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Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

The Ancient Honey Pot

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She had a friend.

I was recently watching a Nature show on Honey Bee's when I came up with a fantastic idea for a short story about a mysterious and dangerous substance! And then for some reason - don't ask me why - but I thought of 'Winnie the Pooh' and his little pot of Golden Honey. I wanted the story to have the ability to transport its readers to a far off place and time, so filled with a bright cheery quality, only to be swallowed up by a dreadful wave of uncertainty; so close to home and yet so far away. I wanted two opposing forces - that of sheer terror and shining glory to clash in a final telling tale of circumstance, pitting two sides of the same coin against each other in one gripping moment of brilliance! Enjoy!

      Seriah Starswan stepped from the ship platform and into the cold white world, a funny tickle racing up to the surface from deep down in her heart; her little starlight aching for adventure. The youngest Scientist aboard "Delilah” it was that curious child-like quality about her that was ready to get started. And just as the sun was on the verge of setting, perched halfway beneath a sleek blanket of white in every direction, a strange stillness loomed far out into the world. The land itself, the air about this place offered naught but a strange discomfort, whispering forth a breath of caution, as if to say ‘Be careful child, you don’t know what’s out there.’  

     Professor Ror Copaxic, followed by Senior Analyst Dr.Zakaryus Timebender and Atreyu Sunstealer – who operated solely in a Military capacity – touched down with less excitement, deliberately caring to be alert, watchful and methodical; always scanning, always careful. Seriah looked about too, her comfort shaken for the moment, their warnings seeming to disturb her own field of excitement, bringing her down a notch. All about in every direction, as far as the eye could see there was nothing but ice and snow and frigid temperatures.

     The planet’s air was breathable, but still she hesitated a moment before raising her visor; somehow cherishing the sentiment of it. After all, it was the first time off the ship since she was only an infant. It would be the first time in twelve years that she would have her first true fresh breath of real planetary air. Born on the MARC-13 jungle base of Eris Europa 23, she was selected for Mission “Origin” soon after birth, and had since grown up on the ship. The flight plan aspect of the mission had her dipping in and out of Cryostasis sleep, wormhole after wormhole, waking groggy, hungry and thirsty, always excited to see strange new worlds, stars, and their planetary systems, eagerly learning all that she could.  

     Her brain and mind took to the chemical injections with virtual ease, the lessons – covering a wide degree of sciences from many different Interstellar Species were absolutely amazing! And she was thrilled to learn the many cultures, their early civilizations, their histories, religions, myths and legends; all great and compelling stories. But it was those strange and unexplained things that seemed to hold her fancy, sparking her fears: the unknown, the unsolvable, God, the Edge of the Universe, other dimensions, spirits, ghosts and demons. She took to running, jumping, acrobats and weapons training, but what she absolutely loved, were the hundreds of different Combat Arts as well, their origins, their sciences, their practices which left her utterly exhausted every day, pitting her against all odds by the end of every twelve-hour training session.

     Her life in Cryostasis consisted of twelve cycles of wakefulness, where for thirty days she would push her new self to her furthest limits and beyond with extreme training and schooling. The entire process from cold sleep to chilled wakefulness took no more than a few seconds but was dreadful on the system; a cold quick rush, from critically cold as the Cryogenic Gases instantly evaporate to shivering uncontrollably as the heart begins pumping blood – while the body and mind trouble to come to grips with the fact that they’d been asleep for so long, that millions of light years had been traveled.

     It was also a strange thing to wake larger and more defined, to have grown significantly from infancy through toddlerhood, through childhood and now on the verge of becoming a real life grownup. It was amazing to utilize her new functions, becoming more suited to them with every cycle, becoming faster, stronger and more agile. She would awake thirsty and extremely hungry and weak, but she loved it. All of it. It was all that she knew. And she never once questioned why she had to learn all this stuff, why her range of knowledge had to cover the many sciences on more than twenty NH (Non-Human) Systems when so very little was known of Earth, when all that she was ever told of it was sent down in the form of stories and conjecture; myths mostly with very few genuine facts.

     Seriah loved the feeling of being directly linked into the ship itself. It was in those most strange and inviting moments that she knew Delilah was really alive! Something about her Neuro Cyber circuits raced through with a pulse, a strange heartbeat, somehow...a soul: sentient, brimming with emotions, no true will of independence but to follow the Professor’s will. And like a Killer Pet Shark, Delilah would protect Professor Ror with her own life. And like two tiny fish in the deep of space, millions of light-years away from home Seriah and Delilah would play and learn and study and train, flying through a gigantic web of Wormholes traversing time and space at an incredible rate of speed many times faster than light.

     These long moments of bliss and wonder, during school and training – like a strange and fantastic dream – opened up her consciousness inside and out, stretching it out for extreme intake, peeling back her emotions, her ambitions, needs, wants and desires, delivering to all six-senses in quick procession, lessons and notes that added to her becoming the Scientist she was meant to be. The little virtual Robot Teachers were fantastic, funny and cute; almost like toys, until she tickled them and they responded like tiny elves saying, “Now, now Seriah Starswan..! That is no way for a young lady to -” And she would tickle and pester them, throwing them off their programming a moment, just enough to be brought back by the Professor.

     She would then carry on, taking sweetly to her lessons, all the while convincing her little Robot Teachers into trying out her own little clothing designs, which she had plenty of; all colours and styles. And like that, while her little Robot Teachers doled out lessons on Eris Europa and many other Planetary Systems, telling of their languages and cultures, she would turn them into little Robot models, unwittingly a part of the festivities that were taking place in her mind. And without knowing it, they were walking back and forth, up and down the catwalk. She did this simply by walking back and forth herself, her mind racing with images of rich and powerful people coming to one of her famous functions where beautiful models walked a brightly lit catwalk garnering adoring fans and people who praised beauty. And they were wearing her designs!

