Laster lay on the cot wondering if they had finally realised he’d nothing more to tell them or had merely lost interest in torturing him. Upon capture and realising he was an officer the Melians had swiftly moved him to a prison deep within their territory, on arrival at the transport’s destination he had managed to steal a glance through a small viewport but found it unrewarding.
His new home was a small cell in a prison built within an asteroid, Laster had no idea how many were imprisoned here and had only the occasional scream to remind him he was not alone in this hell. The He-she’s were unsympathetic to their captives, believing a good soldier should fight to the death rather than allow themselves be taken prisoner. There had followed a long round of psychological torture, beatings, electric shocks and threats to remove various parts of his anatomy. Inevitably breaking, Laster told them everything he knew just to make it stop but they carried on regardless. Then it ended suddenly and his rations improved, he didn’t know how long he had been captive, the light was always on and he had no way to tell the time.
As long as it’s over I don’t care.
Then the sound he dreaded came as footsteps approached in the corridor outside and the cell door swung open to reveal a pair of Tark soldiers in battle armour.
“Get up fixter scum.” Snarled one and Sam was dragged downstairs to be thrown onto the hard floor of the shower block where he lay trying not to let them see his fear, this place had been the scene of some of his worst nightmares.
“You can get up Captain Laster we’re not hurting you today.” came a voice speaking perfect Earthish.
He slowly got up, half expecting to be knocked back down by boot or rifle butt to see an officer sat on a bench by the wall, Laster summoned up what defiance he could and asked curtly. “What do you want?”
“To offer you the chance to have a shower, you smell as if you need one.” said the alien,
Laster regarded his captor wearing the smart dark green uniform of an officer, it had the androgynous face and auburn hair typical of the Melian race but appeared more feminine than any he had seen before. Sam recognised it as having been present at several interrogations but never taking any active part although he remembered it had once stayed the hand of an overenthusiastic colleague now he was alone with this creature, it’s pistol a trained on him. “Why are you bothered about my welfare? Are you getting ready to exchange prisoners and hope you can butter us up with better treatment? It won’t change how my people think of you.”
The Melian frowned at this. “I understand your feelings, but no I am not trying to make you look presentable this is just common human courtesy.” It gestured to the bench. “You may sit here if you wish.”
Taking a seat Laster asked. “Is this pleasantry being extended to every prisoner or just me?”
Ignoring his question the alien continued. “Captain Laster, I attended several of your interrogations which I have to say you stood up to heroically if somewhat pointlessly and such stoicism is to be admired in a soldier. There is a growing feeling amongst many of us myself included that we are being unnecessarily harsh on you humans despite the atrocities you have committed in our colonies.”
“That’s rich, you lot started this bloody war!’
“So you say but I seem to recall it began after you destroyed several of our ships.” replied the alien.
“Only in retaliation!” Laster snapped.
The Melian chose to ignore this too. “Things are changing Captain Laster, the previous commander Ektraz Thur has been recalled to Melia for disciplinary proceedings leaving me in charge of the prison”
Thur was a sadistic officer and Laster had suffered from it’s ministrations on more than one occasion. “And you are?” He asked.
“Kraz Kista Viko, a captain like you.”
“You fucking He-she, you’re nothing like me!” he snarled and his heart jumped as he realised this angry response might earn him another beating.
“Oh come on Captain Laster our races are genetically compatible, almost identical in fact.” The alien insisted.
“Apart from the one obvious thing.” retorted Laster.
The alien smiled. “I often wonder how strange it must be to be a fixter, stuck as male or female for your entire life.”
“Because changing sex every other year is perfectly normal?”
“It is to us.” Kista took a small tin from a pocket and opening it proffered the contents to Laster. “Want one of these?”
He took one of the strange lozenges and examined it suspiciously. “What is it?”
“We call them Verseed, don’t worry it’s not poison.” As if to prove it the alien took one and ate it.
Laster popped it into his mouth, it was slightly sweet with a flowery taste and the consistency of fudge, it tasted good, anything did compared to the bland prison diet. “Not bad.” An odd sense of wellbeing slowly came over him. “You’ve drugged me haven’t you?”
“There is some slight narcotic content, it’s no worse than anything you humans take!’
In his relaxed state he noticed that Kista was quite attractive, if he was honest none of the Melians were unattractive even if they all tended to look alike. “I feel slightly pissed.”
“Aren’t you going to have that shower?” Kista asked curiously. “I also have clean clothing for you.
“You’re going watch aren’t you?” there were no curtains on any of the cubicles.
“You are an enemy prisoner Sam, I can’t leave you alone can I?”
“You called me Sam?”
“It’s your name isn’t it? You can call me Kis.”
“No thanks, you’re going to get a kick out of this aren’t you He-she?”
“I was a lecturer in what you might call ethnology before the war and that’s how I ended up here, my job is to study you fixters, to try to understand how you work.” Viko replied with a wry grin. “You humans do fascinate me I won’t deny it.”
Laster undressed and quickly got into a shower cubicle, the warm water felt so good after days of sleeping in filthy clothes perhaps this alien wasn’t so bad, then he realised was no longer alone as a hand reached round his abdomen. “Kista?” he asked.
“Who else would it be?” came the response from behind.
“Oh?” He could feel the Melian’s naked body pressed close to his, it’s temperature higher than that of a human.
“Do you like men or women Sam?” the alien purred in his ear.
