Scene 30  1560 4D

“Stop!” The voice erupted into Derizan’s brain. He froze with hands and feet not moving on the rungs of the shaft. Fiarsinhilh said in him, in a calmer tone, “You have an andro traveling with you. This is the crisis I felt coming, apparently.”

“Why is that?” A silence lasted for many heartbeats. Derizan tried again. “Well?”

“There is shame in me, shame at my own kind.” Fiarsinhilh’s tone brought sadness in its lowered notes. “The Zashinhalh in the City were given andro flesh to consume freely. The City’s authorities offered this to corrupt the Zash to their own inhuman purposes. They made alliance with them to oppose and neutralize political opposition. It worked. Andros, human in every way, more than human in some ways, are treated as food there. And they know.”

Derizan’s hands tightened on the rungs. His jaw clenched. “Are you like them? Corrupted?”

“I am nothing like them. Nothing.” The words spat out filth. “They are not my kind. Not any more.”

“Can’t I explain this when we get back down there?”

“Not yet! Andros sense us in their innerspace, even from some distance. We terrify them! The andro I sensed may be aware of me already.”

“What does an andro see of you? I saw you just when I took you in. You were like pure bright light. Now you’re an inner voice.”

A soft whisper. “That light for andros is blinding, burning their senses, even when it is hidden in a host the way I’m hidden in you. We can shield it for them when we know they’re near, but the City Zash don’t bother. They like making andros cower.” Disgust.

“Could you shield your light for this andro? His name is Piotras. He escaped the City and he is now one of us in our journey.”

“It takes continued effort for us to maintain that shield, but yes, I can do that. The effort requires added nourishment for me.”

“Oh.” Derizan thought, What does he eat? And how does he eat if he is inside me?

“You subvoiced that thought,” Fiarsinhilh replied, “and I won’t be looking for flesh for you to consume. Also, I notice you are thinking I am male.”

Astina’s anxious call came up the shaft. “Derizan! We need you!”

“I’m coming down in a minute!” he called back. I need to contain my thoughts better. How will I tell them all about Fiarsinhilh? He called back down to Astina, “Come up to me. Alone. I need to show you something.”

# # #

“He’s calling for you to go up to him?” Daryuz came to Astina as she reached the rungs of the shaft.

“Yes. And he said ‘alone’, didn’t he?” Astina’s tone was firm as she took a first step up.

“Wait!” Denzari joined Daryuz. “Some… things happened up there. He fainted, and then recovered, but there’s a lot to tell you, and we wanted him to explain.”

Astina looked back down at them. “He said ALONE! Stay here and listen. If you hear anything besides us talking, come up to us.” Determined, she climbed on and disappeared out of glowlight range.

The two men turned and joined the others gathered around Piotras cradled in Guinban’s arms. Munizkara passed her hand across the andro’s forehead and cheek. “He’s still in shock. It’s as if…” she looked up at her brother-in-law.

“This happens when they sense aliens in the City,” Inkurisar said. “Do you think there’s alien presence here? How would we know?” He turned to the others. “Any ideas?”

Terrenci shook her head. “Aliens?”

Turtuz nodded. “We wouldn’t sense them ourselves, unless one of them occupied one of us, made us its puppet.”

Everyone stared at him. Alumaras said slowly, “You’d better explain that very, very clearly.”

Turtuz scowled. “It’s the reason I left the Argaz and my unit. We were getting paid big money by ArCorp to press City people into service with alien hosts in them. Made the people into cannibals – the aliens feed on certain proteins, and human beings have great protein. But andro proteins are the best.”


Denzari and Daryuz went back to the shaft. “It’s quiet,” Denzari said after a few breaths, “Just soft talking up there, but I can’t make out what they’re saying. They seem okay.”

“He’s waking up,” Munizkara said. She helped Guinban raise Piotras to sit. “Can you tell us anything?”

Piotras licked his lips. His voice cracked. “The light blinded me. I think it’s an alien, a Zash. It’s not right here,” he added, as the others looked around, eyes wide. He waved weakly toward the shaft entrance. “That way, I think.”

Selech raced to the shaft, grabbed a rung. “I’m going up,” he said.


Next scene.

Last Updated Wednesday, July 10 2024 @ 04:32 pm  9 Hits   
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