer but she left an urgent message. She waited in the hallway for a few minutes, not wanting to risk entering her apartment. Then Yates called back.

“What’s wrong?”

“As I was getting home, there were two strange men in the hallway getting onto the elevator as I was getting off. It’s probably nothing, but I had an eerie feeling about them. Maybe they were agents. Are there any agents assigned to bug my place?”

“Julie you’re under surveillance already. You know that. To my knowledge, there’s been nothing additional set up.”

“Could you come over? I mean, I’m really not comfortable with this.”

“Okay,” Yates said. “Look, I have a meeting in a few. It will last an hour. I can be there in an hour and a half, two hours tops. If it’s going to take longer I’ll call you. Until then, go somewhere public where you feel safe.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll call you when I reach your place. Then you can come meet me and we will go in and check out your apartment together if you like. I’ll even bring a couple of uniformed officers with me.”

“I really appreciate it,” Julie said.

“Hey, you did us a huge favor and who knows, maybe this started the end of all the secrecy.”

“We can hope,” Julie said.

“I gotta get to the meeting. I’ll call you as soon as it’s over.”

Julie disconnected the call and called for the elevator car, hoping she was just being hypersensitive because of everything she had been through recently. Then, she did not want to be alone in her apartment anyway. She was not used to that.

When the elevator doors opened, she stepped inside and pressed the button for the lobby. When the doors opened again suddenly her heart leapt into her throat for a few moments, as two different strange men approached her but then passed her by as they hurried to board the awaiting elevator. Nerves on end, paranoid, she tried to calm down. Taking deep breaths and slowly releasing them, she tried passing everything off as her overactive imagination, reacting to the recent stress in her relationship with Chase. It was the direct result of the serious case of nerves she had ever since some men, most likely agents, broke into her apartment.

Julie went to a nearby club and sat down at the bar. Years ago, before she met Chase, she stopped by the club on her way home from work and usually spent a few hours sipping mixed drinks and unwinding from the stress of the workday. She used to know everyone in the club, actually. When she walked in she recognized no one except for the bartender. At least he was still there.

She stepped up and slid across the bar stool as she sat down. “You have a drink for a stranger, Manny.”

“Damn girl!” Manny smiled broadly as he recognized her. “I haven’t seen you in…well since you met that guy, what’s his name…”

“Chase.”

“Yeah, that’s it. Damn, babe, you’re looking good, better than ever! How do you do that?”

“I’m not aware of it. I assure you.”

“So you come back to say hello or are there some other matters.”

“There are always some other matters.”

“Yeah, tell me about it! I should be a psychiatrist, except I have a bar not a couch.”

“Mostly, I’m just killing time. I’m meeting a friend at my apartment later on.”

“I see, so what will it be? This first one is on me. The rest you can buy. I have a mortgage, you know.”

“Give me a mudslide.”

“Yeah, that was your drink, back in the day,” he said as he started mixing the drink and then upon delivering it to her, he looked into her eyes, “You and this guy Chase, you still together?”

“Yes and no.”

“Those are opposites, hon. From experience when they are together they don’t always play well.”

“Well we sort of broke up, but we’re still talking.”

“I guess that gives hope even if it is usually false. You were together a long time.”

“Yeah, we were. I think we’ll get back together,” Julie said, then modified, “Anyway, I really hope so.”

“The man who’d let you get away is not worth having anyway,” Manny said. “Damn that rhymed!”

“You should be a poet, Manny.”

“A poetic psychiatric bartender. I could be one of kind.”

“You already are,” Julie said.

“Hon, if I weren’t happily married, I would have been playing for you myself.”

“You’re too much man for me to handle.”

Manny laughed. “Yeah, you always liked playing up on my name, Manny, more than just a Man, right?” He chuckled. “See, I remember everything.” After his amusement had subsided he looked at her directly, serious in his intentions. “You could have any man you desire, babe. Never sell yourself short.”

“Thanks Manny,” she said and then sipped her drink before looking up and around the bar, “Just like old times.”

“It gets busy at night. You usually left before it got busy. Only times you stayed late were when you were here with your boyfriend.”

“Yeah, well, I have to leave early tonight too, once my friend gets to my apartment.”

“Nothing’s wrong, is it?”

“Just some concerns,” Julie said. “There was a break-in at my apartment a few days ago. I’m skittish, you know. When I got off the elevator on my floor there were two strangers getting on the elevator. More than likely, it’s nothing but with everything that’s been going on.”

“You want to play it safe.”

“Exactly.”

Manny nodded. “So, this friend of yours is he someone you trust?”

“Yeah, I guess I do. He was a friend of my father.”

“A good man, then,” Manny said.

“Yeah, I really think he is. I never met him until a couple of weeks ago.”

“How could he be a friend of your father and you never met him?” Manny asked.

Julie sat up, wondering why that never crossed to her mind. Still, Yates knew a lot about her father. Why would she doubt that, unless it was a ploy? Obviously, all of them, her father, mother, her and a brother who she never met were all under continuous surveillance. Of course Yates would know everything about her father. She really wanted to cling to Yate’s story, hoping it was the truth. Her mother did not know him, either – was it her mother, really? Was she going to doubt everything now? Maybe it was a natural response for having been gullible for so long, and severely burned. Yate’s knew her father but not her mother until today. That was possible, of course. Anyway, if it was not the truth, it was another good story – all part of the fluid truth of The Colonial Authority.

She took a couple more sips of her drink and started feeling the effects of the intoxicant. It had been a while since she had been out drinking alone. She had always had a low tolerance for alcohol and for that reason Manny always cut her off before she reached a state of embarrassing herself. She trusted him in the past. One night he took her to her apartment because it was nearby and he needed help walking. Manny already knew she lived within walking distance. His knowing where she lived did not bother her.

Always a perfect gentleman, true to his word, he put her to bed with her clothes still on. All he did was help her remove were her shoes. Then he set a trashcan beside the bed, pointing it out to her for just in case she felt sick. Before he left she pulled him down closer to her and she had kissed him on the cheek. He responded, kissing her on the forehead. Treating her as he would a friend or a friend’s daughter perhaps – maybe even his own daughter – Manny was a good guy she could trust.

After consuming half of her fourth mixed drink, the third one she paid for, Manny could tell that she was already pushing her limit. He went over to her and asked her if her friend had called her yet?

She checked for messages on her cell ID display and then the time. “He should have called by now. Maybe the meeting he was going into when I talked to him is running late.”

“Yeah maybe,” Manny said trying not to sound incredulous.

“It’ll be a few more minutes.”

“The alcohol is getting to you, hon. That’s all I wanted to point out.”

Julie nodded to Manny, “You always look out for me.”

“It’s what I do,” he said.

“Thank you,” Julie said. “Maybe I need to clear my head.”

Manny poured a glass of carbonated water from the tap then slid it toward her. “This will work wonders.”

She took a couple of sips then took a couple of gulps, burping ever so slightly but remembering to cover her mouth with the back of her hand.

A few minutes later her implanted phone rang. She answered. Yates said he was outside her apartment building.

“I am across the street at the club in the middle of the block. I’ll be right there,” she said, and then taking her payment wand in hand she asked Manny to receive a tip. He responded and she rewarded him for his efforts.

After glancing at the display he looked and grinned. “I knew I missed you, I guess I’d forgotten why.”

Julie flashed a smile, “I’ll see you around Manny.”

“I’ll be here, hon. Just no more being a stranger, okay?”

“I’ll stop by more often, I promise.”

Julie stepped outside. Knowing she was intoxicated she paid extra attention to what she was doing and where she was going as she crossed the street to the lot her apartment complex occupied. Yates was waiting for her just outside of the main entrance. Together they entered the building and they walked across the lobby to the elevator. When the car arrived they boarded and rode up to her floor.

At her door she pressed the access codes for her place and the door opened. Yates went in first, walking the apartment, scoping it for any signs of anything that was not normal, spending fifteen minutes of giving Julie the benefit of the doubt before pronouncing to her that he found nothing.”

“I’m so sorry to cause all this aggravation.”

“You were worried. Under the circumstances, I understand. It’s always better to opt for safety.”

Julie gave Yates a hug and a peck on the cheek. “When’s your birthday?”

“In a few months, why?”

“I want to get you a gift.”

“I really couldn’t accept.”

“I’m going to get you something anyway. So a couple of months; is that two months or three?”

“Two and a half, or thereabouts.”

“You wouldn’t want to make this easy and give me the exact date.”

Yates laughed. “I’ll call you a week before, how’s that.”

Julie smiled. “Why the secrecy?”

“We’re not supposed to divulge too much information about ourselves.”

“Well, I’m not going to tell.”

“Neither am I,” Yates said. “Goodnight, Julie. Lock your door and set the perimeter alarm, okay. I’ll have a couple of guys in the area to respond if there’s a call from you. Okay?”

“I really appreciate this,” she said.

Yates shrugged. “I think I was supposed to do laundry tonight or maybe I had dish duty. Regardless of which, there’s something I’m late for at home.”

Julie smiled. “Thank your wife for me.”

“Oh no, hell no!” he protested. “If she ever saw you she would get all kinds of warped ideas about what I’ve been doing coming over here after work.”

“You have always been a perfect gentleman.”

“And I always will be. I love my wife and family. It’s just, well – you know, a pretty young girl like you and middle aged old fart like me. People talk; wives get ideas.”

“Goodnight Yates,” Julie said as she closed the door behind him and turned to tending to her apartment. She needed to vacuum, clean the dishes and do laundry but somehow none of that impressed her as being in any way urgent. She wanted another drink, but decided that was not a good idea. There was nothing in the apartment, anyway.

Sitting down, really considering how she felt for maybe for the first time in months, she decided she was angry. Maybe it was the liquor speaking to her, but it had given her odd clarity of understanding. Never in her life had she felt as angry or as openly betrayed.

She helped the Colonial Authority, even sold out her friends in order to protect Chase. As a result she lost the love of her life and a good bit of her self-respect as well. How could anything about that be right?

Julie turned on the world viewer display, bringing up the local news channel to the main screen and then went to the kitchen to fix something to eat. As she prepared a simple salad which was all she really wanted to invest the time to make, she watched a news report from Star City where they were reporting that an unspecified notorious fugitive had been captured and transported under heavily armed security and isolated in a maximum security cell that was considered impossible for anyone to escape, even the fugitive who was the elusive mass murderer of dozens of agents.

The other news stories did not interest her as much and so she turned to an entertainment channel and listened to some music. For an Andromeda channel to play a New Milan band was significant. But then it was all over the local entertainment news that Duae Lunae had become the first band from outside of Andromeda to ever have both a chart topping single and Mod card simultaneously.

