Versatile Layer: The Red Girl (chapters 5-6)

An exert from The Red Girl. If you enjoy the following chapters, check out the full book on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GYSCW36



5 Discovery


There was no one about when he entered the salvage yard. Nevertheless, he paused and held his breath when the gate creaked as he slid into it. He felt like a Ninja from one of those ancient texts he had read on the interstellar library. He remembered the first time he set eyes on the word and the discipline required for one to be a Ninja. It impressed as well as scared him that people with such devotion and discipline had existed and yet the world had fallen into ruin.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jake caught the faintest glow of purple light. He turned towards his father's tool dolly and there lay the source of the light. Slowly, he approached the glowing object that had called for his attention. Fear and trepidation ran the course of his mind, body, and spirit. Upon closer inspection, the object looked like a large egg that flattened out at the bottom. He was transfixed for a moment before slowly making for the bizarre device. From the architecture and conversations going on in his head, Jacob decided the object before him was obviously alien and possibly dangerous, but there was no way he would not investigate. Curiosity was responsible for the death and skinning of cats, throwing in his lot with the feline’s was all that consumed him. His curiosity was in charge now. As he got closer, the light emanating from the alien device bathed him in a subtle glow that accentuated his features.

Finally, he stood before the egg-shaped device and gulped. The purple lights danced and intersected upon its surface. Jake had always been commended for being astute and perceptive for a boy his age. By nature, he sought patterns out of chaos and thrived on solving problems everyone else had given up on. His mother had figured this trait when he was three and had him enrolled in a course specially tailored for gifted kids. Without much effort, he aced all the classes and got put into the accelerator program. The Station administrators had high hopes for him after he helped solve a police case that was hinged on a clue they were missing. To him, everything was obvious because of the way he approached the world.

It surprised him greatly to discover that what was normal for him was strange for others and the patterns that formed his life were missing in the lives of others – his parents inclusive. Within an instant, he noticed the movement of the light wasn't chaotic. There was a pattern to this concocted madness. The lights lingered on some areas for nanoseconds longer than others and then took on a subtle shade as they moved. To the perceptive eye, a sequence presented itself. Eagerness mixed with joy flooded Jake’s vein as he stretched forth his hand to interact with the pattern he had noticed.

Jacob led his hand into the first cluster of light as they grouped together. The purple lights morphed into a diamond-like shape. The other dancing lights changed into a different shade of purple. Jake's hypothesis was correct. He let a smile tug at the corners of his lips. In his awe, he missed his cue to secure the next light cluster. The first cluster dispersed and the egg returned to its previous state.

Jake took two steps back. Fear gripped the base of his spine.

"What am I doing? Anything could be inside this thing. It could be a bomb or a virus…" His eyes went wide as a slew of imagination and realization flooded his mind space.

“Calm down, Jake. This may just be an act of hyper imagination. Remember all those classes where they tried to debug how your mind worked? Quick breaths!” He breathed in then out then in and out then stopped.

“This isn’t working!” He shouted with a show of hands. Jake stopped pacing about and placed both hands on his hips.

He studied the lights a while longer then shook his head. Indecision formed a thick black cloud over his head and his mind went into a tumult. He managed to walk half the distance back towards the entrance before dropping his briefcase and returning to the egg.

"I'll just try a few more sequences but if it looks like it's about to open… then I'll stop!" He nodded. “I’ll have to stop! Of course I will.” He nodded once more, this time with determination.

Against his better judgment, Jake continued experimenting with the light sequences on the egg. He found that if he wasn't fast enough the entire sequence would reset itself back to its default state. It wasn't enough to just react to the light sequences. After the initial sequence, he would have to predict the future sequences just to keep up with the lights. The more he tried to solve it, the more complicated the puzzle became. It was possibly the most fascinating puzzle that Jake had ever attempted. He continued to interact with the lights on the egg.

Each failed attempt followed immediately by starting over from the beginning. This cycle continued for half an hour. The lights got faster; almost as if they were learning from Jake’s incessant punching. Jacob entered a trance-like state as his hands danced upon the egg's surface. Unlike the other puzzles he solved in the past, this puzzle required more than intellect to crack the code. At first, he thought it would be a piece of cake but he slowly came to realize and accept that it required his intuition, dexterity, his spirit – every part of him needed to be in sync if he was to break through. It would take his all to solve this puzzle.

Unknown to Jake, an aurora borealis type light had filled the hanger. He was so transfixed on his task that he didn't notice anything outside of himself. His hands moved on their own as if his mind and body were perfectly in sync. He had never felt this in the moment before. This must be what the coach at the academy meant by in the zone, he thought. He moved his arms like a music conductor, as he stayed in sync with the movement of the lights.