“I prefer women.” He replied nervously, concerned where this was going.
“Lucky for you I’m in vame then.” Kista informed him moving the hand to his groin fingers moving lightly, the alien’s touch rousing feelings his ordeal had made him all but forget.
Sam remembered that vame was the Melian female stage. “Are you a woman then?” he asked.
“Why don’t you find out?” ve husked, the hand, having had the effect Kista was looking for, released its grasp allowing Sam to turn round…
Laster’s remaining time there passed reasonably pleasantly, they conducted their relationship in secret with ver visiting his cell or occasionally he was allowed to shower. A short while after Viko had been called away to give evidence against Thur explosions had rocked the complex followed by the sound of gunfire.
The cell door was wrenched open and an armoured soldier rushed in. “Captain Laster, I’m Sergeant Stok we’ve come to rescue you.”
Sam and the other human prisoners were evacuated in a Solar Force cruiser and he hadn’t seen Kista Viko again since.
The Melian spaceship had landed at Akaba Spacedock and as its passengers disembarked one stopped briefly in the boarding tube to take in the view through it’s transparent walls, Akaba was the principal city of Fullers Land, situated on Osiris’ only inhabited continent, it was the largest conurbation on the planet but even tiny Vanta the capital of Kista’s sparsely populated home world could swallow it comfortably.
“Elekt Viko, a real pleasure to see you.” A genial scholarly man approached as Viko left the terminal.
“Professor Claire, the pleasure is all mine I assure you, I feel greatly honoured to have been invited to be part of this expedition.” replied Kista taking the man’s outstretched hand and shaking it warmly.
The professor led Viko to a waiting car to drive ver to Fullers Land University and by way of striking up a conversation asked. “I understand you have interests on Osiris other than the excavation site?”
“You are quite correct Professor I have a magtok… a grandchild on Bliss Bay Island and I believe an old acquaintance lives there too.” Ve replied.
“Well you’re nice and early, we don’t leave for Farland for another four days so that will give you plenty of time to see your grandchild and catch up with your old friend, do they know you’re coming?” asked Claire.
“Oh ver mother does and I’m sure Komisar Laster will by now.”
”Komisar Sam Laster?” asked the professor.
“I know all about him from the business with the ambassador, he took early retirement, Helen Stok is Komisar now.”
“Stok, Alu told me about her she’s a bit anti-alien.”
“I wouldn’t know about that.” he paused. “Hang on… are you related to Alu Viko?”
“You could say that I’m ver dama.”
“Well I never, you’re child er tok certainly caused a stir a year or so ago! We’re fortunate that the war against the Vereen has hardly touched Osiris and that’s thanks to ver efforts.”
Kista smiled. “Alu was always good at finding trouble.”
After meeting the rest of the university’s academics Kista used ver influence with the Tark catching a Marines flyer directly to the CSMF base, formerly Hemby Airdock, on Bliss Bay. The military had turned it into a major logistics centre serving all the island bases, civilian air traffic now operated out of the new extended Kysten Airdock on the east side of the island. Viko flew out with a human marine contingent, who were all male and trying not to stare at Kista’s long legs, displayed by the short tunic dress Melians favoured no matter what gender they currently were.
Upon disembarking Viko spotted a young blonde woman with an auburn haired child holding her hand. Kista embraced the woman warmly. “It’s so nice to meet you at last my dear, the video screen doesn’t do you justice.” Ve smiled at the child who looked at ver uncertainly.
“Say hello to your grandma, Mili this is daddy’s mummy.”
“Lo.” said Mili.
“Hello Mili you can call me maga.” She handed the child a doll in Melian costume. “This is for you my little magtok.”
“N’kew.” replied Mili.
“I hope that’s not anatomically correct.” said Toki as they walked to her 4WD.
“Why? Mili should learn what ve is.” stated Kista
“Because I’m trying to bring Mili up as a human girl, people are still funny about Melians on the islands.”
“Then why don’t you move to Akaba I’m told there’s no discrimination there?”
“I don’t want to this is my home.” replied Toki
“When Mili reaches puberty it will be impossible to hide it, then what will you do?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“And Alu is in agreement with this?” asked Kista.
“I had Mili and it’s my decision.” said Toki firmly.
“Oh, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot.” ve paused, “do you know how my Alu is? My influence with the Tark doesn’t stretch that far?”
“It’s been a month since I heard from Alu, ve is on Gradalax VII-3 that’s all I know.” she sniffed, packets of communication were beamed to hyper spatial transporters and sent to their destination as they passed relay stations, a message from the third planet of Gradalax Seven would have taken five years to arrive using conventional methods.
Seeing how upset she was Kista consoled her. “Poor girl, it must be a strain for you?” ve remembered how incredulous ve had been on discovering Alu had fallen in love with a fixter but they seemed to be making a go of it. Ve would have to work on this nonsense about letting the child believe it was a human girl though. “Have you told Sam I was coming?” Kista had a thing about humans and Sam Laster had been only the first of several sexual adventures.
“Yes, he was quite surprised to find out you were coming, his wife wasn’t too happy on hearing the news though.”
“He married again?” Viko had heard Sam’s marriage had broken up after the war.
“Yes she’s the woman the Purity lot kidnapped to use as a blood donor for the ambassador didn’t you know?” asked Toki.
