A short story by Suenammi Richards
He knew he needed to just keep running no matter what. His legs pumped but it seemed like he wasn’t making any ground. He didn’t know why the Gudha was chasing him and he didn’t have time to consider it. Nor did he have time to contact the Nitya who he had learned often defended humans against such persecution from other alien species. It all looks so good on matra sites when you infuse them but the actuality was no organization moved that fast. But life was no salad field it was sometimes very tough especially for peaceful humans. It was like the aggressive aliens on the earth didn’t understand that this level of violence was abhorrent to the native species.
“You should hear me out.” Miles heard the creature as if he was standing next to him. He had always been disturbed by the Gudha and their invasive ability to project their voice, thoughts and ideas into the human mind. It was an outlawed practice but this one was much too comfortable breaking the rules. He doubted that telling him that would matter. The only reprieve was that they couldn’t read the minds of humans just push themselves into them. They looked just like humans except when they were projecting. Their eyes would glint red for a sharp second before they returned to normal. Most people would miss it because it usually happened so fast. Miles was desperate to remember what it was that Gudha hated so he could put himself in the middle of it. It was something very common.
“Head to the water.” He stopped and stared up. He had been running through the algae alleys. The algae paved streets glowing under his feet. It was different from the main roads which were lined with algae lamps. He figured he would stay in the less lit pathways. The city was constructed of green spaces. The buildings made from combinations of biodegradable compounds that could be shaped into walls and doors the windows a poly from algae that made them see through and energy producing for the buildings and rooms they were attached to.
The voice had come from a woman perched on the second landing of the building to his right looking down at him through the see through floor she was standing on.
“They hate water.” She followed with. Deftly she hopped on the ledge of the landing, flipped her legs over and landed neatly in front of him with a slight click of her boots on the algae pavement.
Miles stared at the dusky blonde. Her skin was the shade of slightly browning leaves or a red malt beverage. Her long blonde hair was braided and lay on her shoulder. She was incased in a peculiar fabric. Most people wore loose flowing linens and cotton. The weather regulator had taken away the need for heavier cloths and clothing decades ago. If his history was correct she was dressed in an almost leather like fabric. Which was impossible. Leather was extinct just as the cows it was made from were. The pants fit her slightly bulky muscular form closely. The shirt she wore was made of the same fabric and was long sleeved forming fingerless gloves on her hands. It also clung to her skin the color just a few shades darker than her.
“Oh my stars.” He muttered as he saw what she wore on her hips.
The woman smirked slightly if the no toothed shifting of the corner of her lips upward was the only indication he was going to get. She placed her hands on the hilts of the long weapons she wore on her belt which was loosely wrapped around her hips.
“Trust me you’ll be happy I have these before this is over with.” She confided as she flexed her fingers over the wooden handles. She pinned him with her light brown eyes. “Run or stand and fight.”
“Run!” he replied instantly and took off.
She kept pace. “You’ll have to deal with him before it’s over with.” She said as she jogged casually next to him. “They don’t quit.”
Miles knew she was right he just didn’t want to deal with it. “The fountain on main.”
She shook her head. “Not deep enough to scare him.” She sped up and got in the lead. “We need to head to the lake.”
“Don’t trust her.” Miles heard in the back of his head from the creature pursuing him. He looked at the woman running in front of him. “Who are you anyway?”
“They call me Nikki.”
Miles tried to fight the frown. “That’s a very old name.”
She made a sound that he assumed might be laughter.
“Do you know why it’s chasing you?” she asked out of nowhere.
“No.” He muttered as he tried to keep up.
“What was the last thing you dreamed?”
Miles frowned at the question not really sure what that had to do with anything. “I really can’t remember.”
“Try!” she threw over her shoulder forcefully.
Miles couldn’t really focus while he was running but he was encouraged by seeing the lake a few yards ahead.
“Don’t stare at it jump in.” Nikki said as Miles slowed at the edge of the lake. He gave her a quick look and she nodded towards the water.
Miles’ fear grew as he finally could see what had been chasing him. The creature looked just like a man. He had long red hair that brushed the middle of his back tied back into a ponytail. The algae lights glinted eerily off of his black icy eyes. The Gudha had a look about them. Very human features pulled almost too sharp. They always held their faces passive and still nearly emotionless. They dressed very similar to human males with the long flowing white cotton tunic and loose pants of the same fabric. It was a known fact that they roughly possessed 35% more muscle than the average human male. The larger muscled form shifted slightly as the creature approached the woman who had literally led him to water. He was about 6 feet tall which made him larger than the average Gudha. They usually ran under 6 feet hovering around 5′ 9′.
