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Secured in the Shadows

A Cosmic Deception

a tranquil place

The 8th Day

The man and the woman walk hand in hand through the primeval forest. The larger leaves of the foliage glow as if the light permeating through them is their own, but it is the light of day beaming brightly through the shadows, throwing iridescent glints and golden rays upon them.

There is a freshness in the air, as if it just rained or a mist just lifted. And there is color all around… the flowers that seem to twinkle in the presence of the man and woman. They both take in a deep breath and marvel at all the different wonderful smells and sights that fill their senses.

They are standing before a natural rocky shelf, where water cascades quietly and descends like rain into a crystalline pool below. In the pool, they can see a variety of colorful fish, frogs on the banks sound off in random intervals, and garish insects dip and dart playfully in the air.

The trees are teeming with birds! The man and woman do not find it unusual that the birds all work together, and they sing their different songs simultaneously, in harmony with one another. And in addition to the visual spectrum of butterflies, other insects interact with the flowers and produce a continuous calmative drone.

The man stops suddenly and listens more intently. There is something else, something beyond the humming of the insects, a sort of other VOICE in his head. He looks at the woman, and she nods back. She is hearing it too.

THE VOICE is always there. It guides them around and keeps them safe. Their time in these woods is always pleasant, always serene. Each moment unfolds into simple revelation. They understand nothing of it… they know only to trust in THE VOICE.

But now, there is something other than THE VOICE. It is a real sound, up in the sky somewhere, something strange, something of an unknown nature, from another place and time.

As they look up, they see what looks like something crashing through some sort of vitreous membrane, high up in the expanse of the clouds. And then it is streaking through the sky and it goes down in the distance. They neither know nor understand anything of such occurrences, and so, they easily dismiss it all.

Of Another Place and Time

G:E:N:559 > secondary report > Captain Moshua, piscine

Engineering has reported a power discrepancy of unidentifiable nature. Our drive continues at the usual rate, but the ship is not advancing at the velocity we would expect. The scientists have been alerted to the problem and have been ordered to collaborate in the resolution.

G:E:N:559 > update > C.M.,p

The scientists have reported that the problem of decreasing velocity is not relative to the ship but rather to the space we presently occupy. We have entered an area of space that we seem unable to penetrate. It is as if some sort of gelatinous wall is blocking our passage. We are actually moving forward but not gaining any distance, because this unseen obstacle is either stretching forth as we advance or we are being absorbed into it. And this is somehow nullifying the time/distance value of the motion of the ship.

It has been determined that from the initial point of contact, the obstruction has stretched a full 2 million D\Q. Distance, as we understand it, does not seem to exist within the confines of this obstruction. Our instruments show the space ahead, but they also show us as not moving forward into it.

This phenomenon remains analytically beyond our understanding.

Improbable Encounter

The Crash

Auto Pilot

G:E:N:559 > emergency follow-up > Ship’s Primary Computer

PRIORITY 1 ALERT

Observation: Object of previous report has been penetrated. Ship has been instantly thrust into space 5 million D\Q from initial point of contact. Instruments are reacting erratically due to time/travel displacement factor.

Much of the mechanical crew is exploding or otherwise shutting down.

Much of the faunal crew is combusting spontaneously, or aging in place and collapsing.

The ship is presently spinning in place at the rate of 20S\CPS and wavering. Rate of spin continues to increase . . 30S\CPS . . 50S . . 80SSss . . system disintegrating . .

PRIORITY 1 ALERT . .

TLT . .

TLT . .

TLT . . …


Activating > G:E:N:662 > Auxiliary Computer

Primary Computer has been dysfunctional for 3M\Z. Mechanical crew is destroyed or fully deactivated.

Faunal crew survivors:

1st Officer, Commander Evaclōn, reptilian

Lieutenant Commander Adamish, avian

2nd Class Corporal Luzidór, reptilian

1st Class Ensign Jagua, feline

1st Class Ensign Abelinus, avian.

All presently unconscious.

Stat-o-ship: Spinning and wavering has been stabilized. All major instruments and components fully or partially dysfunctional.

Cause: Improper time\distance displacement.

All power presently focused on Life Support.

Overall Stat: We have entered unknown sector and are drifting. Present velocity: 75D\ULY.

Unknown galaxy . . . entering solar system, yellow-orange sun . . . slipping into atmosphere of 3rd planet.

Power to Life Support temporarily adjusted to 10% > directing 90% of power to Auxiliary Stabilizing Gyros, Steerage, and Forward Thrusters.