“No Alu kept that from me.” Said Kista somewhat disappointed, ve had fond memories of Sam.
Next morning Kista went with Toki to take ver grandchild to school then they walked into Hemby town centre, like most of the settlements on Bliss Bay it had grown considerably in the past few years. Uniformed marines were wandering around, many of whom were Melian. “People seem happy to accept my race here Toki.” Ve ventured.
“It’s getting better but there are parts of Lang Kysten where even Melian soldiers have to travel in groups.” She replied.
Kista laughed. “There are places on Ixxix like that and that’s my home planet.”
“When Alu gets the chance for leave we should come and visit you.” suggested Toki.
“I would like that but I may be on Osiris for a while yet.” replied the alien.
“Ah yes your secret mission.” said the girl with a hint of curiosity.
“It’s not secret as such but I shouldn’t discuss it, let’s just say we’re on the verge of a remarkable discovery.”
“So… secret then?” asked Toki with smile.
“That’s all you’re getting Toki.” Kista laughed then hey almost bumped into a couple coming out of Silver’s Department Store and ver heart jumped into ver mouth, it was Sam and his wife, he was much older but just as handsome and Kista would have recognised him anywhere. “Sam!” ve exclaimed, resisting the impulse to hug him.
He only just managed to keep his composure himself but Mika Laster realising who the auburn haired beauty was, glared. “Kista, it’s been so long, how are you?” he managed to say calmly.
“I’m very well Sam and you?” Ve could feel the woman’s annoyance. She had auburn hair, green eyes and was slightly plump and looked an awful lot like ver.
“I’m well Kista, let me introduce you to my wife Mika.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mika.” ve smiled.
“The same I’m sure.” Mika smiled back reminding Kista of an animal baring its teeth. “You’re visiting Mili I understand?”
“Actually I’m here on business but I had to come and see my magtok and Toki of course.” answered Kista.
“How very convenient for you” said Mika coolly.
“Well we’d best be on our way, catch you later” interjected Sam and the couple went on their way.
“Ouch that was painful!” said Toki when they were out of earshot.
“What’s her problem she’s got Sam hasn’t she?” queried the Melian.
“It started when Alu mentioned how she looked like you and Mika thought Sam only loved her because of that, meeting you brought it all back I’d guess.”
“She does look me though doesn’t she?” asked Kista.
“You could be sisters.”
“Well I’m not going to say you look like brother and sister am I, you’d never pass for a man even in vale.” explained Toki. “You are female at the moment aren’t you?”
“Yes I’m in vame.” With a sinking heart Kista watched them walk away, the woman was giving Sam an earful.
Toki had been asked out for a drink with some of her polis colleagues and Kista jumped at the chance to babysit her grandchild and decided to stay an extra night. After reading Mili a bedtime story and settling ver down to sleep Kista was avidly watching a soap opera on the vid, trying to understand the politics of adolescent human relationships when the doorbell rang.
Upon opening it ve was only slightly surprised to see Sam standing there. “Hello Kis…”
Viko was sat back in the lifter’s cabin ruminating on the previous night’s events, Mika had been working the late shift on the ferry so Sam had taken the opportunity to see his old lover. Kista hadn’t intended to have sex with him but they’d kissed and embraced giving in to old passions. Sam had left wracked with guilt and deliberating on whether to confess his indiscretion to Mika. Kista wondered if he had, ve’d enjoyed the brief reunion but felt it to be an act of closure fifteen years overdue.
Kista’s reverie was broken by Doctor Mary Teale who was piloting the airship. “Elekt Viko, we’ll be there in two hours.” she was an expert in Ancient Languages especially Pharaonic Egyptian and assistant to Professor Claire.
“Good, I’m eager to see these fictids, what do you call them, hieroglyphs?”
“Yes that’s right, they really are amazing I’ve seen nothing like this outside of Earth, it could change how Earth and Melia see each other.” She replied excitedly.
Farland was the second largest landmass on Osiris and on the opposite side of the planet and during routine satellite surveillance strange features had been spotted in the desert and following this, a team from the university discovered the remains of a long ruined city. Ever since the Solar Federation had colonised Osiris it had been realised the planet had been inhabited thousands of years before but barring scattered ruins and the odd buried artefact little remained. The dig in Farland had yielded hieroglyphs remarkably similar to those found both in Egypt and at Mos on Melia causing academics in both systems to froth at the mouth in excitement and eager to visit the site.
Viko had returned to ver calling in academia after the war and had written several treatises on the similarities between Melians and the alien Humans, because of this was ve chosen from many candidates to be the first non-human to join the Farland expedition.
As the flyer approached the dig site Professor Claire pointed out the features in the landscape.
“I’ve seen it on video but you don’t get the full impact until you see it for real, it closely resembles the Temple of Sirix at Mos.” remarked Kista.
“Well to we humans it’s the Great Temple of the sanctuary of Akhetaton at Tell el-Amarna.” countered Professor Claire.
“Yes built by the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten who pronounced that your ancient people should worship only Aten the sun disk?”
“My, you certainly know your Earth history Elekt.” interjected Mary. “And isn’t Telmek the Mighty is credited with building the Temple of Sirix?”
“Touché is the term you humans use I believe.” replied Kista with a smile.
The flyer landed a short distance from the camp to be greeted by the dig controller, a tall well-muscled man with a deep tan and sandy hair. “Professor, Mary, good to see you back.” said the man while regarding Viko intently.
