Monday, July 24, 2017

Draw

Roger and Amanda picked a secluded area just outside of town.  The Uber driver warned them of wandering too far from the road. It seemed that he did this before.

"I've got GPS," Amanda said holding up her phone, "and a full battery."

The driver shook his head and drove off.

When they got far enough from the road, Amanda though "Test."

Roger chuckled. "I don't think anyone can pick us up out here."

Amanda turned around and smiled at him.

"You know," Roger said, "When I first saw you, I knew that you were a strong one."

"Really?" Amanda said, "I didn't think I was that strong."

"After years of mentoring," Roger said, "I found higher the level the student is, the less likely they think they are. When I tell them how high of a level they reached, they're baffled."

Amanda nodded. She remembered.

"There is rikta energy here, but it's weak," Roger said.

Amanda paused for a moment, then shook her head, "I don't feel it."

"It's there. Once you feel it, you won't be able to ignore it," Roger said.

Amanda nodded and closed her eyes. At that moment she could sense Roger trying to guide her.

He was right, it was there, but it was faint. Amanda tried to draw from it.

"Ugh!" Amanda said, "It's like trying to get the last few drops of water at the bottom of a glass cup through a tiny straw."

She realized that she was too tense and shook her hands to relax.

"You are right, though. I can sense it now. I just don't know if I can pull some out of so little."

"You can do it," Roger said, "Try again."

Amanda took a deep breath; then she had an idea. She took her sneakers and socks off.

"What are you doing?" Roger asked.

"Rikta energy is generated underground. If I have less between me and the ground, I may be able to find enough to draw on."

Roger nodded, and Amanda closed her eyes again.

Sure enough, she felt it on the ground more. She worked with that and was able to pull enough energy to give to Roger. She knew that the tumor was draining him.

"You did it!" Roger said happily. He was nearly in tears.

"I did," Amanda said, "Didn't I? Unfortunately, it's not enough. I can't use it to work on our tumors. There's got to be areas where there rikta energy is stronger."

Roger nodded, "Unfortunately, in this part of the planet, people have pretty much paved over every abundant source. It's as if the humans were attracted to it without realizing it. Since no one considered the energy when building the cities, most of it is barely inaccessible.

Amanda was disappointed.

Roger took out his phone and started to walk in the direction of the road. Then he stopped.

"You know," He said, "There's a lot of national forests that might have some pockets. Maybe we will find one of them sometime soon."

Roger started walking again, and Amanda ran to catch up.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

End of Time - Soon

Amanda dismissed the group.  She exited first and waited at the door while everyone walked out. Brian stopped before leaving.

"I was so relieved when I found out you were still alive," Brian said.

"We all were,"  Trisha called out. She already with Stanley near the apartment entrance. Brian nodded.

Amanda felt his fear.  The same fear she felt the day she left the vault.  She put her hand on his shoulder.

"Brian," She said, "I'm not dead yet. As long as I'm alive, there's still a chance I can get rid of the tumor."

Brian put his hand on hers and nodded. Then he left.

Roger was the last out of the room. She stopped him.

"How much time?" She asked.

Roger stopped. "You noticed?"

"Yeah," Amanda said.

"There's no telling," Roger said, "I've lived a long life. It shouldn't be long, now."

"That's why you asked me to teach you."

"I knew you would need help to get back up to your old self. I just wanted to be able to buy myself some time."

"Perhaps we should go to the countryside today. Find a spot with no people, and maybe I can try to relearn some of my talents. After all, I'm also on borrowed time."

Roger nodded.

Todd stood behind Amanda. She turned to him.

"We need to go out. We'll get an Uber and go to the countryside, and I'll try to see how much I can remember."

"You don't need me to go with you?"

Amanda walked up to him and put her hand gently on his arm. "I need you here. You are supposed to be building manager, remember?"

She then kissed him on his cheek and left the apartment. She passed Stanley and Trisha, who were obviously enjoying each other's company. Amanda took her phone out and ordered an Uber.

Roger, who was watching the couple for a few minutes leaned over to Amanda and said, "How much do you want to bet we will be celebrating a union tomorrow?"