Miles waded. “What are you doing?” he asked as she turned to face the Gudha. “Come with me.”
The woman continued to face the Gudha. “Swim to the other side. I’ll find you later.”
Miles was confused but did what he was told.
“I wish you hadn’t done that.” the Gudha practically sang as he watched Miles swim away.
Nikki hadn’t taken her eyes off of the Gudha to watch Miles swim away. When it was time she would be led to him. Right now she had to make sure Miles had enough time to get away. The water would do that. It would make him harder for the Gudha to track and her presence acted as a shield so that Miles would disappear for just long enough.
“I’m sure.” Nikki said slowly as she gripped the handles of her weapons.
He put his hand up. “Now Nikki we should talk.”
Nikki stared at the beast. “Been a while Kal. I guess I know what you have been up to since the fall.”
The creature erupted into maniacal laughter that practically echoed in the space. “The Fall. Is that what you’re calling it?”
Nikki shrugged slightly as she took a step closer her hands firm on the handles of her weapons. She suspected he wasn’t looking for a fight. But these fellas were always so hard to call in the moment. She didn’t know how desperate he was to get to Miles. So it was time to find out. He met her step for step until he was standing a few feet in front of her looking down at her.
“It’s just the framework, the story we’re all sticking to.” He leaned in. “But we feel the same to each other don’t we?”
“What are you after Kal?”
He shrugged. “I liked it better when they were filled with self-righteous indignation.” He stared at her for few moments. “He’s not even going to stand and fight. Remember when they would charge the gates of hell with a bucket of ice water.” He started to circle her a bit as Nikki turned to face him as he did.
“There is no hell anymore. No heaven either.” She muttered to him beneath her breath. “They are free of it all.”
“But we’re not.” He hissed. “Don’t you miss it?” He leaned in to whisper that against her ear. “The power of who and what you really are.”
“They get to choose. He gets to choose.” Nikki said in a measured fashion.
“Choice has never looked good on them.” He muttered back. “Let me show him what his dreams really mean. He’ll never figure it out without help. Let me push him to doing what needs to be done.”
Nikki pulled out one of her blades and used it to casually scratch her head. “Not your call to make.”
She stared at him daring him to say the words that would stop this from being a conversation. She could feel his calculating his chances for success. And she knew the minute he decided to let her hold him.
Nikki grunted a bit then glanced at the large body of water behind her. “I thought being so close to the water would make you chatty.”
“You know I was a little doubtful about seeing what I thought I saw. Now that you’re here I know for a fact it was exactly what I thought it was.”
Nikki sighed loudly and rolled her eyes hard. “Kal you should let it go.”
“You mean let him go.”
Nikki stared at the beast. People were afraid of them but they didn’t realize what they were and what their nature was. Hell Nikki had been chasing these things for over 600 years and she couldn’t tell most days of the week which way one would go. She could feel the unease shift inside of her. The voice she listened to without question giving an order.
She saw the flash of Kal’s eyes before Gabe appeared. It was like a wind then a whisper and Gabe filled in the space that was empty to the left of them both. Both she and Kal looked over to see Gabe standing there his curly black hair in long disarray around his head just barely brushing his shoulders. His bronze skin stretched over Roman features. His brown tunic and pants fluttering slightly in the wake of his arrival. His silver eyes glinted like shinning steel nearly iridescent when you tried to look directly into them. He stood as tall as Kal and just as broad. They mirrored each other in shape and form in the oddest ways.
“Like I said. . . I have no doubt now.” Kal said in a satisfied fashion as he started to back away from Nikki and Gabe.
“Go to him. I’ll keep him occupied.” Gabe said in a deep rich baritone.
Nikki looked at the two males and started to back away. She moved close to the water closed her eyes and searched for Miles. One breath then two and she caught his scent. The ones with the potential to change things always smelled different. She didn’t know if it was because of what she was or because of what they were but when Miles had passed under her that night six weeks ago she knew what would come next. She hadn’t smelled one since before the Fall. He was a heralding of a few potential futures and she was going to have to find him so he could decide what he planned to do about it.
Nikki focused saw where he was inhaled deep then shifted her space. She exhaled and opened her eyes and was right outside of a door.
