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Only With Wings
Author's note: This was the first novel that I have ever written. I was fifteen when I started it, and since then I have written many other stories. But this was my first. Hope you enjoy it.
The year is 2093, a time for many scientific and cultural changes. It is also the year that American astrophysicist William Auburn discovers that time travel is possible. Soon the government wants to cut in and set up a military station in every century. But it is also a time of war. America is feeling threatened when China and Japan, who have been enemies as far as history has been recorded, became allies. But it wasn’t just this sudden alliance that threatens America, but satellites that have been sent over some old airplane factories show signs that something bigger is going on: they are building advanced weapons, like none that we have seen before. That is not the only problem; numerous people are disappearing from around of the world, all between the ages of 18 and 28.
In Japan, the story is a little different. It all starts with an England born scientist named Charles Carrolton. Although he was not born Japanese, he became a Japanese citizen at the age of thirteen for the higher standards of the schools there that his parents wanted him to attend. He has a talent for the science of radiation and genetics. He sees the military in a new way, and thinks that instead of having bulky weapons that require so much attention and slow the army down; the soldier itself ought to be redesigned to be the weapon. He becomes obsessed with the idea of giving soldiers the ability of complete atomic control (through gamma radiation).
He becomes obsessed with this idea because of the power it can create; complete atomic control gives the person with that power to expand each atom so that they have the ability to go through any material, compress atoms so that they become indestructible, become transparent, alter its own DNA, control the electrons of each individual atom in order to create a force field, and other things that are to be later discovered.
An army with these abilities would not only be indestructible, but give the country that it belongs to world power; a trait that China has long been seeking ever since Sun Yixon came to power. So when China finds out about Japan’s project, it wants in on it. Japan continues its experiments while China provides the funds and the “volunteers” necessary since they are now allies.
Soon after this agreement goes into effect, people start disappearing from all around the world. What Charles Carrolton seeks for his experiments is a group of people with a diverse DNA so that it is more likely to find someone with a mutation that gives it the ability, not only to survive the levels of the gamma radiation, but to get the sought after results of the experiment. But when Dr. Carrolton goes through two thousand experimental human subjects with no luck, Japan removes its authorization according to the public, but continues supporting it underground because of the much-needed funds from China.
But after six months, Japan’s faith in this project becomes shaky, and they tell him that he is to shut down his experimenting due to the new attention America gave them regarding this secret experimenting. But China already brought in a final batch of “volunteers” and Dr. Carrolton is compelled to do one last experiment…
“It’s been so long since I have seen her face, exactly two years. I knew I had to search for her, though I doubted I would find her. But, the whole time I thought she was gone, her blue eyes haunted me. The yellow fire within her eyes always bright, burned into my very soul. Her words echoed into my thoughts, her absence haunted my every waking moment. Her presence left an imprint upon my dreams.
I can’t forget her. The way her long wavy hair hung down her back, her wings spread on either side of her, matching her golden brown hair. Her eyes always questioned, and she felt guilt deeper than most. She is a forgotten hero, but never forgotten by me,” Theron thought, as he searched amongst the sea of unfamiliar faces. “I’ll never give up trying to find her.”
Theron walked through the crowd with the hood of the cloak over his head, hiding half his face. He shouldn’t be here, wasn’t supposed to leave NT 776, but he had to find out for himself whether or not she is truly gone. Theron already stood out because of how he dressed, but he didn’t care. Donovan thinks that he has gone through the wormhole to continue studying the Roman army, but instead of doing his work he has been searching. He needed the truth.
And then there she was, appearing as unexpectedly as she always has, head held high, smiling, her hair falling into her face.
Theron stopped, having found what he was looking for.
She looked up at him, her blue eyes questioning his appearance, a flicker. Does she remember him?
“Even if she does still exist, it is nearly impossible that she would remember you. Remember what happened or what she did for all of us. Even if you would find her, all you would find is disappointment. She wouldn’t be the same Amrit that you remember Theron. Give up on the idea; you have a job that is needed to be done here. She did that for you, for all of us, so that we may live. She did that to protect the world, but she will not be able to remember anything regarding to it,” Donovan’s words had echoed in Theron’s head as he stood there, not knowing what else to do.
Amrit too stood there, unsure why this stranger seemed familiar. His cloak, his emerald ring, and the way he stood. Everything familiar, but she had not met him. Not in this time period.
Theron lifted his hood from over his head, hoping that if she saw him that there might be a remote chance that she remembered him, that she still loved him.
Her eyes softened, this time questioning herself. She noticed something familiar within his soft green eyes, an indefinable softness that seemed to look into your soul. “Theron?” she whispered questioningly, doubting herself; not understanding the source of the memory. She tilted her head as she always does when she is trying to make sense of something. Memory then hit her hard, for she remembered who she once was, how it contrasted to who she is now. “Theron!” she said, this time without a trace of doubt.
Theron walked towards her and held her close; not questioning her ability to go against the impossibility to remember everything, to exist here today. He is just grateful that she is here, that she remembers against all odds.
“I thought I lost you,” he whispered into her ear as he felt her shake, for she was crying. He knew she was remembering both the good and the bad, though he didn’t know the details as to how it all started. His hands moved to her back, feeling the absence of something that he was so used to be there, “Wings.”
She looked up at him, her old nickname stirring up more memories. He felt that she was looking at him, but seeing something else, like looking back into what once was.
I woke up to a blurry white world. My ears were ringing and every part of my body ached; not to mention, that I had a terrible migraine.
Where am I? I tried to remember, but remembering made my migraine worse. So I closed my eyes and listened to the world around me, trying to hear something familiar.
Footsteps came into the room.
“Cecily, she is still alive!” said a male voice.
“Impossible!” exclaimed a female voice, “we lose four thousand, and of all people SHE is the one to survive? Why, she is not even twenty, and she is just an American!”
So I was sick? Oh, why don’t I remember anything?!
A long period of time passed before she spoke again.
“So when will we know if the experiment was successful? If she does have atomic control?” asked the female voice.
Experiment? …Atomic control...What does that mean?
“Well, when she slips back into consciousness and regains her strength, we will start training her how to use her atomic control, if she has it. If not… well the government of Japan does not have to know about her. She’ll become one of those lost four thousand,” stated the male voice.
“If the experiment does prove successful, then will our cloning staff be able to step in within a month?” questioned the female voice.
“No, Cecily Ming. The Chinese cloning staff cannot clone her until a year has passed, just in case there are some side effects. Plus, we would have to re gain authorization of this experiment by Japan before we notify China about her. Don’t worry; if China has been able to wait this long for its army, then it can wait one more year.”
“Ok, one year, but no longer. Do not forget who has been funding your experiments and who has been supplying you with your people to test on. For all that we have put into this project; she is at least half China’s also,” warned Dr. Cecily Ming.
I opened my eyes to find that my vision has cleared a little bit. I was in what appeared to be a hospital room with only one bed. It had all of the equipment that a hospital had, except that I was strapped to my bed.
I turned my head to the bright light that was above me, and saw two faces. One was of a Chinese woman who had a serious haughty expression about her. The other face was of a man with short black hair and bright hazel eyes. He had hard features and a scar upon his chin. He seemed surprised that I was already awake.
“Where am I? What’s going on?” I managed to choke out.
Dr. Charles Carrolton’s jaw dropped as I spoke, but instead of answering my questions, he turned to Cecily Ming.
“Go give her another dose of anesthetic, she should not be awake until tomorrow, we need to do test one tonight, and we still need to get her DNA samples,” said Dr. Carrolton.
“What’s going on?” I asked again.
“Hold still,” commanded Cecily Ming as she shoved the needle into my arm.
The world became fuzzy again, and then all was black.
Ouch! My eyes flashed open, and I turned my head just in time to see the Chinese lady pull out a needle from my arm.
Seeing me flinch, Dr. Cecily Ming laughed, or rather attempted to laugh. It did not sound like a normal laugh, but more of a cold arrogant laugh. “Well, well, well…the sleeping beauty awakens. Notice anything different?” she smirked with a cruel grin, gesturing down at me.
I looked down upon my bed, and as I shifted my arm I felt it brush against something soft and warm.
Seeing my puzzled expression, Cecily Ming laughed again and pulled down the covers.
My heart stopped, for there I was looking at wings; MY wings. They had light brown feathers going more to a chocolate brown at the tips.
Cecily pulled up the covers again, sharply saying, “Dr. Carrolton will be here in a few minutes.”
I leaned my head back onto my pillow and closed my eyes.
This can’t be happening. I’m an American, and I’m just starting my photographic career. It’s just a nightmare; the Chinese man who put a hand over my mouth and a gun to my back, being dragged to a boat with hundreds of other hostages, being given anesthetics, waking up with wings, not knowing where I am. I probably just hit my head, went into a coma, and this is what my imagination gives me to keep my brain working. Oh, then why can’t I wake up?
Charles Carrolton walked in the room still wearing doctors’ clothing. He was carrying a clipboard and a measuring tape. He pulled up a chair to my bedside.
“What is your name?” Charles said flatly, staring down at his clipboard, hands ready to start typing on the touch screen.
“Amrit Andrea McKay.”
“I’m an American.”
“Ethnicity.” He repeated, giving me a no-nonsense look.
“I’m not going to answer your questions unless you answer mine,” I replied, mirroring his no no-nonsense look.
“I will answer your questions later. Ethnicity?”
I sighed, I am too tired to argue and he seemed unmoving. “I’m half German, one third Irish and the rest is English, French, and Cherokee American Indian I think, the genetic ethnicity tests are not too accurate because I do not know who my father is.”
“Eighteen and a half.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Tired, my head and back aches, but most of all, I am very confused and I would appreciate it if you were to tell me why I have become part bird, and why the in the world I’m here!” I said through clenched teeth. When will Dr. Carrolton answer my questions?
Dr. Carrolton stood up and placed the clipboard on his chair.
Uh oh, did I get him mad?
But instead, he pulled out a tape measure.
“Sit up,” commanded Dr. Carrolton.
What? Is he crazy? Does he not see that I’m strapped to my bed?
“But…” I started.
“Sit up,” he repeated.
“But I’m strapped to my bed! You will have to un strap me first!” I yelled.
There was a pause “Fine, lean your head back and close your eyes.”
Why is he having me close my eyes?
So I listened to him and kept my eyes closed.
“Okay, you are unstrapped. Now keep your eyes closed, and sit up.” He said in an annoyed tone.
Not wanting to annoy him further I sat up, and as I did I heard a gasp.
I opened my eyes to see that Cecily Ming was staring bug eyed at me. “Impossible!”
I looked back down at my bed. Each strap was still fastened in its place. How did I get through? I looked back at Dr. Carrolton, surprised to see that he was smiling, like he was expecting this.
“Okay Amrit, this is what’s going on. Japan and China want to become a world power, but the only way this is possible is if we reinvent the army. We are going to create an army full of people with complete atomic control. Imagine this; an army that can travel by land, air, and when they temporarily alter their DNA if my hypothesis is correct, see. An army that can compress their atoms to withstand any force; or if they were captured, escape by expanding their atoms so they can go through any material. They don’t need shields because they just alter their electrons in order to create a force field. This army could sneak up onto the enemy unseen. The way it works is that we expose the army to gamma radiation, which prepares the DNA to be altered by ‘scrambling’ it a little, but not enough to rearrange it. The gamma radiation also gives the army the ability to use the full capacity of the brain, so that they have access to complete atomic control. Thus, in short, you have an indestructible army,” summed up Dr. Carrolton.
“But not without a price,” whispered Cecily Ming, “we lost four thousand…”
“Damn Cecily, stop bringing up Marko!” yelled Dr. Carrolton, “It’s not my fault that Marko, even though he was your brother, decided to volunteer to be the first one experimented. He asked for it!”
“But you could have told him what the risks were!” screamed Cecily as she stormed out of the room.
Dr. Carrolton spun around and began pacing the length of the room.
“How many lived?” I asked softly.
“One… That is why we may need China’s cloning staff. Because we don’t want to go through so many people just to find that one genetic mutation that allows a person to survive the gamma radiation.” Whispered Dr. Carrolton, “But it is all for the greater good, and I am willing to go through twice as many people if it would help this study. Those who willingly volunteered and died all in the name of China, Japan, and Science, so their deaths are honorable and required.”
The room became very quiet after he said this. Dr. Carrolton clenched his fists, stopped and opened his hand only to find the tape measure that he brought in with him.
“Here, spread your wings. I’m going to measure your wingspan… that was the reason I asked you to sit up,” blandly stated Dr. Carrolton.
I spread my wings only to find that I am very clumsy with them.
“Two hundred thirty five centimeters,” announced Dr. Carrolton. “Because of the rate that your wings are growing, you will be tired all of the time and will sleep most of the day for three weeks. After three weeks, if my calculations are correct, your wings will be fully grown. They will eventually grow large enough that they will touch the ground and touch the back of your head when folded.”
He typed down the number, picked up his clipboard and measure tape and started to stalk out of the room.
“Wait,” I said, “How did I get wings anyways?”
Dr. Carrolton sighed. “You are able to alter your own DNA, so after we gave you anesthetics, we read your brain waves and then altered them so as to give your cells the command to grow wings.”He then swung around and left my room.
The room was silent when he left, all except for the buzzing of some machines.
So I am a kidnapped American who became a forced volunteer of a deadly experiment that will take world power from the USA and give it to both China and Japan through an indestructible army.
I am a traitor, I thought as I fell asleep, an involuntary traitor.
“Once I’m strong enough, I will escape”, I thought as my eyes flickered closed.
Thump! I woke up on the floor of the room.
Great, I’m falling out of a strapped bed now.
I sat up and arched my back, trying to get it to stop acing. I then gingerly went to my feet. It seemed like forever since the last time I had stood on them, so I used my bed for support, spreading my wings in an attempt to acquire some balance.
This ability of being able to go through anything was starting to get annoying. This is the second time tonight that I woke up tonight because of it…or at least I think it is night. There are no windows, but it seems that at a certain time each day the lights go off when I’m asleep. The lights were out when I woke up under my bed earlier tonight.
I crawled back into bed, lying on my stomach so as to ease some of my aching back and wings. I was never a sound sleeper, not even at home.
Home…it seemed so far away, now that I was in Japan. Before this mess, I had lived both in California and Colorado. I mostly lived in Big Sur California. I was told that only eighty three years ago, it had been a small town, having very few people living there, most of them who were artists. But when I lived there, it was inhabited by many people, having a few ‘parks’ where the housing builders don’t have the authorization of building upon for two reasons. One reason was that it was too dangerous to build homes on such a steep hills. Another was because that the state of California wanted to preserve some wildlife to teach some grammar school students about what life was like a couple hundred years ago, when the pioneers were first settling in California.
I loved Big Sur and would often find myself either at its many beaches or walking around its wildlife preserves. Those wildlife preserves are the very reason I became a photographer; I wanted to capture their image before the builders eventually gained the authorization to build upon those areas, and wipe them out completely.
But mom and I did not always live in California. We lived in Colorado until I was six. Colorado was the place that my mom grew up. She was studying to be a scientist, and would have been a great one, the best that America would have seen, except…
I swallowed hard, tears welling up in my eyes. My mom loved science, but couldn’t finish her studies because I had to be born. Because I exist, my mom was unable to fulfill her dream. The summer when she was eighteen ruined her dream. When she was walking home from a party alone, my father, who had given her a date rape drug earlier, took her, raped her, and left her to die. That was June twenty sixth, 2074. She was changed by that experience, and she lost her scholarship when she dropped out of college because she was pregnant with me.
I never knew my father, and my mom doesn’t remember him. Every time I do something wrong, she accuses me of acting like my father, always reminding me that it was my fault that she was not able to fulfill her dream. Instead of being the great scientist that she wanted to be, she became a single parent; depressed and working at Alvin’s grocery store. We moved to Big Sur for a change of scenery, and for my mom to find the blank slate that she has been looking for. Because of my mom, I spent most of the day away from home, either at school or, with a camera in my hand, wandering the beaches and the wildlife preserves, so as to not bug my mom.
And now, because of my father (I knew that it could not be my mother because she already checked her DNA for it), I have some mutated gene that makes me immune to gamma radiation. Because of him, China and Japan are going to be the next world power.
I hate my father, I thought as I fell back to sleep.
Ouch! I woke up to find Cecily Ming holding a needle.
“You can’t find a better way to wake me up?” I asked
“Without these shots you will die. You can’t digest anything yet due to the amount of gamma radiation your body has absorbed. But in a month you will be able to start eating food. Until then, you will get shots that distribute glucose straight to your bloodstream and some vitamin shots,” said Cecily Ming, as she tapped a second needle, mixing the yellowish fluid inside before shoving it in to my arm.
Ugh. I hate shots, and Cecily was all too willing to see me wince with each shot.
Cecily Ming then picked up the tray and left the room.
I yawned, stretched and sat up. I got out of bed and explored the room. Since I last fell asleep, either Cecily Ming or Dr. Carrolton put up a mirror in my room. I guess it will be used for the tests that Dr. Carrolton was going to do today to find out how complete my atomic control was.
I looked at my reflection. There stood a woman who was on the skinny side. She had long golden brown fair hair. She had blue eyes with a yellow fire in the center, a sunburn (because of all of the gamma radiation that my body had to absorb), and a pair of light brown wings sprouting from my back long enough that when I spread them they are longer than my arms.
I reached out my hand and ran my fingers threw the feathers. They were soft, and I kind of like my wings, although right now they cause me so much pain right now. I just hope it is temporary. I would love to fly, I thought smiling.
Dr. Carrolton walked into the room carrying a heavy brown paper bag and his clipboard. The brown paper bag stood out because everything in this room is white, including my nightgown.
“What is the mirror for?” I asked Dr. Carrolton
“You see. Today I want to go through the rest of the abilities that should be included with atomic control,” he said as he pulled out a hammer. He turned to me and started to slam it on my hand.
Is he insane?
By the time I figured out what he was going to do, I was going to move my hand away. But he had grabbed me by the wrist and all that I could do was flinch.
I opened my eyes. Why did I not feel any pain?
Dr. Carrolton explained “The involuntary part of your brain controlled your atoms, having them to compress together so as to withstand the force of the hammer coming down upon your hand. You have much more power than you think, Amrit. Your power will continue to grow over the course of a year, after that year you will be exposed to another dose of gamma radiation which will complete your indestructibility. Then China’s cloning staff will step in and there will be ten thousand of you easily.”
“What makes you so sure that I will cooperate?” I asked in a threatening voice.
“Because you will need those shots from Dr. Ming for this month, and the lessons how to use you powers from me. Also, because of the amount of radiation you have absorbed, although you are not leaking radiation, I can use the satellites’ radiation detector that is used to detect nuclear bomb factories, and can easily locate you if you were planning on escaping. Remember, you can only defend yourself when you expect the enemy, which is why Dr. Ming has to give your shots while you are sleeping. Once I have tracked you down, one of my men would tranquilize you when you least expect it and take you back to my lab,” he warned.
Great, so much for escaping when I’m strong enough.
“So I’m a prisoner here.” I muttered under my breath. And then other questions popped into my head. “Why will I need to be exposed to gamma radiation a second time? Did not this time give me complete control over my atoms already?”
Dr. Carrolton looked at me like I was an idiot because I wasn’t able to figure it out on my own. “The first gamma radiation exposure was for complete atomic control of your body which requires you to have 75% brain capacity, the second is for atomic of the things close to you, which requires the last 25% brain capacity. For example, with this ability you can not only expand your own molecules, but someone else’s so as to escape something. It is a good trait for a warrior because there may be cases where they may need to save someone else; whether it is a person of royalty or some random person of the public. This second exposure is necessary in order to have this army approved of by the public, telling them that they are not only able to protect themselves but others.”
Great, have the general public happy that they have an army that can protect them or annihilate them and the rest of the world. This is worse than an atom bomb because it has emotions and the full capacity of the human brain. It can outsmart any other army, and this power can create an indestructible madman. Perfect. Does he not know why we leave so much power to computers and technology? Because no matter what you do to it, it will not want revenge nor will it get mad at you. Stupidly, it does exactly what you ask, unlike a human.
“Ok, back to the testing. You should have the power to arrange the way light reflects off of your atoms so as to have it go right through you. That way, you will become unseen by the human eye,” said Dr. Carrolton.
How am I supposed to do this? Think invisible thoughts?
“Just be calm, it might help if you use a memory that made you feel that you wanted to disappear,” advised Dr. Carrolton.
Memory…memory… I combed my mind in search of one that might be useful.
I hate giving speeches, and my history teacher wanted me to give a speech on the history of Rhonda Africa. I did not study the material for the speech at all, so when the teacher called my name, I walked to the front of the class, hoping that I could make it up once I was up there. But instead, I just stood there, like an idiot, staring at my audience. Because it was speech class, the class had fifty three people, plus my teacher--one hundred and eight eyes staring back at me.
I looked down at my hand, amazed to find that it was not there.
“You’ll get better with practice. Soon you will be able to change easily and quickly” assured Dr. Carrolton.
I looked at myself in the mirror, but that was pointless for all I saw was a floating hospital gown.
This would make a good trick to scare some elementary school students, just need some tattered clothing, flickering lights….
“After the second exposure to the gamma radiation, you will even make the clothes that you are wearing disappear, because you will then be able to control the atoms of anything you are touching…” on and on Dr. Carrolton went on the scientific part of atomic control, as if he was just talking so that he can hear his own voice.
“Ok…now how do I get to see myself again?”
Just as I said this, I looked in the mirror only to find that I could see myself.
Dr. Carrolton smiled; “The human brain is a beautiful and complex organ, much quicker to address your wants than the tongue…” he stopped short to type something on his clipboard.
Dr. Cecily Ming entered the room. “Dr. Carrolton, the TGM (temporary genetic mutation) testing room is ready.”
“Good, good,” answered Dr. Carrolton passively, as if Dr. Ming had just said that the coffee was ready. He continued to type on the clipboard, scrolling through it as if he was looking for something. “When are the China and Japan representatives coming to check on the experiment?”
“November 21, exactly one month from now,” dryly replied Dr. Ming. She was staring at her own clipboard, her face still holding that sternness that she had from day one of my being here.
Did she ever smile? Well, I guess if I had a brother and lost him to an experiment run by a fanatical scientist, I wouldn’t be too happy either. But why is she still working here?
“Come,” ordered Dr. Carrolton suddenly jumping up, seemingly completely oblivious to everything around him, for he was already out of the room before anyone could answer him. And he even left his brown paper bag with a hammer inside of it.
I got up and went to the door of my room, just in time to see Dr. Carrolton turn left at a corner from the right hallway.
I walked toward the direction that Dr. Carrolton went, amazed at the whiteness of everything of that building. The colors ranged from a flawless white to a dull grey in the shadows.
Dr. Carrolton stuck his head out of a huge heavy door. “Come, and stand in the middle of this room,” he said.
When I walked into the room, I noticed that there was no furniture in it, except for four drains at each of the four corners of the room. Dr. Carrolton then walked up to me and stuck something to the back of my neck.
“This will record your nervous system reactions, your DNA manipulations, heart rate, blood pressure, etc. I have designed this myself so it will work. Do not take it off or you will have to take the test again.” After he said this, he spun around and walked out of the room before I could ask him any questions.
I listened as his footsteps left the room and the heavy door was slammed closed with a thud. I looked around the room, but nothing seemed to give away what “test” I was going to do. So I just sat down on the cold, hard white floor, waiting for something to happen. But after a few hours, I fell asleep.
I opened my eyes to a cold world and burning lungs. I swam to the surface, only to find that my little pocket of air was shrinking.
Don’t panic, don’t panic, DON’T PANIC! I kept on thinking, trying to calm myself, but it wasn’t working. I cannot hold my breath for more than a minute, but a minute has already passed and my lungs were screaming.
I had to release the breath that I was holding. But as I did so, I stupidly sucked in some water. The coldness of the water seemed to seep into my bones, into my thinking. I was getting light headed because of my lack of oxygen, and the world started to go black.
I tentatively opened my eyes, and all I saw was water all around me. Why haven’t I died yet?
Every inch of my body ached, especially my legs. I looked down at my legs, or rather, where my legs should have been, for instead there was a tail.
When I was little, I was fascinated by the ancient tails of Mermaids, and when we moved to Big Sur, I would scan the horizon with the hopes of finding one. I had imagined myself finding one that was around my age and that her name would be Marine. I would make up stories of all of the things that Marine and I would do together; explore sunken ships, find treasure, and swim with dolphins…. But never have I dreamed of becoming like Marine, I had this huge fear of sharks and often had nightmares of them eating me alive.
I stared at my tail, fascinated by the blue scales that had this beautiful yellow shimmer. My skin on the rest of my body was smooth and slippery, and my wings had become two extra fins on my back.
I swam around the room with amazing ease, and everything seemed quiet and peaceful. It felt strange, breathing through gills under water; I was so used to holding my breath.
Then I heard the clanging of pipes, and the rushing sound of water. Dr. Carrolton must have saw what he needed to see, and decided to drain the room. I stayed near the middle of the room swimming in circles, trying to enjoy my last few moments of being in the water. But the room emptied faster than I expected, and I soon found myself on the ground coughing the water from my lungs, feeling the familiar softness of feathers on my back. I stood up finding that I had legs again, and walked to the farthest corner drain, and fished my hospital gown out of it.
It must have slipped off while I was panicking, I thought, as I slipped the wet plastic gown over my head.
I heard the door open, and the footsteps of Dr. Carrolton coming towered me. I turned around to face him, and I saw that his face was nearly cut in two by his huge smile. He did not say anything, just gestured me to follow him. I crossed my arms in an attempt to try to warm myself up and followed him out of the room shivering. He kept a good couple of paces ahead of me, with his clipboard in hand and led me back to my room. Once I was there I walked to my bed, and striped one blanket from it and wrapped it around myself before I sat down on my bed.
Dr. Carrolton then pulled up a chair and sat down in it, and placed his clipboard on his lap. “Amazing,” he said, still grinning, “Truly amazing how the human brain works, it has so much potential. It subconsciously altered your DNA so that you can survive.” He continued talking to himself, barely audible, while going through his clipboard, staring at its screen intently. “You have no idea how much power you really have, one small alteration of your DNA and poof you have the potential to be any nations’ most powerful weapon. Can you just imagine a whole army of you, making Japan and China an alliance and soon the TOP world power…” he stopped and thought for a moment. “Dr. Ming!” he yelled as he picked up his notebook and raced out of the room, leaving me alone and shivering.
I wrapped the blanket tighter, stood up, and started pacing my room. Never before was I forced to stay in one place for so long when I was perfectly fine. My mom always let me roam San Simeon when I was younger because if I stay in one place for too long I get restless.
I stopped pacing. What is keeping me confined to this room? If I am able to go through a hospital bed, then I should be able to go through a wall.
I walked over to the mirror just in time to see my reflection fade, leaving a floating hospital gown. I went to the door, and saw that there was no handle. Duh, it probably had a pin number on the other side. I pushed the door, finding that it was locked into place. Then, tentatively at first, I pushed my hand and felt the cool hard surface of the white door. Then I pressed into the door, and found myself in the hallway. I looked down upon myself, finding that I had left the hospital gown in the room. Wonderful. I just better stay transparent.
I turned left and started wandering down the hallway, amazed how everything was cool, smooth, white everywhere. Not only that, there seemed to be very few people working here, for the hallways were empty. Too empty, creating quietness that deafened me. The only sounds were my shivering, the soft brush of my bare feet on the ground, and the sound of the air brushing against the feathers of my wings.
My wings…those words seem so foreign to my thoughts. Every day they grow yet I am asleep most of the time because of Dr. Ming’s shots. The idea of a human having wings seems impossible, like a fantasy character coming to life. Their span is longer that I am tall. I now have to tilt them forward over my shoulders in order to walk without having them drag on the ground. The only problem with that is that it makes them to become something like horse blinders from who knows what, except when they are transparent.
Hearing the sound of wheels, I stopped short. A man with a white mask over his face in a white doctor’s suit equipped with heavy gloves came pushing a bed with a covered person in it.
I quickly pressed myself close to the wall so as not to be seen…stupid, he can’t see me anyways. But still I stood there, pressed against the wall watching the man pushing the bed. He continued walking down the hallway, passed me and stopped at a door on the right side of the hallway. He swept his hand across a sensor next to the door and a keypad projected with the numbers zero to nine. He typed in the code and the door opened where he quickly went in. As soon as he went in, the door slid shut behind him.
So…this is a hospital? That would be possible because they have all of this hospital equipment in my room, but what about the TGM testing room? This didn’t make any sense.
Maybe Dr. Carrolton has done other testing, maybe another one has worked! If there were two of us, then we together can escape and outsmart Dr. Carrolton’s radiation tracker, then I won’t have to betray my own country.
Thinking these thoughts, I quickly went through the door that the man went through, hoping to find another winged person sitting in a hospital bed…never have I ever been so wrong in my life.
I stood there, trembling at the sight, my thoughts echoing in my head. There they lay, sun burnt looking, eyes open, mouths hanging…they were the ones who didn’t make it on this last experiment. They ranged from people of all ages and races. The man who went in here was busying himself by uncovering a sun burnt looking girl with long black hair, green eyes, and chapped pink lips. ; She had been covered to keep her sterile so as to keep everyone else in the room sterile which is why there was no smell…
“….We lost four thousand…one lived.” I remembered the Dr.’s words.
My vision blurred and I suddenly couldn’t stay there, couldn’t stand the sight for another moment. I stepped out of the room and took off running, anywhere away from that room. Faster and faster I ran zigzagging down the hallways, afraid to go into any of the rooms. “We lost four thousand…one lived.” I ran faster, pounding my feet into the ground, climbing up stairs and turning corners until I reached a dead end at the top of the building. There I leaned against a wall and slid down to the ground, weeping.
“We lost four thousand…one lived.” Why? Why am I not in that room, waiting to be disposed of? Dr. Carrolton acts like they don’t matter, that they are just another step to his goal of changing science, of being remembered as the man who was able to alter DNA and start an indestructible clone army. He doesn’t view them as human lives, but rather as animals or computers, something easily disposed of. Suddenly, I hated him. I hated him more than I ever hated anyone before, including my father.
The familiar echoing of footsteps silenced my thoughts.
Dr. Carrolton was walking towards me, carrying his notebook under his arm, his black hair sticking out in all directions, and his sharp hazel eyes seemed to be searching for something.
As I sat there, only one word came to mind.
“Murderer.” I whispered.
Dr. Carrolton stopped in his tracks and turned around, a smile curled upon his lips making the scar on his chin flash.
“There you are, Miss McKay.” Dr. Carrolton said to the wall.
Murderer. Murderer. Murderer. I could not stop thinking those words. How could he take all of those lives? And he didn’t even seem to care about them, only about this stupid army that will make China and Japan world powers.
Dr. Carrolton slowly continued walking toward me. Ha, it’s as if he thinks that I will let him catch me and take me back into my room. As if he thinks that I will let him put me in the room with all of the other failed experiments.
Dr. Carrolton reached out his hand, so close that he could touch me.
Suddenly I noticed a window at the other end of the hallway. I sprang up, sprinted toward the window, and dove right through it; absentmindedly amazed that it didn’t shatter.
I opened my eyes to find the ground rushing towards me. I had just jumped out of a 50-story building. Oh, and I hate falling.
I attempted to spread my wings so as to glide down, but instead I just was able to change the direction of my fall. And to make matters worse, the ground seemed to quicken its pace.
Seeing that my wings won’t be of much use, I braced my arms in front of my face, and willed every molecule in my body to compress, hoping that it will break my fall.
Smack! My face was shoved into the ground, all the way up to my shoulders.
I pushed myself out of the ground and stood up, blinded for a moment by the bright sunlight. Looking down upon myself, I checked to be sure that I was still invisible and took off running toward the ocean that lay not even a mile away.
“Stupid…” I thought to myself, “to not even try to put up walls around this place…”
The pounding of my feet seem to chant “murderer, murderer, murderer…” making me run faster. I couldn’t erase the image of the girl with the black hair and her blank green eyes from my mind; somehow the image kept coming back. I know one thing for sure; I don’t want to become one of those pink bodies lying in a pile in that room. With this thought still echoing in my mind, I dove into the ocean.
Cecily Ming sat in her office, unaware of the experiment’s escape. She picked up a R1T4 chip reader. No need to check what’s inside of it.
She remembered Marko Ming’s words when he gave it to her, “Here’s something for you to remember me by little sis. Maybe you will understand my reasons after you scan it. Hopefully, I’ll come back making you proud of me, your big brother. If I don’t come back, it’s my insurance that you will remember me.”
She placed the transparent screen on the floor, remembering what Marko thought of these technological things. “I don’t understand why they still call these chip readers, they don’t read chips anymore. All of the information is downloaded from another source and or created on them.” She smiled to herself, remembering his words.
