I sat in front of the small black and white television, ignoring the dog. He was always barking at something. Annoying dog. I wouldn't have kept him, except he used to be Rita's.
My Rita. The only person in my life I had ever loved. The only person who had loved me. She's been dead a year now, and I still can't stop thinking about her. I haven't parted with any of her things. Including, on very dumb dog.
I yelled at him once. "Shut up, Roscoe." as usual, he paid no attention to me. He just kept barking. I tuned him out and tried to watch the football game. Even as I did I wondered if the pain would ever end. I knew Rita would not want me like this, she would have wanted me to get on with my life.
But no woman was like Rita. Either their hair is too long or too short. They laughed wrong, or don't laugh enough. I couldn't help but compare them to Rita. She was perfect. So, I contented myself to living with her things and her dog.
I was drawn out of my thoughts by silence. The dog had stopped barking. There was no yelp, no whine. Just silence.
"Roscoe?" I called into the bedroom.
Nothing. Standing, I went down the narrow hallway to investigate. I thought the mutt had finally given himself a stroke.
"Roscoe, come here." I called again, and began to hear a faint, humming noise. I paused, listening. The humming pulsed, like an old worn down generator put under too much strain.
Cautiously, I stepped just inside the doorway. At the foot of my bed was a large pale blue, swirling light. It floated between the floor and ceiling, with inches to spare. The room pulsated between hot and cold, in time to the humming. There was na eerie quiet. No noise or sounds of movement. Just the soft hum, which I felt more then heard.
Roscoe was nowhere to be seen. I stared at the light, not really afraid. Just wondering what to do. I figured I should call the police, but what would they do? If they showed up at all. I didn't seem to be in danger. What would I tell them, anyway?
Hello? Officer? Yes, there is a big ball of light in my bedroom. All they would do is laugh and warn me not to make any more crank calls.
The light began to swirl faster, the humming intensified and the temperature pulsated so fast, it was painful. I stood my ground determined to find out where this came from and what it meant.
A form emerged taking on a female shape. Once she was in view I noticed her skin was pale purple. Her hair was long and bright green. It flew around her, wildly. She wore a dark blue body suit covered with silver buttons and medals. Her eyes were bright white and stared at me. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.
"Who are you?" I asked, she shook her head.
"There is no time to explain, you must come with me." her mouth hadn't moved, yet her voice was like sweet music in my head. She held out her hand and without hesitation or thought I accepted it, following her back into the light.
We walked down a long tunnel of indescribable light and sound. The colors shifted, moving across the spectrum. Sounds filled my ears, soft dull tones to high ear piercing static. The light turned bright yellow as we stepped out into a room. The swirling mass of color and sound closed.
Roscoe's incessant barking immediately filled my ears. A woman with pale blue skin and dark yellow hair held him, an expression of pain on her face. She was attempting to calm him. He ignored her, just like he normally ignored me.
I took the mutt from her and in my arms he quieted down, shivering violently. I looked around, there were about ten people in the room. All in various shades of blues and greens. They stood staring back at me in silence.
Suddenly, my mind filled with thoughts of welcome and friendship. One man, obviously the head of the group, approached me.
"Welcome, we have been expecting you." his thoughts were reassuring, confidant and authoritative.
"Who are you?" I asked aloud. Instantly, everyone in ten room covered their ears. I felt their pain and winced myself.
"What. . . ?" I began then stopped quickly as a few of them doubled over.
I stood silent, and apologetic, waiting for them to recover. I noticed the woman who had brought me seemed unaffected.
Their leader recovered first, and faced me again.
"Please, don't be alarmed. Our ears are sensitive to sound. Even speech causes pain. But, all will be explained to you soon. For now, you simply need to "think" your questions and we will assist you."
"Okay. . . " I blurted out and clamped my mouth shut. I thought, "Okay." and everyone smiled at me encouragingly.
The leader looked at the purple woman, still standing beside me. After staring at each other for a moment, she nodded and turned to me.
"Come, I will take you to you room. There you may rest, your questions will be answered soon." she gestured towards the door. I nodded, set Roscoe on the floor and followed her. Roscoe stayed close to me as we walked.
"Why couldn't I hear what he said to you?" I thought as strongly and loudly as I could.
"You do not need to shout," she giggled softly, "I can read you clearly. Your mental powers are very strong." she paused, trying to decide how to answer. "We can channeled our thoughts, privately."
"How?" I asked, not trying as hard.
She stopped, looking puzzled.
"I'm not sure, I do it without conscious thought." She considered for a moment, "Try sending a private thought to me, but picture a tube running only between us, then send your thought through the tube."
I looked into her face, a strand of green hair casually caressing her left cheek, her bright white eyes glowed with concentration. She was so beautiful. I imagined the tube and sent my thought.
"Like this?" I asked.
Her cheeks turned a bright fuchsia, which made her look more gorgeous. I realized she was blushing, as I suddenly felt her embarrassment. Then it dawned on me what else I had been thinking and my face grew warm as well.
"That was good." she stammered, "But try to control the thoughts you send. Here even your most private thoughts can be heard, if you are not careful."
"I'm sorry." I began, but she interrupted me, shaking her head.
"No, you are not yet accustomed to our ways. That will come with time."
I pondered her words as we continued. In time? What did she mean by that? What id these people want with me anyway? Where was I and how long was I going to be here?
Still confused, we arrived at a doorway. She approached it and the door slid open before her. We entered a lavishly decorated apartment. I stood staring in awe, it was easily twice the size of my puny apartment. The bed was enormous, and one whole wall was covered with monitors and gadgets. A small kitchenette and closet took up the other wall. And I could see part of a large bathroom off to the side. Roscoe was already sniffing around, exploring.
