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Distant Origins: An Anki Legacies Science Fantasy for Young Adults By S Shane Thomas Characters: 35017

Updated: 2018-01-25 12:03


The cicada hum of transparent wings flapping accented the rustling of wind through the leaves of the trees in the forest under Craygarta and his miniature brood. After passing weeks in their larval stage and eating leaves pulped by his own mandibles, his eight progeny had molted and their first form of adolescence had functional wings as well as chubby little arms and legs. Their first martial art and meditation lesson would be among ancient trees that towered beyond the height of the human's colonial buildings. They were a half hour's flight at the young ones' pace to the south of the colony above the wood. Like a shepherd driving his flock, Craygarta flew above and behind his spawn, allowing him to redirect the stragglers. His runt began to droop closer to the tree line and Craygarta gently scooped it into his middle set of arms chiming praise for its attempts in their native song, on his free forearms. Though exhausted he could feel the runt grunt its approval. This form had developed wings and appendages, but not the function of their communication. Craygarta thought that it was nature's method of keeping the young from detection by predators, recalling the adage the Craygarta who spawned him had repeated, its rough translation was "Children are to be seen, not heard."

The Craygarta pups and parent set down on the massive branches of an ancient tree in the old part of the forest. Their area was just above the tree line of the newer canopy to the north that they had passed through. However it seemed as though they were merely at the base of the massive piney giants. The branches near the trunk had a diameter the height of a grown Craygarta, two heads taller than any human. The adolescents had room to teeter around without risking a fall. The prospect of one of his progeny tumbling was of little concern since their exoskeletons could easily absorb the impact. So long as their instincts prevailed and they tucked wings under shell, no harm would come to the clumsy pup. In fact, some Craygarta believed that pups who fell more often grew thicker exoskeletons, which would explain why one Craygarta excelled in martial arts with a sturdier frame, while another from the same brood excelled at flight with a lighter frame. Craygarta was excited to watch this bunch grow and appreciated their similarities and any differences. His was the first brood that would be raised among other sentient races so there was no telling how that would affect them. They would meet the other forty pups that had so far been spawned by the Craygarta who remained at the tower when they reached full maturity.

Posing in their basic fighting stance, mother showed eight children how to move forward and back without tangling legs. Learning to move as if in combat occurred as the adolescents learned to move. Craygarta found a beauty in perfecting their motions and saw it as irresponsible to raise a brood without the fundamental motions of combat.

To walk about as Craygarta saw some of the humans do, with no concern for displaced weight or compromised posture was puzzling. Craygarta had come to understand that while they approved of the use of violence to defend their bodies and their loved ones, many humans in the colony could not physically defend themselves. This had driven Craygarta to researching human behavior on his reading slate, a gift from Mayor Paperman. Poring through their digital library, the being that resembled Earth's praying mantis, found a satisfying answer in their science of economics.

Economies of scale enabled some workers to do an excellent job in defending the colony, as CSF had demonstrated. Other members specialized only in a narrow field of science, allowing leaps in the study where one that had to gather their own food, build their own shelter, and defend their own person would not have the time to reach, and this person shared the breakthrough which enriched the group. While Craygarta had a sense of self that preserved the individual, the concept of self-esteem and pride also seemed to tie in to this choice in specialization. While all Craygarta exerted similar efforts and yielded similar results in their physical and mental pursuits, these human beings gave a vastly differing amount of effort. Some were terrific academics and used their knowledge to amass wealth and prestige. Others put tremendous effort into their physical labor and were rewarded accordingly, while others found a bare minimum or even relied on the generosity of society to subsist. What fascinated Craygarta was that one could be enticed by a monetary reward to perform less desirable tasks as a specialty instead of pursuing a passion.

Craygarta appreciated the difference between their species, while wanting nothing to do with it for itself. The proud mother of the brood was given to imagining his progeny taking on various roles in human society as opposed to a monk's existence that their people traditionally enjoyed. Any life path would be acceptable so long as its progeny felt the level of personal fulfillment that their traditions provided.

Craygarta returned immediate attention to the brood. While the runt needed work on endurance during flight, its fighting stance was incredible. It moved much quicker than the others and there was a certain smoothness to its action. A few of the larger pups lost footing and a dull thud could be heard on the ground below. Craygarta sang to lure them back to the practice area.

Their martial art practice continued until the mid-day when Craygarta brought the pups down into the leafy foliage of the smaller forest they had passed over, to eat leaves and rest in the shade. The pups ate their first meal of solid leaves and Craygarta packed them into the hollow of a tree for a nap, they would need strength to fly back to their rooms in the colony. Packed into the tiny hollow behind him and dozing soundly, the monk began meditation. Craygarta started by feeling the sleepy minds of each offspring, then reaching out to find the sentient mind nearest it. Its awareness was nowhere near the human settlement where it had expected to reach the minds of outsiders. There was an active awareness less than a mile away, near the tops of the very trees where Cragarta gave their morning martial art lesson. This would not have gone unnoticed had Craygarta been alone during exercise, but keeping an eye on eight little bugs tended to stretch one's awareness to its limits.