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Protective Gear

While everyone was discussing how to get the crystals, Amanda noticed something in the corner of her eye.

One of the drawers in Todd's dresser wasn't fully closed. A small piece of dark cloth hung out. Amanda recognized it and pulled the drawer open.

Brian scoffed. "You brought your leadership clothing here?"

"That's all I had!" Todd snapped back.

"No," Amanda said softly as she stroke the smooth, silk-like cloth. "It's good that he brought it."

Amanda pulled one of the pieces out. It was a hooded cape.

"I think I found our first trade," Amanda said.

Brian and Todd cooled off.

"Yeah, I think the humans won't want to help us for nothing," Brian said.

"Besides," Todd added, "If they can reproduce this, we can solve the room shrinkage problem."

They all laughed. It was true. Todd's room is three quarters of its normal size thanks to the insulation.

Amanda folded the cape. Then she held in her hands, brushing the fabric lightly. "We may need to change our style, too."

Everyone in the room became quiet. Amanda put the cape back into the drawer.

"Is there anything else we need to discuss?" Amanda said.

"Moving?" Roger said.

Amanda sighed. "Let's not talk about that until we hear from the agents again. In the meantime, you cannot cast thoughts outside of any insulated room."

"I've already told Mr. Carter to bring in humans that have an ethnic background," Stanley said, understanding where the conversation was going.

"Well then, we must inform the others. We don't want to be discovered by the local population." Amanda said.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Back Up

Todd opened the door to his apartment.

Amanda walked in first and put her phone onto the peninsula counter. "Put your devices here."

They all obeyed.

As the five of them waited, he opened the door to his bedroom. The insulation was so thick that the door didn't open all the way.

"I was going to change the direction of the door," Todd said sounding apologetic as they entered the room sideways, one by one.

"Well," Amanda said, "There is something I need to tell you. I didn't want anyone outside of our circle to know this yet."

"It is about time," Brian said, "They should know this."

"Let her speak," Todd said, annoyed.

"For all intents and purposes," Amanda continued, "Zenthan is dead."

"How could an A.I. die?" Trisha asked.

"Well Zenthan became self-aware," Amanda said, "Sometime soon after Todd left."

"Why are you telling this to us now?" Roger asked.

Amanda looked at all of them.

"I backed up his memories," Amanda said.

Trisha and Todd gasped.

"I thought you only backed up his core memory," Brian said, and he pointed to her pendant.

"No," Amanda said. "The Ostosiens insisted that I back all of it up."

"What are they planning?" Brian said, suspiciously. Amanda could sense that Todd was also agitated.

"They think that there might be strays from the last battle," Amanda explained.

"You believe that they can make it here?" Brian asked, "We had a hard enough time getting here ourselves. I don't trust what the Ostosiens say. Not after what happened."

"I don't know," Amanda said, "But, just in case, we need to get the rest of the crystals."

"Where are they?" Todd asked.

"Guess."

Todd groaned and facepalmed. "We were just there."

"Maybe we can talk to the agents in retrieving them?" Trisha mentioned helpfully.

"I don't know," Amanda said. "I'm not sure if I want anyone to pick up the box other than one of us. My foster family is selling their house. I could go to help them out."

"I could go with Roger," Stanley said, "You'll just have to give me the exact location."

Amanda noticed something was off with Roger. Instead of standing upright and looking attentive, he was leaning against the wall staring at the floor. After a moment, he straightened up and looked at Amanda.

"We might need to wait until the excitement dies down again," Todd said.

They all murmured in agreement.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Paring

"Wait, no speech?" Agent Cohen said.

"When we understand each other, we don't need speeches," Amanda responded.

Moments after they were acknowledged, everyone dispersed to do their own thing. Trisha went back to helping another Inersien move into their apartment. There was still some tension between Todd and Brian, but they kept themselves restrained for the moment.

"So, if I understand this properly," Cohen said, "You have this level thing going on?"

"Well," Amanda said, "Used to. We have no means to level anyone at the moment."

"Okay, If I got this right from talking with Todd, The strongest ones have to be in charge."

"Well, for the most part," Amanda said, "but-"

"So the strongest would be the leader, right?"

