CHAPTER 32: THE EVACUEES

“Currently there are 279 individuals here. Unfortunately we were unable to resuscitate a few of them. For the most part their physical condition is good, of course their muscles need time to recover from stasis. We encourage everyone to participate in a body movement regime in the morning, and a stretching regime in the evening.” Dr. Q’osp is the lead medical professional on Xinood 5. Because his specialty is species other than Xinoods, he is the lead on the medical team serving the evacuees on Gaznzul.

“What about their mental state?” The Muse of Mischief asked.

“Some of them will need some time. As you can imagine, some of them are delirious. Left in stasis for so long, they resigned themselves to accepting that this was to be their eternity. Now that they are free, they have to change their outlook. Sadly, there are almost thirty beings that I suspect will not recover from the dementia. They have been moved to a special facility, where they can be properly cared for.”

“How many different species have you identified?” Agent Brzko asked.

“Identified? Seventeen. There are several that none of us have seen before. Most of them are humanoid, but not all of them. Luckily we have some very skilled veterinarians, they are helping to create the proper environments for the lesser beings. We suspect the species we’ve never seen before are from a different universe. Assuming of course that it’s true that the VReoria can travel the Multiverse.”

“We think it’s true.” M said. “In fact we suspect they hid there when Dragona fought them off. The Dragons were convinced that they had eradicated them, but they may have been hiding in a different universe.”

“That would make sense.”

“Do you have a list of the evacuees by species?” Brzko asked. Dr. Q’osp handed him a tablet with the list. “There were humans? The VReoria had humans?” Brzko asked, looking up from the list.

“Yes, as you can see there are four.”

“Are you aware of humans any place other than Earth?”

“Actually yes. There is a small colony of them in the Glion Galaxy, I’ll have to research exactly where. And interestingly these four all have similar genes, they are related.”

“I know there was one young Dragon found on the second ship, were there any others?”

“No, there are no Dragons here, but there are a few haplogawas. Luckily they are too young to be dangerous.” As Brzko scanned the list, with M looking over his shoulder, Dr. Q’osp continued. “We’ve already begun making arrangements to transport anyone who has recovered to their original home. So far, every official we’ve contacted has been willing to help the evacuees reestablish their lives.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” M said. “What about the new species, what’s the plan for them?”

“We don’t know yet. I think that there are concerns for not only their safety but the safety of others, given that we know nothing of them. That is a decision for the Universal Coalition. Would you like to meet some of the evacuees?”

“Yes! We definitely would.”  M said.

“Follow me.” Dr. Q’osp said. He turned and headed to the entrance of the barracks.

He scanned a key card to gain access, just inside the door was a small reception area, there was someone seated at a desk, reviewing information on a tablet. He looked up, took note of Dr. Q’osp and returned to his work.

The main room is a large day use area. One side of the room opens to a cafeteria style counter with small tables and chairs clustered in front of it. There is a sitting area with sofas and stuffed chairs, and a few gaming areas. There are a variety of individuals scattered about, some eating, some talking, some sitting quietly.

“Come, follow me please.” Dr. Q’osp headed across the room toward a sitting area with several yellow individuals. Zri had returned from Misko, he was there with a large tablet spread on the table in front of them.

“Oh, Muse of Mischief, Agent Brzko, I’d like to introduce you to some new acquaintances of mine.” He said standing up. “This is Numia, Chuna, Bloma, and Scomia. They are Keaterans, we were just trying to locate their home world.”

The Keaterans are bright yellow humanoids with pointed ears. Each clothed in bright red sarong type garment. Following Zri’s example, they all stood to receive M and Brzko. After the greeting, everyone took their seats again.

“You honor us with your presence, thank you for rescuing us.” Numia said.

“You’re welcome Numia.” M said. “I’m glad to see that you all seem to be faring well. Do you need anything?”

“We are attempting to find our home on these navigational maps but we do not see our planet. In fact we do not see anything we are familiar with. These planets are all different.”

“Is that chart from the Suus?” Brzko asked.

“No, it’s actually from the Jinn – who have more detailed charts.” Zri said.