"Do the rooms please you?" she asked. I could hear the amusement in her thoughts. She had obviously felt my reaction.
"Yes, very much." I wanted to look at her, but was afraid of what I would think, so I stared at the room instead. "But, what is all of this for?"
"We wish for you to enjoy your stay with us, for as long as possible." she answered calmly. Her answer seemed to practiced. Too controlled. This time, I did look at her, questioningly.
"But. . . " I began, again she interrupted.
"No, now you rest. Your questions will be answered tomorrow. Then your training may begin." without another word, she turned and left. The door slid shut, quietly, behind her.
I stared at the door for several minutes, not sure what to do. I turned around in time to watch Roscoe finish his business in a corner.
"Roscoe!" I yelled, purely out of habit. I quickly closed my mouth, knowing someone was watching me. Oh well, if they were going to watch me, then they would have to suffer. Roscoe couldn't read minds.
Roscoe tucked his tail between his legs and crouched submissively before me, begging forgiveness.
"You stupid dog." I growled. Roscoe crawled into a corner to sulk. I went into the bathroom for a towel to clean up the mess.
Once done, I laid down on the warm and very soft bed. This woman, with her strange coloring and piercing eyes, fascinated me. I felt a sadness about her, that matched my own. What could cause such a beautiful creature to be sad?
I sat up, astonished. Roscoe whined, and laid on the floor beside me, I ignored him. I realized I had not once compared this woman to Rita. It surprised me. This had not happened since Rita's death. Was it my shock at these unusual circumstances? Was it her coloring? Or the fact that she could read my mind? I wasn't sure but I planned to find out.
I laid back down and fell asleep thinking of a certain purple skinned beauty, and wondering what tomorrow would bring.
I woke with a start. The dream began to fade as consciousness filled my mind. The emotions lingered, leaving me drained. It had been full of hate, pain and terror. There was something important. Something, I had to remember. But the dream was gone, I couldn't bring it back. Frustrated, I sat up. There was such a sense of urgency. Why couldn't I remember?
Shaken, I stumbled into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I couldn't shake the feeling that the dream was important. There was something I had to do. Something vital. I again struggled to remember. I couldn't. I shook my head. It was only a dream, I reminded myself. I pushed it from my mind.
I straightened my wrinkled clothes and returned to the other room. Out of curiosity, I opened th closet door. Inside were more clothes then I could have worn in my entire life. They looked to be my size, so I grabbed the closest ones and changed. Within moments, I felt her touch my mind. I walked to the door and it slid open.
"Good morning, did you rest well?" her smile wiped all apprehension from my mind.
"Yes." I lied, not wanting to upset her. I attempted to block the memories of the dream. I built an imaginary wall of blocks around the images. I didn't know if I was successful or not.
"Very good." she beamed with praise, "You are blocking your thoughts. We did not realize your kind could progress so quickly."
Her praise filled me with a warmth I had not felt in a long time. But her last words concerned me. What did she mean "my kind"? I wasn't able to continue that line of thought as Roscoe whined loudly up at me.
"Follow me, your questions are to be answered now." she began to turn away.
"What about my dog?" I asked in annoyance as he whined louder.
"He will be well cared for while you are away." she turned back to look at him, an expression of curiosity on her face. I felt her confusion at my having the animal with me. I wasn't ready to explain the dog's presence in my life. But I was concerned about him being confined for to long without being allowed to eat or relieve himself.
"Stay boy." I ordered, aloud. I looked at her apologetic, but again she seemed unaffected by my speech.
"Do not worry. He will be taught to accept thought commands today." Again her thoughts fell into that practiced, controlled tone, as if hiding something. I caught something behind the word "taught" but couldn't decipher it. She seemed sincere. I decided to trust her.
I looked down on Roscoe. He sat up, begging to come. I repeated my order and stepped out the door to follow her. He whined, but obeyed as the door slid shut.
"I don't even know your name." I said, realizing ther were many things about her I wanted to know. But, I was cautious, still unsure of her motives.
"I am called Elana." she stated, privately. It was thought simply, quietly, almost shyly.
"That is a beautiful name." I returned privately.
She smiled, but said nothing.
"So where are we going?" I changed the conversation, feeling her embarrassment rise.
"You are to see the Teacher." she answered cryptically.
"He will answer my questions?" I picked up her masculine use of the word "Teacher".
"Yes." she looked straight ahead, suddenly seeming uncomfortable.
We continued, in silence. I started to pay attention to my surroundings. The building was huge. I tried to memorize the direction we took. All of the hallways were the same. The walls, and carpeting were uniform. I saw no variations in color or decoration. When we turned a corner it was as if we were back where we started. I knew I would never make it back to my rooms alone. And wondered how she navigated these halls.
And it was quiet, too quiet. The floor was heavily padded, our foot steps made no sounds. Our clothes made no rustling noises, and I noticed the material was unusually soft. I barely felt it against my skin. I could hear our breathing, but that was all.
We stopped before a door. It was identical to the door of my room, it remained closed. We stood for a moment and I was about to question Elana when a male voice boomed in my head.
I looked to Elana, she nodded to me but said nothing. I stepped towards the door, and this time it opened. Cautiously, I entered, the door closed behind me.
The room was crammed full of books in all shapes, sizes and colors. Most of the writing was unrecognizable.
"Over here, boy. Don't waste time."
I walked to the back and saw a little old man sitting behind a cramped, cluttered desk. His skin was dark blue with jet black hair.