Craygarta roused from the meditation, but kept the awareness of the sleeping brood to the front of its mind. It flew up to where the martial arts lesson had taken place, and silently climbed the trunk skyward, lest the buzz of its wings alert the being it stalked. After twenty minutes of stealthy scaling the view down below was incredible. Low hanging clouds now separated the new forest canopy from the trunks of the giant pines which rose steadier skyward.

Hugging the trunk, behind patches of nettle, Craygarta saw a flock of anzu birds perching on the branch of a nearby tree in front of a massive hollow. Its mouth indicated that the wooden cavern could easily house twenty of the beasts. Hawk like heads sat atop wings that were at least twenty five feet from tip to tip. Their bodies were feline in shape with four powerful limbs and a cat's tail. Talons tipped each leg, and these talons were ripping into their mid-day meal. A grazing animal's intestines fed the pack on the limb in front of their roost.

The sky went dark for a moment as something flew onto the perch from directly over Craygarta's head. This anzu bird had the head, wings, and rear talons of its brethren but its body was humanoid. Craygarta had encountered this creature during its torment in the tower. This was an Anunnaki Nefilim living among beasts until called upon to terrorize the colony. With all the stealth that brought it up the tree, Craygarta lowered itself back down the trunk until clouds obscured the view of the anzu nest. It spread transparent wings and descended in a gentle glide to the small cubby its brood occupied.

The pup's exertions must have been more than anticipated, Craygarta was able to gather all eight into its four central limbs and clutch them to its abdomen without rousing a single one. The flight back to the colony was a blink of the eye compared to the morning's trek.

Travis, Shelly, Bobby, Wooril, Elsaap, and I had spent the morning together at the beach enjoying a swim. After lunch on the boardwalk, we returned to Shelly's quarters to take in a classic Earth film.

A rapid knock on the door made me yelp, aligning with a suspenseful moment of the film. Shelly opened the door to the midsection of Craygarta, tenderly clutching its offspring. Knowing it could not speak without use of its arms, Shelly invited Craygarta inside and gathered spare blankets into a little nest for the pups. Craygarta piled its young into the pod and greeting the gathering, offering apologies for the intrusion on their leisure in its melodic song of a voice.

"They look adorable Craygarta, " Wooril said, hovering over the adolescents.

"Thank you, they are a fine brood. I am grateful to have spawned such as these."

"What's up buddy?" Bobby asked, "Want to watch a movie with us? We can start over, it's just begun."

Craygarta described the encounter with the anzu birds and the Anunnaki in their midst. Travis immediately rose to his feet, pulled out his communicator and typed in a message to Admiral Grunden. Wooril, Bobby, and Travis ran out to their quarters for their shugarra and had returned in ten minutes time.

The Admiral issued an order via communicator for the three shugarra corps present and Craygarta to conduct surveillance and engage the Anunnaki only if a victory has low risk of injury. "In other words, Grunden wants us to go and set a trap, " Bobby declared. The four flew the path Craygarta had taken and returned from, keeping just above the tree line and landing near the spot Craygarta had hidden the brood for their nap. Travis, Bobby, and Wooril huddled close to Craygarta to discuss their situation. Craygarta sang the description of the lair and described anzu birds, which were easily capable of considering a shugarra corps officer a worthwhile meal. Separating the birds from the Nefilim would increase their chances for success, or going unnoticed and killing the Nefilim while the birds were unaware, could achieve the desired effect. Their s

ng against cohabitation and we landed our colony on the planet next to Haran. Its former occupants, your ancient Anki, call it Nibiru. Now we four are dispatched to seek friendship between our people. Our directive is to learn about this city and its inhabitants prior to confronting King Zaetel. Perhaps by sharing technology with nonviolent applications and gaining support of the citizens, we can help him determine that coexistence between Pneuma, Humans, and even Anki is beneficial to his kingdom."

"Together we can overthrow him!" shouted a well-dressed Pneuma in the assembly.

"We are here to change the way he rules this land. I think those changes will achieve your main objectives. Until we have exhausted every attempt at nonviolent change or unless King Zaetel escalates his violence in reaction to our presence, we won't move to overthrow his leadership."

Tyrnus and his group surrounded the LARC team and began a mix of small talk and planning. Many of his group's members asked what they could do to assist in their effort to persuade the King. A few naysayers in the group insisted that the King wouldn't be reasoned with or intimidated into making political changes. Rinholt, a childhood friend of Tyrnus and a royal librarian, told Nicki James that he would bring them any document that they found beneficial, including drawings of the palace layout. By the end of the evening, their spy network included a captain of the king's guard, the librarian, a handful of successful business owners, and a traveling peddler who knew of resistance cells on the entire continent.