"Not exactly," Amanda looked at Trisha who was directing Boris in moving a large piece of furniture.  "Inersiens who are artists usually aren't that strong. However, because they are more likely to be empathetic and see things from an unusual perspective, they make good leaders. Traditionally, they pick a strong advisor to help."

Roger handed Amanda her bag, and she opened it to check its contents.

"Or they pick a strong husband," Stanley said.

"Well, it's common for a lower level Inersien to choose a higher one. They balance each other out," Amanda added without looking up.

"Looks like someone's smitten," Cohen said as he left to follow Gibson out.

Amanda looked at Stanley. He was watching Trisha. He was clearly enamored.

"Well," Amanda said to him, "What are you waiting for? Go over and talk to her."

Stanley looked at her for a moment then back at Trisha.

"I should, shouldn’t I?" He said, and he walked over.

Todd came up to Amanda. "Well," he said, "There's a pairing waiting to happen."

"What are the odds," Amanda said, "That a pairing would happen so soon."

Right after the words were out of her mouth, there was an awkward silence. Then Amanda said, "You told me you have an insulated room?"

"Yes," Todd said, "I did. It's my bedroom. Actually, I've done several bedrooms so far."

Amanda nodded and motioned towards Stanley and Trisha. "We'll let them talk for a bit, then I need you, Brian, Roger, Stanley, and Trisha in that room."

"Of course," Todd said.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Arrival

Amanda stepped out of the SUV at the apartment complex. She first she noticed was the cops who already dispersed the curious crowds.

The next thing she noticed was Trisha, standing on the steps, waiting.

Amanda started towards her. At this point, Trisha knew and ran from her spot and greeted her.

"I was so worried about you," Trisha said as they hugged, "I'm so glad it's over."

"Well, I'm not out of the woods yet," Amanda said. Trisha looked at Todd who shook his head slightly.

"Oh, Amanda," Trisha said.

"I have some time," Amanda said, "but I'm not sure how long, so we have a lot of work to do."

Trisha nodded.

Agents Cohan and Gibson walked over. They were in the car behind them.

Amanda spied some people, with their phone cameras out, walking over. "Let's all go inside," She said.

Gibson motioned to one of the cops, and they immediately went over to the video bloggers.

Amanda was inside before she could see what happened.

Inside the apartment complex, Amanda looked around. She was surprised on how many Inersiens were there. Some she recognized from before she left. Some Amanda never saw before.

In front of her, standing at full attention, was Boris, his wife, and Mr. Carter.

Amanda felt a little saddened. "Those are the only three Natisiens?"

"They're the ones who came with me," Todd said sadly. "With no hope of going back home, nobody wanted to leave."

"There might be some that are here with the other Inersiens," Brian said hopefully.

Just then Agent Cohen walked in. "Wow!" he exclaimed as he saw the Natisiens, "Those guys are big!" Then he looked at the six standing in front of the doorway. "You know, I thought you would be happy to be home."

Amanda turned to him and said solemnly, "We are missing our other half."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Never Lost

The seats in the SUV were facing each other. Amanda then realized that they were in a state car.

Roger and Brian sat across from Stanley, Amanda, and Todd. Amanda could feel Todd still seething from whatever fight he had with Brian. She knew she would have to address this later, but at the moment, she had more important things on her mind.

She put her hand onto Todd's hand, and he looked at her. She could feel his anger melt.

"Roger," She said sadly, "My pendant is missing."

Brian's anger immediately turned to panic, but Roger put his hand up.

"It's okay," Roger said, "It's right here." He leaned to his right and pulled out her laptop bag. He sat on it when he hurriedly climbed into the vehicle.

"You got everything," Amanda said, relieved.

Roger rustled through her bag for a moment and pulled out her pendant. Then he dropped it into Amanda's outstretched hand.

Brain relaxed, and he sat back in the seat. "So now, are you going to explain that to them?"

"What?" Amanda said. She motioned with her eyes to the driver and security detail that was with them in the front seat. "It's just a pendant that Trisha made me a long time ago."

Brian got the hint and didn't say anything more.