As Julie sat on her couch enjoying the music, reveling in the fact that she knew two of the band members personally. She suspected Chase was gloating over his role in the overall triumph. The tour was fundamental in establishing the band’s performance credibility, a part of the chain of events that was culminating now. If the band got another Mod card out soon, then went back on tour to promote it, they could maximize the brief attention spans of their audience and maybe capitalize on the demand for their music and anything in terms of promotional ‘swag’ that bore the band’s name, like tee-shirts, posters, scarves, headbands, wristbands, and temporary tattoos. She tapped her earlobe then started to command speed dial for Chase’s cell number but then paused. What was the point, really?

She tapped her earlobe, and then suddenly it rang. She tapped her earlobe again and saw the caller ID information displayed in her palm’s holographic projection. They had the same thought at the same time. However, she was glad it went down as he called her, not the other way around. She had delayed. That was important to her. It made her feel a little bit better.

“You saw it?” she asked Chase.

“Yeah, it’s fantastic news. It’s just that no one has heard from Cristina or Alix…so, well I would love to let them know but I have no idea where they are or how to get in touch with them. Neither of them have their cells active.”

“You don’t think the Colonial Authority has them.”

“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” she said. “Yates doesn’t know anything about them. I think he would know.”

“He could be playing dumb. He could be playing coy with you, seeking more information.”

Julie paused, counting to ten wanting not to offend Chase, but she thought he was completely out of line. Besides she had news. Chase really needed to hear it. It was just that she really did not know how to launch what she needed to deliver, other than just dropping bombshell as it was. “Chase, I met my mother today.”

The lack of response was telling. Then after nearly a half minute of silence he sought clarification. “You did say your mother?”

“Your mother is still alive too. My mother knows her. Actually they’re good friends.”

Again there was silence for several seconds. “Okay, where were you when you saw her?” Chase finally challenged.

“In a research facility here in town. I think they will let us visit them now.”

“Really, me and not just you?”

“I was the first, maybe. I don’t know.”

“Because you sold out to the Colonial Authority.”

“Maybe it was because I chose to at least have an open mind and listen. The Colonial Authority is not the monolithic nemesis you think it is.”

“The parts I have been dealing with…”

“Some of the divisions are not as strident, harsh and abrasive as others. I think some of them are actually working for the people.”

“You’re entitled to your opinion. No body’s beat the shit out of you yet.”

“Chase, I’m not a huge fan of the Colonial Authority, not after learning that they have kept my mother in seclusion and lied to me about her for all my life until today. I’m okay with Yates. He’s not lied to me – as far as I know. I met a guy today named Neville. He seemed to be okay.”

“You have bought into their scheme and they are rewarding you. How can you be certain that your supposed mother was not an actress, a charlatan who they paid to perform for your benefit?”

“I thought about that, Chase, quite a lot, actually. It felt like it was she on a lot of levels – every level actually. If you met your mother don’t you think that you would know her? You have the attributes. You have the ability to know things like that in the same way I do.”

Chase peered at her through the imbedded camera in his wrist. In the background she could see some of his new apartment. “Well, even for the experience of spending a few minutes with my mother, I would not sell out to them.”

“You know that each of us has a sibling. They refer to us as The Twenty-Four. They have monitored us all along the way.”

“I don’t doubt the close surveillance. At times they have even seemed to know what I would do before I did it.”

“Maybe you missed what I said. You have a sibling, Chase.”

“I heard. Do I have a sister or a brother? I have never met him or her and likely as not the Colonial Authority will keep us apart just like they are doing to Cristina and Paul.”

“You have a sister, Chase.”

She observed as Chase sat back, switching from holograph to world viewer’s camera. He was not yet comfortable with the new apartment that required a somewhat odd arrangement of the furniture. He looked for the camera before actually peering into it. It was a classic response to the unfamiliarity with a new configuration of a world viewer. She saw it every time one of her friends had moved to a new place.

“I think they will let you meet her.”

“If I cooperate and obey.”

“It’s not like that, Chase.”

“Enlighten me, then. How is it?”

Julie fought back a tear. “I had to do what I felt was right and if you don’t understand why, it was necessary to save your life. I love you that much and I respect you. I want your respect, too. I still need you in my life.”

“I need time, hon. I just need some time, okay? I love you and I respect you. It’s just I need to work some things out and maybe being apart for a while will do that for us. Don’t worry. There’s no one else. There can be no one else but you.”

A tear trailed down her cheek as she looked into the camera on her wrist and she smiled.

“I really mean that,” Chase said. “I guess what we need to do is start over. Forget the past and just start over. Do you want to do that?”

Julie sat thoughtfully considering the options then she nodded.

“I never wanted to lose you,” Chase said. “If I ever did I would be lost. If you honestly thought you were protecting me, well maybe I should have shown my gratitude instead of anger. Maybe I should have listened to you a little more closely. I guess sometimes you’re right, even if I’m not entirely wrong.”

“I love you, Chase,” she said looking directly into the camera so that he could see her eyes clearly.

“I love you, too, Julie,” Chase looked up into the camera, giving her the same point of view.

“I need to go to bed,” Julie responded.

“Yeah, me too,” Chase responded. “I miss you a lot.”

“You can call me tomorrow. Maybe you can even ask me for a date.”

“That might be fun, go out dancing, and club hopping.”

“Like the old days.”

“I’ll do that,” Chase said. “Tomorrow, I’ll call you at work. We can make plans then.”

“Great,” she said.

“Goodnight, hon.”

“Goodnight,” she said as she tapped her earlobe, disconnecting from the call.

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The Resurrection: Chapter 8 – Vigil

**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.**

Cristina and Alix huddled together to share their body heat, warding off the artificially produced chill of the evening. Using their backpacks as support for their lower backs, they sat on the pavement in the alley and leaned back against the wall of the building. Spending the night, sleeping in shifts, they continued their vigil over the building where they were certain Paul was hiding.

Alix had obtained a measuring meter from a store down the street. After spending several minutes inside the building across the street, he confirmed what he suspected. The inside wall of the room upstairs was partitioned three and one half feet shorter than the wall outside of the room. There had to be a hidden space, a very small, narrow room, perhaps. There was no other reason that he could determine, no vent ducts of plumbing – all of that appeared to run through the outer walls.

The concealed room probably dated back to the earliest times of the city, before the railcar infrastructure was fully online. Smuggling was a lucrative, but of course illegal, enterprise. Many felt it was well worth the risk of being caught or the bribes paid to dishonest authorities for protection of their shady business. Alix had seen documentaries on the rough and tumble times when there were only four cities in the world.

In response to the lawlessness that seemed concentrated in Andromeda and Star City, the Colonial Authority established an intercity agency task force to enforce laws and regulations and maintain the peace for the average citizens in the growing communities. It was the origin of the Security Agency. The security needs persisted long after the establishment of the railcar system to the infrastructure, just the nature of the commodities smuggled changed.

The Security Agency grew and its influence within The Colonial Authority expanded well beyond the original scope of its mission, all in the public interest. No one discussed the excesses the agency went to carry out their expanded role as the de facto inter-city police force.

The night passed slowly. Alix fought the urge to close his eyes and rest for a few moments. He knew the end result of falling prey to such self-deception. He did not understand why they did not just go upstairs and find the access to the hidden room. They knew it was there. They knew Paul was inside as there was no other way out of the building.

Closely, they continued to monitor the building, observing the comings and goings of others. There had been a visitor in the evening, around dinnertime. He arrived carrying a box, holding it by its edges, carrying it level as if the contents were prone to spilling. Then he departed carrying the box in the same way, perhaps retrieving the meal tray from lunch, Cristina had surmised.

She was convinced, as was Alix, that the visitors were bringing food to Paul. Then later on, when the bustle of the local area relented to retiring for the evening, another visitor came, carrying a backpack. After a half hour or so, he also left, carrying the same backpack.

Cristina was already sleeping, resting up for her turn at the watch. Alix considered long and hard the purpose of that last visitor and why it would have taken him longer than the others to finish whatever business he had with Paul. Then it occurred to him. The visitor brought a change of clothes and perhaps the necessary articles for taking a shower in the full bathroom that Paul had seen on the floor and had inspected meticulously for any sign that it had been used recently. Every surface in the bathroom had been dry. There was no sign of its recent use, any hairs or stains. Still the toilet had water in it. He assumed that it was functional. If he was right about the purpose of the final visitor of the evening, the bathroom had to be functional.

Cristina woke around 2 AM. She was rested but still sleepy. Alix told her about the final visitor and she agreed with his assumptions and logical assessment. She took over the vigil as Alix stretched out, resting his head in her lap just as she had rested hers in his before. It was a long but thankfully quiet night.

Shortly after dawn, the visitor bearing breakfast came and went. The coffee shop opened a few minutes afterwards. Cristina awakened Alix and suggested that they get some breakfast, an idea Alix welcomed. They picked up their backpacks and went into the coffee shop. They ordered breakfast along with coffee, all the time still maintaining their vigil through the shop’s window.

When they had deposited their backpacks beneath the table, Alix began. “We know Paul’s there. We even know where he is. I don’t see why we don’t just go up there and figure out how to open the concealed room.”

“Paul might be armed,” Cristina said. “He might innocently defend himself before he realized who we are.”

Alix thought for a few moments. “He has to be able to hear through the walls, at least to some extent. We tell him who we are in advance.”

Cristina considered what Alix was suggesting as she sipped her coffee, and then took a bite of toast and chewed it for a bit before swallowing. Then she responded, “We need to know how to open the wall, and where the opening is.”

“It would have to be at the corner,” Alix surmised. “It would be the best place to set hinges strong enough to bear the weight of the wall. The seams in the wall have to be concealed as well and there is the corner trim on the wall and the full door frame seven feet down the wall from it.”

“You have been thinking this through.”

“I was bored last night.”

“So was I,” Cristina said, and then maintained a silent pause in conversation for several minutes as she stared at the building across the street and particularly the windows upstairs. She was this close, so very close to her goal of finding Paul. Yet, she did not know how to best accomplish it. Would Paul listen to her? “Let me think about it,” she finally said to Alix.

He finished his bacon and eggs, sopping up the yoke of the over easy egg with the edge of his buttered toast. It was a perfect breakfast, he thought. It filled him and satisfied him. Of course he was very hungry. Neither he nor Cristina had eaten anything except the snacks that Dom packed into their backpacks before they left Raven’s place. The snacks were amazingly filling but unfortunately the effect did not last long. Still, they wanted to refrain from using the payment wands Raven gave to them as it was limited but they knew they could not possibly use their personal accounts. Even if it was a day early they were fugitives in Andromeda and thus far they had not been found out, certainly they did not want to have any indication they were in Star City.

