It’s been one of those weekends. I got everything done on Saturday so I could tackle my work (aka writing and writing stuff) ALL day on Sunday. Then I discovered Netflix has Gilmore Girls… A batch of anzac cookies and a batch of brownies later and I posted that I wasn’t able to complete this chapter on time. Well YAY for sugar rushes and hello completed chapter! Here is Chapter Twelve? Please remember this is a rough draft, and as the author I own FULL copyright to it. This work may not be copied/shared in any manner other than a link to this blog. Thanks and enjoy!
Eoin woke early. A peek on the screen in the bedroom showed streaks of sunlight just touching a pink sodden sky of clouds. Quietly, he slipped out the bed and dressed. Ally gave a huff and rolled away, back to him as she settled down to sleep.
Padding in bare feet to the lab, he pressed the button that slid the door to the living quarters shut and breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Good morning, Eoin.’ Holi’s presence shimmered to life before him, her smooth features smiling pleasantly as he made his way to the desk.
‘Morning, Holi. How are the latest samples looking?’ Eoin reached for the cup of steaming coffee that appeared out the wall. A moment later and a bowl of hot soaked grains sweetened with honey appeared too, spoon alongside. The nutty grains were spiked with sweet herbs and spices, allowing him to inhale the heady fragrance that with the cloying depth of honey reminded him of the mulled wines back home. A decadent start to the day.
‘Samples five and six show no changes. Sample seven did attempt to replicate but loss stability at the point of division.’
Eoin muttered an expletive and dropped his head to his hands, elbows on the desk.
‘Why do you feel the need to copy what is already done?’ Holi enquired.
Eoin’s back tensed at the question. ‘I want… want to understand their method of creating.’
Holi nodded, shimmering as she processed his answer but his mind was whirling at her question.
Copy. Need to copy…
‘Holi!’ Eoin half shouted her name as he leapt to his feet, knees banging the underside sending the bowl of grains sprawling. ‘That’s it! A copy!’
Ally’s voice made Eoin turn, a broad grin spreading in an instant. ‘That’s right!’
Ally blinked with bleary blood shot eyes at him. The sight caused a pang of discomfort beneath his lower ribs. Ally rarely had trouble sleeping, but since bringing back the fruit and tubers three days ago she’d thrashed through the long night hours. The stimulants Holi provided him where almost the only thing keeping his brain awake at the moment.
Still, the thrill of his realisation made him push past his concerns and he bounded across the room to sweep her into his arms.
‘A copy,’ he said quietly with a knowing lift to his brow, not wanting Holi to truly understand what he was attempting. ‘With the appropriate changes.’
‘Ahh,’ Ally said and a small smile touched her lips. She sighed, leaning against him. ‘So we don’t have to be here too much longer?’
Eoin paused in surprise; was that why? ‘Homesick?’
She snuggled against his chest and another sigh ebbed out of her. Again he felt the pang beneath the ribs at that tone of sound, so low, so depressed. Gently holding her by the shoulders he moved back a little to meet her eyes. The beautiful violet gaze that had ensnared him almost four years ago now flickered away from his.
‘Do we really need to do this?’ she blurted out. ‘Really? There’s no other way? Can’t you just fix it?’
He lost his breath in astonishment then shook his head in shock. ‘Uh, Holi, give us a minute.’
The hum of the projection silenced and the tension at the base of Eoin’s skull vanished. Taking Ally’s hand he led her back into the living quarters and quickly shoved the bed away, pulling out the couch instead. He sat and patted the cushion beside him, just opening his arms in time when Ally flung herself back first against him.
The tiny sound of humour she made at his discomfort helped to relax his shoulders. ‘Now,’ he asked as he cuddled her against him. ‘What’s this about?’ She stiffened and went to pull away, but he held on tight, not that it would truly stop her if she wanted to leave. ‘What happened the other day?’
The silence grew before she gave another dark sigh.
‘Humans. Being humans,’ she said the word accusingly with distaste. ‘We don’t HAVE to blend?’
It left him speechless, bewildered at her about-face to something they’d planned for so long. Unsure of how to respond yet, Eoin allowed the silence to extend. He could feel the anxiety pulsing off Ally, something unusual for her nature, usually so quick to get to the point and deal with the issue.
‘Ally,’ he paused, considering his words. ‘They created us.’
‘But they’re NOT gods!’ she shot the words back with heat, sitting up and twisting to glare at him. The expression in those flashing eyes was something he didn’t readily connect with her.
‘No. Far from it,’ he agreed, keeping his voice calm and expression easy. It nearly felt like arguing with her father, though his fear was at the concept of tainting their own blood with anything more human. Remembering that argument still caused an unpleasant wariness, without Ally’s support he’d have lost his position at the academy.
‘How can you even consider it?’ Councillor Cato’s voice broke as it lilted high with anger. Until that moment Eoin had never seen the man flustered, let alone angry. The violet eyes his daughter had inherited from him narrowed in fury while his mouth seemed to twist, teeth baring and spittle flying when he leapt to his feet from the plush seat behind the polished wood and glass desk. ‘To-to-to suggest such an, an ABOMINATION. You should be stripped of your role! You should be shut-out! Ostracized! How, how, HOW could you, you of all people suggest such a, a thing!’ The Councillor’s face flushed with ruddy blotches, making him look far more human than Promethian. ‘You would taint our sacred blood with that of a lesser species?’