"Sit down. Move those books, carefully!" he shouted into my mind as i carelessly threw a book onto the floor. "That is the last copy of the Greeger's history in the entire galaxy."
I apologized and sat down facing him.
"You have questions." he stated, gruffly.
"Yes." I answered.
"Then ask, don't waste my time!" his abrupt, impatient attitude was exactly what I would have expected from an old haggard scholar. That was oddly reassuring to me. So we began, going through a series of questions and answers.
I learned that they called themselves Arilians. Their planet, Arilo, was located on the opposite side of the Milky Way galaxy. Elana and I had traveled through a tightly controlled, manmade wormhole.
After a brief break for lunch, I asked more probing questions. I tried to pay close attention to his emotions and thoughts, wondering if he would lie to me.
"Why was I brought here?" I asked while concentrating as closely as I could.
"We are studying people of different worlds. We have found the best way to observe another world's culture is to bring a . . . " I thought I caught a hint of the word "specimen" from his mind, "visitor to share cultures, ideals, and beliefs." I nodded, that made sense. Bring an alien to explain it's culture.
"But, why me? Wouldn't you rather have a scholar or scientist? I am not the best "visitor" you could have chosen."
"Due to the nature of the wormhole we cannot be as selective as we would like. Yet, we have found that a common person, such as yourself, can provide valuable insights into a world's culture."
"Then how is it we think the same language?"
"Verbal and written language do differ from species to species. Mental communication is almost universal. We have encountered a very few races that were too alien to comprehend. They have been avoided." I caught something there, a hint of an untruth. His thoughts fell into that practiced, controlled tone, that Elana used to hide things from me.
We sat in silence for a few moments as I digested all of this information. Being a fan of science fiction, this all seemed plausible. Still, something nagged at the back of my mind. They didn't come visit us, we were brought here.
"Why not simply send a group to Earth? Why the secrecy? Share your cultures and ideals with us, freely. Not just bring me here to learn ours."
Sighing, the old teacher leaned back in his chair. I sensed conflicting emotions. He looked thoughtful, I could feel him struggling within himself.
"We attempted that with the planet Greegor. The experience ended violently. We suffered many losses." I noticed the omission of the fate of the Greegorians, and remembered the earlier mention of the History of Greegor.
I spent the rest of the afternoon with him, receiving progressively cryptic answers. I did manage to learn some of their customs, so I wouldn't embarrass myself. At least, no worse than I already had.
Arilians did not have mates or spouses like we had on Earth. They believed that at each birth, two souls were born intertwined. They would spend their whole life looking for the other soul, their other half. Names were shared only with close friends, family or other halves. Which caused me to wonder at Elana's sharing of her name with me. Touch was also an extremely private matter, only done between immediate family and other halves.
Finally, he stood, and walked around the desk to face me.
"That is really all of the answers I am able to give you."
I nodded, having run out of questions. They were still hiding things from me. For now, I knew what they wanted me to know.
"Thank you." I said sincerely, for I had felt his honesty and reluctance to hide information.
"You're welcome." he stated. Then, surprised me by taking both of my hands in his. He stared into my eyes intensely. "Take care." he attempted to send a private thought. It was so heavily guarded I could only catch glimpses. It was a warning, and a call for help. I wasn't sure. He let go, shaking his head, indicating I not question him.
"Your guide will return you to your room." he went back behind his desk and sat, looking dejected. Quickly, the gruff attitude returned. "Well, what are you waiting for? We are finished."
Nodding, I stood and went to the door. I looked back once, but he did not return my gaze. I turned my attention to Elana. The fact that I knew her name meant something, but I wasn't sure.
We walked, I could only assume we were returning to my rooms. I asked Elana what I thought to be a safe question.
"Do you have your other half?"
Her face turned a bright fuchsia again. She turned away, attempting to regain her composure. I felt her embarrassment, and another emotion I couldn't understand, shame.
"I'm sorry." I apologized, and sent thoughts of humiliation, friendship, and concern. "I did not mean to upset you. I am still learning about your culture."
"I understand. Here we do not discuss any issues of a personal nature. If a person wishes to share such information, it is done voluntarily."
"Forgive my ignorance." I was still trying to understand what she had to be ashamed of, she seemed perfect to me.
She nodded without commenting. We walked again in silence. Then I felt her lightly, privately touch my mind, "I have no other half. I am defective, my other half would never have been born. I am undesirable, and alone." she ended the touch. I was curious, but did not press her. I had upset her enough for one day.
She stopped in front of a door, somehow, I knew we were at my rooms. It was almost, instinctive. Interesting, but I did not have time to investigate that now. The door slid open and I sent her a guarded thought, "Good night, Elana." I included thoughts of friendship, peace and the assurance that I found her desirable.
"Good night." she responded with a shy smile. I could feel her uncertainty and doubt of my sincerity. "Sleep well." she turned and the door slid shut.
I stood, staring at the door, until I heard Roscoe whine. I looked and saw him crouched under the bed, shivering.
"Roscoe, come here." I called aloud, startled by my own voice.
He didn't move, just stared up at me. I was surprised to realize could feel his fear. I also felt pain.
"Roscoe, it's okay boy, come here." I thought softly, kneeling to the floor.
Slowly, still shivering and whining, he crawled out and came to me. Looking down on him I gently probed his mind. His thoughts were confusing, more sights and sounds then words. After a few moments I was able to decipher them.
Men and women in white coats taking him to a room. Pain behind his ear. He's scared, the smells are bad. He wants to know where I am. The pain eased but was still sore. People talk in his head, their mouths aren't moving. This confused him. Noise hurts his ears. He's scared. They bring him to the room. It was quiet. He crawled under the bed to hide, waiting for me to return.