“Duncan this is Elekt Kista Viko, ve’s going to be our exo-ethnologist.”
The man shook Kista’s hand vigorously. “Duncan McAllister, I’m the Team Leader, very pleased to meet you ma’am.” He said in a deep brogue while looking into Kista’s green eyes.
“Actually the correct term is vek but I’m willing to let that pass. You can call me Kis.” Ve looked approvingly at his rugged tanned appearance.
“We’ve found something interesting in the main temple building since you left, I won’t tell you what it is you need to see it for yourselves.” He informed them.
As they walked through the dig site Viko spotted a pair of yellow anthropoid machines standing idle and noticing ver attention Duncan explained. “They’re Diggers, we used them to clear the sand around the temple walls and to uncover the sphinxes outside the entrance.”
“They seem a bit heavy duty for an archaeological dig?”
“No these babies are the latest model they can shift a tonne of sand or delicately lift a single pebble. it’s all down to the operator.”
“Is it easy to do the delicate stuff then?”
“Yes but you need to have a light touch.” he replied.
“Have you got a light touch then Duncan?” asked Kista raising ver eyebrows.
“No one here has better.” he grinned, this exotic alien seemed quite flirtaceous.
“Ahem, Duncan when you two have finished we’d like to see this new discovery.” the professor and Mary had stopped ahead and were waiting impatiently.
“Sorry, my fault I was fascinated by your Digger robots.” explained Viko.
They followed a sloping path to a large pit dug in the ruins. “You’ve gone down a lot further than I expected since I left.” remarked Claire.
“Yes Professor the radar showed a large object and once we uncovered the head it seemed a shame to stop.”
“Head, what head?” asked Professor Claire.
“You’ll see.” answered Duncan enigmatically.
The excavation widened and there in the centre stood a statue of a man roughly three metres tall wearing a simple kilt, the head was elongated at the back, the eyes were hooded and thick sensual lips were surmounted by a thin nose and had ears with pendulous lobes.
“Good Lord it’s Akhenaten the heretic.” exclaimed Professor Claire.
“Or as we know ver Telmek the Mighty.” added Viko.
They stood silently staring at the huge figure until finally McLeish broke the academic’s reverie. “Foster is making plans to extend the pit, there’s another statue.”
“Good heavens another one?” exclaimed Claire.
“Yes it’s further on and looks to have fallen over, we’ll show you the radar picture.” he replied.
Mary Teale was still examining Akhenaten/Telmek’s feet. “He’s stood on a plinth and I can see the top of a cartouche.”
“I’ll get it cleaned it up later Mary.” said Duncan.
Viko and Claire found the aforementioned Foster and Muller behind a second plinth bent over a work table and studying a computer screen.
“Is that you Duncan.” asked one man without looking up.
“Muller, it is Professor Claire and we have a guest.”
The man turned. “Wow you’re a He-she, sorry a Melian.” he said a little awed.
The other man, Foster stood and held out his hand. “Sorry about that vek, I’m Jim and mister foot-in-mouth is called Jonas.”
“No problem, I’m Kis by the way.” ve stepped forward to examine the screen which showed a hazy shape clearly resembling a figure broken in two at the waist.”
“It’s come clean off the plinth and would appear to be lying on its back.” Foster informed ver. “We were just working out the best way to get to it.”
“May I suggest slowly, we’re running faster than we can walk at the moment.” said Mary. “I now have two plinths with cartouches that need deciphering.”
“Quite, but this is unprecedented, we’ll get the plinths cleared then Mary and I will work on the inscriptions while you increase the size of the pit to uncover the first half of the statue.” suggested Claire.
“We’re going to need the Diggers down here to uncover that.” opined Duncan.
“Hmm it’s getting late and we’re losing daylight, can they be programmed to do work overnight?” asked Claire.
“It won’t be too much of a problem but someone will need to stay and oversee them.” He suggested.
“Great, who gets the job out of us three?” asked Jonas.
“Rock, paper, scissors?” suggested Foster…
McAllister dozily sat watching the yellow machines as they carefully removed the sandy earth to a conveyor belt that transferred it onto a growing heap outside the pit, occasionally one Digger would stop to shore up the exposed soil with a stabilising agent.
“That is painfully slow.” said a voice startling him.
“Vek, I must have dozed off I didn’t hear you coming.”
Kis laughed lightly. “Really, I don’t usually make a secret of it.”
He wasn’t sure if the alien was flirting again. “Ted and Bob have to work carefully down here too much vibration could bring the sides of the pit down.”
“Ted and Bob?” ve asked.
“It’s better than TDFE1 and BBFE3” Duncan indicated the Digger’s identification plates.
Viko produced a flask. “Coffee?” he nodded, the alien poured him a cup and sat on the ground next to him, it was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, the legs were long, shapely and it had an impressive bust. “You’re not using your famous delicate touch to control them then?” ve inquired.
“They can work without human guidance at the moment, when they get close to the relic they’ll need my input.” He replied, they sat drinking coffee and watching the robots work until something that been burning at the back of McAllister’s mind finally found its voice. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but are you male or female?”
Kista feigned modesty “Duncan, what a question to ask! If you must know I’m technically both, but at the moment I’m in vame, what you would call the female stage. Why do you ask?”
“Just curious, I haven’t met many Melians.”
