Terra

Changes

Out on the streets, multiple people all clad in gas masks and many of them in leather, make their way to the park they’ve been told the drop will be at. Among them, Darrix and Quinn walk skeptically through the city, neither of them feeling that this is right. As he stalks along Darrix counts at least ten groups of four or five, including children. The apocalypse may have struck, but human life certainly didn’t end. These people have carried on as best as they can, and they deserve their lives back. All this happened because the people in power were both greedy and scared. Or did it happen because of him? If he’d never saved that astronaut, would any of this had ever happened?

‘Don’t think like that.’ Quinn thinks out to Darrix, who snaps his head round to look at the young human.

‘What?’ Quinn asks.

‘How are you talking telepathically?’ Darrix asks him silently.

‘Just been able to since I met Zoe is all.’ Quinn responds. ‘She taught me how to focus, and I found it really easy.’

‘Yeah but even so, you’re human. You shouldn’t be able to do that.’ Darrix tells him. The two fall quiet then, and carry in through the city.

They hang back a little, walking slower and Darrix puts on a fake limp. If neither of them feel right about this drop, then something surely is up.

As they near the park, a helicopter flies in and hovers overhead, dropping seven large packages before flying off again. Darrix feels his breath picking up, and stops dead in his tracks, no, something really isn’t right, no drop has ever been made by helicopter, always by plane. That way multiple locations can have drops quicker.

‘We need to go.’ Quinn tells Darrix, feeling the exact same unease.

‘You okay?’ Darrix asks.

‘I’m scared.’ Quinn admits.

‘We need to get out of here’ Darrix tells him, and then takes a look around. He nudged Quinn and nods over towards a shelter that seems far enough away from the drop zone should anything happen. So together they move to go just inside the shelter, watching as so many people gather to wait for the packages to reach them.

As the packages make their way down from the sky, only one image fills Darrix’s mind. It’s an image of the Pearl Harbour bombing in 1941. Not a single person was expecting it, as they aren’t now. He looks around, men, women and children everywhere. They’re trapped, sitting here waiting to be killed. Clenching his fists Darrix activates a shield around him and Quinn and their shelter.

“It’s a bomb.” He declares, which captures Quinn’s attention. And then, one of Quinn’s biggest fears happens, he sees and recognises two of the figures in the crowd of people.

“No.” Quinn whispers, tears falling already. He can’t call out to them. “Darrix my friends are out there.”

It’s too late to do anything though, as seconds later the packages reach the crowd, and almighty blast rips through the park. Every single person waiting for the drop is wiped out. Gone.

Feeling his heart hitch in his chest, Darrix takes a few step backwards and turns to face Quinn, who he can clearly see has wide fear filled eyes.

“Quinn, Quinn look at me, look at me, we have to go, you hear me?” He tries desperately to get the young man’s attention, but he’s in shock.

Outside, another helicopter circles, making another drop. Darrix raises his shield again, and turns his head to check on Quinn. He looks down to where the young man sits in shock silence, and allows his eyes to fade to white, hopefully calming Quinn enough to be able to move.

“You okay?” He asks Quinn, who brings himself to stand now.

“You doing something to me?” Quinn asks.

“Yeah trying to calm you down.” Darrix replies.

“Yeah it’s working.” Quinn nods.

“We need to go, they’re after us.” Darrix tells Quinn as he struggles to hold up his shield as another blast rips through the park. “This whole thing was a plan to draw me and the twins out. They’ve figured out we’re still here but they don’t know exactly where.”

“We need to get to the mall, we need to get to Spencer.” Quinn declares.

Darrix nods, and lowers the shield, then steps outside to take a look around. He can’t see anything, just thick smoke and flames. He can feel the heat of the fires burning rampantly throughout the park and the surrounding area. If they’re going to go, now is the time.

“Okay let’s go!” Darrix calls out, and together he and Quinn race out of their hiding spot, and race through the city, as do many others who have managed to get away from the park. Suddenly they both feel a hand take theirs, and drag him into a looted building.

The next thing they knows they’re back outside, but can’t see in colour, only grey scale, and right there in between them both, holding Darrix’s left hand and Quinn’s right, is Xander

“I told you to stay in the shelter.” Darrix scolds him.

“If I didn’t you’d be killed.” Xander argues. “They’re scanning the city, every single life form out here is being scanned. I’ve hidden your heat signatures.”