He touched the final notes of the light symphony and a wave of pressure from the egg knocked him down onto the floor. He looked up and finally noticed the aurora borealis. It was both beautiful and horrifying.

"Crap... I couldn’t stop."

The egg was opening. Jake jumped to his feet and attempted to prevent the egg from opening but to no avail. It slowly opened, pushing him away.

He gazed into the alien egg as a blue mist poured out of it. He couldn't make out what was inside. As the mist began to dissipate, the lights started to dim. Jake covered his mouth and nose with his hand suddenly after realizing what had happened. If the mist contained a virus it was far too late for him. His thoughts ran like wildfire. He wondered if he had inadvertently poisoned everyone on the station.

He couldn't help but smell the mist. It seeped through the ingenious hand-mask that he so expertly crafted on the fly. It was a sweet aroma akin to strawberries–but not quite. A smell that pleasant couldn't possibly be poisonous, he thought. He couldn't place the smell that felt so good on his inside. He slowly lowered his hand from his face. He could now clearly see what resided within the egg-like object.



6 Kin


On the surface of Jophiel, among the wreckage previously discovered by Travis Takeda, stood three tall ominous figures. Their spacesuits weren't as cumbersome and awkward as his. These suits were form-fitting with domed helmets. Tubes connected the helmet to a small container on the upper back, which held breathable air. These suits were designed for mobility, stealth, and if need be combat.

The three were all female. The shortest among them stood 6'3". Belts slung about their hips held various gadgets and weapons. On their backs within holsters next to their breathing apparatuses were their signature weapons. A sword with a hilt that closely resembled a shotgun’s stock. When the trigger is pulled the swords vibrate at a frequency matching that of a crystal within the hilt. At this frequency, the sword was capable of cutting through just about anything. It was a deadly weapon. Almost as deadly as the three warriors who wielded it.

The three searched the wreckage for the missing object, but it was already gone. One of the women jumped into the sky. She twirled and landed gracefully on the top of the ridge that Travis Takeda had stood on. She held her hand to her helmet then uttered some indiscernible words in an alien language. Purple lights filled the space above her head and circled for a few seconds before flying through the sky to light the surface of a ship. The ship was massive. It was the only visible object in the sky from where she stood. The Juggernaut class Arez battleship was a thing of wonder and rarity. Its design was a pinnacle of illogicality just like the bumblebee. It shouldn’t fly, yet it did fly. The Juggernaut was the largest battleship in the galaxy and the worst beast any nation should come against. No one had seen one in so long. The massive ship ascended into the heavens above Jophiel. There was no sound or fanfare. Death never needed an announcement.

***

Within the egg-like object was a girl. Her skin was a deeper shade of red. The points of her ears were sharper than a human's. Her hair was a dark mix of purple and red and as wild as Jacob's mane. She was curled up into a fetal position while the mist gently poured forth from the capsule. She wore a form-fitting flight suit with trim edges that softly glowed purple. Her unmoving form suggested she was asleep, but Jake surmised that she was in stasis.

The girl slowly opened her eyes. Her irises were a vivid blue, almost neon. This especially stood out due to how dark around the iris was. The whites of her eyes were a dark grayish color. She had full lips and as she let out a yawn, her visible canine teeth were slightly longer than a human's.

Jake nervously watched from afar, he was mesmerized and scared at the same time. She slowly sat upright inside the open pod and let out another yawn. She stretched her full length and took a step outside of the pod. Her height became apparent to him immediately as she got out of the escape pod. She had to be, at the very least, over six feet tall. Jake gulped and choked on his spit. The alien was on him by the time he let out a second cough. She bared her teeth and her eyes had taken on a shade of vicious intent.

“Give me one reason not to kill you?” She said through her teeth. He heard her speak in a strange language but the Navi had quickly interpreted her words.

“Uh! Reason? Why would you want to kill me in the first place?” She turned her head to the left then the right. He realized he understood her but she didn’t understand him. It would have been easy to tune the Navi so it could interpret her words and his but he was pinned down to the wall. He tried to mouth words he had learned from language class, maybe a slew or two would get her to understand him. After several attempts, he managed to get her to free one of his hands. Quickly, he shoved his hand in his pocket and pulled out an earpiece. Jake gestured to his ear and mouth then stretched it towards her ear. She snatched it from his hand, snarled at him before considering the device. Immediately she put it on her ear, a whir started followed by a beep on his Navi. Jake put a second earpiece into his own ear.

“You can now speak,” he said with a smile. His words flowed in impeccable Arez and he noticed the surprise in her eyes.

“Give me one reason not to kill you?” She was surprised that her words flowed in a different language. “What did you do to me?”

"Nothing! I swear. This is only to aid us to communicate. I’m not sure of your brain structure so I can't authorize direct input to the synapses. But this should get us talking. Which reminds me. I’m not edible?"