“You need to get out more.” Ve watched the robots busy at their task, “how long before those machines are done?”
“Hours yet but Muller has promised to come and relieve me at 2 o’clock.”
“I’d better go in that case.” said Kista suppressing a laugh.
When the alien had left it dawned on him what he had said, oh bollocks!
In the morning seeing the yellow machines had parked themselves back outside Viko, Claire and McAllister went down to the excavation finding Foster and Muller working on the uncovered lower half of the statue, Bob and Ted had done a good job leaving only slight manual work requiring an airbrush.
“Is that you Duncan?” shouted Muller over the noise of the pump, his voice slightly muffled. “You have got to see the size of the dong on this.”
“Ahem.” said Claire.
“Sorry” shouted Foster removing his safety mask and cutting the supply to the brushes.
Viko strode forward to admire the statues lower half. “Your friend is not wrong, that is one huge phallus.” ve announced with a wry grin.
“Oh my word, why couldn’t it be flaccid?” asked Claire.
“Bloody hell look at that!” Teale had arrived and was trying hard not to laugh.
Viko meanwhile was examining the statue closely. “Jonas do you have a light?” The man passed a torch to Kista and ve shone it under the statues groin peering intently. “Well varg me, it’s anatomically correct!” ve exclaimed.
“What is it?” asked Claire.
“Take a look for yourself.”
The professor did. “Oh good lord, it can’t be?”
“I believe it is and out of all of us I should know.” said Viko.
“Kis what is it for crying out loud.” cried McAllister.
“The statue has both female and male genitalia, it’s a hermaphrodite.” ve informed them.
“Holy fuck, what does the top half look like?” said Foster.
“Set the machines to digging it out Duncan, as fast as they can safely work.” ordered Claire excitedly. “We must see the torso.”
“We’ll need to shore the new work up with steel panelling first.” said McAllister.
“Then get to it Duncan, this is an incredible discovery.”
The excavation site became a hive of activity as Diggers, humans and alien all began preparing it for the next stage, the only exception being Mary who was busily deciphering the newly cleared plinth belonging to “Akhenaten”.
Claire having decided he had done enough joined her leaving the others to further clean the new and its base. “Any progress Mary?” he asked.
“I know what his name was.” she replied a little shakily. “It was Ptelmechnaton.”
“Yes look you can see clearly the ideogram for the Aten at the end, I worked the rest backwards even given the unusual structure of the first half it was surprisingly easy. It’s a good job Earth, Melia and Osiris all have near enough identical flora and fauna.”
“Telmek and Akhenaton joined together as one, the link between the planets is irrefutable now! We must contact the university…”
“Duncan, the radio’s not working I can’t get a signal out.” Claire had sent for McAllister after trying unsuccessfully to report the new revelation.
“Odd, I’ll try the one in the flyer?” he returned shortly with bad news. “Same thing.” he replied “Seems to be being blocked somehow?”
“Very strange Duncan, there’s no sunspot activity and it was working perfectly yesterday, couldn’t you boost a palm communicator to reach the satellite?”
“If the signals being blocked that wouldn’t work either, this could be deliberate?”
“Why, who would do such a thing?”
“Someone who doesn’t want anyone to know what we’ve discovered?”
“It could be one of us, why on Osiris would anyone do that?” asked the professor.
“I’ll gather everyone together and we’ll ask them.” suggested Duncan, of course no-one admitted to knowing anything about the radio and all seemed shocked at the idea that anyone would want to keep this a secret.
“Very well we’ll carry on working and McAllister will try to fix one of the radios, I don’t want to believe anyone here would do such a thing.” Claire informed them. “If it comes down to it I’ll take our news back in person.
“Could it be someone from outside?” ventured Foster.
“Doubt it, no-one has set off the perimeter alarm and anyway as far as we know we’re the only people on this continent.” replied Mc Allister.
“That thing is only meant for Grippers and Fenrirs, a human could get past easily enough.” said Muller. “And anyway who say’s we’re the only people here?”
“Everyone knows Farland is uninhabited!” insisted Claire.
“Who did it then Prof, outlaws, smugglers maybe? It has to be one of us and one of us isn’t human remember?” insinuated Muller
All looked at Viko. “Hey, why would I want to stop this news reaching the outside world?” ve countered. “It’s probably pure coincidence.”
“Kis is right, it must be that. I’ll check again later.” Duncan assured them.
Muller and Foster volunteered to watch the Diggers overnight and as darkness began to fall McAllister examined the base station radio thoroughly and on discovering nothing amiss went to the flyer again, after checking the radio thoroughly he re-aligned the antenna but still could receive no signal.
Kista surprised him by climbing into the cockpit and sitting in the opposite seat. “No point Duncan it’s being blocked from outside.” ve declared. “I would say there’s a suppression unit hidden somewhere and unfortunately I haven’t got the equipment with me to find it.”
“You seem very knowledgeable is Muller right about you?” he asked finding his eyes drawn to Viko’s legs once more.
“My radio isn’t working either and since it’s a Tark battlefield model I’m pretty certain of it.”
“You brought a radio set?”
“Sure it fits nice and snugly in my luggage.”
“Did you bring anything else?” the alien looked very alluring in the low light of the cockpit.
“I might have a gun.” Kista replied.
“Shit that’s strange equipment for a… what are you?”
“An exo-ethnologist, I study alien races. I used to be in the Tark and occasionally I do favours for them.”
