Chapter 19 Walter
"He wishes to mate with you, Grand Leader."
"Does he respect your position, or wish you death from the act of giving birth?"
"From his current situation, this must be viewed as a threat. It is highly unlikely he wishes any joy upon you."
"The race is known for its enjoyment of the sexual arts."
"This is a common threat from prisoners of his race. Do not misunderstand it," the alien who had the robots bring him here, intervened.
Dustin watched, entertained, as the council turned on him and gave him 'the look'. These creeps were hilarious!
"Hunter, you said you were very close to capturing the last of these vermin so that we could return home. Yet, you only appear with this one specimen. If you take too long, there will be more as they breed very quickly. Get the information on the other's locations."
Hunter nodded and turned to leave the room, with the robots dragging Dustin along as well. What did they mean he bred very quickly? This intrigued and worried him. Was that why Olivia was so sick? Would he return to find a baby already born?
They traversed the metal halls again, and turned into a much smaller room, where the robots proceeded to strap him into a strange contraption. It really made him think of the pod he was sent down to the hell planet in.
"This will send pain to your nerves. The longer you remain quiet, the worse the pain will become." He flipped a switch on the side of the contraption and Dustin noticed a slight tickle that danced along every inch of his body. After a moment, it became more of a burn, then it was as if someone was shoving a hot iron against his skin, on the entirety of his skin. It only took a moment for him to lose his silence and begin screaming.
Dustin lost track of time. His throat became hoarse, but his advanced healing kept him healthy enough for the torture to continue. All attempts to remain stoic and manly disappeared as the pain attacked him from all sides.
Then, the pain was gone, and he was laying in the contraption trying to remember how to breath. Slowly he became aware of a siren going off somewhere.
"There! Grab him and move!"
Dustin was vaguely aware of hands removing the restraints and then he was being carried through the ship. When he was set down, it was on a padded bench.
"Get his PED working again!"
"There's nanobots all over him!"
"Are they active?"
"Not at the moment."
"Then ignore them. The alpha bot must be dead. We can clean them up when we get done jumping."
"Sir, his PED is unlike anything I've ever seen before."
"Have you removed the alien virus?"
"Then don't worry about anything else, the aliens are preparing a counter-attack."
(HOST DUSTIN IS DAMAGED BEYOND NORMAL HEALING. TOXIN IS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SYSTEM. INITIATING EVOLUTION TO CORRECT THIS.)
(EVOLUTION COMPLETE. THIS TOXIN WILL NEVER BOTHER YOU AGAIN.)
His eyes popped open and he found himself staring into the face of a man. Snapping his hand out, he grabbed him by the throat.
"Who are you?" he growled.
The man grabbed his arm and started turning red in the face. People who had been walking by, jumped into action, grabbing his arm and pulling the man from his grasp. There were clear finger marks on his neck and he was gasping.
"Get the doc over to check him out!" one of them shouted, before turning to look at him.
"Who are you people?" Dustin growled again, fighting their grasps. They let go of him and stumbled back quickly out of his reach. He found himself standing on the bench, crouched, glaring at a group of five.
"Calm down, we're not the enemy. You're safe with us." The man who was in charge said, raising his hands to show that they were empty.
Dustin looked at the guy who was talking, noting that he was well muscled and young as well. "Who are you, and where am I?"
"We're part of a task force to find and rescue all Uz'En. There's not many of you left, friend."
"You're no friend of mine." Dustin looked at the others who were in the room. It was obvious they were trying to decide if they could leave, or if he was going to attack someone again.
"Well, be that as it may, but I am the one who saved you from being tortured. My name's Walter."
'PED, scan all of the people around me and let me know what they are, or if any of them have PED's of their own.'
(THEY ARE ALL HUMANS. NONE OF THEM HAVE A PED.)
'Let me know as soon as anyone with a PED gets within your scan range.'
Climbing down from the bench, Dustin asked, "You didn't say where we were."
The floor seemed to ripple, and everyone took off running, leaving him alone in the room.
"They're attacking! Take evasive actions! How soon before we can jump away from the planet?" cried Walter from just outside the room, as he ran with everyone else.
"Wait!" shouted Dustin, jumping towards the doorway, when he was suddenly thrown back. His head hit something and he was out.