After she placed the R1T4 on the floor, she scanned her hand over it, and Marko was projected, three and a half inches taller than her, as he always had been. She stared at his familiar face, Black laughing eyes, round face, short black hair, but a ready thin smile. He had broad shoulders, and short legs. She swiped her hand over the R1T4 for it to play its message.
The image moved, and said “Hey little sis.” Marko sighed and looked down, as if he had difficulty to continue speaking. “…I know that I did not listen to you, but I want to be the first experiment. Yes, I know the danger; you’ve made sure I knew that. You were always the one who worried about things like that. But you don’t have to worry, I will make you proud. Together, we will make our name great! Dr. Carrolton believes so, you with your major in cloning and I with this one sacrifice. When our parents died, I have always tried to take care of you, but once teachers discovered your supreme intelligence; giving you scholarships, us a place to live, clothes on our back, food in our stomach; I realized I wasn’t needed anymore. You were going far, and I was being left behind, only there to tag along. Now, don’t get me wrong, little sis, I’ve been very proud of you. But now, it is my turn to make you proud of me. You will go far and have many chances in your place in life. This is my one chance; I have to agree with Dr. Carrolton with that. Don’t worry about me; I’ll be back with a smile on my face telling you that I’m all right before you know it. I love you Cecily.” The last words seemed to hang in the air, and the image became still, and Cecily picked up the R1T4 and turned it off. When she placed it on her desk, she lost all composure and wept, her hatred for Dr. Carrolton renewed.
“I feel for your loss…” said Dr. Carrolton, as he showed her Marco’s sun burnt body, eyes still open but they weren’t smiling anymore. They were cold, dull. His lifeless body repulsed her; it didn’t resemble the Marco she remembered. “…you have permission to leave”, continued Dr. Carrolton.
“No, I want to finish my work.” Dr. Cecily Ming had replied, “I never give up on something that I’ve started on.”
“Good. Your loyalty will change the world forever.” said Dr. Carrolton with a quick nod, obviously thinking that this was already behind them.
Remembering this, Dr. Ming smiled to her empty room. There was no way she was going to leave before she got her revenge. She had arranged that at the next meeting between China’s and Japan’s military science department, she will take away his experiment, China deserves it more than Japan. She will take away his life work, just as he had taken away her life.
Her face still damp with tears, Dr. Cecily Ming checked the time. 12:45 am. It was time to give the experiment her shots. Dr. Ming sat at her desk and swiped her right hand over what appeared to be a standard drawer in her desk and a keypad projected itself. Her fingers quickly touched each of the blue outlined numbers, until the sequence was completed. Then something beeped and the drawer opened itself, as if by some invisible hand. The cold air seeped out in a light mist, and within it laid vials and vials of pre measured chemicals sent from China, top secret and top priority. She then typed the code for the drawer next to it, but this time it was filled with needles. She turned the vial upside down and pierced the needle through its cap watching the yellow liquid that she was supposed to give the experiment. She put it in a white metal container so that it will stay cool.
“Stupid Dr. Carrolton,” thought Cecily Ming, “thinking that I am giving the experiment vitamins.” She laughed at herself, patting her little piece of revenge in her pocket.
In fact, Amrit hasn’t been getting any vitamins, minerals, or nutrients that Dr. Ming was supposed to be giving her. China has been giving separate instructions to Dr. Cecily Ming in regards on what to do with the experiment. Her job was to make the experiment seem faulty to the point that Dr. Carrolton thought of it as a failure. Then she can use the DNA sample that she had secretly sent to China, and create it into another human being, but this time one that 100% chance will survive the radiation. After that, China will clone the new experiment, thus creating their own indestructible army, bringing them world power on a silver platter.
But she cannot start that process now. Dr. Carrolton still has rights to this experiment, enough that even if they were to start the cloning process now, his name will take the credit, along with Japan. Her job is to make him want to give up his rights to this experiment by making it faulty. Her job was not easy though. Every time she injected the sedative, poison, bacteria, virus into the experiment, she recovered and became immune to it at such a rate that each shot that Cecily gives her has to be different. Because of the experiment’s increased telomeres upon her chromosomes, her cells multiply, adapt, and change at record breaking speeds. This has proved to be a huge challenge to Dr. Cecily Ming, for what was meant to disable the experiment has just made her stronger. She would even give the experiment up to ten shots at night when everyone else was asleep, and even that would not have any effect upon her. She had gone through all of the major diseases of mankind, all minus one. Within the new vials were millions of endospores of cancer cells. All it will take is one shot, and the cancerous endospores will float around the experiments blood stream, remaining dormant for a year before they destroy her. From an outside perspective, it will look like it was the radiation that had caused this cancer, but if one survives the radiation based on its immunity to it, then the radiation will not cause cancerous cells. But they don’t know that. Because of Amrit’s immunity, Dr. Cecily Ming hated Amrit, for she has what Marko lacked, and the lacking of that immunity caused his death. It is not fair that one dies, while another lived. But she was happy, happy to get her vengeance out on the two people she hated. She was sure that this next shot will make the indestructible destructible.
“Dr. Ming,” said a voice from her computer. Cecily Ming turned to see Dr. Carrolton on her computer screen. “Dr. Ming, the experiment has escaped; the last I seen of her she had landed on the ground outside the building, the side closest to the ocean… she was crazy enough to jump!”
“I’m on it professor,” responded Dr. Ming, wondering how long he was watching her. “I’m tapping into the American satellite right now.” She typed upon the flat keyboard and an image appeared upon her second screen showing all of the areas that are emitting radiation in red, their lab in Japan included. She stood up and tapped on Japan, then zoomed in on their lab along with a ten mile radius. There, swimming in the ocean, a moving red dot was blinking.
“I’m sending you the information now,” she informed Dr. Carrolton as she swiped her hand from the first screen to the second, moving the image to the screen showing Dr. Carrolton’s face. From the main screen, she also downloaded the information to her clipboard, and left her office.
She wasn’t paying any attention to the clicking of her heels upon the ground and was not fascinated with the white on white as Amrit was, for she had designed the lab this way. This is so that nothing can hide within the building, and so that one can easily notice anything that didn’t belong here.
So instead of paying attention to her all too familiar surroundings, Dr. Cecily Ming walked briskly to the end of the hallway in her usual stiff stance, her long white coat that buttoned four times in the front hovered behind her every step. She had her head held high, shoulders back, arms at her sides, moving with each step, face that showed no pain, no happiness, and no worry. It was the way she had been since Marko had died, every emotion hidden, only for the secret person inside her to know, to treasure and savor. But the person outside was unconnected with everything, all seriousness and business. It was her refuge from pain.
Dr. Cecily walked down two flights of stairs and down the hallway to the right, where the experiment’s room was. She scanned her hand where the door handle was and typed her code to enter and the door opened. There on the ground she found the scanner that was placed at the back of her neck and sent its information to her clipboard. Shell read the information later.
She left Amrit’s room and walked down the hallway, and typed a code on her clipboard, thus opening the hidden elevator door. Once she walked in, the door swooshed closed behind her, leaving no trace that anyone has, nor ever had been there.
Every part of my body screamed once I was under water, not only because it is freezing, but because everything was changing, as it had before in the lab. I want to scream, but no breath comes to me, so instead I just choke on the icy water. Not only that, but the waves were tossing me every which way to the point where I don’t know which way is up or down. Just when I thought that I couldn’t take the pain anywhere, everything stops. The pain. The struggling. The choking. It all disappears as if I was born under water. I then push myself out of the breakers and let the current take me to where it wants to, for I didn’t want to stay close to the coast, nor did I want to go to the deep ocean.
Two fears lie on either side of me; Dr. Carrolton’s murdering along with betraying my country, and my fear of sharks and of what can see me, but what I can’t see.
“Stupid,” I thought to myself, “to fear something when Dr. Carrolton gave me atomic control. But that’s only if he is right.”
I know if I do something predictable, he will easily find me. And not only that, suppose he was right about being able to detect the radiation that I am emitting? Then he would easily be able to find me no matter where I go.
Shoving these thoughts aside, I left the current’s course and swam out to open sea. I feared Dr. Carrolton more than I feared sharks.
Dr. Cecily Ming stepped out of the elevator, and greeted Dr. Carrolton with a nod. The hover boards were already out.
“Don’t forget to check the translator,” reminded Cecily Ming, “they are a new invention and we have to keep them in perfect condition for the next time we visit China.” She flipped her own hover board over, checking the small round translator on the center of the underside of the hover board. Its open to the air around it, and coming from it were four wires, two going to each of the fans on either side. The fans are placed at the two farthest edges of the hover board, and between them above the translator was a foothold for someone to stand upon it. And in the center of that, there was a sensor. Dr. Cecily Ming, seeing that it is in perfect condition, flipped it back over and stood upon it. It sensed her feet and the fans started to hum.
She swiped her hand out in front of her, and at once the sensor within the hover board sensed it. Dr. Ming then, holding her hand above the sensor, raised it. In response, the hover board too raised itself, its fans creating a consistent humming sound.
“Amazing,” thought Dr. Ming, “That this thing gets its energy from the air around it by creating a pulse of energy through the electrons within the molecules around it.” She smiled to herself, amazed at this new thing that man has created. “Soon these translators will be everywhere. They sure do live up to their name, translating air into energy.”
Dr. Carrolton caught her smile, and laughed. Seeing that he was laughing at her, Dr. Cecily Ming then put on her usual composed and serious face, not mirroring his laugh. She wants him to have no happiness, just as Marko cannot have happiness anymore. She pierced her lips, “Shall I get the lab team ready to leave?” she asked in the driest tone possible. She placed her clipboard above the sensor and it suspended it into the air. She then locked the position of the experiment so that the hover board will do all of the navigating. She also left the map upon her screen, glanced at where the red dot is now and looked down upon him, she was now two feet off the ground, and decided that he did not hear her, so she repeated her question.
“I heard you the first time Cecily,” said Dr. Carrolton. Dr. Cecily Ming winced at the informality. He felt like he was the only real scientist, when she was the one who had sacrificed the most and spent more time going over the experiment.
Dr. Carrolton flipped his hover board over and straightened up. He then stepped upon his too, raised his hand so that his humming hover board would rise, and then placed his clipboard above the sensor. He typed a few words on his clipboard, locking the position of the experiment into the navigating system and straightened up, all the while Dr. Ming was staring at him, waiting for his response.
He then nodded to Ming, indicating that she can address the lab team to the situation.
“Attention all scientists and workers…” she started; she didn’t want to be like Dr. Carrolton, giving himself all of the credit. “…please immediately report to the main level, and claim a hover board, the experiment has escaped. We are using the capture and receive procedure, so bring the appropriate materials. Each person is to have a stun gun, and a net for carrying the experiment back.”
“Where is the experiment located?” asked a man’s voice that came from her clipboard.
“I’ll send you all of the coordinates onto your clipboards, be sure to lock the position onto the hover boards,” replied Dr, Ming.
Dr. Carrolton nodded, pleased that she handled everything correctly.
The first ‘minor’ scientist walked out a big guy, whose white lab jacket contrasted against his dark skin. He carried a larger hover board with four fans under one arm, and three stunning guns under the other. He tossed one to Dr. Carrolton one, and Dr. Ming the other.
“Thank you Zane,” said Dr. Ming as she caught her gun. But Zane didn’t respond, but rather stared into her eyes, challenging her. He often told Dr. Carrolton that he couldn’t trust her, that there is something not right about her ever since her brother died. Soon, his hover board was humming and he was hovering in front of the two main scientists.
Soon there were 37 hover boards humming, their occupants all wearing white lab coats and carrying a gun, so black that it made the lab coats look even whiter. They were people of all races, gathered together to make the experiment a success. They were waiting for Dr. Carrolton to give them further orders.
“Fellow scientists…” started Ming, but she was cut by Dr. Carrolton.
“You are here because the experiment has escaped. You all have its coordinates upon your clipboards. You will be divided into two groups, one led by me, the other by Cecily….” Dr. Carrolton then glanced at Dr. Ming, again seeing her wince at the informality. He liked reminding her that he was in charge. “Those who have larger, more noisy hover boards, and I’m guessing that there is about 17 of you, will chase the experiment from behind, going the same direction that it is going, just as it would expect us to. The other 20 are to go with me, since we have the quieter hover boards we are going to do the surprise attack. We are going to go around where the experiment is until we are in front of it. That way, if the plan works, we will be able to surround it.”
Zane rolled his eyes.
“You have a problem Zane?” asked Dr. Cecily Ming.
“Yeah, I got stuck with you in command,” replied Zane, perfectly fine in challenging her. He then turned to Dr. Carrolton. “How am we supposed to trap something that we haven’t seen before? Only you and Ming-Ming over here have ever seen it. For all we know, it is a person ten feet tall, red and pink polka dotted, with six eyes.”
Neither Dr. Carrolton nor Dr. Ming laughed at his description. Rather, Dr. Ming frowned at being referred as Ming-Ming.
“The experiment…” started Dr. Carrolton, “would not be something easily recognized. It has the ability of cloaking itself, so you will not see it. It has the ability of staying underwater, so you will not find any disturbance of it surfacing. Our only guidance is the radiation that it emitting, outside of that, there is no way we would be able to find it. Trust the red dot on the clipboard, that’s where you will shoot. For all your concerned, the experiment is a moving red dot in the ocean. Am I clear?” Dr. Carrolton turned to the rest of the team.
“Yes Doctor.” they replied in unison.
“All right, team two over here. We will go out first, and come up from behind the experiment. I will not tolerate any messing around, or independent trapping. If you think you can work better on your own, then you will work alone, in a low paying job without a memory of anything about this place nor anything before. Am I clear Zane?” She asked turning to Zane.
“Yes Doctor” he replied.
“Ok, let’s go!” Said Dr. Carrolton, and both teams departed to the ocean.
With the mainland long out of sight, I was finally starting to breathe easier… or is it still breathing if I’m not using my lungs? Either way, I still don’t feel comfortable to be near Dr. Carrolton. How could someone kill four thousand and still think he is doing the right thing?
I looked up to the water’s surface; momentarily awed by the way the sun danced and sparkled casting soft ribbons of sun beams down into the water that fade into the dark depths below me. Then the ocean’s surface started to ripple differently, and my ears caught the buzzing sound of hover boards.
How do they know where I am? Then I remembered Dr. Carrolton saying that he could track me by the radiation that I’m emitting. So I swam faster; I am not going back without a fight.
“What is this thing?” Zane whispered to himself watching the red dot move quickly across the screen.
Amrit’s speed even shocked Dr. Ming, causing her to realize how powerful the experiment really is without her trying to sabotage it.
“Double your speeds, the experiment has spotted us. We need to keep it going in that direction.” Yelled Dr. Ming to the other scientists.
She then turned, her black eyes gazing straight ahead, searching for the experiment. Though she knew that she can’t see it, not even if it stood six inches from her.
“If it was Marko, he would not have caused this much trouble.” Thought Cecily to herself. And she is right, he wouldn’t have. But Marko is dead.
My heart is pounding and I can feel its pulse throughout me. It seems like no matter how fast or how far I swim, they are always close behind. But I don’t think that they can catch up with me, otherwise they would have done so already. Besides, their engines are bound to overheat in any moment; they can’t go at top speeds forever. So I have the upper hand. So I pushed myself yet faster.
Something hissed coming at me from the surface and in a furry of bubbles everything went white.
“Got ya!” yelled Zane; already cocky that he had stunned the experiment from a long
Dr. Ming shook her head and frowned and Zane’s haughtiness.
“Come on, we don’t have much time!” she called back to the rest of the team. Dr. Carrolton’s group was across from them, they had successfully surrounded the experiment.
They all got closer to the experiment, many curious to find out what it was.
“Well lookie here, I’ve caught myself a mermaid!” jested Zane when he caught sight of Amrit. Her deep blue scales gleamed yellow; she was visible now that she is stunned.
“Enough messing around Zane,” warned Dr. Carrolton, “We need to work quickly; we don’t know how long she will stay stunned so keep your gun ready.”
“It’s not as simple as that Dr….” started Dr. Ming but she caught herself, remembering that Dr. Carrolton doesn’t know how quickly the experiment develops immunity to things.
Zane pulled the experiment out of the ocean by her tail and tied it to his hover board’s side and raised it until she was just above the ocean, her hair and scales dripping.
One of the new scientists, Sarah, felt pity for Amrit. She took off her lab coat and ripped it right under the sleeves and, with the remaining rectangular piece of fabric, clothed her with it, one knot behind Amrit’s neck and she wrapped the rest around her under her two fins and tied a knot at the bottom.
Suddenly the experiment started to shake; yet her eyes were still closed, as if she still was not conscious. She threw her head back and took in a huge gulp of air. She then coughed, ejecting the water from her lungs. Once she started to breathe regularly, her scales turned into blue skin, her tail fin parted into two legs and the two fins on her back turned into wings, each scale transforming itself into brown feathers. Soon, she looked human except for her light brown wings, and she stretched them along with her arms.
“What is she?” whispered Sarah still staring at the experiment. After clothing Amrit, she had moved her hover board beside Dr. Ming. “She can’t be human now, even if she once was.”
“She is the new generation of China’s and Japan’s soldiers,” replied Dr. Ming, echoing the words that Dr. Carrolton often used, “…soldiers with complete atomic control.”
The experiment’s eyelids fluttered open revealing sky blue eyes with a fiery yellow center. She is conscious.
Dr. Carrolton and Zane pointed their guns at her, waiting for her next move.
Instead of joining them, Dr. Ming directed her hover board back. She knew that shooting the experiment again would have no effect. An idea flickered in her mind as she glanced at her clipboard, and she minimized her navigating system and started to type on her clipboard.
The world around me is bright. Too bright. Squinting, I looked around at the upside down figures on hover boards…wait, the ocean is upside down too, so I’m the one who is hanging by my ankles.
My vision cleared and my eyes adjusted to the light. Dr. Carrolton’s hazel eyes are watching my every move, his black hair as messy as ever.
“Murderer.” The thought whispered itself into my brain, its fear and anger clinging to me as I glanced at the gun he was pointing at me. I’m not giving up just yet.
I looked up at the hover board humming above me, its four fans blowing air at me causing my hair to flip and turn. Somehow, I need to get one. I need to be able to see what is chasing me clearly too successfully escape.
“Fire!” yelled Dr. Carrolton as he pulled the trigger releasing a red laser so that it came hurling at my head.
I flinched, bracing my hands out in front of me and closed my eyes. A hissing sound and a splash reached my ears. I opened my eyes in time to see a force field emitting from my hands and a hover board without a rider. The laser had bounced off the force field and hit one of the scientists.
I heaved myself up and grabbed the rope that’s tied around my ankles. I then let my feet slip through the rope, all the while other scientists were continuously shooting at me, but it had no effect. I reached my hand threw the bottom of the hover board and pulled the rest of myself through, thankful that the piece of fabric that someone had clothed me with stayed with me.
I stood up, trying to keep my balance. The scientists were starting to form a circle around me, so as to prevent me from leaving.
I swiped my hand over the sensor, causing the screen on the clipboard to turn on showing the navigating system that they used to find me. A blinking red dot resided on the center of the screen along with the point or origin.
Pushing my hand forward, I attempted to get the hover board to move, but nothing happened. Its locked location is me, and I’m already on it.
I typed on the clipboard and canceled out of the navigating system, again attempting to move this thing.
The scientists have surrounded me, knowing that I barely know how to control the hover board. Thinking that they had captured me, the original rider of the hover board leaped out of the water and grabbed hold of one of the fan’s protectors, attempting to get his hover board back.
I shoved my hand away from me over the sensor, directing the hover board to move forward, but I moved my hand too quickly. The fans let out a high screech and the hover board leaped forward.
The hover board headed straight to a scientist, not knowing how to stop. Instead I changed direction by swinging my hand to the left. But instead I veered right to another scientist, and he held his ground. The scientist that was hanging on to the hover board let go, certain that I am going to crash.
I closed my eyes, waiting for the impact, but none came. Tentatively opening my eyes I saw an expanse of ocean ahead of me. I had expanded my atoms along with the hover board’s atoms just enough to pass through them. I was free.
I then directed the hover board to the horizon and raced to meet it, turning myself invisible along with the hover board. But since the clipboard still stayed visible, I tossed it into the ocean.
“No need to give away my exact location because of it.” I thought while it created a splash behind me.
Dr. Cecily Ming reaches out her hand so as to help Zane onto her hover board. Though she was showing a kind gesture, she was inwardly mocking him for being so stupid.
“I don’t need any help from you, Ming-Ming.” Responded Zane as he shoved her hand aside. He then pulled himself up onto her hover board, wincing because his hands are badly cut from hanging on to the fan’s protector, and would need medical treatment soon.
Dr. Ming straightened up and shifted her weight to be sure that she still has her balance, and noticing Sarah’s unoccupied hover board, she moved towards it. It was Sarah that got hit when Dr. Carrolton had attempted to shoot the experiment.
Once she was beside it, Dr. Ming switched clipboards and stepped on to Sarah’s hover board for it was lighter weight and she couldn’t stand being so close to Zane.
Dr. Ming then went to check on Sarah, for Michel is examining her.
“How is she?” Dr Ming asked dryly. She refused to show her concern for her.
“Poor thing got a direct hit in the head. She’ll be unconscious for at least two days. She also inhaled quite a bit of water after she fell so she is going to have trouble breathing for a few weeks.” Replied Michel, looking up at Dr. Ming with his baby blue eyes; which are almost completely hidden by his brown hair.
Dr. Ming gave a sharp nod. “And Samuel?”
“He’s fine, just creeped out that a winged person went right through him.” He responded as he straightened up, careful to keep Sarah balanced on his hover board.
Again she nodded. She turned her hover board, almost running into Zane, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“What is that thing you’ve created Ming-Ming?” sneered Zane.
“You know just as well as I do that this is Dr. Carrolton’s experiment,” she retaliated, trying to get past him.
“His vision for greatness, that’s all he contributed. You are the brains behind it. And you let him get all of the credit. You are going to end up just like Marko; a nice lonely death with no value to your name. Except in your case you won’t even have a cold hearted sister to mourn you.” He said sarcastically.
Dr. Ming tensed, every molecule in her body hating him. “You have no right to talk about Marko like that! Marko died a brave man! He died to show the world that…to show me that….he’s a better man than you could ever be!” Cecily screamed.
“That’s right, keep telling yourself that. It is your job as his sister. But in reality, he was just one less Ming-Ming in the world.” Laughed Zane, amused by her anger and pain. Shortly after those words left his tongue he turned the hover board and left, leaving her infuriated.
Dr. Ming, surprised that she let him get to her, quickly composed herself, shoving her anger in to a back corner of her mind to be dealt with later.
She guided her hover board beside Dr. Carrolton, who is seemingly in his own world.
“Years of research, of trial and error, of all those failures; all of that gone! Gone, all the while proving itself a success! Just when I was so close…” Dr. Carrolton muttered to himself as he ran his hands through his hair, messing it up even more.
“Dr…” Dr. Ming attempted to gain his attention, but he continued to mutter to himself.
“Doctor!” Dr. Ming snapped.
“What?! What do you want?!” yelled Dr. Carrolton, as he was shoved out of his thoughts.
“Doctor, I have a plan on how to retrieve the experiment…” started Dr. Ming.
“What will you need? We can’t throw a net over it, we can’t trap it, we can’t shoot it, and we can’t lure it. What other options are there?” panicked Dr. Carrolton.
“Doctor, there is another way.” Dr. Ming ventured.
Dr. Carrolton sighed, again running his hands through his hair, messing it up even more. He knew that she didn’t want to tell him the plan, or she would have done so already.
“What do you need?” he asked again doubtfully. He didn’t think anything that she could come up with would fare better than his plan.
“Two scientists on the lightest hover boards we have. No weapons. Only themselves and their clipboards.” She replied promptly.
Dr. Carrolton doubted Dr. Ming’s plan even more, but meeting her eyes, he saw that she felt like she knew what she was doing.
“Fine. You can take Michel and Samuel. The rest of us are going back to the lab. We have to go slowly because of Sarah…” started Dr. Carrolton.
“I’ll meet you there.” Replied Cecily Ming as she turned her hover board around and put the navigating system back on the screen. Her plan was unfolding.
I slowed the hover board down; I don’t feel the need to overheat the engine when I’m not even being followed.
Now where am I? I have been going the same direction for miles, but I don’t know whether or not to expect land soon or to expect a long journey from the random direction that I have chosen.
I held my hand still over the center of the sensor and the hover board slowed to a stop.
“Great, now you decide to stop.” I thought though I’m glad it did. I need to figure out which direction I’m going.
I wish that I had not thrown that clipboard into the ocean. Then I would have had at least an idea of where I’m heading.
I heard a distant hum and looked over my shoulder, trying to locate its source. Just over the horizon, three forms on hover boards appeared and slowed down, for their humming became quieter.
I stood my ground. If I leave, they will be able to hear me. And what can they do to me if they caught me? I can now easily escape. If they pose a threat, I’m gone.
“Slow down Michel,” warned Dr. Ming, “we don’t want to intimidate her.”
Michel slowed down and stayed with the rest of the group.
“What’s your plan Doctor?” asked Samuel nervously. He didn’t like the idea of being near the experiment again, especially after it ran right threw him. But his question was pointless; Dr. Ming wasn’t going to answer it. She wants to keep her plan to herself.
Dr. Ming looked down at the blinking red dot on her screen. “Veer to the left a bit,” she directed, “we want her to feel secure and hidden since we can’t see her. We don’t want to intimidate her into running off again.”
Michel looked at his clipboard as he was obeying her orders, “That’s weird,” he mused, “Why did she stop?” he asked himself, eyes staring intently at the red dot on the clipboard.
“Wait here,” said Dr. Ming as she turned to the other two scientists. They had no need to be here, more or less see what was going on. She only asked for them to come along so as not to completely insult Dr. Carrolton when she came back with the experiment. She is completely confident in her plan; it is fool proof for any American, or anyone else who is loyal to their country now that she thought about it. If worst comes to worst and her plan fails, she has a backup plan. She will give Amrit the shot before she escapes again. But that was only to be done as a last resort. She preferred Amrit to be under Dr. Carrolton’s care as she dies, for he would have to see the “failure” of his experiment first hand. Dr. Ming needs him to think of the experiment as a failure, not as a success that got away.
She slowed her hover board to a stop, but she still didn’t face Amrit.
“Miss McKay, May I invite you back to the lab?” Inquired Dr. Ming.
“Right, and end up in that room waiting for disposal like your other experiments.” A voice from nowhere said. She was listening.
Dr. Ming typed a command, and her clipboard projected an unusual looking single cellular organism.
“Do you know what this is?” she asked without waiting for her reply. “It is bacteria, modified of course.” She enlarged the image by touching it with two fingers and spreading them apart. “It is designed to travel through the bloodstream, and to be disguised as a type O blood cell. Though it travels through your bloodstream, it does not transport oxygen to your cells. It multiplies quicker than most bacteria, and that causes the host multiple problems, because of all the space it ends up taking, it increases the host’s risk of blood clots leading to aneurisms or heart attacks. Since the color of the bacteria is much darker than human blood, you can see the path it took through your arteries to get to your brain stem. Once it’s there, the bacteria dismantles it, killing the host.” Dr. Ming paused, waiting for a reaction. When none came, she continued talking.
“It is quite a horrible man made disease, and it is very contagious. It spreads through anything with H2O and we have made it immune to all antibiotics. Not only that, it is so small that it can seep through the human skin, unlike most bacteria.”
“Why are you telling me this?” the experiment asked after a short pause.
“Simple. If you don’t come back to the lab I will send a lovely message to China saying that we should release those bacteria in America. We will send 50 carriers to your country to introduce the bacteria into aquifers and watch it quickly spread from there,” toyed Dr. Ming, testing the experiment. But she did not get an answer; rather she got a cold silence. Unsure of what else to do, she continued talking. “Or…we could send one of the people to introduce the bacteria first…” she paused again, waiting for some sort of reaction. Feeling doubts whether or not her plan was going to work, she reached into her pocket until her hands found the shot of endospores, which she clasped and was ready to click open the container.
“I don’t believe you,” the experiment stated flatly. Dr. Ming’s hand left her pocket. “You wouldn’t send 50 of your own people to their deaths, and no one is crazy enough to create a disease like that, we have difficulty controlling the diseases that naturally appear. It will come around and infect your country too, one time or another and it would be at your blame. You would not do that to your own people!” yelled the experiment.
Dr. Ming shook her head, “You really think that we haven’t considered that possible outcome? Why would we introduce such a thing without creating a vaccination? We have created a vaccination not long after we had created the disease. We have even mass product of it, just in case of an accident. You see, our country is safe unlike yours. We even might have some extra cases of it that we can sell to your country in its “time of distress” out of the charity of our hearts…$10, 000 per shot is a fair price, don’t you think?”
“What kind of person are you, to save us from the very thing you’ve created to destroy us!”screamed the experiment.
“So, you believe me now?” Dr. Ming cooed to the experiment.
“No.” Amrit said flatly, as she put her hand over the sensor getting ready to leave.
“So, you really want to take that chance? If you leave now, millions of people will be suffering, and upon their death beds, when their cries for help, for deliverance from their pain, I will make sure they know it was you that had caused this, you that had put them through such misery. Millions of peoples’ blood will be on your hands, their grief on your shoulders. I guarantee it,” ventured Dr. Ming.
A long pause, Dr. Ming had no more to say and everything is quiet. The only sound that could be heard is the soft sloshing of the ocean’s waves beneath the hover boards. The sun is setting, casting an array of colors across the sky. The colors went from blue, a soft pink, a deep red, a dark orange, and finally a golden yellow streak at the horizon.
“Somewhere, between the sunset and I, the experiment resides,” Dr. Ming thought to herself as she proceeded to search for any sign that it was there. Finding none, she checked her navigating system to be sure she was still there.
“Ok, I’ll go with you,” the experiment softly spoke as her form started to appear out of the sunset. The sun proceeded to fall beneath the horizon and darkness reigned. It appeared as though Dr. Ming had won.
I don’t want it to be like this. I don’t want to be here, following Dr. Ming like some kind of prisoner condemned to death with a scientist on either side of me. The one with brown hair over his blue eyes is studying me, like one would study a two headed snake, or a cow with five legs. The other is quite different, for he shifts his weight and fidgets; nervous. Obviously he is quite scared of me, and I guess I can’t blame him.
I don’t want to go back, there is the possibility that Dr. Ming made up the bacteria off the top of her head. But then again, there is also the chance that she is telling the truth. It’s bad enough to carry around the guilt that my existence ruined my mother’s life. That added to the death of millions, all caused by me …I…I couldn’t bear it.
I lowered my eyes knowing at that moment that I have been defeated.
Dr. Ming looked behind her, checking up on the experiment that has her eyes lowered but is still watching the scientists’ hands over the sensors, imitating them. She does not seem to have much knowledge on how to use a hover board.
Dr. Ming looked ahead of her, watching the lights of the lab getting closer. She turned off her navigation system. She knows the way from here.
She unfolded the events as one may unfold a shirt, looking for any stain or fault. She doesn’t know whether or not the experiment completely believed her or if she just doesn’t want to take the risk. She preferred the latter, for the project that she just told the experiment was a secret that China had kept to itself so well up to this point. It would be a shame for it to be discovered now. It was their back up plan that they had started many years ago to improve their warfare capabilities. The enemy cannot fight you if it is too busy fighting the disease you have created. It the experiment thinks that it is a fake; it is less likely that it will mention the disease to anyone else and even if it did, they wouldn’t believe her. But if she believes it is true, she might be able to convince others that it is true and it wouldn’t be long before Japan learns about this project.
Dr. Ming again turned back to check on the experiment, searching its eyes for a clue of what’s going through its mind. Its blue eyes that are usually easily readable gave no sign that she thought either way. Rather, they met her eyes as if it was trying to read her too. Dr. Ming held her questioning gaze for a few moments, retaliating it with a cold stare. She didn’t have to worry about her eyes giving anything away.
Dr. Ming again turned her gaze ahead of her, watching the commotion at the lab. Dr. Carrolton had recently arrived. They had to go slow so as not to cause any more damage to Sarah. One of the scientists had her stretched out on a large hover board, manually guiding her inside.
Dr. Carrolton straightened up once they all landed, his eyes refusing to hide his surprise. Zane too stood up, holding his bloodied hands in front of him. But they were not the only ones who noticed their arrival. Once the other scientists noticed that Dr. Ming had brought the experiment along with her, everyone seemed too tense to stare at it, surprised that the thing they had tried so hard to capture, the thing that had caused so much trouble had come back with downcast eyes.
Dr. Ming lowered her hover board on to the platform, soon followed by Samuel, Michel, and lastly the experiment. Once his feet were on the ground, Samuel immediately left to join the other scientists. Michel however lingered a bit, studying the experiment as he slowly walked away. The experiment on the other hand, stood her ground and shifted her weight, obviously uncomfortable with all of the stares.
Dr. Carrolton was the first to speak, “Dr. Ming, you take Zane to your office and bandage his wounds. I will take the experiment back to its quarters.”
