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   Chapter 9 No.9

Distant Origins: An Anki Legacies Science Fantasy for Young Adults By S Shane Thomas Characters: 27332

Updated: 2018-01-25 12:03


The following morning Elroy Lancett met with Travis Dershell, Simon Urlitz, and Bobby Rogers in the shugarra corps practice area. The three had all been chosen for the mission since they had encountered Nefilim and witnessed their phenomenal abilities. Dr. Lancett spent the day learning shugarra basics as well as practicing the combat maneuvers developed thus far. He proved to be a natural, attributing his abilities to his years of martial arts training.

A shuttle returned Travis, Simon, Bobby, and Dr. Lancett to the southern continent as the sun broke over the horizon the following day. Lancett spent the flight observing the readings on the prototype as they flew over the ocean. He reasoned that the shugarra could take them underwater and the Nefilim had to be somewhere. By midmorning they had reached the site of the sinkholes. The shuttle pilot found a clearing near the base of the mountain. The team activated their shugarra and flew to the sinkholes. Simon used his boring claws to clear a place large enough for the four to comfortably perch while Lancett adjusted the sensor.

"We should have put the colony down on Haran, " Simon muttered.

"None of us would have shugarra and more than fifty people would still be imprisoned in those towers, " Bobby said in retort.

"Not to mention your love bunny, " Simon said, "You'd still be striking out with human chicks."

Bobby brushed him off with a short chuckle and the guards began looking over the area for any sign of threat.

Travis noted that there was no sign of the dwelling inside the cave he saw when they encountered the sinkholes and possibly one of these Nefilim. In some ways he was glad that there were beings that had likely caused these sinkholes and the mill fire at the colony. He had worried that all the action was causing him to hallucinate.

Dr. Lancett gasped in surprise, "Something just appeared, it looks like it's coming up through the rock and headed right toward us."

The men spoke the command to activate their shugarra's mask and wings, and then crouched in anticipation. They felt a deep rumble underfoot. Simon ordered Dr. Lancett to return the device to the shuttle and instruct the pilot to fly a few miles north and await their return with the hatch open. The scientist grudgingly obeyed though a part of him looked forward to encountering and fighting one of these creatures. The three guards peered into the earth with their thermal vision. A being was approaching underfoot, Travis and Bobby launched into flight and prepared to discharge their energy blasts at first sight. Simon was eager to take the being by surprise and gave the command for shugarra's burrowing claws.

Simon bored through soil and stone right at the Nefilim. He recalled the Admiral's instruction that they should first be reasoned with, but since this individual had attacked once before, Simon would capture him alive if possible and Grunden could reason with him all he wanted. He could see the figure within only a few feet now and he prepared to strike. As he thrust a claw, the soil surrounding him and the Nefilim disappeared. Simon grasped desperately as his balance eroded and he began a free fall down a tunnel created under him by the Nefilim. One silver claw tore in to a limb and Simon heard a roar of pain and surprise. Simon felt an impact in his stomach. A punch that redirected his fall sideways, into the solid wall of the tunnel. His head whipped back and cracked against stone.

Pain surged, and Simon's head felt like it had split in two. He slowly opened his eyes. Travis and Bobby loomed over him. They were back in the shuttle and Dr. Lancett was scraping a metallic, fleshy substance from the inside of his shugarra claw.

"We really need to discuss your team work skills bro, " Travis said in a flat tone.

"The scanner was a success, " Lancett said, beaming.

The flight back to the colony was uneventful. Simon recounted his experience with the Nefilim, and Bobby told him about their rescue excavation. Dr. Lancett resumed his monitoring of the scanner after he had packed the Nefilim's flesh away for analysis. As they approached the shuttle bay, Lancett bolted upright, shock painted on his face.

"There's one moving around in the colony."

******

Helena felt unnaturally calm as she plunged toward the water. She had time during their fall to orient her feet toward the water and it reminded her of the high dive at the community pool when she was a girl. The splash thundered skyward as humans, herd beasts, and something in between, broke the surface. A moment later Helena felt a strong arm wrap under her arm, she gasped for breath as she and Elroy surfaced. They hugged briefly and swam to the shore, looking for their group.

"Let's look on the bright side, we all survived and our shape changing attacker died, " Sam Martin said, trying to grin. His left leg broke when he landed in a shallow part of the pool. Enkidu's arm rested in a crude sling made from the shirt he had refused to wear. Some stitches would be needed and everyone looked battered and bruised from the fall. Gilgamesh had slain one of the bewildered beasts that had come over the edge and was busy cleaning it. Helena and Elroy Lancett were tending to the wounds of Sam and Enkidu while Gabagal built three litters from sapling trees nearby. Sam would not be able to walk anywhere, so he occupied the first. The second would be laden with their two large kills, all their small game, and most of their supplies.

The third litter was for the being that led the stampede. In death, the being was unlike anything encountered on Nibiru by LARC or the Sumerians. Its face was beautiful and shared many human features. Its body was well muscled and clearly male. The body no longer had orange fur, or the legs, flank, and rump of the beast. Its silvery grey flesh almost sparkled in the afternoon sunlight. Patches of strange areas covered its body, some looked similar to circuits, and others looked like clusters of small ventilation holes. On its hands small tubular protrusions emerged. Dr. Lancett pulled one and it extended out a few feet before she seemed satisfied. It hung impaled on a dead tree on the waterline leaving a hole the size of a watermelon through the torso. A similar wound on a human or most other species would have organs, blood, remnants of digestion, bones, and connective tissues but the wound revealed only what could be described as more of its flesh. How this being lived and altered its form was beyond the scope of a cursory visual inspection.