I picked him up, feeling sorry for the poor dog. I sent him thoughts of reassurance and security.
I walked over and sat in a large chair. Seeing buttons in the arm, I push one at random. A large screen came on and what looked to be a news show appeared. There was no sound, of course. I knew if I concentrated I could pick up the thoughts. But I didn't have the energy. Thinking all day had left me exhausted. I sat petting Roscoe, trying to reassure him. He was calming down, but was still wary.
I snapped awake to intense feelings of anger, fear and pain. Still in the chair, I looked down at Roscoe who was twitching in his sleep. I traced the emotions to Roscoe's dream.
I woke him, and he looked around frantically. Seeing nothing threatening, he curled up closer to me. I could feel him relax. He seemed to almost instantly forget the dream. I wish I was so lucky. I still thought about the nightmare of last night. Though I couldn't remember it, the emotions were always there. Floating, just on the edges of my mind.
I scratched behind his ear, and felt a shooting pain. Soothing his mind, I examined the spot. There was a scar about two inches long, closed with stitches.
"How cruel." I thought in anger. Roscoe whined and winced. I controlled my thoughts and sent him ones of protection. He responded by licking my hand and wagging his tail. I could feeling his unconditional love and loyalty for me. I felt guilty for all of the times I had been unkind or ignored him.
We shared a bond, our love for Rita. Yet, I had turned my grief for her into hatred for the dog. I sat, petting him, thinking of her. God, I missed her. Then my thoughts drifted to Elana. She was enchanting. And she confused me.
Roscoe and I stayed in the chair for the rest of the night. Again, we drifted off to sleep.
I awoke to the nightmare again. It was easier to move on, it was like an old memory that you never quite forget. The next time I rose to consciousness it was to Elana's gentle prodding at my mind. She was outside, waiting for me. I apologized, showered, changed and went to her.
In the hallway, I expected to argue the fact that Roscoe was coming with us. Instead, she accepted his presence without question. She greeted us both, and our walk began. The silence was uncomfortable, each of us deep in our own thoughts.
I found myself wondering about her. What was her family like? Did she have any hobbies? What was her favorite color? Favorite food? The questions ran through my mind. I tried to keep them guarded. Elana turned and looked at me questioningly. I shook my head, and briefly thought of Rita.
We arrived at a wide, ornate door. This was the first time I had seen anything different in these hallways. The door opened to reveal a beautiful garden. A fountain spouted orange water, their were four different aliens sitting around it. Each had an animal, of sorts, at it's feet.
I began to step inside, Elana followed. I turned to her in surprise. "You are staying with me today?" I asked. I was happy, of course, but sensed conflicting emotions from her. She was trying to hide them but I must have been getting better. Or I was just getting used to her thoughts. I sensed anxiety, shame, confusion, and pleasure. I didn't have time to explore these emotions, before she responded.
"Only for a short time." she tightened her feelings.
We continued towards the aliens. I took a deep breath. The air was fresh, and clean, not like the smog I was used to in the city. Overhead, shone two suns. One was bright yellow, and the other was a smaller red. Both stood against a clear green sky. Elana's hair matched the cloudless sky. Her beauty seemed more intoxicating out in the open air. I felt her embarrassment, and caught her cheeks start to turn. I tore my eyes away from her, shutting my emotions away.
We approached the aliens, their animals came over to Roscoe. They greeted each other, in various animal greetings. Roscoe looked at me and whined. I felt his longing to go play. I gave him permission. He bounded off, sniffing and exploring everything and everyone in sight. Elana and I laughed, mentally. Verbal expressions were becoming foreign to me.
A tall man approached us. He had pale gray skin, no hair or ears, and large black eyes. He fit the description of many alien abductions I had heard from Earth, except he was taller. That made me wonder.
"Greetings." he offered, reaching out his hand. Instinctively, I took it. The moment our hands locked, I knew everything about him. His name was Eroc. I saw his planet, his people, and his whole life. The memories grew blurry around the time her came to Arilo. He lived on the planet, Rzza. It circled the star closest to Earth. We call it Alpha Centarii, they call it, Ceeat. Their a race of telelpaths, not as strong as the Arilians. They had been trying to contact Earth for years. But because we didn't know of our abilities, their messages are garbled. His people could mentally probe our physique. That seemed to confuse us and caused some of the more bizarre abduction stories. Once the memories reached the present, our hands fell apart. The entire experience took seconds.
I looked around in confusion. "What?" Elana stopped me, she explained.
"That is what happens when two telepaths touch. Their lives are shared. For those not used to the experience, it can be overwhelming."
I nodded, and shook my head to clear it. Now I understood why touch was such a private matter between Arilians. But why hadn't this happened when Elana took my hand, before we crossed over in the wormhole. Once again, I found myself without the time to consider this. The others approached introducing themselves, without the handshake.
The first was a small woman, with two long antennae protruding from her forehead, and four arms. Her name was Anaka.
Next was a man about my height. He was covered head to toe in fur. He was Jonar.
Lastly, a short lizard like person. I sensed it had no gender. It's name was unintelligible, even mentally to me. It asked to be called, simply, Nither.
"I must go." Elana thought suddenly. The others seemed surprised she had stayed so long. They made no comments however as she turned to leave.
