I press my hand on the glass. I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
“What the hell is happening?”
“The future,” Lucky responds.
Lucky is driving. It isn’t different from any other day. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s been 24 hours since Kane had his speech. This was the speech that he promised was supposed to fix everything. This was the speech where he told the colony of humans the truth about the aliens refugees that were in District 7. This was the time when everyone should have been satisfied with the confirmation that even though we were not alone, we were not housing threats to the human race.
I was wrong.
The crowd is like a storm. Almost every human left in humanity was out here now in front of District 7. The public outcry is amazing. We were all supposed to be professionals. We were all supposed to have a job, but that isn’t what happened. This was chaos.
“How can this be happening?”
“The concealment mechanics are down,” Lucky states, “People are mad. They are mad at Kane. They are mad at you. They think Midas had something to do with the explosion for food.”
There is nothing more terrifying then people who believe they are going to die and want to put a face to their anger. They are looking at it. The crowd can see the district of aliens as clear as the rest of us can. I don’t know why they dropped the shield but I notice the only thing separating the District and the angry citizens is a line full of heavily armed guards.
As we approach, we are barely allowed through the makeshift barricade that is being set up. A small group of human guards shepherds us towards District 7 as the leader of security efforts approaches us. I’m surprised when I recognize the face.
It was one of the boys I slept with a few weeks ago. He looks over at me, “You remember me? I’m surprised.”
He rolls his eyes, “Actually it’s Matt.”
“That coming from the guy who never hit me back up?”
Lucky gives me a look. I can tell the look. He’s judging me. This is embarrassing because there is so obviously tension between me and this guy. Sure I slept with him and never reached out to him again. I did that with a lot of guys. It was my last day before coming to 2nd Earth. I had a lot of tension I had to release. Looking at Matt now in his UCE riot gear he definitely seems a lot older and a lot more mature. He definitely seems sexier and immediately I’m regretting not keeping in contact with the guy.
Matt doesn’t look over at me though.
Lucky interrupts thankfully, “Matt, is it? I’m sure you have better things to worry about right now besides a broken heart. This situation looks dire.”
Matt gives him a hard look, “We’re doing what we can. I think we all have better things to worry about besides protecting a district full of aliens.”
“You were sent here by Kane. This is your job officer.”
“Tell my men that,” he states, “They are just as concerned as these people out there protesting. We don’t know anything about these aliens. I lost everyone I knew to the Upsetter attack.”
“These aren’t Upsetters!” I argue back.
“Explain that to the people who are about to starve because we don’t have anything to eat,” Matt responds.
“This has nothing to do with the citizens of District 7.”
He laughs. I think he’s laughing at the idea that I’m calling them citizens. I see his fellow guards standing there giving me faces. These are the people that were supposed to be protecting District 7 from the rioters? I didn’t have much confidence in them. They all looked angry. They all looked like they were moments away from joining those rioters and storming into District 7.
Lucky puts his arm on my shoulder, “You don’t have to respond. These gentlemen will do their job. Isn’t that right?”
The men don’t respond.
Lucky isn’t done, “Because if they don’t do their job that would be treason. And unfortunately, we don’t have much of a justice system at this time. I was actually working with Kane not too long ago trying to draft a new constitution. One part is that anyone who owes allegiance to the United Countries of Earth who defects the authority of his superiors, levies with our enemies, giving them aid and comfort is guilty of treason and shall suffer death. I’m sure there was more to it, but I forget the rest…you get the point though…”
Looking at the look on the guards’ faces I was sure they got the point loud and clear.
“We’ll hold the line. I’ll have someone escort you safely into the city,” Matt states.
Matt has a few of the security soldiers start escorting us towards the grand city. Even though they are folding under the aggression of Lucky right now I could see this look in their eyes. Each one of those soldiers have the same look. Each one of them has this anger. This deep anger. There is a point where every human gets so angry about what happened to them in the past that their own self-preservation doesn’t even matter.
These people are thinking about what happened to Earth.
These people are angry beyond the point of no return.
Regardless of what they said I knew we had to do something. Matt was lying. This line would not hold.