So far, there was no evidence of their arrival in Star City. No one would have thought of checking the security recordings at the stations for the morning before they were expected to arrive. Who could have imagined that during their escape, Alix had pulled Cristina through a small threshold he opened beneath the veils and they stepped through into a different time and place, a little while earlier.

Cristina leaned back in her chair, not taking her eyes off the building across the street. “I suppose we need to do something. I mean, how long are they going to keep him in that building?”

“Until his trail grows cold,” Alix suggested. “He’s a fugitive, like us.”

“We are fugitives because of him.”

“Just we’re here before anyone knows we’re fugitives.”

“Exactly. Are you sorry I got you into this?”

“It has been scary at times, but really, it’s been exciting. It’s definitely something I never thought I’d be involved in, running from the authorities, hiding, tracking down someone. You read stories about things like this, watch movies, you know? Real people rarely get a chance to live this sort of life.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Cristina prompted.

“I’m with you to the very end,” Alix said. “As long as we’re together I’m not complaining.”

When they finished eating breakfast, they gathered up their backpacks and returned to their places in the alley between buildings where they had the best possible vantage for continuing their vigil. Throughout the day they watched. No one went through the arch and up the stairs except for the one who came around mealtime to deliver breakfast, lunch or dinner – someone different each time.

Once more, a few hours after the last previous visitor, a man came to the arch bearing a backpack, just as Alix had described to her from the prior night’s observations. He went up stairs.

“How long will this go on?” Alix asked.

“As long as necessary. The local cell that is affiliated with his organization has secluded him. They’re taking care of him, but they don’t want to risk him being observed and identified.”

“Won’t the authorities eventually notice on their street cameras that at fairly regular intervals people are coming and going from this building?”

“That might take a while,” Cristina said. “They would have to be focusing in on this section of town.”

“Might,” Alix repeated the operative word. “What if it doesn’t take long? I mean, you and I found him. It didn’t seem all that hard.”

“But we knew what to look for and sort-of where to look.”

“Won’t they?”

Cristina shrugged but then, after that one conversational exchange, she seemed a little more nervous and a lot more focused on the building across the street. Alix was right. The local cell would have to keep moving Paul to prevent his being detected. They would have to vary their patterns, their procedures. The authorities would invariably key in on any routines. They had cameras monitoring the streets. All they had to do was hone in on one area and staff enough people to maintain a vigil.

Cristina noticed some men hiding on rooftops. Who were they? Had they been there before and she had not noticed? Were they part of the clandestine group or agents of the Colonial Authority?

She silently pointed out her observation to Alix who immediately nodded then suddenly began to share her concerns. Were they posted to protect Paul or to capture him? How long had they been observing? Had they observed Cristina and him?

Cristina stood and stretched, and then she walked down the alley even to the next street toward the north. There she squatted down as Alix maintained his divided attention on her and the building across the street. After a few moments, the last visitor of the evening exited the building. Alix watched as the observers on the rooftops returned to whatever concealment masked their presence before. Still, Alix believed they remained there on the roofs. He could not be certain of it. They might have descended from the roofs to some concealed alley or street. Still, why would not they be there, maintaining surveillance – same as he and Cristina were doing?

Alix panicked when he looked down the alley and did not see Cristina. Where had she gone? Why? Then the true fear set in. When he was distracted, someone might have abducted her.

For several minutes Alix debated whether to leave his post and search for Cristina or to stay put and wait for her to come back. If he waited a few more minutes she might come back from wherever she went. But if she had been abducted every minute he delayed would make it more difficult for him to find her.

He was just standing up, preparing to set out in search of her when Cristina returned to the alley. She crossed the street diagonally from the corner of the building they had been watching. She crouched down beside Alix as he explained to her what he had observed.

“They are all over this block. Probably on top of all the buildings in the area,” she said.

“Who are they?”

“Judging from the numbers alone, they must be agents,” she said. “They know something’s going on.”

“Then, it’s not safe for us here.”

Cristina sat on the hard pavement in the alley and adjusted the laces on her shoes. “We need to remain in sight of the building. I was looking for a hotel or some vacant building where we could stay.”

“That would be good.”

“It would be, but there’s nothing in direct line of sight. The rooftops are all taken, at least from what I can tell. I’m not sure where else we would go. They can’t exactly arrest us for sitting in an alley and talking. I guess it’s loitering, but we have done nothing wrong.”

“At least there’s been nothing under our present identities.”

Cristina smiled. “Maybe it’s not worth pushing our luck. They can check fingerprints, retinal scans and DNA to identify us – if they wanted to. We probably don’t need to raise their suspicions. I’d prefer to be unobtrusive.”

Alix nodded. “My point is they’ll become suspicious if we stay here any longer. They may be suspicious already.”

“You’re right,” Cristina agreed. He could tell that her mind was elsewhere at the moment as she studied the nearby rooftops. “It is just there’s nowhere else for us to go and I’m not about to desert Paul, not now that I’ve finally located him.”

“If the authorities move in and capture him, what are we going to do? What’s the point?”

“Maybe we can do something,” Cristina said. “I think we might save him.”

“How? He has the attributes. He must be able to use them.”

Cristina stood up, grabbing her backpack with her. “Come.”

“Where are we going?”

“For a walk.”

“We’ll lose sight of the building,” Alix protested but, knowing better than to think he would win the argument, he snatched up his backpack and followed her anyway.

“I’m not expecting anything before morning,” she said as she moved on down the alley, the way she’d gone before. “We’ve watched the schedule. We know what’s going on and when to expect it.”

“How can you be certain?” Alix asked as he hurried to catch up to her.

“If they’ve been watching all along they know as much as we knew at first, that Paul’s in there but they do not know where. We have an advantage. We know where he is. They are watching and observing the comings and goings, timing them, estimating windows of opportunity. Perhaps they’ll attack when one of the visitors is inside. But they’re going to be cautious and choose the right time. They want this to operate on their timetable. They want to be in control.”

“The best time’s when the last visitor comes for 30 minutes,” Alix suggested.

“I don’t think so,” Cristina said.

“It’s the time that Paul would be exposed for the longest interval,” Alix argued his point.

“Don’t you think Paul’s visitors know that? The building must be protected in other ways that we’ve not yet observed. Besides, the authorities will not willingly attack at night. The night favors us. We have the attributes – better night vision.”

Alix nodded as she took his arm. What she was saying made a lot of sense. It also explained why the authorities had not bum-rushed the hideout. If they were covering every rooftop in a four-block area they certainly had the agents to do it. She must be right. They had other plans.

When they reached the next street, Cristina led the way into a hotel. It did not appear to be the greatest place to stay but it was the closest. They went inside, registered and presented their new thumbs for the imbedded ID chip to be scanned and then paid in advance with the payment keys that Raven had given to them. They asked for a room far away from everyone else, stating they were newlyweds. The desk clerk gave them a room on the top floor.

The room was smallish, as might be expected in the oldest part of the city. It was clean and seemed comfortable enough, though. Considering the most recent reference for comparison was spending the night in an alley, it was an excellent accommodation.

Cristina set her backpack down on the floor and squatted to open it. She noted when she had opened it before to obtain a snack Dom had been thorough in packing. She had everything she needed, even makeup. It struck her as odd that a DOMLIB would think of makeup and certainly it was strange that Raven would have such things in his residence. Perhaps he’d send Dom out to purchase items for them while they were resting.

She unpacked what she needed and disrobed, taking a long, hot shower, washing her hair and then, when she stepped out of the shower and toweled dry, she opened the door to allow Alix to do the same while she got dressed for bed.

Alix’s shower was comparatively quick. The hot water seemed to be getting cooler the longer he lingered and so he focused on getting rid of the dirt, sweat and smell before the water turned too cold.

When he stepped out of the shower and dried off, he walked up behind Cristina and wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her on the side of her neck just below the ear lobe. She giggled in response, “You missed me already.”

“We could have conserved water and taken a shower together.”

“I sort of think we might have been in there longer then.”

Alix laughed. “You’re probably right. I’m just looking forward to being comfortable lying next to you. Nothing else in this craziness makes sense to me. “

“I’m sorry,” she said as she turned within his embrace and faced him. She looked strange from the preparations she applied to her face to cleanse it deeply. Not that he had ever seen her in such a state, it was just he had other ideas for the evening. It could be their last time to spend together as a free man and woman.

“There is only this moment,” Alix said. “There might never be another.”

“I know,” Cristina said.

Alix swept her up into his arms and carried her into the other room. As she clung tightly with her arms wrapped around his neck, Alix peeled back the sheets with one hand and then laid her down gently on the bed. He leaned over her and pressed his lips to hers even though he inadvertently applied some of the cleansing face cream around his lips.

“What do you have in mind?”

“Everything,” Alix said.

Cristina giggled. “I don’t know if I can do everything but I suppose I can give it a try.”

Alix laughed. “I just want to forget about everything else – just be us, here and now. Nothing else matters.”

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The Resurrection: Chapter 7 – Reconciliation

**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.***

Julie sat at her desk, buried in enough paperwork to last a week, but it was usual for her job.

As always, she accomplished next to nothing that was on her personal agenda, not even the critical requirements from the corporate office. There were always crises to manage and figurative fires to extinguish. All of it was the direct result of gross incompetence at some level or another, and very often someone at a higher pay scale than she earned was at fault.

Fixing the mistakes of others, continuously, she made everything function and everyone above her pay grade looked good to their superiors. Appreciated by coworkers but unappreciated with advancements and raises in salary, mostly it was her sense of mission that drove her. Not only did she want to do a good job, but also she needed to go home with satisfaction that she’d improved things for others winning the battle for another day. Lately, others thwarted her attempts, frustrating her until the job seemed drudgery instead of challenge.

Good at what she did, very good, others depended on her personal sacrifice of her time and devotion to the task at hand. Mostly, the job left her lacking energy, any pride  in accomplishment or feeling that things would improve. Her supervisors benefited directly for what she did while they did little or nothing, rarely even patting her on the back. They expected her to wear herself out on their behalf at and her expense.

Despite her overall dissatisfaction with work, she continued working for her company because she needed the meager compensation to pay bills. She earned enough that she did not suffer. She could go out to eat when she felt like it, take in a show every once in a while and go out dancing and club-hopping on weekends with her girlfriends. Her life was not that bad except that she dreaded going to work and having to deal with one crisis after another when everything she fixed her immediate supervisor took the credit for and everything that went wrong was never their blame.