"I will see you soon?" I asked. It was a stupid question, but I didn't want to see her go. My private thoughts raced again. I had a momentary pang of guilt, and thoughts of Rita entered my mind. I had feelings for Elana, and they were growing stronger. Every time I felt something, I would think of Rita, as an afterthought. Why? I didn't know. Rita used to be the first thing on my mind. Now she was slipping farther away. Was I betraying her memories, by falling in love with another woman? Or was this quilt my imagination? I would have to consider all of this another time. Right now, I just wanted to see more of Elana.
"Yes." she answered and continued walking. She sent me a private amused thought, "My favorite color is red." I could feel her mixed emotions again, but the pleasure seemed more pronounced. I watched her go, enjoying the graceful way she walked.
"That was unusual." Anaka said.
"Yes." the others agreed.
"Why?" I asked with concern, finally looking back at the group.
They turned to Eroc, who shook his head.
"We can discuss that shortly. There are other matters to share first." Together we went and sat by the fountain.
Eroc began by asking, "What are your observations of the Arilians, thus far?"
"Well, they seem peaceful. They have superior technology to Earth's. They are very sensitive to sound. At least, most of them." I paused to think, and Anaka broke in.
"What do you mean, most of them?"
"Elana," I cringed, not meaning to have let her name slip, "my guide. She seems unaffected by sound. When Roscoe barked she didn't even flinch. I think she may be deaf. Also, she mentioned that she was undesirable, unsuitible."
They all nodded, and began conferring.
"That would explain her interest. If she is not seen as a desirable mate to them, they may not object to her forming a relationship with Earthlings. They see them as being inferior." Anaka started.
"Being deaf would be a problem for someone who had to use the missiles." Jonar nodded. "They wold want to retain all of their senses, even if their hearing is over sensitive. Having traits such as deafness, would greatly damage their own perfection. They wouldn't mind another race passing on such traits."
"Can we trust her? Just because she is forming a relationship with him, does not mean she would turn on her own people." Nither added.
I looked from one to the other, completely confused. Missiles? Elana betraying her people? What were they talking about?
"We realize you are at a slight disadvantage." Eroc took my attention, "This is what we have learned. The Arilians are at heart a peaceful people. They ventured into space with good intentions. Unfortunately, they encountered a hostile race. The Greegor's were a young, warlike, technologically slow, race. They lashed out and the Arilians destroyed them, fearing their warrior side. The Arilians did not want to see this sort of a race take power of the galaxy. They have taken it into their minds that the universe would be better if they were ruling."
Jonar continued, "They have begun, one planet at a time, to take over. They send the wormhole to an unsuspecting planet, bringing back one person. After learning as much as they can, they send back their army. Then it is a simple matter of overthrowing the government and taking control."
I stared at them in shock. I could not imagine Elana, or Teacher, conquering anyone. But I did remember Teacher's reference to the History of Greegor. And his vagueness regarding their fate. Could this be true? If it was, how could I stop that from happening to Earth?
"But, they haven't asked me any questions. I have been learning all about them. Why would they let me meet you, then ask me. Don't they know you would tell me all of this?"
"They believe we are going to convince you to make Earth's transition, easier. They have had difficulties of late. They really would prefer peaceful takeovers. But they will destroy any race that resists too violently." Eroc answered.
"Why haven't any of your planets resisted or tried to stop them?" I wondered.
"Our governments realized that we were inferior, technologically, to them. They decided to convince the public to concede. But resistance forces have secretly gathered on each planet. Recently, we began contacting each other. We believe with Earth, we are ready to strike back." Jonar was anxious, and eager.
"You have them fooled?" I asked, suspiciously.
"It has taken much time." Nither responded.
"Our mental powers are limited to what they have taught us, with the exception of Rzza's people." Anaka nodded respectfully to Eroc, "Yours, they are much stronger. I have felt that since you entered the room." The others nodded.
"Your powers are stronger, even than my own people." Eroc stated, admiringly, "That is why we have been trying to contact your people for so long. But your people are suspicioius of such powers. They refuse to believe they exist. And they remain hidden from your people. Yours were brought forward when you arrived here, and have been growing stronger ever since."
"Your relationship with your guide, is another valuble assest." Anaka giggled quietly.
"There is no realationship." I stammered.
"I must disagree." she continued, "We all felt you attraction for each other. The fact that she gave you her name, indicates her interest. But she is unsure, and shy. I think given time you two could join."
"But time is not something we have." Jonar was anxious again.
"Agreed. We must act quickly." Nither agreed.
"They have told us that they must move quickly with Earth. We believe that need the manpower to assist in a war." Eroc explained.
I nodded, beginning to understand. We sat in silence, each deep in our own thoughts. Food was brought, and we spent the afternoon discussing our planets, family, and watching our pets play.
In time, our guides arrived and we were escorted to our rooms. I followed Elana. My feelings for her were confused now. I was uneasy with what my new friends had shared with me. She sensed my mood, and kept silent. Roscoe followed calm for a change.
I thought of many things. Mostly of Rita. She would have loved all of this. She always wanted to travel among the stars. I wish I could tell her. Share this strange circumstance with her.
Mentally, I kicked myself. She would not want me moping after her forever. But was I ready for romance? The fact that I had feelings for Elana, indicatred I was, but this situation was so strange.
I knew I trusted Elana, despite what the other told me. Watching her, I took in her beauty again. I felt my attraction for her returning. How would I sort out these feelings? First I had to know what she felt for me, if anything. I didn't want to rush her, she seemed as confused as I felt.
We arrived at my room. I paused in the door way, turning to look at her. I took a deep breath and asked, "How do your people find their other half?"
Her cheeks began to burn, though not as brightly as before. "One person lets the one they believe to be their other know their feelings. It is done subtly. If that person feels the same, joining is done. If not, there is no rejection, no shame, simply a lack of being whole. The search would continue."