“You think this is some joke?”

“No. I don’t want to be eaten. I assume that’s why you want to kill me, yeah?”

“What?”

“Well, the Arez – that's your race, kills us because we taste good. Funny thing is, I’m different. I wouldn’t make a good meal. Any chance of you passing me up?"

She blinked a few times. “Wait, you think we eat your kind?”

Jake’s mouth hung open and his eyes seemed to say yes.

“That is the most absurd thing I have heard!” She said with a scoff. “You Terrans stink. Why would any decent person even attempt to eat you?”

“Does that mean you won’t kill me?”

“No! I mean, yes. You shot my ship down.”

“No we didn’t.”

“How come I am here? Where is here anyway?”

“I don’t know the whole story because I was trying to dodge my mom this morning when my dad came bearing news. You were found on Jophial. Your ship was wrecked and somehow this pod survived. And as to your second question, the answer is Lhasa.”

“What?”

"You’re in a Terran space colony named Lhasa. My father found you on Jophiel and my curiosity led me to free you. Is that a better sequence for you?”

She scoffed. “You opened the escape pod? I invented the milky way.” Her eyes ran through his underdeveloped arms while unbelief flooded her face. Jake didn’t feel insulted. He was already used to people looking down on him.

“I did open it,” he said with a laugh. “And if it wasn’t for me. You would still be in there. You’d probably have died by now.” Her grip on him softened and she slid back and sat in a corner.

“Are you okay?” Jake asked.

She shook her head.

“How can I be okay when I am in a strange place?”

“I think I understand what you mean.”

“……”

“Yeah. I’m here but I don’t fit. I’m like a mammoth and this era doesn’t know what to do with me.”

“What is a mammoth?”

“You don’t know what a mammoth is?”

Her eyes narrowed to slits on her face. “I would not have asked otherwise.”

"Sorry. Mammoths were these large elephant-like creatures that predate elephants. They used to be on Terra – that is where we humans are from. Do you know about Terra?"

“Only enough to fight wars. We know you humans come from there and the knowledge helps us understand your weakness.”

“You must be in a really boring school.”

She smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“I’m Jake, by the way.” He said with an extended hand. She looked at his hand then his face. “Oh. I’m introducing myself. It’s a Terran custom. You should also tell me your name then shake my hand.”

“Why?”

“Then that means we are frie-aquainted.”

She hesitated before stretching forth hers.

“I am Adeola.” They shook hands.

Adeola and Jake’s stomachs growled at the same time. They both laughed shyly.

“I’ll go get some pizza,” Jake quipped.

“Pizza? What is that?”

“The best food ever invented. There’s only one problem.”

“Which is?”

“You have to wait here.”

“Impossible.”

“Don’t be stubborn.”

“I want to see the station.”

Jake was surprised by her request.

“Are you alright? They would shoot you before you say a word. Do you not understand where you are? You’re on a Terran station. No one wants to see an Arez, too much bad blood lingers between us. Please tell me what part of all this screams you are welcome?”

“If you leave me alone then I would go for a walk.”

“You’re being manipulative.”

“Is that a yes or a no?” Adeola seemed to be enjoying the power she wielded over him. There was no way he could let her wander off on her own. He could, but that would still be on him when they find her and a war breaks out. Besides, they could trace it back to him. There was no way he was going to leave her alone.

“Okay. Look, you don’t leave my side or say anything once we’re out there. Do you understand?”

“Yes. I play the part of a mute who has been held against her will.”

Jake gave her a look. “Are all your people this troublesome or it’s just a special case with you?”

“It is a trait developed by mutes.”

“Stop giving me a hard time. I’m on your side, which means I don’t want to see you dead.”

“It is fine. It is as you said, there is too much bad blood between us.”

“I don’t talk like that.”

“My imitation of you is perfect. You are hard of hearing.”

He let out a deep sigh. “We need to get you something to wear.”

“What is wrong with what I have on?”

“It’s screaming, kill me for I am an Arez,” Jake replied in mockery.

“I do not talk like that.”

“And you’re also hard of hearing.”

He looked around for something that would not draw attention. All he found was his father's work clothing. It was a navy blue hooded jumpsuit.

“Functional,” he declared as he pulled it from a box. “This will serve our purpose beautifully.”

“It is ugly.”

"Is that any way to treat your ticket to the outside?"

“You Terrans are difficult,” Adeola said resignedly as she snatched the work clothing away. She stared at it for a while before putting it on. The hood fit perfectly, concealing her features. Jake smiled in satisfaction.

“Now, we can go get pizza while we explore! Are you ready?”

She was already by the door post when he turned to face her.


shngla/lhs/srv/0001976/upload.dat

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