It had been a couple of days since Chase shared macaroni and cheese with her and took the rest of his things with him. She must have been thorough in her cleanup effort. She had found nothing since that night that belonged to him. She had looked in the hopes of having another good excuse to call him. He had not called her even once saying he was missing anything. Apparently he did not miss her, either.

She dared not call him without cause. Although many times a day she thought about him, she had her pride. Being separated just felt wrong to her, very wrong for them. Yet she did not think she had done anything wrong. She fully understood Chase’s point of view but what she did she would do again to protect him. Why was he so stubborn that he refused to see that?

Chase was still looking for an apartment. That was what she assumed. She figured he would at least call her to tell her where he lived. They parted friends – as much as that is possible for lovers when a relationship tears apart – so she expected at least that much consideration from him to know where he lived and how he was doing.

At her behest, Kim call Chase’s temporary roommate – the guy he knew from work – and say she saw him in a club and got his work number from a friend, playing the ‘I want to get to know you better’ routine. He begged off on a date until later in the week, saying he had a houseguest and hopefully he would be out of the apartment before the weekend. So, Kim learned what Julie wanted to know.

When Julie got off from work and entered the garage where her coach was docked, there were three men in suits leaning against it. Their suits were the sorts that agents wear, not uniforms but certainly not fine business attire either. She really did not want to deal with any more questions. Long since, she had already told Yates everything she knew.

“I suppose Yates sent you to collect me,” she said as she approached her coach and the three men.

“He said there would be no problem.”

“Then why send three of you?”

“He felt that one would be a threat, two would be intimidating but three would sort of set you at ease, that we’re legitimate and not going to harm you.”

“In a weird sort of way I guess that makes some sense. I do feel more at ease.”

“We can take you in our coach or you can follow us if you like.”

“I think I’ll follow you. It will save me time getting home afterwards.”

They leaned forward and off her coach and allowed her to undock it and as they climbed into their coach, she got into hers. She knew where she was going but even so she followed them, not passing them.

When she arrived, much to her surprise, Yates was waiting outside the building and he knocked on the passenger side window. She opened the door and he climbed inside. “Let’s go for a drive,” he said.

“I hope you’re happy. Chase and I are separated now.”

“I heard. Certainly, I’m not happy about it at all. That was never my intention for any of this to come between the two of you.”

“How could it not? I only wanted to save him from any pain or grief but he feels I betrayed his friends, my friends as well. They did nothing wrong. That’s the whole point. Really they did nothing wrong.”

“Except they fled the authorities which rapidly elevated them in status to suspects.”

“They’re not dangerous.”

“There is some debate about that. You see several agents were inured in the attempts to detain and then later re-arrest them. Now, they have completely disappeared,” Yates revealed. “There’s no trace of them, still. I don’t know how they did it. I didn’t think it could be done. We’ve alerted Star City, their apparent destination, but they’ve never arrived there. They have been watching security scans from the stations frame by frame looking for them. I’m at a complete loss to explain it. Perhaps, you have some thoughts?”

“If you can’t find them, what chance would I have?”

“You know them.”

Julie pursed a smile. “My life’s a shambles. My former fiancée hates me. When my friends learn what I’ve done they’ll likely hate me as well, because everyone thought Chase and I were a perfect couple – and we were. Because I know them, you think I might know where they’re hiding. I haven’t got a clue. Cristina’s smart, very smart. Alix is resourceful in ways you’d never imagine. If they’ve been undetectable for even a day it’s remarkable considering all the technology at your disposal to keep track of people. But it doesn’t surprise me. If anyone could completely disappear it would be them.”

“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but you’ll either find out or figure it out, eventually. They’ve been under scrutiny and some level of surveillance for all of their lives.”

“Really?” Julie asked. “And Chase as well…and me?”

“There are Twenty-Four of you.”

“Twenty-Four?”

“Twelve sets of twins. Whether you realize it or not, each of you was born one of a set of twins.”

“I’m sure that’s significant somehow.”

“Well, it is. The significance was lost on me until this morning. I received a visit from the Director of Research at The Hosting Institute, a sort of live-in facility for twelve highly remarkable women who’ve been monitored for over two decades now,” Yates said.

“Okay?”

“The Institute is here in Andromeda. I wasn’t even aware of its purpose until this morning. I’d heard of it in passing and knew its mission was a highly guarded secret. There’s been some speculation that they were conducting research into human fertility but what did I know?”

“I’m waiting to find out what any of this has to do with me.”

“You are one of The Twenty-Four. That’s how they refer to you in official circles. You were borne of one of The Twelve who live in The Institute.”

“I’m confused.”

“Your mother lives at the Institute, Julie. Everyone else who’s one of The Twelve does.”

Julie pulled her coach over to the curb and temporarily parked it. “My mother’s dead. I have visited her grave many times.”

“That was a cover – for a purpose,” Yates said. “Your father knew. He agreed with the objectives and he lived with the consequences.”

“You knew?”

“I never knew all the details. Certainly, nothing about the women in the facility but, yes, I suppose I knew enough. I spoke to your father. I met a number of the other husbands as well. They were amazing men in an equally extraordinary way. They had yielded their wives’ lives already, expecting them to die. Yet, when the women lived, they allowed them to participate in the research program in the interest of all humanity. Each and every one of them was a very remarkable man. In every case, they were the ones who passed on prematurely. It’s not a coincidence, but it is another part of the mystery no one understands.”

“So, you’re saying my mother’s alive?”

“Of course she is, as is Chase’s mother, Alix’s mother, Cristina and Paul’s mother and Pete’s.”

“Pete?”

“He is the drummer in Cristina’s band.”

“I see. And suddenly, it’s okay for this to be public knowledge.”

“It’s not public knowledge. It’s being shared with me to share with you because the Colonial Authority wants to clear up a few things, and maybe by this gesture, you’ll understand they really are on your side.”

“I want to see her.”

“Of course, I’ve made the arrangements. Apparently, Cristina and Paul’s mother is in Star City. She’s seeing Paul.”

“Trying to persuade him away from the course he’s chosen.”

“I suppose it’s something like that,” Yates said, “Here’s the address. You can program it into the controller.”

As she complied her coach merged with traffic and accelerated toward the selected destination. When it arrived, both Julie and Yates exited. They were in the most remote section of the city Julie had ever been, close to the edge of the dome – beyond the circle or the ‘loop’, as it was called. They entered the building and posted at the reception desk. Yates asked for someone named Neville.

Presently a lanky gentleman, middle aged and strikingly handsome emerged through a security door. “I’m Neville.”

“I’m Yates. This is Julie. She’s one of The Twenty-Four.”

Neville frowned. “It’s highly irregular, despite the interim change in what the Colonial Authority desires.”

“These are strange times,” Yates said.

“They are, indeed. Come, I guess my present role is to introduce Julie to her mother.”

“She’s really here?” Julie held back her tears with a wall of doubt, but the sudden, immediate prospect of meeting her mother after all these years broke through any emotional barriers she might have erected. Tears trailed down her cheeks and dripped to the front of her blouse as she followed Yates and Neville down a hallway.

“Except for the testing and the continuous observation, The Twelve have led normal lives – as normal as could be permitted under the circumstances. The Colonial Authority has made a point to ensure they were treated well. They’re comfortable and never want for anything.”

“They never wanted to see us?” Julie asked.

“The stay informed as to what their children are doing. They were permitted to view surveillance when you were young. Since you’ve become adult, the monitoring was changed to weekly summaries they may access. It has frankly amazed us that two pairs of you have already found one another and have a relationship.”

“Had a relationship, in my case, anyway,” Julie corrected.

“A bump in the road,” Neville said. “We have learned through our research that, in the long run, you really don’t have much choice about your eventual mating. Whenever you meet someone who is completely compatible it may as well be carved in stone that you’ll mate.”

“And if he’s attracted to another of The Twenty-Four, as you call us?”

“Quite naturally, you all will have some regard and feelings for one another. It’s instinctual and inevitable. There may be close friendships that develop but only one will ever be compatible as a mate. It’s something quite apart from what we see in the broader population of even those with the attributes let alone humans. There’s apparently a hereditary one-to-one correspondence within The Twenty-Four, twelve pairings that can be no other way, selected by your odd natures. It’s as if it is designed and programmed into your DNA.”

“I’m not sure I like that.”

“It is what it is,” Neville said. “Here we are,” he said as he arrived at a door and knocked.

“Come in,” came the call from within.

Julie was apprehensive, even shy to venture into the room but Neville led the way. “Sylvia?”

“Neville, what a wonderful surprise. How are you? It’s been a few days.”

“Yes, it has and we now have some visitors.”

“And me looking like I just woke up,” Sylvia complained.

“You always look the same, a goddess can appear as nothing less.”

“You’re too kind – always the charmer.”

“I speak only the truth,” Yates said. “Regardless of the situation, I knew you’d want to meet your guests.”

“When they told me I doubted it was the truth – so much security for all these years.”

“How’ve you been?” Julie asked. “It’s wonderful to learn that you are alive, if it is really you.”

“Who else would I be? I guess, because I sort of work for the Colonial Authority, it should not surprise me that they told you. They had to eventually, I guess. But it took so long. Almost no one else knows.”

“I know,” Julie said.

“Oh, my,” Sylvia said even as she focused on her and a tear dripped down her cheeks. “You are just as beautiful as everyone says – more so in person than on the viewers. That’s no way to see my children! Come hug your mother, honey.”

Julie buried her face into her mother’s shoulder. “They told me you died, just like all the others.”

“Well, there are twelve of us who didn’t die and they still don’t know why,” Sylvia said. “What’s important is I’m here and now you know.”

“They tell me I have a brother.”

“Randall,” Sylvia said. “He lives in New London. He’s a criminal defense attorney.”

“Really?” Julie asked.

“Very handsome and very eligible, in case you know anyone who’s looking,” Sylvia said, with a chuckle. “Come sit down here on the bed and we can talk. I’m sure Neville can entertain Mr. Yates for a bit.”

“Yeah, we can discuss a few things,” Neville confirmed as he ushered Yates toward the door and once they were into the hallway he closed the door behind them, leaving Julie and her mother alone.

“It’s amazing, finding you here.”

“This is like a dream for me as well. I mean, I’ve known everything about you. They’ve been really good about that, telling all of us about our children. But it’s not the same as being there, picking you up when you fall down and skin a knee.”

“Father told me everything about you.”

“He had to. I told him he needed to do that.”

“He knew you were here.”

