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   Chapter 24 Need a Hand

The Life, Death and Life of Amelia Hollow By EJBowman Characters: 31792

Updated: 2017-12-27 12:04


I was right about the second moon of Eferos: It was boring. Well, not entirely… The gravity was low so Nis, Nor and I bounced about. Chorst and Jee remained firmly planted on the rocky terrain. This was no time for having fun.

The natural satellite was more like an asteroid that got caught in Eferos's orbit than a moon. It would only take two days to walk around the whole body and barely ten seconds to fly around at an average USM speed. Yeah… We weren't gonna find much on this moon.

Donn and his dub crew were on one side of Eferos while Ket was on the other. Looking down at it from the moon, it was a ginormous lush planet that was ninety-five per cent water. The grey dust rings that circled the planet were what really reminded me that it was not Earth.

After the fun of low gravity wore off, I pranced back to Chorst and Jee before taking one final jump. Even though I could not see Jee's face through the helm, it was he easy to presume he was not amused by childishness.

"So how much rock do we have to collect before we have enough rock?" I asked Chorst who was already one knee examining the terrain.

"We need variety." He said bluntly.

I wanted to say "the only thing here is rock", but then the Frenchy would most likely lecture moi on how many different types of rock there were. He seemed like the kind of boy who knew a lot about rocks. I should probably know more about geology. My father studied hundreds of asteroids while he was at the out rim of the Solar System. Sven always wanted me to be a scientist… That probably wasn't going to happen. Then again, my father had only become interested in space science and extra-terrestrial geology when he went to university so I still had time to change my mind.

"Digging would be logical." Chorst stood up properly and brushed the grey dirt off his knees. "Then we could compare the crust to the core."

"This may be a small satellite, " I began slowly, "but I doubt we would be able to dig to the core… I don't think this moon even has a core."

"It has a core." Chorst said simply.

"Every natural satellite has a core." Jee growled. He was the chief science officer after all.

Seeing as I'm in space, I should probably catch up on my astronomy, geology and physics. "Well we still can't dig to the core." I muttered.

The pale boy examined the synopsis on wrist computer. There was not much to be said about the second moon of Eferos. Nobody had even bothered to give it a proper name. Eferos had forty moons. Only the first moon, Dakban, was considered 'special' because it was the largest and first discovered.

"The second moon of Eferos resembles Okevella. The lower layers of Okevella hold a large mineral deposit of dyphon crystals. This moon has conditions necessary for dyphon crystals to form in." Chorst explained.

Okevella, it was a moment before I remembered that it was Chorst's home planet. Wait… his home planet looked like this? Yowza, what a horrid planet it had to be. Even after 'millions of years of physical and psychological abuse' all the USM could provide the trinards with was a lifeless rock? The discrimination was crystal clear. Had the trinords needed a new home planet they would have been given something more like Eferos. But their second-class daughter-race got a shitty rock. That's not okay… I think I need to have a little talk with Mel.

Without asking for our input, Chorst sent Frek a message requesting a drill. Not a large drill like they had Earth. The sample collecting drills the USM looked more like four feet high syringes. However, the needle part was actually a slender drill bit that could go deep into planetary bodies. These are the kind of things you learn about in USM history class seeing as mining is a very controversial thing in the USM. There are all these laws around it which is why it's mainly done illegally with slave clones or second and third-class aliens who cannot get work anywhere else in the galaxy.

"Wait, " I raised my finger to signify my question, "if this moon is like your home planet then can we breathe here?"

"No." Chorst replied without elaborating.

"They live in a dome." Nor explained as she bounced back to us. Nis pranced alongside her. "A big glass dome."

Why would she know that? I thought, a little jealous. Dear God, was I jealous of Nor? Sure, they looked similar and were both nocturnal, but that did not mean they had some sort of special connection. Even they did, I would be fine with it… No, I wouldn't.

Shockingly, Frek denied us a sample drill. Chorst explained that seeing as this was our first expedition, we would not be getting equipped with special gear. However, Frek did praise us for considering other alternatives for collecting samples. That is why Chorst had requested a sample drill in the first place; to get bonus points with Frek.

"We can still give a prediction of the minerals in the mantle." Jee stated as the yellow lasers from his scanner searched the foreign rocks. "Science is all about making predictions."

I nodded, actually agreeing with the purple lizard.

"Captain?" A timid voice called from the crater below. "I found something."

Chorst dropped the rock he was examining and bounced down toward Nis and Nor. At first it appeared the pair was staring at nothing, yet according to Nor's scanner they detected an organism. Nor had decided not to investigate until Chorst was there in case the organism was harmful. – A wise choice on her part. I had seen plenty of movies that would suggest the outcome involved a small alien sticking to her helm.

