AMIDST ALIEN STARS – PROLOGUE
Laura Sinclair sat on a bench in the space station’s garden. She breathed deeply and tried to still her troubled mind. The air was good and the scent of earthly flowers filled her nostrils. A nearby pool trickled water. In the outside that is not really an outside.
In this most alien of places, she kept her blond hair short, wore minimal make-up, ate the Earth-style food provided, and conversed civilly with the other women—the mothers of her son’s alien-induced hybrid children. The elfin features that had been a subject of derision by policewoman Janice Mepunga back on Earth now carried an almost permanent deep frown. Her nano-engineered complexion remained, setting her blue eyes off to perfection.
The other women, the hybrid carriers, had been relieved of their nurturing burden, which she thought was a good thing. She knew they were all happy with the situation; none of them had wanted to carry to full term, nor wanted to give birth to a human-Gliezan child. The hybrids were now in tanks—thriving, according to the Gliezans; growing fast, very fast! Their captors had revealed no further details of their plans; the humans were apparently in limbo, awaiting the next phase, whatever that may be.
On Earth, she had been protected from the alien robots, the RNasia, by the nanites introduced secretly into her bloodstream at the isolated research centre called Milijun. The trial procedure applied to both her and her teenage son, Jason, had given them both the resilience to survive the strange and savage events that had unfolded in the Australian outback. Most critically, the RNasia had not been able to merge with her bodily space. She had not carried a hybrid!
Those events, that unknown time ago, had been an interlude in her life that had changed her from an embattled single mother to a person of strength and character. Along with Jason, she had been played by both aliens and humans alike. And she had reacted accordingly, if on occasions selfishly, in order to protect that which she held dearest, still held dearest for that matter. She had weathered the storm, rescued her son, even taken life in the process, only to be whisked away to this surreal place: an alien space station orbiting an alien planet.
At home, Jason had been the aliens’ First Seen, the one chosen by the descending RNasia as a genetic donor for the alien hybrid experiment. Would he have found the fortitude to fulfil his role without the Milijun enhancements? She liked to think so, but common sense told her otherwise. Not that it mattered anymore. Jason had met the alien RKapthgerrsel and all had been explained, and he had shouldered his subsequent responsibilities well.
“If we combine we will be stronger. United we will be better prepared for both the manifest and the mystifying challenges we commonly face,” Rkapth had told her son. “And if our species are to work together we must be sure our respective vital essences, our souls, are compatible; that we are, using your terminology, cosmic soul mates.”
Hence the hybrids, and the alien plan to tackle galactic space together; to fuse the universe, to create harmony from discord. From the many the one. Or so Rkapth had said.
It was mind-blowing and it was frightening. And, of course, it could all fall apart.
She sighed and shifted in her seat.
Their hosts were as mysterious and enigmatic as ever, but generally kind, serving their needs with remarkable insight into Earth’s ecological and human requirements. They had just not mentioned returning to Earth yet. That was her single-minded purpose now, the main purpose of them all—to return to Earth, to do what they had to do, or to preferably do nothing at all. Problem was, they had no control over any of it.
The world they had been snatched from, the Earth of their past, had not been perfect. Indeed, it was mostly imperfect. It had been recovering from war and disease, still trying to mend the rifts of insanity and stupidity and lack of communication which had plagued the planet for centuries. But it was their world! Like all the humans on this station, Laura wanted to return.
Yet again, Janice Mepunga suddenly skipped into her mind. She had often done so recently. Janice, she hoped and presumed, would carry her child to a normal birth. In Australia, the policewoman, mind in turmoil, had wandered off with the intent of returning to her indigenous roots. Heaven only knew what had become of her. How had she been received? And how would Janice present a hybrid child to her people—a people who held their ancestors in such high spiritual regard? It is unlikely, Laura thought sadly, that I will ever know.
Reluctantly, Laura returned to one of her more frightening thoughts: would the aliens return to Earth and collect Janice’s child, bring it back to the station to join the others? Perhaps they had done so already! Jesus aid her! I hate not being in control.
The women they had to leave behind at the Eucla base were, in all likelihood, dead: victims of an insatiable need by the military to understand what had happed to them. She recalled their faces, every one of them. And she would never forget them. They would haunt her dreams.
Milijun and its personnel, with the blessed exception of Nomi, had been destroyed. Major General Sebastian Ord was dead, as was Uriel, the research leader. But the lunar miner Simon Cordell remained, was with them on this station orbiting the Gliezan home planet.
Not that they knew where the Gliezan world was, of course. Five light-years from Earth? Five hundred? Five thousand?
She rose, stretched, walked through the garden and entered the dining area of the humans’ communal building. There was nobody there. At this time, her companions would all be out in the surrounding terrain: walking, talking, playing, and trying to forget where they were. In the outside that is not really an outside.