The experiment stepped away from her hover board, hesitating before she followed Dr. Carrolton. She stayed a safe distance from him though, refusing to get closer than three feet of him. But her eyes are not downcast anymore. The fire in the center of them shined, flashing her anger and hate towards Dr. Carrolton as they watched his every move.
“Come,” stated Dr. Ming as she walked past Zane to the wall facing them.
She typed her password on her clipboard, and the elevator shaft opened allowing her to walk in, closely followed by Zane whose hands are dripping red. He is trying not to let on how much pain he is in, holding his hands by his sides, keeping his head up and his face emotionless. Dr. Ming glanced at him standing beside her, and knew in an instant how much agony his hands are giving him by the way he clenched his jaw and the way he held his deep brown eyes. His eyes looked angry, yet were shining more than normal.
She then lowered her eyes to the deep cuts on his hands, watching the scarlet drops fall upon the white floor. She turned to her clipboard and sent a message to the janitor, notifying him of the mess. She wanted her lab to be kept clean. The elevator dinged, and the doors swooshed open. Dr. Ming silently led Zane up two flights of stairs that ended in a hall way and turned right. Six doors on the left side, Dr. Ming stopped at her office door enjoying the silence, for she knows that it won’t last long. She waved her hand over the sensor on the wall by her door, and typed her password on the projected keypad and her door opened for her.
“Sit,” she directed flatly as she gestured to the chair at her desk as she walked to the wall on the right and swiped her hand over the sensor and typed another password so as to get into the hidden room that contained all of the medical supplies. There she picked up gauze, tape, cotton, washcloth, rubbing alcohol, thread, needle, and a large bowl which she filled up with water. She put all of the supplies on a white tray and left the room, the door swooshing closed behind her. When she looked at her desk, she became infuriated.
“‘To my sister, love Marko.’ I wonder what’s on here,” said Zane slyly as he held the R1T4 chip scanner, leaving red fingerprints on it. He swiped his hand over the sensor on it twice, still holding the R1T4 in his other hand.
“Hey little sis…” started the projected Marko.
“Put that down!” yelled Dr. Ming, unable to mask her anger as she slammed her tray onto her desk causing the water in the bowl to slosh around.
“If you insist,” sneered Zane and he tossed the R1T4 into the bowl of water.
“…I will make you proud…” the image of Marko said as the chip reader hissed and snapped, causing him to fade into her white room.
“Why?! Why did you do that?!” Dr. Ming screamed at Zane, tears welling up in her eyes. To her, it felt like Marko had died again.
“It’s about time you let go of him just like you pretend to have done when you’re around Dr. Carrolton! No sane person would voluntarily continue working here after the way Marko died! Ever since his death, you have been walking around, cold eyed, cold hearted with no emotion left in you. From what I heard, you used to love this work, and all of you love has been zapped away when Marko died. Dr. Carrolton thinks that you’ve stayed out of your love and respect for science, that your detachment to emotion is your way of mourning. And he may be true to a certain extent. But I think you are hiding something behind your emotionless eyes, hiding something that can cause damage to this project. I do not yet know what it is, but I will find out. You can be certain of that!” yelled Zane.
Dr. Cecily Ming slapped him, and Zane stood up and raised his hand as if he was going to hit her back, but he stopped himself and turned to leave.
“Sit!” commanded Dr. Ming. “Dr. Carrolton gave me orders to bandage your hands and that’s what I intend to do.”
Zane sat and looked up at her with stormy eyes.
Dr. Ming fished the R1T4 out of the bowl with a washcloth and placed Zane’s hands in the water turning it pink. Zane winced as the water seeped into his cuts. Seeing this, Dr. Ming proceeded to scrub Zane’s palms with a wash cloth directly over the cuts trying to clean of the dry blood. But she was not careful as she usually would have been, but caused Zane a lot more pain than what would have been necessary to clean his hands. He tensed and grimaced as she scrubbed his hands longer than what was needed. She then took his hands out of the water and placed them on a washcloth, and, using another washcloth, scrubbed his hands with rubbing alcohol.
“You crazy Ming-Ming?!” yelled Zane as he pulled his hands away.
“What, that hurt?” asked Dr. Ming with fake concern.
“They hurt bad enough as it is! I don’t need you to make the pain worse!” screamed Zane. “If you’re going to scrub my hands like that, at least give me some pain killer!”
“You want pain killer? Fine! You will have pain killer!” yelled Dr. Ming as she stormed into the medical supply room after she typed her password. She snatched up a pain killer vial and paused, reaching into her pocket pulling out the capsule. She thought a moment and opened it, taking out the shot with the endospores. She turned the pain killer vial upside down and poked the needle through the lid, mixing the pain killer with the endospores. She tapped the shot twice, being sure it is thoroughly mixed.
She walked out of the room calmly, her hatred reflecting in her eyes. She paused as the door closed behind her, and walked up to Zane. Silently, she picked up a cotton swab and dabbed it with rubbing alcohol. She then brushed it on his arm and shoved the needle into his arm, causing Zane to tense.
“Don’t tense, it will make it hurt worse,” she stated flatly, but she got no response from Zane.
She stitched up and bandaged up his hands in silence. “I’ll get some more gauze so that you can bandage your hands with when these get soiled,” she said once she finished as she went back to the medical supply room.
Dr. Ming picked up some gauze, tape, and after a short thought, some pain killer capsules which she put in a smaller jar to take with him to his quarters.
She will always hate Zane for ruining the last gift that Marko gave her; she did not feel sorry at all for giving him the endospores. Somehow, he was easier for her to tolerate, knowing that he was going to die. He may have destroyed one gift that Marko had given her, but that was not the most important thing that he gave her; the lesson of patience. When they were children, trying to make their way through life on the streets and problems seemed to accumulate too much to bear, Marko will remain optimistic. “Don’t worry little sis,” he would say, “things will get better, I know it. You just have to be patient and work hard towards it.”
Cecily Ming’s heart wrenched as she recalled that memory. Once she regained composure of herself, Dr. Ming stepped out of the medical supply room.
“What are you hiding in there Ming-Ming?” Zane asked.
Seeing that the keypads on both of her desk drawers are projected, Dr. Ming tensed.
“Dr. Carrolton’s universal password doesn’t work on these two drawers and you were the one who set up the security system,” Zane pointed out.
“Is it wrong of me to want to protect my personal things?” asked Dr. Ming, trying to make the different passwords seem like no big deal.
“Oh please, you came off of China’s streets with no possessions other than the clothes on your back and your brother. Whatever is in here, you have gotten it later when you were a scientist, and nothing that Dr. Carrolton gives you needs to be locked up,” replied Zane.
“What would I have to hide?” Dr. Ming innocently asked.
“That’s what I want to find out,” stated Zane, searching her black eyes for any sign of guilt or panic. Finding none, he moved his bandaged hands to type on his clipboard using only his middle fingers. He then pressed a button on the right side of his clipboard. “Dr. Carrolton, would you please come to Dr. Ming’s office. I have something of concern to show you.”
“Ok Zane, I’ll be there right away,” said Dr. Carrolton.
Zane turned to Dr. Ming, “What are you going to do now Ming-Ming?” he asked as he looked up at her glaring and amused by the panic that betrayed her in her eyes.
In reality, Dr. Ming couldn’t do anything. If she tried to stop Dr. Carrolton from coming to her office, she would prove to be suspicious and hiding something. This will prove Zane’s point and give her secret away. But, if she let him come here, he is bound to make her open the drawers, thus again, giving her secret away.
Her heart raced as she tried to decide between her two options. But she didn’t have to; her decision was made for her when the door opened and Dr. Carrolton walked in. Once Zane saw Dr. Carrolton, he stood up respectfully.
“Good evening Doctor.” Dr. Ming said in a sing song voice.
“Good evening Dr. Ming,” Dr. Carrolton greeted back. “What’s the problem Zane?”
“Was it not your orders, when you two were changing this airplane factory into a lab that all locks can be opened by your password?” Zane asked though he knew the answer.
“Yes Zane. What are you getting at?” questioned Dr. Carrolton impatiently.
“Well Ming-Ming over here has decided to have a special code for those two drawers. Now why would she do that? What could possibly be in there that she would want to hide from you?” explained Zane, emphasizing the last word.
“I’m not hiding anything,” Dr. Ming stated flatly.
“Fine, open the drawers and show Dr. Carrolton what’s in them if you truly are not hiding anything,” challenged Zane.
Dr. Ming looked at Dr. Carrolton, trying to find a way out of it, but instead found herself trapped. Dr. Carrolton just nodded and said “Go ahead Dr. Ming.”
Dr. Ming then sunk down to her chair, placed Zane’s medical supplies on her desk, and typed the code for the drawer closest to her. It beeped and slid open, revealing the vials partially hidden through the light mist. She then typed the code for the drawer next to it, which also beeped and revealed the needles.
“Dr. Ming, what is this?” asked Dr. Carrolton suspiciously as he picked up one of the vials, examining it closely.
“Shots for the experiment,” she said as she stared at her hand on the desk.
Dr. Carrolton put the vial into his pocket and went to the medical supply room; typing his code before entering it.
While he was gone and Zane’s attention was elsewhere, Dr. Ming slipped a vial and a needle into her pocket, unsure of whether or not she is going to use them.
Dr. Carrolton came out of the medical supply room pushing a silver cart with two levels on it and a tray of vials on each level.
“Dr. Ming, are these not the vials that contain the vitamins and other necessary chemicals to ensure the experiment’s survival, the vials that I told you to give the experiment every twelve hours?” Dr. Carrolton asked suspiciously for he already knew the answer.
“Yes,” she said flatly as she looked up at him.
Dr. Carrolton threw the cart on its side, its rows upon rows of vials clinking together and shattering once they hit the ground. “Not one of them has been used! Not one! Do you have any idea how much money that I have invested into this project?” yelled Dr. Carrolton pulling out the vial from his pocket. “Instead, you’ve been giving it this!” and he threw it at the wall behind her, causing it to shatter into a million pieces. “You’re trying to sabotage my experiment? Traitor!”
“Your experiment? The scientists and I are the ones who put all of the work into it! We have as much right to it as you do!” Dr. Ming yelled back.
Furious, Dr. Carrolton pressed a button on the right side of the clipboard. He couldn’t stand her presence anymore. “Ivan, please send two armed scientists to Dr. Ming’s office so that the traitor can be escorted to the second story.”
“Right away Doctor.” responded Ivan.
Dr. Carrolton swung around to Dr. Ming. “Why?! Why would you want to ruin my experiment?!” Dr. Carrolton asked her exasperatedly.
“Just returning the favor,” Sneered Dr. Ming.
“Why? What have I done to you?” questioned Dr. Carrolton.
Dr. Ming laughed a cold, half hearted laugh. “What did you do to me? You’ve killed my brother! You are the one who brain washed him into thinking that being radiated to the point that I barely recognize his dead body afterwards would turn out to be a certain success, that he will change history!” she screamed on the brink of tears.
“I killed him? Cecily, It’s quite the contrary. He died trying to make someone you would be proud of! And you say I killed him?” yelled Dr. Carrolton, emphasizing the ‘you’.
The door opened and two men stood at the door way, each carrying a large gun.
“Good, you’re here. Take Dr. Ming and detain her in a center room on the second story. She could use some time alone to consider what her plea in Japanese court is going to be. After you get her settled in, discontinue her password from all of the hardware here. Zane and I are going to investigate this room more. Once we are done; Zane is going to check on Cecily and I will see how the experiment is doing. So don’t take too long in finding a nice room for her,” directed Dr. Carrolton.
Dr. Ming got up to leave.
“Wait. Leave your clipboard here,” commanded Dr. Carrolton.
Zane stepped forward and held out his hand, she hesitated a moment before handing it to him.
“Now go,” stated Dr. Carrolton as he turned to go through the other contents of drawers within her desk.
Dr. Ming walked down the hall to the right and down the two flights of stairs in silence, one armed man on each side of her.
Once she felt that she was at a safe distance from Dr. Carrolton she turned to the armed men, for they were from China. Their loyalties resided with her, not Dr. Carrolton.
“What’s the plan Doctor?” asked Eli.
“We don’t have much time. Eli,” she turned to the pale skinned dark eyed man on her right, “you are to notify the others that we are going back to China, but keep it discreet. We don’t need to alert any Japanese for they will just inform Dr. Carrolton. And Garran,” she started, addressing the black haired green eyed man on her left, “go to the first level and set up the hover boards. I am going to visit the experiment. We need her terminated in order to have this project fall to us, for we need Dr. Carrolton to give up on it and sell its rights to us. We already have sent its DNA samples to China, so we are ready for cloning when we get the rights to this project. Dr. Carrolton is not going to take all of the credit for the work that we do!” directed Dr. Ming.
They turned to go about in their assignments, “Garran,” she addressed him and tossed him the memory card that she has removed from her clipboard. “Keep this safe, and bring it to China for me if I take too long. Do not wait for me. If I for some reason get left behind, notify China what has happened for me; tell them that Japan has found the endospores.”
“Yes Dr.” Garran responded as he turned to carry out his task.
Dr. Ming then went to the right and followed the hallway until she came upon the experiment’s room. There she paused, taking the vial and needle out of her pocket. She then leaned against the door, and turned the vial upside down and sticking the needle into its top, causing its yellow substance to drip into it. Once she finished that, she swiped her hand over the sensor and typed her code causing the door to silently slide open. She then walked in, the door closing behind her.
On the bed the experiment slept soundly, especially after the eventful day. She is sleeping on her stomach with her wings folded on her back and her head turned to the left. Her wings covered most of her except for her feet and her head. She even is still wearing that piece of cloth from Sarah.
Dr. Ming tip toed to its bedside and gave her the shot in her arm. The experiment stirred, starting to wake up so Dr. Ming turned to leave.
The door swooshed open, “Thought you might be here Cecily,” Dr. Carrolton said as he was pointing a gun at her. Dr. Ming ducked behind the experiment’s bed and Dr. Carrolton fired, just missing Dr. Ming and creating a hole in the wall.
Hearing the loud noise, the startled experiment jumped out of bed. “What the…” she started, but didn’t have the chance to finish.
Dr. Ming took the now unoccupied bed and shoved it, sending it rolling across the room, pinning Dr. Carrolton to the wall. In his effort to lessen the impact, he had dropped his gun and clipboard, sending them skidding across the floor where Dr. Ming stood.
Dr. Ming knelt down and picked the gun up, pointing it at Dr. Carrolton who was trying to grab a hold of a smaller gun on his belt.
“You don’t want to do that Dr. Carrolton,” she warned and he held his hands up. “If you try to detain any of us, you will be starting an ugly war. China is much more powerful than you think.”
“You kill me, and you will be the one starting a war,” Dr. Carrolton retaliated.
“Who said I wanted to kill you? I wouldn’t kill you; I don’t have that much mercy. I will take the joy out of your life and I will force you to live every miserable day of it. I will take away your experiment from you. You well know that once that experiment dies, the project falls to China. I will have you live every day knowing that you were the one who came up with the idea of complete atomic control, and to have someone else in China to get the credit of doing so. I know it will eat away at your very bones, you not getting any credit on your lifelong dream. I know that I cannot take away a sibling, as you have done to me. So I will take its equivalent in your world.” She then moved towards the door, side stepping so that she could keep the gun pointing at him. Once safely out the door, she turned and ran to meet up with the others, leaving Dr. Carrolton speechless.
Soon she was on a hover board with eighteen others, all heading back to China. They have plenty of new information to share, especially Dr. Ming with her memory card that Garran is now carrying. But they are not through with Dr. Carrolton. They will be back.
Dr. Carrolton shoved the bed from where it pinned him.
“What just happened?” I asked, still confused about what is going on. It’s not every night that I wake up to a gunshot and Dr. Ming saying that she will come back to kill me as a revenge to Dr. Carrolton. The last time that I checked, Dr. Ming and Dr. Carrolton were on the same side, though they weren’t the best of friends but they weren’t pointing guns at each other.
But Dr. Carrolton didn’t answer her question. Rather he picked up his clipboard and quickly looked it over making sure that it wasn’t damaged. “Come,” he ordered as he left the room typing on his clipboard.
Not knowing what else to do, I followed him out the door as he stalked to the end of the hallway where an elevator door opened as he typed on the clipboard.
They both stepped in and the door closed behind them. “We cannot stay here, it is not safe. This is the first place that China will look, and because of the radiation that you are emitting, they can easily find you no matter where I hide you. So, I am going to take you to somewhere safe. You will not be hidden, but you will be at a place that they will not dare to intrude,” Dr. Carrolton explained in a panicky voice.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked, starting to catch on to his fear.
“I am taking you to National Territory 776.” Dr. Carrolton answered plainly as he looked at me with his hazel eyes.
“Impossible. NT 776 doesn’t exist,” I said doubtfully.
“They only tell the common people that it doesn’t exist because they wouldn’t believe it even if we did tell them of it. And anyways, the secrecy is the only way we are able to keep out most of the world’s criminals. It is our only completely unbiased international territory, and we must protect it. I am taking you there because no one would dare to attack NT 776. It has been the protector and provider of both small and large countries and every major leader has a loyalty tie to it. You will be safe there, a war is starting. There are going to be very few safe places,” explained Dr. Carrolton.
So now the murderer is trying to protect me?
The door opened, leading to the hover board platform that she was just at a few hours ago. There the dark man whose hover board I ‘borrowed’ earlier stood at the door frame of some room to the left muttering to himself. “Nineteen hover boards missing, every Ming-Ming in this lab has bolted!” he yelled to Dr. Carrolton, his big brown eyes flashing.
My eyes fell to his bandaged hands; I felt a sense of guilt for I must have somehow caused it. “Sorry,” I ventured but he just smirked at me and turned to Dr. Carrolton waiting for his response to what he had just said, acting as if I wasn’t there. So I decided to stay out of the way of the commotion for I am still a bit groggy and confused as to what is going on.
Dr. Carrolton sighed running his hands through his hair. After a thought he said, “We must go now. Zane, you lead the remaining lab team to another part of Japan, preferably a government territory. I am taking the experiment to Switzerland, what is left for long distance?”
“From the looks of it, the Ming-Ming’s only took the long distance hover boards, I’m guessing because there are more of them so they can stay together. We have three jets, a helicopter and sixteen hover boards,” assessed Zane.
“I will take the jet,” said Dr. Carrolton.
Two scientists came out from a room to the left pushing out a black jet that is capable of seating three people. It was aerodynamic; every part of it was rounded and provided the least possible amount of air resistance possible. Once it was out, Dr. Carrolton put his hand on it, and looked it over. Once he was done, Zane walked up to him.
“I will take the lab team to the military base, it’s the safest place in Japan, but I can’t guarantee they will take us in. They still are not happy about your failed experiments, and they will be even angrier to find out that you continued testing without their authorization. And on top of that, China’s bailed out on us breaking our alliance…” Zane started, trying to inform Dr. Carrolton what kind of situation that they are in.
“It’s become more than that Zane, a war is starting.”
“That’s just what we need, another war. Won’t Japan love to hear about that,” Zane said sarcastically.
“Take care of yourself, Zane,” Dr. Carrolton said as he hops into the front seat of the jet.
“You too Doctor.” Zane replied.
I stepped into the seat behind him, sat down and strapped myself to the seat which was a difficult task because of my wings. I ended up putting them through the same space that is meant for my arms.
Zane stepped away from the jet as its top proceeded to slide closed over us. Once it was sealed, Dr. Carrolton turned it on by brushing his hand over a sensor that I couldn’t see, and the engine’s hum pulsed within my ears. The jet projected the controls out in front of Dr. Carrolton and after pressing the projected buttons, the world around us became a blur. We are airborne.
Dr. Carrolton didn’t talk during the whole ride; and even if he did, I would not have been able to hear him.
I leaned my head back, trying to sort out what just happened, starting from the beginning. I heard gunfire and jumped out of bed. Dr. Carrolton was pointing a gun at Dr. Ming, trying to shoot her. Dr. Ming shoved my bed into Dr. Carrolton who dropped his gun. Dr. Ming picked up the gun and pointed it at Dr. Carrolton, saying that she wants to terminate me so that she can take over the project. Then they argued about who was starting a war.
I paused; a war is starting because Dr. Carrolton wants to protect me. Well, it’s probably more accurate that a war is starting because Dr. Carrolton wants to protect his work; if he cares about individual people he wouldn’t have killed the four thousand before me.
I thought for a moment, recalling the threat that Dr. Ming used on me. Which is the most devastating; loss of millions of lives to a man made disease or the loss of an untold number of lives to a war? Should I have taken my chances and not have come back? Either way, their deaths are because I lived.
I closed my eyes, lulled to sleep by the sound of the engine.
I jolted awake, blinded by the morning sun only to find the world rushing towards us. We are either falling or Dr. Carrolton is attempting to land the plane. Either way my fingers dug into my seat and my heart is pounding in the back of my chest. The wheels glided upon the ground of the runway as the jet was eased to a stop.
I looked around me, trying to grasp where I am. To my left, a 4 story building stood, its outside walls are made out of concrete. The front of the first story doesn’t have any windows, but every other story does; large ones too. The building is not what I expected, for I had expected something much larger to be to be NT 776 if it really is something of great importance to the world. But then, maybe it’s smarter this way. They wouldn’t attract much attention at all since they built it like this.
The top of the jet slid off, and I stepped out scanning the building’s surroundings, searching for other buildings, but instead found that it is surrounded by a Swedish forest, pine trees scattered all around. They seemed to have protected their forests a lot better than we have.
Dr. Carrolton got out of the jet and started walking towards the door and I followed him. I really don’t know who else to trust, and things must be pretty bad if the only person you can trust is a fanatic murderer.
Just as Dr. Carrolton was approaching the door, it opened and someone stepped out. He has tan skin, and wild curly hair that he attempted to tame by putting it into a pony tail, yet many of his curls are escaping. He wore a plain white formal shirt with long sleeves and long black slacks. But something was unusual about his left arm; the shapes under the sleeve are more pointed and take up less space than the other. Looking down, I saw my answer for there was a highly complicated mechanical hand. He must have lost it during an accident.
“Hello, you must be Dr. Carrolton,” he started, holding out his right hand, “My name is Donovan DeMonte; I am the commander of NT 776.”
“Yes, thank you for letting us in on such short notice,” Dr. Carrolton answered as he shook hands with the curly haired middle aged man.
“Follow me, we need to discuss what we are going to do,” Donovan said, looking at both Dr. Carrolton and myself.
He spun on his heels and walked inside, and we followed close behind. But we didn’t have much time to look around. Once inside we turned sharply to the right, and an elevator door opened as if by some unseen command and we all followed him inside it.
The elevator door closed behind us.
“We do things differently here than you may expect, you are going to present your situation and we are going to collaborate as a group. You must get more than 100% of our votes in order for us to keep her here,” Donovan said as he looked at Dr. Carrolton with his brown eyes.
“Wait a minute, I thought it was something that won’t take long,” Dr. Carrolton asked, now uncertain of the situation.
“It won’t, all you have to do is give a presentation of what your experiment is, and what use it is going to be to mankind or why you created it. After words we will discuss it and vote from there. But first, let’s meet the team here,” Donovan explained.
The elevator door opened, leading to a hallway. Donovan led us to the first door on the left, and the double doors opened themselves. The room has large windows, so the light seemed to fill it dancing off of its contents.
Dr. Carrolton was going through his clipboard, trying to salvage some sort of presentation.
“Dr. Carrolton, when are you going to be prepared?” Donovan asked.
“Three months, maybe,” Dr. Carrolton replied exasperatedly.
“Then just tell us what you know and go from there, we have plenty of time,” Donovan attempted to calm him down.
Everyone that is in the room, except Dr. Carrolton and I, sat down at an oval shaped table, there are eight of them sitting down, all of different races.
Dr. Carrolton looked up from his clipboard, “Can someone darken this room a bit? I have some things to project,” Dr. Carrolton asked.
“I’ll dim the windows,” offered a young woman with shoulder length dark blond hair and light hazel eyes. Somehow she always seemed to be smiling, even when she wasn’t you could see it in her hazel eyes. She bounced up and walked to the side of the door, running her hand over the sensor and scrolling down and typed a command causing the windows to darken just enough so that the light from Dr. Carrolton’s clipboard to shine on his face.
Dr. Carrolton set his clipboard on the table, and typed a command causing a red human silhouette to appear in the air. “Here is the average person who becomes the average soldier.” He tapped the image, and a uniform appeared upon it. “Over the years, we have lost countless lives as casualties in war. A noble death, but not without a noble price to those whom they leave behind. I want to change that. I want to improve modern warfare. You see,” Dr. Carrolton started as he ran his hands through his hair, “past scientists have been trying to improve modern warfare by improving the weapons that the average soldiers carry, but they are missing the point. The improvement needed doesn’t rely only on the weaponry, but in the soldiers themselves.”
Dr. Carrolton paused, trying to line up his thoughts. I am obviously no use to him, standing here like an idiot so I made myself disappear and sat down next to the wall. There was a quiet murmur, but other than that, they acted like they didn’t notice.
“Using gamma radiation, I have been able to improve a human being into Japans’ second generation of soldiers. The exposure causes a shock throughout the experiment’s body, forcing it to resort to the prehistoric subconscious impulse to make whatever changes necessary in order to survive the high dose of radiation. The changes include the altering of its own genetic code, increased telomeres on chromosomes, and after the first dosage, seventy five percent of the human brains capacity. This unleashes a whole new world of what a human is capable of. The human brain subconsciously controls each atom’s movement within the cell, but with its broadened abilities it can control each atom both consciously and subconsciously,” Dr. Carrolton continued. “This creates an indestructible soldier. Whatever situation you put it in, it will acquire traits in order to survive. My prototype has the ability to contract and spread out it’s atoms to either survive a heavy impact or go through things. Those traits would be useful for a soldier for it is bullet proof, bomb proof, and you can’t keep it captive, it can go through walls and people. Because of the increased telomeres, cell replication is increased dramatically enabling the experiment to become transparent and to adapt to its surroundings quickly; wings for flying, fins and gills for staying under water for long periods of time. It is like Darwin’s evolution in a box, but it always maintains somewhat a human form, it is not able to completely change species.”
There is a pause since he had stopped speaking. “That’s my brief explanation of what my project is, but I am still learning of its capabilities,” Dr. Carrolton attempted to fill the silence.
“What would 100% of the brains capacity do? When you say first dosage, I assume that there will be a second,” Donovan asked.
“Well, the first seventy five brain capacity enables the soldier to control its own atoms and, as I later discovered, a limited amount of the atoms of the things it touches. With one hundred percent brain capacity, the soldier would be able to control the atoms of objects it is touching and objects it is not,” Dr. Carrolton explained.
“Why did you bring it here?” a red headed sapphire eyed man asked as he leaned into the table. “If your experiment is such a success, why would you bring it here?”
Dr. Carrolton was quiet for a moment before he spoke. “The alliance between Japan and China broke and there are threats of a war. I have heard that this is a neutral territory for all countries, and remain impartial. I need a safe place for my experiment; I don’t want the Japanese to touch it,” Dr. Carrolton spoke sternly.
“Was that the first person you’ve tested on?” asked a short black haired Japanese woman with violet eyes.
“No,” Dr. Carrolton answered uncomfortably.
“Then where are the others?” she asked, suddenly interested.
“There are no others, she is the first one that responded well to the testing,” Dr. Carrolton responded flatly.
“Then what happened to those who didn’t respond well?” She asked, staring him down with her violet eyes.
“They have become diseased,” Dr. Carrolton answered in the most professional tone he could salvage.
“How many?” she pressed on.
“Four thousand,” said Dr. Carrolton as shifted his weight.
“How did you get four thousand volunteers for such a risky project?” asked a brown haired man. He looked up from his hands to Dr. Carrolton, even though he was below him it looked as if he was looking down upon him.
“A few of them were volunteers, most were volunteered by China,” Dr. Carrolton explained, trying to make it seem like it was no big deal.
“Would your project have anything to do with the missing people around the world within the last year?” he asked.
There was a pause; all eyes are on Dr. Carrolton but he refused to answer.
“Yes,” I said, speaking for him. “I came from Big Sur, California. The next thing I know is that I’m in a hospital bed in Japan. I definitely did not volunteer for this nor did I want to go to Japan! I was taken from America, and I assume the other experiments were taken from their countries.” It makes sense; wouldn’t he need a wide variety of subjects? And if they took too many “volunteers” from one country, the government would get suspicious.
“It was China who provided the experiments!” Dr. Carrolton said exasperatedly, trying to leave the entire fault on them.
“But you knew about this,” stated Donovan calmly. “That makes you responsible also.”
There was a pause; Dr. Carrolton didn’t know what else to say.
“Thank you for coming here Dr. Carrolton,” Donovan said as he stood up and shook Dr. Carrolton’s hand,
Dr. Carrolton picked up his clipboard as the dark blond typed on the projected screen and the windows lightened, letting in the light.
I stood, allowing myself to become visible again as Donovan gestured us to follow him out the door. He then walked into a furnished room directly across the hallway. It too has a large window, out of which you can see the mountains covered in forests and at the lowest place a lake resided, sparkling in the sun.
“You may wait here until we have reached our decision,” Donovan respectfully said as he went back into the other room, and the door closed behind him.
Donovan sat in his seat at the end of the table. “So what do you think?”
“Well, we have finally figured out the mystery of the missing people,” Theron said as he looked around at the others, “There is going to be disappointed families. Obviously, this experiment of his is not legal. If it was, the government of Japan would have sent another representative. Either it was never legal, or it is just a case lost authorization.” Theron has thick brown hair that is about two inches long and soft dark green eyes.
“But it is a new outlook on weaponry, I have to give him that much. But his means of going about it was not the best,” Mai Long said, her brows furrowing above her violet eyes. She is Japanese, and has her hair in one long braid that she lets hang down her back.
“But do you guys think it is dangerous?” Donovan pressed on, moving a curl out of his face.
“An army that can quickly adapt to its surroundings, bullet proof, can control its own atoms and eventually the atoms of other things, yes it can cause great damage against any other army that it goes against,” Mai Long continued.
“But then again we are getting mixed up in a war. If one does start, we would have to detain it here,” Coen reminded, brushing his hand through his red hair.
“But then again if it proves to be a threat to everyone else, as it has proved to be, we will have to detain it here anyways. No nation is ready for an army like that,” Kali said tilting her head. She has brunette hair cut short and amber eyes. Her irises got more and more golden as they reached the pupil.
“So, I can assume that we all agree that we are going to agree to keep the experiment here?” Donovan inquired, looking at each person as they nodded. “Great, the vote is unanimous. Now while we are here, what are we going to do with the experiment? Unlike other experiments, we can’t just secretly destroy it like other dangerous technology countries have brought here in the past.”
“I don’t see why not, it’s obviously not human,” Emeli Diya said objectively. She has shoulder length black hair in tight curls and dark brown eyes.
“What do you mean?” Lee asked as she tilted her head, sending her dark blonde hair to the side.
“Well it’s obviously not human; no human can change according to its surroundings like it can. And in case you haven’t noticed, it disappeared right in front of us. Name one human that can do that,” Emeli explained.
“You sure? Maybe we all just disappear when you’re not looking,” Ashton joked. He has dark grey hair that hangs over his forehead, though he is only twenty, and bright laughing silver eyes.
Everyone in the room laughed as Emeli glared at Ashton.
“I’m being serious here guys, she doesn’t match what a human is even though she may have been one at one time. She is not under any human rights anymore,” she said, still trying to prove her point.
“That just depends on what you consider makes a human being human. Is it the way we think, the way we look, the way we act? What really defines a human?” Donovan asked.
“I think it is the conscience, the discernment between right and wrong. It is what makes us go beyond just surviving what is thrown at us in life, but to do so without hurting others, or, even better, by doing well for others,” Theron said, contradicting Emeli’s opinion.
“That’s similar to Steinbeck’s opinion in the book East of Eden. You see, in his opinion, what makes a human different from other creatures that roam on the earth is our free will, our choice to do what is right or wrong,” Kali commented, eager to go against Emeli’s opinion.
“An antelope can choose where it decides to eat the grasses and a lion can choose whether or not to go out and hunt, there is not much difference between us and them in regards to choice, one choice may be right for it helps their survival, yet another may be wrong for it may lead to its death. But this is different; if we keep this project here we risk its getting out. How will we be able to confine it here? If this project leaks out to some other nation, the results will be catastrophic because many nations already have advanced cloning technology and they could easily create a clone army out of it. An army like that could cause devastating effects. We need to think about the safety of the world when it comes to this. One death, even if we do end up considering it human, is better than millions. We can end this war without using the wormhole if we do it this way,” Emeli stubbornly continued to defend her point.
“Ok, let’s say we go with your plan. Now how would we kill her? Dr. Carrolton has worked hard on making her indestructible, we can’t shoot it, we can’t radiate it, we can’t drown it, and it can basically adapt to whatever else we can possibly put it through. And even if we do eventually find something, do you really think that it will stay here once it figured out that we are trying to kill her?” Coen pointed out.