“We need to get to the mall.” Quinn tells him, and Xander nods.

“Do not let go of my hands.” Xander tells them, very aware of the now multiple helicopters flying about overhead.

Darrix and Quinn nod, with Darrix suddenly extremely thankful for his son’s ability to become invisible, and his seemingly new found ability to disguise heat signatures.

Eventually they reach the mall and hurry over to the fire door that leads to the stairwell that goes down into the three story deep basement. Without any hesitation the three head straight down, and don’t stop until they reach the bottom. Only then does Xander release their hands.

Once inside their containment room, Quinn quickly checks his Geiger counter, and removes his gas mask, and nods at Darrix to do the same, which the man does. He doesn’t need the mask, the radiation can’t effect him, but for the sake of keeping his identity hidden he needs to wear it out in public. At least for now.

“Okay so everyone’s through that door over there.” Quinn points to a door located at the back of the room. He goes over to an airtight locker, and pulls it open. From it he takes a few of pairs of cotton pyjamas wrapped in cellophane, and hands one pair to Darrix, and one pair to Xander.

“Change into these.” He orders as he slams the locker closed again, and then points to another set of lockers. “Leathers and gas mask in those.”

Darrix nods in complete understanding of the rules. He can see and hear the Geiger counter enough from here. There isn’t anywhere near the same amount of radiation down here as there is up on ground level, but it is here, and any excess radiation could kill Quinn’s already weak brother, and cause sickness to the others. So without a word he removes his leather coveralls, and the clothes he had been wearing beneath them, and locks them away in the locker along with the gas mask before unwrapping the clean pyjamas, and slipping them on, as does his son.

“I gathered you’d be roughly the same size as me.” Quinn tells him as he too changes. “Xander if yours are too big or too small-“

“They’re fine.” Xander smiles.

When they’re all ready, Quinn goes over to the door, and leads the way into the next room.

Inside, two faces turn to look at them, one girl and one young man. The third occupant of the room, Spencer, lies asleep on the couch in the far corner.

“The hell are they doing here?!” Tyler asks in an angry tone. In his eyes, Darrix, Xander and Zoe are the very reason for them being in this state. If Darrix hadn’t come to Earth, if he hadn’t gotten that woman pregnant, if those twins hadn’t been born, then none of this would have ever happened.

“Relax Ty, they’ve come to help us.” Quinn advises, and goes straight over to his brother.

“Where’s Danny, Melissa and Val?” Harley, the girl asks.

“Val’s not here?” Quinn stands volt upright and turns to face the others.

“No she went to the drop site with Mel and Danny.” Harley replies.

Tears begin to fall from Quinn’s eyes, and he sinks to the floor. Concern falls over Tyler and Harley then, and Tyler goes to kneel beside his friend. He doesn’t need to ask, he knows what’s happened, and just wraps his arms around Quinn, letting him cry openly.

“How many people?” Harley asks Darrix and Xander.

“Too many to count.” Darrix replies. “Hundreds of innocent men, women and children, just gone.”

“This is going to keep happening.” Harley speaks knowingly. “They aren’t going to stop because you guys are here.”

“We just want to go home.” Xander speaks out. “We don’t want to be here. My sister and I, we didn’t ask to be seen as a threat. We always just thought, well, this was home. We were just kids. And dad, dad just wanted to get us off of the planet, but we weren’t allowed.”

“We were captive.” Darrix joins in explaining. “Always have been ever since I first came to Earth. All I’ve ever done is try to help, and it’s just gotten me and the people I love in trouble.”

Quinn lifts his head now, and Tyler turns to look at Darrix. Suddenly a feeling of pure rage flows through him, and he raises his fists, ready to attack.

“Woah, woah woah hey, no stop!” Darrix raises his voice. It’s at that moment, that Spencer opens his eyes, and just silently watches everything.

“I know you’re scared.” Darrix starts and raises his hands defensively, offering himself up in a show of surrender, stating silently that he means no harm. Once Tyler takes a step back and lowers his stance a little, he continues. “Look I know you’re scared and angry, you think that this is our fault but we didn’t ask for this to happen. We can help you okay? We have a shelter, it’s a long way under ground, I have a forcefield up around it that keeps the radiation out. The shelter isn’t big, it’s barely big enough for me and my kids. It’ll be cramped but it means you’ll be safe from the radiation until I can get all of you out safely.”