Amanda leaned up against Todd and thought out, "Test."

Neither the driver or the security guard flinched.

"We need an insulated room," Amanda thought.

"I got one," Todd thought back.

"No discussions about anything until we get there," Amanda thought.

They all remained silent the rest of the two-hour ride.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Vultures

There was a knock on the door, and it nearly startled Amanda out of her bed.

"Ma'am?" the voice on the other side said, "I am to escort you to the deck."

Amanda got up and grabbed a bag that was given to her to put her dirty clothes in. Then she got up to open the door. A young sailor greeted her and motioned her to follow him.

By the time Amanda got to the deck, Todd, Brian, and Roger were already there. Brian and Todd were both red-faced, and it was apparent that they were arguing. Roger looked tired and sad. Stanley looked on.

They all turned to look at Amanda as she approached.

Master Chief Taylor was there, along with a few state police officers. There were also a few other decorated officers there standing in attention.

"It's a madhouse down there,"  he said, "Those vultures will do anything for a story."
Amanda looked over the railing to see the crowd of reporters waiting.

"Well," Roger responded, "The elections are close, I'm sure we'll just be a short memory."

"You will be escorted off the boat with these fine officers to a waiting vehicle." Master Chief Taylor continued. "Don't slow down, or you'll be run over by the mob."

Amanda stepped away from the rail and joined the other four Inersiens. The hostility from the Master Chief was no longer there.

After a moment, Amanda realized everyone was waiting for her to say something.

"Whenever you are ready to leave, say something," Roger thought to Amanda.

Amanda took a deep breath, "Well then, we should be going then." She was still confused on what was going on, until the Master Chief and the other decorated officers saluted her.

She glanced back at Roger who did a half shrug. She Stepped up to the Master Chief and shook his hand.  He seemed pleased and somewhat relieved.

But then he leaned over and whispered, "You may want to talk to your men, they were arguing over something."

She knew immediately who he was talking about and what happened.

"Sibling rivalry," she said, "I'll deal with it."

They disembark from off the ship and into the crowd of waving cameras and phones and yelling reporters. The police kept them back.

"I bet you are glad to be home!" One reporter yelled. Amanda acknowledged that reporter.

"Do you think you will be attacked again?"

"Are you going to post about this to your blog?"

"Do you have anything to say about the possibility of Russia hacking our elections?"

Déjà vu.

Amanda stopped short and said out loud "What the h-"

Roger firmly grabbed both of her shoulders and put her inside the car.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

That Voice

"Get undressed," a voice said. Amanda couldn't see who was saying it, but she knew who it was.

"What? Why?" She asked.

“If you are found naked, they are more likely to help you.”

She remembered the dream about this very moment, mixed with other memories. Now that she had her memories, she can think of the moment again accurately.

Amanda saw a view of space through the window. Through all of the space debris floating, she saw a planet.  She suddenly had a deep sense of loss.

The door behind her opened. She turned to see an Ostosien in human form walk into the room. He was holding an open storage box. In a small compartment were four tubes that each contained a flat crystal. Next to it was a smaller box that had wires protruding out of it.

"Why? You'll wear yourself out," Amanda said.

"I know," The Ostosien said, "My brothers and I thought this form would be more relatable."

Amanda began unbuttoning her protective cape. The Ostosien set the open box down and waited until she had her clothes off.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"There's nothing I want to remember about this place. It's too-" Amanda stopped. After all of these years, she couldn't control her emotions well. She glanced at her cape, now on the ground.

The Ostosien put his hand on her shoulder. "You don't have to hide from us."

Amanda cleared her throat. "Make sure my clothing is in the box. I'll set the code so that only another Inersien who understands what it is can open it."

The Ostosien put something around her neck.

"What?!" Amanda said, "This is supposed to go into the box. With the rest of it."

The Ostosien let go of the necklace. Her pendant dropped to her chest. "You'll have to trust me," he said.

The Ostosiens were to drop her off in a small capsule on earth in one of the lakes. Just before, they put a thirty-minute "time bomb" of sorts in her brain. She had to get to shore and hide the box. Then she had to cause injury to herself to make it look like someone attacked her before her memories start to fade.