“Favours that require a gun?” asked Duncan.
Viko merely shrugged explaining. “I am here to record the expedition for Melia and give advice where required.”
“Is that all?”
“There is a concern that Mankind Alone is showing an interest in your expedition, think about it Duncan we could be on the verge of proving that Earth and Melia share a common ancestry. That’s the last thing those xenophobic bastards would want spread around.”
“Mankind Alone, I thought they’d been stamped out?”
“A small faction still exists and our enemies the Vereen are funding both them and Melian Purity, it’s possible they could have infiltrated this dig.”
“How do you know I’m not one of them?”
“I’m a pretty good judge of character and anyway you fancy me, I doubt even an MA thug could bring themselves to fake that.”
“What makes you say that?” Duncan felt his face reddening.
“I’ve seen you looking.”
“Kis, we’ve all been looking, none of us have met many Melians before and you are quite striking when all said and done.”
“You’re all wondering what I look like naked, I bet.”
“Erm, I suppose we have.” He felt slightly ashamed.
Kista gave him a long lingering kiss then undid her shorts easing them down. “Give me your hand.” ve whispered, Duncan obeyed and ve guided it onto ver vulva. “Feel that?”
The alien’s body temperature was higher than a human’s and this close ve had an almost spicy musk, he excitedly moved his fingers down. “Is that your penis it’s..?”
“Tiny? That’s because it’s shrunk to a diminutive size to function as my clitoris…” Kista pursed ver lips. “My, that’s rather nice you do have a light touch don’t you? Turn the cockpit light off.” Kista undid Duncan’s trousers then sliding off ver shorts straddled him unaware the flyer was being watched at a distance.
Duncan awoke next morning to find the alien still in his bed, ver high body temperature had made him kick off the blankets in the night and he lay for a while admiring the Melians naked curves.
Claire’s voice came from outside of the canvas. “Duncan, are you awake? Come and look at this bloody statue now and see if you can find Viko on the way ve’s not in ver tent!” The professor heard a strange sound in McAllister’s tent as Kista suppressed a giggle.
Now finally revealed the top half of the figure had a strikingly beautiful face and full breasts.
“Anifer.” exclaimed Kista, “Partner of Telmek.”
“Shit, you lot were here before us!” exclaimed Foster.
“Not at all, this being was both genders simultaneously, with Melians one sex dominates for a year then they change over a two month period to the opposite gender and stay that way for another year. I’m in the female stage and I’ll be that way for seven more months.” Kista explained.
“The face looks like the bust of Nefertiti excavated in the early twentieth century.” ventured Mary, “discovered at Amarna no less!”
“Akhenaten and Nefertiti here on Osiris, boy did they name this planet appropriately.” ventured Muller sardonically.
The plaque had been found almost by accident when Mary triumphantly naming the second statue as Anifertiti, stepped back almost tripping over its edge sticking out of the ground. Quickly unearthing it McAllister, Foster and Muller turned the artefact over, it was roughly two metres square, made of a golden metal and covered in hieroglyphics.
“It was obviously mounted on the temple wall and fell off when it crumbled.” Claire suggested.
“It must be thousands of years old, what metal is that?” Viko had asked before noticing Mary Teale staring wide-eyed at the pictographs in relief upon its surface. “What do they do say?”
“I don’t know yet, but look at them!” she cried.
The most obvious figures were Ptelmechnaton with partner Anifertiti standing above what could only be a ringed planet. A pair of lines angled down each to a smaller disc forming an equilateral triangle, above one stood a couple of figures, arms raised in veneration, an obvious man with an equally anatomically correct woman, the other had a single figure standing in similar reverence but with breasts and phallus.
The planet with the couple had but one moon the other having two. “Earth and Melia” exclaimed Professor Claire, “but that ringed planet can’t be Osiris?”
“It is true.” squealed Mary in horror. “We are descended from a common ancestor!”
“More like were created.” observed Kista, for along the bottom of the pictogram was a line of images looking like scientific apparatus. Several flask-like objects held small figures that could only be foetii.
“My god.” said Foster backing away.
“Well Elekt, we certainly seem to have found our proof don’t we Elekt?” asked Claire.
“Yes, this must get back to Akaba.” agreed Viko.
“We’ll pack it aboard the flyer and set off first thing. Mary ground the camera drone we’ll need its memory card.” there was no answer, Claire looked around. “Mary?”
“She hightailed it after looking at the plaque, she was crying something about not believing it was true.” said Muller.
“Why did she fold up like that.” said Claire.
“Hey Prof I’m struggling with this myself.’ He replied.
“I’ll find her.” said Foster who had a soft spot for Mary.
He found her crying in her tent, full of apology. “I’m so sorry Jim but in a way I hoped this wasn’t going to be true.” Foster put his arms round her briefly then they walked back to join the others.
Bob carried the plate to the flier ready for Mary and Claire to fly to the university in the morning then the team celebrated late into the night with a couple of bottles of Professor Claire’s favourite brandy, brought for such an occasion, before retiring to their bunks.
Duncan and Kista lay together in his tent, the sweat from their lovemaking cooling on their bodies. “You know these people couldn’t possibly have seeded our worlds, Telmek ruled about 5000 years ago, but recognisable vek-leks go back about 300,000 years on Melia and I believe it’s the same for homo-sapiens on your planet.”