“What do you mean out safely?” Harley asks as she steps forward.

“I work for something called the United Universal Federation.” Darrix starts off slowly explaining, and lowers his arms. “Think of it like the United Nations but the space version.”

“There’s more out there?” The youngest of the group, Spencer, finally speaks up and asks.

“There’s a lot more.” Darrix smiles. “We never meant for any of this to happen. We’d been working with the American government since the sixties, and brought Earth into the UUF. All of America’s space programme, it was funded by the UUF. International efforts were partially funded by America, through the UUF. M

But Earth was a little bully to put it lightly. They made a lot of threats, they made it clear that visitors weren’t welcome. They were warned to stop their exploration, to allow us to help them but they wouldn’t. Then that first bomb fell. My kids were the target. As soon as we can get a transport into the atmosphere, we’re leaving. I’m here to offer all of you the chance to come with us.”

“Leave Earth?” Harley asks.

“Yeah.” Darrix nods. “Come to my home planet of Sanvey.”

Darrix looks around at the small group, his gaze focussing mainly on Quinn, who holds his younger brother in his arms to prop him up so he can see. He forgets all else that he was going to say now, seeing just how sick the poor boy is. His skin is so pale, yet so blistery red. His eyes are almost clouded over, his lips dry, cracked and tainted blue. It’s heartbreaking to see such a young person in this condition, but this is ultimately the harsh reality for most people in this world.

“Is this Spencer?” Darrix asks, his voice softening. Quinn nods, and Darrix walks over to the two of them, and kneels before them both.

“Hey Spencer.” Darrix greets softly. “I can’t make any promises, but I’m gonna do my best to help you okay?”

“Okay.” Spencer manages to croak, although it pains him greatly to speak. Darrix reaches out now, and places his left hand on Spencer’s forearm. Without saying a word, he closes his eyes for two seconds and reopens them, revealing them to be a stunning red in colour. Spencer writhes a little, bit not in pain. He moves because for the first time in what seems like forever, he can move without needing any help.

All of the others in the dank little room sit and stand to attention now, they never thought they’d see Spencer move like that again.

“You can fix him?” Tyler asks with excitement in his voice, and for the first time in years, hope.

Darrix removes his hand from Spencer’s arm now, his eyes back to their glowing blue, and he turns to look at everyone else.

“I can fix him.” He tells them with a determined smile. “Radiation sickness is tricky. It’s going to take a little while, but I can do it, and in the mean time I can relieve Spencer’s pain better than any drug.”

“If we come with you to this other planet, will we be okay?” Harley asks as she goes over to Darrix. He stands to meet her, looking down into her eyes, and seeing the pure fear in them. It’s not a fear of him, it’s a fear of being left here, a fear of getting sick, and the World Government. But it's also a fear of the unknown.

“You’ll be under the full protection of the UUF.” Darrix tells her in all seriousness. No smile, nothing. He just looks her with all of the seriousness that she needs right now. “You’ll be safe on Sanvey, you’ll be housed, get medical care, taught how to survive out there. I’m not gonna lie it’s going to be hard because you’ll be the only humans in the universe. There are others that look human, loads of us. But we’re not. Nobody is going to turn on you though, nobody is going to cause you any harm. That I can promise. So will you come with me? Please?”

“Guys.” Quinn speaks up. “I’ve been in the shelter. Believe me if I didn’t think this was what was best for all of us then I wouldn’t have brought him here. But look at us. We can’t stay here. Val, Danny and Mel died today. Victor Heart dropped bombs on as many people as he possibly could in this city, I don’t want to lose any more of you, you’re my family.”

“I wanna go.” Spencer nods.

“Yeah, me too.” Harley agrees.

“Ty?” Quinn asks. Without a word, the other man lets out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding, and nods. He knows they can’t stay here. The time is right to move on, so they have to go.

“Okay.” Darrix nods. “Get ready. We need to go now while the city is burning. They won’t Patrol right now, not until tomorrow when the information screening starts.”

“Information screening?” Tyler asks.

“Yeah.” Quinn speaks up from where he sits with Spencer. “Victor Heart has decided he wants everybody in the city to take part in one. Whoever doesn’t comply will be found and shot.”

“We can keep you all safe and hidden though.” Darrix promises.