“Coen has a good point there Emeli,” Donovan agreed, “We can’t destroy it even if we tried, so it’s out of the question. Now, how are we going to get the experiment to stay here?”
“I think it up to Wings whether or not she stays,” Mai Long pointed out.
“Wings?” Lee questioned Mai Long about the name she has given the project.
“Well, we don’t know her name yet and that name fits pretty well,” Mai Long explained.
Donovan thought a moment, “We better not keep our guests waiting much longer, for we have already decided that we are going to keep her here. We will decide what we are going to do later, but until we figure that out we are going to have to keep a close eye on her,” he said as he stood up.
Everyone else got up and left, carrying with them their clipboards that are the size of their palms and filed out of the room, Theron and Donovan last.
“Theron,” Donovan started as turned to him, “You are the one with the most time, so you are going to be the one who keeps an eye on her. Don’t let her run away.”
“Yes sir,” Theron said as he turned back to go to the elevator to go on the first level. He has work to do first.
The Japanese lady came into the room where Dr. Carrolton and I are. We sat at opposite sides of the room; I still don’t feel comfortable around him.
“You may leave now; we have reached the collaborative decision to let you keep your experiment here. Ashton will show you your way out,” she said gesturing her hand out the door.
Dr. Carrolton stood up, towering over her as he walked by her.
She then turned to me, “My name is Mai Long,” she said with her hand extended, “what is yours?”
“Amrit Andrea McKay,” I answered as I stood up and shook her hand.
“Ironic,” she said as she smiled causing her violet eyes to sparkle. “Your first and middle name means “Immortal Warrior” and that’s what it seems like Dr. Carrolton created you into.”
“So it seems,” I replied, smiling back.
“Come along then, I will show you where you will be staying,” Mai Long said as she spun around and led me back to the elevator as its doors opened once she approached them.
“Why are all of your doors automatic here?” I asked.
Mai Long laughed, “They are not automatic; everyone who works here at NT 776 has a chip implanted into their brain. It stores memory because when we finish our five year term here, we want to keep the information for the next people who work here. That way we can actually live almost normal lives afterwards. Only one of us gets to stay to become the leader for another five years, and that person gets to keep the chip longer. There is a scanner above every door that, when it senses the chip in our brain, the door automatically opens for us. That way we let in and out only those we want to.”
“But wouldn’t it be very difficult to get something like that into a brain?” I questioned, slightly skeptical of what she is saying.
“Yes, very. But Lee is an amazing Dr. who specializes in the human brain. We are in good hands,” Mai Long reassured.
“The others who work here, what are their jobs?” I asked, curious about how this place works especially after the fact that I just found out it existed a few hours ago.
“Donovan is the head of this place, as you might already know. He oversees the work that is done here and tries to keep everything running smoothly. I am the head and only member of the weapons department. I design and create practical and effective weapons for the travelers, but they are not allowed to have the ability to kill anyone. Then you have Coen, he is the red headed nerd that is behind all of the new technology that runs this place. His girlfriend, Kali, is the one who designs the travelers’ clothes with surprising historical accuracy. Lee is the Dr. and she takes care of all medical needs here. Emeli is the historian. She is the one who directs the travelers on where to go, what to do, how to talk, and how to act. She has hidden cameras on them sometimes so as to study different cultures and different times and records the information. She is the one who grants permission to use the wormhole. Then, last but not least, are our two travelers; Theron and Ashton. Ashton is outgoing; everyone gets along with him which is why he was chosen to be a traveler. Theron is a little less outgoing than Ashton, he was chosen because his father was a traveler among other reasons,” Mai Long explained as she walked to the elevator door and it opened for her on the fourth floor and walked down the hallway.
“In fact, you are going to be in the room of Theron’s father, Ty Fletcher,” she said as the fourth door on the left opened for her, showing a room with dated furniture. “Ty Fletcher liked antiques; maybe you could put your own personal touch here?” she volunteered as she turned to me.
“Thank you,” I said as I touched the desk, it was actually made out of wood. It must have been made before making things out of wood became illegal.
I rubbed my fingers together rolling the dust that my fingers had picked up into tiny balls.
“I hate to leave you here, but I have to go to work. I will tell Kali to make you some clothes,” she said, looking at my makeshift clothing.
“Thank you,” I said again, looking down at my own clothing.
“No problem,” she said as she turned around and walked out, the door automatically closing behind her.
I sat on the bed, wrapping my wings out in front of me. Everything is changing but is it really for the better. Although I am glad Dr. Carrolton is gone, I now realize that I am now completely alone again.
I looked around at the room. It too had a huge window and an amazing view of the mountains. I sat at the desk, brushing off the rest of the dust with my hands and I went through each of the drawers, finding them empty.
Turning my attention to the bed, I took the comforter off and shook it in the center of the room, sending even more dust into the air. Coughing I walked out the door, trying to find a clean breath of air.
The floor shook slightly beneath my bare feet and the lights flickered. Someone is using a lot of power.
I walked to the end of the hallway in hopes to figure out what was going on, but the elevator door didn’t open for me.
Stupid, already I forgot you have to have a chip in your brain in order to open doors. I will have to find my own way around, they are wrong if they think that they can keep me out of places.
I squatted down to the ground and pressed my hand into the floor. “I can get through this easily,” I thought as I moved my hand across the floor.
I turned myself invisible and allowed myself to slip through the floor to the story below, spreading my wings to slow my fall. My feet hit the floor as I landed again in a squatting position and one hand on the floor in an attempt to keep my balance. Surprisingly this hallway is empty too. I looked up at the ceiling, which once was the floor below me, still amazed that I was able to do that.
“One down, two to go,” I said to myself as I let myself slip through the floor a second time, spreading my wings. Only this time the fall wasn’t just one story. It was two. Shocked by this, I hit the first story with a heavy thud even though my wings had softened the impact.
I straightened up and looked around. It is dark, all except for the glowing thing ahead of me. I am in a large room, but it leads into other rooms, two doors on my right and another two on my left if I keep the entrance behind me. There may be another door behind the glowing thing, but I am not sure.
The light is coming from a huge metal circle, one that is large enough to touch the top and bottom of a whole story. That metal circle consisted of four rings, and on the top there is another piece of metal that rimmed one number per ring, for each ring was covered in numbers. Another thing that makes the rimmed numbers stand out is that they are glowing an eerie blue.
But that is not what the glowing light source is; rather it is what is in the center of the circle. The center was dark, and seemed to be suspending some sort of water like substance within it. Fascinated, I reached out to touch its water like surface, causing it to ripple. But when I brought my hand away, it was still dry.
Looking back into its glowing body, I touched both hands on it causing it to ripple as I spread them out from me, feeling some sort of power from it.
“Hey! What are you doing there?” the African lady yelled at me. I must have become visible without knowing it.
Startled by her yelling, I lost my balance and fell in.
“Ashton, Theron, ‘Wings’ has wandered through the wormhole,” Emeli Diya cautioned.
Theron and Ashton wandered to the edge of the camp, just outside of the fire’s glow.
“Ok Emeli, what do you want us to do? We only have two transmitters with us,” Ashton asked, pressing his thumb upon the polished amber stone that hung on his silver chain. The stone is warmly colored and has many beautiful flecks within it, enough to disguise the transmitter at its center since it only looks like a small black dot.
For a traveler, transmitters are very important. It is how they communicate with NT 776, they press a finger to the transmitter to send one and the responding message is sent through it in waves that pulse through their body and sent to the brain which decodes it. Once their task is done, all they have to do is press the transmitter between two fingers and it sends a message back to NT 776 that commands the wormhole to reopen to their particular time and area so that they can return.
“First of all find her, she can’t be far off since the wormhole goes by the transmitters to place other objects so creatures couldn’t be much different,” Emily directed.
“I have seen with my own two eyes the winged goddess Nike, daughter of Pallas! Victory is within our grasp, I am sure of it! Her coming to our camp is a sure sign!” yelled a voice speaking Latin.
Theron and Ashton turned to see a man with curly brown hair cut short and wide big brown eyes dancing wildly amongst the people around him.
“Excuse me sir, but where did you see Nike?” Theron asked the man as he walked up to him, since Ashton is still a little rough on his Latin.
“She appeared to me just outside of my tent, and then she headed outside of the camp, disappearing into the mist,” the man explained.
“Thank you,” Theron said as he turned, putting his hood over his head.
“She is somewhere outside of camp,” Theron informed Ashton, “They think she is the goddess Nike.”
“The goddess of victory, though a false sign it is true,” Ashton mused, putting his own hood over his head.
Theron and Ashton walked around the outskirts of the large camp of 20,000 people. They remained just out of the reach of the multiple fires’ light and out of earshot of the large tents. They did not want to draw attention to themselves from the Roman army. They were preparing to help their ally Cleopatra to defeat the Egyptian Queen Arsinoe IV so that Cleopatra can take the throne. Theron and Ashton were there to record the events that lead to the battle and the battle itself while blending in as one of the soldiers. But that was before Wings wandered into the worm hole.
A stick snapped behind them and Ashton stopped, “Do you think she would be following us? If I were in her situation I would probably end up following the first person that I recognized.”
Theron sighed and turned around. “Wings, you there?”
She appeared out of the night eerily, her long brown wavy hair falling into her face since she is tilting her head. She then stepped forward apprehensively, “Why are you calling me Wings?
“Sorry, I don’t know your name and that’s what Mai called you earlier,” Theron apologized.
“My name is Amrit,” she said as she looked up at him.
“My name is Ashton, and this is Theron,” Ashton ventured as she nodded to them.
“You weren’t that hard to find,” Theron said, “With you being a prototype for the next generation’s army I expected a little more of a search.”
“I can be hard to find if I want to,” she started, “But finding myself in some ancient surroundings with everyone speaking Latin, I kind of prefer being around the two people who speak English and have a clue as to how I got here.”
“Wings, you went through a wormhole,” Ashton explained, “And are in Egypt in the year 47 BC, outside of the Roman army led by Julius Caesar…”
“Is this right before the Battle of the Nile?” Amrit asked.
“Why yes,” Ashton replied somewhat surprised, raising his eyebrows.
“Don’t look at me like that. Just because I am an American doesn’t mean that I don’t know my history. What are you two doing here anyway?” Amrit asked.
“We were studying what led to the battle and Roman battle tactics from a soldier’s point of view, but now we have to figure out how to get you back to NT 776,” Theron answered.
“Have you guys found the prototype yet?” Emeli asked.
“Yes, we found her. Emeli, could you possibly find another transmitter for Wings? I am going to come over and pick it up,” Ashton said.
“Who are you talking to?” Wings asked.
“I’m talking to Emeli Diya from NT 776,” replied Ashton shushing Amrit.
“Then who is going to keep an eye on the prototype,” Emeli asked.
“Theron,” Ashton answered.
“You really think that he could handle it? Got word from China that it is very skilled at escaping,” Emeli warned.
“Thanks for your confidence in me,” Theron said sarcastically as he pressed his thumb on the silver emerald ring he is wearing on the ring finger of his right hand.
“Just saying. China has been trying to resume control over the experiment by scaring us into handing it over to them. Dr. Carrolton is right; Japan and China are not on good terms anymore. He may even be right about the war, and then no one gets the experiment, not that they would anyways,” Emeli cautioned.
“I can handle it Emeli, just have the transmitter ready,” Theron said as he turned to Ashton, “Leave your cloak here, we can’t have her standing out too much.”
“She has wings, she is the only girl near this army; she is going to stand out either way Theron,” Ashton reasoned.
“Just hand it to me,” Theron asked, hand outstretched.
Ashton tossed him the dark brown cloak.
Wings looked up at Theron, “Look, I don’t need it; I think that I have the not standing out thing covered. I am able to become invisible, in case you haven’t noticed yet.”
“No. If I am to keep an eye on you then I have to be able to see you,” Theron said as he handed the cloak to Amrit.
“Ok, I’ll be going now,” Ashton announced, pressing his fingers onto his amber necklace, causing each and every one of his atoms to glow for a moment before he disappeared, only to reappear in another century.
“I still don’t think my wearing a cloak is going to make much of a difference,” I said as I turned to Theron.
“Just put it on,” he said.
I shook my head, knowing that this is not going to work. I clasped the dark brown cloak over my left shoulder and pulled the hood over my head, and looked back at Theron, trying to figure out what is going through his head.
He is wearing an off white tunic and a Lorica segmentata over it (basically, a segmented armor). The pieces of the armor shined and clasped in the front and back by brass buckles and plates. Over that he wore a leather baldric (a belt worn over the shoulder) that held a gladius (a Roman short sword). Over that, Theron wore a dark green cloak that is clasped over his left shoulder making his soft beautiful green eyes stand out even more.
I smiled to myself, glad that I remembered some of my Roman history.
“What are you smiling at?” Theron asked.
“Now do you believe me that this cloak isn’t going to do much? I still look like I have wings under this, or that I have serious back problems. Either way, I’ll be standing out more than I have to,” I challenged.
Theron held the bridge of this nose, “Got any other ideas?”
“Yes, let me turn invisible then I won’t stand out at all,” I replied.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t trust you. Didn’t you run away from Dr. Carrolton?” Theron answered.
How did he know about that? “Dr. Carrolton is a murderer to those he has tested on and I was brought and being held there against my will to benefit another country that is developing technology that it can easily use to destroy America. I don’t want to be a traitor to my own country, and if anyone is going to experiment on me I want it to benefit my own nation.”
“And what makes you think that America will deal with the technology of an indestructible army better than Japan and China would?” Theron asked.
“Yes, it’s my own country, why wouldn’t they?” I responded irritably.
“Your nation may be a free democracy, but that doesn’t make it perfect. In reality, no nation is ready for this kind of technology unless every nation had it. In is not safe for the rest of the world if we allow only one nation to have that kind of power. An army of you could easily destroy any other army, giving the nation with that army way too much power,” Theron explained.
I sighed and shook my head. “Either way this cloak is not going to work.”
“I still don’t trust you,” Theron said.
“I don’t trust you either, but I have to if I want to go back to NT 776,” I countered.
“What about when we do get you back, are you going to run off just like when you were in Dr. Carrolton’s lab?”
That question threw me off. The truth being, I never thought of that. I couldn’t go back to America and drag them into this war. And even if I did how am I going to live? I’m not going to be able to blend into society or live a normal life.
“Even if I did leave, where would I go? There’s no place for me,” I said softly.
Theron paused, and his eyes softened. After a sigh he asked, “You promise you will stay with me?”
“I promise,” I replied, allowing myself to disappear, “I will be right there.”
Theron turned around and walked away from the camp, while I followed closely. I know the battle is coming soon for I can hear shouts from the camp as the soldiers followed the Caesar’s orders. They needed to prepare the attack on the Egyptian army.
I clung to the cloak, looking around at my dark surroundings.
“Do you know where we are going?” I asked Theron tentatively.
“Well we can’t stay near the army; we would still stand out especially with me talking to myself in another language, and I want to be sure you are in a safe area when Ashton comes back, the battle is going to start soon so I have to be extra careful about that,” Theron explained.
“Do you know exactly where the battle lines are? If we go in the wrong direction we could find ourselves caught in the middle of this,” I asked.
“No. That’s why Ashton and I were here, to find out details like that,” Theron answered frustrated.
“I’m sorry,” I said. I hate getting people mad. “I didn’t know what it was. People don’t explain things to me; it’s as if I’m just a piece of property. Like I don’t have a say in what’s going on, and I hate that. I am not going to just stay in my room like a good little experiment; I can’t just stay in one place while everyone else decides what is going to happen.”
“You keep on talking as if you are alone in this,” Theron pointed out.
I quieted. He spoke softer to me, as if he is the one person who sees me as a human. It throws me off since it is such a sudden contrast than how those at the lab treated me or even thought of me. They had stood there when I came back and stared, as if I were some inhuman thing that they have helped to create. I was a weapon to them, not something with feelings but something to be observed and studied.
“I am alone. But it is not just because I am the only human like this, but I have been alone all of my life. If things went right with my mom, I wouldn’t even be here. She never failed to remind me of that,” I said to Theron, but it felt like I was admitting it to myself more than I was admitting it to him.
“That’s a lot of guilt for a person to carry,” Theron spoke softly.
“It’s just the way things are, I can’t change that fact so I just have to deal with it. In reality we all stand alone,” I said, trying to shrug off my personal comment.
“Do we all stand alone, or do we all stand together? If you stand alone, you only look out for yourself; but if we stand together we put others first,” Theron said, challenging my philosophy.
“I never said I only look out for myself,” I said irritably, “If I was, I would be long gone and there would be a war starting because of it.”
“I’m sorry; you don’t have to get defensive. I didn’t mean anything by that comment,” Theron apologized.
We continued walking with both of our cloaks hovering behind us. It was silent, but the silence was not uncomfortable. Even so, I attempted to continue on with the conversation.
“What about you, do you stand alone?” I asked him, quickening my pace so that I am walking on his right side.
Theron was quiet for a moment before he answered, “I’m still trying to figure that out for myself.”
I turned and looked at Theron’s soft green eyes that are now lost in thought. He is continually looking straight ahead even while I was talking, which I guess makes since for he can’t see me. He has thick brown hair, cut to about two inches, and it covers his forehead. Everything about him seems strong and independent, all except his eyes right now that hold an indefinable softness. His eyes don’t pierce when they look at you; rather they seem searching, as if he could see everything about you.
I noticed a glow of smoldering campfires in the distance ahead of us. “Theron, could we have walked in a circle? There seems to be another camp ahead.”
“No. I kept the Roman camp directly behind us,” Theron said flatly, slightly confused.
We both stopped, listening to the clank of shifting armor and the soft thuds of the hooves of thousands of horses. All of the twenty thousand soldiers that consisted of the Roman army weren’t far behind us.
My heart pounded within me, we have chosen the worst direction to go. We now are directly between the Roman and the Egyptian army right before the battle.
“Ashton, get over here with that transmitter right now! We have gotten caught in the middle of the Egyptian and Roman army!” Theron yelled as he pressed his thumb onto his emerald ring.
“We can’t stay here, let’s go!” I yelled at Theron, grabbing his arm.
“We can’t just go running blindly!” Theron yelled back.
“Well you seemed to like that idea at first!” I yelled.
“Look, we can’t run, and we sure are not capable of fighting against two armies,” Theron tried to reason with me.
“But we can’t just stand here!” I said stubbornly. “Come on, we need to leave now!” I said as I grabbed his left arm, deciding to take off running down the center line of the two armies. We are not going to die in this century.
She didn’t see it coming, that’s why it was able to hurt her so badly.
They took off running blindly to the left, trying to escape their situation. The Roman army then yelled and took off running to attack the Egyptian army ahead. Because the Roman army kept getting closer to the Egyptian army, so were Amrit and Theron since they didn’t want to get too close to the Roman army either.
The Roman army showered the Egyptians in pilum, one of which speared the unsuspecting Wings. The shock of the impact through her chest caused her to become visible again. Her eyes shined in pain and her face grimaced as she crumpled to the ground face down, her cloak covering her.
Unwilling to leave her, Theron threw himself onto the ground next to her still bleeding body as more pilum hit the ground. It is now too late to escape the armies’ battle. Theron again shoved his thumb onto his emerald ring, “Ashton, get over here now, Wings has been hit. Have your gladius ready once you get here,” Theron yelled over the crowd, trying to warn Ashton.
Theron jumped up again, pulling his gladius out so that he is ready to fight. He has no other choice now. His only rule is that he is not allowed to kill anyone, for if he kills someone who might have otherwise survived it changes the lines of heresy which then changes the present as we know it now.
The two armies collided and mixed. The sounds of clanking gladius and swords; the hiss of airborne spears and pilum; the shouts of the victorious; the cries of the wounded horses and the dying; and the silence of death itself all mixed together exploded into everyone’s ears.
Theron stood over Amrit, fighting off anyone who came close.
Finally, Ashton appeared with a pilum in his right hand holding onto a bracelet with his left. His attire is similar to Theron’s except that he doesn’t have a cloak, but instead has a helmet. Ashton and Theron were quickly in back to back formation while they fought the other soldiers off.
“Took you long enough to get here!”Theron yelled over the battle.
“Look, it wasn’t that easy finding a spare transmitter! Here, put this on her,” he yelled as he handed Theron the bracelet, “I’ve got your back!”
Theron knelt down, clasping the bracelet onto Wing’s left hand as Ashton defended them from the Egyptian soldiers that are attacking them. Once his pilum snapped in half when it came in contact with a sword, Ashton quickly pulled his gladius from its sheath and used it to block a sword that was being swung at his neck.
“Theron, hurry up! I can’t hold off the whole army for you! Half of it maybe, but not all forty thousand of them!” Ashton joked as he urged Theron to hurry.
He finally finished hooking the clasp and grabbed Amrit’s hand, pressing her thumb to the sapphire of her silver bracelet. She glowed before she disappeared, now safe from the battle.
“Ok Ashton let’s go!” Theron yelled as he pressed his right thumb onto his ring, holding it there until he too disappeared from the battle, soon to be followed by Ashton.
Once he found himself back at NT 776 with his back facing the wormhole, Theron scooped up Amrit and carried her to the first door on the right which is Dr. Keelson’s room.
Lee was already there preparing some things for Wings’ treatment.
“Lay her on the table,” Lee directed as Theron put the limp Amrit down face up onto the table, her wings hanging off of its either side.
Lee then walked up to the table and snapped off the top part of the pilum and dropped it onto the floor. She then reached under Wings and gently pulled the other half out.
“Hit just inches under the heart,” Lee mused as she flipped her dark blonde hair out of her way. She then ripped Amrit’s clothing apart to examine the bloodied area further. She then took a wet washcloth and dabbed the area but found no wound.
Stunned, Lee took a step back observing Amrit. She was breathing normally, she wasn’t bleeding, and no signs of pain are etched on her face.
“She had already healed herself,” Lee muttered to herself as she turned to a cabinet and pulled out a white blanket and covered Amrit in it.
She then turned to Theron. “Theron, could you pick up the clothing that Kali has been working on for Wings? I need to stay here and keep an eye on her.”
Theron nodded and walked out of the room, and the door swooshed closed behind him.
I opened my eyes to find myself on a hospital table. I sat up and brought my knees to my chest, placed a hand on either side of the table and arched my back stretching my wings around me.
“Hey, you’re up,” the dark blonde woman from earlier said, “How are you feeling?”
“I feel fine,” I said, “What happened?”
“You had hit by a pilum, a roman spear, and Theron along with Ashton made sure that you got back to the present safely,” she explained.
“Sorry, but what is your name?” I asked.
“Lee Keelson, but just call me Lee. I don’t like formal titles,” Lee introduced herself.
“I’m…” I started but she cut me off.
“You’re Amrit; Ashton told me your name. Before we knew your name we just called you Wings for obvious reasons. For some reason, Mai Long’s nicknames stick for a while so sorry if you don’t like it,” she said speaking a million miles a minute. “I gave you a full body scan to make sure that your organs are doing fine from the wound you had earlier, and I came upon something quite unusual. Do you remember the last time you have eaten?”
“No,” I replied, shocked at my answer. I really hadn’t thought of that.
“Well, while you were sleeping, I ran some other tests on you to see how you were functioning since while I scanned your organs I found that there is no food in your stomach. As it turns out, your body is generating an electric pulse through the electrons of your atoms and the atoms immediately surrounding your body so as to provide enough energy to function. If what Dr. Carrolton told us is correct, that your body adapts quickly to its given surroundings and the lack of food and nutrients has caused your body to be like a translator on the new hover boards. Remarkable, isn’t it?” Lee chatted on.
“Yes,” I said half heartedly, knowing very well that Dr. Carrolton would be very pleased by this. Just imagine an army that wouldn’t need food. That alone would save a nation millions of dollars along with recourses that would be left for the people of that nation.
I noticed a dark blue piece of folded cloth, but as I reached out for it I noticed something on my left wrist. It is a small rose cut dark blue sapphire backed in silver and attached to a small delicate silver chain that wrapped around my wrist. But as I looked closer, I noticed that there is a small black dot.
“I see you have noticed your transmitter, it’s what has gotten you back to this century. It’s mandatory that everyone here has one, for in case of an emergency we will escape to another time period. Even I have one, see?” Lee said as she put her hair behind her ears revealing pink stone pear cut earrings, one with a black dot in the center. “By the way, Kali took an old outfit and fixed it up for you. There is no way she was going to let you wear those rags you walked in wearing, even after I ripped them apart in an attempt to save you when it turns out you have already saved yourself. I’ll leave the room so you can try it on,” she said as she walked out of the room.
I shook my head and laughed to myself, for she talks so much that I can barely get a single word in.
I changed into the folded clothes that were at the foot of the table, leaving my bloodied white clothes on the floor along with the cloak.
It is a dark blue one piece outfit. Its sleeves went past the palms of my hand yet still leave a hole for my thumbs and it still covers my ankles. It is form fitted and it has a bare back that leaves room for my wings and it has a V-neckline that connects at the back of my neck.
I took my messy hair and pulled it from behind my shoulders so that it doesn’t get in the way of my wings.
I looked out of the window, only to find that the sun is setting in this time, when it was night a few hours ago when I was in Egypt. Time traveling can be confusing.
I went through the window and stepped outside into the forest. The air is crisp, and I can feel it within my lungs. I walked towards the lake without making a sound thanks to the soft soil beneath my bare feet.
The setting sun played with my eyes for it casted an array of colors on my surroundings making everything seem surreal, magical, almost as if it had come out of a story book with the way it casted pink, orange, yellow, and gold light onto the trees and the earth. I sat down at the water’s edge watching how the ripples affect the reflection of the sunset and the mountains and listening to the lapping of the waves.
For once in a long while, I feel completely at peace. I closed my eyes and leaned back taking in my surroundings and situation. For some reason, I don’t feel threatened here as I did back at Dr. Carrolton’s lab.
Hearing footsteps behind me, I bolted upright. “Who’s there?” I asked as I looked over my shoulder only to find Theron walking towards me, wearing a worn white button down shirt and pants.
“Sorry if I startled you,” he started, “I just wanted to make sure you are okay.”
“I’m fine,” I said.
“Then what are you doing out here?” he questioned me as he stood next to me on my left.
“If I were running away, I would be long gone from here by now,” I said flatly looking back of the sunset, thinking that’s what his question’s intention is.
“I know, that’s not what I meant,” he said.
I looked back at him, holding his gaze for a few moments to see if he was telling the truth. Surrendering, I said, “I’m just watching the sunset. It astounds me the amount of untouched land here.” I looked around me, “Back in America, the population has grown so much that we had to cut into the National Parks and reserves to put roofs over people’s heads, along with other human necessities like food, water, clothing, and jobs. What were left are pieces of what America once was.”
“I grew up in America, but I didn’t have that problem,” Theron said as he too looked at the sunset.
I turned to him, “And what century did you grow up in?” I asked sarcastically.
“I was born in Colorado, in 1864,” he said seriously.
“You can’t possibly be that old,” I challenged him.
“And I’m not. But I am not lying either,” Theron retaliated vaguely.
“You are not making any sense,” I said very confused as to what he is saying.
“It’s a long story,” he said flatly.
“Fine, story for story?” I offered.
“What?” he replied. It is now his turn to be confused.
“You tell me your story, and I will tell you mine,” I explained.
He sighed and threw a stone into the lake, causing it to skip four times, and sat down next to me. Watching the ripples that they left he started his story, “Donovan says that I am just like my dad, I am not one to follow the rules but I am one to make up my own rules as I go. They sent my dad, Ty, along with another traveler, Philip, to the year 1863 to study the Colorado War first hand. They were to work as ranch hands on a large farm, and to blend into the society of that time, as all travelers should. My dad just took that a little too far. He fell in love with the farmer’s wild daughter, Becky. Nothing wrong with that except that they got me out of it. He broke one of the biggest rules that apply to a traveler; don’t do anything that would change the course of history whether it is killing someone or adding another person to that world. My grandpa got so mad at him that both my father and Philip had to flee back to NT 776. The leader at the time was furious, but couldn’t fire him because he wanted him to deal with the situation. So my dad came as often as he could to visit me, to help my mom with my upbringing. As far back as I can remember, I would watch the small window in the front of my grandfather’s house in hopes that this would be the day he and “Uncle Philip” would come and see me.” Theron paused, smiling at this memory before he continued on with his story. “But, it wasn’t good on my mom’s reputation to have a child without being married, so my grandfather arranged a marriage between her and some other well do fellow when I was nine years old. The next time my dad came to visit she told him what was going on, saying that she wanted to go through with this marriage and they talked long into the night discussing what was going to happen. The next thing that I remember is my dad saying that he and Uncle Philip are leaving, and that I am to go with them. After we had walked for a while, he put a ruby and gold necklace around my neck. He told me to close my eyes, squeeze the ruby and count to three, that there is going to be a surprise for me. Being a nine year old, I did so. Once I opened my eyes, I was shocked to find myself in another world; the world of NT 776. Seeing my dad beside me, I grabbed onto his hand though I had long ago thought that I was too old for that. The leader approached my dad, telling him that his task is now complete, took both his, uncle Philip, and my translators and set them on a cart that was next to the wormhole and led them to what is now Lee’s office to remove the memory chip. By some weird impulse, I took my dad’s translator, this emerald ring, off of the cart and pocketed it. I guess I just wanted to keep something that was once his. That was the last time I saw either my dad or my uncle.”
He became quiet after that.
“I’m sorry,” said not knowing what else to say.
“Don’t be. It took three years for them to find new travelers suitable for the job, and this time they established a rule of only being allowed to work here in five year terms. One term for all workers, two terms for the leaders. Every ten years one leader is chosen out of the workers. Donovan was the next leader and decided to take me in as his own. He even scanned my dad’s memory chip so that he would be able to tell me stories about him. Although Donovan has always been kind to me, my father will always be my hero. There were other ways he could have dealt with me; he could have killed me. But my father loved me like he loved my mother, and he would have done anything to keep us alive and well. You see, I technically am not supposed to be here, I shouldn’t even exist so I am to spend my whole life at NT 776. I don’t belong here, yet I don’t belong in the past either. I am an outcast either way,” Theron concluded.
We are both silent for a while as I let the story of his past sink in.
“What about you, what was your childhood like?” Theron said as he turned and gazed at me. His soft green eyes feel like they are searching my face for any clue of how I thought of him because of his story. But for some reason, I respect him because of his past.
I looked up at the darkening sky, watching the first few stars peeking out of their hiding places as I tried to figure out where to start.
“You see, I didn’t have a caring father like you did. I have never even met him and I don’t want to, not after what he did to my mother. Before I existed, my mother had big dreams and the intelligence to back them up. She dreamed of being a great scientist, one that will change America. She even was given a full scholarship to help her pursue that dream; her teacher had that much faith in her. After her graduating high school my mom went to a graduation party. The man who fathered me was there too, and he had put a date rape drug in her drink. While she was walking home alone, for she was too drunk to drive, he raped her. But she doesn’t remember anything after drinking the punch. All she remembers is waking up in a hospital with a massive hangover and the doctor telling her that she is pregnant and that she has drugs in her system,” I then paused for a moment, trying to find the words to continue. “She decided to take responsibility for me, but at the cost of her dream. She gave up being a scientist and going to college to work full time at a grocery store so that she can put food on the table. Slowly it crushed her for when one loses a dream, they lose a part of themselves. She wasn’t mentally stable anymore. Often, it seemed like her body was there but her mind was elsewhere in what could have been. Then something would happen that brought her back, and she would look around herself disappointed. As far back as I can remember, she blamed me for the loss of her dream; always reminding me that because of my existence she had lost herself. When I was six, we moved from Colorado to Big Sur California for a new beginning. But we only found ourselves in the same situation as before. I had to raise myself, especially with mom at work all the time. I had busied myself with school and photography until graduation. A few months later I was taken to Japan, experimented on against my will and was taken here by Dr. Carrolton.”
Theron shook his head, “You shouldn’t blame yourself for the way your mom’s life turned out.”
“That doesn’t matter, I still do,” I replied softly.
The sky had darkened completely and is now dusted with millions upon millions of stars, and sense it is no moon they had no competition. Looking up at them I feel so small, as if whatever problems that could possibly happen here doesn’t matter when you look at it in perspective. I shivered and pulled my wings closer to myself trying to block out some of the cold.
“What is your greatest fear?” Theron asked softly.
“Why do you ask?” I questioned as I looked at him tilting my head.
“I’m just wondering what a person with complete atomic control fears the most,” he explained himself.
I paused for a moment before I answered, “My greatest fear is to have somehow, either directly or indirectly caused others pain and or suffering. I have already ruined my mom’s life, and I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s. That’s why I hate the idea of a war starting because of me. I’d do just about anything to prevent it if I knew what is needed to be done.”
“You know,” Theron said slowly, “you are not in this alone. Everyone here is trying to prevent a war too. But sometimes, things happen that you cannot change. Then all that’s left to do is make the best of it.”