     And just when her teachers thought she wasn’t paying attention they would pop-quiz her, and without a great deal of effort she could recite with great detail most of her lessons. But still, she wished she knew more about planet Earth, how it came to be this way, so dark and cold, so...covered in ice. Where were the real histories? The real solid data that could give her a piece of closure on those hard questions that could not be simply answered: how did humans come to be in the first place? How did we die? How did we live? What of this creature God, who all Species seem to believe in in some way or other? What were humans really like? What happened to all the data? Why was it lost? How was it lost?

     She awoke two weeks ago, entirely different in body and mind; more complex, more heightened in all ways, stemming from those rawest emotions to those most strange tickling and pleasurable places on her body. She was different, and things seemed to make more sense than ever, and still...they were more confusing than ever. And it was only lately that she had begun to ask about her parents, which people she was born to, which program and which sector. It was something that weighed on her lately, keeping her wondering; the ‘what,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ of it all pressing her to ask many questions. She knew the ‘when’ of it all at least. Over twenty-thousand years ago was the when.

     But still came those difficult questions, driving to understand why she was different than most. Professor Ror – very patient – explained that she was specifically designed with an older – recently recovered DNA Recipe that had nearly been forgotten by the computers; one that would have her grow up sweetly feminine, filling out with the most opposing forces, on all three fronts: scientist, warrior and home-grown female. ‘My girl,’ Professor Ror had said, 'You’re special. You’re a true little girl of Earth. That is to say that your DNA profile is of an original race. Before the computers changed us.’ Fuelled with emotions she would fall into Professor Ror’s arms and simply enjoy being held.

     Professor Ror was the only mother figure she knew, the Scientists, Soldiers, Robots and the ship itself, the only brothers and sisters she had ever known. Everything she knew, every dream she had thought she had, every deep sea diving adventure, every mountain trek she had been on and every space exploration and planet she had ever visited were all part of a neural memory program designed to explore her inquisitive personality, test it and keep it thriving. And right here, right now she was standing on solid ice in the real world, a real human being, digitally re-mastered and configured using an ancient DNA recipe. This was no dream. She breathed deep, the crisp, cold air rushing into her lungs, seemed to awaken them from a very long sleep.

      Unable to restrain her curiosity she tore head strong into the sunset, closing in on the object, relishing the crunching snow and the cold draft against her cheeks. “Hurry R.E.X!” And quickly, like a pet Robot hound the Recovery Unit tore after her, quickly leaving her behind, happily bounding off into the great unknown on its own mission. She could hear Atreyu racing quickly behind, barrel and sights like a set of eyes aiming everywhere he looked, trigger finger ready to unleash chaos at a moment’s notice. Seriah screamed, unable to hold it, her Neuro Cyber implants and enhanced musculature sending her off at a great speed, tickling her. And she could not believe she was free on solid ground in a real living world!

     Looking back, she was always impressed with Professor Ror, the way her eyes, ears and senses were on high alert, the easy way she glided above the surface, her small board barely visible beneath her. And beside her, Dr. Timebender brought forth all his little Robot transport units and like any good Scientist he just could not wait for them to begin their job. And together, the whole of them were embarking on a very first: a real life mission to the Planet of origin. And from what scraps of knowledge they had about the Planet Earth, none of it could be proven, not even by the computers.

     And as far as stories, legends and myths went this was no endless wasteland of charred cities or raging seas that covered ninety-nine percent of the World, no. This was ice and cold with various conditions of snow and blizzard in between, and the sun, hidden beneath a heavy haze let little warmth through. And it was something strange that it still hovered half way into the ground in no particular rush to set. It was something of a mystery too that it would not set for a month; a prolonged romantic equation between sun and sky, the muse in the stillness of the world.

     And every one of them were somehow deeply affected in their own special way, from the hulking Goon Atreyu with his One-Man-Army ability to decimate the entire landscape to R.E.X. whose sole job was to follow Protocol and retrieve the object safely without getting anybody killed, to the brilliant Professor Ror whose job it was to oversee the mission; to ensure that all Protocol and safety measures are followed and to make certain that it all goes down without a hitch. Every one of them were touched with a tinge of curiosity; fuelled whimsically by the very idea that their kind had originated from here, this strange, strange place.

     R.E.X. now standing upright, leaving all fours to take a humanoid stance, threw his arms out quickly, locking eyes with Seriah, “That’s close enough Seriah!” Seriah stopped, heeding his warnings, the better part of her wily ways wanting to dive right on in and check things out for herself. With that Professor Ror and Dr. Timebender took up beside her, their own curiosities stimulated by such a find. And watching and recording the event, it was quite a thing to watch R.E.X. get to work, his little lasers and scanners in full effect, his central processing unit immediately scanning it for radioactivity, signs of a leak and various other tests to determine the level of safety. After a few minutes alone, away on the field of ice, he turned back to the little crowd, giving them a ‘thumbs up.’

     The first to lead was Atreyu, step by cautious step, his assault cannon ever ready to deal out death should the moment require it. “Easy Atreyu,” said The Professor. “You’re making me nervous waving that thing around so cautiously.” Atreyu said nothing, lead by solely by his instincts. “Just ease up Soldier.” He did no such thing, his mission parameters going high above her own when it came to the safety of the crew. And every where he looked, his sights always came back to a spot of solid ice just above the location of the object.