The over-surveillance of the public that was popular during the last few decades before the Fall had made traveling like this impossible. But with the onset of understanding that there were other beings in the Universe with different abilities and powers she was able to live as freely as she ever had. Still old habits die hard and somewhere in the middle of her 4th century alive technology had taken such a leap that it had compromised her entire existence. Dalen had trained her hard fast and as usual without mercy to keep matters hidden. Photography, video, cell phones, the internet, social media had made doing her job even harder than it had been.
Miles opening the door cut into her thoughts. “Hi it’s you. Are you a Nitya?”
Nikki actually laughed in that subdued grunt she does. “No Miles I’m one of a kind. Like you.”
Miles frowned looking very confused. Nikki looked at Miles now that he was in a safer situation. She could see him clearly now. He was by all rights an average looking human being. One of the hang-ups of the previous ones before the fall was skin color. This lot never noticed the slight variations in pigment. They were all varying shades of dark. Dalen would say that’s how it was in the beginning so it returns. His features also were not very extraordinary. Large brown eyes, high cheekbones, sharp nose and chin with full lips.
What he held inside was a remnant of a long dead generation. A throwback that was birthed from the generic matching that humans are born of now from a system that could never quantify this trait less alone weed it out. A foreign element never meant for this mix. Chance would be pleased.
“I’m just a human.” Miles responded as he stood back so Nikki could come in. “I want to thank you for helping me earlier.”
Nikki nodded as she stared at him in a penetrating fashion. “You are human that’s not what I mean.”
She took in the place he was in. “Your place?”
It was a basic small room. Places were different not spacious like they used to be. Now a four walled room changed to suit the needs of the inhabitants. With food supplements and automated waste recycling people didn’t’ have to even dirty themselves with true cooking eating, shitting and pissing like she still had to do. She didn’t do it for necessity she did it because it made her feel real in a world that was even more different than anything else after the Fall. Like always the only natural thing that humanity did was have sex. Well usually.
Miles shook his head. “I rented earlier. I needed to eat and rest.”
“To run again.”
Miles looked at her sharply at the judging tone of how she said it. “I’m human we’re peaceful.”
Nikki grunted. “So I’ve been told.” she practically whispered. “What do you know of history?”
Miles looked at her and waved his hand. The floor pushed up to form a place for them to sit. The material pulled away like a liquid and became solid cushy beneath them. Nikki tried to get comfortable but she as always better on the ground in grass with the earth. She sighed softly as she moved to get settled.
Miles shrugged. “I’ve matra’d some things.”
“How about religion?”
Miles laughed. “Oh you mean how they used to believe in a supreme being called God when it was really just a few alien races that were guiding us in the guise of being an all-powerful being.”
Nikki made a face. “Yes that.”
“Yeah it makes me think the virus that wiped them all out was very needed.”
Nikki scratched her eyebrow in a sheepish fashion. “Well I can understand why you would feel that way. How about specifics? What do you know about individual religions?”
He shrugged again. “Nothing just the overview.”
She leaned in. “Now tell me about your dreams.”
He started to fidget with his clothes. “I don’t know if I’m comfortable talking about that.”
She nodded. “I know but that’s why the Gudha is after you. The only way I can keep you safe is if you know what’s happening.” she was met with silence. “Ok I’ll start. Was there a wooden structure two large long square planks of wood? Shaped like this.” She formed a cross with her index fingers.
Miles looked at her. “I . . how did you?”
“There was a man nailed to it.”
Miles got up and started to pace nervously. “Very violent dreams I didn’t understand what I was seeing or why.” he paused troubled. “I’ve never seen such menace, such cruelty and it was men. It was done by humans. But it wasn’t just that. There was war I think it’s what they used to call it.”
“But that wasn’t all.” Nikki opened. “There was more yes?”
His eyes told what he wouldn’t say. He had seen the other end. The power of faith and he feared it.
“You have a choice to make.” Nikki started softly. She was silent trying to gather the words being told to her to repeat to the man. “The concept is freewill. The undercurrents of freewill are choice and destiny. Understand that freewill is the operator that allows you choice however it does not affect destiny. What will be will be.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Because the concepts are foreign to you but they were a part of daily discourse amoung the previous humans before the” she paused. They didn’t call it the Fall. “before the Years of the Last Lord. Listen to my words and hear them not with your ears but with your heart. Humanity used to have a concept known as faith. Faith is what made religion a viable prospect. The issue is it went too far. Faith was used to supersede the rights of others to live, to love. It produced poverty, misery and death. It was used to justify killing and to dehumanize humans. On the other end faith could end wars produce peace miracles. Like with all things it was a great power and like great power it was abused but also saved. The Gudha wants this to exist in the world again.”