"How do your people make known their feelings?" I wanted to know how to reach her. And I was curious about her culture.
Her cheeks burned a little brighter. "Simply by relaying some personal piece of information. Or making a specific statement of interest. If the interest is returned, the touch is exchanged to determine if each is truly the other's half."
"I see." I nodded. It dawned on me that her telling me her name was indicating her interest. I looked at her and thought privately, "I am Robert." with it I sent a picture of my hand caressing her face. I drew back before the thought went any further.
She smiled up at me, her cheeks blazing, but she did not draw back or seem ashamed. Then she bid me good night and left.
Entering the room, the door slid shut. I went over and laid down on the bed, my mind racing. Roscoe jumped on the bed and stared at me. I looked at him in surprise. He knew better than to get on the bed with me. "What?" I asked. Instantly, his eyes glazed over, and Eroc's voice filled my head.
"Our animals have bonded, and we can use them to communicate. The Arilians are not able to read us this way. They seem confused by the bond we share with our pets."
"They did seem uncomfortable with him, until they altered him." I responded, "But how can you be sure they can't read us."
"We have been conspiring this way for some time. They would have stopped us long ago if they could. They do not take well to revolters."
"That makes sense." I said, "So, what now?"
"Tomorrow, they will begin asking you questions about Earth. Be cooperative. Concentrate on the negatives, pretend ignorance of Earth's defenses. The more they perceive wrong with a planet, the easier they believe the conquest. We want them to believe this will be a smooth takeover."
"Okay." I was uneasy about having to hide things. "Couldn't they just touch me and take my memories, like we shared?"
"No. The touch is sacred to them. It must be done voluntarily. Doing such a thing is like your Earthling concept of rape. They feel they are perfect and superior telepaths. I believe you will be able to block them."
"I'll do my best." I still wasn't sure how successful I would be.
"And one more thing." he continued, sounding unsure.
"Yes?" I wondered where he was taking our conversation.
"Continue you courtship with your guide. I felt the goodness in her heart. There are people on this planet who do not approve of their governments tactics. They are forming a small resistance movement. But they are small, and ineffective. We can help them, but they have to trust us. Your relationship would be the best way to gain that trust."
"I couldn't do it for those reasons. I wouldn't use her that way." I was getting defensive, but I would never love someone and leave them. I couldn't live with myself if I did.
"I would not ask you to do that. We are only encouraging you to follow the feelings you already hold for her. She does return them."
I doubted him, but kept silent. The connection was ended and Roscoe's eyes refocused. He looked at me, confused.
"Good boy. Roscoe. Good boy." I thought, scratching him under the chin. He gave me a dog grin and wagged his tail. I was again amazed at the strength of his emotions. I felt him needed me to scratch more to the right. I smiled and obliged him. I knew I could trust him not to soil the sheets so I let him stay on the bed. We fell asleep.
Over the next week, the Arilians questioned me about Earth. I did as Eroc suggested, not because I believe him so much, as I didn't yet trust the Arilians. I concentrated on the negative, down playing Earth's defense capabilities. I also highlighted Earth's internal conflicts. In reality, I highly doubted our ability to defend ourselves against the Arilians. I let those feelings leak through.
I was able to spend some time with my new friends. Sometimes, Elana would stay for a while. But she always seemed uncomfortable, even though they treated her kindly and sent thoughts of friendship and welcome.
Elana and I fell into a comfortable routine. We greeted each other each morning. She would show me where to go, and we would depart. Though I could hardly wait until she came back. We did not share anymore secrets. Just seemed to enjoy being with each other. I still wanted to know more about her, but refused to push her. I could still feel her conflicting emotions, though they were diminishing with time.
Each time we had to seperate, I could feel our reluctance. I thought maybe we were falling in love. But how could that be, when we knew nothing about each other. But each day our emotions were stronger.
Once the Arilians were convinced I had told them everything I knew about Earth, my training began. They started simply. Expanding the range of my thoughts. Teaching me to feel into another room and farther. Soon I could almost feel Earth, but wasn't sure. There was no one there I wanted to contact anyway.
They taught me other techniques. How to read other minds of various races that were not telepaths. To read through a blocked mind. And more. They had me practicing on prisoner's of war. I never practiced on an Arilian.
During all of this, the nightmares continued. Growing stronger and clearer. It was an insectoid race, with surprising mental abilities. They communicated with the Queen no matter where they were in the galaxy. They were sending a plea for help. I was sure these dreams were my imagination. They must be coming from my own paranoia.
Eventually, I learned everything they had to teach me. I even learned the basics of telekenisis. I wondered often, why they were taking the time to train me. What were they hoping to accomplish?
I soon found out.
One morning, Elana looked very tense.
"What's wrong?" I asked her, immediately concerned.
"They have brought some new prisoners. They want you to assist in the interrogations." her eyes swirled gray with agitation.
"Why me?" I asked curiously. I felt my trainings had been a poor attempt to uncover my talent. I did not think I had done that well.
"You have incredible powers. They had not thought such was possible with Earthlings. They wish to test your loyalty, before they reveal themselves to your people." she wrung her hands nervously. I felt there was more then she was telling me.
"What else?" I urged her.
She guarded the thought very heavily. "If you pass their test, they have agreed to allow us to join." she blushed brightly, "Only if you wish to attempt it, of course. I do not mean to presume your interest."