I looked at him and smiled, “Sounds like life in a nutshell; making the best of what you can’t change.”
“Yes, but that is only part of it,” Theron said as he smiled back. He has a broad thin smile that makes the corners of his eyes crease causing them to seem like they are smiling too. That along with the starlight dancing off of his skin makes him look quite handsome.
“Great, now I’m falling for him,” I thought as I looked away.
“Thank you,” I said as I recalled what happened earlier.
“For what?” he asked, unable to follow my train of thought.
“For making sure that I got back from 47 BC. You didn’t have to stay by me in the middle of a battle,” I explained.
“Yes I did, leaving a person with complete atomic control would change history. It was mandatory that I made sure you came back to the present. Also, I had Ashton’s help,” Theron said trying to be humble when I know he liked the compliment.
“Even so, thank you,” I repeated as I looked at him in his eyes.
He leaned towards me and kissed my cheek. He pulled away a little and I turned my head and placed my hand on his neck, kissing him back but this time on the lips. My heart raced and I smiled as I leaned in for another kiss.
Dr. Ming sat at her desk in her large new office back in China. Because of her success at giving the experiment the cancerous endospores China has promoted her head of the project so that China can get full control over Dr. Carrolton’s project. She now has her own lab team along with China’s military to use at her disposal to help China reach its goal.
“May I come in Doctor?” a female voice said as a computer screen projected itself from her desk revealing the face of who is at the other side of the door.
“Yes Dr. Su, come in,” Dr. Ming replied as she typed the code for the door to open.
A young Chinese woman walked in carrying a small steel box. She is wearing a white lab coat and her hair is pulled back in a tight black bun.
“Thank you Dr. Ming,” she said respectfully as her eyes light up.
“Was the team successful?” Dr. Ming questioned.
“Yes, with the stem cell from the experiment’s bone marrow along with your brother’s DNA we have been able to successfully create the fetus. This has become a true scientific miracle,” Dr. Su said excitedly.
“May I see it?” Dr. Ming said almost tenderly.
“Of course, that’s why I brought it,” she replied as she walked by the door and typed a code for the lights to darken. She didn’t want to stun the fetus with the light. When she finished she swiped her hand over the hidden sensor and typed the password. There was a mechanical click as the box opened revealing a clear tube of yellow fluid with a small pale dot in the center, which is about 1/3 the size of a grain of rice.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Dr. Su mused as she too looked at it.
It is beautiful, especially to Dr. Ming. Everyone in the lab, including Dr. Ming, had worked hard for it to get to this point. They had taken the experiments stem cell and extracted its DNA. They then removed the gene that enabled her immunity to gamma radiation and switched it with the same section of Marko’s DNA. Finally they had put Marko’s enhanced DNA back into the stem cell so that it can grow into a fetus and exposed it to gamma radiation. That small cluster of cells now has complete atomic control.
“Hello, Marko,” Dr. Ming spoke softly to the fetus. She looked up at Dr. Su. “Did you find a carrier for him yet?” she asked.
“No. That is the problem. Women are afraid to carry it especially at the rate it is growing. The increased telomeres had increased the speed of cell multiplication, so we will need to find one soon or it will die,” Dr. Su explained.
“I will,” Dr. Ming said before she realized the words were out of her mouth. She couldn’t stand the thought of it dying.
“Are you sure? There are a lot of risks involved…” Dr. Su started, but Dr. Ming cut her off.
“I am willing to take all risks when it comes to serving my country. Go and set things up in the lab, I will be there in ten minutes,” Dr. Ming directed.
Dr. Su left the room after she closed and picked up the steel box leaving Dr. Ming alone in her room.
For Dr. Ming, the creation of the fetus has helped her accomplish two things. First, it brought her one step closer to getting revenge on Dr. Carrolton by creating her own atomic control soldier prototype. Now, all she has to do is destroy Dr. Carrolton’s prototype so that he loses all influence over the project. Second, this fetus has become a replacement Marko to her. But this time, the new Marko can be everything Marko wanted to be, but couldn’t. Although she knew that it was just Marko’s clone that’s inside that steel box, she entertained the thought that it is Marko brought back to life; given a second chance.
Dr. Ming turned off her computer and stood up.
“I will make you proud…” Marko’s words from the R1T4 unexpectedly came to mind. Her legs gave way beneath her and she collapsed crying.
“You have made me proud my brother, more than you will ever know. I never told you that, so you assumed that I was ashamed of you, but you were wrong in your assumption and you decided to…” she sobbed harder, unable to finish her sentence. “I’m so sorry Marko,” she said as she covered her face with her hands. “I promise, I will not make that same mistake against you again,” she said slowly as tears streamed down her face. “I will never lose you again.”
She stopped crying and dried her eyes, forcing herself to regain her serious detached state.
After she had regained her composure, she straightened up and left the room to join Dr. Su in the lab.
“I have to go back inside,” Theron whispered as he brushed his nose against my cheek and stood up. “Do you want to come?”
“No. I’ll stay out here for a while,” I said as I looked up at him.
“Ok. Feel free to come in when you want; assuming that you will come in the same way you got out in the first place,” Theron said and turned slowly to go.
“So now you trust me?” I asked, questioning his change of attitude since we were in Egypt.
Theron stopped and looked over his shoulder, “Yes. Do you?”
“I have no choice but to trust you,” I replied, sticking to how I stood back in 47 BC.
“But if you did have a choice, would you?” Theron pressed on.
I looked into his green eyes, trying to figure out how I felt. “Yes,” I said, “I trust you.”
Theron smiled, turned around and walked away. I wonder if he knows that I don’t give my trust easily; but then again he probably doesn’t trust easily either.
I turned back to the lake.
In a way, we are both the same; we both stand out as different and neither of us feel like we belong anywhere. He is torn between two times and I have been changed to the point that many don’t even consider me human anymore. I see that every time they look at me in the eyes, or the lack of looking at me in the eyes. But Theron is different, even before he got to know me he still treated me like a person who actually has a mind of her own. Back at Dr. Carrolton’s lab, I was directed to do obey orders and had no say in what was happening when I should have. Even when I escaped, he had the scientists search for me like a rabid animal. Dr. Ming only treated me like a human if it was to her own advantage, using guilt and self sacrifice in order to blackmail me to go back. I don’t know which is worse; not being treated like a human or being treated like one so that the other person can get what she wants.
Am I even human anymore? I’m not so sure of that answer anymore. Maybe now I deserve to be treated like that; like some experimented animal that has no rights or voice in what is happening to her.
Uncertain of where the truth lies, I looked at my left hand again noticing the sapphire bracelet that is upon it. I touched the sapphire, causing the light from NT 776 to dance across its many surfaces.
I now know that I can’t go back to America. It’s not just the fact that I have nothing to go back to, but it is also the fact that Theron was right; America would not be able to do better with the technology of complete atomic control than China and Japan have. Greed for power is very strong, and America is not immune to it. In fact, it would be better for America if they do not get involved in this war, especially with the technology that China now has. But that is only if Dr. Ming was telling the truth.
I sighed. Now what am I going to do if I can’t go back to America? No nation great or small is ready for this kind of army. Somehow, I will try to keep it from them, though I don’t know how. Not yet.
I stood up and turned around to face the direction of NT 776. I have to stay here; within its walls lies my best chance of finding a solution that will fix this mess. Theron may be right that not everything is my fault, but I seem to be the only one who is willing to risk everything to fix it. But that might be just because I have nothing to risk.
Theron walked down the hallway on the fourth floor, eyes dancing and smiling.
“Theron,” Donovan addressed as he walked slowly from his own room at the end of the hall. “It’s late, have you found her?” Donovan asked slowly.
“Yes, she is by Caumasee lake,” he said as he turned to go into his own room, which is directly across his father’s old room.
“You didn’t bring her back?” questioned Donovan.
“No. I don’t think she has anywhere else to go,” Theron explained.
“How do you know that for sure?” Donovan pressed on.
“I just do,” Theron said flatly.
“So you trust her?” he continued.
“Yes,” Theron said as he looked at Donovan squarely in the eye.
Donovan searched Theron’s eyes and once he found what he was looking for he sighed. “Be careful Theron, your father was lucky that he was able to solve his mistake. I don’t want you to find yourself in his shoes.”
“I didn’t do anything that could possibly put me in that position,” Theron retaliated defensively.
“I wasn’t implying that you did, I am just warning you Theron. You are nineteen, the same age that our father was,” Donovan tried to explain, “Just don’t mess things up. We already have a lot to deal with because of her.”
“I won’t,” Theron responded with his eyes flashing. Though he was trying to hide it, Donovan could still see that Theron was mad so he decided to leave the subject alone.
“You should get some sleep; tomorrow morning we are mediating a meeting between China, Japan and America,” Donovan said, changing the subject.
“How did America find out about her?” Theron asked.
“Who knows? Somehow word got out that she is an American citizen and they think that they have rights to the project. Tomorrow we have to mediate the disagreement on who has rights to what without there being a war over it.”
“Alright, I won’t be late,” Theron said as the door to his room opened. He then turned and walked inside ant the door silently closed behind him.
I walked back to NT 776, my fingers lightly touching the great trunks of the trees as I passed by. As I got closer, I noticed that there are two separate windows on the side of the building facing me.
I paused, unsure of which window I came out of. The one to my right is the only one that still has a light on so I decided to go there.
I turned myself invisible and seeped through the window, finding myself surrounded by color.
Fabrics of all colors and textures are cast about all around the room and hung from the shelves that are on three of the walls. One wall had many levels of silver upon which hung clothing from different time periods; each in Ashton’s or Theron’s size.
At the center of the room there is a large square black granite countertop that is suspended in the air, since there are powerful magnets on the countertop’s underside and beneath the flooring (same poles facing each other), so that every square inch of the space beneath it can be used for storage. But in this case it has a mountain of almost folded fabrics piled on two sewing machines, intertwined in ribbons, threads and buttons.
A sewing machine whined, manned by a woman who is a few inches shorter than me. She has bright amber eyes and dark brown hair cut short, to about two inches, and though it sticks out in different directions it doesn’t look messy.
I let myself become visible, not likening the idea of sneaking around when I don’t have to.
As she looked up, only her eyes gave any sign of her surprise.
“Hello, you must be Wings,” she said after a moment.
“Amrit Andrea,” I said, holding my hand out.
“Sorry, everyone refers to you as Wings. I’m Kali Jaya,” she said as she shook my hand, “In not one for formal greetings, especially when people appear in my work space out of nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t have a chip in my brain so I have to find my own way in and out of here,” I said somewhat lightheartedly.
“I can see that,” she replied as she smiled. She then again turned her attention back to her work. “Almost finished,” she said softly to herself as she stopped the machine, snipped the thread and held up her project. It is a simple white nightgown with spall straps, no back; and is made out of a light soft material. After she had looked it over she folded it and set it on top of a stack of clothes.
“I’ve been altering and making some clothing for you, since apparently you came in rags and brought nothing else. And since I’ve heard that you’re staying in Ty’s old room; everything has been stripped out of it so I also have a hairbrush and other things that you may need,” Kali said, speaking to me as one would speak to a guest.
“Thank you,” I said looking at her over the stack of cloths she just handed me.
“No problem, I’ll walk you to your room,” Kali said as she scooped up a small stack of clothes herself and walked out of the doors once they have opened. She does not walk fast so it is easy to keep up.
Theron woke up before the sun had made its journey from below the horizon; lingering a bit in bed before he rose. He always got up before everyone else even stirred in their sleep with the worry of waking up late.
He then got dressed in casual clothes, walked down the hallway, used the elevator to go to the first story, and walked outside. It was here, within the woods and out in fresh air, he felt most at home. It is there he does his best thinking.
His mind skimmed through the events of yesterday; trying to grasp how they have led to his situation now. Yesterday, he had learned to trust a stranger; which has never happened before since the only two people who he had trusted had left when he was nine. Losing his parents was the first time he truly felt alone. When Wings asked “Do you stand alone?” it stunned him. He doesn’t know that answer, especially when he earlier said that standing alone means that you only look out for yourself. By nature, he is not a selfish person; but so far he has only needed to look out for himself and occasionally Ashton when they go through the wormhole. But now, when he told her that she is not alone in this, he feels an obligation to stand by her. But the kiss is proof that it is more than an obligation; he has fallen for her.
Coming from the east, light gently swept from the branches above and softly touching the ground creating abstract shapes upon the forest floor. It was then that Theron noticed some alpine pasque-flowers growing. They have six white petals that surround a yellow center all upon a fuzzy reddish-brown stem. Theron reached down and picked one, thinking of Amrit.
The rising sun meant that it is time to go back and get ready for the meeting in an hour or two. But before going back to his room to change into more appropriate clothing for the meeting, Theron decided that he was going to leave the flower outside of Wing’s bedroom door.
Though he is slightly afraid to get close to Amrit out of fear that she will disappear from his life just like his parents have, he cautiously is willing to take the chance with her.
The pregnancy drained Dr. Ming’s health and energy, and it was only the first day. She is on a jet with the president of China, Jai Gang, along with his bodyguards. Though President Jai Gang knows about Dr. Ming’s project, he doesn’t know that she is pregnant with the experiment itself so she is using every bit of her strength and willpower to hide it. She holds her head high and a trained composed expression on her face even though at this moment she feels like she is going to puke in any second. Carrying Marko is harder than she ever thought and his rapid growth was making her much sicker than a normal pregnancy possibly could.
On top of her condition, she didn’t get any sleep last night; she was busy contacting the United States president, Addison Luis, notifying her of the situation of a particular American citizen of theirs and of Dr. Carrolton’s project. It didn’t take much convincing to make her feel like America has rights to this project too. This should throw off Dr. Carrolton in his fight to keep the experiment. If Dr. Ming’s plan works out, China and America will become allies if a war does break out; but one will inevitably come if China doesn’t get all or most rights to the project. Even if this mediation gives the rights to this experiment that she and China wants, she still will want to destroy Amrit. She doesn’t want her to live and compete with Marko. There only could be one prototype.
Theron walked out of his room ready for the mediation. Glancing at the floor before Wings’ room he noticed that his flower was still there; she is not awake yet.
Ashton came out of his own room, which is right next to Theron’s; third door on the right once you step off the elevator. “You ready for the meeting today?” Ashton asked smiling as usual.
“As ready as I could be,” Theron said as he laughed.
Ashton noticed the flower outside of Wing’s door and glanced back at Theron. “Seems like a lot has happened when I’m not around,” Ashton said.
Theron laughed, “I guess you are right.”
“So, since you seem to have gotten to know Wings…what do you think should be the outcome to this meeting?” Ashton asked.
Theron thought for a moment, “I honestly think that we should try to avoid a war; but I don’t know how that is going to happen. If we give China the rights to it, then Japan and America will fight to annihilate China to earn the rights to the project. No matter whom we give the rights to, there will be a war to change the circumstances of who runs the project. Even if there is not a war as an outcome to this meeting, there will still be the problem of one nation having an army of complete atomic control soldiers which could easily annihilate any other nation. I think that we should permanently keep her here along with the research so that no one else can repeat it and cause this danger again.”
“That and the fact that you like her and want her to stay around,” Ashton teased.
“It’s not just that. The decisions we make here is going to change the world for better or for worse. At the meeting I’m going to pose the case of keeping the experiment here since it’s least likely to cause a war. It will be better for everyone, even her,” Theron tried to explain.
“Ok, if you do that I’ve got your back. I’ll do what I can to help you,” Ashton volunteered.
“Thanks, I probably would need it,” Theron said as they both walked to the elevator.
Dr. Ming was the first to step off the jet, followed by President Jai Gang and his four bodyguards, one holding the red Chinese flag on either side of him. Dressed in a feminine black suit and her hair pulled back into a tight bun at the back of her head, Dr. Ming on the exterior looks like the strong woman she; hiding her secret completely from other’s eyes. Emeli Diya greeted them and led them inside and into an elevator on the right. They all then went to the third floor, first door to the left where everyone else is waiting. Everyone from NT 776 sat on one side of the table while representatives from the other countries sat across from them at the other side of the table with the bodyguards standing in clusters behind them; two from each country holding a flag of their nation.
“All weapons along with anything else that can endanger another person’s life must be placed here,” Mai Long said as she gestured to the cart beside the door. Dr. Ming placed a small handgun and a knife that had originally resided under her belt upon the cart and sat by President Addison Luis, waiting for China’s bodyguards to temporarily discard of their weaponry.
Dr. Ming looked around, trying to identify the others who have come to this meeting. For America, there is only President Addison Luis and her four bodyguards since she has been informed of this meeting at the last minute. For Japan, there is President Susumu Osamu and on either side of him are Dr. Carrolton and Zane. Dr. Carrolton bused himself in finishing the final touches to his speech while Zane stared at his un-bandaged cut hands which have created the ugliest scab. Revolted, Dr. Ming looked away and noticed the small platter of pastries at the center of the table for the first time. But nobody was eating them. Everyone is just murmuring to each other, waiting for the meeting to begin.
My lazy eyelids opened as I woke up. I yawned and stretched, spreading my wings far out on either side of me. With my thoughts still fuzzy I sat up and smiled recalling the events of last night.
I walked across the room to the bathroom (Kali showed me that it was there last night) and took a shower, after which I sat on my bed wrapped in a towel. I reached for the hairbrush that is on the desk beside me and forced it through the wet knotted mess of my hair then got up and got dressed into a short sleeve red shirt and black pants. After I had finished doing this, I almost felt like a normal person again for the first time in a long while.
But still I am different. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing except that other countries are using this difference to their own advantage so that they can hurt other countries.
I walked over to the desk, placing both hands on it and looked out the window at the beautiful landscape.
“I wonder if I could fly. I have only tried once, and failed. But my wings must have grown since then,” I thought as I walked through the desk and placed my hands on the window, debating whether or not to go out. “What’s the worst that could happen? Its six stories less than the drop from Dr. Carrolton’s lab, and I walked away from that fall.”
Looking up towards the sky I shoved myself through the window, pressing my feet against its outer surface to throw myself away from the building. I smoothly spread out my wings as I started to fall, but I still was descending. Heart pounding and my breath caught in my chest I tried not to panic and I tilted my wings up a little bit and flapped slowly in an attempt to gain some altitude. Soon there are pine trees racing under me and I slowly let my breath out though my heart was still racing, but in a good way this time. I am flying.
I laughed and leaned to the right, turning so that I will fly over the lake, and swooped down; dipping my hands into the water causing it to ripple. Once I had reached the edge of the lake I tilted my wings up again, flapping my wings. This time I’m going to touch the sky.
“Alright people, its 8:15, the mediation starts now. We’ll start with you America,” Donovan announced.
“Thank you,” President Addison Luis said as she stood up gracefully, her shoulders calmly back and her straight shoulder length brown hair perfectly brushed. “May you please darken this room?” she asked though it sounded more like an order even though the words were said with class and respect.
Lee got up and dimmed the windows as President Addison Luis typed on her clipboard causing it to project a 3-D satellite image of Dr. Carrolton and Dr. Ming’s lab.
“America has taken it upon itself to get these images of what used to be airplane factories once we detected a high dose of gamma radiation from them, we have gotten very suspicious of what was going on especially since we were slightly confused as to why China and Japan would become allies. Then there is the problem that many citizens from many countries, including our own, disappeared. Last night, we have been informed of the break between China and Japan’s alliance and that the successful test was on an American citizen which has been kidnapped from American land. It is insulting that anyone would think that America has no rights to this project, since she is in fact an American citizen. Because of that fact, I believe that America deserves as much, if not more, right to this experiment because of the betrayal that both China and Japan have done to us. Thank you,” President Addison Luis concluded as she descended into her seat and turned off her projection.
Dr. Ming sat back in her seat, disappointed. America had taken its usual stand, opinionated and involved but not officially picking out a side. She was hoping that America would side with China especially since China informed America of the situation in the first place.
“Thank you President Addison, for the next proposal is Japan,” Donovan announced the switching of speakers.
Not surprisingly it was Dr. Carrolton who stood up, but this time he didn’t use his clipboard to project so he is just giving his speech to dim room.
“Japan and China has been working on this project for many years under the agreement that once we are finished, we both end up with an atomic army. I have to admit that they did put in half of the work, research, and materials needed to run this experiment. China was the nation responsible for gathering the people we needed to test on. And in all honesty we did know that China has gathered the people we needed were not all volunteers. But because of the alliance we kept each other’s secrets; that is until China broke that alliance by trying to sabotage the experiment…” Dr. Carrolton started before Dr. Ming interrupted him.
“Excuse me for interrupting, but what proof do you have that China attempted to sabotage the experiment?” Dr. Ming questioned with a smirk on her face. She knows the answer to that question. Shortly after arriving in China she had sent a team to go back to the lab to destroy such evidence knowing that Japan had bailed. For her, it felt good to take her misery out on him.
“No, but I do have a witness,” Dr. Carrolton said as he gestured to Zane.
“Do you not need three witnesses?” Dr. Ming pressed on, again knowing the answer.
“Dr. Carrolton, with the lack of three witnesses that statement is invalid. Do continue,” Donovan prompted.
“Either way, when China broke that alliance it broke away of its rights to this project and I propose that Japan gets ALL rights to this experiment…” Dr. Carrolton continued.
“But it was China who put all of the work into it!” Dr. Ming said sternly.
“Now, now Ming-Ming, what proof do you have that that is correct?” Zane sneered.
Defeated, Dr. Ming slumped back into her chair.
“Thank you Dr. Carrolton,” Donovan said trying to fill the silence. “China, you may speak your piece.”
Dr. Ming stood up with an air of confidence about her. “For centuries Japan, considering itself a superior race, has been trying to take over the eastern hemisphere, causing my people great suffering over and over again before we rebel and put them back where they belong. Then an opportunity comes up for us to become allies, and we give in knowing that it will not only benefit Japan but China as well. But we became worried when Japan started to give itself all of the credit of this project so we resorted to certain lengths to ensure that we have control over it. But since it was Japan whom knowingly tested on stolen people, I would like to propose that China gets all of the rights to this project because of Japan’s irresponsibility along with the fact that it is China who has put the most into this project.”
“Thank you Dr. Ming.” Donovan said as he stood up. We will collaborate and will come back once we have reached a decision.
Nervously, Dr. Ming reached for a pastry. She has no idea which direction the decision will go.
All of the workers from NT 776 filed out of that room and into the room across the hall and sat down.
“What do you think?” Donovan asked.
Theron leaned back, allowing the others to speak first.
“I think we are in the same situation as we were with Dr. Carrolton,” Kali stated.
“We can end all of this the same way too. The experiment has been causing more trouble than it’s worth. You do know that no matter what decision we make, it can easily spark what would end up being World War Three. It’ll be easier to just terminate the experiment, that way no one gets it!” Emeli said straightforwardly.
Theron’s eyes flashed, the conversation has turned into a direction he did not want to go. “So murder one to save another?” he questioned trying to cover up his anger.
“It’s not murder if it’s not human,” Emily retaliated.
“Well she is an American citizen, and I don’t think they give citizenship to birds and butterflies,” Ashton said in his usual lighthearted manner even though he is dead serious.
“So terminating Wings is out of the question,” Mai Long said stubbornly.
“Fine, then what are our other options?” Lee asked as she looked around.
“I think we should keep Amrit here,” Theron said. “If we give her and the technology that they had used on her to any of the nations, there will be war. None of them are exactly on the best of terms with each other; that technology would have lasting and devastating effects if put in the wrong hands.”
“If we keep her here, it will draw too much attention to NT 776. Too much attention on us can lead to a war of which nation has control of this place. We can’t have that,” Coen stated logically.
“But we really have no choice but to keep her here. Another war would bring devastating effects, for nations seem to pull out new and improved weapons that can cause mass destruction. Don’t forget what the last World War brought to life the Atom Bomb, what would this war bring if it does indeed occur?” Kali reasoned.
“War seems to be an inevitable destination no matter which way we turn. I arranged for this mediation in hopes of these Nations would come to terms and agree on a solution. But not everyone gets what they hope for; these nations are still at each other’s throats and will continue until one nation gets the prize. There is no risk free solution to this problem, and even if we did kill Wings and destroy the research, that will cause all of those nations in the other room to hate us; making them all to ready to see our destruction and trample in its ashes. The only solution that is reachable is that the experiment stays with us. But we must be on our guard to do no more further things to cause a war. Even if we cannot prevent it, we can at least delay it until we are better prepared,” Donovan said, drawing to a conclusion.
As soon as Dr. Ming’s tongue touched the pastry, she felt sick to her stomach. But since she feels like she is starving she ate it anyway, quickly regretting that she did. Seeing the doors open she tried harder to compose herself, breathing quickly so that she does not vomit.
The workers of NT 776 walked slowly in; they have reached a decision. They did not sit down since there is going to be no more discussion on the matter.
Donovan stood calmly in front of the room as he spoke, “All of you have very valid arguments on who has rights to this experiment. But, no matter which decision we reach, most of you, if not all of you, will not be satisfied. All three of your countries are unstable and ready for war, so we have all come to this one conclusion. The experiment along with the research that you now carry for it stays here…”
Every one other than the NT 776 workers murmured to each other; shocked that this was their conclusion. Only Dr. Ming remained silent, for she is feeling light headed at this news.
“…This technology is not safe for any nation to have complete control over; and here it will not be used…” Donovan continued.
“All of my hard work put to waste!” Dr. Carrolton yelled as he stood up.
“Your hard work?! It was China who did all of the work while you get all of the credit!” Dr. Ming screamed as she threw herself out of her seat. She then vomited, and fell to the floor with a dull thud. Everything combined; the pastry, her dizziness, her weakness; all because her pregnancy caught up to her she is now lying on the floor unconscious.
President Jai Gang nodded to one of his bodyguards and he came rushing to Dr. Ming’s aid.
“Here, let me see her. I’m a doctor, I know what I’m doing,” Lee said as she kneeled by Dr. Ming’s unconscious form.
“No. You people have done enough. You are the ones who have poisoned the pastries, and she was the only one who ate one. We will take her back to China and she will receive proper medical treatment there by her own lab team. You will pay for this sabotage. Let’s go!” President Jai Gang said with a thickly accented voice as he stood up and left with his body guards, one of them carrying Dr. Ming back to the jet. “Do show us the way out,” he said as he turned to Mai Long.
Soon after China left, so did America and Japan; Dr. Carrolton muttering to himself the whole way out.
Donovan stood in the dim empty room, trying to figure out what went wrong.
Theron hesitated; debating whether or not he wants his space; but walked up to him anyway. “You ok?” Theron asked.
“Yeah. Things didn’t turn out the way we expected, did they? Has Lee run the tests on those pastries?” Donovan said softly.
“Yes. There is nothing wrong with them; she even ate one herself to prove her point. Dr. Ming could have been allergic to one of the ingredients,” Theron speculated.
“No, I have already researched that. But it doesn’t matter since now China’s hostilities are directed here,” Donovan said flatly. “So we must prepare for an attack, since one will most likely occur in a few days. Theron, make sure Wings is close by at all times. We would not want to end up leaving her behind if such an attack happens,” Donovan continued urgently.
“Yes sir,” Theron said as he turned to the door to start his search for Amrit.
I seeped through the roof of NT 776 and landed into a not so graceful landing in the hallway. Laughing I stood up, only to find Theron standing right in front of me looking a bit surprised.
Theron looked up at the spot that I just came through and looked back at me. “You’re going to be difficult to keep track of aren’t you?” he said teasingly.
I smiled at him, “Yes, you can be sure of that; I can fly now.”
“That’s not going to make things easier for me. Look, this morning we held a meeting so as to mediate who has rights to you and the project. Let’s just say things didn’t go well and now there is a possibility that World War Three is most likely going to start here,” Theron explained, wiping the smile off my face. “I want you to stay close to this place and easily reachable at all times, in case we have to leave quickly. I don’t want anything to happen to you,” Theron said softly.
“Wait a minute, what happened? NT 776 is a neutral territory, why would anyone want to attack it?” I pressed on since he is being so vague.
“After we announced that we were going to keep you and the research of the experiment here Dr. Ming had a bad reaction to eating a pastry and was carried away unconscious. Now China believes that we had tried to poison everyone in that room since Dr. Ming was the only one who had eaten the pastry,” Theron explained.
“How are we going to prepare for this,” I asked after a short pause.
“That’s up to us who work at NT 776, you just stay close,” Theron said as he went up to me and hugged me, holding me close with his hands placed right below my wings. My heart fluttered within me as I hugged him back. A sense of calm swept over me as I leaned my head against his chest. I felt safe; as if nothing could happen, as if nothing could go wrong; as he leaned his head to my shoulder, his nose and lips brushing against it.
“So that’s why you wanted her to stay here,” an African looking woman said as she snorted and walked past us. She has chocolate colored skin that seemed to glow when the light hits it, black curly hair, and deep brown eyes that seem to have no end.
Something about her tone made me take a step from Theron.
“I still think that she causes more trouble than she is worth, but that is just my opinion. Nobody listens to me,” she said sarcastically as she went into her room which is right next to mine.
Theron sighed, running his right hand at the back of his neck. “Don’t mind Emeli,” he started, “she is very stubborn. She is tough to deal with at first, but nice once you get to know her according to Ashton. He’s the only one who really knows her that I know of.”
"So they love each other?" I asked.
"Oddest couple you could find complete opposites; but yes they love each other." Theron said as he laughed, and even when he stopped laughing his eyes still are, making it impossible not to smile back. The irony of it is that we are not exactly what one would call a normal couple either.
It was then that I noticed the flower outside of my door. But I didn't have any time to react upon seeing it. The sound of machine guns hammered into our ears and the glass that had once roofed the hallway to allow in natural light shattered and rained upon us along with the bullets. Out of impulse we both threw ourselves to the ground, covering our heads (though I didn’t need to, as I will later realize). Glancing back at the flower, I saw that it was shredded to pieces and now lay under a blanket of glass. Its beauty now completely destroyed.
"Come on, they will be back!" Theron yelled as the drone of the jets dimmed a little. He then dragged me to my feet and we both took off to the elevator.
Once we started descending, Theron turned to me. "Are you ok?" he asked worried.
"Yes, I'm fine. Are you?" I asked looking at his many small cuts on his arms and face. One cut on the base of his neck was particularly bad; it is three inches long and crossed over his collar bone, and his shirt around it is turning red. I feel terrible that he is hurt and worrying about me when I don’t even have a single scratch from this incident. I would rather be the one taking the pain than to be the one watching him take it.
Theron didn’t have time to answer my question, for the elevator doors had opened and he quickly joined the frenzy of the other NT 776 workers while I followed close behind. Apparently this attack had hit everyone as a complete surprise.
Theron turned right and walked into Mai Long's room where she was rushing about, grabbing random objects off of many of her shelves.
"Mai, what's going on?" Theron asked urgently.
"Just China deciding to act immediately on our poisoning one of their representatives," Mai Long said calmly as her actions gave away the urgency of the situation. "Here," she said as she shoved a large gun into Theron's arms. "And Donovan refused to allow me to create weapons that can do more than just stun a living organism for a few hours. We could have prepared for this, but thinking like that is not going to change our present situation," Mai Long mused. "Be sure to aim for the head and chest if you want the stun to have the greatest affect on the attacker," Mai Long advised as she thrust a slightly smaller gun into Wings' arms and started to go out of the room.
"Hold on. How do you know whether or not we are going to be in hand to hand combat?" Theron asked as he grasped onto the gun with two hands.
"Coen tracked the jets to their landing area and troops have been swarming out of them. I don't think they want to destroy NT 776, for if they did they would have done so already and we would be long gone. No. That’s not their purpose. They are here to destroy us, the workers of NT 776 and they are here for the project. They are here for Wings," Mai Long said and she then glanced at the guns she had just handed Theron and Wings. "Take those and don’t let them out of your reach, you don’t know when you will need them. We all have tasks to do before we go through the wormhole, so I suggest that you get to them," Mai Long directed as she hurried out of the room.
"Wait," Wings said as she turned to Theron, "Why are we going through the wormhole?" But Theron was not paying much attention to her words.
"Please stay close," Theron said softly, "I want you to stay safe, I don’t want anything to happen to you. I don’t know what I'd do if they took you."
"Theron, I have escaped from them before, I could easily escape again," Wings said self confidently, but still Theron does not share that confidence since she was still a captive when she arrived here at NT 776.
"Please, just trust me on this one," Theron said stubbornly.
The sound of shattered glass being scattered across a floor warned them of the present danger causing them to leave the room to find out the source of that sound.
The windows around the main entrance are shattered, some more intact than others with little more than bullet holes piercing through them. Beside the windows are three Chinese soldiers; two lying within NT 776, one limply sprawling across the lowest window for he has been shot just as he had been climbing in.
"Sweet dreams," Mai Long said sarcastically as she still had her gun pointed directly at them. "Is this all you've got?!" she then yelled at the front door, challenging the Chinese. For being short she makes it up by being fearless and enthusiastic.