     He was nervous. The silence always made him nervous. How many times did the silent places of any given planet tend to be the most treacherous? Too many times it had happened that way. There were simply too many wounds and too many dead men left behind to fall back into an easy mindset when it came to the silent places in the Universe. He was doing his job as any soldier would, there to protect his own, with his life if it came down to that. And still, he felt it just as they did: the subtle excitement of a new fresh find. A look into the unknown; the place of origin.

     R.E.X., rather human-like on two legs, made a little magic gesture with his hands before green lasers quickly sliced deep into the snow, carving out a massive block of ice. And like that, Dr. Timebender went in, his little Robot Goons securing it for transport. As the Robots hauled it up with their little transport beams, R.E.X. sliced the bottom away creating a perfect cube of ice. With the block of ice hovering just above the ground the team began their trek back to the ship, a wave of curiosity and caution washing through. And Seriah too was filled with a sense of nervousness, and for the first time too a note of uncertainty filled the air turning her mind full circle, knowing full-well that the object – whatever it was – could be dangerous.

     The team became quiet, their minds actively wondering of the mystery, those most obvious questions darting out at them, hoping for an answer: what is it? Is it dangerous? Seriah too became silent, simply staring deep into the ice at what appeared as a simple small object, the colour difficult to discern.  Entirely taken away, her mind tossed about with a sudden alarm, her overactive imagination filling with thoughts of a biological weapon, perhaps an infiltration unit just waiting for them. Maybe it was a killer creature; a killer Robot in disguise maybe. She had heard plenty of terror stories about the things that lurk in the deep dark reaches of space. And she could not help but to offer a breathy whisper, careful not to stir the air too much, “What do you suppose it is Professor Ror?”

     Professor Ror, with her little hand scanner – its ability to look deep into the ice and present a rough image – could see only a small pod no bigger than two hands. With the numbers, graphs and results coming back inconclusive on her hand held, Professor Ror seemed perplexed and quite eager to get started on analyzing the contents, the object itself jabbing her curiosity down to the bones. Encased inside the small pod, a solid unknown substance seemed to be staring right back at them. And really, nobody could be certain of its contents, whether it was a gift or doom. And still they moved across the sheet of ice toward the ship, their shadows long and low before them like dark fingers infecting the world itself. And still it was a strange thing that the sun would not set for weeks. So romantic save for the uncertainty the moment produced.

     After what seemed a long silence and an even longer puzzled expression, Professor Ror said, “I don’t know what it is Seriah. I know just as much as you do about it.” A funny grin came over her face if only to dispel the sour mood with a little excitable whip, “What do you suppose it is Seriah?” Professor Ror looked upon Seriah with confidence, truly appreciating someone so fresh and airy and bright, and yet Professor Ror knew too that Seriah was at a loss, that she could not tell of the colour or its contents.  

     Smiling bright like a small child running forward to claim a prize – helmet snug around her face, the seemingly perpetual sunset gave her blue eyes a dark green shade, somehow becoming more expressive, alive and filled with wonder. With messy blond hair crowding her eyes and cheeks, she could see her breath, and that too was like tickles. And after a moment of thinking on it, coming to her own conclusion, she said, “I don’t know what it is Professor. But I sure can’t wait to find out. Do you think it’s dangerous?”

     Professor Ror smiled and said, “What say we get it to Analysis and find out what it really is. We’ll let the computers and the Robots have at it.”

     A wave of giddiness struck Seriah square in the heart, “I’m so excited!” And she was. “What if this makes us rich? What if we go back and save the world? I mean, like...revolutionize it somehow! What if we become celebrities?”

     “Seriah, a hundred million people know who you are! You’re famous already.”

     And Seriah, slapping her head nonsensically said, “No, silly...! I mean, like...super-famous! Like Lexicon Driver who saved the human race, or Hera Minotaurus who found Eris Europa! You that...!” And she watched with a wave of delight as Dr. Timebender’s little Goon Robots hoisted the block into place under the retrieving spotlight. And like that, the little Goon transport Robots quickly hopped back into Dr. Timebender’s briefcase and turned back into pint-sized bulbs of metal awaiting their next job.

     The lights of the Ship shining down upon on them seemed quite comforting when set against the natural backdrop of cold hard desolation. The hiss of the doors releasing drew her excitement as the little spotlight tractor beam hauled up the block of ice, securing it in the deepest, hardest place on the ship – the Central Hull Laboratory's isolation Chamber. where only the nano-machines were allowed access. Seriah’s eyes, wide and inquisitive were filled with a heightened excitement as Delilah took the block of ice into her deepest folds. And in moments the object was secure and being prepared for analysis.

      Seriah’s stomach was grumbling. Something about the cold seemed to make her thirsty. And while the Professor, Dr. Timebender and R.E.X. entered the ship Seriah took one last glance into the sunset, the peachy red tones scorching the skies seeming a blessing and a curse. The serenity of it all seemed utterly perplexing, soothing and utterly terrifying at the same time. With Atreyu coming up behind, having cleared the area, she went up into the ship giving one last look to the world, wondering what else was out there just waiting to be found. And it still did not compute fully that she was on Earth, her home planet of origin.

     Hungry and thirsty, she removed her helmet and suit, ran a hand through her hair and stepped into the chamber. The doors shut her in. With her hands straight out to the side she opened her mouth and drew her legs apart. Instantly, like a little brilliant light show a field of green lasers scanned her body for disease, toxins and a range of other threats that might make their way onto the ship. And even now as she inhaled the nanomachines which went to work scanning and clearing her internals – just as the lasers crawled up and down her body she could not wait until the others woke that she might tell them of her very own new discovery. And they would be thrilled that the mission was a success, that they had indeed made it home.

