Saturday, June 27, 2015

Seeing is Becoming: Hunted (Part VI)

“Did they send you back to Earth?” Vearden asked after releasing Saga from the hug. “I looked for you, but found nothing.”
“They did send me back,” Saga said. “To 1868,” she added.
“I was there for three years.”
“How did you survive?”
“I met some friends. They’re like us. Two of them left 1994, and have been doing this a lot longer.”
“Three years,” he repeated. “I was in our time for only a year, using my alien blood to heal people.”
“Well, if that’s all the powers that be wanted from us, why are we back on Orothsew?”
“We call this planet Orolak now,” Vearden corrected.
He went about telling her what he learned from the Gondilak, as well as the things he had been doing on Earth before returning. She told her own stories about the mid-19th century. No supernatural healing for her, but life was never dull. Her and her new friends were always on some kind of adventure.
They were just finishing up their conversation when an arrow came out of nowhere and went right through Vearden’s shoulder. He casually broke it and pulled it out. “We have to go,” he said.
They began to run, zigging and zagging around the sharp needled trees. They ended up going through a dense area. Cuts and bruises formed all over their skin. Just when they thought that perhaps no one was following them, they discovered this to be untrue. There was a clear ruckus from behind. It sounded like a hunting party. “I thought you were on good terms with the Gondilak,” Saga said.
“I am. This must be the Orothsew.”
“No, they need us. They called us their champions.”
“Well, something’s changed.”
“Why aren’t you healing?”
Vearden looked down and grasped his wounded shoulder. She was right, it wasn’t closing up, and he couldn’t say why. He opened his mouth to question it, but found himself pushed down to the ground. An arrow flew just above his head and landed in a tree. A creature that looked not like an Orothsew, and not like a Gondilak, but like both, was on top of him.
“We have to go,” the creature said in a feminine voice. When they didn’t move, she yelled, “now!”
They hopped to it and kept on running through the trees. The stranger quickly overtook them and began to lead the way. She would change directions suddenly, apparently in an effort to hide their trail. Sometimes, she would use a tree branch to swing herself forward, preventing her tracks from logically connecting to each other. They tried to do the same, and were sometimes even successful, but only sometimes. She was agile, tough, and extremely quick. It was clear that she was slowing down for them, but she didn’t act frustrated. She legitimately wanted to help.
Soon, they were at the swamp. “Get in,” she ordered. “This will mask your scent.”
“Perfect,” Saga said, gladly lathering the mud and moss all over her body.
Vearden was more hesitant, having just spent a year in civilized society, but he did as he was told. He flinched as he stuck some of the moss in his shoulder wound after the friend who introduced herself as Yalshi claimed that it would help protect his blood from infection. “We should keep going,” he suggested.
“Yes,” Yalshi agreed. “But move more slowly, and take every opportunity to step on rocks and roots. At this point, we want them to think that we’ve disappeared completely.
“Give it a couple days, and we might just do that.”
“We do not have a couple days.”
They spent the rest of the day, methodically escaping their pursuers. They hadn’t heard a peep from them in hours by the time they reached the creek. They waded through the water and proceeded upstream for another few hours, at which point Yalshi felt is was safe to clean themselves up and find shelter.
All they were able to find was a shallow and unsecured cave; just enough to get out of the wind and talk. “Why were they chasing us?” Saga asked.
“You are invaders,” Yalshi said plainly. “More than that, you’re human. A couple of your kind came here decades ago. One of them had the ability to heal, just like the Gondilak, and it is said that he used this to kill many on both sides. A Mongrel named Trijko took his opportunity to unite the Orothsew and Gondilak against the invaders. He dispensed with any who claimed that the two human invaders actually hadn’t killed anyone, but I’ve spoken with Uhyiopa, and I believe her. She knew the healing one personally and admitted to me that the massacre was a lie they made up to end the war.
“This was decades ago?” Vearden asked. Where is Uhyiopa now?”
Yalshi drew a frown on her face. “She was killed for speaking so-called lies to The Mongrel King’s daughter. But I know the truth now, and I won’t let my father do this anymore. Even if it means we reform the schism between the two races, I won’t let them dishonor the humans who have a history only of helping our great world. I promise you, friends, that you will be vindicated. I will make Orolak safe for you once more.”
“You’re the king’s daughter, right?”
“Yes, I am. But I’m nothing like him, I assure you. I—”
Saga interrupted her. “I’m not saying you are. But I assume that mongrel means that you are born of both Gondilak and Orothsew blood?”
“My father is the result of genetic engineering. Gondilak and Orothsew cannot reproduce together, as no creatures of two species can. But scientists from an unknown land experimented with us many years ago. The king has no mother or father, but I am the result of a natural birth from him and another like him.”
“I see,” Saga said.
“How long has it been since the last invader?” Vearden asked.
“Why, it’s been at least twenty years.”
“And how long since the last human?”
“I haven’t heard so much as a rumor of a human in my entire life. I have no reason to believe that another has come through since the infamous couple. But you’re here now. You can show them that you mean us no harm, and visitors will once again be allowed through their magical doors.”
Vearden turned to Saga. “Maybe that’s the point.”
“The point of what?” Yalshi asked.
Saga answered instead. “We were the couple decades ago. It is true that we killed no one, but perhaps the lie your father and Uhyiopa told was what needed to happen. I’ve always felt that we were here to unite the two races and end the war. I just didn’t know we wouldn’t actually be around to see it.”
“If that’s true,” Vearden began, “what are we doing back here? If we’re done with our mission, why send us back? My healing powers are gone, and this is dangerous territory for us now.”
Saga shook her head. “I don’t know, V. Maybe they just wanted us to see what we had accidentally accomplished?”
“Or to tie up loose ends by having us killed,” Vearden suggested.
“Are you two really them? Why are your healing powers gone?”
Saga thought about it for a moment after Vearden showed that he had no answer. “You said you spent the last year on Earth healing people.”
“Indeed. I never really knew why. But I would have a dream with a sick or hurt person’s face, and their general location. When I woke up, I would have no choice but to go there and give them some of my blood. It worked every time.”
“And the last person you healed was one of us? That sounds significant. You must have been losing a little bit of yourself every time you healed, and this guy took the last of your special blood. Who was he?”
“I’m not sure. I did see his chart out of the corner of my eye.” He tried to remember. “It started with an M. Mark? Or Matthew?”
“Mateo?” Saga asked, surprised. “Mateo Matic.”
“Yeah, that sounds right.”
Saga just laughed. She laughed and laughed and laughed.
“What is it?”
Oh my God, we’re all connected.”
Yes, you are.” A man was standing outside, but he wasn’t exactly all there. He was between two large stones that were holding up a third stone. It looked like a portal to another place. “Please. Step into my office.”

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