By the time Amanda reached the shore, it was almost dark. The sun was already below the horizon, casting a bright orange glow over the Adirondacks in the far distance.

Amanda almost put her pendant into the box, but she started to feel light-headed and realized that she didn't have time. She buried the box, then telekinetically picked up a rock and sent it soaring to her head.

She thought she saw a light whiz by in the distance and stumbled down the steep hill, hitting a few trees on the way.

By the time she walked out onto the smooth asphalt, she no longer knew who she was. The the rest played out like it did in the dream.

Amanda sighed. She knew she had to apologize to everyone. She put them in the mess they are in now.

She instinctively put her hand to her chest, but the pendant was gone.

She began to panic. How could she not know it was missing.

If there were any hope of going back, it was gone now.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sensitives

"What's a 'sensitive?'" Agent Paul Cohen asked nervously.

"Some humans can pick up on our energy, thoughts, and emotions," Todd explained, "although not necessarily all three."

"Yeah, well," Master Chief said, sounding dismissive, "We have more important things to talk about." He motioned towards the agents. "Cohen, Gibson, what do you have for us right now."

Agent Randall Gibson cleared his throat. "We have a small problem," he said. "It appears that the apartment complex we set you up in is now under scrutiny."

"Oh?" Todd leaned forward in his seat. "How is that?"

"Well, complaints are starting to come in for discrimination," Cohen responded.

"Oh," Amanda said quietly, "right."

Todd looked at her, waiting for an explanation.

"Well," Amanda said, "Where we are from, there's not enough sunlight to cause our skin to develop enough melanin to darken us."

"But we know that there are some here that are not full Inersiens," Gibson said, "You couldn't find someone that has an ethnic family background?"

Brian scoffed.

Amanda and Todd looked at him.

"Well," Todd said, "We only found a few. It was a short search." He looked back at the agents. "We need more time."

"I'm afraid there is no more time," Gibson said. "The city wants to do an investigation on Carter for unfair housing practices."

"This is ridiculous!" Brian exclaimed, "Humans are humans. There's no difference! Why would you force them to be-"

"Brian!" Amanda said sternly.

Brian stopped and looked at her in shock. Todd and Stanley were also surprised at her commanding tone. Roger sat back with his arms crossed, looking smugly at Brian.

Amanda's head started to hurt. She put her hand on her head.

"I know that there are empty apartments," Amanda said, "maybe we can get a few in there now to curb the suspicion."

"Amanda," Todd said, "We run the risk of being discovered. We don't know if they're sensitives until after we exchange thoughts."

Amanda nodded, "We can move." She was starting to feel sleepy again. She can feel Todd put his arm on her back. She can feel a little energy come her way.

She took a deep breath. "Maybe to a town that's dying in the Midwest."

Gibson nodded. "I could arrange for one of our cover companies to start buying houses. Then we can start moving your people out there."

"I already have a town in mind," Cohen said, "It's in Texas."

"Well, that is a bit hot," Brian said.

"Why don't we look at our options first," Amanda said, "I know we don't have a lot of time, but I don't want to move only to have to move again."

Master Chief Taylor cleared his throat.

"What happens when there are a lot of you together," Taylor said. "You don't plan on …"

"Again," Brian interrupted, annoyed. "We are not like that. We are here because of that assumption-"

Brian stopped and looked at Amanda who was looking wearily at him.

"With all due respect," Amanda said turning back to Taylor, "you watch too many super heroes, villain movies."

"Well then," Master Chief said, "You will be home soon. Hopefully, we'll get this sorted out soon. Y'all will wait in your quarters until we come get you."

All of the people in the room stood up. Amanda could sense the Master Chief's hostility. She grabbed Todd's arm.

"Get these people an escort to their quarters," Taylor said to the Petty Officer.

"I wanted to be able to talk to you alone," She thought to Todd.

"Humor him," Todd thought back, "We'll be home soon."

They both looked at Paul who was staring at them. Then he shook his head and headed out of the room.

Five sailors walked the room and escorted each of the Inersiens to their quarters on different parts of the ship.