"Of course I am interested." I insisted, interrupting her and surprising myself at my earnestness. "I did not realize you returned my feelings." I now understood she had been waiting for permission. I had been waiting for her to reveal her feelings. Now she almost had it, and I almost had her. I could still feel our uncertainty, and sudden shyness. There was so much to think about, so much to discuss. But that would have to wait. I had a test to pass. While I was nervous about what would be required, I was ready for anything.
I ordered Roscoe to stay behind, not wanted to put him through whatever was going to happen. Elana and I walked in silence.
We entered a long hallway, lined with small white rooms. Each room had a simple energy field as a door, one chair and one occupant. I was in shock when I saw the occupants. It was the insectoid race from my dreams. I quickly buried my feelings. Hoping my emotions would be taken as disgust.
The aliens were tall and lanky. Shiny black from top to bottom, they resembled large bugs. A mixture between an ant and a cockroach. I felt their fear, and lonliness.
The rooms were resonating a steady low pitched tone. I could feel the pain it was causing the aliens. This was why the Arilians needed me. They would not be able to stand this noise. It seemed to be disrupting the aliens communication with their Queen. Which was confusing them even more. They belonged to a Hive. Being alone was unknown to them. Not being able to contact the Queen, made them feel vulnerable. I guarded my thoughts of pity at this cruel treatment.
I approached Leader, the same man I had first met. His ears were covered, but he was still feeling pain, though he was blocking it fairly well. He stood in front of a cell, staring at the alien inside.
"This is one of their Generals." he began without turning to me, "We need to find the location of their central Hive. They are tight minded, and have a profound, instinctive need to protect their Queen." he paused. I realize this was the problem. They had taught me that the hardest thoughts to overcome, were those guided by instinct. The subconcious was much more difficult than the concious.
"Attempts at friendship have failed. You must obtain the location. Can you do this?" he waited for my answer. So this was my test. I had to pass it, for Elana, and for Earth. Though I still did not know how I was going to help Earth. I buried my personal feelings even deeper.
"Yes, it should be easy." I fought to hide my loathing at what I was about to do. On the one hand, it would harm this one alien. On the other, it could save millions of lives. How I knew that was beyond me, I just knew it. It would also allow Elana and I to be together. For that, I would do anything.
"Very well. Do it." he turned to watch me.
I turned my attention to the General and touched his mind. It was a maze of fear and loyalty to the Queen. I blocked out the sound, and he relaxed, physically. Mentally, he was wary of me. I shielded our thoughts so Leader could not know what I was exactly doing. I dug into the General's mind deeper. He fought, but I squashed him like a bug. I winced at that thought but contiued. Agressively seeking the Queen. I calmed his nerves, letting him know I did not intend to hurt them. I tried to communicate with him. He was too scared for his Queen, the instinct ran deep. He physically squirmed as I probed. Then I found her.
The Queen and I touched. I instantly felt her fear. She had been found, and knew everything was over. I calmed her, letting her know I had recieved the dreams and wanted to help. She saw my mind and believed me. We thought quickly. She hid well from her people, the real threat they faced. It approached her Hive. The Arilians were ruthless. They never attempted to be friends. They wanted to exterminate her race. She showed me what occured. I watched through the minds of her people. I saw missiles mentally aimed and destroying her ships, and defenseless colonies. The fight was on the edges of her space. But they were getting closer. They could not locate her planet because she stayed in space. Constantly moving, staying safe, for the people. If she died, the entire race would wither away. She knew they were looking for her, and I was supposed to tell them. I told her my Hive and the Hives of my friends were in danger. We all must work as one Hive to defeat this enemy. She reluctantly agreed. They must be stopped. She gave me the location of a small colony planet near the center of her space. It was already being evacuated. It was close enough to the center to make them think it was hers. She would direct her people's thoughts- to think she was there. I promised to help, anyway I could. She thanked me and returned the favor. The contact ended, and she was gone. I felt a sense of loss. Feeling her absence more then her presence. I wondered what it felt like to have her there, always in your mind. Comforting, and maternal. I missed her already.
I pulled out of the General's mind and focused my eyes. He was slumped over in his seat. Dead, I thought, blocking my thoughts of anger and shame.
"No." Elana assured me tightly. "He is asleep. His mind is exhausted, he couldn't fight you." her emotions were mixed between pride and sorrow. I was surprised she sensed my feelings. Could Leader sense the same? I tried to heighten my blocks.
I gave Leader the information I had and waited. I pretended indifference to the General.
"Well done." he commended me. I had pictured the colony bustling with anticipation and pictured the Queen there. He took it without question. "You have performed better than expected." he turned and walked away. As he did, he sent us the message we had been waiting to hear. "You may join whenever you are ready."
I looked at Elana exhausted. My emotions were all over the scale. Joy at our love. Anger at the Arilians. Fear for the Queen. And simply exhaustion.
"Come, you need to rest." she said. I nodded and followed her, slowly, to my rooms. Once inside, I walked to the bed and collapsed. Sleep took over instantly.
I awoke to the smell of food. I turned, looking for Rita. Instead, Elana was cooking. Roscoe was at her feet begging, just like he used to do with Rita. I sighed. Roscoe could accept Rita's death and Elana's presence in our lives. I must accept it also.
Elana turned to me, the smile on her face filled my heart with love and comfort.
"I wanted to have food ready when you woke. I thought you might be hungry." she blushed, suddenly unsure. She must have sensed my initial disappoinment of not seeing Rita. "I hope I have not presumed again, by staying. I thought I felt that we shared the same feelings. If my presence bothers you, I will leave."
Before she finished I was beside her.
"Don't leave. I am glad you're here. I love you, I didn't know you felt the same." I paused, trying to decide how to proceed. The words finally came, "I believe you are my other half."