“We don’t know how old these relics are Kis, perhaps this Ptelmechnaton came back to view his creations from time to time?”
“So how could these statues be that old and how could Ptelmechnaton live for thousands of years?”
“We’ll have to get them analysed properly and as for this guy and his partner living that long perhaps they used suspended animation or kept cloning themselves.”
Kista laughed. “Or time travel maybe? Zipping backwards and forward to check on their progeny, maybe they’ll turn up tomorrow and say well done you!”
“Maybe they’re blocking our radio?” suggested Duncan.
“No, that’s down to one of us.” Kista sighed. “Of course it stops whoever set it up contacting anyone too.”
“But they can turn it off when it suits them.”
“Not if they can’t find it Duncan.” Ve replied mysteriously.
“Kis, you’ve not, you told me you hadn’t got the necessary equipment to find it?”
“I might have lied a bit, I wasn’t sure how much I could trust you, but I think you’ve proved yourself on more than one account.”
“What, you didn’t trust me and you still had sex with me?
“Like I said I’m a good judge of character.” The Melian pulled McAllister on top of ver wrapping warmer than human legs about him. “Duncan I trust you now, I swear to that.” and I’ve narrowed my list of suspects to two.
Outside the camp perimeter a shadowy figure searched frantically around the scrub. It has to be here this is where I set it up! Then realisation dawned, it’s been moved, it had to be that He-she scum!
Duncan woke early next morning dressing quietly so as not to disturb Kista and slipping out of the tent to check on the flyer, as he walked towards the vehicle he turned at a noise nearby. “Oh you made me jump, you’re up early…”
Kista had woken despite McAllister’s best efforts and hearing something odd while dressing retrieved ver Firebird pattern pistol from under the pillow then stepped out into the morning light. Re hadn’t fully risen and Isis was still shining her silvery light on the landscape to illuminate a shape lying on the path to the air-pad.
Kista sprinted quickly to the figure to discover it was Duncan prostrate on the ground in a pool of blood from a head wound and after nervously checking his pulse was relieved to find him still alive.
“Hey Kista, what’s going on?” Foster was approaching from the direction of the parked Diggers.
Ve brought up ver pistol and sighted him along the barrel. “You stay right there Foster!”
“Is that Duncan?” he asked in shock, “what have you done to him He-she?” he clenched his fists angrily but before Viko could answer the Digger nicknamed Ted called came online and swinging a shovel-like hand downed Foster with a sickening thud.
Horrified, Kista emptied a full clip at the robot but the bullets bounced harmlessly off it’s metal carapace.
“What on Osiris is happening?” yelled Professor Claire emerging from his tent in old fashioned striped pyjamas.
“Run Professor, run and hide!” Kista reloaded, it had to be Muller controlling Ted. The robotic machine advanced menacingly towards ver. “Come on then whoever you are, catch me if you can!” ve yelled then fled as fast as ver legs would carry ver running between the tents and into the ruins, where was Mary, was she already dead?” The machine crashed through the camp stomping its way through the ruined stonework in hot pursuit, if I can hit one of the hydraulic lines…
The machine was incredibly fast catching up with Viko quickly, ducking under a powerful arm as it swung ve shot at an exposed pipe. It sprayed fluid and Ted’s left arm fell limply to its side but Kista’s elation at damaging the machine was short lived as ve tripped over a stone protruding from the sandy soil. Rolling onto ver back Viko brought the pistol to bear again.
“If I’m going down you’re coming with me you bastard!” Kista shouted sighting what ve hoped was the power fuse, a blur of yellow crashed into the machine as Bob charged past, both machines fell to the ground to lay unmoving in a cloud of smoke.
“Viko are you alright?” it was Muller a Digger control box strapped to his chest, the serial number was BBFE3, a hand stencilled name read BOB.
Viko took the man’s outstretched hand. “I thought you were controlling Ted?”
“Not me, I heard all the noise and saw it hightailing it after you so I woke Bob up and came to help. The Prof’s looking after Duncan but I can’t find Mary anywhere.”
“Foster?” asked Viko.
“He’s dead, who the fuck is doing this?”
A shot rang out sending both human and alien diving for cover. Viko looked up to see a figure duck down quickly. “They’re over near the dig, is Bob still operational?”
Muller worked a control and with a grinding noise the machine stood slowly. “Looks like it, there’s a few warning lights on the console though.”
“Walk him down towards the dig site, hopefully that’ll draw the shooter’s attention and I’ll work my way around the back.”
“Okay Viko take care.”
“I intend to!” Kista skirted along the outside of the ruined building as Bob clumped its way down but the gunman armed with a high-powered rifle, took out the machine’s power fuse instantly. So much for that idea!
Muller stuck his head up shouting, the mystery assailant fired again and Viko saw him disappear behind the wall. “Missed me you useless sod!” he yelled.
With the gunman keeping an eye on Muller’s position Viko was able to get above the rim of the excavation to see a black hooded figure below watching intently for any movement. Quickly making a decision ve jumped down landing behind the sniper as the figure swung the weapon round Viko grabbed the riflel wresting it from their grasp, there was a brief scuffle but the ex-Tark officer swifly got the upper hand then after pinning the surprisingly slight figure to the floor with ver knees Viko pulled off the black mask. “I knew it had to be you when Muller saved me from Ted.”
“Yeah no-one asked me if I could drive a Digger so I didn’t bother mentioning it bitch.” snarled Mary Teale.