When we get to the headquarters of District 7 it is clear the aliens are aware of the mob right outside their walls. There is a heavy presence of Priors, Dryads, Familiars, and Antliens. It’s odd but it seems like with the human threat everyone seems to finally be working together.
“This doesn’t look good,” I tell Lucky.
Lucky is focused. He’s laser focused. I wished I could be like him in this moment. His brash and crude demeanor is the only thing keeping me from freaking out right now seeing Antlien soldiers walk past me with weapons bigger than my upper torso.
“It isn’t good,” a voice states, “We need to talk.”
I turn at that moment and see Kaden Williams. He’s usually the voice of reason but I know Kaden enough with our past experience to realize that before anything he was the leader of the Antliens.
He marches us in a room. It’s a conference room. When Tsk Tsk and Jonathan joins us in the room I feel like I’m in the United Nations or something of the sort. I sit at the table next to Lucky and all I have is a notepad in front of me. Lucky has a gun. He hides behind it but I know he won’t be any help in this situation unless someone needed to be threatened.
This situation had gotten worse than I could ever imagine.
Kaden Williams doesn’t hesitate to start at that moment. He has papers in front of him as well. The Antlien is regal looking. It’s sort of intimating. Here was someone who was clearly much older and more mature than me but he had a young, youthful look. He is tall and striking. He wasn’t young and immature like the humans who remained. If I was back on Earth right now I would probably be trying to backpack across Europe but here I was in an intergalactic meeting to address a diplomatic threat that could affect multiple species.
The truth was, no, I didn’t want to be here.
Maybe Selah had a point. Maybe he was better at this than me.
Kaden’s green skin and antlers doesn’t make me feel any less than him. When he opens his mouth to talk it’s still intimidating. He’s speaks better English than I do.
“We all agreed to sign a peace treaty where we would formally end hostilities between all parties,” Kaden Williams explains to me, “You signed that treaty. However yesterday a Dryad was attacked. Today there are aggressive humans outside our borders.”
Tsk Tsk makes some odd noises and Jonathan immediately translates, “Tsk TSk would like to know if you are not the representative of humans that you say you are.”
“I am…it’s just…”
I hesitate. I could let them know how crazy things were. Sure Kane had put me in charge but there wasn’t the same structure that the aliens had managed to get. Right now I feel like we are the more primitive of all the races. We couldn’t even follow our leaders.
Before I can finish Kaden interrupts me and says in a loud voice, “We demand an account for these hostilities.”
“Demand?” Lucky asks, raising his eyebrow at Kaden’s tone clearly feeling defensive.
“Demand,” Kaden responds.
“We will make it up to you,” I immediately interject, “It’s just that our food stocks and supplies have been destroyed.”
“The Upsetters?” Jonathan asks.
I nod, “I don’t expect you to understand but people are…on edge.”
“We do understand, but we are not Upsetters,” Kaden explains, “At one time the Antliens were the aggressive race, but we found peace with humans. The Upsetter threat is something we can all relate to. …by an Upsetter. We are not the enemy though.”
That’s when Jonathan looks at Kaden, “We must be more understanding. They are…children.”
I don’t know if Jonathan means to help when he says that. It’s a slap in the face. I can see Lucky struggling to hold back his tongue. I don’t hesitate to reach over and grab Lucky’s leg underneath the table. It’s more intimate than I want it to be. Lucky actually looks at me and our eyes connect in a strange way. Regardless of what Lucky feels right now, Jonathan had a point. These Aliens were a lot older than us. Humans sent a bunch of kids to space as a precaution before the Upsetter attack. They didn’t take the threat seriously. Maybe they meant to do it. Maybe they felt kids would have a longer lifespan and a better chance of finding a 2nd Earth. We had found 2nd Earth though. We’d found it before we got the chance to really mature.
I know Lucky wants to argue this but when I grab his leg he doesn’t. He just bites his tongue. Literally actually. He puts his perfect teeth on his big lips. Sometimes this is what diplomacy called for.
Slowly I can see Kaden getting less hostile.
“We may be able to help,” Kaden states.
Kaden nods, “Antliens and Familiars have been working together on technology to locate food for District 7. As we have not felt comfortable leaving District 7, we did send out drones.”
“You have drones?” I ask.