"We are not strangers to the Nefilim. This was a champion of the Anki, " Gilgamesh said as he gripped its jaw, turning the head back and forth as if confirming it had truly died.

"This will make a ballad more heroic then when we slew Huwawa!" Gabagal said, then began muttering to himself, likely composing the opening lines of his new tale.

"These things may not live as we do. The Anki may have used their creative powers to build life like machines, " Sam said.

Helena, Elroy, and Sam's communicators had been lost in the plunge, so walking back to the colony was their only option. To their benefit, the most difficult part of the trek was no longer necessary since they were now at the base of the waterfall. They reached the edge of the colony well after the sun had set.

The Saitarans spotted the approaching hunters on the outskirts of the colony from their swamp. Murga lent Helena Lancett her communicator to request medical assistance.

"You know Elroy, I don't think I'll be leaving the lab anytime soon, " Sam told his friend with a playful smile. "Diving into research is a bit safer than diving off cliffs."

******

"When that leg heals, you'll change your tune, " Lancett said followed by a chuckle.

Admiral Grunden, Governor Paperman, MARC, Gilgamesh, Travis, Bobby, Simon, Shelly, and many of the tower species gathered around the Nefilim body in Sam Martin's lab. It lay in a stasis pod retrieved from the Grisdoran tower. After the assembly got a good look at the body, they relocated to Paperman's conference room which could support a large group comfor

ped in surprise when a pair of nubs grazed his tail just to the sides of his spine.

"Pringar, what is on my back?"

I lifted his shirt to the base of his long neck. The golden skin had become mottled with black spots, and there were two odd growths the length of a pencil running parallel to his backbone.

"Something is happening to you, look at mine. I saw this yesterday while grooming."

I turned, allowing him to examine my back, similar growths had formed between my shoulder blades, accompanied by green flecks.

"We are turning into monsters, " I said, beginning to weep. Elsaap embraced me and held me tight, our necks twined slightly as he comforted me.

"We are becoming extraordinary, " Elsaap said, "There are no Pneuma here to hurt us, and the humans welcome people from other species."

"But we are becoming Anki, the source of the colony's problems."

"Not us, the ancient Anki. Remember history class when we learned about all the murder and mayhem the humans did to one another on Earth? They still get along. As long as we continue to be nice and contribute to the community most people will like us."

I beamed and nuzzled Elsaap's neck with my head, then flushed with embarrassment and hopped back a step. The little monkey gave us a puzzled look and hopped between us making a quiet "Hoot hoot, " sound and glancing back and forth between Elsaap and me. We both petted his mane and reassured him.

I looked the little animal in the eyes and asked him to take us to his home. I wanted to get out of the colony for the afternoon to give me and Elsaap a chance to discover what this change meant. The little primate instantly began loping on all fours toward the edge of the colony. As we followed along, we speculated about our other changes. The Pneuma adults could exhale fire, or electricity, or a sound wave that stunned its victims. The Anki from stories could see the thoughts of others and persuade them, or move things with their minds, or make devices like shugarra with only a thought.

As we reached the edge of the colony, a few of our classmates were playing soccer and ran up to pet the monkey. One kid asked where they were going and offered to come along. I politely told him that we couldn't say and needed to be alone. Their soccer game resumed without a second glance toward us or the monkey, and we made our way to the edge of the woods.

In the company of the liberty monkey tribe, Elsaap and I practiced the breathing exercise that all Pneuma children learn as soon as their skin turns from the transparent of their infancy to the gold of their adolescence. It was a practice we had forgotten when they began living among humans. It took a few tries but Elsaap managed to produce small crackling sparks, and cheered with delight. I had to put a bit more effort into my attempt, but after a time I was able to emit a soundless shriek that burst a piece of fruit still hanging overripe on its vine.

The liberty monkey began cackling wildly and jumping about at the sight of their demonstrations. It seemed like they would never settle down. "Calm down and just relax, " I told the frenzied bunch. This seemed to instantly pacify the group.

"Pringar, what if you can influence others with your mind? Our class mates wanted to follow along until you asked them not to, human kids usually have a hard time listening and rarely obey a request if they don't want to. The monkeys did what you asked, too… Even though they normally just respond to howdy."

"I can't see what's in your mind, maybe it's just a coincidence"

"Look at my little sparks, " Elsaap demonstrated his fledgling attempt again. "Maybe this is the beginning of your ability."

"Hey you, " I said to a little green monkey nearest her, "Can you jump for me?"

The little creature began jumping up and down. It shrieked in delight and hopped off into the nearby brush. I looked into Elsaap's eyes and tried to know what he was thinking.

"It worked!" he said, "But what are you doing now?"

"I wanted to know if I could see your thoughts, nothing yet. How about you, I bet we can figure out what you're ability is."

Elsaap asked another monkey to jump and it simply responded with "Howdy, " like usual. Next he stacked a small stone on a fallen tree trunk and tried to lift it with his thoughts. He concentrated for a couple minutes, but the rock stayed where it had been placed. His mind wandered, the afternoon's exertions had left him a bit parched. He thought about the nearest place to get a drink and realized it was either the stream or back in the colony. I gasped, the stone wasn't moving but it changed shape. It formed into a saucer and the air above it into a small cloud that dumped tiny drops into the stone until it filled to the rim. We giggled with delight and Elsaap offered me the first taste of his water.

We made our way back to the colony, chatting excitedly about the changes. The old stories of the Anki were true, and we would grow wings. How exhilarating it would be when we could fly and use our powers to help the colony. With what we were becoming and what the humans were teaching us, we might do things no being had ever dreamed of before. Elsaap and I imagined what it would be like when our skins completely changed to green and black and agreed that we would still be suitable mates for one another despite the color difference. Shelly was astonished to see how we had changed.

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