“He also knew that you couldn’t know. That tore him up inside, but he also understood and accepted it. I don’t know how he could ever endure what he did but, from what the other twelve have told me, their husbands did the very same thing as well. Maybe it was because they figured it was borrowed time that allowed us to live. They had long since decided we would die in childbirth. Having the attributes was, always before, the curse of death for the mother. So once it was diagnosed, we were reconciled to accept it. But then, somehow I survived and no one knew why. Then all the others – The Twelve – they also survived. They wanted to know answers and the answers could only come from studying us as a group.”

“But they still don’t have the answers.”

“No, they don’t,” Sylvia confirmed. “You have, or at least had, a boyfriend named Chase. I am very good friends with his mother. He had a sister named Clare. She lived in Emerald City until she was 10 then moved to Andromeda. She’s a professional musician in the City Orchestra. She plays first violin.”

“You know everyone.”

“Yes, even your friend Cristina and her brother Paul has a mother among our group. She’s a wonderful woman but greatly embarrassed by what all has been going on lately with her son. The Colonial Authority allowed her to travel to Star City to see him.”

“They have him in custody again?”

“There’s no escaping them,” Sylvia looked into her daughter’s eyes. “They have plans for the world and they’re determined the plans will be fulfilled. It’s what needs to happen, Julie. I’ve come to that realization. We’re here to save everyone else. We’re the only ones who can change things. We carry the adaptation the rest of humanity needs. So there’s not a choice. We have to do this for everyone else and their survival.”

Julie discerned a bit of sad acquiescence in her mother’s resolve, not so much as to get her into any trouble. Still, Julie could tell that being confined and unable to go anywhere else bothered her mother. She was envious of Cristina and Paul’s mother just because she had been allowed to go to another city, even if she had been ferried on a special transport, and, from what she had heard, she was already on her way back.

Silvia’s station in life was really been like confinement in a prison. Her crime was not merely having two very special babies with talents and gifts beyond the norm for humanity, but not dying immediately after they were born.

Sylvia took Julie’s hand into hers. “You need to listen to me. I know I have not been there for you but I have been watching and I’ve been proud of you in ways that you cannot understand. You’re tough. You’re a strong-willed young woman and extremely dedicated to whatever you do. You’re probably too intelligent for your own good, but you’ve never flaunted it. You may think you’re right at times, but sometimes you’re not. I think Chase is right for you.”

“He doesn’t trust me.”

“Trust is something that’s earned between two people, never a given in a relationship. A woman seeks love above all else, and it every level and facet of the experience in a relationship. Men are easier. They also need love but what they desire most is respect from the one they choose to share their life. Do you understand?”

“He feels I betrayed him and his friends.”

“What do you think?”

“I didn’t want to see him get hurt again.”

“Is that all?”

Julie started crying, expressing her emotions unintelligibly until, finally she regained some of her composure, at least enough to buck up and take a deep breath before speaking further. “I didn’t want to be left alone.”

“Yet that’s what you received for all your efforts.”

Julie lowered her eyes. Sylvia corralled her shoulders, drawing her closer. “He’s good for you. He’s the best there is. He’ll protect you and be a good father to your children.”

“But he doesn’t trust me.”

“He will in time. Go to him and tell him you respect what he did for his friends. Cherish what you can share with him, because that is all either of you will have in life. From it you will bear your children and that the most important part of your life, not only for you or them, but also for everyone else.”

Julie smiled.

“Tell him you did exactly what you had to do. It was what you felt was right and if he doesn’t understand why you did what, tell him you had to do what you thought was right and you’re sorry, but it was necessary to save his life. Then tell him you love him and completely respect his feelings about his friends, but you also deserve his respect because you were only trying to save his life. He needs to hear that you still need him in your life.”

Julie laughed, “You make it sound simple.”

“Honey, if you think he’s not hurting, you’re wrong. He misses you, maybe more than you miss him. If you open the door in a proper way, he’ll come back inside.”

“I wish I had your confidence.”

“My confidence?” Sylvia asked with chagrin, “Honey, you possess the potential to do such amazing things that you cannot imagine – things that maybe no one else in the world could ever do. You have only to discover the fullness of your abilities. You’re a uniquely incredible person. You’re special in ways none of the other Twenty-Four could ever be. You don’t lack confidence. Merely, you lack experience.”

Julie hugged her mother and wiped away a tear. “Can I come see you?”

“I would welcome the visits, if they allow it.”

“Why would they not allow it?”

“Some of their research requires isolation. There’ve been times when I was confined to my room for over a month or more to control the outside variables of some study or another.”

“They’re still studying you?”

“We’re not supposed to be alive,” Sylvia said. “Despite everything they’ve done to us, poking and prodding and watching us, they still don’t understand why. It’s our nature. We were slightly different than everyone else. That’s all, just enough that we lived while everyone else died. I’ve felt at times like the researchers treat us as if we were dead, too. But Neville, the administrator, is always quick to correct them.”

“Really?”

“All they have accomplished is gathering clues and coming up with more questions they can’t answer, things about us individually that are different as well as things that make us distinct as a group. They have traced our ancestry through interviews with any living relatives and us. They have mapped out each of our genomes and them to the others and what is considered normal. Of course, we’re all similar to the ninety-ninth percentile so they are looking for the one or two things out of a billion or trillion that is special and in common between all of us.”

“They haven’t found out anything?”

“In the one that one percentile of difference we share from all the rest of humanity, The Twelve are more like sisters, almost like twins born of different mothers. Haven’t you noticed the family resemblance?” she asked with a laugh.

“Maybe The Twelve have a common ancestor,” Julie offered.

“I suppose that could be said of most people in the world if you go back far enough, but they think. But yes, there is one common ancestor and he or she is the key to the differences, but it took all these hundreds of years…”

“Do you know anything about the ancestor?”

Sylvia shook her head. “Apparently that’s a secret kept even from us, but they are looking for other relatives in the general population to see if they carry any of the traits they’ve found in us. Finding others with the trait who are fertile and using their genetics to breed with others…well, they’re trying to reproduce what they believe is a random event in nature that produced us.”

“There’s nothing random about it,” Julie said. “That’s where they are wrong in their assumptions. There are no coincidences.”

“You’re right.” Silvia smiled. “We all feel that.”

“I know it. It’s more than a feeling. We’re the design.”

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The Resurrection: Chapter 6 – Location

**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.***

Cristina rolled over and in the process, inadvertently slapped Alix. Startled he sat up quickly, then realized what must have happened and smiled as he saw that Cristina was still sleeping, resting comfortably in a real bed.

It was almost morning anyway. Maybe they really should get up for an early start on preventing events already set into motion. Yet they did not know enough details to even begin to know where to find Paul.

That was important to Cristina. She wanted to find him. He was the only family she had left in the world. She had never known her aunt and uncle, the people who raised Paul. But then, that logic didn’t make sense to Alix even though he said nothing. Until a few weeks ago Cristina did not even know she had a brother.

Alix fell back into the pillow and even though he was awake he was still groggy and considered trying to take another short nap while waiting for Cristina to rouse. He turned on his side and watched her sleeping, listening to her breathe. He confirmed for the millionth time in the past week how very pretty she was regardless of the time of day or whether she was wearing any makeup. He could not imagine her ever seeming ugly to anyone. There was nothing about her he did not like. Everything he found stimulating and fascinating. She was his personal goddess and he worshipped her, but he would never possess her. Others adored her, even worshipping her for her multiple talents as she performed before thousands and thousands of people. But it was different for him.

Maybe he worshipped her for a bit longer than anyone else. He was there in the beginning, the first day she sang for the band at the audition for Keith and Tim. He had been helping Pete tune his drums for their practice. Only his bass could achieve fundamental tones low enough for Pete to attempt tuning his drums directly to another instrument in the band. For everything else, Alix used an oscilloscope and a tone generator.

Alix saw her walk into the studio – if the place they were renting at the time merited the classification ‘studio’. It was Keith’s terminology. Tim warned Alix and Pete they were auditioning a singer for the band. So, they were not surprised when she showed up. Alix was surprised how amazingly pretty and vibrant she was. She brightened the whole room just being there.

She seemed tentative and quiet at first. Keith, the consummate schmooze, was talking and joking with her, trying to set her at ease. But when she began singing in accompaniment to Keith and Tim playing a song on their acoustic guitars, both Pete and Alix immediately stopped to listen. Her voice was like a mythical siren’s. They could not do anything else but listen. When she finished Pete and then Alix clapped. Tim and then Keith joined in.

“I guess I got the job, then?” Cristina ventured.

Keith laughed. “If you can stay a bit longer, I think Alix and Pete are just about tuned up by now and ready to go. Maybe we can jam for a bit.”

They jammed for over an hour on some riffs that Tim had written but had never really finished into a song. It was a jazz-blues sort of thing that lent itself to improvisation. Cristina accompanied the jam, playing an acoustic guitar. She was talented beyond anyone’s expectations. She also claimed ability with a keyboard, an instrument that the band had not yet utilized, mostly because only Alix could play the piano and even then it was not like he could do it all that well.

Alix recalled when Keith handed her a sheet of lyrics. They played the first song, instrumental only so that she could follow through reading the lyrics and timing the transitions. Then they played it again with her singing.

It was as if she owned the song, as if she had always sung it, maybe even written it. She had a presence and authority that commanded attention as she belted out the lyrics. It was at the end when Alix knew for certain she was then and ever after their lead singer.

In the ten years since, she lost nothing except her initial shyness.

He remained motionless, not wanting to disturb her sleep. He knew she needed her rest. She had been through a lot. Everything he had been through, so had she, but at least he got more sleep while traveling in the railcar.

When the first glints of sunlight hinted at the edges of the heavy drapes that were drawn over the windows, Cristina opened her eyes. “What time it is?”

“Around 6 in the morning,” Alix said. “It’s getting light out.”

She sat up. “We shouldn’t have slept this long.”

“You were tired.”

“We need to find Paul. I mean, we really have to find him.”

“Yeah, I get that. But then if you really want to go back three hours…”

Cristina laughed. “You remembered what you did.”

“Yeah, I can do it again.”

She fell back into her pillow. “Really I could stay right here forever.”

“As long as you’re with me, I’m happy to be right where I am,” Alix said.

“You’ve got it bad, don’t you? “

“If there’s a cure, I’m not interested.”

She drew a deep breath. “How do we find him, Alix?”

“You’re his sister, his twin. There must be some connection between the two of you. I mean that girl on the train, Clare, she was a stranger but you knew she had the attributes and you could talk to her, mentally.”

“I wonder how it worked out for her, with her boyfriend.”

“You said they were breaking up.”

“Yeah, well she thought he was cheating on her.”

“And if he wasn’t?”

“She has the attributes. If she thinks it then she has good reason to think it. It’s like having a sinking feeling that something wrong is imminent.”

“Like what I’ve been feeling since I awakened.”