“How many galaxies have you looked at?” Brzko asked.

“We’re most of the way through our Universe.”

“Does anything look familiar?” Brzko asked.

“Yes, the position of the planets in this area is similar to an area I worked in, but it is not precisely the same.” Numia said, scrolling to a map of the area near Trella with a hand made up of a thumb and two wide fingers.

“What type of work did you do?” Brzko asked.

“Cargo. Chuna, Bloma, and I worked on a cargo ship. We mostly hauled food to and from Keatera. Our captain did not survive the fight, she was killed when the VReoria overtook us.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. So was your crew entirely female?” Zri asked.

All four of the Keaterans tilted their heads, and slowly blinked their almond shaped eyes as if Zri were suddenly speaking a language they could not understand.

“Yes, Keatera is a matriarchy. Males do not usually leave their homes.” Numia said.

“Interesting.” M said smiling. “I can see the benefits of that! What were some of the characteristics of the planets in that area that looks familiar.”

“Tren is a unique planet.” Chuna said.

“How so?” M asked.

“It is entirely pastel, with colors that are beautiful but not normal.” Chuna explained.

“So what planet on this chart is the closest to where you would expect to see Tren?” Zri asked.

“Here.” Numia said, pointing to Trella.

Zri looked up, he M, and Brzko stared at each other for a few seconds. He looked back at the tablet and called up images of Trella. “Does Tren look like this?”

“Yes! That’s Tren.” Numia said.

“Interesting, this is actually a planet we call Trella. So, it would seem that you are from a different universe.” Zri said.

“How do we get back to our universe, to our home?” Chuna asked with desperation.

“We don’t know.” M said. “The VReoria are the only species we know of that can travel purposely from one universe to another with accuracy.”

“We don’t want to rush you into making any decision, but please consider what you would like to do now that you’re here.” Zri said. They all four just looked at him. “There are many planets that will take you in, help you establish housing, employment, a place in the community.” They could see the disappointment on their faces. “We’re not suggesting that we will give up on trying to find a way to get you home. But, living here at a temporary medical facility? Well that doesn’t seem like a good option.”

“You’re right.” Numia said. “We are all still in shock about our situation. We need some time to think about it. Do you think it would be possible for us to work together on a cargo ship again?”

M decided to jump in. “Yes. I have a friend that does a lot of shipping, his planet produces an element called ronaid, they ship it all over this Universe.”

“That might be a good fit for us. We will discuss it. But a ship is no place for Scomia. She needs to finish her education in a stable environment.” Numia said.

“If you decide you’re interested in shipping ronaid, we may be able to find a home for her on the same planet. What do you think Scomia, are you interested in continuing your education in a home on the same planet where Numia, Chuna, and Bloma work?”

She shrugged, again looking at her feet. “OK.”

“If there’s a different place that you’d like to live please feel free to tell us. We’ll try to accommodate your request.” M said.

Again she shrugged. “OK.”

“Well, Brzko and I need to check in with some of the other evacuees.” M said, standing up. “If you need us for anything, just ask one of the medical staff to contact us. They can reach us anytime.”

M and Brzko made their exit and walked a ways away from the group of Keaterans. “Hey, I need to go see Emperor Bartala. Empress Nalau sent me a message while we were chatting. I need to go see them.”

“So what did she tell you when she got off the ship, before she left for home?” He asked.

“Well, basically… she wants to work with us.”

“OH!” His face displayed his surprise. “I see why you need to speak with Bartala, I’m assuming he’ll try to stop her.”

“Of course. So you can see why I need to go to Ploosnar, I need to verbally slap some sense into  him.”

Brzko laughed. “I’d love to watch but…” He hugged her. “OK be careful M. I’m going to visit with a few more of the evacuees before I call it a day. I’ll see you at home later.”

CHAPTER 31: A FRIGHTENED DRAGON

The Suus had managed to coax the young dragon into a private room. That had calmed her enough that she stopped throwing fire, but as he approached the door to the room, Ferocity could see burn marks on the walls and floor. He gave the door a single knock and opened it a crack.