As everybody else quickly starts to get a few things together in backpacks, Darrix turns back to Spencer and Quinn now, and kneels down before them again.

“Quinn I’m going to need you to bring everyone to the shelter okay?” He tells the older of the two. “Spencer’s not strong enough to walk, so I’m going to carry him. I can be at the shelter with him in literally a couple of minutes. Just make sure you bring the essentials okay?”

Quinn nods, and then looks down to his younger brother, then brushes the boy’s hair out of his face.

“You’ll be safe with Darrix. I’ll be right behind you.” He tells Spencer, who just nods.

“Bring my leathers and gas mask with you. You remember how to communicate with me?” Darrix asks.

‘Just think about you and say it in my head.’ Quinn replies telepathically, as he helps get he covers off of Spencer. Without another word, Darrix lifts Spencer with ease, and let’s the others know that Quinn will show them the way. He puts Spencer to sleep then, and dashes off faster than a bolt of light, with Xander in tow.

“You know where we’re goin’ right?” Tyler asks, feeling unsteady in the whole situation.

“Yeah.” Quinn replies as he gets up and starts stuffing things into 2 backpacks. “It’s just under an hour to walk it. We’re going to go through the sewer network though. It’s carnage out there and I don’t want to risk us getting them caught. We get them caught we’re going down too.”

“I just hope you know what you’re doing.” Tyler gives Quinn a genuine warning as he finishes packing, and hikes his backpack up onto his back.

“Believe me, I’ve tried every other way.” Quinn replies with a deep sadness and grief. “This is our only chance.”

“Do you like the girl?” Tyler asks now as he helps Quinn finish packing, and does one of his bags up for him.

“I love her.” Quinn nods. “I can’t explain it, but I’d die for her.”

He turns to face Tyler full on now, and Tyler reaches out to place a hand on Quinn’s shoulder. After all that has happened, and all that they have been through, he sees Quinn as a brother, a family member who cannot be replaced. If this is right for him, then this is how it has to be.

“You ready Harl?” Quinn asks once’s he’s set and ready to go.

“Yeah.” Harley replies, and together the group head out into the containment room, where they all dress into leathers, and gas masks. Quinn picks up Darrix’s leathers and gas mask, and with one last look at the place they’ve called home for the last eight years, they turn their backs and leave.

‘Darrix can you hear me?’ Quinn asks telepathically as he leads the group through a tunnel and out into the old sewer system of the city. He knows the way off by heart having memorised the city completely both overground and underground.

‘Yeah I can hear you.’ Darrix replies.

‘Okay we’re on the way, we’re underground, we’ll be with you in an hour.’ He tells him. ‘How’s Spencer?’

‘He’s good, he’s sat eating M&Ms. Just worry about yourselves for now and get here safely’ Darrix tells him, and with that, all correspondence between the two ends until just over an hour later, when Quinn and the rest of the group find themselves at the gate of the shelter.

“There’s nothing here dude, just a gate to a building that don’t exist anymore.” Tyler tells him, but Quinn holds a hand out to shush him.

Within moments, the gate is pulled open, and Darrix stands to meet them.

“Come in.” He tells them with a smile, all the while keeping an eye out for anyone or anything out of the ordinary. Once all four are in and heading down the stairs, Darrix locks the gate, and reinforces his shield around the shelter. He takes a moment up there on his own, just looking around at the sky around them. They can’t stay here, they can’t stay here.

With a final sigh, he follows the group down the stairs, right the way down to the bottom, and into the first room of the shelter, where Zoe waits for them.
“Okay so it’s a little bit like the set up that you guys had going a The mall.” Darrix speaks to the group as he comes into the room. “Take your bags, your masks and your leathers off in here and we’ll get the radiation washed off of them. Spencer’s already settled in the main room.”

Tyler and Harley nod as they’re told, and get to the first of the shelter’s two rooms, where Zoe is waiting for them all. She smiles as she lays eyes on Quinn, as does he when he removes his gas mask, neither of them can help themselves, they hurry to each other and greet each other with a quick kiss.

“That’s great guys I’m happy for you.” Xander quips, and smiles as everyone removes their backpacks and leather clothes and gas masks. Then they unpack their backpacks as Darrix had instructed them to do.

“Take my hands.” Zoe smiles at Quinn, who takes her up on her offer and takes her gloved hands.

‘You ready?’ Zoe asks, to which Quinn just nods.