Reanimation

G:E:N:662 > update > A.C.

Ship has retreated out of atmospheric level successfully. Tentatively in decaying orbit. 2 probes directed at planet and released.

Redirecting 40% of power to Life Support > initiating protocols for reanimation of indisposed crew.

G:E:N:662 > first report > 1st Officer Evaclōn, reptilian

I have taken command of the ship. Our present situation is as has been reported with the following update:

All survivors except Abelinus are now conscious. 1st Class Ensign Jagua has the most advanced medical training and has been assigned to his care.

Probe reports: Planet below is largely water. Air is breathable. Lush flora, abundant fauna. No existing civilization perceived, but some unknown source of intelligence has been detected.

Our orbit will not hold much longer. Adamish and Luzidór are preparing supplies and equipment for inevitable impact. Upon reentry to atmosphere, I will secure all power to the ship’s shields, and we will station ourselves in survival capsules for added protection. Since the ship cannot be navigated, communication is out, and drive is deteriorating, this appears to be all we can do. Survival of any of us is questionable.

We expect to touch atmosphere again in 2S\Z. This may be our last entry.

On behalf of everyone aboard, I bid farewell to our Alliance of Worlds in Truce. It has been my honor to serve.

Signing off: 1st Officer Evaclōn, reptilian, of the Chelonia Clan

Alliance Ship Destiny.

G:E:N:662 C:H:P: 222x3

Lone Survivor

M\Z:1::G:E:N: personal record

I am Corporal 2nd Class Bornwon Luzidór, reptilian, of the Protorosaurian Clan, descendant of the Serpentine Tribes. I represent the Alliance of Worlds in Truce, 13th Division Space Explorers. I was on the Alliance Ship Destiny. I was ordered to secure myself in a survival capsule… and I was told that the future was uncertain.

The ship has crashed on a strange planet, and the capsule has proven effective in saving my life. However, I seem to be alone. None of the others are in sight. I lost many of my scales in the tumble, but my kornoj are intact. And I do not know how it is that I find myself with no weapons, other than my teeth and my claws.

But I can spread my wings freely, and this seems like the perfect place. It is an absolutely lovely world! There is so much abundance. There seems to be something edible growing everywhere I look.

An odd thing just happened. I was thinking that I am a carnivore. While I enjoy a piece of fruit from time to time, I could not help but notice the variety of prey – docile, even friendly, creatures. It was then that I experienced a painful sensation in my head … piercing … as if some sort of ringing sound was trying to bore through my cranium … with great determination.

There is a valley before me, with a huge tree out in the middle that stands out from the others. It has an unusual aura about it. I am going there now. I plan to sleep in its branches tonight.

The 9th Day

It is early morning as the man and woman approach the stately tree. The fruit that can be seen in the sunlight hangs heavily, and the colors play on the senses of smell and taste. The woman runs ahead playfully and suddenly stops.

The man laughs with her, and his thoughts and feelings are conveyed empathically, “Be careful! Don’t get too close. The fruit can be very tempting.”

“I know,” she responds in like manner, “It’s just that… I think there’s a creature up in the branches…”

Corporal Luzidór stirs, he opens his eyes, sees the woman below, and he licks his lips. He holds very still. “Yes-s-s,” he whispers hoarsely, “Do come clos-s-ser …”

The ache in his head returns, but he fights it. She is young and plump, she has no feathers and very little fur, but she appears to be a warm-blooded mammal. For a long moment, Corporal Luzidór is caught between the piercing pain and the tempest of lust and perversion in his head.

A Bit of Reminiscence

lone survivor

Prelusion

He grins as he mulls over his situation. It’s a complicated thing, this "alliance." For thousands of years, the beings from his home reveled in warfare and violence. He is descended from the most feared of them. When he thinks of home, he means a conglomerate of planets. War over resources and plunder was a constant—a way of life. Some were predators (hunters), and some were just carnivores (trappers). And still others, like those of his ilk, were something else entirely. They were the worst of the worse.

The so-called thinkers and visionaries were the ones who came up with the idea of forming an alliance. By becoming allies, they posited, they could combine resources, and this would make them stronger against any potential enemies from outside of the conglomerate. And it would allow those with insatiable appetites to take their insidiousness farther out into space.

There were many who opposed it. There had never been any threat from beyond their cluster of planets. The more rapacious carnivores suspected that it was the "grazers" and the "chewers" who had conceived the idea—they were the pacifists and the cowards. And it was they who appealed to the elders and the weak ones. The Porcines, and the Caprines and Hircines went along with it. While these, the latter, were willing to eat anything, they also lived in fear of being eaten.