     Dr. Timebender’s transmission caught her full attention, coming through loud and clear, the Laboratory’s strange mechanical bits and technical pieces already working hard in the background. “Professor, Analysis Protocol has been initiated. Everything is in place. The machines are raring to go. Anytime you’re ready Professor.” Professor Ror, feeling every bit as curious and cautious as Seriah now, wanted to ask him straight out, ‘You’ve done all the tests? The ‘E.D. Scan?’ You gave it ‘The Office?’ (full Nano, Cyber and Bio Scan,) but she said nothing, simply trusting him his fantastic art, knowing all too well that even if this was some sort of doomsday device, killer object or biological weapon, she was the deciding factor, the key holding all their futures in her hands.

     Professor Ror looked to Seriah, her face becoming a long expressive glance, as if to ask ‘What do you think we should do Seriah? It’s your call. Time to be a big girl. What would you have me do?’ And without asking directly, she knew that Seriah saw it in her – recognized that most difficult task taking over her face. And it was never easy to decide for the Team, to make those hard choices for the benefit of the team. Every decision so far had been the right one but it was still so difficult. There were simply too much components bordering on the unknown. Too many variables. Too many things could go wrong.

     She placed a thoughtful hand on her chin, her white hair and sullen expression betraying her angst; those bright hazel eyes somehow becoming filled with those hard choices people are often confronted by when they are directly responsible for the lives of many. And without saying it, looking right up at her, Seriah knew somehow that this moment, this arduous task was something not just anybody could do, no. This kind of task was meant for those tough, calm and wise people who were born great leaders, who believed in themselves so utterly that they could possess a single ideal of many and remain hopeful that the choice is the right one. She looked to Seriah once again who filled herself a cup of purple sludge from the dispensary.

     And despite her admiration and love for the Professor Seriah did not envy her now, especially now that the Professor must make the choice for them all. And Seriah offered but the slightest nod, as if to reassure her, as though to say, ‘Well, what else are we going to do with it? It’s here now.’ An even slighter grin washed out from her chubby lips, ‘if it kills us...well, I suppose that’s how it was all meant to happen.’ And Seriah too was trying her best to remain hopeful, and a funny thought just came to her, brightening the air, and she shrugged, smiled wide and said, “What if we go back Heroes? What if this was the one thing to change the course of history forever?” Her mind wandered back to heroism, seeming to light the Professor’s way.

     And like that, in her usual impressive bout with all that stood before her, the Professor smiled back at Seriah and gave the order. “Do it. Commence Scan.”

     And like that, Dr. Timebender began with the little scanning robots entering the chamber through a series of tubes, rushing out at the block of ice like steam, making short work of the ice and snow, which was instantly gathered from the floor, scanned, processed and placed into vials for further analysis. Seriah loved the way the tiny microscopic nano machines did their job of scanning, running tests and writing their reports in their silly little musical note language. She sat next to the Professor, whilst Atreyu Sunstealer accompanied Dr. Timebender, there as the Prime Deleter, ready to do his job if there was no other way.

     And it always frightened Atreyu that if things came down to it...if there was no other way...his rank would be instantly lifted, surpassing the good Professor’s, promoting him to the top Rank on the ship: The Prime Deleter HC (High Command status.) And while Delilah held a special place in her heart for Professor Ror and Seriah, under the Prime Deleter Protocol – which nobody but Atreyu could be awarded, under Military Law – she would be instantly under his control. And once the ‘Self Destruct’ sequence has been initiated, even she could not stop it.

     In the event of a Level 4 disease – a global killer – it was the only way to be sure that the disease itself was destroyed. The only insurance that they had was to level the area. It was not all that uncommon an event. On D X2.Port I.A. it served as a warning only a few years back, just before she was born. The ship Scientist became infected without his knowledge, carrying back a parasite from a native plant. It was in midflight that the nanomachines intitiated the Prime Deleter Protocol. Seventy-two men and women died. The blast levelled trees and bush for miles in every direction. The disease did not survive.

     Thinking on it, Seriah’s belly was not up to the challenge of today’s gruel, despite the grumbling in her stomach. Instead she drank some water in huge gulps, trying to desperately to fill that void of uncertainty that seemed to lodge itself in the pit of her being. Instead she sat close to the Professor, simply watching the little screen, looking over to the Professor, a sullen mood filling the ship. In the quiet of the ship, she could hear the machines, their little beeps and pitches, their strange language of numbers, digits and codes seeming to add to the already tense atmosphere.

     And right now, as the nanomachines dug their way through the ice, deep down into the object, a heavy silence weighed on them all. And R.E.X. too simply stood next to Atreyu, looking on as Dr. Timebender and his tiny minions did their thing. And Seriah admired him his diligence, his thorough nature, his calm way of working; so silent and calculated, missing nothing. And she thought of the others – how they were lucky to be in Cryostasis, sound asleep, lost in an inanimate universe, forgoing experiencing such a terrible thing as uncertainty. And how peaceful they slept in their ice pods; thirty-four males and ninety-nine females; young, strong and brilliant; only a few years her elder; all from the same DNA recipe as hers, designed after the original.