“We have a lot of technology,” Jonathan assures us.
He does it in a way that makes us feel like shit. Why haven’t the humans thought about finding local food on 2nd Earth yet? Why were we so dependent on what we had brought from Earth in the first place? Was Jonathan right about us? Were we just children who had no idea what we were doing and had no idea what it took to survive.
If it wasn’t for the aliens we would have never found 2nd Earth. If it wasn’t for the aliens, we would have crashed the first day we landed on 2nd Earth.
Maybe we did need their help. Maybe we always have needed their help.
“We want to hear more,” I state.
“We have a lead of a source but were waiting for the right time to approach you about prospecting this source.”
“Would it be enough for all us?” I ask.
“It’s similar to fruit that once grew on Earth. It can be replaced,” Kaden explains, “The fruit is plentiful on this planet. We just need to harvest a few samples.”
Tsk Tsk makes a few noises and once again Jonathan translates, “Tsk Tsk suggests taking a small group to source the fruit due to the human aggression outside.”
“Let’s do it,” I state.
“Actually can I talk to you for a minute?” Lucky asks.
Lucky grabs me by my arm. He drags me into the next room. I can see the look on his face. He doesn’t agree with a thing that I’m saying right now.
“Have you lost your mind?” he asks me, “We can’t trust these aliens.”
I whisper even lower. I wasn’t sure of the physical makeup of these aliens. Tsk Tsk did have some big ears. It’s possible he could hear us.
“What choice do we have?” I respond.
“We are a threat to them right now. They can see the tension outside. What if they are trying to find a way to eliminate that threat. For all, we know this fruit could be poisonous to humans.”
He had a point. I knew he did. Looking back into the room though I wasn’t sure if I believed that. It was just a feeling. Kaden seemed noble and honorable. Tsk Tsk was a kind gentle creature locked in a cross-dressing terrifying exterior. And Jonathan was beyond passive. Would they really be the ones to destroy us?
“What if it does save humans though?” I ask, “With all the tensions with humans imagine how great it would look if they found out that the people who solved the food shortage were actually aliens. This could change the view. This could bring peace.”
Lucky looks at me hard.
“You really believe in this, don’t you?”
Lucky sighs a little bit and says something I don’t expect, “I trust you.”
“Don’t fuckin push it man. Let’s just go with this plan, but I swear to you that If you put a single human in jeopardy….I’m going to charge you with treason. And you know what happened to people who I tried for treason.”
I smile at that moment and this seems to throw Lucky off. I don’t think he’s used to people smiling at his threats.
“I’m not joking.”
I smile even harder, “I know.”
It wouldn’t be Lucky without a threat. But regardless of his threats, I won’t have Lucky distract me from what I heard him say a few minutes ago. He told me he trusted me…
By the time the fucking Familiars approve a plan it’s been a week. They are just remarkably slow decision makers and the issue is getting more and tenser every day that goes by. The aggression is getting worse and worse. More and more soldiers are required to hold the line against the human protestors outside of the Home District. Shit is getting serious.
It’s personally been almost 38 hours since I’ve had something to eat. Most of the food goes to the women and the real young ones. The older guys are expected to sort of tough it out if we can. I can see the humans are trying to do something on their own but Kane is really spinning his wheels. I think once Lucky told him about the plan he is also beginning to depend on us.
This mission is more important than ever.
“Midas, you’re coming?” I ask.
I have a backpack when I get to the caravan of trucks. There is a group of Antliens who is escorting us. Jonathan has stayed back in District 7 to be a leader but he’s sent a Familiar by the name of Amy along with us. Tsk Tsk and another Prior who I believe is his/her’s lover has tagged along for the ride. In the truck that I was in, GQ and Sire are the ones I recognize almost immediately. It’s nice to know that both of them are doing well but by the way, they look at me I feel a little nervous. Then there was Midas. He’s standing there with no tentacles and his usual rags on. He looks like he’s healed up.
Without a second of hesitation, Midas nods, “I have to protect you no matter what.”
“Protect me from what?” I ask.
“The Upsetter is out there somewhere. And if it knows what we are doing it’s going to try to stop us. I will protect you and my child no matter what.”