Her eyes grew big as she stared into my eyes. We stood, staring at each other for a few moments. Then, as if some secret signal passed between us, the gap closed and we kissed. As our lips touched our minds, merged. Melting together, twisting in sweet seduction. In an instant, I knew her, seeing her entire life. The thoughts flowed, smoothly, quickly. Relieved to be free.
Her parents discovered she was deaf and were ashamed to have such an imperfect child. They also knew great sorrow, now they were not allowed to have any more children. She struggled through school, trying to be a good student, hoping that would make up for her imperfection. But it did not diminish her parents shame or rejection of her. She fought professionally to be seen as equal. None of this could remove her lonliness or embarrassment. She had always been told she had no other half. She believed it as she watched her friends find theirs. Finally, they allowed her to contact aliens and bring them over. As she learned more of other worlds and their people she learned of the government's treatment of those people. Being treated as inferior herself she knew it was not right to treat anyone that way. Also she did not feel they had the right to totally take over rule of all planets. But what could she do? Then she found the resistance. They were quiet, subtle, and weak. She joined and found friends. But still felt sorrow. She would never know the joy of finding an other half. Then she went to Earth. She met a man who felt an attraction to her. It lifted her spirits to think anyone could find her attractive and acceptable. But she was not, she reminded herself. And he was an alien. Yet the feelings grew. She found herself returning them. Sharing information she had never shared with anyone. He shared his name with her, Robert. But she forced the feelings down, knowing they couldn't be real. Yet the feelings would not go away. Would it be allowed? But he is not Arilian. He could not be her other half. Then someone told her, other halves are not only from Arilo. Sometimes other halves get lost in the galaxy. Maybe she had found hers. Leader said a test must be passed. Then he passed it. She cooked for him. He awoke and thought of his past love. Suddenly ashamed she backed away. He didn't allow it. The touch. Sweet mind, his life, such pain, joy and courage. Now she knows love, and joy. She loves him, he loves her. "Finally, we two are whole."
The last sentence was a coherent thought that we shared, simultaneously. I pulled back looking into her eyes. We couldn't have been touching for more than a few seconds, yet it felt like years. I was stunned and overwhelmed, this was more intense than what happened with Eroc. Elana thought first.
"You loved her very much." she stated. I remembered that she had seen my life while I had seen hers. I was speechless, all I could do was nod. She continued, "She was a wonderful woman. I can see why you did." I finally managed to speak.
"Yes. I never thought I could love again. But then I met you." It was an old cliche', but it fit, and I meant every word.
"I know." all doubt was erased from her mind. We kissed again. All confusion, fear and insecurities were gone. It was as if, we had found the one thing we had been missing. We had found our other half. We reveled in these new emotions. The feel of our minds merged was intoxicating, as we formed new memories of being together. Our passions slowly began to build, as I began to lead her to the bed.
I felt a gentle tugging at the back of my mind. I tried to ignore it and concentrate only on Elana, but it became more insistant. Elana finally pulled away, looking at Roscoe curiously.
"I think Eroc is trying to contact you." she commented, laughingly.
I reluctantly turned my attention, irritated at being disturbed. I focused on Roscoe and listened to Eroc.
"They have decided to take Earth sooner than planned. They need the manpower to defeat the Hive. They plan to send you and Elana, first, then an armada of ships will follow. The armada has already left, and will arrive in two weeks. We will try to slow them down. After you leave we will destroy the wormhole. You have two weeks to prepare Earth for the invasion. Remember our worlds will be behind you, once you succeed. Good luck." he ended the contact.
I looked at Elana, she was fearful and concerned.
"You know?" I asked, needlessly. She nodded. "You are ready for this?"
"The resistance movement here should be ready soon."
I nodded and pulled her close, content now just to hold her. We savored these quiet moments alone, not knowing when another chance would come. Roscoe laid quietly at our feet.
Before we knew it, we were summoned and standing in front of the wormhole. Leader was giving us final instructions. They closely resembled what Eroc said, while glossing over the truth.
"You are to announce our existance. In two days we will send our ambassadors. Then the ships will arrive in two weeks to exchange technologies. Travel well."
We nodded, I picked up Roscoe, not wanting to lose him now. We entered and walked. The lights and sounds were different, I could feel them more now than before, and relied more on my thoughts, than hearing.
We stepped out and were in my bedroom. A layer of dust covered everything. The sounds of the city engulfed us. I winced, by now accustomed to the silence. I began to breath a sigh of relief. So far so good. Then I heard a high pitched whine. It hurt my ears, Elana looked at me curiously, questioningly. I rushed her down the hallway, clutching Roscoe.
The explosion followed us as we reached the end of the hallway. It shook the entire building.
Making sure both were unharmed we walked back to investigate the damage. There was a huge hole in the building going up two floors and down one. Across the alley, that building also had a hole pierced in it. I watched as people also came to see what had happen. I felt their fear, shock and horror as they stared at Elana. She seemed confused by their reactions, but took strength from me. I would die before anyone would touch her.
I had thought that arriving on Earth would be the end of my worries. Hand the problem over to the government and let them worry about it. Watching the people stare at us, and hearing the sirens. I came to a horrible conclusion.
This was only the beginning.
About the writer in her own words:
"My Online nickname is Cricket. I am 25 years old, married with no children, but one very demanding dog and some fish. I have been writing assorted stories and poetry since I was 13. This is my first attempt at getting published. Here's hoping for success.
I have been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy for as long as I can remember. My favorite authors and books are : Michael Chricton - Sphere & Anne Mc Caffery - any Dragon Riders of Pern book.
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