“Okay just so you all know it’s gonna get a little bit windy.” Darrix warns Tyler and Harley, and smiles with pride at how well his daughter is controlling herself.

As if on cue, a wind picks up then, and Zoe’s eyes shine beautifully. Her eyes never leave Quinn’s once, not until the wind dies down, and she declares everything in the room to be radiation free.

“The hell was that?” Tyler asks.

“I can manipulate the elements and can use them to remove radiation.” Zoe informs him. “Remove my gloves and I can also send up to a billion volts of electricity through you.”

“Note taken never to mess with you again.” Tyler murmurs, and then follows Quinn, Xander, Darrix and Zoe through into the main room.

At first the size of it seems rather intimidating. Seven people, cramped into a space barely big enough for three. But there is no radiation down here, none. Spencer is led fast asleep on the single Mattress, while Xander heads over to the kitchen and puts an unopened bag of pasta that he got while they were out on the counter top.

“I take it you’re all hungry right?” He asks as everyone walks in, and places their belongings down.

“Yeah we’re starving.” Harley speaks up, “Thank you.”

“It’s no problem.” Xander smiles, and calls Zoe over for a bit of help setting the stove up and lighting it.

“Make yourselves at home.” Darrix tells them. “I promise I’ll get to work first thing in the morning on building bunks. That way we can fit in better.” The small group sit down on the mattresses and on the floor now. It’s a lot to take in for all of them, after all just a few nights ago they were all thinking of trying to find this group of aliens and handing them in for the reward money. Now they’re sitting here getting to know them. They learn of the planet they’re from and of the multiple other planets in the universe that are inhabited. They learn about Darrix’s culture, about what space travel is like, about the powers that members of Darrix’s species have. They learn loads. And in turn Darrix and his children learn a lot about the humans. They eat together, they laugh together, they form a new family together. But Darrix can’t help but become concerned when he sees Zoe get up, and leave the main room of the shelter.

“I’ll go.” Quinn nods, seeing the concern on Darrix’s face. He gets up from where he’s been sat then, and follows Zoe out into the containment room.

“Everything okay?” Quinn asks as he shuts the door behind him.

“I have a headache.” Zoe replies, and sits herself down against one of the walls. Suddenly her eyes flash, and before her she finds herself surrounded by an environment she has no knowledge of. Her father is sat on the floor looking bloodied up and badly beaten. Xander is led almost dead in his arms, also covered in blood, and his veins protruding from his bruise tarnished skin. Her father is begging, crying and pleading for his son’s life. He utters the words ‘take me’. But no more is seen as Zoe finds herself back in the bunker, screaming and clinging on to Quinn for dear life.

“Hey it’s okay.” He tells her, and shushes her in as comforting way as is possible. “Zoe it’s okay it’s over.”

“But it’s not it’s what’s to come.” Zoe cries as she holds onto Quinn as tightly as she can. “My dad’s going to die.”

Quinn kisses her head lightly and looks up to see Darrix stood by the door between the two rooms. Silently the man shakes his head, telling Quinn not to let her know he’s there.

“Tell me what you saw, you might be reading it wrong.” Quinn tries, but Zoe won’t discuss anything.

Ever so quietly, Darrix comes over to the pair and kneels down, offering a blanket and a pillow.

“Zoe, you wanna stay out here tonight?” He asks. Zoe lifts her head from Quinn’s chest and nods while wiping away her tears. She takes the blanket and pillow from her father, and places them on the floor.

“I saw you.” She tells Darrix. “Xander was dying. You were holding him. There was a lot of blood.”

She trembles violently as she speaks, and Quinn finds himself having to hold her quite tightly.

“You told someone to take you.” She carries on. “I didn’t see what happened next, but it’s not hard to tell.”

“It’s not gonna happen.” Darrix speaks adamantly. “You honestly think I’d let anyone get to you or your brother?”

Zoe shakes her head, and rests against Quinn’s chest. Almost instantly she calms. Her crying ceases, and she seemingly forgets what she has just seen and experienced. Quinn tilts his head, not at her apparent sudden amnesia, but at Darrix, whose eyes have completely faded to white and who seems in a trance himself. That is until his eyes return to their normal blue, and he stands again.

“How about you two stay out here tonight? He suggests. “Have some privacy. I think we’re going to have to use this room for living in anyway.”