She snuggled in closer then kissed him.

“I wish I knew what was going to happen,” he said.

“If we can go back couple of days, I suppose we can go forward a day or two.”

Alix smiled. “I’m not sure how it would work, though, skipping over the events that because we jumped back, we have not really even lived the experience. Would it be like we were never here to do anything? I don’t know what that would mean.”

“Then we come back and fix what was wrong or do whatever was necessary but missing.”

Alix laughed, “So, you have it all figured out?”

“Not all of it but maybe at least some of it,” Cristina said.

“I know what I did that was different, how we ended up a couple of days earlier. I just don’t know whether I could get back to where I was if I went into the future by a day more, or even if we lived on to arrive at the point where the future becomes our present.  Would it be the same as what I witnessed. There are always a variety of conditions and a number of variables to consider. Any one potential change, even seemingly insignificant could alter everything else.”

“You’ve thought a lot about this.”

“Yeah, I have,” Alix confirmed.

“Still, we have to do something.”

Alix nodded. “I’m just not sure what we’re supposed to do.”

“Who decides what’s supposed to happen?” Cristina asked.

“I think there’s a conditional destiny of sorts.”

“A what?”

“I can’t describe it any other way. It is like this. What if we do this then this, this, and that? If we do that instead of this, then what does it change?”

“I follow your thinking,” Cristina allowed.

“The courses are potentials, but they’re predetermined based on the choices we make in the immediate moment.”

“If I get up from bed now as opposed to ten minutes from now, it changes everything.”

“Well, some things may result in greater change than others, but yeah, I think that’s the gist of it,” Alix said.

Immediately, Cristina sat up in bed. “I need to find Paul. I feel like something very permanent is about to happen, something no one can ever fix or even if it could be remedied it would take an amazing act of intervention.”

“We’ll both get dressed,” Alix said as he tossed back the covers and then stepped out of bed onto the cool stone floor.

However it was possible that Dom knew, while they showered and dressed he prepared breakfast for them. When they emerged from their room, Dom was awaiting  that the top of the stairs and escorted them to where breakfast was served.

“Is Raven sleeping?” Cristina asked.

“He’s been in his study working on something all night. He told me that before you leave to inform him so he could give you something.”

“Give me something?”

“The way he phrased it I assumed it was something for both of you.”

“That’s intriguing,” Alix said. “I didn’t think he liked me much. Maybe his opinion of me has changed by the company I keep.”

Cristina smiled at Alix.

When they had completed their breakfasts, and exited out into the hall, Dom escorted them to the Master’s study. He knocked at the door and Raven granted permission for entry.

“Good morning,” Cristina said to him.

Raven smiled in response, “Were the accommodations suitable?”

“They were beyond excellent,” Alix answered for them both.

“Very good, then,” Raven stood and offered each of them a velvet pouch with cinch string. When they opened their pouches they discovered new payment wands. “Dom has reprogrammed your ID chips with new identities that are meticulously perfect as well as tied to the wands. Dom handles all of those things for me. When the ID files are accessed there will be a full history, including minor infractions, violations, and juvenile records of some mischief. There are school records and even some college records. Dom has created new lives for you. If you remain here he can even arrange for accommodations in an apartment building that I own. I’m a member of an investment consortium that is not directly linkable to me. A vacant apartment there is the address referenced on your ID’s. There are sufficient funds attached to the payment wands for you to linger in the city for several days then return home if and when you so desire and think it is safe. Dom is pretty good at estimating what would be required. He also monitors the accounts so if they run low he can replenish them from a blind account that’s not attached to mine in any way, shape or form.”

“What is this?” Alix asked as he pulled out a thin gold chain bearing an odd looking stone that glowed ever so slightly as it dangled from the chain as he held it.

“Talismans or if you prefer amulets; some would call them good luck charms, others might have divergent opinions.”

“It’s very pretty,” Cristina said as she extracted her own from the pouch. “What sort of gem stone is this? I’m not familiar with it.”

“The source stone is unique. There was originally only one and it was shattered into many pieces, of which these are but a small portion. It is said that these stones are a piece of the Foundation Stone, which is all that was left when the previous iteration of the universe concluded. These became the basis for the present creation. It is a legend and as is true of all legends there is enough fact in it so it cannot be summarily dismissed. I have studied the stones. They produce strange variations in the harmonic forces of the universe immediately around them. It is a fact that they can enhance the native abilities of those who bear them whenever there is a need to access the power inherent in the universe to channel through them.”

“And you are giving them to us as lucky charms?”

Raven smiled, “I’m giving them to you because they may help you and even protect you. The attributes the two of you possess are remarkable, yet they are abilities latent in everyone who is human. Despite the seeming magic in what you can do, there is really nothing magical in any of your demonstrated abilities. These stones are magical in that they can access the flow of the energy underlying and defining the very universe.”

“Thank you,” Cristina said, then rose up on her toes and kissed Raven. “Thank you, Andy,” she reiterated with a more personal touch.

Raven smiled at her, then accepted Alix’s handshake. “Goodbye and good luck,” he said to them both.

“Raven,” Cristina turned back as she paused at the door. “Did you ever find her?”

Raven seemed perplexed by the question. “There have been many hers who I have obviously found in life.”

“The real Marie?”

Raven stepped back but smiled as if savoring the image of her that his mind conjured. “Then you have read more than I suspected.”

“I have read a good bit but I have never finished it.”

“Tell me, what do you think?”

“I’ve always wanted to believe that you found her.”

“If that is what you believe then who am I to disappoint you?”

“How does it end in the book?”

“What’s the difference if you never read it to the conclusion? As the reader, a book can end anyway that you want it to, right? If the writing doesn’t compel you to the real conclusion, it ends wherever you leave off.”

“I would like to know how the real story ended.”

Raven laughed. “Authors must conclude works of fiction in ways that in the real world might never be possible.”

“You’re not going to tell me.”

“No, I’m not,” Raven said. “You may read it and whether you like the ending or not it is the conclusion. You may decide to linger in the hope that your guess is correct.”

“What happened to her?”

“As she was mortal having nothing artificially extending her life, her demise was much the same as anyone else’s,” he said.

Cristina nodded. “You were with her when she died.”

“You think you’ve tricked me into telling you the end but you’ve not. I’ve only said what is normal for anyone.”

Cristina tilted her head to one side, but then kissed Raven on the cheek again. Then, she turned to exit into the hallway and joined Alix there. Dom saw them to the front door where he handed them backpacks he had prepared with several days of clothing and some non-perishable food. Then, even Dom offered his goodbyes and good luck wishes.

As they descended the hill toward the coach stop, they saw the coach turning in the cul-de-sac at the end of ‘the hills’ route. It would reach the stop at just about the same time as they would. They would not have to wait at all.

They boarded the coach, temporarily stowing their backpacks beneath the bench seat. The coach was vacant except for them, and even unto the exit for ‘the crosstown’, no one else boarded. When they arrived at their exit they gathered up their backpacks and got off. Presently another coach stopped to pick them up just across the street from where they were let off.

Once they were settled again with their backpacks stowed under the bench sea, Cristina sighed, muttering something about not really knowing where to begin to look for Paul. Alix’s response was a nod, but nothing more.

She suspected Paul would return to the vicinity of stations, so perhaps that was a good enough place to start her search for him. She remained immersed in thought and Alix did not disturb her with idle prattle in lieu of purposeful points of conversation.

For his own part he was considering all the practicalities of how to possibly alter the course of events. It was difficult as he did not know what was going to happen. He assumed if they did nothing it would be worse than if they did something to delay what was increasingly beginning to seem inevitable.

Events would begin to progress from that afternoon regardless of what they did. They had taken flight from the authorities. If they were ever going to erase that from reality, they would need to go back to Andromeda, perhaps even back before Cristina made the railcar reservations.

“Sometimes I wish I’d never met Paul,” Cristina said quite abruptly, completely derailing Alix’s thoughts. “But I guess I had no choice in the matter. We’re connected. We’re related. So, everything about us shares some ultimate commonality of purpose.”

“I’m not sure I believe that,” Alix said. “Your objectives are completely different from his.”

“Maybe I’ve come here to persuade him. I’m sure he has come here to persuade me. And yet the authorities are trying very hard to keep us apart. Why? That’s really what I need to know. What’s wrong with a brother and sister meeting and talking, even having a disagreement. If we still go our separate ways and maintain respect for one another, who’s business is it what we do or say to one another?”

“Obviously, we need more information,” Alix said.

“We need more time.”

“Time I can give you,” Alix said as he opened his palm and the orb appeared there. Its presence caused both of the gift talismans they both received from Raven to glow brighter. “Isn’t that interesting?” Alix observed.

Cristina produced her orb as well, with a similar result. Then, rolling her hand over, her orb went back into the semi-oblivion just beyond the veils of reality where she kept it. The glow of their talismans diminished slightly.

“Very interesting,” Alix commented in supplement to his previous observation.

“When we were in the apartment back in New Milan, we brought our orbs together.”

Alix nodded, “And that is when we saw a sand-morph.”

“It was alive,” Cristina said.

“It felt like we were in the past as observers.”

“The creature seemed to respond to us.”

“We assumed that.”

“But lately I have wondered whether it was the past at all.”

“There are no sand-morphs. There have not been living sand-morphs for generations.”

“How do we know that?” Cristina said.

“They were all killed when the world was sterilized.”

“What if some of them survived?”

“Where would they be? The world has been explored and colonized for years and years. Someone would have found them by now.”

“They would have had to be deep in caverns to have survived the effects of sterilization.”

Alix nodded. “According to Chase, Paul was in a cavern when he met him.”

“You don’t think Paul actually found where they are.”

“It’s possible but unlikely.”

“I doubt it, too,” Cristina said. “He would not be so adamant about The Resurrection’s goals if he’d found any of the sand-morphs who were still alive.”

“If any were alive you would think, after all this time, someone would have made contact with them.”

“Or them with us,” she said.

They reached their stop before they noticed and although they scrambled to get up in time to exit, the coach was already pulling away from the curb. They sat back down, clutching their belongings in their laps and waited to arrive at the next stop, where they finally exited.

They turned back to the north and began to walk toward the stop they missed when suddenly they observed a group of young men who seemed to be in a hurry crossing the street at the next corner. Cristina shivered as if she had taken a chill, prompting Alix to inquire, “What’s wrong?”

“All of them.”

“What?”

“All of them have the attributes.”

“They’re part of The Resurrection.”

She nodded. “Affiliated. We have to follow them. Maybe they know where Paul is.”

They broke into a run to reach the corner before the group disappeared down another street. They were just in time to see the last few men in the group entering an alley. They hurried along the street, finally reaching the alley where the men were congregated. A group of them advanced behind a building while one remained out in the alley proper.