But this battle has only just begun. Swarms of Chinese soldiers came through the many windows of NT 776, most of them through the windows by the main entrance forcing Mai Long to hide behind the door frame of Kali's office where she and Lee were combining their emergency supplies for retreating through the wormhole. But with the Chinese constantly firing their guns, no one would be able to safely walk across the room, more or less be able to walk through the wormhole.
Theron glanced up at the second story which only covered half of the ceiling. There resides Donovan's and Coen's office which now since it is under fire, sparks are flying and fuses are blowing; which is not a good sign since it is from there that commands their retreat. Hope of escape is dying.
Watching the scene from Mai Long's door frame, I have to admit that I am scared. Scared to watch what was my place of refuge crumble before my eyes. I felt useless just standing there, watching it crumble. I had to do something.
Sorry Theron, I know you were trying to protect me but sometimes even heroes need someone to save them. It is my fault that they are here in the first place, so I have to be the one to fight them.
As I started to take my first step out of the room, Theron grabbed my arm. "Are you insane?!" he yelled above the gunfire.
"Insane enough that this might just work! Someone has to do something or we are going nowhere!" I yelled back again attempting to leave.
Theron tightened his grip, "I'm not letting you go out there, its suicide!"
I turned back to him, "Trust me," I said as I let myself slip through his grasp.
I walked closer to the door trying to figure out what it was that I was going to do. Seeing me, the Chinese concentrated their fire on me but the bullets had little effect for unlike the situation in Egypt, I was prepared. I knew what was coming.
Remembering my escape from Dr. Carrolton a few days earlier, I held my hands out in front of me and my mind did the rest for soon I was generating a force field.
"Wont Dr. Carrolton be proud, too bad he is not here," I thought sarcastically as the force field spread to the smallest crevices of the room, absorbing the impact of the bullets.
I looked over my shoulder seeing some of the workers of NT 776 gaping at what I've just done.
"Go!" I yelled at them, "You have things to do, and it won't take them very long for the Chinese to find another way in!"
"Hey Emeli," Kali yelled at Emeli as she was going up the stairs to the second story that are behind the rings of the time portal, "now are you glad that Amrit is here?"
"No. If she wasn’t here those Chinese soldiers wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place," Emeli yelled back.
I turned my attention ahead of me, watching the Chinese soldiers move about at the other side of my force field. They couldn’t go anywhere since they don’t have a chip implanted into their brain to work the elevator or open doors; but they are busy trying to work around that problem. As I watched them work I knew that Emeli is right, it is my fault that they are here. Again I have found myself at guilt's mercy.
Theron sighed, relieved that Amrit is alright. "Trust me," he recalled her saying, but he did; she should know that by now. It's just that he is scared that something will happen to her. He doesn’t want to lose her just like he had lost his family.
"Theron, how are things going down there?" Aston asked.
"Better after what Amrit just did. Where are you?" Theron replied, pressing his thumb onto the emerald on his ring.
"Up here in Donovan and Coen's office. Emeli is up here too," Ashton answered.
"How are things up there? It didn’t look too good from down here," Theron questioned, worried about his friend.
"Yeah, things are pretty bad. It’s a good thing that Donovan sent his message to William Auburn of NT 777 in America. He's the one who has pretended to have recently discovered time travel to cover up the fact that he is our back up. He is going to need at least five days to transfer our information of our transmitters and the position of our wormhole destination; which is the reason we need to go to a different time period. We can't hold off the Chinese that long even with Amrit's help," Ashton then sighed trying to find a way to tell Theron the next part of his news. "Theron, could you promise me to take care of Emeli," Ashton asked softly, not wanting Emeli to hear.
"What happened Ashton?!" Theron asked now worried for his friend.
"The automatic controls of the wormhole have been destroyed...It has to be done manually. One of us has to stay behind. Everyone else is needed; you to protect Wings, Donovan to run NT 776, Lee since she is a doctor, Mai Long to create weapons to protect everyone, Emeli since she is the historian, Kali since she makes the clothes, Coen since he knows all of the technical things behind NT 776. I am just a traveler; easily replaced," Ashton explained softly.
"You know that’s not true Ashton," Theron sternly said as he shoved his thumb onto his emerald. "Ashton, if you stay here you will die!"
"Promise me Theron," Ashton persisted, his uncharacteristically seriousness cutting into Theron's heart.
"I promise," Theron said shakily, "I will make sure no harm will come to her."
"Thank you," Ashton said softly. Then, forcing a certain amount of light heartedness Ashton said, "Want to know where you guys are going?"
"Sure," Theron said as he too forced himself to act light hearted.
"May 26, 1883 Colorado. You get to see your family," Ashton said.
This shocked Theron; Ashton had chosen the year that he would have been the same age he is now if he would have stayed there. He honestly doesn’t know how his family will respond to seeing him after all of these years.
"I do wish you could meet them," Theron said to Ashton.
"We both know that’s not going to happen," Ashton responded ending the conversation.
Theron leaned against the door frame, trying to take in what is happening. He didn’t want to lose his best friend, the one who had his back every time they walked through the time portal. But he has to respect what he has decided to do. With these thoughts in mind, Theron went up the stairs to the second story, wanting to see his friend one last time.
Dr. Ming once again sat at her office chair; too weak to move about, but strong enough to command the Chinese army. She is very pleased at how things turned out, everyone thinking that she was poisoned. She played along with that assumption since it seems to be giving her the results that she wanted. She even had her lab team lie to President Jai Gang and give him false evidence regarding to her being "poisoned".
Dr. Ming laughed a thin weak laugh since things couldn’t have turned out better even if she had planned it. NT 776 has been known to hold within its walls a power that if given to one nation, could be abused to one nation’s advantage and other nations fall. This combined with the prospects of again capturing the experiment made the fight worthwhile. China has certain victory since workers of NT 776 are prohibited to possess or even create weapons that can kill another human being since they are the peace keepers.
"This is almost too easy Marko," Dr. Ming whispered to the empty room. "I thought preparing the world for your arrival would be much more difficult." Just then the fetus inside of her moved, as if it was listening and understood her words.
"Guys, they have found another way in!" Wings yelled as the pattering of bullets came from behind closed office doors.
Donovan turned to Ashton, "open the wormhole now!"
"No!" Emeli yelled since she had just been told the plan. "Kill one to save another?! You refused to do that with Wings yet you are now willing to sacrifice one of your own people?!" she screamed at Donovan with a shaky voice.
"Emeli, I volunteered. If I don’t do this every one here dies, even you. I can’t handle the thought of losing you when I have the chance to save you," Ashton tried to reason with her.
Emeli stood there shaking and sobbing, "If you die, I die too. I'm not leaving you," she said stubbornly through her tears.
"No. You are not staying with me," Ashton pleaded to her as he held Emeli in his arms, "I love you. Just do this one thing for me."
"I'm not going to leave you; you can’t make me leave you," she answered sternly as she clung to Ashton.
Ashton looked up at Theron, and immediately Theron knew what his friend was asking him to do.
"You just open the wormhole, I'll make sure that she makes it to the other side safely," Theron told Ashton as he picked up the kicking and screaming Emeli, dragging her out of the room. This was one promise he had no intention of breaking.
Donovan turned back to Ashton, "Are you sure you want to do this? If not, I could take over."
"No. They need you more than they know. It is under your direction that will pull us through this problem, not mine," Ashton answered solemnly.
"Do you need me to show you the procedure one more time?" Coen asked, his blue eyes trying to memorize Ashton's face.
"No. You two need to go, we don’t have much time," Ashton said as he sat down, starting to press buttons to open the wormhole.
"Goodbye Ashton. Because of your admirable bravery you will be remembered," Donovan said as he and Coen reluctantly left the room, leaving Ashton to his task.
Behind me the wormhole opened, again creating the watery looking substance between its metal rings. Everyone had to close their office doors since the Chinese soldiers were coming through the windows within them. Now they were coming close to entering the main room, bullets pattering the doors. Nervously I looked over my shoulder. I have already warned the workers of NT 776 that they are almost upon us, but beyond that I know that I can't do much of anything else.
Kali, Lee, and Mai Long quickly busied themselves by throwing supplies through the wormhole the moment it had opened. Donovan, Coen, and Theron dragging a screaming Emeli hurried down the stairs to the wormhole. But they did not go through. Rather, Coen and Donovan joined in the hurling supplies through the wormhole while Theron held down a screaming Emeli.
"Where's Ashton?" I yelled over my shoulder once I noticed he was not with us. Once those words were out of my mouth, Emeli let out a scream that momentarily drowned out the sound of gunfire. But other than that they had not time to answer. The Chinese soldiers broke through three of the office doors; now everyone with a stunning gun had more than enough work to do.
"Get out of here!" Theron yelled to the other NT 776 workers as he shoved Emeli through the wormhole. Lee followed Emeli, then Kali and Coen. Donovan grabbed Mai Long, who was preoccupied with yelling at the Chinese soldiers and shooting them, and both of them went through the wormhole.
"Come on!" Theron yelled as he snatched up the gun that Mai Long had dropped and continued to keep the Chinese soldiers from the wormhole. When they tried to come close, they soon fell, stunned, lying in a heap with the other fallen soldiers.
"Get down!" I yelled at him as I moved my hands, causing the force field to fade. Immediately a shower of bullets rained down upon us.
I too threw myself to the ground next to Theron and just as the Chinese soldiers were closing in on us, we went through the wormhole and it closed behind us to ensure that no one could follow.
"Dr. Ming, everyone has left except for one. This one appears to have been left behind," General Sun informed Dr. Ming.
Dr. Ming looked at her projected computer screen to see a pale, dark grey haired, and grey eyed young man with a machine gun pointed to his head still sitting at the controls on the second story of NT 776. Immediately Dr. Ming recognized him to be one of the travelers.
"Where are the others?" Dr. Ming questioned Ashton.
"Hidden beyond your reach," Ashton replied steadily.
"I know that there is a wormhole there. Now, tell me where and what time you have hidden them and I promise no harm will come to them," Dr. Ming said being careful to keep her eyes steady in hopes that he won't detect the lie.
"If you allow your soldiers to point their guns in another direction, I myself will show you the answers to your questions," Ashton lightheartedly said as he calmly stared back at the camera, showing no fear.
"Fine, you have five seconds," Dr. Ming replied thinking that five seconds is enough time for him to show her and not enough time for him to escape.
"Thank you very much," Ashton said comically but his eyes didn't change and they continued to challenge her. This answer took her off guard since this took up three of his five second time limit.
Ashton then pressed a small button to the right of him causing the image on Dr. Ming's screen to turn into a blinding white a moment before she lost the signal.
Confused, she directed a satellite to scan the area in Switzerland where NT 776 resides, only to find a mushroom cloud still hanging in the air.
Furious, Dr. Ming turned the image off of her screen. This has not turned out to be as easy as she thought it was going to be. The head start she had on her vengeance over Dr. Carrolton was placed in the palm of her hand only to be snatched away moments later.
"I'm sorry Marko," Dr. Ming said to the one that resides in her womb, "this time I may have failed but it will be the last. We will find another way."
Then the thought occurred to her; if they were hidden to another time, there has to be another way for them to come back to the present.
She then pressed her thumb on a button on her computer screen. "Shang, may you please come to my office," Dr. Ming asked the computer screen.
"Yes Dr. Ming," he replied and soon a tall Chinese man was permitted to enter her office.
"Come in," Dr. Ming addressed weakly, allowing him to assume she is sickly because of the "poisoning".
"What can I do for you Doctor?" Shang said formerly.
"I would like you to send some men to investigate time travel, and which areas have that capability. Be sure to separate the facts from the myths," Dr. Ming directed.
"I have heard that such a thing exists in America," Shang informed her.
"Then look there first. Don't leave any thread of information behind uninvestigated," Dr. Ming said after some thought.
"Yes Dr," Shang said indicating that he knows what is expected of him.
"You may leave now," Dr. Ming said and he then turned and left the room.
Once he left, Dr. Ming leaned back and smiled, happy that things are going her way again. She felt secure once she had a plan and a goal to work towards. She won't lose them this time.
Darkness swallowed us when we reach the other side. Though it is night, the sky does not give way to stars; rather it gives way to a blanket of dark angry clouds.
As my eyes adjusted I am able to see the other NT 776 workers; some gathering together supplies, others clinging to each other. All except Emeli, who is kneeling in the dust weeping hysterically.
Feeling the gloominess that is hanging in the air, I clung to Theron for comfort; but as I looked into his green eyes I say a deep sadness resides within them.
Lightning struck, allowing me to see the faces around me to again notice the absence of Ashton.
"Theron," I said softly after the thunder roared as I looked into his eyes, "where is Ashton?"
"Ashton is dead," Theron answered and swallowed before explaining, "The Chinese soldiers ruined the automatic emergency plan so Ashton decided to do it himself. He opened the wormhole, and after everyone was safely through it he manually self destructed NT 776 since no nation should have the power of time travel. There is no way he could have survived the nuclear blast," Theron said dryly as he tried to hide his pain though his eyes gave it away.
Shocked, I looked around me at the others, seeing the tears and pain in their eyes. Emeli's wails and sobbing surrounded me, choking me because I know that this is my fault.
"Ashton, oh Ashton," Emeli sobbed to the dark sky above. And as if the sky too heard her wails and felt her same pain; it too gave way to tears and rain started pouring down in sheets drenching all of us. Without Ashton, the darkness took over; yet there is always a flicker of lightning that slices through the darkness. There is always hope.
As the rain hurled itself from the sky, Theron held Amrit, uncertain of what is going to happen next.
“Everyone, gather around,” Donovan called over the downpour as he stood by the stacks of supplies. All except Emeli; who sat brokenheartedly on the ground too stubborn to leave; everyone went and gathered around Donovan. “Though the loss of Ashton has pained us all, we must remember that he died to save us. It was his gift, and we must respect that by protecting the gift he allowed us to have, especially since the price was his life. Keeping this in mind, though we are grieving his death, we cannot allow it tear us apart and force us to lose our focus and purpose that will ensure our survival. So we are going to blend into this society. Since a group this large will stand out, we need to split up into smaller groups. The only difference with our situation now and our planned escape plan is the absence of Ashton; so Theron, you are going to be with Amrit, Coen…”
“Sir, I’m going to accompany Emeli as well as Amrit,” Theron cut in.
“Excuse me,” Donovan said, not liking being cut off while giving instructions.
“Just keeping a promise Donovan,” Theron said looking at Donovan steadily in the eyes. He was not going to lose this without a fight.
Seeing that, Donovan sighed, “Fine. You three go together. The rest of you go into the same groups as usual. Coen, you are to be a tradesman with Kali as your wife and Mai Long as your servant. Lee, you will be a school teacher looking for a job. I will be a farm hand.” Donovan paused for a moment thinking. “Wings,” Donovan addressed Amrit.
Amrit looked up at him with tears streaming down her face. She too felt the pain of the loss of Ashton.
“If you can make yourself transparent, can you do the same thing only to your wings?” Donovan continued.
“I think so,” she answered, but once the words were out of her mouth her wings had faded into the darkness.
“Is it not amazing how quickly the human mind works?” Coen mused just loud enough for Amrit to hear.
Those words caused Wings to tense, for they reminded her of Dr. Carrolton since he had said something similar to her before; though she can’t remember the exact wording. What Coen had said gave Amrit a flashback of the lab where the other failed experiments lay. Again she flinched, closing her eyes trying to erase that image from her mind.
“Good. Theron, I’m assuming that you are going to visit your family,” Donovan said getting to his point.
“Yes,” Theron replied.
“You cannot be traveling with two women; it won’t look good on reputation in this time. Amrit is to act as your wife and Emeli is to be your hired servant,” Donovan finished.
“Yes sir,” Theron said; content with these arrangements.
“OK. Now that we have our roles in this time period clear, we should divide our supplies accordingly. Kali and Lee, be sure that Amrit has the proper clothing. If need be, give her one or two dresses of your own,” Donovan directed.
“That won’t be a problem, I always make extra,” Kali said as she lit a lantern before she and the rest of the women went to find a place to change.
Theron looked around him, watching the trees of the forest; smelling its green smell that blends in with the smell of the rain. He is familiar with this area and knows that somewhere within the darkness and rain, his childhood home lies outside of the town of Crook. Donovan and Coen lit lanterns to find their way about, but Theron didn’t; he knew his way around within the blackness and was accustomed to it. It holds no fear against him.
Kali hung the lantern onto a tree branch as I looked at the stack of soaked clothes that have just been handed to me. “You sure I have to wear all of that?” I asked looking at the many layers of clothing.
Kali nodded and Emeli glared at me through the tears that are still streaming down her face. I finished getting dressed in silence. Though it is not in her nature, Lee too remained silent until we were all dressed.
“Here, let me do your hair,” Lee offered as I was about to put my bonnet on over it. She took a hairbrush and brushed through its many knots and tangles before braiding it and twisting the braid into a bun at the back of my head, allowing a few rebellious strands to remain down on either side of my face; thus framing it.
“One thing you must remember is that a married woman always has her hair up unless she is getting ready to sleep, where she wears it into a single braid,” Lee said softly.
“Second thing to remember is to keep those wings hidden so as not to scare others of this time period,” Kali warned.
“What’s the worst that could happen? They see all of her and think that she is an angel,” Mai Long committed trying to lighten the mood.
“A fallen angel. Her wings are not white,” Emeli managed to say steadily and dryly through her tears as he stood outside the ring of light provided by the lantern. She was amongst the shadows, glowering in the darkness.
There was something about either the tone she used, or the words she chose that caught me off guard. I knew that even from the beginning she did not like me. Now somewhere weaved within her tone, I know she was telling me that she hates me.
“I couldn’t be either, for all of the angels named in the bible are male,” I countered both Mai Long’s and Emeli’s thoughts, “Either way, I will do what I can to keep my wings hidden. No need to stand out.”
I put on my bonnet and tied it into a bow under my chin, feeling guilty for how things have turned out.
Theron straightened up, having recently finished packing what he and his traveling companions needed. Though the rain is now pattering down steadily with only the occasional roll of thunder and streak of lightning; everything is soaked through, especially the clothing.
Theron turned once he heard a twig snap behind him where Amrit stood. She is wearing a blue dress with intricate small white floral patterns that contrast with the blue fabric. Her sleeves were white, as well as the collar that lies against her neck. She also wore a matching white brimmed bonnet that covers her hair and a white half apron that is tied in a bow at her back. From beneath her skirt peaked out the tows of stiff black leather boots that glistened in the rain.
Theron immediately noticed the absence of her wings. Though she now looks like a normal human being, without them he felt like something was missing and stared at her as one would stare at someone who was missing an arm or leg.
“Think I will blend in this time period?” Wings asked.
Theron shook his head, “You are meant to stand out, not to hide in the background, not to hide pieces of yourself.”
Confused, Amrit said, “But my wings need to be hidden, I am not to scare the town’s people.”
“Sometimes the things about yourselves that we hide from others, the secret part of you, holds within it your strength and beauty; your true self,” Theron elaborated.
Not knowing what spurred this complement or how else to react to it, Amrit held Theron close and kissed him. She is scared, but she refuses to show it. She still feels the sting from the hate of Emeli’s words, and wants more than anything to fix the situation, wants to make it go away for she can’t stand the thought that she is hurting the ones whom she loves. And for a reason that she does not know, Theron doesn’t blame her. Amrit took refuge in that fact, though she still blames herself.
“Is Emeli ready?” Theron asked Amrit as he looked at her in the eyes.
“Yes,” a voice from behind them said. There Emeli stood a short distance away. All of her clothing is a painful dull black, out of respect of mourning for Ashton. Her shoulders have finally stopped shaking from her weeping, and her eyes have finally stopped streaming tears for the moment. But they held a different quality about them. Her eyes used to be full of life; able to hold one’s gaze since it was filled with stubbornness and a will for things to go her own way. But those qualities have vanished from within them, replaced by shallowness, pain, and hate.
“Alright, let’s go,” Theron said as he passed each of us our luggage. Again, lightning struck; blinding everyone for a moment. Amrit looked up; temporarily fascinated with the bright streak. But Emeli was indifferent to it along with the shudder of thunder that soon followed.
“Be careful,” Theron warned, “and stay away from the trees, for they are what lightning strikes the most.” He then started walking; carrying his own belongings and headed toward his old home with the two other women following close behind.
The wet leaves gave way to each step I took as we followed Theron. I glanced back at Emeli, who stayed a short distance from both Theron and I. I did this often, for I can feel her eyes burning into my back. But she wasn’t just glaring at me, she was glaring at both Theron and I. Her silence made me uneasy, for I can feel what she wanted so badly to say, and her silence smothered me since her unspoken words are only too clear. She blames me for the death of Ashton. She blames Theron for not being able to die beside him.
Theron seems to be lost in a thought or memory, and so he was not going to break the silent spell. I honestly couldn’t blame him. If I were him and I was now seeing my family that I haven’t seen for years, I’d be lost in thought too? Who am I to feel sorry for myself when these people beside me are going through so much? I held my tongue. They are going through so much because of me.
Thinking this, I felt like this bonnet that I am wearing is choking me. Loosening the bow that is tied beneath my chin, I removed the bonnet; momentarily surprised by the sudden patter of rain against my face. But there was something about the chill that came with it, the smell, or its constant patter on my face; for the rain calmed me. I closed my eyes and lifted my face towards the heavens, feeling the rain wash away what was once tears a few minutes ago; feeling it momentarily lift my spirits which have felt like they were falling down a great abyss only a moment ago. I turned the palms of my hands to the sky, trying to deeper feel the rain against my skin. Somehow, the rain here seems cleaner and purer than the rain back home; back in the present.
“Maybe, the rain can wash away this guilt. Maybe now I can be free like the rain, and do good for once,” I wished, squeezing my eyes tighter.
I sighed and opened my eyes to see Theron standing there, a smile flickering in his eyes for seeing me act in the rain as a child would. “Come on, we are almost there,” Theron encouraged, since I have stopped walking.
I quickly followed, surprised that he waited for me and slightly embarrassed for my standing out in the rain like that. As soon as I was beside him, matching his stride, I put my bonnet back on and felt the patter of the falling rain through its cloth.
Theron’s grandfather’s house looked just as he remembered it; a one story three bedroom cabin with light seeping out of its small windows. Even his mother’s old rose garden is still intact; though she must have moved to the city with her husband.
It was strange to be there again, he slowed his walk, taking everything in. The sight, smells, shadows; all of it is almost completely unchanged. It’s like taking a step back through time, watching who he was. He can almost see the boy he was then looking out that window, waiting for his father to come home. He can see himself there, picking the thorns off of his mother’s rose bush. He can see the path he and his father took along with his uncle; and behind those trees were where his father slipped that gold necklace over head, where he learned the truth of who he was. Where he learned the truth that he knew to be the present, is actually the past. But then again, maybe.... Maybe the past, present, and future all are happening at once; one affecting another. Maybe that way, everything is the present depending where you are. Even the present is the past if you are looking back from the future.
As the fog of memory cleared, Theron noticed shadows move around within the home, cast about by a firelight which makes even still shadows dance.
Seeing that someone is up, Theron knocked on the door; three times just as his father had done years ago; the sound that long ago, he had yearned to hear while waiting at the other side of the door. Maybe his grandfather is up.
The door opened halfway with a small creek; revealing a tall woman with fine brown hair that has streaks of grey. She is wearing a jacket over her nightgown so as to fend off the weather. Seeing Theron, she put her hand to her mouth and gasped; her green eyes widening as if she had just seen a ghost.
“Ty? Ty Fletcher?” She stammered uncertainly over the pattering of the rain.
“No mother…” Theron started; shocked that she is still here.
“Theron,” she whispered softly as she opened the door wider. She studied him for a moment before she noticed that he wasn’t alone. “Won’t you all come in?”
She led them to a table that is placed in front of the fire place. “Please sit down,” she said as she gestured to the chairs that surround the table as she walked passed it so as to tend to the boiling pot of coffee that is on the wood stove. She then poured the black contents into three mugs, of which she set in front of everyone except Theron.
“I’m assuming that you still don’t like coffee, but I don’t want you to get a chill from the rain,” Becky said explaining the absence of a mug in front of Theron, and she went back to the stove and poured him some hot water instead. She then placed that mug in front of Theron and sat down, joining the others.
She sighed, watching her company sip their coffee, not noticing Amrit’s grimace at the bitter taste. “It’s been so long… What brings all of you here? How is Ty?”
Theron paused since the last question hit a nerve. “Ty died nine years ago. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. On his way back home, a drunken man shot him,” Theron said slowly as he looked at his hands. He hated talking about his father’s death.
Surprised at his answer, Wings stared at him; unsure if he was telling the truth or if he didn’t want to admit that Ty doesn’t remember anything about the family he has left behind.
“After his death I have wandered around this state, doing what I can to take care of myself. I then got married…” Theron paused, that word felt strange to his tongue and he hated the idea of lying to his family, “… to a wonderful woman. Now we are heading west to see what it has to offer along with the daughter of Ty’s friend Samuel, Emeli. We stopped by to see how the family is doing before we leave the state.”
“Well it’s so good to see you!” Becky said, apparently buying the story.
Theron looked up at her. How many times has his father lied to her, so as to protect her from the truth?
“I hope we won’t be of much trouble to you, we won’t be staying for more than a few days…” Amrit started.
“Nonsense. You’ll be of no trouble,” Becky cut in getting up from her seat. Noticing that no one was drinking anything, she said, “You all must be tired from such a long journey. Here, Theron, you and your wife take the guest bedroom. And as for you Emeli, you may sleep in here.”
There was a silence that seeped through the room as Becky waited for a reply from Emeli.
“Emeli has recently lost her father Samuel only a few days ago. She is still mourning his death, which is the reason she is accompanying us, we all need a new beginning,” Theron tried to explain Emeli’s behavior.
“I understand,” Becky said as she looked back at Emeli. “I’ll get some things for her. Theron, I think you remember your way around.”
Theron nodded, picked up his and Amrit’s luggage and left the room; Wings following close behind.
As Theron set the bags on the floor, I shut the door behind me.
“Which bag is mine?” I asked Theron, looking at the two identical bags.
“The one on the left,” Theron said.
I opened the bag, finding its contents soaked. Rummaging through it, I found a damp white nightgown.
“Do you have a knife?” I asked, noticing that there were no holes for my wings. I can’t concentrate on keeping them invisible throughout the night.
Theron handed me one as he was hanging the wet clothing all over the room in hopes of making it dry faster.
I cut two slits into my nightgown and set it on the table by the bed. Noticing that Theron was changing, I turned my back to him so as to give him some privacy. I then allowed myself to disappear so that I too can change. Once I changed, I stretched a bit, my wings glad to be free.
Looking back at Theron, I saw that he was buttoning up his long underwear and couldn’t suppress my smile. They seemed strange to me.
I sat down on the bed and took off my bonnet, letting my braid fall down to my back. Brushing the loose strands from my face, I recalled the earlier conversation.
“Theron, is it true that your father is dead?” I asked softly, remembering the expression on his face when his mother asked about him.
“Yes,” Theron said flatly as he continued to unpack.
“How’d he die?” I pressed on, curious.
Theron stopped what he was doing and sighed. “Nine years ago, the leader of NT 776 sent me a message, telling me that my father was dead. He was shot by some drunken man. That’s all I know about it. I got no more details of his death, when his funeral was, anything. He died not even knowing that he has a son; a son that will mourn greatly over his departure.”
“I’m sorry,” I replied, not knowing what else to say, “And now Ashton is gone too… I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be. We can’t change the way life’s course takes us. We are only here for the ride, we can’t change time’s course,” Theron said.
“Then where does NT 776 fit in? It changes the course of time,” I said, pointing out a flaw in his reasoning.
Theron sat down on the bed and lay down, “It doesn’t,” he said softly.
I too leaned back so that I was next to him on his right side. “If I didn’t come here Ashton would still be…” I started.
“But you are here, you can’t change that. Ashton’s death is not your fault; you could not have known the series of events that led to this. So not even you could prevent this. Time conquers all,” Theron said, thinking back to the relationship between the past, present, and future that he had noticed earlier.
“You know, if there were something that I could do that will change this situation, I would do it in a heartbeat,” I said, trying to find a way to fix things.
“I know, I would too,” Theron said, his eyes closed since he was either in thought or starting to fall asleep.
I turned my head towards him, smiling. Why, he looked like a child! He looks almost angelic as he is lost within his thoughts. He stands by me, willing to protect me from my worst enemy: myself.
“I love you,” I whispered, lost in my own thoughts.
Theron opened his eyes, surprised that I said that. He looked into my eyes, as if trying to figure out if I meant it. I kissed his cheek and leaned my head on his chest; ready to fall asleep not really caring whether or not he answered me. And though later I might question whether or not it is a dream; as I was drifting off to sleep, he kissed my forehead and whispered “I love you too.”
Theron woke up first, momentarily not knowing where he was before memory seeped through as the fog of grogginess wore off. He got out of bed; careful not to wake Amrit who was sleeping peacefully on her stomach with her wings folded up over her back. She stirred a little, subconsciously noticing his absence, yet she didn’t wake up.
Theron left the guest bedroom, only to find his mother sitting at the table with a mug of coffee in front of her. But she didn’t notice him there; her attention was directed to a ring that she was holding in her hands.
Not wanting to disturb her, Theron walked up to the stove and poured himself a mug of hot water.
Hearing the thud of the pot being set back to its place, Becky looked up from her thoughts. “Good morning Theron,” she addressed him, clasping the ring in her hand. She laughed, “Nothing has changed; you are still up even before the birds start singing.”
Theron smiled at the familiarity in her wording, “Maybe you’re right Ma.”
Becky looked down at the ring in her hand. “I noticed that you haven’t yet given your wife a ring,” she said as she ran her thumb over its silver surface.
“Times have been tough, we lost nearly everything,” Theron lied, trying to stick to his earlier story.
Nodding, she gently slid the ring across the table to where Theron stood.
“Your father gave that to me a few days before you were born,” she started, watching Theron pick it up. “Your father gave it to me secretly; he didn’t even want your uncle to know about it. He said that it was a very special ring, that if I ever ran into any trouble, all I’d have to do is to press once on the diamond, and there he would be…”
As his mother stopped talking, either lost in memory or just trying to find the next words to say, Theron took a closer look at the ring. It has a simple silver band with a single diamond placed upon it; not a common wedding ring from this time period; sixty years from now it would be a more popular style. At the center of the diamond, there was what appeared to be a small black flaw; a transmitter resided at the center of it. Every time his mom pressed her thumb on the diamond, it sent a message to his dad’s emerald ring that he was needed in this time period. Another rule of a traveler broken.
“Somehow, I don’t know if it was just by coincidence, every time I pressed my thumb to that ring, he was always there…” his mother mused, not able to know or understand the technology behind it.
Theron, while his mother was lost in thought, placed the ring back in front of her.
“No, take it and give it to your wife. Maybe there is still magic within it, and you will be there when she needs you,” Becky said stubbornly.
“Thank you. I’ll have to find the right time to surprise her with it,” Theron said as he slipped off his father’s emerald ring and held the two together.
Becky smiled as she saw the emerald ring, remembering Ty. “You have your father’s ring too,” she said, “Those two rings will do well together; once mine and your father’s, now yours and your wife’s.”
Theron put his father’s ring back on, this time on the ring finger of his left hand. He hoped that his mother didn’t notice that he was wearing it on the wrong hand to be a husband.
“Thank you again Ma,” Theron said as he went across the room towards the door. “When she wakes up, let her know that I went out on a walk,” he said as he opened the door. He has a lot of thinking to do. “I’ll be back by breakfast.”
I bolted upright hearing someone knock on the door. Quickly, I made my wings transparent, uncertain of whom it was.
“May I come in, ma’am?” Emeli said with a false meekness.
“Yes, please do,” I responded trying to be as polite as possible, though I am uncertain as to her purpose for coming here. She hasn’t spoken to me since she has called me a fallen angel last night.
“Thank you,” she said as she walked in with her head held high. She had a sort of strength about her now; a silent strength that takes over during a deep pain, so as to hide it. She then turned and shut the door with a dull and final thud.
Once the door was closed, I allowed my wings to be visible. It’s no use to hide them from her.
A silence flooded into the room, for she didn’t say anything. She just stood there, her dark brown eyes flashing with the hate and anger that she felt. I looked back into her eyes apologetically; for I now know why she is here.
“About Ashton… I… I’m so sorry Emeli,” I said not knowing what else to say. But I wasn’t saying it because I feared her. Rather because I hated to have caused her so much misery.
Emeli smiled as her eyes continued to glare at me. “An apology, no matter how sincere, is not going to press air back into his lungs. Nor will it allow his heart to beat again. No. He is now millions of radiated pieces scattered within the dirt and rubble of what once was NT 776; also destroyed by you. No, you have done enough. An apology will not fix this nor will your empathy for me; those will not bring either of those things back.”
I stared at her, as the pain of guilt clawed up and down at my insides. She too thinks it is my fault.
“Then what do you want me to do?” I asked steadily, keeping my eyes locked on hers to be sure she knows I am not afraid.