Both Quinn and Zoe nod before Darrix nods them goodnight, and heads back inside.

“Everything okay?” Tyler asks.

“I don’t know.” Darrix replies, and looks around at everyone. Spencer is of course already asleep, but now so are Harley and Xander. Leaving only Tyler and Darrix awake.

“My daughter has the ability of precognition. She has flash forwards. What she sees is one hundred percent guaranteed to happen. Or at least we think it is because she’s never once been wrong. She just had an awful one, but I had to convince her it’s not going to happen.” Darrix explains as he settles down to sit against the kitchen counter for the night himself.

“What was it?” Tyler asks, ever curious as to what was so bad it set Zoe off like that.

“She saw me sacrifice myself to the World Government to save Xander.” Darrix replies with a deep sigh. “What makes it worse, and what neither of my kids know, is that my blood is enthused with an explosive that can be triggered by the UUF. They detonate, and my blood is enough to combust this entire planet. I really don’t want to have to do that.”

“Well that sucks.” Tyler speaks almost sympathetically.

Darrix sighs, nods, and rests his head back. “Yeah well it’s just what you do when you’re in my position. I’d do anything for my kids, but I also have to be prepared to do anything to protect the rest of the universe.”

“So you’ve been here all this time, carrying the weight of the entire of existence on your shoulders?” Tyler asks, actually horrified at hearing of such a burden being placed on one man.

“Pretty much yeah.” Darrix nods. “But I’m going to get all of you off of this planet before I do anything. I’m not going to be the one to wipe out an entire species. Some have to be saved.”

Tyler says nothing, he just lies down and falls asleep while Darrix tries to do the same. He rests his head back against the kitchen counter and watches as Tyler drifts off to sleep, and then suddenly next to him, his holocom begins to beep, with a deep breath he slowly and quietly picks it up, and goes out into the room where Zoe and Quinn lay huddled up together in a corner.

For a second he considers waking Zoe and Quinn, but ultimately he decides against it, and just sets the communicator down, and clicks to accept the call.

“Azalora .” He greets as a blue tinted hologram appears of a midnight blue skinned woman, with long black hair and what Darrix knows to be bronze eyes. She wears a tight fitting suit in a light colour that can’t be made out in the blue of the hologram, with a logo over the right side of the jacket, of a line of planets with stars around. Around her head she wears an intricate chain with draping jewels. This is Azalora, the Grand President of the United Universal Federation.

“Hello Darrix.” She greets him. Her voice is soft and kind, a welcoming sound to Darrix’s ears. “I trust you are as well as can be expected.”

“We are.” Darrix replies. “But the situation here is awful. Earth’s world government are now killing off the remaining humans who aren’t located in the City of Freedom in a bid to flush us out. Or at least they are in this city, I don’t know about any others.”

“You have your shields up around your shelter yes?” The Grand President asks, to which Darrix nods.

“Please tell me you can help us.” Darrix begs, unaware that Quinn has woken and is listening to every word spoken. “Please tell me the UUF is willing to accept Zoe to Sanvey.”

“It’s a slow process Darrix but I can assure you we are going to come for you all. As you are aware there are extra precautions to be taken with genetically engineered lives, their bio structures can be unpredictable in new atmospheres. We want Zoe to survive leaving Earth, so we need to be 100 percent certain of our test results on her DNA.”

“Yeah I understand.” Darrix sighs. “How many more results are we waiting on?”

The Grand President smiles now, but Darrix isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or not.

“Only one more result needs to come in.” She tells him. “It’s due any moment and then we shall know if her genetic structure is stable enough.”

“I’m sure it is” Darrix nods. “She’s half Sanveyan, I’m sure whatever the other half is will be no problem.”

“Is there anything else you would like to discuss?” The Grand President asks, and Darrix shifts a little. He looks around now, and sees Quinn looking at him, and knows that everything he has just been discussing has been heard. He’ll have to explain later, although he hopes he can get away without discussing it. For now, he just needs to talk to the lady in the hologram, and ask for passage off of Earth for the humans in his care.

“Zoe has fallen in love with a human boy named Quinn.” He begins to explain. “I’ve performed a reading and he is safe. He and his family are here with us, I’ve promised them passage off of Earth and protection under the UUF.”

“I see.” The woman speaks with an indifferent tone. She looks beyond him now, over to where Zoe and Quinn lay huddled up, and sees the young man awake.