     Dr. Timebender’s voice disrupted the flow of Seriah’s first spoonful of the purple sludge, “It will be a few minutes yet Professor until we secure the object.” Seriah – simply too involved, toyed with the spoon, shovelling the purple sludge with no real desire to eat it. And while it was a full-protein mix, consisting of powerful antibodies and immunities, she had become used to the many flavours that Delilah produced, none which outright struck her fancy. They all tasted bland and computer-generated. And though the purple sludge itself was filling and even downright delicious at times, coming in a variety of colours, today she could not be bothered to eat in any kind of rush, her eyes never leaving her handheld, keeping a good eye on the inner chamber, zooming in on the action, seeing the ice whittle away piece by piece as the nanomachined raced deep down to secure their target.

     Looking across at the Professor, Seriah asked, “Are you scared Professor?”

     A subtle flare of courage possessed her, “If you absolutely must know...I’m terrified.” And she was serious, despite that tough leadership role she had taken on since birth. “I’m sure it’s nothing.” A wise long look drew forth, as if to soften the moment, “What about you? You scared?”

     Seriah nodded. “Sometimes I think I was meant to find it. I mean...I found it when even the computers missed it. How do you suppose that happened?”

     “Seriah, even computers miss the small objects tucked away beneath ten feet of ice.” With a thoughtful finger to her chin, she had to know, “How did you ever come to find it, child?” The question was genuine. “From that far in orbit?”

     Seriah simply shrugged, “I don’t know. I just decided to look there I guess. I just felt like that was going to be a good spot, so I arced the light and looked at it from a kind of skewed view, and it was just...there.” And it did happen that simply. No trouble. As if it was put there just for her to find.

      “Well, however it happened, I am very impressed with you Seriah Starswan.” A funny little air came over her, easing the tension, a tiny glint dashing out from beneath light brown eyes – wise eyes, that had seen many things; both good and bad. “You know...since it was your very own technique to arc the light like that, we can officially register it as a new field technique, and who might even receive an award for it. Maybe even a few credits.” And still, it puzzled her, the young girl’s mind, how she was so open to all ideas, all angles, on all subjects, so wide and free thinking, going about her new life with more zest than anybody could ever ask for. And for the moment, any concern that seemed to loom, had passed, pacified by the simple closeness of two people who were like mother and daughter.

     Being lost in the young girl’s pleasant air, her beauty and her sweet unique quality made it all worthwhile. And even now the mood had turned somehow colourful, warm and fuzzy. An air of sincerity drew over Professor Ror’s eyes as a little thought jumped right out a her, warning her of tragedy, of bad-luck and doom, how sometimes they meet in the middle and have themselves one hell of a devastating time. Determined to keep it to herself, she dared not share this little thought, keeping it entirely to herself, What if our luck ran out? What if it is something terrible? What if...? She closed her heart and mind to it, instead remembering all the good times.

     While they sat across from each other an entirely new kind of silence filled the lonely mess hall, one with a sense of communion, of bonding and camaraderie, a little fire beginning to sweep through with the ability to lessen the worries and promote positivity in abundance, tossing all the fears under the table. Keeping an eye on the Laboratory and the inner chamber, the object was becoming more visible with each pass of the nanomachines scanners. Like a small water thermos, the object could fit in both hands. Whatever it was it was just now coming into view beneath the clear ice, a gentle gold tinge giving it a seemingly harmless quality under the lights. Like a handheld science exhibit, the object resembled the Cryostasis a glass jar with a simple cap at the top.

     And Seriah, looking deep into the Professor’s brown eyes, those pools of great wisdom and knowledge could not help but to truly wonder what went on in that big old brain all day and night. And it just sort of spilled out in her mind, rolling off her tongue, “Do you sleep Professor Ror?” And honestly, Seriah never saw her sleep, never saw her tired and never saw her relax. No, it was always the work, the mission, the endlessly checking on things, spending time in her work, always linked into Delilah, always searching out the stars for danger, always scanning the heavens for threats; asteroid belts, cruising rocks, strange anomalies, dangerous intruders and malevolent entities.

     The Professor smiled, removing her eyes and mind from all things standing if only to indulge a twelve year old Junior Scientist, the one this entire mission had been planned for, “Well, that’s a silly question.” A small laugh. “Of course I sleep. Silly girl.”

     And then it poured out like a wave of water, sending her to a funny chuckle, “Well when?” A hand went up to her chin and she let out a little smirk, the fact of it rolling off her tongue, “You know, Ror...” Ticklish the way she went in these mad moments, when her mind would not allow her to stop, simply because it never knew how to stop so sweet a thing as curiosity, “I was just thinking about it, and come to think of it...I never saw you sleep once, in the whole year that I was awake.” And her bright blue eyes revealed a deep mystery, this child; as though somehow she was meant for greatness. And that she seemed entirely unaware of it made the whole strange arrangement all that more alluring, the prospect of her being the one to bring the old Earth back to life!

     “Well, if you really must know, Seriah Starswan – inquisitive child – I do sleep, fifty times a day. You just don’t see it. You know how you see me retreat to a few moments of silence, perhaps when I am reading, or staring out at the cosmos. I’m really asleep.”

     “With your eyes open? Now that is just creepy Professor. Like...really? You sleep with your eyes open? Come on...” With a magical little twinkle in her eye, the moment was overtaken by the mind of a young Scientist teeming with life, perched on the verge of laughing herself into hysterics at the thought of it – how someone can just sleep with their eyes open any old time they want. With that a bright and astonishing light filled the room, somehow soothing them in their hearts and minds, the little smell of sterility, of cleanliness, the fanning whispers of the air manifestation computers doing their job was enough to distract them for now.