“Hello. I’m here to help you get home.”

She was standing against the far wall, looking at him.

Not sure if she heard him, he spoke again. “Can you hear me? Can you understand my words?”

“Yes.”

He entered the room, a little on edge, he didn’t want to get burnt. “I can help you get home.”

“I don’t know where home is, I don’t remember home.”

“Close your eyes, and try to accept my thoughts.” To his surprise she complied, he projected his memories of Dragona to her. After a moment he spoke again, “Do you remember this place? It’s called Dragona, it’s the place where all dragons come from.”

“Not me. I’m not from there.”

He didn’t want to argue with such a small being, she’d been through enough. “OK. Do you have any memories from before we got you out of the stasis tube?”   

“Yes.” She closed her eyes and focused on sending him images. “This is where I came from.”

The images he received were of some sort of lab. She was in a bin of some sort, looking at other hatchling Dragons. There was still debris from the eggs in the bin. He could see VReoria on the other side of the room.

“You’re egg was stolen before you hatched. I see. Do you know what happened to the other dragons, the ones that hatched with you?”

She sent him another image, there was a hatchling Dragon pinned to a work table. Three VReoria stood around the table, the Dragon was screaming in agony as they did something to it.

“Dead, all dead.” She said. “They kept only me.”

“I see.” He said. “What do you want to do now?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well you can’t stay on this ship, it belongs to the Suus and they have other missions to perform. We are on a planet called Gaznzul. You can stay here at the medical facility as long as you want to, or I can take you to Dragona…”

“Is that where you live?” She interrupted.

“No, I am bonded to Lord Brzko. I live on his island, it’s called Misko.”

“That’s where I want to go. I want to live with you.” She broke down, ran toward him and grabbed his leg, just as Wisssi had grabbed onto M. She was so small the top of her head only came up to his waist. “Please, please don’t let them hurt me.” She sobbed.

He reached down and gently picked her up, cuddling her just as he had cuddled Wisssi. He began to making the purring sound, it calmed her. “OK, OK, you can come with me for now. But I need you to make a promise first.”

She leaned her head back so she could look at his face.

“I need you to promise that you will not throw your fire again unless I direct you to do so. Dragons are honorable, and we do not, under any circumstances, purposely hurt the innocent. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Do you promise?”

“Yes. I promise.”

“Good. You are a Dragon, you are strong, you are proud, you are honorable, and you carry the honor of all Dragons with you. You will walk off of the ship with your head held high, and you will apologize to the Suus before we leave for Misko.”

“What should I call you?”

“My name is Ferocity.”

“OK Ferocity. I will do what you have asked.”

“Because you are a Dragon, because you are honorable.” He coached.

She caught on right away. “I will do what you have asked because I am a Dragon, because I will be honorable.”

Ferocity turned and walked out of the room, assuming that the young Dragon would follow, and she did. Xiix,a few other Suus, M and Brzko were standing at the bottom of the ramp, waiting to see how Ferocity faired with the young Dragon that they could not control. Ferocity stopped just past the group. The young Dragon stopped in front of the Suus.

“I am sorry, I behaved without honor.”

Thank you little one, we understand how difficult this has been for you. We wish you the best.” Xiix projected.

The little Dragon accepted this as a dismissal and went to stand next to Ferocity.

By this time all of the evacuees had debarked the ship. Xiix said his goodbyes to the Muse of Mischief, Agent Brzko, and Ferocity, and boarded his ship to ready if for departure.

“I want to check in with the medical staff here before going home. What are you two going to do?” M asked.

“I’ll come with you.” Brzko said.

“Lord Brzko, if you do not need me with you, I would like to return home. I want to spend some time with…” He gestured toward the young Dragon, not sure what to call her. “…her. She has reguested to stay with me on Misko.”

“Of course Ferocity, M and I will join you later.”

CHAPTER 24: THE CLONE DOES ITS PART

The exchange was to take place on Cazoova, in a remote, forested area. The Muse of Mischief went to Suus to check on her clone.

So how do I control it?” She was in Kiik’s lab, looking at an exact replica of herself. It was very disturbing.