I smile, “Aw…”
It’s the only thing that you can really say to Midas when he says something like that. It’s cute. It really is.
Lucky rolls his eyes, “Let’s just get going. We don’t have time for this.”
We are in the caravan driving through 2nd Earth. It’s the most I’ve seen of 2nd Earth. It’s a barren place. There aren’t any animals per say. It’s strange to know that there are no organisms. The odd tree looking figures don’t look edible at all but as we drive past I wonder if we can use them for habitat moving forward. I’d have to bring that up with Kane because our housing right now was a joke and I’m sure the humans were jealous now that they saw what the Home District looked like. I’m sure they wanted better than some makeshift homes. First thing was first though. We needed to find food.
“He keeps looking at you,” Lucky states.
Lucky is sitting next to me. In the front of the caravan is Midas. Midas is staring at me and then at all the others next to me. It’s clear he’s being protective.
“He means well.”
“He’s like a dog. You need to put him on a leash,” Lucky responds, “He’s the reason that all this is happening. Have you thought about…getting rid of it.”
I had thought about it. I’m scared to even ask though. What do I do? Do I just go to one of the human doctors and say that I need an abortion. I wasn’t even sure if none of the young guys who did med had ever done something like an abortion before. It’s a scary idea. We’ve been riding together for almost 50 minutes and it seems like maybe Lucky has had this on his mind for quite some time.
“I can’t,” I state.
“You can’t or you won’t?” he asks.
“Cassie named her baby hope,” I state, “And the baby changed her when she had it. I think Hope had a meaning. Just like Selah means to Stop and think. Just like Katashi means hard and firm. Hope has a meaning. And it’s not just about her. This baby can’t be just about me. There are so few of us left. You know? Every last one of us needs to have meaning.”
Lucky looks at me hard. Real hard.
“You continue to surprise me, Katashi Honda.”
“Is that a good thing?”
Lucky shrugs, “It’s better than what I felt about you before. I’ll tell you that much. Makes me sort of think that this whole man-whore thing is all a ruse.”
“Oh, I don’t want to disappoint you. I like sex. Believe me.”
“Wouldn’t sex feel better if it meant something?”
“What like Selah and Kane?” I ask, “Trust me I can go without the dramatics.”
Lucky laughs, “Selah and Kane are a mess.”
I’m glad he was actually seeing the light in this. I smile back at him, “Lucky calling out Kane. I would think this was the end of the world if it hadn’t happened already.”
He laughs. Yeah, this was definitely weird. Lucky and I were laughing together. We were having a regular conversation. And it felt good.
“All I’m saying is there are better ways to do things,” Lucky responds, “And trust me…if you had sex with me…it would mean something. And you’d never want to go back to the casual thing.”
I give him a look. Nevermind that this was coming from a guy I hated, because I did kind of hate this guy. The truth beyond that was Lucky was beyond sexy. He knew it. Maybe that is what annoyed me most about him. All these other sexy guys like Kane or even Matt had a humility to them. Lucky walked around like his shit didn’t stink. He just felt like he was “too cool” and he probably was. And as annoyed as I am with his cockiness I have to admit it kind of turns me on.
“IS that right?” I ask him leaning closer.
“Yeah, not that you’ll ever find out though,” Lucky retorts.
Lucky shutting me down like that was typical Lucky. I’d seen him do it with other guys as well. He smirks a little bit probably knowing at this moment that I wanted to fuck the brains out of him.
“We’re here!” a voice shouts at the front.
We get to the patch at that moment and see this growth of fruit. Everyone gets out. There is a weird smell in the air. The grass here is taller than Kaden Williams and that’s with the antlers. It’s probably not even grass. It has this odd yellow alien color to it that I can’t put my finger on.
GQ, Sire, and Kaden start examining the fruit while the rest of us just look around. Midas walks over to me. I can tell he isn’t about to have me out here by myself. He’s really taking this father thing seriously.
“You feeling OK?” he asks.
“Just hungry…” I respond.
“It’s the baby. You need to eat,” he states.
“We’ll find something,” I respond.
“We need to find you something to eat,” he responds, “We have no choice. Our baby’s life depends on it.”