     Seriah, looking right into the Professor’s eyes, heeding all the wisdom therein, hoped to one day sit in the same category, with as much beauty, charm, grace, influence, fortitude and candour as the Professor. She admired and absolutely adored Professor Ror, and her ability to wield great power with but a simple well thought out proposal, taking her ideas right to the upper Echelons of the Science World was simply amazing! And nothing stopped her when she made up her mind to do something. And what was even more amazing was that she was well known on all twenty-two neighbouring planets; an influential force, having met and befriended Kings, Queens, Emperors, Presidents and High Commanders.  

     Coming from a long line of Scientists, it was actually her great-great grandfather Sirius Space Runner who found the remains of the Ancient Wormhole entrance that brought them to Eris Europa in the first place. It was he who reverse-engineered the Alien construct, bringing the systems back online. His early life was consumed by an exhaustive and obsessive search for some unknown object out there just beyond the Orbits of Dawn Child and Dusk Child, the moons – some unseen thing cleverly hidden in plain sight that somehow escaped detection by the most sophisticated computers. It was her Pedigree that put her in such a powerful position; that long bloodline of Scientists, that all natural ability to do her job like no other. Seriah wanted to be just like Professor Ror, her Hero.

     It was this same man Sirius Space Runner, who, in his endless search for the object that eluded him, managed to find the Entranceway into the one Ancient Wormhole Highway that lead them straight back to Earth from Eris Europa. It was the famed Ancient Wormhole of legend that was still mentioned in stories of the last days of the Interstellar Exodus that her people barely survived. None of the Greys survived. None of the other Species survived. In the early days it was said that one woman, Gracy Star Child who united them all, lead them all, bringing them to a fruitful and powerful civilization right on Eris Europa. It was said that this Gracy Star Child rallied her people and pulled them through the roughest time of their lives, to land smack dab on a planet with breathable air and fresh water, lush oceans and familiar climate and geographical terrain as Earth.

     It was this woman, a direct child of the original Eartheans whose child – merely a speck frozen in Cryostasis – would someday, long after her death, become a great man; the very man who would become a great force in the scheme of things. It was her son Sirius Space Runner who began mapping out the original three hundred Wormholes five-hundred years after his mother’s death. Professor Ror told her the story many times, and always with such pride and excitement, ‘My great-great grandfather Sirius Space Runner led a team of Space Explorers far out into the cosmos.’

     ‘The ‘Ceda Skai,’ which, in the Asmic tongue of the Armenons, translates to ‘Those Who Map Suns,’ trekked into the great beyond, finding many habitable planets and discovering many civilizations out there. It was the Ceda Skai who opened the original Wormhole, connecting it back to the super Interstellar Highways we know today.’ And after she told the story, it always made her wonder, the question of what happened to them, never truly going away. ‘He never did make it back. But because of him, we found the way back to our home planet. Well, to be more precise...back to your home planet, Seriah. Back to earth. And Professor Ror never did mention that Seriah herself came from a long line of Military Leaders; never wanted to awaken that sleeping military Giant within.

     And Seriah, finding herself completely at one with space and time and herself, simply said, “Professor...I love you. And no matter what happens, I’ll be right here beside you.”

     “Awwwe...Seriah, that’s a lovely thing to say.” And she did love the child, in all the ways a mother could love a child, and it began to spill out like a little waterfall spilling into an ocean, “Seriah I lov-”And like a nightmare the systems alarms screamed to life, shrieking through with a Level 4 Security Protocol, closing them off from the rest of the ship, isolating them in the mess hall. The sudden eruption of the red flashing lights and the raging alarms blasted them both in their hearts, hauling them straight up from their seats!

      Seeing the Prime Deleter Protocol engage the first phase of action by releasing Professor Ror from ship command, Seriah screamed and leaped forward, darting after the Professor, her eyes sweeping over her little handheld. And both their hearts drew heavy with hot blood screaming through with adrenaline force, flaming through their very cores, lighting up the rest of their short little lives. And though she prayed this kind of thing would never happen, it was happening, now, and in moments Phase Two of the Primary Deleter Protocol would place Atreyu in ‘self destruct’ mode, commencing the Primary Deleter Protocol for immediate termination of all organisms aboard.  

     “Professor!” Seriah screamed. The alarm and the red flashing lights terrified her; all the things that could go wrong, all this way for nothing. Shaking, Seriah entered a panic state, “What’s happening!”

     Professor Ror, a sobbing Seriah gripping her tight was stopped in her tracks at what she saw on her handheld. It was the nanomachines. They were being terminated on contact with the golden substance, completely destroyed the moment they breached the hull of the object. Her heart raced through the charge, instincts suddenly becoming responsive, clear and able to drive her forth with utter clarity despite a panicking child pawing at her hysterically. Taking Seriah by the arms Professor Ror gave her a quick shake, “Calm down Seriah! Seriah, you have to calm down! You have to calm down child, you’re frightening the both of us!” And like that, an instant of clarity bringing her back, Seriah nodded, never leaving her side, as if Professor Ror could stop The Prime Deleter Protocol from happening once it started.

     “Zak! What the hell happened!”

     He screamed back over the alarms, “The nanomachines went in like they were supposed to...! And they...” His hands were fiddling with controls and running through his own Protocol to determine a threat level. Professor, they went in and got destroyed. Whatever it is its killing them on contact!”

     “What’s the threat Level!”

     “I...” he shook his head, clearly perplexed.

     “Come on man! What’s the threat level!”