When Amanda got to her room, she wasn't sleepy anymore. Todd had given her enough energy to wake her up.

She sat on her bed. She had no phone, no internet, and no paper and pencil.

Then she realized that she was trying to "run" from what's important again. She laid down on her bed, closed her eyes, and tried to call up as many memories as she could.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stanley

Master Chief Taylor didn't wait.

"First of all," He said, "We now know that the weapon is destroyed. If you want to find out how you'll have to discuss it with each other on your own time." He motioned to Amanda.

Roger was relieved. Brian, who knew more about what happened, stared at Amanda. She knew that he didn't believe her. Instead of becoming defensive, she just looked at Stanley. He was watching the Officer.

Amanda will have to talk to Brian when they are alone.

It bothered her that Amanda recognized Stanley but couldn't remember where she saw him before.

"So you call yourselves Inersh-ans?" Master Chief asked.

"Inersiens," Todd corrected him.

"Isn't that what I said?" Taylor asked.

Stanley, who was sitting next to Todd whispered, "Accent."

"Sorry," Todd said nodding.

"Zonstan!" Amanda blurted.

"Excuse me?" Master Chief Taylor said sounding a little indignant.

Brian scoffed. Todd put his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing. Stanley blushed and turned away.

The two agents looked confused.

Amanda realized what happened and blushed. "Oh," she exclaimed, "I am so sorry."

Agent Cohen laughed.

"How often is this going to happen?" Taylor didn't find it funny.

"Hopefully, not again," Amanda said quietly. "I'm still recovering. I'm sorry."

At least now she remembered who Stanley was. She remembered the day his father died of the brain tumor. Stanley was six. He and his mother were one of the first Inersiens to disappear.

"How many are there of you?" Master Chief asked.

"As far as we can tell," Todd said, "the ones at the Apartment complex are the ones that we know about."

"So there's probably more," Taylor said.

"Well," Roger said slowly, "It is possible that there are a few that have amnesia. I'm sure that Amanda isn't the only one."

Amanda looked down at her hands.

"You mean that there's more of her?" Master Chief asked.

"Well," Todd said, "not like her specifically." Amanda looked up at Todd.

"She's a high-level Inersien. Most are fairly low level."

"So we won't have one go nuclear on us again?"

"We are not like that," Brian snapped, "It was your people who refuse to listen!"

"Calm," Amanda directed her thought to Brian. "They don't understand."

Master Chief opened his mouth to respond when suddenly, Todd, Stanley, Brian, Roger, and Amanda looked at Paul Cohen. He looked a little uncomfortable.

"Then there are the sensitives," Todd said.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

All Together - sort of

Todd stepped outside to let Amanda dress. She was glad that they placed her into one of the officer's quarters for some privacy.

When they were a few feet from the meeting room, Todd stopped and grabbed Amanda's arm. She stopped and turned to look at him.

"Listen," He said, "I'm sorry. I know I could handle things better. I was afraid and-"

Amanda stopped him. "I think we are going to have more problems ahead of us. We have enough to deal with now."

Amanda paused a moment to gather her thoughts.

"I've made my share of mistakes," she sighed, "If I get angry at you, I might as well as be furious with myself."

Todd paused for a moment. Then he looked past Amanda towards the meeting room door. He took a deep breath and nodded.

Amanda was the first to step into the room. She wasn't surprised to see Brian and Robert there.

Stanley was also there. While she suspected as much, she became concerned.

"I," she stammered, "I recognize you, but I can't-" She stopped.

"I think the last time you saw me, I was in my sixth cycle," Stanley said.

"Well, that explains some of it at least," Amanda chuckled nervously, "I guess I wouldn't recognize you even if I didn't lose my memory."

It still bugged her.

Then there sat at the table, Paul Cohen and Randall Gibson.

"I'm surprised that Trisha isn't here."

Amanda remembered Trisha. It was hard to forget a childhood friend.

"Well," Todd said, "Someone has to hold down the fort, so to speak."

Amanda nodded.

Just then Master Chief Taylor walked in.

"Is everyone here?" He asked. "Good, let's get started."

Everyone in that room had some explaining to do.