Emeli laughed, and the knife that is on the table next to the bed caught her attention. She picked it up, watching how the light from the small window reflects off of it. “I could ask blood for blood,” she said as she sharply ran the knife across her hand, watching the blood drip down her arm as she held her hand up. “The death of a lover, repaid by the death another lover. You and Theron seem to be getting along so well.”
I snatched the knife from her hands and placed it back at its place. “Don’t bring Theron into this!” I said defensively.
Emeli laughed again, shaking her head. “As fun as it may be, watching you suffer through the same thing that I am going through still will not bring Ashton back. No!” she said as she clenched her bloodied hand, making the blood drip faster. The red streaks that it created seemed to glow against her dark skin. The pain made her breath quicken, and slowly she loosened her grip; her hand shaking.
“No,” she repeated, this time more calmly. “Is the name Sahara McKay familiar?” she asked as a smile curled on her lips.
I didn’t answer, couldn’t. I know she already knew.
“Such a tragedy that she was raped as she was leaving a graduation party; she could have made something great of herself, if she had not gotten pregnant,” Emeli continued, her words cutting into my very core.
“How do you know about my mother,” I said dryly, not looking at her in the eyes. I didn’t want to give away how much her words affected me.
“As a historian of NT 776, I can get into any documented government file, police records, anything that anyone stores on their computer. You really think that I was going to remain naive as to who you are and where you came from?” Emeli asked, her words coming out calm and hateful at the same time.
I remained silent, unsure as to why she was bringing this up.
“As it turns out, that information can help the both of us,” Emeli said, her words failing to fill the hole of silence between us.
“What are you getting at Emeli?” uncertain about what she is going to say next.
“Ever wish that the tragic accident had not happened, Wings?” Emeli pressed on, knowing the answer.
I refused to answer, what could I say?
“You know, if that had not happened to her, her life would have been so much better. If you didn’t exist, then Dr. Carrolton wouldn’t have been able to find a person with the right genotype for his project. There would not be World War III. Then there would still be a NT 776. Ashton would still be alive,” Emeli said slowly as she watched the blood trickled down to her elbows.
“I cannot change my existence,” I said, sticking to the logic I knew before I came here.
Emeli looked at me in the eyes, “You know you can, if you use the wormhole.”
There has to be another way to fix things,” I said softly after a short pause.
Emeli hatefully looked in my eyes, “Can you find a better way to fix the situation you created? If you do this, everything would be better!” She then softly spoke, “and Ashton would still be here.”
A tear escaped from her eye. Quickly, she brushed it away with her hand, leaving blood smeared over her face. “If you refuse, then Theron dies. When you lose someone you love, you lose all hope. Then you will be willing to sacrifice yourself to save the lives of many. If you refuse, then you are a coward. Ashton didn’t hesitate a second to save us, including you. You should at least be willing to do the same for him!”
But I am not afraid to die; I don’t think I ever was. It is a fear that was forgotten to be placed into my mind or instilled into my soul. What is the difference between dying and not ever existing? But, I still hesitated at listening to Emeli. Her plan is risky; I don’t want to do this if it ends up just making things worse. But, I don’t have many options to fix our present situation. In fact, this is the only one that seems like it might work. It has to be better than just sitting around, watching everything fall apart.
“When are you planning for me to do this?” softly asked Emeli.
“Once we make it back to the present,” She replied, her eyes never leaving me.
“So I have until then to decide,” I said stubbornly.
“I never said that!” Emeli yelled, not expecting those to be the words out of my mouth.
“Your right, you didn’t. I did. I need to think this through, and I know that you can’t do that without me,” I answered as I mirrored her glare. I will not let her defeat me.
“Don’t wait too long, you will regret it,” Emeli said as she opened the door, wincing in pain for she chose to use the bloodied hand. “If you love Theron, you wouldn’t wait,” she said before she left the room, closing the door behind her; leaving a bloody handprint on the door knob.
Theron walked the trail that his dad took him that last day. All that he had known to be true died that day; all that was familiar lost. He had felt so alone.
“What about you, do you stand alone?” Amrit had asked him a few days ago. He had come to a conclusion to that question. We all stand alone. That’s just how life plays it out, it doesn’t send the same punches to everyone, but rather it individualizes it to each person. No two people go through the exact things and respond to it the same way. We experience and react alone. But, it is who you stand by, and who stands by you; no matter how few or many that is. They are the ones there for you when life sends your punch, and you are there for them when they get theirs. In that way we stand together. So really, it is both.
Theron pulled out the ring that his mother had given him. His father had broken all of the rules to be sure to stand by him and his mother. If he had been caught, he immediately would have been kicked out of NT 776. Ty had risked everything for the family he had started. Ty had broken all of the rules, but he still did what is right. It’s not as if he was breaking the rules for his own advantage, but rather for the advantage of Theron and Becky. Because of this, Ty will always be Theron’s hero; the hero he yearns to become.
The pain of his father’s death felt like a wound that will never heal. Everywhere within the forest, in the cabin, everywhere there were memories; flickers of the past.
Those that he is closest to somehow slip away from his grasp, like holding sand within your hand. The tighter you clench your fist in an effort to keep it in your hand, the more you lose. The next time you look in your hand, to see what you have left, you find everything gone.
He had especially felt this way regarding to his dad. When Theron’s world was turned around and the truth came out, Theron wanted to cling onto the last thing familiar to him; Ty. But he couldn’t hold on to even that. After his father set his transmitter on the cart and went into the doctor’s office to have his memory chip removed, Theron knew that he was now alone. The father whom he knows and cloves could not even remember his son’s existence, let alone his name.
But at the time, Theron refused to believe the fact that his father couldn’t remember him. No matter how many times he was told that, he stubbornly refused to believe it. He had often tried to escape NT 776 so as to find his father, hoping that some way, somehow, he could still remember him, still remember his son. But he stopped trying once another truth was shown to him; the death of his father. No matter how hard or how far he could search, Ty Fletcher could never be found. With this knowledge stuck in his head, Theron grew up knowing that he is alone in the world. He practically had to raise himself.
“But I’m not alone, not anymore,” Theron thought as he clenched his mother’s ring in his right fist.
He has Amrit, and he refuses to lose her as he had lost his father. He just can’t lose another person this close to him. For some reason, though she knows the truth about him, she accepts him and even respects him because of it. Yet he can’t do the same for himself.
Placing the ring back into his pocket, Theron headed home.
I sat on the bed, dumbfounded at what just happened; surprised that I am actually considering to follow the plan of someone who just cut her own hand right in front of me. Emeli seriously has lost all common sense, but then again she does have a point.
She is the only one who has an idea of how to fix the situation, and there is even a chance that it could work. If I don’t exist, then I wouldn’t have been taken back to Dr. Carrolton’s lab, then I wouldn’t have been tested on, and his experiment and research would be a failure. No one would fight over thousands of failed attempts and a theory. There would not be a World War III that is undoubtedly occurring in the present. Thousands of deaths prevented and the life of my mom would occur as it should have been- without me. It’s funny how one accident could cause such a huge mess. But then again, without me there, they may just find another with that genetic immunity to gamma radiation. Then my sacrifice will be of no importance. Would it be worth the risk?
I glanced back to the bloody door knob, remembering Emeli’s face smeared with blood. Should I follow her, of all people, though I know she hates me?
Uncertainly, I took a handkerchief that is still wet from the storm last night and ran both sides of the knife’s blades across it until it was again clean. Then I got up and wiped the door knob until Emeli’s presence here wasn’t as obvious as it was before. Wanting to get the red cloth out of sight, I shoved it under the mattress, and sat nervously upon it.
Would she really kill Theron if I don’t do this? I’m not sure, not sure of anything about her anymore. I knew her very little before, yet I don’t know her at all anymore. She might just be lying to get me to do what she wants, but then again Ashton’s death has truly changed her. She hates everyone that is alive while he is dead, even herself. Otherwise she would not have cut her hand as she just did earlier. I don’t want to take the chance when it comes to Theron. I’d rather him to be excluded from Emeli’s hate.
“I don’t trust her, but then again I might have to,” I thought as I got dressed for the day.
Theron walked back into the cabin, surprised at what he saw. His grandfather sat at his usual seat at the end of the table, taking his place as the man of the household. On his right side sat his mother, and on his left sat Emeli and Amrit. It was who was sitting beside his mother that shocked him. There, seated next to her, sat a young boy around the age of nine. He had Becky’s brown hair, fair skin, yet he had two bright blue eyes. A quality of the boy’s father. Beside the boy was a young girl, around the age of five. She was the one that looks the most like their father, for she was blond haired and blue eyed. But though she has the face of innocence, one could already tell that she has inherited a free spirit from her mother.
“Do sit down Theron. Breakfast has just started,” Becky invited, ignoring his surprise.
Theron sat next to Wings, still not knowing what to say.
Amrit, seeing Theron’s problem, decided to break the silence by introducing them, “Theron, I do not believe you have met Joseph and Elizabeth Wilson. They are your younger siblings.”
Theron, still in shock, nodded his head in their direction, “Pleasure to meet you both.”
Becky took Theron’s plate and started to serve him his breakfast, which consisted of eggs and bacon. “I know this may come as rather a surprise to you, especially since you have been away for so long. They are both Matthew Wilson’s. We have had to move back here after he has been gone for six months,” she sighed before continuing, trying to choose her words carefully since she was speaking about the matter in front of the children. “He, like you, wants to move west. When some friends and acquaintances have decided to go, well, it became a burning desire within him. I worried about Beth at the time, traveling so far at such a young age,” she said as she looked at her daughter, Elizabeth. “So he decided to go ahead of us, find us a nice piece of land, build a nice house and come back to get us. But it’s been so long, and there has been word of the hostilities of the Indians…”
“But Pa will come back, I know he would!” Joseph interrupted. “He's just probably taking his time to build us a real nice house, that’s all!”
Becky looked down, for she herself doubted Matthew’s return.
“Knowing the kind of man Matthew is, he will be back. He is the best man you have chosen for yourself, don’t doubt that,” Theron’s grandfather, David Gunther, said keeping a steady gaze at Theron. Theron mirrored his gaze, ever since he could remember; his grandfather has never failed to remind Theron that he was the biggest mistake that his mother has made.
Amrit shifted in her seat, again feeling the tension in the room. Trying to again break the silence, Wings said to Becky, “Your children are very beautiful. You have done well with them.’
Hearing this Becky smiled, and started to say something before Theron’s grandfather cut in. “That’s what happens when you actually have legitimate children,” he said as if it was common sense, referring to Becky’s younger children.
Becky quickly stood up, “Father, stop it! Theron is your grandson too, whether you like it or not!”
“No, he is your mistake, not my grandson. That, he will never be. There was even something strange about his father, Ty. At the time I thought nothing of it, but what man continually travels around from city to city? He has no home; that much is obvious since he came here often at the drop of a hat. I have never seen him before he decided to volunteer to work on this cattle ranch. He was a strange fellow, not one to be trusted,” David spoke quickly to counter his daughter’s yelling.
“Don’t speak that way of my father!” Theron said, now that he too is mad.
“I speak as I please! What I saw in him I see in you,” Theron’s grandfather yelled at Theron.
“Then I consider myself lucky! He was willing to risk everything for his family! I hope to be half the man he was, for then I know that I am at least doing something right!” Theron yelled back.
“Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it young man!” David yelled at Theron. He then turned to Becky, “You see that?! That is the reason he is no grandson of mine! Same goes for his father; Do you even know who they are?! Where they came from?! Because I sure don’t!”
Becky stood her ground, staring at her father fearlessly. Though she was older now, nothing has been able to eat away at her fire and will. “I know enough of who they are to know that they both are good people. I know enough to love and trust them. That is far more than you yourself would let yourself know,” Becky said sternly. She then turned to her children and spoke softly, “Beth, Joe, I’ll clean up the table. Why don’t you both go outside and play?”
“But Ma,” Joseph complained, still hungry, “Breakfast has just started.”
“Out,” Becky said sternly. Joseph, knowing that he was not going to get his way, started towards the door, little Beth following close behind but she stopped in front of Becky.
“Ma?” she asked, looking up at Becky with her big blue eyes. She knew she was cute, and knows very well how to use it to her advantage.
“Yes dear,” Becky said, giving in.
“What does legitimate mean?” she asked innocently.
Becky sighed, “Go out and play with your brother. I will explain once breakfast is cleared.”
Beth nodded and walked out; even she knows not to stay in the room after a fight.
Even Theron didn’t want to stay in the same room as his grandfather. Theron turned to Wings, “Do you want to go outside too? I would be glad to show you the place that I grew up in.”
“I’d love to,” Amrit said as she placed her hand on the table as she stood.
David snorted, noticing the absence of a ring, “Just like your father, hanging around women that you are not married to.”
“Excuse me?” Amrit said as she looked at David in the eyes, “You must be mistaken. We are married.” She was not going to blow her role in this time period.
“I am not the mistaken one, where is your ring if you really are his wife?” David pressed on, certain that he is right.
“Father! They have been through some rough times and have lost many things during them. Leave them alone,” Becky scolded as Amrit and Theron left the cabin. There is no reason for them to stay and fight.
The earth is still wet with the rain that had fallen last night, and each step I took felt soft within my stiff boots. Like the soil beneath us is now heavy with rain, my heart too is heavy. I have a deep feeling that I am going to go along with Emeli’s plan, yet I don’t know how I am going to tell Theron or how he was going to take it. He doesn’t need anything else to happen; he already lost his best friend, got in a fight with his grandfather, and he obviously hates the idea of having to lie to his family. I hate lying to them too, but the lies will protect them more than the truth possibly could.
After we were out of both eye and ear shot of the children, Theron finally spoke. “I’m sorry for what happened back there.”
I shook my head, “Don’t worry about it.” I then paused for a moment, thinking. “Your grandfather really hates your father, doesn’t he?”
“Yes. I don’t think anything could change that, even after all Ty has done for this family. He will always hate him, will always hate me,” Theron said softly.
“I’m sorry,” I said as I looked up at him.
“Don’t be, it’s not your fault. My grandfather is the kind of person that hates what he doesn’t know or understand. Though Ty and Becky had a child, Ty didn’t run off and disappear as many guys would, leaving the responsibility to the mother. He stayed; I think that is what David couldn’t understand. My father was always there for us even though he didn’t have to,” Theron said.
“Sounds like an amazing man,” I noted.
“He is, I hope to be like him,” Theron said as he stopped. We were surrounded by beautiful pine trees, and the sun’s light came softly to the forest ground, creating many shadows. There I stood beside him, uncertain as to the reason why he stopped walking.
“This is the same spot I was in this time period before I realized the truth of my father,” Theron started as he pulled out a ring. “For some reason when he was gone, I learned more about him and what kind of man he is than I had when he was there.” Theron turned the ring over in his hand. “My father gave my mother this ring, breaking yet another traveler rule so as to be there for his family. Within this diamond is a translator, and he told my mother that if she ever needed him, all she has to do is press her thumb one time onto the diamond, and he will be there for her. But obviously, she didn’t know the technology that is behind it.” Theron then looked up at me. “My mother gave me this ring so that I can give it to you,” Theron said softly as he reached for my left hand, and slipped his mother’s ring onto my ring finger. “I hope I could be there for you, just as my father was there for her. I love you,” Theron said, waiting for my response.
Surprised and pleased, I held him close and kissed him. He then picked me up and spun me around, and laughingly I said, “I love you too.” We kissed again, and I wished this moment would last forever.
I stopped, remembering Emeli’s plan. How can he be there for me, and I for him, if I wasn’t going to be there, no, I’m not going to even exist.
“What is it?” Theron questioned, reading the expression on my face.
“It’s nothing,” I said as I smiled at him, trying to hide what I was thinking.
“I know there’s something wrong, otherwise you wouldn’t have stopped. Please, tell me what it is,” Theron said, now worried.
I sighed, knowing that if I don’t tell him now, he will find out later. “It’s Emeli,” I started, unsure ‘of how to tell the rest.
“What about her?” Theron asked.
“She has figured out a way to fix the situation that we are in. The situation that the present is in,” I said, hoping that I can get away with a vague explanation.
“Great! What is her plan?” Theron asked, now intrigued by the prospect of ending a war.
“You are not going to like it,” I warned as I looked down.
“What is it?” Theron said, already questioning a plan that he has not yet known.
“If, by some chance, someone went through the wormhole to visit my mother’s graduation party and make sure she gets home safely…” I started.
“No, you are not going to do that!” Theron said, knowing where I was going. “I’m not going to let you kill yourself!”
“I wouldn’t be killing myself Theron, I just would never have become. Never have existed,” I said, trying to explain.
“No, I’m not going to let you do that!” Theron said acting like he is angry, though I knew he was scared.
“Theron, if I do this, my mother would have a normal life, the life she deserves. Dr. Carrolton would never have found me, and his project would be a failure. The failure of his experiments would lead to the absence of World War III. And, without me, Ashton would still be alive…” I said shakily. If I do this, all of my guilt would be gone. Without me there, I cannot blame myself for what has happened, what is happening. But as I looked into his eyes, I knew that I couldn’t tell him that. But then again, maybe I don’t have to; he may already know.
“Amrit, I cannot let you do that to yourself. There are no guarantees that things will work out as you have thought them to. Please, don’t do that, please don’t. I don’t know what I would do if I lost you. Please Wings, stay. There has got to be another solution, anything but that. I’ve lost so many people in my life, and I won’t lose you without a fight. Please,” Theron said as he looked into my eyes and held me even closer.
I felt torn, I couldn’t leave him; I always want to be with him, yet I can’t find another way to fix things and I doubt that another way would do as much good as this one. I have no idea which way is right and which way is wrong.
I leaned my head against his chest, and as I listened to his heart beat, I knew that I couldn’t leave him.
I closed my eyes and whispered, “Don’t worry; I will always be there for you.” I looked up at him, “I could never leave you.”
After I said those words I heard a twig snap. Turning my head to the source of the sound, there I saw Emeli; her eyes full of anger and hate. She knows.
There was a quality about her gaze that felt like a cold finger running down my back. I was afraid. But not for myself; but rather I was afraid of what I have to lose: Theron.
Emeli turned and disappeared into the woods, due to the color of her skin, she blended in quite well. My eyes traced where she left until I could not see her anymore.
Theron followed my gaze, “What is it?” he asked, questioning what I was staring at.
“Emeli,” I said flatly. I have no idea where her anger is going to take her next.
Theron held Wings close to him, his hands residing just below where her transparent wings are. He is grateful that he has talked her out of going along with Emeli’s plan, yet he knew that he only won because she herself was uncertain about the plan. But, he isn’t sure that he had completely talked Amrit out of the idea. Emeli is the only one who has come up with a solution that might just work, but he wasn’t willing to lose Amrit in the process.
Emeli was making it quite difficult for Theron to keep his promise to Ashton; for she is not only looking for harm to herself, but for others. Ashton could never have guessed how she would react to his death. Emeli used to be so strong, ready to take life and whatever it throws at her with her head held high and ready to fight back. After his death, she took that to an extreme. She is now fighting the world and everyone in it instead of fighting only the problem in front of her as she used to.
Theron looked into Amrit’s blue eyes, again mesmerized by the yellow fire at the center of her irises. He kissed her again, almost afraid that if he let her out of his arms, he would lose her.
“Ready to go back?” he asked her softly.
Amrit laughed nervously, “Do we really have a choice? We cannot stay out here forever.”
“I’m in no hurry if you’re not,” Theron said. He thought for a moment. “Do you know how to ride a horse?” he asked as he looked at Amrit.
“I love horses, but honestly I don’t know how to ride one,” she said, unsure what he had in mind.
Theron smiled. He knows that they both have a lot to think about, but he wants them to forget about it just for today. “That won’t be a problem, I can teach you,” He said as they started heading back.
“But Theron, what about Emeli?” Wings asked.
“What about her? She is not going to change. We might as well make the best of the situation that we are in, since we can’t do anything about it until we return to the present,” Theron answered.
Amrit smiled, though her eyes show that her thoughts are elsewhere. “Ok. I’ll go.”
Dr. Ming screamed, every molecule in her body tensing in pain, as her lab team scurried about around her. Her pregnancy is now very obvious; the child that she carries within her growing faster than anyone has ever expected. The baby is growing exponentially; the larger it gets, the faster it grows; draining the life out of Cecily.
Dr. Ming screamed again as she doubled over in the hospital bed she is lying in.
“Is it safe for the embryo to be operated out?” Dr. Su yelled to another doctor as she is checking Dr. Ming’s heart rate.
“If we do that now, there is a sixty percent chance we may lose the experiment!” he yelled back.
“If we don’t do that soon, then we lose both Dr. Ming and the experiment!” Dr. Su yelled, thinking that a forty percent survival chance is pretty good odds for the embryo; especially since it means that Dr. Ming doesn’t die along with it.
Dr. Ming lay in the bed breathing heavily. She was experiencing labor way too soon; her body has decided to expel the embryo in order to save itself. But since the embryo isn’t in the right position, they would need to do a C- section in order to save Dr. Ming.
Dr. Ming clenched her fists and screamed again, having encountered a more painful contraction.
Dr. Su got beside Dr. Ming, “Doctor, in order to save your life, we are going to have to remove the child,” she explained.
“Will he live?” Dr. Ming said weakly between breaths.
“Sixty percent chance that he will die,” the other doctor cut in.
“But if we don’t do something soon, there is a hundred percent chance that you will die,” Dr. Su explained, trying to put her reasoning upon Dr. Ming.
Dr. Ming was about to say no, since she wanted the child to live more than anything. She is not afraid of the odds. She was willing to make this sacrifice for Marko, “It is my turn to die,” Dr. Ming thought, but was unable to put it to words, since another painful contraction was shattering her already weak state. Her head fell limply back into the pillow, and her eyes closed.
“Doctor, we are losing her!” Dr. Su yelled as she is checking Dr. Ming’s heart rate. “Do an emergency C- section now!”
“We put too much work into the experiment to lose it now!” He yelled back.
“Oh, so you would like to be the one to tell president Jai Gang that the reason his most trusted advisor is dead is because she is the one carrying the experiment?!” Dr. Su reasoned.
“Fine. Everyone, prepare for an emergency C- section. It’s about time to see how our experiment worked!” He yelled to the other doctors.
“Marko,” Dr. Ming whispered as all consciousness left her.
“If the purpose of this ride is to get me to temporarily get me to stop worrying about things, Theron had succeeded,” I thought as I bounced in my saddle. Now I just have to worry about falling off.
Theron laughed, “You should try not to bounce like that, not exactly comfortable for the horse.”
“Let’s see you try doing this side saddle and not bounce,” I teased him.
“I don’t think anyone is looking, you can ride like me if you want,” Theron said looking around, obviously already knowing that no one else is in sight since we have ridden pretty far out already.
I pulled the reins back and, while hanging on to the saddle horn, I pulled one leg over so that one foot was in each stirrup on either side of the horse.
“Where are we going anyway?” I asked as I gently kicked the horse to get her to walk again. I am riding a chestnut mare that one of the kids named Freedom, and Theron is riding a young bay stallion named Storm.
Theron laughed again, “We are going to the top of this hill, just over it lies the cabin. There’s not too long of a ride left.”
Amrit smiled, “So, what does your family ranch here? I haven’t seen any animals here except for the few horses and chickens you have in the barn.”
Theron looked ahead of him. “Some farm hands must have moved the cattle to another pasture. Cows, they are always eating, so we have to keep moving them around to be sure they have enough food,” he explained.
I nodded, and allowing my wings to become seen again, I stretched them as far as they could reach and folded them behind my back. Now that we were at a safe distance from curious eyes, for now I don’t have to hide them. I patted Freedom’s neck to reassure her since she didn’t seem to like the two feathered things hanging on either side of her.
I looked back at Theron, only to find him smiling. “What are you smiling at?” I asked him as I too smiled. When he smiles it is impossible not to smile back.
“Nothing. It’s just nice to be able to see you as who you really are again,” Theron explained.
“I didn’t always have wings, maybe who I am without them is who I truly am,” I countered, questioning what he meant by the wings being a part of who I am.
“Maybe, but wings suit you. If they were not a part of who you were before, they sure are a part of who you are now. Maybe you always had them, not physically but metaphorically. Maybe your heart has wings, and that’s what helps you get through tough times,” Theron mused.
“Well if that’s true, then those wings have long been broken,” I said but stopped short, smelling smoke. “Do you smell that?”
Theron looked up towards the top of the hill, watching a cloud of black smoke rise into a dark rolling cloud. We caught each other’s glance, worry prominent in our eyes. We immediately knew that somehow the cabin had caught on fire.
“Wait here!” Theron said as instructed his horse to gallop, and he took off towards the smoke.
“Does he really think that I am going to wait here and see how things go?” I thought as I tapped my heels on Freedom’s sides, signaling her to gallop.
Soon we caught up with Theron.
“I told you to wait!” he yelled so as to be heard over the crackling of the fire’s hungry flames.
“If I didn’t listen to you back at NT 776, I sure am not going to listen to you now. I am not going to wait on the sidelines and see how things turn out. We are in this together!” I yelled back at him stubbornly.
As we got closer the smoke burned my eyes and hung heavily within my lungs as I clung to the saddle horn, out of fear of falling at the horse’s speed of galloping.
Once we were in front of the cabin, I pulled the reigns back and jumped off the horse as Theron was already heading towards the cabin. Looking around frantically I yelled, “Where are Joseph and Elizabeth?!”
“They would probably be back in the cabin by now!” Theron yelled as he rushed into the cabin and I lost sight of him within the smoke’s grasp. I followed him into the flames; I wasn’t going to let him do this alone, wasn’t going to lose him now.
My eyes watered as I entered the cabin coughing. From where I stand, the smoke is so thick that I couldn’t even see Theron. The flames contrasted with the smoke; and it struck me as odd how something so bright could produce so much darkness; a darkness that swallows and hides everything within it.
I heard a whimper close by, its source within the smoke. Unsure how close or far Theron was, I yelled out, “I’ll get the children, you search the bedrooms!”
When I got no answer, I searched for the source of the sound. The flames burned my skin, burned my feathers; but I didn’t back away, I know that soon the pain would be gone and I will be fine.
“Where are you?” I called out, trying to find the child. I again herd the whimper, this time right in front of me. I took a step forward, only to run into the solid wood dining table. I bent down, to find two small figures under the table. Joseph was sitting under the table holding on to his little sister.
“She won’t wake up, she is breathing but she won’t wake up,” Joseph said as he looked fearfully up at me with his big blue eyes.
“Come with me,” I said as I reached for Elizabeth, and held her close to me. I held out my hand to Joseph, trying to encourage him to get out from under the table. Once he was out, I put my wings around him and his sister, trying to shield them from the flames. I turned and faced the door, or rather where the door should have been. Instead there was a wall of flames; the fire had spread there since its ever hungry flames it needed more oxygen to thrive. I had no idea where exactly the door was.
Starting to panic, I tried to retrace my path, not wanting to expose the children to the harsh flames longer than they needed to by getting to close and testing the surface. I looked up, and watched the path of the smoke; knowing that where it leaves, there must be a way out.
Elizabeth’s breaths within my arms were getting fainter, and I knew we didn’t have much time. I chose a direction and, closing my eyes, headed towards it; hoping for the best.
Theron, following a ragged cough, went into the bedroom that was farthest to the right; his grandfather’s room since it was the room closest to him.
Theron completely opened the slightly ajar door by shoving it aside with his shoulder; burning his shirt sleeve and skin for it too was in flames. “Grandpa,” Theron called over the roar and snapping of the flames.
The only response Theron got was a ragged cough from the corner of the room where his grandfather’s shape knelt, doubled over from his coughing. Though the flames surrounded him, he faced them as if he was unafraid. The fight and stubbornness that always reside in his eyes was starting to fall; yet he still stood his ground.
Theron blindly went through the flames toward David; but even when Theron was beside him, he didn’t react to his presence.
“Let’s go,” Theron said as he tried to help David to his feet.
“No. I can find my own way out; I don’t need your help!” David said stubbornly, but Theron is just as stubborn.
“Right, you were doing so well before. Come on grandfather, let’s go,” Theron said as he made a second attempt to help his grandfather out of the cabin; but David only pushed him away.
“You are no grandson of mine! I don’t need help from you!” David yelled, again bringing up the argument that has been going on ever since Theron could remember.
“I may not be your grandson, but you will always be my grandfather. You don’t get a choice. Just like I’m not giving you a choice to stay here and die or go. We are going, now get up!” Theron said as he put David’s arm over his shoulder and they made their way through the flames.
My lungs gasped for air as I put the flames and the smoke behind us. Looking behind, I saw that the fire is spreading quickly. I know that they cannot stay here.
Seeing Freedom, I placed a coughing and slightly conscious Elizabeth in the saddle. I then helped Joseph up beside her.
“Do you know the way to your neighbor’s ranch?” I tried to ask calmly though I was worried and scared for Theron and everyone else still within the cabin.
Joseph, staring at me wide eyed, nodded in response. He too was scared, but not for the same reason I was. He was gaping at my wings, probably uncertain if what he is seeing is real. I just hope that others don’t believe him if he says that he as seen a winged person.
“Then go, go for help!” I said as I slapped the horse’s hindquarters so as to encourage it to gallop quickly to safety. It wasn’t long before the smoke dulled and eventually blotted their silhouette from sight.
I turned around towards the fire, relieved to see two figures coming towards me out of the smoke and ash. I rushed over to meet them, but the look that David gave me stopped me in my tracks.
“What are you?” he asked harshly, bewildered by what he saw. Instead of answering his question, I asked him one.
“Do you think you are strong enough to ride a horse? You need to get out of here!” I said to him, ignoring his earlier question.
“I am not going without my daughter!” He said stubbornly.
A look of fear and worry struck Theron’s face. “You stay here. I’ll find her,” he said as he spun on his heels to go back into the cabin though he was obviously already wounded. I took off after him. I wasn’t going to lose him. Not now.
The heat singed my skin once I entered the cabin. What has already been burned glows a deep orange, its embers constantly moving as if it is alive.
“Theron!” I called out as I rushed through the smoke where the rooms should be. Finding myself in front a door, I opened it; burning my hands as I did so, hoping to have found Theron through the smoke and flames.
I stopped, for I had found myself in the guest bedroom, the one Theron and I had slept in last night. There, Emeli sat in the corner, holding on to the knife she had cut herself with this morning. What stunned me the most was how calm she was, as if she was expecting me to be the one to search for her. Slowly, she looked up into my eyes, her gaze steady. Hate. Pure hate is all I saw within her eyes. At this point, I realized it wasn’t just me she hates. She hates herself and the world around her; she just takes it out on me, because I am the easiest one to blame, because I have earned most of the blame.
“You have made the wrong decision,” Emeli said as she twirled the knife’s blade in front of her.
“I never gave you a decision,” I said, trying to hide the fact that I saw her following Theron and I.
“I know you’re not going, you cannot leave Theron on your own. So I gave you some help,” Emeli said as she looked down at the knife, clenching it in her hand.
“What do you mean you gave me ‘some help’?” I asked uncertainly, listening to the beams of this house crack, as if they are going to fall. A horrible realization came over me, “You started this, didn’t you?”
Emeli looked up at me, but she didn’t deny it. “Soon, the beams of this cabin will fall, due to the fire eating it away into ash. It will collapse over us, including your precious Theron. We will all die, but not you. No, you won’t have that much mercy given to you. You cannot be killed; that fact has been made known; so you will have to feel the guilt, the gut wrenching pain that it was your fault that he is dead. That he could have lived if you made the right choice. Good luck trying to save him.” She paused, “Now leave us to die, let us join Ashton,” she said softly.
Trembling, I stood there like an idiot, having no idea what to do first. Deciding to deal with what is tight in front of me, I grabbed Emeli’s arm, and ran through the flames, dragging her behind me.
“Theron! Where are you?!” I franticly asked the dark cloud of smoke in front of me, searching, afraid of how much time is being lost. “Theron, the cabin is going to collapse any second, we need to get out of here!” I shouted, but doubted he heard me over the roar of the fire.
Emeli struggled to escape my grasp, but when she found that she couldn’t, she started sobbing. “Let me die! Anything is better than this.”
Her cries made me even more fearful, and I became more frantic in my search. “Theron!” I again yelled, hoping to find him. I couldn’t easily make my way around this small cabin blindly. I again found another door, but this time it was already wide open. Inside Theron was picking up Becky.
“Amrit! What are you doing here?! Get out of the cabin now!” Theron said as he carried his mother in his arms.
“I’m not leaving without you!” I yelled at him, scared of losing him.
“Trust me, I’ll be right behind you,” Theron said, mimicking what I said back in Egypt.
At that, we both faced the fire together; both afraid but for different reasons.