     Only a look – but the slightest glance told her that it was sitting at a Level Four threat level, enough to begin the ultimate counter-measure, staying put just long enough to discern a final reading, the little machines working frantically to figure a way out for all of them, seeing no outs. With a sudden terror crawl over the good doctor’s face, Professor Ror charged through with absolute authority, “What is it Zak!” Atreyu in the corner of her handheld gave her a simple look that she read and knew, his silent way of saying, ‘Professor, I’ll stall as long as I can, but I can’t hold it for long once it starts! Hurry the hell up and get us out of here!’ She screamed to her Senior Analyst, “ God damn it man! Spit it out!”

     Visibly shaken, his composure crushed, his mind seeing no obvious solutions to the biggest problem of his life, he said, “The substance itself shifted to the side, quickly reacting to the change in temperature.”

     “Is it alive?” She pressed for those most accountable questions that would tell her story when they came searching for her and team Tango Baja when they failed to return. And like that all things were put on hold; all questions; all symptoms of life in their minds and their hearts. And what they saw, with utter clarity was something both remarkable and frightening, testing their wits, driving their greatest fears, preparing them for death. And like a slow motion cruise through time and action – their little cameras zoomed in with great detail – they saw the golden substance itself begin to ooze through the little hole in the glass through which the nanomachines gained entry, seeming to rush out to meet them head on, destroying the little nanomachines, utterly obliterating them.

     Atreyu’s eyes – those bulbs of strength and hardness offering but the softest measure his heart could deliver with a single silent glance, as if to say, ‘It’s been real good working with you Professor. Real good.’ And like a beacon itself, screaming out at them from their little handhelds, the little red Prime Deleter Protocol bar was filling up with red, millimetre by agonizing millimetre, closing in on the last minute of their lives, rushing out at them loud and panicking, as if to say, ‘This is it boys and girls!’ A slight bow, ‘It’s been a slice!’ Seriah threw her arms around the Professor, simply nuzzling into her, trying not to get in the way, counting down her little life, having missed out on the world of the living. Missing out on the world. Her world. And she didn’t care now that it was made of ice and snow. She could have changed it all. Somehow, some way.

     And now was the time for goodbye’s, and she held no ill will against the circumstances. She was ready. Altogether forgetting her little handheld, she took Seriah’s eyes up into her own, the lights and alarms still blaring through, and she yelled it out, finally, her final secret, “Baby...! I didn’t want to tell you before, but...!” Tears ran down her eyes, her lips trembling, shaking, palms reaching out and touching the most beautiful gift to ever grace the Universe, and like that she cried, stumbling for words, “I guess I was just curious! I should have told you!” And even as the little gauge filled with red, and the readings were high in effect, and the ship was counting down her last few seconds she was so blessed to have Seriah.

    Seriah, emblazoned with fear and shock and distress and a strange lulling calmness drew awake in these last moments with an immaculate curiosity, “What is it Professor! Please...! We don’t have much time!”

     “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to know anything about it!”

     “About what!”

     “Where you come from!”

     “What are you talk-”

     “Seriah, baby!” she brushed loving hands through her hair, squeezing her so tight around. “ were born to be a great leader! A military genius! A great General! A conqueror! It’s your Pedigree, baby! You come from a very long line of Military Generals! Geniuses! A very powerful people! One hundred-percent human!”A look of genuine love and good things shone through the tears, “Baby, this is all for you! The whole thing. Planned long before you were even born.”

     And together they cried as the time neared with under a minute left, crawling by with closed loving eyes, great big hugs and lovely beating hearts filled with courage and grace and all good and wonderful things. And together too, their little handhelds screamed out their frantic messages, the ship – Delilah herself, seeming to reach a calm, beautiful, chaotic grip on her passengers. Professor Ror looked to Zak through the Lab window, giving him a thumbs up. To Atreyu, she simply nodded firmly, her waterfall of tears matching a single one of his own which fell loose as his hands squeezed the detonator, no longer in control of it.

     A strange silence filled the ship despite the screaming alarms and the red flashing lights. And the final moments were now upon them, crashing through with utter certainty. And like a magic sleep spell they all closed their eyes, Professor Ror, Seriah, Dr. Timebender and Atreyu Sunstealer, still in these last moment filled with honour, remembering full well their comrades, somehow not allowing themselves to forget the one hundred and forty men and women in Cryostasis, somehow saying a small prayer for them too. And in the end, in those last few moments, they accepted their fates, their Destinies, that sometimes you really can’t change your destiny, sometimes you really aren’t in control. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two...

     They inhaled deeply, nothing more that could be done. And in the strangest moment of all their lives something happened that would change them from that moment forth. A stunning silence gripped the ship, falling under an eerie spell, the lights dying out a few moments before the light of a half set sun loomed in casting a strange and soothing glow. And like that, like a child leaping out from behind a landing pad the lights of the ship came back on, and the consoles too, their little lights, the silence confusing them to a great and powerful allure. And like that they opened their eyes in disbelief, the silence of the moment playing on their hearts, filling them back up with life and dreams and goals, however slowly they all allowed themselves to be released from the grip of certain death somehow reaching a new level of life confronting and accepting death.

     There was no explosion to mar the beautiful white landscape, no smoke to infect the crisp peachy skies and no death to take them off to...wherever... A moment of shock enveloped them all, causing them to feel and touch themselves, their faces if only to be certain that this was real and not imagined, not some other plane of existence where the dead go. And Seriah looked to the Professor and then down to her little handheld, a look of surprise lighting her up, “Look Professor! The Primary Deleter Protocol: Phase One, has been disengaged!” She looked up into the Professor’s eyes who could only be bothered for the moment to stare into the eyes of the one person she loved most of all.