“Quinn come here.” Darrix instructs. So Quinn ever so gently shuffles out from the corner, and lays Zoe down softly. He gets up then, and comes over to join Darrix.

“Quinn this is Grand President Azalora of the United Universal Federation. Grand President, this is Quinn Anderson.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Ma’am.” Quinn nods, and shuffles on his feet slightly with nerves.

“It’s nice to meet you too Mr Anderson.” The woman replies. “Tell me, how old are you?”

“I’m nearly twenty-one years old Ma’am.” Quinn responds.

“I hear you have been made a promise by Darrix, of safe passage off of Terra, to Sanvey under the protection of the UUF. Tell me, how many humans are there in your group?”

“Five ma’am.” Quinn replies. “Although my brother has radiation sickness, Darrix is fixing him but it’s taking time.”

“Yes I’m afraid radiation sickness is one of those things that we simply have to be patient with” The Grand President talks with grace. “Darrix has wonderful healing abilities but unfortunately radiation sickness is unpredictable, but I have full faith in Darrix. If he says he can fix your brother then rest assured he can and he will. Tell me Quinn, when we come for you, are you aware that there will come a time when you will be the only surviving humans left in the entire universe?”

“Yes Ma’am.” Quinn nods. Once again he feels an uneasy feeling, one that he recognises from when Darrix performed a reading. He gathers that this lady is now doing the very same thing.

“Darrix you failed to tell me that Zoe saw you and your Xander.” The Grand President turns her attention back to Darrix.

“Please, I can’t let that come true, not for me but for my son.” Darrix pleads. “I just want my kids safe, they’ve been in danger their whole lives, please just help them.”

“Madam President.” A male voice interrupts the transmission, and the Grand President takes what appears to be a sheet of glass from someone, and studies it.

“Darrix, turn on your beacon.” The woman smiles. “Zoe’s last test results are here, she will survive out here with no problems, I will discuss our findings more when you are all here. The humans however are not equipped to deal with life outside of their planet. You will need to make modifications to enable them to live comfortably out here. I shall send down all that you need immediately, and I will arrange a transport in to pick you all up within the next 48 hours. It’s time you came home.”

Darrix lets out a heavy sigh of relief that he hasn’t even realised he had been holding in, and then kneels down to the device and presses a button that turns a purple light on.

“Okay, the package has been sent it should be with you within a few moments.” The woman informs him. “I shall go now and begin proceedings to bring you all home regardless of the Earth’s atmospheric conditions. I will call you again in approximately twelve Earth hours, take care my love.”

“We will, I look forward to being home.” Darrix replies. At that, the hologram disappears, and the call ends.

As if by magic, a metal box appears in the room with Darrix, Quinn and Zoe. Darrix goes over to it, and sits down on his knees to open it, checking it’s contents, and making sure that there is enough.

“Do you wanna perhaps explain a few things?” Quinn asks as he goes to stand by Darrix, who doesn’t respond.

“Darrix.” Quinn starts again. “She called you “my love” and that stuff about Zoe and Xander... they aren’t half human like they think they are are they?”

“I don’t know.” Darrix answers in a snappy tone that barks ‘don’t push it’ at Quinn.

“Darrix what happened?” Quinn carries on regardless. “How were Zoe and Xander created? What aren’t you telling them?”

Darrix looks up now, and sighs. He knows he has been caught out and knew from the second he realised Quinn was awake that he was going to have to explain this, and so he pats the floor, gesturing for Quinn to sit. Which he does.