Cristina and Alix slipped their arms out of the straps of their backpacks and set them down as they hid in the shadows, nestled in doorways that were recessed into the walls of adjacent buildings. There they waited, watching what was happening, wondering what was going on. Suddenly, Cristina gasped, then immediately suppressed it. “Paul,” she whispered as he had seemingly appeared from nowhere.

Across the way Alix nodded. He saw him too.

The man who remained in the alley halted him. The two of them were conversing, somewhat animated at first but then just as the balance of the group of men returned to the alley to surround them, the man who stopped Paul delivered some sort of a verbal chastisement to his obvious subordinates. Some of it was audible but only a word here and there. Even so both Alix and Cristina got the gist of it.

After a few moments Paul was blindfolded and physically escorted past Cristina and Alix as the two of them withdrew further into the recesses of the doorways while Paul and the others emerged out into the street.

They followed them for a time, as they meandered through the streets, perhaps trying to confuse Paul, then a few blocks from where they found Paul, the apparent leader, Paul and a couple of escorts disappeared into an archway that concealed a stairway that led directly from the street to a floor that was above a small novelty store that was not yet open for the day’s business hours.

Cristina and Alix sat in an alley across the street and observed for a time until the apparent leader came back down the stairway and exited through the archway onto the street. He turned to the east and went on his way. After a few minutes the other two escorts departed, exiting heading west.

“Do we follow them or the leader?”

“Paul is still in that building,” Cristina said as she shed her backpack and propped it against the wall of the building to support the small of her back. “We’ll wait here.”

As Paul removed his backpack as well he asked, “Do you think Paul is in any kind of trouble, I mean more so than already?”

“I don’t know. I sort of feel he’s safe, at least for the moment.”

Alix squatted down where he was and then finally sat back on the ground with his back supported by his backpack as he leaned back against the wall for support.

Cristina was happy to know where Paul was and content to allow events to progress as they would for a while at least. Alix glanced at his chronometer. It was getting fairly late for the morning. Soon the businesses would be open and the bustle of the day would replace the present prevailing tranquility.

As the shop on the first floor of the building that they had been watching opened for business they observed as people came and went. In midmorning she saw someone entering the building, ascending the stairs and then came back down a few minutes later. Suddenly, Cristina stood up, snatching up her backpack by its straps. “Let’s go,” she said.

“I thought we were just going to watch.”

“We are. I just want to see where Paul is – inside.”

Cristina exited the alley and started across the street before Alix could even grab his backpack and try to catch up. She passed beneath the arch and bounded up the stairs, taking two at a time as Alix had finally caught up but was still a step or two in her wake.

They opened the door and entered into a vacant, nearly open floor, the only walls other than the outer walls were a series of partitions constructed from the front wall of the building back to halfway into the floor then formed a sharp corner to adjoin with a sidewall of the building.

Cristina led the way as they explored the entire floor, finding nothing even though she kept telling Alix that she knew Paul was nearby. She even paused for several moments and faced a wall, reaching out and almost touching the wall. “I’m confused,” she said to Alix.”

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “He’s very close but we’ve looked everywhere.”

Alix went inside the room and checked, looking at everything from ceiling to floor. When he emerged he shrugged, “Unless there is some concealed room on this floor, I have no explanation.”

“We go back where we were and watch. I’m certain he’s here.”

They descended the stairs and headed toward the alley across the street where they had previously been. In the building next to the alley was a small coffee shop. Alix offered to buy Cristina a cup of coffee and she accepted. They sat together sipping coffee at a table beside the front window as Cristina maintained her vigil.

The gentleman who apparently owned the shop came out to their table and personally thanked them for coming in. They promised him that they would return and he thanked them.

When they had finished their coffee they returned to the alley and again deposited their backpacks onto the pavement in exactly the right way to afford them some lower back support while leaning back against the wall of the building that housed the coffee shop.

Around noon, someone approached bearing a relatively flat rectangular box, which he carried between his hands. He passed beneath the arch and ascended the stairs. In a few minutes he returned down the stairs carrying the box vertically under his arm as if it were empty, or at least he no longer cared about the contents.

She considered it for a few minutes, and then looked at the chronometer on Paul’s wrist. “Is it noon?”

“Yeah, close enough for argument’s sake. Why, are you hungry?”

“Well, yeah, but that’s not why I asked. It’s funny. Someone just went upstairs in the building across the street and appeared to deliver something.”

“Where? There’s no one there.”

“Exactly my point. Not only that but he was carrying it flat, like it was a tray, then when he returned he had the box tucked under his arm.”

“Lunch?”

“That’s my thought.”

Alix shrugged. “Okay, if Paul’s there he’s somewhere we can’t access, for whatever reason.”

“Behind a false wall,” Cristina suggested.

“A concealed room,” Alix said. “If we had a measuring meter we could confirm it.”

“We could get one.”

“I suppose we could.”

“Well one of us needs to stay here and watch the building.”

“I’ll get the measuring meter. There has to be somewhere near here that sells hardware.”

 

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The Resurrection: Chapter 5 – Mother

**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.***

There was never a reason for how everything seemed to turn out wrong. There was betrayal and from there Paul’s plan deteriorated and so, it seemed unlikely that he was ever going to see Cristina again. The authorities would relentlessly hunt him. He had no delusions. He had no hope of escaping the city. Tam thanked him for the escape but in the very next breath told him he was going to have to do everything from then on by himself.

He set out, heading at first across town toward Raven’s estate. Then on the way he relented what little hope there was in the courier helping him now. He was in worse trouble than before. He realized it was useless. Cristina did not arrive on the railcar. Perhaps the authorities arrested her in Andromeda. He did not expect to find her, especially now, not after all he had done.

Paul crouched down behind a garbage neutralizer in an alley, leaning back against it, feeling the warmth and the vibration as it converted garbage into a fuel source to partially supply the needs of the building whose occupants filled the input hopper. He looked up at the support arch for the dome. He had always marveled at the engineering wizardry involved in making something on a grand enough scale to enclose an entire city.

There was certainly nothing trivial about the amount of planning and effort that went into turning a world into the home of nearly one billion people. The Colonial Authority took pride in pointing out that Pravda was the second most populated colony, only to Mars. It was the most densely populated world that had not yet completed terraforming.

Whether in the seclusion of the mountains or while in the room of concealment behind the wall, Paul spent a lot of time reading, studying histories and scientific documents, especially anything to do with the planning and execution of the terraform process on Pravda. There had been a good deal of investment made just in getting the first settlers to arrive to populate the first two cities, Haven and New Milan.

There were other waves of settlers, who came to populate Andromeda and in time each of the other cities established on Pravda’s two continents. In fact, settlers from nearly every other colony had willingly come to what was being touted as a paradise in the making. It had been decided from the outset that Pravda could be transformed into a new Earth, one that would be better because, through terraforming, it would be created to best suit mankind’s needs. The truth was, Pravda would be a better place to live that it was now, but it would never be a new Earth.

The domes would be removed soon enough. Massive irrigation projects and agricultural ventures into the huge inland deserts would turn the surface green. Great forests would be established, eventually. The increase in foliage was expected to produce enough oxygen to drop the atmosphere’s ambient temperature to no more than 35 degrees Celsius anywhere on the continental landmasses. In most temperate places the mean temperature would be comfortable, ranging between 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.

When he was younger, Paul figured he would see the world transformed, be able to run through fields of tall, soft grass, feel the natural breeze blowing through his hair. It was a promise every school child was taught and fully believed. It was the brainwashing of the Colonial Authority that never told people the ultimate truth. Mankind would perish long before the terraforming of the world was completed.

Paul was exhausted but dared not sleep. He had to stay awake. He had only paused to catch his breath. He knew he would be shot on sight now. He doubted they would risk capturing him again. He was dangerous, uncontrollable and now wanted for the deaths of dozens of agents.

He had to stay concealed but he also needed to keep moving, if for no other reason than to stay awake, maintaining his alert vigil. He needed to find somewhere, off the streets, a safer place away from the probing scanners and security cameras. Since he had no choice about being a target at least he could be a moving one. If they were determined to kill him he would make it a fair challenge.

He was not certain he tapped into every resource and ability. While he was in the caverns in the mountains he learned everything he could about himself and the attributes manifest as his unusual abilities. In addition to telekinesis, he had walked through walls of solid granite. He could decide to be somewhere else and he would appear there instantly. He could appear to be in two or more places at once. And he since leaving caverns he learned to kill without touching the victim.

It was the last that became his greatest woe. It was not like he killed anyone who did not try to harm him first. He spared anyone who surrendered. It was just agents rarely surrender. They were true believers in the Colonial Authority’s cause. They were the instruments of execution and enforcement of Colonial Authority policies, edicts and rulings. No one who opposed the Authority could ever be considered right.

Having rested in one place far too long, Paul stood up, his muscles aching from their previous overexertion, his head throbbing with the stress he was under. His body was still healing itself from the internal injuries he’d suffered during the torturous interrogation sessions. Would this be the day he died or maybe he could stretch his life out until tomorrow. He found hope in the thoughts of seeing tomorrow. Maybe he could find Cristina, see her once more before he died.

Still, he did not want to complicate her life any more than he already had. He did not want her to be a fugitive. She did not have to be like him. He believed in the cause and she was necessary to it. She could communicate with the sand-morphs. He was certain of it. Maybe there were even others like Cristina, with empathic and telepathic abilities. The Resurrection’s plans demanded Cristina’s talents if not her person.

Paul walked out to the end of the alley, peering around the corner to survey the street. It was quiet, maybe too quiet. After all the excitement and confusion of the morning, the evening was a peaceful contrast yet it unnerved him. As he ventured out onto the street he sensed the danger. But it was already too late. He heard a subdued pop, followed by a sudden, sharp, needle stabbing pain in his back. Already he knew the drug intimately. It was what they used before only stronger. It was a calculated risk, an almost lethal dosage. He collapsed to his knees and then fell forward planting his face into the sidewalk, already unconscious before he realized the impact.

When he came around, there was an older lady sitting in a chair beside the bed where he was stretched out to sleep off the effects of the drug.

“And so we finally meet again,” she said as she smiled in response to his opening one eye to survey his whereabouts. It seemed an odd gesture for a guest considering everything that happened.

“I don’t remember meeting you before.”

“You were very young.”

“Who are you?”

“Call me your only friend,” she said. “Maybe I’m your last and only remaining hope.”

Paul looked into her eyes and sensed what he at first doubted but then confirmed with the tingling of ever fiber of his being, “Mother?”