In return for their cooperation they offered safe passage to Nibiru for any who were discovered as traitors, and access to data that could develop the trade or profession of any who wished to remain. Pelka would meet the resistance group each night and relay any pertinent information to Javier, Blake, Nicki, and Christa. She alone knew the location of their shuttle to minimize the risk of sabotage, and unbeknownst to Pelka, or any within the resistance, a monitoring device listened to all her conversations and followed her whereabouts.

******

Dr. Zimmerman arched his back as he looked away from his display screen for the first time in hours. He stood stiffly, eyes watering from the strain of long hours at research on what lay before him in a fifth set of growth tanks. Past the nearly full term Grisdoran, Minotaur, Exendel, and Saitaran infants, completing their advanced fetal development in only a tenth the natural incubation time, lay another species. Clear figures the size of bananas nestled in eight tanks, their long thin bodies curled into a near circle, little nubs where their arms and legs would develop, and long thin wings curled around their bodies like blankets. Zimmerman marveled at the beings he extracted from the information in Elsaap and my DNA. His theory that our offspring would be born as Anki had proven accurate. The geneticist daydreamed of the opportunity to induce other Pneuma to evolve into Anki. So much could be studied. Did they have to be adolescents for instance? Did their coloration dictate their mental ability and their vocal energy release? An alarm sounded, reminding the Doctor of his weekly appointment with us.

"Good afternoon my little friends, " Zimmerman said as he walked into the examination room.

"Hi, " we chirped in unison.

"Miss Crispin, it's a pleasure to see you again."

"Good afternoon Doctor. Are you well?" Shelly gave the Doctor a cocked eyebrow and a concerned expression. His cloths looked rumpled and there were bags under his eyes.

"Please excuse my appearance. Work has been too exciting to put down lately."

Elsaap pulled off his shirt revealing more black than golden skin, and what gold remained was spotted with black. Pringar followed suit and displayed a dominant green hide, with gold isolated to nearly her belly. Their wings had fully grown and reached twenty feet from tip to tip. Zimmerman took additional DNA scans as well as running them through their standard physical evaluation.

"Today children, we are taking a trip to the shugarra corps practice fields. There are things I'd like for you to demonstrate that would just make a mess indoors. If your shirts are uncomfortable I'd suggest foregoing them altogether."

Zimmerman, ccompanied by a handful of his fellow scientists and assistants, Shelly, Elsaap, and I boarded a small shuttle and rode to the fields near the lake. Travis joined the group for instruction on flight. He had given us workouts to strengthen our muscles, but under Zimmerman's recommendation had forbidden us to take flight until the new appendages were full sized. The shugarra wings weren't an exact match to our Anki wings but both held to the same principles and we were hovering above the ground and working on turns, rising, and diving for the next half hour. Zimmerman and his colleagues recorded our progress and took note of development. Travis completed our exercises and cautioned Elsaap and I not to practice on our own until he and Zimmerman agree that they were ready.

Shooting targets were set up and Elsaap demonstrated his electrical blast. From what Travis recalled from the skirmish on Haran, his bolts were nearly the size and range of an adult Pneuma's. My sonic attack was equally impressive, seven yards away a pile of splintered and scorched targets smoldered. Shelly reminded us not to practice in the house. I thought it a shame. There was a vase she kept that I felt we could do without.

A young woman who worked as Zimmerman's laboratory assistant volunteered for my next assessment. "You're thinking of your boyfriend Roger, and the movie you watched with him last night. What does getting fresh mean?"

The woman blushed and gave a quick glance to Zimmerman who rapidly shook his head "No". Then I reentered her mind and convinced the young woman she was a shugarra corps member engaged in flying practice. The woman began flapping her arms and running in a figure eight pattern, then dove into a somersault. Elsaap giggled and Shelly shushed him. On Zimmerman's instruction I tried to persuade the young woman to drag Travis to the lake and drown him. Her eyes cleared and she quickly refused. The Doctor speculated that my developing strength only allowed for control of one's will in ways that didn't oppose their morality.

When I completed the evaluation, Elsaap formed a statue of Shelly out of the earth beneath them. It was incredibly detailed and to full scale. The group watched in amazement as it rose and took form in a matter of seconds. Zimmerman asked Elsaap to create a shugarra, and the youth got a very serious look on his face. A pack sized shape began to form and take a silvery shade. Elsaap gasped suddenly and his forming creation sloshed onto the ground below, the components liquefied and seeped into the soil.

"That's what happened when I tried to make myself a MARC yesterday too."

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