The argument hadn’t gone well. No amount of reasoning would make the man understand the genuine reasons behind Eoin’s suggestion and that his daughter agreed with Eoin, if anything that only made the situation worse.
To placate the man they’d sworn not to do what Eoin was now in the midst of trying to create, but if Ally decided to oppose it, well…
Taking a different approach, Eoin leaned back against the couch and met Ally’s eyes. ‘Would you watch our friends die from curable diseases? Diseases that for their bodies, are incurable?’
The fearful expression in Ally’s eyes flickered and she turned her face away from him, staring unblinking at the wall.
He continued, ‘Could you watch Leesa die from something you personally could fix?’
A muscle twitched in Ally’s cheek. She kept her stoic stare at the wall.
‘Love, it’s not as though I’m mixing our blood with that of a human’s. I’m aiming to re-design the virus, and with that change the actual virus in our blood. We’ll still be the same!’
Ally turned her head then and the expression she wore tore at him.
‘They aren’t worthy. They go out of their way to destroy us, for ridiculous stories! They would torture and maim, for their own pleasure, and call it revenge. For things that never happened!’
The scientist within him cringed and he unintentionally winced. Ally scowled, brow wrinkling and lips downturned. ‘Oh come on! It hardly happened! They just leapt on the stories as an excuse.’
It took all his control to not point out the unfortunate truth, that it had occurred and occurred more than once. At that time in history humans had a very good reason to fear Promethians. For it wasn’t until the great Event that it really occurred to them they had created the perfect apex species. A species that when food was scarce as the world’s creatures struggled to survive such epic devastation turned to hunting the one species that had spent millennia at the top of the food chain.
A hard thing to live down.
Though almost five thousand years had passed since the great Event the stories had been passed down until Promethians were regarded as things of legend and myth by much of the scattered human population.
‘Ally, we can’t change opinions, all we might be able to change is our combined futures.’
‘But why! Why them?’
‘Because I think it’s the right thing to do!’ Eoin burst it out at a level that shocked them both. Taking a steadying breath Eoin stared at the couch for a moment before looking back to Ally. She’d lost the angry fearful look behind the eyes, in its place a different expression.
‘But what if it, what if it works?’ she asked quietly.
Eoin let his breath out slow, face sagging. ‘I don’t know, Ally. If it works it could change our futures. But I don’t even know how I could administer it. There are millions of humans. This isn’t like an air borne virus. I could manage to solve this and it do nothing for anyone.’ The enormity of the whole concept felt overwhelming in that moment, overwhelming and pointless. He scrubbed his hands over his face with a groan of a sigh. A light touch to his hands made him look up to her, those gorgeous eyes luminous with an expression completely opposite to that from before. Ally took his hands in hers and pressed her forehead gently against his. ‘We can only try. You figure out the science, I’ll figure out keeping us alive.’
Eoin gave a half laugh. ‘Okay. Deal. I better get to it.’
She cupped his face and the anxiety from before slid from his shoulders and back. The taste and sensation of her lips, her arms around him, her back beneath his hands somehow made the impossible feel possible once again.
Though she couldn’t forget the other day, watching those humans, she could let the hurt go. Ally knew Eoin was right in his intent. Whether or not it could actually be achieved remained to be seen.
‘Holi, is there a way to differentiate the varying gene triggers for the instinctual responses?’ Eoin’s voice pulled Ally back from her thoughts. She blinked watching as he paced around the projected image of the blonde, who turned steadily on the spot, parrying his queries and demands with ease. None of the responses seemed to entirely satisfy Eoin, whose neck began to flush and voice raise in frustration.
With a chuckle she decided to head out.
Climbing the ropes to the top of the hole did bring a returning swell of concern but Ally shook it off.
Eoin’s job was to solve the virus, hers was to keep the humans at bay. That meant booby traps, something a little more effective than mere alerts. Pits perhaps? Ally pondered that then discarded it; too much effort, too much time. Perhaps snares. The more she considered that as she scrambled over the lip and onto the jungle floor the better the idea seemed.
Trumpets of sound almost knocked her back into the hole, Ally’s instincts just saving her, leg muscles contracting at the last second.
‘Whoooo,’ Ally gasped out in shocked relief as she registered the edge of the hole beneath her left heel. The relief evaporated as she gaped at the elephants surrounding her and the hole. ‘Ohh crap,’ she groaned.
Baby trumpeted and flapped his ears as he charged out from behind his mother’s legs. Trunk extended as though he wanted to shake Ally’s hand, he slowed down the closer he got to her. With an exasperated laugh Ally stretched her hand out. The grey wrinkled skin was soft and pliable, Baby’s gentle exploring touch adorably innocent. ‘Hello Baby,’ Ally couldn’t help the smile that stretched full face. ‘You guys set up camp here now, huh? You like to make my job that much tricky.’