“You always were bright. I could see it in your eyes even when you were first born.”

“But, you are…am I…”

“Neither of us is dead,” she said. “The Colonial Authority has me under observation. They have all of The Twelve as we’re called. Ever since you are Cristina were born, they’ve taken care of us.”

“But my aunt and uncle told me you died…”

“We felt Cristina needed a father. We guessed that you would be very independent and so maybe you could move to Haven and live with relatives,” she said. “It was what we planned all along. As you know, it was normal in my generation for the mothers of children with the attributes to die in childbirth. Fortunately, I was one of a dozen exceptions. All of us who survived have been cloistered away and studied extensively. Even so, the scientists still do not know why we lived. Out of the thousands of women who carried the attributes, we did not die giving birth to our children.”

Paul sat up, looking again into her eyes, still suspicious that it was some sort of trick.

“Hug me. The physical contact will confirm it. Even with the electronics in this room to prevent your acquiring your fullness of senses and power, touching me will confirm everything,” she said.

Paul leaned toward her and embraced her firmly. When he pulled back he was crying, and so was she.

“They have told you about us, Cristina too?”

“I’ve not been completely isolated from the news of the world. I know she’s a gifted singer in a band that’s becoming quite popular. I know you’re a notorious subversive.”

“Famous in my own way, I guess. Certainly, it’s not a way for a mother to be proud.”

His mother stood, and then walked around to a table and sat there. “Bring the chair. Come and sit with me. I’ll explain why I’m here and what the Colonial Authority wants to offer you.”

“They have sent you to make a truce?”

“I suppose in a way it’s a truce. It’s not something you’ll desire at first, but you need to hear me out.”

“Okay,” Paul said as he sat across the table from her.

“As I said your father and I planned even before you and your sister were born to separate you from Cristina. You went to Haven to live with your aunt and uncle. Cristina would remain in New Milan with your father. The Colonial Authority had already approached us well in advance. So once you and your sister were born they made the arrangements. They always knew I carried the attributes. But then when I survived giving birth they came to us again and told me that there was another woman who, like me, had not died. They wanted to study me even as they were studying her. It turned out in that season there were eleven other mothers who, like me, did not die in childbirth. We were all fully prepared for the eventuality and honestly I felt like it was borrowed time I was living. I expected to die at any moment. You father and I discussed it and he agreed it was for the best. I cooperated with the researchers so they could determine what the twelve of us had in common.”

“Do they know?” Paul asked.

“They already knew many things about us. Now they know even more. We’re perhaps the most clinically studied women ever. Still, they do not know what makes us different or why we’re still alive.”

“The others, do I know any of their children?”

His mother smiled, “You met Chase. I know his mother very well. I know Cristina’s boyfriend Alix’s mother. I know all the mothers very well. We are close friends. There is Julie who is Chase’s girlfriend and Pete who is Alix’s friend and he’s also a member of Cristina’s band. There were 24 offspring, every birth of The Twelve produced twins, each a boy and a girl.”

“Okay, I understand that you and the other mothers are alive. So what are the authorities planning to do with me, because if I don’t like it, I’ll not be here.”

“They’ve decided to attempt further sedation. They have some other drugs that might work as effectively, but they’ve not proven to be as effective over an extended period of time. They do not want to risk giving you a lethal dose of what they used on you.”

“What they gave me came very close to killing me.”

She nodded. “This really is your one and only chance, the final offer.”

“Or they kill me.”

“They will, Paul. As powerful as you are or believe you might yet become, they will kill you. They cannot allow you to run free. You’ve killed many people. You’re a high risk.”

“I never killed anyone who didn’t deserve it. That prick Dick was trying to electrocute me!”

“That has all been taken into consideration,” she said. “Paul, listen to me. They came to me. They do not want to execute you. They see your potential. You can do things that amaze them. They realize what you’ve displayed may be nothing compared to what you can do.”

“I know they’re monitoring us.”

“Of course they are. I’ve grown accustomed to that. I really don’t even consider it anymore. I live my life and have my conversations unafraid of what they’ll hear because it’s nothing but boring, everyday chit-chat with my eleven best and only friends.”

Paul sat back. “What sort of truce do they propose?”

“It’s not so much a truce as a deal. For their part, they’ll not kill you. But you’ll come inside.”

“Inside? I don’t understand.”

“It’s a little like what I do for them, but as it has been explained to me they want you to be a lot more active in locating and identifying others with the attributes.”

“So they know where they live when they want to exterminate us?”

“Paul, honey. You’ve been on the outside, dealing with elements of the Colonial Authority who are responsible for maintaining peace and order at any cost. To them you were a direct and present threat. They responded according to their training. By contrast, the elements of the Colonial Authority I’ve been working with want to unravel the mystery about us, why we survived, why you, Cristina and the friends who you know have the attributes are not affected by the invisible forces of this world that are conspiring to make all of mankind except for us sterile.”

“They have told the general public that within fifty years the fertility rate will decline to a point that mankind cannot sustain the population of this world,” Paul said. “That’s a bald-face lie.”

His mother nodded. “The fertility rate is already diminished well past that point. It reached it sometime last year. But news like that would panic everyone.”

“They have also promised to provide a solution within fifty years.”

“We’re the solution,” his mother said. “They’ve always known it. They’ve just been trying to keep tabs on us and track us so they can see what happens when the children of the twelve mate with one another or humans without the attributes.”

“I am told that the attributes are always dominant,” Paul said.

“For the first three generations, so far that holds to be true. There has not been enough time to study it further.”

“There’s fear of dilution.”

“Yes,” his mother said, not surprised her son had already reasoned through many of the most important issues. “They’re concerned the attributes will eventually become latent and the positive effect of the variant genes will be lost. That’s why they want to track those who have the attributes and monitor their offspring and their children’s children and so on. But more urgently, they need to persuade those with the attributes to reproduce whether with one another or with humans lacking the attributes.”

“That’s already happening.”

“Apparently, it’s happening much more slowly than desired,” his mother said. “I have no idea where they come up with the figures and statistics, but from my experience when they say something and provide numbers while stating it, the figures are very accurate and meticulously checked. Within two generations those who lack the attributes will be incapable of reproducing even with those who possess the attributes.”

“So, I fit in to help them find all of us.”

“That’s part of it.”

“And the rest.”

“This is what you’ll not like. The other side of the Colonial Authority wants to know everything about The Resurrection. That’s the only way they’ll release you into a supervised living situation.”

“I don’t know everything. By the organization’s nature we’re not told and we don’t want to know. We each performed a role and did a part. There’s no one who knows everything.”

“Then they need to know what you know.”

“Threats, tearing the hairs out of my head and burning the hair from my privates, then attempting to electrocute me through my nipples and genitalia are never going to loosen my tongue.”

His mother looked away, even shuttering as she dealt with his graphic revelation of the torture her son had already endured. “I know you have been through a lot and you do not trust them.”

“I hate them, Mother. First and foremost they took you from me and have prevented me from growing up with Cristina. I’ve been separated from her for all my life and never knew she existed until a few weeks ago.”

“You knew right away.”

“Shortly after I met her I knew, but not when I first saw her.”

“I understand she’s very alluring in person.”

“There’s no one else like her,” Paul said.

His mother sat back, drew a deep breath, and then sighed. “They will not allow you much time to decide. They’re to the point they feel you’ll need to cooperate or they’ll begin the process to terminate you.”

“This is their offer, my way out.”

“Paul, honey, they know a lot more about The Resurrection than you probably imagine.”

“They’ve agents inside, just as The Resurrection has operatives inside the Colonial Authority. It’s how it works. There are always moles.”

His mother smiled, “I’ve heard the term.”

“I believe in The Resurrection’s cause,” Paul said. “What was done at the very inception of the terraforming of this world was wrong. Despite every effort to ensure there was no life here, life existed and it went undetected. It was and oversight or our ignorance not to even check for silicon-based life forms, but it happened. No one was to blame except for all of us. It was a mistake, an accident. But then there was a grand cover-up. It was wrong well beyond the mistake. The Resurrection seeks to right that wrong.”

“By bringing a sand-morph back from the dead?” His mother asked.

“Cristina can communicate with them. We can learn from them. You have not seen the wonders I have seen, the artifacts of their civilization, their monuments and history recorded in smooth rock walls in characters that we’ve determined are like musical notes. We have discussed that their speech is like music!”

“And Cristina is supposed to render their language into our means of writing down music? Is that your plan for her?”

“My plan for her goes well beyond that. It’s our belief and hope that the resurrected sand-morph will retain its memory. Cristina will be able to learn its language and then teach us the history, experience and culture of the sand-morphs.”

“Then what? Do we share the world with them, you wake up all of the dead that are viable and foment a war for the resources and space on this planet. We’ve transformed this world, Paul. It’s not their world anymore.”

“They had natural filters for the poisons in the atmosphere. It’s not like they’ll miss the poisons. They can breathe the same sort of air we do.”

“How do you know this?”

“Because the air in the caverns is exactly like what we produce to supply the people beneath the domes, within a percentage point here or there. But that’s not even the issue. We have it in our power to maybe correct the error of the past. It was their world not ours.”

“You prefer death to cooperation then?”

“If you believe in a cause and it’s worth belonging to, then it’s worth dying for,” Paul said with firm, adamant conviction.

His mother stood up from the table. “The attributes in you come from me,” she said. “Your stubbornness is completely your father’s curse.”

Paul smiled then stood and embraced his mother, kissing her on the cheek. “I’m glad I finally met you. I only wish we had known each other longer.”

“I had hoped to spare your life.”

“No one will ever know how or when I died. The Resurrection will know from my absence that I’m gone. Maybe they’ll find some encouragement and inspiration that I did not sell them out. I cannot work for the very same organization that suppresses the truth and has condoned my torture in order to extract information. I don’t care that it’s a different part of the organization. If any part of an apple is bad, will not the entire apple eventually turn bad as well?”

His mother looked into his eyes as tears welled in hers. They were tears of sorrow for what she expected as her greatest loss but she was also proud of him. “I’ve not lived through what you have. So I’m not qualified to judge you. Maybe no one is. I can only wish you success, my son.”

Paul saw her to the cell door. Outside there were heavily armed and armored guards. Where he was being held was no ordinary jail. The walls were thick concrete and reinforced steel mesh that was energized. He could not merely pass through such a wall. In fact all the walls, ceiling, floor and the door of his cell were highly energized.

Any hopes he might have entertained of escaping were greatly diminished. They were likely as not going to execute him soon. He would be an unheralded martyr for a cause the mainstream of the population would never know about.

Soon enough he would be no more, no longer a problem for the Colonial Authority to deal with.