(INITIATING EVOLUTION: TRY 236)
(WELCOME BACK, HOST DUSTIN. YOU HAVE BEEN UNRESPONSIVE FOR 36 HOURS.)
Groaning, Dustin sat up as waves of dizziness washed over him and quickly faded. What the PED had said to him registered, and he quickly looked around. He was in a tiny room that had nothing but the bed he was laying on.
Rushing towards the door, he half expected it to be locked, and threw himself through it. As everyone in the next room paused what they were doing to look at him, he paused in surprise.
"Welcome back to the living," said a young woman, smiling at him as she approached.
Standing up straight, he ignored her, and went straight to the console in front of him, to her obvious surprise and confusion. He quickly typed in a command, and studied the computers response. She stood next to him, patiently, as he zoomed out from the map of the ship he was in, to see that he was in a huge space station, nowhere near a planet.
"Damn it!" he snarled, turning to her so fast, she jumped. "I need to go back to the planet where they found me!"
"I'm sorry sir, I don't know where that is," she tried to say, but the look on his face quickly had her add, "but I can get ahold of Captain Walter to try and find out."
"You do that!" he said, turning back to the console. It didn't take him long to see that there were supposedly no other Uz'En on the station. In fact, this was a human station, that served the role as a home for over 10,000 people. As he scrolled through the history recorded in the logs, he saw that they had been living in this solar system for almost a hundred years, constantly sending out patrols to find survivors in the thousands of recorded systems that humans were sent to.
He also found that they were particularly interested in trying to rescue any and all Uz'En that they might encounter, though they had been hugely unsuccessful so far. He was only the second one they had successfully found and rescued. There had been three others, but they were all killed before they could be rescued. The one that they had rescued, had died of old age fifteen years ago.
"Wonderful," he murmured sarcastically.
"What was that?" asked Captain Walter, as he came up behind him.
"I need to go back to the planet where you found me," said Dustin, turning to look at him.
"I'm afraid I can't do that," said Walter, shaking his head sadly.
Dustin's eyes narrowed. "Why not?" he asked.
"The ship we used to bring you back in, was damaged. It was a miracle we held together well enough to make it here. It will take at least a month to make all the necessary repairs."
"Show me," said Dustin, turning to leave.
"What?" asked Walter, confused.
Dustin stopped and turned back to look at him, as if he was an idiot. "Show me this ship." He enunciated each word, as if to make them easier to understand.
Walter shook his head and headed out of the room. Everyone who was there, had watched them curiously, but returned to work as they left. Dustin followed him through a dozen halls, to what looked like an elevator. He had to admit, this place didn't feel like it was in space. It was nicely decorated, with carpet on the floor that was tended by small robot vacuums.
Fifteen minutes later, they were entering a ship bay that was filled with activity. People were busy cutting away damaged metal plates from the ship, using huge machines and cutting torches.
'PED make sure the torch light won't damage my eyes.'
"We took almost a direct hit, but strangely, after the initial breech, the plates were able to hold together long enough for us to jump away. I honestly don't know how we survived the jump. Much less the two others we had to make to not lead those damn head hunters to our home base."
'PED, did you send the nanobots to make repairs?'
(YES, THERE WAS NO GUARANTEE I COULD HEAL YOU WELL ENOUGH IF THE SHIP EJECTED YOU INTO SPACE, TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. IF YOU DIE, THEN I MAY NEVER HAVE ANOTHER SUITABLE HOST.)
"Is the hole in the side the only problem with the ship?" asked Dustin, noting the replacement plates off to one side.
"Pretty much. We'll have to run diagnostics to make sure there's nothing we missed in the initial tests, but it's kind of pointless to mess with any of that when there's a gaping hole in the side."
"Have your people move away from the ship," said Dustin, walking towards it.
"What? Wait!" Walter ran to catch up with him, but Dustin ignored him, sending the nanobots out in a huge cloud.
Everyone in the room freaked out, shouting in alarm, until they heard Walter telling them to get away from the ship. They watched as Dustin had the nanobots disassemble the ship in minutes, then using the replacement plates, he fixed it. In less than half an hour, there was a completely undamaged ship sitting in front of them.
"Get that diagnostic finished while I grab something to eat, then we can leave," said Dustin, turning to leave the room.
Everyone was still staring at the ship in amazement as Walter's mouth couldn't seem to make any noise.