      “Well, now that’s a surprise!” The systems were back on and the little robots and the nanomachines cleared the substance of all threat levels, while still unable to determine its contents, make-up and DNA profile. Dr. Timebender, quite relieved to be alive, caught his breath, wiped his tears and began, “Professor, it seems that whatever it’s no danger to us. It looks like the substance is acidic in nature, which would explain the reason the nanomachines were wiped out on contact.” He made a little chuckle, bringing the ship back to a good high plane, “I guess you can say that they...” He seemed a little shocked to even suggest it, but the readings came in clear for them all.

     And Seriah broke through, asking the question for them all, “You mean to say that...the nanomachines panicked?’ And he didn’t say it, but rather smiled very simply and gave a shrug, a tad aloof. “I gotta see this for myself.” And before she could be stopped she was out the mess hall, racing down the corridor and down the steps, standing before the chamber which housed the object. “So...what is it Zak?” Seriah asked impatiently, forgoing the proper title of “Dr.” a demanding tone suddenly springing through like never before, as though to outright demand to be told.

     “Well...” Dr. Timebender began, “It seems that whatever it is, the general consensus places it with glucose and sucrose, a type of naturally occurring, seems to have been...well...manufactured. Naturally.”

     “Why do you say that?”

     And Professor Ror cut in, “Well, Seriah, if I’m reading this right, it seems to be of a gluconic acid derivative and natural occurring peroxide.” She looked deep into the chamber, her curiosities driving her forward, her instincts to open the seal and unlock the hatch eating at her like alarm bells, and it crawled out of her mouth like a slow steady insect, “Perhaps it’s from a tree. Sap maybe.” She honestly didn’t know.

     Seriah, looking to the Pofessor said, “Well, can we have at it?" R.E.X. and Atreyu said nothing, and Dr. Timebender only gave her a slight glance before turning to the Professor, waiting on her decision. Seriah’s eyes, her heart, mind and soul, perched on the edge of a curious branch tilted her head, begging silently. Professor Ror looked to her, and then to Atreyu and then to R.E.X. before finally looking to Dr. Timebender, “Open the chamber Zak.” And with a quick hiss and an electromagnetic release, the door popped open just a little. Seriah’s heart danced in tune with the Professor’s as she stepped through the vault door of the chamber.

     And there it was, the golden object, hovering on the air before them, a tiny dot of it spilling through the tiny hole in the glass. Reading all the charts, the elements table, and coming to the same conclusion over and over, Professor Ror took it in her hands, inspecting it firsthand. Glass held the substance locked inside. A simple cap. No electronic panels and no thumb and retina scan. Puzzled, she had never seen anything like it before. What was it? Was it an infiltration unit cleverly disguised as a harmless substance? Was it a device of some sort? A mechanism? An organism in suspended animation? She did not know, and that troubled her.

     Seriah reaching out, took it up in her own hands, running her fingers over the smooth glass, turning the object to and fro, looking for a way at the substance inside, “Well, there doesn’t seem to be any buttons to remove this cap. It looks like it comes off though. But...I don’t seem to see any thumb scanner or retina scan. There’s no switch or button. Not a one. Maybe there’s a way you’re supposed to touch it.” And she ran curious fingers over it coming up empty. And it bothered her that there might be no way in. And she asked, “How long do you think it would take to suck the stuff out of the tiny hole?”

     “Wait a minute...” A small glob of it touched her finger. “Hmmm....? Sticky!” And like a curious cat, she looked to Professor Ror, and by impulse alone, she put it to her mouth, taking the tiniest taste. “Hey!” her eyes became big and bright. “It’s sweet!” Running her fingers over the glass, she caught something at the bottom of the glass, like tiny ridges carved into the glass itself. “There are little letters here. Kind of chipped, but, I think I can make them out.” Feeling the tiny letters with the tips of her fingers, reading them out in her mind, coming up with a series of letters that she could manage, she said, “It says ‘Mr. Carmelaide’s Honey. Wisconsin. USA’” I wonder where that is? Was?”

     “Here, let me see that,” Professor Ror tasted it, and shrugged, a little smile surprising her. A moment took her to fumbling for a way in, running her fingers about the cap, searching for a button, a release panel, something, anything to get the darn thing opened already. Zak took it and had his turn, quickly becoming frustrated. And then it was back to Seriah who was just as equally stumped, when R.E.X. reached out, took it, looked to them all, gripped his fingers and twisted it in his fingers, the top one way, the bottom, in the opposite direction. And like that, the cap came off.

     Peering in at the substance with his large lenses, R.E.X. simply offered one of his sullen Robot expressions offering little explanation. Seriah took the jar, a perfect smile taking her where she stood, lifting her to new limits, giving her wings, a sprite and good air flowing through as if to have congratulated her on finding herself, finally – her home and her people. And like that, with no more fears to hold her back, with no more bad dreams to keep the others shut away in the Crys Pods, she took it upon herself to show them all, her bravery, her willingness to take the first steps into greatness. And with that, she dipped her finger deep into the substance, bringing out a large sticky blob, gold in appearance.

     Staring out in wonder, as if to find her place among them, as if to finally come to terms with her true self, as if to lay claim to them all; her good Professor, her Senior Analyst, her Robot Recovery Personnel and the man who might one day make a great General, Atreyu Sunstealer. And like that, the final step in her metamorphosis, from Junior Scientist to World Leader, to Galactic Conqueror. And this was that very first true event that would shape the rest of her life. Wiping her cheeks, tears still stinging, she said, “Now what do you suppose could make such a thing as Honey?” Swimming in bliss, she took the glob of goo in her mouth. Her eyes instantly became big and beautiful and bright! “ that’s what Honey tastes like!”

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