“Why?” Miles asked his face showing the horror he felt at her words.
“He has his own reasons. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter the choice is yours.”
“Why me?” Miles said sharply. “This makes no sense. Everything is a choice there aren’t invisible beings and what did you call it destiny.”
She stared at Miles knowing he was fighting his instincts in an attempt to hang on to something known. “You’ve dreamt it Miles. You’ve seen the path. You’ve seen the future.”
“No!” he started pacing again. “What I’ve seen is a horror that is not our future. We are peaceful.”
Nikki was losing her patience with Miles who was refusing to understand the messages she knew he had been given and seeing for months now. “Humanity will fight or become slaves,” she related in a matter of fact way. “For that fight they will need every resource available. Faith is very powerful. Usually more so for those who don’t believe.”
“No I could never survive what I saw I couldn’t live through it.” he muttered in a dejected tone.
Nikki stood finally angry. She shook her head sharply and gritted out between her teeth. “You’d be amazed at what you can live through.”
She felt the shift outside and stood. “Goddammit.” she muttered and got up. “You stay inside.” Nikki headed to the door and went out. There Kal stood a few feet away.
“Gabe?” She asked shortly.
“Was called away.”
Nikki fingered her blades and started over to Kal. A few feet away they began to circle each other. This went on for a few moments.
“You aren’t going to talk me out of the fight.” Kal asked.
“It’s too late for that Kal. You know it.” she breathed.
“Just making sure.” he uttered right before he pulled out a broadsword and moved in.
Nikki flipped her blades out of their holster to catch the first strike. She parried with the left and struck out with the right. He dodged back to avoid the swipe and re set to swing from overhead. Nikki turned to avoid the swing and got first blood under his arm.
“You’re much better than the last time we fought.” He remarked.
“Unlike you I’ve never been able to just sit on my ass and wait anything out.”
“Walk away Kal.”
“You know I can’t do that. We have to show the human a fight now.” He growled at her.
Nikki glanced back and sure enough Miles had produced a window so he could watch.
She cursed as she lunged for Kal. The battle was sharp and swift. Nikki swung down left while swinging up with the right. Kal canted his sword to block both blows. The click and clash set off sparks in the air. She turned and swung low and he got his leg out of the way before she could connected. She made a crucial mistake and took a knee to the face. The force sent her backwards.
She landed on the other side of the window Miles was watching from. She saw him as he looked from her to Kal and back again. The terror in his eyes and on his face was evident. Nikki shook her head and felt the fear of losing kick in. She ignored the pain and embraced the anger sparked by the sight of Miles just watching and still not being willing to fight for his own life as she was. She kicked up as Kal approached her.
She was breathing heavily as Kal was. He was slowly stalking towards her. She bared her teeth at him her jaw clenching hard. She spared a moment to look at Miles as visions of her first real battle swam through her head and the words her teacher gave her left her lips in a feral growl. “You must fight to the end of your strength to your very last breath.”
With a scream she started to swing her blades at Kal. They continued as before swing parry swing parry and finally Nikki kicked Kal in the middle of his chest knocking the sword from his hands at the same time. She mounted him putting her left blade to his throat and the other raised high ready to strike.
Kal stared up at her unsure. After the second blade didn’t fall he started to laugh.
“Mercy eh?” he muttered then started to laugh in earnest.
Nikki shook her head as the voice of the Father gave his orders. “Get out of here Kal.” She glanced back at Miles who looked even more horrified than before. Damned chaos demons she sighed to herself. “Your work here is done.”
She got up and Kal was gone in a flash. A gust of wind and lingering cold was all that remained. She turned to meet the disbelieving eyes of Miles Trinity. The man that could bring faith back to the world.
He didn’t realize it but he was already changed, already effected by the dreams that showed him the future and tried to explain with the past. It was the concept of will he wasn’t getting. What he saw as horrors was will being expressed and fought for.
She didn’t stay she knew after what he had witnessed he would not let her back in. He was afraid of his destiny and would one day look back and wonder what could’ve been had he trusted his true path. Especially when he sees another take up the path for him.
The nine that had been chosen to reseed humanity had been survivors honed and toughened by life. All had been strong of will and conviction. They would be appalled at what they unwittingly sired. And this man. This would be prophet would let it all fall before taking a stand.
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