Theron carried Becky away from the flames, gently laying her down where his grandfather stood watching his home turn to ash. She is severely burned on her arms and legs, and most of her hair is gone; the fire had eaten it away. Emeli had started the fire in her room, knowing that Theron would be the one trying to save her. But as he looked down at her, he knew that she didn’t have much time; each breath she took is ragged and took too much effort. He knew that he should say something, but words didn’t seem enough, didn’t seem to fit for they would have to be just another lie. So he stroked what hair she had left, soon finding out that even if he had something to say, he wouldn’t have been able to say it. She was gone.
A new, yet familiar, pain seeped into his heart. He had failed. His father was willing to risk everything for Theron and Becky, why couldn’t he do the same?
Amrit stayed in the background, quietly hanging onto Emeli, not knowing what to say. What could she say? No words can change the present situation. No phrase can get rid of the sorrow.
Theron hung his head, letting the tears fall; they are the only sign of his pain.
“If you hadn’t wasted so much time with me, she would be here with us now,” David criticized Theron. But Theron didn’t react, he knew those words were true.
“If he didn’t waste so much time with you, you would be dead!” Amrit said, trying to defend Theron.
“At least she would be alive!” David retaliated.
“Well that’s not how things turned out! We cannot change things! He is your grandson; give him some credit for saving your life!” Amrit yelled.
“Why should I take advice from you? What are you? You had wings earlier, I’m sure of it!” David yelled, confused and angry.
She didn’t say anything more. She was tired, and wasn’t in a mood to argue. Her wounds from the fire were quickly healing before everyone’s eyes; that is if they were looking. They were too busy mourning, each one for its own reason.
“Grandfather,” Theron started, attempting to make something right, “I would like to help in the upbringing of Joe and Beth; that way you don’t have to raise two children on your own. I could come and visit whenever you need me…”
“No. Like I said before, you are no grandson of mine. The one thing that tied you to this family is dead. You are no longer apart of us, a part of this family. You might as well disappear again, as you have done before with your father years ago. But this time, don’t bother coming back,” David said coldly.
Like the smoke, silence too hung in the air after he had spoken.
“Joseph and Elizabeth left to go to a neighbor’s house. Maybe you should join them,” Amrit said after a long pause.
“How are things going down there?” an unfamiliar voice spoke.
“Not so good William,” Theron said, pressing his thumb on his father’s ring.
“Who is that?” I asked, having no idea who else other than those working at NT 776 would be able to get through to us through the translators.
“William Auburn,” Theron said flatly.
I recognized the name; he is the one who supposedly invented time travel in America. But NT 776 was formed much earlier than that, so I guess he is the leader of NT 777, the backup NT 776.
“Hey Theron! It’s been a while since I have heard from you!” Will said as he recognized Theron’s voice. “We can take three at a time maximum, so you guys stuck in the past will have to figure out how to divide yourselves up into groups.”
“We are way ahead of you, William,” I said as I pressed my thumb to the sapphire on my bracelet. Then I turned to Theron, “Do you want us to go first?”
Theron looked at his mother, “Sure. Does it really matter?”
“Ok,” I said softly, wanting to give him his space. I then pressed my thumb onto the sapphire, this time holding it there so that I return to the present; closing my eyes, waiting for it to be over.
I opened them again; surprised to find myself at the top of the tallest building in this city, though I have no idea which city this is for my surroundings are unfamiliar. We were brought back to the present just as the sun dipped itself below the horizon, but no stars shone and everything is dark. Instead, the thick smog hid their light. I shivered, not necessarily because it was cold, but rather there was an eerie stillness to the place.
My steps echoed around me, as if I was the only one walking on earth. I walked directly to the edge, looking down over it; searching for another soul. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.
In the glow of the solar powered street lights, hover boards were stopped in their tracks, their riders lying on the ground. Dead. Fallen dead riders as lay motionless as far as I can see of that street in both directions. A cold chill ran down my spine as I took a step back from the roof. We are in a dead city.
“Amrit,” Theron softly spoke. He had silently walked beside me without my noticing. He too saw the motionless riders.
I quickly turned around when I heard a dull thud behind us. There, in front of the time portal, Emeli had collapsed. Theron and I quickly rushed to her side, only to find her unconscious.
“What could be wrong with her? She was fine just a few minutes ago,” Theron said stunned.
Too shocked to speak, I started to brush her hair out of her face; noticing dark lines leading from a burn on her face to the back of her head. Suddenly I knew what was wrong. I have learned the hard way that Dr. Ming was telling the truth about that man made disease.
I shoved my thumb onto my transmitter, “Workers of NT 776: do not go back to the present. I repeat, do not listen to William Auburn and go back to the present; it means your own life!” I yelled into the emptiness.
Surprised by how still it is, I turned around to find that Theron too had fallen.
“Theron!” I yelled as I got close to him, for I now know that Emeli is dead.
His eyes were open, but the Theron I knew wasn’t behind them. He had already died when my back was to him. The severe burn on his right arm had let the bacteria in from the smog, and his bloodstream had carried it to his brain stem.
“Theron,” I said gently, hoping that some way, somehow; when I call, he’d come back. I let my fingers gently trace the black trails that led from his wound to his head. I ran my fingers through his hair; and lightly touching his eyelids, I closed them knowing that they will never open again. I then looked up at the sky and cried, this pain too deep for me to handle. A wound that will never mend.
“Why is he dead, and I am still here? Why can I not take his place, and lessen this pain?” I thought as I wept over him. Wept over not what once was, but rather what almost could have been.
A light reflected into my eyes, and I turned my head to find its source. It was Emeli; she still held the knife in her hand. The smoothness of its blade and its sharp edge drew me in, as I took it from her still warm hand. I looked at my reflection within its blade, remembering Emeli’s words, “When you lose someone you love, you lose all hope.” They were true. I did not understand then, I haven’t truly loved anything out of fear of losing it: out of fear of getting hurt. But she is right; its pain cuts deep and gnaws within you until you want to die too. There is no escape from death, it happens sooner or later. The sooner it is the less pain you have to endure. But I don’t get that choice. I will live a long time with this pain, unable to die sooner than my body allows me to.
I ran its blade down my forearm, taking refuge in its pain. Sweet pain; a shelter from a deeper pain, a pain that will never go away. I clenched my fist, watching the red blood drip. Drip. Drip. Hoping that somehow, from this wound, I will get the disease too; then I can still be with Theron.
I wiped away the blood, to find that my arm had already healed, but my heart’s pain remained the same. I sat there, trembling, the sharp knife of Theron’s death cutting deeper within me. I will never be free.
I sobbed loudly, unable to stop. I leaned over him, my tears dripping on to his face. I kissed his cold lips, wishing that they would come back to life. When they didn’t, I collapsed on top of him, head on his chest, sobbing; and even when I was taking in a breath, my whole body was shaking. I cannot take this.
“I love you,” I shakily whispered into his ear, “I always will. I should have told you that more should have shown you how much you mean to me; I just never thought I would look around, and you will be gone. I’m so sorry; I know this is my fault. I love you.” Sobbing, I lay my head back on his chest, willing it to rise and fall; willing myself to hear the sound of his heart beating. Nothing.
I folded my wings over us, covering my blood, covering his death. I cried myself to sleep, hoping that this is just a horrible nightmare. Hoping to wake up.
I shivered, waking up not knowing where I was. I opened my eyes to find myself still in Theron’s arms, clinging to his shirt though his body is now stiff and cold. But for some reason, I didn’t want to let go; afraid that if I did, he truly would be gone, no hope of return.
Though dawn had not yet broken, I heard the sound of clicking heels. But I didn’t need to look up, I know who it is. But I waited until she stood right beside me before I started acting like I knew someone else is there.
“Why did he have to die?” I asked dryly to Dr. Ming, not even looking at her. Temporarily, all I feel is numb.
“Since the workers of NT 776 refused to give you to us, we had to find our own means of getting to you. Too bad those other workers will have to stay in the past, I hope they like it there,” Dr. Ming said indifferently.
I looked up at her eyes, disgusted by her indifference, her lack of feelings. “Why did you let that man made disease out on America? Millions have died because of you!”
“They died because of a bacteria China has introduced. America has decided to become allies with the Japanese, since they are technically their army. Those who fight together must be willing to die together. Japan got the same treatment,” Dr. Ming calmly explained. She then laughed as she saw my expression, “One death causes greater pain than a million deaths, since it’s not personal anymore. It is just a statistic.”
I looked down at Theron. Millions of people have lost their Theron, the one they love the most because of her. Because of her great efforts to gain revenge on Dr. Carrolton, who most likely is now dead.
I folded my wings back over myself and Theron’s body, wanting to hide my tears.
Black? Surprised I touched my feathers, which somehow have turned to an ebony black so dark it almost shone blue. The darkness within my heart has seeped into my wings. I gently ran my hand down my wings, feeling my soft dark feathers. Somehow, my subconscious mind commanded the cells of my wings to change color as they were healing its wounds that I have earned from yesterday’s fire. Oh, yesterday seems so long ago, it might as well be a century. It makes no difference to me.
A baby wailing; that was the last sound I expected to hear, especially now. Startled, I looked up at Dr. Ming, this time more closely than I had before. There, in her arms a small baby wiggled, it can’t be more than a week old. I watched the way Dr. Ming looked at it, reflecting an unconditional love for it. I had never seen such a non controlled expression on her face. Clearly, that child is the most precious thing in her life.
Dr. Ming saw my questioning stare, and smiled as her eyes taunted me. “This is Marko, my lost brother’s clone. He is the new prototype for complete atomic control, since we gave him your gene for gamma radiation immunity. He is a miracle, from his first coming to life to now.”
“How could she lose someone she loves and just get a replacement?” I thought angrily. “Why is it that some people get what they want in the end while others fall?”
Still looking at her, wanting her to get a glimpse of my hate and jealousy; I made myself become transparent. I then took off my boots, and tossed them to one side. I didn’t want my steps to give away where I was. I then stood up, softly, slowly. Not wanting to make a sound.
Dr. Ming looked around nervously, not liking the fact that she cannot see me. I stood behind her and whispered in her ear, “You. You took everything that was precious to me. Now, I am the only one able to teach you a lesson. I will take everything that is precious to you, since you don’t deserve to have it anymore. Not after the pain you have afflicted upon other people around you.”
Before Dr. Ming turned to face me, I walked through her, taking the child she loves so dearly right out of her arms; where she had earlier thought to be the safest place for it. I then ran to the edge of the roof, turned to face her and allowed myself to become visible again.
“Now it’s your turn to lose what’s precious to you, without no alternative or hope of escaping the pain,” I said steadily as the child wiggled in my arms. I clutched it close to me and jumped off the roof head first, letting myself fall a few stories before spreading my wings and taking flight into the darkness. Searching for a high place to hide.
I settled for another tall building just out of Dr. Ming’s sight. Still hating the child, I walked to edge of the roof with every intention of watching it fall to its death. As I held it away from me, Marko began to wail. Surprised by how the sound affected me, I held him close to me where his crying stopped and he began to make soft noises as if he was about to cry. Gently bouncing him, I walked back to the center of the roof and sat down.
I knew I was defeated, the rage that came from my pain is gone; I cannot hurt him.
Tears streaming down my face; I realized I had become like both Dr. Ming and Emeli. I wanted to take my pain out on someone else; to share my pain and to have someone else understand me. But I have no right to do that. We all feel pain once in a while, we all understand the strong grasp it holds on one’s heart and spirit. If, out of our pain, we start a cycle of revenge we will always be in pain because we refuse to let ourselves forget. Refuse to let go.
I refuse to be like that. I will force myself to let go, though every fiber of my being wants to continue holding on; wanting to hide in memory, never to return. But I need to let go, if I don’t, I know I won’t be able to make things right; rather my jealousy and pain will just make things worse. Though all is lost for now, some way, somehow I will make this right. I am the one to blame for Theron’s death, for because they killed him to get to me. The guilt of that will never go away.
Looking down I watched Marko sleep peacefully in my arms, I noticed that the white blanket he is wrapped in was starting to slip and revealing a white wing. Looking down on the child, I felt love for it for I knew I am not alone. I gently touched his soft white feathers, and as I did so Marko stirred a bit. I smiled down at him and wrapped the blanket tighter around him.
I looked up at the sky, but it was blurred through a film of tears that haven’t yet escaped. Dawn is breaking; the sun rising over the horizon softened the harsh darkness. I know what I am going to do.
I stood up, careful not to wake Marko. I bent my knees slightly and thrust myself into the air to take flight. I am going back; there is no other way to fix this.
I closed my eyes, enjoying the feeling of wind beneath my wings; enjoying the heart racing experience to soar above the city. I know that this is going to be my last flight for by the time the day is done; I am going to be gone. I will have never existed; disappearing as I now yearn to.
I swooped down beside Emeli’s body and silently landed, holding Marko close to me.
Looking into her open eyes, I started speaking to her as if she could somehow hear me. “I am not like you, though I almost was. You were right that when you lose someone you love, you lose all hope. But we differ on where we let that loss take us. You let it take you to the point that all you wanted to do is shatter everyone else’s hope; but no, I will not be like that. I will turn my lack of hope into something greater. I will fight to regain hope, not for myself but for others. No one should have to go through this. There is always hope if you search for it. Your problem is that you gave up searching. But I haven’t, I refuse to give up searching, give up fighting. You thought that I will become like you when I lost him, but you were wrong. I have become your opposite. I will never give up.”
I looked around me to find Dr. Ming along with ten of China’s soldiers, each one armed with a huge gun. I laughed at them, “Put your guns down. They have no effect on me. I don’t want you to miss and hurt the child; hurt Marko.”
Unsure of what to do, they looked at Dr. Ming for instructions. She gave a nod, and they all placed their weapons on the ground; watching me as I walked up to her, ready to attack if need be. But they needn’t be so on guard, for all I did was place Marko in her arms.
“I am not going to do to you what you did to me,” I said as she searched him for any sign of injury.
Finding none, she looked up at me questioningly. “What is it that you want?” she said with a controlled voice, though her eyes gave away the fact that she couldn’t understand why I would come back.
“Nothing that is much different than what you want,” I started, trying to choose my words wisely enough to make a convincing argument. “You want any remnant of Dr. Carrolton’s work destroyed; you don’t need to be reminded of the loss of your brother. I, on the other hand, want to die since I can’t live with the pain and guilt that life has given me.” I spoke the last words slowly, wanting her to believe those were my only reasons. I don’t want her to figure out the truth of where I am going with this.
“Neither of us needs to worry about that, I have already come up with a solution. It has long ago been put to action,” Dr. Ming said steadily, her eyes again mocking me. Yet they held a fear within them, a fear that I will again take Marko from her.
“What have you done?” I asked, not sure what to do with this information since it did not help my plan.
“Do you know what endospores are?” Dr. Ming asked, again acting like I don’t know anything. Acting as if I was the same person I was back in her lab. No, I am now stronger.
“Dormant cells,” I answered, giving her the simplest definition.
“Right now you have cancerous endospores floating around your body. Within a year they will activate, and you will be dead. We both get what we want,” Dr. Ming said as she mildly glared into her eyes.
“You sound so certain that it will work, yet do you not remember how quickly I can adjust and become immune to things? Why would this be different?” I said steadily, gently moving the conversation back into the direction I want it to go.
Dr. Ming’s silence gave away her answer.
“I’ve got a better plan,” I started, hoping that Dr. Ming doesn’t evaluate my idea more than the information and the point of view that I give her. “About nineteen years ago my mother, Sahara McKay, was raped. That is how I came to be. If you just let me, I can go back to that time, prevent that incident from happening. Then I wouldn’t exist; then I wouldn’t be in your or Marko’s way. That way we both get what we want. I’ll just disappear from your lives.”
“What else would that affect?” Dr. Ming asked suspiciously.
“How much could just one life affect? It’s not like I am making you or Dr. Carrolton nonexistent, I am not as important,” I said, allowing only my deep pain shown in my eyes, safely hiding the truth behind it.
Dr. Ming searched my eyes, but only found what I wanted her to find. “One condition,” she said, trying to get her way even if the plan fails. “You leave your transmitter. I know you have one, but you won’t need it going through this time. Either way, whether your plan works or not, you are not coming back; I want to be sure of that.”
“Fine,” I said as I took of my sapphire bracelet, “Just tell William Auburn to look in the police records of Colorado for Sahara McKay. From there he can gain more details of the time and place of the party.” I held my sapphire bracelet out in my hand, letting it drop into Dr. Ming’s outstretched palm.
“That will not be a problem,” Dr. Ming said.
I sure hope this plan works, it is their only chance.
Dr. Ming went down into the top story of the building after giving William Auburn his orders. The soldiers had earlier cleared away the dead so that they now have a place to work on how to get rid of the experiment. She sat down at a desk that had been prepared for her once the news of her surviving the c-section got out.
Yet, even they didn’t know then was that this was a secret back up NT 776, known to them as NT 777. It had blended in the city, under everyone’s noses disguised as the new invention of time travel. Only William Auburn knew the truth, and he was easy enough to convince that betraying NT 776 was the only way to save his life; bribed by the vaccination to the disease that was killing everyone dear to him along with complete strangers. She had used his fear to her advantage.
She knew she can’t use Amrit’s fear and guilt to her advantage. Not anymore. She doesn’t fear anything anymore; she had lost what she had to be afraid of losing. The only thing left that she could possibly fear losing is her life, but she isn’t afraid of even that.
But then again, Dr. Ming didn’t blame her for that. She remembers how she felt when she first lost Marko. Even now, clutching the baby in her arms a part of her still wants to die. Wants to be with him. Though she holds his clone, this isn’t what she expected. She now sees that it is as if she has a younger brother now, it’s not Marko. No, he could never be Marko, should never expect him to be.
Dr. Ming cried alone, only accompanied by Marko. She could never stand anyone else seeing her weakness, her pain, and her hurt. She loves the Marko she is holding in her arms, yet she still misses the Marko that at one time used to always be by her side. She could never forget, though she tries to let go something keeps reminding her.
She knows that Amrit making herself nonexistent would change more than what she admits it will change. But Dr. Ming is still willing to go along with it in hopes of changing her present situation; change where she is now. She loves Marko, but she shouldn’t have brought him in the world to replace her older brother; that quickly made the baby a disappointment to her. After all of her hard work, she couldn’t bring Marko back.
She doesn’t care what happens anymore. Amrit can do what she wants.
I stood in front of the time portal, waiting for William to finish setting in the time and place. He had easily found the exact location of the party, that way I will just appear in the crowd of people when I do get there. It shouldn’t attract too much attention, and even if it does who would believe a drunken high school grad kid?
As it turns out, it is a costume party and I will be able to fit in perfectly. Just to be safe I had taken a shower to scrub out the smell of smoke from my skin and I was given clean clothes. A strapless black dress which went just past my knees; with every step I take the fabric is so light that it seems to flutter like the wings of a butterfly. And to be sure that they don’t recognize the fact that I didn’t go to their school, I was given a black mask that covers half of my face. I kept my hair, shoes, and jewelry simple, for high school students, though recently graduated, tend not to have much money. Even so, I still kept the ring Theron gave me on my finger, hoping that no one realizes that it too has a transmitter inside.
I took one last look at Theron, for the wormhole is now open. I had just realized that I was doing this for him, for my mom and those who have died because of me, but this is mostly for him. I didn’t want him to be dead; no, I want him to be alive and well somewhere even if it isn’t with me. I now know that is what love truly is at its core; it’s putting the other’s happiness and well being ahead of your own even if it hurts you to let go.
“Goodbye my love. I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you, but it is for your benefit, I will always love you,” I whispered to him, but knowing that he can’t hear me. Though his body is there along with the face that I know so well, I know that isn’t him. Not anymore.
I slipped my mask down over my face, trying to cover up the tears that had again begun to roll down my cheek. But now is not the time to cry, I have a job to do. I have to make things right.
With my head held high, I closed my eyes and walked on through without looking back.
Loud music pulsed into my ears, and I opened my eyes to the flashing lights. I found myself in a large room surrounded by a bunch of dancing teenagers that are around my age.
I made my way through the crowd, trying to figure out where to begin my search. Everywhere around me, people were dressed up, some wearing masks, others without. How was I going to find her in such a crowd?
I let the pulse of the dancing move me to the refreshment stand where stools were set out in front of it for those who either didn’t want to dance or were just tired. Seizing an empty stool, I sat down deciding that my best bet for finding her would be here since she obviously would need a drink if someone is to drop drugs into it.
“Nice costume,” a male voice next to me commented. I turned to find a fine brown haired hazel eyed pirate sitting on the next stool. “What are you supposed to be?” he asked as he smiled at me; a huge grin that showed all of his teeth.
I laughed at how goofy he looked. “Modern day goddess Nike,” I answered, thinking of Theron. But as I looked up at him I saw that he was surprised by something. “What?” I asked, unsure of why he made that expression on his face.
“Sorry, I thought you were Sahara. You look a lot like her,” he explained himself.
Trying to act light hearted, I laughed again. “Yeah, I get that a lot. My name is Amrit, what’s yours?”
“Connor Jenson,” he said as he laughed with me, “Trying to pull off being a pirate.”
I looked more carefully at his costume. “I hate to say it but I don’t think you pull it off very well. You are too pale and you look like a nerd; I don’t think there were many pirates like that.”
He shook his head, “Oh well, it was worth a try.”
I looked at the punch the volunteers were serving suspiciously. “Do you think they spiked the punch?” I asked Connor hesitantly.
Connor laughed, “Yup, I know someone did. I tend to be a very shy person and now I am having a decent conversation with a stranger.”
Knowing that, I left the punch alone. I just took a cup and placed it in front of me so as to not stand out. I then casually asked, “Have you seen Sahara here yet?” trying to figure out whether I should continue my search elsewhere or hold my ground here and wait for her to come to me.
“Haven’t seen her here yet, but I know she will come. She loves costume parties,” Connor replied.
Costume parties? It doesn’t sound like the mother I knew. Suddenly I yearned to learn more about who she was. “So what is Sahara like? I want to know some things about this person who I have been told I look like.”
Connor’s eyes lit up and he smiled. “She is an amazing person, talented too. She understands science better than one could understand their own self. Sahara is one of the most stubborn people I know, and she has huge dreams; and I know she will reach them some day.”
Seeing the yellow fire at the center of his hazel eyes sparkle, I smiled. “You really love her, don’t you?”
“Yes. But I don’t want to get in the way of her dreams. I couldn’t do that to her,” Connor said as his eyes saddened. “This is going to be my last chance to tell her that I love her, I leave for college tomorrow. I’ve always been her friend, but I secretly wanted more. But I don’t want to get in her way; we are both going different directions in our future. She is going to go far; I don’t want anything to slow her down,” Connor explained.
I shook my head, “Shouldn’t you leave that choice up to her? I think you should tell her tonight, what’s the worst that could happen? She says no, and still follows her dream. And even if she says yes, though you too are going to different colleges, if you too are really close, you can make it work.”
“You think so?” Connor asked as he looked over my shoulder.
I turned my head and followed his gaze. There sat a “Greek” lady that looks almost exactly like me. The only differences between us are that her blue eyes had no fire in the center and her hair is straight. I couldn’t blame Connor for confusing me for her, I was her spitting image.
A tan brown haired guy in a tuxedo sat down next to her, his straight hair falling messily from beneath his top hat, and his brown eyes seemed to be looking in all directions at once; more aware of his surroundings than most.
I looked back at Connor, watching his face fall as the two of them talked and flirted with each other; both of them taking sips of the punch.
“Sahara!” someone from the crowd called out, causing her to turn to search for the source of the voice.
The man in the tux placed his arm on the counter, and ran his hand along the brim of Sahara’s plastic cup. I had to look closely to notice the white powder that was sprinkled out of his hand.
Furious and with the hatred for my father renewed I got up out of my seat, picked up Sahara’s punch and dumped it on his head much to his surprise.
“What was that for?!” he yelled angrily at me over the music as he jumped out of his seat.
“I saw you put something in her glass!” I yelled at him, but something about him didn’t seem right. I don’t at all look like him, yet I don’t completely look like my mother. He couldn’t have been the one who had fathered me.
I looked back at Connor, to find him standing protectively beside my mother, knowing what almost had happened. Again, the fire at the center of his eyes caught my attention, and then I knew. He was my father.
The man in the tuxedo must have drugged my mother, but still he struck out. Connor must have found the guts to tell my mother that he loves her and they both spent the night at his place. He must have left early in the morning for college, and Sahara, since she is still drugged, tries to walk home where she is found in the street by the police…
All of this time, I have hated my father without knowing the real story behind him, the real story behind my existence.
I looked back at my parents, watching Connor hold Sahara close to him renewed the pain of the death of Theron. But he won’t be dead for long. I tilted my head back and looked up, trying to keep my tears within my eyes. It was only then I noticed the beautiful domed glass ceiling. The moon is full and the stars are shining so bright that they remind me of that day beside the lake with Theron close to me and our first kiss. I will never forget that as long as I live.
It then dawned upon me that I will live; just another life in the alternate timeline. But will I be able to keep these memories that I have now, memories that have become such a huge part of me? Will I be able to remember what I did wrong? What I did right?
Suddenly I felt like the crowd is smothering me. I felt that I need to get away as fast as I can.
I then jumped into the air and took flight, heading for the stars, trying to lose the crowd. I looked down at Connor, seeing him staring up at me wide eyed. Even though he is drunk, he can’t believe what he is seeing. If I were him I wouldn’t.
I went through the glass roof, leaving it untouched. The city below me was as busy as it always is, as it should be. Moving and blinking lights moved below me as I flew over them, like a starry night that resides on the earth.
Flying, I shoved my thumb on the ring, assuming that if Ty broke the rules to give this to Becky he would have it set to only send messages and signals to the silver emerald ring that Theron now wears.
“Theron, when you get this you may think I am gone. Never lose hope, for I am not as far off as you think. Search for me Theron, please search for me. I will be there, you can find me. Please, don’t give up on me just yet!” I said sobbing. “I will always love you Theron, only you.”
I watched as each of my atoms glowed, giving off a bright light. Then I was gone.
Theron opened his eyes to find himself back in his room at NT 776, waking up as if from a bad dream. As his foggy memory cleared, his new memory of what has happened ran right next to the old. He had no idea why he wasn’t dead, until the one thing that could have changed things so drastically came stabbing in to his mind. All of his new memories were without her, without wings. She is gone, and there is no way he could bring her back. Not if she no longer exists.
Knowing this Theron closed his eyes and silently cried, knowing that he had lost everything that is precious to him.
“Theron, when you get this you may think I am gone. Never lose hope, for I am not as far off as you think. Search for me Theron, please search for me. I will be there, you can find me. Please, don’t give up on me just yet!” he heard her voice say to him. At first he thought it was his imagination, but then he realized that she had left that message on his transmitter. After a short pause the message continued, “I will always love you Theron, only you.”
Theron leaned his head back, at first uncertain what to do. How could she still be here after what she did to fix things?
But then again, she could know something that he doesn’t. “I promised her that I will always be there for her, just as my father was there for my mother. I am not one to break my promises, and if there’s any chance that she is there, I know that it would be worth the trouble a thousand times over,” Theron thought.
“I love you too, always will,” he whispered to the empty room. Theron then got up to get ready. He may have failed in searching out for his father, but he wasn’t going to fail to search for her. He refused to lose her completely, not without fighting. Not without knowing the truth.
Dr. Ming walked around the lab, taking what was hers. The project for complete atomic control had failed, and Dr. Carrolton didn’t want anything to do with its remnants.
She was surprised to see Michal, walking towards her with an African looking woman with tight curly hair that is cut to about shoulder length.
“Dr. Ming,” Michal addressed, “This is Emeli; she had volunteered to be experimented on for complete atomic control.”
Emeli quietly stared at Dr. Ming.
“Why is it that you want to do this? You must know that no one has survived the testing,” Dr. Ming questioned, wanting to put the whole project with Dr. Carrolton behind her.
“Would it not look good on your records that the first and last person you have tested on were volunteered?” Emeli replied, not wanting to tell her the truth.
After a fight with her, Ashton had left NT 776 out of hurt and anger. They had taken out his memory chip which holds all of their memories together. A few weeks later, she realized that she is pregnant with his child, and wanted him to come back. When she searched him out, she found him with another woman. Since he has no memory of Emeli, of the child that she is secretly carrying, he had easily started a new life for himself. People were attracted to his optimism and light heartedness. But she was forgotten along with her child, he couldn’t even remember them if he tried. Either way she had lost him; whether it was to death or to another woman the pain felt the same. She doesn’t want to bring a child into that misery.
Two years later
I stopped walking, noticing a man wearing a green hooded cloak like the ones that are used in ancient times. I know I have never seen him, yet there was something familiar about him. I know very well the way he stands, the way he walks, the way he presses his thumb on that emerald ring. I know him, but I have never met him before. But he is an all too familiar stranger.
He lifted his hood from over his head, revealing the top half of his head. He has thick brown hair, cut to about two inches, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. It was his eyes that struck me, oh where have I seen them before? They were a forest green color, yet they held an indefinable softness. They don’t pierce you when they look at you, but rather they seem to search through you, as if he can see everything about me. As if he already knows me.
I tilted my head, uncertain where the memory of the name came from, “Theron?” I asked softly. Where did that name come from?
His eyes light up filled with hope.
I recognized the way he looked at me; he had looked at me like that once a long time ago. “Theron!” I said, this time without a doubt of who he is. After I said his name, memory flooded me; the good and the bad.
Theron walked up to me and held me close, holding me as I cried. I felt safe in his arms, I felt like I had come home.
“I thought I lost you,” Theron whispered into my ear as he ran his hands down my back, feeling the absence of something that once was there, “Wings.”
I looked up at him, my eyes still wet with tears. “I love you, I always will.”
“I know,” Theron said as he kissed my forehead. “I will always love you too.”
Feeling his warm breath against my skin, I tilted my head back and kissed him. He picked me up and spun me around, kissing me again and again. When I finally opened my eyes, I saw his eyes still half closed while he is smiling. He kissed my cheek and leaned into my ear.
“Will you marry me?” he whispered as I felt his hand slip a ring on the ring finger of my left hand. He leaned back, watching my eyes, trying to see my answer before I spoke it.
Looking up into his eyes, I knew only one answer would be right. “Yes,” I said to him smiling.
He then leaned into another kiss. “I hope you don’t mind us living at NT 776, but there is a position open for another Traveler.”
I laughed, “Would I have to follow all of the rules?” I asked jokingly.
“Not if their rules don’t agree with yours, that is what all of the good Travelers do,” Theron said as he smiled down upon me.
“Then there’s going to be no problem,” I said as I smiled back.
“Good,” Theron said as he put a sapphire bracelet on my left hand, my old translator. “Look under the sapphire,” he urged.
I flipped it over, reading the small engraving, “Only with Wings.” After I read the words, I looked up at him questioningly trying to figure out the meaning behind them.
Theron’s eyes smiled as he continued started to explain. “When you were put in a difficult situation that gave you no choice or even a voice as to what is going on; you made your way through, found your own voice and fought for it. You stepped in willing to make a huge sacrifice, all the while ignoring the risks in order to fix things, to make everything right. It was only with you, Wings, that things are the way they are now. Yet, you are perfectly fine with having no credit for what you have done since nobody outside of NT 776 knows what has happened, knows how bad it was before. You have proved to us that there is always hope, even in our darkest situations. Hope and love is what helps us face our worst fears with courage.”
I held him close, leaning my head on his chest. “Thank you for searching for me.”
“Thank you for letting yourself be found,” Theron answered as he kissed the top of my head, “Wings.”
“But I don’t have wings anymore, why do you still call me that?” I asked him uncertainly.
“Because you will always have wings; greater wings within you and your heart. They will always be a part of who you are, and they always have been. They are what keep you strong, even on the darkest of nights. Your wings are now your hope, love, determination, and fight to do what is right. No, you have not lost them. They are always with you.” Theron whispered into my ear, “Forever Wings.”
Renee, Emeli’s daughter, stood fully grown before Dr. Ming. Over the past two years, Dr. Ming had raised and trained her how to be the prime complete atomic controlled soldier. For the most part, she looked like her mother except for a few things; her skin was much lighter and her eyes; for they are silver, just like Ashton’s. Not only that, but she two wings sprouting from her back, dark grey and featherless. Bat wings.
“Have I completed my training doctor?” Ren asked Dr. Ming.
“No. There is one thing you must do to test your capabilities. There is a place known as NT 776, and any nation that gets a hold of this time travel station will easily become a permanent world power. You will make China proud by singlehandedly seizing it. Since you have to go by your own initiative on this, I will not give you any further instructions,” Dr. Ming directed.
Renee bowed her head once and left the room, her hand touching her necklace. When her mother (Emeli) had died of the Gamma radiation, Dr. Ming had found a microchip in her brain and had arranged for it to be put in a sealed container, disguised as a pendant so that she has something to remember her mother by. Her loyalty is with Dr. Ming, for she is the one who took her out of the womb of her dead mother and into the womb of another woman so that she may live.
Renee stepped onto a hover board, and left to carry out Dr. Ming’s orders. “I will make her proud,” she thought as the hover board hummed and she took off to her new destination. NT 776.