The foremost provisions in the arrangements were straightforward. No member of the alliance was to prey on another member. All members were expected to render aid to other members if a need presented itself. This gave all citizens, no matter the species, the right to expect safety and goodwill among other citizens, no matter the species.

The Serpentine Tribes gave notice that they would never agree to such restrictive arrangements, but other branches of the vast Protorosaurian Clan pointed out that they also were at times subjected to predation. There were members of the Avian Clans and others who often came after their ova, their young, and their invalids.

And so the alliance was formed. The Serpentine Tribal Chiefs nodded their heads reluctantly and silently. And then, their tribes became reclusive, choosing to remain as unseen as possible and being secretive in their doings.

In all of this, Luzidór stood proud of one thing. His family line had the distinction of being Keepers of the Flame, all the way from ancient times… a significant accolade for beings who chose to live in obscurity.

By joining the Space Explorers, Luzidór had gone against tribal traditions. But he had grown disillusioned, always living in compromise and falsity. He aspired to be known for whom and for what he was.

Transference

the tree

Revelations

Now, he grins as he realizes the situation in which he finds himself. He could be the ruler of this place… easily. And if there are more like this one, all his needs, all his desires and whims would be met.

His head throbs, but he suppresses the pain, as he single-mindedly loses himself in the fantasy of ravishing her, lingering in the heat of her body, and then devouring her in pieces, so as to indulge himself in the taste of her blood.

She takes a step and then another, trying to get a better look, and Luzidór suddenly senses something—her thoughts?—something about the fruit. He picks one. It is plump and soft, and it feels as if it could break open in his grasp.

He has to be careful how he wraps his fingers around it. His claws could easily pierce or slice the fruit open. And then he suspends himself with one hand, and he reaches out with the other, holding the bait. She has taken two more steps and is almost within reach.

By now, the man has moved in close enough to see her hand only inches away from the fruit. He is somewhat oblivious to the hand and arm that holds it, the texture and color of which is alien in this world. He springs forward and slaps the fruit away.

Luzidór instinctively and swiftly grabs the man’s wrist. And now, the woman also touches the creature, as she tries to help free the man from the creature’s grasp. Luzidór hisses vehemently, lets go, and retreats up into the shadows of the higher branches. He is willing to stay there as long as he has to, until they go away… and he doesn’t understand why.

When the man and the woman make contact with Corporal Luzidór, it is an instance of contact between two separate universes. The near empty minds of the man and woman absorb some of the intellect and the emotional primal instinct of the creature.

Corporal Luzidór senses a drain of some sort, but there is something else. THE VOICE has found conduct through the man and woman into his mind. Luzidór recoils from an onslaught of information that he finds extremely uncomfortable.

The man looks at the woman now and sees her naked, plump, and voluptuous, and he feels desire and lust. A cold sweat covers the two as they become aware of cognizance. They look at the ruptured fruit on the ground and are awash in guilt. They look at each other and feel self-conscious. And they look up into the tree and sense the fear of living in a predatory world.

They are still standing there, staring at each other, when they sense THE VOICE. “You are free to survive by your own means now, and survival will be a struggle until you learn a better way. I am always with you, and so I will learn through you what it means to be a carnal and corporeal being. And you are always welcome if you turn to me. And you will please me greatly if you can find your way back to me.”

The man and the woman walk away, their eyes a-glaze with the wonder of enlightenment. They will seek to cover up, they will seek shelter that can provide safety and privacy, they will seek to protect themselves and to overcome with weaponry, they will seek to make fire, intuitive thinking will turn into instinct and then into intellect… and, in time, their enlightenment will become a vague uncertainty.

The Nothingness Beyond

Corporal Luzidór clings to the branches and trembles. He is beginning to realize that he has been deceived somehow. Where is the ship? And where are the others? The presence of THE VOICE fills him with contrariness, with obstinacy, resentment, envy, jealousy, hatred… and it stirs a horrible fear in him.

“You know who I am. In your world, your universe, you were a terror, the worst of the worse. Being a wise and highly evolved people, they sent you to me. You have already served me, as you serve me now. And now, I stand between this universe and the next, the eternal emptiness.”

“I serve no one. I will find my own followers, and I will lead them.”

“There is nothing there… no light, no sound, no warmth… not even an echo…”

“I will bring the light, and we will make noise, and we will create an inferno… and we will resonate!”

“We shall see...”

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