"Ooh." Nis squeaked as our captain switched on the goggles. In case anything bad happened Chorst did not want the innocent boy to witness it.

Like two dogs Jee and Chorst dug through the thick terrain. Sure, there were spades back at the dub ship but these boys did not mind getting their hands dirty (or rather their body gloves dirty).

After a minute Chorst slowed down as to not damage whatever they were uncovering. It was a strange squishy thing. Hard to tell what it was with all the grey dirt on it plus the apparent burn marks. I saw a hint of dirty orange and figured it was some sort of moon potato… Then I saw that it had four fingers.

"Oh." Nor choked when Jee held up the lifeless hand. She tried to take a step backwards but ended up falling.

Now Jee wasn't Mr. Smug: "H-how?" He squeaked before dropping the hand.

Chorst did not react. The yellow lasers from his scanner danced across the rotting hand in search of answers.

"What's it say?" Nor whispered as if not to 'wake' the hand.

Chorst's amethyst eyes read along the small screen of the scanner: "There is enough data in the body glove that I can identify him."

Him? Was my first thought. How does he know the hand belongs to a 'he'?

"Lieu Com Feb of the USM Navy." Chorst stated. "Disappeared sixty-two days ago on an outer-galactic rim patrol and died two days after his disappearance according to the data in his body glove." He paused intently. "Yet… according to his bio readings he has been dead five-hundred and two years."

"Five-hundred and two years?" Jee mused aloud in disbelief. "So he died… and then went missing years after?"

"He was very much alive before his disappearance." The pale boy stated. "The bio readings must be incorrect. The only other explanation would be…"

"Time travel." I said coldly. The words 'Tak' and 'Bennu' popped into my head for a brief moment before vanishing again.

Another thing we learned in our history class: time travel was utterly illegal. The USM knew how to time travel, but the information was kept secret as it was the most dangerous weapon. Only the monks of Destin-Hey and 4th dimensional minds travelled time in a psychological sense. Lieu Com Feb had obviously not allowed his hand to travel through time on purpose. He knew the consequences.

"W-where's the rest of him?" Nor whimpered.

Our captain did not answer. He immediately dialled Frek on his wrist computer. Man, our classes were just getting weirder and weirder.

The USM equivalent of NCIS arrived quickly on the scene. Com Lieu Feb was nowhere near the Dalowit System when he disappeared so they questioned how his hand could have made it there. Then there was the question of how the hand had been there for five-hundred years. Chorst's rinky dink scanner had only been wrong about one thing: Feb had died before his passing through the 4th dimension but the hand had still been there for five-hundred years. This did not exactly make the situation any easier to understand. In fact, it may have been even harder.

Frek strode up to the head of the investigation. They were digging deeper into the second mood of Eferos to see if they could find any more of the dead scout. They knew it was unlikely that they would find the rest of him, yet they wanted to be sure they had not missed anything.

"Is it what I thought?" He asked quietly seeing as I was staring at him from a fair distance away with suspicion.

"Unfortunately, yes." The head investigator muttered. "The traces of Bennu are undeniable."

Neither of them were sure what that meant. They knew Feb's hand had to have passed through the 4th dimension… but how and why? If something from the 4th dimension was intervening with the universe then the USM would be on DEFCON 1. The Hey-monks had no comment on the matter and neither did Mel. – Not a good sign.

"Any signs of Lieu Sef?"

"Sefras?" The head investigator sho

s thinking."

"Maybe." I muttered. God, couldn't Nor just let it go? I already had dibs on Frenchy.

***

"Love the haircut." Geraldine's holographic image smiled. "I didn't know that the USM had good barbers."

"They don't." Sven and I said at the same time. My father knew that from experience.

I shook my head. "No… my new dub captain cut it for me without any consent."

"New captain?" Sven raised an eyebrow. "What happened to the phallic?"

"We had a duel, he tried to give me brain damage and I kneed him in the gonads. So now that trinard I told you about is my captain."

His hand went to his forehead. "The gonads… really?"

"He tried to kill me!" I explained. "But now I kind of feel bad for the guy. He's got some sexuality issues he needs to work out." I said softly. The booth was practically soundproof, yet I was being cautious seeing as Kel was third in line. I do not know who he would be calling after he snapped at his father the last time.

"Sexuality issues?" Sven asked with raised eyebrows. – He loved gossip.

"He's gay but algrins aren't cool with that I'm pretty sure."