Following the map, he had seen, Dustin made his way to a cafeteria, where people were lined up to get food off of a buffet line. Smells assaulted his nose as he moved over to look at what they had to offer.
People were murmuring about him, because he wasn't dressed like them, and was cutting in line.
"Sir! You have to pay, sir!" said an older man, rushing over from a console near the entrance to the sitting area.
Dustin ignored him, tasting a few other things. He wasn't planning to stay here long.
Walter arrived before he got annoyed, and calmed everyone down with a wave of his hand. They seemed to know him well, and respected him. That was great, because it meant he could continue eating quicker so he could return to the planet sooner.
"The diagnostic should be done within the hour, care to join me in a study not far from here?" asked Walter as Dustin piled food onto a plate.
He was starving and this was way better than some creature charred on a fire. Shoving some more food into his mouth, he grabbed a glass and filled it with something that looked like tea. Taking a sip, he decided it wasn't too bad, and filled it to the brim, before turning to follow Walter.
"Sir, you're not supposed to take food out of the dining area," said the old man, unhappily as Walter held up his hand again. Dustin ignored him, and left. It wasn't like he was going to attract cockroaches or rats if he left crumbs somewhere. Those robot vacuums would get to eat something other than dead skin dust.
"You must have had a pretty interesting life," said Walter, as they made their way to the study.
Grunting in agreement, Dustin focused on eating. He wondered if Olivia was able to get something to eat when he didn't return. Would she be worried about him? Would she take care of Jake? Had the PED he made with the nanobots worked? All these questions and more were swirling in his head. That ship couldn't be ready soon enough.
The study was a small, well furnished room, with soft couches and computer terminals all over the place. People could settle down and pursue whichever topic interested them.
"Do you want to know why I saved you from those aliens?"
"You probably want my tech," said Dustin, finished the plate off and downing the rest of his glass.
Walter's eyes widened briefly, before he turned back to the main terminal in the room. He typed a few keys, and the center of the room lit up. A hologram showed earth, as Dustin remembered it. The seven continents were no longer as green as they should have been, and the pollution had turned the blue seas grey.
"We had to evacuate our home over two hundred years ago. People were scattered to the wind, being sent to any planet that might sustain life. This station took ten years to get assembled, with people living in large ships during its construction. Most of them in stasis."
Dustin sat down on one of the couches. If he had to listen to a history lesson to get back to Olivia and Jake, he was going to do it in comfort.
"The military was running all sorts of programs, with all sorts of different alien species. Some of them were known, but most of them were not. One of the main alien races, the Josagn, declared war on us right after we were scattered. It came to light that there were other aliens living among us humans, called the Uz'En. It was with their help, that we were able to completely wipe them out.
"Another alien race, however, the A'Dfukl, took it upon themselves to declare war on the Uz'En. They declared that they would hunt them down, to every last member, and eradicate them. My grandfather took insult to that. He was in charge of this space station and convinced the other leading members to start trying to rescue every Uz'En we could. They only agreed, if we also rescued any humans we could find as well."
"The Josagn must have had a hay day destroying all those colonies that were sent out," Dustin said, looking up at the planet he had thought was his home. "Does anyone still live there?"
"On old earth? I don't know. We're taught it turned toxic and anyone who returned would die. I've never honestly thought about it. The Josagn hunted it pretty heavily. I guess we just assumed it was a dead planet."
"Pity, I'd love to check it out sometime. There's no telling what it looks like now, two hundred years later."
"Why do you want to go back to this planet so bad?" asked Walter, turning away from him, so that he couldn't see his face.
"You're not stupid," said Dustin.
"You have someone there, maybe a girl?"
"What do you know about a planet 3.54365?"
Walter turned to him, confused. He typed it into the console, and a jungle world jumped into view. Dustin remembered it well.
"It says it was a death planet, filled with highly dangerous flora and fauna. A military outpost was stationed there along with a science station. It looks like they were abandoned when the Josagn war broke out. Why do you want to know about it?" he asked curiously.
"Does it say what they were doing there?" asked Dustin.
"You would probably have to go to one of the old military stations to find that out. No one really goes there anymore since the last war finished. People kind of scattered. Occasionally someone will go to one to try and look for anything to loot, but the military at that time is pretty mush obsolete."
"Interesting," said Dustin, standing up. "Time's up. Let's go."