“Remember I told you about all the experimenting that was done on me?” He asks Quinn, who just nods. “Well, in the nineties they used my DNA in genetic experiments. They created two embryos using my DNA and a human female’s DNA and a human woman was used as a surrogate host. Those two didn’t survive, human DNA and Sanveyan DNA was not compatible. Then they took my DNA again. I don’t know how they did it, but Zoe and Xander were grown in a lab in an artificial womb. Xander is my clone. It was solely my DNA used to create him, he is identical to me when I was his age, and the government never told me fully how they made him so as far as I’m aware he’s my clone. Zoe however, something else was used to make her female. The government never disclosed to me the full extent of what they did. I never saw either of them as clones or experiments though. They’re my kids, they were made using my DNA, they’re my children not my clones. I loved them before they were even born. I had two children who needed me, who needed a life, who needed freedom and needed to be nurtured. Not kept in a lab, not experimented on. But the government claimed them as their property. So we came to an agreement, that I as the ambassador and their father, could have them live with me at the embassy so they had freedom, and that way the government could keep an eye on them. I wanted to take them back to Sanvey so bad, but the UUF needed to run every test imaginable on Zoe’s DNA to make sure she can leave Earth. As for her calling me her love, that’s because she’s my wife. We married each other over five hundred Earth years ago. But I can’t just go telling that to the twins. Not until I know more about Zoe’s genetics and how she was made. Kids always ask how babies are made and I knew before they were born that I couldn’t tell them how they came to be, because I didn’t fully know. So I spoke with Azalora, and together we decided that as the twins were designed and created on Earth, we’d tell them that they had a mother who died in childbirth. At least that way if anybody asked, it protected them.”

Quinn nods, and decides to leave the subject at that. He can see that it’s tearing Darrix apart, and the last thing he wants to do is completely upset and annoy the man who is doing everything to save their lives.

“What did she mean by modifications?” Quinn asks, his heart beating a little faster than normal now as he looks at the metal box and wonders what changes will have to be made.

“You’re going to be leaving Earth permanently, and you’re human. So you’re going to need to adjust to the wider universe. However your bodies simply aren’t cut out to deal with such a change.” Darrix explains. “Not to mention all the other things like languages and customs and cultures. So the things in here will help with that.”

“What exactly is in there?” Quinn asks.

“Translator implant, which will allow you to understand every single language in the universe. You’ll hear English, whereas whatever you’re talking to will hear it’s own language when you talk.” Darrix explains the first implant. “It needs to be inserted just behind your right ear.”

Quinn’s hand goes up to his ear, and he looks over at Darrix, unsure about this.

“Relax. It doesn’t hurt, I have one. My kids already have them, it’s just a lot easier than having to learn all ten hundred and eighty six thousand languages that are out there.” Darrix smiles as he sets up the needle with the implant. He kneels beside Quinn then, and ever so quickly shoots the needle into Quinn’s head just behind his right ear, and to Quinn’s surprise, he feels nothing.

“There.” Darrix grins. “Can you understand me?”

“Well yeah, you’re talking English.” Quinn shrugs.

“Actually I’m talking Sanveyan.” Darrix smirks. “So it’s working already. Next, is what we call an atmospheric implant. It’s the same size as the other one, but it goes in your neck, and allows your body to adapt to the atmosphere on every inhabited planet, meaning you won’t need help breathing on other worlds.”

Much like the last implant, Quinn feels nothing. The same goes for most of the other implants he has to have, until the very last one.

“Okay so, this one you don’t have to have if you don’t want to go through with it.” Darrix tells him. “This is an extra, that will extend your life span to that of a Sanveyan’s. Three thousand Earth years. It will slow down your aging process, and alter your biology. It’s irreversible, which is why it’s up to you.”

“But it means me and Zoe will be able to grow old together?” Quinn asks, to which Darrix just nods.

“Will this one hurt?” Quinn asks next.

“Yeah.” Darrix replies awkwardly. “Yeah this, this one isn’t just an implant, this one is, well, this.”

He reaches into the box and pulls out a glass jar, full of clear liquid with what looks like a computer chip in.

“This one I will need to put you to sleep for.” Darrix tells him. “It has to go into your brain.”

Quinn’s eyes widen, and his hand flies to the back of his neck. The thought of having an artificial gland put into his brain that will alter his biology is overwhelming to say the least, and he isn't sure he’s ready for that.

“Will I still be human?” He asks, and then looks over to Zoe.

“Yeah.” Darrix nods. “Nothing’s going to change that. Literally all this will do is alter your biology from a hundred year life line to a three thousand year life line.”

“And me and Zoe can grow old together?” Quinn asks now as he looks over at Zoe.

“Are you sure you aren’t Sanveyan?” Darrix asks. “Because when we know, we know, and you and Zoe definitely both know.”

“I can’t explain it.” Quinn shakes his head as he smiles and looks down. “I just, soon as she walked into that mall, I knew I loved her.”

Darrix smiles, and takes Quinn’s arm.

“You want me to do this?” He asks one last time.

“Yeah.” Quinn smiles nervously, and soon finds himself feeling incredibly drowsy, and unable to keep his eyes open.