You only have to think commands to it – use your telepathic abilities.” Kiik projected. “Try it now. Tell it to walk forward.

The Muse of Mischief looked at herself that wasn’t her and thought about it walking forward. She almost jumped when it did. It didn’t stop, she realized she had to tell it to stop. She thought about the clone stopping and it did.

How does that work? Do we have some sort of link or can anyone control it?

It is possible because the only area of the brain that we allowed to develop was the telepathic receivers. It has been conditioned to accept commands from only two beings… you or me. I am a safety net, just in case.

I understand. We need to go. I want to be on Cazoova before the VReoria transport to the surface. Are the scan jamming shields active?” She asked looking at the device strapped to her bicep.

Kiik picked up a handheld scanner and first scanned M from head to toe, then scanned the clone. “Yes, your lifesign is being transmitted from the clone. You are undetectable to scans.

OK, then I guess we’re ready.

Good luck M, if there is anything I can do…” Kiik didn’t know how to finish that so instead she stepped forward and embraced M with all four of her arms.

When Kiik released her, M reached for Agent Brzko and Ferocity, “Is everyone in position.

Affirmative.” Ferocity answered.

Yes M, everyone is ready. If anything goes wrong reach for me. I’ll be there.

OK Brzko. But it’s going to be a breeze. I’m female but not…

feeble.” They finished together.

She took her clone’s arm and left Kiik’s lab. They arrived near the coordinates of the exchange, but not quite close enough to see it. M quickly surveyed the area, finding a grove of whapus trees near the exchange site. With their thick wide trunks, they provide the cover she needs to stay out of site. Still holding her clone’s arm she walks to the far side of the grove, keeping the exchange site visible. M has the clone step past the tree line, out into the open to wait. After a few minutes she sees four VReoria materialize, Lelelu is sandwiched between them with her wrists bound. M moves her clone toward them and tells is to speak.

“Release Lelelu!”

“Not yet.” One of the VReoria responds. “Keep walking toward us.”

M moves her clone forward a little more, but once again has it stop. It stays silent and motionless, waiting for the next command. But the VReoria are intimidated, the lack of emotion from what they think is the Muse of Mischief confuses them. They don’t want the Muse of Mischief to change her mind, Lelelu has little value to them, and suddenly they second guess themselves and wonder if she may not have as much value to the Muse of Mischief as they thought.

One of the VReoria in the front turns to Lelelu and unlocks her restraint. It drops to the soil beneath with a sickening thump. “Walk toward the Muse of Mischief. If either of you attempt to escape you will be shot.” The point was emphasized with the raising of a weapon.

Lelelu walks slowly toward the Muse of Mischief, M moves the clone forward very slowly. As soon as Lelelu is near enough, she directed the clone to speak. “As soon as you pass me, run to the trees. Do not stop.”

“M, wait I….” Lelelu protests. By this time she was right next to Lelelu.

M turns the clone’s head to face Lelelu, “RUN!”

Lelelu was shocked and frightened, her dearest friend had never been so cold. But she knew there was no choice, she followed the instructions. M moved the clone forward as Lelelu neared the trees.

Something was wrong, the VReoria seemed agitated. Two of them transported back to the ship. They must have been informed of the attack. One of them ran forward and grabbed the clone, M had it go limp and fall to the ground. This confused the VReoria, he looked up at the sky and let out a blood curdling scream – it’s long tentacled appendages sticking straight out as it screamed. Their plan was falling apart. The other VReoria rushed to his side to assist in lifting and carrying what they thought was the Muse of Mischief.

Lelelu hit the tree line and kept running. She ran right past the real Muse of Mischief. That was fine, M didn’t want to stop her yet – she wasn’t sure what kind of range the VReorian weapons had.

M peeked around the tree that had been providing her cover. One of the VReoria had picked up the clone, the other stood nearby. They were about the return to their ship. She activated the small explosive hidden inside the clone, it and both of the remaining VReoria were vaporized.

“Lelelu!” The Muse of Mischief yelled as loudly as she could as she took off running in the direction Lelelu had gone.