“Mankind Alone I imagine?” ve asked.
Muller arrived and stared open-mouthed. “You, you killed Jim?” he asked. “But you and he were close!”
“Fuck off Muller, he meant nothing he was useful to me that’s all, you fancy this thing as much as that He-she fucker McAllister. I’d have killed you all to stop this pile of shit getting out.”
“This shit is the truth Teale you’re an archaeologist you must realise that.”
“Don’t lie to me He-she scum, your lot put this here to keep Earth on your side, it’s very clever and convenient but it’s all made up.” Her face had a frantic look. “It has got to be! We are humans and have nothing to do with you sex-changing bastards.”
“I’m afraid we almost certainly do Mary.” Claire had appeared supporting an injured and groggy Duncan. “Like it or not these discoveries prove it.”
“No!” she screamed.
“Now before we fly you back to Akaba and prison I’ll go and deactivate your signal blocker, I hid it in the dig site right near your sniper position.” Viko smiled grimly. “We’ll have to station some soldiers here now I suppose.”
Claire and Muller remained at the site to see what could be salvaged from the wrecked Diggers while Viko flew back to Akaba with the precious plaque, a concussed Duncan, the handcuffed and furious Teale and the body of poor Foster .
“Are you going back to Melia?” Duncan managed to ask.
“No my sweet once I’ve dropped our off our cargo and got you to hospital I have a visit to make then it’s back to the dig. This is such an important discovery I can’t leave yet.” ve turned to face their captive. It’s out in the open now Teale, your compratiots in Mankind Alone have lost their chance to suppress the truth and probably the support of the Vereen.”
Mary just glared silently…
“Well goodbye my little magtok” Kista hugged Mili, ve had taken the chance to visit them before returning to Farland. “Goodbye Toki, remember I’m only on the other side of the planet at the moment, perhaps Alu might marry you when ve returns isn’t that what you Earthers do?”
Toki smiled and embraced ver. “we’ve no plans to at the moment. Let’s hope you don’t cause so much trouble for my friends next time you come to Bliss Bay.”
“I promise I’ll try, look the car’s here don’t come out or I might start crying.” Kista was about to get in the taxi when a familiar figure strode up, ve smiled. “Sam, you haven’t come to beg me to stay have you?”
“No Kis I just wanted to say goodbye that’s all.”
“Did you tell Mika?” asked Kista.
“Oh, what happened?”
“She went mad, I told her I was stupid and begged her forgiveness and we argued, she called you “a fucking it” and said I only married her because she looked like you.”
“I’m sorry Sam I should never have let you in when you were at the door.”
“Kis when I saw you it all came back, I never got chance to say goodbye.”
“Sam, I don’t want to restart our relationship.” Toki had spotted them and came out, curious to hear the exchange.
“I don’t either I just want Mika to forgive me.”
Kista spotted the auburn haired figure approaching. “Does she know you’ve come to say goodbye because she’s coming up behind you?”
“Oh shit!” Laster turned to see his wife looking fit to burst.
“Sam I don’t fucking believe you, I’d almost started to think I could forgive you but here you are again cosying up to that fucking creature.” She yelled.
“Mika please don’t swear Mili is inside.” Toki cried slamming the door.
Kista stepped forward. “Mika don’t blame Sam he was just curious to see me after all this time. I wanted him and I came on to him it’s my fault.” Ve lied.
The woman glared at ver. “Don’t fucking lie for him He-she, he wanted you just as much…” she raised her fists, “oh I want to hurt you so bad!”
“Go on hit me then.” Kista clenched ver jaw.
Mika dropped them down deflated. “I can’t!” she was close to tears. “You win you can have him.”
Kista feigned laughter. “What? I don’t want the puny little fixter.”
“After all the trouble you’ve caused?” Mika asked her green eyes aflame again.
“It was just a bit of fun and it was hardly worth it.”
“What?” Sam cried in surprise.
“You heard earthman.” Kista retorted.
“You evil alien bitch” snarled Mika .
“Sam only came to me because you could never satisfy him like I can you fat little human.” Ve sneered in return.
“Hey steady on Kis.” interjected Sam.
“Shut up Sam I don’t know why I fucked you in the first place when there are so many real men and women around, don’t worry when I visit Mili again I won’t bother you.” Kista got in the taxi. “The CSMF base now!” ve snarled at the incredulous driver. I hope that worked, those two belong together despite everything ve felt a slight pang of regret, oh well, Duncan will be back at the dig soon and Muller fancies me too apparently?
“Good riddance He-she bitch your child’s a much better person than you’ll ever be.” shouted Mika at the receding car, she looked at Sam. “You aren’t useless in bed you know?”
Sam tentatively put an arm around Mika, she didn’t resist. “Mika I’m so sorry, I really am.”
Mika watched the taxi disappear into the distance thinking then said. “Clever little alien, it must like you a lot to try and take the blame, do you promise you won’t do anything like this again?”
“Yes I do Mika I swear to it, I love you.”
“And I love you Sam” she sighed resignedly, “if you want I could cut my hair in a bob and wear one of those stripy tunic things?”
“No way, I love you for how you are.”
“Right let’s get back home I have to prove that bloody alien wrong.”
“You know Viko only said that to wind you up?”
“Sam, shut up while you’re winning?”
© Kyt Wright 2019