Midas saying what he is saying right now scares the fuck out of me. Maybe I hadn’t taken this hunger thing seriously before. Maybe it didn’t really hit home what this all meant. This was different though.
Midas had a point. If I didn’t eat then my baby didn’t eat.
And for the first time in forever, I have this feeling. We had to find food. It is this panic that comes over me. I could die but this baby…this baby couldn’t. This baby had a meaning. It had a meaning for all of Earth.
“What’s happening?” I ask the Antliens, “Where are we with the fruit.”
Sire responds, “There is a high level of polysaccharides per our readings. They are complex and clustered…”
Sire is looking at this alien machine and using it in a way that I don’t understand. I don’t get it.
It’s GQ who shakes his head, “These might work for Antliens but I don’t think this fruit can be digested by humans.”
“We are running out of time,” I state.
Sire nods, “I’m sorry. We’re sorry. Maybe we can take this back. I know the Familiars have the technology to break down the polymeric carbohydrate molecules but that is a long-term situation.”
“How long term?”
“We don’t have that long,” I state, “There has to be something we can do.”
Sire shakes his head, “This is beyond me… I’m sorry, Katashi. I really am. Maybe the boss has an idea.”
The two Antliens don’t seem to know. They are young Antliens though. They are younger than Kaden. I turn to Kaden. I’m so desperate. All I can think about is my baby. All I can think about is finding food for it.
“Kaden. We need to do something,” I state, “Kaden…”
I see Kaden in this distance. Actually, I just see his antlers. He is just staring out into the fields.
“Did you see that?” Kaden asks.
I don’t see anything. There is a strange smell on the planet. It’s stranger than anything I’ve smelled before. It’s all around me. But I don’t see anything.
“What are you looking at?” I ask.
Kaden points, “There. Don’t you see him?”
“Kaden what the hell are you looking at?” I ask again, “Who are you pointing to?”
“Billy,” Kaden states.
Lucky and I look out towards where Kaden is pointing. There is nothing but the 2nd Earth fruit growing out of this tall strange colored grass. What the fuck was Kaden seeing? Billy was nowhere in sight.
All of a sudden Kaden starts panicking.
“BILLY WAIT! WAIT!”
Kaden starts running.
He’s running as fast as he can. The rest of us start chasing him. We’re calling out to him but Kaden almost seems like he’s in some sort of daze. He isn’t hearing a thing that we say. He keeps screaming, “BILLY!” at the top of his lungs. He’s pretty damn fast too.
Sire and GQ manage to get to him before the rest of us do and stop him but when we get to him I know almost immediately something is wrong.
The ground feels…odd…
“Do you guys feel that?” I ask.
“I don’t…WHAT THE FUCK!” Lucky starts off.
Before I know it we are all screaming! The ground is opening almost like an earthquake. The entire ground splits open almost as though it is swallowing us whole! My heart is beating so fast at that moment as I fall to the ground.
I literally fall right on top of Lucky.
I look up.
The entire group has fallen into a sinkhole in the middle of the field.
“Thanks for breaking my fall..” I state.
“You almost broke my dick,” Lucky states looking down noticing that my elbow is twisted in his crotch. I remove it as quickly as possible.
It’s odd being so close to Lucky but then in a weird way, it’s kind of nice. Lucky pushes me off harder than I want him to breaking any possibility that this moment is more than me just falling on him.
“Why’d the fuck you go chasing him like that?”
“Why’d the fuck you follow me?” I ask, “Don’t blame me. We all went running.”
Lucky is pissed.
He looks over at Kaden Williams, “How the fuck are we going to get out of this hole? This was all your fucking fault.”
Kaden is just staring up. Lucky had a point. The whole we fell into was at least 14 feet deep. I had no idea how we would get out of here.
“I saw him… I swear to god he was there. He was waving at us. He was calling to us.”
“No one was fucking there!” Lucky screams back.
“Calm down,” I interrupt pushing Lucky away from Kaden before things escalated.
“Guys, “ Midas responds, “We have other problems…”
“What is more important than us being stuck down here?” Lucky asks.
“I just got a message from my communicator from the other Dryads,” Midas states, “Jonathan has been taken captive. The humans have broken through the wall. They are attacking the Home Station…”