"How do ya know?" Geraldine asked.

"Well, during our duel I realized it." I said as if it was a logical explanation.

"How so?" Sven queried.

"I just had an epiphany in the midst of the duel."

Sven wasn't convinced for some reason: "So… you fought him, and now you know he's gay?"

"Yes."

"Okay." Sven put up his hands. "I just wanted to get that straight."

Geraldine giggled at the joke my father made in fake way. Obviously he still had not told Sven about the dusk incident. My God, the longer he waited the madder Sven would be. If he waited any longer then there relationship was going to hit a serious speed bump or drive off a cliff and die in a fiery explosion.

"I just have strong feeling he is gay, dad."

A strong feeling? The dark voice in my head asked. Or do you know some things about the universe you are not supposed to know?

"Shut up!" I accidently snapped out loud.

"What?" Sven asked, a little taken back.

"Nothing." My shifty eyes really helped prove my innocence.

Sven nodded slowly, displeased. Luckily, he could not push me for questions anymore seeing as our time was nearly up.

"I'll talk to you tomorrow and give you more info on my new captain, okey dokey?" I asked sweetly.

"No problem. Love ya bub."

"Bye!" Geraldine and I said at the same time.

I hopped out of the booth and acknowledged Henn who was going in next. Kel completely avoided my gaze. He was still furious at moi for embarrassing him in the duel. It was going to be awkward regenerating next to Kel for the next five years. Even though I wasn't in his dub crew anymore, the USM personnel could not be bothered to swap Veck and I's regeneration chambers.

I was zigzagged across the grey floor as my vision began to blur. The corridor got longer with every step I took. True fear set in when I fell to my knees. My head felt like it was filled with helium as blood flowed from my nostrils like two waterfalls. A small pool of blood formed at my knees, dampening them.

Just out of focus stood a shadowy creature. It did not resemble any kind of humanoid. All I could make out was its long lanky legs that led to a body too high-up for moi to see. Tak. I thought before collapsing at the creature's claw feet.

When I came-to seconds –or minutes– later, Va from Ket was cradling my torso in his (or her) four arms while Frek was kneeling next to us. Apparently the overgrown ant was the one who had found me after I passed-out. I had nothing against Va, but being close enough to his face to hear him breath was unpleasant. – His pincers were very disturbing.

"You're quite a hassle, you know that?" Frek asked semi-rhetorically.

My body felt as if it had not been moved in years. Even bending my fingers was straining. Persevering through the pain, my hand went to my face for inspection. Luckily, there was no blood so the whole incident had been a hallucination.

"Sorry." I groaned before nudging out of Va's grip. "I'm just tired."

Frek nodded. He was suspicious. I was not going to bother telling him about my constant hallucinations. The harsnic would just want to wipe my mind again. It may have been wiser to have mind wiped repeatedly until I was clean, but I didn't want that. Just knowing that I had had all that knowledge at one point made me hunger for it again. Even though I possibly risked death, I still wanted to keep the remnants of all the knowledge Bennu gave me.

"Yeah, we'll see about that." He muttered. "If you wake up tomorrow and feel tired or sick, tell me in science and I will get you sorted."

"Sorted as in another mind wipe?" I hissed. My paranoia was kicking-in.

Va was feeling very awkward during the silence. He had found me passed-out on accident, why should he have to suffer through Frek and I's strange conversation?

"You can go." Frek said. Before the harsnic even said 'go' the giant ant was on his way.

"I don't want another mind wipe." I stated boldly.

"Do you need another mind wipe, though?" His grey eyes pierced my cold blue ones. "If something's happen to you, Amelia, " he said my proper name; shit was real, "then you have to ask for help before it's too late."

"Too late for what?" I asked ignorantly.

"I know you looked-up Tamarax Deloro. You know what she's become."

"You think I'm going to become her?"

"No." He shook his head. "You could become worse than her."

"How so?"

The harsnic exhaled loudly. "Just… Just keep it together for the next few days, okay? We really need you to keep it together."

Who's the 'we'? I thought, but did not ask. And why 'for the next few days'?

"What would happen if I did… fall apart?" I asked, less aggressive. Being harsh with Frek never got moi anywhere.

The harsnic stood up. "Let's just say you wouldn't be the only thing that fell apart."

"Subtle." I grumbled.

"Hey, you got your answer."

Frek left me on the floor. He could not care that much about moi if he didn't even help me up.

"You ever gonna be straight with me?" I called out.

"I could ask you the same question." He muttered so I could barely hear.

Man… I really had to get rid of his German accent. He was sounding more and more like an evil mad scientist.

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